You know when you've decorated a room, and you're pretty sure it's finished, yet you can't shake the nagging feeling that something is missing? That's not quite up to snuff?

I couldn't put my finger on it at first, but soon came to realize the windows in the kitchen and upstairs loft area weren't aesthetically pleasing, unlike the rest of the room. They are large, brighten the rooms, and serve to usher in cool breezes on even the hottest days, so I didn't want to do anything that would distract from those features. So, traditional curtains were out. Still, something needed to break up the monotony of the wood window frames and big panes of glass.

In this case, I settled on window valences. Though, admittedly, I'm not a fan. There's just something about them that is too... rustic? fussy? country kitchen? I'm not sure.

Then, then I had a bonafide Who is this crafty, clever woman and what did she do with Sarah? moment. I'm not sure who I have to thank for this sudden stroke of genius, but I imagine it was the love child of Pinterest, Martha Stewart and some fellow bloggers.

Garland! A. It wouldn't take away from the function of the windows (natural light! must have natural light!), and B. Would serve to distract from their starkness.

And because the genius just wouldn't quit, I remembered the gigantic stash of fabric housed in totes in the garage. I'm nothing if not honest, so I must admit that I haven't attempted a sewing project in no less than 5 years. In fact, I sold my portable sewing machine before we moved. I can't even run the bobbin correctly through the machine and my husband had to come to my rescue every time. Aaand the chance of me becoming a seamstress in the next 5 years is nil. So the fact that I have totes, plural, chock full of fabric is a bit ridiculous. 

Except! Wait for it... fabric garland! No-sew fabric garland, no less. A beautiful brain child indeed. 

It went something like this:

Simply snip the fabric at desired intervals, then swiftly rip along the cuts in the fabric. Depending on the type of fabric, there may be a lot of loose strings (see above photo) which I grabbed by the handful and discarded.

Decide how long you want the garland to be, and cut a length of twine accordingly. Make loops on both ends of the twine by which it will hang.

There are two primary ways to attach the fabric to the twine: simply tie a knot in the middle of the fabric (like this), or create loops along the length of the twine. I tried both, but decided on the latter method. I liked the more streamline look; it's simply a matter of preference.

I started in the middle of the twine and worked one way, then the other. That way I could scoot the loops of fabric closer together or spread them out a bit if I didn't like the spacing. 

It seems like it will take a long time and a ton of fabric, but it goes surprisingly fast. Settle in and catch up on your DVR.

Easy. Peasy. Lemon. Squeezy.

I made a second garland, this time with longer strips of fabric, for the kitchen window. I thought a red and white theme might be nice and add a touch of color, plus I had a lot of fabric that fit the scheme. 

However, I had a This is sooo not my style! moment towards the end of its construction. I'll admit, it felt a little too country kitchen for my taste.

In the end I decided to hang it up anyway and give it a few days. If I didn't like it after the trial period was up, I could just take it down. No harm, no foul. But, as luck would have it, it grew on me. And now I adore having it there. It just goes to show... I don't know what.

(I also had a moment where, during the making of the second garland, I looked up at Mario and he burst into raucous laughter. I mean, I was crafting like a fiend and probably looked like I'd lost my mind. Paper wreaths, miss-matched chairs, hot glue, chalk paint, picture frames up the wazoo, and then ripping fabric for hours so I could tie it around twine... he maaay have thought I'd lost my mind. That the move had pushed me right over the edge. That sort of frenetic behavior isn't characteristic of my personality. I looked down at what I was doing and had a similar realization. And we laughed some more.)

I have one more pile of fabric strips lingering at the end of our bed, with the intention of making just one more garland to fill the space between our headboard and a set of three small windows. (It's not possible to center the bed under the windows and still be able to get around both sides, so it's a little awkward-looking.)

So there you have it. The easiest darn DIY project there ever was.

No-sew fabric garland.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Saturday was one of those days where you feel like the world is your oyster. Up and at 'em nice and early and ready to seize the day. That was us. Armed with a school supply list and Kiddo's clothing needs discussed and documented, we headed out.

Living in the country had its advantages, but swift school supply shopping wasn't one of them. Big city life is suiting us just fine at this juncture.

