Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween and maternal slackitude

I think I need to skip one holiday a year (mentally, I mean--for self-preservation). This year it's Halloween. I didn't put out a single decoration. I had lofty ideas, sure, but they got stuck in the brain maze. Not sure if it's the cleaning or cooking or laundry or soccer or ballet or carpool or grocery shopping or working or Madonna concert attending, most recently, but my energy level is bleak. I managed to crank out some rad costumes for the chickens, but that's where the festivity ends for us. And I'm OK with that. *adds  "slacking" to the list above*

On to the costumey fun and budget breakdown!

The kids decided "Star Wars" was an appropriate theme. The big girl, E, asked when they could stop dressing in group costumes. I told her that would happen when I stopped being their mother. SNAP/BURN. What is the pay-off of having a gaggle of children if you can't parade them around when the creative whim strikes?


E is to be Leia. She had a full-on crying fit when she saw herself with Leia buns using her actual hair. I personally thought they were BEYOND awesome, but Mom's opinion matters not at all to a tween. YAY for the interwebz because I found Min Woo's flickr page after googling "Korean bathhouse towel wrap." I will spare you the details on how I determined those keywords in combination.

^No, I do not read (or write or speak or understand) Korean, but the steps are explained visually. If we had a dog (sniff), I'd totally Leia-fy him or her as in this pic. Since we don't, big girl E will have to do. I thought she'd cry more about the head-wrap than the actual hair buns, but no. This ridiculousness was acceptable (brown broadcloth, $5.99 for a yard). To complete her ensemble, we added a white robe (Target, $22), white turtle neck (Target, $8--and will be used again under school uniform on chilly days), and sequin belt (homemade with sequin trim and a set of D-rings from Hancock Fabrics, $5). Oh and boots. I refused to spend money on white boots (white boots are never the answer, and especially not after Labor Day and before Easter), so brown will have to do (not pictured; $4 after Amazon promotional credit, online coup code, and Visa points).

The boy child is Darth Vader. He has a serious affection for villains right now. I'm OK with that, I think, until the slutty sluts who like bad boys come after him. Then he goes into a cage where I can protect his blue-eyed dimpled innocence. His costume is gently used from ebay, $8 with shipping. Target saber, $8 (not pictured).

The baby girl, Lil C, is Yoda. I mean, she's Yoda on the daily on the inside, but for Halloween, she's Yoda on the outside too. Her trick-or-treat bag is probably going to be bigger than her, but that's cool because, as we all know, "Size matters not." A friend graciously hand-me-downed this one when she heard of the gang's Star Wars plans. We added little green gloves from the girls' dress-up box. Because Yoda. Total cost = $0.

I left the middle girl, V, for last, because her costume rocks the hardest. She is so fierce with her fashion choices. That girl has confidence out the wazoo. She decided to be R2TuTu. We used an old recital costume of E's and some glittery foam for R2's control panel and called it good freakin' faboosh with a total cost of under $10 for the t-shirt, decals, and foam. Personally I would have gone less literal (no "R2 TuTu" on the shirt sleeves), but V is all about branding. I did some hand-stitching to keep the control panel and decals affixed.

Total cost: 70.99, but once I take out E's robe, turtle neck, and boots, which will all be used regularly after Halloween, it's 36.99, averaging to under $10 per kid.

Total awesome: You tell me because I certainly can't be objective. See you in the comments!

P.S.--If you're hoping for an update on the robot room... well so am I! The art that is going to MAKE THE ROOM has still not arrived. Stupid international shipping grumblecurse.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Buy my best friend's book, kthx

My dear, talented friend EB from Bluestocking Ball is now a published author! Once a Duchess, a Regency romance about divorce (!!! SCANDALOUS!), has been available on pre-order for a bit, but today it is available for download!

You can click to buy from Amazon here. Also check out the fantastic reviews here.

I've had the privilege and pleasure of reading this book. It's a good 'un! And, score, Amazon gives it a sensuality rating of sensual. Me-ow.

Congratulations, EB!!!

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Have you ever wanted to lick a wall? This is what Valspar's Reflection Pool in semi-gloss has done to me.

The first coat is up! I had major anxiety about painting--PTSD from the ballroom blitz paint job--but then my amazing friend Sare said, "But I heard of this girl. She painted a WHOLE BALLROOM in a weekend. By herself!" Damn freaking straight, she did. So after baths, BG put a movie on for the chickens, and I found my painting groove.

This room was CAKE compared to the ballroom... Delicious cake a girl could dive right into.

Mister Roboto

Last week I showed you all various accouterments and asked if you could imagine the plan we had for them. It's time to unveil the masterpieces.

The middle beasts, V and W, share a room. They need a room makeover something awful (see piteous BEFORE below), and they're about to get it.


At present, they have peach walls (shocking! /sarcasm), mismatched bedding, and absolutely no coherent design plan. 

That is all about to change, and the theme is to be ROBOTS.

I am generally anti-theme (in the same way I am anti stars and hearts. It's black and white.), but robots appeal to both these kiddos, and I knew they'd provide some good inspiration for art and colorways.

Our jumping-off point was etsy. I scoured shops for fabulous robot prints. I ordered the two that spoke to us (V and W's buy-in was key!) and moved on to bedding and lighting. But then, one random Saturday, I searched pinterest for "robot room." Someone had pinned this from Disney's family fun site.

WINNING, amirite? So the Gs got busy with tin cans, wire, and other awesome and came up with our own robot family.


