Friday, December 6, 2013

Retro Christmas

Retro, Vintage Christmas Art Prints by Paulo & Lulu

How adorable are these retro-feel prints.  For more info on these go here

Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas in the Vineyards...

As you know, I love where I live.  We are close to Napa Valley, surrounded by lovely hills and lush vineyards.  In addition to our beautiful surroundings, we are still about 25 minutes to Berkeley, 40 minutes to San Francisco (if traffic is on our side).

This year an adorable family from Oregon decided to set up a Christmas tree farm in one of the vineyard spaces down the street from where we live.  I am not sure there is a more beautiful location for a Christmas tree farm than in a vineyard.  Seriously.  It's dreamy. Noble Firs are gorgeous.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Count your Blessings...

It was a quiet Thanksgiving.  We participated in our town Turkey Trot in the morning (and turned in some nice performances I might add.  My 10 year old is crazy speedy at this 5K business - he PR'd with a time of 21:54).  Then we cleaned up and COOKED.  It was just the 6 of us.  So the house was filled with the sound of the Macy's Day Parade on TV, smells of pies and stuffing cooking, sights of our twinkling Christmas tree.  Add some luxurious naps, dinner around 5 and a family viewing of my new favorite Christmas movie "Elf" and that was Thanksgiving 2013.

We don't live near family; in our nearly 16 years of marriage we never have.  Most of the year I don't mind the distance but at Thanksgiving I do.  I feel like Thanksgiving is the ONE holiday when most extended families come together.  Although our family of 6 normally feels really boisterous and busy...on Thanksgiving it feels a little small.  I found that I was feeling a bit blue most of Thursday and decided to take stock of my feelings towards the end of the day.  My husbands family is mostly in Utah; mine is in Virginia.  Some of my best friends still live in NYC or the East Coast.  And the friends that we have here in California cling to their extended families during the holidays.  So I was feeling alone.

Which was when I decided to "count your many blessings, name them one by one".  I have so much to be grateful for.  I decided not to let one day influence my feelings about Thanksgiving and the blessings that have been bestowed on me and my family.

When in doubt, just count your many many blessings.  "And it will surprise you what the Lord has done".

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

DIY: Kitchen Cabinet Remodel!

I have been absent because of a recent and huge DIY project.  Yes...I painted my kitchen cabinets.  All of them.  In Cece Caldwell Chalk Paint Seattle Mist.  It was an incredible experience and I am thrilled with the outcome.

(Vintage-look stools at the island from - purchased last year for $70.  That was for BOTH and even included shipping. is the BOMB)

Last year I added bead board around three sides of my island and the ends of my upper cabinet and one lower cabinet.  Of all the things I did in this kitchen, the fitting in of the bead board was the most challenging.  Pieces had to be cut carefully, there was lots of sanding - it was a long process mainly because I had never done it before and had no idea WHAT I was doing.   I purchased the bead board at Home Depot for a total cost of $140.  It has given the island and ends a much more substantial and custom look.

Last year I also added new handles to all of my drawers - 14 handles total at $5 a piece from Lowes for a total of $70.

And see those bun feet?  I installed those too - it gives the cabinets a more custom look.  They were each $5 at Home Depot and I installed 6, for a total of $30.  I still have 3 more to set in but I'm happy with the ones that are in now.

The way the light from my kitchen window hits the cabinets make them seem like they are glowing.  That is the beauty of chalk paint.  You get the chalk paint color but also whatever was underneath - they appear very layered and aged, which is the exact look I was going for.  The bottles that you see are all vintage and from various flea markets over the years.  The grey window is OLD and from a friend.

I removed the small cabinet doors over the microwave and instead filled the space with a dozen old bottles, collected form all over the place.  We never really used this space for storage because it was in an awkward place to access so turning it into a display worked great.  I love the contrast of the clear/blue/green bottles against the aged grey chalk paint.  The Schwepps box is vintage and from my favorite Napa antique store, Antiques on Second.  The Green Valley sign was painted by a local artist on reclaimed barn wood; I purchased it 2 years ago and love how it captures the spirit of where we live.

This is the window over my sink.  I made the over sized valance from burlap and then appliqued a piece of an antique feed sack from Lancaster County, PA (which is where both of my parents grew up).

My multi layered and very ornamented chandelier in the eating area.  It's "garnishes" change with the season and is my favorite part of the whole kitchen.

One thing that was a hugely helpful purchase and is not pictured here were the chrome slider shelves by Rev-a-shelf, sold at Lowes.  We bought three units priced at $100 each and they are AWESOME.

The system we bought looks like this:

Totally worth every penny.  Next month I am going to add 4 more to my kitchen island.  Seriously, if you don't have these you need to get some.  Also, they are simple to install.  Read the instructions carefully; I actually watched a youtube video on how to install and it was hugely helpful.

