Friday, December 30, 2011

Eleven Favorite projects of 2011

This is not an exhaustive list of everything I did this year, just the stuff I liked the best.

In no particular order:

1. Turquoise Rast/Espana dressers:

2. Painted striped curtains:

3. Curtains from duvets:

4. Curtains from shower curtains (no, I never did get around to posting that tutorial), and picture ledges in dining room:

5. Chiang mai dragon painting:

6. Shoe memento box:

7. Ribbon trimmed roller shades:

8. Dvd cover art:

9. Pink ombre Malm dresser:

10. Black sideboard with gold lionhead pulls and nailhead mirror (see here and here):

11. Book ledges in the kids' room at the old apartment:

blog traffic, Downton Abbey, woodsmoke, my milkshake

Recently my Blogger stats started showing freakishly high page view stats.  At first it was double my normal traffic, then triple, then five times, and I'm afraid tomorrow my blog will explode.  Google Analytics shows the same amount of traffic I usually get.  This problem far exceeds my tech knowledge.

I started watching Downton Abbey last week, and became so engrossed in the series that I stayed up last night till midnight (!) to watch the last episode.  I was SORELY DISAPPOINTED.  There was no conclusion, no resolution, no denouement, no climax, not a single damn story line was resolved.  This led to much consternation and asking of why did you let me stay up so late if you knew it was going to end that way because hello, its midnight, I could have saved all this non-resolution for tomorrow night and gotten a few more hours of sleep.

The next season starts January 8th.  I am giddy like a schoolgirl at the thought. You should watch too if you haven't already.

Last year I blogged here about how the smell of woodsmoke freaks me out, since we have lived near three houses that have burned down and our house nearly caught fire last year and oh yeah our furnace caught fire while we were sleeping. I am terrified of our house burning down, and the merest whiff of smoke is enough to send me into a "what is on fire????" frenzy.

The town we currently live in is not located in the wilds of Maine or the hinterlands where one might need  a constant roaring fire. However, it seems that everyone here has a wood-burning fireplace, and they are all having wood-burning fire parties every damn day, because my house REEKS of woodsmoke.  REEKS, I tell you.  All day and night I am constantly jumping up to perform an investigation of what is on fire.  Is it my furnace? The dishwasher? The oven? The toaster? Why does this smell seem strongest in my (poorly weather-sealed) basement?  I have smashed my nose against the furnace grate on more than one occasion, sniffing deeply, like a cokehead on a bender without any of the gratification.

I can smell woodsmoke when we approach our town on the Garden State Parkway, for pete's sake.  For the love, people, stop with the damn woodsmoke.   I am entering nervous breakdown territory.

Today I was driving on 95 on the way to my sister's house.  I was wearing my granny sunglasses and driving my minivan.  Two moderately attractive truckers kept honking and waving and blowing kisses at me.

Let me repeat--I am a nearly-middle-aged woman wearing grandma sunglasses and driving a minivan.

Oh yeah. My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011: year end recap (life)

Here's a summing up of what happened in my life in 2011. This is more of a "life events" wrap-up, rather than a decor list.  As I'm re-reading this recap, it seems that I blogged mainly about decor this year, since there are not many "life" posts.  Which is kind of weird, since I think of this blog as sort of my personal diary.

I will do a separate decor wrap-up post as well.

January through March: we vacationed in Costa Rica, our furnace caught on fire, Peter was potty-trained, I took a course on blogging, I got a new sofa. I feel that getting a new sofa was the crowning glory of the first half of 2011. And the last half too, actually.  That says something about me as a person, probably.

In January, I was still in the grip of baby fever.  We need a fourth child! I've always dreamed of having four children! Every psychic I've ever been to (not that many) has said I will have four children! We have a table that seats six, but there are currently five of us--SOMEONE IS MISSING!  The Mister was smart, he kept saying, "of course we can have another child! Lets just wait a few months, we have this and that going on, etc etc."  And now I've changed my mind (see July below).  He is smart, that one.

