Monthly Archives: October 2012

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Chaos

We’ve been knee-deep in furniture rearranging (I clearly have enough seating for the house) and chandelier builds. Both projects are mostly done and I’ll have the photos and a how to soon. Tonight though, I have a little boy who’s refusing to go to sleep, a keyboard that keeps skipping around as I type and a glass of wine calling my name. Cheers!

Pondering Change

I’ve tried to figure out some changes for the living room for a while now. Our living room looks great, but it isn’t very comfortable. And the section by our TV has become very, very brown. Brown couches, brown console, brown shelves. I tried with the rugs and the pillows, but it’s still bleh. Looks pretty good in pictures, but it’s driving me a little nuts in person. And while I love the look of our Room and Board couches, they just aren’t that comfortable for lounging. I’ve thought of a sectional, but I can’t justify that purchase. And I’m concerned that with my constant desire to rearrange things, I might hate the immobility of a sectional. Then I remembered. I have a sectional. In the basement.

We have an Ikea Karlstad loveseat with chaise in the lounge area down there. You can’t tell from this picture, but the cover is a disaster. That’s an easy fix though, with Ikea. I’m wondering if, with a few tweaks, switching up the seating my solve some of my issues. The Karlstad is really comfortable. Much, much more so that the Jasper sofas. I’d get the dark gray cover and new mid-century legs from Etsy. Probably add another chaise on the other side so we can all fit. And then get the cushions tufted, so it looks like the C&B Petrie sofa. Like so.

What do you think? Am I crazy for even thinking about this?

Books!

The tall one and the small one are at great ages now for family read alouds. While I love picture books, its been so fun to dive into chapter books with them. At 10 and 6, there’s a fair age gap, as well as the gender difference, but great books are great books and its lovely to have something we can all share in together. Finding chapter books to read together is something that comes up a lot with my friends, as we all share what we love, so I thought I’d share some of our favorites with you.

Books in a series or several by the same author have been very popular here for bedtime reading, they seem to really enjoy the continuity. I’ve found that books with a fair amount of action work well to keep the younger one’s attention and I try to make sure that there is a good balance of female and male protagonists. We started chapter books with Roald Dahl, reading through the majority of his books (and watching the movies after on movie night for a bit of compare/contrast discussion). We then read a little of Lemony Snicket, but just got through two of the books. Our first full series was The Underland Chronicles, a five-book series by Suzanne Collins, the author of The Hunger Games. Very well-written and engaging, with less dystopian flair then The Hunger Games. We’re now reading the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. I chose this after the tall one completed a theatre camp with a Greek Myths play and reading these has had the added bonus of finally peaking their interest in one of my favorite childhood books, the D’Aulaires’s Book of Myths. The Tale of Despereaux was a quick, fun read and The Sister’s Grimm is a new series we’ve just started. Next I think we’ll read The Mysterious Benedict Society.

I’ve read quite a bit of children’s books over the past few years, looking to discover new favorites from those that have been published since I was last reading in this age range. Some books I’ve put on the kindle and the bookshelf for them to discover include The Order of the Odd-Fish, a wonderfully weird tale, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making, Isabelle Allende’s City of the Beasts trilogy, Harry Potter (of course), Wildwood, the Discworld series, Howl’s Moving Castle (and many other’s from Diana Wynne Jones), Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, the Fablehaven series, the Ender series, A Wrinkle in Time (and all the others), His Dark Materials Trilogy … I might need to board up their doorways and just make them read for years, right? Really though, I rarely hand them a specific book, I find it works better if I just make sure the shelves are stocked with books for them to discover as they’re ready. The tall one will almost always reject it if I hand it to her anyway.

This whole post was begun when I discovered on Monday that the tall one, who is 10, had picked up The Book Thief to read at school. This is an excellent book, and I’ve been looking forward to discussing my favorite books with my children for years, and yet, this information gave me pause. The Book Thief is not an easy book, was I really ready for her to see just how ugly people could be? On the other hand, would she even notice all the nuance that I did in the story? And what about my staunch no censoring the reading policy (aside from drivel of course, I have no problem telling her she can’t read Twilight now)? As you can see from some of the books we’ve read, as well as those I have on the list, they’re not all happiness and light. But most of them are fantasy. This is more real. Things like this happened.

