embracing my inner dane

Greetings, my long lost poppets! It seems so long since last we met.

Spring is afoot here finally. We actually enjoyed our pre-Easter dinner cocktails OUTSIDE, if you can believe it. In Seattle, that is a very uncommon state of affairs in early April.

And April marks another important date in this household. April 19th will make FIVE YEARS of home ownership AND the Girl Child will turn FOURTEEN.  Yes, this one.

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Anyway, back to the house. When we moved in (weird, I TOTALLY thought I did a post about what the house looked like when we bought it, but damned if I could find it. Will have to rectify.)  we painted the dingy main living areas a light blue. And while I still like that, some areas are looking a bit worn and could do with some freshening.  Also, I get bored easily and in a house this small, there aren’t a lot of options for furniture rearranging, so I play with curtains and pillows – easy stuff.

I’ve mostly been a mid-century girl these last few years (a long way from my Shabby Chic 90’s!) and am even more drawn to the crisp clean lines of white walls, with wood furniture and pops of color via textiles or art. Very Scandinavian, which makes sense given the big hunk of Danish blood I’ve got. 🙂 A room like this for example.

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Source: Apartment Therapy

Granted, a lot of these types of rooms have white wood floors and I’m not about to do that. BUT I am planning to redo our blue walls a la Manhattan Nest’s brilliant Daniel. (BTW, LOVE his place. I think I have a little crush.)  So this..

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And this…

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will be white!  And the fireplace a slightly different shade perhaps, in a glossier finish.

No doubt the Geek is hyperventilating with panic right about now. Not to fret. The painting will me AFTER the garage is cleaned out and the house decluttered. The carrot to keep me moving forward on those unpleasant tasks. Swear!

If I don’t get totally burned out, I’ll even paint the kitchen cabinets a light gray and get that damn door fixed and trim painted.  And maybe even this for a certain 14-year-old.

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Source: Bolig

Big plans afoot, people!

the good fight

I’ve written about the Boy Child here and here. He is now in the 5th grade and next year will be in middle school.

He’s never had it easy in school – it just doesn’t come as naturally to him as the Girl Child. It’s always a little bit harder, like it just doesn’t quite click.  The reading part has finally clicked, once he found the Warriors cat series. If I could hug Erin Hunter, I would. He reads for hours now. Without nagging.

He has a special love for cats. He desperately wants a cat, and that has been his motivator when it comes to homework. Considering we have this beast, we are trying to figure out ways to make this happen.

Sometimes, though, the cat is not enough. So we practice extra math online, hoping to increase math fact fluency. I think it is beginning to work, but time before middle school is running out, so we are doing a little tutoring once a week with a friend who is a teacher.  She can give me insight professionally – should I be worried about ADD or a  learning disability? She says it’s probably just a maturity thing, and to keep practicing.

The problem though is the tutoring. He thinks having a tutor makes him “dumb”.  We have gone round and round about this, me trying to explain he is plenty smart and lots of kid have tutors, even kids we know. I think he has come to accept our friend helping him, mostly because he thinks it will help him get a cat, but she can’t go on doing it forever.

So I found this place. It has a great reputation and can help him with writing too – another area he hates and struggles in. I told him about it last night, holding my breath. Explained it’s not like Sylvan or Kumon, which he thinks means you’re REALLY dumb (no, I don’t know why he thinks that).  Then we started his math homework – 10 story problems with fractions. He did great on 9 of them, and then lost it. Said he couldn’t do it, too hard, blah blah. Which was nonsense since it was exactly like the other 9 he did pretty easily. On and on like this for 15 minutes, til he broke his pencil in half. I took his paper and said that was enough and went to cook dinner.

Then the heartbreaker – he brings his “night night” into the kitchen and said he was throwing it in the trash. I said if he did that, it was going in the garbage. He did, and I did. Of course, I stashed it somewhere between the kitchen and the garbage can, but he didn’t know that. A long, bad, sad night. He has had “night night” since he was born and sleeps with it still. He wrote a note to it last night, about it serving him well and it was time to party ways. I cried.

