happy new year (to me)

It's New Year's Eve. I'm home alone and wish I had a bottle of Veuve Clicquot as tall as Catcher, but instead I have a mini bottle of Korbel (and some wine). Unlike those out there who say New Year's is overrated and they'd rather go out any other night of the year, I genuinely love New Year's Eve. I love getting dressed up and going to a party and wearing a silly hat (and maybe a feather boa) and kissing on the stroke of midnight. I love watching the ball drop in Times Square, and I love a countdown when no one seems to be in sync. I also love the fact that everyone is the world is celebrating the same event yet, when you're with the people you love, you feel like it's a holiday all your own.

Why am I alone? Alex has a basketball game to produce in Cincinnati, and someone has to be here with kids (and where would I be going without him anyway?). So...here I sit waiting for Dick Clark (or Ryan Seacrest). I'm not one for making resolutions, but there is one major thing that I would like to see happen this year. God, if you're listening, I'd really like to sell our house. We contacted a new realtor this week, so we're ready for a fresh start in 2011...let the countdown begin.


a white (almost) christmas

It did not snow on Christmas day this year, but I think December 26th should count when one is dreaming of a white Christmas. When Catcher woke up and looked out the window that morning, "Mommy! Look at the snows!" was the first thing out of his mouth. Although I lived in New York City for six years--where the average December temperature hovers around the freezing point--I've never been much of a winter sports kind of girl. That includes playing in the snow. But this year something came over me. Perhaps I was still buzzed from the Bloody Mary Christmas the day before or maybe watching Elf on Christmas Eve had inspired me to take a step back and enjoy life through the eyes of a child, but either way I was genuinely excited to take the kids out and play in the snow.

My cleaning prowess (or is it OCD?) has been passed down to Catcher. When he saw me take the broom out of the closet to dust the snow off our car, he cheered with excitement: "I clean the car! I clean the car!"

Scout wants to know if her feet look big in these boots.

The only thing missing from the afternoon was a roaring fire and hot chocolate waiting for us inside.


christmas with the wheats

Alex and I did two things this Christmas that we've never done since we've been married. 1) We stayed home for Christmas, and 2) we ate dinner off of our china. On Christmas Eve we put the babes to bed early and proceeded to prepare ourselves a lovely dinner for two. I use the term "prepare" loosely because there was no actual cooking involved. We picked up some appetizers and sides (asparagus, wedge salad) at Trader Joe's, some wine at the Common Market and a couple of steaks--cooked to order--at Ruth's Chris. The dinner was amazing but even better was the time we were able to spend together in the comfort of our own home. We started a new Christmas tradition, and here's a little rundown of the festivities:

We put the kids to bed, I made us get dressed up, and sent Alex out to pick up the steaks. While he was out hunting and gathering, I prepared the sides. Thank you, Jay, for the little tip about warming up the plates in the oven so I didn't serve a warm steak on a cold plate. By the way, this picture is totally freaking me out. I look really pasty and my arms are weird...just wanted to throw that out there.

After splitting a bottle of wine during dinner, our tipsy selves decided to start opening presents (Christmas day is for the kids, anyway). Alex was psyched to get his gaming on with the PS3.

After I finished the rest of our pre-dinner champagne and Alex downed a couple Fat Tires, we decided it was time to set up the TV I got him. I know. I'm a great wife.

Santa stopped by in the middle of the festivities. We (or I) downloaded Glee Christmas from iTunes and Facetimed my brother and sister-in-law while they (or Katharine) arranged presents around their 8-foot Christmas tree.

In the morning, Catcher went crazy unwrapping all the presents. It was like Christmas morning. Oh wait. It was Christmas morning.

Scout slept...

Catcher opened more presents and ran around the living room like a whirling dervish. 

Scout woke up and started eating her presents.

Catcher calmed down and began organizing his presents on the back of the sofa.

[Not pictured]
Alex and me drinking our Bloddy Marys and watching the magic unfold before us. Best. Christmas. Ever.


christmas with the sprinks

Welcome to day two of my installment of things I haven't gotten around to writing about this year...

