Monday, August 30, 2010

Where I blog

Kate at Centsational Girl is having a blog linkup of "where you blog".  Centsational Girl is a fantastic decor blog with lots of DIY stuff.  If you aren't reading it, you should :-) 

I blog in one of two places, usually.  Either at my desk, which is tucked under an eave in the living room:

or on the sofa at night after the kids go to bed (me and Buzz Lightyear).

The pic of my desk above is cleaned up for the camera.  Here is what my desk looked like before I cleaned it off for the picture:

When its clean, its one of my favorite areas in the house. I love having the pictures of the kids hanging over the desk. Sadly, it frequently looks messy like that--library books, hats, half-eaten peach, only one lamp works despite having been fixed twice, the digital frame I got for Christmas I still haven't put pictures in, and of course, the 400 cords under the desk.

I have some plans to make my desk area a bit nicer.  The cords below are driving me crazy, and its now the Princess's favorite area to hide under and suck on my computer power cords, so something needs to be done about it toot sweet.  I'd really like a small cabinet with three drawers that I could cut out the back of the bottom drawer and hide all the cords in, and the upper two drawers could be used to store stuff that always ends up on top of the desk, like camera SD cards, checkbooks, etc.

I'm considering this from Ikea,

but would like something a bit cheaper (esp since I plan to hack up the back of it), and an inch shorter if possible.  But, since Princess is making the electrical outlet wires her playground, I don't have months to search for the right piece, and may just buy it this week if I can't find something cheaper. 

I'd like a new pair of chairs for my desk, because the desk is pretty long, and the kids like to sit beside me and play with their toys, or read books, etc. After my desk chair re-do debacle, now I'm using some old dining chairs that I'm not overly fond of.  I''m considering sanding them down and painting them red...but I'm really sick of painting chairs.  Or painting anything, for that matter.  And these chairs have all the square spindles on the back that would be annoying to paint.  But they are free!  And I already have red paint!  Ugh. So not in the mood.  But I'm also not in the mood to spend money on two new chairs when I have all these dumb free chairs in my attic.

I've considered these chairs from Target, because they are bright and cheerful and cheap and come as a pair.  Unfortunately, I'd like turquoise or red, and they don't come in either of those colors.

The hunt for chairs continues.

*****Update: the desk chairs I redid can be seen here, and the cords were hidden away here.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pretty new header!

Looky, looky, I got a new header!  Isn't it pretty?? Click on through and tell me what you think!  Unless you don't like it, in which case I don't want to hear what you think and you can keep that to yourself, thankyouverymuch. 

Nap Warden did it, and she was very patient with my endless demands. It looks lovely, no? 

Yay, pretty new blog!

Yes, there is a new categories navigation bar, but I have yet to put anything under them yet, I am just entranced by my beautiful header.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Design FAIL

The beach at Santa Maria di Castellabate had its fair share of rocks.  I picked up a few small ones to bring home as reminders of where we've been.  That night I thought to myself, oooh, I'll pick up A WHOLE BUNCH and put them in one of my apothecary jars at home...every time I look at them I will think of Italy!

Here is a picture of the rocks I picked up:

The next day I ended up staying home so Princess could nap, and the Mister took the boys to the beach.  I told him my plan, and asked him to have the boys pick some pretty rocks for our collection.  I showed him the rocks I had chosen, and asked for them to similar in size. 

Here are the boulders they brought back:

Okayyyyyyyy....I will work with what I got, I suppose. We were at the beach in Long Island this weekend, so I picked up some small pretty rocks, and mixed those in with the giant boulders. 

Here are the apothecary jars that live on the shelf above the tv:

I took the orange stuff out, transferred the blue stuff in, and used the apothecary jar with the widest mouth to put in my Italian rocks.

There is a flaw in my plan, however.  The Mister is uncomfortable with so much crap living on a shelf above the preshus television.  The Mister will have a cow if I put a container of rocks up there.

Ok...apothecary jar now living on the sideboard under the tv.

Where it has already been molested by little hands. And....its sentimental, but its a wee bit boring. 


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I feel pretty, oh so pretty!

 My hair is fixed!  Praise the baby Jesus, because my hair was a hot mess. 

I need a new beauty routine.  Here is my current one, in all its complicated glory:
I brush my teeth.  I shower on a near-daily basis.  I use Neutrogena facial moisturizer with 50 spf. 

