city with a view

On Sunday the family went out on a little drive and stumbled upon Mt. Bonnell, which overlooks Lake Austin and has the best view of the city. How did I not know about this? I can't wait to go back for a picnic lunch and an uphill hike that's short enough for the kids to manage yet long enough to wear them out for the day.


a classic redo

In between visits to the children's museum and story times and the park and Catcher starting preschool and Scout's naps and getting ready for the baby, I carved out a little time for a project that I've been dying to work on since I first spotted a pair of Eames LCW chairs in my in-laws' garage. Below is a restoration recap:

[Not pictured: Alex and me rummaging through a box in the garage where we discovered the chairs].

Step 1: Sand...and sand again. After a trip to the Home Depot for some trusty sandpaper (150 grit) I put my patience to the test as I hand sanded the backs, seats and bases of the chairs. I didn't trust myself to use a hand sander because I was worried I would apply to much pressure and completely destroy the wood, so I sat out on the balcony and sanded the hours away. Pictured above and below are the chairs before...

and after the sanding. 

Step 1 1/2: Find something to make it stick. The shock mounts on the chairs were in surprisingly good condition, but we had to find the right glue to hold everything together. After googling and researching, I found a guy on eBay who sells an epoxy resin that is strong enough for the job. At $14.99 I figured it was a good deal (especially considering that I read somewhere that Herman Miller charges $250/chair to restore the shock mounts). The glue arrived but first the varnishing.

Step 2: Bring on the shine. I used an oil-based clear coat poly (gloss finish) to bring the wood back to life. Here's a look at one of the bases (above) and underside of one seat (below) during the process.

Step 3: Re-assemble. Alex was called in to mix the epoxy and then glue and screw the chairs back together. He tends to be more precise than I do when it comes building furniture.

Step 4: Freshen up. I applied a final layer of gloss to cover any imperfections that may have occurred during assembly.

Step 5: Rearrange your space. I know the lighting is terrible in this picture, but here are the chairs in their final resting spot. I'm really happy with how they turned out, and I'm already looking for my next project. Do you think there's time before the baby gets here next week? 


spies like us

Our former neighbors in Charlotte sent us this picture of the lot that was once the house of our crazy next door neighbor Andy. It's gone, but our little white house still stands. It will probably be sandwiched between two behemoths now, which makes me even happier that we got rid of it when we did.


greetings from hell's kitchen

Alex is in New York for 48-ish hours, so he took a moment away from work to snap this photo of our old hood (Alex: if you're reading this and it's not too late, I wouldn't mind a cornmeal lime cookie from Amy's...thanks! p.s. I know you were there for coffee this morning). One of the things that I love about New York is that it's constantly changing yet stays the same. Even though the best restaurants and places to be seen change quicker than a cabbie's shift, the pace and energy of the city are unmovable. This picture could have been taken in 2005 when Alex and I moved out of our apartment or in 1999 when I first arrived in New York. The same could be said about this snapshot of the door to our building (below).

416 West 47th Street is where Alex and I started our lives together--first in 4D and then 2C. In 4D Alex used a mini screwdriver to painstakingly assemble a build-your-own wardrobe from Bed Bath & Beyond. He made deadly margaritas and we ate pounds of guacamole. He once hid in the shower when he heard me clomping up the stairs from work one evening, and I've never been so scared in my life. In 2C we cleaned 40 years worth of grime off the windows and hosted the best Christmakuh party ever. We painted the walls red, green and orange, and I threw my engagement ring at Alex one morning when I wanted to prove a point. We read the Sunday times and listened to CD's while falling asleep at night (on the CD player Alex bought me the first Christmas we spent together). We came up with the name Catcher that we would someday name our future child. We ate the wedding cake that we were supposed to save for our first anniversary the night before we left for our honeymoon, and six months later we said goodbye to New York from the U-Haul parked in front of our building.

We've started a family and made a second major move since that balmy July morning, but the traffic remains and the cabs are still yellow in New York.


mac attack


When we lived in Charlotte there was this great dive, Lupie's, just seconds from our home that introduced me to the best winter comfort food of all-time: chili mac. Admittedly I can be somewhat of a neophyte when it comes to all things food-related, so cheese (hold the onions) on top of chili on top of spaghetti with a side of cornbread was new to me when we took the plunge from the Northeast to the South in 2005. Three years later chili mac became my go-to comfort food when I was pregnant with Catcher (winter pregnant, not middle of the summer pregnant) and it satisfied my cravings with Scout, too.

