Thursday, June 27, 2013

vote: short hair

* I published this Thursday afternoon, got a few comments (thank you!) and then somehow this post unpublished itself and disappeared, in case you are wondering why I am putting this up so late.  But East Coasters still have time to vote Friday morning :-)

**Arg! The Mister noted that not only did the post disappear, only half of it came back!


I don't think I ever showed you my haircut a few weeks ago, when I went from lank, stringy, boring shoulder-length hair to a bob just below the ears.

Its asymmetrical; its longer on the left than the right.  Tomorrow I am getting another haircut/covering up my gray hairs, and I going even shorter.  Inspiration: Posh Spice.  Posh totally rocks short hair. (See a gazillion pictures of short hair/Posh with short hair here.)  I think both of these pictures are from the same time frame, so you get a sense of how the cut looks from the back.

image via

image via 
Not Posh, but I LOVE this haircut.  However I am afraid I would walk around with my head tilted to the side, puffing  my hair out of my face.

image via
And lastly, Posh again, with a haircut similar to what I already have, but stacked higher in the back.

image via
Your thoughts, please,  if you are up early on Friday morning.  

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Family Room {In Progress}

The family room is my favorite room in the house.  I am so, so pleased with this room.  It is cozy, comfortable, colorful without being crazy, the dark portions are offset with lots of white, it contains all my books, and I just love it.  Looking back at our previous five houses, I can't believe I didn't make my books a priority. In two houses we had our books crammed three deep in Ikea sideboards in our loft and in our finished attic.  In the apartment we had two bookshelves in a nook, and in Westfield I put the books behind doors and tchotchked up the top shelves. What was I thinking?  Books are things that make me happy, and I ignored my own happiness trying to be/decorate like someone else.  Dumb! Never again! Every house we buy from here on out must have The Library.

I can cross an item off the Master List; I added a skinny Billy bookshelf between the two wider shelves.  I added fabric to the back of the shelves, just like the shelves on the other side of the room.  All of the books in this section are children's books.  The bottom half are younger literature, like board books and toddler stories, and they are on the bottom so that everyone can reach them.  In the upper half I pulled nearly all of my young adult lit from the other shelves and grouped it all together here.

I say mostly all because on some low shelves across the room I kept the Harry Potter series, the Lemony Snicket series, and Princess's ginormous collection of Christmas stories. (10 copies of The Night Before Christmas! She loooooves that poem.) (That is not the whole collection, she has more upstairs next to her bed.)

One thing about this room that makes me happy is that nearly everything is from the old house; we spent very little money in here.  Our only purchases were an 8x11 persian rug from Craigslist, six pleather dining chairs from a trailer park (steal of the century--six chairs for $40), one side table from Craigslist, and three narrow Billy bookshelves.

The red and blue persian rug is really beautiful and worked perfectly with all the navy and red pieces we already had.

I also bought a Pottery Barn Kids Anywhere chair from Craigslist, and it was in perfect condition.  I'm glad I didn't pay full price, because the kids have already destroyed it.  This happens a lot.  I am actually contemplating a bean bag for this spot, because the kids really like to read in this chair.  Something slouchy and child-sized but where the back doesn't fall over would be nice.

Between eating, reading and watching tv, this is the room where we spend most of our time.

This room is about ninety percent done.  I still need to lengthen the curtains, and various artwork has not been hung (or even decided on).  I want to put a stack of two or three frames in the spot between the large eat-in area painting and the living area curtains, but am still searching for the right items.

I know you all are thinking, hey, you went accessory-free! What are all those tchotchkes doing up there??

If you recall the tchotchke-free post, I packed away all but a few items (mostly busts and some small mementos).  These pictures above are not the most recent; I have since used all the small busts and mementos as bookends.  I am the sort of person who will group all her books by author and topic, thus leaving me with gaps where maybe all of one topic fits nicely on one shelf but there is not enough room to put another full author group, so I put them on other shelves to keep them together.  Ergo, I needed a lot of bookends.  Tchotchkes to the rescue.

Why yes, one of my tchotchkes is my 20 year old dental mold and retainer. 
However, this past weekend I was in the garage unpacking the boxes that I thought held art and discovered to my horror there were MORE UNPACKED BOXES OF TCHOTCHKES.


In any event, I hope you enjoyed the room tour of the room I like best.