I’ve made my peace with the idea and am resolved to make sure she sees me reading the book again and to provide opportunities to check in and discuss. Her teacher will do the same. I’m sure this is only the first of many times when I will be reminded that she is growing up, really growing up, not just that oh, look she’s taller and can do more stuff kind of growing. She is going to be out there in this world eventually and I do want her to know that reading and writing are excellent ways to process the world around us. But goodness, it is hard to think about letting them see just how ugly people can be sometimes.

A series of questions for you. Do you read everything your children read? I’ve read everything listed here, but there are some the tall one reads that I have not. What are some of your favorite books to share with children? And how do you let them discover difficult literature?

West Elm’s Market Collection

Oh dear, I think I might want just about everything in the new West Elm Market collection. Billed as full of “clever, hard-working, time-saving, clutter busting solutions for everyday living” the collection is an aesthetically pleasing set of useful tools and appliances for kitchen, garden and personal care. While somewhat overpriced, as these things tend to be, there’s plenty of items I wouldn’t mind adding to our home, either as things I’ve been looking for (what, an attractive toilet brush holder?) or replacements for items we use everyday that I had to compromise on the looks or design (that tea pot is gorgeous. And white. And $150. Bother.).

In addition to the expected kitchen and garden tools, and some lovely candles and soaps, West Elm is also breaking into appliance sales. They’re offering a range, smeg refrigerators and a collection of small appliances from Krups. It’s an interesting concept for the store. I’ll be looking for lots of these things when they go on sale, although I may pick up a couple of items at full price.

What do you think of this concept and collection? Anything you want to run out and grab?

Gourds!

The children firmly insisted on bringing home some gourds during this week’s grocery shopping, so I finally gave in and let them each pick a few. I added some pomegranates and then let them style the centerpiece. I think they did pretty well with their composition, all things considered. It’s certainly better than my failed spray paint attempt. They keep asking if these are edible though. Anyone know the answer to that?

White and Glass

I’ve always preferred white for dishes and serveware, but with our dark gray walls and open shelves I now have a new appreciation for using it as utilitarian decor. My dishes are our wedding set, a classic line from Crate and Barrel pictured bottom left, but after almost 13 years they’re getting a bit banged up with everyday use. I still love how the white mixes with everything so easily, but I’d love to replace them with something a bit more organic in form. I love the Eva Zeisal Classic Century dishes (top left), as well as Heath’s Chez Panisse line (top right). The simple lines of The New General Store’s classic white dishes (bottom right) are similar to the Maison dishes we have now, but different enough it would still feel like a new set.

These simple glass carafes are another item I find myself wanting in multiples. I recently purchased a couple of the Crate and Barrel version (top right) for the bar tray in the new dining room set up, but I prefer the shape of the Heath carafe (bottom right). The New General Store carafe is similar to the one I have, but has a cork stopper.

Here’s how I’m styling my white and glass on the new shelves. I do have to dust the less frequently used items when I pull them out for gatherings, but they look so nice out everyday. And in keeping with my less clutter rule, I’m working to make sure that all the items are things I actually use (aside from the owl, he’s just cute).

What about you, do you prefer plain or patterned dishes?

Happy Friday!

All the pieces for the Lindsey Adelman light fixture we’ll be building for the dining room arrived this week. Nice of UPS to make sure Finn and the small one had a weekend project, wasn’t it? Although our family photo was rained out last weekend and rescheduled for this one, so we’ll see if there’s still time for a project.

The Weekend Reading List

The Weekly Wrap-Up

A big thank you to Apartment Therapy for featuring the tall one’s room in their Decals on the Ceiling post. So fun! Which reminds me, I need to show you the changes we’ve made in there. The tall one decided it was feeling a little “babyish”, so we’ve switched out some of the bedding and accessories. In all honesty, I think what she choose is perhaps more childish, but it’s flannel and warm, which will be good for the coming months in our less than perfectly heated attic space.

It was a busy week outside of the blogosphere, I felt compelled to document that here. We also looked at projects I’m planning (you know, when I’m bored) and the progress made on Shannon’s rooms. This weekend will be full of cleaning and errands. I broke down this week and had our cleaning crew back in to try to help catch up on the very neglected house work. It’s a sad state of affairs when the house doesn’t really look clean even after the professionals have been in, but that’s what’s going on here. Probably why that hoarding article above keeps going around my head. At least I know it’s only messy now, there are no new life forms lurking in the corners. So a rather mundane weekend of laundry catch-up and groceries ahead, but it will be nice to feel slightly together by the end of it all.

What are your plans this weekend? Hopefully something more exciting than tidying and groceries.

Works in Progress

Remember when I began working on bedrooms for Sharon’s children? Well they were recently painted and are looking much better.

