I was hanging out with some of my most favorite men last night, and I drove over in Old Blue specifically so we could take some fun pictures. It's been beautiful weather, and so it was no real surprise to me that all four of them were shirtless and barefoot when I arrived. (They are known for their naked dance parties, which now include the youngest little mister, who copies literally everything his big brothers do.)
First off, let me say that trying to photograph four little boys aged one through six by yourself is very much like herding kittens, and I was laughing the entire time I was trying to repeatedly corral and coax poses out of them, counting heads to be sure I hadn't lost anyone since the last shot.
In the end, I actually managed quite a few precious shots and I just knew you would want to see them.
(You saw this shameless Gramma Cupcake brag post coming at "naked dance parties", didn't you?)
Here is my favorite picture. Being the fourth of four boys, the baby has pretty much decided he needs to holler all of his words, and proudly yells out "Cheeeeeee!" every time he thinks you're taking his picture.
(I know, right? It melts my heart too!)
Oh yeah, I am seeing plenty more photo-ops happening with all of the grands and Old Blue this summer.
(I have the best of intentions....)
The challenge seems to remain the same for me...never enough hours in a day, or week, to do all I aspire to do. More and more I find myself planning to work on home projects, only to put them back in a holding pattern at the last minute, so that I can run out the door to do something fun with friends or family.
I am not complaining about this at all, as I have come to realize that living a good life is not all about having the bathroom painted or the garage workbench all organized. It's about going to bed, tuckered out after having stayed up to late (Again!) because you're watching a really great movie with your brother, who has come to visit for just a few short days.
(I have always said that sleep is over rated, although the lines on my face may tell a different story...)
This all being said, I do have a passion for homekeeping, and so there is a part of me that longs to get these projects handled around my home.
(It's that nesting thing.)
Especially this time of year, when the weather is fabulous, and the light is streamiing in all my windows. Oh, it makes me want to do deep, deep, spring cleaning!
(But then, my Rock n' Roll Buddy calls and says we should go for a motorcycle ride, or it's just about time for a road trip to the Farm Chicks with the Other Tracey and I am out the door again.)
As I said before, I am living a well intentioned life.
I thought I had shared my not-fully-decorated guestroom with you, and last night I checked my posts and realized that all I shared with you was the cutie-patootie robe and slipper socks hanging in the guestroom closet.
Sorry 'bout that.
It's a work in progress, as all are the other seven rooms (plus a hallway) in my cottage. The room, along with the rest of the cottage, is patiently waiting to be prettied up with a fresh coat of paint.
And a charming pillow for the chair.
And a fabulous-and-thrifty chandelier.
And the perfect "thing" to hang above the bed. (Do you struggle with this too? I think being born and raised in California causes me to really think long and hard as to what exactly will hang above any bed in my home. You do not ever want to wake up in the night to a heavy mirror-platter-you-fill-in-the-blank-here during an earthquake.)
And maybe a couple of these so-soft-on-the-feeties rugs from Ikea. (Gotta get a couple of them to stick out from under each side of the bed!)
And I still need to hang my roller shades in the charming corner windows.
So, I guess what I am saying, is that I have the furniture arranged in there, with the bed made, and the fuffy, billow-y curtains hung in there.
And I'm happy with the way it is slowly unfolding, along with the rest of the house.
My first guest ever to stay in this room will be here in just over a week! (Squeeeeeeal!) Yes, The Other Tracey will arrive a week from tomorrow and we will begin an adventure up (over? Up and over?) to Spokane for the Farm Chicks Show!
I can hardly wait, and we've been texting, and talking, and giggling over all of our plans. It's going to be a spectacular trip, I just know it.
Such was the case a month or so ago. You might remember this post, where I shared the awesome award I presented to a teammate at work for her efforts in raising the bar on remarkable.
Even prior to that award presentation, I had been looking online at novelty shops, and during my weekly pit stops at the thrift shops in town for a trophy that would be big enough, and grand enough, and cheap enough for us to use as an ongoing recognition trophy for all of us to continue recognizing those who go above and beyond at work. (Truth be told, I keep a mental list of all the off-the-wall stuff I would LOVE to find at yard sales and this topped the list.)
