Monday, January 31, 2011

30 in 30

These 30 Things in 30 Days memes are going around the internets lately.  I pulled this one from Just Expressive.  I might be closer to 15 Things in 60 Days.  We'll see how it goes.  Anything you're dying to know about me?  #30 is blank, so I'll take requests.

1. Your work space.
2. The best part of your day.
3. Something you refuse to do.
4. Last book you read.
5. Meaning behind your blog name.
6. Talent you wish you had.
7. A photo of you without makeup.
8. Last item you purchased.
9. Something that makes you sad.
10. 15 Facts about you.
11. Your favorite thing right now.
12. Best Christmas present you ever got.
13. Your favorite teacher.
14. Something you’re thankful for.
15. A photo from your childhood.
16. Something you crave.
17. Your worst hair moment (if you skip this one, it’s totally cool).
18. Favorite smells.
19. Last time you cried.
20. Last time you had to apologize to someone.
21. Something that scares you.
22. Something that really bugs you.
23. What you dislike most about your appearance.
24. Celebrity crush.
25. A trait you deplore in others.
26. A photo taken 10 years ago.
27. First book/movie/song that moved you.
28. What turns you off?
29. The story behind one of your scars.
30. This one was left blank so I will have to think of it when I get to it, unless anyone has a suggestion.
I'll do the first one right now, since I've already done it.  My work space is my desk  in our living room, which I posted about here.

Friday, January 28, 2011

more snow

I am not really a fan of snow.

As I was sitting in traffic this morning, I didn't get my phone out quickly enough to take a picture, but on the sidewalk next to me were pedestrians walking to the bus stop.  Except it looked like a bunch of walking disembodied heads, because the snow plowed onto the curb was at least five feet high.

This pic below is the drive home. I am really glad we have off-street parking.

Poor Mister.

I am a wee bit concerned that the three feet of snow on the flat patio over the garage might make the roof collapse.

I would have to shovel all the snow either onto the driveway, which is already kind of full:

Or into the backyard, which is also a bit full:

Snow is no longer fun when it is too high to send your kids out in it.  

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Billy bookshelf installed

The Mister picked the Billy bookshelf in the bump-out, so that's what we went with.  We started with one bookshelf to make sure we like it.  I like it and want a second one on the other side.

I am thrilled to have all my books out.  I love a nice ROYGBIV bookshelf (see an example here and here), but I guess at heart I am more a librarian than a designer.  In the new bookshelf all my books are grouped by author.

I do feel that this corner is not finished, though.  I think I'd like another bookshelf on the opposite side, because I still have more books, and I also have a large collection of home decor magazines that don't really have a home.

Also, I am not thrilled with the lamp and side table.  If I leave the table with lamp at the end of the sofa....that looks terribly unbalanced.  I would really like to keep the lamp on this side, because our living room/dining room area is pretty large but only has one light fixture in the dining area.  There are two lamps on my desk but only one works.  In the evenings its dark when I'm sitting on the sofa.

Putting the table on the other side isn't really working for me either.

If I put another bookshelf there then the lamp clearly has to live next to the sofa.

I must think on this.  

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

delicious broccoli potato soup

I just made the most delicious broccoli potato soup.  It was soooooo good.  
image via
my not-styled version
I have a number of food allergies and intolerances (yes, I am fun to have over to dinner!), and I can't eat most milk products.  This really cuts down on the number of prepared soups I can eat at restaurants.  I haven't eaten a broccoli cheddar soup in years.

I came across this recipe at Gina's Skinny Recipes, a food blog that posts mostly Weight Watcher friendly recipes.  I substituted a lactose free milk and lactose free cheese.  Lactaid Milk or SkimPlus makes lactose free milk, and Cabot Cheddar is lactose free and available in most supermarkets.  If you need gluten free you could skip the two tablespoons of flour, I don't think it would make much difference.  

This soup was rich, delicious and creamy.  The potatoes gave it a thick consistency and it was a savory, yummy soup.  Princess loved it and scarfed it down.  Greg had a fit and refused to eat dinner.  Peter spent most of the afternoon saying "Eww, what's that smell??"  But Princess and I (the two people who actually tried the soup) thought it was delicious.  
On a related note, anyone have a good recommendation for an immersion blender?  I have been making a ton of soups lately, and the mini-Quisinart isn't really equipped for blending 8-10 servings of soup.  

Monday, January 24, 2011

hey, remember those sofas?

A few days ago I posted about the sofas I am dreaming of getting. (I will keep dreaming.)  Today Traci at the blog Traci Zeller Designs posted about sofas she likes for families with young kids---the tight-backed sofa.  As in, NO BACK CUSHIONS.  

