{ Porching it }

One of my favorite things about our house when we bought it three (?!) years ago was that it had a screened-in porch. Porches take me back to my childhood. When you grow up with all four seasons and you are on the porch, that means the weather is fair. Life is good.

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I remember visiting my grandparents' lake house on Winnepesaukee every year and eating breakfast on the porch, watching the boats leave the pier and listening to the world waking up. Theirs was attached to a giant and beautifully appointed airstream trailer. The porch had that wavy opaque fiberglass roof that helped to keep it from being too dark; it was yellow. Acorns and pods would fall from the trees above and drop on the roof with little thuds before rolling down.

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That porch was bedecked in 100% 1970s finery. Chenille couches and weird lamps. Yellow, orange and brown. Giant macrame wine bottle holder hanging from the ceiling, right at the front door. Plastic flowers, because they were only there on the weekends. My grammy smoked, and there was a singular smell to the porch that combined the tobacco and the lush evergreen trees that surrounded their lot. (They sold "the camp" not long after my grandfather passed away. It's sad when you don't remember the Last Time you went somewhere that meant something to you. Or that you don't know it's The Last Time when it's happening. The Camp plays a big part of my childhood memories.)

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I remember falling asleep reading books on our porch at our family's lake house in Missouri in a chaise lounge. That porch had an indoor-outdoor carpet and ceiling fans. Tables that were forever in need of wiping down from the Ozark's pollen. The house was nestled high on a slope, so the lakefront porch was nestled up in the trees. We were just a few feet from squirrels and birds. It could be loud. Especially when in cicada season. That porch was so very green; it couldn't be anything else, really. It was basically a treehouse. Coffee tasted really good there.

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The porch was where things weren't perfect or tidy. There was a stack of recently kicked shoes and a damp towel, umbrella, or stack of frisbees. There is a special kind of casual welcome that you embrace with open arms. It's not getting cleaned every day, and there is a chance you will find coffee cups or leftover wine glasses from the night before. Playing cards or an upended book, to be continued. 

It's taken a while, but I am slowly bringing our own porch around. It has a bit of an odd shape with giant stone columns jutting in every which way, and it is small, but is it every cozy. Two years ago we planted giant hydrangeas just outside the largest side, which gives us a great deal of privacy during the summer; they will easily grow to 4 1/2 feet in just a couple more weeks. 

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(Phoebe, of course, is always thankful when porch season rolls around. It makes neighborhood patrol that much more enjoyable.) 

I picked up an outdoor sofa at the Pottery Barn outlet last year, and it fits perfectly. At night, we use lanterns with giant battery powered candles on timers and twinkle lights hung from the rafters. 

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So this is where we will be for the foreseeable future, my friends.  Can you blame us? Stop by anytime. Just don't expect much in the way of formality. PJs, coffee, wine, novels, music, and laughter. And a camera-curious 20lb lapdog. 

Here's to porching-it, friends! Happy Friday! xoxo


{ taking moments }

 

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Right now my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds are chock full of despair and hatred. The 2016 Presidential Race will go down as one of the most emotionally driven in history. Everyone in my pretty little town is tired, stressed and wary.

A best friend of mine is battling breast cancer.

I found out last week that my back, which has bothered me for years and is currently making it hard to do anything, is presenting bone degeneration and arthritis. It's not just in my head, I guess. Welcome to middle-age.

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And this adorable one year old puppy has developed the new habit of barking incessantly at any passerby. And we live in a walking community. Our house stands 8 feet from the sidewalk. My nerves are on edge.

Do not for one second let her sweet dark chocolate eyes fool you. 

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Despite all of the Hard, I cannot help but smile like an idiot when I walk or drive through our lovely town. Autumn is such a gift. This fleeting colorworks display makes me stop and truly marvel at the beauty of this amazing world. Underneath that summer canopy of deep green and bright chartreuse was this spectacular show has been waiting, ready for us to stop and take a moment. 

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This year's display seems more brilliant than ever. It's a good thing, because I've needed several moments.  

