hide and seek

Who knew that joining the Sam's Club would turn out to be an incredible design find? Maybe it's a Texas thing, but when I saw cowhide rugs there for $99, I knew it was a sign to get moving on this project that I keep hinting at...

On Tuesday I took my trusty sidekick Catcher to the Sam's Club to sort through the above rugs to find "the one." When faced with a pile of cowhides taller than your four year-old son, they all start to look the same--until you find the one that isn't the same.

After a broken-up cell phone call to Alex at home and at least seven picture texts asking for his opinion--one looked like our former dog Bob, another was too deer lodgey--I finally settled on this one.

I think it was the actual brand on the hide (pictured above) that sealed the deal for me. I hope all this teasing doesn't turn out to be anti-climatic once the actual chairs are finished. In my head they are going to look amazing, but there are a couple more hurdles to get over before we're there...stay tuned.


test shot

Testing, testing, 1, 2...

Back when Alex and I were just two, he used to take the photos of us together on our honeymoon or at a bar in New York or a friend's wedding. This evening I had a brilliant, which turned out to be not so brilliant, idea that he could take the family photo for our Christmas card.

Just before dinner I interrupted Catcher's quiet Lego-building time and Scout's map puzzle to have everyone gather in front of the fireplace for a "test" shot. No one was in their coordinating outfits (the coordinating outfits that don't yet exist, by the way) but I wanted to see if it would work. It won't. At first Scout wanted to sit this one out. Then she wanted to sit on Alex's lap, which she calls a "rat," when her placement would have been better on mine. Tillie was angry that she couldn't grab the camera and Catcher wanted to get in front of everybody else. Oh, and Alex is sporting his Movember 'stache, so these would have ended up on the cutting floor anyway:

It wouldn't be the Christmas season if I didn't over-think the card, so I'm moving along to my next idea. Or rather, I'm waiting to come up with my next idea...and find coordinating outfits in the meantime. Hahaha.


cold texas nights

Alex and I had a debate this morning. It was 51 degrees, and the high for the day was 64. His argument was that it was winter; I said it was fall. He said this is what a winter day feels like. He meant winter winter, not Texas winter. I reminded him that he went to college in La Crosse, Wisconsin where the average high for the month of November is 44. The average low is 28, which happens to be their average high for December (when the low is 14). That is winter.

However, here in balmy Austin, it's nice to feel a little nip in the air. We experienced a few chilly nights last week, which inspired me to order this throw from Calypso Home. Even though it will probably go unused for 350 days of the year, it does cozy up the living room and bring in a little more color. I'm getting tired of the brown sofa (don't tell Alex) so this helps. 


glue like a primate

This is what tonight's project involves. Whenever you have to wear gloves (because the glue will "stain skin") and "SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION" if "breathing difficulty occurs," you know it's serious stuff.

If all goes well, I'll have a new project to share soon. And if it doesn't go well, I'll have a good story for you.

Wish me luck.


we're gonna need more lights

This is the first year since I can remember that Alex did not have to work Thanksgiving weekend. This meant he was actually able to enjoy dessert instead of skipping off to the airport after the turkey was carved. It also meant that we were able to shop for our Christmas tree in November (instead of mid-December, which is when we usually got around to it).

It's also a first for us because this year we fell in love with a chunky tree. In the past we've been loyal to the skinny Charlie Brown trees, but we couldn't help ourselves when we stumbled across this beauty yesterday evening. Scout saw it first, so we really couldn't say no.

With a heftier tree, though, comes the responsibility of more lights. I heard that you need at least 100 lights per foot of tree, so the four strands that we have will not cut it this year. Will somebody please tell Alex?

P.S. Does anyone else notice it's a little crooked? We'll need to fix that too [wink!].


kid talk

On those days when all three of your kids are having their own brand of meltdown and all you want is a moment of peace, you overhear a conversation such as this one during afternoon snack time:

Scout: Catcher, I like nuts.

Catcher: Yeah.

