string of lights

Last week Catcher asked me when I was going to decorate the house for Halloween. This afternoon I hung some orange lights over the doorway in the kitchen. I hope this suffices. I love holidays and I love decorating, but I've never been that great at decorating for the holidays. I hope to break that mold with Christmas this year. Even though it will be in the 60s during the month of December in Austin, I have dreams of creating a winter wonderland in our little house. We'll see if I actually follow through. At the very least I'll make Alex hang an extra strand or two of lights on the tree.


another day, another can of paint

Now that I'm on a roll--pun intended...sorry, that was a bad one--with the whole painting thing, I can't be stopped. This weekend I tackled a bookshelf, which I kept calling a dresser and Catcher corrected me saying "It's a shelf," in Catcher's bedroom. This was going to be my first project when we moved into the house. I was going to paint it before we left on our trip in July. I finally got around to it in late October. Unfortunately, I don't have any good before pictures of the shelf (I almost typed "dresser") itself because I didn't think about it until it was already coated in primer, so you'll just have to trust me that it looks better. I ordered the red star storage bins from Pottery Barn Kids last week. I think they're cute, but I was totally tricked on the size. I guess I could have read the measurements, but they appeared larger on the website than in real life. They look a little dwarfed on the shelf and don't hold as much as I thought. Oh well...

I don't think I've posted a picture of what Catcher's bedroom looked like before we moved in, so here it is:

Here are two more work-in-progress shots (notice the shelf in the corner on the second photo).

And here is how his bedroom looks today. I still have plans to do something with his bedside table. I'm not sure what exactly, but it will probably involve another can of paint.



Halloween: I go back and forth on this one. It was my favorite holiday ten years ago when I met my husband, but it was my least favorite two years ago when I found myself with two screaming children on our way to "enjoy" ourselves at the neighborhood parade. Last year it was fun again when we were new to Austin and treated our way through one of the city's fancier neighborhoods.

And today...I'm three days away from the actual holiday, and I'm finding myself a little Halloween'd out. The fun started last weekend at the Fireman's Festival and continued full throttle this weekend. On Friday afternoon Catcher and I made peanut-butter-candy-corn Rice Krispie treats. (You may think that sounds sickening, but part of you wants to try it.) On Saturday morning the three little ones and I trekked over to the library for a Halloween festival, including movie, popcorn and about six cookies each for Catcher and Scout. On Saturday afternoon we had a kid costume party to attend--that's what the Rice Krispie treats were for--where Scout ate her weight in Butterfingers. Today we attended the kids' Halloween concert that the Austin symphony puts on every year. There were no naps for the girls, so I put two very tired (and very cranky) ladies to bed at 5:30pm tonight. Tomorrow there's a costume party for Scout and Tillie at the children's museum, and on Wednesday Catcher is supposed to dress up for school. I hope we get some good candy this year. At least I'll be able to enjoy a cocktail as we pull the little red wagon through Pemberton Heights on Wednesday night.

The picture above, by the way, is my attempt at Halloween decorating. Actually, it's Scout's attempt. She brought the pumpkins in from the front porch and placed them strategically on this white elephant side table.


call me crazy

I guess because I've named purple the color of crazy, you can call me crazy. This week I've painted not one, but two, more things in the house purple. Number one was the front door. It needed a new look. I'm not a big fan of green--unless we're talking lime green--so it was time to get rid of the high school gymnasium floor green that marked the entrance to our home. Take a look:

Below is the door after I got my hands on a quart of Martha Stewart paint from the Home Depot. I had to suffer no less than thirty mosquito bites on my legs to get the job done one humid afternoon, but it was worth it.

Second to come under attack from my paintbrush was the fireplace. It suffered the same gym floor syndrome as the front door but worse. Check out the chips and scratches from the before pictures.