Each of our robots really represents its maker.

At the far left we have our big girl, E. She loves sporting her glasses, so copper-wire spectacles were a must. The lightbulb on her head represents all her big ideas.

Next to E, with the gold can, is V. Even in a sea of siblings, that girl finds a way to stand out.

The teeny can with the wire ringlets is Lil C.

At the far right, we have strapping lad W. You can't tell so much from this pic, but he is on wheels. He pretty much rocknrolls his way through life, so it's fitting.

In the back row to the left, we have BG. His vessel is clear, and we plan to make it the family coin bank. He does love money.

And to the right is yours truly. My body dismorphia comes through even in my robot art. Sadly, I look like a snowman. What isn't pictured are the eyes in the back of my head.

Soon (I hope), we'll have the G family of robots up on shelves in the made-over room for the middles. Stay tuned--and patient--for updates!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Riddle me this

The whole family worked on a project today. Here's a sneak peek.


Any guesses?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The briar patch

This morning started out as many of our Saturdays do. Unless our big girl has a soccer game, I wake up ready to tackle lawn maintenance. Every weekend, BG and I clock at least some time out there. Our routine is pretty tight with basic mowing, weed-eating, edging, and cleaning up taking us about two hours if we work together.

Today, though, between the mowing and the edging, I had to break for a hit of first aid. In my attempt at mowing as much as possible (to spare BG the horror of extra weed-eating, which is the most reviled yard task), I got into a tangle with a giant briar bush that grows along the back fence.


^See that red box? That is all briar bush. It's taking over a satsuma tree, two lime (or something) trees, and is allowing a ton of junk trees to grow near the fence because we are not able to get in there and chop them down. 

These things are built for violence. WARNING: The following photo may be too graphic for sensitive viewers.


I know, right? Horrible.

Oh, you don't see the.... Jeez, embarrassing. Here.


The briar bush thorns engaged with my thigh (no jokes about providing ample surface area, por favor) and clung steadfastly as I attempted to pull away from their grip. The four little holes are now puckered and sensitive. Owie.

Anyway I asked BG if he was ready to go out there and kick some briar bush tail--to DEFEND HIS WIFE'S HONOR--and he totally was. And then our chainsaw crapped out. The briar bush isn't sparing any punches. I don't know what sort of voodoo it cast on our chainsaw, but we didn't see it coming.

Since we were outside anyway and motivated to work, we tackled a few old flower beds that have been overtaken by vines and weeds. BG dug out root systems, and I hauled limbs to the street. But don't worry about my leg--I only limped when BG was watching.

Monday, September 17, 2012

C'est la vie

We gave it a shot, right? The Gs didn't make it into Mandi's top 10 for the epic makeover contest, but there are some really great entries up right now.

Thank you for all the support and votes and blog traffic! Even though we won't be Mandi-fied, I feel my creative mojo creeping back in.  I'll of course keep you guys posted on our every move.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

11:59PM Sept 14

^^That is when voting ends in Mandi's room makeover giveaway. Tomorrow! EEEE!!!

Thank you for your votes, support, messages, comments. It really means so much to us!

So that I can raise the bar on obnoxious plugging of one's own interests, here is the link for voting. Scroll all the way down to #78, "We really did buy a project," and click the "Vote" link. There will also likely be a wee star, but this appears to be based on browser and browser version. Give it a shot.  :) Unique IP addresses are allowed to vote once every 24 hours, so tomorrow is my last day for a good rally.

Again, thank you! Mwah!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

I am really dumb, for real

I'll always appreciate one of my Internet heroes, Antoine Dodson, for the awesomeness that is his quote, "You are really dumb, for real."

That is how I feel right now, y'all.

WHY didn't I enter our ballroom for Mandi's giveaway? WHO CAN RESIST A BALLROOM when there are so few available for redecorating shenanigans?

It's true that our ballroom is at least repainted and we have some semblance of toy organization/storage going on. Plus there's the fantabulous gray rug and covered couches. But it could totes be made Mandilicious.

Oh well! Please remember to vote for our pathetic bedroom!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Without Mandi

Over the summer, while BG and I allowed ourselves to daydream about improvements in every room of our house, I put together several decor boards. Our master bedroom vision is more of a cheapy upgrade, as we had planned to spend the majority of  our imaginary dinero in the kitchen and bathrooms. The only splurge in here would be a king-sized bed, an upgrade from our queen. I wanted to make our orange chair pop (I know. Who has an orange chair? Me! Me!) and use a large wool rug we already have to cozy up the cavernous room.

Here are the products I envisioned integrating (inspiration pic on the left courtesy of Houzz):


I still have plenty of burlap, which might come in handy as a DIY headboard, not to mention the boon to my self esteem it would be to use up that junk in a productive way. And beyond that, a few coats of moody gray paint, a fresh pop of white on the crown molding, removal of the dastardly taffeta canopy, and furniture staging would be a huge improvement from what we've got.


If I don't end up in Mandi's top 10 for the epic makeover giveaway, there's hope for my room yet. But how much AWESOMER would it be all Mandi-fied? I can't even imagine what her creative brain would do with the space.

Please remember to vote! Details on voting are here. And here you can read my original plea.

Friday, September 7, 2012

If you love me at all...

You guys. As I mentioned in my last post, I entered Mandi's epic room makeover contest over at Vintage Revivals. The first round of voting is open! This is how 4 of the top 10 will be selected. Unique IP addresses are allowed to vote once per day until Sept 14.