My brother, sister and I all grew up in the same house. We had the same parents and went to the same school and celebrated the same holidays. Somewhere along the road my brother became Christmas crazy. Perhaps it stems from the fact that our father used to outline the entire outside of his house in white lights during the Christmas season. Actually, that was only the beginning. He outlined the entire outside and inside--around door frames, windows, etc.--in white lights (because white is somehow classier than colored). He put lights on the trees in front of his house and lights in the bushes. He eventually added those lighted deer to his repertoire and may even have lined the driveway in lights. At one point all this putting up and taking down of lights became bothersome, so he eventually just left them up year-round (although I believe the deer are tucked away at the end of the season). Now that I've typed all this out, I understand how my brother became Christmas crazy; I'm just wondering how my sister and I escaped this path to insanity. As much as I joke; however, Christmas at the Sprinkel house is truly magical. Outlined below is a look at their house the day after Thanksgiving (*note: the tree in my house was not erected until December 13th).

How many lights can you put on one scrawny tree in your front yard? Enough to have it viewed from outer space is the only answer suitable for Jay. I somehow became his assistant in this project and found myself outside unraveling balls of lights during the first real cold blast of the season.

Make sure you go up and down each branch because nothing looks worse than a tree with lights that don't extent the full length of the branches. That's Christmas Lighting 101, folks.

One--or maybe two--more strands of lights, and we should be good to go!

Too much? You may think so by day, but wait and see how this beauty shines at night.

This is Christmas Tree #3 in the Sprinkel household. Number one is the white one (pictured above) in the office, which is visible from the front window when driving by the house; number two greets you in the foyer when you walk into the house; number three is the tree under which the presents reside in the family room, and I think there may have been a number four in the girls' room upstairs. By the way, Jay decided to flock the tree this year, and "flocking" became our running joke throughout the weekend.

Here's my sister-in-law making her first wreath. She's pretty artsy--and crafty--and she did an amazing job with the garbage bag full of magnolia leaves that she swiped from the tree in her friend's front yard. Check out her blog Plume Dandy to see how crazy (and fun!) life is with four kids ages six and under. It makes flocking a tree look easy...


not quite a dream

There are only five days left in the year 2010. I'm not starting any new projects this last week of the year--a new job beginning January 4th is enough--so the next few days I'll  write about the things I've neglected during the holiday craze. 

First up: a house to replace the pool house? Still searching for a mid-century gem ripe for a makeover from a couple novices (and dreamers!) like Alex and me, I came across this house and decided it was worth a closer look on a recent Sunday afternoon. Below is my commentary on the good and the bad...

Good: location
Bad: street

Good: front door
Bad: entryway (or lack thereof)

Good: large fireplace
Bad: large fireplace

Good: windows
Bad: carpet

Good: appliances (Viking!)
Bad: wood paneling, folding door into dining room, size

Good: windows, potential
Bad: low ceiling

Good: view of the backyard
Bad: view of the neighbor's chain link face

Overall, my impression of the house came down to the one thing we've decided to focus on if (and when) we're ever able to purchase a new home: location. While the interior is in need of a makeover--although not as serious as the aforementioned pool house--it was the questionable street and the ho-hum neighborhood that had Alex and me make up our minds before walking in the front door. I just have to keep reminding myself "buy the neighborhood, not the house."


welcome to the team

This afternoon I came home for lunch. This was strange because 1) I never leave work for lunch and 2) when I pulled into the driveway I saw the bouquet pictured above sitting on my side porch. I have to admit that my jaw dropped a little bit when I saw it, and my first thought was "Damn. Alex really stepped it up this year. He must have been listening to that guy on Oprah when he said to create monochromatic arrangements." This was immediately followed by my second thought: "This thing had to cost him like 200 bucks." So you can imagine my further surprise when I got the arrangement inside and read the card stating "Sarah, welcome to the team. We look forward to having you." Oh...did I mention I just took a new job?

