Friday, April 27, 2012

I have been pinning lots of 1950s housewifey type desserts.  Pineapple upsidedown cake, bread-maker cinnamon rolls, and a crazy amount of banana pudding.  Pineapple upsidedown cake is meh.  Cinnamon rolls are deeeelicious.  But the banana pudding is a favorite.  Although I make it without bananas.  So you might not call it banana pudding.

Princess gave up napping at the end of last summer.  At the age of two.  The boys napped until they were four, so Princess giving up the nap was unexpected.  Although I missed the hour of quiet time, it really helped with bedtime.  When she napped, her bedtime was torture--a good hour or two of her wheedling, pleading, screaming and having general hissy fits to get out of bed.  Once she discovered that saying "I hafta go potty" was the magic key to getting out of bed, she started taking these leisurely, forty-five minute constitutionals in the bathroom at 9 pm.  It really put a cramp in my "do stuff around the house" time.

But once she gave up the nap....she started passing out within seconds of being put in the crib at bedtime.

I think she still needs a nap on a regular basis, if not every day.  Trying to get her to take a nap, however, is met with staunch resistance, along the lines of Lee attempting Gettysburg.  She will have none of it.

Unfortunately, for the past few weeks, Princess has been napping.  At 5 pm.  She just passes out on the playroom floor.  Or the dinner table.


I discovered a fantastic home consignment center in my town.  It is a warehouse of furniture with some really great stuff, much of it from model homes.  Its not thrift-store cheap, but it has a decent markdown, and some of the furniture is just fabulous.  I found this pair of enormous gourd lamps there:

They are huge.  With the shades on they do not fit on my Rast nightstands.  Eventually these will go in my bedroom on new nightstands, but they need a makeover first.  They need a brighter color, and new shades.  (Those shades are ginormous and fuddy-duddy.)

They also have this ottoman that I am contemplating....

Its a wee bit more than I want to spend.  I may keep checking back to see if its been sold, because after a month the price gets discounted again.


I am trying to find a preschool for Peter and Princess to go to in the fall.  I've been told that I've "left it a bit late."  As in, I should have signed them up before my husband and I got married and contemplated having children.  I can sign them up now but Peter will be in the third grade before his spot on the waiting list comes up.

Also, preschool here is One Million Dollars.  I feel like perhaps this is akin to the scene in Austin Powers where Doctor Evil demands ONE MILLION DOLLARS and they laugh at him, because one million dollars is chump change.  So think of preschool here as costing One Billion Dollars.  Per child.   True fact: one semester of my college tuition was less than what it will cost me to send ONE child to preschool ONLY IN THE MORNING.

Have I discussed my general sense of sticker shock since moving out here?  We moved from an affluent suburb of NYC, you'd think I'd be all oh I eat benjamins for dinner, but no, I am all what the what WHAT?? It costs HOW MUCH???

Thursday, April 26, 2012

William Morris Project: the garage, again (its entropy)

This past weekend I tackled the garage.  Again.  You might think to yourself, but she just did that like a week ago!  Allow me to explain entropy to you, as exemplified by my garage.  In a very simplified explanation (leaving out thermodynamics), entropy is when something ordered disintegrates into disorder or randomness.  For example, when my nicely organized garage is used over the course of a week, where I toss a bunch of laundry in, take laundry out, move the bikes, take the stroller out, bring in a headboard, move some bins, try to unpack a box or two, paint some furniture but don't pick up the paint nicely ordered garage slowly disintegrates into a large pile of junk again.

Its not my fault; you can't fight physics.

When we moved in, the movers lined up most of the bins along the far wall, then piled our fancy dining table, four dining table leaves, and a toddler bed in front of the bins.  This left a tiny corridor between this pile of furniture and the row of boxes in the middle of the garage.  This tiny corridor is also usually filled with bikes and scooters.  The door to the backyard is directly at the end of that tiny corridor.

Our property management company provides a gardener.  The gardener can only access our backyard through our garage, and he needs to take the lawnmower through the back door in the garage as well.  As you might imagine, this furniture arrangement was annoying to both us, as I find it difficult to access any of the bins, and the gardener, who needs to hurdle an obstacle course with the lawnmover to get in the backyard.

