The Triple Bunk Bed

12/16/15, Monday

While in college I found I love organization and clutter free areas. It calms me down and gives me space to think. For me, the kids room has been a cluttered nightmare as we made do with a double size bed for one and a twin size bed for the other in a 10×12 room. I avoided the room as I avoid our also-cluttered office.

Originally I planned on a bunk bed from Ikea that also comes with a trundle bed. This  would create a sleep space for all three. Then one day I came across these plans for a triple bunk bed. The idea looked so good. After some mulling over we decided to go for it. This weekend my husband has been working hard to put it together while I paint here and there with Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint in Paris Grey. This light neutral color, very similar to the walls, will help this massive furniture item not consume what the eye beholds upon entering.

Today was a wonderful day of work. The sun was out. The air was warm. My mother-in-law came to visit and played with the older kids while we worked. Everything went smoothly for my husband as he progressed along the plans, which he had converted from word to pictorial format. I finished the day with painting all the pieces I could.


IMG_6422My daughter pumped the clamp while my husband drilled holes. He’s a master at finding ways for the kids to “help.”

Wednesday, 12/18/15

My husband has been working on the beds by himself. With large families or families with little children, to me it seems like if you have a project and the timing is right, you have to go for it. It isn’t always possible to bring in outside help whose schedules will match with the mystical window that occurs when both spouses are home (if both spouses work, as in our case). We only have one day off in common so President’s Day weekend became the choice opportunity. Unfortunately we all were sick, except my husband. Nevertheless, progress still was made!

Reflections: the chalk paint has been amazing! One coat, that’s all it needed. I purchase the Soft Wax (Clear) by Annie Sloan. It will be first time using that but the paint needs to be sealed. How to take the time to cure it…I don’t know, one step at a time. The paint is a little more blue than the wall color, I’m not sure I like how it works with the teal bedsheets. Again, one step at a time.

Two beds are in place, the second still needs to be bolted. The plans we use have the beds close together, so it’s rather awkward fitting if you are using a regular mattress. It will work for our toddler but we’ll have to re-evaluate and re-work in the future either by taking out the bottom supports (the mattress then being on plywood, on the floor) or raising everything else. My daughter was disappointed to have to sleep on the floor again, but I pushed her bed under the bunk. She was happy to feel she had a hiding spot.


2/19/15, Thursday

Creating good design is intoxicating to me. It might be the fuzziness of my mind with this cold, but I feel awfully excited about what is taking place in the kids’ room, and that is a first. The first two bunks are up with mattresses in place. We pushed the structure as far over as possible but with enough room left so my husband can still bolt in the third bunk. This is the moment when we start to see the finished project in view.

IMG_6445 IMG_6446The teal sheets provide the necessary pop in s space of very soothing color, too soothing, I think, for my personality. The black and white duvet covers keep it calm and in touch with all the gray.

Today, the duvet cover I’ve been hankering after from West Elm is one sale with free shipping so I’m going to make the leap and purchase it. Ultimately my daughter will happier having flowers over having the alphabet on her bedding, although I could go either way.

IMG_644812/20/15, Friday

It’s a small room so it will take some doing to get a decent photo, and until my health returns, I won’t be up for the task.

Updated impressions: We closed the gap from the second level bunk to the wall, so the overlap is much less awkward. I like the heights a lot. It puts both kids easily within reach for comforting (everyone is sick!). Currently my daughter does not use the ladder, which I think is because the wood is so much thicker than her little hands. We might put some handles that she can grip to get up. Currently, she steps on brother’s bed to get to her’s (even during the night!). We’ll see how this changes when the third bunk is installed.

The website refers to this as a weekend project. It very well may be if you don’t have small children or everyone is in good health. Overall, we’re very pleased and excited by this week-long project.

Update on the Chalk Paint: while adjusting the beds, my husband pulled on the second bunk, which scraped hard along the nook/groove in the wood posts (I hope you didn’t come here for technical wood-working terms). The movement did not chip or scratch the paint! To me, requiring only one coat and the -already seen- incredible durability justifies the price. I buy my paint from Vintage Market in Turlock, CA where the ladies are wonderfully helpful and friendly. It’s an amazing store with great prices and awesome diy inspiration.

