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Because It’s Fun Looking Inside Other People’s Houses. Admit It.

Awhile back I mentioned that I had applied for a blogging gig on a popular environmentally conscious style and design blog known as Re-Nest, which is a part of an even more popular style and design blog known as Apartment Therapy.  Though I made it to the “finals” and they used one of my two submissions — sans compensation — on the site, I never heard anything back about the job.  All  I can figure is a) I didn’t get it, or b) There never really was a gig and they just wanted free posts.

But I’m not bitter or anything.


Anyway, the job posting was brought to my attention by a friend with whom I used to work on the Army installation.  Jaime is pretty much awesome.  First, because she gave me a lead on a job.  Second, because she has chickens.  And third, because she invited me up to her amazing home for a day to take photos for my Re-Nest submission and introduced me to her friend Matt who also invited me to his stunning duplex to take photos.

This is not Matt.  This is one of Jaime’s chickens.

I will eventually share the photos of Matt’s place on here in case you didn’t get a chance to check them out on Re-Nest, but I thought I’d take this opportunity to show you Jaime’s house since frankly, it’s cool and it deserves to be online.  Even if it’s just on my lil ol’ blog as opposed to Apartment Therapy.

I’m just going to say it — Jaime’s style is, for the most part, the polar opposite of mine.  Meaning she has some.

Her house is a contemporary ranch, and her decor style is the perfect complement — minimal and uncomplicated with surprisingly quirky industrial inspiration and retro throwbacks.  (Her wall-to-wall curtain rods are actually just re-purposed metal conduit.  Clever, no?)

Yep.  It’s a far cry from the cozy and cluttered old-world, craftsmany style I consistently seem to be drawn to (scroll down to the bottom of this post for examples, and go check out this post to find out your style — apparently I’m a Swank Aesthete with a drinking problem).

If I could only choose one word to describe her place, it would be “airy.”

The wall of glass sliding doors overlooking her wooded lot, the breezy curtains, the wood floors — it’s like a day spa in there.  No wonder she calls it her sanctuary.

My house is not a sanctuary.

Although, Jaime and I do have some things in common.  We both think long and hard before making a purchase.  If we buy something, often times thrifted, we know we’re in it for the long haul — we’re not just buying things to fill up space.  Also, we’d both rather hang art than kitsch.

Plus, did I mention she has chickens?

Okay, I don’t have chickens, but I’d like to have chickens.

I think.

But I can’t afford the swanky diggs.

(I hate to admit it, but her chickens’ home might be nicer than mine.)

The chicken coop.

Nice, huh?  It’s not quite as fancy as this one I stumbled across the other day, but it’s definitely better than a Motel 6.

I realize this is a little different from my usual banter, but I couldn’t let these photos go wasted on my hard drive.  Thanks Jaime, for letting me into your home!  And if you notice one of your chickens is missing, it’s not because I stuffed one into my purse before I left.

Fresh eggs for breakfast, anyone?

Indecisiveness — not Curiosity — Killed the Katie

Hey, so remember the time I thought about decorating the office since I actually use it now and then a style quiz called me an alcoholic?

Well it turns out that quiz might have been on to something, because while I’m not an alcoholic per se, I would prefer to sit down and kick back a glass of vino while discussing the latest book I read over perusing the interwebs for office inspiration photos and staring at paint swatches.  Which is why it’s been… erm… 4 months since I declared I’d be decorating the office and have done exactly 1 thing:  bought a desk.

It’s not that I’m lazy.  It’s just that I’m so indecisive, I could probably spend so much time looking at  a dinner menu that the table next to me would have sat down, ordered, eaten, enjoyed some after-dinner drinks, smoked a couple of cigars, went home, had sex, and gone to sleep.

I never know what I want!  As the style quiz correctly determined, I’m into “Cozy… not oversized… a handcrafted gem.”

Yep.  That’s me.

I’ll admit it — I’m not hugely into the all-white/beige/cream trend that seems to have taken over the design blogosphere.  I mean, sure it looks gorgeous, but is it really all that practical?

For my lifestyle, NO.

I like warm colors.  I like comfortable.  I like reading a book in an over-stuffed arm chair with a crocheted blanket thrown over my legs.  I don’t love cleaning, I don’t own stacks of design magazines, and I definitely don’t collect little white ceramic animals and vases.