This weekend we pulled out all the bins, and put the fancy dining table and the leaves and the toddler bed behind the bins.  We will not be using the fancy dining table or the leaves (its too big for our dining space) for a while.  We may use the toddler bed in the next year, but its easy to pull out the bins and get it.  

This is much easier for us to navigate.

I went through more bins and consolidated and purged and donated.  I found a pair of unopened white curtains that will probably go in the boys room, woohoo!  If you're wondering what's in those least half are hand me down clothes for the my younger two.  As Greg outgrows stuff, I pack most of it away for the next kid.  There are two bins of my professional wardrobe.  I will go back to work someday.  Haha.  There are two bins of bedding for guests on two different size air mattresses (twin and queen).  There is an Easter bin, a Halloween bin, out of season clothing for myself and the Mister, and two bins of coats.  There is one large Christmas bin and three small Christmas ornament bin.

The decor bins are mostly in the middle of the garage, and you'll notice I have not showed you that shame.  I have three two ok three bins of curtains.  Dude, my tastes have changed, don't judge.  I have a lot of windows.

On the other side of the garage....I did not take a picture.  I'm doing very poorly with taking before pictures these days.  Look at the below picture, in the upper right hand corner, in the overexposed light--see that blank corner with a bedframe leaning on the wall, and a bunch of paint cans?

That now looks like this:

We bought the Ivar system at Ikea, and it only took us six tries to build (and unbuild and build) it correctly.  Yes, six tries. FYI, if you buy this, the hardware is only little pins contained in the shelf edge.  In case you can't find it.  Like me, going "where the hell is the hardware???" for twenty minutes.

Weekends are always a DIY adventure for the Von Trapped family.

Contained upon those shelves are all of our tools.  Finding my label maker would be helpful, but generally, each bin contains a different type of tool, and there is room for my burgeoning paint collection (oh, how I miss the paint collection I had to leave behind).  The Ivar system is adjustable so that we could build around the spigot on the lower left (right above my box of nine hammers.)

This doesn't look like much, does it.  Sadly, those pictures are an entire Saturday worth of work.

Slowly but surely I am chipping away at that garage.  We will never be able to park in there but we might at least be able to find stuff.

I am linking up to Pancakes and French Fries William Morris Project.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

earthquake; girls clothing is wrong wrong wrong

First item of business: there was an earthquake on Monday!  We survived.  I could do without any more earthquakes, thank you.

My father sent me an interesting article about it that you can read here. I am thrilled to learn that I am living near a major fault line, upon which a nuclear power plant is located!  Note to self, make broader checklist of things required in next house, including low possibility of being nuked.

We have lived here for five weeks and I have managed to not pump my own gas so far.  How long do you think I can keep this up?

I have been shopping for clothes for the Princess, and as usually happens every single time I have to find clothes for her, I have worked myself into a fine tizzy.

When I shop for clothes for the boys, the color palette is usually a bit limited--red, blue, orange and brown is the generally accepted range of colors for boys--but the clothes themselves are modest and cover their bodies.  Short sleeves hit right above the elbow, their shorts usually hit at or around the knee.  In terms of sun protection, only their forearms and their shins are exposed.  There are no plunging necklines or items designed to draw attention to their crotch.

When shopping for girls, however, the opposite is true.   Shorts do not hit at the knee; rather, shorts barely  cover a girl's bottom.  Shirts have a variety of design; strappy tank tops, cap or flutter sleeves, wide necklines, and cheap, thin, see through materials. And I'm talking your average toddler clothing, not fighting with your tween about how sexy she looks.

Black pleather trench coats with ratty fur collars (recently available at a major retailer) are more appropriate for a prostitute than a two year old.

Why is a bikini bathing suit okay for two year old?  Why does my son's swim trunks and rash guard cover him from his knees to his elbows, but my daughter's one piece swimsuit covers the curve of her bottom to just above her nipples? Even buying her a "girls" rash guard and swim trunks covers the top of her upper arms, not to her elbows, and her "boy short" swim trunks just cover her cheeks, not to her knees.

Why is there clothing for toddlers with writing on the seat? Words like "sweet" or "juicy" or "audacious" written across the derriere are fine for a nineteen year old woman who wants to draw men's eyes to her derriere to ponder the mysteries contained therein, but it is wholly inappropriate for my two year old.  Emblazoning words across an article of clothing means that you are attempting to draw attention to that spot, and my two year old's bottom is not a place to which I want men paying attention.

