Saturday, December 31, 2011

Five steps into 2012

Resolutions schmezolutions. I'm not one to make them as a big thing at the end of the year. I would *like* to lose 10 lbs and *love* to save some extra money this year. Will either of these things happen? Doubtful.

The key to successful resolution-making is planning concretely to implement the change. That's where I fail with the weight thing and the money thing. I would enjoy it if some love-handle fairy zapped mine away while the Gringotts goblins added some dinero to my bank account, but that's unlikely to happen since I'm not putting energy into making it happen. This is putting aside the imaginary nature of fairies and goblins, but since we're talking about 10 pounds and extra money, it's all fiction anyway.

I see more success in the mini-resolutions I make to get through every day of my life.

"I will fold this laundry before I start another load."

"I will read through to the end of this chapter before I let my eyes close."

"I will not buy boxed mac and cheese for the kids when I go grocery shopping."

Small, actionable goals are how I keep our household running. I'm hoping they'll also help us move forward with our G-house makeover. It will be fun for me to put into writing the projects we hope to accomplish before this time next year, and, yeah, maybe it will help keep me accountable.

(1) Ballroom makeover. Sadly, this will not be THE ballroom renovation, but we are going to transform it into a family room and playroom. Plans = I haz 'em.

(2) "Secret bathroom" redo. We have a horrid half-bath off the mud room. The big girls nicknamed it "the secret bathroom" because the door looks like a closet door, and the bathroom itself is about half the size you'd expect. Except for the toilet and sink crowding up the space, it would make an excellent panic room. This whole project intimidates me, but it must be handled in 2012.

(3) Fireplace face-lift. I want to replace the dark slate on the fireplace surround. I have a vision, but the materials are so $$. I'm not sure it's worth it. I am brainstorming a classy knock-off.

(4) Portico fancifying. We have a lovely exterior entryway, but I am a little lost about how to furnish it. The style of this house is so unusual. It's not like grandma's old wooden rockers would look at home here. We're going to figure out a solution so we can enjoy the shade this summer.

(5) Art. The walls in this house are bare. We need some art, badly.

That sums it up. What are your big plans for 2012?

Friday, December 23, 2011

It really does feel good to be a gangsta

I love buying and giving gifts (LOVE!), I love making spreadsheets of stuff to buy, stuff bought, amount spent, ship date. I love watching people's faces when they open that perfect little treasure picked out just with them in mind.

The wrapping can suck it.

Just this morning, I was sweating over the gift mountain--stacks of Amazon boxes and etsy mailers in a corner in our bedroom. My mom always had a gift wrapping ritual. She'd plan approximately three Saturday evenings or Sunday mornings wrapping bunches of gifts, listening to Carpenters Christmas Portrait, and sipping my grandma's family recipe for eggnog.

Me, not so much.

I let it pile up, stress about it, then end up wrapping 34 gifts at once, cursing under my breath while I try to form perfect corners and match the wrap pattern where I sliced the paper just so. I also match the paper to the tree theme, by color. And I usually run out of tape.

This year it all became too much. I have four kids, a Christmas Eve lunch to host tomorrow, a house to clean, billable work to do, pecan pies to make, and a brother to take to dinner for his 25th birthday. Something had to give! I decided to take advice from the Geto Boys, whom you may know from the soundtrack of Mike Judge's cult classic Office Space. Their wisdom is, simply, "Damn it feels good to be a gangsta." *Probably not good for little ears*

And how does that relate to gift wrap? First, wrap and rap are homophones. That's an easy enough connection. Second, and more importantly, the point is you do what you gotta do, and you own it. So this year, I am wrapping free form. If it didn't come in a box, you're going to get a squishy gift half-ass wrapped without the pattern matching across the jagged tear line. That's right--TEAR. And instead of matching the gift wrap to the tree, I'm using up all the folded up, hoarded paper I came upon during my holiday organization mania.

Instead of giving myself anxiety over gift-wrap perfection, I am going to create the most hideous showstoppers you've ever seen under a Christmas tree. Just like the tablecloths I can never manage to iron before a party, butt-ugly wrap jobs will become an MBG trademark. People will judge my feelings for them based on how terrible their gifts look (inverse ratio).So far, so good. I'm feeling really merry and bright while I cackle over this totally un-MBG like wrap off.

Happy holidays, my friends. I hope you get many lovely gifts shrouded in shockingly unappetizing layers of fug. And if you're getting something from me, you can bet on it.

The Owen Epilogue

Our neighbors are now fostering Owen with intent to adopt. Funny how the world works sometimes :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sad ending to a short story

I had hoped Owen would work out for our family. He is a gorgeous, gentle boy. Alas, my allergies kicked in over the last couple days, and last night I woke up wheezing with a constricted chest.

Allergy shots can take years to create tolerance, and that's just too long to deal with the severe symptoms I'm having. Greyhounds are known for being gentle on allergy sufferers because they lack an undercoat, but I guess I am not meant to be a pet owner. 

The whole family is sad, but I know Owen will be in the right home soon. I hope his new family loves him up. He's such a sweet boy!!

If you are interested in greyhound adoption, google can help! Search "greyhound rescue" and your city. You probably have a group nearby, just waiting to place pups with people who will take good care of them.  <3

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The G Family is growing by leaps and bounds...

I have big news. Huge. Eighty-four pound news, actually.

The G Family has a new best friend, if you know what I'm saying...

Right next to me, a certain handsome red brindle greyhound would like to announce that we are officially "fostering with intent." This means if all goes well in the next few days, we will be adopting Owen, already nicknamed "O" by Lil C.

Pics to come later. Right now we're busy bonding <3

Saturday, December 10, 2011

It burns!

Baby, it's cold outside! Grab a skewer, load it with marshmallows, and cozy up next to the G Family's first fire!

We had a fireplace at the old house but never used it. I had an irrational fear of gas-starter poisoning. I'm over it now. *double checks flue*


I didn't take anything down from our typical mantel decor. For the holidays, I just added to it: lit garland (pssssst: Dollar Tree! Grab some $1 garlands, layer them, and string them with lights!), a set of extra-large nutcrackers as stocking holders, and of course each kid's stocking--marked with an initial ornament for the requisite monogram detail.

My little clay bowl that always hangs out on top of a stack of books now holds gold ornaments, and the holiday cards we've received from friends and family are tucked gently behind the giant map, which is sporting a brightly lit grapevine wreath attached by a hook that is just out of sight from the camera.

P.S.--Dear Santa, I still need some candlesticks for my candelabra. Kthx.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Time for a long winter's nap?

Preferred tune: Away in a Manger

The porch is alight thanks to sticks from our yard.
Our wreaths say we're poor; not when viewed from afar.

This quatrain wraps it up, though decor took three days to make.
Money for time is the trade when crafting for saving's sake.


Now for some note-filled prose. No energy for paragraphs with transitions. The rhyming is the most coherent piece I have to offer tonight, which is more than a little pathetic.

