Top 5 Favorite Things Right Now

A happy Bird of Paradise plant in it's new basket.
A happy Bird of Paradise plant in it’s new basket.

I was inspired to make this list by John and Sherry from their Young House Love podcast. They end each week with what they have been loving lately and it always make me think about what I am loving too. As I usually get excited about what they love, I thought that you may appreciate my favs too…so here we go:

1. Command Strips in brushed nickel for bathrooms. You guys…hooks for the shower that match the fixtures and don’t fall down!! I started with 4 but once I discovered how amazing these were, added 2 more. Who knew I needed 6 hooks in the shower?? What hangs on these hooks you may be wondering? Wash cloth, scrubby gloves, shower cap, squeegee and 2 for drying bathing suits (we swim often and I rinse and hang them to dry).

2. Mini Grocery Carts. If you’ve been to a large grocery store recently, chances are you have used the smaller cart option. If you have not, I am sad for you because they are FUN to use. Although they are too small for a weeks worth of groceries for two people, I will make it work if they’re available. These little carts zip around and make me feel like I’m in super market sweep. I may have run into a few people taking the corners too fast, but once you tell them how you feel like you’re in super market sweep, they are usually amused enough to forgive you.

3. Sale duvet covers from Pottery Barn. I think all but one duvet cover out of the 8 or so duvet covers I have owned have been from Pottery Barn and most of them I found on sale. The quality is great, they are beautiful and if you strike at the right time can be scored for a great deal. I ordered one this morning for the 2nd guest room which I found on the teen site (by the way, always check the teen and kids sites for sheets smaller than king beds!), it’s exactly what I wanted for that bed, was marked down and had  free shipping. It was $42.22 for a queen duvet cover including tax. Boom!

4. Dyson cordless stick vacuum. It’s cord free, people. Imagine this scenario: white stone floors and 2 dogs who have all or some black hair. As you can imagine, I use this vacuum at least 3 times a day. Its light weight and powerful. I grab it, run through the room that I can feel or see specks of dirt or hair in and it’s all gone within minutes. The downside is that being cordless and light, the battery only lasts about 15 minutes. If I need to vacuum the whole house, I have to do it in segments. But the pluses far outweigh that single con. I never thought I could love a vacuum so much!

5. Baskets for plants. We recently went a little plant crazy. Adam has been obsessed with turning the patio into a jungle and I got overly excited in the tropical indoor plant section. We asked countless questions about how to keep them all alive, one of the tips was to not repot them for at least 4 months. If we wanted them to look prettier, to drop them potted into a larger container until then. Well, for some reason the containers I kept bringing home were not the right shape to “drop” into. I was also getting frustrated as I didn’t like the look of many of the pots that were big enough. I was also getting worried that we would buy all of these expensive pots and then need bigger ones in 4 months. So when I walked into Michael’s to get a few frames the other day, I got really excited when I laid my eyes on these bucket shaped baskets that were pretty and 70% off. I bought all of the blue ones in the small and medium sizes that they had. I patted myself on the back for not bringing home the fuchsia ones as they wouldn’t match at all. Fuchsia is still hard for me to resist even though Manic Trout pink no longer exists, so that was a big accomplishment. Once I got them home and saw how well they worked, that I actually went back and bought all of the large ones too. Not only do the pots drop in perfectly height wise, but plastic saucers fit perfectly in them as liners. They work so well that this may end up being a more permanent solution than we intended. Even if we replace them with different pots in 4 months, it was under $70 for 6 large plants so I’m not stressed about it. If you are on the lookout for plant baskets, check your local Michaels! Although if that means the one on Brodie Lane in Austin, all the blue ones are gone. #sorrynotsorry

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June 2016

Photo Jul 14, 11 05 19 AM

Yesterday I was organizing the piles on my desk since moving in last week and almost fell over when I realized it was already July 13th. Then I looked at my last blog post and I was even more shocked that June seemed to have not existed at all, woah. As I’m sure you assumed, the busier real life is, the less on is on the internet. June was for sure one of those times. It’s all pretty much a blur but there was a week in NY with my family, finding and closing on a house and a week of really intense packing. I may have missed the boat on holiday pitching throughout all of this, but I was at least trying to keep up with the prep for that as well.