If you love me at all feel so inclined, please get your sweet tush over here and click for me! I'm entry #78, "We really did buy a project."


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hellooooooooooooooooo + Dear Mandi

Hello, friends! It's been a long time--far too long, in fact.

I was hoping to come back here mid-summer and tell you all about our ridiculously fantabuloso planned renovation. Then we got our appraisal back and felt kicked in the gnads (important to note: only one of us homeowners has external gnads, but the kick was so hard, we both felt it). Let me keep it short: That appraiser is NOT my new bff, and I've been very... depressed. Dramatic, whatever, that's me. Anyway, the big renovation will have to wait--even longer--and I'm trying to get my fixer-upper mojo back. What is the cure for broken mojo? Mandi at Vintage Revivals.

Dear Mandi,
I follow your blog. I love you. I think you could love me too...

Whoa. That just got weird.

Let me keep it simple: Mandi is doing a room makeover contest, and I need her help, badly. This chick has singular vision and is a true DIY success story.

Let's give less weird a try!

I am going to mooch David Letterman's meme and give you the top 10 reasons you should fly your and Hailee's skillz down here and manage our room makeover:

(10) I am borderline inappropriate at all times, and I get a feeling you could both really dig that about me.
(9) I can cook! Have you ever had legit Cajun food? <--If you have never been to South Louisiana, the answer is no by default. Not only can I cook, but my grandmother and brother are willing to feed you. I haven't actually cleared this with them, but let's assume.
(8) I PROMISE YOU this will be the weirdest actual house you've ever seen, much less worked in [defining "actual house" as: not a fun house at a state fair, not a haunted house, and excepting that wacky Winchester house in Cali.]
(7) BG and I have four kids, so your epic makeover trip will be like a giveaway AND a circus in one.Think of the blog posts you could generate from all that material!
(6) It will never be too cold for spray paint here.
(5) We have lots of crap you could Mandi-up and make awesome. Seriously--an entire storage room of hoarded junk awaits.
(4) In addition to our current crap, there are architectural salvage stores, antique districts, and an active Craig's List community within a quick drive or click.
(3) I could teach you how to speak snark as a second language.
(2) I will out myself and all of my anonymous MBG-ness for YOU. I have never shown pics of myself on this blog but would happily publish pics with you in them! 
(1) Our master bedroom is peach with chalky blue trim, a taffeta canopy, 10-ft ceilings, four doorways, and no windows. If that isn't a Mandi-worthy challenge, I don't know what is!

Pics or it didn't happen? Well now:
Mix-matched bedding (unmade bed = husband home sick today); random lamps (because no overhead lighting!); crazy high ceilings give me nightmares that I'm falling; blue chair that I love but doesn't really belong anywhere in this house.


The canopy. Taffeta. Peach and blue. I'm crying. Are you crying?

I muse that the MBG master bedroom is meritorious of Mandi's magic. All in favor, say aye!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


The heat has sucked the blogforce right out of me.

The Gs are still kicking. We're on staycation this week, taking the kids on various local adventures. I'm not sure why we didn't think of doing this the past couple of summers. It's vacation at its best--no work, no stress, lots of fun, and sleeping in our own beds at night.

Happy 4th, America! The little Gs are amping up for a local fireworks spectacular. Let freedom ring :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

That's what's up

Hello, friends! I haven't had much to blog about lately--no major (or even minor) changes to the homestead.

BG and I are currently brainstorming about a fix to the flat roof over the ballroom. With hurricane season and summer showers, I know we're gambling with disaster every day that we put this off. I alluded to its issues in this post. Here's a visual of the problemo:


Busted, sagging Sheetrock spotted with mold. Not everyone has their own personal waterfall. Quelle ambience!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Things I love more than I should

Don't worry--this isn't going to be a sappy post about loving my children more than life itself, though of course I do.

We have spent our weekend cleaning and catching up on laundry, so we've got no DIYing to post. I would, however, like to spread the love about a few household things that bring us a lot of joy by making life easier. This is not a sponsored post. I'd totally sell out for some scratch, but so far no one has offered. These are simply G-family staples.

Let's go at this cheap to fancy.

1. Finish Quantum PowerBall dishwasher tabs

Stick one in the liquid dispenser and call it good. Our dishwasher-ble glassware has never been so clear and gorgeous.

2. Fabreze Air Effects

This is a sensitive topic, but when has that stopped me from yapping? Occasionally there are disgusting smells emanating from the G house. Diapers, a sippy cup of milk lost under the couch for a couple weeks, tiny man feet. I don't think you all need me to go on. Fabreze Air Effects combats it *all*. My fave is "linen and sky." What could smell fresher?! 

3. Janitorial dust mop

This isn't the exact one we have, but it's close. I picked ours up at Home Depot on an in-the-mood-to-spend-money whim and have never regretted it. BABs*, as I call her, is a daily player in the G house.
4. simplehuman's smudge-proof stainless trash can

Who would have thought a container that collects garbage could make life fabulous? It closes quietly, it's easy to wipe down, and best of all, it doesn't show fingerprints. A mother must have invented this because I'm not sure why anyone else would assume kids love to touch trash cans. WTH, kids? Freaking weirdos.

5. Roomba!

Oh iRobot 560 Roomba Vacuuming Robot, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

As long as Roomba is charged and his bristles are clean, he's ready to do the dirty work for us. And with 3800 square feet and four chickens, there is a *lot* of dirty work. He's also like the household pet my children can't have, thanks to my heinous asthma and allergies.

