Don’t Forget Thanksgiving!

It’s still fall, y’all.

Doesn’t look much like it outside, what with the white stuff covering the ground (already.  Again.  So soon after it went away.  Sniffle).  But seriously, it’s still fall.  That’s what the calendar says, anyway.

You can’t really tell from the store displays, either, or from the TV commercials and Hallmark movies and the Hallmark Christmas station on my XM radio.  But seriously, we still have four days till Thanksgiving.   Seriously.  Still fall.

Are you ready for Thanksgiving?  I love it.  It’s like a Farewell to Fall event- the opportunity to get together with family and sit around the table and just be thankful, before the full-blown chaos of the Christmas season sets in.

Fall decorations are my favorite.  The colors, the natural elements; you can decorate your home for fall almost exclusively from nature.  The changing leaves, the bare twigs, the pinecones, the assortment of squashes: pumpkins, acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash.. you can make a centerpiece from all of these things for super cheap!

My grandmother had the prettiest Thanksgiving dishes.  We used them every year, and seeing them even today makes me think of our family gatherings when she and my grandfather were still alive:

Blog- friendly villiage dishes

Friendly Village Dishes by Johnson Brothers.  Image via Google Images

 

Since we don’t typically host Thanksgiving, I don’t have holiday-specific dishes.  However, I do have enough versatility in my collection that I was able to round up a few ideas for you, in case you’re looking for simple ideas to set your table beautifully enough to keep your kinfolk gathered round (while the men do the dishes, amiright?)

Disclaimer: my decorating style is a little quirky.  I love mixing up different styles to add elegance to simplicity, a dash of modern to the traditional, or some country to the urban.   I guess that’s just me- a juxtaposition of contradicting ideas and styles.  Obviously, any of the ideas here could be changed around to include what you already have and to suit your own style and the mood of your gathering.  Play with it.  Have fun.  SHOP YOUR HOME! (or, as previously mentioned, your backyard.  Or your pantry.  Or your neighbor’s…with permission, of course).

 

 

I guess I should also add that in our home, almost everything has a story.  The plates in this setting, for example, are locally crafted near our town.  The candle holders are place card holders- leftover favors from our wedding.  And the turkey centerpieces and pumpkin napkin rings are ceramics my mom painted for us.  The glasses with the spiral design are vintage Libby glassware, inherited from the attic of a family friend.

 

This setting makes me think, “urban rustic,” with a more formal place setting (a discontinued pattern from Pier One, my favorite dishes), made modern with my favorite wine glasses- a prekids purchase from Crate & Barrel.   The absence of a tablecloth softens the formality of the dishes and brings a bit more rustic to the table. The tall candlesticks are also from Pier One, and those leaf candles were from the head table at our wedding.  The centerpiece is a collection of random items I collected from around our house- the candles, again, are from our wedding (a decade ago), and the plate was a gift that I’m too afraid to serve food from in a houseful of boys.  Under the candles and ribbon I’ve buried potpourri; this centerpiece is often on my dining room buffet.

 

 

I tend to think of this last setting as being more “traditional,” with the plain, solid color dishes and traditional stemware.  Mixing the styles of the plates- the round with the square- adds just a subtle enough twist to make it fun.  The pumpkin and napkin rings, again, are ones my mom painted for me.

 

There are so many ways to make your table inviting and pretty without purchasing special…everything.  Do any of these speak to you?

 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  May your holiday be full of food and love.

 

xoxo,

~d

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This Never-Ending Winter and my need for a change of scenery

We here in the northeast are experiencing the winter that won’t end.

It feels like it hasn’t stopped snowing since Halloween.  It feels like we’ve been trapped inside, staring at the same walls day after day, week after week, for half a year.  In a Facebook group I’m a member in, someone from Alaska commented last week that winter here has lasts for too long.  Alaska, people.  Let that sink in for a minute.

