Put a Frame on It

We are continuing to open boxes on what we’ve dubbed The World’s Longest Move and Unpacking Adventure.

But this week’s project has been to hang art in the Living Room.  There’s a big expanse of a wall that likely isn’t going to have a piece of furniture on it {until I get a bee in my bonnet to start rearranging the whole place – I mean, who are we kidding here?}, so I wanted to hang many pieces.

I’ve been waiting on one last special item to return from the framer’s and it was finally ready for pick up yesterday.

A few summers ago in Kiawah, Big Cutie and Cute BFF’s son took an En Plein Air painting class out on the marshes.  They made the most lovely palette knife paintings of The Happy Place and I crossed my fingers that the oil paint had dried enough to safely pack the canvas up to take back to Japan with us.  I proudly displayed the painting, leaned on a bookshelf, but knew someday I wanted to do more with it.

And someday was here.

The plan for the living room wall was a lot of art with different frames in various widths of gold.  Because Big Cutie’s painting was one of the smaller pieces for the wall, I wanted to frame it in a way that would give it some real substance.

But framing it gave it more than just framing substance.

When Big Cutie realized what I was doing, she was SO excited.  In a way I stopped and had a Mom moment, because thirteen year olds don’t always show excitement to their parents for parenting things like this very often anymore.

I’ve framed lots of artwork The Cuties have done over the years, but I made the connection that this is the first piece I’ve had professionally framed instead of doing it myself with ready made mats and frames.  And I know exactly why it was so meaningful to her; because at 44 I can remember that the first piece of art I created that my parents had professionally framed was a pastel drawing I did of our ceramic frog cookie jar.

LGpainting

I was so happy when I picked it up last night after dinner, that I immediately started to arrange art on the floor of the living room in anticipation of hanging it all this morning.  This wouldn’t be such a big deal except we don’t have any lights yet in this room! So I was working almost entirely in the dark except for one small lamp plugged in to an inconveniently located outlet in the corner.  I believe we have discussed many times that I am nothing but impatient.

So this morning I woke up and started hammering in my pajamas.  Which Murphy’s Law means that the landscapers would arrive right about then because in addition to no lighting in the Living Room, we also have no window treatments {didn’t I mention this was a long and drawn out unpack for me?}.  Never mind, I have no shame.

LRwall2

closeup

There’s a mixture now of professional artists, my art, family art, and my daughter’s art.

This wall makes me very happy.

After the sales woman in the frame shop showed me the completed project she oohed and aahed and told me how much she loved modern paintings and asked if I knew the artist who did this one.

I sure do.  I kinda love her and her work.

Posted in Decorating | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Napping Sofa

Almost fifteen years ago the Husband and I inherited the best sofa from my grandparents.

*****

My Grandfather was a wonderfully perfect blend of spontaneity and routine.

While on a trip with them in Amsterdam as a 13-year old, my Grandmother and I were in our room unpacking while my Grandfather went exploring in the hotel.  He returned with the tale of having met other Americans who worked on some television show he’d never heard of, but upon telling them he was touring with his granddaughter they had invited us to be extras throughout the city and he happily rearranged some early morning sightseeing when he saw my enthusiasm.  And that’s how I became a walk-on in my purple Pappagallo raincoat on The Love Boat Goes to Amsterdam & Copenhagen.

And every day of his retirement, he did the crossword puzzle, went for a walk, played golf if the weather permitted, ate ice cream and took a nap.  Is that a great way to spend your life or what?

My Grandmother chose this sofa for my Grandfather’s naps.  All eight feet of it to accommodate his more than six feet of height.  I remember him stretched out, catnapping on the sofa, shoes lined up next to it, and somehow always waking in almost precisely an hour, refreshed and ready for action {which often involved sneaking us out for the aforementioned ice cream before dinner}.

Near the end of my Grandfather’s life, the Husband was in graduate school nearby and so I would often stop by and visit my Grandfather on my way home from work.  I’d often find myself slipping off my shoes, and lying down on the sofa for an hour nap while my Grandfather slept nearby in his Hospice bed.  It made me feel close to him, literally and figuratively in those days when we were so clearly losing him.  I chatted with him during a rare moment he was lucid,  and then napped there just hours before I drove home and got the call he’d passed.