The stupid grin still comes back. Tears form in the corners of my eyes, and I can't help but relish the quiet magnificence of it all.  


{ where I paint every day } The Living Room

There is a good chance if you stand still in my house for too long, I will paint you.

It's no secret that paint is the easiest and cheapest way to transform a room. But I also happen to LOVE painting interiors. Trimwork, especially. I don't tape; I delight in my steady hand and precision. There is surely some kind of obsessiveness that goes with this. I don't mind. I'm happy with my angled Wooster 2" and a cup of coffee in hand. 

I love that this house needs more cosmetic work than real reno work because that means Mr. Wooster and I get lots of time together while the girls are in school. 

For instance:

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This was move-in day. The living room was blue. A lovely blue, perfect for a playroom or a nursery. For a few weeks I both loved it and loathed it.  Part of the problem is that it sits directly across the foyer  from the neutral grey dining room. The two did not work together at all other than to frustrate me on a daily basis.

They took turns laughing at me. "Who will you paint first, missy?"

I want to think that in 42 years I have learned to pace myself. For instance, when we purchased our last home, I rushed in and painted the laundry room a horrid color of green that I would need to repaint in less than 5 months. Jay still gives me grief over that one. 

I told myself to wait. To see how things felt. Let the rooms grow on me. 

And a couple weeks later, after things started filling in. I swear I could hear those rooms snickering at me.

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The blue was still just too... blue. 

Last week, I decided to jump in and attack. Within minutes I was terrified that I was about to paint my living room LAVENDER.  Because grey is HARD, people. 

I had to keep reminding myself that the old blue was *so very much the opposite* of what I wanted, that this new color was not purple. It was neutral.  

I was very skeptical. Very. I kept texting my friend, Beki, pictures of my progress. Like this one:

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Beki is sweet, talented, has a great eye, and is very honest. She'd tell me if it were purple. I think I had her just as confused. We both crossed our fingers.  Then I decided that even if it *were* lavender, I would like it better than the nursery thing I had happening on my main floor. 

Have I said grey is hard? Universally accepted as difficult. Add to that: north, west AND south facing windows in this room.  Trees outside with lots of green. Goldenish floors. Fall light changing.

And BLUE bouncing all over the eggsshell plaster. 

I kept thinking, "It's a good thing I like to paint. There is a decent chance I'll get to do this again next week. Sometimes you win; sometimes it's purple."

(I swear I could hear the rooms mocking me, by the way.)

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It might be on the cool-grey side, but it sure as heck ain't baby blue. (And the dining room is a cool grey, so I'm really okay with this.)

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In the end, I think it was the original paint that was throwing off my perspective. This grey ended up looking like a much lighter shade of the dining room's grey. Whew. I am no longer conflicted when I stand in the foyer. I'm sure you're relieved. 

Paint:  Valspar Signature Interior Enamel Flat (paint and primer) in Sandstone Gray 7004-18


{ new + old }

I am experiencing a full-fledged mix of emotions these days, friends. 

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We are in our new-to-us-old-home, in our new town. Our charming neighborhood has welcomed us and embraced us with open arms. This summer has been cool enough to throw open the windows and enjoy fresh air.

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Our things are slowly finding new spots in this place, and it is beginning to feel like we live here.

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 I am absolutely in love with our little screened in porch, just off the living room.  Jay and I sit out there almost every night. 

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The girls have already made friends and had sleepovers. Aside from Annmarie's fall from the zip line and consequent broken arm, surgery, and hospital overnight on move-in day  (great story! we'll tell it forever!)  this summer's move has been much more fun than they expected. 

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We live a few houses down from their wonderful school. They can't wait to start back in twelve days.

See? On the whole, feeling very, very blessed.

And then August hits me like a truck.

On Sunday, August 3, it will be three years since I held my baby girl.  

[Commence with chicken bone in the throat and ugly, snotty tears.]

In twelve days when Annmarie begins kindergarten, I will be left with the reminder that Darcy didn't make it. That a stupid knot strangled the life out of her before anyone could do anything. And it hits me. I should have a three year old at home with me.  The quiet will echo. 

