Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bring the Boo

It's September 30th. Decorating for Halloween has begun in earnest here at Mabel's House. Bring the boo.

And luckily, Rebecca is here to help me. But she's pretty unhelpful when it comes to me, taking pictures of her. Or her shoes.

"Hey Becca, your outfit is cute. Let me take some pictures."


See what I mean?

But I do it anyway. And while I'm at it, I'm also hoping she'll let me borrow her awesome silver frog ring. And super-cute blazer. You know. If she's not too mad about this post.
Anyway, tonight I'm feeling a replay of Hocus Pocus, some cracker jacks and lots of twinkling orange lights. Happy decorating folks.

*I purchased the trick or treat sign on this day, here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Save The Pink Bathroom Week

As you all know, there is a lovely pink tiled bathroom here in Mabel's House. It's one of the reasons I bought this house. It reminds me of my grandmother.

You would NOT believe how many people tell me I should paint it. Painting pink tile is wrong. It ranks right up there with Norman Bates stuffing his dead mother and propping her in the window. I repeat: don't paint pink tile.

Anyway. Before I spiral into a dramatics abyss, be sure and check out Retro Renovation this week. Every post is devoted to pink bathrooms. Also be sure and check out Save the Pink Bathroom for more ideas. OK. That's all. Remember. Don't paint pink tile!

Fall Wardrobe Panic

*There seems to be a little confusion over my using the term "threw away." When I say throw out, I mean out of my house. The discarded clothes go to friends first, and then to goodwill. In fact, my trunk is full right now. So local friends, feel free to give me a shout if you want to pillage before I donate them.

The air is crisp. The mornings are chilly. Leaves crackle and blanket our patio.

It’s almost time to switch my summer wardrobe to winter duds, and I’m sweating bullets.

Our 1950’s ranch doesn’t have large closets, therefore I find myself exchanging one season for another every year, in and out of rolling plastic bins under our bed. And each season when I make the switch, I’m ruthless with a trash bag. Think Tim Gunn with an actual gun.

I stand in front of the closet, eyeing the items from the outgoing season and do some serious throwing away. I don’t believe in keeping bigger sizes for later, you know, in case I get fat. Fat pants depress me. I don’t believe in keeping anything I didn’t wear at least twice. That goes for shoes, belts, pants, hats, anything.

A cluttered closet makes me nuts. I would rather have five pieces of clothing I love than 20 ‘shrug my shoulders’ items. So at the end of last winter, as the days grew brighter and birds began to chirp, I did the clothes equivalent of the Chainsaw Massacre on my winter wardrobe. Which was fine then. At that time I was high on spring, drunk on the prospect of wearing my brightly colored summer wardrobe.

I threw away dowdy plaid pants, a worn pink sweater, old cardigans. I tossed four pairs of cheap flats that hurt my heels. I nixed a striped scarf from the 90's, a too-tight rain slicker, and several dresses that could have been featured on What Not To Wear.

But yesterday, as I larked about the backyard with Mabel in a new pair of fall shoes, I realized the tables have turned. It’s almost time for winter, and I’m about to experience my own personal clothes recession.

Last night I rolled the bins containing my winter wardrobe out from under the bed. After sneezing and coughing from the thousand dust bunnies released into the air, I lifted the lids and cringed. It’s bleak.

A few black turtlenecks, a brown skirt, three dark colored sweaters: that’s all that stands between me and the next five months of cool/cold weather. And I don’t know about you, but it will take more than a black turtleneck to lift my spirits on a cloudy December afternoon.

So the quest to populate my winter wardrobe on the cheap officially begins. You know, so I wont be wearing the same four outfits on a loop that feels like the fashion equivalent of Groundhog Day. Wish me luck. But until then, I'll be wearing my bright colored, lightweight shirts as much as possible. The long shadows stretching across our yard are warning me, "You dont have much longer."

P.S. For those that asked yesterday, my shirt is from Chelsea & Violet , and the shoes were bought on sale at Gordmans.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fall Colors

I'm loving these colors together.
Chartreuse & eggplant.
Or, if you're a man, yellow and purple.

More later.

Friday, September 25, 2009

HGTV Rate My Space: Not For Sissies

So I listed a few rooms on Rate My Space. Why not? It seemed like a pleasant enough place.

And it is. It's a design-junky's dream to peruse house after house, eyeballing other people's couches, kitchen counters, flooring choices. Truthfully, most of the (few) comments I've received have been really nice. And if not nice, then constructive. But as I've perused the site, I realized that Rate My Space can quickly turn into a scary place. Namely hateful commenters. I find myself reading through and cringing. These decor lovers have proffered forth photos of their homes and drawn back the proverbial nub.

For example:

Look at this room. Honestly. It's a nice room. Way nicer and more pulled together than 99% of all rooms. And yet there were these comments:

"There's not one thing I like in there."

"The walls look beachy yet the fabric is dark and depressing doesn't seem like a beach to me. lamps are weak. i'd do new pulls on the night stands."

How about this kitchen? Cute? Adorable? Some didn't think so. Yipes.

"It's just to cluttery."

"I wouldn't have thought this was a man's kitchen. Too much little girlie stuff."