We’re trying to stay busy.  We’ve walked and been outside as often as we can, but sick kids and exposure to freezing temps aren’t always the best combo.  We planted seeds for veggie plants a few weeks ago.  The boys have a hockey net in the basement and can use that space to run off some extra energy.  T-ball season has started and we’re beginning to see a day or so a week that is suitable to be outside.  Regardless, we’re all tired of being inside. One day last week, upon returning from our errands, the boys filed out of my car and made a beeline for the driveway where big, fat snowflakes were beautifully, gracefully, tauntingly falling from the sky.  The three of them ran around in circles, arms spread wide, catching the flakes on their tongues.  It was heartwarming and beautiful, and I was so fulfilled to watch them, and yet…I’ll be just as fulfilled when I can sit in the grass and watch them roll up and down the driveway on their bikes, draw pictures on the concrete with sidewalk chalk, build castles and mountains in the sand, and push weeds from my flower beds in their big trucks while I soak up sun and heat.

But that’s just me.

In the meantime, I’ve stayed motivated by changing and reorganizing basically every room in our house in the last month.  I sometimes feel more energized when I rearrange things to change the flow and the way the light hits different aspects of a space.  That, in turn, gives me an idea of what accessory items are working for us and what we could maybe replace.

In our living room, for instance, I  played around with a completely different layout that seems to work really well for us.  What I noticed, though, is that we needed a new, larger area rug to tie the space together.  The rule of thumb for a rug is that it should touch all the pieces of furniture in the space to make it feel cohesive .  The rug we had isn’t big enough to do that; far too much of the floor was bare, which is not only an aesthetic problem, but a traction problem for our 12-year-old golden retriever.  She’s having a hard time getting up from the slippery floors after she’s been lying down.  So last weekend, we trooped into town, the five of us, for a family trip to Dick’s.  And I played the “Oh, but I’m the only girl, and can’t we please, please, PLEASE go to a fun store for me to look for house stuff?” card.  And we left with a rug.

I travel with the paint swatches we used on every wall in our house.  This way,  when I’m out and about, I always have the colors on hand to compare.  So, I pulled the swatches out of my purse in the middle of the store to check, and my three super manly boys and my one super manly man each grabbed a spot of the rug and trooped it to the checkout for me.

Another thing that I’ll be addressing in the living room is the blank wall above the sofa.  I’m currently searching for some artwork to frame and hang to make that more of a focal point.  My problem is deciding on what I want.  Because your space should tell your story, I don’t want something to just “put” there; I want it to be personal, have significance, and to tell a story about our family.  I have family portraits on the wall going up the stairs, so I’d like to do something artistic or inspiring in the living room.  My top ideas right now are to frame some photos of our town or from our travels and have them made into canvases, or blown up for large matted frames.  Because the sofa and curtains are neutral colors, I’d like to bring out the colors of the rug with the art…and then possibly repeat those same colors with some new throw pillows on the sofa and love seat.

I’d love to hear from you; does anyone else get suffocated by their surroundings when the weather keeps you confined in the same spaces?  How do you deal with it?  Are you painting?  Tackling a renovation project?  Replacing furniture or accessories?  Leave me a comment!

 

xoxo,

~d

 

 

What Lies Beneath

When we moved into this house six years ago, the first question I asked the landlords was if we were allowed to paint the walls.  The living room was sort of pinkish-white, the kitchen was trimmed in wallpaper with little pink flowers on it, the bathroom had yet another wallpaper with little pink flowers, and the guest rooms are neon: one is blue, and the other- the closet-sized room that serves as the laundry room as well as Ryan’s RC pit/office is green.

Anyway, they told us that painting would be fine, as long as I went neutral and had approval beforehand.  And since this year seems to have been the year of sprucing-up for this house,  I decided I wanted the kitchen painted before winter.  This past week, my beloved and I struck a deal: if I removed the wallpaper from the one wall and the bulkhead above the cabinets, he would help me to paint.  Deal on.  Except that… I had never removed wallpaper before…

Before...

