Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Brief Pause


I'm taking a pause for a few days to catch up on your blogs and return some comments. You have all been so GENEROUS with your comments, and I've met some brand new, fabulous people this week. I always try my best to return your visits and make a comment of my own, but I've fallen off the wagon this week. Thus, the pause.

Until then I'd like to share a few things I'm super excited about this week;

1. Mrs. Fox who bravely chose to share a little peak at her children's/mid-grade book. If you like reading up-and-coming authors and spunky girl characters... this is for you.

2. Beach Cottage bedroom tour. One word. Yum.


4. Meg's bathroom. Make sure you're sitting down when you look at this. I'm not kidding.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Summer Flying


Does anyone else feel like they barely blinked and most of the summer flew by? I had such plans to take it easy, sip iced tea while listening to the locust swarm in the backyard, watch the fireflies, let Mabel drag me round the lake by my aching wrists (she could have been a sled dog).

I have done some of those things, but this week the oppressive heat set in. It's that time in the summer when us southerners retreat indoors and dread the next two months. Seriously, I stepped outside this morning and the humidity made me feel as if I were taking a second shower. 99 degrees with 99% humidity = Gross.

In other news, I'm embarrassed to admit I'm excited about this book coming out Friday. Our local Barnes and Noble is throwing a midnight release party; prom themed. So basically what you'll have are hundreds of 15 year old girls dressed in formal ware and vampire teeth and, well, me in my big Jackie-O sunglasses doing my best to stay unrecognized. Shhhh... don't tell anyone.




Monday, July 28, 2008

Meme's Blueberry Muffins in a Retro Kitchen



Meme is what we call her, my grandmother. This morning, as I sat down to eat blueberry muffins, I got hit with a memory so strong I almost called her.

As a child, when I visited Meme's house, I really didn't get into trouble. Ever. Which isn't to say I wasn't bad or deserving of it. I got into plenty of scrapes. Once I climbed a forbidden gigantic magnolia tree until I reached the roof of her house and then watched traffic two streets away from my birds-eye view. There was also the time I broke Meme's black-stone necklace (that she benevolently loaned me) while playing a rousing game of 'poke your cousin with a stick.' But as long as I resided under the banner of "Meme's House" no one ever really spanked me. Or yelled. For too long anyway.

But this morning, as I listened to the birds outside and watched the bright green tree branches move in the wind and smelled blueberries in the oven, I swarmed with deja-vu. Eleven years ago, on a beautiful summer morning just like this one, while at Meme's, I escaped a serious spanking.






I remember Mom explaining, ever-so-calmly, that I wasn't allowed to skate down my grandparent's long hallway in my bright pink roller skates because it would scratch the pristine wooden floors. But I thought, "Why not? It's just like at the roller rink." And I stuck my tongue out at her as I made one last, daring skate down that long dark hallway. Yeah, I'd have spanked me too.

Before death could take me, Meme intervened and scolded Mom, saying, "It's your job to raise them, my job to spoil them." And with that she whisked me away from my very angry, very scary Mother, into her kitchen.

Meme's kitchen was distinctly retro, with green and yellow floral wallpaper and a clock that constantly ticked into the still, quite, clean calmness of her house. The freezer was always full of Bluebell Ice cream, a bowl on the counter top endlessly supplied with bananas. She sat me in her breakfast nook, the windows open as sheer curtains blew in the breeze (probably one of the reasons I love them so much) and said, "How about blueberry muffins? Would you like to learn how to make those?"

I said yes as I tossed my destructive pink skates into a corner, and it was the most thrilling morning. Cooking with Meme, in her perfect little retro kitchen that forever smelled like Dawn Dishwashing Detergent. Wish I could go back.

*** Thank you again for all your encouragement on the bathroom. In answer to some questions; I cut the tablecloth longways and then sewed a curtain-rod pocket in the top. Good old straight-line sewing; at least I can still do that. And I am SO excited at the suggestions of spray painting and changing the towel hooks instead of buying new... you ladies always know how to speak right to my tightfisted little heart! Thanks again.
PS (I cant go away): for all you art lovers out there, check out Debbie's blog. She has a fab giveaway going on!



Pink Tiled 50's Bathroom Mini-Makeover



A horrifying thought hit me this weekend as I breathed paint fumes and wiped drips off the pink tile in the bathroom. I thought to myself, "People may be expecting a much bigger makeover than I actually intended to do."


Uh-oh.


I never intended to do much more than change the shower curtain and paint the walls... so you've been properly warned. Anyone dreaming of pedestal sinks and re-purposed bead board walls and crystal chandeliers (incidentally, my dream) should pause here and go no further.






OK, you remember this inspiration pic. Many of you had varying opinions on it.. which I appreciated.