All that’s needed now is bolting the third bunk, some paint brush-work and waxing. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s time to take rest seriously because this cold has worn out its welcome.

Oft-neglected Office Overhaul

Dear Reader, if you have ever seen photos of the my home interior you will not recall photos of our office. Our office is that place, that place inside the home of any family with young children where the children are not allowed. It is the, how you say, dumping ground of all things we do not want them to eat, tear apart or stab each other with (I do acknowledge there isn’t anything I would like to stab each other with).

You may also know, perhaps, that I am not very good at taking before pictures. I can take a thousand after pictures, but I somehow get so very excited about the process of overhauling that before pictures never cross my mind. I prefer to avoid looking at the before situation, why photograph it? Here is the best I could find of our office.

IMG_4850This was when we first moved in. As of two weeks ago, a wood antique desk was there at the open wall above; the circular table has its second home since moving out of the office; and I use, rather, store the chair that had no home (not the one pictured, that one is now blocking the fireplace).

IMG_4849My husband’s side was largely the same as what you see here.

I avoided the office. I could not sit and type while holding the baby so I used the kitchen counter to read, distract, write emails. My desk became so cluttered I rarely went in there. In anticipation of our tax return, I began planning.

There were a series of options. I realized I needed a counter-height desk and my husband needed more surface area. We would use 100-year old wood my father possessed to create book shelves to go all the way up to the ceiling and to form desk tops for us. I decided I could buy kitchen cabinets from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore to use as the base of my desk. We would buy Ikea parts for my husband’s desk base.

Then came a night of insomnia. I gave up on sleeping, went online and found this guide on turning an Expedit 2×4 shelf (of which we have three) into a standing desk.

The next day, thanks to pre-planned grandparent-babysitters, we made the 90-minute drive to Ikea, took the short cut to the marketplace and made it out in a little over an hour. Once home, I emptied our desk and antique dresser (used it for storage) contents into drawers and emptied the antique dresser. After a rant about not being sentimental about out furniture, selling these chairs which I reupholstered in preparation for marriage…

IMG_5136I decided to hold onto the dresser (used for storage) and keep it at my parents house, where they have unlimited storage space.

IMG_4244I bought it at a estate sale just before marrying. The woman I bought it from recalled being at her grandmother’s house as a child, opening the drawers, and handling the delicate linens she stored there. How a child could open those bottom drawers I’ll never know because they are heavy. It isn’t a very functional piece, but I realize I am sentimental about these pieces and will be careful what I choose to sell/give away.

Now, we’ve only got the books stacked on the floor, Expedit shelves on there sides with drawer inserts (mine on legs, my husbands without feet thus far). The room, for all it’s floor clutter, feels more open and clean to me. My storage system is taking shape with room for my sewing machine, cubby for my sewing box, a craft cubby. I am thinking I want a small filing cabinet next to my desk, but I want to move slowly.IMG_6337

After all, this weekend, we’re building a triple bunk bed!

Jewelry holder reveal

I love the idea of a world where necklaces live free, breathing clean air, away from the tangles and clutter of life piled deep within a drawer. Necklace holders, where they hang with grace, have attracted me for a while. I attempted to buy one shaped like a tree last year, but it was not in stock. In retrospect, I’m grateful for that.

My mother purchased a spool holder for her sewing room. I asked her to pick one up for me too. I know great projects start with rows of pegs. Cue work by amazing husband: he cut them up for me.


Spool holder from the craft store $13. Cut it into several pieces.

An antique frame from the consignment shop (if you follow this, you can guess where already: Selective Consignments in Hughson, CA), $10.


Frame mounting hardware stolen from a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe (there is a special seat for me in Purgatory for that, I warrant).

A little spray paint. A little wood glue.

Put ’em together what have you got?


Bibbity bobbity boo!




I’d like to say the story ends here. Unfortunately, it lasted for fewer hours than Cinderella’s dress. I came home to see it all on the floor, so my wood gluing skills need some work yet. I haven’t had a chance to get back to it, but I post it anyway because I know it will work, once we put the screws on it. Even without the finished-finished project, I hope you enjoyed sharing the vision.