1. Our front doors desperately need to be sanded and re-stained. I'm embarrassed. It's on the list!

2. The wreaths are lit with LED lights. The "G" is affixed in the center of each with a 3M wire hook. I wrapped the tail ribbons around the Gs to make it seem like the letter was suspended. It's just POV trickery. Here is a pic before I finished wrapping the ribbons:


3. The branches are a very loose interpretation of a presentation in Restoration Hardware (camera phone pic below):


I was not about to pay $15 per bundle of birch branches, so I asked BG to saw these from a junky tree in our yard. Bonus: It has red berries and looks a lot like holly! The little disco balls are Winter Solstice ornaments from World Market, purchased with a 20% off coupon.

Here's a closer look at our branch pots:


The branches extend to the ground. I covered the stems with burlap, weighted down with a brick, and tied with ribbon. Then I put coconut fiber around the open iron planter. Another brick is nestled in there in case the wind whips afool. The lights are strung up the back of the planter. This is a camera phone pic, so it's not very vibrant, but I hope you get the idea. The bows are made by moi. I was a bow-making savant this weekend. I even helped my neighbors with their bows!

4. The project cost about $100 out of pocket when all was said and done and materials we didn't have on hand were purchased. The crappiest wreaths I found this size (30 inches) were $100 EACH, and that's without porch lights and ribbon. I consider that a win.

5. Voila!


Happy holidays!! Please link to your festive outdoor creations in the comments.

Friday, December 2, 2011

I'm sweating and am covered in glitter

I'm not known for my patience. I think BG's least favorite phrase around here is "I think we should..." because it ends with something I'm absolutely going to pull him into for the weekend because I just cannot stand to wait an hour or day or whatever time period seems logical to normal people. Lately I'm in a manic organization kick and must put things away NAO. This past weekend, after my productive visit with BFF-J, BG and I attacked our holiday closet. Tis the season.

Unfortunately, there are no before pics. This is not a pride thing, which you all know because I have proven I have no pride when it comes to showing the dirty secrets of the G house. It's a dead camera battery thing. But I did grab an after pic of the consolidated bows, ribbons, and tissue paper when the batteries were charged. I tamed the wild trimmings in a storage cube:


Items may or may not be color-coded. It's mania, I tell you; I can't be held responsible for my actions.

Filing tissue paper by ROY G. BIV [I kid. As you can see, the logical place for violet was the middle because all the blue and green could be neatly tucked in the binder pocket] is in my comfort zone. It gets my adrenaline pumping then, eventually, comes the calm. Occasionally I am gripped by the desire to craft, which is something very outside of my happy place. Though crafting never really ends well for me, I commit to my inevitable failure, grab some coupons, and brave Michael's or Hobby Lobby. What is it they say about the definition of crazy is doing the same thing expecting a different outcome? Too much reality. Or did I just break the cycle?

Yesterday after browsing some positively glamorous wreaths at One King's Lane, the creative bug bit. Since ready-made wreaths cost much bucks, I knew I could do cheaper, if not better, so supply shopping I went. At dusk and in a slight drizzle at about 40 degrees, I loaded up four kids in the carpool-mobile and hit the road. My wreath-making just could.not.wait, you see. Only by the time I got home with all the goods, it was dinner time, then bath time, then bed time, and oh you have more homework, well come do it real quick time. All day today I looked forward to coming home to my project, and even though I was working or running the roads until the sun went down, I wasn't about to let a little thing like darkness stop my plans.

I started with two large grapevine wreaths, a large poly-resin "G," spray paint, and a bow, which I made. BTW, did you know that grapevine wreaths--at least the ones I bought--are still made in the USA? Heck yeah! They're very inexpensive and have a lot of great texture. Could someone please make me a grapevine wreath spokesperson? I'd kill that job.


Did you hear me when I said I MADE A BOW!!! Actually, I made a matching (close enough) pair of them. Here's a closer look:


Alright, be kind. I'm a n00b in the bow-making world.

I'm going with a mix of metallics for my wreath--silver, gold, and copper. The "G" was a little too gold for my taste, so I took to it with "Champagne Silver" spraypaint.


Ah, that's better :) And is anyone surprised that I'm going to work a monogram into this situation?

I also sprayed the wreaths--first with a coat of bright silver, and then with the goldish silver.

And that's how the story ends, for now. I'm going to let everything dry overnight and then assemble them and then hang them. All with BG's help, of course. Hey, hon, I think we should...

I have a vision, and it must be realized!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

"No, I do not hoard Jell-O," and other quotables

I've found my talent. It's taken many years, but I'm sure of it.

Organizing chaos.

BFF-J invited me and the big girls over last night. The girls' job was to have as much fun as possible while fitting in a Blu-Ray screening of "The Lion King," while BFF-J and I got busy in the kitchen. If you are thinking anything other than two classy ladies reorganizing cupboards, you have a sicker mind than I do, which is saying a lot.

BFF-J has a lovely house, but it is severely lacking in kitchen storage. She does not have a pantry and has maybe seven cabinets total. For everything. Food, dishes, pots. Everything. Seven. It took me about an hour to accept it. This challenge just got real, yo.

I was asked to help create a Black Friday miracle: Make space where there is none. We started by grouping like things:

--The canned goods in random places must be consolidated

--Put all small appliances together

--Have a giant stockpot you only use a few times a year? Let's nest some other rarely used pots in that bad boy and put him in the back corner!

BFF-J took some before-and-after shots. I'm glad she didn't get any of me, because by 3 this morning I looked like an extra in MJ's Thriller video.

Zombie-face notwithstanding, we succeeded in our mission. The kitchen is lovely and functional, and our only significant purchases were three large plastic bins--of which I think at least one is going back--and a half-off decorative box with lid for storing table linens. I'm hoping BFF-J will pop in with some pics and guest commentary! Stay tuned...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dessert as Project

Currently our kitchen looks like a project, and it's not because of new countertops or appliances (unfortch).  Rather, I am preparing my offerings for the G family Thanksgiving lunch. Dirty spoons and pans and bowls and measuring cups are littering nearly ever flat surface, but it's so worth it.

This is what just came out of my oven:


Alright, look, food is notoriously hard to capture in pics, and I'm a crappy photographer, but here's the side view:


WHAT? STOP. That is ridiculous right there. My friends, the Food Blogga's upside-down fig cake rocks my foodie sensibilities and answers the question "What is the perfect fall dessert outside of the pumpkin canon?" Based on the delicious, sweet aroma emanating from this figgy treat, I give it two thumbs way up--and look forward to using these thumbs to shovel the goodness into my mouth just under 12 hours from now. Don't worry; forks will be invoked.

Next up is this pecan pie.* I've tried different pecan pie recipes a few years in a row, hoping to stumble upon one that is perfectly sweet (not sickeningly so!) and lusciously syrupy beneath a layer of toasted crunch. Could this be it? I have high hopes!

