it's beginning to look a lot like christmas...

While spending Thanksgiving weekend with my Christmas-crazed brother and a marathon of ABC Family made-for-TV Christmas movies (Snowglobe, Holiday in Handcuffs, anyone?) I felt the urge to get the kids dressed in their holiday gear for the annual Christmas card photo. My sister-in-law took some great snapshots of the kids, and here's a look at some outtakes with commentary on what I imagine the little ones were thinking at the time:

Catcher: Another Christmas card? Seriously? Didn't we just do this?
Scout: It's my first time. How's my smile?

Catcher: I'm so effortlessly cute.
Scout: Is this a good look or too deer-in-headlights?

Catcher: Yay Christmas!
Scout: Mmmm, Catcher's sticky hand.


the return trip

Our trip home this morning began with the drive-through at Dunkin Donuts. Catcher enjoyed whole milk (our only option) through a giant, orange straw while Alex and I snacked on the hot and delicious hashbrowns and the new savory sausage pancake balls (don't judge; just try them).

One way to keep your toddler amused during a long car ride: take his "Franklin" and position him randomly throughout the car.

This is just proof that Scout was with us during the trip. She was so quiet at times I almost thought we left her stranded in my brother's garage. At one point when Catcher asked, "Where's Scout?" my stomach dropped for a second.

Perky's Pizza? How can you let that one go without a photo...


road trip

This weekend, our family embarked on its first road trip of the holiday season driving up to Annapolis, Maryland to spend the weekend with my brother, sister-in-law and their four crazy (yet adorable) kids. Here's a look at what transpired during the seven-hour drive:

We left the house at 6:00pm with the kids dressed in their pajamas ready for seven hours of pure unadulterated fun!

A quick stop at Chick-fil-A for a healthy (ha! ha!) fast food dinner. Alex asked for extra special Chick-fil-A sauce (and ended up wearing some on his shirt).

Still driving...

A quick stop for some road snacks at 12:00am: Coke, buffalo blue cheese Doritos, some kind of sugary chilled Starbucks drink, a Skor bar, Skittles, Teddy Grahams and Lifesaver gummies. Gas station food: this is why I love road trips.

Catcher woke up around 11:00pm and spent the next two hours looking out the window asking questions such as "Where moon go, Mommy?" and " Eee [which means anything from 'who' to 'where' to 'what'] cousins house?"


another faker

If you search long enough, you'll find everything you could ever want or need on the Internet (kind of like if you come up with some brilliant idea there's already an app for that). In my continual quest to create some sort of textured effect on the giant wall in Danielle's condo, I came across a casart coverings, a company that reproduces decorative (or faux) finishes on a canvas-like vinyl that adheres directly to the wall. What does that mean? It means you get the look you want without the time commitment that a faux finish or wallpaper installation demands. It also means you can re-use the wall covering if you ever move and want the same look at your next place.

So it's perfect, right? Not exactly: $872 is the minimum we would need to cover Danielle's wall, so it looks like I will be dusting off the paintbrush after all. But at least it's fun to look at...

Images from Casart Coverings


fake it


When in doubt, look to Martha Stewart. Faced with the dilemma of finding a less expensive alternative to the grasscloth wallcovering I wanted to use in Danielle's condo, I've been researching faux finishes that would create the dramatic, textured effect she wants. I've looked at everything from metallic finishes (too blingy!) to venetian plaster (too medieval!) until I finally came across what could possibly be the perfect look for her classic, casual [Belgian Modern] style--a fine linen faux finish. The linen look sold me because linen is the key element in Belgian Modern interiors. 

I hope she likes the idea...the next challenge will be to actually create the look myself (at least the process will provide anecdotes for the blog). I did take a faux finishing class while I was in design school, but that was five years ago. At least I remember to test my technique on a practice board before applying it to the wall.



What do you do with a 21-foot blank wall in a downtown condo with amazing views of the city? That's the challenge I'm faced with in decorating Danielle's place. Above is a picture of the living room and the enormous wall that we want to cover with some sort of texture (whether faux or actual). The problem isn't coming up with a solution per se but coming up with an affordable solution. We found a subtle metallic grasscloth that looks amazing in the space but I was quoted $725 for installation (plus materials!). I know I'm new to this, but that seems a bit steep. If Alex and I can manage to hang a patterned wallpaper in our crooked hallway--while I was six months pregnant--then I have a hard time believing a professional would take more than a few hours to do a simple grasscloth on a flat, blank wall.

I'm seeking other estimates, and also looking into plan B (and C and D...). While I search, go ahead and take a look at what grasscloth can add to a room (all images from decor pad).


i was thinking...