*SALTY LANGUAGE ALERT: big-ass broom

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day done got DIYd

Happy Mother's Day to all the mamas out there! Our day has been mostly wonderful. It all started with a surprise from my chickens. I awoke to little vignettes of kidly love. Here's an example:


What you're seeing is a hanger, an abused sequined sash, and a toilet paper roll (saved from the recycle bin) with the word "Happy" written on it. It is attached to the hanger with a ponytail holder. Hello, fabulous! My kids DIYd the hell out of that party streamer!!

Then we had coffee milk all piled up together on the porch swing.


Thaaaaaattttt's right--BG and I turned our attention from the ballroom to a little quick-and-dirty porch DIY over the last few weekends in an attempt to mark off Item 4 from my new year's to-do list. The weather has been warm but wonderful, flowers are in bloom, and mama got the itch to create container gardens.

Last Saturday, my little guy and I hit the local nursery for an assortment of greenery and flowers. He picked out the baby Candidum, saying, "These are handsome! Just like me!" I don't know how anyone could resist that. We also got sweet potato vine, salvia (I will have to be on the look out for Miley Cyrus!), asparagus fern, blue bubble plants, wee Vinca, Bee Balm, hen and chicks, and lavender.


Young W and I potted the goodness in these planters from Crate and Barrel. My vision was to mix low, medium, and high with bright colors and a green background. I think they turned out OK!


^Do you see that bit of color peeking in on the left? That is our new Oriental Weavers Sphinx Caspian olefin rug from Wayfair. I limited my search to cheap and cheaper and am thrilled with the colors and quality!

For seating, BG installed the real piece de resistance (both of this blog post and our portico), the International Caravan Iron Patio Sun Ray Porch Swing, also from Wayfair. I told him all I wanted for Mother's Day was to enjoy my new swing. He over-achieved and got to it last night. Two eight-inch hook thingies from the local improvement store hold the swing in place. He drilled a guide hole and then screwed them in. When the going got tough, he used a screwdriver as a crank to do a lot of the work for him:


I thought that was pretty schmart. BG and all his brains are pictured above.

Our little dude is just as in love with the swing as I am. We celebrated all BG's handiwork with several minutes of chillaxing in the breeze.


The kids couldn't wait to get out there for breakfast. There will be many mornings of porch swing coffee milk in our future. And on that note--it's sangria o'clock, and I know just the place to end the day.

**Thanks for the photography, BG! I appreciate that you don't hate taking pics like I do, can rock your work camera like a pro, and don't bi%ch too much when I ask you to upload pics for my bloggy use!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Spring chicken

Lil C turned 2 on April 23, and we hosted a birthday brunch. Why brunch? When I asked what she wanted for her birthday, she replied gleefully, "Tan-takes!!!" Pancakes are her favorite.

This party post isn't about a proper project, but it was a lot of fun and was a little crafty, so I thought I'd share.

Since brunch is a mid-morning event around here, I went with a roosters/chicks theme. I commissioned a rooster applique t-shirt, which C wore as a pajama top. My buddy Kristin at etsy's V. Lou Textiles does the most gorgeous applique and silk screening work. I highly encourage you to stop by her shop. Here is the finished product. Could you die from cuteness?

Since we have four little chickens of our own and I never want our friends to feel obligated to buy FOUR gifts per year (ugh!), we invite families based on kid ages after the first big bday, where everyone is invited. We had four non-family kiddos at this party and then cousins and nieces/nephew plus the bday girl's siblings for a total of 13 children. I needed a craft that even itty bitties could feel good about with limited input from their moms whose busy hands were filled with mimosas. And, friends, isn't that what brunch is really about? I landed on the idea of fabric markers and placemats. I traced roosters for the kids and let them do the rest of the work. It was a hit!


I set up a pancake buffet, having made a huge batch of pancakes the night before, using this recipe but subbing vanilla almond milk for dairy because of C's allergy. I simply reheated the pancakes in the micro in a couple of batches then set them in a chafing dish to stay warm. The fixins were two types of syrup; fruit including strawberries, blueberries, and bananas with brown sugar and cinnamon; sweetened shredded coconut (I was surprised at what a hit this was!); miniature chocolate morsels; powdered sugar; and of course whipped cream. Lil C blew out two candles stuck in the pancake stack of her dreams.

To supplement the pancakes, we had a potato-cheese-bacon dish, biscuits, juices, coffee, and something else I'm forgetting now. D'oh!

After all the noms, the kids played an upside-down-bobbing-for-donuts game <--at this point, I should just commit to writing this entire blog post in hyphenate. Jeez-a-loo.

Here's a pic of the near-victor. In a last minute upset, my first-cousin-once-removed, the sweet guy to the left, just out of view of the pic, won.  He was gracious and shared his prize--sugared gummy bears--with all the participants.


The party was short and syrupy sweet, and the birthday girl had a super happy day. So far 2 is looking really good on her.

Monday, April 30, 2012

High Cotton

I'm working on a blog post about Lil C's 2nd birthday, which was April 23. I'm feeling old and slow these days, so it will take me a bit longer still.

For now I'll show you another snippet of our foyer, which continues to be a work in progress.

I got this super cheesy ornamental urn from the Family Dollar and wanted to put something nature-y in it. I considered willow and bamboo, which are fine if a little over-done these days. You know--big vases with tall sticks. You've seen them everywhere.

