Archive for March, 2011

damn the torpedoes!

this weekend my husband and i decided to paint our bathroom. as an avid fan of diy shows and a general all-around spazz, i thought we should do a venetian plaster paint treatment. if you’re thinking “oooh, cool, that old world tone-on-tone plaster look,” you’ve been drinking the kool-aid, too. if you’re laughing, you’ve obviously tried this before.

let’s just say it has turned out to be way, way harder than even i imagined. two coats have turned into three and a half. plus a top coat. we were without sinks for several days so we could paint behind them. and we only have one bathroom. we brushed our teeth in the kitchen sink–like camping but at home! well, at least we didn’t have to unplug the toilet.

when i shared the drama with the nice paint mixer guy at home depot–on our third trip back for more paint–he said, “yeah, that’s a tricky paint treatment.” (understatement of the year, buddy.) he asked me how it looked, and of course i had to admit that it looks amazing, so he said, “well, at least you’re doing it right.” and i realized: i never even occurred to me that i wouldn’t be able to do it right. ego much?

we might need a bigger house, cause i’m not sure this one’s big enough for me, the hubby, and my ego.

March 31, 2011 at 7:42 pm Leave a comment

paper tiger: tamed

Paper Tiger, 2008 by Scott Kildall and Victoria Scott

my taxes are done. i promise myself again, as i do every year, that i will tame the paper tiger on a more regular basis, so as to avoid the year-end tax scramble. for some reason the girl scout promise popped into my head–oh sure, i can remember that from 20 years ago, but i can’t remember to keep all my receipts in one place–so i have altered it to meet my current needs:

on my honor, i will try:
to serve myself and the irs,
to keep better records at all times,
and to live by my accountant’s law.

it’s like a new (tax) year’s resolution. and will probably be equally successful.

March 28, 2011 at 1:27 pm 1 comment

hoo boy


yesterday was a doozie that peaked with a complete and utter meltdown (we’re having 10 people over instead of 5?! there’s not enough time! there’s not enough food!) and ended with some late night irs love. the gathering went off without a hitch, and i did finally finish my taxes without too much trouble. erm, we’ll see what the accountant says today.

in the middle of it all i was sitting in the dentist’s office getting my roots planed. this is what happens when you’re very bad and avoid the dentist for a few years. (you can skip the lecture: i feel guilty and i’m paying for my sins). root planing is like a regular cleaning on crack. they really get down in there with their scrapey tools, so they convinced me to break the cleaning up into two sessions *and* get all numbed up.

well let me tell you, i am not a needle person. especially when that needle is crammed against a nerve in my jaw, wiggling around, releasing fluid. no thank you. it gets my heart racing with the anticipation, i get nauseous when they’re putting the needle in, then i feel light-headed after my adrenaline rush wears off. plus i chewed the heck out of my cheek without realizing it.

so after the first session, when my gums didn’t bleed and didn’t feel bad after the stuff wore off, i thought i’d ask if i could forgo the pain meds. they looked at me like i had two heads, but dove right in, asking every few seconds if i was alright.

and you know what? i was. not only was i alright, but i could feel what was happening, so i was better than alright. i felt like i knew what was going on in my mouth. instead of freaking out at every sound and slight sensation, i experienced only the mildest discomfort at all the scraping. worst part? chills from nails on chalkboard sensation. but no pain. and no freaking out.

so i’m thinking an epidural, as blissful as it sounds, will not be in my future. i’m too much of a control freak.

March 25, 2011 at 7:20 am Leave a comment


this is me. right now. totally freaking out.

this is what my day looks like so far: make potato salad for shindig (at my house!) tonight. make hummus because that’s so much better than buying it. rethink that plan. clean house. gah! i just cleaned this house! whose dog keeps shedding all over the floor?! get crap off dining room table so we’ll have somewhere to sit. prep taxes for tomorrow’s early morning appointment with accountant. freak out because this is the first year i’ve filed business taxes and it’s really, really hard. the irs wants what?! freak out some more. have temper tantrum. go to dentist and get teeth cleaned. hope husband comes home early as promised because otherwise house will look tornado-stricken for get-together. entertain people all the while worrying about how late i’ll be up prepping taxes. drink too much wine and decide the irs can *&#!% it. rethink that plan. stay up into the wee hours crunching numbers because i’m really a weenie when it comes to standing up to authority.

just a guess as to how this is going to go.

March 24, 2011 at 2:01 pm Leave a comment

fill your house with flowers!

i love flowers. fresh ones, preferably: they smell good, they look good, they bring a little bit of nature inside. it’s a little splurge that brings a smile to my face every time i walk by. all of these flowers are in my house right now: i was feeling extra splurgy last week and spent $20 on fresh flowers.