Two Saturdays ago (the Saturday before I scored the crazy-cool football snack server) I discovered the most off-the-wall-perfect-for-what-I-needed-it-for-sent-from-God-amighty-himself item ever.
Let me first say that scoring the loving cup a while back at GoodWill and using it at work was pretty fabulous, but that paled in comparison to what I found on a folding table in a cul-de-sac garage that eventful Saturday morning, and I can honestly say that I had never seen anything like it before. (I would bet my paycheck you haven't either.)
What I saw there on that folding table was a trophy with a small loving cup topped by a business lady up top there. (anyway that is how I would describe her. If you know differently, and it is something else, like a top-producer Encyclopedia Britannica saleswoman from the 60's, or the award for perfect attendance at an all-girl prep school, please do not share it with me, as I am blissfully happy thinking it's a businesswoman.)
Anyway, as I was saying, I spied with my little eyes this glorious meant-for-me trophy and squealed out loud when I spotted her. I pointed her out to my yard sale pal (yes, the Patriot's fan from the story with the football snack server...) but she didn't quite see the awesomeness of the trophy...just yet.
I asked the little middle-aged looking hispanic woman running the garage sale how much it was, and she replied in a thick accent that it was five dollars. (I was appalled, of course. While it was priceless to me, who in their right mind would drop a five dollar bill on this rather unusual trophy? Didn't she realize she was most likely going to still own this oddity at the end of her sale, and she should be thrilled anyone even inquired about it?!)
We got back in the car to leave and I felt compelled to discuss this with my friend before starting the car engine. She is quite wise in matters of bargaining, and incredibly level-headed.Once I explained my vision for the trophy to her, she was inspired as well. I asked her if I should get out and offer the woman two bucks, she said I should go for it.
I opened the car door, stuck my head out, and hollered my new price offer in a casual, nonchalant voice to the woman, and the smart little middle aged lady said sure.
Now, if you are a yard saler, you will understand this. If not, I can't explain what makes a girl go all tighter-than-Ebenezer-Scrooge when wheelin' and dealin' in someone's driveway, but I can tell you, it's the principle of the thing.
People need to understand that they are hosting a yard sale, pushing their unwanted and many times unsanitary items for resale, and not hosting Nordstrom's semi annual event. (in their garage no less...helloooo, what does that tell them?)
Am I right?!
Anyway, I nabbed this Little-Miss-Books-In-Hand for two dollars, and she could not be more perfect. Today we are awarding our second teammate with the "That's What I'm Talkin' About Award",(An award for raising the bar on remarkability) It will reside on his desk until the next person is awarded down the road. The plan is to continue to add names to the trophy, honoring random acts of remarkabilty.
Yes, the clear stickers did print up like I did it on scotch tape, (hey, you cna't win 'em all. I had nothing else to work with.) but the trashy-ness of the stickers seem to add even more of a funkified-charm look-no?
Oh yeah, we're livin' large at my office. Happy Friday-before-a-three-day-weekend, my friends!
Who would have known installing a simple door could take so many tries? Two weeks ago I shared that I was all hoopty-doo'd about getting a charming glass window paned door installed between my kitchen and laundry room, and it turned out that I had ordered the wrong measurements for the door jam.
I handled the nightmare experience of returning that door on a busy Saturday when no one actually knew anything about doors (Not to mention the restocking fees, and while the new size jam was more narrow, but higher priced, of course) and went home to wait for the call that my new door was in.
I was warned up front that it would be between one and eight or nine weeks. (Seriously? That's the smallest time frame they could guestimate for me?) In less than a week, my new door arrived. (Thank you, Jesus!) I called my craigslist guy to schedule a new install.
He wanted to come on Mother's Day afternoon, which I said would be fine, since my girls and my Mom and I would be there. Mother's day afternoon arrived and he then texted to say he ended up bailing on me, saying he would be there Monday at 5:30. This was also time with me.
Monday at 6:30 I texted him and he informed me that he was busy and would not be coming. after all. (The downside of Craigslist is the flake factor.) I called Home Depot to get a referral. They sent me a list of three installers to call.
