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My Grandma Knew Style Before Style Was A Thing.

Some of you know that, as a freelancer, I occasionally photograph and write house tours for Apartment Therapy. My friend Jaime encouraged me to apply for the gig a couple of years ago, and my inner voyeur — the one who thinks dusk is the perfect time to walk the mutts because that’s when people turn their lights on but don’t close their drapes — leapt at the prospect of actually getting paid to look inside people’s houses.

Read the rest of this gem…

Today’s Shopping List: Milk, Bananas, and an Oversized Steamer Trunk to Evoke the Feeling of Adventure.

So do you remember that time I took a design style quiz and it called me an alcoholic?

I mean, I was kind of able to get over it because a) it was kind of right and b) it basically said I should live with Johnny Depp and we could be winos together forever and I’m pretty sure he’d be okay with Justin living with us too because he’s bohemian like that.

Johnny’s bohemian.  Not Justin.

Johnny’s right arm says “Wino Forever.”  It used to read “Winona Forever,” but I’m willing to overlook that. (Source)

So even though the quiz redeemed itself, I pretty much avoided ever taking them again until a few days ago.

I discovered THIS HomeGoods Stylescope quiz over on, my favorite voyeurism I mean house peeping I mean home interior blog.  When I learned that all you have to do is pick 5 pictures that appeal to you and the quiz would instantly reveal your design style, I decided to go for it.  I mean, I’ve already been called a drunk by one of these things, so what’s the worst that could happen?

Apparently, my friends, the worst that could happen is that it could be absolutely and totally accurate.

I am “The Traveler.”

And also, apparently, a touch of “New Country.”

But I’m choosing to ignore that part and focus on the main one.  The Traveler.  The painfully accurate and seemingly unattainable design style that I can only achieve by — you know — traveling the world.

So I better get on that already.

The quiz even gives tips about how I can achieve the look:

Which is nice, but it basically all comes down the fact that I need to buy a plane ticket.  Also, I need to start actually buying stuff when I travel.

It’s kind of hilarious because HomeGoods tries to make suggestions of things I could buy from their store, which kind of seems counterintuitive when it comes to decorating for this particular design style.

I mean, do I want to look at the elephant figurine on my console table and think, “Oh, remember the time I bought that from the balsa wood carver in India whose hands were craggy and worn with his craft,” or, “Oh, remember the time I found that on the clearance shelf at Home Goods?”

Not that I would probably buy an elephant figurine anyway, since I’m not really into the whole let’s-use-tiny-animals-to-decorate-our-house phenomenon.  Unless, of course, I had some cool travel story like that Canadian girl who had her ear ripped off by an elephant and bought the figurine as a reminder.  Because I would totally need a figurine to remind me of that.

So.  This really is a terrible quiz result because I feel like it’s kind of mocking me.  Go!  It says.  Travel!

Only I feel like I can’t.

Because I kind of quit my job again.

Oh, would you look at the time!  I’m late for this job that I won’t be having for much longer.

I guess this is a story for another time.

In the meantime, go take the quiz.  Report back.  I’m curious to see whether the other results are as equally accurate and unattainable without spending thousands of dollars on plane tickets.


And There Was No Alcohol Involved. I Swear.

There inevitably comes a time during every trip when I get… antsy.

know — it’s not enough that I get antsy when I’m not traveling.  No.  I also get antsy when I am traveling.  And while I don’t always act on it, I often feel that I need some kind of change.  Some kind of drastic purchase or body modification in order to commemorate the trip.

After leaving San Diego, I had an itch.  And since I wasn’t having any promiscuous sex, I knew exactly what it was.

“Let’s get tattoos!” I suggested to 2 of my long-lost loves, Stacy and Becs, over coffee in Austin one morning.

Stacy and I used to work together on Fort Bragg, and Becs was one of my hot-sauce makin’ employers in Costa Rica.  Somehow, via the twisting roads we like to call Fate and my own sheer good fortune, they both ended up living in Texas — San Antonio and Austin respectively, and only a couple of hours apart.

I was feeling extra comatose, which was horrific because I only had one day to spend with Bec.

So they took me to Austin Java in order to drug me back into consciousness.

Austin Java

“Hellooo… are you listening?  I said tattoos.”

Once they realized I was actually awake, the caffeine having worked its way through my capillaries and into my alertness and pleasure sensor receptacles (it’s all very sciency), the momentum snowballed.

“No tattoos,” Bec said.  “But there’s a piercing I’ve been wanting to get for a while.”

What?  Awesome.  Let’s go.

A quick check with the barista, who was overloaded with ink and holes and obviously an expert on the subject, and we were on our way.

Diablo Rojo

Welcome to Diablo Rojo.  We totally belong here.

Okay, Bec — Time to pick your poison.

So many choices…

Dainty and demure?

Statement tribal?

Large and in charge?

I’ll admit — I have no clue where most of these are supposed to go.

Fortunately, the expert piercer from New Zealand knew exactly what she was doing.

“This isn’t going to hurt… any more than sticking a metal needle through nerves and cartilage.”

These boots mean business.

