Pay attention for a second, because I’m about to get real.
Last weekend one of Justin’s troops from our last duty station stopped by for a visit while traveling up the coast. Read the rest of this gem…
Pay attention for a second, because I’m about to get real.
Last weekend one of Justin’s troops from our last duty station stopped by for a visit while traveling up the coast. Read the rest of this gem…
Truth: When it comes to home renovation (or decorating or craft or basically anything) projects, I’m a wee bit of a massively overbearing perfectionist. Read the rest of this gem…
There comes a time in every girl’s life —
(or in my case, multiple times)
— when she just has to step away. Read the rest of this gem…
Last week I posted photos of our back shed and proclaimed to all the internet (or maybe 1/1,000,000,000 of the internet) that my husband is a hoarder. Really, the post was intended to be a giant metaphor for how far I’ve come in accepting the fact that the person I live with is human and that it’s possible to find ways to form our habits so they complement each other, rather than fight each other. And… okay… maybe a little bit to call him a hoarder.
So all I would like to say to those of you (beloved readers) who defended Justin in the comments section, claiming his hoarding issues aren’t true hoarding, for shame.
I know you probably did it because he’s hot.
And he is.
But that does not negate the fact that he cannot throw anything away. That shed was an unfair example because I’d already taken half of the mess out before snapping the photo.
You need further evidence?
I’ll give you further evidence.
This is what I originally set out to clean.
See that flower pot on the right side, near the garage door?
I’d intended to move that and a few other select gardening tools out to the shed and then get back to this particular mess.
Let me break it down for you: The old ceiling fan from our bedroom, a broken tool organizer that our neighbor was going to throw away (it is currently still broken and holds zero tools), 2 televisions, a wood pallet, bags of mulch and garden soil, 5,287 empty cardboard boxes (those might be my fault), worn, crusted gym clothes, old doors, cement board, laminate flooring, wood scraps, shoe molding, trash, trash and more trash, and billions of DIY home supplies.
In a nutshell.
Yep, this is the very same garage I’d started to clean out last year.
But then this happened.
And so the garage turned back into a veritable dumping ground for everything we couldn’t deal with — physically and, apparently, emotionally.
Who isn’t a hoarder?
Because I’m pretty sure it’s not this guy:
(By the way, I feel like I should mention that Justin added a dead bolt to our front door, hung crown molding in the kitchen, and switched out an outlet that had been driving me crazy this weekend. I’m pretty sure the fact that he had a clean shed, courtesy of moi, was the underlying motivation. It just makes sense that I should get credit for all things awesome. Mwahahaha.)
(Yes. I am one lucky girl.)
I’ve been busy.
I’m not gonna lie.
And it’s been great.
From juggling 3 jobs while a co-worker was out last week (I normally only juggle 2), to the usual freelance asides, to painting-yet-not-quite-finishing my bedroom furniture, to photographing a friend with her husband who’s deploying to Afghanistan, to trying to get out and enjoy this heavenly weather as much as possible, the last fifteen-or-so days have been a blur.
The blog has been suffering, for sure, but I figure I need to use this concentrated juice-like momentum to propel other aspects of my life — like expanding my freelance repertoire, working towards moving out of the guest room, and actually doing some of the crazy things I pin on Pinterest. (Besides just making the food. Which I do. A lot. Bacon guacamole grilled cheese sandwich, anyone?)
The good news, however, is I do have some exciting things planned for this little place in space. Like telling you about my road trip, which is coming up quicker than expected. And sharing more recipes, now that it’s light enough to actually decently photograph them in the evening. And sharing a DIY chalk paint tutorial (previews on the Facebook page) for finishing your furniture. And yes, I know there are a gagillion of those out there, but this one will be mine.
And you ain’t heard nothin’ until you’ve heard a domestiphobe’s take on a project.
Because we speak the truth.
The straight-up vanilla, ugly, acne-riddled truth.
Forget cost breakdowns and what kind of paintbrush I used — I’m going to share that and then some. From what kind of beer provides the best hydration for the duration of the project to how many laptop streaming movies it actually took to complete, you’ll get all of the gritty, must-know details.
Mama knows what you really care about.
And now I’d like to take a moment to share something rather extraordinary.
I passed it on my way to a house I needed to photograph for work last week, and it spoke to me.