Deep breath. 

In many ways it is good that this was the summer of the big move.  My oldest starts college at the end of the month. She chose to stay close to us, which is nice.  (And, YES, we are insisting she live on campus.) Annmarie gets to start school at the same time as her peers. Fidget is young enough still that transitioning to a new school is more of an adventure than a nightmare. This is a new city for all of us. Columbus is a fresh start and has plenty to offer.  

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We uprooted Darcy's rose bush from our Missouri home and brought it here. (That was kind of a funny adventure. I wish I'd taken photos of our traveling rose.) It's called an August Bloom, even though it blooms all summer. I'm sure we will find the perfect spot for it in the garden.

I needed to get out of that old house. Away from the heartbreak. The distraction of the many (MANY!) projects in this house will be good for my healing heart. I am looking forward to journaling that renovation process here. Is there anything as fun as before and afters? 

I also want to thank you for reading this far. The blogging community that I've called home for the last seven(!) years and the life-changing friendships I've made in that time mean the world to me. People are awesome. 

Have a wonderful day, friends. Hug your babies and be kind to yourself. xo

I'll be on the porch. 

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Chris

 


the one where we throw a grad party because someone insists on growing up

moving. packing. pre-K graduation. houseguests. awards assemblies. HS graduation.  family beach trip. temporary housing.  softball double header wednesday nights. dance recital prep.

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That's our May and early June. And everyone I know seems to be in the same kind of spot... spinning around, noticing the gorgeous spring weather... unable to really appreciate it very much because life is just so crazy! I'm trying to be present when I can. There are milestones I don't want to forget, glossed over in the fog of a big move. 

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Last Friday, we threw a grad party for my eldest. Since it would be our last shindig in this house, I really wanted it to be something for her to remember.  

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In classic miss-chris-fashion, we worked right up until the last minute, so any photo evidence of this party was taken while the first guests were arriving and I had just barely emerged from my bedroom, showered and dressed.  

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Just keeping it real, friends. (we had a faux photobooth with my camera and a remote.)

Her school colors are navy and silver, but she is a huge fan of hot pink, so we incorporated that into her party as well.  Candy, flowers, tissue tassels, balloons... pretty simple. 

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We gorged ourselves on Chipotle and Sushi, a regular Japanese-Baja Fusion buffet.  Which I totally think is going to become a Thing. 

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And it was delicious.

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The Fig Tree Cafe, a local KC award-winning bakery took care of our dessert needs: salted caramel bars, lemon-bars, white chocolate mousse mint brownies, oreo cookie brownies, and a variety of mini cupcakes.  

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Yes.  Yum.  They were AMAZING. 

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Our weather had been gorgeous and warming leading up to the week of this party, so I rented some tables and linens for outdoor seating.  It ended up being a little cooler than expected, but I was glad for no rain!  No tornadoes! So I'm considering it a win. 

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It really was wonderful. And she is pretty pumped about the future, too. 

 

 

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I am so blessed with this girl. My first. My inspiration and purpose during many difficult years. She has a big heart and a creative, unique spirit. She is going to do big things. Just you wait and see. 

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(...and she is surrounded by love-able goofballs. Lucky girl.)


{ planning }

I'm feeling a little like I am able to breathe these days. 

We had someone make an offer on our house. We are in contract on a new home.  Questions are getting answered and grey areas are coming to light. This move has been in the works for 18 months and we are in the home stretch.  

Can I say that again?! THE HOME STRETCH. 

I'm so punny. 

And, since I have spent the past year and a half readying my home for sale, I am quite over making design choices that are 'neutral' and 'vanilla' and 'universally appealing'.  In fact, the pendulum might be swinging the exact opposite direction.  

I am craving color. And texture and bold choices.  

What's funny about it is that we are moving into a very tradtional, somewhat historic, classic stone tudor house.

So of course I'm thinking PINK.  (Not orchid, the Pantone Color of the Year. Personally, I think they got that one wrong.)  More like the deep fuschia of a bouganivilla vine.