So why the heck did I buy this ultra modern, clean-lined, super white desk?

And more important, why am I painting another one to match it?

I guess it comes down to functionality.  I have a very cluttered mind, which, it stands to reason, would result in a very cluttered home office.  Therefore I think, when I ordered this desk, that I had a vision of a clean, minimal design, highlighting function, organization, and productivity above all else.

A room that screams, Just shut up and write.

Except maybe a little more tactful.

Something like this:

Photo source.

Or this:

Photo source.

Or this:

Photo source.

The problem?  These all require dark, bold wall colors, and I am not repainting this sucka.

I realize I didn’t clean up any of my junk, including the fugly dog kennel, but here’s how the office looks now:

View right when you walk through the door.  See that pull-up bar in the lower right corner?  Yeah… I can almost do half a pull-up now.  Probably because the pull-up bar lives on the floor.  Should I keep this painting?  I’m thinking I could pull some colors from it to use in the rest of the room.

Turning left… Yep, that’s my new desk, buried under junk from my trip to IKEA and an old office chair I wasn’t able to sell.  See that closet on the right?  There’s another one directly across from it.  I guess the architects designed it like that so there could be a window between to let more light in the room.  Those old computer towers in the lower left corner will be going away.  Eventually.

Turning left some more… Wow, that’s embarrassing.  Here  you will see no less than 3 camera bags sitting on the floor, my blue college trash bin, and a $10 bookshelf filled with… can you tell?… Justin’s Star Wars book collection.  I plan for the long desk he built to go on this wall in order to form an “L” shape with the existing desk.

Then, I think I’ll put some open shelving above the long desk with my IKEA file storage boxes, and maybe a bulletin board and/or some other organizational items on the wall in front of the short desk.

And one more turn… For some reason I neglected to take a photo of the wall to the left (or immediately to the right when you walk into the room.  It currently contains 2 more cheap-o bookshelves with my books.

So there you have it.  Here are the issues I’m willing to address:

  • Wall Shelves.  I’ve already bought the wood for 2 long shelves to go on the wall with the entrance to the room (above photo) above the long desk.  Should I stain them or paint them?  What color?  Remember, below them will be a white desk, and on them will likely be white boxes and magazine folders from IKEA.  So white shelves are not an option.  I’m all whited out.
  • Book shelves.  It would be a huge pain, but I’m willing to paint these.  Should we keep all 3?  I like the idea of setting up a “library” corner in the corner of the room you view right when you walk in (right side, first picture).  Should I paint them?  Should I keep them together?  Should they all go on one wall?  In the corner?  What?!
  • Lighting/Accessories.  I might be able to swing something by way of inexpensive desk lamp or ceiling light, but the budget is pretty tight on this project.  Like… nonexistent.  Like… I’m kind of at the end of my jobless grace period.  So I pretty much have to work with some paint and what we have.
  • Painting.  Should I keep that painting?  If so, where should it hang?  Should I use it for other colors in the room by way of accessories?  Looking through my Pinterest inspiration photos, I’m noticing a trend with a burnt orange color and/or a bold green.  Orange is in that painting; green is not. (*I take it back — green IS in the picture!  It’s in the leaves of the tree right in the middle.)  Here are some of my Pinterest photos:

Photo source.

I love this kitchen from the movie, It’s Complicated.  Maybe I could paint the book shelves a rusty green and have the burnt orange as an accent color somewhere??

Photo source.

Another photo with natural, rustic-looking wood has me thinking I should paint the book shelves a crisp white and distress and stain the wall shelves above the desk to look like the desk in the photo above.

Photo source.

White shelves with colorful books.  I could do that…

Photo source.

More wood, orange, and white.  I’m starting to see a pattern…

Photo source.

Hey, I’m more consistent than I thought!

Photo source.

Orange… green… wood…

Photo source.

This one’s slightly different, but I love that muted blue color, which also happens to be in the painting.

Let me ask you.  Did I already screw this up by painting the walls gray?  By buying/making white desks?  By being an idiot when it comes to design??