Here we have the cutest little girl's room. Apparently, children are weighing in on comments too. And apparently said children don't know how to capitalize the first letter of a sentence. Darn texting epidemic.

"way too girly for me.. then again I am 12 and my 9 year old sister would prefer blue over pink any day."

This baby nursery is precious. But this particular commenter skips straight past insults and delves into personal comments on whether this baby should sleep in its parents room. Because that's socially acceptable coming from a stranger online. Yipes.

"I am not sure I wouldve put so much work into a room the baby wont be sleeping in. I am not a supporter of co-sleeping so maybe that is why my opinion is so skewed. Is there room to move the crib into the room if you change your mind?"

This vintage style bedroom is a stunner. And yet this commenter just couldn't bring themselves to give a compliment. You've got to be kidding me.

"A bit cluttered but ok."

How about this beachy kitchen? Sigh. And yet, here we have a super intelligent, grammatically prudent commenter:

"NONONONONONONO--------I Dont Like It (Grandmother) Look!!!!MODERN!!!!!! THATS WHAT U NEED!!!!!"

What's to be learned from all this? It's fairly simple. Rate-My-Spacers: Gird your loins. Most bloggers have come to realize that when you put yourself 'out there' in picture or blog form, ugly people will pounce. Because the woods are full of them. "Them" being angsty, misery ridden people projecting their unhappiness through a computer screen as they slouch in their undecorated homes and hate their mothers. Too much? No? Good.

The bottom line is, everyone decorates to suit their lifestyle. It's a terribly subjective topic, and that seems to be something easily forgotten on a forum like this. Now I'm going to don my nose guard and boxing gloves while I check the comments on my own HGTV profile. Wish me luck, it's not for sissies.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I realize that September 24th is still officially 'no no land' when it comes to all things spooky and hocus pocus. But as you can see from my half decorated house, I'm a rule breaker. Apparently.

Matt and I had our annual pre-Halloween date night. We ate out and then paid a visit to the Halloween superstore. He revels in trying on those truly horrifying gory masks, and I wear an Indiana Jones hat around the store while huffing loudly, "Do they have ANY costumes for women that don't involve being mistaken for a hooker?!"

And then I stumbled into the children's costume section. It was filled with fairy wings and Harry Potter glasses, a welcome respite from the women's fish-net-mini-skirt-bustier department.

How adorable is this frog costume? Heck. I'd wear it.

Or this cute goldfish?

And then I saw this one. And stopped in my tracks.

Have you EVER seen a more miserable baby? Note the smooshed/crooked ear. Note the red rimmed "I've been crying for the past four hours" eyes. And I could not stop laughing. The name of this costume should have been entitled "Suffering 101."

Note to the powers that be: Babies in costumes are supposed to be making THIS face.

Not this one.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mabel's House Tour, With a Side of Thrifting Tips

I’ve received several emails lately, all basically saying, “Hey, can you put your house pics into one post? Like a house tour?” So ok. I can do that. And while I’m at it, I’ll also try to answer some other emails about thrifting, spray paint, etc…

It was hard to decide on a title for this post. At first I contemplated How to Find Cheap Stuff That Doesn’t Smell Like Dog Pee Or Cost Too Much. Then I batted around several versions of Fine Fine Fine You Asked for a Complete House Tour and Here It is Even Though I Have Dozens of Unfinished Projects and the Floors Are Dirty.

In the end I opted for simplicity.

* Formal Living/Dining Room
I get asked several times a month how I find all my cheap furniture and decorating projects. Perhaps these questions come from people who are as weird as I am and appreciate flea market/ thrifting/freebie style. Perhaps it’s coming from people who are horrified at the fact that I have a frilly turquoise mirror hanging over a 1960’s record console used as a buffet table. And hey, I couldn’t fault them. My particular brand of schizophrenic isn’t for everybody. But no matter your style, whether it’s cottage chic or modern farmhouse… there is always a method to the madness of thrifting. Here are a few tips I try to stick to.

*Formal Living/Dining Room
Rule #1: If you have it and don’t like it… sell it.

*Formal Living/Dining Room

1. My major style changeover took place one day when I looked at my barn red country'ish entertainment center and thought, “That’s just not my style anymore.” So I sold it and made enough cash to buy what I wanted. It was a great epiphany to realize I could sell furniture. Granted, you won’t make a lot of money. But even if you score $100 in cash from a sofa you hate… its 100 more dollars then you had before. Don’t be afraid of change, especially when change can come in the form of cold hard cash.

*Formal Living/Dining Room

Rule #2: Stalk Craigslist like my sister who isn’t allowed within 500 feet of Dolly Parton.


Just kidding. Although Rebecca’s fandom of Dolly is no secret. Just look at her hair.

Anyway, my point is that there are treasures to be found on Craigslist. Dreaming of an aqua hued pie safe like the one you saw in a magazine last month? Wishing you had a mint green retro table just like the one your grandmother had when you were little? This is the place to hunt. Log on every morning to the Craigslist in your city. Go to the furniture section and type in what you’re looking for. Or type in key words like retro, vintage, mid century and see what pops up. Be there first thing every morning. It may take weeks, or months. But eventually, you’ll find something you love.