This weekend I procured (maybe "stole" would be the word my second grader would use) some cotton, which is an agricultural and cultural touchstone for our family. I'm pleased with the outcome. The pic is crappy, naturally. I am basically camera-less unless we borrow BG's work camera, so this is courtesy of my phone. Terrible blogger etiquette. Guilty.


The urn sits below a beautiful Scrabble-inspired shadow box with our family names. It was a thoughtful and crafty gift from a bloggy bff (visit her here).

It all comes together in my version of our family tree.  I hope our little chickens can fight the temptation of pecking those lovely poofs of cotton off the stalks! If they can't, we can always "find" more ;)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Seasons change

Our weekends have been taken over by the outdoors--in manifestations of soccer and yard work.

As soon as spring hit (which was back in winter some time, so says Mother Earth in spite of our silly calendar), our yard began to establish dominance. The poison ivy is back. Hedges were suddenly overgrown. The ground cover crawled on to the sidewalk and lay there, just daring BG to weed-eat it.

Last weekend BG and I spent about five hours outside, save for the occasional water break. Today it only took two. We found a few short cuts and have this yard team-work thing down to a science. Sure, my neighbors may wear their best judgy faces when they see me using the reverse-blow function on the blower instead of raking. Lazy or genius? Who cares if it gets me back in the A/C sooner.

Unfortunately the ballroom makeover has had to take a back seat to other projects this spring, but I'm hoping very soon I can focus my energy on it once again and establish my own form of dominance.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Quick and Dirty DIY for the Soul

All of the blogs I'm following these days are books in the making. If I had a book deal (which I so do not), I'd call it "Quick and Dirty DIY for the Soul." Sometimes you just need a little success to remember you can rock a DIY at any scale. That is what I needed today. And this table was the target.


I wish I could say that BG dumpster-dove for this beaut. But he didn't. No, no, this is just what the G-chickens do to things (i.e., they destroy them). This table is a few years old and has outlived its made-in-China-and-sold-for-$15-with-four-chairs-at-Big-Lots life expectancy. To that I say pshaw. It's time for you to be fabulous, wee crappy table.

A few weekends ago, I picked up a yard of oil cloth on super-duper clearance. I saw it. It saw me. Even I am ODing on all the damask in this house, so the zebra stripes were a welcome change. It was marked at $3.99 a yard and rang up at half that. Oh, hai, come home with me! I know just what to do with you!


All I needed was a staple gun, but I over-achieved and layered the upholstery job with a table pad (white, from Target, for about $10). This way if--or rather, WHEN--my children abuse the oil cloth, I can gank it off and still have a non-hideous table between destruction and replacement. 

The corners are not upholstery perfection. I could tack them down. Eh, I'll probably get to that the same weekend I finally paint out the trim on the shelving unit pictured behind the table.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A year ago today, no joke

Last April 1, we were moving into our new house.

We had occupancy a few weeks before closing, so our purchase date differs from our move-in date by a bit. BFF-J picked up our two big girls, E and V, from our old house, and I got choked up a little at the thought of them coming home to a different home altogether. They were like the honey badger and didn't care; they were way more captivated by BFF-J's van's DVD system. My mom took the little two for the day us. There was a shoe debacle (young W's shoes were missing in the move, so Mom had to run to a local shop--with a barefoot 2yo--to get some kicks). My aunt, uncle, and cousin-in-law helped us move with a big U-Haul and a lot of sweat. Mom joined us later with the babies and unpacked my kitchen and bathrooms and put sheets on our bed. Those are the true necessities in life, amirite?

BG and I were so wiped out from moving and cleaning, I think I fell into the bed in a puddle of tears. I cry when I'm tired. It's quite charming and never embarrassing at all  /sarcasm

Even with those tears, I have never regretted moving or buying this house for a second, and I know BG agrees. It has changed our lives in so many wonderful ways--reducing commute times (which has the pay-off of negating BG's severe road rage), getting us closer to the big girl's school (which will be V's school in August), and introducing us to a whole load of new local friends... with wine!

This past year, we accomplished the following:
--Creating a mudroom from an outdated and too-small breakfast room
--Getting an overgrown yard in shape, front, back, and side
--Cleaning up the front walk
--Organizing a metric frack-ton of stuff
--Painting a whole bunch (foyer, hall, ballroom)
--Decorating, in our unskilled and slightly pathetic way
--Making the ballroom functional
--Living and loving life with the four little Gs

There is still so much to do (like the significant ballroom update I owe you guys). It will come. There's time. As Edgar Allen Poe once said, "I have great faith in fools -- self-confidence, my friends call it."

Saturday, March 31, 2012

GIVEAWAY REVEAL! The winner is...

...Elly, who commented that E put herself in a cape and HP glasses.

Indeed, E made herself a Harry Potter character in her self-portrait :)

Elly, congratulations! Your prize is on its way. You've won a very special Harry-Potter inspired bookmark from the GeekOUTlet etsy shop.

Thank you all for your guesses!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ballroom blahs

The "blah" isn't because of the room itself but rather because of the quality of photos. Here is where I'd like to go on a rampage about how DIY blogs are full of fancy photography these days, and our camera is dinky and my time is super limited--plus I'm a WRITER not a PHOTOGRAPHER--so I can't compete, and, additionally, though I am an admirer of beautiful photography, I don't care to BE a photographer even a little so I don't WANT to compete, but that's how successful blogs roll these days. I think I'll save the rest for a day when I'm in a better mood.