It said, you have to slow down, ogle, and snap a photo with your trusty iPhone, all while avoiding getting shot by the neighbors. Because this IS the South. So watch your back.
Are you ready?
No, this is not some foolish app of iPhone trickery.
Nor do your eyes deceive you.
This IS a house bedazzled, if you will, with plastic swans.
It’s like the owners stood in front of their nice-yet-plain-jane suburban facade and thought, You know? Some stately white swans sitting atop those matching brick driveway pillars are just what we need to maximize curb appeal. No, they wouldn’t be “too much.” They’re white. They match the siding. They accent our entry. And if we don’t do anything else to the yard — nothing whatsoever — it won’t matter because there will be swans. It will be a revolution in outdoor decorating. And all of our neighbors will be jealous of our originality. Yep. Forget landscaping — we have SWANS.
I think I might want some.
No longer would I have to explain to arriving guests that we’re the “white house with red shutters” or the “fifth house down on the left” or the “one with the leaning white mailbox and unkempt bushes.”
I’d just have to say, “Look for the house with the swans. You can’t miss it.”
It would be awesome.
Like guardians of the driveway, only much meaner than gargoyles.
I mean, have you seen swans in person?
They tried to attack my dog.
So bad people would know to stay away from the house with the swans because swans are pretty much the nastiest, badassiest birds around.
Worse than Canadian Geese.
And I’m pretty sure my Home Owner’s Association would love them.
So. When you start seeing the matching exterior white swan trend flying across the blogosphere, remember where you saw it first.
I’m going to be honest.
This was one of those weekends I wish I could do over.
Not because it was so spectacularly awesome, but because I feel it was relatively wasted in its entirety. Aside from a fun night of drinks with a girlfriend on Friday, I didn’t do anything notable or interesting. I accomplished exactly nothing. I took not one step forward in any aspect of my life. In fact, I actually took one step backwards because we had to return the curtains I ordered for the bedroom.
They weren’t right.
See, they were incredibly white. And shiny. And they felt like a bridesmaid’s dress, except they didn’t get prettier when I got them drunk.
*Update: My buddy Dennis commented that it’s ME who would have to get drunk in order for this scenario — and joke — to work. That’s what I get for writing posts before 7:00 a.m. Why do you always have to be right, Dennis? WHY? (P.S. I don’t think I get prettier when they get drunk. Since I mostly walk around my bedroom naked, they’re not exactly lookin’ at my face, if you knowwhatI’msayin’. Ba-dum-DUM.)
And actually, I made Justin return them, poor guy, because I couldn’t face the idea of going into town to shop. Especially not for curtains. Because apparently bedroom curtains are my Achille’s heel of decorating. Well curtains, and pretty much anything else that requires money and a commitment.
But don’t feel too bad for Justin because he volunteered. Probably because he wanted to get away from me and my manic online curtain shopping — that torturous hell hole of grainy photos, 80’s valances, and mixed reviews.
Oh, the reviews. I read them for what feels like hours and was eventually convinced that it would be better for me to go pick a fabric and sew my own damn curtains even though the most I’ve ever sewed is a button but then I realized that in order to get fabric I’d either have to go out and shop, or I’d have to look online and read more reviews since everyone knows the reviews are the only thing allowing us to make a semi-confident purchase over the internet and still, because of my shiny white grommety curtain fiasco, I’ve learned that even the reviews are confusing and not always reliable and I’d probably end up with some kind of poop brown velvet that a bunch of strangers across the internet convinced me would be a good choice because of its energy-saving qualities and machine washability.
No, thank you.
Fortunately for me and my sanity, I’m learning how to live in the moment. To step away from my privileged white girl problems, crack open a Yuengling, and surf instead for interesting road trip destinations and cheap tickets to anywhere.
It’s called escapism people, and it’s a beautiful thing.
That is, until you realize that an entire 48 hours have passed, your house is dirty, the laundry has piled up, you have no food in the fridge, you’re still only halfway through your book club book and the meeting is on Wednesday, you haven’t written anything worthwhile in an embarrassingly long amount of time, and you still have no curtains.
I don’t like wasting a weekend. It makes me feel icky. I’m one of those people who doesn’t feel right if something doesn’t get done.
But really, I’m thinking of moving us back into the bedroom anyway, because curtains are mostly just for the sake of the neighbors who don’t want exposure to the things that might happen in there, like reading in bed or swinging from our sex toy chandelier. But honestly, if they don’t want exposure, then maybe they should just stop looking.
