A New Bedroom For Ella

This is Ella Carolyn.

Named for three of her four grandparents: Rosalie Ella, Bernard Carroll, and Diane Lynn. I wasn't able to creatively fit Phillip or Thomas (my father's name) into her name. 

She is my wild card. Not to be mistaken for a wild child, she is actually very sweet and kind. I call her my wild card because you just never know what to expect with her. She is creative in a fascinating way. The girl searched "how to make fake poop" on YouTube, then proceeded to make it. It was a success. Peanut butter, Nutella, chocolate syrup, etc. I still find her in the kitchen whipping up a batch every now & then.

Oh, the sorrow she has expressed over the years about not having a cool nickname. Then came the exhilaration of announcing her new nickname: Snickers!

Snickers is one of a kind.

Through the years she has been a constant source of entertainment and wonder. She is the child that makes us scratch our head because of the things her mind creates and her mouth articulates.

She has been an animal lover since she was able to express it. Her first bee sting occurred when she tried to pet a bumble bee. She was bitten by a mouse when she tried to pet that, too. Fortunately, those experiences taught her boundaries with wildlife.

This is her with a dead pheasant. 

We had a talk about disease after that, all the while, washing our hands.

In September we celebrate her birthday, and this girl is due for a bedroom makeover. Natalie and Owen each had their rooms lovingly customized in Fargo. I held off with Ella because she is one of those creative (i.e. very messy) types that has trouble keeping her room in order.

 Really, who has time to tidy her bedroom when there are so many books to read, rodents to pet, and fake poop to make?

Her furniture is a mismatched set, but she wants to keep those pieces rather than buying new. That means two, possibly three paint projects for me, and I can get behind that. 

She requested orange walls. I can not get behind that. I talked her down from orange, and toward a soft coral that we both like. I MIGHT do something bold on the ceiling, but that will be determined after the wall color is up. (The off-white trim continues to be a thorn in my side)

She wants a new light fixture, and has requested a house plant. Never happy unless she has something to care for, even if it's only a container of Mexican jumping beans. Remember those, btw?

I'm working on the design plans for her room, and *cross fingers* the walls get a new coat of paint this week.

More to come...

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The Best Of What's Around 9/12/14

This week absolutely flew by. Maybe it's the excitement of fall, maybe I lost track of time with all the planning and preparation for the first big project in this house, which is a doozie. No construction involved, but plenty of planning and design, nonetheless. Details monday...

*This tour from Design Sponge is unexpected in a wonderful way. It couldn't have come at a better time. I'm ready to set out and explore Dayton with (and without) the family, guide in hand. 

Illustration by Libby VanderPloeg

*I was pleasantly surprised to see these familiar antlers featured at Emily A. Clark


...which is the same fella I used in Maria's design below. Love it! 

*Speaking of my friend Maria, if you haven't already read the other half of my Gallery Wall Project, head over to Eco Chic and see how I think through the process. Then go create one!

*The announcement at Young House Love left me feeling sad. They have always been so kind and positive, which must have been difficult with the amount of negativity bouncing around their site lately. I hope they shut their laptops at the end of the day and snark it up, just between the two of them, after posting their always friendly responses. Because really, how can anyone not respond to all of that after while? And I hope they return with great success when they're ready.

Now I'm off to buy paint and explore this fun town. 

Have a wonderful weekend! 

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Industrial Bar Stools

Introducing the newest members of our kitchen family, the Twist Swivel Stools from World Market:

These stools are so heavy and solid. They spin, but not easily, so the kids aren't driving me crazy with spinning games. You really have to crank it to adjust the height. I love them, and I'm not being paid to say that.

But let's back up…their predecessor had a long run with us. We bought them in 2008. Miraculously they fit all of our homes in Utah, Minnesota, and North Dakota.

If something is working, it fits, and isn't broken, I don't see a need to replace it.

But they literally didn't fit this house. Not just style-wise, but in scale. They look like monsters in the photo above.

They were obviously too tall, and my kids had to sit in an uncomfortable posture reminiscent of a frog. 

I watched them sitting like this for a couple of weeks then accepted that we needed new barstools for the frog kids.

As usual, when you fix one problem, another one pops up. The new stools do not match the current lighting situation.