April through June:  The last week of June the Mister got a new job.  That job is a "good" job in many respects, but the hours are not great. The Mister leaves the house at 7:30 am and returns home around 10 pm.  Meh. We all miss the Mister.

Also in the months of April through June, we decided to move out of my in-laws' house and rent a house of our own. I spent a few weeks dreaming up new designs for the new house.  This is the first house I ever sat down and thought about how I wanted each room to look as a cohesive design, rather than a piecemeal "I like this, and I already have this, what can I do with that". (I'll include the mood boards in the decor wrap-up.)

July and August: we moved into our new house and I spent a lot of time decorating it. (Too many posts to mention, see the decor wrap up that I haven't written yet.)  That was lovely and pleasant and I really enjoyed it.  We also survived Hurricane Irene with little damage.

I stopped nursing the Princess the day we moved into the new house.  This worked really well.  This also cured me of my baby fever.  For the past six years I have been in baby mode--I have been pregnant or nursing or both for the past six years.  I've also been either gaining 50 lbs while pregnant or trying to lose 50 lbs while nursing.  All of a sudden, I am no longer blinded by all things baby. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I could take a long weekend vacation without my kids, or wear clothing that does not allow instant access to my chest, and huh, whaddya know, freedom from being tethered to my kids 24-7 is hovering nearly in my grasp.

I think I am done with having babies.  (Putting this in writing is pretty much asking the universe to surprise me,  is it not?)

September through December:  You might have noticed (or not) that I went from daily blogging to much more sporadic and slightly cranky posts. That's because Stuff I Won't Be Blogging About happened.

I started but didn't finish a design course at Parsons. (Refer to the above paragraph.)

Peter started preschool, which despite their lip service to being nut-free, were not very vigilant about what they fed Peter, and thus I pulled him out of school in November.  We also discovered that Peter is environmentally allergic to pretty much everything in the world, which we think is the cause of his three-year-long sinus infection. We hope.

Aaaaaaaaaand now we are finishing up the year with a rat infestation.

So! That's (mostly) what happened in my life in 2011.

2012 had better bring the awesome.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas! Check out my awesome present.

I hope you all had a merry Christmas.  We certainly did.  I received a number of lovely gifts, but one present really made my day. We spend a fair amount of time driving up and down the NJ Turnpike, since our parents live on opposite ends, and I swear, the sun is ALWAYS in my eyes, regardless of time of day or direction headed. (The laws of physics do not apply to me.)  I would love a pair of prescription sunglasses, but those are a couple hundred dollars and I've just never prioritized them as a must-have item.

Of course, the Mister saved the day--he gives such good presents. (Remember the time I got him a belt and he got me a sofa?)  I told him how much the sun bothered me, so the Mister got me these sunglasses that go over your regular glasses, like 90 year old women wear:

My ride down the turnpike was much more comfortable without the sun glare. I look stylish, yes?

Now I just have to buy a Buick.  

Friday, December 23, 2011

new header

If you stop by the blog, you might have noticed that I have a new header and a new layout.  If you're in a Reader, click on through and check it out.

Thais Helena from House09 developed my header, and she was awesome.  I nitpicked it quite a bit (this blue, no wait, try this blue, eh, how about green, and what about that font....) and she was incredibly patient and creative. Reasonably priced, too!  Check out her stuff here

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tenement living

I am as tired of writing about rats as you are of reading about it, probably.  If only these rats would leave so we could move on to nicer topics, like redecorating my dining room.

Last night, I timidly opened the cabinet under the sink, to see if any more rats had been caught in the traps.  I noticed a trap lying on its side, and then, horror of horrors, I noticed a rat. A live rat. I screamed. The rat screamed. I slammed the door shut. The rat began to make a thrashing and banging sound that continued for about an hour.  I surmised, although I did not peer back in to check, that the rat had caught one of its wee limbs in the trap and was attempting to shake it loose.  Or gnaw off its own arm.  Regardless, I was not giving the rat the chance to spring at me and eat my face if I was wrong.