Then, this past week I was perusing my giant, overstuffed notebook of decorating pages and found this. Matt groans every time I pull this notebook out... it basically means money is on the verge of being spent.


I adore this bathroom. I believe it came out of a Mary Engelbreit magazine, but for the life of me I cant remember which one. Granted, my bathroom doesn't have these fun cabinets, or the fabulous art-deco boarder tile, but I decided to take the plunge with yellow anyway.





I bought a can of Lemon Sorbet (Valspar) and went to work. For someone that used to be wary of the color yellow, I'm totally sold on this one. It's so frustrating taking pictures because it never shows the color exactly. In reality, this yellow is actually much softer, a little more butter-cream than it's showing in the pictures. I really wasn't sure how it would look with the pink tile, but it's so cheerful and bright now. I've never been happier to paint over white walls.. which is beyond strange for me.




And there you have it. Not a huge change, but one that I'm really pleased with. You see, my dear sweet husband begged me not to buy that original jungle'ish shower curtain (which is incidentally from Anthropologie if anyone is interested). And bless his heart, he rarely has an opinion that he shares with tears in his eyes.





So, instead, I cut up a vintage tablecloth with a similar color scheme and made them into these curtains (please ignore the grout... grout paint is next on my list). I kept the original white shower curtain, which actually makes the bathroom feel much bigger than anything with a pattern.





Then, after countless hours of hunting a bathmat with pizzazz (there aren't any in retail stores, by the way), I simply moved this mat out of the kitchen and into the bathroom. I think it works for now... I was still going for a Mary Engelbreit feel. It will work until I order that super fun one from Anthropologie. And after I find $50 laying around on a curb somewhere.






I added some vintage planters not in use on this weird little shelf. I've really never quite figured out what that was for.





This towel rack stays for now, although it's not my favorite. I'm on the hunt for something a little more vintage, but you know how that goes. Having your heart set on something vintage usually entails six months worth of searching. SO... I keep telling myself that until then... this one is free.







So that's the extent of this bathroom mini-makeover, probably more than you ever wanted to see or know. I really cant believe it's taken almost a year to do this, especially since getting ready in the mornings is so much more enjoyable. You wouldn't think a little yellow paint and a few re-purposed things we already owned would make such a difference, but they really do. It's a swimmingly wonderful sensation to enjoy your surroundings while flat ironing your hair or picking your toenails. You know what I'm talking about.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Scrambled Thursday


Remember what I said earlier about the art of hosting? Several of you commented that I was probably a good host too, so I present Photo-Exhibit A above as evidence to the contrary. When you put an"I'm Hot" sticky note into your salsa bowl for Bible Study... you are immediately evicted from the 'good host' club.

I'm working on my little retro bath. I really am. I've got curtains, paint, brushes and painter's tape. And the bathroom looks exactly the same. I'm scheduling an all-out decorating assault to take place this weekend. Wish me luck.

Also, I've received a few emails this week on The Secret of Cold Springs and I wanted to give you all a huge blog hug for the encouragement. I'm still embarked on an agent hunt... so if you know any, please feel free to send them my way.

And in answer to the questions yesterday about the quilt Mabel was perching under during her couch-squishing fiasco; it was made by my mother-in-law. It's different pieces of vintage tablecloths. Sigh. I love that thing. Have a great Thursday!


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Couch Crushing, Part 4,372


After two years of subsequent couch destruction by our precious Mabel, one might think that we would give up, let her run amok. Nope, we're super strict about discipline. Stop laughing.

This morning, I discovered Mabel this way. See the look of shame on her face? Yeah, me neither.


As all good pet-parents should, we sprung into action. Matt explained the rules. Again. She understood, even glancing back at me in sorrow. Do you see how sorrowful she is?


Yeah, me neither.



Fast forward five minutes later and what do we have? Mabel once again sleeping atop Mount-Awful-Couch and me yelling. Have I said this before? Because I'm pretty sure I have, but just to reiterate: I want a new couch.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Art of Hosting


Our friend Lynn generously invited us to her weekend house. As I documented the gorgeous view from her back door, I realized some people naturally have the ability to make others feel at home. The art of hosting is a gift, and Lynn has it.


Lynn's house is in a beautiful part of the state; lush green hills filled with lightening bugs and bird calls and a slow easy-going pace that escapes us in everyday life.

We picked blueberries and green beans at a local berry farm. We bought fabulous jam made by a neighboring Mennonite community. During our visit to the farm, we also found out it's for sale. I don't know about my husband (aka The City Mouse), but I'm ready to move.

Lynn and I once again discovered our kindred love for these bowls.



The two chefs (that would be Lynn and Matt) cooked fantastic shrimp and risotto.


And of course, who can forget Lynn's extremely personable cats. See the white and black one? That was Moe. I love that cat.



