December 6, 2013
So, I drove north from Oklahoma City, to Bartlesville (which is just south of the Kansas border). I got to see some of the amazing renovations my creative and handy parents are making to their house so they can sell it in the spring (it made me want to immediately go home and dig into the upstairs bathroom - knowing I'd have their support and guidance and power tools, of course). I played a lot of Yahtzee, and put Bailey's in my coffee whenever I could. I went on a ride in my dad's project car (an electric blue 1968 Mustang Cobra GT350), and had drinks with my mom at the top of the Price Tower (one of only two towers Frank Lloyd Wright ever designed, which he beautifully dubbed "the tree that escaped the crowded forest"). I went Christmas tree shopping and did a whole lot of crossword puzzles.
After a long weekend of all that, I flew my brother to Connecticut, and then came back to North Carolina, tired, happy, glad to be home – and excited for Christmas.
December 5, 2013
The last two weeks have been a blur of flying and driving all over the East coast and Midwest. I flew up to Connecticut to pick up my youngest brother from life college, then to Tulsa to drop him off with my mom, before driving down to Oklahoma City for a few days.
There, I worked out of the Braid office for a few days, and helped host a baby shower for Kathleen (who just posted these utterly Kathleen maternity photos). I got her a garnet-studded quartz (for a January baby), and a Pantone baby book, because the children are our future!
I spent the rest of the time eating and drinking and catching up with Kathleen and Jeremy (who were generous enough to let me sleep in their awesome guest room the whole time, and took me to all the new shops and restaurants that have popped up since my last visit). I saw my first snowfall of the year (kind of a big deal), and did some Christmas shopping, then headed out for the 2-hour drive north to my parents' house for Thanksgiving.
More on that tomorrow.
November 11, 2013
The downstairs / living areas of our house are finally starting to come together! This past weekend, I finished painting the living room, den, and dining room. We also made a (relatively) quick trip to the IKEA in Charlotte for some smaller items to feather our nest a bit (and to test-drive some of the furniture): frames, kitchen stuff, rugs, bedding, candles, blankets, and more frames.
We still need to frame and hang a lot of art, and style all the built-in shelves in the den/office, and there are random piles of letterpress sorts, animal skulls, and seashells seemingly everywhere... but now that these rooms are painted, everything is finally starting to gel. We invited people over for dinner this coming weekend as incentive to wrap. it. up. And just in time, our house is starting to feel more like our home.
November 4, 2013
Above: scenes from the weekend. The fall colors finally exploded. I painted a fireplace black, and started painting everything else white. Micah started clearing out the yard (but saved the last of the mums for me). We checked out the South Durham Farmers Market for the first time, and stocked up on the last of the summer's peppers, some baby ginger, fingerling potatoes, and kale. We visited my old stomping grounds to check out new pop-up shop Hatch - I got a bottle of Dish Whiskey, and wanted all of the Monsieur Fox pocket squares. We grabbed lunch at Pizzeria Toro (which unfortunately suffered a fire the next day, and is temporarily closed!).
This week, we're going to enjoy Micah's last birthday present: a pair of front-row center tickets to see Colin Meloy at the gorgeous, historic Carolina Theatre.
October 31, 2013
The art director in me cringes at how unfinished and unstyled these photos are, but "in-process" posts are my favorite to read, so I know I just need to get over it. I also need to remember to take similar before and after photos...
Like most houses for sale, ours was painted in a limited palette of light, unassuming, unprovoking creams and tans that have been mercilessly provoking me with their utter nothingness. I envision our house in fresh whites, with crisp black accents, lots of wood and plants, and a mustard yellow chair here and there. Last weekend, I was itching to change something - anything! - in the house, so it would finally feel like ours. And what could be more definitively altering than black paint?
We bought a gallon and a quart of Valspar's interior eggshell latex paint in Cracked Pepper (the darkest, truest black we could find), and I sanded down, taped off, and painted:
1. a butcherblock island from IKEA. I bought it while I was living on Iredell to nearly double my kitchen counter space. It's solid birch, and has totally stood the test of time, but has stayed unfinished for too long. So, I've naturally sealed the top with mineral oil, and the rest of it got a coat of black. Now it looks all grown up, and functions better, too (meaning I could chop things on it now if I wanted).
2. an accent wall in the living room. It's the first thing you see when you walk in the front door. I can't wait to hang some art on that gorgeous inky wall now, and I love how the credenza pops off of it.
3. a large mirror that was left by the previous owners in the den. Photos of that soon. It was huge (and probably expensive), but the frame was a bit ornate for our taste. So, BLACK.
4. the 3x6' half-bath off our kitchen. Small space, big impact. I could see us wallpapering this room in the future - something bold and dark and crazy. But black paint achieves the same effect nicely for the time being. I pulled out the wall-mounted cabinet above the toilet, and am currently looking for some nice, patina-ed slabs of wood to hang from wall to wall as floating shelves, and a huge aged mirror to replace the current oval one. This is the bathroom people will use when they're over for dinner parties and late-night whiskey-fueled fireside chats. I wanted the corners to disappear, and the whole room to be a sexy extension of the evening they're hopefully having. I love how it turned out - just as I envisioned.
This weekend, I'm buying a 5-gallon tub of white paint, and starting to erase the rest of the oatmeal travesty that's currently covering the rest of our interior walls. I'm enjoying having paint under my fingernails at all times, and waking up impossibly sore each morning. Homeownership!
October 23, 2013
I recently stumbled across this article on cultivating a more present mindset, and was immediately intrigued (and just the right amount of intimidated) by some of the habits that are suggested. Maybe it's my predisposal towards constant editing, or the fact that I'm still coming down from the high of a successful first Whole30, but the instant my monkey brain thinks something like, "Oh my, I could never give up ________!," my stubborn oldest-child Type-A Virgo brain answers, "WELL GUESS WHAT, NOW YOU'RE GOING TO, SO START DEALING WITH IT." Any previously unchecked dependence, once thrown into the light of day, can simply not go untested. (I promise I'm more chill in person.)
I decided to start with one habit: not keeping my phone in the bedroom. I've slid into the unfortunate habit of "poking" (our equally unfortunate word for checking Twitter / Instagram / Flipbook / the weather for periods of time) in bed before turning off my light for the night. And man, sometimes an hour will pass before I even realize it - and if pressed, I'd probably have trouble even remembering what information I had absorbed. That, friends, is not being present. That is mindless, melatonin-restricting information consumption. Even worse, I've been doing the same thing right when I wake up. I was telling myself that the light from the screen was helping my brain wake up, but it was subconsciously stressing me out to be checking my work email (and therefore thinking about what needed to be done that day, and therefore starting the workday) before I had even gotten up to pee or put on clothes! Tomfoolery.
Now, I keep my charger downstairs, in the kitchen. I plug my phone in before I go upstairs to bed each night, and now enjoy a bit of a book (or Micah, or lovely meditative nothingness) before turning off my light. When I wake up in the morning and eventually make it back downstairs, my phone is waiting for me next to my tiny French press and my newly-inflated sense of self-discipline. Not once have I missed an important phone call or text, and Instagram / Twitter / Flipbook / the weather is still waiting for me. I've also already noticed that I'm less attached to my phone throughout the day - because know I know I don't need it with me at all times. Take that, monkey brain!
Habits I'd love to build next?: not checking work email on nights or weekends (reading that hit a major pain point for me), and not checking blog stats.
at 4:12 PM
October 21, 2013
Yesterday marked the two-year anniversary of this blog!
It all started with a visit from Kathleen, a rainy day off, and a brewing desire for more. And it's strange and satisfying to look back at how far I've come since then – but not so strange to think that keeping a blog had something to do with it. It's been a visual diary for me, obviously. I've loved cataloging each season's gardens, my ever-changing interiors (and wardrobe), and the food I prepared (which organically grew into the Weekend Breakfast series). But more than that, it's kept me accountable to my own story. There are only so many times you can idly talk about all your house / work / life dreamings, before those dreamings internalize and start becoming decisions, and those decisions start becoming actions. In retrospect, I see that most clearly when I wrote about quitting my job; in fact, it's the one line that readers (online and in real life) have consistently said held a particularly inescapable of truth to it:
"I wasn't necessarily unhappy, per se, but I knew I could be happier. And once I knew I could be happier, it was impossible to not start dreaming, and scheming, and reaching." (Yep, I'm quoting myself now!)
(Ooh, I also love all the parallels between that post and the first one: the ceremonial beverage, the rain, the push from Kathleen...)
I'm celebrating the same way I started out: with plenty of hot Irish Breakfast tea, open windows, and more dreamings. I can't wait to see what brews over the next two years; rest assured, you'll hear about it here first.