Why yes, yes indeed, I think I would like one of those sofas.  Because of this:

and this:

I am indeed interested in a sofa that cuts down on the time I spend cleaning up.  Who thought I'd ever type that sentence.  

Here's an example she posted--the Loring sofa from Room and Board:

See here for the full post.  

In a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon coincidence, Traci is a sorority sister of one of my childhood friends.  I've never met or spoken to Traci, but after reading her blog for a few months I noticed her posting on my friend Krissie's Facebook page.  Small world, eh?  

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I need a place for books.

The Mister and I used to have tons and tons and tons of books.  More books than we had room for.  Our old house was on the small side, and there wasn't a great place for a lot of bookshelves, so we had three bookshelves in the attic office, and the rest were packed in boxes in our basement.  In 2007 a flood in our basement took care of our excess book problem.

In this house, we have a multitude of bookshelves for the kids books in both the playroom and their bedroom.  I have a hard time getting rid of books. 
my children also have an excess book problem

We only have one bookshelf for ourselves.  Its across from my desk, in the space between the living room and the foyer.  It is packed full. 

In fact, I have all the shelves packed three books deep.  This does not lead to easy viewing.  

Why yes, 95% of my books are romance novels.  I like a happy ending.  Don't judge.  

I would really like a bookshelf where I can actually SEE my books, one layer per shelf.  I don't have a ton of options for this.  There are three possibilities, none of them great.

Option #1:
Put a skinny bookshelf (or two, facing each other) in the bump-out nook in the living room.  I think this is the easiest option.  I'd have to move the table with the lamp.

I would probably use the basic Billy bookshelf from Ikea.

Option #2:
Put an armoire or bookshelf with doors on the wall next to the closet.  This renders the closet unusable.  This is not a huge problem, as I  don't like this narrow, deep closet and it is useless.  It currently holds a vacuum cleaner and art supplies.  It is such a mess, no matter how many times I reorganize.  I would do an armoire with doors and baskets on the lower shelves to hold the art supplies currently in the closet.

If I did this, I really like the Hemnes bookshelf with glass doors, also from Ikea.

But then where would my beautiful red mirror go??

Option #3:
Clean out the art closet and put a bookshelf inside.  It has a very sloped ceiling, so despite being about five feet deep, you could possibly get about two feet worth of bookshelf in there.  
I don't think a Billy bookshelf would fit inside here. Its also pretty narrow, it would be difficult to view the books if you managed to squeeze into the closet with the bookshelf.  I think this option won't really work.  

You think that closet is a mess, be glad I'm not showing you the inside of the turret attic.  

So! That leaves me with the bumpout, or the glass-door shelf.  Thoughts?  

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I have been wanting a new sofa for about 4 years now.  Two years ago in a weak moment the Mister consented to possibly buying a new leather sectional, but at the time I wanted a new dining table that we don't use now because it is just too nice and thus hiding in my garage, and we were going through a potty training period where someone was peeing on my sofa on a daily basis, and thus I decided a new sofa was better put off for a while, and I lost my window of opportunity, so I am sitting on an old, holey, gross, ugly sofa, and will be for some time.

I have PLENTY OF TIME to shop for a new sofa, since we won't be buying one. Here are some of the sofas I am contemplating.

The Petrie sofa from Crate and Barrel. I have been sofa shopping for quite a while, and this has been tops on my list.  Sadly, the stock color used to be white or chocolate brown, but now the stock color is a charcoal gray, which I am eh about.  So ordering this sofa in a color I like is 14 weeks plus shipping blah blah, which kind of takes it down a notch.  You can find this sofa fairly frequently on craigslist here, but always in white, which, hell no I have three kids.

The Murray from Room and Board.  I like the clean, sleek lines of this one. Its also quite comfy, at half the price of the other sofas I am looking at. (Edit: weirdly, on my blog the Room and Board sofa pictures show up, but in Google Reader they don't.  I cannot figure out how to fix this.)

The Clarke from Room and Board. Interesting shape, no?  I am concerned that I will not like the long seat cushion, for no reason I can pinpoint.

I'm also slightly obsessed lately with beat up old leather chesterfields. Where does one find a beat up leather chesterfield with lots of character but lacking bedbugs?
image via Tracy Zeller Designs

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

J. Crew bathing suit

I recently ordered this bathing suit from J Crew:

I've had three kids in the last five years, I have gained and lost fifty pounds every 18 months for the last five years, and I am not exactly looking forward to getting into a bathing suit.  However, as you may have guessed since I am talking to you about bathing suits, we are taking a vacation in a warmer clime soon.

