Monthly Archives: July 2012

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Small Changes: Addition and Subtraction

arc lamp

I got a great deal on the CB2 Big Dipper lamp that I’ve coveted for years this weekend. Yay! And then I knocked over the Dalia mirror on the mantel when I was moving it around (this thing is huge) and broke the mirror. Boo. Do you think I can get a mirror cut to replace it? Where? If not, I think it might look ok with the cardboard removed.

The lamp’s close up.

cb2 big dipper lamp

Why yes, that is a giant pile of legos hiding behind the chair. And two seconds after I’d straightened up enough to get this shot a kid ran through, grabbed the throw off the chair and everything tumbled down. But at least I got a picture of things tidy.

More additions. I picked this terrarium up at West Elm a few weeks ago. They sell them planted and when the plants start to wilt they mark them down significantly. You can order the container here.

Its huge. That seems to be today’s home accessories theme. It lives here, with Shakespeare and the horse head.

Anyone else been super-sizing their home accessories of late?

Dear Pottery Barn

Dear Pottery Barn:

We don’t always agree on style, but I generally think of you as a family friendly sort of store. You seem to design your furniture at least with the rough housing of kids in mind. I have to say, however, that in perusing your latest collection of accessories, I think you might have forgotten what its like to actually live with children. Particularly boys. I mean really, have you looked at what you’re suggesting we put in our homes? Giant metal keys? Do you not want me to have anything nice?

And bats as decor. I don’t know about you, but I have a rule about sports equipment in the house for a reason.  Sure, they look cute in your picture. But would they ever actually stay on the coffee table? Not in my house.

And pairing this with a hurricane full of balls? Not wise, Pottery Barn, not wise. Glad I got the heads up on this decor trend before I brought my kids with me to the store.

A few more. I’ll just caption these with what I can only assume is their intended use.

Polly Pocket Ride


Doll Bed

Gouges eyes with ease


Oh and your sister store, Restoration Hardware? Don’t get me started, they went over the edge a while ago.


While all of these items might be well and good for some people, think of the children Pottery Barn! The poor, poor children.


The lady who spends too much time looking at decor online. Clearly.

The Magic Necklace

I have recently begun hearing that I have great style*. That I am fashionable even. Which is weird, because seriously? I am the least fashionable person out there. I own multiple pairs of mom pants and wear them regularly. I exist in a uniform of jeans and t-shirts, supplemented by black blazers if I need to go to meetings. My secret? Accessories. Accessories and heels, my dears, are the backbone of being considered stylish. At least once you are already, ahem, over the hill. And this necklace I’m about to share with you. It is the magic necklace. I wore today and was stopped (STOPPED) and complimented no less than 10 times while I was out with the small one. This happens every time I wear it.  Know what I was wearing with it? Jeans, grey t-shirt and grungy sneakers. We were at the zoo. It is excellent for your ego, this necklace. If you’d like one for yourself you can buy them here.  You can also buy them here if you prefer not to purchase knockoffs. My budget can’t handle $150 for a necklace so I was pleased as punch (a phrase I can write but would never utter) to find an affordable version of something I’d been coveting (and in more colors too). But if you won’t judge me for my knock-off I won’t be jealous of your budget. We can still be friends.

What piece do you pull out for guaranteed compliments?

In other news, its time for the weekly wrap-up.

This week we discussed the jungle in my backyard, along with some dreams for other untamed areas. I revealed my secret for camouflaging our weird attic windows, as well as how I stopped the rampant shampoo use in our house. Heady stuff folks, I know you come here for your weekly think posts. The small one starts skateboard camp tomorrow, here’s hoping this doesn’t lead us to more ER trips. Wishing you all a lovely weekend!


*Noted – only amongst other middle-aged moms. Among the fabulous young dancers I work with? Not so much. Also I’m still too body conscious to post a photo of myself wearing the necklace. I did actually take the photo, so that’s one step forward. Self-acceptance. Working on it.

Small Changes: Looking for side yard inspiration

While I still very much need to get my current garden under control, I’ve been dreaming about transforming other areas. We have two tiny, sad little side yards. One is a pass through, the other just a no man’s land between two houses.  Generally both are completely overgrown with weeds, although when I went out to take pics someone had mowed one side down.