*****

When the Husband and I were offered the Napping Sofa during the division of my grandparents’ things, we took it knowing someday we hoped to give it a little love.

For a few years it sat in our starter home’s otherwise empty living room, sad and faded maize yellow, with it’s soulmate orange club chairs, looking like the rejects from a Mad Men set.  And then one year there was enough saved to send them off for new stuffing, new fabric and some skirting to make the styling more along the lines of our tastes.

And the Napping Sofa was returned to her original glory.

It’s just plain delightful to stretch out, get comfy and immediately fall asleep.  I’ve napped there with babies, toddlers, and now teenagers.  The Husband and I can both fit, nestled together, and all of our dogs have pushed their way up on there with me, snuggled up tight on cold days.  And in an upright position, at eight feet long, it comfortably fits 4-5 adults seated at a party, which is a fabulous thing.

maisynaps

So it is my favorite thing to have unpacked and settled once again into a new house of ours.  Not much else in the living room remains the same, but the Napping Sofa rules the room.  We played with several layouts, and ultimately decided the allure of napping in front of the fireplace was most important and settled on that one.

It’s a beautiful thing to stretch out this much on a sofa for a little snooze.

{you can see naps are taking priority over hanging some art or taking rugs in for repair}

nappingsofa

And if you come visit me and I really, really like you, I just might give up my afternoon spot for a little bit.

Posted in Decorating | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Express Yourself

I am a Prepster.  My blood runs pink and green.  I think Lilly Pulitzer and Audrey Hepburn are true fashion icons.  I’d wear pearls to work out in if I actually worked out.

One of The Cuties more or less agrees, and one does not.

And I think it’s wonderful.

I am very comfortable in the fact that all the world does not share my fashion choices and I want The Cuties to have their own ideas and opinions not just about style, but about politics, food, literatures and well….everything.  I’m not raising them to be Mini Me’s {OK, Big Cutie does look ridiculously like me but that’s just outwardly so}, but to be individuals with their own likes and dislikes.

The Husband and I feel pretty strongly that it’s our job in life to mold them into people with good hearts who know the difference between right and wrong, who think for themselves, and who try hard.  And not to encourage them just to do or believe like us simply because we think we’re right about everything.

And so when Little Cutie came to us and asked to dye her hair blue and purple it just didn’t seem a big deal to say yes.

I made her an appointment for the week after school got out and she has spent months thinking and talking about how exactly she was going to do this, what colors she wanted, and where on her head she wanted color.  I mean, there was a LOT of talk in our house.  I’m pretty sure we debated colored hair dye more than we actually discussed her shaving her head two years ago!

A few people have voiced disagreement with this decision to Little Cutie and to us as parents for allowing her to do this.  We have staunchly supported her right to express what she thinks is both beautiful and “cool,” and assured them we thought it would look great.

And quite frankly, as parents, we think expressing yourself through hair is just about one of the healthiest way for kids to do so ~ it’s temporary, it grows, it can be covered up with dye if necessary, and ultimately cut off.  There are no long-term consequences like piercings or tattoos.  And so our philosophy as parents has been that if you are following the rules in our house and doing your best in school, your hair is fair game.  I only said no to bleach at their ages as I don’t want them to start down that path and start damaging their hair.  We are also very fortunate that the girls and I go to an environmentally friendly salon that uses ammonia-free dyes and has some really great options available.

So my usually incredibly impatient Little Cutie sat for 3 hours today during the processes of color, wash, cut and blow out.  She wanted me to take pictures and document every step of the way since most of the action was going on behind her!

boldcolor

Her enthusiasm was infectious and she had everyone in the salon checking her out ~

hairwashing

She has not stopped tossing her hair in the sun light to catch the ombre effect as it changes from purple to indigo to blue ~

backview

I had a phenomenal day with Little Cutie and the single best part was eating lunch with her afterward when she turned to me and said, Mom, I just feel so great right now!

crazysmile

I mean, purple and blue hair isn’t MY fashion choice, but all I’d pick for my whole family ~ and even myself ~ is to wake up every day and be able to say “I just feel so great!”

happylittlecutie

Wouldn’t you?