*It is my Southern duty to acknowledge accurate pronunciation of the pie in question. It's puh-cahn around these parts, not pee-can. Why would anyone want to eat something that starts with "pee"? No, no, no. Puh-cahn pie all the way.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The creeping crud

I've been a lazy blogger lately, and that's because the creeping crud of fall knocked on the barn door, let itself in when I didn't answer, and then infected the coup.

BG is the latest victim. While he doses himself with Sudafed and ibuprofen, I'm spraying the house with Lysol and am steam-mopping his trail of sloughed white blood cells.

That brings me to my question for you readers: What is your favorite cleaning potion or tool? Mine is the afore-linked steam mop. I love it more than I ever thought I could love a mop. Do you live by vinegar? Clorox wipes? Denture tablets?

Share your faves in the comments :)

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Today I'm packing up all the Halloween goodness, because like AspieMom, I'm running a little behind in this chore.

I feel like October passed in a blur, we're already a week into November, and tomorrow is going to be Christmas. Jeezaloo, I am so not ready. 

I did find inspiration for my holiday porch. In Nashville last weekend, I walked into a Restoration Hardware, and BOOM! GORGEOUS! Birch branches in urns with little LED lights flickering and miniature mercury glass bulbs. I am not going to spend $10-$15 each on those RH bulbs, nor am I going to spring for birch branches, but I do have a frugal plan to recreate the fabulosity.

As for our Christmas tree and the stuff to go under it: Panic. I have a few good ideas, and then a bunch of blanks and "?"s.

And then there's the project list for the house. What's next? We have several projects in the queue but are lacking in follow-through. Maybe thinking about a cozy house for the holidays will inspire me. A fireplace facade and hearth makeover, perhaps? 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Lagniappe

I have a few pics to share from the G family's Halloween shenanigans.

Here is a shot of our portico from a neighbor's house:


We stuffed BG's Michael Myers suit with some extra burlap that we just happen to have laying around and set the mask on top. Yes, BG has a Michael Myers get-up at the ready at all times. Only brave children deserve our Halloween treats! Recognize the gourds and flowers? My mums haven't fully popped yet, but that's cool. I don't mind pretty purple mums for Thanksgiving.

This one cracks me up. What do you get when you mix four adolescent boys with neon bodysuits? This.


And this costume made my pop culture heart sing:


Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to have miniature candy bars for dinner.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cast of Characters

Happy Halloween eve! Finally--finally!--I have details to share about the Toy Story character costumes.

The big chick, E, wanted to be Jessie, but the mass-produced versions did not please me. Too much $$, too little quality. I doubted that the Jessie-onesie would make it through a costume party, school day, and then to trick-or-treat. I figured if I could wing it and spend under $20, it was worth my time. My friend Amanda hooked me up with this blog post @ RACKS and Mooby. The post inspired me to scout the Dollar Tree for cowgirl hats in a hunt that ended in success. I used two white shoelaces around the hat's rim for the piping detail. There's a mess of hot glue under there. I cut chaps out of cow print fabric and used my beloved Fray Check potion. Then I stuck them on to E's jeans with stick-on velcro. The shirt is a turtle neck (Target for $4!). I created an iron-on transfer for the yellow backdrop (it kind of sucks; don't look too hard) and pair of buttons. Red puffy paint worked great for the rope detail.  The boots are from ebay for under $10. I accomplished my goal of cheapness!

The middle chick, V, wanted to be "workout Barbie." *heavy sigh* I told her this is absolutely the last year she can be ANYTHING Barbie--until she is 35 and the costume becomes either sexy or ironic. V's Barbie alter ego was definitely the easiest to put together. Teal leotard from ebay for $8. Leggings that we already had. Babylegs leg warmers (which Lil C can use later IRL), a pink belt we already had, and pink dress-up heels we already had. Booya! Done! She'll rock a high ponytail and own this ensemble like there's no tomorrow.

Our boy, W, wanted to be Woody. I ordered his vest from esty. The shirt is orange plaid, which is a deviation from Woody's yellow. Tough. We already had it, and it's adorbs. The bandana was uno dinero from Target. The hat is also a Dollar Tree find. The boots are ebay ($8! WIN!). He'll sport some jeans. The belt is... mine, actually. It was fashionable in 1993, and since the 80s are here again, this belt is going to be HAWT (reprise) in two more years. Trust.

The baber, Lil C, doesn't really have strong opinions about Halloween, so I am forcing her into a Mrs. Potato Head costume before she can voice dissent. This was fun. I cut a big blobby shape out of brown fabric, hand-stitched it *takes a bow*, and added elastic at the bottom for a gathered effect. Then I cut out foam shapes, eyeing the Toy Story 3 DVD cover as I went. They're attached with hot glue and/or fabric adhesive. The little hat we already had. I paid $2 for that felt flower pin-on (which I totally heart). She will wear a white shirt under it, black leggings, and her little red shoes. Er, we have to find the other one before T-or-T tomorrow night!

Holy crap that's a lot of words to describe the fun in this picture:


And there you have it! The G-clan disguises. We'll be rootin-tootin ready Monday night. I hope all of you readers have a super fun Halloween and that your kids get a lot of loot <--because, srsly, that means everyone with a sweet tooth wins. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

On the fray

I'm leaving... on a jet plane... in fewer than 24 hours and won't be back until Sunday evening, so I am in a Halloween costume frenzy.

This product is saving my badonkadonk this year. I have sworn off sewing machines (Who was I kidding? This was a relationship that was never going to work out. I can't think in upside-down mirror images, and I'm not sure that I even want to. So there.). And now I feel empowered in my swearing. Plus I've got BFF-J to help me out when actual seamstressing is necessary. HELLO! JUST NOTICED! Is it a coincidence that "stress" is in "seamstress"? I think not.

I'm putting finishing touches on four really slackerific Toy Story homages this evening. I will try to get pics up before I split for the weekend.

Any of you readers planning on working on costumes into the wee hours? Whatcha got craftin?

Monday, October 17, 2011

When shrubs attack

BG and I have few television loyalties. BG is not really a TV person, and I would be a potato rooted from the couch if I didn't check myself. These factors add up to =  the television generally stays off in our house.* We both make an exception for the History Channel's "Life After People" series. The premise is that humans are gone in one swoop; nature takes over; vegetation destroys everything humankind has created; eventually, it's as if there were never people (except for the legacy of plastic, which sadly lasts FOREVER, btw).

No matter the theme of the episode, there's always a scene at the end that makes me feel a little sick. It hammers home the message People are small and temporary and unimportant. Sometimes truth is terrifying. 

A tiger on the overgrown post-peopled White House lawn! It's like a nightmare!

When we viewed this house back in Feb/March and I told BG the patio was "a little Life after Peopley," he knew exactly what I meant.



Here is where I wish I could say ^that^ pic is at the end of an episode. Alas... this was the state of our patio as recently as this past weekend. The previous owners took great pride in the care of this house and their yard and patio. But two years of no occupancy followed by six months of neglect during the hottest summer on record, and it's shrubs gone wild.