I am long past the age where I am going to (or even want) to wow anyone with my sexy bathing suits. My chestal region has improved since having kids, but gravity has attacked everything else. With a family history of skin cancer, I'm also really paranoid about exposing my skin to the sun.  I am probably the only person who comes back from vacation whiter than the day they left.

These days, I like coverage.   Lots of coverage.  I do not want to expose the underside of my bottom, I do not want to show the world my bellybutton (oh, such a change from 1996), and I am happy to look like the demure, prudish housewife that I am.

Amazingly, this suit is demure yet quite attractive.  Unlike those tiny scraps of fabric masquerading as bathing suits at Target, this one covers my entire behind.  It plunges a bit low in the front, but the fabric covers all of the chest area, so its not like tiny triangles. 

Best of all, though, is the ruching across the stomach.  After three kids, my stomach paunch has its own zipcode, no matter how hard I work out and how many cookies I refrain from eating.  Nothing gets rid of it.  This bathing suit is made of a lycra lining panel running from just below the bust to the bottom of the suit, and the ruching distracts from the paunch.  After putting the suit on, I look merely thick in the middle instead of five months pregnant.  Woot woot!  Less pregnant looking for the win! 

I have yet to wear this suit in the water, so I don't know how it will it hold up. I'll report back after I wear it on vacation.

Bottom line: in the comfort of my bedroom, I really like how the suit looks.  It is attractive without exposing my lady parts, its is demure without being old-lady-ish,  it covers the areas I am uncomfortable exposing to the public, and makes my tummy look smaller (doesn't get rid of it, but its definitely smaller.) If you can choke down the price ($82!!), its a great bathing suit. 

You didn't seriously think I was going to put a picture of myself in this bathing suit on the interwebs, did you??

Maybe when we get back. But probably not. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

corkboard fail

I have been working on some home improvement projects but don't really have much to show for it. 

My bulletin board area is kind of a disorganized mess.  I've got school stuff, design stuff, medicine stuff, baby announcements, holiday cards, interesting things I want to look at later....all crammed on the same 2x3 board.  I'd really like to have separate boards for separate topics, but the space to hang this is not very big. 

My idea was to do four 12x12 inch corkboards wrapped in pretty fabric, inside white frames.  Easy, right? 

Not really.  I looked for white 12x12 frames for weeks, but couldn't find any at a price point I wanted to pay (I need four of them).  Finally, I bought some red 12x12 frames (that were wrapped in plastic) and figured I would spray paint them white.

Unfortunately, these are the flimsiest, skinniest, most plasticky frames ever.  They barely hold in the glass and backing.  If you put in the backing in without the glass, it pops through the frame (see the bottom left corner of the picture below).

Arg. I thought ok, maybe it will hold up when it is covered with a layer of corkboard and fabric.

I attempted to spray paint the frames, but the paint literally ran right off the plastic, and the white is not going to cover the red without fourteen coats.  Since I am spraypainting inside in my basement, hardly a well-ventilated area, this is not a great plan.

I pulled out some oil-based Killz primer.  Since, you know, I'd like to kill the three brain cells I have left after spraypainting indoors.  It bubbled, it slid off the frame, its dried with cracks and streaks.

 As I stood in the basement, contemplating this crap, the Mister came in and surveyed the mess.  "Hmm...that looks....."  Like shit, I said.  "Well, that's one way of putting it" said the ever-polite Mister. 

Back to square one.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Framing fancy bags on Moth Design

I was just reading Moth Design and came across her closet, where she has framed some fancier shopping bags:

How cool is that?  I think that is such a clever idea.  Also, the rest of her closet?  So organized, so tidy, so feminine.  See the whole post here

note to self: next house, have my own closet.  

chalkboard wall is a success

The kiddos are liking the new chalkboard wall:

Short post today--I am having computer problems; hopefully I will be back  online soon.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

soooo over winter

I'm dreaming of this:
the beach in Costa Rica

but tonight we're getting another foot of this:

the view from our front door last week

When did we move to the Arctic Circle??

Monday, January 10, 2011

Phase One of basement play area re-do

The basement play area is in need of reorganizing (Project #7 of Projects I'd Like to Tackle in the New Year.)  The kids like to jump off the treadmill, its difficult to keep them off of it, the playhouse blocks the view of the tv, and things were just generally a mess down there.  So we rearranged a bit.