So Sunday, I ran to the store and bought a wallpaper scorer, to rough up the paper so I could tear.  I started to rip the pink flowered stuff down, only to realize that I was only pulling down the printed part of the paper; the backing and glue weren’t budging.  So I scored.  And I scraped with my putty knife.  An hour later, I had made little progress.  So I did what any modern, self-proclaimed handywoman would do: I Googled.  And I found that mixing a solution of equal parts water and fabric softener in a spray bottle made wallpaper fall off on its own…except that I was out of fabric softener.  The next result promised that equal parts water and vinegar would do the trick.  I had vinegar.  And- gasp!- it worked!  The backing came off easily with a few passes of the putty knife.  I was ecstatic- and so proud of myself.

You know how pride is one of the seven deadly sins?  Yeah, the heavens weren’t having it that I was proud.  So I received a curveball: there was another layer of paper underneath.  Under that pink patterned wallpaper (circa 1980) was yet another layer of wallpaper, circa 1962.  With vinegar solution in hand, and cuts on my palms from the putty knives, I managed to get each layer off by mid-day Monday.  Of course, there were still little chunks of glued- down wallpaper backing that were hanging on to the walls for dear life.  To get rid of those little suckers, I mixed some laundry detergent with water and scrubbed.  Most of the glue reluctantly gave up the fight, and the rest peeled off easily with my fingernail or a nudge from my putty knife.  By Monday evening, the walls were prepped to be painted.

Tuesday, while Ryan was at work, I packed up all my little decorative items from the kitchen and draped the appliances and table with sheets to protect them.  When he got home, we painted the ceiling so Wednesday we could paint.  While I was atop the refrigerator brushing to the edges where his roller wouldn’t reach, we had a conversation that went something like this:

Me: So this is how Michaelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel.  Lying on his back, just like this.

Ryan: Yes, but there’s one difference between you and Michaelangelo.

Me: Yeah, I know, his work is amazing.  And he used colors; I’m painting white.

Ryan: No, he was fast.

Me: But it took him four years!  I’ll be done here in four minutes.  Besides, I can’t get ahead of you.

Ryan: He also painted pictures.  But you’re doing great.  Keep going.

Seriously, never a dull moment here.

I tackled the walls myself on Wednesday.  I had all day to work, and there was absolutely nothing else I could focus on when a) there were PAINT cans in my kitchen, and b) most of my kitchen was in the guest bedroom.  I can’t work in a room that’s not aesthetically pleasing.  It stifles my creativity.  So I painted.  I thought, for my first time painting completely unsupervised ever in my entire life, that I could handle hand-painting the trim, where the walls meet the ceiling.  I was kinda wrong.

Ryan had to fix my screw-up places when he got home.  It took him literally all of about 15 minutes, when I had spent 9 hours painting, so I thought it was a pretty even trade.  And since each color took multiple coats to cover properly, I’m glad I got it done before he got here.  Wanna see the finished product?

Wait for it…

...After!

So now, with a more aesthetically pleasing kitchen than we had at this time last week, I’m retiring the paintbrush for awhile.  My shins are bruised from my many climbs between the floor and the counter, my hands ache from clutching the roller, my neck is sore from tilting it to see to paint near the ceiling, and I’m a few pounds lighter than I was at the beginning of the week (I think there’s magic in my stretchy pants.  I lived in them Sunday through Thursday.  When I put on real button-up pants today, they were looser than I remembered them being.  I have magical stretchy pants.)…anyway, despite the fact that I can barely keep my eyes open at 9PM on a Friday, I feel great.

Ready?  One more time:

...and After!

Before...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I accomplished something this week.  Maybe I’ll paint the bathroom ceiling next week…

Cheers!

xoxo,

~d

Idle Hands

You’ve heard that saying about idle hands, right?  I’ve heard different versions of it: “Idle hands make mischief,” “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” “The devil finds work for idle hands”.

My hands may or may not be idle over here, friends.  I’m not sure I’ve decided which applies.  Or if one leads to the other.  I’m just not sure.

Regardless, I spent last week preparing our house to finally-FINALLY!- having our carpeting replaced.  Of course, as with most everything I attempt, it was a kind of  debacle, but it’s finally done and we are back to normal and our little home-improvement project is complete.