BG and I spent many hours outside Saturday. He handled the chainsaw, and I was the branch mule, lugging limbs and shrubs out to the curb. The artifacts we unearthed delighted and motivated us. A trio of flower pots, a garden hose, a little bird spigot, feature lights that shine upon the tree trunk (they work!), and two lattices for trained vines.


Sunday we both felt like we had been stomped on by angry giants, but I think the end result was worth it:


Though we still have some work to do--knotty stumps have buckled parts of the patio foundation and roots have taken up residence in the resting place of ghosts of flowerbeds past--the kids have been in absolute heaven with the reclaimed play space. They took their breakfast on the patio Sunday morning. They have been riding scooters and throwing balls and singing "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" as they skip across the pavers. It's in these moments that I can quiet the too-big thoughts about temporality. It doesn't matter what happens in life after people. In this life, I can delight in helping our little people collect the gumballs purged by the sweetgum tree. 

*I totally turn it on when the kids go to bed.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


I love a gourd. Every fall, I re-read this blog post, shared by a friend, dedicated to the season's most ubiquitous symbol. WARNING: LINK NOT FAMILY FRIENDLY! CONTAINS ADULT LANGUAGE! LOTS OF IT! 

Isn't that inspirational? It makes me want to get my fall on and reminds me that Halloween is just around the corner. And it's lucky I've got something to light a fire under me because our neighbors really up the ante for seasonal decorating. We moved in this past April, when everyone had gorgeous yards and smart spring landscaping. Now it's October, and there are scarecrows, pumpkins, and hay stacks as far as the eye can see. We prettied up our porch a little, with black urns, mums by the gallon, and a pair of asparagus ferns in an old basket, as well as a gourd topiary (that's my fave, a fairytale pumpkin, on the bottom):



But I yearned for something a little macabre. What's Halloween without a touch of dark and scary? And as it goes--ask and ye shall receive--mother nature presented me with a little gift.

Outside with the kids one evening, we were collecting leaves. They are not the beautiful reds and golds you find in most of the country. Here we get brown leaves prized more for their kinesthetic crunch than their ochre and umber. Our boy, W, who is just shy of three and finds joy in the simple things, was particularly excited about his collection and sorted through it proudly when, at once, his older sisters shrieked in his direction.

Among the leaves rested a dessicated frog body--shaped and colored so much like a leaf, it was easy to see how W mistook it for one. Its eyeballs were long gone, transported from their sockets in speck-sized loads by the ants in the neighborhood. With a sudden awareness that he possessed an object worthy of ridicule, W kicked at the dead amphibian. Our baby pointed with her chubby index finger and begged in curiosity and confusion, "Dis? Dis?" The older girls ran screaming in circles, wishing it away.

As for me, I shoved it in my pocket. Sorry, folks, this is NOT going to be a giveaway! In a jar, labeled "SPECIMEN," I think it will be just the ghastly touch we need in our Halloween decor.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


I've been dreaming about a certain lampshade all my life. Or, OK, since April.  I've tried other lampshades on for size and failed. That was probably an act of self-sabotage, as I was seeking validation that the black drum shade was the only contender. The problem with the obvious solution of buying such a lampshade has been my unwillingness to spend more than [the completely random limit of] $20 on it.

Enter Lowe's.

I was there to procure cheap mums and pumpkins for our fall porch. Blog post to come, if I can get it into some sort of condition worth sharing. I meandered through the rows of the nursery, found myself in the Halloween section, and suddenly was pulled toward lighting. "This is silly," I thought. "Why would Lowe's have the lampshade? Do they even have lampshades?" Is it all plywood and mums and bbq pits and tile and carpet and paint and window treatments and magazines and markers and washing detergent and lawnmowers and the kitchen sink and everything except the perfect lampshade? That's just my luck. 

The pessimist in me was heckling... me. And she continued feeding off of the experience. Yes, there are lampshades. Probably a hundred different styles. Look at all these lovely lampshades. Heh, and not even one of them will work. Silly to even bother. The pessimist has mastered baiting me with split infinitives; she's passive-aggressive.

Then the realist piped up with a series of observations. Wow, that's weird. There's a row of about 10 navy blue lampshades. They're drum shades and the perfect size. But why would anyone want a blue drum shade--unless they work for Nautica or have a beach house decorated in blues and white, which could actually be really pretty if predictable. 

Then the optimist took a turn. Maybe it's not navy! Maybe it's black! And maybe there are so many of them because they look navy when everyone knows a black shade is the ultimate choice for epic win! *Peels back protective wrapping in a sneaky and discrete manner* 

LITEOPIA! For $15. Finally. A large. Black. Drum. Shade. 

The realist and the optimist did a little victory dance in the aisle while the pessimist refrained. She just knew we'd get busted and embarrass us all.

The foyer is almost complete! For real this time!

^I'm still hunting for just the right--much larger--vessel to sit under the console table. For now I cannot STAND the sight of the lamp cord, so the smallish basket will have to do :) It is holding a couple of spare umbrellas plus a rain stick. Yin and yang, baby.

On the table top, from left to right:

A clock with timezones around the world, a sterling silver shot glass (big question for the day: what do you call a shot glass that isn't glass? hmmm?) a college friend brought back for me from Germany, and a resin "G" that I thought was so bad-azz I couldn't resist it for 50% off at a craft store.


A Moroccan-inspired vase. Moroccan probably doesn't make you think "modern Southern transitional," but the little cut-away pattern reminds me of damask, so it works.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Let me stand next to your fiyah

Hello from the G house! It's been a while because I took a luxurious vacation to NYC and then recuperated for a week. I know--my life is hard.

Tonight I'm talking about an often blogged about decorating subject. The jhuhjing of the fireplace.

We have a huge fireplace in need of some decorating love. The fireplace is the focal point of the sitting room, has a cherry surround, library paneling, and dark slate. Boring, boring, boring. I'm surprised it doesn't give our guests narcolepsy.

Our old mantel at our old house sported an old mirror. For this house, I decided I wanted to do something a little less expected [No offense to the mirror lovers out there! I was among you for decades!]. Enter: BG's weird hobbies. BG is a man of many interests, and one of them is maps. BFF-J suggested on her first visit at our house last April that an old map would look really cool above the fireplace. Yes! Yes, it would! That little suggestion festered, and I became map obsessed. It doesn't take much.

I looked at probably a hundred online. Cripes! Do you know what huge old maps cost? Much too much for the Gs. I decided I'd have to improvise. Because this task didn't seem tricky enough, I decided the map needed to mean something. Furthermore, my heart yearned for a map in particular colors, like the muted citrus I went with for the breakfast-to-mud room. I didn't want just *any* awesome old map. I wanted one that probably only existed in my imagination.

I have several friends who are black belts in Google-Fu, so I put them on the task. One of them came across a map on Amazon. It was in the exact colors and specific region I wanted.