Scout: Catcher like nuts? [More of a question than a statement.] But T not like nuts, no.

Catcher: Yeah. Tillie can't have nuts yet.

Scout: Not yet. Daddy like nuts?

Or maybe you've just purchased a coffee from the drive thru at Coffee Bean and, pleased with your service, remarked out loud, "Those baristas at the Coffee Bean are just the sweetest." And this is what follows:

Scout: Num. Num. I love those.

Catcher [to me]: What did you say?

Me: When?

Catcher: What's a ra-rista?

Tillie: BA! BA! BA!

Me: A barista. The guy or girl who serves your coffee. They're so nice at the Coffee Bean.

Scout: Nummy.

Me: Scout, a barista is a person. Not something you eat.

Catcher [to himself, almost in a whisper]: The sweetest?

Tillie: A-DAH! A-DAH! [High-pitched squeal.]


cow chairs 2012

Image from apartment therapy

Now that I'm finished buying curtains for the house I've given myself a new project to complete by Christmas: another Eames DCW rescue/renovation. The picture above (and the title of this blog post) is a hint at where I'm going with this one. Stay tuned for updates and before/after looks. At the moment all I can say is that if I never pull another tiny upholstery nail out of a plywood seat, it will be too soon.


time to dine

This was our dining room. Unfortunately (for Catcher) the drum set did not stay with the house, and fortunately (for me) neither did the green walls. Kind of like the fireplace that was meant to have our six-point buck hanging over it, the built-ins in the dining room were another feature that sold me on the house. Arranging it was another three--or four...or five!--hour shelf project, but I think it turned out alright (see below).

Now that my (real) wine glasses are on display, I use my real wine glasses for drinking (nightly, not when only entertaining). A novel idea, I know, but I figured if I wasn't drinking wine out of my good glasses at this age then when would I start? Plus, it makes me feel sophisticated. Ha.

This is a shot of the dining room when I thought it was all set up this summer (minus the mirror propped up against the wall). I later realized, however, that the bookshelf was a little odd tucked into the corner. That space is way better suited for a bar car. I also changed my mind about the Eames molded plastic chairs. I love the dowel base, but the chairs are a old and warped and only three legs touch the floor. Every time you sat in one of them, they made this sound like you just broke something, which isn't a very settling feeling when you're taking a seat. Besides, there was too much plastic in the room. I thought I needed to introduce another element, like metal, to compliment the ghost chairs and wood floors. Yes: I think about this stuff too much.

After weeks of more thinking, I finally settled on the idea of Tolix chairs. Their French heritage seemed natural to pair with the Louis Ghost, and I wouldn't have to worry about them crashing to the ground if someone sat on them the wrong way. But the room wasn't finished yet.

I sent my garden guys, Alex and Catcher, to the Home Depot for a house plant. Alex couldn't believe I was actually requesting a plant for our home, but I thought it would help the lonely corner left in the dining room. They came home with a money tree. Yes, it's actually called a money tree; money because you only have to water it once a week, and it's virtually impossible to kill. The last stop on my decorating train was the drapery department. I found curtains at West Elm, and I think they tie the space together nicely.

This is our dining room (at least for today). I'll let you know how long the money tree lasts.



Thanksgiving is just one week away, so you know what that means...it's time to start thinking about this year's family Christmas card. I actually came up with a brilliant (at least I think it's brilliant) idea this afternoon, but it won't quite work this year so I'm saving it for next year. Unless I forget about it before then, which is more likely than not. In the meantime, I'm searching for inspiration.

Image from Photography Unfiltered
The family Novogratz can basically do no wrong* in my eyes, and their playful Christmas card proves that point.

*The only "mistake" I feel they made was switching from a BRAVO! reality series to HGTV. As a former HGTV star myself (haha!) I feel like the network's reality show format has made the family less interesting...if that makes any sense.

Image from Daily Stab
The Kardashian/Jenner family Christmas card. I would good in a tux, right? Just kidding. This is ridiculous. I'll keep searching...