At any given moment I have hundreds of silly questions buzzing around in my head. If I were to speak them out loud, I would sound like my two year-old son (and annoy a lot of people in the process). But I thought it might be fun to catalog a sampling of the questions that have raced through my mind today:
  • Is it okay to take your prenatal vitamins with wine?
  • Will my friend notice if I put Equal in her coffee instead of Splenda?
  • What exactly is an Americano?
  • What time is it there?
  • Can I make this light?
  • What are those pants?
  • Should I go with the $9.99 pinot or the $4.99 malbec?
  • What channel is ESPNU?
  • How is it the 18th already?
  • Did I sign that check?
  • Where did my phone go?
  • What should I blog about?
  • Have you heard of Catcher in the Rye, the book?
  • Why are you looking at me like that?
  • Does Scout like purple?
  • How long can you microwave last night's pizza before it turns rubbery?
  • Are there enough diapers to make it through the weekend?
  • Will Catcher notice if I bite his gummy letter in half?
  • Is anyone reading this?


nothing to say

I got home late from work tonight intending not to blog, but I've been playing around on the Internet for two hours or so and figured now I have no excuse. Except I don't really have anything to say. I started counting the number of days my house has been on the market but that was kind of boring. So I guess now I'm just blogging to blog, which is also pretty boring. I'm out...


bright and shiny

I love the look of a bright and shiny (i.e. lacquered) wall. Living in a house that's 60 years old with plaster walls that are somewhat questionable in their constitution, I haven't been able to indulge in a lacquered finished (although I tried it on the ceiling in our living room--not so great). The long, narrow hallway in the pool house would look amazing lacquered white and hung with black and white family photographs. I can already hear the bickering between Alex and me as we try to create a perfect smooth and shiny surface--it would be the wallpaper project allover again. Here's a look at some people who got it right (images from Elle Decor):

Images below from House Beautiful


what's up with rob van winkle?


If you're "from the 90s" as I often describe myself, then Rob Van Winkle needs no introduction. He is Vanilla Ice. He knew how to "light up the stage and wax a chump like a candle," but what ever happened to the rapper-turned-heroine addict? It turns out that sampling David Bowie and sweet dance moves aren't his only talents--he knows a thing or two about flipping houses. This weekend I stumbled upon The Vanilla Ice Project on DIY network, and I have to admit I'm kind of hooked. Watching Vanilla Ice and his band of tattooed contractors flip a 7,000 square foot home in Palm Beach, Florida is quite inspiring. I wonder if they could make it up to Charlotte for a little mid-century renovation...


tonight's homework

I'm a nerd. Not the kind that becomes a billionaire by the age of 25 by thinking of a social networking site that changes the online world, but the kind that genuinely loves school. I've always liked school, and I actually attended class in college. So tonight my self-assigned homework--working on an inspiration board for the condo I'm decorating--is more fun than work. This is just the beginning of my design process to get my ideas organized--I can't wait to crack open the rubber cement!


the world wide internet machine

I was just playing around on etsy--one of my favorite sites to find everything you could ever want and a lot more of what you would never want--and typed in "mid-century modern furniture" just for kicks (or to satisfy my daydream of decorating the pool house...after we buy it...and renovate it...). Here's a sample of what I found:





The furniture is great, but then I found this...

How cute is this stocking? For the past two years I've been trying to find stockings for the family that are festive, cute and timeless with a little sass. I think these might be the answer. We could each have a different mid-century icon to call our own. Then again, if the dream of renovating a mid-century home never comes true and we end up in a cookie-cutter on a cul-de-sac, the stockings would seem pretty silly.


trailer, not trash

Assuming our house never sells, which looks more and more likely with each passing day that it sits on the market, Alex and Catcher will probably have to set up shop in the back yard. It's a good thing for them that I recently discovered Cricket Trailer--a stylish way to rough it. As I've said, I'm not into nature and stuff, but how cute is this camper thingy? I may not spend a night under the stars, but I might come and visit the boys in their little hideaway.

Images from Cricket Trailer


the pros

The pool house, with all its minor character flaws and slight aroma of mildew, has some undeniably amazing pros (first of which is location, location, location). Here you see Alex and Catcher embracing the "bringing the outdoors in" concept of mid-century modern architecture. I'll take my morning coffee on the deck overlooking the pool, please...

If you look past the wood paneling (and the pumpkin-colored ceiling), you'll see great floors and classic built-in bookshelves that add to the character of the room. We have plenty to fill the shelves, and I've already come up with a few ideas to make the fireplace more presentable.

The windows and the natural light that shines through them is a treasure (please ignore the crumbling venetian blinds and cesspool in the background).

If I can't convince Alex to go along with my crazy plan of renovating the ugliest house on the block, perhaps the yard can. The house sits on 1.2 acres of playtime bliss--there's no better way to wear out the kids than have them run up and down the hill in between several times a day.