And navy.  

Or Indigo,  as we are calling it in 2014.

navy blue + pink + brass

 

And antique brass (just as I spent a year covering up and replacing shiny 90's brass).   

I am obsessed with the idea of a navy -- sorry -- an Indigo velvet sofa and a bright modern overscaled piece of art over it. And a fanstastic pillow.  The mister has no idea what is coming. 
 
Just in case you were wondering... 

{ looking forward }

The girls are having fun dreaming about their new bedrooms.  The currently share a room with bunkbeds.  It's pretty and pink and yellow.  There are remnants of Fidget's nursery as well as my littlest's. I combined the two as well as I could when we were planning the nursery three years ago... and then everything kind of sputtered to a stop. 

Since then, they have enjoyed their combined space and the bonus of having a playroom.  Lately, however, they have decided they want separate rooms once we move (although I am convinced they will be sneaking into each other's rooms at night anyway).

Fidget isn't 100% sure about what direction she wants to go.  That, of course, means that her younger sister, Piglet, has had not only one vision, but several.  

When we began talking about things, she was convinced that a Frozen-themed bedroom was exactly what she needed.  I struggle with plastering rooms with decals and novelty bedding.  It's just not going to happen.  I persuaded her to embrace the idea of having a room like one that Elsa would want.  The Ice Queen wouldn't want sheets with characters all over the place -- she would want classy, sparkly, wintery decorations. 

After much discussion and time together online, we agreed on a vision:

Frozen inspired bedroom

 We already have a vintage 4-poster French Provincial bedroom set to paint, which will eliminate the bulk of the expense.  So we're talking paint and a sparkly chandy.  I like the idea of silver foil on the dresser somehow. Or just painting it with a faux metallic finish. The Flokati rug and long flowy bedskirt feel like they are straight from the cold.  I was smitten with this vision.  We'd keep the walls white and paint the ceiling an ice blue.  

And then she decided this was not what she wanted AT ALL.

Humph. 

She wanted a room Rapunzel would feel at home in, too.  Of course. 

So there was more discussion. 

inspired by Tangled: A room for Rapunzel

And I was ever so excited to get started on that one.  I could simply repaint the original furniture in cream and gold -- or just gold! -- add a little lavender.  And shutters on the INSIDE of the room.  And a frying pan.  Thrilled, I was. 

Wouldn't you know it? Today my spunky little sidekick amazed herself, calling this her most BRILLIANT idea.

"Mommy, if I do a SHELL-themed, beach bedroom, I won't complain about not being able to go to the beach all the time!"  

Um, okaaaay.

I still didn't want to put up beach signs or starfish hooks. I have a really hard time using things other people designed for themes for my own design.  

So, shells, sea, beach... PINK.  Of course.

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Inspired by the inside of a seashell, the texture of the sand and grasses, and blowy wonderfulness that is white linen.  I think we have a winner!  I love the color of the bedframe... it's a perfect peachy pink. 

But it's best not to get too excited.  She will surely have a new idea tomorrow.  

I'll keep you posted. 


the biggest little makeover

People who have been to my house in the past 10 years are quite familiar with our laundry room.  

Everyone uses it. It's pretty much the anti-foyer. We do have a lovely proper front door and entry. However, if people we know are coming over, we open the garage door.  It's a side entry, so we often open the garage so our friends don't have to walk all the way around the house in snow or ice or rain or 180% humidity. 

If you have made it to our dirty laundry passageway, you know we hold you in the highest regard.

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Nothing says, 'Make yourself at home!' like a pair of Tinkerbell panties, laundry baskets, family sized jugs of laundry supplies and damp dishrags.  We know how to party.  Grab a basket! Want to help fold? Sorry about that smell.  I've run that load twice already and keep forgetting about it.