In retrospect, I probably should have tried to find a great piece from a thrift store and refinished it to get the used-but-loved look I’m pretty sure I like but have never been able to achieve (aside from the puppy teeth marks on my ottoman legs).  And I definitely should’ve come up with a design plan before getting started.  You think I would’ve learned with the kitchen!

Bottom line?

I need help.  And I’m counting on readers like TileTramp and YOU to help me.

So?  What should I do?  Besides say “screw it” and pour myself a glass of wine at 10 a.m. because it’s just an office?  (And that quiz thought I was an alcoholic.  Puh-leeze.)

Life Just Got a Little Easier

**UPDATED**  Good news! It looks like my “invitations” to Pinterest regenerate each time I send one, which means I’m thinking there might not be a limit for how many I can send. So if you want one, let me know in the comments and I’ll keep sending ’em until it doesn’t let me send ’em anymore.

You seriously have no idea how exhausting it is living inside my head.

Unless you’re like me, in which case I feel for you.

I do.

It’s like this crazy, tangled mass of dreamy ideas, creative projects, and bucket list items juxtaposed with practical to-do lists, books to read, and inquiries to write.  It’s like Jackson Pollock has set up studio inside my mind and is redecorating the whole thing by tossing over neatly organized file cabinets and scattering the contents of card catalogues and painting over all of the sterile, whitewashed walls with this:

Except with more orange and less black.

If you do know what this is like, or you have no clue what I’m talking about but you love being really organized, I have found the answer, my friends.

And it most certainly is not blowing in the wind.

I realize I’m way behind the times on this discovery, but hey — I’m one of those people who stubbornly refuses to sign up for the newest “it” thing for as long as I can justify waiting ’till they work out the kinks or ’till my friends and readers start pestering me day and night and their urging voices creep into my dreams and haunt my thoughts and I finally, finally succumb to the peer pressure and add yet another user name and log-in password to my mental database of access codes because of course I’ve waited so long to sign up for the latest gimmick that the user name I’m trying to standardize for myself is already taken and the password I’m trying to standardize for myself isn’t long enough or doesn’t have a special character or has too many sequential letters and WHY DO YOU HAVE TO MAKE EVERYTHING SO DAMN DIFFICULT?!

See that paragraph above?  I don’t blame you if you didn’t read it.  That is what it’s like inside my head all. the. time.


So.  Enter the latest craze (at least in my mind) in social media and “cloud” networking:  Pinterest.

I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that I finally decided to give this a try.  Right now, I have tons of web browser bookmarks, saved file images on my hard drive, actual printouts in folders, and excel spreadsheets with links to various home improvement ideas, rooms I like, vacations I want to take, art projects I want to try, etc.

They are everywhere.

The fantastic news is that these ideas — these things I stumble across online that I like but can’t process right this second so I bookmark it to revisit at a later date that doesn’t EVER arrive — can now all be easily accessed via Pinterest.

For example, Kelly from Tearing Up Houses posted this beautiful kitchen on her site.  I love so  many things about this kitchen, that I know I’d like to save this photo for one day — in the far, far future — when Justin and I might stay put in one place long enough to build our dream home.

Rather than right-click the photo and save it to some random file somewhere on my computer (which will inevitably get lost when I buy a new computer or another hard drive crashes), I click the little “Pin It” button that’s now on my bookmark bar, and BAM!  The photo is saved on my Pinterest page to whatever “Pin Board” I designated (in this case, Inspiration Rooms), along with the link to where I originally found the photo!

So assuming Kelly’s page is still there in 50 years when we build our house, I can go back and find the source of the photo and see whether there’s any more information about it.  I can also type my own notes on each photo, so even if the original source no longer exists, I still have whatever information I bothered to note.

Also, whenever I browse my “Inspiration Rooms” pin board, I can easily delete any photos I no longer like.  Pinterest also lets me browse other people’s pin boards for a virtual slurry of inspirational goodness.

It can be a time waster,  yes.  But it also turns my Pollock’s into tranquil beach scenes complete with calming breezes and sweating bottles of Red Stripe.

And that, my friends, is priceless.

The one annoying thing I’ve found about the site so far is that you need an “invitation” to sign up.  That required me requesting one from the main page, and it took a little less than a week to receive my invitation in the mail.  I have no clue why they do this.