Cut to: the promised ballroom pic update.


^Here is a dusk shot of our (eeek! wrinkled! sorry, Mom!) camel-colored slipcover, the new rug, and the Target drapery project in the background (everyone wave to the t-ball stand out the center window!).

Also pictured: BG's collection of telescopes; the lamp and chair that go with BG's grandma's desk, which has been moved from the mud room to the ballroom, butted up behind the couch; and an antique couch with a big story that I hope to tell sooner rather than later, taking up temporary residence in that back corner.

How many monkeys does it take... AND A GIVEAWAY!

When my arty eldest, E, went to work recently with her oil pastels, I cheered her on and expected her to crank out her usual landscape or character from the Harry Potter series. Instead, she surprised me with a portrait of each of us with a stained glass window background. I was delighted to showcase her work on the previously barren foyer wall that cried out for some colorful attention.


So how many monkeys does it take to fill up a wall? Six, apparently.

Now that I've given up our anonymity in exchange for compliments to my 7-year old, I will go ahead and tell you that I'm the fabulously coiffed and super trim dame on the top right. Ah, to be the hottie my daughter sees.

I'm a fan of black frames in general but wanted to give these cheap 11x14s from Family Dollar a little more interest. I used gold leaf paint to accomplish the look. BG used a level and a ruler to place the frames just so and then finishing nails and double-sided tape to secure them.

On to the giveaway portion of this blog post. I haven't done one in a while, and they are quite the thing in the blogosphere lately. Most bloggers pick a random number from comments. That's not nearly weird or entertaining enough for me. I'm going to make you work (hard!) at winning.

There is something special about one of E's pictured pieces. There's also a clue about the special attribute in this very post. The first correct guess left in comments will win a post-inspired prize (U.S. residents please; forgive me, Nadeve!). The guess period ends at 7PM Eastern on Friday, March 30. May the odds be ever in your favor. /comes off a "Hunger Games" high

P.S.--I promise the prize is not a can of green beans!

Friday, March 23, 2012

I've got 99 problems, but the rug ain't one

Finally, FINALLY my Navarre rug is in from Ballard. It was back-ordered twice, and I thought I was going to get a sad email saying, "Oop, sorry, we are actually out of that forever!" but it arrived a couple days ago. I am happy to report it is fabulous and fits the space as I hoped it would.

Also new to the ballroom: a camel-covered slipcover from Wayfair fitted over a plaid hand-me-down sofa from BFF-J, storage bins and toy organization on the book-shelf room divider, and hardware that is not yet installed but has an exciting future on a former-changing-table-turned-TV-stand. You guys have no reason to take my word for any of this, for I've been such a blog slacker lately. I've become a soccer mom, for one thing, and for another, I had the surprise of my life last weekend when two besties from out of state showed up on my doorstep. I wish I had video of the moment BG opened the door (b/c I was scared to). That totally would have been blog-worthy. I should have had the ladies trade DIY for weekend room and board, but that is only occurring to me now. Stupid brain.

As for the "99 problems" I alluded to in the title of this post, we have a terrible roof leak, and the biblical floods rushing through the South are stressing us right out. Roof issues didn't show up at all on the inspection report we got a year ago, but boy have they manifested. BG might be taking a Roof Repair 101 class at Home Depot (which of course they offer only in my imagination).

A ballroom update *with pics* to come this weekend, hell or high water!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Rice is the most selfless starch

We didn't have a projecty weekend. We did a ton of running around with the children. I did have a small window where I could have painted the trim on the room divider/bookshelves, but I couldn't muster the energy to paint a single darn thing. I know I need to get on it. It's been a month. I am appropriately ashamed.

I'm popping in to share a tip that could help you, or at the least, you can mock me for being the last person on earth to know this.*

If you drop your phone in water (the sink, a glass, the... ew... potty, whatever), take it apart, dry it off as best you can, then stick it in a bowl of rice and cover with more rice. The rice acts as a desiccant and will sap out the moisture. It worked for me! Twenty-four hours ago I had a sad little phone that kept shutting off and restarting. Pressing "messaging" opened the camera lens. Rice to the rescue!

*Credit where credit is due: Thanks, EB!!!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A tale as old as time

In February, I blogged about our family calendar. We're still using it/living by it. A friend asked to see it in action, and what am I if not a pleaser?


Here you can see my failings as a mother. Each member of the family has a color. Activities are jotted down along with time and place of event. The purple child, E, is way over-scheduled. We just have to survive through May, and then it's lesson learned and two activities max from here on out.

The premier of "Hunger Games" on March 23 may or may not be noted in red (my color) with a giant exclamation point.

Has anyone out there been converted to the cult of the family wall calendar? How's it working out for you?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

"No, I do not hoard JELL-O" guest post!

Back in November, I mentioned that BFF-J and I took over her kitchen and reorganized the heck out of it. She's here to tell you her interpretation of events. Take it away, J!

I'm not a hoarder.  Really, I'm not.  There are neither unopened boxes of crap purchased on eBay crowding my hallways and creating a fire hazard nor food in my fridge that looks a like a junior high science experiment gone awry. I am guilty, however, of finding twenty four boxes of jell-o in my cabinets.  I blame the jell-o infestation on one simple problem:  there is no pantry in my house.

IMHO, this would be a much better use of jell-o...