If you remember, this project began back in October, when I began comparing paint swatches and carpet samples.  The week before Easter, we began the actual work by painting the living room and hallway.  After a little dilemma with the carpet I really wanted, we settled on one that was in-stock and last Monday, I placed the order.  Silly me, I was under the impression that placing an order (and paying in full) would allow me to pick the best time for me to have them come and install.  Also, since Ryan and I are such beasts where physical labor is concerned, we had decided to waive the fee of having the installers also remove and dispose of the old stuff; we agreed to tackle that task ourselves.  For this reason,  I wanted to have at least a couple of days for us to move all of our furniture and get the existing carpeting out.

Finally on Wednesday, I called and bugged  politely requested to speak to someone who could give me some idea of what was going on.  I had already started packing up our stuff, and needed to know if my efforts were in vain or if something was actually going to happen.  Apparently, we had been scheduled for Friday, and nobody had told me.  I was, um, a little miffed.

So when Ryan got home Wednesday night, we ate our last supper in the living room, over the old ratty carpet.  Wings and pizza, of course, with a glass of red wine thrown in for good measure.  (Of course, nothing was spilled… I’m saving that trick for the nice, new carpet.)  Last week was also one of the hottest weeks we’ve ever had in early June.  It was the perfect week for physical labor without air conditioning.  Anyway, by Thursday morning, this was our living room:

 

 

By Thursday night, our bedroom was in the kitchen and the rest of the ugly green carpet had been removed to the front yard.  And no, the color certainly did not camouflage with the grass.  Not even close.

So with our floor on the front lawn and our bedroom in the kitchen, we called it a day by dining at Outback…seemed rather fitting, no?  And then we called it a night in the guest room.

Friday morning, I gave the bare floors one last vacuuming, removed the stuff from all the walls, and found a home for all of the clothing in our many closets.  The installers arrived around 9:40 AM.  Since they were basically taking up our entire house, Clohe and I were relegated to the great outdoors; fortunately, it was a pretty nice day.  I managed to give Clohe a bath with the garden hose and wash my car, and trim back some of the overgrown weeds outside.  I’m convinced that my weeding performance alone was worth charging the guys back on some-if not all- of the installation cost.  After all, it’s probably not every day they get to watch some five-foot-nothing chick wearing capris, flip-flops, and a baseball cap go at weeds with a hand saw and pruning shears.  But I digress…

So by 3:40, they were finished in the house and I was able to get in and get everything thrown back together.  By the time they were done, just before Ryan got home with the muscles to get most of the furniture put back, our living room looked like this:

Our bedroom looked like this:

…the hallway looks like this:

…and my thigh looks like this:

 

which is the only noticeable battle wound I accumulated, aside from the 1/3 of a toenail I broke off while trying to move furniture.  Cause, you know, of the flip-flops.  For me, this is not bad.  There wasn’t even much blood!

And now, our house is back to (almost) normal.  The only adjustment is going to be trying to keep dinner OUT of the living room.

 

Cheers!

xoxo,

~d

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Face-Lift: Phase One

Wow- what another crazy Monday.  I woke up with a to-do list as long as my arm, and accomplished (almost) everything on very little of it.  I still need to schedule a haircut and get my list together for Nicole’s bachelorette party to be held this Saturday, but I managed to accomplish a few things from my list today, at least.

This arrives on the heels of a crazy week last week, following an Easter weekend out of town, and a crazy week before that.

Two weeks ago, we painted our house.  Well, the hallway and the living room, anyway.

Remember, in the fall, I was trying to decide on colors?  Well, we’ve decided.  And we painted.  Well, Ryan painted.  I followed him around with a dry paintbrush so I looked productive, and a wet rag to wipe up the drips.  Ryan painted.  I just tried not to put butt-prints in the wet paint.  Tried.

And now, before I fill your brain with more disturbing images, I present to you:

Before.  And After.

Before...

...and After!

Obviously, that ugly green carpet still lives here.  I’m working on that one, but unfortunately, I’ve hit a bit of a snag in my plan.  While I was trying to make a decision on which carpeting I liked best, the store quit carrying my favorite.  Of course.  So today I stopped to pick some alternatives.  Maybe I’ll move quickly enough this time that we’ll actually have a decision made before the color I like is discontinued. Again.

