Friday, December 31, 2010

goodbye Christmas

It's around this time that the tree and I develop a love/hate relationship. Yesterday, I dragged her to the curb and left her there. I felt guilty as I looked out the window a dozen times to see if she was still sitting there. I secretly hoped someone would come steal her to sink her into a fishing hole somewhere so she could continue to bring joy to someone!

I have a ritual for deChristmasing. I go around the house and collect anything holiday related and put it on the dining room table. My eyes boggle at the sight of my loot. I felt a bit like a pirate that revels in the sight of their treasure. So many pretties! I have to admit, I was proud. But then, the next day, when it's all still sitting there, I hate it. I want it to go away. I begin wondering why I do this to myself every year. I begin putting my once prized Christmas treasures into the "Garage Sale" rubbermaid  bin that sits dustily in the basement.

 After the packing, the cleaning begins. This goes on for hours. I happen to really enjoy cleaning, so this is the best part for me. Then I like to sit on the sofa for about an hour and look at design books to get ideas of how to put it all back together. Various snacks are enjoyed during this time as well. Then, after I've dragged this process out all day and I'm still sitting in my pajamas and I realize that my husband will be home from work in an hour, I go through the house like a white tornado and put everything away (exactly like it looked before Christmas) and quickly get showered and dressed in actual clothes. As I finish winding up the cord on the vacuum cleaner, I hear hubby's keys rattling as he opens the door. The house looks glorious, I feel accomplished, and overall, the makings for a perfect evening are in the works.

Christmas is fun for a time, but the feeling of renewal that comes afterward is the real gift. I think God definately intended it to be that way. Whether it be a healthier diet, stronger relationships, cleaner living, or just a happier you in general, I hope everyone is able to take advantage of the calm that comes after the Christmas storm. I like the day after. When you're sitting in a quiet, clean house and you realize that life is good. And you have the whole year ahead of you. And all you have to do is be ready for what adventures are coming your way.

Cheers to 2011.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

be back soon

 I hope you enjoy your time with friends and family. My in-laws are on the way now and I'll be taking a little break.

I plan on sitting here:

And here:

And cooking this:

And doing a little of this:

And best of all, lots of hanging out with this sweet man, who has not had a day off since November 15.

Be back soon. Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010


People have been asking me since they found out that I'm expecting (not "pregnant"; my mom says that sounds vulgar), if I've been getting any cravings. Oh yeah.

I've never really been that into food. I ate when I was hungry, but never really cared what I ate. I could easily eat cereal for dinner every night and be fine. Being married to a total foodie, we've had many arguments discussions about food and the importance of branching out, savoring flavors, experiencing exotic ingredients and imaginative combinations. Truth be told, I really don't care. I grew up eating a derivative of about ten meals. Some of which included sauer kraut and weenies, macaroni noodles with tomato sauce, and complete meals made with nothing but garden vegetables. My New Orleans husband, not so much. He was eating artichoke hearts and sweet breads at age eight. So, needless to say, we've both had to adjust to the other's food preferences.

But back to the cravings. Oh the cravings. It started out real healthy, like whole jars of organic apple sauce, anything citrus: satsumas, clementines, oranges, grapefruits. But lately, it's taken a turn for the worse. For example, yesterday, I wanted nothing but crock-pot cheese dip. You know, the old Velveeta kind with the Rotel in it. I couldn't think about anything else until it was bubbling away in our kitchen yesterday evening. That's what we ate for dinner, Velveeta cheese dip.

On Friday, we went to one of our favorite party places for fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. They weren't making them that night. I was so sad. It almost ruined the night. So this morning, after making a late run to the grocery store yesterday for bananas, I put that craving to rest. I chowed down on crispy goodness with peanut butter blobs on both corners of my mouth. It was glorious.

I don't know if I'd call them cravings or slight obsessions, but when I get an idea of a certain food in my head, I CAN NOT let it go. Does that count as a craving?

Hopefully our child will get a little bit of both of our food sense in them. They'll be the only one of their friends who knows what wine you pair with sauer kraut and weenies.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


This year, I committed myself to converting to Catholicism for my future family. Last January, as I made my resolutions, it seemed easy enough: learn to cook, check; call in-laws more often, check; become Catholic, check. Ha. It is so. Not. That. Easy.

I called up the lady in the church bulletin the first week of January. "Hello. I was just calling up to sign up for the RCIA classes to become Catholic, thanks." "Honey, call back in August. That's when the classes start for the next round of confirmations." Huh? I was so disappointed not to be able to cross it off my list of things to do that week.

In August, I called back. I got all the paperwork in order: baptism certificates, marriage certificates, my husband's confirmation certificate, registration for the classes and a schedule. You would have thought I was registering for law school. My eyes about bogged out of my head when I saw there were classes every Wednesday night from August until the following May. Nine months?! My husband agreed to be my sponsor and go to every class with me. I was shocked by his enthusiasm. He was actually looking forward to it. For once, I think he felt he was going to be totally in his element with me in a church setting. No more "rock and roll Sundays" as he called them at our nondenominational church. He was going back to his roots, and I was coming with him, and he was thrilled.