I then arranged for an install date with one of them. This past Monday was that day. Not only did the installer show up, he was early. (I was so excited that I couldn't stop myself from peeking around the corner of the doorway to see glimpses of his progress...)
The door went in without a hitch, and an hour and a half after he arrived, I had a beautiful new door in my kitchen.
Even in it's unpainted, primer-paint state, without the trim on the itches side, and without a sheer curtain, it created such instant gratification, that I cannot help but continue to stare at it. The sun streaming through, changing the feel of both the kitchen and the laundry room.
It's a thing of beauty, and another step towards making this little old house my perfect-for-me home, sweet, home.
Last Saturday, I was out and about, yard saling with one of my favorite thrifting friends, and one of those serendipitous moments occurred, right there in a driveway in sweet little Camas. (we may have edged over to Vancouver, but I am pretty sure it was Camas.)
I think we spotted it at the exact same moment, and, at first glance, neither of us were overly impressed. It was some sort of football figurine...or maybe a novelty telephone I thought. Wait, it had a sticker on it explaining itself. It was a "snack server" according to the tag. There was a small black button on it.
I pushed the button and it loudly played a bit of the NFL theme Song as the top third of the football swung open and there was a cavity to store treats.
They wanted five dollars for this little gem, which in yard sale dollars seemed ca-razy high to both of us, and I was having an unusually cheap frugal moment, so I thought I would take a pass (heheh, did you catch my little football pun?) on it, and so did my Patriots loving friend. After checking out the rest of the driveway, we meandered our way back to the car, and got in. At that moment I came to my senses, and decided I should maybe offer the kid in the driveway three bucks for it. My partner-in-crime agreed, saying she too was having second thoughts over the musical mechanical football themed treat server.
She waited in the car and watched me as I went back up the driveway to negotiate. The kid said he'd have to ask his Mom, who was in the house. He came back out and said she would take four dollars. Should I do it? I motioned to my thrifting adviser. She nodded her approval, and I said "deal".
Come to Mama.
This little ode-to-Sunday-football was mine.
I scampered back to the car, my treasure in hand. Once inside the car, we opened and closed it a few times to listen to one of the sweetest tune any football fan could hear, and marveled at the quality of the piece.
I knew exactly what i was going to do with this little guy. I stopped for groceries later on my way home, and picked up a few packs of Hot Tamales candy.
Once home, I wrapped them up in a couple of book pages and made the perfect tag to coordinate. (You know those homemade tags are my thing.) and set it on the coffee table for my Rock n' Roll Buddy, who was coming by later. (Oh! The presentation was perfect!)
The magic of this gift was not lost on him, as he listened to the music. Of course we filled the cavity with the hot tamales and enjoyed pushing the button.
This little candy dish will be pulled out each Sunday during football season as part of his weekly ritual, I have no doubt. Cheesey? Maybe to some, but part of what makes a thing a perfect gift is simply knowing your audience, and I can tell you, this little surprise was spot on.
I have the grandest of plans down the road for my outdoor living and entertaining space that is overflowing with charm, and style, and creativity. So fabulous are these plans that I struggled with exactly how to set up and be able to enjoy the small patio behind my cottage garage until my budget permits the actual project to get underway.
In my mind (in Traceyville) I see sweet French doors in the living room (where there are currently windows) leading guests out to the huge side yard of my property. (I am on a corner.) I see a perfect cottage style deck, with a stone pathway leading to the grass. It's spacious, and yet quaint and cozy, with room for the large outdoor dining table I envision, as well as a seating area for conversation. There are oodles and toodles of blooming flowers in pots, and a creamy canvas umbrella for shade, and...well, you get the picture.
(To join me in this Traceyville peek into my outdoor space of the future, feel free to picture me looking about 42, comfortably wearing a size six sundress, setting up a s'mores buffet for dessert, while sipping a mojito, and enjoying some Ed Sheeran on my outdoor speakers...)
(In Traceyville, anything is possible.)
As I said, I have grand plans. In the meantime, I realized that if I want to entertain outdoors this year (and maybe next year too...)I would have to use the narrower-than-I-would-have-liked covered patio located behind my garage. The route to get to this patio is through the kitchen, then the laundry room, and finally, out the back door of the garage.
Once on the patio, my existing outdoor furniture sat, corralled at one end of the patio seemed giant and over-bearing, and there was seemingly nothing charming about any of this.
(Do I sound like I am whining?)
(Shame on me.)
I hate when I get this way, all ungrateful acting. Clearly, I needed an attitude adjustment, and the weather provided it. A week ago we had a little stretch of fantastically warm, sunny days, and I beat a path to the garden section of Home Depot and, for less than twenty bucks, purchased myself some instant inspiration. Then I whipped over to Ikea and scored myself four perfect-for-me outdoor folding bistro chairs.
I hosed off my cozy-sized patio, potted my flowers, and tried about 16 different furniture arrangements before settling on my favorite one. (Quite litterally, I was out there on the patio at midnight, in my robe, rearanging like a crazy woman.) I brought out one of my charming cottage style table cloths and a quilty-throw. I organized my newly potted flowers, hung my sign, and looked at my handiwork.
I didn't like it.
I loved it.
I could (and will!) entertain out here just fine, thankyouverymuch.
Is it perfect? No, but that is part of the charm. It reminds me of all the things I have been reading about in this book. I shared how much I am enjoying Love the Home You Have a while back, and I have to say, it has caused me to remember what I love about a project house. Every room, every corner....is an opportunity for inspiration. A spot to be creative, and think outside the box.
This newest entertaining area of my cottage makes me smile, as I feel it says welcome to everyone who comes out to sit a spell.
Recently I spent yesterday afternoon with my daughter, hitting every thrift shop in the area. It had been far to long since I spent an afternoon like this, and it was such fun to search for treasures at each stop.
We began at the GoodWill bins, and it did not disappoint.
Within minutes of arriving, we had the cart teeter-tottering with large finds. It's especially sweet when you have a certain item you wish you could find, and then, you actually find that item.
Best find of the day (in my opinion, away...) was the huge store sign shown in my top picture. Obviously from a local store, it will now hange perfectly on my daughter's back deck.
I myself have done before dawn picnics, as well as late night sofa picnics, as alternatives to the expected picnic fare. Yesterday, I packed up a sweet little picnic breakfast, (Mother's Day!) and headed over to the Sewing Queen's home. (My Mom!)
My favorite portable container these days for caring individual beverage servings, ad well as items I want to pull from the fridge (Like fruit salads.) would have to be mason jars. Affordable, washable, and they can be found at most any grocery or big box store.
I made my easy coffee cake I shared last week, but this time in the form of cinnamon swirl muffins. I added individual servings of orange juice, and then a bigger canning jar of freshly cut mixed fruit.
A perfect light fare. I personalized my breakfast food by loading it all in a metal pan lined with cloth napkins and a couple homemade tags tied with red checkered ribbon. One of my tags was an old baby picture of me with my Mom.
I'm starting to think food-on-the-go is becoming almost as big of a passion as tablescapes are for me.
I was in there a week or so ago, and I spotted the new summer outdoor (to me anyway) entertaining items.
So sunny, and fun, and cheery, and happy!
I love the pretty orange cotton plaid, and the hot pink and orange flower hand-towels (dishtowels? Whatever...) They make fabulous over-sized napkins for messy BBQ meals, and they liven up a table.
But wait! There's more! An entire cheery lime green colorway, and blue as well...
A girl could go crazy with all of the mix-and-match options.Plastic ware, paper goods, and everything from coordinating cupcake liners to straws for your party's signature drink, this place has it.
And all for a buck each.
Oh. My. Ga.
I have to forcibly stop myself from buying them all to share with my friends and family.
No, really, I do.
(I get easily carried away like that.)
When it comes to shower gifts, or prizes for games at a shower, or for entertaining, the Dollar Store is my very first stop. It has never failed me.
People like to say less is more, but I don't think that applies when talking about the Dollar Store.
I keep an arsenal of spur-of-the-moment-ready-to-make-or-bake comfort foods in my pantry. Don't get me wrong, I love to cook and bake, but if a mix is aaaah-mazing enough to taste like scratch, I'm gonna keep some in my cupboard for those impromptu too-tire-or-short-on-ingredients-when-you-want-to-wow-your-unexpected-guests.
So, this is one of those kinds of stapes in my cupboard. The Krusteaz brand Coffee cale mix. (They call it a cinnamon swirl coffee cake) I am pretty sure you can find it at every grocery store in America.
People don't believe it's not scratch until I finally show 'em the box.
Best right out of the oven, my home smells like a bake shop, and the presentation is equally grand.
You need to pick up a box or three of this mix to keep handy to wow your friends and family.
(It's up to you if you share with them that's it's from a mix and not from scratch.)
I thought I had sworn off online shopping (I was very nearly needing a twelve step program...) and then I see this on some friend of a friends Facebook post that landed on my wall.
It was love at first sight.(Or site, as the case may be.)
Since the Facebook page site was wholesale only I was not sure what to do...then, a facebook/blog-reader friend told me about The Painted Fox and the rest, as they say, was history.
( What hasn't happened yet is my new, charming fifteen window door that I was going to share with all of you, as it was scheduled to be installed in my kitchen early Sunday morning.)
You see, there is a door between my kitchen and my laundry room, similarly to the layout of my old kitchen in the biggest little city, (Remember, it here and here?) and I want to do the same thing I did there, which is to replace the old, flat boring door, with a pretty windowed door. This lets in much more light (The laundry room has a window, and a window on the door going outside) and will give my kitchen a warm, inviting look as you look in from the dining and living room area.
I ordered my door, and it has been standing in the garage, patiently waiting for me to get time to install it. I was just sure, after learning to frame windows, that my daughter and I could do this ourselves, but after watching a Youtube on the subject, my daughter-turned-handyman...er...woman, vetoed it entirely last Friday.
On to Plan B, where we find a door installer guy on Craigslist. We found one,and he was available on Sunday. Oh! How exciting! My door was going to be a reality, and once that was installed, we would finish the flooring going into the laundry room. Cuteness in my kitchen was only a day away.
Sunday arrived, and so did the door dude. He was friendly, and was chattering on as he came through my front door about how charming everything looked. I thanked him and showed him the door area to be replaced. Out to the garage we strolled, and he removed the cardboard cover off of my new door.
He then informed me that I had ordered the wrong depth door jam.
(I think this is known as Murphy's law.)
Apparently when measuring the door jam, you do not include the outside molding...or trim..or whatever you like to call that.
Shut the door.
(Well, in this case, that won't be happening just yet.)
Back to Home Depot in my little blue truck to return the door with the deep door frame, and begin again. The new door will be here somewhere between one and eight weeks, give or take, (insert Murphy's law in here once again, most likely.) and my door guy will come back out to take a second crack at changing my world with a charming new door with fifteen sweet little windows, and we will take another stab at completing this project.
In the meantime, I will decide on exactly which color I am painting the kitchen walls, and get that fun little project started.
I wrote an entire post last night just before midnight, and when I went to save it...typepad had some sort of hiccup, and ate up my post.
(Trust me, it was a fabulous post, full of hilarious anecdotes, and inspirational ideas.
What I wanted to say in this post was this- I am inching my way through this book, and I am LOVING every chapter. Truly, this book speaks to me.
One of my favorite quotes in the book so far would have to be, "Limitations can spark your creative spirit! Authentic style comes from creative problem solving and addressing needs in your one unique way.What trouble area can become a place of possibility?"
I don't know about you, but my creativity seems to go into over-drive when I am pushed to the wall due to an challenging space or budget to work with. I many times even surprise myself! I felt we were long lost friends. Kindred spirits.
I am loving the home I have, even with a mile and a half long lit of to-do's. Projects are moving along slowly, as I am busy with life. (It's little league baseball season after all.)
My latest project is foofifying up my laundry room. (Fresh paint, stick on floor tiles, and making it a room people actually want to peek into.) More to come.....