Eventually, my landlord came over and removed it.  However, this afternoon as I was folding laundry, a rat materialized on the second floor of the house, and OH HOLY HELL NO. Just...NO.  We will have a very Merry Christmas in our vermin-riddled house.  Maybe Jacob Riis can come take some pictures.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

rats, plural; sugary vegetables; sick kids

I am writing this perched on my sofa, listening to the veritable army of jackhammering rats in my kitchen walls.  Apparently Rat the First had friends and family.

I am deeply distressed about this.

I am searching for recipes for stuff to bring to various holiday get-togethers.  The von Trapped family has a number of food allergies (we are a bundle of fun to host for dinner! Invite us over so I can give you the long list of stuff you may not cook with!)  and so I try to bring a dish that ensures that there is at least one thing we can eat wherever we are.

I am undecided on Christmas Eve desserts; I would like to attempt a flourless chocolate cake because I love to eat them, but anything involving a water bath sounds finicky and prone to easy ruination, and I am doubtful that skim Lactaid milk will be an appropriate substitute for heavy whipping cream.  Still working on that one.

I have seen various "substitute a can of pumpkin for eggs and oil in a box cake mix" recipes floating around blogland, and I made one today.  It was.....ok, I guess.  It was moist (yes, to all the people in my life who have rules about the word "moist", I just used the word "moist" and might do so again, because truly, this cake was MOIST).  It was also dense and....I dunno, just thicker and wetter than a regular cake, although not with the delightful texture and taste of a brownie.  It was just moist.  It was not horrible but I do not feel the need to make it again.

One thing I will probably be bringing to my grandmother's on Christmas Day is an apple/butternut squash/sweet potato....thing.  Casserole?  It is super delicious, easy to make, and also moist, but in a deliciously good way.

I like to buy bags of cubed butternut squash and cubed sweet potatoes from Trader Joe's, because I am all about lazy cooking.  I toss half a bag of each into a 9x13 baking pan, and freeze the rest (and usually make a second batch later in the week).  I chop up two or three apples (this recipe is going to annoy the hell out of my sister--"why can't you use precise measurements, for pete's sake, what the hell is a pinch and is it two apples or is it three apples, how do you know which is right, TWO OR THREE???")

Right, so you have a pan full of chopped up butternut squash, sweet potatoes and apples. Toss in half a stick of butter, and some cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and whatever other spice you might toss in a pumpkin pie.  I would use nutmeg if we had any.  I sprinkle about two heaping spoonfuls of brown sugar over top.  Bake at 375 degrees for an hour.  At the half hour, take it out and stir it around a bit, then pop it back in.

The finished product looks, I will admit....brown.  But its a delicious brown! A gluten free, nearly lactose free, nut free brown!

I am not a food photographer, but I promise, if you like sweet potatoes and butternut squash and apples, this is delicious.  Truly.  Although my kids won't eat it.

My kiddos have been sick for the past week.  Perhaps we could just skip the November to May sickfest we have every year.

Princess has a tougher constitution, and while just as sick as the other two, plus she has molars coming in (sigh), she is steadfastly refusing to nap or sleep, ever.  This is a joyous occasion.  I should probably set her loose on the rats; she'd kill them in no time.

Girlfriend does like her band-aids.  Don't worry, they are merely decorative, placed by Princess herself, no boo-boos underneath.

Girlfriend is also suddenly obsessed with Strawberry Shortcake (note the band-aids), to the detriment of all the Minnie Mouse stuff I bought for Christmas.

Monday, December 19, 2011

500th post, Christmas Challenge concluded, Kenny Rogers mondegreens

Yesterday's dead rat post was my 500th post.  Here at Chez Trapped we bring you plenty of quality programming.