Things came screeching to a halt, however, upon our endeavor to hook our kid up with some new school duds. Picking out a folder is a breeze compared to choosing the right shade of blue for a t-shirt. Apparently.

A little bit of our souls left us as we ventured from one store to the next. Just look at my poor husband. The life was sucked from his body in the Gap fitting room. An empty shell of a man right there.

On a whim we stopped at one of those stores. The ones with dim lighting, loud music, and the pungent smell of teen spirit, having been over-sprayed by the young and impressionable over the course of the day. But! But! It is apparently less expensive to be cool than I was at that age. Or my parents had less? I ponder such things in those kinds of places. Regardless, shirts and jeans were purchased and we can still pay our gas bill.

Also, I care about my kid being cool far more than he does. He doesn't give a rat's ass about the logo on the left shirt breast, just the fact that they are impossibly soft. But do we ever really abandon our high school selves completely? So isn't it natural that it seeps out onto our children? Also, is it cool to still say "cool"? Or are we back to rad? I prefer awesome in case you were wondering.

The day's saving grace was a sunset dinner on a floating restaurant. And alcoholic beverages. Oh! And watching The Grand Budapest Hotel (finally!) with the Hubster. (What did I just call him? Ick.)

We have decided, and so I shall declare, that we like Wes Anderson movies. They are weird and quirky and odd and wonderful. Says we. Moonrise Kingdom was the last one we saw, and it a pretty momentous occasion. We still quote that movie regularly. I mean, the lines in his movies! Hilarious.

Our house is mostly done, with the exception of a manageable-ish list that requires the help of a husband. Require may be slightly inaccurate, admittedly, but these tasks involve anchoring things to the wall. And, well, such things make me nervous. I'm the kind of gal who hangs something wonky, takes it down and tries again. Another attempt, another tiny nail hole. This practice is not wise with wall anchors. And so, I believe he must help me get it right. And also so I have someone to share the blame when we do our final walk-through one day and the walls are full of anchor holes.

And also because, shucks, my husband looks dead sexy holding a power tool. He drilled holes in the bottom of some decorative pots for me yesterday and I got all farklempt.

Still, Sunday was perfectly lazy and involved potting succulents and the new season of Doctor Who and, you know, lazing. My legs got shaved and therefore I consider the day productive.

Also, if you want to try something amazing, buy lemon meringue marshmallows. Just do it.

Also! Half-Caff K-Cups are saving my life. Because breaking up with coffee right now is out of the question but I'm a Nervous Nellie when it comes to my child morphing into a young man which has made me all sensitive and jittery when I drink the hard stuff. Now, dare I say, I can have two cups should the mood strike. I'm a rebel that way. Aren't you glad you know that about me?

P.S. Martha is all things good and wonderful. (Except her decision to terminate Everyday Food. Devastating.)

This morning came around, and there I was riding high off my lazy but not too lazy Sunday, then BAM! my kid started cross country. High school cross country. Sometimes the realization that time marches to its own (universally accepted) beat, whether you want it to or not, hits a mom in the chest. Knocks the wind right out of her.

I dropped Kiddo off at his first practice and left him surrounded by high school boys—a few smaller but most much bigger (mustaches! what? how?)—and thought He doesn't belong here!.

I don't know if you remember, but high school is a minefield. My goodness, the social aspect alone. If you had a smooth, fuss-free high school experience, can you help a mom out? How does the shy, quiet high school girl teach her son how to flourish in the social trenches of secondary school?

And then, as always, I come to my senses and realize I can't. It's his minefield to navigate. But I'll be here, pb&j in hand, when he needs me. We'll figure it out together. But never since graduation have I felt so close to my high school days. It's not an easy feeling. Hold me.

Much to my relief, I picked up a sweaty but smiling kiddo. He met people! He ran like the wind! All was well! And we get to go through the same routine six days a week for the next three months!

I think I'm going to write and submit an essay to Huffington Post about mothering a high schooler and the emotional labyrinth that creates. It will be my crowning achievement.

Instead of sitting around bemoaning Father Time's unfairness, I ventured out into the world. Distraction is key in such circumstances. Lump in throat and fist clutching my heart be damned!