All that joy AND I’m pretty sure I was the only preppy Mom around town today in pearls and Lilly Pulitzer excitedly awaiting the results of blue and purple hair dye. I’m so glad life is never boring.  :-)

Posted in Ordinary Days I Love | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Closet Parties

Our master bedroom at the #newoldhouse had a very small closet.  I mean a really, really small closet.  And as if that wasn’t criminal enough, the doors were mirrored.  And the closet was slightly shallower than a full-sized hanger.

It made me so sad I didn’t take a picture.

But we had a master plan {Get it?  Master bedroom ~ master plan?  I’m not sleeping well lately, so I’m amusing myself with tween-appropriate puns.  I know it’s not really funny.  Work with me here, people!}  There was a stupidly small fifth bedroom next to the master bedroom ~ really nursery sized only {and we all know THAT wasn’t going to be put to use in any way! MIL, I’m specifically talking to YOU!}.  So we were going to put some rolling racks in there and even an extra dresser or two and make it the “Closet Annex.”  Since the little bedroom and our room were the only rooms on that side of the staircase, we figured it was “our space,” and no big deal to live a little like we were on the road.

And then Mr Finance, AKA the Husband, crunched some numbers and said there were funds for one last project while we were under construction and already had the demo and sheet rock guys traipsing through our house and what should we do?

Without hesitation {and because I was WAY too overwhelmed to tackle the awkwardness that is the master bath!}, we began what was dubbed “The Amazing Closet” project.

Lots of Pinteresting {SO not a verb}, lots of sketches {I actually got real paper and a Sharpie this time, unlike the Pantry project}, and lots of negotiating about shoes and explaining just how many I really had….{it involves a long story about orthopedic inserts and two separate bunionectomies before I could legally drink ~ I have always told you all I have issues}.

First, we knocked down the wall between our room and the little bedroom.  In doing so, I got one of those phone calls from my General Contractor asking me to come over and see something right away ~ never the best sign.

chimney

Except we loved the idea of leaving the exposed brick and the chimney right there in our bedroom.  And so we opened it up all the way, cleaned it up and coated it in polyurethane to protect it. The alcove you see to the right is the original master closet, and the rough doorway was the original door to the closet in the little bedroom that we broke through to make a doorway to the new Amazing Closet.  We walled up the original doorway to the little bedroom and in the process of doing all of this, gained about three feet to the master bedroom that was hallway/wasted space.

And then the actual closet was installed.  There was a brief 12 hour period where I hated whats I designed, but thankfully we rearranged something and all was fixed.  If I have learned nothing from doing major remodeling, it’s not really a big project if at some point you don’t want to throw up, thinking you’ve spent huge money doing something you really dislike and have to get creative and see things differently.

Moving along.  Let’s get to the good stuff.

‘Cuz it’s really good.  Like I want to have cocktail parties in here good.  And hang out in here good.  And I find The Cuties, dancing around in here good.  And I’m pretty sure it’s what will resell this house someday good. ;-)

From the doorway to the bedroom ~

closetdoorway

From the corner of the shoe racks looking back ~

doorwayarmoire

The large “drawer” is a laundry hamper ~

hamper

{never doubt my dedication to my blog readers ~ I just showed you my dirty laundry! and yes, I have Lilly pajamas ~ don’t judge}

The vertical drawer pulls on the hanging rod wall is a secret compartment!  There are two sets of hooks on each side for ties and belts.

wallpullout

Next to the secret compartment is a pull-out rod to use when packing or for hanging dry cleaning to be put away {there is a second one next to the longer hanging section so each of us has one when needed}.

pulloutrods

To the right of the “armoire” section with all of the folded clothing is a set of shelves I have commandeered for purses and hats.

purses

And did you spy the shelf mostly dedicated to my love of Cheeky Leopard clutches?

clutches

I think I have to admit that I’m officially at the point that in order to buy new shoes I will have to give up a pair.  I knew this day was near {although there are a few drawers we haven’t filled with anything yet, that clearly could hold more ballet flats!}.

