Deep Thoughts at 4 A.M.

When your three day old baby will only sleep if she is lying on you, with her head jammed right up into your neck, you practically welcome it, because you know how fast this stage passes, and you want to appreciate it while it lasts.  But when that very same baby is 14 months old and will only sleep if she is lying on you with her head jammed right up into your neck, you find yourself thinking “Seventeen more years and this will be her college roommates’ problem.”  And you have 100% less appreciation for the situation.

Things I was hoping to get done this week, but which are now appearing to be a trifle optimistic:

1.  The hallway trim

2. the dining room ceiling medallion

3. painting and installing the shoe molding and the floor patch in the living room

4. the dining room trim

5. the new fabric on the china cabinet glass

6.  the last of the pulls for the kids dresser

7.  patching the weird gap in the dining room

8.  mailing some shit to some people

9.  move the railing out of the living room

10.  hang the new picture of Katie in the hallway

Sometimes this house is so frustrating – it feels like we’re working so hard just to restore it to normal, or fine.  Someday I’d like to work really hard to make something really great, instead of just how it should have been to begin with.

Regardless, I can barely type I am so tired, and I must go contemplate the dubious decision I recently made to change the paint color of the dining room to “Holy crap, is that…purple?” to “My, what a lovely communist bunker!”


Living Room Mood Board

Our living room has been giving me fits since the day we moved in.  It’s long and skinny, running across the front of the house, and one side has a fireplace, one side has the giant arched entrance into the dining room, one side has the entryway door, and one side has a big picture window.  There’s not a lot of places to put a couch and a tv, is what I’m saying.

I think I finally figured out approximately how it should go, although this room won’t be done for ages anyway because even after we lower the baseboards or add quarter round, I figure all this new furniture is going to cost at least 1000 dollars, although I hope to find a lot of it on sale.

I’ve been trying to shove the color palette of this room towards blue and aqua and yellow for two years, and I didn’t even realize until I made this mood board that I should just give that up.  Somehow this room was meant to be yellow and orange and red.  I’m hopeful though that all the blue and green stuff I already own will help to keep from doing that weird thing where I make every single thing in the room yellow, orange, and red.


1. I already own the white Hemnes mirror, which I have hung horizontally over the couch.  I used to have a skinny table behind the couch, and I loved that, but it pushed the couch too far out into the room.   We need all the space we can get in this narrow room.  I think the mirror needs to be higher, but Erik is not excited about that project.  I would much rather put cool art over the couch, but I don’t have any.  Also, the mirror does make the room look larger.

I currently have a brown nubbly couch from Macy’s which I cannot stand.  I guess I thought brown would hide stains? I don’t know.  All I know is that it’s a magnet for crumbs and it shows EVERYTHING and I have to vacuum my couch about forty times a day.  Plus we have way way way too much brown going on with the brown floors and this couch is not helping matters.

So I want a new couch.  I really love this gray couch from Cost Plus.  It’s velvety and stuff can be brushed right off of it. It’s $599 and a few times a year their furniture goes on sale for 40% off.  I am sure at this price it’s not an heirloom, but at this point I’ve decided that investing a lot of money into a couch is stupid.  They never seem to last no matter how much they cost, so why buy a $3000 couch that I’m terrified to let anyone sit on that I will tire of in four years anyway?

2. Even when we get everything loaded in the room, there’s always this weird blank area over the tv, and I need something to put in that space.   This art is from 20x 200, it’s sort of generic, but I like the colors, and I can’t find anything I like more.  I plan to buy the $50 size and then frame them in some large frames, hopefully I can thrift some for a good price.

3.  I already own this bookshelf, from Target three years ago ish, and it’s nice, but it reads very Mid Century Modern which I am trying to get away from.  And it’s brown and black, of course, like all the other furniture we own. I am considering sanding the frame to see if it looks better with more a natural wood vibe. I also discovered when we were moving that it looks A LOT better when it has fewer books on it, which means I need to get rid of some books and get another bookshelf for somewhere else in the room.

4. I can’t find a picture of my coffee table anywhere, but it’s a Thonet three legged sort of oval table.  I’ve always loved it, and it works so well for this space, but I would like it to be the only “retro” (hork) looking piece in the room, otherwise we look like Mad Men loving losers.