Here’s the no man’s land.

And the pass through.

I’ve been pinning garden ideas. They all have a secret garden quality to them, with paths, sculptures, shade plants, found objects. Things I’d never in a million years put inside I’m drawn to for a garden space. I’d like to make each of these spaces feel intentional and I’d love to create some kind of secret garden in the no man’s land. I think some rocks and varying heights could make the pass through weed patch charming.

Is your garden style different from your decorating style? Anyone have a beautiful urban side yard I should check out?


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Living with Kids: The Case of the Disappearing Shampoo

The tall one is ten. Which means she hasn’t wanted Mommy to wash her hair for her for  a couple of years now (and neither has Mommy really wanted to) . For the first few months of this, we went through at least a zillion bottles of shampoo and conditioner. No one knew why. “Not Me” seemed to be responsible for most of the rapid shampoo attrition. Perhaps you’ve met this mysterious person too? I knew some of it was the SPD sensory seeking, she really liked the feel of the shampoo. Still. I have a budget and it can’t all go to hair products. I mean, she’s not even into the teen Sephora years yet.  So I began on insisting that I squeeze out the shampoo into her hands.  Which was better, but still a pain in the chaos that is showers and bedtime. So in the midst of cold season I had a revelation. Measure it out in those little cups that accumulate. It’s been a great way to keep her independent. And now we go through a bottle of shampoo every few weeks instead of every other day.

What tricks do you have up your sleeves? Anyone else go through shampoo like its water?

Welcome to the Jungle

Remember when I said I only liked to garden in the spring? Yeah, I wasn’t kidding.  My garden is a hot mess. It doesn’t help that its been ridiculously hot and humid here, but seriously. I need to get out there. I can no longer get to my back door. Considering how overgrown it is, you’d think I’d have gotten more than four measly zucchini and two lackluster cucumbers out of the thing.

Oh, would you like to come over and have a drink on my relaxing, shaded patio? Careful, if the wisteria doesn’t absorb you, the mint and lemon grass just might.

Are the plants repelling mosquitos as advertised? Who knows. It’s certainly repelling guests however. And perhaps I could get around to removing the tag from the table.

And let’s not forget the willow dome. Such potential.

Well, you can sit there and enjoy the dome. Just watch out for the alyssum, it’s already claimed the poor gnomes and fairies.  And occasionally pears (or in the case of extreme storms, entire pear tree limbs) drop right out of the sky.

And finally, the grass. Despite the drought, its managed to stay quite green. With weeds. Look at all the dandelions and spiky plants. So pretty.

How’s your summer garden grow? Are you keeping up appearances? Here’s hoping for some time and cooler weather to whip mine into shape.  And the reappearance of my motivation, which seems to be having quite the summer vacation.

Camouflage an odd window

I know, another post about the small one’s room. I mean, enough already. However. I feel I should point out something I learned during this redo. See the window above? Do you remember how awkward that window was (is)? Small, low to the floor. Its weird. See for yourself.

Awkward. Also whoever trimmed that window had even less carpentry skills than me. So, the window is ridiculous and needs some work to make it feel proportional. Enter the Enje roller blind. Finn thought I was crazy when I bought one home and asked him to mount it just below the curtain rods.  Especially since the widest blind they have (48″) was still too narrow for the window (which is 60″ with trim).  But he’s a lovely husband who’s used to my odd whims so he did it anyway.

Here you can see the gap on either side. I actually have to work a bit to get the curtains to stay over that far. And here is the close up of the blinds covering the wall space to make the window appear more proportional in the space.

It’s not a perfect solution, but its much better. Now to pick up a white blind and apply the same procedure to the tall one’s room.

Happy Friday!

Pallet garden path. Found here.

This week has flown by. In fact this entire month has flown by. There’s just over a month of summer left and I need to find some time to make it feel like we’ve all had a break. I’m going to get through this next week and then plan some outings for our little crew. And some days of lying around reading and generally doing nothing. I have some projects I’d like to work on too. This pallet path, above, has me thinking of new ways to transform our tiny, weed infested side yard. Isn’t it lovely?