I drove to a neighboring town that is completely charming and has the best antique store. I came across the perfect shabby chic mirror, the one I've been hunting for for the last month, and wrangled it into my backseat. Did I mention the perfect shabby chic chandelier? I'd be remiss not to mention it. Perhaps next time, pretty girl. (Please still be there.)

I located a quaint little coffee shop, perched myself at a table, and blogged. And thought about finding a therapist to spill my guts to.

I ate a raspberry tartelette. It was pretty much the perfect remedy for a broken heart. I mean, that thing was magical.

And for the first time today, sitting in that cafe, I didn't have to avert my eyes for fear that someone would catch on to the fact that I was a faker. I smiled politely and made idle chitchat up until that point, you can be sure of that, but I was a bit terrified that someone would say something like, Oh! Did your child grow up in the blink of an eye and start high school athletics today?, causing my whole facade to crumble, leaving me a blubbering mess. Which is very likely to happen, obviously. People say those kinds of things all the time.

Then there was a solo trip to Costco which resulted in a large bag of chocolate bark and a case of local beer. One should not shop at Costco while in emotional turmoil.

And now... now I say goodnight and close the door on a momentous day. Because for my all my melodrama, know that I'm mostly happy.

That kid of mine, he's a good egg.

A lovely, lazy Sunday; a case of the Mondays.

Monday, August 25, 2014

I'm writing on a Sunday! What, what! Today is a hang around the house, cross items off the to-do list kind of Sunday. A lazy-feeling, but accomplished much kind of Sunday. If that makes sense.

It's the kind of day that invites uncharacteristic blogging practices. Though naive, newbie me used to blog 7 days a week. While going to college. She was nuts.

If you read those How to get your blog noticed! kind of articles, and I have, they often talk about posting at the "right time". A Sunday afternoon post is a waste of a post! they exclaim, No one reads on Sundays!. I do! And if I don't, I appreciate a blogroll full of interesting thoughts and ideas come Monday morning.

One thing I've come to love on a Sunday morning, coffee in hand, are "weekend link" posts. The ones where my favorite bloggers round up their favorite things discovered throughout the week and put them in one place.

So often I read a blog post or news article, or stumble upon a great Etsy find, and make a mental note to mention them. Then I randomly remember them at 3 o'clock on a Tuesday afternoon and they end up in a miscellaneous post where one thing often has little to do with the other. Then you guys think I've lost my marbles. Or worse, I forget about them altogether. Woe is me.

So! So! Without further ado (after much ado), I'm writing my first weekend link post. Because I can. And because I hope it becomes a thing.

// Thoughts on the evolution of a blogger's food photography. Do you ever look back and cringe? I do.

// Although our wall space is quickly filling up, I'm still on the hunt for fun, unique pieces of art. I am utterly smitten with these deer photographs. (Though I've had a bad experience with Society6 and their prints come in really funky sizes. Have you noticed? Fortunately, many of the artists have Etsy shops as well.)

// Remember my little meltdown about blogging the other day? Or are you trying to forget? (I don't blame you.) Jenni articulates it so well, as usual, in her post Things I Don't Miss (About Blogging). If a seasoned (and uber-successful) blogger isn't immune to comparison and other blog (and life) related emotions, well, it gives my feelings a little more validation. P.S. I miss her!

// Finding the perfect print with the perfect quote and getting it in two days.

// I'm rather obsessed with minimalist jewelry these days. Earrings in particular. These tiny bar earrings are perfect.

// I find myself gravitating toward comfort and simplicity in shoes, too. Like an old standby: the Birkibuc sandal. Mario thinks I've lost my mind and Portland's crunchy-ness has overtaken me. But really, can you beat the comfort? The Morgan Sandals from Sole + Luster are en route to my house as we speak. (The price! The price!)

// Turning your Instagram photos into mini memory books? Brilliant.

// Finding a new (to me) blog with beautiful photography and delicious recipes makes me really happy. I have two of her recipes planned for this week.

// We all have moments in life when we realize we need to quiet the noise. For me that realization means less television, more reading, home cooked meals, putting my phone away, really looking at and listening to Husband and Kiddo when they speak to me, and more time spent pondering what's affecting me rather than drowning it out with background noise.

// This article, posted earlier this summer, is what really got me thinking about the whole idea of distraction and "noise" in the first place. My original thoughts on it are here.

