Goodbye, Summer…until we meet again

It’s been a busy summer.  A trying summer, with two 3 year olds and a 5 year old at home all day every day.  My patience has been tested, and the guilt-meter has been off the charts, knowing every trying day is a day I’ll regret when they all go to school.

We’ve purchased three backpacks.  We’ve attended orientation for one, scheduled the other two, and fulfilled three school supply lists, gone school clothes shopping, and have filled the pantry with lunch and snack-packing supplies.

One week ago, my firstborn baby headed off to his first day of kindergarten.  Four days ago, he turned six.

He was calm, and he was ready for Kindergarten.  Way more ready than his mama.

He offered to get my camera ready for our traditional first-day-of-school shots.  He made his bed, made his own breakfast, brushed his teeth, dressed himself, and kissed us goodbye in the garage.  And then, when the bus came, he turned and gave me one last kiss and said, “I love you, mama,” and got on the bus without looking back.  That moment alone nearly killed me.  Each day since has gotten incrementally easier, but next week the twins are off to preschool and the cord-cutting process will begin all over again.

I’m sad to see summer end.  I’m sad to have to say goodbye to the warm days and sunshine and afternoons in the pool.  I’m sad to see the end of the last summer before all three boys are in school.

But I’m satisfied by what we accomplished this summer.  Our oldest boy is confident in his swimming abilities without his life vest.  The older twin is an independent swimmer with his life vest on.  And the littlest one isn’t far behind.  We played mini golf, spent a few days at the zoo, took a beach trip and visited a new aquarium and a battleship and a cave.  We squeezed in a few date nights, checked out a hot air balloon festival, spent several Sundays watching Ryan race his new go-kart.  We had play dates, took walks, hikes, and bike rides, and spent a lot of time in the pool.  Through all the tough and trying days of being at home with a five year old and two three year olds, we made a lot of memories this summer.

And now that they’re on their way back to school, I’m wrapping it up by fulfilling one last summer goal that had, until today, gone unmet: I’m sitting on the back deck, fresh out of the pool with a cold drink and my laptop.  I’m planning to focus more time on some exciting ideas: a new look for the blog is coming soon.  I have TWO secret projects under wraps, and I’m working on some new design projects that I hope to share on the blog in the coming months.  Stay tuned, friends.  Mama’s got free time on her hands, and it just might be fun…





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!






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.





























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.


...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.


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.



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:



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.



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.