Muted citrus? Yes!
Gulf Coast focus? Yes!
The biggest damn map there ever was? No :(

I lamented the tiny perfection of the map for 24 hours before I got brave and contacted the dealer. As it turned out, printing custom sizes is what he does best. He also confirmed for me that the colors I thought I was seeing in my browser were pretty right on. The water really was more green than blue, and the orange was accurate. In the name of all that is fabulous, we don't want any more peach in our lives. He added that the original map (a 1747 French carte) was unusual in that it was painted, not drawn, so the reproduction had a watercolor quality to it. Who would have thought real maps could be better than imagined ones?! Blue Monocle provided an excellent customer service experience all around. Yes, please.

After express shipping, it was off to a local shop (coupon! score!), where I had it double-matted and framed. Lucky for me, the owner is also an art collector with a keen eye. When I told her I wanted to bring out the green in the map and frame it in something not gold but not silver but DEFINITELY not more cherry and stay within a meager budget (for custom framing, anyway), she knew just what to suggest. Here it is, fresh from the frame shop, in a distressed "champagne" frame:


Once in place, the map commanded the vast, empty, previously snooze-worthy space above the mantel. The map itself is 32 inches across, for context.

On to the next issue: I was not sure how to style the mantel itself. I looked at pics online and in magazines for inspiration. I tried a combination of: clocks, vases, pottery, books, frames, lanterns, candles, and random props including a diatonic accordion. Desperate for the right thing, I almost got into a late-night ebay bid war over a taxidermied baby alligator. Thankfully I was not the highest bidder on the forever-infantilized Cuban contraband reptile with marble eyes, and a little more online searching led me to the three plus one rule.

Decorators are evil for keeping this a secret. FYI.

As the link above will tell you, when you use three plus one, you cluster three objects on one side of the mantel and then use one object that is about twice the size or visual weight of the three combined on the opposite side. It's asymmetrical overall and pleasing to the eye, as in the examples at the jump. Here's how it all worked out for me:


Since I was dealing with a large scale, I interpreted the "three" loosely to fit my size needs. A stack of books crowned with a piece of pottery counts as one. A photo of BG's parents on their wedding day is two. An old candelabra I picked up about 10 years ago in an antiques shop is three. <--He is so sad without candles. They will be installed. One day.

Here's a closer look at the three:


The books are all related to the French heritage that BG and I share, which I think/hope ties in with the map nicely without being too cheesy.

The big item is a very large glass vase with eucalyptus stems. The vase was a wedding gift. Awww.

I'm still adjusting to the finished product. For a shameful number of months, the mantel has been the resting place for remote controls, batteries, flash lights, light bulbs--clutter that belongs out of sight, truly.  This minimal approach follows my natural design aesthetic, which is just a little under-done. I need a space to breathe... even if it does produce carbon monoxide.

Monday, September 12, 2011

"Dear God, what is that thing?" The reveal!

I'm assuming you know where that quote comes from. The Princess Bride, of course--the most quotable movie on earth.

I had no idea what a kerfluffle my silly giveaway would cause. I had bribes, begs, and on-the-sly emailed guesses. I fear this will be a very anti-climactic reveal, but since all of my blog posts are, at least I'm consistent.

The weird item (refresher pic below):



[The white space is supposed to be building on the anticipation.]

A gimpy little green bean!


My eldest, to my foodie chagrin, will only eat canned green beans. It is like a stab to the heart every time she requests them and finds them delicious (as long as I don't *gasp* add salt or attempt to treat them with anything delicious!). When I opened the can and dumped them into the bowl for nuking, this little guy fell out.

No winners. I know you're all crying into your bowls of green beans, but it'll be OK. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Sum of Its Parts... and a GIVEAWAY!!!

Everyone is doing bloggy giveaways these days. EB offered up an awesome book back in June. AspieMom is giving away a very different but also awesome book right now. It's inspiring! I am nothing if not a sheep, so I am going to do my own version of a giveaway. It's not a book, but it was inspired by my book club. Sort of. It's always more complicated than that in my warped brain. Here's how it unfolded.

I spent Labor Day unpacking (still; shameful) and organizing because I am hosting my book club dinner in a couple of weekends and started to have mini panic attacks at the thought of my friends throwing open random closet doors to see how the G Family really lives.

Would anyone actually do this? No, probably not. But the fear felt very real this past Monday, and since it was productive fear, I embraced it.

As any super quirky house should, the G house has some secret closets. They're hidden behind these panels. Can you see them?


Wouldn't it be cool if these opened to a panic room? Or if I were important enough to have a panic room? But I digress.

They are simply doors to storage in the form of shelves, drawers, and a bar. A bar!!! This is what those sneaky little alcoves looked like before Labor Day:



Wow, that's embarrassing.

I'm excited to share the after pics. You see, when I opened the boxes, sorted out the junk, let the kids rabble rouse with the scraps of bubble wrap until they were suffering *pop* *pop* auditory hallucinations (all in the name of getting them out of my hair), and gave each piece a home, the sum of the parts was actually lovely.



I find the spaces calming and aesthetically pleasing. I've stood in the open doorways more than once just to allow the control freak within breathe in the quiet organization. I have been so happy with it all, I was inspired to do a giveaway based on the experience.

And then my brain hit a wall, which is what happens when I try really hard to have my best thoughts. I couldn't imagine anything cool enough. I could give away my favorite organizational product, but that's only if I had one. Or I could give away my favorite cleaning product, but who gets excited about the Tarjay version of Clorox wipes. Other than me, I mean.

It was an MBG-brain-funk-idea-clogathon until tonight, when some really special randomness presented itself to me.


The little Gs said things like, "Ewwww! Mom! Kill it!" BG was confused when I offered it to him on a piece of notebook paper [<--there's a hint about scale!]. But I knew exactly what needed to happen. Out came the camera. It was just what I was hoping for to complete the Labor Day blog post / giveaway of my dreams!

The reason this... item... is so perfect is that it makes little sense without the rest of... them. In context, it's normal, but when it's isolated, as it is above, it's got the WEIRD! factor I just crave. And as a bonus for those of you who have shown excessive patience by reading this rambling mess from the top down, it fits the sum/parts theme I'm forcing here.

Here are the rules:

(1) Leave a comment saying what you think the item is.
(2) You may guess more than once! But please only one guess per comment (multiple comments are welcome).
(3) The contest closes Monday, September 12, at 6PM Central time.
(4) I'd love to open this up internationally, but it won't work :(  US only, please. 
(5) You need to have an email address or blog link, etc., tied to your profile so that I can circle back for your shipping deets.

The first commenter to guess right wins __________. You know what's coming, right? The sum of its parts!

Good luck!

Hint: It is not an anatomically correct Grinch heart.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Ballroom Whisperer

I can barely type the next sentence because I am so freaking excited.

We have the drawings back from the architect.

And this dude is not just an architect. He's an architect rolled in OMGWTFBBQ, deep-fried in amazeballs, and topped with awesomesauce.

He dropped by Friday with the large-scale print-out and was so relaxed about his talent. If I had 20% of it, I'd be yelling through a bullhorn approx 23 hours a day: "Bow down to me. I am awesome. Do you see how awesome I am?" at which point, I'd yank a ballroom renovation out of my back pocket as proof and stun all the haters into silence. <--Do you see how negative I am? Even in my imagination, there are haters.