Thanks to all who participated in my Christmas Challenge.  There were 40 comments, the most ever on any post I've ever had.  I sent $100 each to Feeding America and the Center For Family Services.  It seemed like a nice round number.  I don't have a screen shot of the receipts, you'll just have to take my word for it.  When I made the donation to Feeding America, the receipt noted that since each dollar feeds 8 people (how do they do that??), that $100 donation just fed 800 people.  Woot woot!

Thanks again, everyone.  If you are still in the giving spirit, you can go over to Pseudostoops, who has a similar charity drive, where each day this week she will give 50 cents per comment to a designated charity. (You don't have to do anything more than leave a comment--you can even say "comment". Super easy.)  So go! Say "comment"!

Its December 19th!  I note that I am running out of time to send a holiday card.  I should probably try and take a picture or two of my kids.

I'll get right on that.


I am nearly done my Christmas shopping.  I have gifts for everyone except for my mother, who isn't getting anything because she won't tell me what she wants.  Usually my sisters and I chip in together for a gift for her, but this year my sisters took her to see Kenny Rogers, and I wanted to go but couldn't, so now I have to figure out a gift to get her by myself.

Did you listen to Kenny Rogers when you were growing up?  His greatest hits album was on repeat in my mother's car; we listened to that incessantly.  For years I thought that Lucille had four hundred children and a crop in the fields. Apparently she actually had four hungry children and a crop in the fields.

 I was also terrified that, like the Gambler, the best thing I could hope for was to die in my sleep.  My grandmother taught me the "now I lay me down to sleep" prayer with the last two lines of "guard me all through the night and wake me with the morning light."  But my eight-year-old self always added the "if I should die before I wake I pray the Lord my soul to take."  Just in case.

Cookie Monster playing Jingle Bells has been very popular in this house.


And how is your month of December going?  

Sunday, December 18, 2011

We live in the 1970s NYC sewers.

Well, the bad news is the rabid squirrel in my kitchen walls is not, in fact, a squirrel, rabid or otherwise.

It is a RAT.

There may have been some hysteria on my part when the exterminator announced that there was a rat in my walls.

The good news is that the bear trap did its job a few minutes ago.  THE RAT IS NO MORE.  I was sitting on the sofa with a sick Greg, watching Bey Blade Metal Masters while the Mister had taken the other two grocery shopping, when there was a THUMP from the kitchen sink area.  I froze, debating whether to keep my terrified self planted firmly on the sofa (you all KNOW what happens to the hot chick who investigates a loud thump in a horror movie), or if I should go shove the ottoman in front of the sink so that the rat could not accidentally writhe its way onto my kitchen floor in its death throes.  The terror of possibly seeing the rat won out and I dropped the ottoman in front of the sink.  Then I promptly texted the Mister and told him to come home and investigate what had just happened under the sink.

Happily, the Mister came home after about ten minutes, and our time alone with the intruder was limited.

Thank heavens, because I will tell you all that I was losing my everloving mind at the thought of rats in my house.  Please please please do not let said rat have friends and neighbors intent on vengeance and retribution.  

Friday, December 16, 2011

HALP--send guns and ammo

Last night the rabid squirrel was jackhammering away in the kitchen for over TWO HOURS. I think it is eating the house from the inside out.  Of course, I was home alone with only sleeping children for company the entire time.  I awoke this morning to this:

and this:

That would be a half-eaten sponge and three bear traps with the bait stealthily eaten, in a flagrant middle finger gesture to the human inhabitants of the house.  

I believe this means that the rabid squirrel has effected entry into the interior of the house.


Here is where some people would be all "bring it on like Donkey Kong, oh its already been BA-RAW-TEN".  But I am a person who prefers to enjoy wildlife from behind a thick pane of glass, and I really just want this DAMN SQUIRREL THE HELL OUT OF MY HOUSE, never to darken our door again.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

large art of a nun's head?

