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Thursday, May 7, 2015

LIVING ROOM: BEFORE AND AFTER

When I moved out of the city into the first house I had ever lived in, I looked at literally one house in one town. I walked in the door and knew that it was MY house - I made an offer immediately. As difficult as the divorce was, it was almost as hard to leave the house. I fucking loved it, and I never in a million years thought I'd be able to find another house I loved anywhere near as much.

I was wrong.

When I bought the house in which I now live, once again I looked at one house, in one town, and immediately made an offer (I am nothing if not decisive). I didn't even have to walk in the door - as soon as I saw the listing I knew it was the one.

Once I moved in I had very little time to furnish it, to make it the home that I wanted - needed - it to be for my children. I managed pretty well (I hope), and here is the first Before and After reveal :)

This is what the living room looked like when I saw the house:





Here's what it looked like once the previous owners had moved out:



Personally, I was beyond excited to live in a house that also has a family room so I could keep a TV out of the living room (televisions in living rooms have their points, but I hate them almost as much as I hate TVs in the bedroom).

And after trying unsuccessfully to convince several clients to paint one room or another in their home Palladian Blue from Benjamin Moore, it finally dawned on me that I could paint a room in my OWN house this amazing color:


I chose the living room. And I love it just as much as I knew I would. It's a pale blue-green that changes with the light. So beautiful.

Enough with the before, here's what it looks like now:


The couch, chair, and ottoman are from West Elm, and I have admired them for quite a while - I was slightly nervous about going with such a strong color but I'm SO glad I did as it keeps the room from being too neutral.

The elephant used as side tables were bought by my parents and it means a lot to have things that I remember from growing up in my home now.

The rug is another item I had been lusting after forever and after much Internet research I was able to find it for much less than I expected - yay!


The rocking chair is an antique, from the grandmother of my significant other, and I love love love it. Aside from the family sentimental value, I grew up with a rocking chair in our living room and having one here makes the room feel complete. It doesn't hurt that I love the dark wood, pale caning, and beautiful lines of the chair :)


The mirror over the couch was a Craig's List find (when you have five minutes and about five dollars to furnish an entire house, CL quickly becomes your BFF) and I was lucky to get it.


Those two beige chairs are from Joss and Main and were ridiculously cheap. I think I paid less than $300 for the pair. The table between them is from Craig's List and let me tell you THAT purchase was quite the experience and included an offer from the seller to be his girlfriend (I politely declined). The bookcases are two of the (very) few things I took from the old house - they were in my home office and fit here perfectly.


The wooden chest is also from Craig's List - it's in perfect condition, has wheels, and is perfect for storage. The chairs are antiques from One Kings Lane, and were not cheap. At all. But I loved them with a passion that would not die so I bought them anyway and I'm not sorry - they have ELEPHANTS!!! (Yes, I may have a small elephant obsession.)



The framed letters on the wall are also brought from the old house - they written by Woodrow Wilson (before he was president) to my grandfather and given to me by my father before he died. I don't have much from my grandparents on either side, so these letters mean a lot.


Here is a gratuitous close-up of the china Staffordshire dogs on the mantel, the dogs that everyone loves to hate. Everyone. It's like unanimous. Whatevs, haters! Their names are Hampshire and Windsor and if it seems like they are looking down on you, they are. Oh, they are!


And here? Here we have the bar cart for which I have longed and longed. The upside to getting divorced is that you can get the bar cart that you have wanted for ages. It's a little thing, I'll give you that, but sometimes it's the little things that get you through :)

Let me know what you think! Unless you like the Before pictures better, in which case keep your opinion to yourself #justkidding #giveittomestraight.

XOXOXO
ABC

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

DRESS DECISION: WEDDING BELLS

Oh, calm down. I'm not getting married. The wedding bells are for my dear cousin and his awesome fiancĂ© and I am thrilled for them both, but let's turn our attention back where it belongs. Me. You have proven helpful in the past (I ended up wearing the second dress, FYI) and I'm hoping for similar results.

As this will be my first post-divorce family affair, I'm looking forward to warm and loving support from my extended family (well, warm and loving WASP-style, so plenty of pats on the shoulder and sympathetic head tilts to express all the feelings). I'm also prepared for lots of "How are you doing?" and basically it would be nice if I could look like I'm doing really, really well.

Incidentally, I'm actually doing pretty well, but that's almost beside the point. What matters is how I look - and I mean that in a totally non-superficial way. Seriously. All I want is to look pretty and not have my clothes make me uncomfortable, which can be a challenge with party-type dresses. There will be enough potentially uncomfortable-making things at the wedding; I refuse to have my dress be one of them.