Friday, June 21, 2013

dining room by Jen Langston Interiors that I must own

I have pretty much stopped doing "inspiration pic" posts, but whoa, I just saw two pictures I have to share. The July 2013 issue of Southern Living features an amazing home designed by the incredibly talented Jen Langston.  I stopped in my tracks when I saw this---THIS is what I want in my dining room.  It is sophisticated but clean and simple and usable by children. OH YES, SHE WILL BE MINE.

image via Jen Langston Interiors
I took the picture from Jen Langston's website, but the Southern Living issue has different pictures from the other side of the room.  If you look in the very back of the picture, there is a West Elm sideboard that I have been contemplating using in my own dining room.  Interestingly, in the Southern Living shoot the styling is different--there are two  vibrant green lamps that match the chairs on either end of the sideboard.

I think I could actually do a "look for less" version of this room without starting over.  It is on our list to replace the carpet with wood flooring.  I already have a long wooden table  (although mine is not a modern parsons table).  I have the tolix chairs, I've already been thinking of painting my windows black, and I can paint the two chairs at the head/foot of the table a vibrant color. (I don't have anything nearly as striking as those green chairs, but you know, work with what you got.)  I will also be replacing our ugly Tuscan wrought-iron chandelier eventually, but that wicker-ish light fixture is about the only thing in the room I am not excited about.  Otherwise I love everything about it.

Isn't it nice when you see a room and you think YES, YES, THAT IS WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR!

The entire house is pretty amazing, honestly (look under the Richter Way link).  I know I've seen pictures of this house, especially the kitchen, floating around on Pinterest, but for this picture also gets me going:

image via Jen Langston Interiors

That chair! Those stripes! Those other stripes! And the other other stripes!  That fabric looks very similar to that striped sofa featured in Lonny a few years ago, isn't it?

What do you think about the spare, stripped down aesthetic of the dining room?

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Master To-Do List

I have so many ideas for this house! Time and money lag behind, unfortunately, but I have plenty of time to work on this house.  Here's the master list of things I currently want to accomplish in this house.  (Subject to changing and evolving needs, as always.) Please remember that this is a five year (or longer) plan.

The Exterior (Front)

-take out rose bushes and replant in out-of-the-way corner in the backyard, as one child has repeatedly dragged another child through the rosebushes, to the scratchy detriment of said second child
-paint trim a different color, possibly a charcoal gray?
-paint front doors a bright, happy color (leaning towards yellow, but this is subject to HOA approval, as is repainting the trim)

The Foyer

-paint the interior of the front doors (navy blue?)
-art or a mirror to the side of the doors (not pictured)
-paint the lionhead dresser (red?)

Downstairs Hallway

-Art!  I have an idea for a gallery wall that is not messy and jumbly. I hope. Will report back soon.
-a kilim rug-type runner


-this is the view from the front door.  That upper wall going up the staircase needs a statement SOMETHING.  Not sure what. I think it might be our collection of vintage art posters.
-I am not offended by the lantern light fixture, although it wouldn't be my first choice.  Changing it out is wayyyy down on my list of priorities, but it will probably be changed eventually.
-Raise the step-down floor into the living room.  I hate this.  I really want the floor to be one level all the way around, so that there is no separation between the dining room and living room and foyer.  This step-down is also severely curtailing our furniture arranging options in the living room and wasting a ton of space in the foyer.
-extend the wood flooring into the living room and dining room
-paint the banister black
-repaint the spindles white (they are a very yellowy off-white at the moment)

Living Room/Playroom

-ugh, where to start?
-raise the floor (see above), add wood flooring.  Problem--the previous owner put in $14/sq ft hand-scraped french-bleed hickory flooring in HALF the house.  That flooring has been discontinued, of course.  If I raise the floor we will need to match the wood, which seems impossible. I have done some investigation and have not found anything that matches well enough, and $14/sq ft is EXPENSIVE.  Of course, getting rid of the old, perfectly good yet non-matchable flooring and reflooring the ENTIRE HOUSE is also EXPENSIVE.  We will be exploring solutions in the next year or two.
-resurface the fireplace with tile (get rid of the brick)
-art over the fireplace, or wire it for tv when refacing?
-fabric window treatments
-lined bamboo blinds
-this is currently the playroom. I have no idea what purpose I will want this room to serve in three or four years, which is when I think I will have enough money to actually decorate this room with new furniture.  Lets revisit this then.