Today Christine from Bijou and Boheme was featured on Amber Interior Designs, and she wrote about her favorite five living room designs.  One of the designs really caught my interest:

Picture via Elle Decor
That giant picture of the nun's face over the sofa.

How do you feel about this?  Could you live with the steely eye of Sister Mary-Sylvia gazing upon you while you watched tv or made out with your boyfriend on the sofa below? (Although from the angle of the picture Sister Mary-Sylvia appears to be looking at herself in the mirror, or out the window.)

On one hand, I am fascinated by the art and wish I had a better picture of it--I like the enormous scale, the moody colors and the composition.  The painting is by Tony Scherman; you can see more of his artwork here. Unfortunately this painting is not on his website, but all of his painting seem to have this dark yet slightly irreverent feel to them.  

On the other hand, I tend to shy away from buying art of faces or people; I don't want them looking at me.  The first house that the Mister and I lived in together was a nine-month winter share on the Jersey Shore that came fully furnished.  There were a number of (ahem) paintings by the owner hanging on the walls.

One of the paintings was in the dining room.  Over the dining table there was a 48 x 60 portrait of a woman, without clothing, sitting at that same dining table, eating oysters. (!!)  After a few nights of eating under that view, Miss Naked Lady went to live under the bed in one of the many guest bedrooms for the remainder of our time there. (I have rewritten this paragraph about a hundred times now; I want to keep it safe for work and not offend anyone, but after so many years of reading romance novels I'm having a really hard time not using more colorful descriptors to describe that painting. )

So what do you think? Could you live with the giant nun? Share what pieces of art you've been liking (or hating) lately.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

to use or not to use expensive fabric

One more day to comment on my Christmas Challenge if you haven't already!  If you have, thank you so much.

I just linked up my to the Nester's Christmas Tour of Homes and Thrifty Decor Chick's Christmas Tree Party.  There are plenty of people who have put way more effort into decorating than I with my Christmas Bush, so check it out.

I have been contemplating taking down my dining room curtains, and putting up pelmets instead (that's a post for another day, but the gist of it is it is SO CLUTTERED in there).  Since I don't want spend any money on this project, I planned on using fabric I already have.  I have about 2 yards of this leftover fabric that I used on my mother-in-law's dining room chairs.

I had no particular love for that fabric--its pretty, I liked it fine, it had exactly the right colors I needed in my mother-in-law's dining room, and it was $4.99 on, so it fit the budget perfectly.  I only ordered 2 yards of it, but I think must have made a mistake, because they sent me wayyyy more than 2 yards of it.  Probably closer to four yards.  So there is a bunch left over.

The fabric would be a good match for my dining room as well. It has the teal and deep reds that are in the living room (and the kitchen), so it would flow nicely without being matchy-matchy.  However, I just read this post on Matters of Style Marketplace, and discovered that it is a to-the-trade fabric that retails for about $99 a yard.  I thought perhaps since it was on perhaps it was a knock-off, but I looked at the selvage and it is a Pierre Deux for Kravet fabric.

Its not exactly like I found myself in possession of $600/yard Fortuny fabric, but still, its an expensive fabric, and its unlikely that we'll be staying in this house past another year.  Pelmets are designed to a particular window's measurements and thus aren't the most portable window treatment.  I can't decide if I should use this fabric for the window treatments--after all, I paid $10 for it, and its free to me now, and I want to repaint the china cabinet red, which will go nicely with the fabric (but not the current curtains).....or if I should save it for something else.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

the Christmas blooper reel continues

Two more days to comment on my Christmas Challenge! Help me help others, pretty please.


In years past, we have taken the kids to see Santa at the Mister's office on Christmas Eve (see last year here). It was nice--the line was usually short, you could take your own pictures, it was free, Santa's elf was a pirate in another life, and there was a party in the cafeteria in the morning. Sadly, the Mister no longer works at that office, so we had to find a new Santa to visit.