I can't scan in the drawing for you because of copyright rules, but what I can do is upload my crappy interpretation of his geniusry.

Before: Ballroom (a big (1,024 square feet!) sucky rectangle)

After: Two bedrooms, a laundry room, and a study

Are there some issues with my drawing? Yes. For example, there are two hallways, but you don't see what they come off of or why they're there. It's just too complicated for my Paint skills, which I believe I have proven unworthy in a previous blog post. In full context, the hallways make so much sense it's scary. Additionally, I've got the bedrooms shown as different sizes. The reason for the size discrepancy is probably obvious. We'll give the kid we love the least the smallest room.

The thing about this architect is that he took our vision for our house and turned it into a stunner. It had me speechless for a moment--and even if you don't know me, you can probably guess how rare that is. BG was as lit up as a Christmas tree as the architect explained his logic for placement of walls and plumbing. Then the architect said something that shook me to my core: "Usually when I see a house and plan a renovation, I have a vision for it, and that's all I can see. That's the way it must be done. It's the only way. And that's how I feel about your house. Does that even make sense?"

Does it make sense?! Tunnel vision is my religion!

Would it be reality if everything had continued on such a high note? Of course not. The really depressing number stuff followed. If he were to oversee this project, it would be in the "100 k range." He actually said "kay," like the letter. I guess he knew if he hit us with the linguistic punch of "one-hundred-thousand-dollars," BG and I might drop dead on top of his beautiful drawing.

And so, for now, the drawing will be a lovely prop we show guests when they visit.

"Do you see what we have planned for the house?"

"Ooooh, aaaaah."

Even if it takes 30 years to finance it, we'll be telling the truth, right?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I am my mother's daughter.

It's not like there ever was a question, but today I confirmed that I am, in fact, my mother's daughter.

I'm embarrassed to say that until a few hours before this blog post, I had never used a riding mower. Let me clarify: I have ridden a riding mower, like when I was a little girl and would hop on with my grandpa or when I was in college and one was decorated like a Mardi Gras float and I had a Hurricane (capital H) in my hand and it was a dare. Don't worry, Mom--no blades were involved! The actual usage of a mower never seemed like a good time, and I have been confused for decades about why my mom not only relishes this chore but treats it with the respect of training for a competitive sport. BG always handles the yard maintenance around here. And by this I mean he does the weekly mowing, edging, and weed-eating.

I've posted before about how I can tear up poison ivy, pressure-wash the hell out of a front stoop, and hedge an azalea bush until it begs for reprieve. But as for the normal grass-growing, weeds being obnoxious, lawn sprawling over into the sidewalk cracks? Meh. Where's the thrill?

BFF-J (J of the fabulous pillows) mentioned a while back that she and her hubby divide the work so that it doesn't take an entire day and doesn't seem like such a burden to either of them. "Genius!" I said. And then I felt dumb that this job-sharing idea had never occurred to me. And then I remembered how sweaty and stinky BG is when he comes in from handling the yard. And then I remembered why I had conveniently never thought of this before.

Today after Lil C went down for her nap, I got over my ew--hot! dirty! hang-ups, and BG and I divided and conquered. I was one with that lawnmower. I didn't even feel the sun beating down on me or mind the sweat dripping into my eyes. I learned not to fear the quick jolt of the mower as it goes from park to drive. I dodged little rocks and sticks while imagining I was Neo in those super-CGI fight scenes in "The Matrix" where he looks sort of like air and liquid at the same time... SUPER STEALTHY air and liquid. That was me!

Then I parallel-parked our mower under the carport like it was my job.

I felt like I could do anything. I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR, YOU OVERGROWN LAWN! And then, as if an idea bubble from a comic strip popped up over my head, I saw my mom kicking butt and taking names on her yard machine, and everything in the world suddenly made sense, if only for a moment.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Intimidation makes me grumpy.

The architect I mentioned before came by today. I had a big realization:  

Oh, hai, we don't know what the hell we are doing. 

I have heard from friends that if you design and build your own house, you have regrets. You will wish you had done many things differently, but you would have had to live in the space to realize it, and now it's too late. This was one of the 852 reasons we didn't build a custom home. But then we went and bought a project.

The unfulfilled potential idea haunts me as we try to make plans for the ballroom. Anecdotal evidence and my curmudgeony attitude say it is inevitable that we're going to have serious issues with whatever decisions we make, implement, pay for. Maybe the trick is to out-think the part of my brain that keeps firing the message "You can't use an iron to web-fuse burlap for drapes, so just how are you going to plan a major renovation" by accepting that truth and moving forward anyway. Worst-case scenario is that we end up with rooms that have funny proportions and feel like add-ons. If we can avoid that--no *invokes positive thinking* when we avoid that--we will consider our reno'd ballroom a success. 

But I am getting way ahead of myself. The next step in the process, because I know you're curious, is that the architect is going to give us a quote for his interpretation of the wish list we discussed this afternoon. We thought we were getting that today, but apparently I threw a lot at him, and he needs to digest the info. If the price is right, it's pencil to paper AutoCad to printer, and we start saving our pennies for the work. Very, very many pennies.  

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The sweet life

This is a deviation from my usual house update, but I'm feeling the love and am going with it. 

I used to work with a guy--a Southern transplant to DC--who cracked me up once by proclaiming, "Pie is the only dessert." Pate, if you're out there, thanks for the utterly quotable phrase! And I know someone who agrees with you. Pop, I say treat yourself to a bigger piece of that peach pie as a sweet birthday nightcap <3 Mwah! (This is a shout-out to my grandpa.)

And congrats and lots of love to my aunt and uncle, who celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary today. I was at that wedding! I don't remember much, but I hear the buffet was nice. This one's for you:

Lastly, welcome to the world precious baby Layla. I wish for you a long and happy life with lots of peach pie and Elton John and of course lolcats (the last for your mom's entertainment).


What can I say? Sometimes life is just too sweet not to share.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Break out the Kleenex

Friday a real live architect is going to come for a visit. I'm going to tell him my vision for the ballroom renovation and get a quote for the master plans. The first step is always planning. Gotta plan the space, make a budget, get quotes, cry in fetal position about the quotes, burn the budget while you get rip-roaring drunk and cry about how much everything costs, and then take out a second mortgage for the reno while trying not to cry in front of the banker. Or is that just me?

That's a lot of crying. I need to practice the "It's just happy tears!" speech for the kiddos. I hope Ballroom 2.0 is worth it!

Friday, August 12, 2011

My Crafty Shame--Part 2

When your second grader says, "Mom, that is what I call STYLISH," you know your project belongs in the garbage.

And that is exactly what happened when I covered a lampshade with fabric this past weekend.

Here is the lamp in its uncrafted and un-crapped-up state:


It's really fine. I wish I had left it fine. Where is that time machine I saw laying around? About five minutes after that pic was taken, there was no turning back.