Considering new projects while making adjustments here and there

Following Christmas came more colds. The baby started with a cough and it slowly made it’s way around the family. I was knocked flat (or wanted to be) for two days. So I now continue to travel on the road of sleep deprivation towards recovery. One day…one day. Here are the minor changes that took place in the mean time…


In this photo you can see our wild one in her pack-and-play, a rare treat these days. I bought a new rug on clearance from West Elm, which is now under the piano. It replaced a rug from which looked great in the online photo. It had less than perfect reviews but I decided to take a chance. What a mistake! I’ve hated it ever since so this $70 cotton dhurrie was a delight to purchase and receive. I very much enjoy paying $70 for rugs. I think the $700 ones are beautiful, but I don’t think I’ll ever go there. This one is contemporary, won’t shed, won’t irritate baby’s skin and as blues are my primary accent color for the room, it’s perfect!



For our Nutcracker Christmas party we moved our re-purposed antique radio away from our entryway station into the corner. The corner now feels so much more complete and I have a new surface to decorate. I still have guilt over painting this beauty, but I admit, I do personally love the way it looks. We removed the radio and the kids used the hole as a cubby/hiding place. I think it’s important to create opportunities like that for children.


Our entry way is simpler now. Typically we have tried to have a place to drop keys and my husband’s wallet. This is the current set up. Low table for my purse (in this case a doll leg) and a toy basket (not that the toys are in it).



Those are minor changes. More joyfully, I stopped by our local consignment shop, Selective Consignments in Hughson, CA. I noticed these beautiful antique chairs some time ago. At $250 for the pair they were well beyond a splurge purchase. Today’s treat for me? The sign read: “MAKE OFFER.” Not knowing what to offer, I spoke with the owner. “Oh those chairs from the 1930’s?” What? I admit my pleasure at discovering that, yet again, I unknowingly am drawn to items from the same Art Deco period. What will he take? $100 for the pair. Yes!

They have a new home. They are in the right scale to match two other wood chairs we have. I can finally get rid of the too tall, spindles-poking my-pregnant-stomach chairs. I’m not pregnant now, but I resent them for all the times it happened.






IMG_6144No scratches. No splitting. The pink faux leather isn’t our style, though I secretly like it against our gray walls and am planning pink as an accent color for Spring. Nevertheless, I promised my beloved I would reupholster them, so I think I’ll do all our chairs in a solid indigo outdoor fabric.

I’ve finished painting an estate sale rocking chair with Napoleonic blue by Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint. Chalk paint is amazing. I’m absolutely hooked. My difficulty with painting furniture has ever been that I hate prep work. If you feel the same, chalk paint may be just the thing for you. In Spring we’ll move the rocking chairs to our front patio area.

The next project on my list: paint the vintage metal folding chairs with chalk paint, arms in Pure White, body in Napoleonic Blue. These will go in the back yard, around the circular table, painted white, which belonged to my great-grandmother. I imagine a Parisian scene, blues and whites. It will be my imagined version anyway, which mysteriously does come together, though no one else may know the reference.

The project on our list: redoing the office and kids room. For the office, built-in cabinets and shelving, custom desks for my husband and myself. We’ll piece his desk together from IKEA, create shelves with brackets and 100-year wood my dad obtained from someone remodeling their home, and mount kitchen cabinets along the top of the wall (I’m thinking they’ll come from Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore). For my desk I’m thinking I will use cabinets, again hopefully from the ReStore, and have a counter height desk which will make sewing and work, while holding the baby, easier. At this time I never use the office for that reason. For the kid’s we plan to purchase bunk beds from IKEA, create some bookshelves using an old pallet, and finally have some space in there again! These projects made possible by our tax return. I am grateful.

As this new year rolls along I hope you also have some exciting projects planned. Good luck!