Here's a shot of the room with the new purple fireplace. From the other side it almost appears black (which was actually my intention, despite my craziness).


the reject

New York Times

Below is an official rejection email that I received from the New York Times. I submitted an essay for their "Modern Love" column, which runs in the Sunday Styles (of course--the only part of the paper I actually read). Yes, I realize it is a form letter. And yes, I would much rather be sharing a link to my essay that has been published in the New York Times versus a rejection email form letter, but I think being rejected by the New York Times is pretty cool. It's pretty cool because 1) It's the New York Times, and 2) After three years of "working" on my essay I finally finished--and more importantly, submitted--it. Now that I've been rejected I have nothing to fear, so I'm already thinking of topics for my next submission. Just think--in another three years I'll have my second official rejection.

Dear Sarah Wheat,

Thank you for sending your writing to Modern Love. Although we have decided not to use your essay, we are grateful for the opportunity to consider it. I regret that the volume of submissions we receive makes it impractical for me to offer editorial feedback. 

Best wishes,

Daniel Jones
Modern Love editor
The New York Times


turkey towels

This is a sneak peek at our bathroom, which is almost complete in its transformation. It was by far the scariest-looking room in the house when we moved in. We didn't even shower here (thank goodness we still had access to the apartment) the first three days following our move. I have before and after--and during--pictures of the overhaul that I'm saving for another post, but I was so excited today when DHL delivered our new towels that I just had to share.

Cheers to my latest ebay find--turkish bath towels! Like the kantha quilt (from India) I found for Scout's bed, I decided to go directly to the source to find turkish towels (from Turkey) on the world's greatest shopping site. I ended up paying $90 for eight towels shipped from Istanbul when the same towels retail for $35 each in the U.S. I even got a free glove to "comb" the towels and a postcard from Istanbul. Not a bad deal. And the kids were actually excited to get out of the bath and dry off tonight.


getting festive

Let the festive season begin! Who cares if it was 90 degrees in Austin today? Halloween is only ten days away, so it was time to get pumped for the holidays at the annual Hyde Park Firehouse Festival. If I had known what I was getting myself into prior to leaving the house, I probably would have thought twice about venturing out on my own with the three. But at least I got a good group picture out of the experience, and the little ones enjoyed themselves. Catcher ate four bags of popcorn, Scout painted her face purple (not on purpose...it happened while she was painting a picture frame for herself), and Tillie gnawed on a Dixie cup. Mmmmm...holidays...


knobby, part 2

The kitchen knobs from anthropologie arrived at our house in record time. At first Catcher thought they were lightbulbs, and then he guessed clown noses. I guess they do kind of look like clown noses, but they are way better than their grimy predecessors.

After all of the worry concerning knobs from anthropologie, it turns out that I [almost] didn't need Alex for this quick little kitchen makeover. The screws on the new knobs just happened to be the exact same size as the screws on the old knobs (is that something that's standardized?) so all I needed was 15 minutes and a screwdriver.

Let the unwrapping begin. Each of the 15 knobs was individually wrapped: a great project for Catcher.

The cabinets, before.

More before.

And one more before (ugly, right?).

After: cute little clown noses.

Another after (a few of the knobs were painted/stuck on, so I did need Alex to come knock them off for me).

Final after.


picture this

"Let's get drunk and hang pictures," I said to Alex last night. I was joking (sort of) but over the years Alex and I have realized that hanging pictures is something we can't do with each other...but we can't do it without each other. I'm the neurotic one. The one who makes the bed every morning and straightens pillows on the sofa. Alex is the one who leaves cabinet doors open and the television on when he leaves the room.

When it comes to hanging pictures, however, our roles are reversed. He gets out the level and the measuring tape while I grab a hammer and nail and eyeball it. I think this Freaky Friday personality switch puts us both on edge, and we end up bickering about how ridiculous the other one is acting. At some point in our lives we found ourselves tipsy while hanging pictures and realized that was the therapy we needed to get through it.