This January has been sunny and beautiful in Austin, and I haven't thought of chili mac once...until today. Thus far my late-stage pregnancy indulgences have centered around milkshakes--specifically of the peppermint variety from local burger stand P. Terry's. But today was rainy and cold. I use the term "cold" loosely because it was 62 degrees; however, compared to the 75+ we've been enjoying the past week, it was cold. And I wanted chili mac. I'm sure in the place where chili is the official state food I wouldn't have to look long to find a decent bowl of chili mac, but you can't beat the mismatched dinnerware and mason jars from Lupie's. 


three and under

There you have it: the back of our Explorer with three car seats installed. We have an "optional" third row, but after careful consideration and some real life testing, I decided it was best to keep all the kids lined up in a row behind me. Otherwise there would be no room for a stroller or groceries or anything else one might need to haul on a daily basis (especially with three kids). And would Catcher really listen to me when I tell him to get in the back row and buckle himself in? Although he tends to be a safety guy, there's always the possibility that the three year-old inside will break free and have total reign of the third row...unrestrained.

It doesn't occur to me how crazy I might be until strangers say things like "Wow. Three kids three and under. You're going to be busy." Some people say that the number of kids you have increases exponentially with each one, so two is like four. Would that make three like nine? Others say that three is where things get crazy because your defensive strategy is no longer man to man (thanks for the analogy, Alex).

But then I know people with three--or more than three--who hold it all together somehow. They're the ones that say three is really no different than two, so I'm adopting their (positive) carefree attitude. It's all a guessing game anyway, right? Or am I just crazy?


the waiting game

Sunday, February 12th 2012 has been on my mind since I found out I was pregnant way back in June of 2011. Although the countdown is still in the double-digits, I've packed my bag and set up the bassinet and brought out all the receiving blankets (I still don't get what those are) and newborn onesies and hats and booties. We still don't have a name, but I'm an "I have to see what she looks like" kind of person anyway. So now we wait. Actually, there are a couple other projects I want to finish up (could it be nesting?) before the arrival, but other than that I'm just waiting. Oh, and I'm also hoping that the birth cooperates with Alex's travel schedule. While he's made the proper arrangements surrounding the due date, you can't control nature. The funny thing about a due date is that the number is burned in your brain, but there's nothing like the birth of a baby to remind us that we're not masters of the universe. With Catcher my labor was exactly by-the-book, and he arrived promptly on his due date. With Scout on the other hand...Well, we all know what happened when she came barreling into this world 10 days early. What will this one do?


making room

I realize this corner is not my finest decorating moment--the generic apartment carpet and static white walls don't help--but at 36 weeks of pregnancy and counting, I figured it was time to make room for baby. Next on my list is packing for the hospital and then organizing all the newborn clothes I've saved from two previous newborns. 


quote(s) of the day

Catcher: How many are you?

Me: How old am I?

Catcher: Uh...yes.

Me: 35.

Catcher: Wow. I thought you were three like me.

Like parents for generations before me, I'm not the first to be constantly amazed by what a child has to say on any given day. Here's a smattering of what Catcher said today:

- Um. Why are you wearing those shoes? Those shoes don't look cute with your outfit. Take them off.

- Why do taxis have numbers?

- Scout has short hands.

- Don't talk to me.

- If I don't get dessert tonight I'm going to have bad behavior tomorrow.

- Did you start out as a baby?

- I'm going to Oklahoma at 5:00 in the morning.

- Is that baby going to pop out of your tummy? How do you fix your tummy?


just the facts

Every time we drive near/past the Capitol building in Austin, Catcher asks if we can go inside. I've been promising him for months that we will visit it some day. Today I made good on that promise, and I learned a couple things about this state that I now call home:

- The official state snack is tortilla chips and salsa. I was more surprised by the fact that there's an official state snack than what that snack actually is. By the way, the state food is chili (shocking, right?).

- The state motto is not Don't Mess with Texas; it is Friendship.

I also learned that a guided tour of the Capitol is not possible with a 3 1/2 and 1 1/2 year-old in tow, but we did get to take a peek inside the State Senate and House of Representatives chambers. Catcher wanted to go behind the velvet rope and sit down in the Senate. I told him he'll need to get some constituents to back him up, and maybe he'll have his own seat in here one day:

Below is a view from inside the rotunda looking up. Yes, that's the star of Texas shining down on you.