Christmas time has come and gone

Yesterday, in the Catholic Church, we celebrated the Baptism of Christ, which marks the closing of the Christmas season. For all of you who find yourselves saying, “I just hate Christmas to end” I think the answer is the Catholic way. We spent Advent in preparation and anticipation. Following Christmas we have the octave of Christmas. In this case “octave” means it is basically Christmas every day for eight days. The octave is held within the traditional twelve days of Christmas which lead up to Epiphany, when the Wise Men from the East found the Christ child, and another week of revelry we call the Christmas season. There are beautiful feasts and beautiful traditions, all rich in meaning, symbolism and ripe for reflection. This was our first year successfully incorporating traditions we’ve dreamed of into our family. We didn’t achieve everything. I over did it with the crafts. But we are finding our way and every step forward is a beautiful step, especially considering we both come from families whose Christmas traditions have more to do with December 25th than the entire season.

Here are some photos of how the decorating adapted throughout the season:



Our tree was beautiful, a beautiful temptation for our two year old so we brought out our “corral” which is a sort of octagonal baby fence. We did this past the two years. Each year I like the look less and less. This year I supplemented it with a couple white tablecloths. It helped, if you can believe it.


For Christmas my mother gave me an exquisite silky, indigo, beaded pillow from Pier 1.


A little before Christmas I received spousal permission to purchase this print “A New England Winter” by Currier & Ives. The perfect frame was purchased from Michael’s. You can’t see it is here but it has a sort of rustic wood textural finish to the frame, which complements the rustic setting of the print. The print is doubly special to me: it represents the vision of winter I have in my head and connects to our dishes, purchased during our time in Virginia, also Currier & Ives.


The Nutcracker had a comfortable home atop some vintage red wood boxes.


With the arrival of the Currier & Ives print, the vintage ornaments moved from the mirror to the chandelier.


On a shopping trip in Walnut Creek I found this star at Pottery Barn on clearance for $6. I don’t remember ever seeing it in the catalogs. It is not technically a tree topper, but I used some florist wire and viola!


I began this post sharing the development of our family traditions. Let me return to that.

Hot chocolate! Our favorite is the peppermint hot chocolate from Trader Joe’s made with real dark chocolate and a subtle peppermint taste, perfect for enjoying but not overdoing it. Do we give it to the children? Not yet. This year we used chocolate flavored “shakeables” from Melaleuca, a nutrition shake for children. See the delight?





Then what is a festive season without a party in household? This year, acclimating to life with many children, we hosted a Nutcracker Christmas party. I made a purple tutu for my daughter, and dressed myself in a lavender skirt made from a bridesmaid dress. My daughters eyes widened with joy when she saw me dressed up, hair styled in a bun ready for the party. Naturally dressing her happened with great excitement immediately.



We borrowed a television from a friend and moved the furniture for movie viewing.



Set out treats and made room for guests to bring potluck, cultural dishes that have meaning to them, highlighting the different cultures presented in the ballet. We moved the tree to the bay window behind in the dining table. This will be the tree’s home next year.




See how the Christmas lights reflect off the windows? I was so pleased with the change.



Hot apple cider plus a sparkling rye punch, courtesy of a Real Simple recipe.



And children!


The party was so delightful. I’ve learned to let go of a lot. It can’t be fancy with every detailed planned and transformed. Keep it simple. Keep the work light. Keep the kids in mind. Keep the desserts up high. It was a great success. We were also so pleased to introduce our friends to the Nutcracker ballet. We want to host these movie nights every couple months or so, as a way to bring the culture of our heritage to our little town. Ballets, operas, classic movies. There is so much to choose from. It’s a sort of artistic evangelization we have long discussed but not quiet been ready to embark upon. I think the time is now.

Thank you for letting me share with you! Soon I’ll post some photos of the little changes coming soon to our home!

Christmas Decorating, Phase Two: Gaudete Sunday


It’s time for phase two decorating. Winter decorations have been enjoyed, very much enjoyed as I felt I successfully captured the model motif.

IMG_5865With the coming of Gaudete Sunday, (Gaudete means Rejoice!) it’s time to focus more directly on the Nativity of our Lord. So out comes the Nativity scene, or Creche, along with the Christmas tree and anything and everything that is left. My daughter did her own decorating as she colored.