This morning I wrote him a note. Explained that getting a tutor actually means you are smart enough to know you need help and care enough to get it. That all I want is for him to be able to do his best at whatever he chooses, and that means he needs to do extra work now. That getting mad solves nothing.  That I saved his night night and he can earn it back. That I love him very much.

We talked this morning, and he told me tutoring scares him. I know this. I told him he needs to think of the benefits and give it a chance, just like he did with our friend, which turned out to be not scary at all. That I will help him.

Getting over this hump will take hard work. He will need to fight for it, and right now he doesn’t want to.

But I do, and I will. All day. Every single day.

minor home improvement

There are puh-lenty of large projects to be done around this place, the sort that are weather-dependent so you can lug piles of stuff outside or paint. Sometimes the best kind are the ones you don’t plan or even really know you need.

Our dining room is just an offshoot of our living room. There is a long wall behind the bench next to the dining table that has presented difficulties in hanging art – it needs to be hung high enough so diners on the bench can sit without bonking their heads but not so high that it hits our low mid-century ceilings.  Til today, these three Ikea pieces hung there (and I apologize in advance for the bad Seattle winter lighting and harsh reflections).

I liked them because they brightened the place up and they were cheap. But yesterday, we went to the Chinese New Year festival down in the ID and happened into the Wing Luke Asian Museum and the GIFT SHOP.  I love me a museum gift shop.  And without even knowing that I was looking for something, I found our new dining room art.

I have long loved Nikki McClure, an artist out of Olympia who does papercut books and calendars mainly. I found some prints in the gift shop!  You can also buy her stuff here.  I paid a little more than that but I figure it’s for the good of the museum.  After a quick trip to Target, we have this.

Yes, I know – dumb light reflection. But you get the gist. I thought they were very apropos for the dining area.  So long, Ikea mums.

Off to the boy hairs cut.

ba-bling ba-bling

First of all. This is a bit of a ridiculous thing to post, kind of like how to make toast or something. But I am posting it anyway.

Also, my Facebook status this morning had to do with my current and utter lack of motivation.  Let me make it clear that I bought the supplies for this idea weeks ago and just completed it today, despite the fact that it took MAYBE all of ten minutes.

But I digress. I’d been coveting something like this for a while, a way to display jewelry on the wall. Too pricy, for sure, but I like the idea of seeing what I have so that I might actually wear it. My original idea was to get one of those old wooden thread spool holders at Goodwill but of course, when I want to find something, I can’t.  On to Plan B.

Cup holders! Those little hooks you can just screw into the wall!  I bought several in different sizes, and actually planned to tie a ribbon across two of them for earrings, but then I found two lovely little wooden bowls while searching for the spool holder.

In other brilliance, I’ve got several necklaces made by friends that bear mentioning. There are two in the bottom row with all sorts of lovely beads and rbbons were given to me by Jeanne, who has an Etsy shop where she sells her work.

And the one next to it was made by Sue, out of Scrabble tiles, and the best part, shrunken photos that I’d posted on Facebook! How brilliant is that!

And now I get to see my pretties every day!

But that’s enough progress for one day.  I’ll be lucky to finish making the chili I started.

pinteresting

It’s sweeping the nation, nay, the world, you know. This Pinterest thing. I know some of you already are on board. “On board” – ha, that’s funny.

It’s basically a visual way to collect your favorite things online – a virtual bulletin board. Any time you see a photo of something, you “pin” it to the board of your choice.  I currently have 1,441 pins on 18 boards.  You can find things in your own internet travels, or on the boards of someone else – that’s called “repinning”. You can even “follow” the boards of friends or people who seem to have similar taste.

The problem is I’ve been spending too much time “pinning” and not enough time going back to try the stuff I’ve pinned!  What good is collecting it if you never use it!  So tonight I’ll be making this off my Yummy board –

Chicken and dumplings

In crafty land, there are MANY, MANY things I would like to do off my Craft board. One hardly knows where to begin.  Maybe this –

DIY Atomic Starburst Mirror

Or this –

Pleated Bag

The beauty of Pinterest is when you pin something, the original URL to the item is preserved, so you can go back to the recipe or pattern or whatever the source is. And it’s so FUN to see everything collaged in one place.