Before...

Same area, alternate view. After.

It’s a subtle change, but it’s still made a big difference in here.  It’s a sunny color, and the light from our bay window reflects and makes it appear bright and cheery in here, even when it’s not.  Big plus!  My next challenge is to find new paint colors for the kitchen.  It has to coordinate, and I’d like to keep a “warm colors” feel in here.  Warm and homey.

Living room before

Living Room, after

Living Room, after

I’m in love.  I really am.  I chose this color to really enhance the natural light coming in from the bay window, and it worked out exactly as I had envisioned.  Ryan, on the other hand, was a bit nervous at first.  Since paint dries lighter than it goes on, he thought I was subjecting him to life in a pitcher of lemonade.  Once it dried, though, I was rewarded with an apology for underestimating my innate awesomeness as an interior designer, and a renewed faith in my abilities.

What can I say?  I’m just that good.

Cheers!

~d

This Week’s End

I’ve been AWOL.  MIA.  I have completely abandoned my blogging obligations.  It’s been nearly a week since you’ve heard from me.  I’m sure you enjoyed the quiet, but I’m back now, and ready to catch you up on the happenings of the last several days.

You knew my week got off to a rocky start when I told you about my flat tire debacle last Monday.  Tuesday I backtracked to Sunday to show you the scenery around here.  And Wednesday was Groundhog Day, for which I worked and worked to create an inside look at my hometown- Punxsutawney Phil’s hometown.  That post kept sounding cynical and jaded, though, so I was going to change topics and present you with something really fun and funny for Friday.

Then Thursday happened.

Have you ever seen the movie, “Up in the Air” with George Clooney?  Remember what his character, Ryan Bingham, did for a living?  (I’ve just spend nearly an hour trying to track down a YouTube clip- even if you’ve seen it, it’s worth watching again.  Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find the scenes I want.)

Anyway, I received a speech on Thursday morning that took me back to that movie, resulting from a phone call from the west coast.  Almost the exact same speech- swear.  I literally almost laughed as they explained that I would be receiving my “packet” to tell me where to go from here, and requested that I return my keys and ID card, gather my personal things, and leave the building.  It may have been hysteria speaking.  Still, I was sane enough to honestly miss someone saying, ““Anybody who ever built an empire, or changed the world, sat where you are now. And it’s because they sat there that they were able to do it.” (An “Up in the Air” quote.)

Of course, my job does not define me, and I won’t be defined by reacting badly to a situation I don’t have control over.  So I’m moving on.  I’m taking the opportunity I’ve been given to help Ryan build the empire that is our life as a married couple.

We had already planned to be out of town this weekend, so I used my free time Thursday afternoon to finish my travel preparations.  In Punxsutawney, one thing you know you can always expect is the unexpected.

Remember when I told you that my family celebrates Christmas late each year, and that when I presented my homemade Christmas gifts to my mom and my aunts, I would pass it on?  Here’s a photo of the silverware wind chimes I made for them this year:

Simple enough; I found lots and lots of old silverware at a flea market, then used my pink hammer to beat it until it was completely flat.  (Not only was the end result pretty cool to look at; the action of beating silverware with a hammer was also a great form of stress relief!)  Then Ryan helped me to drill holes in the handles of the silverware, so I could thread heavy-gauge fishing line through the holes. I used my pink pliers to twist the tines of the forks to hold the lines for the dangling pieces, and my chimes have more forks than the others do, so I used the pliers to curl those tines also, for a more whimsical effect.  We celebrated Christmas on Saturday, and partied late into the evening.

We were awakened Sunday morning by the sounds of fire whistles.  Always expect the unexpected.