That's it. 

I don't wear makeup. I may have mentioned before that at my fifteen year high school reunion, I thought hmm, maybe I should put on some makeup....but I couldn't find the bag of makeup.  Which tells you how often I wear it. Occasionally if we go to a fancy event, like someone's wedding, I may put on blush, and if I'm feeling crazy, eyeliner. Mascara now drives me crazy and I avoid it like the plague.  Foundation? Eh.  I know I have freckles, why bother covering them up.

I'm tempting fate here, but for the majority of my life, I have had rather nice skin.  In my early twenties I even heard comments along the lines of "you have the skin of a porcelain doll."  I get the occasional zit (omg, I am so tempting fate here---actually, what usually happens to me is that I think to myself, you know, I haven't had a zit in a while, and voila! One shows up that afternoon.) but nothing too bad.  I did have fairly sensitive and dry skin, but frequent moisturizing kept it in check.

A few years ago....I honestly can't remember how was probably around the same time I gave up wearing makeup....I stopped washing my face at night.  This must have been around the time my oldest was born and I gave up all pretense at looking good.

One benefit to not washing my face?  I no longer had dry skin.

Fast forward five or six years.  I still don't wash my face.  However, now I notice that THERE IS GUNK IN MY PORES. Like, lots of gunk.  Washing my face does not get rid of the gunk.

I would like to get rid of the gunk in my pores.  Wth, is this a part of aging?  Along with that one hair that sprouts in the middle of my forehead? But I am OVERWHELMED AND ADRIFT at the massive amount of beauty products in the "get gunk out of your pores" aisle.  What do I use?????  I tried those Biore strips and they didn't work. I still have gunk. 

I am not 19 anymore, I have no need of a zit regimen, and I know that any product with salycic acid is going to irritate my skin.  I am getting wee wrinkles and oh, maybe an liver spot or fifteen (they are FRECKLES, yes, FRECKLES.) 

I am considering getting my first facial.  I've never had a facial.  Know how in those bridal magazines they tell you to get your facial at least a week before your wedding because you might get zits?  I don't want zits.  Those magazines have forever given me the fear of zit-producing facials.

A friend of mine got a facial once, and afterward, her face was all red and pinchy looking where the tech had squeezed the stuff out of her pores.  Don't they say DONT SQUEEZE your zits in all those beauty mags?? Why is it ok to pay a lady to do it, but not squeeze them yourself?

If I were to get a facial, I have a gift certificate given to me by my mother in law to a popular day spa.  I went to get a pedicure with someone at that spa, and there may or may not have been an incident in which people were yelled at, not by me although I was standing right there, and I may or may not be waiting for the popular day spa to forget what I look like, although they may have flagged our names in the event that we ever return.  So if I were to get a facial there they could totally screw up my face on purpose, although I would not know that they did until a few hours later. 

Help me. I need recommendations on de-gunking your pores.  And perhaps a skin regimen for an old lady. Am I right to be afeared of the facial?  Should I just go get a facial?

a little piece of heaven

Alone at a bookstore, a stack of magazines, a tasty treat. 


In case anyone is wondering how the potty-training is going, Peter peed on my foot.  On purpose. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

mismatched tables and chairs linky

If you're interested in looking at other people's dining room sets with mismatched tables and chairs, all of which are pretty cool (including mine!), head on over to the link-up at Nesting Place.  Check out her living room, while you're at it.  I think its beautiful. If only I could rock the white slipcover. 

These chairs are going out to the curb.

I am an idiot.

Case in point:

I've had these chairs for years now; they belonged to our old dining set. I've painted the rest and they live in various places around the house, like our foyer. 

Previously, these chairs looked like this:

then they were pale blue with a greek key fabric, but apparently I didn't take a picture of them.

then I changed the seat cushion to the Robert Allan Kiki Pinata fabric I used in the bookshelves on the other side of the room. 

Unfortunately, the blue wasn't quite the color I wanted.  I really wanted red, but someone was tired of painting, wanted to return the paint sprayer to the store, and sweet-talked me into leaving them the blue color because they looked so lovely.  I grumpily acquiesced. 

They did look lovely.  Just not the lovely that I wanted.