The good news is that I officially have something to look forward to, besides public displays of sex toy swingery.
Here’s a hint:
Okay. That’s more than a hint.
It’s a road trip, baby!
So it’s not quite the epic cross-country trip that’s been consuming my thoughts, and it’s not even as far as Miami where I drive to visit my sister, but it’s something.
And some of those places are new to me.
And some have old friends.
And wonderful family.
And good food.
And a bed for me to stay.
Because while this trip could easily be accomplished in a single day, you know, in your heart of hearts, that it’s me.
When it comes to going anywhere, I always take the long way home.
What about you? Do you need to feel a sense of accomplishment over a weekend, or are you happy to relax and let one slide by? Any fun trips planned? Anyone else like to take the scenic route?
*Post title from “The Long Way Home” by Norah Jones. Love it.
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.
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.
It’s sleek. Smooth. Luminescent and lightly reflective. Seductive. Natural. It moves.
And, while I try not to take the beauty of my granite for granted, I’m just going to say it — that thing that will most likely put me on the combined hit list of decorators, kitchen designers, Realtors, and people who make their living carving away the earth one layer at a time — if I had it to do over, granite is not the material I would choose for my countertops.
From my post, The Biggest Rock I Ever Bought
Actually, if I’m going to be really honest, I wouldn’t be picking counter tops at all. Because I’d be living in a grass hut in Fiji. Where our counters would be made of shells and sand. Or something. Which totally isn’t practical, but it would be Fiji, so practicality would be like… the last thing I care about. Because I wouldn’t cook. I’d subsist off a diet of tropical fruit, Nutella, and cocktails made from coconuts and rum.
Do they have Nutella in Fiji?
I hope so. Otherwise I might have to re-think this whole thing.
For the last 5 or 6 years, anyone who’s even thought about remodeling a kitchen — even if they don’t own kitchens but just like to watch HGTV — knows that granite has been like THE counter material of choice. In fact, if you recently remodeled your kitchen and used a material other than granite (or marble, but the idea is natural stone), you’ve likely been told that you better love it because you will never be able to resell your home ever again.
It’s gotten so bad that I’ve seen people stick slabs of this gorgeous rock across the tops of old, rickety base cabinets from the ’70’s — original hardware still intact — and call it complete.
Now please don’t get me wrong. I love the look of our granite (though I still wish we’d gone with something a bit more neutral). I mean, I minored in Geology and had a very impressive rock collection as a kid (seriously — I had a geology reference book when I was 12), so if anyone can appreciate the beauty of this stone, it’s me.
So if there was a way to say… hang a huge slab of it on my wall, or better yet, make a whole wall out of this stuff cheaply and without tearing massive scars into the earth’s crust, I’d be all for it. It’s like art — truly.
But for a countertop? Just. Not. Practical. Why? Here goes.
1) As proven by the fact that I’m not sure I want kids because it will cut into my “me” time, I am inherently lazy. Well, that’s not exactly true. I’m always up and doing something — it’s just that I like that something to be something I like doing. And that something has never — ever — included granite upkeep.
See, I’m not sure if you know this, but granite is a natural stone. Nothing in nature is constant over time, meaning its state can always change. Our particular slab of granite happens to be grainy. In fact, the fabricators had to come back several times to scrub it down with steel wool before it felt smooth — not grainy — to the touch. And still, every now and then, I need to go over it with the wool to get it back to that glassy, mirrored surface we all know and love.
Also, it’s porous. This means that unless it’s sealed really well — a process you should repeat over the course of your granite ownership — it will absorb anything that sits on its surface for too long. Especially oils. Oils are its drink of choice. I’ve learned that you can “suck” them out using a combination of flour and dish soap spread over the stain and covered by a piece of plastic wrap (yes, I’ve had to do this — several times), but it’s probably best to get used to the fact that your granite may not stay pristine forever.
2) One thing people love about granite is how hard and durable it is. Well, just remember that means it’s hard and durable. If you use it as a cutting board, it will turn your knives dull faster than Ben Stein can cause a roomful of students’ eyes to glaze over.
If, say… it decides to do battle with something you love, like a wine glass for example, the granite will win.
Every. Damn. Time.
And not necessarily just when a glass tips over onto the granite, but even if you set its fragile stem down just a little too zealously. Wine enthusiasm is not a wise move in granite covered kitchens, my friends.