shoes

My favorite part of the closet I owe to my husband ~ he encouraged me to think bigger and better.  And so under the window we put not only drawers but the top two very skinny drawers that went all the way across.

windowdrawers

And out came my sketch pad and Sharpie again…..

braceletdrawer

glassesdrawer

The nicest thing about these drawers is that the wood dividers are all one large grid and come out so I can clean the velvet lined drawer with a lint brush from time to time {one of my pet peeves with my nice jewelry box was how dust got in the little corners I could never get clean without taking something like q-tips to every nook and cranny}.

So there it is.  A major project, completely finished, unpacked and put together.

If you’re looking for me, you’ll know where to find me.  Just look for me in my closet.

Now if only I’d thought to put a mini-fridge in there…..

Posted in Decorating, Organizing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Comcast Comedy

I’m pretty sure the folks at Comcast are talking about me in the break room.

As in, “Wait until you hear about the service call I got today!”

Our cable was installed the week after we moved in at the very beginning of May in the family room and the master bedroom.  We made the decision in this house to only get the few local channels and HBO since we really don’t watch much television other than specific shows.  And because of our hectic lifestyle, we tend to buy those on Apple TV as a series.  The husband is a finance guy and all, so he ran the numbers and realized we could rent movies at our current rate and purchase shows and still come out way ahead of what we had previously been spending on cable.  So here we are.

But it must have been a full week or so after the installation when we first went to turn the television on in our bedroom and discovered the cable programming wasn’t visible.

And so I put “call RE: cable” on my To Do list for the week.

And each week I didn’t get to it, and bumped it to the following week.

Until several weeks had passed and I finally got to calling early Friday evening.

And in the course of the conversation was asked how long we’d had the problem.  I explained it had never worked.  The service tech asked Never? No.  And we installed this a month ago? Yes.  And you haven’t had us back out? Nope.  May I ask if you’ve called about the problem previously? No, no yet. After a month of it not working? I’m shocked.  I guess not.  I don’t really watch much television, so first I didn’t notice and then it just wasn’t a big deal.

So after trying to reboot from afar without success, Comcast admitted they would have to send out a technician to the house for a service call.  Since this was Friday night, they actually would have someone in our area Saturday from 3-5 pm.  Would I like that?

We were having guests over at at that time, so I said no thank you and could I have a Monday morning appointment and scheduled that.

Fast forward to Saturday around 10 am, when Comcast called me just to say they knew I was having trouble with our cable and they would be in my neighborhood later that afternoon and would I like a service call.  I said, thanks for calling, but no thanks, and confirmed my Monday morning appointment.

And then around 3 pm, Comcast called me again to say they knew I was having trouble with my cable and someone could be there in an hour and would I like them to stop by and look.  Again, I said no thank you, that we had guests, and made sure there wasn’t an issue with the Monday appointment.

I was now feeling somewhat stalked by the cable company.  Mind you this was the same company that actually cancelled my installation three times at the onset!!!

So here we are at Monday.

My cable appointment has come and gone.

The technician has asked me all of the same questions above, stunned I’ve had cable for a month without it working and just got around to calling about it.  Turns out it was a simple issue to fix: a bad cable box, so he switched it out.  In the process of working through the problem-solving he asked me which channels we got.  I couldn’t tell him precisely which ones.  Because again, I haven’t watched TV back in America.

See, all of this could be solved and the cable companies could make me sit up and take notice if they offer a package consisting of local networks, CNN, HBO, the Food Network and HGTV.  Nothing less and nothing more.

And now there’s a TV on in my bedroom as I write this and I have to confess I find it annoying as heck.  Note to self: see if I can convince the husband to get rid of the ridiculously big television in the family room, move the one from the master bedroom down there and we become a one-television family.

I’ll keep you posted.

Posted in Ordinary Days I Love | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I’ve Died and Gone to Pantry Heaven

So the renovations are finishing up here at the New Old House, which means it’s the beginning of Show and Tell!

