Friday, September 28, 2012


That's right. You heard me. What could possibly have brought me to this crisis of faith in my beloved Pinterest, you ask? Tarnished silver and my own severe laziness, that's what. You may remember the silver punch bowl that I purchased at Brimfield last May. I loved it. I still love it. It's just, you know, a bit tarnished:

And I tried to use the old polish-and-elbow-grease method of cleaning it, I really did, but it got old. Fast. And then, like a miracle, I saw this on Pinterest:

My problems were solved! Why, with a little baking soda and salt I could be spared any real work, and my silver would shine with its true beauty. Right? Well, I believed it. So I got to work:

I started with the cups, figuring once they were clean I would move on to the punchbowl itself. Now, if you read the Pinterest caption, what's supposed to happen is that the tarnish is supposed to transfer from the silver to the aluminum foil. And it sort of did:

More evidence of tarnish transfer:

I mean, you can clearly see that there is some sort of tarnishy-looking, ring-around-the-bathtub type of discoloration on the tinfoil. But (and it's a big but) there was also plenty of tarnish left on the cups:

Let's not gild the fucking lily; they look pretty much the same as they did before the whole tinfoil-baking soda-salt bath. Which on its own isn't so disappointing; it seemed like a bit much to hope for after all. But the thing is, now my faith in Pinterest is shaken.

Does this mean that I CAN'T really organize my house in 31 days? Or make a no-sew tutu out of tulle and elastic (I have two boys but never mind that)? Or have a magnetic spice rack on the back of my pantry door (organized AND space-saving!)?

I just don't know anymore.

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Friday, September 14, 2012


I am entering the final stage of a project - Client #7's living room to be exact. And as we work through the finishing touches, several people have expressed surprise, disbelief, even shock, that anyone would take my advice on how to make their home look awesome, let alone PAY me for it. I might add that many of these reactions have not been particularly polite. Which sort of makes it seem like they think I have no taste/ability/design sense/eye for detail/etc.

So you will understand when I tell you that my response has, for the most part, been along the lines of "Fuck you! My house is nice, goddammit! And if my house is nice, why shouldn't I be able to make other people's houses nice?!" But then I went home and took a good look around and realized that my house was not, in fact, looking so nice. To be honest, it was a total dump. So much for my "leading by example" mantra...

But look, things get away from all of us! The issue isn't whether or not you have a dump of a house, it's whether or not you can get up and fucking fix it. So that's what I did. Starting with the living room. And once I was finished, I took a shitload of pictures as evidence, because with two small boys in the house (plus Ted), not to mention my own laziness, the odds are not good of it staying like this for very long.

Here you go:

Now look. I'm not saying that the "Moroccan Bazaar" look is for everyone. But it is, at least, a "look"! And the living room is a comfortable place to hang out, which is fortunate since we have no family room (which is why there's a giant armoire in the corner to hide the TV). Considering that I'm married to Tightwad Ted and pulled together this whole room on a budget of basically nothing, it's not too shabby.

When you see the After photos of Client #7's living room (which, by the way, looks NOTHING like a Moroccan Bazaar), you will see that I am capable of taking a space and making it nice. Then you will all have to eat your words. I won't mention any names, but you know who you are. Oh, you know.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012


The "she" I am referring to in the title of this post is "me." And the title is a lie, because I am not actually crafty at all, at least not in the sense of the word as it is used on design blogs (but not a total lie, because I am definitely crafty in the sense of the word as it is used in the Beastie Boys song ;)

Aaaaanyway, despite my lack of certain types of craftiness, I have managed to complete a project of which I am inordinately proud, and not just because of the finished product.

WARNING: There are two morals to this story, so if that's the kind of thing that bugs you, go read Deadspin or something. Seriously, go read Deadspin anyway, it's awesome.

Here's the thing: once I get into something (or someone), I tend to get really into it (or them). So if I meet someone I want to be friends with, I can border on creepy-stalkerness in my efforts to become best buds. Likewise, if I decide that my closet needs to be cleaned out, I will not eat or sleep until the job is done. I'm not saying it's normal; I'm just setting the scene.

So about a year ago, someone with whom I was trying to be friends came to a party at my house and brought some special, microbrewery beer in these glass jugs that are apparently called "growlers." I kept the jugs because I thought they were kind of cool, but couldn't really figure out what to do with them. They looked like this, but were from different breweries:

Months passed, and my efforts to befriend the beer-bringer crashed and burned. On the bright side, I did figure out a vision for the jugs - turning them into lamps. Now, when you turn a glass bottle into a lamp you have a couple of choices. You can do what is called "French wiring," and just slap a bulb on the top of the bottle and have the wire hanging out all over the place on its way to the outlet. Or you can put some fucking effort into the project and figure out how to get the wire to go through the bottle like on a normal lamp.

If the bottle in question is glass, you need to drill a hole in it. To drill a hole in glass, you need a diamond drill bit and some skill. I have neither. However, my real job is at a place where there are people who know more about drill bits and drilling than you can possibly imagine. So, rather than try to drill the holes on my own and a) kill myself by accident or b) crack the bottles and make them useless as lamps, I turned to an expert. Enter Bill Taylor:

Bill was kind enough to take over and drill the holes right where I wanted them without killing himself or cracking the bottles. Yay! He even provided me with rubber grommets for the holes so that the glass edge wouldn't fray the electrical cord. Bill is basically my hero, and has become my go-to guy for all DIY projects more complicated than hanging curtain rods. Lucky Bill.