The lamp and shade combo are about 10 years old, and I am frankly bored with the white. Plus it's a little dingy and a little dented and could use a little pizazz. What I *really* wanted was a gorgeous black drum shade. I thought it would be such a sophisticated, contrasting pop against the white walls of the foyer, where this lamp lives. Unfortunately, I fought my instincts and decided to go crafty and cheap.

Do you sense a theme? Yes, after back-to-back attempts at crafty and cheap resulting in humiliating and expensive (relatively, for fabric) mistakes, I've learned my lesson. When you have a vision for something, just save up and buy the thing--or a knock-off of the thing--you really want, unless you are a bona fide crafter, which, hey, you may be. I think crafty people know they are crafty, and posers like me know their limitations. And if I didn't last weekend, I do now--history being the best predictor of the future and all that cliched whatever.

If you need a wall repaired with joint compound or weeds whacked to hell and back out of an overgrown yard, I'm your girl. Otherwise, call my friend Stephanie :)

For your entertainment, I present pics of the shade gone bad.

(1) To the lamp-covering tutorial creators on the interwebz: Sure, your guidance worked great... if my lamp were preparing to walk down the aisle on her wedding day.


(2) And how about those seams, eh? No one has a good solution for this. The best that I can find is don't use a patterned fabric so the country-come-to-town hideousness isn't as obvious. Probably good advice in the end.


This weekend, we don't have much going on. I am planning a few projects, but I need to take my time and think through the details so I don't waste money, embarrass myself, and then seek absolution from blog readers.

As that lamp goes, I am reinvigorated to find just the right [store-bought] shade to complement it. Redemption is mine.

My Crafty Shame--Part 1

My last post was, as my little brother whose first language is txt-speak would put it, so sad face.


Time heals all wounds, and apparently it also gives me the courage to talk openly about my crafty disgraces in a public way.

As I mentioned in my very first blog post, our house has a ballroom. As obnoxious as it sounds, there really is no better word for it. It's a 1,024-square-foot addition that was created expressly for the wedding of the original owners' daughter back in the 80s. Our big girls coined "the ballroom" upon our first viewing of the house, and I'm not sure who could be better ballroom identification experts than two wanna-be princesses.

The ballroom has a bank of rotting casement windows along the back wall. Very long and stressful story short, we have replaced eight feet of the wood rot and have eight feet more to take care of. We're doing this in stages because we have big plans (of the secret variety...not to be unveiled yet; sorry!) for the ballroom.

In the near-term, the ballroom needs drapery to disguise the mis-matched window renovation. My awesome plan (<--this is retrospective sarcasm) involved burlap. Have you guys seen treatments like these? They are big right now in mainstream decorating catalogs. Examples:

Pottery Barn

Ballard Designs

Half Price Drapes

My instinct was to reject burlap as an option because of its trendiness, but tutorials online claiming the SUPER OMG SO EASY!!! AND CHEAP!!ness of the window treatments lured me right in.

What a fool I am!

I got as far as spending $90 on about nine yards (p.s., since when is $9.99/yard cheap for fabric, oh wise tutorial-putter-onners?!) and ironing down my seams with a particularly well known fabric bonding tape. (No free plug for them. I hate them.). This is where failure struck. That stuff just would not hold. No amount of ironing and begging would do. Maybe it was a gimp roll, right? I tried the second roll in the pack. No worky. No likey!

In a rage, I balled up the burlap and shoved it in a closet, where it still sits, stinking up the space with its disgustingly pungent hydrocarbons.

I actually had another craft fail that same day, and there's even photographic evidence. What sort of blogger would I be if I didn't share? See: Part 2.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Brownie Mix FAIL

I love to cook, but if I try to make something that comes from a box, it is a sure-fire bet that I will junk it up. I will burn it. Or over-stir it. Or add the little packaged ingredients to the bowl in the wrong order.

Apparently we can extend this fail rule to anything labeled "easy tutorial" on the Internet.

This was a painful and expensive revelation involving curtains for the big room we lovingly refer to as "the ballroom." Now I need to go eat ice cream and let my heart heal as the windows sit naked, mocking me.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lindsey Buckingham sang it best

It is a freaking long way down the holiday road.

At about 11PM last night, BG and I returned from the beach with a van full of exhausted children. We set out Saturday for a beach adventure. Some people laughed and pointed. Some cried for us. "You're going to drive about 7 hours with four kids for a trip to the Gulf?" Yes. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. And, honestly, the kids were the best part. 

The following events took place, save for one. See if you can guess!

--We were in a wreck three hours into the drive

--Since it was Saturday, there were no repair shops open, so we drove four more hours without air conditioning

--The littlest G almost had heat stroke and had to be iced down in a McD's bathroom

--When we arrived at the condo, the "skywalk" from the parking garage to the condo-proper was without A/C

--Aaaaand one of the two elevators was down

--We waited an hour for the functional elevator

--Seventeen floors up, our friends met us with their two kids, who had both started running fever and had developed croupy coughs

--We went down all those flights of stairs to get to the pool that first night because there was just no way we were waiting another hour on the G family's "quest for fun" <--Clark Griswold

--Something at the beach bit me (miracle of miracles, with my luck, it wasn't a shark), and that bite is now festering and infected... Er, sorry for the disgusting imagery

--Back in the room for dinner, I burned myself on a pot of boiling pasta

--When my friend and I returned to the condo after a grocery run, we were nearly attacked by a mutant hermit crab scurrying around the [single working] elevator

--^This was after our friends were bullied by a real-live pirate

--^^OK, so not a PIRATE, but he had an eye patch and said "Arrrrrgh" while shuffling past them in line for elevator access

--These same friends got no sleep because of the sick babies 

--And they ultimately had to track down a pediatrician to call in a steroid prescription from three states away

--The second-to-littlest G started calling everyone "Poop Head" and just.wouldn't.stop

--Meanwhile, baby G, recovered from the heat, committed her first felony (Did you know that throwing shoes from a balcony in Florida was a felony offense punishable by law?)

--We had to be out of our condo at noon, even with late check-out, so we hung out at the pool for FOUR HOURS while we dared security guards via The Patented Hate Stare to kick us out 

--The local repair shop guy, who promised a ride from the condo to the repair shop to get our van, reneged, and BG had to pay $40 in cab fare

--BG didn't have the cash, so had to pay with his soul; only he didn't have one of those handy either

If it's true what Clark says, "Getting there is half the fun. You know that," it's DIY-staycations for the Gs from here on out!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Black and white and red all over

Do you guys remember the old joke: What's black and white and red all over?

From my experience, there are three answers. One is a sunburned zebra. If the smarty-pants joker tried to fool you with the homophone "read," it's a newspaper. If you live with the G family, it was the point of inspiration for the breakfast-to-mud-room redesign, with the warm cherry trim and casements providing the red all over.

Black and white were a must for a bit of drama in the space. But the main color was tricky. Martha's Butterscotch really appealed to me and looked lovely with the cherry, but I worried the combo would be too Halloween. And we all know what happened in Halloween--naked, dead babysitters. And really bad acting. No thanks.