If there was ever any doubt in my mind (which there wasn't) about beginning this new adventure, all worries were cast aside when I saw this message. I've been at the same job the entire five years that we've been in Charlotte, and I've never been more ready for something new. The timing is perfect--my last day at the old place is December 31st--and I'm looking forward to expanding my creative horizons. I'm returning to the PR world after a six- or seven-year hiatus, and I'm thrilled! Hopefully this good news will bring other good news (like the selling of our house!) in 2011.


plan c

I returned to Danielle's condo this morning to create the linen faux finish to serve in place of the grasscloth covering that was our first (and best) vision for the 21-foot wall. I would love to say that the project went beautifully--I took my trusty "assistant" Alex along with me--and that we achieved a look any professional faux finisher would be proud to call his own. Not so much. The wall looks like an afterthought; it has no relation to the rest of the space, and the work looks like something our two year-old could have done (although he would have a hard time reaching the top of the nine-foot wall). Thanks for nothing, horsehair flogger.

Although I was a bit distraught at first--because I sold Danielle on the whole idea and boasted I would have no problem creating it--I've gained a little perspective and realize it's a learning experience. It's only paint, after all. So now I guess my challenge is to come up with a Plan C for the wall. While I was standing in the living room watching the disaster unfold before my eyes (the paint drying did not help the effect in this case) I focused on what we could do with this giant wall. And then it kind of dawned on me that maybe the answer is not to give the wall some sort of texture and try to make it a focal point. Maybe we should try to make it fade into the background and concentrate on the amazing city view that the perpendicular wall of windows creates. Isn't that the point of having the condo in the first place?

So Plan C, at least as it stands at the moment, is to paint the wall the same color as the rest of the living room and make it a wall of function (hello, TV!) versus a point of interest. If that makes any sense at all...


my wish list

Does anyone else feel like time oddly stands still this time of year? I mean, it's moving like crazy in the sense that you have to finish all your shopping and wrap all your presents and bake all your cookies and dress up for all your cocktail parties, but when it comes to actual things that need to happen nothing does. For example, this has to be the worst time of year to have your house on the market, right? Who's sitting around on December 20th and thinking to him/herself "Gee. I'd really like to go look at a house tomorrow. Honey, do you think we can squeeze that in before supper club at our neighbor's house?"

Then again, there's someone out there ready to take advantage of the season's seemingly slow turn of events to sweep in and take possession of your latest obsession. What is all this cryptic talk? I'm saying [sigh] that the pool house is now under contract. I have daydreams that the house is really mine--that Alex and the kids and I will drive past it on Christmas morning and there will be a big red bow on the front door and Alex will say, "Surprise! I didn't know what to get you for Christmas this year, so I bought you a house." I'm holding on to that dream in a Miracle on 34th Street kind of way, and I can't wait until Christmas morning. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.


shopping in a winter wonderland

One of my favorite things about living in New York City was the Christmas season. Never mind that it could be nine degrees for five straight days or your shoes had a permanent ring around them from salt stains or  you would break into a sweat upon stepping into a jam-packed subway car due to the abominable snowman affect your layering created. The sight of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and amazing store window displays were enough to (temporarily) alleviate all of winter's aggressions. With Christmas just six days away, and my shopping still incomplete, I've been daydreaming about New York's finest...wish I were there (images from Elle Decor):

Barney's New York

Bergdorf Goodman

Henri Bendel


a stocking for scout

Four years ago I stopped in Pottery Barn the week before Christmas and picked out two of the only stockings still available for the season (far left). Two years ago, I returned to Pottery Barn and selected the third stocking from the left (Catcher's) because it was simple and fit in with the red/white theme we had going. Today, I revisited Pottery Barn and found the fuzzy white stocking you see on the right: Scout's stocking. I couldn't have been more pleased because 1) I was already envisioning a white stocking for Scout that would coordinate with the others 2) it was the last stocking of its kind in the store (I had to have one of the headset-wearing associates take it off the display for me) and 3) Pottery Barn is located across from the frozen yogurt place I'm obsessed with in the mall. What a great day! 


color geek

I'm a total nerd. Not only do I actually like school (and attended classes when I was in college, as I've stated before), but I get excited over really nerdy things. Like tonight when I got home, the Farrow & Ball  colour--"colour" because the company is British--card and brochure that I had ordered a couple weeks ago online was in my mailbox. Woo-hoo! Now I get to sift through 132 paint chips and get inspired to choose colors for rooms in a house that I don't even own yet. What (nerdy) fun!