I’ve got a Garden board to help with outdoor inspiration. Scenes like this move me to get going on the backyard –

Now that's a garden

Or this paver patio I love –

Paver Patio

If there is a photo, you can pin it. Some of my favorites are my Little Bits of Awesome board.

B -I-N-G-O

Zombie Survival

To start pinning, you need to request an “invite”, which can several days or even a couple weeks. Once you’re accepted, prepare to lose hours of your life. Even the Geek pins! Mostly guns and robots, but still.

Happy weekend! I’ve got things to make and cook, zombies to survive…

holidaze

Post Christmas Debriefing:  

The littles in our house, being 13 and 11, have been questioning lately. Not the boy/girl kind of questioning, but the Santa-Kind-of-Questioning.

Especially the 11 year old. I’d say most of his friends have firmly crossed over, but he is hedging his bets. He has asked several times “Is Santa real?’.  “Of course he is”, I say. “Who else brings the Santa presents and fills the stockings?!”  The Girl Child has been threatened with pain of death if she spoils the dream, but I think even she isn’t QUITE sure.

So on Christmas Eve morning, we trekked downtown to see Santa, the REAL Santa, at Macy’s.  We now have photographic evidence that he is real. That night, cookies and milk were left, with a note reminding Santa about Jack’s unmarked stocking.

Santa did not forget.

It was a splendid day. Gifts, ham, friends. Ham. Although there was a minor catastrophe when the oven element burned out, and we barely squeaked the biscuits out. I hope Santa brought you some magic that day too.

(P.S. About my previous post where I vowed to take it down a notch, well.  Hmm. I did make some gifts, but of course caved to the allure of having a party – THOUGH it was only an open house thing. I made a couple soups and people came to eat them. Tasty.)

But now!  It’s time to put all this away til next year.

We have no New Years Eve plans because A) I am socialized out and B) I can barely stay up past 10 pm.  So we will eat well, including a coconut cream pie if the element gets fixed today (fingers crossed). And tomorrow the house goes back to non-Christmas. A fresh start.

I looked back at last year’s New Year post and was embarrassed to see that the big goals I had for the year were nowhere near completion: the garage and backyard and purging. To be fair, it was a jam-packed social year. Which is why we’re slowing it way down this year to focus on the homefront. For the first time in many years, I have not organized any camping trips for the summer. Not one.

Which should leave us plenty of time and energy to tackle that godforsaken pit of despair known technically as our garage. We are starting to save so that when it’s cleaned out, we can finish it and have another room for living. These kids aren’t getting any smaller.  Whether we’ll have enough money for that this year remains to be seen, but at least it will be ready.

The backyard is high on the list too. We did plant a feed trough with tomatoes last year, and this year plan to step up the edibles production. Luckily, our friend Farmer Fels and his lovely wife start many fabulous seedlings and share some with us. More conifers and less weeds, maybe some plushing of the spit of grass. So it looks less like a nuclear bomb cleared it and more like this.

I actually do love our little house, despite its one bathroom and lack of dishwasher. I have big plans for the kitchen if the money tree ever starts blooming and even the ceiling. But in the meantime I’ll have to settle for little fixes and lots of hard work. I’m excited to get started and have big hopes for 2012.

May the new year bring you health and prosperity and good times spent with those you love.  I’ll be busy getting the backyard ready for ribs and pie.

home

Fall around here usually means rearranging for  more guests indoors, which is no mean feat. The options for moving furniture around in a house this small are limited, but I’d go nuts if we didn’t change things up somehow.  Since we’re hosting the first monthly Dinner Club next Saturday, and Nerdpocalypse at the end of the month, it was time.

Between that and laying around drinking wine in my fat pants on Friday night, I am especially appreciating my tiny house. In the winter, it is warm and cozy (come springtime, I will call this claustrophobic). In the summer we spend so much time outside we tend to forget the good stuff inside.

I may not have a dishwasher, but I have about 20 times more cookbooks than this  and lots of utensils to turn out good stuff warm our bellies.