I'm all for mixing styles, but this is a full-on clash. Eventually the chandeliers will be switched out for something more relaxed, but it's not at the top of the list. 

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Laundry Room

I'm putting a check in the box next to "Laundry Room Project, Phase 1." 

This is where we started, minus the washer, dryer & rug. Those are ours.

It is a perfectly good laundry room, just needs some love and magic. We've had great luck with converting the area under the laundry room sink into the Kitty Loo, with privacy curtain and everything, so we did the same in this house. 

I removed the cabinet door, just on the right side, where her litter box is. The hardware is saved in a baggie taped to the cabinet door, which is in the basement storage in case we want to re-attach it in the future.

I really hope Nate Berkus doesn't take offense to the use of his new fabric line for my cat's privacy curtain, because I do love this print. So much. That's why I chose it. Minne says she loves it too. #sweetkitty

This was a quick no-sew project, just 1.5 yards of fabric, trimmed to length. I used heavy duty hemming tape and an iron to form the rod pocket. The curtain hangs from a tension rod, held in place between the wall and the washer. It's really in there tight, so it's not going anywhere.

Our mismatched socks live in the basket on top of the washer.

On the opposite wall I installed wall storage for brooms, mops, etc. This is the Fintorp system from Ikea, super easy to install and only $9.99 each, the hooks were extra ($2.99 for a 5-pack), but still very affordable. I'm using two sets, side-by-side. 

I love this happy flower watercolor for a laundry room. 

I found it on Market Street in Corning, NY many years ago and always find a home for it somewhere. 

Fresh flowers, a mirror, and a succulent. Even I can't kill a succulent. 

I am ambivalent about laundry. I don't love or hate it. But these small touches make me smile when I go in there, so it's worth the effort, right? I've been known to put a cute lamp in there too. You know, for those laundry all-nighters that pop up with three kids. A lamp is so cozy! I'll add that to Phase 2. #notetoself

The rug was a HomeGoods find, and I love the way the grays in the rug blend with the grays in the washer & dryer. 

Finally, we added blinds. The window just needed something, and I like the dark bamboo blinds with the cabinets. 

Hubby helped me install these yesterday. They were 1/2 inch too long on each side, but a steal for $10.00 at Lowes. He shaved the extra length off with his table saw and they work! 

So what's left? 

Phase 2 consists of a wood shelf/folding counter to go over the washer & dryer, and down the sides, waterfall style. 

I like the look below, but I want the counter to extend down to the floor, perpendicular to the floor like a waterfall countertop. 

image via

This will conceal the washer hook-ups, and provide a folding area. 

I have given Jason adequate notice of this project, and anticipate a two-month waiting period. It's football season. He needs plenty of advance notice. 

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The Best Of What's Around 9/5/14

*The Nester's post about real life, progress, and taking your time is exactly what I needed this week. I had a wonderfully productive week, but there is still so much to do. Truthfully, there always will be a lot to do because I'm never "done" with my house, kids, or any of life's details. And if I do happen to complete a project, it's safe to assume I already have the next three brewing in my mind. That's the way I like it.

Our best friends are the ones who get a peek into the mess and love us anyway. I have a handful of those precious friends, unfortunately they are spread across the United States. 

*This beautiful picture caught my attention on Instagram, and what do you know?! It's the same house I fell in love with in this book:

Two things - the gorgeous view makes me homesick for the Finger Lakes - nothing new there, and his setup changed the way I'm thinking of our own back yard. I like the chairs he uses more than the "conversation set" I was considering. Just need a lake. 

Funny story, our back yard was practically a lake last weekend. 

To whatever fates & powers are listening: I'm not actually asking for a lake, OK? 

*This clutch tutorial makes me want to sew something fun again. 

Sewing a Simple Folded Clutch | Hearts & Sharts | www.heartsandsharts.com
Dena's tutorials are so easy to follow and fun to read. My head gets all swimmy when I try to follow a sewing tutorial, then I give up, with a half-sewn inside-out piece of nothing. But I'm going to give this one a try - fingers crossed.

*I discovered Midcentury Mundane a few weeks ago, and I love it. It will change the way you see the ordinary buildings around you. And now I want to drive around Dayton looking for the mundane. 

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My Gallery Wall Step-By-Step (and a video at the end!)

This wall is one of the first projects I started, and I'm 95% done. 