For the past few weeks, I've been plotting a photo wall for the tiny hallway leading from the kitchen to the girls' bedroom. Last night I was ready to put up the stack of pictures that's been sitting on the dining room floor, so after dinner and margaritas it was time to get to work. My idea, as I explained it to Alex, is to "let the photo wall grow organically." Yes--I used those words (Alex chuckled). I don't want it to feel too contrived or thought out. (This is coming from the girl who took three hours to arrange a book shelf.)


mission not quite possible

Yesterday morning was gray and drizzly, so I thought it was the perfect time to embark on mission:organization for Catcher's bedroom. After a Sunday afternoon where I found myself in the eye of a lego hurricane, I was desperate to organize something...anything.

It was this desperation that drove me to the Container Store on Tuesday morning after dropping Catcher and Scout off at school. I figured I could handle such a task with only one child in tow. Three minutes after stepping inside I remembered that I couldn't handle such a task. Ever. I spent the next twenty minutes pushing my cart up and down the aisles pretending like I knew what I was doing--like I had a purpose for every glass canister or lacquered box that I passed.

Stuck in an aisle of containers--literally, that's what the aisle was labeled--anxiety set in as I tried to think (but couldn't think) of all the things I have that need to be contained. By the way, do they really need an aisle labeled "containers" at the Container Store? Look at Tillie smirking at me. She's totally smirking, right? She knew that we were going to walk out of the store with nothing but two shipping envelopes.

In the "container" aisle I did happen to find lego storage that looks like a lego. But the boxes were ridiculously small. Were they really supposed to hold legos? Or were they designed to store other things for extreme lego-enthusiasts? This is why this store drives me crazy. I don't get it: what are all of these containers supposed to contain? I know it was my fault for going in there, but the last time I ventured into the Container Store was 10 years ago when the flagship opened in Manhattan. I thought I was mature enough to make a second attempt, but at the end of this little adventure I just found myself back at old reliable:

*Target, however, was sold out of the red canvas storage bins that were the backup to my backup plan for Catcher's room. That kind of annoyed me, but at least I found a new shower curtain and bath mat.


the color of crazy

I've already noted that purple is the most-often cited favorite color of crazy people, so I must be crazy. Although yellow is my current favorite color, I can't get rid of the purple. No matter how hard I try to debunk it, purple will always be my first favorite color. This weekend when I was ready to repaint the antique trunk in the girls' room the only color "speaking" to me was my real favorite.

The trunk belonged to my great-grandmother--and namesake, Sarah Gordon Sprinkel--and it has been with me since I can remember. It was my toy box as a child, clothes storage in college and coffee table in New York. It has gone through several facelifts in my possession, and here's a quick rundown of the colors that I remember painting it over the years:

This is where we ended up after my most recent makeover:

I only applied one coat because I liked the unfinished look and subtly visible brushstrokes. I'm not completely sold on it yet, but at least I'm not afraid to attack it with another layer of color. The purple is bright, but I kind of like it next to the turquoise bed and bright quilt.



I just bought 15 of these knobs from anthropologie. They were on sale, so I saved myself $76. The knobs are for the kitchen cabinets. They need an update, and I thought the red would be cute with the $10 Target rug.

The last time I purchased knobs from anthropologie Alex had to reconfigure the latch and lock (that's his "technical" term) for all our interior doors, and he's been cursing me ever since. Let the record show, however, that I did consult him before this purchase and he assured me that these knobs will be "easy" to install on the kitchen cabinets. I think he hates the current knobs more than I do...too bad the new ones won't solve the problem of our doors not closing all the way.


gathering nuts

It turns out that pecans are big in Texas. Actually the pecans themselves--so I'm told, I wouldn't know the difference--are a little small this year, but pecans are a big thing in Texas. It is the state tree, after all. Living in the apartment last year and not really in a neighborhood, I didn't realize that there are pecan trees everywhere! We even have one in the little alleyway next to our house. I just realized this yesterday, which inspired me to hatch a plan for this morning: pecan hunt! Catcher and Scout were totally into the idea, and I was psyched to come up with a new way to wear them out (wink!).

Running down the sidewalk in search of the next fallen pecan, these two could hardly contain themselves and the plastic bags they were carrying.

