Monday, April 11, 2011

Take a Seat

While in Palm Springs last weekend we popped into the Design Within Reach Annex store, the outlet version of the popular modern furniture chain. I was hoping to find new dining room chairs, since we had been using our Eames molded plywood chairs in the dining room vs. in the kitchen breakfast room with the table they belong to. And in the kitchen breakfast room where those chairs should have been, I’ve been using these plastic IKEA chairs that we bought for our deck table. They’ve done the job just fine, but certainly weren’t my first choice.

I’ve been shopping around for chairs for a while now and considered these from CB2, as well as these from West Elm, and these from IKEA, but I wasn’t blown away by any of them. My goal was to find something that complemented our white lacquer dining table, but didn’t clash with our wood grain hutch. We decided they would have to be either metal and fabric, black or a bright color.

Then I saw them. Tucked under a large dining table in the back of the DWR annex sat five of these little beauties:

And to my delight and amazement, not only did I love them, but they were marked down to $58, significantly less expensive than almost every other chair I had looked at. I planted myself next to them to scare off any other potential buyers while I waited to hear if they did indeed have a sixth chair available. No. Boo. Only the five. I could buy these and order one at full price from DWR, or I could buy these and hope that the Annex got another one in on sale, which they could ship to me later. In the end we decided to get four, which we could complement with our two Eames shell chairs if we had to fit six people at the table. Even better news, when we got to the register to pay I found out they were an additional 20% off, taking them down to $46 each.

Here they are in their new home!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

ACE in the Hole

After a fantastic week of Spring Break-ing it with the kids - filled with lazy days playing in the yard, a trip to the beach and a movie or two – the hubby and I snuck away to Palm Springs for the weekend and spent a lovely two days and nights at the ACE Hotel, and I can’t say enough good things about the place. In addition to a fun pool atmosphere, spectacularly comfortable bed and delicious cocktails, the d├ęcor of this hotel is absolutely inspiring. While most boutique hotels I’ve visited in the past have gorgeous interiors, the ACE effortlessly combines beauty with comfort, creating the perfect place to sneak away, but still feel like you can relax as if you were at home.

The bed was low and backed by a large, long cushion vs. a traditional headboard, which made it easy to lean back and read the 1986 National Geographic magazine tucked into the pocket on the right:

By the door to the room sat these two leather topped stools for additional seating, and resting there was the ACE's version of a "do not disturb" sign:

To the left of the bed was this small table with a vintage record player and selection of albums to choose from, along with a newer radio, including ipod connectors:

The slat wall behind the bed (there was also one to the right of the bed between the sleeping area and the bathroom) served as a perfect spot for hanging art (in this case pages from magazines and a Palm Springs poster) which was done by hooking binder clips to larger hooks resting in the slats:

PS – All credit for this hotel selection and fantastic weekend getaway must go to my fabulous husband, who planned the entire weekend, including putting together a list of activity ideas, restaurant choices and shopping spots. Thank you!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Two things I loved about our home when we first moved in were the big and beautiful eucalyptus trees in our backyard:

We fantasized about building a tree house in one for the kids, or hanging a hammock between them for some summer afternoon lounging. They smell nice, create a great privacy screen between our yard and back neighbor’s home, and shade out the afternoon sun while we eat on the back deck. Plus, koala bears love them, and koala bears are cute, so therefore eucalyptus trees must be cute, right? Yes, this is my logic.

But after living here almost a year (has it really been that long?!) we’ve also discovered that their heavy shade prevents any other foliage from growing back there, they constantly drop leaves on the deck and all over the yard, and can sometimes smell like cat pee. We thought that having them professionally trimmed (they were definitely overdue for a cut) would help combat these issues…well, other than the cat pee thing…so we brought in some experts to give us a quote on the job. When the Mr. first called and said, “we have two large eucalyptus trees in our backyard,” the arborist said, “I have some advice. Move.” Not quite the response we were hoping for, and the fun continued when he came out to see them for himself and made the official recommendation to remove the trees completely. Ugh. He explained that not only are they messy, but eucalyptus trees are a fire hazard, and frequently fall in heavy storms.

So not only will we lose our shade and part of our fence (since it was built around the trees) but we’ll also be looking at a pretty high price tag for the work. Ah, the joys of homeownership. So, while we look for some better pricing options on the tree removal, I’m saying farewell to my hopes of a kitchen remodel and driveway gate this summer.

We're hoping we can find a way to save some of the wood and make some cool stools from the stumps to commemorate their presence and might post on Craigslist in case anyone wants to make use of the rest of the wood or the leaves, since I hate to just dispose of them. Feel free to claim a branch or two if you like!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Miles of Tiles

I’ve been hiding a dirty little secret. Well, a few of them actually. Of course when I share photos of my home I try to capture it from its good side. Who would want to show off ugly carpeting, old linoleum and drafty windows? Well, the truth is that I have all of those and more. So instead of trying to hide them from you I decided to share them with the world. The first step is admitting you have a problem, right? Well, I’ve got quite a few.