How does one buy a house without a pantry?  Easy.  The house is chosen before completion and two first time home buyers ASSume that there will be a pantry somewhere in their shiny new abode.  Alas, on move-in day, the question was finally asked. "Hey, Honey, where is the pantry?" Sadly, there wasn't one to be found.

Sooooo, fast forward quite a few years and two rug-rats later and the pantry-less kitchen is in utter chaos. Said chaos has spilled over to nearly every other part of the house. There is no rhyme or reason to where anything is stored and grocery planning is a complete nightmare. Hence the existence of the abominable jell-o stash.

It was at this point that I realized I had to seek expert advice.  I needed divine intervention or the services of a certified domestic engineer  Since neither the great and powerful Oz nor Martha Stewart were available, I sought help from the next best thing:  my BFF, MBG, hater of clutter and purger extraordinaire.  The date was set and the countdown began.  Spurred on by the impending arrival of my own personal disorder exterminator, I first tackled my laundry room and master bedroom closet.  I became great friends with the collection lady at my neighborhood Goodwill after bringing no less than sixteen garbage bags and four giant re-purposed amazon.com boxes of stuff. I considered it like preparing for a 5k. Or the Sugar Bowl. Maybe even an epic battle.   I had to be ready when my trainer/coach/master sergeant arrived.

The big day arrived, which just so happened to coincide with Black Friday.  I cut my shopping day short and went home before lunch to take a power nap.

When MBG and her crew arrived, my little devil dragged her little angels into the playroom and the great re-org of 2011 began in ernest. Every single thing was emptied from every cabinet in the kitchen, the hall closet and the old TV armoire which had been doing duty as additional kitchen storage.  My shiny new iMac was waiting in the wings for its new home in the living room.  Under the direction of MBG, like items were grouped together and inventory was taken. Actually, it was more like re-direction and more re-direction as my ADD meds had long since worn off.  Luckily, MBG has lots and lots of experience dealing with those of us who need that type of assistance ;).
About 20% of the stuff pulled from the armoire.

Work in progress...

We called in reinforcements in the form of my husband being dispatched to my favorite pizza joint for sustenance.  With full bellies and plans in mind, we took a quick trip to Target for supplies and then the real fun began.  In the words of the late great Ben Franklin: "A place for everything, everything in its place." 


Bakeware and small appliances were all re-located to the hall closet just off the kitchen. Canned goods, which had formerly been in three different places were put all together in the can racks in the utility room.  Seldom used party ware and serving pieces were placed in sealed bins and relegated to the new black Friday special shelves in the garage.  Coffee, tea and their accoutrements together in one cabinet, food in three others, all the pots and pans in the two next to the stove and finally drink ware and plates/bowls in the top two near the microwave. My favorite part?  I finally had a good home for my at-home coffee bar. 

Why, yes, you do want to have coffee at my house!

It was only 3 AM.  And definitely time for wine.

I wanted to kill, or maybe just severely main, my not-so-dear husband when he wandered into the kitchen for breakfast and said "3 AM, really?  Nothing looks different." 

Seriously?  SERIOUSLY? 

Fortunately for him, he avoided certain death as he recognized the scary-as-all-hell look on my face and tone of my voice when I suggested that he look in the armoire and cabinets.  This time, he had the right answer and heaped mounds of praise upon me and MBG for being the answer to his prayers and making our kitchen the epitome of domestic bliss (or something veeerryyy close to that).

Well, it's been three months since the intervention, and I am happy to say that I have not relapsed.  I have even cleaned out my office/overflow junk room and put a treadmill in there to help me get ready for my first 5k!

All hail MGB, my personal domestic goddess and queen of organization!

Now, if I can only bribe her into taking on my kids' closets...


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Moving again :(

Oh man, that title is such a fake-out, I almost feel bad.

This weekend, BG and I did so much whole-room reorganization, that it felt like we were moving in all over again. At one point, both of the kid bedrooms were empty. There are only two kid bedrooms in this giant house... #158,765,233 in the uniqueness column.

Last April, when we first moved in, we had a nursling (in our room), a little tot in a crib (in his own room), and two big girls who shared bunk beds (in the bigger room). Since the baby weaned at 14 mos, we had a tot in her crib (in her own room), a big girl in a single bed (in the office, because she could no longer stand the nocturnal wildness of the sister 28 mos her junior), and two middle children who wandered and thieved in the night (in the bigger room--or occasionally the kitchen, hallway, or bathroom where they once created an unholy mess with their preferred medium, baby powder).

We never did a proper re-org when the kids played musical rooms, and we were living in chaos. W's clothes were in C's room; C's clothes were in our room; V's clothes migrated into E's dresser drawers; E's clothes were everywhere they shouldn't be. I found dirty socks in a lunchbox under her bed, I kid you not. I couldn't take it any more. This weekend, it all changed.

Since the big one (E) and the little one (C) share sleeping patterns, we put them in the bigger room together. It was such an obvious solution, we wondered why we had not done it sooner. Of course then we remembered the whole nursing/night feeding thing that was my life 9 mos ago. Babies do grow up so quickly, don't they?

The two middle beasts, who could stand a little more oversight, are bunked in the smaller room. It is closer to the hallway entrance to the main living area, so we can hear every move they make. Heh. One step toward the baby powder, and I'm turning the hose on them.