There is a big difference in the subliminal message sent between boys clothing and girls clothing.  For boys, clothing is for warmth and comfort; it protects them from the sun, provides pockets for carrying interesting stuff, and displays the occasional fashionable allegiance to a particular toy.

For girls, the subliminal message is that your body is for looking at.  From the earliest age, girls clothing exposes more of their bodies than boys clothing.  Their legs in their shorter shorts, their arms in their shorter cap sleeves, their shoulders and chest in their strappy tank tops, their bellies in their two piece swim suits---their bodies are on display.

From the earliest age, my daughter is being conditioned in a very subtle manner by society that it is okay for her to be judged on her body and her looks, that her body is a thing for others to look at, that her body is for the enjoyment of others. I am not advocating burkas, but I do wish that girls clothing covered as much of their bodies as boys clothing does.

Of course, there are a few places that offer more modest clothing.  On the whole, actually, I would say Target has a fair amount of age-appropriate and reasonably modest clothing--but still--pick up a pair of girls shorts and hold them against a pair of the same size boys shorts, or a shirt, and see how much more fabric is allotted to the boys clothing.  If you can't see the label on the shorts from Target pictured below, the red pair is a boys size 3T shorts, and the flowered pair is a girls size 3T shorts.

I feel like I am trying to give my daughter the message that she can do anything she wants to do, and the message that the rest of the world is giving her is that whatever she does, she will do it with her fanny hanging out of her shorts.

My daughter wears a lot of her brother's hand me downs.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Color My World week 4: fabric

Week four of the Color My World Challenge---fabric!  Last week I said there would be a linky party today where you could link up your colorful item--I am not so great at following the rules, as is obvious from the fact that I picked two colors instead of one for this challenge...and thus I must inform you that the linky party is NEXT week.  If I had read the instructions I would have known that.

Moving on!

I looked in stores and online for a pretty pink or orange fabric for curtains in the bathroom, but nothing really spoke to me.  My budget for the bathroom was about $50 total, and I had about $5 left after buying the rug and spray paint.  I did like the orange trellis curtains from ZGallerie, but they were $50 for one long panel, which was a budget buster, especially for an item that I would be cutting up into cafe curtains.

As usual, I turned to the decor labyrinth known as my garage.  After much huffing and puffing and moving of boxes and a wee bit of swearing, I found the bin with the fabrics.  And inside the bin with the fabrics was a yard of this pretty orange, pink and raspberry pinwheel fabric:

What happened, actually, was that I was surfing the web, looking for pink and orange fabric, when I came across a picture of a pillow in this material, and thought to myself "hey wait a minute I HAVE that somewhere," which led to the rearranging of the garage.  This is why I need a cabinet dedicated to fabric display.

I cut the yard in half, ironed the edges with hemming tape, threw up a curtain rod and rings also found in the garage, and voila, cafe curtains.

Check out all the other lovely bloggers and their color challenges!  And NEXT week, swearsies, there will be a linky party and me discussing my feelings about pink and orange.

Ange - The Blooming Hydrangea
Anna - A Newfound Treasure
Carmel - Our 5th House
Cassie - Primitive and Proper
Jadyn - Dutch.British.Love
Jessamie - Bird and Branch Redesign
Julia - Black Tag Diaries
Julia - Pawley's Island Posh
Kristy - Hyphen Interiors
Lisa - Shine Your Light
Maury - Life on Mars
Shaunna - Perfectly Imperfect
Shelley - Crazy Wonderful
Suzy - Saved by Suzy
Tiffany - Living Savvy
Tiffany - Worthwhile Domicile
Vashti & Jamie - Like me Some...

Monday, April 23, 2012

painting fail

This weekend I was seized with the urge to repaint the changing table that resides in our foyer.  The green was getting very beat up and the piece could use some freshening up.  I dreamed of a rich, moody blue with new brass knobs.

I picked Loyal Blue from Sherwin Williams (coincidentally, the ame color Emily Henderson just painted her office).  I picked up a quart of Loyal Blue from Sherwin Williams (not Lowes, my first mistake).  It looks a weeee bit electric in the can, not quite the deep, moody blue I was thinking o.