5 dollars of daffodils in a drinking glass

some of my friends recently told me that they “don’t know how to arrange flowers”. i say “pfffft” (or something like that): you don’t have to be a florist or have a green thumb to surround yourself with simple beauty on a daily basis.

carnations + mums + candle make three

most of my flowers come from the grocery store. i don’t pay much for them, and i often find myself taking apart existing bunches of flowers and tucking a sprig here and there around the house. i especially love flowers in unexpected places; i even keep a little arrangement on the back of the toilet, like this one (below), which has ranunculus, waxflower, and delphinium that all came out of a big multi-colored bunch that included the yellow mums shown above.

purples and pinks in the toilette

but when i say arrangement, i don’t mean fussy. i mean pick a pretty container (even a juice glass will work) and plop in some flowers. i generally put similar colors together at a similar height and group the same flowers together at an unexpected height, which usually means cutting the flowers pretty short.

here are my rules for simple flower arranging:

  1. buy flowers that you think are pretty, but don’t spend too much unless you just have to have that one particular kind of flower. it’s okay if you need that flower; i feel the same way about ranunculus. but in general, get what’s in season and on sale. carnations and mums are two regular cheapies; make them look fresh and modern by cutting them really short. if you’re lucky enough to have a garden, you have a supply of beautiful flowers and/or greens.
  2. ranunculus in a bud vase

    break up the existing bouquets. don’t for a minute think that the person behind the counter knows any more about flowers than you do. put flowers of similar colors together. put all the same kind of flower together. put a single bud in a bud vase. then group those individual containers together; think in groups of odd numbers, or add a candle to an arrangement of two containers to get to that magical odd number.

  3. cut those flowers down to size. ever notice that the arrangements you buy tend to be all the same height? ugh. no wonder they never look good plopped in a vase. cut the flowers to just a little bit taller than the container you have to put them in. bonus: this has the magical effect of making it seem like there are more flowers.
  4. put small amounts of flowers all over your house rather than having just one large bouquet. it’s a casual effect, and feels like you could have picked them from your own garden, even if you don’t have one.

two bunches of daisy mums by the bedside

and of course, don’t limit yourself to fresh cut flowers when there are cute potted plants and pretty fake flowers.

pretty primrose in the window

i like inexpensive potted plants from the garden center. primroses are in season right now, and i picked this one up for $1.27 (above). placed in a pretty pot in the kitchen, it will last longer than cut flowers. just remember to water it. (that’s why mine is in a place i see all the time so i don’t forget!)

5 stems of artificial quince + twigs from the backyard

and you can’t beat fake flowers for their easy-going nature. you don’t have to water them, they don’t care about temperature or sunlight, and you just vacuum them off when they get dusty. then when you get bored with them, just move them around your house for instant redecorating!

don’t worry, you can find good looking fake flowers–all of mine came from craft stores. if you get them when they’re on sale, or use a coupon, you can get some pretty good looking fake stuff for not too much, with the added advantage that they will last forever. don’t get me wrong, some of the fake flowers out there are crap, but in-between the crap there are some goodies, like the artificial quince (above) and the fake fern (below). the key to making fake flowers look real is to kind of fluff them up, because they’ll be all squished together when you buy them. bend the plastic coated wires in a random, natural looking way and they start to look a lot more realistic. if you don’t know what will “go” with your decor, remember: green goes with everything. i didn’t just make that up, it’s mother nature’s rule.

fake fern + pretty pot = done

fake orchids are a lot less picky than the real thing

fake grass in a thrift store find

more fakes: snapdragons and hydrangea in a tin bucket

March 23, 2011 at 5:18 pm 2 comments

life (without sadie) goes on

dear sadie,

i only remember the best things about you: how soft your fur was, how sweet you looked while you slept, how big your clouded eyes were. i’ve forgotten everything else and need to remind myself that you were a handful and a half. it makes it harder to live with this decision if i only think about your sweet paws.

i picked up your remains last week. i haven’t been able to write about it till now because it was so unexpectedly difficult. i figured we’d get a cheesy container with your ashes in it. i was in no way prepared for the small cedar chest with your name engraved on it. i couldn’t not look inside at the ashes, how few of them there were. how little of you remains. how 20 pounds of fur and life and restlessness was reduced to something that would fit inside a tiny box.

but what really killed me was the clay plaque with the impression of your foot print. every little bump of your skin. i traced my fingers over it for hours, feeling the last reminder of your physical form. until i couldn’t stand it anymore.

the night before i went to pick up your ashes, i had a dream about you. it was in our old house; i came down the stairs and found you lying on the carpet. for some reason, you let me pet you for a long time (something you would not have done in real life). i awoke suddenly with the conviction that we had made the wrong decision. i cried in the dark until i fell back asleep.

in the bright day, i know we made the right decision. i mean you were 14, for crying out loud. you were going to the bathroom in the house. in front of us. like right after we would sit down for dinner. you weren’t really eating. you must’ve been in constant been, even with the opiates and steroids.

still. i want you back–but only the best parts of you, please. i’m hoping you’ll come back to me in another furry, wriggly way and worm your way into my heart all over again.

