Photo Shoot

There’s more pictures from our photo shoot the other day up on Leslie’s blog today.  And there are chunky baby thighs involved, so I’d say it’s worth your time to check it out.


House Tour: Dining Room

For some reason it seemed really important that I paint at least one room in my house a very dark color, so for a long time our dining room was this very dark brown.  It took me three years to realize that it just never felt right.  It was SO dark in the wintertime.  Yuck.

When we redid the floors I finally decided I would repaint it because the dark floors plus the dark walls pushed me over the edge.

Anyway, the new color is Revere Pewter, it’s much better. I had it color matched from a Benjamin Moore paint chip by Kelly Moore, and I love their paint.  It’s very washable for a flat latex paint. 

We also moved some furniture around because eventually I’d like to put a bench under the window so people can hang out and talk to me while I cook, but I’m looking for the perfect bench and it hasn’t yet presented itself.  In the meantime I am pretty happy with my orange chairs.


The chandelier is from Pottery Barn, and I know people talk some shit about Pottery Barn but I love it and I get scads of compliments on it, although Mr. E and I almost killed ourselves putting it up since we did it before we owned a ladder and I had to perch precariously on a stack of books with one hand in the air. 


I had that IKEA shelf in the living room doing absolutely nothing, and for some reason I was afraid to take it down.  I have no idea why change is so difficult but I guess I though it would really suck to pry it down off the wall and then change my mind? Anyway, I sawed off a few inches and painted it white and Mr. E hung it on the wall in the dining room and it’s seriously made all the difference in this room, I love having this little space for platters and it makes this room feel so much more like a dining room.  And it feels so much more light and airy in here now!


The white cabinet is also from IKEA but it came with silver handles that were a little too “I snort coke off this cabinet” for me so I made some new handles out of some random square bits of wood from Home Depot.  I’d like to change out the silver legs as well but I’ve never really figured out how that would work.  I looked for a vintage buffet or sideboard on Craigslist forever,  but I needed something to hold my dishes sooner rather than later so I gave up and bought this cabinet and overall I’ve been very happy with it. 

Normally I am not a fan of wrought iron candleholders as they read very “subdivision interior design” to me but I got this for $1 at a garage sale and somehow it works.  I need some more candle cups for it though.

This spot at the head of the room languished sadly for years while I searched thrift stores for a giant oil painting, and then my insanely talented friend Leslie took our picture and made this huge print for me, and it’s so great I can’t believe it. I was a teeny weeny bit dubious about having a giant headless picture of myself hanging on my dining room wall but it is nothing short of fabulous.  It is crazy perfect for this room.

 leslie living room 1

The china cabinet is on the other side of the room, and the old lady couch fabric I stuck in it has grown on me enough so I that I am not planning on replacing it anytime soon. 


We still need to repaint all the trim and add the shoe base to the baseboards, but at the rate we’re going that will be finished at some date one cannot even imagine, it is so far away.

{I took that rotten picture of the china cabinet, the rest of them are by the lovely Leslie Callan who you should hire if you live in Sacramento because she is totally amazing and I am in awe of her talent and she will make you a giant headless picture for your wall and you will love it.}


My career as a stay at home mom has been governed, for the most part, by two phases.   A sucky phase, and then a good phase, and I am grateful for the good, I am, but sometimes it is very difficult to remember that the sucky parts end and that things will get better, even though they always do.

Because let’s just say that we’re currently in a down phase.

I always know when these dips occur because they are marked by the amount of child rearing books I have on hold at the library, and at this current time I have four reserved, although unfortunately I wasn’t able to find a copy of anything entitled “Your Four Year Old:  A Tremendous Asshole”, because honestly, that’s the book we need.  Must be out of print or something.

The other hallmark of these less than treasured times is that I find myself thinking, a million times a day “I can’t do this. No one could do this.  I can’t do this, and more importantly, I don’t want to do this. In fact, I hate this.  I shall have to get a job.”  And by the time I figure out where to print out a Starbucks application, my kids have toned down the wretchedness, and inevitably I find myself thinking “I am getting away with the greatest con on earth! This is so fun, being a mom!”

But right now, we’re in the Starbucks application stage of things.

I am sure I sound like the most ungrateful jerk in the world.  Feel free to think I am the most ungrateful jerk in the world.  But besides the 4 year old, who SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKS THE COMPLETE BIG ONE, I also kind of hate this age of baby.  Katie Dubs is a delightful child but the fact remains that she is into everything, at every moment, and my capacity for wiping oatmeal and peanut butter and snot and god knows what off of every single surface in my house is running thin.  All day long all I do is pick up shit that my children have strewn all over my house (sometimes literally), and I am exhausted all the time, and at the end of the day, I’m no closer to a clean house than I was at the beginning of the day.  I live with a miniature tornado and a total asshole, and they both get up at 6 am, and I, I don’t know.  It’s the pits, basically, and I just thought I’d complain for a minute, you know?