Thank you Lynn for making us feel at home and for one of the most enjoyable weekends we've had in a long time.





Monday, July 21, 2008

Meanwhile...


Lest anyone think all our attention is currently directed to the bathroom, I present evidence to the contrary. As you can see, there has been a considerable amount of fluffing in the man-nest. Ahem, I mean man-room.



Matt rearranged furniture, his record collection and bookshelves. Then he proudly hung his new (old) movie poster. It looks nice.

Sometimes my friends are amazed that I forfeited the biggest room in the house to become man-central. My theory is simple; every man needs his own room. It stands to good reason that if they have a library, den, or basement... that vintage Cool Hand Luke poster wont end up hanging over the buffet in your dining room. OK, I might not mind that one. But I draw the line at 2001: A Space Odyssey.



My husband has figured out one of the great mysteries of life; true relaxation. When I complete a project, I'm so wound up with energy that I jump right into the next one. Matt, on the other hand, completes a project and rewards himself accordingly (in this case it was quality time with the Wii). Hopefully the next time I'm bouncing from wall to wall like a spastic fly, I'll take a deep breath and immerse myself in a soothing game of Zelda.

The bathroom project is forming in my head. I'm a little worried that it will look like complete crap; but mostly I want it to be done. I have my paint chip, fabric for curtains, and a bevy of ideas written in a notebook. I promise; you'll all be the first to know when I'm done. And then, I trust that you'll all lie to me and tell me it looks wonderful.

I kid. Kind of.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Cute, But No Cigar

Courteously of Flickr (found here)

Isn't this picture fabulous? Cute but no cigar. If my bathroom was bigger (and there was a man-bath that Matt could use so he never had to step foot in it, ever) I would give it some thought. But my bathroom is tiny. These stripes would surely make me feel like I was at the circus. And the Big Top fell on top of me. Great bathroom though.

My head is spinning with all your suggestions. Pink and black Paris theme! Brown and pink! Aqua and pink! Clean-lined Shabby Chic! Grey and Pink! Colorful Shower Curtain! Plain Shower Curtain! Paint the tile (don't worry, that's not happening)! A 'plan' is starting to form.





Last February I posted this picture. I'm eyeballing this as possible inspiration for the bathroom, but that's all I'll say for now. Truthfully, what I actually come up with will probably be miles away from this photo. Cause I'm spazzy like that. I'll see everyone on Monday, but until then I'll leave you with a few flickr links to retro-fabulousness:

Here
And Here
Here Too


Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wow


I have to say, it thrills my heart to know that I'm friends with so many opinionated blogger ladies! No really, I mean that. I read every comment and email, and appreciated them all. Some of you suggested things I've been pondering, and others suggested things I'd never even considered. Thank you especially for the link suggestions! Wow, I've got a lot to think about. Hopefully, the next time you see me... I'll have a plan.

Until then... I leave you with some shopping pics.

We've all had the same thrifting experiences. You go to an antique mall and walk mindlessly through booth after booth of monotony. You know the ones. The booths packed with 80's style purses with broken straps, beer mugs for sports teams you've never heard of, used scruncis and horribly stained Care Bears. Basically, you've got a booth that looks like someone's left over yard sale items from 1984. And then you round a corner and see something like this....



I was so excited/overwhelmed that I couldn't even buy anything. I was literally paralyzed with excitement. I jumped from one item to the next like a five year old with ADD. I'm going back, and when I do, those booth owners better watch out. I'm bringing a shopping cart.


And then a few days later I stumbled upon this little gem. It's a 'gardening booth' full of wonderful patio ideas. And I'll have you know that table (which was solid as a rock, I stood on it to test it...kidding) was $125. Wouldn't that be a fantastic dining room table?



The quality in this picture is terrible, but this entire room (at the back of a shop) is devoted to 'man' decor. It really was super fun, what's not to love about the whole vintage lodge/camp theme?

That's all for now. I've got a lot of thinking to do about my little pink tiled bath. If you have any more ideas, don't hesitate to let me know. Be back soon!

PS: Please check out Linda's fabulous post today at Restyled Home. Talk about hitting the mother-load of home inspiration!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Perfectly Imperfect Challenge and a Bathroom Idea (Please Help)



Linda at Restyled Home is holding a Perfectly Imperfect Challenge, and as one of her loyal readers I wanted to participate. My house is the definition of imperfect. I've got half-painted projects stuffed in the back of closets, a horrible misshapen couch, dust bunnies running amok under overcrowded bookshelves.


But, like Linda pointed out, if our homes were perfect, we'd have nothing left to aspire to. And boy do I aspire to... at least have a clean bathroom. My favorite 'perfectly imperfect' project would have to be the $6 cabinet.