So a few weeks later I grabbed some Killz primer, spraypainted it on, and then started painting them red.  The primer bubbled and was very rough, and even though I sanded it down it could still be seen through the red. 

I came up with the bright idea of stripping all eleventy-billion layers of paint off the chairs.

I will pause, while you all laugh at me. 

I didn't want to use harsh caustic chemicals, so I did some research on the interwebs and found Citrustrip, which is a goopy neon orange paint stripper that doesn't smell.  I will admit that it goes on nice and thick, not runny, and there is very little harsh chemical fumes.  I put some on the chairs and then left it to do its magic.  After about an hour, I came back out and started stripping.

Eh.  It was coming off, but kind of slowly.  I added another layer of Citrustrip, and left it out for a few hours. 

Btw, I did this out on our back patio, which is a fenced in area on top of the garage, which get blazing hot sunlight all day long, with no shade.

That's right, I baked the Citrustrip right onto my chairs.  Completely dried, clumpy, dusty layer of chemical peeler, completely adhered to my chairs. 

See all that orangy crap? That's the dried out citrustrip.

I put them in the garage for a while.  I was sick of working on them. 

I decided last week that since I wasn't going to get my eleventy-billion things on my list done before the babysitter goes back to school, I would make the chairs my one project to complete.  How to fix these things?  I have zero desire to try and strip them again.  I'll try sanding them.

I start sanding the chair.  The baked on Citrustrip sands off into a dusty, flaky chemical mess.  I'm sure this is great for my lungs.  Worse, however, I realize, is that the little tiny edge detailing and the curviness of the chair means that the hand sander is way too large for the job.  I can buy a dremel or a pointy sander or do it by hand.

And so, I am giving up on these chairs. They are going out to the curb. I is done.  I am beyond sick of painting these chairs, since they take for-EVAH to do the shield.  Done! Begone! Out damned spot!

Let the fun shopping of new chairs begin!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

lists, because I'm lazy

1.) I'm working on a post about camp....I'm sure you're all waiting with bated breath for that one. Actually, since 99% of my readers are related to me, you probably are all waiting with bated breath.  Breathe, people, it may take me a few days since I took 932 pictures. 

2) My hair looks terrible.

3) No, really, it looks terrible.  And now I am rescheduling this weekend's planned cut and color (for the FOURTH TIME) because someone sprung a work event on me.  Had I known that I would be spending an entire day with fancy New York people who wear nice shoes and have nice hair, I might have tried a little harder to get my hair done BEFORE this event.  Sigh. 

4) I'm starting to look like this:

5) Like my deodorant, whenever I find a hairdresser I like, they somehow become unavailable.  Either we move far away, they go on a year long maternity leave, or they just stop cutting hair.  Since moving up here I had gotten a recommendation for a great hairdresser, Abby.  I really like Abby---she understood what I wanted with my hair and she did the best color I have ever gotten.  A beautiful, warm, rich golden brown with blonde highlights that looked very natural, and when it grew out, it only looked like the grey around my face was growing out----I never had that all-over roots look. 

Of course, as these things are wont (destined?) to do, she got a new job.  That's fine, I wasn't overly fond of the salon she worked at.  Except....she got a new job at a very upscale, VERY EXPENSIVE new salon. And she stopped cutting hair and only does color now. 

I called to schedule a partial highlight with her at the new place....and it turns out that a basic partial highlight, no glaze....starts at $175.


I said to the, so, the new place is maybe a wee bit more than $175 plus a glaze plus tip and um.....and he said "HELL NO."  (See how oppressed I am?)


6) I spent a good portion of yesterday looking through haircut magazines and couldn't find a short haircut that I wanted.

7) I need to bake a birthday cake.  And wrap some birthday presents.  And take the boys into the city to have a birthday lunch with the Mister.  Who turns 36 today.  Closer to fifty than you are to twenty! Woohoo!

8) The incoming college freshman class of 2014 starts today. WTF, universe??? WHEN DID I GET THIS OLD???

9) My baby starts kindergarten in two weeks.  While on one hand, the school year cannot start soon enough, on the other hand, waaaaaah, my BABY is starting KINDERGARTEN.  Insert cliched "just yesterday we brought him home from the hospital" here.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Doing nice things

Today over on Swistle's blog, she talks about Doing Nice Things For Other People, and invited readers to comment on the nice things they do.  Reading this has made me feel....lazy and guilty, and like I should be doing More Nice Things.