Here is my dresser, after a coat of tinted primer and FIVE COATS of Loyal Blue.

a) It is a very electric blue, is it not?


I have given up on painting this for the moment, as I have been painting it all weekend and I am heartily sick of it.

In a sort of related tangent, replacing my bedside tables in my bedroom is on my list, as the Rast tables aren't the right scale for the room.  This piece is the right scale--I could paint it white with pretty knobs and move it upstairs to my bedroom.  However, that leaves me with the need to replace the piece in the foyer.  This piece is also exactly the right size for the foyer.

Decisions, decisions.  Find a different blue that is not circus blue and keep it in the foyer, or paint it white and put it upstairs?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

art possibilities for the boys room, house #10

The boys' room currently looks like this:

I need to paint that blue bookshelf white, and add orange baskets for toys.  On the wall to the left (not shown), I will be hanging the six framed DVD covers.

My budget for this room is limited, so I'm using mostly what we have.  I've thrown together a few mood boards that don't quite bring my vision to life.

First up, blue striped curtains that are currently in the room, orange lamp, the dvd cover art, and two large scale, blown-up photos of the boys.  I would frame the photos and hang them over their beds, like this room. The only thing new would be the blown-up photos, as I already have everything else.

The second option changes a few things.

First, I would take down the blue striped curtains, stretch them over wood frames, and hang them behind each bed.  The picture above looks like they are above the beds, but they would stretch from the floor to nearly the ceiling.  In the middle of the canvas I would hang the two orange canvases I made for the boys in the last house; they say "You are awesome" and "I love you a bushel and a peck".

Over the white bookcase would be a campaign mirror I have, which I would paint orange.  I am unsure of this option, as it means there are basically six rectangles against that wall.  Perhaps a circle mirror would be better?

 I couldn't fit the lamp in the picture, but there would be an orange lamp there, since the room does not have overhead lighting. I think I may also look for a plug in pendant lamp to help with overhead lighting.

Lastly, since I would be repurposing the striped curtains, I would bring in these ZGallerie orange trellis curtains.  This is a bit of a splurge, but it would be the only thing I would have to buy (plus a minimal amount of lumber to make the striped canvas frame), as I already have everything else in the room.

Lastly, the third option, which is a round mirror and white drapes with orange trim.

Again, this still uses the striped curtains as a large scale art treatment behind the headboards, but here I would use a round orange mirror over the white bookshelf.  (I have a round mirror I will paint orange. Seriously, you have no idea the amount of decor stuff I have in the garage.)  This is a little less rectangle-rectangle-rectangle along the wall.

This also uses plain white curtains, which I would trim with an orange fabric or ribbon.

I could use any combination of the above three options.  To recap, I am thinking of changing the drapes, putting up a mirror, and looking for art over the beds.

I have not yet decided on which way I am going to go; these are just ideas I have floating around.  Your thoughts?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

the boys' room, in progress (house #10) (part 1)

Nearly every room in this house is a redux of our last house.  I am using nearly all of the same furniture and decor in just about every room, although of course not everything fits or works the same way it did in the old house.  The boys' room will look fairly familiar.

When we first moved in, I put Princess in the front room and the boys in the side room.  Their rooms are the same amount of square footage, and the side room has a bigger closet, so I thought that would be the best room for the boys.  I didn't take any pictures of this.  A few days after I got the upstairs unpacked, I knew this was a mistake.

Neither room is very big--they are both about 10x11.  In the front room, Princess's room was shaping up to be a lovely, light-filled, spacious nursery.  The boys in the side room, however, were cramped, even with a minimum of furniture, and the room just did not have a good layout.The front room had a smaller closet but a better wall layout.  So after two weeks of that, we switched the rooms around, putting Princess in the side room and the boys in the front room.

Yes--I moved my children from our old house to Grandma's house then into a new house 3000 miles away, and juuuuust when they were settling into their new rooms I changed them all around again. When we finally got a bedframe for Greg last week and started to build the bed, Princess wandered in and said "ah we changing dis back to my woom again? Da brudders are moving back to da udder woom again?" Keep them on their toes, I say.