5. I rescued a $5 ottoman from a garage sale and I want to cover it in this fabric. I was originally planning on buying some sort of modern yellow floral, but I can’t get this fabric out of my head. I need it. I just need to decide if I’m going to tack it down or if I want to make a washable slip cover.  I prefer the look of the tacked down style, but I have children. Filthy ass children and a filthy ass husband.

6.  I really want some kind of crazy blue and red rug.  At first I was all about the “beige neutral rug” but something about these indo patterned rugs really do it for me.  I feel like they’re graphic, but in a sense they’re so traditional that they almost read as a neutral anyway.  Does that make any sense?  This is not quite the ideal one, (that’s this one from Manhattan Nest) but I have my eye out.

7A and 7B.  I have that white Ektorp chair from IKEA already, and it’s huge, so I don’t know.  It is comfortable, though.  What I would like to do is flank the fireplace with a bookshelf on either side, against the wall, and then set two chairs in front of the bookshelves.  So the Ektorp in front of one, and then a cheap Home Goods Anthropologie or Crate and Barrel knock off on the other side.  The ottoman will sit between them, in front of the fireplace.  (which we don’t use anyway.)

8.  I need one more bookshelf for my “one bookshelf on either side of the fireplace” plan.  I have a brown one from IKEA which I am planning to paint, from the no longer made Markor line, but the Hemnes bookshelf appears to be basically the same thing.  I’m hoping I find one at Target or something first though, because $180 for an IKEA bookshelf strikes me as a little high. I hope I am not making a mistake going white for these bookshelves. I don’t think I am, but I…am a little bit unsure.

9.  I think if we have white bookshelves and a lighter colored couch, we can get away with a darker colored tv stand.  Right now our tv is sitting on a random $10 Craigslist table, which is impressive, let me tell you.  I want one with glass doors, because I am a glutton for punishment and don’t have enough things to clean fingerprints and dog slobber off of.   If at all possible, I would like to avoid paying almost $400 for a tv stand, but they are stupidly expensive, so who knows.

10.  I already have a parsons desk, in dark brown.  I was planning on painting it white (so much brown!) but then I wonder, since we do have a desk in the living room (not ideal, but no better place to put it) maybe it’s better for it to blend with the floor.  For now I am going to leave it brown.

11.  And then we have the infamous orange file cabinet, which slides under the desk, which is the sole reason I bought this desk.  And yet I still have to prop it up with four wooden blocks.  Fun casters might be in order.























House Tour: Entry Way

I finished a room! The rest of my house is a disaster and this is all I’ve been doing for two days and it’s not actually done and I haven’t taken a shower yet today and I smell terrible and it’s the smallest room in my house but I finished a room!

Here’s a before:

And here’s my inspiration picture, which I’ve had saved for ages, and I have no idea where it came from because I’m a jerk.  It’s the perfect blend of old/new, funky/new, antiquey/modern, and I’ve never seen an entryway I’ve loved so much.

Source: None via Elizabeth on Pinterest

And here’s an after at my house:

We have nowhere near enough room for a chair, or for room for much of anything but a skinny table, but I am so glad we have this space.  I have a really hard time arranging furniture and figuring out function in a house where you walk straight in, so an entrywas was one of my “must haves” when we were house hunting.

You might notice that the door is not actually all the way painted. It probably needs about three more coats, but after I realized that it was actually an interior door, I decided to quit painting it.  When I get a new door, it will be this same color.

I looked for an entry table FOREVER.  I wanted one with a shelf and a drawer that didn’t cost a million dollars, and I wanted something that was sort of generic in style.  Man, I almost bought some god awful entry tables.  This one is from Cost Plus and it’s basically the perfect table.

I am embarrassed to tell you how long it took me to figure out what to put on this stupid table.  I have this problem where I tend to choose one or two colors and then I STICK TO THOSE COLORS NO MATTER WHAT.  So pretty soon every damn thing in this room was yellow or red, and it just got weird.  I am totally in awe of people who can make bits of bright yellow or bits of bright pink work because that is so not me.