These tea kettles and the little terrarium below, from Poketo, are on my wish list. I don’t need either (in fact, I use an electric kettle to keep up with my tea obsession), but they’re both so sweet. I’ll take the kettle in blue I think.

This week we looked at ideas for Keesha’s Bedroom, the small one’s room reveal (which was pinned by West Elm. Because I sent it to them. Still cool though) and the new favorite toy in my house. And in case you missed it, last week saw ideas for Lisa’s Living Room and Dining room, as well as my dramatic reveal of my own poor housekeeping (I love the black and am so glad I went for it!).  And the tall one’s room was featured on Apartment Therapy. This weekend I’m going to create a page for all these mood boards. I’m also taking requests for September spaces (August is booked, who knew?), email me at kathryn at designingaround dot com if you’d like your space considered for a floor plan and mood board.

Have a lovely weekend!



Before and After: The Small One’s Bedroom Reveal

Remember when I was planning the small one’s bedroom way back in May? After the barn door took over our lives, I finally got around to finishing his space. Well, almost. I’m waiting for a couple hooks to come in and  Finn’s slowly finishing the circuit diagram, but I say close enough. Want to see?

Here’s the before.

And the after. Rainbow, with extra green and gears. Plus circuits. Delivered as promised.

Come on in, we’ll show you around.

Desk area before.

Same area of the room today.

Ignore the lack of baseboard. We’re having some insulation work done soon.

Other side of the room before.


Finn’s working on putting an actual circuit design on the wall there behind the clothes bins with silver washi tape.

Some details.

I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out. The gears aren’t exactly where I would have placed them, but turning over control of that to the small one was an easy concession. I like vinyl decals for kids rooms as I can give them the graphic they want without investing a lot of time and money when they change their minds. The space is still very simple, like the tall one’s room, but has plenty of his personality in it.  He doesn’t keep it as tidy as she does, but he’s also only six. I’m interested to see how long he keeps with the decals. How do you approach decorating children’s rooms?


Bed. Rug. Chair. Floor lamp. Wall sconce. Zig Zag Pillow. Initial Pillow. Gears. Storage Unit. Bins. Bean Bag. Art. Curtains. Blind. Sheets (quilt and duvet no longer available). Nightstand.


Best Toy Ever

This is how family time looks these days. Legos everywhere, fun for all ages. When I was pregnant with my oldest, one of the things I looked forward to was someday building legos with her.  She plays with them occasionally, but has never been into them as much as the boy. And I can not keep up with him. Plain legos are just not enough for this kid, he wants to create robots and things that move. Lucky for him legos have evolved quite a bit since I was a kid. Technics, with pneumatics, motors and gears, can create amazing things.  Last year I randomly picked up this Klutz Lego Contraptions book. It was great, but not enough gears. So for his birthday we got him this.

Took me forever to figure out where to get this stuff. It’s not available in stores. We’d only seen it at schools, during their robotics demonstrations. They said it was sold in kits that cost thousands of dollars. Which is true. But it turns out that anyone can order from the Lego Education site and they offer smaller kits for homeschoolers. What we purchased was an extension kit, no directions, but over 800 parts. We can add on pneumatics, motors, etc later, slowly building things up if his interest persists.

This stuff is fabulous. There are lego idea books you can get from amazon or the library. One of the best toys we’ve ever bought. It keeps up with his imagination and his desire to engineer increasingly complex systems. He still needs help with some of the most complicated ideas, but he quickly outstripped my skills and understands what these pieces do and how they need to go together. Its been really interesting to watch. And its even encouraged the tall one to begin building again. We had these out at our block party and it was fun to see a couple of the grown men sit down to play with them.

Oh, and clean up? Which is always the worst with legos. This mat is fabulous. Totally worth the money, although I’m sure its pretty easy to make. The gears have a sorting box, which is better for their bits, but we use this with our general lego mess.


And the gears? Flat, so they don’t hurt when you step on them.

What toys have been family favorites in your house?

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