When we go to Punxsy, we always stay with Ryan’s parents.  Their house is just outside of town, but still pretty close to everything- including the fire station.  In the years since I started staying there, I’ve adapted pretty well to ignoring the whistles when they sound in the wee hours.  There have been only two exceptions.  The first time was the night the machine shed across the driveway from my parents’ house caught on fire, burning a fortune’s worth of my uncle’s farm equipment.  That night, the sound of the whistle stopped my heart before I even heard the address of the fire broadcast over the scanner.  The second time was Sunday morning.  The fire whistles sounded and something in the pit of my stomach told me that this was going to be close to home.  Close enough to be next door, as it turned out.  We awoke to the flurry of activity that always accompanies someone you know being in danger, and Ryan’s dad informed us that the problem was at the neighbor’s house where the carbon monoxide monitor had detected a problem.  Soon, fire trucks and ambulances were arriving and the neighbor came over to stay with us while the fire fighters checked her house for the source of the fumes.  Turns out, there was a problem with her furnace that seems to have started burning oil from within.  Scary.  Fortunately, within a few hours she was able to return to her home where the furnace repairman was waiting to diagnose and fix the problem.

Shortly afterward, just as I was leaving to wrench collect Clohe from my mom’s clutches care and say goodbye to my family, Ryan’s grandfather called to say that he wasn’t feeling well.  Ryan and his dad decided to take Grandpa to the emergency room to be sure he didn’t have pneumonia.  Fortunately, it turned out to be a sinus infection instead,  though he’s still pretty miserable.

So aside from a February Christmas celebration, being awakened by fire whistles on a Sunday morning, and a trip to the ER, the weekend ended on a pretty decent note.  We were home at a decent time, the car is unloaded and I have most of our stuff unpacked and put away, I have a load of laundry finished, and the best team won the Super Bowl (sorry, Steelers fans, it’s nothing personal, and it’s just my opinion.)  I’m ending the weekend on a happy note and ready to start the coming week with a smile and my head held high.  Because whatever happens, happens for a reason.  I’m ready for this.  I’m ready to take on the world and build an empire.  I’ve just closed one chapter of my life, and a new one is about to begin.

Come on back; a new chapter is sure to mean many new stories!

 

xoxo,

~d

The Designer Emerges

My mind works in the most mysterious ways.  That is, when it’s working at all.

There’s a lot going on right now.  Just.  A lot.  And somehow, with everything going on, my mind continues to race with ideas on how to redecorate our little house.  Because when I stress, I think about moving furniture.  And changing wall colors.  Yeah, I’m a freak.  Because I’m decorating our homes (both our current home- the one where we actually live and have lived for the past five years- and the image in my head of the home we hope to own someday soon that we haven’t even found yet) in my head.  I’m decorating in my head and I have not cooked a meal since sometime last week.  Our house is a disaster area and I am decorating it in my head.  I.  Am.  A.  Freak.

Remember a couple of months ago when I mentioned that we wanted to replace paint and flooring in our house?  And that I wanted to get on it soon?  It just so happens that my idea of “soon” means, “someday when I have a thousand other things on my mind and I need to add one more item to the list.”  Because sometimes I procrastinate.  Just another of my infinite charms.  In that last post, I described the room we want to  touch up.  Here are some photos to help you better visualize:

The detail in the ceiling is barely visible by the mirror

And here are some photos of the samples, just for you!  Because everyone gets a vote here!

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, and the wood and tile samples that were included with each color option?  All laminate, actually.  Instructions for care: soap and water (or Swiffer, if you prefer.)  I suggested that we consider installing a solid surface flooring right inside the front door, so that when people come in with wet paws shoes, we don’t stain the new carpeting.  Plus, it will be easy to care for.

These are our options, friends.  I sent the samples off to the landlord today for her approval, so we’ll see if she approves of my choices!  Because, like I said, everyone gets a vote here:

xoxoxo,

~d

Ahhhh, Monday

I hate Monday.  I have been trying to banish the day for as long as I can remember, and yet it always reappears, glaring at me, right between Serene Sunday and Tolerable Tuesday.  I just can’t seem to figure out how to comfortably coexist with “Manic Monday.”  (Remember this song?  The Bangles?  Love it!)