Finally I stared at Pinterest for awhile and determined that most of the successful entry tables were a combination of stacks of books, a plant, and maybe a lamp.  The entry is not wired for electricity (so annoying, but the electrician claimed it would be a GIANT project) so the lamp was out, and this is what I came up with.

The mirror on the left is from a garage sale, although I painted it white and added the bird.  I know, I have a lot of birds, put a bird on it, blah blah blah, but guess what? I LIKE BIRDS, SO SUE ME.

The plant and pot were on super sale at Home Depot, I think together they cost $8, and they make the whole thing work, imho.  That’s my garage sale glass bottle down there, along with an old locker bin from Ebay.  We use that bin for the shoes that will otherwise end up all over the house.  That crazy sea urchin thing is another one of my favorite possessions, Mr. E gave it to me one year for Christmas, I believe you can get them on Etsy still.

The little oil painting was also thrifted, I got a lot of crazy looks from various members of my family when I bought it, but I love it.  I’ve had my eye out for tiny oil paintings ever since but I never see them.  The other framed thing reads “Hello Fantastic” – it’s actually two cards and it’s one of the first things I bought for the house. I like how you can barely read it and have to sort of peer in to see what it says.

I wish I had painted the window first thing when we moved in, a few coats of white paint made such a huge difference.  This is the only original wood window in the house, and I am so grateful that it wasn’t removed along with all the rest.  To me it’s like this little “I’m still here!” note from the soul of the house.

I found a box of these glass doorknobs at a garage sale for $1.  Not each, total.  I spray painted over all the brass bits, and then I discovered why they were $1 at a garage sale – there’s no real way to attach them to the door.  This one is held on with a wish and a prayer.  I hate these godawful hollow core doors, but “replace all the doors with real wood” is pretty low on the list of house stuff we want to throw money at.

I’ve still got some spackled holes to repaint after I lowered all the art, as ordered by Ab Chao.

The map print was a gift, it’s from the town where Erik grew up in the middle of nowhere.

This light is one of my favorite things in my house.  I found it a garage sale for a quarter, and took off the weird netting and cleaned it up and spraypainted the rusty chain and we wired it in.  I am going to paint the ceiling circle white and add a ceiling medallion around the top.  Erik and I have a running argument where I complain about the ugly ass curly light bulbs that  he insists on putting in it.

I’ve never been that thrilled with the wall color, but I tried so many and none of them were ever right, and this is close enough.  In a lot of lights, I actually like it, but in certain lights it goes to a very orangey flesh bandaid color.  Erik is very tired of hearing about it.

Oh, I almost forgot, here’s the closet floor.  The paint color is Martha Stewart “Lagoon”. I still kind of wish the floor was gold, but I like how this turned out a lot.  Let’s just pretend it doesn’t sort of look like a roller rink floor, ok? Great.

We used to have a giant bin full of random crap sitting on the floor of the closet and no one could ever find anything.  This shoe holder thing works a lot better, and we use it to hold everything from vacuum cleaner bags to hats.  They are super cheap ($6.75) at Home Depot.

I think that’s it! Stay tuned for the next finished room, sometime in 2013.

Why I Love Garage Sales

Large “found” glass wine bottle at Pottery Barn? TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS.

Large glass wine bottle I just “found” at the garage sale down the street, under some  horrible rattan basket?  EIGHT DOLLARS.

Mr. E is NOT nearly impressed with this find, so I had to blog it, obvs.


Speaking of My Dining Room…

I need advice.  I am putting a bench in there so people can sort of hang out while dinner is being made, and so we can use it to pull up to the table when there are more than four people eating dinner.


Bland and safe? But admittedly, very lovely. (And $200).  Also, can be wiped off easily, and can easily be used as a dining bench.

Or GORGEOUS, but a lot more…crazy pants.  Also probably a little harder to clean.  But $40 on Craigslist.  But stranger as a bench for sitting on while eating spaghetti.

Opinions, anyone?

The Table Where Rich People Sit*

I just spent a few minutes trying out some Restor A Finish on my dining room table, which got a little sun damaged when it was outside during the loor refinishing, and it reminded me of how much I love that table, how lucky we were to find it when we lived in Nebraska.  We’d moved there with this tiny pine IKEA table and we could never have anyone over for dinner, and then we’d had to rent furniture for Thanksgiving, so we’d started looking around for bigger dining room tables and we’d come up short, in fact I can remember one very dramatic fight when my parents wanted to buy me a table they thought was perfect and I refused it because I didn’t like it.  I can remember being SO angry that they were angry at me for not wanting something they wanted to force on me, and they were so angry that I didn’t want the table they had picked out.  Poor Erik.