Today we went to see Santa at the mall.  It was not a "get dressed up fancy and have your picture taken" visit; we merely wanted to tell Santa our wish list, and eat at the Cheesecake Factory afterwards. I did not have any plans to pay a zillion dollars to have my dirty children's pictures taken, and I had no desire to fight over wrestling them into nice outfits. So, my children looked like filthy ragamuffins; I didn't even wipe the chocolate off Peter's face before we left.

We got there and waited on line with dozens of children smartly dressed in their holiday finery. We were not even remotely dressed in holiday finery.  We couldn't even be described as clean.

After waiting on line about forty-five minutes, we were finally let into the Winter Wonderland area, where it was fake-snowing.  The kids had a ball picking up fistfuls of fake snow and throwing it up in the air.  When it was finally our turn with Santa, the kids looked as though they had a long battle with psoriasis, and the psoriasis won.

My dandruff-covered children sat on Santa's lap for pictures.  Greg happily sat next to Santa, talking his ear off. Princess grudgingly sat on his lap, but looked at Santa suspiciously and was ready to bolt at a moment's notice.  Notice Peter trying to get the hell out of Dodge.  

At least I removed my painting sweater before going to the mall.  Dinner at the Cheesecake Factory was pretty tasty, too.  

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chiang mai master bedroom finished

I think its finally finished. My chiang mai dragon pillows are here, which is the final finishing touch. (For now, anyways. When is a room ever totally finished?)

I think I've talked just about every item in this room to death.  The only things not discussed so far are the new indigo blue duvet and the rug.  The blue duvet came from The Company Store.  We have a humongous brown flannel pinstripe blanket that is super-warm, but brown flannel pinstripe did not lend itself to this design, so I tried a duvet.  I am normally a duvet-hater, but I am happy with this one so far. The ties in the corners that keep the blanket from sliding around make a huge difference.

Our old apartment had carpeting in the bedroom, so we did not have a rug for this room.  A new 8x10 rug that would be almost entirely covered up by the king bed was not in the budget.  Instead, I bought two 5x7-ish white flatweave rugs from Ikea ($80 total!)  and taped them together with carpet tape.  I am less than impressed with how they have stuck together--my side is fine, but the Mister's side always moves around, so it is on my list to get a large needle and some fishing thread-type-stuff and sew them together.  Since that would involve moving a king bed in a 10x10 room, I have been putting that task off for a while now.

You can read more about pulling the room together here: the original moodboard, the evolution of the moodboard, the summer bedding versionheadboard, Espana night tables, art over night tables, striped curtains, West Elm euro shams, lampshades, dressers, chiang mai dragon art.

1. Headboard: Craigslist
2. West Elm bedframe
2. West Elm euro shams
4. striped curtains made from West Elm duvet
5. Company Store indigo blue duvet (The lightweight coral summer bedding is from West Elm.)
6. chiang mai pillows
7. Espana/Rast night tables
8. dressers: already owned, from a defunct furniture store
9. hardware on dressers and Rast night tables
10. jewelry box: garage sale
11. mirror: thrift store
12. Erslev rug, 2 laid together
13. Bamboo frames: thrift store
14. Chinese lion: Homegoods
15. Green vase: Crate and Barrel
16. lamps: Homegoods and Pottery Barn Kids years ago, spraypainted Krylon Navy Blue
17. lampshades: plain Target shades with blue grosgrain ribbon added

Sunday, December 11, 2011

decluttering the attic playroom

Edited to add: I have linked up to Pancakes and French Fries William Morris Project.

I know, I have fallen down on the decluttering job.  I have barely touched the list; I keep looking at my kitchen drawers and console drawers and thinking, oy, I really should DO SOMETHING so I have something to blog about.  And yet, I do nothing.

Since the donation pickup is tomorrow, I finally decided to do something this morning.  I picked the attic playroom, since that had the largest number of items I wanted to get rid of.   Remember how messy it was?