I thought her spacing and selection were excellent. However, I did have to remove the crayons because I was concerned they might melt on the tree. Still, she was praised for a lovely job. Now it’s my turn.


After our first year of marriage my husband shared with me his desire to have a blue and silver themed Christmas tree. He just loves it and quite mysteriously because he is not one to have strong opinions other than “I like it” or “it’s a little too much” when it comes to decorating. Since decor preferences don’t come often from him, my ears perk up and I’m happy to find a way to make it reality. We finished purchasing the ornaments last year, but the garland department was in sad shape and I pieced together what I could to try to make it look complete.

photo 2Last year’s tree consisted of a beautiful glitter olive branch garland, clear beaded garland and some torn fabric from an event I went to seven years ago. Waste not, right?

This year, I bought three inch white brown ribbon for 70% off on Black Friday. The kids strung small strips of black suede cord through silver jingle bells, which I then tied to knots in the ribbon, spaced approximately one foot apart.


We did this for fifty feet.


It worked and was wonderful to have the kids involved. 50 feet for a four foot tree.

My four year and I decorated the tree together. It was a neat experience doing it with her.


Our Creche took the place of my random objects on the mantle.



IMG_5933We waited to purchase our Nativity set. I wanted a beautiful one from Italy but we were too late, the lire changed to the Euro and everything became expensive (when you’re in the country, it was always expensive otherwise). I was very surprised to find this set, in “Antique style” from Costco.


We’ve been very happy with it, although it is lacking one ox and one ass.


We did “complete” our Jesse tree. It only had six ornaments and I couldn’t remember what specific story to tell for the lamb (I know this references Christ). I should have checked the scriptures first. Last year, I looked up how to do a Jesse tree last year and never made any action steps, so this was definitely a success. You can see the tree through the window.


I also strung some ornaments and hung them on our mirror.


IMG_5938 I had the opportunity to arrange some flowers.


All I have energy for now is making the wreath with clippings from the Christmas tree lot and wrapping presents. I’m crafted out (so I have to push myself to finish a tutu for my daughter for the Nutcracker Christmas party). Below is one craft that will go unfinished till next year.


There is lots of singing in our home. I didn’t realize how much until I was watching White Christmas with some other ladies and they thought it ridiculous for the actors to break into song. It’s quite common over here and the kids love it.




Peppermint Hot Chocolate from Trader Joe’s in a mug from Williams-Sonoma completes it. Sounds ritsy, right? Does it help if the rocking chair was $15 at a thrift store? I like to imagine it’s worth thousands after an online search for others like it.


Happy Advent and (very soon) a Merry Christmas to you!

Christmas Traditions

And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: tradition! – Tevye, Fiddler on the Roof

I wrote previously about Black Friday traditions in my family. Growing up, my mother and father both worked full time and I was a latch key child. There was much independence, which after 5th grade meant, much television watching. We did not hold many traditions. Every Advent and Lent we went to a penance service. It was in junior high I learned confession was available outside penance services as well. For the majority of my childhood Christmas mornings, my sister and I woke very early, as did my father. We were allowed to open our stocking and waited until my mother rose to open our presents. We opened in a round robin fashion, taking the time to thank the giver. Breakfast followed, then 11am mass. Once I was old enough, on Christmas Eve, we watched a movie, went to sleep for a couple hours and then woke to attend Midnight Mass. My mother converted to Catholicism after she married my father. My father was the typical pre-Vatican II Catholic, devout, faithful, moral, fell away for early adulthood, returned upon marriage. My extended family is not Catholic. Some are Protestant. Most are not.

Thanksgiving was typically held at my aunt’s house in Redding. Christmas was usually celebrated separate from the day at my uncle’s house outside Santa Cruz. Their house, nestled among redwood trees, with its wood-burning stoves and quiet, wet location, still feels like Christmas to me. The family is small, children are few, and once the children were grown, it seems the demands for tradition dwindled and gradually fell away.

Camping locations changed, different parties hosted different holidays, I grew up and wanted to host as well. What traditions are left?