The Capitol Visitor's Center was a short walk across the lawn where Catcher and Scout got to explore a little Texas state history. The covered wagon was a hit. 


sunday at the park

Today was another beautiful January day in Austin. I'm starting to get used to this.


it's about the chairs

I'm on a little bit of a mid-century modern kick right now with an Eames molded plywood chair restoration on my radar (more about that later) and I just came across an interior by Joseph Foglia Designs where the chairs made the room:

Another Eames classic, the molded plastic armchairs, in a vibrant vintage blue are the perfect anchor to this neutral space. I want that!

Images from Joseph Foglia Designs.


mall rats

This afternoon--a hazy, drizzly day in Austin--I ventured to the mall with two kids for a little afternoon recreation. At the Gap, Catcher picked out this pair of sunglasses for Scout and turned to me and said, "Look at how cute Scout is" after he put them on her. Our little stylist...

At Nordstrom he put the finishing touches on a couple manequins in the children's department and asked me "Why are all the girls the same?"

The highlight of the afternoon: balloons! Thank you, Nordstrom, for creating a diversion while I did a little speed shopping for the new baby and keeping us entertained at home until dinner time.

Driving to the mall I had questioned my own sanity about taking these two, but the trip turned out to be fun. All the holiday hustle and bustle has died down, so the place was pretty much deserted. Not having an agenda or tight schedule helped keep the anxiety at bay, and I had two packs of fruit snacks in my bag for potential "emergency" situations (which I surprisingly didn't need). The samples from the pretzel place helped a little, too.

Tomorrow's forecast is calling for rain. Where's the next mall?


lucky number seven

NYC, seven years ago:

Today Alex and I celebrate seven years of marriage (on January 7th--I think that makes it golden or something). Of course, Alex is in Oklahoma celebrating and I'm here in Austin eating cake by myself, but we have a date planned when he's home for about 24 hours later in the week. Not to sound cliche, but I can't believe it's been seven years. What have we done with ourselves? If you don't count having two--very close to three--kids, making two major moves (NYC to Charlotte; Charlotte to Austin) and buying our selling our first home, we haven't done much. But I think that's how it goes.


party animals

Since we last visited with Coco and Moppy, there have been some new developments (if you aren't familiar with the duo, they are Catcher's imaginary friends). We hadn't heard from them in a while, but we did receive word that they had moved to Texas. Recently I discovered that they live across the street and drive a red convertible Mini Cooper. Their house has one bedroom with two beds, and they both work (although details on their occupations have been sketchy at best). On top of that, it appears that they are quite the party throwers because for the past two nights--and mornings and afternoons--they have been having parties at their place. Tonight they even brought the party here. The parties involve several "secrets" (which Catcher can't keep) including bounce castles, tree houses, chocolate cake (for me), strawberry cake (for Catcher) and a little cake (for Scout). These guys are crazy! I had to open the door to let them into the apartment while Catcher was taking a bath, and they've been sleeping in his bed for the past two nights. I'm so curious about what they look like. Catcher says Moppy is yellow and Coco is brown--I'm still thinking muppets. I just hope Moppy has dropped the habit of drinking beer in his crib.


back to life, back to reality

One strange thing about being a stay-at-home mom is that when the holidays are over, and January 2nd strikes on the calendar, everyone else is back at work but you're still at home. Although a small part of me felt like I should be doing something revolutionary today to get 2012 rolling, I'm not one to make resolutions or revelations or restitutions for the new year. I don't have a list of all the things I will do or want to do or should do this year, so instead of planning ahead, I focused on my true task today of getting everyone back on track. With no more cookies to bake or gingerbread houses to decorate or lights to hang or red velvet hot cocoas to drink, I found myself wondering what it is that we do all day. [Note to self: if January 2nd falls on a Monday and is a quasi-holiday for the working world, don't take your kids to the children's museum.]

I eventually remembered how to keep the kids entertained (thank goodness!). Following a day back in the swing of our regular routine, tonight we officially bid adieu to the holidays. Catcher asked when it will be the holidays again as Scout was wrapping Christmas lights around her neck and I put baby Jesus back into his little box. That's a wrap!


peace out, 2011

The last day of 2011 in Austin, TX was 79 degrees and gorgeous. I've officially forgotten the 60+ days of 100 degree heat that we suffered through when we moved here. This is why we moved here. Catcher and Scout enjoyed an afternoon running around the playground, and I enjoyed putting them to bed (exhausted) promptly at 7:00pm. This is a little snapshot of our day, and I think it's a sign of good things to come in 2012. Happy New Year!