Here are some pictures of the basement before. This is the view from standing by the backdoor:
Most of the toys were kept in the cube unit in the front of the room. You can see that the treadmill is out in the open, although off to the side, which meant that my kids found it a thing of fascinating wonder.
The area between the treadmill and the tv was also a giant mess.  Crap gets hidden behind the chair.  The kids catapult from the treadmill off the chair onto the picnic table and up onto the roof of the playhouse.  This has led me to literally get rid of all child-sized furniture in the room.  If they can move it, they can use to climb onto the playhouse roof.  No mas. 

The back of the room was a catch-all for stuff, like a toddler bed, kitchen table, chairs, two old tvs, a weight bench, and bins of the Mister's out of season clothes.

And now (sorry for the dark pictures, it is a basement):
The tv and the treadmill were moved to the back of the basement.  The elliptical machine from upstairs joined the treadmill in its new home downstairs.
(Ignore the pile of stuff to the left that will be donated to Goodwill.)  

We moved all the cube units and bookshelves to form a half wall separating the play area from the exercise area.  Originally, we considered hanging a curtain to separate it, but we settled on this because it would have been difficult to hang the curtains because of the drop ceiling, and this way doesn't block the light from the door. It also provides a definite line between the exercise space and the play space, so the kids are now very aware that they are not to play behind the shelves in the exercise area. 

 I'm pretty excited that now when we have playdates, both moms have a place to sit, instead of the floor.  The bigger toy items like monster trucks, cardboard blocks and trains have been given homes in large tupperware bins  beside the playhouse.  

There is still a lot of work to do. Phase 2:

1) The walls are really bare, as you can see in the pictures above.  I need ideas for large, inexpensive artwork that would work on those two walls.  The walls were just re-drywalled less than a year ago, and we hope to move within the next two years.  This space will probably stay as a playroom for when we visit (pretty frequently), but I'm hesitant to do a gallery wall or put a zillion nails in the wall.  Also, inexpensive would be good.

Ideas?  I don't have anything in mind.

2) The art area.  At the bottom of the stairs is a large area I plan on making into the art area. I put the unused kitchen table over in this area, and would like to find a cabinet to hold art supplies. 

To get more floorspace, we are getting rid of the easel. Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of the chalkboard paint trend, but we need the floor space and this also allows me to make an area where three kids can be on the chalkboard at the same time.

I'm thinking of putting some Nerdy Baby flashcards above the art wall. 

So I'm excited that the basement is now more user-friendly.  Already the kids have learned that the exercise area is off limits, so that has reduced the amount of time spent hollering at the kids to get off the treadmill.  Its also nice having a sitting area where an adult can view the entire play area.  Before, only the gray chair was in the play area and it faced the tv, so it wasn't easy to keep an eye on everyone. 

Now I just have to find some art and an art supply cabinet, and I can cross Project #7 off my list.

tackling project #7

Project #7 of rearranging the basement is in progress...hope to be finished soon.

Friday, January 7, 2011

my mother in law's delicious meatloaf

You are super lucky.  I will share with you my mother in law's excellent meatloaf recipe, as dictated by her a few minutes ago.

1 lb of ground meat.  (She likes Black Angus. I used a beef/veal/pork mix.)
1 raw egg
3 hardboiled eggs, sliced
a goodly portion of good parmesan cheese (no, Kraft does not count) (I'm guessing a goodly portion = 3/4 cup, maybe a whole cup.)
salt to taste
sliced or shredded cheese (she uses whatever is in the fridge.  Mozzarella goes nicely.  I like to use a lactose free cheddar.)
sliced onion
olive oil

1) Mix the parmesan cheese and egg and salt with the ground meat.  (If you insist on adding breadcrumbs, use the Italian kind with parsley.) Mush it all around, but don't over-handle it.

2) Put the ground meat on a flat surface. I like a cookie sheet, or a sheet of wax paper to control the mess. Pound it out into a long rectangular shape. The Mister will use a rolling pin or a can of soda to do this, I just use my hands.

3.) Spread the cheese over the meat.  Sprinkle the sliced eggs over the cheese.

4) From one end, roll the meat up, kind of like a Christmas log. Seal the edges so the cheese doesn't leak out.

5) Place the meat into a baking pan.  Festoon and surround with onion slices.  Put a wee bit of water on the bottom of the pan, and drizzle the meatloaf with olive oil.

Cook at 375 degrees until its done, probably 45 minutes or so.

Sometimes the cheese explodes out the side, but that's okay. Its still delicious.

I know, I know, I got mad food photog skillz.  About as good as my portraiture skills.  Le sigh.  Its tasty, I swear.  The only time you might want to avoid eating this is the night before you go into labor with your second child.  Just sayin'. But every other time its delicious.