*Breakfast Area

Rule #3: Make flea market/antique mall/estate sale rounds once a month.

*Kitchen/Breakfast Area

If you’re truly serious about redoing your living room with vintage planters, or supplying your kitchen with retro floral tablecloths… get ready to do the legwork. While we’ve all drooled over magazine pictures of giant collections of blue and green McCoy Pottery, the truth is… that collection took a lot of time and lot of money to acquire.


When I’m collecting something specific, I take one Saturday a month, get a large peach tea from Sonic and head out early in the morning. It’s usually an all day event. I try not to get bogged down in looking for anything other than said collectable (right now it’s a tie between vintage kitchen bowls and 1960’s lamps). It can easily take up the better part of a day, but when you’re obsessed with lavender pottery vases or peach carnival glass, there’s nothing more exciting than the hunt.

*Breakfast Area

Rule #4: When In Doubt, Ask For a Better Price.

*Main Bathroom

1. I’ll never forget my introduction into the grand world of finessing a lower price. My sweet mother-in-law Linda bought us our first couch (yes, the couch that Mabel would later demolish). I picked it out, hands clasped, trying my best not to jump up and down as the salesman walked up.
You have to understand something about my mother-in-law. She’s the sweetest woman alive. Think Paula Dean’s accent and a pair of beautiful blue green eyes that would make the grumpiest person melt.

*Main Bathroom

The salesman smiled at us and said, “Well, is this the couch you want? It’s X amount of dollars.”
Linda smiled right back and dripped syrup as she said, “Hmmmm… how about less?”

You could have knocked the man over with a feather. He never saw it coming. And guess what? We got it for less. So remember, if you don’t ask, the answer is always no. Not brave? Take someone with you and make them ask.

*Master Bedroom

Rule # 5: Not sure what to collect? Not sure how to get the look you’re wanting? Inspiration is decorating 101.

* Master Bedroom

I’d like to claim that all my decorating endeavors are completely original, dreamed up by little ‘ole me. But they’re not. I wouldn’t know what to do with my house without outside inspiration. Almost every room has been inspired by an outside source. The gray in my kitchen (and subsequent rooms)? Alicia Paulson’s kitchen wall color. Both bathrooms? Better Homes and Gardens and Domino magazine clippings. Master bedroom? Linda MacDonald’s blog.

*Master Bedroom Half Bath

Buy cheap used magazines at antique malls (I recently purchased a stack of Martha Stewart magazines for $4). Blog hop and eye other people’s homes. Or, visit the handy dandy place I always peruse for inspiration: Flickr. Type in vintage globes or farmhouse kitchen or mid century sofa and see what comes up. Hours and hours of free inspiration. I can’t say enough good things about it.

*Master Bedroom Half Bath

Rule # 6: Remember to mix with the ‘new.’

*Home Office

There's a fine line to walk between a fun eclectic home and a house that looks like a junky estate sale. Remember to mix the old with the new. A Pottery Barn table on clearance mixed with flea market chairs looks fun. A dining room crammed with glossy heavy antique furniture (while beautiful) might be overwhelming and stuffy. When going for the flea market look, remember to mix it up.

*Home Office

Rule #7: Look beyond the color.

*Home Office

Dreaming of a seaside cottage white entry way buffet? Don’t ignore that well built 1970’s chest of drawers for $20 at a yard sale. With a little sanding and white paint, you’ll have your seaside style. Or with red spray paint you’ll have a funky modern piece. Or with black paint and nickel knobs it could be super contemporary.

*Home Office

Paint, stain, change hardware. There’s nothing more fun than showing it off and saying, “Yeah, I spent about 30 bucks on that.” Well, you’ll probably use a classier word when referring to money than ‘bucks’, but you get my point.


Rule #8: Spray paint how-to.

*Guest Bedroom

First and foremost, remember: No spray painting fabric, fur or feathers. Believe me, I know this from experience. Here are a few basic rules you must know.

a. Never ever spray paint too closely to an object. It makes the paint run. Always hold the can at least six inches away from a project. Use broad, even strokes. Don’t try to finish it in one coat, or even two. Multiple, shallow coats are the key to a smooth surface.

*Guest Bedroom

b. If it’s wood… sand. Even if it’s just a little bit. Then wipe the piece down with a moist cloth, then a dry one. I also love Kilz’s new primer in spray paint form. It’s worth its weight in gold.

c. When spray painting lamps, tape off the top, and the chord. The same rule applies when applying shallow coats. I prefer high gloss spray paint for lamps, it recreates a glass effect I love.
d. Last but not least: use tarps and wear a mask. Spray paint in the lungs is bad. Spray paint permanantly coating your carport floor is also bad. Not that I would know ANYTHING about that.

*The Man Room (AKA the room that I'm not allowed to photograph or decorate)
So there you have it. A house tour. Hope it helps. Or at the very least, hope it didnt make you snooze.
*Home Office

Now go forth and pillage the curbs in your neighborhood. Happy thrifting. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to try and explain to Matt why I drug all our Halloween decorations out of the attic on September 22nd. Whoopsie.