We looked at a bunch of awful furniture stores, the kind where you walk in and laugh at some of the bedroom displays they have set up, all gold brocade and giant pillows and tassels, and we couldn’t find anything.  We looked all over.  We looked at Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn and all those types of stores too, but we couldn’t afford anything there, and I didn’t like how you couldn’t even tell what wood they were made of, if they were even made of wood.  No IKEA in Nebraska, either.

Finally one day we ventured to this row of antique shops a little off the beaten path in Lincoln  (man do I miss the antique stores in Nebraska), and wandered around there was the perfect table, marked down, I think. $400 and just what I wanted, and solid oak, the kind where you could tell immediately what it was made of.  And I was adamant that no table of mine was going to have drop sides because I still have PTSD from the dining room table of my childhood, the kids sat on the ends, and if your leg slid the wrong way your dinner would end up in your lap and you’d get screamed at for it.  This table had three leaves that you could add so it could seat 12, the saleslady asked the two of us, barely out of college “Do you have a large family?” and we just laughed.   We really didn’t have $400, but Erik looked at me and shrugged and said “Well, this is sort of what they make credit cards for” and we bought it, and I’ve never regretted it.

This dining room table is the piece of furniture I hope I have forever, that I want to hand down to my kids. I love that you can see where they did art projects and learned to eat solid food, as though there’s a record of our family etched right there in the wood, and some day we’ll have giant family Thanksgivings around that table and laugh about the spots where Katie did her algebra homework or Eli tried to carve a jewel into it with a screwdriver, and I hope that this table is what links the two of us, the once upon a long time ago us, just kids, to our someday grandchildren and their children and on and on after that, long after we’re no longer here.

*Have you ever read this book? Not sure if it’s a great kids book, but it appeals highly to my hippy leftist sensibilities.

About the Driving Thing

So last year at the end of October, after MANY years of going without one, I finally got my driver’s license, and I have a few thoughts on the subject, eight months later.

The first thing I did when I actually got the stupid thing was to tell myself that NO MATTER WHAT, I had to drive every day. Once per day.  And at first it TERRIFIED me.  I think the first place I drove was preschool and I felt like I was going to throw up the entire way there, but I kept doing it, and pretty soon that trip was no big deal.  More than no big deal, it was amazing, actually, because I could just throw the kids in the car and bam! Two minutes later, we were at preschool.  It required a lot less planning on my part than a half an hour walk in the jogging stroller.

Then I started venturing farther afield, but each time I went to a new place, the first few times were always pretty terrible.  At this point, I was still making myself drive, just because I knew that I had to force myself or I wouldn’t do it.  I can remember driving to the new Target , by myself, and being so prepared for the transcendent wonderful experience of an hour alone by myself in Target, and instead I was so shaky and miserable and stressed about having to get BACK IN THE CAR that I couldn’t enjoy myself.

But it got better.

Then I started having to go places I didn’t want to go, that were outside my little comfort zone of preschool and Target.  I drove myself to therapy, and again, I shook the entire way. It was terrifying.  Then I wanted something at Home Depot, and the want of whatever it was edged out the want of not driving, so I conquered that trip, and that one had a tricky turn and a weird thing with the railroad tracks and I just…I figured it out.  And then I made it to Trader Joe’s, and then finally I drove to the mall and to Cost Plus and I drove downtown, and somehow, someway, it all started to just…not be a big deal.

And then I became someone who LIKES to drive.  Who would rather drive than have her husband drive, and I barely recognize myself, and I honestly have no idea how this happened, but there it is.  Now these trips to Target or to Trader Joe’s are nothing, they are a trifle, and it’s just so odd, how it went from being a hulking desperate terrible presence in my life to being close to nothing at all.

The funniest thing for me is that people around me still act like it’s a BIG DEAL, when to me, it’s somehow not.  I feel like I’ve been driving for years! I am pretty much totally over it, my fear of driving, and I guess the only thing I can figure out is that I just did it, over and over, and somehow in the doing it, I took all the fear and build up out of it and it became just another thing.

