Thursday, October 23, 2014

happy things

* While the daytime highs are still in the strong 80's here in Texas, at night it's beginning to dip down into the 60's. I keep seeing beautiful fall photos everywhere ( Elizabeth), and although there are no color changes here quite yet, we *can* open the windows without sweltering.

After months of being cooped up in air conditioning, that feeling of fresh air whisking through the house is heavenly.

Jack Black/Juan Pablo reflecting on his life choices

* This sweet email made my day. Liked the words, LOVED the photo.

{I took liberty to add the spooky black and white filter because one cannot resist such things}

"Your zebramingo inspired me to make a couple skellamingos!  You MUST blog more often!!!!  It's a highlight in my sad little life!

~ Sharon

* Speaking of zebringos and sad lives, this year's Christmas tree "theme" will be my favorite forever and ever because really? There is no way it can be topped. Pun intended. It's a magical blend of freaking awesome and whimsical and IF WE'RE LUCKY my husband may not throw a fit like last year. I'm not trying to keep it a secret (the kids know and are all on board)(except for the youngest, who just looked confused when it was explained and said "that sounds weird"), but if I blab I know he will attempt to thwart my efforts. I cannot be stopped.

* There's only 2 of us at work, aside from the agent, so we get to listen to whatever we want on the stereo. Are they still called stereos in 2014? In any case, my first day on the job the other guy asked if I minded music on.

"Only if it doesn't suck."

Luckily my go-to radio station is what he was already listening to which means that:
  • I was meant to work there
  • There are no arguments 
  • He is forced gets to listen to me sing for 4 hours a day. And dance in my chair to anything that requires it. And squeal when my favorites come on. 

* I grew up as the oldest of five: 4 girls and a boy caboose. For those keeping score, that would be the exact opposite of my five kiddos. I was talking to Sierra the other day about what a different experience she's had growing up, surrounded by boys. I truly can't imagine a life without sisters. This post {five years ago!) was the last time we were all together.

 A few things evident in these photos:

Those laughs that you can hear from outside a room when the door is closed? We all have them.

We have no problem squeezing each others body parts in front of sacred religious buildings.

We clearly never treated Benjamin like a little submissive cat that we could dress up and push around in a stroller.

We always establish boundaries and respect others personal space.

We have a love of jazz hands and spirit fingers. Probably not the look his bride imagined in her wedding photos, but look what a good sport she is.

We also were raised on a healthy diet of 7 Brides For 7 Brothers, My Fair Lady, and The Sound of Music. You know what would be super fun in a sophisticated wedding shot? To channel the von Trapp family at their farewell Nazi concert competition. Cuc-koo. Cuc-koo.

{why was I trying to be more conservative and attempting to grow my hair out again? I can't pull it off.}

So when I came across this video on instagram, not only can I guarantee that we have no less than 47 primitive home videos from growing up that would look eerily similar to this routine, but it made me miss my mild mannered, never ridiculous sisters something awful...

A video posted by ali royal (@aroyal2) on

Happy Thursday.

Monday, October 6, 2014

bedroom on a budget: part two

{click here for Part One}

Where did we leave off? Oh yes. Those walls.

The teensy tiny bit o' caulking in the seams made all the difference. Not enough that it would seep through to the sheetrock, in case we ever want to take the wood down, but just enough to soften up all the bulges caused by the wavy walls the planks were nailed to. No longer would there be nightmares about spiders setting up housekeeping in all those perfectly sized hidey holes and dropping on my face as I slept at night.

Hallelujer and praise da Lort.

The next order of business was those nightstands. Because everything else in the room was already black, they needed to not be. The color options consisted of the whatever-is-in-the-garage palette, as the miniscule budget allocated for them would be spent on hardware.

It only took a quick "lets just see" coat of leftover green from the dresser in the craft room before that shade was nixed. Yikes.

Looks like we were gonna hafta ditch the brighter color idea and go neutral. Since black was out, that left white (nope), tan or brown (definitely no), or that leftover gray from the boys' dresser that had been redone upstairs {and the laundry/bedroom wall}.

Gray is enjoying it's 15 minutes of fame right now, but - no offense to those riding the trend train - I don't get it. However. As deep as my disdain runs, this "Mined Coal" color had just enough earthy warmth to make it tolerable. Not my favorite, but sometimes free is the trump card that must be played, even if it's grudgingly.

{same hardware as before, just painted black}

Tip: don't keep your weakness for free furniture a secret.

When my friend saw this in her alley destined for the dump, she lugged it up to her garage, knowing full well that I'd be thrilled to give it a home. For years it got put to work by the computer holding the printer/ random office supplies. When Camden got his own room and swiped one of our nightstands, this bad boy got an invitation he couldn't refuse: a chance to hold sweatshirts and Roger's stash of Twizzlers. The role of a lifetime.

Years ago I made an attempt to combine a giftcard, coupon and a sale price fake a finished room by hanging these curtains. It didn't work. I loved the fabric, just not here.

This solid green pair from Ikea fit the bill. Literally. Simple, sheer enough to let in light, and TWENTY DOLLARS FOR THE PAIR.

It felt criminal to cover up the newly added recycled window casing, but the bit of trim that did peek out was enough to beef up the window, giving it a bit more height.

Immediately to the left of the window is where a few years old $25 Craigslist chair sits. It always felt awkward there, needing something on the wall to make it feel more connected and less like it was serving a time-out in the corner for being naughty.

Unused frames from the hall closet got hung on the wall bridging the awkward gap and marrying everything together. It seems to be the norm to have photos of your kids everywhere in your bedroom. I've even seen spaces with sweet little faces enlarged and hanging up over the bed, just staring at you. Daring you to get naked.

Come nightfall, when it's time to change the figurative hat and transform from Nurturing Mother into Seductive Wife, the LAST thing I want looking at me is an image of the children from Easter 2011.

The bedroom is a way to remind us of our relationship, which existed long before the birth of our babies.

Everything in here triggers a happy memory: the photos, the record cover we got at a concert that's been stuck in a frame, the clipart that's reminiscent of the pattern on our first dishes, the subtle suggestions hot off the press.

(and, for the record, it's this version, not that Jason Derulo nonsense)

We've already talked about all the action on the other side of the room. An icky, I-wanna-rip-it-out-but-there's-no-carpet-underneath bookcase that got a facelift with a coat of paint and some free wood.

{updating the bathroom post here}

{super simple, no-cost necklace holder steps here}

Tip: if you invest in neutral bedding, it takes next to nothing to change it up.

When I say invest, that means a $29.99 bedspread from Marshalls 7 years ago.
The throw pillows are even older, and they stayed mostly as is (see? Buy what you love and it will work forever). The only exception is that middle one, which was slipcovered (pillowcased?) with some old fabric stashed in my "someday project" hoard.

Everything else was just relocated from other rooms.

There are baskets scattered throughout the house, and although only the biggest one is actually meant for hanging, there aren't any rules that say regular ol' baskets can't chill on the wall too. I am a whore for texture and they add a ton. As does that vintage throw that was a long ago birthday gift {to myself}, marked down at an antique mall for pennies. It keeps my perpetually frozen toes warm when it gets cold, and has a special Harry Potteresque quality which makes me adore it even harder.

{Roger would like it known that there is nothing small enough in this room that we would actually need to USE this magnifying glass to see. Ahem.}
{a vintage gate marker from Bulgaria via ebay...our anniversary is August 23...obviously what it means}

 The Budget: $150

The Breakdown:

bed $40

one gallon paint for the 3 walls $25

wood planks $65

curtains $20

knobs/pulls for nightstand $15

Total: about $165

More comfy and finished than how it looked for 5 years,

and light years better than the morning after moving in.

One year later, and it still makes my heart happy to be in this room. Especially when the bed is made...which is about once a week. Tops.

Friday, October 3, 2014

bedroom on a budget: part one

 (yes, I am slowly cleaning out the "draft post" folder)

It was Spring of 2013, and I had decided that IT WAS TIME for our room to feel...I dunno...less temporary? Sparse? Make do-ish?