The good news is that it appears Pinterest has given me 6 of my own invitations to send to friends, so they can sign up immediately.  So, if any of you are interested and haven’t already joined, leave a comment below telling me so (hey, I rhyme!) and I will email the invitation to the first 6 people who ask.  Just make sure you actually want it so that it doesn’t go to waste!

**UPDATED**  Good news! It looks like my “invitations” to Pinterest regenerate each time I send one, which means I’m thinking there might not be a limit for how many I can send. So if you want one, let me know in the comments and I’ll keep sending ’em until it doesn’t let me send ’em anymore.

Kitsch for my Kitch(en)

Have you ever felt like you have a million things to write about but no way to write them?

I have all of these things to tell you, but I feel like I lost my voice.  The words aren’t there.

Well, I have some words, but they aren’t witty or thoughtful or seductive in any way.

What?  They aren’t normally?

Well, crap.

Let me just tell you about the lovely little pottery festival I attended this weekend, otherwise known as “pay $10 to get sloshed on wine samples then $5 to walk around trying not to break any handcrafted pottery and then head back to the wine tent when you realize you never really wanted any pottery to begin with – you just wanted to drink the wine and listen to the music, which, you realize, is even more fun when you’re not the one serving the drinks.”

Now that I think about it, that pretty much sums it up.  So thanks, Danielle, for the awesome time!

I didn’t buy any pottery, but I did get some fantastic local honey, some seasoning stuff, a bottle of chardonnay, and this:

It combines my desire for a globe and my need for a place to store keepsake wine corks in one, fun-filled piece of kitsch.

Yes, we all know how I feel about buying crap just to have it – I normally stick to art and photographs since not only do they look nice, but they evoke memories and emotions, but c’mon people – it’s a globe and a cork holder.

It’s like it was made for me.

Sorry for the blur.  Apparently I can’t take photos and drink orange juice at the same time.

Who knew?

IKEA: Quite Possibly a Domestiphobe’s Worst Nightmare

A couple of weeks ago I informed you that my friend Alaina and I were planning a day trip to Charlotte to hit up that wonder of all superstores, IKEA, for the latest in ready-to-assemble Swedish decor for her nursery and my office.

We were going to go later this week, but since her husband was planning to come over to my house to play with my husband last Saturday (wait – that doesn’t sound right, does it?), we decided to go then.

That way I wouldn’t be here to witness them do this to my walls:

Now.  If you’ve never been to an IKEA before, there are a few things you should know:

1.  Preparation – especially if you don’t live close enough to run back to the store when you realize you forgot something – is key.  That means searching online ahead of time for things you might want, writing them down, taking measurements in your home, writing those down, and then checking the availability of those items at the store you plan on visiting.  I might have forgotten that last part.

2.  IKEA is BIG.  They have it set up so that you follow these arrows that direct you through the upper level of the store, meandering through a giant maze of show rooms and displays, oohing and ahhing at the cheap prices and simplistic designs and jotting down crazy names of things like “Ekby” and “Kivik” and “Klubbo” so that, when you get downstairs to where they actually have all the stuff for you to put in your cart, you’ve already seen what it looks like set up in a room.  The problem?  If you walk past something you wanted without realizing it, you might have to trek about 1.8 miles each way to go get it.  Wear sneakers, is all I’m sayin’.

3.  They have a kiddie play area where you basically sign your kids off to play while you shop and I’m pretty sure it’s genius and designed more for childless people like me than actual parents, but who cares because the kids are corralled in one place away from the rest of us real people and stop pretending to judge me because you know I have a point.

4.  Things aren’t always as cheap as you think.  Sure, that pretty print might look chic and affordable hanging in the showroom in its shiny silver frame, but looks can be deceiving.  You might not notice that there are two tags hanging from the picture – one for the print itself, and another for the frame.  And you like those library bookshelves with the glass doors whose price seems too good to be true?  That’s because you’re looking at the tag for just the top part of the shelf.  The bottom half and cabinet doors cost extra, just so you know.  In all fairness, you can usually find the price of an entire unit listed, but if you’re a newbie shopper there, just be careful to read the tag so you know what you’re pricing and what you’re buying.  You’d hate to get something home, put it together, and then realize you didn’t actually buy everything you wanted.