And now, here's all the stuff I got rid of.  Two bags of trash, one dollhouse, two cardboard boxes of toys, one small table, and three pillows.  At the very end is another cardbox box and trash bag filled with stuff that is going to cousin Denise and some of her friends.

I personally am fond of organizing toys by common themes, so not all of the cubbies and bins you see are full.  Each bin has its own type of toy--like blocks, superheroes, big legos, medium legos, little legos, dinosaurs, Bey Blades, wooden trucks, etc.

When decluttering I pruned all the broken toys, the toys that were missing pieces, the noisy ones I can't stand to hear one more second, and the superheroes with amputated limbs. Sadly, Peter discovered the Handy Manny toolbox that plays mariachi music and rescued it from the donate pile. Then, as I was cleaning, I came across an entire box of toys I never even unpacked--ack.

So now its a bit cleaner. If only my children would actually play up there, instead of dragging the toys down one by one to my living room.

I also have a problem getting rid of books.  I might think a book is dumb, or terribly written, or the cover is missing and the pages are ripped----but books are SACRED and I cannot get rid of a book.  (This bookshelf is in addition to the cram-packed bookshelves in both the boys' room and Princess's room. We have many books, this family.)

You might notice a second dollhouse up in the corner of the above picture.  My mother gave me not only my old dollhouse, but my sister's as well.  Although I had high hopes of participating in the I'm A Giant challenge, not.  Because I have not touched that dollhouse except to put it on that table.  Next year, maybe.

I have a month before the donation truck comes back to my neighborhood, so the basement might get some love before then. Its unlikely, but possible.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

beribboned lamp shades

Thanks to everyone who commented so far on my Christmas Challenge so far--if you haven't yet, you can still help me raise money for charity here.


I've finally finished decorating the master bedroom; the last thing I had wanted to do was change the lampshades on the bedside table lamps. Although the mismatched lamps are about the same height, the lampshades were different sizes and shapes, and one was really stained from living in the garage for a while. (I did not take a closeup of that.)

I had these two matching lampshades in my basement heap o' crap--they were previously on the lucite ball lamps on my desk, when we lived in the apartment.

Here they had not found a home, partially because they were trimmed with a greeny-turquoise ribbon that just wasn't the right color. (They weren't the right color in the apartment, either, but I never got around to returning them before we moved, so into the basement they went.)

They were the right size shade for the lamps, and they were free, so I figured I would make them work somehow.  My first thought was to simply paint the turquoise ribbon navy.  I got a $2 sample of paint from Home Depot and got to work.

This sucked.  I did not tape it off, and I did not have the steadiest hand, and I messed it up.  It also looked dull and matte.  So, I ripped the painted ribbon off.

I rummaged around in my stash of ribbon and came up with a medium size navy blue grosgrain ribbon.  A hot glue gun and twenty minutes later I had two navy beribboned lampshades.

I would not say that I had the steadiest hand on this endeavor either, but I did not care enough to rip it off and painstakingly try to make it even.  There was an episode of The League and a chocolate cake calling my name, and I had expended all my crafting effort for the day.

Next up, my chiang mai pillows finally arrived!  I'll be doing a post on the finished master bedroom soon.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Challenge: help me help others

My sister pointed out that I have not posted at all this week.  I guess that's true, if you don't count Sunday as a part of this week.  I'm having a hard time getting motivated to do much of anything lately.  I haven't even tried to get the kids into a picture for Christmas cards.  If you are expecting a Christmas card this year you might be sorely disappointed.

Since I can't seem to get going, I've decided to make you do the work.  Its Christmas, damnit.  So here's a challenge for you, invisible internet friends.  For each comment on this post, I will donate $1 to Feeding America AND to The Center For Family Services.

Food and families are the two areas I tend to focus my charitable donations on.  Feeding America produces 8 meals with every $1 you donate.  As of 2010, more than 1 million people in New Jersey live in food-insecure households.  Forty-two percent of that number are children 18 and under.  I should make an eloquent plea here, but like I said, I'm all out of ammo lately, so--hungry kids is just not right, and you can help me do something about it.