My biggest issue on Monday is trying to figure out what to make for dinner.  Typically, I spend quite a bit of time on the weekends in the kitchen, trying to put together “make-ahead” meals that I can put into the refrigerator or freezer for the week that can be reheated when I get home from work, or put into the crock pot to cook while I’m at work (because I’m enough of a multi-task-er that I can cook dinner from the office.  Yet another skill passed on from my Momma!).  This weekend, I’m ashamed to admit, all I was able to produce was a pot of chili:

Hot soup on a cold day- mmmmm!

Oh, and these random photos of fruit in my new pasta-bowl-made-centerpiece.  Because, you know, if you’re not cooking, taking pictures of food works too.  Also, I’m convinced that having fruit on my kitchen table is going to make me healthy, even if I’m not eating it:

Finally, in a last-ditch effort to save my energy from cooking,and in order to pour it into something more productive (like, say, my wineglass), I stood at our kitchen windows on Saturday afternoon contemplating these lovely little formations of frozen H2O:

And, that was it!  Sunday didn’t leave much time for slaving in the kitchen as we were helping our friends Chuck and Laurie paint in their new house (Chuck was the friend who saved me the day I buried my car in our driveway after the neighbor had pulled me out literally 30 seconds before).  Let’s face it; this interior design girl would rather be painting than cooking- and you know how I love to cook!

Anyway, since the weekend sort of got away from me, (what with the pathetic contenders for this year’s SuperBowl, UGH!) and out of exhaustion and depression, I was at a total loss for ideas on what to make for dinner on this bitter cold Monday night.  Always to be counted on, Ryan came to the rescue with a suggestion for Japanese Hibachi, one of our favorite meals out.  Rest assured, tonight, I’m writing to you with a belly-full of New York strip, shrimp, and Teryaki chicken; noodles; and sauteed vegetables- just enough to get me through the end of yet another Monday.

Cheers!

~d

Retail Therapy

I love those two words used together.  It’s Thesaurus Day, so in honor of synonyms, I introduce a two-word phrase that means the same as… SHOPPING!

What better way is there to relax?  To relieve the stress of everyday life?  Not exactly the spending money part, but the mindless wandering through your favorite store, taking it all in.  The shoe store, for example: the smell of leather,  the sound of music in the background, sometimes announcements over the PA and the beep of the register scanners, the brand-newness of everything around you, and the many, many textures- shiny patent leather, soft suede and sumptuous leather; canvas sneakers, cork wedge heels, and the list goes on and on and on.

Tonight on my way home from work, I stopped at one of my favorite home decorating stores.  Entering the store, my nose was flooded with the potpourri smells of eucalyptus and exotic candles.  Displays of table settings on brand-new furniture adorned the sales floor, and seating areas boasting pillows of every fabric imaginable transported my brain to a place of absolute euphoria.  When I shop, I check my troubles at the door and it’s just me and my imagination, wandering amongst the many possibilities that await me.  Rarely am I tempted to actually make a purchase (but we still live in a very small house that’s already jam-packed with stuff that needs a home.  Perhaps my outlook will change when we move to a larger house.)

Tonight, I am relaxed.  A typical Tuesday night finds me high-strung and stressed with the mile-long to-do list that’s constantly running through my brain: schedule an appointment with the hairdresser, the dentist, and the optometrist; call the vet’s office to get that signature I need for Clohe; laundry, dinner, dishes, make sure the house is presentable; coordinate schedules with friends for parties, dinners, and get-togethers.  But tonight, I got home from 30 minutes of aimless wandering, put dinner together, and accomplished absolutely nothing else.

Retail therapy.  I swear, it’s cheaper than psychotherapy.

Stumbling Through Life

My name is Danielle, and I’m a klutz. 