I will admit space planning is not one of my strengths.  I sometimes have to live with a layout for a while before deciding why it doesn't work (like...three years in our Haddon Township house before I figured out a good layout for the living room).  When we switched the rooms around, I arranged the boys room nearly identically to how it was in our last house, with the two beds at the head of the room and the dressers at the foot of the bed.  I kept the white Expedit in the room in the bumpout under the window, because we don't have another place for it, and it won't fit in the side room.

This still looked and felt cramped (all the mess in there notwithstanding; I am forever going "oh crap, I forgot to take a before picture").

I wasn't terribly happy with it, but I left it for a while, because it was functional (the mattress was not standing on end, I swear), and I had other areas of the house to concentrate on.  Plus the second bed still did not have hardware, so Greg's mattress was on the floor.

This weekend we finally gave up on attempting to find or replicate the old bed hardware, and ordered a freestanding metal bedframe for Greg's bed.  We screwed the headboard and footboard to the new metal frame (not without difficulty, but we are hoping it will hold).  
I have no idea why I took this with such an artistic angle.

While I was sitting in the room watching the Mister be handy, I started thinking about how we could improve the layout.

The most obvious solution was to remove the doors to the closet and put the dressers inside the closet, along with the filing cabinet, since the boys have no real need for a place to hang clothes.  However, if we are to keep the filing cabinet in the closet, the sliding doors need to come off, because one cannot access anything in the middle of the closet with the doors on. Unfortunately, I have nowhere to put the closet doors; the garage is full.

After much deliberation, we moved the filing cabinet out of the closet and into the hallway at the top of the stairs. This is heinously ugly but for now it will have to do.  This meant that the two dressers could live on either end of the closet, the doors can stay on the closet, and we now have much more floor space for the beds.  Voila.

I moved the Expedit out of the bumpout and stood it up at the foot of Greg's bed.  The two beds are now centered on the opposite wall.  The dressers are in the closet. This also allowed us to bring in the blue bookshelf to act as a nightstand between the beds.

So that is the mostly blank slate I am working with.  What remains to be done in this room is to repaint the blue bookshelf white, get some baskets for toys, and hang some art. I will talk about my ideas for art in another post.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Color My World week 3: paint

This week I'm supposed to paint something in my colors of pink and orange.

There's not much in my bathroom I can paint--I'm renting, and I'm not painting the walls or the vanity.  Or the toilet, despite last week's intimations.  

When I unpacked, I came across these apothecary jars with little wicker balls inside.

 They were originally in my bookshelf in the living room, but I moved them into the bathroom and spraypainted them pink, orange and gold.

I am eh on the gold...I think they will be repainted pink and orange.

I also framed the rug remnant from last week.

My budget for this room is minimal, so I  looked through the garage for a suitable frame. I didn't find any.  But, I did find an old corkboard.

I sprayglued the rug onto the corkboard and anchored it with a few flathead pushpins.

I hotglued orange ribbon all around the edges.

And here it is:

Check out what these other wonderful bloggers have done this week:

Ange - The Blooming Hydrangea
Anna - A Newfound Treasure
Carmel - Our 5th House
Cassie - Primitive and Proper
Jadyn - Dutch.British.Love
Jessamie - Bird and Branch Redesign
Julia - Black Tag Diaries
Julia - Pawley's Island Posh
Kristy - Hyphen Interiors
Lisa - Shine Your Light
Maury - Life on Mars
Shaunna - Perfectly Imperfect
Shelley - Crazy Wonderful
Suzy - Saved by Suzy
Tiffany - Living Savvy
Tiffany - Worthwhile Domicile
Vashti & Jamie - Like me Some...

Be ready next week to link up your own colorful addition!

Monday, April 16, 2012

To the dump

When I was a kid, I spent many a day at trash dumps.  My father is a pollution engineer, and we had many family outings centered around seeing a new trash plant.

Trash to steam plant? Been there.  Tullytown garbage dump?  Has a hell of a lot of pigeons.  The best trash vacation, however, was the one near Hershey, Pennsylvania.  "Hey kids! We are going to Hershey!"  Imagine our faces when we discovered we were not going to the Hershey amusement park, but to the trash plant nearby, where my father took pictures while we sat on the top of the hill, looking down into the dump below.  My father then took us, not to the Hershey amusement park with all the rides and waterparks....but to the Hershey museum across the street.