So, to make a long story short, we are in our 17th week of classes. We haven't missed a single one. We have both learned so much, and have begun to see each other, our marriage, our place in the world together in a whole new way. It has strengthened our relationship like you wouldn't believe. We discuss Jesus and the miracles he performed and what he continues to do all around us. We say our prayers at night. We look forward to the quiet time sitting in the pew on Sundays together. The only time during the whole week when we sit that close for that long without speaking.

And so this Christmas, we talked the other night and agreed that this Christmas just doesn't seem as "big of a deal" as ones past. And I mean that in a good way. We downsized our decorations. We give thanks for the real gifts in life and haven't obsessed over a single purchased present. We have attended fewer Christmas parties with silly dress-up themes. It's been wonderful. This Christmas doesn't seem as built-up because we've learned to appreciate the remaining 364 days of the year when Jesus is just as important. When the Blessed Mother is just as holy. That's been the real joy of this whole year: being happy and healthy and in love and working and surrounded by dear friends and family, and realizing it. It's been one of the happiest of my life.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

five Christmases

My husband and I spent our first Christmas together in 2005 in our first little house that we had moved into a week earlier. That was such a fun Christmas! We would just sit in the living room with the only light coming from the tree. Just sit in the quiet and sip and gaze at the tree. Our little tree wasn't much to look at. It was full of homemade childhood ornaments and gifts from my classroom kids. Look at that tree skirt! Oy! My mom made those bows because she thought your eye needed "a place to rest."

The second Christmas we actually had gifts under the tree, luckily to hide that flashy tree skirt! Reminds me of the one that Bernice wore on Designing Women. We spent that Christmas in New Orleans. We had a wonderful time with my husband's entire family, but I was sad to leave our little house and tree on Christmas Eve.

By the third Christmas, we had moved two streets over next to the mean neighbor. That Christmas, my in-laws drove in and spent the holiday with us. It was my first time having a real "family Christmas" at my own house. I worked so hard to make sure it was classic and perfect. By this time, my MawMaw had given me a slew of beautiful ornaments from Pottery Barn. Long gone are the teacher ornaments and hand-me-downs from mothers. Kinda sad when you think about it like that. We spent that Christmas morning sipping coffee and gazing out the window at my neighbor as she furiously put up a fence in her front yard on the property line between us. Such an angel she was.

This was the first Christmas in our "new" 75 year old house. It was also our first real tree. I feel like you need a real tree in an old house. I also finally upgraded to a prettier tree skirt. This one looks more vintage with pearls. Because we got a real tree and I came from a faux tree family, I was terrifiied of it spontaneously combusting into flames. (My dad always used that as an excuse for not having one.) So I got the LED lights for it that you can leave on for hours and they never get hot. They're great for peace of mind, but they look kinda blue. I'm not a fan. This might be the last year I use them. You can't beat the golden glow of the old kind. This was also the year I converted to the "mesh." You know the stuff I'm talking about. It's everywhere. I felt real classy having some on the tree.

This Christmas tale remains to be told. We are quite sentimental this year, because it's our last one just the two of us. We are expecting a baby in June, and are so excited about it. We are ready for velveteen Christmas dresses and black patent shoes and Santa Claus. I'm thankful for these five Christmases. I've loved curling up with my sweet husband as we exhange gifts, and play loud holiday music, and sip champagne. But there is something missing. We are looking forward to completing the picture with a little one and teaching them the Christmas story and tip-toeing up and down the stairs on Christmas Eve.

Pray for our little June bug and have a wonderful week before Christmas!

A little something special for ya...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

future child

Yeah, they're both cute. But who are we kidding? The redhead is totally the star. As my friend put it, the other one is just back there doing the freddie.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

it's that time of year

Yes, it's December! And it's 31 degrees outside! And there are 2 1/2 weeks of school left before my long winter's nap! Still getting my Christmas decorations in order-pictures to come.
Have a great Thursday!

Friday, November 26, 2010

art is for everyone!

Art school shmart school. Anyone can do this! Here are a few works of art I've created over the last few years...

This one was for my dear friend John. He likes orange. It's called "Jopo".

This one I created in the backyard in a fit of anger over my very mean former neighbor. (Not you Miss Mary!) I titled it "Melissa".

This one is called "Canvas Crocodile". I painted it simply using craft paint and a spray bottle full of water. (Please excuse T.J. Maxx trashcan liner! So tacky!)

Are you going to see any of my work hanging in a gallery anytime soon? Doubt it. Should I quit my day job? Certainly not. But it is a great way to get creative, have some fun, and personalize your space!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

bathroom befores

Our little hall bathroom at the top of the stairs functions as our master bathroom. There is a bathroom attached to the guest bedroom, but we prefer this one because it's so much "larger". Ha!

Here is a before picture. Gotta love hunter green. I predict this bathroom had a makeover in the 1980's, but little had been done since then. The tub was original, but that was about it. If only all of those square white tiles had been subway tiles! So close!

We tore everything out of here. And boy, did it stir up a stink! This toilet had been leaking for quite a while, and the floor under the tile was extremely damp. We waited a couple of days for it to dry out before we put in the new floor. We tore out the old sink and vanity, the tile off of the walls, everything! Shoo wee!