5.  With the exception of their kitchens, the majority of IKEA items tend to look a lot better online than they do in person, in my humble little opinion.  But hey – it’s ready-to-assemble furniture, people.  That means everything you buy – whether it’s a sectional sofa or a wall of bookshelves – comes in flat (albeit heavy) boxes just perfect for a brawny girl like me to drag into the back of the Tracker by herself because her friend is pregnant and I’ll be damned if I’ll let anything happen to the little kumquat.

And you don’t want to mess with these.

Side note:  Back in the day, Alaina and her husband (then boyfriend) Dirk bought all of his bedroom furniture from IKEA and enticed their friends over to help put it together under the guise of a party.  Approximately 6 hours and countless beers later, I was the last man standing.

And the furniture was assembled.

And it hasn’t fallen apart.


In all seriousness though, a truly gifted shopper like Alaina can emerge from IKEA happy, alive, and with the makings of a simply beautiful room.  Even the dresser she bought for the nursery had far superior glides to much of IKEA’s other bedroom furniture, and Alaina had the uncanny ability to breeze through the labyrinth, stocking her cart with a piece of fabric here, a lamp there, and knowing her, everything will fit together perfectly in the end.

Just don’t expect it to be as inexpensive as you thought.

Truly ungifted shoppers like me, on the other hand, tend to have problems in a place like this.  For one, there’s too much pressure.  There were too many choices and I couldn’t make up my mind and half the time I’d end up running back across the entire store just to get a sieve I missed back in housewares and where did you get that plant, Alaina because I want one, and crap I have to run back to home organization again because I forgot the hook thingies for my hanging thingies and WHAT?!  They are out of my shelf brackets?  You have got to be f*cking kidding me and will someone please just take me out to the parking lot, dose me up with tranquilizers, and shoot me now?

In case you haven’t guessed, I don’t really like shopping.

These are the things I wanted to get at IKEA:

  • File cabinet
  • Shelf brackets
  • Storage boxes
  • Desk chair
  • Hanging organizers

These are the things I did get at IKEA:

  • Storage boxes
  • Hanging organizers
  • Fake plant
  • Kitchen sieve and funnels
  • Candle

These are the things I wish I’d bought at IKEA but I’d already purchased them somewhere else:

  • Blinds (IKEA has nice, inexpensive faux wood blinds, but I’d already bought wood-looking aluminum blinds at Target that the dogs have already messed up.)
  • Wooden hangars (I just bought what I thought were pretty inexpensive wooden hangars at Bed, Bath and Beyond for the closet makeover, but IKEA’s looked better and were even cheaper.)

In person, the file cabinet I thought I wanted just looked flimsy and unsubstantial, and they were out of my shelf brackets.  OUT.

I have to say, the best part of the day by far was the plate of Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, and lingonberry sauce served cafeteria style for like $4.  To a pregnant chick and a girl who still had to drive another 2 1/2 hours on pitch black, tree-lined, winding roads in the rain just to get us home, it was pure heaven.

I would’ve taken a picture, but they were literally gone in about 4.8 seconds.  My phone doesn’t work that fast.

At the end of the day, this meager pile is my total haul (before the storage boxes have been assembled):

My indecisiveness, lack of design skills, and just plain ol’ crappy luck were no match for IKEA’s wiley ways.

So.  After 2 1/2 hours driving to get there, and approximately 3 hours and 11.72 miles of walking through the store, and a stressful, stormy, 2 1/2 hour drive home, I felt deflated.  Alaina, who spent about 10 times more than me because she has a job and a design plan and the ability to make actual decisions, felt elated.

It was totally worth the trip.

But I have to say, before you make the trek to your not-so-local IKEA, you might want to figure out which one of us is you.

‘Cause We’re Livin’ in a Material World

I know it’s been a while – a long while – since I’ve posted anything about home improvements.

With the exception of certain small-ish projects I’ve mentioned here and there, like painting the office:

and painting/organizing the inside of the hall closet:

We really haven’t been doing a lot around the house lately.

And, I’m ashamed to admit, the closet (which admittedly had more to do with putting off other things I should have been doing than actually making a closet look nice) isn’t even done yet.  But almost.

I promise.

Sort of.