A couple of tweaks, and we'll be there. But I want to share the whole process with you, and this really is an ongoing process. So when the tweaks happen I'll share those too. 

I knew I wanted to use the antique maps again. These maps are part of our story, and I think it's fun to see all the places we've lived. I found all of these maps at an antiques store in New York. I bought six the summer I discovered the store, then we moved two more times. This summer I went back and found North Dakota and Ohio. Now we're all caught up - no more moving!

There is one photo in there that doesn't qualify as a map. That's a picture of me with my Dad when I was six-ish. It's a lovely picture, and I received it as a gift from my older brother many years ago. So I'm taking creative license to hang it among the maps because I like it there. 

I wanted this to be a zero cost project, so I used frames that I already had for the additional maps. The two brown frames are new to the map wall, and I really like the mix of black and brown. 

This is where I started. Once the cabinet and lamp were in place, I had a better idea of the space to fill. 

After a bit of trial & error, I found an arrangement I like. 

This is my big confession: I eyeball the whole thing. 

I know a lot of people swear by the craft paper method, and I have tried that, but it has never worked for me. I always go back to trial & error. I'm not afraid to put nail holes in the wall. I use tiny nails, which patch and cover easily with paint. This wall already had holes from the former owners, and I plan to paint it eventually. So what's a few more holes to patch?

I got to this point when I realized I needed something round:

I added the clock on the upper left, then California at the top right.

The final touches: a plant and some accessories to visually connect the cabinet with the wall. 

So what's left?
1) The lamp will go from brushed nickel to bronze
2) I'm in search of a slightly larger clock. I like the simplicity of the current clock, but it's a pinch too small. I want to find one that balances California there on the upper right.
4) The black plant container will also get a small makeover to help it stand out from the cabinet.
5) The accessories will always be changing
6) Eventually I'll paint the entire wall

Just for fun…


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The Best Of What's Around 8/22/14

I took the last two weeks off from this series because I've been completely immersed in 1) pulling this house together and 2) helping the kids get settled into the new school year. One of those things is a smashing success and the other is limping along. Hint: school is going great!

Ohio…the heart of it all.

*My favorite things about Ohio so far:

1) You can buy wine anywhere. At the grocery store, Target, the gas station. It's a sweet sweet deal.

2) The people are so ridiculously friendly. It's like a whole state full of people who have never had their hearts broken. No bitterness. Everyone waves and smiles.

3) You are not required to take a written test to transfer an out-of-state driver's license. This is huge! I may have failed this test in a number of other states. I am a solid driver, I swear, but the written test is a whopper.

4) The state is rich with Farmer's Markets. All over the place.  They do not sell wine, but that's ok because see item #1.

5) Amazing schools. The buildings may not be brand new, some are quite old, which I actually love. But the teachers are wonderful and they seem to have the ability to teach what they love in a way that makes sense to them. Unfortunatley this privilege has been taken away from educators in other states, and replaced with questionable standards and assessments rather than common sense teaching. Bonus: the social studies teacher actually loves history and he is not mostly the football coach. 

I'm eyeing this navy print for new living room pillows:

Home Decor Print Fabric- Nate Berkus  Indre Lynwood Navy

or this one? or both?
Home Decor Print Fabric- Nate Berkus  Cole Stripe Paramount Ebony

I'll be there this afternoon to see (and touch) it in person. I'm one of those people who has to touch everything when I shop. I say I'm "highly tactile" my husband says I'm "highly weird" and "this is why I don't shop with you." He loves me.

*Anthropologie has made some no-so-great news in the past few days following a breastfeeding drama in an LA store. It remains one of my favorite places for inspiration and retail therapy. I like to think one bad seed shouldn't spoil the entire brand. And in the spirit of laughing at ourselves, this is a hilarious take on the style that is uniquely Anthropologie.

*Finally, my niece married this handsome guy two weeks ago.
Photo credit goes to another niece, little sister of the bride. She did an awesome job on the entire set of engagement photos. Such talent in this family!
 At one point (15 years ago) she was convinced that I would marry Dave Matthews someday, and actually resented Jason for a while because he was no "Uncle Dave." I love that story.  I hope they settle into the kind of comfort and happiness that Jason and I have, even if he is no Uncle Dave. *Hubby and niece have long since bonded.

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