My dad is an accountant. One summer during college I crashed my car when I was selling books (don't ask) out in Oregon. After the accident, I decided to flee the left coast and spent the rest of the summer answering phones and performing secretarial duties, if you will, at his office. The accounting thing never grew on me. Although I've found myself in a marriage where I'm responsible for paying the bills and keeping track of overall expenses, I swear I'm not a "numbers" person. But I am organized and a bit of a control freak, so maybe accounting should have been my calling (oh wait...I'm not boring). Anyway, tonight I get to put my accounting skills to use once again as I prepare my first expense report for Danielle.

At least I have this festive peppermint cosmo--courtesy of Alex after I requested a "holiday" drink earlier in the day--to keep me company:


oh christmas tree

It's December 13th. We--or rather Alex, who has a few days off this week--just got our Christmas tree today, and tonight we--or probably just me--are supposed to decorate it. The Christmas tree is an issue every year. I don't think Alex puts enough lights on it, and he thinks my ornaments aren't enough "fun." The one thing that we do agree on, however, is the size of the Christmas tree. Going back to our days in New York, we've always had a thing for the "Charlie Brown" Christmas tree. In New York City, it's a fact of life that your 300 square-foot studio apartment can't handle more than a 4-foot tree. In Charlotte, we feel sorry for all the little guys left shivering in the lot in favor of the giant Frasier (or is it Douglass?) firs that get first prize and are awarded a prime spot in some McMansion's bay window. So we've kept our Charlie Brown tradition going. I'm sure some day the kids will think we're total weirdos and wonder why our tree is always the smallest on the block, but you have to have some sort of Christmas tradition, right?



Yesterday, on my weekly venture to the Trader Joe's, none of these items was on my shopping list. Yet they all managed to make it home with me, and I can't even begin to list the savory delights I left behind. I love Christmas. I love it for all the reasons you're supposed to--the baby Jesus and the spirit of giving and thanks--and then I love it for all the delicious goodies that crop up this time of year and then disappear for 11 months as we all vow to loose five pounds or give up chocolate in the New Year. But my vow, at least for the next 13 days, is to indulge (and maybe wrap a gift or two) because once the Candy Cane Joe Joe's are gone, they're gone...

the flogger

Behold: the horsehair flogger. Delivered to me through the wonderful world of eBay. I hope it's worth the embarrassment I suffered, and it performs the faux finish to Martha Stewart standards. I can't wait to get started--21 feet of wall plus one little flogger should keep me busy for a while.


be careful what you google...

According to Martha Stewart Living, my source for the faux finish I'm undertaking in Danielle's condo, I need a "horsehair flogger" to achieve the desired woven linen effect on the accent wall. A word to the wise: don't Google horsehair flogger. I had never heard the term horsehair flogger and assumed it was some fancy faux finishing tool crafty people know about, and I was just in the dark (kind of like I still don't know what a dutch oven is but all the recipes in Southern Living call for one). Not so much. It turns out that a horsehair flogger--I feel kind of dirty typing the words--is some sort of sex tool whip contraption. They come in all colors and sizes, in case you're wondering. 

What I believe Ms. Stewart meant when she wrote "horsehair flogger" is horsehair paintbrush, which is way more difficult to find than a horsehair flogger, by the way. So the other night, after exhausting every online possibility for tracking down said horsehair paintbrush, I finally remembered the one place you go when you don't know where to go: eBay. As luck would have it, some guy in Pennsylvania was selling a vintage horsehair barber brush, which looks remarkably similar to the paintbrush featured in the magazine. That should work, right? Lying in bed with my eBay iPhone app, I successfully purchased the brush for $12.41 (including shipping). So now I wait patiently for a few days, and then I'll be ready to move on to step two of the giant faux linen wall.