This shower door was just icky. And everytime you closed it to get in the shower, it pushed a little stream of water against the wall and ran down behind the tiles and down the wall into the the little half bath directly below this room. Water seems so harmless until it goes somewhere it shouldn't!

Now it's a wonderful "new" old bathroom. We kept the original tub. No need to reglaze when you use Barkeeper's Friend. I bought it at Williams Sonoma to clean my Le Crueset pot and figured it could do the tub some good. It made it look like new! However, I later found the same stuff at Wal-Mart for about half the price. Not quite as glamorous as Williams Sonoma, but the exact same product.

We tore out the old tile and replaced it with white subway tiles. I absolutely love white subway tiles! They make everything look classic and clean. The floor is a 1" hexagon tile floor very common in old homes. People can't believe it's not original. I've changed the decor in here several times since we completed this project. That's the great thing about using classic elements. They go with everything!

Hope you enjoyed! Happy Friday!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

too soon?

Call me crazy, but my Christmas CDs might make their debut on the way to work this morning.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

guest room best room

The guest bedroom. Bless it's little heart. It was so ugly and dirty. And I don't use those words often. But it was.

See that on the wall over there? You don't wanna know.

There had been an estate sale here right before we moved in. One careless customer moved some of the furniture out of here themselves and the floor has a huge gouge going across it. Just another scar added to a lifetime of wear and tear.

We lived in this room for the time our bedroom was being worked on. I have an affinity to this sad little room, because of that first month of nights in the new house.

We painted it a buttery yellow and hung a chandelier to replace the ceiling fan. I know, who in the south takes down a ceiling fan? But I had to do it. The room deserved something pretty. Sadly, though, this room once again became the stepchild of the house. We moved all of the crap from everywhere else in here while other projects were completed.

You couldn't even walk in here. I would just turn on the light and stand in the doorway as "Oh dear God" escaped my lips in a whisper.

But now, it looks like this. And this isn't even a recent picture. I have since added draperies and some additions to the bedding.

It's clean and revived. You might even call it the crown jewel of the upstairs. A bit overdone maybe. Chandelier, toile everywhere, fancy chair that no one's allowed to sit in. But this room deserved to be pampered a little.

We have not even slept a night in here since it's had its facelift. It now houses best friends and mother-in-laws and the occasional late night friend that had a little too much fun. This room and I are like old friends. The kind that know about your deep gouges and unmentionable wall splatters. The kind that you can dump all of your crap onto and they love you anyway.

Friday, November 5, 2010

lagniappe: closet

Since we are on the subject of our bedroom, I thought I'd show you one of the greatest parts of this house: the wonderful walk-in closet/dressing area. Being that this house was built in 1937, you would expect very little closet space. But the previous owner of this house, who also was the one who had it built, was a woman after my own heart. This wonderful dressing area has three large walk-in closets attached to it.

Before, the closet had a built in dresser that was pretty old and not a place you would want to store much of anything. We tore it out and built a large sheving unit. We also Kilz'd all of the pink and painted it a fresh taupe to contrast with our blue bedroom. It smells so much fresher! Paint can cover a multitude of sins, and it took a lot of it in here. We spent a whole two weeks working in this closet alone. And now, it looks like this:

We also added a door after tearing out the existing door frame that was built for a very short person. Now it's clean, organized, and a true dressing area. We also set up an ironing board in here that stays out all the time. Very handy for my husband who has to wear pressed dress clothes every day.

Just a little something extra for you! Have a great Friday!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

master bedroom makeover

Our master bedroom is a retreat, a haven, a place to hibernate and emerge refreshed. But it didn't start out that way. Check out that Pepto pink painted wallpaper.

Once again, carpet covering beautiful hardwood floors. These were not in as great a shape as the living room. But I didn't care. I felt like an archaeologist as I exposed them to the light for the first time in decades.

Gotta love those very phallic pendent lights. I believe this bedroom belonged to the only daughter of the couple that lived here. I imagine her lying on her bed that was probably placed between these two lights and talking on her princess phone.

The wallpaper was a thick painted canvas. It ripped down pretty easily. Dry rot worked to my advantage here.

I see you creepy tall post!

Lots of replaster work to be done in here. My poor uncle. I got to do all the fun demo and then show him my work like a proud first grader wanting a star on their paper. He'd smile a pained grin and then tell me he could fix it. Thanks Uncle John! See ya! Off I went to the next room to tear something else up.

Now it looks like this. Clean. Calm. Beautiful! I steam-mopped the floors about a hundred times and hand scraped all colors of paint splatters off of them with a razorblade and flat-blade screwdriver. Fun Fun. Again, no refinishing hardwoods. I like the rustic look, and 8 X 10 rugs. We painted the trim, ceiling, walls, everything. We added crown-molding and new light fixtures. Complete overhaul!

Speaking of rugs, this one is from West Elm and we've had it for years. I just take it to have it cleaned every once in a while and it comes back looking brand new and smelling like Pantene. Thank you Mr. Martinous at Martinous Oriental Rugs! Love them.

Hope you enjoyed!
Have a great Thursday!