// Sometimes reading about a person's journey to find health, even if you've heard it before, can motivate you to make a change. For me, that means resuming CrossFit and reeling in my diet.

// I'm thinking about signing up for a Quarterly box. Anyone have a personal experience with it? Curator suggestions? How about NatureBox? I like the idea of having a happy show up in the mail that we can open as a family. (Like my Birchbox subscription... but for all three of us.)

Happy Sunday! I hope it's wonderfully lazy where you are.

Weekend Links

Sunday, August 24, 2014

I've been pretty darn introspective lately. It's been known to happen. And while that is certainly not a bad thing, I often wonder if it gets a little too, well, real around here sometimes.

I try to be as open and honest as one can be, yet I certainly can't share everything. My husband's life and Kiddo's privacy must be respected. Some stories are simply not mine to share. I work hard to make sure this is a space that reflects my imperfect life; to not be just another blog that gives the reader a keyhole glimpse of my life through a rose-colored filter. 

For instance, yesterday I threw together a quickie post about a recent day trip we took to the Pendleton Wool Mill. Yet I couldn't help but expel some anguish about my wee one suddenly becoming all grown up, armpit hair and all. But, you know, there's always more to the story. The human condition cannot be summed up so neatly. There's always more, as I always assume when I read other blogs (even the pretty rose-colored ones).

I'm a ruminator, you see. Oh, boy am I (just ask my poor husband). It can be excellent in terms of self-discovery, but it can also be agonizing for an anxiety-prone person like myself. So despite my best efforts to mix things up around here, to keep things light-hearted for the most part, sometimes my head space isn't quite there. Which in turn leads to a rather inauthentic post. Because you can typically tell when writing is forced.

This space is a reflection of me. Imperfect, ruminating me. If I'm sorting through some gunk, this corner of the interweb will likely reflect that. It is what it is and so it goes.

The key word here is balance. In every aspect of my life, including this blog. As I've mentioned before, the part of The Happiness Project that really struck a chord with me was the part about acting how I want to feel. Fake it 'til you make it and you just might end up believing it.

So today... today I'm going to write about all the great things happening right now. The fun, exciting things. In snippet form, my favorite way to write. (Besides, I've written enough essays for one week.) Because honestly, aside from the occasional hiccup, life is good. Really good

(Warning: photo dump ahead.)

// Do you ever look at your partner and have a moment of How did I score him/her? I definitely married up. I mean, Come. Oooon. That was one of those moments. Mario had been traveling all week and we met him and a coworker for dinner the night he got home. I laid eyes on him for the first time in days and he looked like this. Looking at the photo gets me twitterpated all over again. Kudos to me for buying him that shirt. (He is not just a total stud, he's also an all-around over-the-moon amazing dude. I'm not just saying that because I'm clearly biased. Ask anyone who knows him. Also, I apologize for the level of mushiness in this snippet. I'm even grossing myself out. But, I mean, Come. On.) //

// Post haircut, sun radiating from behind. Stop. It's all too much. //

 // This kid is my little buddy. Mario has been crazy busy with work, or traveling, so Kiddo and I have been left to explore on our own. He even helps me out around the house. Just this morning he hung out with me at a coffee shop so I could get some writing done. The fact that he still likes hanging out with Mooom makes me really happy. // 

// A friend of ours sent this cool Welcome Home basket. Surprises are the best. // 

// This happened. It is currently sitting on our living room coffee table waiting to be hung. It frightens me every time I walk by, but I'm sure that will fade with time. I hope. // 

// I've gotten carried away with the throw pillows. In fact, I have two upstairs that match nothing and have no where to go. But I love them and have zero regret. Once you go throw pillow you never go back. (I'm also digging the black and white color scheme in the living room.) //

// This oatmeal is killer... Jared and I are hopelessly addicted. The PB&J flavor is off the hook. We may have to pace ourselves, lest we spend a small fortune on oatmeal. // 

// Our friends Troy and Kathi invited us over to her sister's house to pick blueberries. Not only did we fill two containers, they loaded us up with tomatoes, cucumbers and green beans from their garden. We get pretty excited about such things. // 

// You know that go-to place to eat when this or that runs late or you need a quick meal on the cheap? We found ours in Burgerville. //