Dining Room

-art canvas of Italian vacation for long wall
-paint chairs
-new sliding doors
-raise floor/add wood flooring
-once floor is raised, add second table leaf and chairs so table seats 10
-I sold that oak buffet. Not sure if I'll replace it, I'm liking the spaciousness.
-new light fixture


-ignore the mess
-new cabinet under cooktop (not pictured), put microwave under cooktop
-replace insanely loud double oven (not high on list, priority wise, but it is unbelievably loud)
-paint lower cabinets darker (greenish-beige) and upper cabinets white (they are white, but they need a touch-up)
-paint windows black, like casement windows
-replace countertops (quartzite? or something that looks like marble but isn't)
-tile backsplash
-brass hardware for cabinets
-small antique-type butcher block island
-new fridge that doesn't need to be taped shut to stop it from beeping
-bar stools for counter

Eat-in Area

-lengthen curtains
-replace sliding doors
-replace missing cable wall plate
-maybe put a window where the painting is? The family room has an off-center window at the other end of the room. Putting a window at this end would balance things out and bring more light into this rather dark side of the house.
-art between the large painting and the curtains in the family room

Family Room

-lengthen curtains
-add another children's chair or beanbag to reading area
-add narrow Billy bookcase between bookcases at end of room
-find different end table for far end
-add small Italian ceramic triptych
-find homes for remaining tchotchkes
-replace sofa with sectional
-continue to rebuild Young Adult lit collection
-move green lamps upstairs and find smaller lamps for living room

Back Hallway

-the problem child of our home (the former laundry area)
-I'm fairly positive we have a slab leak underneath that  wood flooring right there. Since it only leaks when we use the master shower, we are not using the master shower. (The master shower is about 18 inches wide, so its not a hardship to give it up.)
-rip up the wood floor, fix the leak
-replace that ugly tile--maybe extend the wood flooring into that area?
-you all want me to make this a mudroom.  But--don't hate me--we don't need a mudroom.  Because it is warm here and we have no need of storing large puffy coats in the winter.  We already have a coat closet and a mudroom area in the garage.  We do need an office area, though, and this will probably become an office.
-patch drywall
-paint or wallpaper walls
-paint cabinets

Downstairs Bathroom

-this bathroom is to the immediate left of the back hallway and directly under the master bathroom. I am reluctant to do much in this room until the leak is fixed, as I fear that there might some tearing down of patches of wall in looking for the source of the leak.
-I discussed the possible plans for this bathroom with this wallpaper here
-repaint the ugly beige to a beautiful pink, including the ceiling
-paint the vanity
-replace light fixture (eventually)
-replace brass shower surround (eventually)
-replace tile floor (sooner rather than later)
-replace mirror
-wallpaper one wall

Upstairs hallway

-Finish painting the trim, doors and banister black
-give closet a fresh coat of paint
-Art.  This is visible from the front door, so I'd like something pretty.  This might be the spot where I put the picture ledges.

Princess's Room

-Princess's room is nearly done.
-replace the carpet
-roman shade for the window
-art near window
-art on wall by the door
-replace chair cover

Boys' Room

-In contrast to Princess's room, this room is barely started.
-the layout in this room is terrible.  I can either take out all furniture but the beds, or buy bunk beds.
-replace the carpet
-you can see the previous moodboard here. I am still thinking about how to decorate this room, and haven't made any decisions.  Probably there will be bunk beds, new curtains, new bedding, and some superhero art....but I haven't decided.
-fix electrical so that light switch is not controlled by light switch in fourth bedroom

Fourth bedroom (aka The Room of Requirement)

-the boys are sharing the other room, but eventually one of them will move in here. Right now the room is stuffed with furniture that doesn't have a home and various junk.
-I am debating moving the boys into this room, instead of the room they are in now, as I could get both beds on either side of the window, with a small cube unit between the beds for books and toys.  This would mean losing the Expedit that is in the other room, but I could bring back the orange trellis curtains.  The room needs to be painted first, however.
-paint over the band-aid beige
-replace carpet

Upstairs Bathroom

-replace tile floor
-replace mirror with two mirrors
-replace single sink vanity with two sink vanity (there is enough space, although we'll have to redo the plumbing)
-the bathtub and tile are in decent shape, so they will probably stay as is
-this will be repainted eventually
-find bath rugs
-replace 80's hollywood dressing room light fixture

Master Bedroom

-replace carpet (more carpet, or extend wood flooring from hallway?)
-upholstered bed that is one piece. The current headboard is hung on the wall; I'd like something where the bed is not a foot away from the headboard.
-roman shades
-new dressers
-mirror and art
-take out home alarm box and patch/paint hole
-fainting couch or settee or comfy upholstered chair
-valet (the wooden kind, not Mr. Bates)