One of my New Years Resolutions was to start including charitable giving in our monthly budget, instead of a mad rush of giving money I feel we don't have the week of Christmas, which always stresses me out, but I feel like a jerk keeping all our money for ourselves and not helping people who CAN'T EAT, or poor little kids whose mothers are crack addicts and don't buy them toys, but hey, my kids want toys too, and having 4057 relatives that one has to buy Christmas gifts for kind of adds up, you know? 

And so, here we are, in August, eight months into the year, and I have given...exactly zero donations to charity. 

And, of course, its 1 pm and I have 4 hours left to pack and clean my house and toss all the crap out of the fridge before we leave for a family reunion camping trip, and this is an inconvenient time to be feeling shameful and guilty.  I should go donate blood! I should sign up to mentor that poverty-stricken child! I should give some money to the food bank! I don't have time today, I'll do it next Tuesday! 

Ok, I am taking suggestions.  What should I do with my charitable self?  Donating blood seems like a reasonably easy, not time consuming thing I can do before my babysitter leaves in two weeks. And I have a very rare blood type that they are always happy to get, so I will do that.

What else?  I have little free time for volunteering once the school year starts in the next few weeks. One of my other New Years Resolutions was to stop feeling guilty about giving money instead of time.  Charities are perfectly happy to have my money instead of me. 

I like donating money directly to causes, preferably local causes, and I prefer causes that help kids.  For example, in south Jersey we looked at paying for a child in Camden (worst city in the nation) to a charter school for a semester, and we adopt families for Christmas.  I usually give donations to food banks, although I haven't done a thing since I moved up here.

In south Jersey, the newspaper put out a monthly charity section with different needs, and it was easy to pick and choose what you wanted to support.  I just haven't figured out how to tap into the charitable community up here. 


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Want some lemonaide? TOO BAD.

I'm thirsty! Look, there is lemonaide in the fridge! I will drink some. 

Although there does not appear to be a large amount of lemonaide left in the bottle, there must be some, because no one would put an empty container back in the fridge, would they?

It appears they would. *shakes fist at the sky*

But wait!

I spoke too soon! Lo, there is still some left in the bottle. 
I better put it back in the fridge.  Someone might want to drink that when they get home from work.

This drives me INSANE, people.  INSANE.  

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The craft closet

I have two weeks of daily summer babysitting left before my babysitter goes back to grad school, leaving me distraught and scrambling to entertain my children.  I made up a list of projects I'd like to get done before she leaves.  One of them was cleaning out the craft closet.

Here it is in all its glory.

Irksomely, that wire rack is ONE INCH too big to turn sideways in the closet.  Grr. It was two squares across, so I unbuilt the second row of squares, made it one square taller, and put it back in. I couldn't go any higher because the back of the closet is slanted. 

Here it is, cleared out and empty.

Here are the contents all over my dining room and living room.  Everything, by the way, had a fine coating of glitter on it.  I hate glitter.  A few months ago my oldest child decorated my dining room chairs with glitter glue. Which I discovered when I sat on them.  In my new jeans.  Which were unintentionally bedazzled. 

This was one of those projects where about five minutes into it I thought, "ugh, what possessed me to do this? I could be peacefully reading the innernets on my sofa, enjoying a tasty beverage and chocolate treat." 

Two hours later, all back in. And largely glitter-free.

There will be more paper in the bottom square, as soon as I figure out a bin for it.

Are they organized into beautiful matching bins with pretty tags and nicely styled for my blog? No.  They are organized into bins I already had.  FREE, peoples.

Next house has wide, shallow closets instead of deep, narrow closets.

I don't think I'm getting much else on that list accomplished.


Monday, August 9, 2010

mirror in the foyer

I borrowed my mother in law's mirror and brought it upstairs to try it out.  Here it is:

I am kind of eh about it.  It seems.....boring.

This is always my dilemma.  I want things to be sophisticated and when they are, I am all, eh, its boring. 

Maybe I should revisit the cardboard moose....

more ceramics!

I've hung the rest of the Italian ceramics we bought.  As usual, I am wishing that I had bought a few more.

And now, the naked lady Botero (previously hanging in the foyer and then the kitchen) has been banished from the kitchen and is living in the attic.  Take that, naked heiney woman. We gots us some classy Italian ceramics in the house. 