My father has never lived this trip down.  I bet that in 1986 when we went to the museum my father did not think that he would still be hearing about it in 2012.   You'll notice that my mother scrapbooked these pictures with the caption "the infamous Hershey Park trip."

That is one fabulous haircut I am rocking in 1986.

Keeping with longstanding family tradition, this weekend the Von Trapped family had a family outing to the dump.

We have gotten a handle on our trash problem.  We recycle everything!  This has really cut down on having an overflowing trash can, since the garbage company will only pick up one trash can.  Unfortunately, now our recycling bin is overflowing.  We have simply moved our trash problem from the trash can to the recycling can.  And since the trash company will only pick up one recycling can....we have to take our extra recycling to the dump.

My children do not like the dump. "Its stinky."  I recall saying something similar thirty years ago.

I  am my father's daughter.  I can't wait for my parents to come visit us so we can relive some childhood memories.   Bring your camera, Daddy.

Friday, April 13, 2012

I need a haircut.

In college I started going to a hair salon down the street.  I started with a junior stylist named Fawn, and when Fawn left and went to another salon, I went there too, and when Fawn started her own salon, I went there for the next fifteen years.  As we ping ponged around the state to north Jersey and south Jersey and back again, I kept going to that salon, even though by then it was over an hour away.

After I had children I found that it was becoming nearly impossible to make the trip--a haircut and highlights was usually at least three hours time in the salon, plus two hours driving there and back added up to a prohibitive amount of babysitting time, plus the cost of the services.  I got recommendations from friends and tried a number of salons closer to home.  None of them were very good, and some of them were truly terrible.  After the world's most horrendous mullet, I gave up.  I kept going to Fawn, although instead of every six weeks it became more every four or five months.  I gave up being blond and went back to mousy brown/just cover up the gray color, which lasted much longer between visits.

Last week Greg found a picture of me from a few years ago, where I had a shorter, edgy blond cut and was wearing makeup.  "Hey Mom! Look! Its a picture you when you were pretty! That was before you had kids, right?"

I have been thinking lately that I need a haircut and my gray hairs need some covering up.  I guess that was the confirmation I needed.

Unfortunately, this means I have to try a new salon. My luck in that department for the last twenty years has not been great.  I am dreading getting a new cut and color.

There is a lot of Very Nice Hair here.  I notice, however, that nearly everyone has Very Long Hair here.  Not even medium long hair.  Its not quite Krystal Gale hair, but its definitely middle of the back, long, shiny, healthy, lustrous hair.

I do not have long, shiny, lustrous hair.  I have medium-ish, thin, scraggly, split-endsy hair.  Clearly I would prefer shiny, lustrous hair, but as Greg so aptly pointed out, my children stole both my youth and my hair.

Getting a portrait of your own hair from the back is not all that easy.

I generally wear the Ponytail of Defeat most days.

Have you ever had a keratin treatment on your hair?  You know, the Brazilian Blowout kind that gives you cancer?  There are no lengths I will not suffer for beauty, unless of course it involves wearing makeup or uncomfortable shoes or pants that are not sweatpants, but still, I am willing to pay lots of money for pretty hair.

Do I just cut it off? I have spent two years growing this mop out, but am less than thrilled with the results. I want to walk into John Frieda and say "do what you will!  Give me a haircut that makes me HAWT and disguises my large posterior!" but rumor has it that John Frieda charges $750 for haircuts.  Although I would totally pay $750 for a haircut that makes me hot and disguises my posterior.

Advise, invisible internet friends.  

umbrella stands

I need a pretty umbrella stand. It rains in California far more often than I was expecting.  Reasonably priced umbrella stands seem to be in short supply.

This one from Home Decorators is whimsical:

I love these woven baskets from West Elm, might one use them as an umbrella stand?  But the lid is part of what makes it so pretty, so perhaps not.  I'll be honest, I'd love a large and small one for in front of my fireplace, but the price is kind of prohibitive.

Or the Target version (no pretty colors):

To be honest, the only umbrella stand I have found that I consider reasonably affordable is this one from Target:

Galoshes, perhaps?

I haven't been able to find too many umbrella stands that are bright and vibrant and under $50.  Have you seen any?