Leah’s room has new furniture and a new rug and fits her request for teal, purple and hot pink.
This

plus these

will finish the space, as well as a chair for a reading nook and her newly repainted dresser (in purple, of course).

Danny’s room, however ended up a bit more mint than Sharon would like, a color compromise on her part. We’ll deal with that by covering large swathes of it. A large bookshelf, bright curtains and some large art should help tone down the walls. Danny was just as opinionated as his sister in the room decor, but with less of a wish list and more of a “no, don’t like that”. Tricky, but I think we’re slowly creating something everyone can live with.

Moving the dresser that Sharon hates, but her husband loves, into the closet and removing the closet doors, was a win for both and created much needed floor space for eventual book and toy storage.

Are your children opinionated about their spaces? How do you handle it?

Planning Ahead

I have a never ending list of changes I want to make to this house. Anyone else have this problem? As soon as I get part way through one project I begin planning the next. Case in point, the dining room. Still not completely painted, by the way. However, moving on. I ordered the parts for this light fixture over the weekend. Finn and Roan may build it together and we can call it science class (that’s right, I’m using homeschooling as child project labor. What?).

Creature Comforts DIY farmhouse table

Saw the plans for this table and it’s now a major contender for a new dining room table. It looks very much like this one from CB2 that was on my original idea board for the space.

And I ordered the Warhol print last week, it should arrive tomorrow. Regardless of all these finishing bits maybe perhaps coming together, I have completely lost steam for the painting. I’ve got the ceiling and all the fiddly bits left and I just can’t work up the enthusiasm to finish it. Bleh, painting.

Despite not having finished that project, it’s done in my head and I’ve already begun planning the next area I want to work on. I’m hoping to spruce up our dreadful basement laundry area before full winter hits. There’s very little light in there, so I’ve asked Finn to put in some more overhead lights.

I’d love a half-dozen of these but that’s out of my budget. We’re also hoping to finally get around to painting the beams white and painting the concrete floor, although we’ve left it a little late for temperature and ventilation, so that will likely have to wait until spring. But more lights and a white ceiling will go a long way towards making the space feel less like a dungeon.

Other plans include installing some horizontal lapboard in the basement stairwell as above, to give the space a little style while covering the holes in the walls. And perhaps paint the doors, which are still the same hideous brown they were the day we moved in.

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Finally, the ghetto window in the kitchen, the one with the bullet hole (ok, fine, bebe gun hole), is officially falling out of its frame and needs to be replaced. We’ve had dreams of installing french doors since we moved in and I have a contractor coming out in a few days to tell us how much we need to save up to make that project happen. The window to door isn’t all that expensive (because we won’t be going with custom french steel doors, as above, much as I might dream of them), it’s the covering up the old entrance, building up the floor where the stairs are and installing a deck and stairs bit that’s going to rack up the costs. I’m hoping he’ll have some good suggestions for how to do the project in pieces to make it more manageable, as well as which bits we can tackle ourselves.

So, that’s the plan for the next, who knows, year? Two years? With some other things in between. Assuming I can find the motivation to finish the silly kitchen. Anyone want to come over and paint ceilings with me?

Happy Friday!

This week has been a reminder that with the return of cooler weather comes the return of viruses. The tall one had croup (seriously, what’s up with that) and tissue boxes are now being incorporated into all my vignettes. As are used tissues, as I cannot seem to get my kids to put those things in the trash. Gross. On to some distraction. Here are some fun links for your weekend procrastination.

Weekend Links

Loved this post from Alice Bradley.

Science.

Oh my, I love these found object toys! I see a project in our future. Found via.

Mom Shaming. Hilarious!

Excellent words. via

Have you been following Jordan’s amazing Halloween Costume series? So good.

A reminder, as we prep for our family photos this weekend.

Our whole family had fun with this!

Some fun Halloween decor from Etsy.

And if you’re local, you really should come see this. I’ve seen it in rehearsal, it’s going to be amazing!

The Week in Review

For some reason I thought I’d done less posting this week, but it looks like I’ve done one a day. Some scenes from last weekend. My pumpkin decor fail. Plus outfit plans for our family photos (spoiler alert, the tall one’s already changed her mind twice) and the Craigslist Weekly Room, the Dallas version.

This weekend, in addition to family photos, we’ll be working on Halloween costumes. The tall one has decided to go as one of the fates, while the small one will be a robot traffic light. Or some such. Do you dress up for Halloween?

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