My avoidance of all topics home related is most definitely not because everything is finished.  I could share a list of the things we still need to do before we could ever hope to sell this place, but then I’d probably start crying and my tear-soaked keyboard would malfunction and I’d have to add to the list yet another piece of electronic equipment that’s crapped out because it can’t handle being around me and my hormones.

By the way, I love the fact that being a woman allows me to blame all irrational behavior on hormones.

What?  You think it was immature to throw my POS cell phone across the room?  Well it was the hormones, bitches!

What?  You think I made the waiter feel bad because I cried when he told me they’re out of tiramisu?  Well don’t blame me – it’s the hormones!

Love it.


Like I was saying, the fact that we haven’t been working on house projects has nothing to do with the fact that we’re done.  Far from it.  It’s just that with Justin working his butt off to get promoted (and coincidentally inviting me, of all people, to fancy events) and me gallivanting off to exotic places like Costa Rica, Miami, and Nebraska, (okay, they can’t all be winners), we just really haven’t had the time.  Or the money.  Oh, and my whole quitting my job to “find myself” and make a huge career change thing is actually fairly time consuming too.  And I’m talking about writing – not waiting tables.

But I thought you should know that I’ve finally taken another step towards completing the office.  That photo you saw of the paint job above is the room in its interim phase.  I was just taking a breather before moving on to the next step.

And what is the next step, you might ask?

Organization, organization, organization.

Oh, and I want it to be pretty.

The overall mental plan for the room is to build a new work surface, create a wall of shelving and storage, and paint the existing bookshelves.  If I can find a deal, I might replace the ugly fan with a new light fixture.  I’m working on a very strict budget here, so the goal is to make this as comfortable and functional of a workspace as I can (since I will mainly be working from home), without spending more money than I’ll be making in a year.

(Sooo… what?  Like $50?  Riiiight.  Although, that would be a vast improvement from the $7.88 I earned last year.)

This means we’re getting rid of the two cheap-o desks that were given to us out of pity by another Airman when we moved into our very first shoddy apartment and had only a bed frame with mattress, an old trunk (used as a coffee table), and an entertainment center to our names.  (Yes, we knew what was important.)

Seriously.  We didn’t even have a couch.

So those old desks will either go on Craigslist or we’ll donate them to some other poor military person just starting out.  (Have fun with that, friend!  The debt-less road to materialism is a long one.)

The tentative plan in my head is to jerry-rig a new L-shaped desk into a corner of the room.  The long branch of the “L” will be constructed using filing cabinets (I will need lots of file storage) and some type of narrow-yet-long table top component.  As you can tell, this part is yet-to-be determined.

I like these shallow drawer cabinets from IKEA that Kelly from Tearing Up Houses used in her beautifully serene office remodel to use as the desk “legs”:

The short end of the “L” will be replaced with this desk from Overstock:

It looks almost exactly like this desk from West Elm, but at just over $150 including tax and shipping, the Overstock version is less than half the price:

The shallow drawers will be perfect for some pens, a couple of notepads, and some of the electronic-y type computer equipment (DVD drive, external hard drive, etc.) that doesn’t need to stay out all of the time.

Not a bad deal, huh?  Although West Elm does have an awesome mirror version of this desk that I think would look pretty damn sweet in the office.  But, at $599, it’s just a little out of my budget.  And I’m pretty sure it doesn’t come with a maid who will stand next to it all day to wipe off my fingerprints and tell me to get back to work when I distract myself by squeezing pimples and checking for food in my teeth in its reflective surface.

Plus, I hate to think of all the bad luck I’d have when I crack one of the mirrors by throwing my cell phone too hard across the room.

Because these things happen, you know.

It’s the hormones.

…and then a Style Quiz Called Me an Alcoholic.

Great news.

I got my baby back.

That’s right, my favorite lens is back from the Nikon repair shop.  Remember when she might have broken because I dropped her on a cement floor?  Not my brightest moment.

So now I can start taking pictures like this again:

And this:

Nicaragua breakfast pizza

And even this:

It feels a little like my arm fell off five months ago and the doctors were just now able to sew it back on.


In other news, I took this little style quiz that I found over on YHL because, as much as I hate spending money on decor, I still like to fish around the web every now and then for ideas of what I’d like if I did enjoy spending money on decor.