The Center for Family Services is a great charity in the southern NJ area that helps families get back on their feet, be it through job training, rehab services or foster care. I like the family focus that they have; it doesn't matter how much money you throw at children's services, if the family they live in is unstable and unable to support them, the kids will be at risk.  There are a number of children at their shelters every year at Christmas who do not have family available to buy them gifts, or buy them basic necessities.  The kids who are at the shelter write down their Christmas requests, and their lists are sometimes heartbreaking--last year the overwhelming requests were for underwear and toiletries.  If you are an 11 year old kid and someone is going to buy you a gift, you should be asking for the latest ridiculously overpriced toy, not clean underwear.    

There's 49 of you following this blog, if everyone leaves a comment that's nearly $50 to each charity.  Tell your friends, tell your neighbors, link back if you want to.  There's no "tweet this, be a follower, yadda yadda"...just leave a comment (just one per person). Say hi.  Tell me your favorite kind of cheese, or what state you live in, or how you found my blog, or just say Happy Holidays.

I'll keep comments on this post open for one week, till December 15.  If I hit 100 comments, I'll add another $100 to each charity.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

A whole bunch of days of decluttering.

In October, Jules over at Pancakes and French Fries did a series called 31 Days of William Morris, where she purged and organized and decluttered areas of her house for the entire month. If you are unfamiliar with William Morris, he is the source of the quote "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful," and the series was designed around bringing her home into line with that concept. It was a really great series.  She is a fabulous writer and I enjoy everything she writes; she even makes organizing and decluttering sound interesting.

I doubt I will sound nearly as interesting, but I am planning on doing something similar.   The sheer amount of junk in this house is giving me hives.  I need to start afresh, to purge, to just get rid of some of this crap that is weighing me down.

For a few years now I have been tried to be frugal, to look first to what I have on hand for decorating projects. The downside of this mindset is that I never throw anything away, because I might need that someday. Wood scraps, oddly cut foam board, already painted canvases, art I no longer like, kitchen wares I have never used, clothes I no longer fit into....I have enough furniture in the garage to furnish a small apartment.  I don't HAVE another small apartment that needs furnishing. This stuff needs to go.

While I am not yet approaching an episode of Hoarders (as long as you don't look in the garage), I feel that we just have too much crap.  I have scheduled a charity pick-up for next Tuesday, and probably again next month (they only come to our area once a month) and my plan is to get as much stuff as I can out for donation.  I would have a garage sale, but 30 degree weather is not that conducive for a garage sale, plus I don't have a spare weekend day to sit around on my front lawn this month.  Ergo, donation.

The areas I plan to tackle:
1. The attic playroom
2. The Mister's attic office
3. The junk drawer in my bedroom dresser
4. Outgrown clothing for the kids
5. The linen closet
6. The kitchen junk drawer
7. The blue antique secretary
8. The living room console
9. The basement.  Dear heavens, the basement.
10. The garage.  Hahaha.  Hope springs eternal!
This list may not sound like much, but I assure you that while I run a fairly tight ship in our first and second floor, the attic and the basement and the garage are a bit overflowing.

I leave you with a picture of the horrorshows I need to tame.  The attic is going to be PURGED of toys.  Purged, I tell you.  Any ideas of where to donate used toys?  It seems a shame to give them to Goodwill if I could give them to someone who might actually use them.

And the basement....I don't know if I have the willpower to do this space.  Actually, I think I can pretty much guarantee that I will not be able to do the entire space in under a week.  I'm hoping for at least a clear walkway to the laundry area.

Its 10 pm and I'm not running out to take a picture of the garage in the dark.  I also don't want you all to think my family needs to sign me up for Hoarders.

Wish me luck.

Edited to add: I linked up to Pancakes and Frenchfries William Morris Project.