Now that the hard part was taken care of, the rest was up to me. I bought the parts I needed to wire two lamps, and got to work. Let me say that there are several people who doubted that this project was ever going to come to fruition, and I don't blame them at all. Even I was a little doubtful of the outcome. It involved wire stripping and lots of attaching of bare wire to screws and things like that. But in the end, I was able to make two perfectly respectable looking lamps out of beer jugs:

It may not look like much, especially without a shade, but I was over the moon. I was so proud of myself. I swear to God, when I plugged those mofos in, and switched them on, and the BULB LIT UP? I was my own biggest fan. The moral of this part of the story is:

The only problem was that I didn't really have any plans for the lamps once they were finished. As much as I loved them, there was no obvious place in my house for a pair of lamps. Then it was pointed out to me (by none other than my dear husband Ted) that it might be a nice idea to give them to the original beer-giver/stalking victim/befriending subject who had coincidentally just moved with his wife into their first house.

I have to admit I resisted the idea at first, because I was still all kinds of sulky that this person didn't want to be friends with me quite as much as I with him. But over a few days it became clear to me that, as much as I hate to admit it when Ted is right, it was not only the right thing to do, it was really the only thing to do.  So I ordered shades, and when they came they didn't fit right, but luckily I have several sets of lamp shades in the attic (What? You don't? That's weird!) and was able to find ones that worked OK.

Giving the lamps as a housewarming gift was a hit (I'm pretty sure. I mean, I really, really hope so.) and besides that, it made me feel good. The moral of this part of the story is:

Or maybe they're just not meant to fit into your life the way you want them to. But either way, what I learned from this particular project is that that's OK. I also learned that it's important to read the instructions before you undertake an electrical project for the first time.

The lamps are now in the spare bedroom of my friend(or former-friend-to-be)'s new home and they look lovely, if I do say so myself:

Although why he couldn't have also turned on the other light, which is in the background, before taking the photo I honestly don't know. So annoying. It would have taken all of, what? Five seconds? (And I wonder why he resisted being besties?) Here's an artsy close-up:

I am still pretty proud of myself. Both for making a lamp and for growing up, just a little. I mean, one step at a time, right? I'm not going to be all normal overnight. Jeez.

Sorry for the sappy post; tune back in tomorrow for more fun and games :)

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012


The shit that no one tells you when you move to the country is a lot like the shit that no one tells you when you're pregnant. People talk about the joys of motherhood and the cute clothes. There's a lot said about how you "fall in love with your baby." They conveniently avoid any mention of hemorrhoids, constipation, episiotomies, and very little talk of being so tired that you want to punch everyone in the face, including the baby.

Likewise, when you move to the country, there's lots of blather about a big yard for the kids to play in, the great public schools that you won't have to pay for, and all the space you'll have in your new house. Not so much chat about the sky-fucking-high property taxes, having to drive everywhere, and nothing at all about wild animals.

Since we've relocated, I have had a live raccoon in the playroom, a dead mouse in the living room, and a live-then-dead deer on the corner of my property (a story for another time).

But this past Saturday took the cake. It was raining as hard as I've ever seen it rain. It seriously looked like a scene from the Wizard of Oz outside, and then just started pouring. My kids were glued to the window, staring outside, when one of them saw a "mouse" at the foot of one of the two trees in front of our house. 

After watching the "mouse" flop around for about half an hour, they ventured outside with my sister to check it out more closely. Clearly, if I had been paying more any attention, I would have put a swift end to all of this. But I was in my own world, looking at fabric and building castles in the air. So when my sister reappeared with both kids in tow and something in her hand, I was completely unprepared.

Me: "What the fuck is that?"

Sissy: "A baby squirrel. And it's wet, and cold, and shivering, and all alone"

Me: "Get. It. Out. Of. My. House."

But the three of them just looked at me, and I knew I was stuck. So I sighed and got a box and a towel and a heating pad and we made the infant vermin cozy while I looked online to find out what the fuck you do with an orphaned baby squirrel:

Well, Dear Readers, it turns out that raising a baby squirrel is no fucking joke. You have to feed them with a tiny syringe:

Yes, that is me feeding the stupid thing. And I have to admit, it was sort of cute:

Not only do you have to feed it, but the dumb mammals can't even go to the bathroom by themselves at this age. You have to "stimulate" them so they pee. (I swear to God I am not making this up). It was at about this point that I realized that I was beyond ill-equipped to raise a baby squirrel and started making desperate phone calls to every wildlife society in the area trying to find someone to take this thing off my hands.

While I was working the phones like a political fundraiser, it was decided that the towel wasn't soft enough for the squirrel, and it was prompty replaced with a furry throw from my living room. Thanks, Sissy, for that one:

Eventually I was put in touch with a professional "squirrel rehabilitator." (Again, I swear that I am not making this shit up.) Even better, she was literally 6 miles from my house, and was willing to take on another squirrel. (Another rehabilitator I spoke with currently has 17 baby squirrels in her care and while she was very nice, she was unable to help me.) Unfortunately, by this time the kids had named the rodent Link after some character in a video game, and become quite attached it:

But there was no way Link was staying. Mostly because I was pretty sure that he would kick on my watch, and I couldn't deal with Andrew and William finding him all cold and stiff in his box one morning. I am just not ready to have a conversation about the circle of life and all that. So off to the professional we went:

And after a "donation" towards Link's future and teary good-byes from the children, we went home, mercifully wild-animal-free. For now.

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