I’m doubting there’s any merit to the quiz results, considering they’re based on picking the most appealing images from some random photos.  I mean, what’s with the one with the hats?  But the whole thing takes about 30 seconds to complete, so if you’re bored, I just found a way for you to kill 30 seconds.

You’re welcome.

I went around picking photos like this one:

And this one:

My result?  Swank Aesthete.

My reaction?  WTF is that?

At best, it sounds like some debilitating foot fungus.  At worst, it makes me sound snooty and shallow.

But then I read the description, and I have to say… I kinda like it.

“Cozy… not oversized – a hand crafted gem.”  Yes, please!  A craftsman bungalow would be my dream home.

Or something like this, which I saw over on one of my new favorite travel blogs the other day:

Photo by Nate, at depicts a hand-built home in the town of Cuyin Manzano, Patagonia Argentina.*

The quiz results also stated that I’m “Blown away by the handcrafted nature of art,” and that couldn’t be more spot-on.  Whether it’s music, photography, painting, or architecture – when someone takes the time to create something beautiful, I take the time to see it.

Dennis McGeary
(Click photo for link to artist's website)

But then the results get a little… confusing.

“…you enjoy your niceties. A cool refreshing drink – and often more than one!”

Now what is that supposed to mean?  Okay so it’s true, but that doesn’t mean I want some know-it-all style quiz rubbing it in my face.

I mean, it might as well be saying, Why don’t you go ahead and pour a little more bourbon into your morning coffee, Alchie?

Talk about judgmental.

Moving on.

The quiz redeemed itself at the end.  Immensely.

Apparently, because the quiz knows all, I have the same style as Cate Blanchet, Ingrid Bergman, and Johnny Depp!

So basically, this means I could share a home with Johnny Depp and we totally wouldn’t argue about aesthetic or design because we have the same taste.  And we could afford a pre-war apartment on the upper-east side (which the quiz thinks I want) because, come on, I’d live with Johnny Depp. Although I’m thinking he might prefer Paris.

Which is a concession I’m willing to make.

So what’s your style?  And which celebrities do you share it with?

Oh, and I made something good last night.  Really good.  And it was unfortunate because I mis-timed the recipe, which left me approximately 1.4 minutes to inhale a steaming plate of it before running off to work, resulting in burning the top layer of taste buds off of my tongue.

But it was so worth it.

Stay tuned…

*Nate, as per usual, I did not ask permission to steal another blogger’s photo because I didn’t know I’d be posting it until just now.  Don’t hesitate to let me know if you’d like me to remove it!

Sophisticated Kate

I finally did it.  Bit the bullet.  Achieved a dream (other than this) that I’ve had for awhile. 

I bought some art in Hawaii.  Three pieces, to be exact. 

And for someone as fickle as me, this is quite a big deal.  See, until this point, there are 2 things that have held me back from ever buying art (other than bookstore posters during my college years and mass-produced prints from places like Kirkland’s that end up getting shoved in a corner of my closet because I can’t bring myself to hang something meaningless): 

1.  Money.  Original paintings (since that’s mainly the type of art to which I’m referring), can be gastronomically expensive.  Understandably.  You’re essentially buying a piece of a person’s soul to hang over your mantel for your friends to discuss its merit over a glass of merlot.  Talk about putting yourself out there… 

2.  Indecisiveness.  I can’t decide on a meal to cook more than 3 hours in advance, let alone art that will represent my personality, mood and taste (or lack thereof) for the rest of my life.  It’s too much pressure.  That, and I tend to love practically everything I see.  Who am I to decide which is better than the next? 

But then I realizedmost collections start small.  I don’t have to have a huge original oil painting the size of my mattress in order to be moved.  And my art doesn’t even have to be original, for that matter.  And the indecisive part of me is never going to change.  If my tastes/desires/moods change over the course of my life, then what I buy today will simply represent who I was at that particular moment in time.  And that, my friends, is the point. 

(Am I deep tonight, or what??) 

Okay, two of the pieces are actually very inexpensive prints of real art, but hey.  We’re not made of money. 

I think I was drawn to the first for its colors. 