When we bought this house we had a very quick turn around from the time of purchase to making the decision to renovate to when we planned to demolish.  My husband asked me the simple question did I have any idea what I wanted in a kitchen?

Silly boy.  Has he met me?

So I immediately whipped out years of tear sheets and proudly showed him just what being a Beta member of Pinterest can really do for you and got to work.  And within a week we had drawings for a complete kitchen gut and renovation {stay tuned!}.

But the original kitchen had no pantry, just a broom closet.  It did, however, have a rather large coat closet that shared a wall with what was once a bank of cabinets.  And so we put our thinking caps on and decided we were willing to do a seasonal coat switch to the attic twice a year.  And if we shrunk the coat closet, and expanded the broom closet and lost a cabinet or two, well one thing led to another and here we are……

I’ve officially died and gone to pantry heaven.

Which is really saying a lot, because I am nothing if not demanding when given the opportunity to say exactly what I wanted in a room dedicated to storage and organizing.  It had to store food {duh}, store wine because we had no space for a beverage fridge, store table linens, store all of my excessive cookie & cake decorating accessories, hold extra appliances we don’t use daily and also make room for a little coffee station for guests since only the husband occasionally has a cup on the weekends.  And did I mention I wanted it to look pretty?

I am quite the task master.

There were a few wonky nooks and crannies to work around, which is part and parcel when renovating an old house, and so we didn’t have an empty box with which to work.  In fact, the left-hand side of the pantry had a ‘lip’ of a few inches that were originally going to be left alone.  And I just couldn’t stand it.  So we made the world’s most shallow set of shelves which turn out to be absolutely perfect for a single row of cans and hanging up aprons.

pantryleft

The right-hand side of the pantry has slightly deeper shelves and is perfect for storing all of my cake and cookie decorating items.  Additionally I throw cookie decorating parties and have accumulated some fantastic supplies for those and now have a place where they don’t have to be packed away and opened up each time I want them.  The kitchen has a section for the cookbooks I use most frequently, but there’s also space in the pantry for the less used ones as well as holiday books. {please join me in a moment of silence for the 34 jars of sprinkles that were not permitted to be shipped back from Japan to America due to import regulations}.

rightpantry

Because this is an old house there is no eat-in kitchen space.  And so The Cuties will either eat quick meals like breakfast at the two-seat peninsula we created {patience, please!} or we will all eat meals at the dining room table.  Because of this, I will use my tablecloths much more than I used to, and so I really wanted space to easily store and access them.  I was kind of obsessive about this – just ask my cabinet-maker and general contractor!  After a few failed tries, we finally came up with the perfect {and cheap!} solution – the Grundtal towel holders from Ikea.  Each rod swivels out individually and we were able to install two of them to accommodate many cloths.

tableclothrods

The center shelves have a deeper counter on the lower section and we took advantage of the corner area to make storage for small appliances that aren’t used all the time.  In the middle, we added wire bins to store things like placemats and tin foil, but really to better manage things like chips and individual snack-sized packages that I’ve always found difficult to organize on shelves in a tidy manner.

pantrycollage{There are open shelves on the left where I store extra paper towels, paper napkins and all of my reusable grocery bags.}

Above this section is all adjustable shelving with two outlets so we can run appliances here to save on counter space if necessary.  The Nespresso is set up here since coffee isn’t a big priority in our house, but it’s there and available whenever anyone would like a cup.

coffee

I’m finding that decanting our food into containers has several benefits: the most obvious being nothing goes stale because it’s all tightly sealed; no bugs; I can easily see what needs replenishing; and it makes it seem like we have an abundance of space because most packaged food is half empty in the box when you purchase it new!

pantry shelving

Did you look up and see where we snuck in some wine storage?  We intentionally set the racks in such a way that not only will they hold wine bottles of various sizes but they will also hold soda and water bottles as well.

fullpantry

I’m so happy with how this turned out.  Everything has a place and because it’s easy to see and access, The Cuties can find what they’re looking for and put it back.  And let’s be honest, so can the husband.  Isn’t that what organization is all about?