Help, loyal readers. I have narrowed it down to three choices (they are all from grey and they are all from J. Crew, deal with it):




I ordered all three and they all fit and my date (yes, I have a date, were you worried I was going to end up a single crazy cat lady?) is proving less than helpful in narrowing it down to a winner so help me.


This is the most, well, demure dress of the bunch, and may also be the most comfortable since it's also the only one that's not strapless so I don't have to worry about pulling the top up all night. Plus, it has pockets. Pockets! I like the neckline, but is the dress too prudish looking? Is that even a thing? The color is very cool in person, btw. I like this dress.



You may be thinking that the top looks a little 80s-soap-opera-ish, and you're not wrong. But it's less so in person if that makes any sense. However, while the v in the neckline looks fine on the 90 lb model, it makes this dress a bit sexy times for someone who wears a 32D brassiere. And I do not want to look sexy times. Also, the color is a little weird. I may hate this dress. Also, full disclosure, I haven't tried it on yet.



Option 3: This is sort of in between, not slutty but not 8th-grade-prom either. However. Does it look like a mother-of-the-bride dress? Because while I do not want to look sexy times, I do not (DO NOT) want to look like the mother of the bride. No offense to the actual mother of the actual bride, whom I have never met but who, I am sure, is a lovely person and very attractive, it's just not the look I'm going for at this particular event (I'm not sure it's a look anyone is ever going for, including the mother of the bride, but I could be wrong). 

Anyway, right now Option 3 is the front runner, but I clearly need guidance. Weigh in with a comment and tell me what to wear!

XOXOXO
ABC
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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

...AND SHE'S BACK IN THE GAME

This blog's first post was a cartoon and since it's been a while and I'm sort of starting over, it seems fitting to do it with another cartoon post:


I am that dog (the talking one). I, too, had my own blog for a while. I, too, decided to go back to pointless barking for while. Granted, I had some good excuses - my marriage was falling apart, my day-job workplace became increasingly problematic, rah rah rah...

But the divorce is final (for realz, yo - signed, stamped, filed, and back from the court). There's still plenty to fight over (don't get me started), I struggle every day with the emotional fall-out (I cry a lot), but our restructured family is slowly stabilizing into a "new normal."

On the day-job front, I'm finally making some important changes, getting myself back on track both professionally and creatively. It's scary, but I know in my heart it's the right thing to do.

The most important part - really the only reason for - these developments is so that I can concentrate on what's most important: my kids, my relationship, my home, and my career. It has become clear that I need to reorganize my life to make sure these top priorities are where I am expending my time, focus, and emotional energy.

Soooooooo in that vein, my next post: how I managed to find my dream house AGAIN, and then immediately started to turn it from a house into a home (which I had to do in about five minutes before the boys came up for the first time).

As a teaser, here are some "Before" photos of our new abode:

I know - it is grey? Is it white? Is it white and just dirty? We've lived here 6 months and have no idea...

Here's the back:

Tomorrow - the inside. And I can really only show the living room because everything else is still "in progress" (YES I KNOW IT'S BEEN SIX MONTHS, SHUT UP) and there are not, as of yet, many "After" pictures. I mean, the living room is far from fabulous, but it's not a total embarrassment. Tune in and see for yourself!

XOXOXO
ABC
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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

THE END OF SOMETHING IMPORTANT

Not to point out the obvious, but it's been a while. All fifteen of my devoted readers have probably been wondering "WTF???" and I am here with an answer. Don't panic, the "something important" is not this blog (cue sighs of relief).  What has ended is my marriage (cue sounds of horror). No, no, it's all right. I'm OK. The kids are going to be OK. It has just been a long seven months and my energy has been focused elsewhere.

Not only can I pinpoint with almost uncomfortable accuracy the beginning of the end, I have professional photographs of it. And to make the whole thing more surreal, in every photograph we look like the perfect family (so don't waste time envying all your Facebook friends whose lives seem so great in the pictures they post).
EXHIBIT A
If you share your life using social media, be it on Facebook, Instagram, a blog, or whatever, it's up to you what to display and what to keep private. Personally, I believe in opening up about the good and the bad, in getting as close as possible to some approximation of the truth. So while I have design projects to show, parenting fails to share, and lots to say about everything in general, this has to come before I can move on with all of the above.

I want to be honest and open about the huge changes in my life, but the reason it has taken a long time to be able to write about it all is that there really are no words. And I am someone who doesn't know what to do when words are not enough.

I have had family members struggle with addiction and mental illness, my father died when I was 26, I deal with my own depression and anxiety every day - I am no stranger to difficult times. Yet I have never, ever experienced such emotional pain and heartbreak. And it's not over, not even close. The details have been settled, the papers are signed, the divorce is done, but the healing is slow. I don't know what the fuck Gwyneth Paltrow was talking about with that business about "conscious uncoupling,"and "we're closer than ever" when she got divorced, but it annoyed me then and now it makes me want to punch her in the face.