 // We like to pretend we live in Ikea. Totally normal, right? Okay then. //

// Our house came with rose bushes along the front porch. I have nary an idea how to tend to them, but they have this innate ability to make me feel quite cheerful. // 

// One of the many statues in downtown Portland. I've done a little research, but have yet to understand Portland's association with stags. // 

// Aforementioned roses and my first edition of Kinfolk magazine. Though it's loveliness cannot be debated, I think I lack the sophistication to really get it. I want to, but something eludes me. I think I'd like to get it, and maybe one day I will, but the writing makes me sleepy and I sort of feel, well, beneath it all. You know what I mean? The recipes look good, and I like the photographs, so perhaps I'll give it one more shot? (Though it is 18 bucks an issue. Though my mention of the price perhaps shows my lack of sophistication? Does one who really gets it put a price on such things?) // 

// Kiddo and I ventured into the city earlier this week and picked up some finishing touches for the house. And when downtown, can one pass up a visit to Powell's? Not really. Kiddo and I set up a time and place to meet, then went about exploring our own interests. (One of the great things about his age is the ability to do such things. Glass half full!) Mint iced tea, lovely things tucked away in Anthropologie and West Elm bags, and the magazine section. Bliss. (Wait! This picture indicates, somehow, that I should be able to read Kinfolk without feeling melancholy. What gives?) //

// Earlier this summer, my boyfriend-in-law (is that a thing?) showed me how to upload my iPhone photos straight to my laptop via iCloud. I finally sat down and figured it out yesterday. My foolish eyes have been opened! For the past two years I have been emailing the photos to myself (five at a time), uploading them to my computer, renaming them, and transferring them into folders, yada yada yada. It was a laborious and time consuming process. Now I select my photos, press a couple buttons and wallah! they are magically transported to a folder on my computer. Let it be known that Jonah is my hero and shall be from this day forth. //

// Sometimes Birchbox just gets me. //

// Kiddo is slooowly overcoming his fear of the auto belay at the local climbing wall. It seriously freaks him out and he gets stuck on the above ledge every time he attempts this section of the wall. Poor guy. Fortunately, his dad is an expert belayer so this only happens when Mom brings him. //

// I have amassed quite the collection of succulents. In fact, I've fallen madly in love with at least one plant each and every time I've been to Ikea. Then we stumbled upon these darling Marimo moss balls at Pistils Nursery while walking around North Mississippi Avenue in Portland. Have you ever heard of such a thing?! Kiddo and I were instantly smitten; Mario (somewhat understandably) rolled his eyes. (Check out this Marimo aquatic terrarium. Swoon.) //

Am I capable of writing a non-epic blog post? It seems not. So, for today, I'm signing off.

But first, I want to leave you with this:

I know I feel safer with him around. Don't you?

Living the good life (and other randomness).

Thursday, August 21, 2014

This morning I took my tot to sign up for classes at his new school. His new high school. High school classes. Stop! I can't take it. 

He is living proof that your kids grow up in the blink of an eye. All those times I wished I could take the 7p CrossFit class or go see Hotel Budapest with my husband on a week night... those days will be here all too soon. And I imagine when I enter that phase, I'll wish for the days when I had a little less freedom. The days spent curled up on the couch with Kiddo. It's a nerve-wracking time for all of us, but also an exciting one. Change is upon us!

We have a couple more weeks before said classes begin, and I tackle reentry into the working world; in the meantime we've been enjoying weekends spent exploring our new region and nights relaxing in our new digs. We're pretty fond of this place already: the city and the house.

Last weekend we ventured out to the Pendleton Mill Store in Washougal, Washington. You guys. Their blankets are amazing. The price is a little rich for our blood, at this juncture, but we still found ourselves justifying the price: They are heirlooms! It's something we'll hand down to Kiddo one day! Luckily, we came to our senses, shook the stars from our eyes, and walked away. But not before noting my favorite color, pattern and size. It was the prudent thing to do.
Do you spy Mt. Hood? It's our faithful friend to the east. Did you know you can ski on it year-round? Amazing but true!

After leaving the store, we took a short walk down to the banks of the Columbia River. We live here. Pinch me! 

A brave new world.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014