Master Bath

-I'd like to gut this room and redraw the entire floor plan, but that is a few years off.
-move the far left wall (which doesn't reach the ceiling) further into the bedroom to create another closet
-move the toilet. The toilet room (which is way in the back, to the left of the towels in the photo, and it has a door) is just a weeeee bit too small; one cannot walk into the toilet room and close the door without leaning way over the toilet.
-The shower (opposite the toilet room, to the right of the towels) is about a foot square.  There is no way to take a shower without one's nose plastered to the tile. Also, it causes the leak under the floor in the back hallway downstairs, so we never use it.  We have three showers in this house and all five of us use the kids bathroom.
-create an upstairs laundry with a door onto the hallway outside the master bedroom (after the multiple laundry floods over the last few weeks I am having second thoughts on putting the laundry upstairs)
-replace the vanity and light fixtures
-add toiletry and towel storage, of which there is currently very little
-add door so that room is completely separate from bedroom
-replace the grody carpet with tile (why does anyone put carpet in a bathroom??)
-for now, just paint the walls and the bathroom

The Exterior (Backyard)

-the backyard is a barren, dry, dirt-filled patch that is sloped towards the house with a termite-riddled pergola attached to the length of the house.  There is a curvy concrete patio that runs the length of the yard, and a dead grass/dirt area that runs from the patio to the fence.  It is not a great area for playing in, although there is enough square footage that it could be, with a fair amount of work.
-replace the termite-riddled pergola
-rip up the concrete patio, put down pavers
-provide appropriate drainage to yard and patio
-grade the yard so that the yard slopes away from the house, not towards it

And there you have it.  I actually knocked a couple items off the list this weekend :-)

Friday, June 14, 2013

versatile ottoman

I had planned on putting up the Master To Do List today, but I've been working on it for hours and I haven't even gotten to the upstairs yet.  So I leave you for the weekend with some pictures of my children.

This ottoman is a trampoline, a rolling Indiana Jones-style Rock of Doom, and a carnival ride.

Have a good weekend, y'all. We'll be at our home away from home (Ikea).  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Blogiversary, dishwashers and lice

My three year blogging anniversary was last week.

I thought about polling you about what you would like to read here--more decor, more life, more mood boards?  But I decided this space is purely my own.  I enjoy your presence and your comments, but I'm going to keep writing about whatever I please.  Which is pretty much the opposite of what I used to teach ("remember your audience!"). I haven't even checked my stats in the last few months.  Its freeing, actually.

One thing I would like to do with this blog, though, is figure out threaded commenting.  Blogger has threaded commenting, but of course, I can't get it to work.  I want to be more active in replying to comments.  I do currently reply to comments if your email is attached to your username, but that's only about two of you, so....yes, I need to get over my Luddite fears and get all technologyfied up in here.

I also need to figure out a new blog name.  Clearly I am no longer trapped anywhere.  Suggestions welcome.

The dishes were washed, yet not by my dishpan hands, and lo, there was rejoicing in the land.

The Lowe's installation guys installed our dishwasher this afternoon.  While they were installing our dishwasher, the five of us were sitting a few feet away at the eat-in kitchen table, having the Lice Lady search our hair for lice.  Because getting de-loused is not embarrassing enough. No, we need an audience of paid strangers.  ("Honey, you wouldn't believe this house I did an install at today, you gotta check my head...")

I am happy to report that the supposed nit found in Princess's hair by her preschool teacher was actually an overzealous interpretation of glitter.  Because I would lose my mind if we had lice again

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

State of the Union: food allergies

A few weeks ago Peter had an allergic reaction while I was driving on the 405 freeway. In case you are wondering, the freeway is NOT a good place to have an allergic reaction. I pulled off at the nearest exit, hyperventilated through a traffic light while my child was screaming "MY LIPS MY LIPS MY LIPS ARE ALL WRONG MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY MAKE IT STOP."  I pulled into a parking lot, pulled out the Epi Pen, but Peter got even more wound up at the sight of the EpiPen and we were engaged in hand to hand combat, so I gave him Benadryl.  Luckily, within a few minutes the swelling went down, we turned around and drove to our pediatrician, and everything was fine.

I was an idiot.  A fracking idiot, and I am lucky my child is still alive.  What I should have done was pull over on the side of the freeway and jammed the EpiPen in my kid's leg, regardless of his feelings on the matter.  