Right now, here is what I know: Ted and I are no longer married. I have moved to a new house in a new state. The boys are with him some of the time and with me some of the time. I believe that things will get better.

And while they do, I'll be turning this new house into a home, working on the second project with my first client (a pink bedroom!), and wondering why two small boys need several Nerf guns each and a million rounds of ammo to be happy (I spend their time here picking up foam bullets and putting down toilet seats).

I'm even looking forward to the holiday season - I have candles and wreaths for every window, pre-lit "pine" boughs, and am basically counting the days till December 1st, which I have been informed is the earliest appropriate date to start decking the halls. The family that's gathered around the fireplace this year will look different, and it will be a different fireplace with new stockings, but that's OK. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's going to be awesome.

XOXOXO
ABC


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Monday, March 31, 2014

I SUCK AT SPENDING TIME WITH MY KIDS

There. I said it. I'm not great at hanging out with my offspring. When we go somewhere, like a museum, or the Little Red Lighthouse, or whatever, that's cool, it's fun. Here we are at the Botanical Gardens, on cloud nine:

OK, The Kids Look Miserable But Take My Word For It, We Had A Great Time
But just chilling around the house? At this, I do not shine.

That's not something mothers are supposed to have trouble with, or at least not something that mothers are supposed to admit having trouble with, but there you go. I just don't love a lot of what my five- and seven-year-old boys find amusing, like beating the shit out of each other or telling jokes about butts. I am also a huge failure at creating periods of structured play throughout the day (I mean seriously? I can't even...)

So for most a lot of the time that my kids and I are in the same room, I am on the computer. If it wasn't for our mutual love of Lego, it would be even worse.

It was pointed out to me a few about five hundred times that this was not an ideal situation from a mother-son bonding perspective, and I instituted mandatory (for me) crafts time with the kids. It has been a smashing success, if I do say so myself, even taking into account that hideous red wreath I had to hang on my door the Christmas before last.

What I have learned is that to have fun hanging out with the boys at home, I need to be doing something I think is fun, too. Well, sort of fun. OK, really just something that doesn't make me long to be mile and miles and miles away, single and childless, preferably with a stiff drink. So, on the off chance that there are other mothers out there who feel the same way, here are some of the hits from Craft Time with the Kids:

SUPERHERO NIGHT:
I had leftover supplies from the (actually totally kick-ass) Superhero Party that I threw for William when he turned 4 (seriously, that shit was like something from Pinterest, or a real Mommy Blog--any day now I will get around to posting about it). We took the capes (aprons with the strings cut off - I'll explain in the party post) and masks (bought on Etsy - how did I live before Etsy???) and made up our own superheroes:

It Escapes Me What Our Powers Were, But We Were Very Powerful
KNIGHT NIGHT:
Andrew and William started demanding shields, and I thought (foolishly) that it would be the perfect project. I did not know that posterboard is a total bitch to cut, and needs primer before painting, and that spray paint has fumes... Well, it was a hit, despite being a much longer undertaking than I realized:

Supplies: Primer, Gold and Silver Spray Paint


William's Shield, Primed
Andrew's Shield, Primed and Taped
William's Shield, Painted
Andrew's Shield, Half Painted
Andrew's Shield, Painted
William's Shield, Finished
Andrew's Shield, Finished
All in all, a success. Although it was interesting that Ted was loathe to give up the location of the box cutter I needed to cut the posterboard, instead just offering to go get it himself...

ASTRONOMY NIGHT:
I did not think this was going to be fun. I was wrong. I bought some cheap solar system kit at Michaels that had foam balls for the planets and dowels to hold them in their positions to the sun. You guys, I loved this activity. The boys shared, dividing up the planets, and the result was impressive. Well, I thought it was cool. I was easily more excited about it than either kid:

The Solar System On Our Coffee Table (Yes, That's Pluto -It's Clearly Old)
 All of this is to say that there is hope for anyone. Seriously. ANYONE. If I can find a way to spend time with my kids that doesn't end with one or all of us in tears, then anyone can. I promise you. It's just a matter of looking at the Venn Diagram of what you like to do and what they like to do, and choosing from the overlap:


Our next plan is to build a boat. Seriously. It's going to be awesome.

XOXOXO
ABC
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Saturday, March 29, 2014

CLIENT #11: LONG-DISTANCE DESIGN PT. 1

So having run through most of my friends and relations (or at least those I could boss into "hiring" me), I turned to the World Wide Web to find a new client. And much like chocolate and wine, I find that the Internet rarely disappoints. Readers, I convinced a stranger he was in desperate need of my expertise (I was right).

Let me start by saying: Kids, don't try this at home! It is not safe to "meet" people online and definitely do not let them attempt to hire you! And never agree to actually meet them, like in real life where they could kill you! That is crazy talk!