The same applies to glass bottles, fragile dishware, and your face. Really. If you ever dance while you cook, trip over your own feet, and find yourself plummeting all-too-quickly towards that expensive slab of rock you so painstakingly picked out, you will know what it’s like to come close to death.
3) Sure, granite is heat-resistant. But because you’re so afraid of doing anything else that might damage it (like leaving an unnoticed puddle of olive oil sit overnight), it takes you a full 2 years to muster the courage to set down a hot pan. And, when you finally do, it’s not nearly as satisfying as you’d hoped.
I guess all I’m really sayin’ is, installing granite is like having a baby. You shouldn’t do it unless you’re willing to commit the time and energy it takes to make it the best granite it can possibly be. You have to accept the flaws you can not change, smooth over the flaws you can, and have the wisdom to know that in the end, you’ll end up spending a significant chunk of your savings on an ungrateful slab that absorbs all of your resources without ever giving back.
And it breaks wine glasses.
I know, I’ve kind of been MIA lately.
But I have an excuse.
Remember when I showed you my nice, newly built desk that’s all pristine and clean and fantastic?
Well. That’s all fine and dandy, but the other side of the room — the side I was too embarrassed to show you — has been looking like this:
Oh, the shame. If the desk side of the room were the pretty face with fresh makeup and whitened teeth, this side would be the armpit.
It’s the unshaven armpit of my office.
It didn’t look like this due to laziness.
Okay, part of it was due to laziness.
But mostly, it’s my indecision that’s the cause of the hold-up once again.
I’ve definitely decided to paint the bookshelves white. I’ve definitely (kind-of-sort-of-I-think) decided to stain the long wall shelves that will go above the long part of the desk a dark-ish color. Although, I’ve since read that pine doesn’t like to stain dark very well, so now I’m considering painting them once again.
I also love this rug and want to have its babies:
“Tapestry” by Company C. See it on my Pinterest page.
I could use something like this to cover up the horribly old and stained carpet in the office, but the more I look at it, I actually kind of want this for my kitchen.
And that doesn’t really matter because it is so far out of any rug budget we’d have if we actually had a rug budget, that I probably can’t afford to even look at it, let alone visualize it in any of my rooms. So if you’re aware of a good knockoff or know how to knockoff any of the multiple online stores that carry it and get away with it, please let me know.
Anyway. The good news is that I’ve at least managed to tackle some of that organizational nightmare that’s going on in that corner. The bad news is that I don’t have time to show you right now because they don’t seem to like it when I show up to work looking like someone who woke up terrified in the middle of the night because her husband’s work pager was going off and now has to deal with the fact that he’s leaving town when there’s a hurricane coming our way.
But that’s another story.
Obviously I’ll need something to keep me busy this weekend, so let me know if you have any more office ideas!
When I think about our huge guest bathroom remodel, my biggest regret is not buying a new toilet. We replaced the old, yellowed seat, scrubbed out the inside with a pumice stone, and viola — the toilet looked new again.
Then it broke. And still, it seemed the more economical decision was to replace the parts inside the tank that needed replacing.
Then something went wrong with the tank. I’m not sure what, but it required the purchase of a new tank.
After that, the toilet decided it wanted to start flushing, on occasion, of its own accord.
And frankly, I was okay with that. I mean… I only have so much energy to expend on a toilet, you know?
Then a couple of days ago, I noticed some type of store-bought packaging sitting in the bathroom with — you guessed it — toilet parts inside. I guess some of my earth-friendly endeavors have worn off on Justin (or the water bill wore out his wallet), because he decided he no longer wanted our home graced with a ghost flushing toilet.
I thought it would be a quick job, but as is the case with all DIY projects, you have to account for the unexpected.
I try to do that, and I try to stay patient, but nothing — and I mean nothing — prepared me for the moment yesterday when Justin yelled from the bathroom, “Can you please open the door to the garage for me?”
I walked over to the garage door and held it open butler-style, as my husband, arms encumbered with the disemboweled body of our porcelain God, ran past.
Apparently something was wrong with the way the toilet was screwed into the floor.
Apparently parts of our subfloor are now stripped.
Apparently this is going to be a much bigger job than we expected.
Apparently… toilets can also be metaphors for relationships. They’re always more work than you think, but worth the extra effort in the end.