I've been voraciously reading The Perfectly Imperfect Home by Deborah Needleman in a quest to perfectly craft my imperfect decorating skills. One of the things I've learned is that I definitely need more pillows on the sofa. After much consideration and shopping around and thinking way too much about pillows, I finally came up with a scheme that I like. Here's a look at the [boring] before:

And here's the sofa all dressed up and waiting for someone to relax on its comfortable, welcoming imperfection...

...which is exactly what this guy did:

As long as I was on this whole pillow kick, I decided to toss one over to the lucite chair by the bookshelf as well. It honestly makes it more comfortable and inviting.


how do i look?

We purchased this mirror from West Elm in 2010 on the advice of our realtor who said it would make the living room in our tiny Charlotte house appear larger (and therefore incite offers...yada, yada, yada). The "magic mirror" didn't get us an offer. She was fired. The mirror went unused for the next 18 months. I unearthed it today and commissioned Alex to hang it in the dining room. Like all new decorating schemes in the house, it's going to take me a few days to get used to it. But Alex was an immediate fan because from the right angle in the dining room you can see a reflection of the TV in the living room (even if the picture is backwards).


saturday morning zoo

I know [sooner than I think] there will come a time when my Saturday mornings are filled with soccer games, girl scouts, ballet lessons, lacrosse, birthday parties, track meets, and general teenage laziness, so  this morning I didn't freak out when I saw Catcher and Scout making a Tillie sandwich. I snapped a picture of it because a single day may last forever but the years fly by. One day this triumvirate will be grown, and the quiet Saturday mornings that I now miss will turn into quiet Saturday mornings themselves where I miss the chaos.

After Tillie's morning nap we set out for the library. It's a great place to be on a Saturday morning because your children can roll around on the floor and no one cares. Coming home with new books is always a thrill, too. It's like Christmas (but better because we can go back next week and get new books!).

It's still 80-something degrees in Austin, but it's a cool 80 degrees. Breezy and slightly overcast, it was a great afternoon to hit up the Zilker Botanical Garden. We even saw an engagement take place in the Japanese garden (although I'm not sure how zen the experience was for the couple with Scout and Catcher running down the path yelling about whether we should take this path or that path).

We ended the day with Tillie's first burger, courtesy of P. Terry's. She was thrilled.


pull up

It looks like someone else is enjoying the bar cart: look who I found using it to pull herself up this morning. We had Tillie's 9-month check-up earlier this week, and I guess she was listening when the doctor said, "Pretty soon she'll start pulling up on things," because it all started that afternoon. Now I have to remember everything I've forgotten about having a little one that just discovered he/she can move. No wine bottles within reach of the baby should be a good place to start...



Even though we haven't hosted a party--playdates don't count--in our new house, I'm loving the bar cart. I feel more sophisticated pouring myself a glass of wine from a bottle I took off the wine cart versus the kitchen counter. I even used a cocktail napkin from it the other night.

That being said, I was not totally thrilled with the grungy, oxidized finished of the metal. So on my trip to Michael's last week for Halloween costume-making supplies, I picked up a can of brass-colored spray paint. I got home and wheeled the cart outside. Ten minutes later it had a whole new look.

Before: the legs were a little discolored and grungy.

Before (exhibit B).

After: classy and brassy. I will admit that I wasn't sold on the color at first. I was picturing a shinier finish, but it grew on me after a day. Besides, I can always paint it again if I get tired of it.


another great from nate

Nate Berkus for Target strikes again: this is a detail from the herringbone window panels that I purchased for our living room. I've never believed in one-stop shopping for all your decorating needs, so this will be the end of my Nate affair (although I'm loving the collection).

The windows in our living room were in desperate need of an update/facelift. If I had to crank the rotational rod on the plastic venetian blinds one more day I was going to lose it. Here's a look at the living room before my friend, the decorator, Nate Berkus saved us.