One thing I think is interesting is the getting lost thing.  I am TERRIBLE with directions.  Terrible.  I used to get lost all the time, when I was walking places, and I hated it.  I was always VERY stressed out about directions, having to go somewhere new, finding my way, all that stuff.  I thought this would be a huge issue when I started driving, and it’s actually not at all. I still do get lost all the time, but the funny thing is that when you are driving? Getting lost is actually kind of no big deal.  When you’re walking, getting lost is a HUGE deal.  It can mean you are an hour out of your way. It can mean you are going to be very late, and very tired, and you may be walking around for hours with no idea how to fix where you have ended up.  When you’re driving, you are not going to be wandering, exhausted, you’re just going to have to figure out a way to turn around and retrace your path.  You have invested much less physical energy, and you are way less stranded.  It’s remarkably stress free to get lost while driving.

I also had this….thing. This insane thing, that I couldn’t help, where most of the time when I pictured getting in the car and driving my kids around, every damn time I had this horrible vision of driving along and then being t-boned at top speed by some driver, just SMASH, some car coming like a bat out of hell right into the side of us, and this was something that held me back from driving for a long time, because dudes, my babies are in that car.  Putting them in the car and then driving them around seemed like it was just asking for death, and so I’d chosen “No Thank You” to that scenario.

But then one day I just casually turned to Erik and said something like “Don’t you ever worry that you timed something wrong, and you picked the exact moment to leave the house that means that someone is going to drive into you and kill you?” and he said “Well.  People worry about that stuff all the time, but it’s stupid to think that, because statistically you’re way more likely to die of heart disease or cancer and no one’s doing that much to prevent those things” and you’d think that would be an obnoxious statement but somehow it was perfect.  Somehow when I talk about these things with Erik, he has this key to my brain, he knows the things to say to quiet the monsters and I haven’t see that vision of death since since. (See also: anti anxiety medication, the taking of.)

The other thing that I think is interesting is how much easier it is for me to drive alone.  Because it took me so long to get my license, A LOT of my driving practice before I got it was with Erik, and I love the man dearly, I do, but we are pathologically unsuited to sitting next to each in a car, and I never ever thought that maybe it wasn’t me, maybe it was us, but I am someone who likes to know the next three turns I am going to make, the lane I need to get into three miles down the road, and the side of the street I am turning on.  WAY AHEAD OF TIME.  Erik is a lot of things, but he is the WORLDS WORST DIRECTION giver, and trying to follow directions as he says, very very slowly: “You’re going to want to goooooooooooooooooooo overrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr thereeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee that waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay” makes me want to stab someone in the eye, and by someone I mean him.

So that is also surprising, that it actually got a lot easier to drive once I was responsible for figuring this stuff out myself.

I do find that I spend a lot more of my time running errands. I have vowed never again to take two children to Trader Joe’s, because it’s a total disaster and believe me when I tell you I found that out the hard way.  I wish sometimes I had back the freedom of knowing that we had a whole day to do nothing and we weren’t going anywhere and no one expected anything of us, but at the same time, I have been freed from so much anxiety that it is worth it, times 1000.  I don’t have to fret about doctor’s appointments and how I will get there, I don’t have to fight with my husband about why I can’t drive, I don’t have to make four people go to Cost Plus when only one person wants to go there, I can run to Home Depot and grab something for a project while everyone else stays at home, even I do sometimes stand in the quarter round aisle debating the merits of trim and think to myself “Aw, I wish Erik was here.”

Eli had a preschool field trip, 15 or 20 minutes away.  The old me who couldn’t drive could have come up with a lot of really good sounding reasons why we didn’t go on that trip, and heck, he didn’t even have that great of a time.  But we WENT.  He got to go, and he got to go because I girded up my loins and I did this hard thing and as much as I will always wonder why it took me so long, I will always be so proud of myself, so in shock almost, that I took this hard thing, this black thing in my life, and I smashed it to smithereens for the people I love.

I still have not conquered the expressway, and I am not like, making day trips to Sausalito, but basically, this is it.  I am a driver.