And there's the garage shelves I got on sale and used in my office for some heavy duty storage.




Not to mention the $75 yard sale table and chairs it took me over a year to paint. And I might add... I didn't paint well. See what I mean? Imperfect. But in the end, I don't worry about imperfect projects or an imperfect house. Things get used and scratched and broken. The beauty of having an imperfect house is that we cry a little less about it.



So with that said, I give you another seriously imperfect room. The bathroom. The facilities, if you will. I've pulled great gobs of hair out over this tiny little room. The pink tile was one of the reasons I fell in love with our house, yet they've thwarted me time and time again. I've gone round and round the Shabby Chic style, but it's just not me. Shabby Chic is pure loveliness, belonging to a sweeter class of women than myself. Shabby Chic in my house would look like lace gloves on a female wrestler; totally out of place.





So, when I stumbled upon this photo at Save the Pink Bathroom (from Real Simple, article written by Nicole Sforza, photo by Bjorn Wallander... just covering my bases), I shrieked with excitement. So I'm posing this question to anyone with an opinion (which is, let's face it, all of us); too much? Too much shower curtain and wall color for my tiny little space? Help me with this imperfect space!



Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Little Projects


It's the little projects that make me the happiest. You know the ones. The projects that involve a can of spray paint and an old tarp. Two minutes of spraying, a few hours in the sun, and presto: you're finished.


I've been so inspired by these star projects. So, when I spotted this little brown star on sale for $5, I snatched it up.

A few coats of spray paint later and there you have it: a turquoise star for the kitchen. I momentarily considered covering every inch of the house in multi-colored stars, but Matt quickly pointed out that I might have -perhaps- inhaled a little too much spray paint.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Where the Rich People Shop for Food


Hubby and I venture into un-chartered areas of town on weekends. We do this for fun, just to see what adventure lies beyond our particular realm of suburb-dom. In doing so, we found much ritzier shops, and an incredibly mind blowing grocery store. Oh, excuse me. I meant food market.

The fact that only the rich shop there should have been apparent to us. We should have received the tip off from the four Lexus SUV's in the front row of the parking lot. But nope. Instead we parked our gas conserving used vehicle between a BMW 74 M Coupe and Mercedes ML350 and wandered inside in happy oblivion.


We stopped short just inside the door, our line-of-sight overwhelmed with glorious bins of fruit and candy. We stumbled down isles of gourmet sauces and imported condiments. In a haze, I made my way to the back of the store where the pastries rested behind sparkling glass cases.

A kindly pastry chef (complete with starched white hat) smiled pleasantly and asked if I would like to sample their 'truffle of the week.' I heard a heavenly choir erupt directly above my head (in hind site I realize it was the special satellite radio station for their store, as opposed to the mind-numbing elevatoresque renditions of We All Live In a Yellow Submarine that blare through the isles of my neighborhood Kroger).



As I stuffed the truffle into my mouth, whilst simultaneously licking chocolate off my fingers, I mumbled and gestured to a case of fruit tarts like an idiot. The pastry chef smiled patiently and put the largest one in a to-go container and sent me on my merry way.


I found Matt toward the front of the store (he got waylaid in the Italian sauces isle) and we proceeded to check out. We filed in line behind a couple about our age. She wore a fabulous black and white print BCBC halter dress (I know this for a fact b/c only a week before I accidentally drooled on one and a sales person shooed me out of the store). He was wearing perfectly creased khaki pants and looked, well, very wealthy.

She turned and smiled at me, her white teeth momentarily blinding me and said, "I love your purse."




Matt rolled his eyes sideways and suppressed a smirk. But I didn't care. I was in the land of the rich; the land of to-go fruit tarts, $16 jars of sauce and designer dresses. There was no way in hades I was going to say, "Uh, thanks. I bartered for it in a backroom of Chinatown for $25."

Nope, I just smiled back and said, "Thanks."

Friday, July 11, 2008

Early Morning


I love when the early morning air is hazy, the trees outside a rich green and the light in the house almost magical. The world seems quiet and the day ahead filled with all kinds of possibilities. I want nothing more than to sit at the breakfast table with a cup of coffee and a notebook and look forward to a few uninterrupted hours to write and dream.



The saddest aspect of being part of the working world is losing mornings. I realized this today, as I spent my favorite part of the day fixing my hair, ironing a skirt, running around yelling about lost keys. I've lost my mornings.


One day I'll get them back. But until then, I'll live it up on Saturdays. Long live the weekend!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Postcards From Italy



This is my aunt. She's a college professor and an artist.



And yep, you guessed it. She's painting in Italy this summer.




If anyone needs me, I'll be wallowing in self-pity, shedding a few tears into my lukewarm coffee and staring disdainfully at the paperwork on my desk.