I didn't use the EpiPen because I was scared, and I don't want this to be a part of my life. I don't want my child to have a life-threatening medical condition. I don't want to deal with this three times a day.  I have EpiPens planted strategically all over the house and my purse and my first thought in a situation where it was needed was "NO NO NO."  I didn't use it because if I did use then I have to call 911 and that means shit is serious.  And I don't want serious shit to be happening to MY KID.

That was dumb.  Next time I will use the EpiPen.  This time I realized that serious shit can and will happen to my kid and it is my job to stop it from happening or getting worse, not give it leeway with my dumb-assery.


It is scary to think that whatever you food you allow your child to eat might kill them.  Eating is a thrice-daily Russian roulette.  I try very hard not to communicate that thought to my child.


As a result of that incident, we discovered that Peter has developed a few new allergies.  Oranges and food dye.

Food dye.

Do you know what food dye is in?



I may have said this before, but I recently re-read the Little House on the Prairie series, and my impression was that it was seven books of They Make The Food.  Ninety five percent of the books is about caring for the animals about to be food, slaughtering the animals for the food, skinning and curing and preparing the food for long-term storage, getting up a 4 am to put the bread on, soaking beans overnight, and so on and so forth.  I guess that's what you have to do when you can't go to the grocery and buy food out of a box.

Guess what I do with my days now?  That's right, I Make The Food.  We never take Peter out to eat.   Peter does not eat any commercially prepared sweets, ice cream, or bakery-fresh bread.  The new rule is that if it comes out of a box or plastic container, Peter probably can't have it.

Peter and I were discussing this tonight, and Peter came to the horrible realization that Halloween is going to suck this year.  OMG this broke my heart.  In previous years I have operated a trade-in program, so that everything he gets he can trade in for safe nut-free candy, but since he can no longer have food dye, nearly all candy will be off limits.  I promised that we would get a cookbook for making our own candy this week. What did Laura Ingalls eat? Hoarhound candy? If it was good in 1896, we'll probably give it a try.

I just bought canning supplies.

Making The Food is how I spend a really large portion of my day.


This food dye allergy has really been a kick in the teeth for me.  It seems like for the past few years, every few months we get some bad news about some special need for one of my kids (not just Peter), and then I wig out and cry and then we adjust and then that bad news is our new normal.  We learn to live without whatever item and we learn to deal, and then something else happens, and the circle of acceptable food gets smaller, and then we learn to do without that, and then we start this all over again.

The food dye allergy skipped a few rungs on that circle.  It is now easier to put in a box what Peter can eat rather than what he can't.

I kind of lost my mind over this one.  Just a little bit. I hesitate to say my fears aloud, as if I am daring the universe to make them come true.

I will stop crying, dust myself off, adjust to the new normal, and carry on.  I will be a card-carrying hippie who ferments her own kombucha and raises chickens in the backyard (technically against our HOA but you get the idea).  I try to make Peter's life as normal as possible with as wide a variety of food as possible, all of it made with my own two hands. Soon I will be slaughtering my own goats and curing my own sausages.

Side benefit: we eat crazy healthy! Tons of vegetables! We should be way skinnier.

My sister sent this to me a while back, and it made me laugh.  This is us, pretty much.  Between Peter's food allergies and my own food allergies, we need a Venn diagram to make dinner.  Invite us over!

image via Huffington Post

Monday, June 10, 2013

verrrrry blue bathroom

A few weeks ago I posted about shower curtains for our upstairs bathroom, because I was going to have the painter repaint that bathroom.  It turned out that I didn't have the painter do the bathroom at that time, and I didn't end up going with any of the shower curtains in that post, either. I painted the bathroom myself, and I ended up with a simple white shower curtain with turquoise/green/blue trim stripes on it from Target.  

I painted it Behr's Havasu. You can see in the image below that it is a peacock-turquoise-greeny-blue.

It appeared wayyyyyy bluer than peacock when I opened the gallon, despite having tested a sample in the bathroom prior to starting.

Sadly, in the pictures below it appears to be a painter's tape royal blue, but I assure you that in person it has a strong green undertone.  

The Botero (or "the butt painting" as the kids call it) has taken up residence in the bathroom.


The blue actually coordinates quite nicely with the Sophia Loren poster that is right outside the bathroom door.

The dark peacock color is very close to what I was hoping for....but....I am not 100% on board with this color.  More like 85%.  I don't hate it, but I don't love it like I thought I would.  I can tell you that I am not in the mood to repaint it.  Also, the heavy orange peel texture in this room made it difficult to keep crisp, straight lines, even with tape, so this color is probably going to be here for a while.  

Ever have a paint color turn out not quite what you thought it would be, even though you tested it first?