And nothing is more civilized than cocktail hour when the guests arrive. Dinner Club guests will be enjoying an apple-themed gin cocktail. I should probably test it first.

We bought this table BRAND NEW from Room & Board when we moved in. Because the dining area is narrow, we needed a narrow table.  It definitely has some dings (and glitter and paint) but it is well-loved. We’ve had some great meals with friends, made a few quilts and wedding gifts there.

Most of the art on the walls is old, found in thrift stores and garage sales, the exception being some special photographs by friends.

I have an (some would say) unhealthy affection for tschockes.  Sylvia Hood owl from the Rose Bowl flea market, glasses from Jay for our 20th.  Love.

Owl bookends from the weird little flea market in Pioneer Square.

We may not have a dishwasher but we do have a sweet fireplace that The Geek trimmed out all by himself. Makes the Friday Night Fat Pants extra cozy.

One of my favorite spots in the house – yes, it does mean I had to cram a cool mid-century desk in the living room. Craft central.

Is there a mountain of clean laundry in the bedroom and nowhere to put it? 3 piles of books and magazines waiting to be purged? Did I have to stuff the Ikea chair in the Boy Child’s room until after Christmas so I could move the couch? I admit it is so.  Do I wish we had a basement at least, for escaping the family and house guests? Hell yes, I do. A bigger kitchen? Another bathroom? Maybe someday.  But for now, this 980 SF is big enough to fit us and more stuff than is sane.  We manage to squeeze people in for food and drinks and make it work. Most importantly, we squeezed this guy in.

Right now, he wants me to go make him some meatloaf.  Well, I’ll let him smell it anyway.

a new leaf

School starts in these parts the Wednesday after Labor Day. That means this is my last free summer weekend, since we head to SF for Labor Day.  Given that we didn’t really have summer weather here until recently, I am not ready for summer to be over.

The start of the school year almost seems to me to be the REAL New Year, a better time for a fresh start.  And I am bound and determined to have one this year. I swear to god.  This year of 8th and 5th grade, I will:

  • Plan menus and BUY the food for them. And actually MAKE the meals.  With my crock pot and pressure cooker. One of the best things about Fall is the yummy long-cooking things you can make.
  • Clean off the dining room table. Well, one end anyway, so we can sit and eat like civilized people.  We need one end for homework/crafty/gamey activities.
  • Overhaul the kitchen pantry.  Again.  Don’t get me started.
  • Less TV, more reading for the kids. No matter how much easier it is to just let them watch/play it.

That means that this weekend I need to start some purging and organizing.  But not tonight. Tonight I am going to pet my crafty things and bake a cake for the seafood boil tomorrow at Farmer Fels. Maybe try a Shady Grove cocktail.

Sheesh, there’s no need to go crazy, people. Baby steps.

‘n sync

By this time in my life, I thought I’d have things pretty well figured out. Everything would run seamlessly. Nice house, decent job, well-dressed and behaved kids, money in the bank, the whole nine yards proper. Like on TV. Like grown-ups do.

Since the real grown-ups haven’t appeared to call my bluff, I guess this is it for me. I need to do the figuring out for myself.

In my head there are little boxes or shelves. One for crafting. One for food. One for house projects. For everyday maintenance. For bar stuff. Someday stuff. Laundry. The problem seems to be in the juggling – as soon as I devote time to one box, the rest of them fall by the wayside.  Then I’ll nudge them all back into line for about 24 hours, ever so slightly. I think, ah, sooo close. I can dooo this…. and whomp, some scheduling thing or exciting new project or empty refrigerator throws it all out of whack.  I can hear the gears grinding.

My question is this. How do other people do it?  It is one of the great mysteries of the universe, I am telling you. Is there some secret test you have to pass before the key to it all is revealed?

I want to write up a week’s worth of menus, shop for them, cook them, eat them on a clean dining room table, have clean underwear, sew things, keep my kids on track, walk the dog, stay current on bookwork, knit something, plan a new kitchen when the garage is done.  It really does not seem unreasonable. I want those damn boxes to be in balance.

I am unwilling to give up simple joys like Project Runway to achieve this goal.  Open to any and all other tips, however.