I’m not a klutz on purpose- though, I’m not exactly a klutz by accident, either.  My mom has confessed that my lack of ability to make all my limbs work in coordination with one another in any form of grace or class, most likely comes from her (I think this gene actually mutated and manifested itself in me as something fifty times more potent than Mom’s own uncoordinated tendencies).  I don’t even have to overdo it on the wine to be falling all over the place.  My hands and forehead are marred by various burn marks accrued through various hazardous baking and primping adventures from the past few weeks.  And just this morning as I was getting ready for work I happened to notice a rather sore spot on my left knee.  Upon further inspection, I realized that there’s a large and noticeable bruise on that knee.  I have no recollection of where that mark came from or how long it’s been there.  Looking even more closely, I found several more, smaller, black-and-blue markings scattered about the skin on my legs.  And of course, there’s the one on the underside of my left forearm that’s from using my arm to dispense my paper towels in the ladies’ room at work.  It never really goes away.  Finally, as I completed my inspection, I noticed one more.  On my ample rear end.  Please believe me when I say, I have NO. IDEA. where that mark came from.  I haven’t fallen recently, that I recall (a miracle in itself, given the ice we’ve had here recently).  So how the heck did I end up with a big round bruise there?  Who knows.

As I was getting into the car to leave for work, I less-than-gracefully bashed my head off the frame of my Pacifica, and in the same fashion, managed to bang my elbow off the wood-grain covered steering wheel.  Classy, Danielle.  And all of this before 8AM.  I am one sophisticated dame. 

It’s not just physically that I seem to be out of control of my own actions.  Lately, I’ve been giving a lot of consideration to where I’m headed in life.  By some miracle, I’ve ended up somewhere completely unexpected from what I had imagined when I was graduating from high school, and it’s left me breathless with ecstasy.  I’m so thrilled with where life has brought me so far, and I still get caught off guard to realize that this is only the beginning.   There’s so much more to do, the question is- what to do NEXT?  Ryan and I have been married for just over two years now.  Clohe is the light of our lives, and a constant source of joy, companionship, and entertainment for both of us.  We’re ready to invest in our first home purchase.  And we’re ready to fill that home with  little Merrows.  I can’t wait to start our family.  I can’t wait to be a Mom. 

I question- worry, really- daily about the kind of mom I’ll be.  I don’t want to be a stay-at-home, soccer-type mom.  I want to be like Sandra Bullock’s character, Leigh Anne Tuohy, in The Blind Side.  Minus the take-out for Thanksgiving.  I want to be a pulled-together, sophisticated, hard-working mother whose love for her children (both biological and otherwise) shines above all else.  The problem is, Leigh Anne Tuohy is coordinated.  Danielle…not so much.  Leigh Anne Tuohy has that grace and charisma that you can see just by looking at her.  Danielle…not so much.  One thing I can say I have in common with Leigh Anne Tuohy is the determination to take on what I believe in.  I can be rather fierce when there’s something I want.  And right now, I’m lusting after a family friendly career that will allow me to be there for my kids- for football games and dance recitals and spelling bees.  To feed them breakfast in the morning before we all go about our days, and to still put a photo-worthy dinner on the table at night.  And to be able to balance it all with a career that will make my husband and my kids (and myself, too-selfishly) proud.  I won’t ever make a good stay-at-home mom.  Sure, I want to do it for a while, but I have a feeling I would get restless if my responsibilities were all domestic.  There are only so many ways one can rearrange a living room before the floors become worn from all the scraping and moving, and drinks get spilled on the carpet because the coffee table isn’t in the same spot as yesterday.   I am the type of woman who is energized by challenges.  I am at my best when I’m using my energy and creativity to its maximum capacity. 

Recently, I’ve been seriously considering beginning my own business in decorating and interior design.  I began this blog as a way to share the ideas I have, the projects I’m working on (however limited those may be at present), and to do it through my other favorite creative outlet: writing.  So now, as a married woman and (someday) a mom, I have endless possibilities in front of me, and only my own insecurities and my two left feet to get in my way. 

I’m fortunate to have an amazing husband who encourages me to follow my dreams.  He believes in my abilities in both design and writing, to almost ridiculous extremes.  And he’s willing to take the risk with me to make it work.  He understands how very important it is to me to follow the dreams I’ve been chasing for so long.  

Which means, my only remaining obstacle is figuring out how to get through this without falling.  Or, to continue to stumble through life as I always have, because I have an amazing support system to help me get back up and brush it off when I fall.