Kellie MacQuoid Print
(Click photo for link to artist's website)


It’s surreal, almost dreamlike, very calming… with just a hint of trippy.  Perfect. 

Kellie MacQuoid Print
(Click photo for link to artist's website)


I love the detail with the birds (seagulls?) in the background and the horizontal texture running across the sky and trees.  I love that the flowers look like pink artichokes and the leaves of the ferns aren’t attached to the stems. 

Kellie MacQuoid Print
(Click photo for link to artist's website)


It doesn’t scream Hawaii to me (at least my experience of Hawaii), and that’s okay.  In fact the artist, Kellie MacQuoid, lives in California.  The palm trees… the ocean… the lizard… the inspiration is still clear.  Exotic, coastal beauty.  On acid. 

I would LOVE to own a real one some day.  Or maybe even a giclée (I use this term to try to sound art-smart, which, I assure you, I’m not), if an original is beyond my reach.  It never hurts to dream, right? 

The second print will completely take you inside my head. 

(Ha-ha, no I’m not about to show you a photo of a blank picture frame.  I know what you’re thinking, and you’re mean.

The style seems like a dream.  No details, just memory. 

But really, it’s the subject itself.  The surfer girl… she’s in one of the most beautiful places in the world, she’s got this big ocean in front of her, and all she has to do is jump in.  She’s free to do anything she wants. 

Heather Brown Print
(Click photo for link to artist's website)


I would love to be the girl in the painting.  Heather Brown, the artist, seems like a phenomenal person.  She lives on the island of Oahu, surfs and paints for a living, is absolutely beautiful, and is basically living the dream.  I saw a few of her originals and several giclée prints in some of the Oahu galleries.  I drooled.  But only a little. 

It looks like she signed the matte of the print, although I’m not sure if that’s just a stamp… 

Heather Brown Print
(Click photo for link to artist's website.)


I want to be there again.  And since I can’t (or won’t?), this print might get me close. 

Heather Brown Print
(Click photo for link to artist's website)


Because these prints were a standard size, all it took were some inexpensive frames from Target to complete the look. 

Target Picture Frames


I removed the mattes that came with the frames and used the ones that came with the prints: 



Now all I have to do is hang ’em!  Give me another year or so and I might find the perfect place (ha). 

For now, they’re both in my kitchen, sitting up against our (finally) completed backsplash.  I actually kind of like them in here, because I see them every day. 

And finally, the real painting. 


It’s an original.  (Imagine me saying that with my nose stuck up in the air.) 

I walked into this little gallery in the small, beach-front town of Hale’iwa on Oahu’s North Shore.  Inside the owner displayed works from several artists, including her husband, the local candle maker.  It was the art of Dennis McGeary, however, that caught my eye. 

I was initially drawn to a a large, abstract piece, very similar to those in the top 2 rows of this page.  It appeared different every time I looked at it.  Once I saw a waterfall.  Then an ocean.  Then the wind as I fell from the plane.  Then the mountains.  It was continuous, and I loved it.  I can’t describe it. 

I realized this piece, while extremely reasonably-priced for an original oil painting, was just more than we could justify spending at this point in our lives.  But then I was drawn to a much smaller piece, more decipherable (and less interpretive) in its subject, but still intriguing. 

Dennis McGeary
(Click photo for link to artist's website)


An Oahu coastline.  Tropical forests.  Jagged mountains.  But, when viewed a little differently, a serene underwater-scape.  Colorful coral.  Reflections off the surface. 

Dennis McGeary
(Click photo for link to artist's website)


And look!  Brush strokes!! 

Dennis McGeary Original


I own something with brush strokes besides my painted window trim! 

Dennis McGeary Original


And it has a signature.  A real signature. 

Dennis McGeary


Is it weird I’m so excited about this? 

I’m sorry to get all artsy-fartsy on you tonight, but I can’t help it.  I just finished a glass of red and I’m too sophisticated for words. 

All of this is still made worse by the fact that I still want to move to a van on the North Shore.  I’m still working to convince the hubs it would be a good idea.  We can survive on some rice, our wits, and our passion for life, no?  (Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have read Into the Wild during our vacation.  The combination appears to have been toxic.) 

But I figure first we’ll finish remodeling this place… one thing at a time, right? 

One thing at a time.