First up, this kitchen floor, a caramel and white checkerboard of linoleum tiles. It’s just not my cup of tea. I’m hoping that there’s hard wood underneath it somewhere, although I do know that one layer down is yet another layer of linoleum, so I haven’t yet worked up the courage to chisel it away for a peek just yet, not to mention the potential asbestos exposure lurking underneath:

Not only do I dislike the material, the colors and the pattern, but the tiles are dingy and stained, and no matter how hard I scrub them I still end up with this:

While a kitchen remodel is definitely in the plans for us, we want to tie our kitchen into a new family room and a beautiful new deck leading to our backyard, and a project of that scale comes with quite a large price tag. I would love to be able to do it in phases, but it just doesn’t seem to make sense for us (since turning our bedroom into a family room means turning the den into our bedroom, and adding a deck off the kitchen means moving the location of the garage.) So for now it looks like I’m stuck with this crazy linoleum tile. I’ve hunted around for kitchen rugs to try to cover it up, and also warm up the floor, which can be quite cold in the morning, but everything I had seen was too small, too big, expensive or clashed terribly with the caramel tiles. Until I remembered my old friend FLOR, that had helped me out so nicely in our den. Not only could I create something the exact size that I needed, I would be able to choose from a ton of colors and durability options, as well as just pick one up and rinse it off if something got spilled (which happens frequently in the kitchen!) We decided to pick up the blue color in these backsplash accent tiles and went with House Pet in Chameleon:

12 tiles seemed like they would fit perfectly, and thanks to 50% off shipping by ordering through the local store and another 10% off from an online coupon code I found, I was able to virtually buy them tax free. They arrived yesterday and we couldn’t wait to plop them down:

I love them! Not only do they cover up the flooring I was trying to hide, but I feel like they just make the room look more polished. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Closet Case

I spent a good amount of time prepping for mom’s visit this past weekend, and specifically logged two hours on Friday night while watching Dog Whisperer (I know, quite a party, huh?) cleaning out our den closet and making space for our guests to hang clothes and leave toiletries, etc.

This closet has pretty much functioned as a storage space for the kids since we moved in, and has worked well as a central location for the them to store and find all the games, books and toys that I’d rather not see cluttering up their room. We were able to squeeze in a tall IKEA bookshelf that was on its last legs, which we laid in horizontally, and that created some cubby spaces for us to separate some of the junk. With the sectional sofa dividing the den, and the closet and small scale kids table & chairs behind it, we created a nice little play area that they use frequently. But along with frequent use came frequent shoving of all the aforementioned games, books and toys into any space they could find in the closet, which resulted in an overflowing pile of mess with no rhyme or reason.

So first I removed all the coats and anything that was piled up on top of the bookcase without a home. What a mess!

I was able to fill up two bags of trash (broken toys, dried up markers, etc) that I quickly threw in the bin out back before the kids could plead their case for any of it, which helped to lighten the load. Then I started to organize and rearrange. Their dollhouse had to find a new spot for now, but hopefully they’ll play with it more if it’s front and center for a few weeks. 

And other than their bucket of dolls and doll clothes and a few other small bins of tiny toys (Littlest Pet Shops and Polly Pockets) I was able to clear off the top of the bookcase.

Then I had to find a place to put all the winter coats that had been calling the den closet home so I picked up this $30 garment rack with cover from the Container Store, and the Mr. set it up in the garage. We so rarely need access to these coats anyway, so this would leave the space available for mom during her visit and then just in general give us a less cluttered look when we’re sans guests. I left about a dozen wooden hangers in there for our future guests, as well as towels and an extra blanket.. 

Once we’re back from our camping trip next Sunday we’ll be able to set up the air mattress with some fresh sheets and pillows and Hotel California will be open for business!

Friday, March 11, 2011

I'm Baaaack!

I know, I know...I said I was taking a little blogcation and then I was gone for almost two months! To my kind and loyal friends who kept pestering asking, "when are you going to blog again?" the answer is NOW! The truth is that I fully intended to just take a week or two off to charge my blogging batteries, but then one kid got the flu...and then the other...and then the first one got it again, but this time it settled in her hip joint (it's called viral toxic synovitis and despite having a harrowing sounding medical name was not serious at all.) All this sickness left me trying to juggling my laptop and phone while checking temperatures, making soup and holding sad, clammy sick hands and I just couldn't get my creative juices flowing on any house projects. I barely had time to get myself showered!