The first few days of July were filled with the closing and 3 days of intense DIY moving with a uhaul van. The first day we almost killed Gretchen by moving in the triple digit Texas heat and I logged 35k steps each day doing van runs mostly by myself as Adam had to work (bad timing with a move immediately after vacation btw, try and avoid that!), on the 4th day, the movers came for the big furniture and we joined our stuff over in the new house. This entire week was filled with unpacking and shopping. I’d unpack from 9 – 4 and then take a break to go get food and shop for things I realized I needed in the unpacking. You know the kind of stuff: baskets, bulbs, hanging things, storage pieces and on and on. For about a week there was lot’s of shopping for furniture, scouting for future furniture, and buying all of the organizing and gardening things. I realized last week that I went to Home Goods every single day for 8 days. There were 3 in rotation, and it was intense. Target was also in heavy rotation and I visited Nadeau, Pottery Barn, Pier 1, Z Gallery and Restoration Hardware at least 2 times each. There were a few days where we were going to any store we could think of with big stuffed chairs and sitting in every single one. I also realized that we at this point had all of the storage furniture we needed and I was feeling over shopped and becoming incapable of making any more decisions with the decor.

Do you get that feeling when you move? You have a vision of where certain things are going and what you want the vibe to be and then you start to wonder what the hell you’re doing? Yeah, that’s where I am now. I’m a big believer in living in a space before really decorating though, so I think I just reached the point where I was making decisions I wasn’t ready to make without living in the space first. So for the past 4 days, I have enjoyed the feeling of having all the boxes unpacked, the closets, cupboards and shelves sort of organized (these will evolve over time too) and I’ve gone back to work in the studio. Every time our voices echo from having nothing on the walls, I cringe slightly, but am still not ready to pull the trigger on where to hang all the art. We have a great deal of art at this point. I have given away/sold most of my own paintings but I still have a decent amount of them, I have a collection of photographs I adore, we have art by friends and family, inherited pieces that we have a few of and more coming in the late summer and of course, the collection of large photographs that Adam and I have bought as our Christmas gifts each year we’ve been married. The third is pretty large and at the framers right now. In the back of my mind, I’m waiting on gettting that back to make any other decisions as it’s 42.5″ x 42.5″ and will command a big wall. At the same time, I’m pretty content with waiting a bit more anyway.

After the art there are a few details like curtains in the bedrooms, the decision on where and if area rugs should come in and a few pieces of big furniture we need to order. Any input on where you have bought really big and comfy chairs would be appreciated btw. I need a large piece of furniture for the bedroom and both of us think it’s the perfect place to put a reading oasis for me that I can retreat to when Adam is watching movies and I want a quiet and comfy place to go. We love the grande chair/chair and half with an ottoman idea and are considering all the options out there right now. House plants, accent furniture and furniture for the third guest room are on the list as well. But for now I’m just enjoying being back in the studio with the dogs.

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Holiday decorating…I’m starting to get why

Excuse the dark phone photo, I call this visual day dreaming
So much has changed from this view since we moved in:new couch, dining chairs, fridge, whale, pillows, throws…(excuse the dark phone photo, I was just making a point).

Besides the obvious reasons…for the kids, festive spirit, keeping up with the Joneses…I am starting to understand the deeper desire behind holiday decorating. We are in our third year living in our current house and I am so bored with it. The layout is a tough one with odd walls, excessive doors in the rooms and a large open living space. I realized yesterday that I have swapped the dining room table out with the extra one we have stored in our garage multiple times, rearranged the guest room and studio at least 4 times each and added new furniture, cloths, lamps and what nots in every space I could. I have moved art around, swapped things between rooms, switched what I have stored with what is out and on and on. Its been two years and four months and I am so over this space. As we do not plan on living in Austin for much longer, we rent and much of my being over the space is from my hating the wall colors and the carpet. If we had bought the house, I would have knocked down walls, redone the kitchen, removed ugly light fixtures, changed the floors and at the very least painted the walls. But as we do not own the house and it was freshly renovated, we live with choices I never would have made.

This morning when I was rearranging the cooking utensils in a new crock, I was daydreaming for the umpteenth time about a new kitchen (in a new house, in a new city) and a light bulb went off in my head…this is why so many people get crazy with holiday decor! It’s the perfect excuse to completely over haul as much as you want in the name of festivity and then when it’s over, you out it all away and decorate for normal life again. As I have bought nine ornaments in the past few weeks for a tree we have not bought yet, I think I’ve arrived at the holiday spirit decor of my life. Last year we were away for the holidays and I think I missed not having a having a tree. I have been slowly collecting little bits and pieces of holiday decor over the past few years and will most likely not go overboard, but I accept the challenge with open arms and will keep you posted.

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Which Whale?

Whale

I’m having a decor dilemma at the moment and I need input. For about 14 months I have been lusting after this large whale for the stone wall in the living room. I have’t pulled the trigger yet because I can’t decide on what color to order. There are 28 possible options, all slightly distressed on wood, and I have it down to 4. Well, 3 really, I don’t think I like the grey. I posted the straight on shot on IG, but then made another mock up for a second round with my mom and sisters and confused myself all over again.  The whale is 48″ long by 14″ tall so it will have quite the impact.

Whale2

The room is the main room in the house, so I’ll see this thing constantly. I love the black but worry it will draw attention to the only other black in the room, the tv. Most of the small accents in the room are ivory and gold (there is another table behind the couch that is not seen in the photos and is white with ivory and gold lamps and things on it), so I thought gold might be a good way to go without drawing all the attention in the room to it. However, if I want to draw attention…and keep it “real”, then I think navy is the way to go. Navy also goes well with the paintings in the dining room which is technically in the same huge open space.

House

What are your thoughts? Keep in mind that the colors are all mocked up in photoshop, except the black, so I’m sure they will look better in person.

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Taking your closet to the next level

Apparel tags

Being a wearer of dresses and skirts, I find that keeping track of the dry cleaning/laundry cycle is a bit of a dilemma. Especially as I work from home and therefore will often wear a dress for only a two hour period and then back on the hanger it goes. This is due to my having a bunch of skirts that are my “studio skirts” that I wear with plain white t’s when in the studio as when I make rings, the wire has been known to attack my arms and clothes as it flies around in the wrapping process. Anyway, I have a system with the skirts that whatever I have worn gets moved all the way to the left and back to the right when clean but the dresses are more organized (by color and level of formality) so I don’t have a useful system in place, only a pretty one. Being the neurotic organized person that I am, I have had “create a method to track what dresses have worn” on my to do list for a few years. I have thought of using a few methods such as the turning the hanger around trick. But I know that would drive me crazy as I have an all matching hangers, equally spaced apart situation and could not handle a backwards hanger. Well that and does it really work with shaped wood hangers? I also though of attaching colored yarn to the hanger but that would also only indicate it was worn once and the thought of multiple colors made my eyes twitch for the same reason the turned hanger concept did.

Apparel tags

A few weeks ago I was over at Knock Knock, picking up a new grocery list pad (if you are a list maker, this company will be your new BFF. I found them waaaay back when they were a baby company in the early 2000’s and instantly was smitten, they have remained awesome as they have grown and I own ALOT of their stuff) and I could’t believe but they had my solution. Apparel tags made to loop on the hanger with places to note things such as when it was last worn, if it needs to be washed and other important fyi’s. Lets also not overlook a key factor here, that they are designed beautifully. I almost fell over they were so perfect. I’ll admit that I have yet to implement my new system though as part of me is struggling with everything not being laundered first so everything starts from the same base. Btw, it’s very difficult dealing with needs like this, as I feel crazy even thinking them but I know I’m not alone in thinking these thoughts so thats helpful. I also know that I’m overdue for a good clean out of what I haven’t worn this year, and have been waiting for temps to drop from the 90’s first. So you know, it might not happen for another month, but then…oh then, my world will be a happier place!

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Spring planting project progress

Our beautiful porch
Our porch in progress

When we moved into our house in the middle of last July, one of our favorite parts was the yard and the side deck, complete with built in benches and pergola. There also was already a growing herb garden and a little rock filled area for our grill.  By late July, summer has been in full effect for months here in Austin, and all of the garden and patio things have left the stores, but I made a promise to myself that in the spring, I would be ready.

Porch shot 2
Shot from the other side
The ottomans ended up being the perfect fit!
The ottomans ended up being the perfect fit!

It has taken me a few years to get used to such an early schedule for gardening here compared to the North East. For 34 years, I mentally had Memorial Day as the kick off for outdoor living, now it’s the the first day of spring at the latest. This year we did somehow manage to hit the stores just in time though as we started shopping for the project on March 21st and by the next weekend, all of the herbs were sold out!

This is how I have been looking these past fe weekends
This is how I have been looking these past few weekends
IMG_0441
Close up of the succulent container garden

Here is what we have done so far:

  • Raked and cleaned out the garden, laid down new soil and planted the herbs and veggies.
  • Raked and weeded the rocks and laid down 2 new bags of them.
  • Swept and washed the porch and benches.
  • Bought trees, plants, soil and pots…including 2 new small pots which perfectly match match Mexican pottery collection.
  • Planted 2 hanging planters and hung them from the porch.
  • Planted a tangerine tree for by the front door.
  • Planted a hibiscus tree, large palm and mint for the porch.
  • Bought tomatoes to grow in a pot on the porch as something ate them all in the garden last year.
  • Planted oodles of succulents for out little potted graden.
  • Brought citronella candles out of storage.
  • Bought 2 ottomans to use with the built in benches.
  • Bought pillows, brought them home, hated them and exchanged them for brighter ones.
  • Hung a bird feeder from a tree for Adam.
  • Sprayed ants and wasps who think they own the place.
  • Fertilized both yards with fun wheelie spreader.
  • Rake and clean up front and back lawns.
  • While we were in the plant shopping mood, finally bought 2 huge plants and pretty planters for inside on the fireplace.
IMG_0398
The grill area…in need of more rocks
The garden...can't wait until it all starts flourishing!
The garden…can’t wait until it all starts flourishing!

Still to do:

  • Hang the hammock on the porch
  • Buy some solar powered lanterns
  • Buy a tray or 2 for the ottomans
  • May be more palm type trees?
  • Renew rocks around plants in front of house and add more rocks to grill area.
IMG_0425
The tangerine tree by the front door

Im sure there are plenty of other things we’ll think up each time we sit outside, but it has been lovely enjoying coffee in the mornings out there while Faye frolics around the yard. We even already have had a few friends out there, success! Hopefully this week we knock off at least the things we have left on the list. Yay for spring!

 

 

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House plants for the black thumb

an extra large jade plant
an extra large version of the jade plants I want by the fireplace

I’ve never had much luck with plants. I keep trying, but it’s a one step forward, two steps back kind of thing. I recently had a great run with a succulent that lasted for about two and a half years, and although I haven’t given up completely, it’s kind of sad at the moment. I have had it in three houses though and it was thriving at this one until I hung curtains, and then it was pretty fast downward spiral. I however am currently driven by the euphoric 18 month success with my corn tree that I bought thinking it was fake and an aloe plant that I never thought would last and is still going strong.

the plants would go where the candle is place holding
the plants would go where the candle is place holding

During the holidays, I had two poinsettias that looked so pretty flanking the fire place that I want to have plants there year round. I really want jade plants, but its not quite full sun and the window by the fireplace is under a tree so I’m a bit nervous about the spring and summer light.  The jade is my test though. Like so many other women who have a love of great design, I am obsessed with fiddle leaf fig plants and recently they have been popping up at much more affordable prices.  I won’t let myself buy one though until I have more in faith in myself to keep it alive. I figure if I can get the jade through the summer, I will reward myself with the fiddle leaf fern. It’s only fair that I not set myself up for failure though, so I need to figure out if jade will be ok in that spot before I bring them home.

a beautiful fiddle leaf fern

What are your favorite house plants? Any thought on what would work in that spot by the fireplace?

 

top and bottom images via pinterest; middle image by me

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Deep thoughts from the past week

Almost there...now i just need to plants for either side of the basket.
Almost there…now I just need to plants for either side of the basket.

1. You only find the item you have been looking for over the past 5 months in Home Goods when you go in just to quickly browse, with no agenda what so ever.

2. After viewing Dexter, CSI: Miami, Burn Notice and of course, Miami Vice I have decided that I never want to spend any length of time in that apparent murder capital of the world.

3. Apparently, I have been feeding my dog about 8 times the amount of she should be eating. This and Adam feeding her ice cream and cookies is why she is on a diet. The minuscule amount of food the vet has set for her is making me have deep thoughts all over the place about the quantity of food needed to live.

4. The reason I avoid scary movies is because they give me nightmares and make me afraid of the dark. By deciding to be a big girl and watch American Horror Story has not made my reaction disappear, instead I am just spending each night in terror from the watching of 2 episodes all the way until I wake up in the morning. Coven better be worth it.

5. By the time I get the mantel styled to where I actually like it, it will be time to move.

6. Cedar fever (allergies) symptoms do not seem so bad on days when it is 75 and sunny in January.

7. The beginning of January is one of my busiest times of the year for Manic Trout. No idea why, but I love it as it’s inspiring to start the year of with such a bang!

8. I recently discovered that in my lactose intolerant state, I can in fact eat greek yogurt. As I have been slowly rolling down that aisle of the store for years, looking longingly at all the yogurts, this was amazing to both read and prove correct. I am in love with Chobani Lemon with wheat germ and dried blueberries sprinkled on top after I work out. Its amazing.

9. High quality fake flowers make me much happier than real flowers as they do not die, need care or start to smell when you forget the second thing and the first happens. I however enjoy live non flowering fake plants and seem to manage keeping those for the most part alive.

10. Did you know that you can get bedbugs from used books such as at library or goodwill? I did not and it is freaking me out!

 

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An hour of procrastination provides countless happy meals

Napkins to iron
When the iron is already out, you might as well iron all of the things

A week or so ago I was experiencing the need to organize and clean trifecta of pms, a few looming deadlines and nervousness regarding a job interview Adam was on.  I cleaned the bathrooms, threw in a load of laundry, fluffed the living room pillows and looked around for what else I could do to relieve nervous energy. That’s when I spied the iron still set up from Adam’s pre interview preening. While cleaning the bathroom, I remembered that the hand towels I put away over the holidays (because I have holiday towels…when did I become that person??) had not been ironed, so this was the perfect chance to zoom over them.

My favorite stack of napkins, all ready to go
My favorite stack of napkins, crisp, clean and ready to go

Then I decided that while I was at it, I should see what the linen cupboard was looking like as it had been ages since I ironed napkins. Well, let me tell you…an hour later and I had ironed all of the napkins in the cupboard. At first you may think that this was a silly wast of time, but for the next few months, every time I sit down at the table with Adam and our friends we each will have a pretty and perfectly ironed napkin at our place. One of the little delights in life that you never realize how great it is until you see it. Such a vast improvement from the wrinkly mess they were before! I’ve have been collecting the stack above for ages from Pomegranate and I love their bright colors and fun patterns.  I mix and match them when I set the table for a wonderfully whimsical look!

 

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Solving the dvd storage dilemma

A small portion of the dvds on need of storage
The E-H dvds in desperate need of storage

For many years (and before Netflix), instead of paying a cable bill each month, I bought used dvds of tv shows and movies. I re-watch every thing tons of times, and as they were used and therefore relativly cheap, I amassed a huge collection. This is great for building a stellar media library, but horrible when it comes to finding what you want to watch. Every time I moved, I rearranged furniture and storage methods hoping that I had finally found a system that could attractively hold everything and still allow me to find what I was looking for. Every time I came up with a big fat failure.

You'd never know that there were so many things stored in there!
So much untapped potential storage place

When Adam and I made the decision to cancel our wedding and elope, we invested in a few pieces of new furniture with the money we had ear marked for the wedding. One of these pieces is a gorgeous console from Restoration Hardware for the massive TV that Adam insisted that we “needed”. I was excited to fill the drawers with my dvd collection just like all of my workout dvds sitting pretty in the console in the bedroom. This elation disappeared quickly when I realized that the collection filled 8 Uhaul moving boxes so there was no chance in hell them fitting into those bottom three drawers.

The empty boxes and sleeves waiting to be filled
The empty boxes and sleeves waiting to be filled

When we moved into this house in July, I basically gave up and stacked the boxes of dvds in the garage. I was out of ideas and was sick of trying. Of course as with anything in life, once I stopped thinking about it the solution came to me in a flash…well more like on the wisp of inspiration from a blog. While reading through my daily reads, I saw a a photo that included a long basket holding sleeves of dvds in it as part of living room make over. A-ha! An idea was born. I had thought of putting dads in a case logic books at times, but opted not to as the books are ugly. I also had been hesitant because I usually use the description on the back of the case to remind myself what the movie was about. But then I realized that I can just IMDB the movie on my phone in seconds so that was not a great reason. The only one thing that was holding me back now was that was that tv shows are better kept in their cases so they stay in their seasons.

6 cases of movies condensed to 5 boxes
6 cases of movies condensed to 5 boxes

That’s when I realized that the bottom drawers of the console were actually the perfect size to fit all of the tv show cases. I immediately felt pretty stupid that it took me so long to figure this all out. Later that week I checked a few stores for baskets and boxes and discovered these linen covered library-esque boxes at target. I bought one box to test, checking on my phone while in the store to make sure that I could buy them online so I would’t have to come back to buy the rest if they worked (I could and they were cheaper!), added a box of sleeves to my cart and home I went. I discovered that not only did the boxes work perfectly, but I could fit them in one of the drop door spots of the console too…double yay! That night I sleeved the first 100 dvds, counted the rest and ordered the remaining number of the boxes and sleeves needed to finish it all up. Within a week they had arrived and the entire process was done.

All of our movies and shows now in one tidy place
All of our movies and shows now in one tidy place

I don’t think that I have felt so happy to have solved an organizing dilemma as much as I was with this one. Already I have watched more movies in the past 2 months than I did all last year because it was such a pain in the ass to go through them before. It also makes the console look rather handsome with its row of boxes. Ahhhhhh, that felt good. Have you had an awesome organizing revelation recently? I’d love to hear about it!

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