My father has never denied the existence of Santa Claus. He has neither denied the existence of fairies or little men in refrigerators who turn the light on when you open the door. He has a touch of the poet in him. The thing to understand about poets is that there is a touch of madness and a touch of magic in how they see the world. This makes for beautiful art, whether it is technically correct will require other personality facets.

My mom does not have the touch of the poet in her mind. She is pragmatic and driven. My sister does not have the touch of the poet, she is fact seeking and direct. I have it. The man I married has it. It is the quality about him, along with faith, that I need the most in order to be married to him.

I would never consider it a lie to share with my children the Santa Claus tradition. I think people who think it is a lie, probably, lack the touch of the poet. How do you explain to a cynical society that magic still exists in the world?

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.

Telling children Santa Claus and fairies exist keeps fertile the already fertile soil of a child’s mind for the understanding of angels, the communion of saints, heavenly gates and the Eucharist. It trains their minds in receptivity of spiritual things which we can understand in greater complexity as we grow older.

What are our traditions? My husband and I are developing them. Old movies will be part of it, as will stop motion cartoons. The Advent wreath is important to us. We will maintain a focus on this time as preparation for Christmas, rather than Christmas, but without being so stogy that we can’t also enjoy the things of Christmas now. Advent isn’t Lent after all, though it does demand some penitence on our part in order to truly prepare.

I have the first phase decorations up: winter, Advent, things that reflect warmth and coziness.






On Gaudete Sunday I will hang the stockings, put out the Crèche; we will buy our tree and trim it. On Christmas Eve, a Santa figurine will come out, as will Baby Jesus to complete the Crèche.

This year we attended the Christmas Festival and parade in this little town of ours.


The children met Santa for the first time. They were not yet ready to sit on his lap and tell him their Christmas wishes. But they met him, albeit apprehensively.





Consumerism does not have to define our culture and our practices. Just because every store and advertisement tells me it is Christmas does not mean it really is, just like Charlie Brown taught us.


Religion can drive culture. Families can drive culture as well. It is our intention to be let these factors be part of our family culture. We can’t ignore that consumerism does largely drive the society we live in. We don’t have to let it define us, so we will work with it, not ignore it. Every year this will unfold more and more. I’m so glad to see how it’s shaping up.

Mental prep for the seasons

About a week ago our 7-month old started waking every 45 minutes. This happened for two nights in a row. The second night we experience two some blessed hour-and-a-half stretches. Soon after her first tooth in the top row came through. It takes a while for me to catch back up on sleep, thus that lack of creative work and creative writing. But, so as not to neglect you, here is a look back on Thanksgiving and Christmas decorating. Naturally I have been reflecting on the past as I plan what we will do in this new home, this new year.

I love Thanksgiving. I love feasts and I love setting the table for those feasts. Last year we hosted Thanksgiving which was a decision good and bad. The good? Take a look…

DSCN3041I ordered a dark blue with gold-painted table runner from West Elm after seeing it featured in Real Simple reasonably priced (thus beginning my current love affair with West Elm; I’ve purchased one thing since).

My wonderful husband spray painted pumpkins from our patch with gold, silver and bronze paint. I laid out dark blue damask stripe napkins and found some walnut branches from the clippings outside. For me that last step “made it.”

DSCN3043I used brown velvet ribbon to tie the silverware together, laid on top of the napkin and silver chargers. Half-yard pieces of fabric from Rainbow Fabrics (a local amazing store) grounded the centerpiece on the oval table. I used to love to do the formal settings with silverware all in its proper place, but with the advent of toddlers such a setting never makes it straight to dinner time.

DSCN3044The bad, or rather difficult from that Thanksgiving came with having two children under age three and being pregnant with the third, hosting not one, but two sides of the family, and having a generous family member bring a bird that was too big for the roaster. So not all things worked out. Both sides of the family are more casual than our little nucleus of a family, and did no revel in the use of china and real silver. Other than the table settings, I have more “difficult” memories than good. That’s life and learning. My secret to hosting parties now: don’t cook! It seems to go smoother that way (read: less stressful). I’m also not hosting Thanksgiving this year. Instead, in our little family we plan to have an un-Thanksgiving menu on Wednesday: rotisserie duck, mashed sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and Brandy Alexander Pie. We’ll still be thankful, but with a new menu, the day before, and do the family thing on Thursday.