Ok, so enough with the pity party. I'm back in action. First item on the agenda: my mom and her boyfriend arrive one week from Sunday for a visit (our first real house guests in the new place) and I've got work to do! In addition to creating an inviting area for them to sleep for the duration of their stay, I want the whole house looking its best for them. I've already got some plans in the works, like clearing out the den closet for their clothes and suitcases and sprucing up the back deck for our dinners on the grill (especially since we'll have extra daylight once we turn the clocks ahead this weekend.) And since we leave next Friday for a two night camping trip, this weekend will be my only time to get everything ready, so I'm kicking into high gear now with a lunchtime trip to the Container Store for a new kitchen trash can (one that the dog can't nose her way into) and a new dog food container (our hungry pooch goes through food so fast that the little DIY canister I fixed up for her just isn't doing the job anymore.) I'm armed with a 10% off coupon and not afraid to use it!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Blog-cation

For those of you who may have noticed the absence of any posts this week, I've decided to take a little vacation from the blog for a few days. It's been a busy couple of weeks for me both personally and professionally, and I think a little evening R&R (i.e. clearing out the DVR, preparing food for the final days of my cleanse and attacking the mountains of laundry that have taken over my home) will do me right.

See you soon!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

HomeGoods = Good Home

Y’all know I’m a sucker for a good deal. So when we had an opportunity to make a stop at the new giant HomeGoods store in El Segundo, CA last weekend I said, “yes please!” We had just left a lovely visit with my BFF mom-to-be (the one I threw this baby shower for) and decided to make a pit stop. Thanks to the convenience of the El Segundo Plaza we could accomplish four things with one trip:

1)     Scour the HomeGoods for great finds and super steals
2)     Pick up a few cleanse-related food items from Whole Foods (island brown rice with papaya and mango, anyone?)
3)     Get the 20 foot lead we need for dog obedience class from PetSmart (and ogle the cute pups up for adoption)
4)     Grab a roller back massager that the Mr. needed for his aching back from Dick’s Sporting Goods

We started in HomeGoods and found a few items I considered adding to the home. These great water jugs would be perfect for our summer cookouts on the deck, and are extra convenient since they come in this nice carrying basket:

Mr. R liked these white canisters with stainless steel lids for the kitchen, and they happened to be on clearance for $5 each. Seemed like they could be good for holding dog treats, tea bags, snacks for the kids and coffee.

I ADORED these Ralph Lauren bowls with the stitched rim and thought they would make a perfect addition to my white-filled hutch in the dining room.

Then, I’m sad to report, we got derailed in the pet aisle and ended up debating about which toys to get for the Rudog for 10 minutes. I didn’t realize it before but having a dog really is similar to having a child – so many cute toys to buy, then you give them to them and they play with the for five minutes before getting bored (or in Rudy’s case, before destroying the entire thing.) We let the kids each pick out one item for her and they went with a cute Valentine’s Day-inspired chew rope and knotted ball.

After that we were all hungry and ready for a snack, so we skipped out on the other items and moved on, but I’ve got my eye on you Home Goods El Segundo, and I’ll be back!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Rolling and Cutting 2: The Results Show

I realize that I owe you guys a few updates on some past posts, so I thought I would check back in with you on one of those today? First up? Remember when I picked up the special paint edger and paint roller for finishing my bedroom a couple of weeks ago? Here's a quick recap and review.

Shur-Line Paint Edger

The Pros: The cutting-in tool made going around the edge of my closet and the windows (areas that are not bordered by trim or moulding) a cinch - it created a nice and even border with no dripping. I would estimate it saved me a good 45-60 minutes on those areas.

The Cons: Despite my best efforts to not get any paint on the little wheels, I did, and that resulted in some smears of paint on the moulding and base board as I went around the top and bottom of the room, requiring some extra time to wipe down the smears with a paper towel. I would estimate this only cost me about 15 minutes of extra time since I probably would have had some smudges if I cut-in with a regular angled brush anyway. Also, there were some areas that were too small for the tool to fit in, so I had to use the angled brush on those anyway.

Final Verdict: I would definitely use this again for painting around windows and closet doors without trim, but would probably opt for a regular angled brush instead for any areas bordered by trim or moulding. Helpful, but not necessary. If you don't own one already I wouldn't specifically recommend buying one for your next painting project.    

Paint-N-Roll Plus

The Pros: Not having to constantly dip my roller into the paint tray was a nice reprieve, and I had almost no splattering, which usually happens once or twice if I overdip when I use a regular roller. 