Nearly all of the pieces are landscapes, except for the figure playing the guitar.  He's a Pulcinella, a stock character from the Comedia Dell'Arte.  Usually you find them as figurines (see my mother in law's spaghetti-eating pulcinella figurine in this post, towards the bottom), and I wanted to get one for us on our trip to Italy.  Unfortunately we weren't able to get to the section of Naples known for pulcinellas, but I when I saw this one in Vietri I thought it would be an acceptable substitute.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

foyer revisted

Last we saw the foyer, it looked like this:

And now, I've taken down the bird decal and the bird art at the far end, and hung up the ceramics on the left, and a mirror on the right. 

I bought this mirror a few months ago for the spot directly opposite the ceramics, but it doesn't seem to go very well there. I've tried it in a few other places around the house and it doesn't look right in any of them. I took down the two bird pieces because I didn't like them with the ceramics.  Which left me with a blank wall and heavens, we can't have that.  So, the long mirror.

Meh.  I think it needs to be painted a different color or something.  I like having a mirror in the spot, and I like the woodwork frame around the mirror....but the off-white color does nothing for me.

Also! I took down the naked derriere Botero.  I see enough naked hineys during my day, I am tired of seeing her when I walk in the door.  She currently resides in the kitchen, although I think she's getting kicked out of there as well.

I replaced her with a Seguin Poirier we bought on our trip to Montreal many years ago.  Although I like the colors, I think its not quite right.  Could be hung lower (I lazily hung it on the nail already there.)

However, I have decided I would like a mirror in that spot. Its the only spot in the apartment that does not get any light and I think a mirror would help bounce some light around. I'd like to get this mirror:

If it looks familiar its because I used a pair of them in my mother in law's dining room. 

The Mister's reaction: Aren't there already a ton of mirrors in our house? Do we really need another?

The Mister is frequently right in matters of fashion and decorating.  On the other hand, I just counted the mirrors and there are two! One in the foyer (the long skinny one above) and another one in the living room, nowhere near the foyer.  Two is hardly a ton.  On the other hand, two mirrors in the foyer?

So....what color to paint the long skinny mirror?  Get rid of it altogether?

Replace the Seguin  with a mirror?  Keep art there?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

ceramic pieces

Years ago the Mister and I visited Italy, and I bought this beautiful ceramic piece during our stay in Positano:

I loved it, and once we got home, wished I had bought a second (and a third) one. 

When we went to Italy this time, I knew I'd be coming back with a whole bunch more.  Instead of Positano, however, we went to Vietri Sul Mare, which is a town renowned for its ceramic products.  I went to just about every single store in town to look around first. I figured I would eat lunch and make a list of everything I needed, since I was buying Christmas presents as well, then go back and make my purchases.  

After we ate lunch I skipped back out to the main drag to start my shopping....and almost every store was closed for the afternoon siesta.  I had all the kids with me, so I couldn't exactly cool my heels for another 2 hours waiting for the stores to reopen.  If someone (say, the four people with me who spoke Italian and knew about the siesta???) had said hey, everything will be closed after lunch, you should do your shopping now....sigh, anyways.

Luckily, my favorite store with the stuff I liked the most (coincidentally, the most expensive store with the most prominent location) was still open.  So I trotted off and bought a whole lotta ceramics.  I really wanted a large piece but the prices were pretty expensive. So I compromised and bought about 15 smaller pieces, reasoning that displaying them together would have the impact of a larger piece. 

I bought a number of pieces in the same style of the one I already owned (mostly landscapes). I haven't put them up yet, that will be another post. 

Here's all my ceramics packed in diapers in my carry-on luggage on the way home:

I also found myself drawn to the pieces with a religious theme.  I consider myself spiritual but not overly religious, but these pieces just kept calling to me.  So I bought a number of Madonna and child pieces, and crosses.  As usual, I'm kicking myself over some of the ones I left behind.  There was a beautiful royal blue/green/gold cross in a Greek Orthodox style that I'm wishing I had bought.  Oh trip, right?

I hung the religious pieces in the hallway outside the kids bedroom.  I am liking them immensely.

I swear to y'all I am attempting to learn how to take better pictures.  If anyone knows of a how to use your camera class in Bergen County, I'm all ears.