I don't know what is going on in this picture, but it looks funny.

Scout had a spill, so Catcher helped get her nuts back in order. I have to admit that it was kind of fun--although totally immature--saying, "Guys, take care of your nuts, " or "Don't let your nuts fall out," as we were strolling through the neighborhood. I said it for Alex because I know he would have done it (and thought himself quite clever) if he had been there.

The piece de resistance of our little adventure, however, will be the pecan pancakes that we make tomorrow morning for breakfast. This makes the pecan hunt a bonus activity in my book: two days of fun and anticipation!


playdate crashers

Once upon a time Alex and I were excellent party crashers. I guess our most recent major crash was Halloween last year, if a block party counts, and I'm happy--or perhaps embarrassed--to say that we seem to have passed our imposing ways onto the children.

Catcher and Scout are both fans of the snack. In fact, one of Scout's first phrases was "I snack!" Anywhere there is a snack to be had, those two will find their way. This afternoon at Eastwoods park while waiting for a friend, they descended upon a playdate gathering and proceeded to help themselves to the group's peanut butter cookie snack. In their defense, however, they didn't steal the cookies or anything. The duo put on their cute faces and were subsequently offered a delicious treat, so I have to give them props. It looks like the next generation of Wheat crashers is in place.

To the victors go the spoils: Catcher and Scout enjoying the goodies from their first official playdate crash.


land of knock off

Jenny Lind Bed, Land of Nod

This is the Jenny Lind twin bed that I wanted to get Scout from Land of Nod. I loved the look, but I did not love the $549 price tag--especially considering I'll change my mind about it before she grows into it. Furthermore, I pretty much refuse to pay retail. With that mindset, I set out to do it on my own. Step one: find a reasonably priced Jenny Lind twin bed.

It turns out that step one wasn't so easy. I found a cheap Jenny Lind head and foot board on target.com, but the reviews were horrible, and it was apparently impossible to find the correct bed parts (whatever they're called) to assemble it. The price was $139, so I considered pulling the chord until I revisited it to find it was no longer in production.

My next venture was consignment/antique/vintage furniture stores in Austin. No luck. Twin beds are pretty tough to find (in general).

All the while I was keeping an eye on Craigslist hoping for one to show up. And then one did. A guy in San Antonio was selling a Jenny Lind twin bed for $150. I made Alex text him--I'm still a little freaked out by Craigslist after the whole killer thing--and he made an offer for $135. The guy accepted his verbal offer, but the only catch was that Alex had to drive down to San Antonio (1 1/2 hours away) to pick up the bed (hoping it fit into the Explorer) and be back in Austin in time for me to take Tillie to her doctor's appointment. We basically had a 3-hour window to execute, and Alex had to stop for lunch and gas.

He made it (and the bed fit!). This is how it looked when it first arrived in our house. Although the structure wasn't exactly like my Land of Nod inspiration, I knew I could work with it. I was eager to paint it, but more anxious to move Scout into her "big girl bed," so I let it hang out looking like this for a few weeks.

Finally I couldn't stand it any more, so I had Alex move the bed outside so I could prep it for the paint job.

Fifteen minutes and two cans of spray paint primer later, I was ready to go back to the Home Depot to finalize my color choice. You might not think so, but there are at least twelve shades of turquoise (or azure, as Land of Nod calls it). I had to go back for two different sets of swatches until I found the color I wanted.

In the meantime I was looking for the perfect quilt. I had an idea, and a search on eBay turned up exactly what I wanted: an Indian kantha quilt. I just had to decide on the color. I changed my mind six or seven times until I stumbled upon this print in bright orange.

In the end tahitian breeze is the turquoise that won. 

The end result. Not bad for $135 bed, an $18 can of paint and a $58 quilt.

I just hope this picture of Scout isn't a reflection on how she feels about her new bed.

Just kidding...she loves it! It was the fancy pillow on top of her bed that she was throwing a fit about. The girl likes to do her own accessorizing.