After Thanksgiving comes shopping (as you know from my previous post). I am Catholic. As a Catholic, the Christmas season follows Christmas with the 12 days of Christmas (Christmas day to Epiphany, celebrating when the Wise Men brought gifts to the Infant). Prior to Christmas is Advent, a time of preparation. So we prepare, but we don’t pretend it’s Christmas.

That’s all well and good, but I also grew up in the world and its difficult to hold off on certain decorating, certain music, certain food (read: candy, cookies) because it’s all so sentimental and wonderful. No snow here means the outside doesn’t get decorated into a winter wonderland, so its up to the interiors to fulfill the job.

The compromise: winter decorating.

In reality, I’m not sure where one ends and the other begins, and as I write this, I’m not sure it matters because my preferred decorations are rather neutral. Early in our marriage my husband stated he would like a blue and silver Christmas tree. I began the search. Along with an antique store angel, here is what it came to last year. We bought a $25 tree and placed it on a table with a kid-gate around it to protect the ornaments. Not sure how to solve this dilemma this year: new house, greater child mobility.

photo 2 More from last year. In my love of antiques, I added a silver Christmas tree on this side table with silver tapers.

photo 1I made wreaths for first time using Christmas tree clippings, juniper and olive branches. We (my husband) spray painted found pine cones and I made the creche the focus for the room.

photo 3

I like the effect of the bright red satin bow. This year I’ll make them again, only better because I know more, and without juniper because I hated working with it and we don’t live near a juniper tree anymore.

photo 5I did my best with that home to make an “entrance.” There were no wood doors, only sliding glass doors in this dogtrot style home. For the exterior, along with crazy-expensive-to-run Christmas lights (definitely investing LED this year), we put up a giant Charlie Brown Christmas tree. If you look carefully you can see the red ornament at the end. I suppose I did that two years ago because I recognize the tree in it from our “come-and-cut” adventure. Come and cut in the cold and rain with your infant bundled and moby-ed. I think we had more fun going to Tracy Trees the following year, run by a Christian family here in town.

IMG_3821So this year we’ll go to Tracy trees, I’ll make at least one wreath and possibly a holiday (holy day?) banner, like this, and some German glitter homes like these. I’d show you more but the children are hungry and I can’t reveal all my secrets, now can I? More to come.

Projects! Projects! Projects!

I’ve been bursting with projects lately and ought not have waited so long to share. I suppose this would all go faster if I took pictures with something connected to the internet, but I don’t so I’m finally getting to it now (and not without a tussle every now and then with my toddler son!).

The dining room curtains are up, recycled from two homes ago. They are different lengths but since it is symmetrical and somewhat hidden by the table and chairs, I can handle the difference.


I picked up a desk on the side of the road after dropping off our daughter at preschool. It was in two pieces, vintage looking. The paint was a sweet light yellow, but one side had been spray painted black, and did I mention it was in two pieces? I got it home and my husband put it back together. I joyfully perused Vintage Market, a local shop full of beautiful rustic, vintage decor, and a carrier of Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint. I purchased a very small jar of Louis Blue and went to work. The paint was amazing! One dip in a jar of water, one dip in the paint jar, each brush stroke clung beautifully to a glossy messy previous paint job.


The vintage blue look is sweet and perfect for my daughter’s room. I returned to the same Vintage Market and purchased four drawer pulls that coordinated beautifully.


See the light blue lines on the knobs?

The success of this project has made me more eager to look out at yard sales and estate sales. I picked up a rocking chair for $20 at an estate sale and this table at a yard sale for $10.




I got my husband (on a good day) to do a few more projects for me. We took some old wood siding from my parents’ house. I painted it the same orange as the wall in my son’s room. The old wood allows the texture to show through without the paint covering it up. The man cut it and nailed it onto the wall to form arrows. I love the look!


My love hung two shelves in the bedroom for me. In my mind, the shelves and items on them ground the framed prints so everything looks more complete.