Whenever you get a piercing, you have to get “the talk” on how the place sterilizes its needles and how to properly care for your new punctured body part.  If they don’t give you that talk, you should probably sober up immediately and get the f*ck outta there.

She’s still IN!

Wanna guess what she got?


Sterilizing the surface…

Just relax…

It’s no worse than a pap smear… it’s no worse than a pap smear…

Ta da!

“Hey, Devil — my eyes are up HERE.”

Anyway, she’s pulling. It. Off.

I, however, as the queen of now-cliché piercings and tattoos (yes, I have a navel piercing circa 1998 and a “tramp stamp” circa 2000), decided to hold off until I know what I really want.

I did make an impulse purchase at the coffee shop, though — and it was slightly more expensive than a couple of grande, non-fat chai lattes (though not by much):

Mike Johnston Painting "Beach Houses"

“Beach Houses,” painted on a piece of scrap wood, by local artist and elementary school art teacher, Mike Johnston.

I think I love it — nails and all.



Let Me Tell You About This Bird and How He Helped Me Get Over My Fear of Commitment.

You know that feeling you get when things just work out?

Like when friends come over to visit and they all want wine and you happen to have exactly the right number of unbroken wine glasses so no one’s forced to drink cab from a highball.

Like when you suddenly crave “Shit on a Shingle” for dinner and you just happen to have enough milk in your fridge and dried beef in your pantry to make it.

Like when you finally decide to wash your pillowcase and you’re so careful to set your pillow in a precise location so you can keep track of that special soft spot where your head always fits perfectly and then some reckless person (most likely yourself) thoughtlessly moves your pillow to another location and now usually there is no way to detect that spot until you actually lie on the pillow in every configuration imaginable and you know you’re in for a long night, except — wait!  There it is.  Your spot.  And you got it perfect the first time.

It’s that feeling.

That feeling that comes when you think you’re in for an ordeal, but instead the process is relatively effortless and surprisingly stress-free.

And that is exactly what happened when I emailed my boss to decline is offer of a full-time position.

I thought he might be upset.  Or worse, disappointed.  But instead, his reaction was one of relief.  See, as a small start-up business owner, he wanted to do what it took to keep a decent employee (one who actually shows up and does her work) on board.  In my case, he thought that required offering me a full-time position.  Even though, it turns out, he had the minor problem of not knowing whether he’d be able to afford me.  So he was actually relieved when I declined, and he may have let slip a note of envy.

See, when I explained to him that a full-time position is no longer my primary goal because I’ve realized now I have more time to do some other things that I’m passionate about, he replied that one day he hopes to be in the same position.


Does anyone sense the irony here?

My boss is a self-made African-American male with a wife and 2 very young sons who runs a very successful small business, and he happens to be 2 years younger than me.  And yet, for some reason, he thinks I’m the one in the position to which he should aspire.

Okay, not entirely.

He drives a very nice car.  I drive a 12-year-old Tracker.

He wears very nice clothes.  I still wear things I owned in high school.

He owns his own business.  I work for an hourly rate.

He has 2 happy, healthy, and dare-I-say adorable kids.  I have 2 dogs who once swallowed an entire bag of chicken bones and I had to feed them cotton balls to ease the sharp passage of shrapnel through their intestines.  True story.

I’m sure he doesn’t go home at night and wish that he was me.  But.  There’s something here.  An affirmation of sorts, that tells me I made the right decision.  That tells me when I cut out the shoulds, good things can happen.

So this is good news, right?  I celebrated by hanging item numbers 3, 4 and 5 on my walls.

If you recall, I’ve only had one thing hanging in my house for quite some time.  In the laundry room.  Where I maybe spend 0.00001% of my time.  Makes sense, right?

I think it has something to do with my fear of commitment.

So, in light of my goals for the new year, I hung some stuff.

Three things, as a matter-of-fact.

I hung them in the guest bathroom.  Approximately 6 feet away from the one other thing hanging in my house, and yet where I spend a significantly longer amount of time.

(Please ignore my unpainted trim.  That’s still on the 2012 task list for this money and time-sucker of a house.)

Let me tell you about the bird.  The bird is special.  My friend Alaina’s mother, Jan Krebs, is an artist.  She’s my adoptive mother from back in our college days, and one of the first people to teach me that life should be reserved for doing things you love.

I’ve always wanted a Jan Krebs original, and as of Christmas this year, that wish came true.  It’s not a painting, but some type of carved ceramic that has a rough texture and looks fabulous in person.  I knew that this couldn’t just be something I let sit around on my console table or propped up against my backsplash like so many other pieces of art I have around.  Not this time.  The bird would be the start of a movement.

And I didn’t stop there.

The tea light holders were purchases I made on a trip I took to Europe in 2004.  I bought them in a tiny shop in Strasbourg, France.

Well?  What do you think of my progress?

First, the bathroom was a paisley-infested crime scene:

Kate's Guest Bathroom Crime Scene

Then, it was naked:

Guest Bathroom After

And now, we have life:

Yep, I now have bathroom art.

This must be what it means to feel grown-up.

…And That’s Why “Ability to Multitask” isn’t Written on my Resume.

I have issues.