The Cons: This roller required a lot of paint be added to the handle in order for it to paint a full and smooth stroke on the wall, so it took a while to get going and I had to refill the roller several times. Also, other than a sweet spot directly in front of me, getting enough pressure behind the strokes near the ceiling and floor was a challenge. I still ended up with sore arms and shoulders the next day. And at one point, the roller came apart from the handle, resulting in a bunch of paint splattering on the floor (of course this happened right when I was painting above a mass of cords and cables, but that's not the paint roller's fault.) Clean-up was also a pain, since instead of just tossing a paint tray and washing a roller (if I'm not inclined to just throw it out and replace) I had to wash the roller, the handle, the inside of the roller, and the lid that you attach to the paint can.

Final verdict: Although it was nice to not have to dip the roller every few strokes and avoid the splattering I usually get, I don't think this saved me any time or effort once I factored in the extra strength required to paint above and below me, the spill on the cords and the additional pieces to clean-up. I say stick with the regular roller (with a long arm) and paint tray and you'll get the same results on the walls in less time.

Disclaimer: I do realize that I only tried one of each type of product, and there may be others on the market that do the same thing, but better. This is just my opinion of these specific products that I tried.

In the end the room came out beautifully, and I'm happy to have it finished and checked off the list. Have you tried any painting contraptions or techniques that you'd like to share?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hanging Around

Remember last month when I talked about these great neighborhood posters from Ork? Well I decided to go ahead and buy one, and was initially planning to hide it away until Valentine’s Day as a little gift for my hubby, but since he was home when the package arrived and I was not, that surprise went out the window. Guess I’ll have to think of something else for February 14th, but for now I’m focused on framing this puppy and putting it up to admire.

While browsing their site I noticed that Ork has a great section with tips and ideas for displaying their posters, like:

  • Ork's personal favorite: hang with binder clips and pushpins or small nails...put 2 clips on top and 2 clips on the bottom, near the corners, use nails or pushpins through the arms of the clips to hang. Target has some slick, small silver binder clips that work well (in the office supply section).
  • Mount the poster on matte board or foamcore and set it on an art shelf or small nails. This method is also handy if you like to cycle the art that you have on display.
  • Poster 'rails': These are aluminum bars that snap on to the top and bottom of the poster and hang with 2 nails or hooks. They are often used for displays, but create a unique look in the home.

I do like these ideas and am inclined to try them out at some point, but my goal was to hang this in our “formal” living room so I think a traditional frame and mat would be more appropriate this time around, especially since the poster itself leans towards the fun side. I don’t want to spend a fortune on custom framing though, so I’ve been looking at some inexpensive, but still attractive options. 

The poster we got measures 20’ X 30’ and is black with gold metallic ink. The Ikea Ribba frame (my go-to frame of choice) comes in a 28 ¼ by 40 ¼ size that fits a 19 ¼ by 27 ¼ picture within the borders of its mat, and since it appears that there is at least an inch and a quarter above and below the printing on the poster, that could work. If I can put my impatience aside though, it would also be cool to get a vintage, ornate frame from a flea market or thrift store and spray paint it in a black lacquer...guess I have to think on this for a minute. Oooh, I love a good cliffhanger! I’ll report back in with what we decided to do, since I know you're all dying with anticipation.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cleansing our Palates

After all the gluttony of the holidays – and I made the holidays last from Halloween all the way to last week’s Disneyland trip – I need to refresh. It started with a full emptying, cleaning and restocking of my closet (two bags to Goodwill – hooray!) followed by the joyous welcoming of our new housekeeper who erased all evidence of the cobwebs of 2010. Now the refresh has made its way to me.

On Monday the hubby and I started a 21-day elimination diet that I read about on Goop. Yes, I’m a fan. This cleanse calls for cutting out all caffeine, alcohol, dairy, soy, wheat and sugar, along with some other specific items like ketchup, bananas, peanuts, and a number of other things.

My goal with this cleanse is really to jump start healthy habits for me and the family. In general we eat pretty well, but I want to do better than pretty well. I also wouldn’t mind losing the five pounds I gained since moving in to the house (I blame it on too much “new house” celebrating with friends and family) which I discovered when I went to the doctor for bronchitis last month and had to step on the scale.

So last week I picked up a bag of decaf coffee and started adding it to our regular daily brew to try to wean us down. I stocked up on lots of brown rice, free range organic chicken, rice milk, almond milk, walnuts, apples and more. 48 hours in I’m feeling fine (aside from a little caffeine withdrawal headache on Monday afternoon) and looking forward to challenging myself to make it through the next 2.5 weeks. We’ve discussed continuing to keep out wheat, sugar and dairy after that, but I guess we’ll see what the next 18 days bring before making that decision. After all, March begins the big birthday bonanza (first the Mr., then me, then my little one, then the big kid) that lasts right through mid-April, and I don’t know of a sugar-free, wheat-free, dairy-free cake that I’d like to eat, do you?!