I am still working on how to arrange items on the right-hand shelf. The “memories” box is very important to me as it is identical to the box which our second miscarried baby was buried in and it holds mementos from the pregnancies of both miscarriages.


I’d love to have a St. Joseph statue on the shelf as well. Our only St. Joseph statue was beheaded in the last move, which is gruesome to write about and slightly disturbing to look at.

I have my eyes more and more on that master bathroom. It is a mess. It has never been painted. The walls have a funky texture that is very good at catching dust and never letting it go. I would like to paint the walls a subdued mint green (very light). The plan is to some how (likely paying someone) have the large mirror cut into two smaller mirrors and use more of the redwood siding removed during my parents’ home remodel for a frame. The wood is painted gray, very “chippy” as they say. Rustic and, if you will, shabby chic, although I hate that term.

While I dream of that remodel, I have been joyfully making lamps for our bedroom. My mother gave me a group of ribbed-glass wine bottles. My father drilled a ¼ inch hole at the base of each bottle.


A lamp kit from Home Depot made the transformation easy.


I picked up three lamp shades from World Market for eight dollars only to find the circular frame that rests on the socket to be weirdly large.


A quick perusal online found ten dollar lamp shades at Target. I will take apart pillow cases from the discontinued bedding collection to which our comforter belonged and using a hot glue gun, fit the fabric to the shade for a printed, coordinated lamp shade.



Since the fabric is cotton and white with a colorful, abstract-floral design I think they will be lovely!

Other the lamps there is one other project I’m nearly prepared to start. With three kids it takes ages to collect the materials I need! I have a pair of white curtain panels from IKEA. I plan to stamp gold leaves on them like confetti, copying a pair of curtains I fell for on the Land of Nod website. I can’t promise pictures coming soon, but I can promise the best intentions!

All Souls’ Day Celebration

I love Halloween. I love the controversy and the conversations. For some reason, I’ve been comfortable with the macabre for a long time. Cemeteries were never creepy. Post-conversion, I thought it was beautiful to sit in a cemetery and just soak in the awareness of the souls in Heaven and the need to pray for those in Purgatory.

As a child living in the country, there was no trick or treating and how I longed for it. We dressed on our costumes, always homemade, went to mass, and went to the party after mass for games and candy. In vain my parents tried to appease my trick or treating desires, but alas, no one was home. The porch lights of those country homes were off.

Now I am married with children of my own. My mother makes the costumes and I put together my husband’s costume. Two years now we’ve done themes for him and the children. Last year, the Scarecrow, the Lion and Dorothy were represented.


This year, Maid Marian and Friar Tuck joyfully joined Robin Hood (not pictured) for a rainy evening of trick or treating.



Along with Trick or Treating on Halloween, on All Saints’ Day I managed to take the children on a Saints Pilgrimage. We drove to the nearest church and I explained the saints who were represented by the statues at that Church. The children seemed to enjoy it even though memories were a little thin at the end of the day. For the second time, our family hosted an All Souls’ Day Celebration on November 2nd.

The table features ghost and pumpkin cookies, chili, bratwurst, and clementine “pumpkins.”





Of special note were the soul cakes made by my husbands. In centuries past, the poor went from door to door on All Souls’ Day and in exchange for praying for the family’s beloved dead, they received soul cakes, a slightly sweet treat (one of origins of our practice of Trick or Treating).


The table features white, browns and orange with white mums all around.




My husband also stirred up his “witch’s brew” in our brand new $5 punch bowl from the Hope Chest.


The party was great fun. As the evening drew on, we built a bonfire (another tradition in All Hallow’s Eve and All Souls’ Day revelry), bobbed for apples and enjoyed some squash bowling (butternut squash as the bowling pins, likely not a centuries-old tradition).

When the sun went down, the church bells “rang” (digitally at least) and we prayed for our dearly departed:

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
R. And let the perpetual light shine upon them.

All: And may the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.


There are so many fabulous and festive traditions out there! We could have made it more macabre without abandoning Catholic culture (Sedlec Ossuary, anyone?) but this year it shaped up differently. Looking forward to next year. Restoring Catholic tradition, one party at a time!