Not the least of which is my inability to make a decision — especially when it comes to home interiors.

While for me, spending money on things for the house is about as fun as getting a tooth cavity filled, I also think that, after 4 years, it might be nice for this place to feel like “home.”  Especially when I spend a good bulk of my time photographing other peoples’ gorgeous homes.

I just did a mental assessment, and I realized something quite shocking:  The only  room in which I’ve hung anything besides towel bars on the wall is the laundry room. The laundry room.  In there, I hung a doohickie on which I can hang the ironing board, so it’s purely functional.  Not decorative.  I also hung these kind of pretty wall hooks.

That’s it.

I did hang a gallery corner in my living room at one point, but that came down when I repainted the walls.

What does this mean?

That when it comes to decorating, I’m an indecisive, noncommittal, ball-less freak of a woman?

That’s a start.

But also, I’m pretty sure that nothing triggers my Life ADD more potently than decorating.

Case in point: I was alone this weekend.  It was the perfect opportunity to peruse Pinterest in search of simple, inexpensive and inspirational ideas for the master bedroom.

My first problem?  Why was I looking for master bedroom ideas when my office still has an unshaven armpit?

Well, I would get on the office thing, but the bedroom seems so much more pressing right now because for 4 years we’ve lived with falling-apart plastic vertical blinds, hand-me-down blonde wood furniture (which I intend to paint), blank white walls, and a popcorn ceiling.

In other words, it hasn’t been touched.

And a week ago, I bought a pillow.

The pillow was called “Crazy Ol’ Bird” and I thought it would be perfect to inspire a bedroom because I’m a crazy ol’ bird.

We can relate.

So I’ll bring the pillow here into the living room while I search on Pinterest, and wow — I kind of like that pillow in the living room.  And anyway, it doesn’t match the duvet cover which is something I’d rather not spend money on replacing, so yes.  I’ll leave the pillow in the living room.

Which gives me an almost-blank slate in the master bedroom.  And a green duvet.

And of course, if I’m going to think about the master bedroom, I should probably tie that in with the master bathroom, which still has this horrendous wallpaper border from when we first moved in.

So maybe if I start picking at that, the blank slate will give me some ideas.

Okay, I’m bored.  This stuff isn’t coming off.  And I can see into the bedroom that there are cracks in my vertical blinds, which means that anyone standing outside in the darkness can see me, so maybe I should get back to the relative safety of the living room and order some curtains.

I’ll start with curtains.

But it’s too quiet.

I’ll see what’s on Netflix and just put that on in the background while I search for curtains.

What’s this?  The Walking Dead?  Sounds like zombie stuff, which definitely won’t hold my interest for more than like a second, so that will be perfect.

Four episodes later…

I need  more wine.  But I can’t go into the kitchen because I don’t have blinds and it’s dark outside and there are woods.

And quite possibly zombies.

I really should order some shades.

Oh yeah, that’s what I was supposed to be doing.  Finding curtains for the master bedroom.

Concentrate, Katie.  Seriously.

Okay, wow.  Did you know there are like a bajillion curtains online?  Oooh, look at these from Anthropologie.  They are kind of groovy and scrolly and chic, which is exactly how I am, so these would be perfect.  I’ll get them.

Click.  Click.  Double click.


Can that be right?

$148 for curtains?

No, that’s not right.

It’s $148 for just one panel.

I need 2 panels.

Yeah, I can picture that conversation.

Me:  So I bought some curtains for the bedroom while you were gone.

Justin:  Great!  We needed some.

Me:  They were $300.  Plus tax.  And shipping.

Justin:  Did they come with a hooker?

Me:  No, just 192 inches of velvety goodness.

Justin:  That sounds like they came with a hooker.

Me:  I’m pretty sure Anthropologie doesn’t sell hookers.  Or rent them.  But I can ask.

Justin:  So you’re telling me you spent $300 on curtains.  Do you have any idea how much steak we could’ve bought for $300?  That’s like… an entire cow worth of curtains.

Me:  I know.  I’m hoping they’re awesome because now I can’t buy anything else for the bedroom or the entire house ever.  And we will probably need to eat Ramen Noodles every night for dinner until February 2013.  But that’s okay because we can still budget for wine and now we have curtains.

Justin:  Did they come with a hooker?

So.  Obviously, I can’t buy these curtains.

What else can’t I buy at Anthropologie?

Oooh, a wine glass.

It’s $32.00.  Which is more than I spend on a bottle of wine.  Sometimes more than I spend on 4 bottles of wine.

Did someone say wine?

I need more.

But I can’t go into the kitchen because I don’t have blinds and there are zombies out there.


Quick.  Ebay.  Order the same shades that are in my living room.


Now I can go into the kitchen because even though I don’t have shades right now, the thought that they’re on their way is strangely comforting.

So all-in-all, I’d call this a successful evening: Zillions of rooms perused on Pinterest, 4.7 square inches of wallpaper border removed, velvety curtain dreams developed then crushed, shades ordered for kitchen, and 5 episodes of The Walking Dead completed.

Clearly, when it comes to preaching about experiencing life, I really know how to walk the walk.

Welcome to my world.