I went through dressers, purged and sorted clothes, washed about 15 loads of "is this clean? how can anyone be sure?" laundry, and then labeled drawers with small adhesive chalkboards from this etsy shop. BG and I also took this opportunity to purge and organize toys. THE TOYSSS. We feel like such conspicuous consumers. And I mean that in a totally gross way. It was cathartic to bag up three Hefty (Target knock-off) sacks of stuff to toss and donate.

Now the bedrooms are actually functioning like bedrooms instead of playrooms. The kids have their sleeping space and books on their shelves. The toys, which are on the ballroom shelves, are where we will be forced to keep a keen eye on their operation and maintenance. I'm slowly but steadily reaching my goal of becoming so hyper-organized that my house is generally picked-up-ish at all times. JUST TRY TO CATCH MY HOUSE LOOKING EMBARRASSING NOW, GIRL SCOUTS WITH YOUR DELICIOUS COOKIE SALES AND EXTEMPORANEOUS KNOCKING.

No pics this time. I would have had to show you the shelves before they're done. BG and I needed a break from trim and paint and construction materials. Showing pics now would make the big taaa-daaaah! post so super anti-climactic. I love you all too much for that.

Friday, February 17, 2012

My circle of friends just got famouser!

I read for escape. Sometimes it's post-apocalyptic young adult dystopian love triangles, sometimes it's literary marriage plots, and sometimes it's non-fiction that teaches me something new about our world. The words give me precious moments of respite from the daunting projects that are closing in.

You guys... you must head over to my dear friend EB's blog and enter her giveaway. EB is a novelist. She interviewed a friend, C. Hope Clark, who is also a novelist. And she's giving away an autographed copy of  Hope's new book.

Do it! DO IT NOW! You're welcome!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Organizing the progeny

Last weekend, a neighbor and I chatted about how I store my kids' activities and important school stuff in mah brain, which is getting a little rusty. It's also not transparent, which causes issues for BG when he needs access to the information. The kindly neighbor suggested, "You need one of those calendars blogs always talk about but no one actually uses!" Ding!

To Amazon I went, and to my door this evening, the Brewster Wall Pops calendar was delivered.
For $12.99 with free super-saver shipping, I think it's a good deal. It's large, it's dry-erase, and it's peel-and-stick (but removable!). I'm in love.

I've already plotted out February. Each kid has a color. BG and I have our own colors. My head feels less fuzzy since it emptied many of its contents into our new family info center. There might even be space for Sudoku in there now!

Monday, February 6, 2012

You miter not be a carpenter if...

BG and I have been working like crazy people to get four book cases like this


to look less depressing.

We had a few goals for this project:
--Provide organization for toys
--Create zones in the vastness that is the ballroom (family room, play room, homework/art zone)
--Accommodate photo frames and fun storage baskets we've accumulated but lack the surface area to display

The first two steps were to paint the shelves and procure MDF to make the cases sturdier and nicer looking. I used two Allen and Roth colors from Lowe's--Elegance and Liberty Bell. These are looking really pukey on my monitor, but in person they are both warm grays. Elegance went on the shells (shelves, sides) and Liberty Bell on the sheets of MDF. How I regret not painting them in something more punchy. I thought they would really sing in a contrasting gray, but because of the shadows and such, it just looks like... well gray. One day when I hate painting less, maybe I'll redo them. I can't actually imagine such a day will come, but one never knows.

After a few coats of Mod Podge Hard Coat on the shelves, BG and I screwed the painted MDF backings to the cases and played around with the configuration. We decided on an L-shape, with two book cases facing the future homework/art zone and two facing the new television viewing area <--which I have not mentioned until now. Blog post of the future. The right angle creates a really nifty play zone for the kidlets and hides some of the big plastic stuff.



Oh wait, that looks like crap.

BG and I knew we needed to get some trim happening. The problem is that trim confounds me. I walk through the aisle of trim at the home improvement store and think: Whaaa? This book case situation just got a whole lot more expensive. And scarier. This is not what I had planned for our Sunday!

On my first trip to Home Depot yesterday, I stared a lot and did some calculations. I bought one wee rosette, like this (except 2" instead of 3-and-some-odd") and stood in front of the monstrosity we had created. More math, more visualization, back to Home Depot.

On my second trip to Home Depot yesterday, I bought five 8' lengths of fluted casing, like this. It would be enough to trim out the homework-zone facing shelves, and if that didn't fail catastrophically, I'd go back again and buy more. Why not just buy the materials for the entire project and return them if they appeared not to be working? See: "confounds me" above. I was not thinking clearly.

On my third trip to Home Depot yesterday, I purchased three more lengths of fluted casing, the last of the rosettes, and shoe molding. GAH! Shoe molding! We got away with avoiding miter cuts all day, but when it came to the molding, two 45*s were required.

If you've never cut adjoining 45* angles, give it a shot. You have to think in upside-down mirror image. My brain rejects that proposition. Here's BG, killing it. He don't need no stinkin miter box.


And here's how he accomplished the cut without an assist (I was bathing kids, etc.):

^Pretty schmart. Give the man a ladder, clamp, liquid level, and handsaw, and he can rock your world.

As of 10PM last night, here's how our project looked:


It's not complete, of course. I have to paint the molding (uuuuuuuuuugh). Then the fun begins--organizing and placing stuff. One-and-a-half weekends, $200 in MDF and trim, and a lot of team work later, we accomplished the three goals for the book cases and learned we would really, truly suck as carpenters... except when it comes to BG's savant-like mastery of 45* angles.