Now that that's out of the way, first of all he wasn't a stranger stranger, he was a friend of a friend...sort of. Look, it's a long story, OK? Don't worry about it. I didn't end up chopped up into bits and stashed in anyone's freezer so just calm the fuck down. Jeez. He lives like 100 miles away, which is a really long way to go to kill someone.

You may be wondering how the hell I worked my magic in his bedroom (that came out wrong, but you know what I mean) if he lives so far away. Well, none of this would have been possible without the miracle of modern technology, and I'm not (just) talking about Facebook. I'm talking about Room Sketcher, an amazing site that lets you create a 3D floorplan of a room, or even an entire house or apartment or whatever. So my new client took photos of his bedroom and gave me the dimensions, and I was on the job.

I will admit that had I seen exactly what the job was, I might have been a little less hasty in accepting it. Client #11 was living in what can charitably be described as a crack den. I'm not kidding:

I can't even...
I Don't Know WTF With the Fan in the Middle of Winter
I Also Don't Know How The Cat Looks EXACTLY The Same In Two Pictures
You will see that I wasn't fucking kidding. BUT. He is actually an awesome guy - smart, funny, like a father to his 9-year-old niece, and obviously a fairly secure person since he is letting me show these pictures to all twelve fifteen of you guys. Most importantly, he was willing to "try a new look" (Shut up! I was being diplomatic!). So once I stopped trying to figure out how he hadn't ended up on an episode of Hoarders and got to work with my fancy 3D floorplan website, things moved pretty fast.

I'm Not Sure Why the Ceiling is Tan
Or Why I Can't Close the Virtual Closet Door
The Bed Looks Weird Because It's Two Beds, One on Top of the Other (Don't Ask)
The cool thing (well, one of many cool things) about Room Sketcher is that you can dictate the dimensions of the furniture, so you really see what will work and what won't in the space you have.


TIP: It helps if you put in the correct measurements for the room, which at first I did not, so I had like a whole bench-at-the-end-of-the-bed thing going on for a while, and there were several IM fights with the client over whether or not it would fit before I realized I was the idiot. #winning

This concludes Part 1; tune in for Part 2, in which you'll see if I manage to make my virtual dream a reality, and I also meet Client #11 in person and live to tell the tale!

XOXOXO
ABC




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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

IF EYES ARE A WINDOW TO THE SOUL...

I have a friend who moved to the country at the same time that we did, into a lovely white house in Connecticut. Her house is, and I am not being modest, much nicer than mine in pretty much every way - it's bigger, it's on more land (with lower property taxes - fucking Westchester), and has a better location.

But every time she comes over, she stops for a second and looks up at my house with something like envy. It's not really envy though, it's just that my house is made of stone. And what she's thinking is: OMG, they are so lucky, they NEVER have to pay to get the exterior of their house repainted.

This is true, and it's a good thing, because Ted, being as, uh, thrifty as he is, would likely hire Painters-R-Us or something, and then the outside of the house would be as fucked as the inside currently is, what with us going on a year with no cleaning lady and me being a really, really, really bad housekeeper.

But about a year ago, I was talking to my friend Laura and she asked me if I my house had shutters on it, she couldn't remember. And I was like, I don't actually know... Which is when it occurred to me that if I DID have shutters, they probably sucked because I couldn't even remember if they even existed.

After I went outside, and saw that the house I live in did indeed have shutters on it:



I decided that they did indeed suck and plus I hated them. "I must have new shutters!" I decided. "And they must be green to match the door and also not have those slats." Sadly, I am married to someone who would rather paint shutters on the house himself than pay for new ones (I'm actually surprised that this didn't occur to him).

Anyway, I finally wore Ted down (I AM RELENTLESS) although it took about a year (HE IS VERY CHEAP) and now my house has beautiful new shutters. In a spending frenzy, Ted also hired a company to repaint the trim (and FYI they killed two of our trees and left cans of paint thinner all over the front yard for my kids to find and drink so my misgivings about his hiring practices are once again validated - see also: Wedding Videographer).

Here is the house now:



I am aware that the difference is not immediately apparent, but trust me, the house looks better. And now the shutters match the door (insert your own "carpet matches the drapes" joke here), which is the kind of thing that makes me happy (look, these days I'll take what I can get, OK):


So yes, it's just "window dressing" (see what I did there?), but whatever exterior-of-the-house projects I can tackle so that I don't have to deal with the fucking disaster that is the inside of the house is an awesome idea in my book. Stay tuned for my next post on the rickety, wobbly, tippy stone steps to the backyard, known in our neighborhood as the "High Street Death Trap for Toddlers," and the make-over these steps received. I'll get to the inside of the house. One day soon. Definitely.

XOXOXO
ABC
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