Finally, I was sick of my two trashcans in the kitchen - one for recycling and one for regular trash.  They were constantly moving around and the latch on one of them had been broken for awhile.  So I invested in a really strong trashcan that looks like a piece of furniture in our kitchen.

 I purchased the Simple Human Recyclers and we love it.  If you can love a trashcan, that is.   I purchased it at Bed Bath and Beyond for $150.

So the total cost breakdown for my kitchen redo is as follows:

Bead board (added 1 year ago) - $140
Cabinet Hardware (added 1 year ago) - $70

2012 - $210

Cece Caldwell Chalk Paint in Seattle Mist (2 containers) - $78
Semi Gloss Polyurethane (2 containers) - $34
Foam Brushes - $20
Rev-a-Shelf chrome organizer units (3 units) - $300
Wood bun feet for cabinets - $30
Simple Human Trashcan - $150

2013 - $612


For $822 I am thrilled with my kitchen.  Yes, I need to get new counters but that will come with time.  I LOVE the color of the cabinets.  I love my new shelves and trashcan and decor - I literally would not change a thing.

Next kitchen table and chairs redo.  I had to - I was on a major painting binge! 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Friday, October 25, 2013


I have a confession.  I HATE carving pumpkins.  I may have to ask my mother to confirm this, but I think I hated it as a child too.  I am NOT interested in slaving away with a knife/cutting implement and then scooping out pumpkin guts in the name of making a Halloween creation.  I may be very creative...but this is one activity that does not float my boat.

As a result of my Halloween pumpkin-carving-hatred, I am naturally drawn to other pumpkin decorating options.  Here then is a round-up of some of my favorites for this season.

Option 1 - The Googly Eyes Pumpkin!  This is SUPER easy to achieve; a lot of eyes for a lot of look!  (For more info on this look, please check out this months edition of HGTV Magazine)

Option 2 - The Mummy Pumpkin!  Again, super easy and the result is A LOT of look!  Just take medical gauze and wrap up a pumpkin. Add some giant googly eyes and wham bam thank you m'am you are DONE!
Style House & Homes: Pumpkin Decorating
Option 3 - The Glamorous Pumpkin!  If you are interested in a slightly more upscale look then grab some cans of fall themed metallic spraypaint and have at it.  (Check out this blog for more great pumpkin ideas)

Option 4 - Chevron Pumpkins!  If you have a steady hand, this is a simple pattern to sketch onto your pumpkin and then fill in with paint.  Or spraypaint the whole pumpkin white and THEN add the chevron stripes.  Again, a lot of impact for just a little work.

Halloween: Pumpkin Decorations

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Room Tour: Bathroom Redo!

 (metal letters purchased years ago from Urban Outfitters)

We have an upstairs hall bathroom that services 4 kids.  We inherited the bathroom when we bought the house and haven't done much to it.  The previous owners replaced the builder grade vanity with something a little nicer (though not my taste) and then installed a concrete counter.  They upgraded the toilet and added crown molding.  All in all, it's a fine bathroom...just not what I would have chosen if I had the choice.

When it came to freshening up this bathroom, I decided to go colorful and inexpensive.  I mean, come on - it is for 4 kids ages 4-10.  I was not going to pour money into the venture.  When I want to freshen, I always turn 1) what I've already got by way of decor in my house and 2) Target.

For my shower curtain and bathmat I turned to Target.  I picked up this chevron curtain and LOVE the punch of color it gives this otherwise average bathroom.  I also picked up lots of new towels in both white and yellow and a new garbage can.  We were making progress!

The framed art over the toilet is made by moi and it was VERY simple.  I took a bunch of fabric scraps from my stash and pieced them together, glued them to a board and framed them.  30 minutes tops.  The blue round iron piece was something we had in the garage from decorating long ago; I freshened it up with some turquoise spray paint.  The iron tin holding toilet paper sits on the toilet tank; I picked it up at a favorite Utah haunt called Taipan Trading.

I picked up these little faux plants at Taipan Trading years ago.  They sit on the windowsill in the bathroom.  The rhino toy belongs to my 4 year old boy.  I guess he likes it there :)

More of those awesome chevron print towels from Target.  Wooden giraffes purchased from a random import shop in NYC Union Square a few years ago.

I have no idea where this lovely soap dispenser came from but isn't it nice?

I realize that there is A LOT more I could do to this bathroom but for right now I am satisfied.  It looks nice for the kids, it is a happy colorful place and it is clean.  That fits the bill for a kids bathroom in my book!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Room Tour: Sophisticated Teen Room

My friend Sarah has an extraordinary home.  It is such fun to visit; every room is infused with personality and color and unique trinkets from ALL over the place.  One of my favorite rooms in her home is daughter Lauren's room.  For a 13 year old, this is a decidedly sophisticated and whimsical place.

The beautiful headboard is a Craigslist find that Sarah stained a deep red.  The neutral bedding is from Target.  The lovely old armoire is from a neighbor; Sarah later repainted it white.

I love that this red isn't a typical "red wagon" or "barn red" RED; it is much more sophisticated hue.  Pillow from Target.

Sarah made this amazing message board center by wrapping cork board with a grey linen birdcage print.  Lauren is an avid artist; this zone is perfect for her to tack up her latest drawings and paintings.

This has long been my favorite piece in Lauren's room.  Actually, it is my favorite piece in Sarah's entire house!  Lauren made each of these gorgeous paper origami cranes.  Sarah then attached them with fishing twine to dowels and configured a kind of chandelier.  What an amazing piece of art!

Another of Lauren's paper crane displays hanging in a corner of the bedroom.

Thank you, Lauren for letting us visit your room!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Make it Monday: Scrap Fabric Tassels

DIY: Pretty Scrap Fabric Tassels
As an avid sewer and hoarder of colorful prints, I have ALOT of fabric scraps.  I am always looking for ways to use every SINGLE piece of my scraps and this DIY project is a great way to do that.  This project was originally posted on Decor 8 so please check out the link for all of the instructions.  Trust me, it's really simple.  This is the kind of project that you can do while sitting in front of the TV watching "New Girl" :)

Make Me: Pretty Scrap Fabric Tassels by decor8, via Flickr

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Our Family Car Dilemma!

Folks.  It is nearing that time.

I have had my Nissan Quest for 6 1/2 years.  It has been a wonderful minivan and has served our family of 6 very well.  Alas, I can't wait to move out of the minivan stage and into our next car (most likely in the spring).

But I have encountered a dilemma.  With 4 growing kids (oldest is 10 1/2 and youngest is 4 12) it's not like we are going to need LESS seems we will need MORE.  Hmmmmm...

First, you need to see my favorite car.  Like, if all of the stars aligned and I could drive whatever I wanted without limitations of size or price (bear with me, it is my car fantasy) I would drive a Mercedes G Class SUV.  More specifically the G63 AMG SUV.  Yes...I have given this some thought.

Like this:

I have wanted this car for years.  YEARS.  Whenever I come across one on the road I have been known to do whatever is necessary to pull up alongside it.  It is a beautiful beautiful car.

But starts at $135,700 and that is before I make customizations to it.  Sooooooo...not going to happen anytime soon.

Alright, moving on.  I had always assumed that when we were finished with the minivan stage, our next purchase would be the Nissan Armada SUV.  Like this one:

I love driving my current Nissan and have spent some time in the Armada and LOVE it.  Lots of space, great towing capacity, decent mileage for an SUV, I like the tech and entertainment packages, in budget (basically).  It even fits in the garage.  We have talked about this being our next car for several years now so it was a forgone conclusion...until...

We went to Mexico and spent a day in this passenger van.  That's right. Passenger VAN.  It is the Nissan NV - Mexico version.  It seats 10 or 12 (Mexican version) and is ultra comfortable... and kinda cool looking. 

Then of course our Ragnar race happened (that is a post for another time) and we rented 2 large Ford 15-passenger vans to transport our team 200 miles on the race.  I had never driven a passenger van before and was pretty nervous to take the wheel.  Those nerves lasted about 6 minutes and then it was fine. 

So after the race and after Mexico...we started thinking.  What if...we bought a really cool passenger van instead of a big SUV?  We would never be without space.  We could literally carry anything in it.  Our growing kids would not run out of room AND there would be room to take a friend or two or three when it was necessary.  We love to take road trips (we take 3-4 a year) and it would be very comfortable to travel in.  CONS: It would not fit in our garage.  It would take up lots of space in the driveway.  Most parking garages would be out of the question for us (though that isn't a big factor in our day to day life anyway).

So I started doing some research.  The funky Nissan NV that I fell in love with in Mexico is not here in the US...and getting it from Mexico to California is surprisingly difficult.  So that option is out.  But then I remembered there is a passenger van I like even MORE.  And it is by my old friend, Mercedes:

This is the Mercedes Sprinter Passenger Van.  They have been around for years.  It can seat 10 or 12, very customizable. Comfortable.  Diesel.  Great mileage (see diesel).  It would take about $3000 to do the after market customs to it that I want (DVD screen/package and backup cameras/sensors).  So out the door, roughly $44,000.  And kinda cool looking.  I was so interested that I visited my local Mercedes dealership a week ago to see it up close and personal.  I liked it.  And as a side note, if you ever want to see some truly luxurious Sprinter customizations, play with google - there are some AMAZE-BALLS conversions out there.  WOW.

But going the passenger van route is a very different plan that the one we originally had.  So I was a big torn.  And not having it in the garage is a big con.

Then I did some more research.  It turns out there IS a Nissan NV here in the US...and it looks completely different than the Mexico or European version:

Crazy right?  That is a BIG car.  This is the US version of the Nissan NV and it has only been around for a few years.  In fact, they are hard to find!  Again, I was so intrigued by the 324 different seating configurations in this thing and comforted by the fact that it was a Nissan that I drove to the nearest dealership that carries them.  There are literally endless options with this thing.  But it is BIG.  When I mentioned it to my older kids and showed them pictures they begged to get this in black, "so that when we go to school we look like the Secret Service".  They kind of have that look to them.  The price point is a big more reasonable than the Mercedes, gas mileage isn't nearly as good...and did I mention that it is BIG?

I stewed on it for a few days, reading every review I could find online about both the Nissan NV and the Mercedes Sprinter.  In the course of my research I came across a THIRD option.  Which looks a lot like the Mercedes Sprinter (I prefer that look) and priced closer to the Nissan NV.  It is not available until next spring/summer...

This is the 2015 Ford Transit Passenger van. Kinda cool looking, no?  Apparently this has been in Europe for years but now it is making its way to the US.  I think that I like it.

So I have a dilemma.  Do I stay the course and just get the SUV that I was planning on all along...or do I mix it up and get one of these vehicles listed above?  What say you???

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Color Blind

I received my latest CB2 catalogue last week and found this print:


I LOVE it.  Big fan of the whole color treatment on the piece.  Yours at CB2 for only $179 but hurry because it is a part of their limited edition series (there are only 300 made of this print).

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Rug Roundup

I have a major weakness for beautiful, unique rugs.  The more colorful and over the top the better.  A few of my favorite rug posts are here and here...

And so without further ado, I feel like it is my civic responsibility to showcase a few of my favorite rugs (of late).

First up, this offering from my ALL TIME favorite store on the planet, ABC Carpet and Home.  I've said it before and I'll say it again: if it were possible to just live inside ABC for the rest of my life, I'd be the happiest girl ever.  But I digress...

This 8x10 "splatter" look is yours for $3999 at ABC.  Handwoven in India.

Contemporary Abstract Wool Rug  - 8'x10'

This one looks like colorful overlapping fingerprints, no?  Or the rings of a tree?
Rugs USA Keno Cirlces Multi Rug. #colorful Rugs
 When I look at this I see this I think of movie theater spotlights!  By Sonya Winner.  Large size for $9,097.
Colorful Rug
 And finally, this crazy crazy explosion of color and print.  The website it is on is written in Hebrew so I am out of luck with translating anything about it.  Except that I LOVE it.  That doesn't need translation.
שטיח צבעוני

What are your favorite rugs?

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Have you noticed all of those blinged-out/mustached/hip-in-the-moment pacifiers popping up at every children's boutique?  Ones that have a rapper grill or maybe funny teeth; you know what I'm talking about.

Well...I have discovered the most brilliant pacifier of them all.  This will be part of every baby gift I give from now on.

 Yours for $10 at Uncommon Goods.  Love it.

Friday, October 11, 2013


Have you seen this yet?!  What a great idea!

push-pop confetti
Great idea for party favors.  I can see this at a wedding reception instead of tossing rice or blowing bubbles?!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Snaps of Color

Last week I had this CRAZY revelation: I decided to stop wearing all color and just wear black.  All the time.  Now, most of you have never seen my closet but rest assured there are about 11 items that are black and 150+ items that are brightly colored/print/floral/chevron/tie dye/you-get-the-picture.  Honestly, I love walking into my closet because it is an explosion of color.  And since high school I have been a girl who LOVES color.


I have 4 kids and a busy life and as I stood in a clothing store last week looking around at ALL of the prints and florals and colors I felt overwhelmed.  I decided that maybe I could simplify one area of my life and start dressing in just black.  Kind of like a uniform.  I would wake up and simply put on one color!  Right?  It would be so easy.

It lasted for 1 1/2 days.

I mentioned my all black plans to a handful of friends; no one was in favor of the idea.  The running theme was "But...that's so NOT you!"

Turns out they were right.  Black is chic.  And I love the color black.  But to wear it every day for every item of clothing just isn't ME.

So I returned to my colorful ways and I doubt many people even noticed the difference :).

In honor of my love of color here are a few favorite color shots this week.  Gosh color makes me so happy...


pom poms!
(all images from my Pinterest "Just Because I Love it" board)