The most infuriating thing is that sometimes you get this little glimpse, this little break in the clouds, and then you just want it back, and you don’t know how to get it back, and it’s such a bummer.  Yesterday Eli was LOSING HIS MIND as is his usual default mode these days and Erik gave up and put him down for a nap.  We try this almost every day and it NEVER WORKS, he never falls asleep, but somehow yesterday he did and when he woke up three hours later, it was like a miracle or something.  The awesome kid that I am such a fan of had returned.  He was funny and interesting and man, I am crazy about that kid! We hung and talked and had a grand old time, and at some point it felt almost as though I was taking a deep breath, and it made me realize that most of the time, I’m on eggshells around this kid, just waiting for the outburst, the next insult, the next tantrum, the next time out, and I hate that. I hate being terrorized by my own child, but even though I have hopes that the fact that sometimes he is SO great means that someday he’ll be SO great all the time, I have no idea how to get to that stage.  We try for naps and it doesn’t work and we read books and we try for individual attention and we try so many things and right now he just plain sucks, and Christ Almighty am I ever sick of it.

It will get better, I know it will.  And also someday I will not be on a diet where I eat nothing but lose no weight.  Some day I will not wonder if I can make it to five o’clock without running from my house screaming.  Some day my house will be clean because my kids will be gone and I will wish desperately for the return of the asshole and the tornado.  I will reminisce weepily about the peanut butter on the light switches.

But today? Today is not that day.

Cover the Earth In Paint

I’m working on “styling” this bookshelf and it’s not going well.  Normally I am a fan of books on bookshelves and not a whole lot else, but we used to have this bookshelf crammed full of stuff and when I emptied it out so we could refinish the floors I thought it looked a lot better.

I painted the whole thing black because the brown supports and black shelves were reading very “2004 West Elm brown and black furniture” to me, but now I’m not sure my things look good with a black bookshelf.  In fact I kind of hate it, and I’m wondering if I should paint the whole thing white.

It looks better in pictures, so I’m not sure how illustrative this whole exercise is, but what do you think?  Paint it white?

I’m really really tired of painting things white, but here’s another corner of the living room where you can see another bookshelf that I have already painted white.

I love how this looks, which is mostly what’s making me think maybe I need to get that can of white paint back out.   But just thinking about all of that priming and painting makes me feel ill, so…hrm.

On the plus side, the dining room is looking amazing, so hopefully I’ll have some pictures of that soon.  Seriously, I kind of can’t believe how great it looks.


Help Me Buy A Giant TV

I doubt it will shock anyone to hear that  I am already thinking about Christmas.  I like to have a plan, what can I say?  This year Mr. E and I are going to join the technological age and buy ourselves a giant flat screen tv for Christmas, because we are just that fricking romantic.  We already have a tv, but we bought it right before flat screen tvs actually got cheap enough afford, and it’s a large large beast of a thing.  I don’t particularly want or need a giant television, but I do want my living room to look cute, and a television the size of Texas is harshing my decorating buzz.  Plus if I buy a new tv I also get to buy a cute new tv stand which makes it just the gift that keeps on giving.  Obviously.  You can’t put a tv that weighs 800 pounds and is the size of Texas on a cute tv stand.  Everyone knows that.

Anyway.  According to my lovely husband, the bare minimum giant television that he can stomach watching fourteen hours of the Simpsons on is a 37 inch television.  Aside from brands that no one has ever heard of because they’re made of rubber bands and used chewing gum in some factory in darkest Peru, I have found a giant flat screen television from Walmart (blargh) for $330 dollars.  But the thing is, I don’t know anything about buying giant televisions. I am not a dude, so I am not the person who wants to spend my Saturdays in Best Buy comparing giant televisions and talking about pixels, or whatever, either.  So my question to you guys is – should I wait to buy this giant tv?  Should I try to buy on Black Friday?  (barf).  Is there some crazy tech web site I should be trolling on a daily basis that’s going to have some great deal on a giant tv?  If I wanted a great deal on a giant tv, which I do, where should I look?

Thank you for your help, my assimilation to a regular old giant television consumerist American owes you one.

Progress Report

I’d say most of the rooms in our house are about 75% done, but the baseboards and all the painting is going pretty slowly.

We bought this china cabinet at Treasure Mart when we lived in Ann Arbor, in a tiny little two bedroom apartment.  We kept it in our living room, squeezed in between the couch and the wall, and it held our wedding china, I think.  We used to have a lot of dishes, but I’ve gotten rid of some of them over the years when it turned out that we didn’t use them.

If you live in Ann Arbor ish and have never been to Treasure Mart, you should certainly go. It’s one of my favorite places in the world.  I love that we bought this china cabinet there and have dragged it all over the country since then.