I moved on to the other colors in my muted citrus palette. Gold didn't feel right. Green? Hm. Maybe green. Then I started googling "rooms with green and black." Wow. There is a lot of gorgeousness to be seen, as long as you shield your eyes from the hideousness.

Green was it. Four weeks taken off my life because of wallpaper trauma, three coats of Spanish Moss, two silk-cotton blend drapery panels, and one new light fixture later... Welcome to our new mud room! Let's take a tour :)

When you walk through the door, you see:

Is anyone surprised? I am like a male cat peeing on trees. Must mark the territory with our G.

Across from the Ikea shoe cabinet pictured there under the monogram, we've got cushioned seating, BG's grandma's desk, and an antique cornice.


Here's a close-up of that fabric:


BFF-J gave up a weekend to help me choose just the right thing and sew up a storm (more projects from her to be seen in future blog installments). I like the fabric more every time I see it--which has been a lot--so I know it really was The One.

In our old house, the cornice served as a shelf for miscellany. Now, however, I've added peg-board hooks for backpack storage. If the system works, the four little Gs will never again be searching frantically on school mornings for their belongings. *uproarious laughter*

A girl can dream.

The two brushed silver indoor planters are for incoming and outgoing mail. 

And lastly, here is a shot of our new drapery, hardware, and light fixture:

I was totally inspired by all the lanterns in NOLA when I visited there with my friend EB. When I found one for a deal on Overstock, it had to happen. It was a horrible, stubborn fixture to install, but I think the pain was worth it.

As for the ceiling medallion, the lantern dwarfed the wee one we found within the epic peach incubator, so I painted Big Ma there black, added a bronzey glaze, and asked BG nicely to put her right back up. Unfortunately pics do not show the glazing details very well at all, so you'll have to take my word for it.

The drapery is so luxe. I ordered the panels from and hit a major sale on the 3rd of July. I freaking love it when stores go patriotic and sell me good stuff at a discount. Uncle Sam rocks, and I could not be more pleased with the quality of the window treatments.

The hardware you see... Anyone have guesses? I spotted a similar set-up during a playdate and Single White Femaled it without shame.

Thank you for coming on this journey with me, from the fourth circle of wallpaper hell to the bright light of an old-world lantern. I know the room could stand some accessorizing, but for now I'm just going to be [super] happy about how far it has come.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

To be a fly on that chandelier

A time not too terribly long ago, this was the height of chic home design in America:


Now it looks like a kitschy prop from "The Brady Bunch," but can you imagine the sights it must have seen? I wonder if it was all martinis and key parties or kaftans and casseroles. 

Today we bid adieu to the humongous fixture--soon coming to ebay or Craig's List near you!--and prepped the area for its replacement. I'm dying to show you all the new fixture, but I'm sitting on my hands in order to exhibit some blog restraint. The idea of one big "ta-da" post for the mud room feeds my resolve. My hope for this room is that in 30 years, my kids aren't cursing our names for being "sooooo 2011."

As with all things G-family redo, we ran into some unforseen challenges with this portion of the project.

The ceiling medallion was bolted into place, but there was no way to remove the bolts gingerly. BG pulled and twisted and finally... FINALLY... broke the medallion free. What he found under it (or above it, as it were) shouldn't have been a surprise given the other bits of strangeness this house has unveiled, but one of my eyebrows shot up to my hairline nonetheless:


A baby ceiling medallion!

The Mama medallion has undergone her transformation from ubiquitous peach to something fabulous and will be reinstalled shortly. The ceiling has been repaired (Duct Tape counts, right?). Next step: The new source of light goes up, but for now I have an itch to wear my Gerald Ford mask while watching Rocky Horror Picture Show and doing the Hustle.

Monday, July 11, 2011


What was in the safe?

Now I know how Geraldo must have felt...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Case of the Secret Safe

In the wee hours, a certain something in my house was thumping around and causing me distress. I went to investigate.

I unscrewed the air vent, which seemed to be secured tightly (probably not the source of the thumping).

I poked at the electrostatic air filter, which was a little loose (probably the source of the thumping).

But I had this feeling there was something more

With my pulse racing and my stomach somewhere in my throat, I tilted the filter toward me.

And this is what I saw:


That is a safe, with a handwritten note taped across the top. The note reads: "Safe is not locked. Pull top up by knob."

Many thoughts are flying through my head at this point. First, why would you give someone instructions on how to open your safe? Isn't that information usually private? My expectation would involve a combination, secret key, retina authentication... Have I just seen too many movies?  Second, I wonder what's in there! Ooooh! This could be a blog post!

My top three most plausible ideas are:

1. Donkey wheel that, when turned, will change the G Family's location in time and space.

2. Jimmy Hoffa.

Tied for 3. Thomas Crown's supplemental storage or a zombie head.

I have not opened the safe to confirm my guesses. What do you think could be in there? And, maybe more importantly, what do you think is?

Monday, July 4, 2011

A blank canvas

The breakfast room is repaired and primed and ready for some MBG flavor.

We've been trying to define our needs for the space. As it turns out, what we don't need at all is "a breakfast room."

We'd like to create an area where the kids can hang backpacks, BG can drop his laptop and briefcase, our big girl can do homework [Time out for existential crisis: How did she suddenly grow into a second grader? Who said that was OK? I have to go throw up now.], and we can sort mail and pay bills. I guess a mud room and family office/workspace are in our future. 

I've made a few purchases and have been clearing the vague "what about..." cobwebs from my vision. We have an insane week and weekend ahead, and then it's time for what the design shows call loading the room. I can't wait to unveil the big after shot! No, really, I can't wait. Can we just fast-forward to next weekend?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

...more than the sand on the beach...

It isn't just a love poem.

I left off Monday night with a plan and the early execution of that plan. Then I got really tired and burnt out. The Tues-Thurs break was nice, but this weekend, I got back into the breakfast room. BG mostly got a reprieve... if taking majority care of the children is any sort of deal. Sucker.

A brief recap of how we handled our wallpaper hell:
(1) Peeled off all the adhesive backing that would cooperate
(2) Gently sanded down the adhesive backing that wouldn't (this was to get rid of the fuzzies, not to sand it down to the wall)
(3) Swept down the walls to get rid of sanding dust
(4) Covered all wall surface with shellac-based primer
(5) Filled damaged spots with joint compound
(6) Sanded joint compound
(7) Currently repeating steps 5-6 as necessary to get a smooth finish

I just applied the final (gawd, I hope) layer of joint compound to the damaged areas and thought I'd share some pics:

An example of the shellacked damage (<--this is fairly representative of how 2/3 of the room turned out after steaming away the evil wallpaper):

^If you stare at this pic with your head all sideways and dog-like, it will eventually make sense. Those indentations shouldn't be there.

Watching the mud dry:

A sample of the mess:

Next time the Gulf needs a load of sand to stave off erosion, the Army Corps of Engineers should give gypsum a try. Add a little water, and you've got a wall!