After a couple glasses of wine one evening--or rather night--last week Alex brought out his drill and level, and the curtain installation began. Although I lean toward the "winging it" spectrum when hanging things on the wall, I actually measured and thought it out this time. I even shifted the entire living room in anticipation of curtain project to center the sofa on the windows. When we finished after midnight, we stood back and patted ourselves on the back. It looked pretty good, but we would have to wait until daylight to see the real effect.

Morning broke, and I still loved the look. It completed the room. Kind of like Renee Zellweger completed Tom Cruise back in the day...

After success with the living room, I have my sites set on window panels for the dining room. Stay tuned...


sleeping corner

Image from Roseland Greene
It all started with my obsession with this Josef Frank headboard in Metropolitan Home a few years ago. I already had the Min Bed from Design Within Reach, and after I saw this image I couldn't imagine my bed any other way. Of course, the fabric retails for $250/yard and when I priced out the actual cost for someone to create this headboard it was over $1000. No thank you. Instead I spent the next several months (or it could have been a year) searching on ebay for a deal on this exact fabric. I finally found a remnant that someone in England was selling--actually it was two pieces of fabric--and won it for $64. Flashback: this was me gluing the pieces together last year:

Although I vowed here not to post a picture of my finished headboard alongside my inspiration, promises were meant to be broken. This is a look at my copycat version in our tiny little attic sleeping corner:

*Please note: the bedroom is currently--and will probably forever be--a work in progress. Because I'm basically only up there to fall asleep watching Leno and to get dressed in the morning, it's last on my list for decorating. The lovely brown curtains that you see hanging from the windows are the same ones that were hanging in Catcher's room when we moved in. We brought them upstairs to block out the light that comes streaming in the window at sunrise. Pure function.


extreme makeover, bathroom edition

Without undergoing any major renovations, below is a picture diary of our bathroom makeover. I only have one before shot because I was honestly too creeped out--it actually looks much better in the picture than in person--to take it in from multiple angles. I don't think I even walked in the bathroom when I first looked at the house. Here we go...

Although it's the biggest (minus the apartment last year) bathroom I've had in my adult life, it was also the scariest upon first sight. And that's counting six different New York apartments, too (at least they had tile floors).

Enough was enough: the ugly wood paneling had to be painted. Supposedly this look was en vogue in some distant era, but it made the bathroom feel so dated and...creepy (did I already say that?).

Finally finished with the paint job, I'm ready to attack phase two of our project, which includes a new shower curtain, towels and finding drawer pulls to lose the 80s feel.

Thank you, Nate Berkus, for collaborating with Target. It's like you knew what I was looking for in a shower curtain when I was unsure. The dip-dyed shower curtain worked perfectly with the gray we painted the old wood, and it turned out to be the color inspiration for the rest of the bathroom.

Here's a closer look at the shower curtain with a view of the turkish bath towels.

Phase three: what are we going to do with that big blank wall? The answer came from a friend with a fine arts degree who's starting a business painting murals in children's spaces. Because we share this space with the kids, I wanted it to be a room where everyone feels comfortable and inspired. (Is that weird? To feel "inspired" in the bathroom? I know I do some of my best creative thinking while taking a hot shower).

A look at the work in progress. The whale is so cute!

Ta-da! The pink fish swimming backwards echos the pink picture frames on the opposite wall.

I love that you can see the reflection of the fish in the mirror. I find it somehow relaxing when I'm brushing my teeth at night.

Phase four: finding drawer pulls to update the cabinets. After searching and going back and forth between this look and that, I remembered that we don't own this house. In the end I went with el cheapo black hammered knobs from the Home Depot at $.98 each and spray painted them chrome. I had to spray paint the fixture over the mirror anyway, so I just used the same paint.

The final final. It doesn't feel like the same bathroom. The floor was replaced before we moved in, but that was the only major change. I never thought that dark, creepy space could look this good with a little paint and some new accessories.  Here is one last look at the before and after: