Decking the halls

Blame the early deadlines at work (we were taste testing holiday cookies in October) or the mini polar vortex, but I’m totally in Christmas mode.

My minimal fall decor didn’t last long this year, but I do want to share this little fall leaf project with you.

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Corban helped me pick out some leaves from the yard during peak color season, and I ironed them between pieces of wax paper, using this method, to preserve them. Then I just taped them to white paper and framed them – so easy!

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My other fall DIY project was this “Boo” door hanging. It took about 10 minutes to make – tie wooden letters together using twine, make a nice big burlap bow, hang the letters from the door and paper clip (really) the bow on.

Corban started requesting Christmas music the day after Halloween, so we’ve had our children’s Christmas CD on repeat for weeks, but Peter convinced me to hold off until this weekend to fully embrace the season ahead. We went straight from the “Boo” front door to what I’m calling my transitional Christmas wreath (since it has some fall colors in there).

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Yep, it’s my all-seasons wreath again (here’s the Valentine’s Day version and the fall version.)

Peter’s parents gave Corban a Little People nativity set that we only bring out during the holiday season, so Mara was sufficiently distracted by the “new toy” while I got all the decorations out.

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I think it’s the cutest.

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Then up with the tree…

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For some reason I struggled to make the mantel look cohesive this year. After much rearranging (and removing, adding back and removing again several pieces), here’s what I settled on.

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The stockings are from Hung By The Chimney on Etsy. They have so many great fabrics! It’s not easy to choose. (Looks like they have a $1 off sale going on right now. I ordered mine in the off season so they were discounted, but not sure if that’s how it always works.)

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Then, trimming the tree. Corban helped me with this after Mara went to bed.

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A new ornament this year (gift from Peter’s parents last year):

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I also love this little bird a friend made for me last year. Adorable, and kid/cat friendly enough for the bottom of the tree.

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My favorite ornaments are my babies’ newborn handprints.

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The project will make you scream with frustration, but if they turn out they’re worth it.

In ornaments-that-didn’t-make-it-on-the-tree news…

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The cozy glow of the Christmas tree was my main motivation for getting the decorations up early this year, and I must say, it sure made driving home from work in a blizzard on November 24 that much more rewarding.

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…even if our cozy glow is having some issues with a section of lights not working…

(Oh, and here’s how to make the burlap tree skirt – all you need is a glue gun, burlap and ribbon!)

Merry early Christmas! Or should I say, Happy Thanksgiving.

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Easy closet makeover

Inspired by the first month’s “Happier at Home” challenge to cultivate “shrines” (places you spend a lot of time) and by my mom’s and sister’s recent closet makeovers, I decided to tackle my own closet. The goal: make it easier and more pleasant to get ready each morning. I made a few simple changes to accomplish that goal.

Here’s a look at my closet before. Apologies for the cringe-inducing photo quality.

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(Yes, I own four Snuggies. One is Peter’s actually. But apparently I look like a person who enjoys a good blanket with sleeves, because I’ve received more than one as a gift.)

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Pretty stuffed with clothes, and haphazardly storing towels, purses and miscellaneous junk.

Here’a a look at the closet after my little makeover:

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Not just less cluttered, but smarter! I thought about my daily routine and considered what I could change about my closet to make it assist me in that routine.

First up: the shelves. Here are my top two shelves before — storing bath towels, hand towels and washcloths (along with old journals).

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The towels had to go. I moved them into our bathroom, where I just stacked them next to the jacuzzi tub. It was space unused by anyone except Basil, who liked to chase her tail in that corner. I think she’s moved on, though, and I’ve cleared out a shelf!

I moved sweaters up to that shelf, leaving a few select towels and pillow cases on the top shelf with the journals.

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Here is what my middle two shelves looked like before:

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The upper of those two shelves was cleared when I moved some sweaters up, so I then had a free shelf to work with.

I decided to move all my jewelry into the closet. I had been keeping it on my bathroom counter, but it made more sense to keep accessories in the space that I use to get dressed, rather than on valuable bathroom counter space.

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I used this jewelry organizer my mom was getting rid of to keep my earrings in view for easy access.

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And to complete the jewelry transition and organization, I hung 3M Command hooks on the opposite (previously blank) wall for my necklaces.

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I hung a $5 mirror from Michael’s above it. It was a little small, so I found a larger one at the dollar store that has since replaced it. Wonderful $1 upgrade!

I absolutely love having my necklaces hung like that. It makes getting ready so much easier, and it encourages me to wear more of my jewelry since I can easily see it all.

Moving on… here are the bottom two shelves before:

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Qué disastre!

I moved those colorful towels into the basement linen closet. I only really use them for hot yoga, which I haven’t been to in about two years. They’re good as extra guest towels though.

My next breakthrough move was to store my underwear and bras in the closet. Why didn’t I think of this sooner? I had been keeping them in my dresser out in the bedroom, which is out of the way when showering and getting dressed. Two brown bins from Target did the trick.

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And that bottom shelf got a good cleaning out and straightening up. I must admit, however, that Corban crawls in every morning and takes each purse out one by one, so it usually doesn’t look that neat. Whatever keeps him entertained though…

I don’t have a good before photo of this part of the closet, but it was pretty unruly with scarves, skirts and jackets protruding into my personal space every time I stood in there. Here it is now:

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I took the hangers that I was using for scarves and moved belts onto them.

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That took the belts off their previously overflowing hanger and gave them some better visibility for me. The scarves moved to a hanger outfitted with shower hooks and hung nicely on a hook on the wall behind the closet door.

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They key here is to use a velvety/textured hanger. I tried it on a regular plastic hanger and the shower curtain hooks all slid to one corner.

This floor space got some straightening up, too. I got rid of some bags I never use and took the area from this:

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To this:

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It’s amazing how much more functional my closet is now, thanks to these few simple upgrades. The total cost was probably about $25, for hooks, a mirror and cloth bins. Everything else was made possible by just reorganizing or repurposing things.

Before and after:

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If you have any closet-related organization tips, please share!

 

Happier at Home: Possessions

I picked up a copy of Gretchen Rubin’s new book, “Happier at Home,” from work last month (our books editor gets sent lots of books to review, and some of the rejects end up on the “up-for-grabs” counter, as I like to call it). I haven’t read her book that skyrocketed her onto the New York Times bestseller list, “The Happiness Project,” but I was vaguely familiar with the concept behind it – intentionally making small changes in your life that overall add up to more happiness. It sure sounds like an interesting experiment, right?

So I opened up “Happier at Home” and started reading. It’s the same concept as “The Happiness Project,” only focused on home life rather than life in general, I suppose. The book is divided into chapters by month – each month Gretchen focuses on a different aspect of the home and sets several goals or changes to make to see if they result in more happiness. Lest you write this off as navel-gazing, I should note that Rubin does an excellent job of incorporating research in with her anecdotes and personal feelings, so it reads as more than a diary. At least so far – I’m only one chapter in, ha.

Conveniently, the book starts with September, the beginning of the school year – oh yeah, and the month the book was released. Before this starts to sound like a book review of a book I’m only one chapter into, I’m sure you can see where this is headed. Seeing as it was September, and I love a good personal challenge, I decided to maybe, kind of, sort of go along for the ride with Gretchen and partake in some of her goals each month.

Now, before I continue, let me get one thing out of the way: I’m not entirely comfortable with her use of the word “happiness.” From what I’ve gathered so far, her philosophy is that happiness is a thing to be pursued daily, and that pursuit is, a lot of the time, in the small details of everyday life. I totally agree that it’s the little things each day that determine a lot of my mood and enjoyment of life. But I believe that true happiness is something that comes from above. No matter how hard I try to achieve happiness on my own, I’m still broken and in desperate need of a savior. I can have all the little details of my life nailed down and be miserable without God’s mercy. On the other hand, I can live in chaos and physical despair, but have peace in my heart because of His love. (Side note: what a comfort that my hope is found in something much greater than this world!)

So essentially, I think if Rubin is searching for true happiness, or even a mere glimpse of it, she’s looking in the wrong places. But if we’re just talking about improving quality of life, as long as the activities of this pursuit don’t become idols – that is, essential to your happiness – then I think this project can be useful.

That’s the tough part though. It’s a fine line. John Calvin wrote: “Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.” We’re so naturally inclined to put anything and everything before God that I struggle with whether any sort of “happiness project” that doesn’t involve God is right. There’s no black and white answer.

That being said (wow, this post got a lot deeper than I originally intended! Funny how that happens when you stop to really think about what you’re thinking about), I’m going to treat this book as good motivation to focus a little more on some things that can help make my life easier and more pleasant, and be aware that in and of itself, this project will not lead to true happiness.

OK, so back to September…

Rubin’s first month’s topic is possessions. An interesting place to start, right? Possessions can bring much joy, but they also can weigh you down. I’m not going to go into too much detail on the chapter, but the three resolutions Gretchen set were cultivate a shrine, go shelf by shelf and read the manual.

Cultivate a shrine: Rubin said her goal was to “transform areas of my apartment into places of super-engagement.” She did this through tasks like swapping out photos in frames, displaying meaningful mementos and reorganizing her workspace.

My take: I am just awful at printing and displaying photos. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve gone years at times with frames displaying the generic black and white photos they came with. In fact, I’m staring at a giant, empty collage frame I bought for like $10 on Black Friday, um… three years ago? Maybe four. Oops. So, while the collage frame escaped my newfound motivation to just put some darn photos in the frames (I guess it’s just become a natural part of the scenery in here, so I didn’t even notice it. Pathetic.), I was inspired to make use of some empty frames on my desk and fill them with a few nice, recent-ish photos. Now I can gaze up at friends and family while I’m browsing the Internet. How lovely, and long overdue. I still have some progress to make in other rooms, but this little photo frame task has made a worthy impact on the pleasantness of sitting at my desk at home.

One source of stress I’ve noticed in my life surrounds my morning routine. When my closet and bathroom are messy and disorganized, I get frustrated while trying to get ready for the day. So this month I “cultivated a shrine” in my closet and bathroom (that just doesn’t sound right!) This move was actually inspired by my mom and sister, who both recently created very shrine-like closets for themselves, but it fits right in with this chapter of the book. I’ll save the details for a separate post, but I made a few simple changes that dramatically impact the overall agreeability of my morning routine.

In thinking about this idea of making your favorite areas in your home really comfortable, I also came up with a plan for our sunroom, which is a lovely space that doesn’t get used to its full potential. It’s the perfect spot to relax with a book (something I wish I did more of) so why don’t we keep our books in there and turn it into a mini library? I’ll keep you posted on how this plays out.

Go shelf by shelf: Gretchen had some useful tips for clearing out and reorganizing her house. Things like: clean as you go, abandon a project that you know you won’t finish, buy what you need and clear surfaces. I liked her recognition of the difference between something that wasn’t used and something that was useless. It’s OK to keep something for purely sentimental reasons. Just don’t keep everything!

My take: Gretchen has way more time than I do to actually go shelf by shelf, but I did make a tiny bit of progress. I purged our shoe closet of flip flops I hadn’t worn in years. I cleared several piles of junk off my desk (you can see the surface again!) Throughout the month I continuously added clothes and objects to half a dozen bags I plan to donate (now to just take them to Goodwill…) I recycled old boxes I had been saving and got rid of or filed a bunch of papers. These were all small steps, but any little dent helps in keeping your possessions from overtaking your home, and even a little bit of clutter-clearing gives me a sense of satisfaction.

Read the manual: Funny how just taking a few minutes to properly learn how something works can make life so much easier. I can’t think of any specific examples of how I put this to work last month, but it’s a good piece of advice to bear in mind.

I feel like I could stay quite busy concentrating on these September goals for the rest of year, but alas, it is October, and this month’s topic is marriage. Yikes. I’ll write another recap at the end of the month. Care to join me? Grab a copy of the book and let me know your thoughts!

The Nursery: Personal touches

Since I finally got around to showing you Corban’s nursery (I was so not one of those moms who rocked peacefully in the glider of the finished nursery while anticipating the arrival of her beloved baby – our nursery was a wreck when C was born and we still don’t even have a glider), I want to share a few personal touches we added to the room. I’m not talking about DIY things – which, yes, are personal, and are in our nursery – but rather sentimental items.

STUFFED BEAR

My parents brought this stuffed bear to the hospital with them when they came to visit the day after Corban was born. It goes along with the book “On the Night You Were Born,” which they also gave us. It took me two weeks to work up the courage to read the book, because I knew it would make me sob in my overly emotional, hormonal, post-partum state. And sob I did. Corban has lots of stuffed animals from mine and Peter’s childhoods (and gifts) in the closet, but this bear gets a special spot because it reminds me of the night he was born.

SHOWER “GUESTBOOK”

Next to the bear sits a framed photo of Corban as a newborn surrounded by a matte signed by all the ladies at the baby shower my sister threw for me. It’s so fun to remember the anticipation we all felt that day (and the entire pregnancy) and look back on everyone’s joy and excitement. Someday maybe it will be fun for Corban to see how excited my friends and family were for his arrival (but I’m not counting on it, haha).

HOOK SOUVENIR

Our trip to Tucson last August was the last big vacation Peter and I took together before becoming parents (if you consider him tagging along with me to a journalism conference a vacation). We stayed a couple extra days to celebrate our anniversary at the resort where the conference was held and I also considered it our “babymoon.” One day we went into town to do some shopping and came upon an adorable store full of handmade and vintage items, including quite a few baby things. I wanted to get something for our baby, so I picked out this hook for the nursery. It aptly fits the decor and is useful for hanging towels to dry, but most of all I love the memory it holds.

FOOTPRINT

His tiny foot at one week old. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Oh, and remember how special that photo is?

STUFFED LAMB

The only stuffed animal aside from the bear that gets to live out in the open at this point is a stuffed lamb that Peter’s mom gave us when Corban was born. It has lavender in it, which is supposed to be calming. When Corban was only a few weeks old I started setting the lamb in my lap while I would read to him and get him calmed down for bed, and now the lamb sits in our nursing chair at all times.

ELEPHANT FIGURINE

My mom gave me this little doo-dad a few years ago, and it’s been in the nursery since back when it was a guest bedroom. I love elephants. They’re my “thing.” And this little figurine I’ve loved from the start fits the nursery decor perfectly.

It’s such a comfort having little sentimental items like this around us in the nursery. If you’re a parent, what kinds of personal touches did you add to your child’s nursery?

How to make yarn balloon pendants

In tomorrow’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, in honor of Mother’s Day, I have a short story on how Corban’s nursery came together. Look, it’s posted online right now if you want to read it!

So, there it is. The nursery:

I’ll write more about it in a few upcoming posts, but right now I want to share how to make the yarn balloon pendants hanging over the crib. If you remember from my inspiration board, I loved the idea of hanging paper lanterns over the crib. Then I saw balloon-shaped yarn party decorations on Pinterest, and realized they would fit perfectly with the print of an elephant being whisked away by balloons that I had already hung.

They seemed easy enough to make, so I decided to go for it. Here’s what I did:

STEP 1: Stir together an approximately 50/50 mixture of glue and water. Regular old Elmer’s works fine. You can also get by with a little more water than glue. No real need to measure it.

STEP 2: Cut about 30 to 40 3- to 5-foot pieces of yarn.

STEP 3: Blow up a balloon to your desired size and suspend it somewhere where you can get a little messy. I found that the easiest way to suspend the balloon was to pierce through the tip with a wire hanger and hang it on a rack in the laundry room.

Looking back, it might have been easier to use a safety pin instead of a wire hanger. You will also want to put some newspaper or a dropcloth underneath to catch drips.

STEP 4: Dip a piece of yarn entirely into the glue mixture. Wring it between your fingers to remove excess glue as you lift it out. Hold one end of the string at the the tip of the balloon and carefully wrap the yarn around the balloon in a random pattern. Tuck the other end of the yarn under or around itself to keep it on the balloon.

Repeat with remainder of yarn pieces until you have reached your desired coverage of your balloon (like the one below on the left).

STEP 5: Let the yarn dry for at least 24 hours. I think I gave mine a good two days, or until it was completely dry on the bottom.

STEP 6: Carefully – carefully – poke your fingers between the holes of the yarn and push the balloon away from it. You’ll hear a crunching noise as the yarn becomes unglued from the balloon. Do this all over, in every nook and cranny, until you don’t hear much of the crunching noise anymore. You don’t want the yarn to stick to the balloon in this next step (I learned this the hard way when my first yarn sculpture completely collapsed in step 7. So sad!)

STEP 7: Use a thumbtack or pin to pop the balloon. Carefully extract the balloon pieces from the center of the yarn ball and remove it from the hanger.

STEP 8: Tie a piece of yarn tightly around the top of the balloon and hang it up!

I didn’t want to put holes in the ceiling so I used some 3M Command hooks to hang mine. The pendants haven’t come crashing down yet so I consider it a success (they’re super light so even if they did, they wouldn’t hurt Baby C!)

Unfortunately, my dark blue balloon suffered some damage from curious cat explorations when they were first hung. The cats have since lost interest, and I’ve lost motivation to re-do it, but there’s always the possibility that someday I’ll replace it. I’m also considering adding another couple to fill out the area a bit.

This project wasn’t too challenging, but it was a bit mundane wrapping string after string around the balloons. In the end, it was worth it since it works so perfectly in our nursery, but as you can tell I’m not overly enthusiastic about repeating the process anytime soon.

Stay tuned for some more nursery tidbits and DIY projects in the coming week.

From house to home, and a Valentine’s Day wreath

Of all the things that have changed since we brought Corban home from the hospital, perhaps the most unexpected is my relationship with our house.

In the almost three and a half years that we’ve lived here, I don’t think I ever truly took pleasure in our home until I started spending a lot more time in it while on maternity leave.

For 3+ years, I woke up every weekday morning, scrambled to get out the door to work, rushed to the gym or another activity after work, perhaps making a brief stop at home to cobble together some sort of dinner, and then came home to crash in bed and repeat it again the next day. On the weekends, I spent most of my time at home undertaking cleaning or yardwork tasks — clearing piles of clutter, dishes, laundry, papers, etc. that had accumulated during the week.

That’s an exaggeration, but the truth of it is that my time at home was more often than not a pit stop between time spent elsewhere, which made our house a dumping ground, and therefore a battleground on which I constantly struggled to undo the mess that inevitably creeps up when your home is more a storage facility than a sanctuary.

In theory, I cared about making our home the place I wanted it to be — painting various rooms, decorating for different holidays, updating a few things — but in reality, it didn’t bother me on a daily basis that it wasn’t. I didn’t spend enough time there to care if there were pictures on the walls, curtains on the windows or even a Christmas tree.

When my pregnancy-induced nesting instinct kicked in, I finally checked a few things off my to-do list of home improvements. You may have read about some of them. But I still was rushing around — more than ever, actually — and home was the place where I slept more than anything else.

But now that I’m not working, everything seems different.

My job is to feed a hungry little boy who at times ties me to the couch for seemingly hours on end (this is getting better, finally), and I’m finding that I finally have time to get joy out of our physical home. I spend time just being here, and I look around and remember why we bought this house. I delight in the lovely open floor plan with lots of light. I look at the pictures I finally placed in the frames hanging in our family room, and I think, “how nice!” I start to get crazy thoughts about decorating for Valentine’s Day. I have a whole new perspective now that I spend most of my time here.

Sure, I still struggle with laundry piles and dirty dishes and the like (and I admit I have an ongoing battle with clearing the clutter), but those war zones aren’t my focus all the time now. I must say, it feels really nice to get pleasure out of our home instead of battle it.

***

On that note, I did actually do a tiny bit of Valentine’s Day decorating. I was shocked that I even had the urge, but I guess this nesting thing is no joke, and it continues well after the baby is born.

Inspired once again by Pinterest and saddened that our door was bare after finally taking down our Christmas wreath, I decided our front door could use a wreath for all seasons. I had a hankering to make one of those yarn wreaths that seem to be all the rage on the Internet these days, but create it in a way that I could update it for various holidays by switching out different colored felt flowers.

It’s a good thing I started this project mid-January, because wrapping yarn around an entire wreath is a time-consuming endeavor, and large chunks of free time are just not a part of my life right now. With spare minutes spent here and there wrapping, wrapping, wrapping white yarn around a wood wreath (still in the packaging — important to note!), I finished up last night. You could probably finish it while watching one or two episodes of “The Bachelor” if you don’t watch “The Bachelor” while nursing your infant.

My plain, white yarn wreath is a blank canvas for festive flowers. And festive felt flowers, as it turns out, are way easy to make!

I used this tutorial to make the roses, this one for the layered, bright pink flowers (except I cut circles instead of flower shapes) and this one for the fringy ones like the big red one. The bright pink ones were the most time consuming, but the roses and the fringy flowers (not sure how else to describe them) were a cinch. All you need is felt (24 cents a sheet a Michaels), scissors and a hot glue gun.

To make the flowers detachable, I used old bobbie pins (from my wedding day hairstyle, which had over 100 pins in it! I knew I was saving them for something) like this:

I bent the pins in two places for the small flowers and one for the larger flowers. The goal was to have a U-shape to hot glue onto the back of the flowers, with a tighter U-shape or simply the straight pin hovering slightly from the base. Pictures describe it better than words:

Then you can arrange the flowers on the wreath without gluing them permanently on. Just poke the bobbie pins through the yarn.

I hung it on our front door using ribbon…

…and tying the ribbon to a hook that was already on the back side of the door to hang holiday wreaths. A bow gives the inside of the door a little decoration and hides the hook.

I’m excited to make more felt flowers and transform the wreath for various seasons throughout the year. At least for a few days we’ll have some Valentine’s Day festivity though.

I ended up making a few too many roses, so the candles on our mantle got some dressing up for the season too.

Working folks, I’m curious to know, how much pleasure do you get out of your home? Are you like I was before maternity leave forced me to slow down? If so, how can you change that? That’s one thing I’ll be thinking about when I go back to work!

‘A piece of history’

A few weeks ago, a company-wide email went out offering Journal Sentinel employees “a piece of history.”

I, of course, jumped at this opportunity. Let me explain.

Built in 1924 and designed by Chicago architect Frank D. Chase, a stone frieze depicting the history of communication long adorned the top of the Journal Sentinel building.

(Photo from my colleague Mary Louise Schumacher’s Art City blog)

Last year, it was inspected and deemed unsafe after sustaining years of damage. Restoring or preserving it was cost prohibitive, so this summer I watched the frieze get torn off the building every morning as I walked in to work. Read more about the history and tearing down of it in this great Art City blog post.

Most of the frieze was torn up as it came down, but a few larger stones came off intact. Those are going to the Milwaukee Historic Society.

The rest of the pieces were set out in the parking lot one afternoon, when that “piece of history” email was sent, and offered to anyone who was willing to haul gigantic hunks of broken stone home.

I scored a decent piece that had some art on it. Although I’m not sure “scored” is the appropriate word.

The only problem: it weighs 300 pounds. Hmmm. What do you do with a 300-pound rock?

A few men from building management were able to load the giant stone into the back of Peter’s minivan (work vehicle – we’re not planning that far ahead!). Amazingly, Peter somehow managed to get it out of the van, with very little help from me (two-by-fours and gravity did the trick).

But there was no way we could carry it anywhere. Going up or down stairs would be nearly impossible, and even if we could get it in the house (I originally – before learning how heavy it was – envisioned it propped up next to our fireplace or in the soon-to-be-finished basement somewhere. Ha!) it would be too heavy to hang or prop up against anything. We couldn’t even really prop it up outside or next to the front door without damaging the house.

So, it’s staying where we unloaded it.

At least for now.

I’m not fully convinced it looks OK just hanging out in our flower bed, but that’s pretty much the only spot for it at this point. Peter thinks it looks good there, and claims a friend of ours agreed when he was over the other day. I’ll have to see if it grows on me or we come up with an alternative.

But I guess it’s still pretty cool to have an 87-year-old piece of the Journal Sentinel building displayed on our property. Any ideas on what else we could do with it?

The nursery: Inspiration board and new rug

I left you yesterday with the before pictures of the nursery (a.k.a. current guest bedroom). Oh, the suspense! 😉

The one thing I knew about the nursery from the beginning was I didn’t want to paint the walls. They are a very pale blue color that I think is pretty and relaxing. No need to mess with that. So the next step in my mind was finding a pretty rug that I could use as the base for the room’s accessories (and to cover up some of the burber carpet that isn’t very cozy).

I looked at just about every rug on Wayfair and Home Decorators and in a rare moment of decisiveness, picked one out. That was the base of my inspiration board on Olioboard (great site for collecting design ideas for a room).

The idea is to keep the changes simple. We’re just sprucing up the room for Baby.

I kept being drawn to turquoise, and decided that it would be a fun accent color. We already have a bookshelf almost exactly like that one in the room, and it would be easy to paint it. I picked up two mirrors at Target that we can paint the same shade of turquoise.

The first step, though, was buying the rug. Once I knew just how it looked in person, it’d be easier to plan.

Let me just preface this series of photos by saying Biggles really likes this rug. It has a new-car smell to it and it’s really soft, so after I rolled it out he proceeded to rub his body over every square inch of it.

Basil was a little more cautious about it.

My thoughts: it’s actually a different color than I was expecting. The photo on Wayfair looked gray with yellow designs. In reality, it’s more like light blue with tan designs. But I still really like it and think it will work in the room. It’s also very thick and soft. I kind of don’t blame Biggles for wanting to roll all over it.

So that’s progress, people! We have a rug.

Of course, after the shower, the room just looks like this:

I actually sort of attempted to pile things by category as I unpacked them, but there’s definitely still a lot of organizing to do.

I’d love to know, where do you go for design inspiration? I usually start with a rug (which can take years for me to pick out – I’ll tell you about that later) or browse Young House Love and other blogs. This was my first time using Olioboard, and now that I have a computer that isn’t super slow, I love it!

The nursery: Before

I have been increasingly thinking about – AND actually taking action for! – the nursery. But before I tell you all about how I want it to look, let’s take a look at some before shots.

Here’s what the nursery looked like a couple weeks ago:

That’s right, a guest bedroom! We even had guests stay in it a couple weeks ago.

The wall color in the above two photos is highly deceptive. It’s not green, but more of a very pale blue. Below it looks slightly more true to color.

Not a whole lot of progress has been made since then, but I have made a couple purchases that I will share with you later today or tomorrow. I’ll also give you a peek at my inspiration board and the few changes I plan to make to the room. It’s not much, but I’m really excited about it.

Stay tuned…

Sunroom switcharoo

We have had a very bright sunroom.

Here’s a closer look at the wall color:

This photo just does not do justice to its bright orange and yellow sponge-painted color scheme.

I’ve been wanting to paint it a paler, solid yellow for a while now. Like, you know, a few years.

Of course, when I actually start to take steps to make this paint job a reality, Peter informs me he cannot bear to part with the beautiful, sunshiny, sponge-painted walls. He likes it.

Our compromise was that I would paint three of the walls and leave the back wall his beloved sponged goodness. An accent wall, if you will. Or, at least, we would see how that looked and if it was horrible, we’d paint over it.

So, with my mom in town to share her wonderful ambition and paint skills, we got to work.

First we had to prime. Then paint.

But when it was all said and done, the pale yellow I had picked out somehow didn’t look yellow at all.

Well, it kind of looked yellow, but compared to that bright yellow/orange wall it seemed more beige.

And, I concluded, it just didn’t work with the accent wall. Peter then concluded that the color just didn’t work, period, and I couldn’t help but agree. It dulled down the room just a tad too much.

So what are we to do, after our compromise fails to appease either party? After spending all afternoon painting a color we now aren’t crazy about?

After cross-examining Peter a bit more, we discovered that it wasn’t so much the orange sponge paint that he liked, but the diversity of having something more than four solid-colored walls. My mom then threw out the brilliant suggestion of wallpaper on the accent wall.

I swore I would never use wallpaper, but after thinking about it, I decided it could be perfect on that wall. A simple, modern design that incorporated some yellow or gold but matched the dull pale yellow walls a bit better could do the trick.

Here’s the only real contender my mom and I found at Sherwin Williams:

I’m not 100% sold on it, but I think I could love that pattern on the wall if it translates how I’m imagining it. Stay tuned to see if I ever get around to wallpapering…

***

There was one very positive switcharoo in the sunroom that will definitely stick. See if you notice the difference.

The fan! More specifically, the fan blades. Who knew they had a dark finish on the opposite side? We my mom simply removed each blade and flipped it over to reveal the dark side, which I think looks much more sophisticated.

So there’s your 10-minute, no-cost home improvement tip of the week. Switch your fan blades if you like the opposite side’s finish better.