March 21, 2011 at 4:54 pm Leave a comment

while the cat is away…

mice playing ball fabric from spoonflower

the hubby is gone for the week, so i’m going to let you in my little guilty pleasures that i indulge in when i’m playing bachelorette.

i can have cereal for dinner. whenever. i. want.

i can stay up as late as i want, reading, without anyone harrumphing.

i can sleep in late if i want.

i can spread out my art projects all over the house.

i can watch as much crap tv as i want (bones!).

check out the cute mouse fabric at spoonflower here.

March 13, 2011 at 3:37 pm 1 comment

grosgrain embellished flip-flops

i’m a simple girl: i like flip-flops, patent leather, and a wedge heel. erm, just not in this combination.

i got these shoes from payless last year with the intention of adding a little something to them. they’re just so…meh. so they’ve sat in the closet, and not just because winter came between us. now that it’s warming up, it seemed time to tackle these bad boys.

so i grabbed my hot glue gun, about 2 yards of grosgrain ribbon, and these shoes. a half hour and a few folds later, i had these gorgeous things. ta-da!

grab your sad flip flops (even the ones that are worn out and yicky–you could totally re-invigorate them!), your hot glue gun, and some pretty ribbon in your choice of color. i’m currently totally addicted to grey, but you could use whatever you want.

start by gluing the ribbon onto the side in the opposite direction of the toe part of the flip-flop, then fold back over to make the first ruffle. secure with a line of hot glue and keep forming ruffles, of about the same size, until you get to the toe part.

once you get to the center, adhere the ribbon down the center. then fold ribbon to estimate how much you’ll need to form the center bow/ruffle and cut the remainder off. leave a little extra just in case.

now adhere ribbon to the other side and bring it towards the center, cutting the second piece of ribbon down the diagonal and adhering it.

next, form the bow and glue it down, cutting off any excess.

now here comes the hard part: deciding what to put in the center of the cute little bow. plain ribbon loop? a button? a fabric covered brad top? something else you dream up? i had the hardest time deciding–they were all so cute.

i ended up adding a simple fabric loop with a little hot glue; then i glued down the loops a little cause they were sticking up too much.

and i still had time to take them outside for a little sunshine romp in the grass!

if you make a pair, i hope you’ll share!

March 11, 2011 at 9:03 pm Leave a comment

triple lemon poppyseed pound cake (gluten-free!)

lemon poppyseed cake is popular around here. interestingly enough, i think it was also one of the first desserts i attempted early on in my baking career. i think i was nine.

fast forward to my gluten-free needs of today: pound cake is dense and moist, making it perfect for altering to gluten-free-ness. wanting to make it extra peppy, i used lemon three ways: lemon extract in the cake, and lemon zest and juice in the glaze. to make your own, you will need:

  • 1/2 pound butter
  • 1 and 1/2 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour (aka tapioca starch)
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch or potato starch
  • 1 t. guar gum or gum arabic (the secret to gluten-free baking!)
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 T. lemon extract
  • 3 T. poppyseeds
    • for the glaze:
    • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
    • zest and juice of one lemon
    • hot water

butter and lightly flour your baking dish–i used a small round pan, meaning it took longer to cook. using a 9 x 5 loaf pan or a small bundt pan will cut down on your cooking time. preheat oven to 325° F.

cream butter with mixer, then slowly add sugar and beat until well-blended. add eggs, one at a time, beating each in well. in a separate bowl, stir together the remaining dry ingredients: flours, guar gum/gum arabic, and salt. slowly add the flour mixture to the cake batter, until mixed, then add the lemon extract and poppyseeds.

pour into pan and cook 1 1 ⁄4 to 1 1⁄2 hours or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

allow cake to cool before frosting. then mix glaze, adding just enough hot water to get the consistency of toothpaste. blend thoroughly to get out any chunkiness. then scoop into a zip-top bag, snip a small triangle out of a bottom corner, and drizzle over the top.

serve to oohs and ahhs and ‘i can’t believe this is gluten-free’s!

March 11, 2011 at 6:10 pm 1 comment

happy birthday honey!

jason should be home any minute. the presents are wrapped, the gluten-free lemon poppyseed cake is in the oven, and the steaks are marinating!

i wrapped his gifts in menswear inspired tissue paper and tied it all up with grosgrain and a paper bow on the larger package. for the instructions on how to make your own paper bow, either from recycled yellow pages or with a page from a magazine, visit how about orange, one of my new favorites for all things paper. (i used scrapbook paper to make my bow).

on the menu for dinner: marinated olives, a salad, steak, roasted baby potatoes, red wine, and gluten-free lemon poppyseed cake for dessert. stay tuned for pictures of jason’s presents and the gluten-free recipe!

March 2, 2011 at 9:04 pm Leave a comment

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