We set the doors so that the light goes on and off automatically when they open and close, which was a great feature {and means I’m not forever poking my head back in to turn off the light that a late-night snacker left on!}.  I found this at Wayfair.com and am really pleased with the quality and value.

lightBut the prettiest little detail on the pantry is on the outside.  I originally thought about painting the doors a bolder color than I did throughout the kitchen.  And I hemmed and hawed and flipped through swatches.  I’m certainly not afraid of color in any way, but I just couldn’t find the right color, and eventually realized that maybe it wasn’t about the right color but more that this wasn’t the right space for a bold door with what I’d done everywhere else in the kitchen.   And as I was coming to terms with this, I spied the prettiest knobs at Anthropologie, ordered them and voila!  It was exactly what I wanted.

bubbleknobs

I mean, pretty bubble glass, filled with yummy food AND its organized.

Told ya’ I died and went to pantry heaven. ;-)

Posted in Decorating, Organizing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

World IBD Day

May’s a big month in our house for awareness.

Which translates to me writing about all sorts of serious things in the Felt So Cute house that aren’t pink and green and don’t involve shopping or traveling or much silliness.

So let’s talk about IBD.

Irritable Bowel Diseases.

Could it BE any less glamorous? {said in my best Chandler Bing voice}

When I was a senior in college, way back in the Dark Ages, Cute Sister was a freshman in college.  She was sick.  Like seriously sick.  Enough that she ended up in the hospital at her university.  And they took a ridiculously long time trying to figure out what was wrong with her.  And then finally one day declared she had Crohn’s Disease.

And my parents and I said “HUH?”

Because none of us knew what the heck that was.

And this was way before Google {I told you it was the Dark Ages – I mean she’s lucky they weren’t bleeding her with leeches or anything!}, so we had to learn things the old-fashioned way – the library, doctors, and phone calls from expert to expert!

And slowly she found the right balance of medications, and the right doctors for her and our whole family became active volunteers with The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America and we learned more and more.  And she went back to college, earned her degree and went on to be super awesome.

And a little over a decade later I gave birth to Little Cutie.

And months later I didn’t feel well.

Like really and truly  didn’t feel well.

And I tried to convince myself these were complications from my C-section.  And that I was exhausted from having two babies two and under.  And that I could will myself to feel better soon – just wait and see – I could do, I’d show you all.

And my husband was about ready to host an intervention because it wasn’t normal to have a second nursery set up in all your bathrooms, and finally told me this was perhaps the devil we knew well in our family.  He reminded me that I was in the semi-fortunate position of actually knowing several fantastic Gastroenterologists since I happened to be on the board of the state chapter of the CCFA and perhaps I should make an appointment.  And so I did.  And they scheduled a colonoscopy a couple of days later {really the only way to properly diagnosis IBD} and by the time I’d come out of the twilight anesthesia Crohn’s Disease had become a family disease.

So let’s be real here because this is something people REALLY don’t like to talk about.

Celebrity spokesmen are few and far between and there’s a lot of whispering.

I have Crohn’s Disease.

I go to the bathroom a lot.  And sometimes I can’t go to the bathroom at all.

It stinks.

{Best part about IBD is you can sneak in all sorts of poop-related jokes and no one will accuse you of being childish!}

At one point I took 28 pills per day and still didn’t feel well.  And so I switched to an IV drug.  Which changed my life.  I now get an infusion about every 7 weeks for a few hours of a fantastic drug called Remicade.  I also have arthritis as a side-effect of the Crohn’s Disease and the Remicade helps with that – kind of a two-for-one deal!  The Remicade has essentially put me in medical remission which has let me live a more or less normal life and I will forever be grateful to my doctors for that.

I still sometimes have rough days – usually in the mornings, which is less than ideal since I have to drive my kids to their schools.  But we are long out of the stage of having to unbuckle two kids out of car seats and carry them in to a bathroom with me, which is wonderful!  I have a short list of foods I avoid and every now and then one sneaks into something in a restaurant and I pay for it.

But I’m a lucky one and I know it.

And if you’re ever wondering, Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts tend to have clean bathrooms, ample toilet paper and nice smelling soap.

Sometimes I’m pretty easy to please. :-)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments