The Big Reveal!!!

Remember this sad little shabby basement corner that RF so sweetly cleared out for me?

I’ve had my eye on that built-in desk since we moved in…six years ago!! It was about time we tackled it as a project.

Of course, that project became the one that almost killed me? I still imagine that my lungs look like this poor fan.

Well, thanks to a lot of help from RF…

…A LOT…over multiple days, which you can’t tell from these pics because he’s worked in reality tv and wore the same outfit for all of our “shoots” – continuity, people!

It’s FINALLY finished!!! Drum roll, please… (Is there really not a drum emoji?? C’mon!)

Bada bada…

…bada bada…

…bump bada bump!!!!

TA DA!!!

There are still a few finishing touches that I’d like to add, starting with a wide washi tape border along that uneven floor line. Alas, that has to be ordered. I’m also still on the lookout for the ultimate desk chair. For now, the sheepskin manages to distract from a multitude of sins. Oh, and a plant! That pendant in the top left is a planter, but I haven’t yet found a suitable resident. Otherwise, I love it!!

I pulled in a few things from old desks. The initials are from the Rifle Botanicals Garland I used at my last office to celebrate team birthdays. The larger framed pic below it is from an old Rifle calendar. Unsurprisingly, Rifle Paper Co. plays a big role.

The mini gallery wall, which I plan to expand, has two more Rifle calendar pages – both locations on our travel bucket list.

RF gave me the card on the top right – clearly trying to get into my good graces! That little fox is from a Night Owl calendar. As most little foxes do, he reminds me of Silas.

The sneaky kitty tape dispenser reminds me of Oscar. So, all of my boys are reppin’. I picked up the storage boxes and the little blue frame for a steal at IKEA. Did a little nailhead-esque bedazzling on the boxes because…why not?!? The frame got some origami paper as a placeholder. Need to print more photos!

I actually thought the magnetic canisters of office supplies – pushpins, paper clips, etc. – would cling to the pipes above. Not so much. That’s ok! I prefer them on the desk. Oh, and I found a new home for my arctic animal pushpins! Love ’em.

Of course, the pièce de résistance is THE UNICORN LAMP!! Oh lamp, how I adore thee. She was a little bland with her original plain white shade. So, I fixed that right on up with some gold foil lace tape. And, the tape backing ended up making a suitably fancy neck ribbon!

Overall, I’m super pleased with how everything turned out – and, though I haven’t actually sat down and calculated the final cost, I do know that I didn’t spend a fortune. Far from it. Can’t wait to actually enjoy it. Now that this project’s finally complete, I should actually have some time to do just that.

Additional Sources:
Vase – from Spain
Cork Board
Washi Tape
Two-Sided Frame

Every. Single. Day.

I wrote this post a while ago now. At the time, there had been a particularly rough stretch of citizen and police brutality against children. Sadly, I’m sure you will remember the references. I’m publishing it today, not because passions continue to flare over injustice – though, I think that’s important too – but because another story about a child being abused and assaulted by law enforcement emerged this week. Perhaps you read about it?

A fourteen year old girl was hit by a car and knocked unconscious while riding her bike in Hagerstown, Maryland. When police arrived on the scene, she did not want her parents to be involved and refused treatment. Officers proceeded to struggle with her to keep her at the scene, going so far as to pepper spray her multiple times through the window of the police car where she was detained. Did she attempt to leave the scene? Yes. Did she resist detainment? Yes. Was there a legitimate reason for her to be detained? Well, I’m not at all clear as to why other than to make sure she was not hurt. Of course, you might understand why, in today’s climate, a black girl (boy, woman, man) would not want to participate in a police investigation, even when she’s the victim! In any case, if the police were honestly concerned about her wellbeing after being hit by a car, why were they manhandling her? Why did they pepper spray her instead of taking her to the hospital? Would they have treated a white girl this way? 

Let’s be clear, I am not a cop hater. Far from it. Just as I don’t believe all Muslims are horrible people because a select few become terrorists, I also don’t believe all police officers are bad guys because some terrorize minorities. I’m sure there are those of you who are uncomfortable with that parallel. I won’t apologize. How can we not shine a light on excessive force in law enforcement? How can we not acknowledge the inequalities? How can we not stand up and protest when even one bad apple thinks it’s ok to treat children this way?!

So, today, for the 14-year-old girl in Hagerstown, MD, and the many other children like her, I’m finally rolling this out. I welcome your thoughts.

For a long time, I wholeheartedly bought into the notion that America was a worldwide beacon of liberty and inclusion. Land of the Free. Melting pot. Equality. It’s an awe-inspiring ideal. We’ve fought wars on these grounds, for ourselves and others. And yet, every single day I wake up to new stories about children…let’s let that sink in, CHILDREN…being harassed, demeaned, detained, deported, abused, beaten, arrested, imprisoned…terrorized…because they are different. Because they are not perfect little straight white cisgendered financially-secure Christian children.

Believe me, I am just as angry and fired up about what’s happening to adults too. But can we at least start to see and hear the truth when it’s children? Children doing the things that children do, which yes, often includes mischief. Trying new things, testing boundaries, creatively expressing themselves in ways that may or may not be acceptable in adulthood but are so fundamentally a part of and critical to human development.

We’ve all been there.  If there was a rule to be bended or broken, I or someone I knew did it. — Sneaking contraband into class. Cutting school. Shoplifting. Defacing property. Breaking curfew. Raiding the liquor cabinet. Stealing a smoke. — Kids do these things. Of course, for most of us “getting caught” wasn’t a life-threatening proposition. We were held to a reasonable standard, not a different standard.  We faced consequences, not the ultimate consequence. Our parents and teachers were trusted to handle lessons about boundaries, limits, and consequences.  These were not opportunities for the authorities or anyone else to “teach us a lesson” about how our uniqueness, our differences, made us unwelcome here.

Sure, there absolutely are “the good ones”, those brave souls who risk their lives to fight for our safety and freedom. Those who are smart, savvy, capable, confident, and kind enough to evaluate, without assumption, the reasonable ways to respond to kids being kids.

But every single day, it seems, I read another story about the bad ones. The ones who speak for us all with a raised hand, a fist, a baton, a gun. And for what? For mischief? For playing cops and robbers with the neighborhood kids? For being inventive? For fighting against the odds? For trying to help? For not having blond hair and blue eyes? No. That’s not ok.  Do not speak for me on this! That is not my message. That is not my belief. That is not my America.

If this doesn’t enrage us, we are part of the problem. Not standing up for those who don’t have a voice, or for those whose voice is muffled by a false patriotism, are complicit here too. Silence = Death. And I am the first to admit that includes me. I read the stories, I hear the news.  What do I do?  I get angry.  It’s a step, yes, but only the first one. It most certainly cannot be the last.  I’m searching, desperate to figure out how to be a better advocate and activist for a solution. Not just awareness, but measurable, palpable, see-it-with-my-own-eyes change. For these kids. Children.

America should be better than this. We are better than this. I am better than this.

A Little Fringspiration!

Dolly Parton’s Pure & Simple tour made a stop in the Seattle area this week, and we were lucky enough to go. I’ve been a pretty big fan of Miss Dolly since dancing around my bedroom belting out 9-to-5 to the soundtrack spinning on my Mickey Mouse record player. Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, *and* Lily Tomlin? What a lineup! Those ladies had moxie, and I loved it. Can’t even begin to guess how many times I watched that movie.

Over the years, as I was introduced to more of Dolly’s music and the stories behind them – she loves to weave a yarn, and shared many a tale at the concert – I grew to appreciate this woman who grew up the fourth of 12, “dirt poor”, deep in the Rocky Mountains. She dreamt of being a star and left home the day after high school graduation to grab it! So many of her songs, though, are rooted in her upbringing. There’s something so earnest about the way she expresses her experiences, which really appeals to me.

I know that not everyone’s a fan. RF was surprised to really enjoy her music at the concert. He grew up under the impression that she was nothing more than a boob job in flashy clothing.  Of course, few muster the kind of staying power Dolly has on image alone. As it the case with so many people, once you take the time to get past the candy-coated shell, you discover that she is a talented artist, savvy business woman, and her overwhelming message of acceptance draws crowds from all corners.

In addition to belting out audience faves, she masterfully played guitar, banjo, piano, penny whistle, and dulcimer, while singing to the most diverse concert crowd I’ve ever witnessed. There were babies and seniors. Conservative Christians who visibly felt the power of the more faith-based songs. A row of Burlesque stars in front of us sporting dolly wigs and sequined cowgirl hats, stomping their feet and clapping away. Dolly might be judged for her sequins and spangle, but it’s clearly an inspiration to many.

So, in honor of an astounding woman who lets her love of shine and shimmer fly, I thought I would round up some fringspiration! If you have a penchant for the dramatic, I’m sure Dolly would tell you to fringe it up! And whip out that Bedazzler, too! But there are many ways to wear this flair. Not all fringe has to be quite as over the top as Dolly might like:

 

It doesn’t have to be reminiscent of Dynasty and Falcon Crest…

marchesa

…or directly ripped off the curtain rod.

maaji

You can keep it more traditional.

Dress the Population | H&M | Ella Moss

Do it up Deco!

Herve Leger | ModCloth

Add a touch around the edges…

Cinq à Sept | Aidan | Herve Leger

Or modernize it in knit or leather.

Harare | Tamara Mellon

Doing My Civic Duty

Can’t tell you anything about it, of course, but I have jury duty this week. I actually enjoy hearing cases, but it is somewhat stressful as a freelancer. No work, no pay. Thankfully, trials at this court typically only last 2-3 days.

In the meantime, evenings are reserved for catching up on paid work and resting my brain. Pretty much everyone has commented on how surprisingly exhausting this is.

Hope you’re having a lovely week!

Project Update #2819035

Well, I’m sure you’re chomping at the bit for an update on our mess of a basement project. Because we were down in Portland from Thursday through Sunday, I haven’t had the time to completely finish things up. BUT, we did finally manage to finish painting. Whew.

It’s not dry yet, and there are a couple of touch-up spots, but I’m calling it done for now. I’ll let everything dry until Friday (unless I’m still on jury duty, because THAT starts tomorrow…) and then start making it into a real life office! Hopefully.

Let’s just say, I’m not willing to uncross my fingers yet. Given the way things have gone, and my general experience with DIY projects, some sort of issue is bound to crop up. I already have one concern, but I don’t even want to mention it for fear that I will conjure it into existence. Superstitions are legit!!

At the risk of ruining the whole thing, here are a few of the latest pics… So shiny!

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Try not to judge too critically. Like I said, there are touch-ups. And..there is work to be done along the wall lines, which, are ridiculously uneven and incredibly difficult to work with. Straight lines have officially been proven impossible. Plus, I’m still undecided about what to do with the right side floor board. I suggested continuing the gold there and RF winced. So, it stays put for now.

Those radiators are heavy, btw…I mean, HEA-VY. We began to pull them out and quickly aborted that effort. Instead, they are pushed back at the moment and will come forward a bit to cover the paint line when all is dry.

Part of me thinks…this is a corner in our basement…our basement that’s technically a cellar because of the exterior entrance, low ceiling height, and old-timey canning room. How uptight do I really need to get about this?! Haven’t you read those write-ups about the poor workmanship on HGTV design shows? Once it’s “dressed”, you’ll barely even notice! It’ll be just like TV!! Of course, the 100% OCD (according to an online quiz, which are always completely reputable sources) side of me is screaming…that’s all, it’s just screaming, loudly, inside my head.

We’ll see what it looks like dry. Shimmery paint has a naturally uneven look that could potentially hide a multitude of sins…or, you know, display them as prominently as cellulite through a satin gown.

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For your reference (just in case you’re thinking about undertaking something stupid like this crazy project!) these are the paint colors we’ve used thus far:

Back Wall: Rust-Oleum Universal Pearl Metallic Champagne Pink Spray Paint and Primer in One

Right Wall: Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch 2X Satin Magenta General Purpose Spray Paint

Desk: Rust-Oleum  Universal All Surface Metallic Pure Gold Spray Paint and Primer in One

Floor: Behr Very Navy

Lee’s Saltinutallows

Growing up, I spent a fair amount of time with my grandparents. Both sets lived in the same town, which was just a couple of hours away from where we lived until I was 11. Even after we moved, first from South Carolina to North Carolina then to Illinois, I would fly down by myself to spend school breaks with them.

My maternal grandmother, Mary, always required a bedtime snack – “something to take my pills with” – and my grandfather, Lee, would dutifully prepare something for her. Lee (note: I actually called my mom’s parents by their first names) never cooked full meals. That was definitely Mary’s domaine. But, he had a decent repertoire of bedtime snacks. My favorites were Lee’s Saltinutallows.

My family is big on the toaster oven. “Slotted toasters are a waste! You can only toast plain bread in those contraptions.” In a toaster oven, you can prepare all kinds of goodness: cheese toast, cinnamon toast, English muffin pizzas…so many things, including saltinutallows; sort of and indoor s’more, if you will.

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Ingredients:

Saltines (or similar)
Peanut Butter
Large Marshmallows

Directions:

1. Place a piece of foil on the toaster tray. (Things will melt. Messes will be made.)

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2. Smear a generous dollop of peanut butter on top of each cracker. (Here, I have 4 regular Saltines on the left, 2 gluten-free by Schar on the right.) Top each one with a large marshmallow.

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3. Toast!

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The marshmallows roast under the heating element, browning and getting all ooey gooey on top of the also melting peanut butter. Keep an eye on them! You know how quickly roasting marshmallows over a fire can go from golden to burnt? Same rules apply here.

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You can serve them two ways – exactly how they come out of the toaster, or topped with a second Saltine for those who like a little extra salt to balance the sweetness. Either way, they’re delicious. And so easy!

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CAUTION: Melted peanut butter is almost as hot (and sticky) as melted sugar. Let them cool a bit before handling…and especially before popping them in your mouth!

Mmm… Enjoy!

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Friday Finds: Portland Edition

portland-deer

We’re in Portland this weekend for Build Small, Live Large – Accessory Dwellings’ 2016 ADU Workshops and Tour. Posts from the 2015 Tour have been some of the most popular on Year of Months, so look for more posts about cool backyard cottages to come. Since we’ll be in workshops tomorrow and touring ADU’s on Sunday, we drove down last night to have a little playtime in the City of Roses. Portland is definitely a foodie’s dream. With all of the terrific food trucks and artisan makers, you don’t even have to spend a lot to eat like royalty…hipster royalty, anyway. We have our favorites, but also try to hit up a few new spots whenever we’re in town. These are a few of our finds, old and new…

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Old Fave: Pine State Biscuits

AKA the place I’m mostly likely to risk a migraine due to consuming wheaty biz. We’ve been coming here since my pre-gf days, and I can still taste their flakey, buttery biscuits piled high with pulled pork and served with a side of pimento cheese. Yum! RF is a fan of “The Wedgie”, a towering biscuit creation with fried chicken and basically a wedge salad stuffed inside. Squint and you can spot the bottom third in this pic. Only is con is that they always seem to be out of my favorite side – black eyed peas! Up your supply, Pine State, there’s clearly the demand.

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New Find: Cartopia

Food Cart Pods are big in PDX – wish the 206 would take a lesson. We have loads of trucks on the street, and regular festivals. It’s about time we got more pods! But I digress… Cartopia is home to Chicken & Guns, our destination. Their oak-fired chicken is on fire! Literally. Choose your picnic table wisely and you might catch a glimpse of them stoking the fire behind their cart with a blowtorch. Seriously. Their crispy potatoes are also intensely delicious. If you have any room left, head to the adjacent cart, Perierra Creperie, for dessert. You can’t miss it…there’s a giant flamingo on top! Their crepes look delicious, but the thick shakes are where it’s at. Try an avocado shake, or a seasonal flavor like coconut, sea salt, and basil. You won’t be sorry.

salt-straw

Old Fave: Salt & Straw

Salt & Straw’s signature logo is captured by paparazzi with regularity these days, now that Tyler & Kim have invaded L.A. But Portland is home. They started with a push cart and a dream…and have been scooping out my fave, Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache, at their Alberta shop for five years now. Flavors change with the season to incorporate the freshest local produce. Current options include Sauvie Island Grapes PB&J, White Toast & Apple Butter…even Bone Marrow & Smoked Cherries.

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New Find: Oui Presse

We’re working today from Oui Presse, an adorable cafe in Southeast Portland. After brunch at Jam on Hawthorne – another old fave – we searched for a nearby spot to work for a couple of hours and landed here. When I saw the pics on Yelp, my first thought was, “Totally looks like a place we would have worked in Barcelona…only without an element of gravitas.” That pretty much nails it. It’s simply charming. RF was even so bold as to say their mocha outscored his hometown fave. (!) Thankfully, I’m too full to be tempted by their PB&J Royale made with fresh peanuts, local strawberry jam, euro-style butter, flaky sea salt, on housemade milk bread. Of course, something tells me this will make our “old fave” list and we’ll be back to try their treats.

Quote of the Week:

“In a way, gluttony is an athletic feat, a stretching exercise.”
-John Updike

Now Reading:

The First Week of After – Margaret Malone (essay)

Now Watching:

Upstanders – an original collection of short stories, films and podcasts sharing the experiences of ordinary people doing extraordinary things to create positive change in their communities. D not be turned off by the fact that they’re produced by Starbucks!

Now Listening To:

Portland Morning Playlist (Spotify)

Hillary and the Cold Shoulder

Oh, don’t worry! This is not the post you’re imagining it to be. I am about to blame Hillary, though…not for politics…for this:

hillary-donna-karan

The Cold Shoulder Dress.

Technically, I should blame Donna Karan. However, Hillary considers this dress, worn to the Clinton’s first state dinner in 1992, one of her favorites worn as First Lady. It simply can’t be coincidence that the style has re-emerged alongside her political career. So, I blame Hillary.

I just don’t get it! Even high fashion versions look silly to me. The only one of these five that I might remotely consider is the white Issa dress – #4 in the lineup. The front slit balances a delicate off-the-shoulder flow. The others look like mistakes, “Oops, we added extra neck holes!” Or, like the women got stuck inside a shirt on their way to the runway and left half of it down around their arms. So restrictive.

cold-shoulder

Oh, Fendi. Just…no!

fendy

This Free People top looks like it was somehow fashioned out of plastic shopping bags. Are those straps or handles?

free-people

Don’t even get me started on attempts to translate this item that can never be worn with a sweater (talk about the arm scrunching!) into an actual sweater. What is this?!? “I’m melting…”

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Sorry, Hillary! And apologies to any other cold shoulder lovers out there. But seriously, you should really stop encouraging this madness. If you can’t help but be a staunch believer, please explain the appeal. I really do not get it.

Seasons of Change

Somehow, this time of year always creeps up on me. I see hints of the leaves about to turn, but dismiss them thinking that there are many weeks between now and raking the foliage from those red and gold tipped branches off of our lawn. Every year, those weeks pass all too quickly, and it’s suddenly too late to experience their full glory. Not this year! I swear. This year, I’m making a plan.

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Seattle is nestled between two sets of mountain ranges. We only have to drive an hour east or west to really witness the sea change in action. This year, my plan is to hit the Mount Baker Highway. Originally built as a logging road stretching east from Bellingham into the North Cascades, this alpine highway is lined with towering evergreens and…big leaf maples. So, it’s not your typical East Coast deciduous dream, but the views promise to be incredible nonetheless.

north-cascades

The only catch is perfectly timing the shift. Head up too early, and the leaves won’t be peaking. Wait too long, and the road will be closed because of snow. The first flakes often fall in late-September/early October. Time things right, and you can drive all the way up to Artist Point, where you are rewarded with stunning views of Mount Shuksan, Mount Baker, and Picture Lake.

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Wait too long, and, well…

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Pretty. But, not the experience I’m looking for. So yes, this year I’m planning. Watching the fall foliage prediction maps. Keeping my eye on the weather forecast. Getting excited. I’ll let you know how it all works out.

D.I.Why?!?

RF said my post for this week should just be 😡. I’d say that’s pretty accurate. I somehow manage to develop selective memory about DIY projects, but it never takes long for me to return to the question, “Why am I doing this??”

Once again, this week’s trauma is paint-related. First of all, please take my advice and never opt for spray painting walls. Small furniture projects, picture frames, fine. Walls? Just don’t. I thought it would be quick and easy. Wrong. Instead, it’s a misty mess. Let this fan be a warning…


I was wearing a mask, but I’m still convinced my lungs look pretty similar. My face sure does! I have the wipes to prove it…


😳!!!

Also, a can of spray paint doesn’t cover nearly the area you think it will. So close, and yet, not at all!


After 3 more trips to Home Depot, I *think* we finally have enough. Maybe?!

Following the face wipe incident, I decided to switch to traditional paint. I bought a quart for the floor, which should be enough. However, I opted against “floor paint” purely because it only comes in gallons; so, I suspect the quart will not suffice.


With the various delays, we only just primed the floor tonight. (BTW…RF totes wins Husband of the Year for helping me with all of this!!) So, you’ll have to wait until next week to find out if the quart does the job.

I know, I know…the suspense is killing you! It’s killing me too. When the paint mist isn’t…