I spray painted the entire cabinet white in our backyard when we first moved to Sacramento, and that was how I found out that it’s not a super great idea to spray paint large pieces of furniture.  Then it sat out in the backyard again when we re did the floors and it got a little water damage and a little sun damage, so I was all set to repaint it correctly, but after I sanded down all the flaking paint, I really liked the vibe. I am not normally a shabby chic faux distressed type of lady, but hey, I liked it and keeping it that way meant less work, so that’s what I went with.

I have the glass covered with fabric (using spray starch to make it stick to the glass) because I just can’t be bothered to fret over keeping the inside cute. I like to have a spot to chuck all manner of business where no one can see it.  I’ve been angling to replace the fabric I had in there for a while now, but my first attempt was sort of a disaster – I was using that yellow chevron you see everywhere now, and I didn’t love it – there was something really juvenile and twee about it, and also it wouldn’t stick at all.  So I kept on layering on the spray starch and nothing happened, and then it turned out that rather than using the can of spray starch I had stashed under the sink, I was using the can of Lysol I had stashed under the sink.  So then I had wash the Lysol out of the fabric and then the fabric shrunk.  Blargh.

The picture is of Fabric Take Three.  It is surprisingly hard to find something in the yellow/red family that works with this cabinet.

I like this fabric, but the scale of the flowers is crazy large, and something about it the pattern and the texture reads “old lady couch” to me, although Amy and Andrew both assured me that it’s not old lady couch. Eh, it’s fine for now.  I’m also considering this fabric, so I might just order half a yard of that for shits and giggles.  I want something sort of…stormy and moody, and that Anna Maria Horner stuff  is the closest I’ve come to finding that.

Someday I’d like to put new knobs on the cabinet too, but again, I can never find any that I like, so we’re just going with black for right now.

You can see a little bit of the new dining room wall color.  It’s Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore.  Greige, pretty much. It’s much lighter than the last color and it has grown on me although I will acknowledge that it is not a large stretch to imagine that this is the color one would paint one’s communist bunker, were one to paint a communist bunker.  It’s nice to have a lighter color in that room though.  I knew as soon as we painted that dark brown in that room two years ago that it was not right but we lived with it for two years and then the dark floors gave me the push I needed to repaint it.  People are all over the internet claiming that dark colors don’t make rooms feel small.  I don’t know, maybe if you live in a box of windows, I guess.  But trust me, this lighter color is much better. No more dark wall colors for me.

Today I found myself unexpectedly sad.  I think I have come to coexist with the memory of 9/11 and especially in recent years past it has not affected me a great deal, but today it was all I could do to hold my shit together.  I tried to listen to the radio, but the voices of heartbroken grandmothers and fathers and mothers and siblings were too much to bear.  And so I distracted myself with painting.  I can say honestly, however, that I have almost never before felt myself filled with so much profound gratitude for my tiny little family as I was today.  I am a complainer at heart, and I do not appreciate my many gifts nearly enough, but today I found that everywhere I turned, I was thinking silently to myself “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so so so much. Thank you.”  There are no words for how grateful I am for this family, this house, this beautiful place, and this  wonderful life.

Book Review: State of Wonder

State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett

Holy crap, now that was a BOOK.

First of all, let me say that whoever designed this book cover and chose this title should be taken out and beaten upside the head.  Awful.  The only reasons I picked this up to read it is because after I scanned the “Lucky Day” section at my local library and found NOTHING else I half heartedly threw it in my bag, and then Swistle told me to read it, and you should know that I pretty much just do whatever Swistle tells me to do.  It had been sitting on my nightstand for a week and I had no real intention of actually reading it, I was just utterly defeated by the beige cover and the beige title anytime I even thought of reading it, and it doesn’t help that the front flap blurb reads something along the lines of “life journey boring mumbo jumbo finding herself exploring the nature of life time and the existence of man boring boring boring life journey mumble cakes”.  That and the fact that the author’s previous work, Bel Canto, was such an intense slog that I place it in the sacred trifecta of “everyone sure does seem to love it an awful lot  but GODAMN is it boring” books.  The other two titles in that short list are Angela’s Ashes and Memoirs of  Geisha, for what it’s worth.

Anyway, I read State of Wonder in about two minutes because I could not put it down, and man, it was INSANE.  The jungle is written about with such force and intensity that it exists as nearly an entire character on its own, and it’s like you’re right there with these crazy native people and giant snakes and blow darts and malaria and the mind melting heat and people are having babies all over the place and it’s got these twists and turns and I don’t know, it’s been a long time since I went on such a crazy ride with a book and yet it all made sense and was beautiful and amazing and it made me think and I am still sad it’s over and all I can say, again, is Holy Crap, that is a BOOK.  And you should read it so we can talk about it.

And P.S. I am NEVER going to the jungle.