To make things even better in there, at some point (8 years ago?) I decided to paint this tiny space a cozy baby poop brown. The original paint had been put on thickly and there were drip streaks everywhere. I'm serious. There is also a linoleum floor.  We never had the energy to move the washers out to replace that flooring, so it's still there in all of its glory. {fyi:Scrubbing Bubbles makes linoleum new again. trust me.}

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And I almost forgot about the ceiling fixture.  At some point, the builder-grade glass dome fell and broke while I was changing the lightbulb.  And we didn't replace it.  So we had a bare bulb on the ceiling. 

This was how we greeted and goodbye'd our loved ones for the last 10 years.  

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Needless so say, I knew this space needed a makeover before we could even consider selling.

  1. Scrub the walls
  2. Sand the walls
  3. Patch the walls
  4. Sand the walls.
  5. Paint the walls. (with leftover paint from upstairs bedroom.)  

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(hi.)

The walls.  They needed something. They were in such bad shape from dings and scrapes and nail holes.  I decided beadboard wallpaper was the solution.  Got some pre-pasted stuff and Lowes and installed it myself. (2 rolls = $25/each) Easy peasy.  Painted it the same color as my trim. (with paint I already had) Repainted all the trim. Added a simple railing.  ($18 for three 8' pieces.)

Climbed over and around and behind and between the washer and the walls for days.

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Replaced the ceiling fixture.  WITH THE ONE I HAD BOUGHT 8 YEARS AGO.  Geez.

Hung generic feel-good wall art that I had in storage.

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Stuck a little black chair in the corner and gussied up the top of my dryer. 

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Friends, she looks so good now, my little mudroom made it into the video home tour in our real estate listing!  I laughed out loud.

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(and I wear my teal scarfshop scarf all winter.  Martha, she hangs here for months for easy access.)

 


{ changes. }

In December 2012, my husband accepted a new position with his company. With it came the agreement to move to Columbus, Ohio.  With our oldest still in high school, the company graciously allowed us to remain in Kansas City until graduation.  

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(Lottie wants a valentine.)

What this means is that for over a year now, we have been in a holding pattern. For a person like me, who likes to upgrade and change things around in her home, it has been tricky. It hasn't stopped me, of course, but my focus has been on Resale. Neutral. General Appeal. Cleaning out. Paring down. Organizing. 

See why I haven't blogged about it? Want to get excited about my cleaned out linen closet? Yup. It's been riveting, I tell you. The photos are compelling, award-winning stuff. 

I still have a long way to go.

My pemberlie project was a lot of fun, but it also meant that for a year I could greenlight any project. My garage is still full of potential items. Random things. It was a workshop of misfit old lamps, extra chairs, homemade chalk paints, wooden frames, I accumulated some extra used furniture that I just kind of liked. I had put boring house maintenance projects on hold.

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(there has been work in the mud/laundry room -- amazing!)

Shoot, I put fun personal upholstery projects on hold.  I've had a glorious floral wingback in my kitchen for years now. She needs some attention.  Especially because she is positioned right next to my floral curtains. And now the dog has claimed it as her chair and I have no idea what to do with either of them.

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(snow day fairy fort)

We have an agent coming by for the first time tomorrow to look at our house and give us her straight shooter opinions. Staging, updates, timing, the whole she-bang. 

Are you ready for a bunch of before and afters? Because I think I am. 

People, when this house goes on the market, I want it to sell Quickly. With three kids and a puppy, keeping this place showable will be by best trick of all.

Stay warm, friends!


{ ever so slightly } considering

Remember how I used to have an etsy shop?  You don't?  I don't blame you.  It was eons ago.

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Never you mind.  I've decided I need to shoo away the dust bunnies and open the windows, wipe off the cobwebs and create a fantastic mess in my studio.  I am cautiously optimistic about being able to stock a few items over there.  

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On Thursday, I spent a few hours listing, planning, scheming, and organizing.  Then I rolled up my sleeves and cut out some tablerunners.  Gosh, it felt good. The need to MAKE remains strong. I'm going with it. I started with some cream burlap table runners trimmed with cotton eyelet. I found a yards of this stuff on some vintage curtains last year and have been saving it for something like this. 

Hope you're having a good weekend, friends.  It's beautiful here and feels like autumn is approaching. That feels good, too!

xo