A week after we moved in, a coat of "Belgian Waffle" got slapped onto the walls to fake light in a perpetually dreary room. The sun shines in gloriously for 2 hours in the afternoon, but the rest of the day this space is a cave. There were wonderful plans swirling around for the someday-after-the-rest-of-the-house-is-done phase, including some sort of wood/molding treatment for behind the bed, and that would happen e v e n t u a l l y, as all wonderful things magically do.


So here we were, 5 years later, sitting at the intersection of Loads of Motivation and Empty Wallet.

As there had been far too many injuries - including one overnight hospital stay - from that tall foot board, a plan was hatched. Perhaps I could *try* to sell the bed for $150 on Craigslist and just see what happened? That was fifty bucks more than we paid for it, and if there were no takers, we could adjust the price accordingly.

Two hours after posting the ad online the bed was gone. I now had a fistful of money to make it rain fund THE ROOM OF MY DREAMS.

(I can't type that without hearing it said like this. "My name is Kid Float, and I will be doing the Funky Periscope.")

(Also, this amount will no doubt make some people giggle, and I realize that there are many who may have $150 to throw at just sheets, or curtains or lamps or whathaveyou. I can respect that. I just can't relate. In my world, any budget over $25 is downright indulgent. $150 feels like the lottery. Not sure if that's refreshing or pathetic.)

I got to work searching for my ideal bed that met the 3-C test: Chunky, Curvy {because I'm all about that bass}, and Cheap. It's safe to say that this $40 sexy beast passed with flying colors.

If you're painting a piece of furniture a deep color, for heaven's sake get your primer tinted something darker than the bright white straight outta the can. Some girls never learn...but then again, some girls just use what they have on hand because it's free.

A few coats of soft black (leftover from this wall) and it was perfect. You know what else was perfect?

The $110 left over to finish the rest of the room.

Even though Roger and I are drawn to rich, delicious earthy hues, that just wasn't an option in a room this dark. The khaki color second from the bottom was the winner.

(the hallway nook before it earned it's stripes off in the distance)

No doubt that will invite even more pointing of fingers and mockery as beige is no longer ON TREND (oh the horror!).

Tip: disregard what other people are doing and surround yourself with what you love.

Fashion always changes it's mind anyway.

Oh it would be lovely to change out those aluminum blinds for something else.  Anything else. Unfortunately 72 inches of even the most basic plantation blinds would've blown the remaining budget. 

Remnant trim from the garage is a great distraction. Plus it's like my love and don't cost a thing.

{in progress}

About $65 was spent on the same kind of wood used to make the ginormous wood map, just cut into strips. It took me awhile to bite the bullet because planked walls have been EVERYWHERE in the past few years. Each time I saw someone talking about it, my heart screamed like a hipster fangirl when her favorite band ends up on mainstream radio.


In the end my husband guilted me into following my own advice: disregard what other people are doing and surround yourself with what you love.

Golly that's hard. Pride = swallowed.

Another helpful tip: don't finish the rest of your shopping while the sweet new guy at Lowes cuts your wood. 

If he stacks up too many pieces at a time, the saw will skip or push back or whatever you call it and not cut straight. At the very least, don't assume that if the top pieces of the stack look good, they all are. Lesson learned. A good 25% of our planks looked like this.

Suffice it to say that the wonky pieces went where they would be covered by furniture.

(the circles are gone!)

Some primer on the knots to keep them from bleeding through the paint,

a little screen molding to finish off the raw edges,

and then we stood back to take it all in and realized one itty bitty factor had been overlooked:

we live in north Texas.

Houses here are built on moving soil ---> shifting foundations ---> 46 year old walls aren't flat, straight, or in any way level. Imperfect planks on an imperfect wall meant nothing was really sitting flush.


It doesn't look horrid in this photo, but trust. This is the deep, dark reality of DIY - not everything turns out like you think it will. 

After brainstorming possible solutions for days (i.e. burn the house down and start from scratch), I was thinking that maybe if there was a little caulk in between the planks, it would soften up the horizontal bulges and gaps while still leaving the seams visible. The wood needed another coat of paint anyhow, and at that point I was willing to stake my bets and risk messing up the whole freaking thing. 

Luckily the Angels of Mercy were shining down upon us. That's a good thing since that first coat of green paint over the black nightstand also needed some saving.

::Part Two on Monday::