Why blend in when you were born to stand out? That wisdom goes for people, and I’ve decided it also applies to ugly electrical cabinets.
For the first few years we lived in our house, our finished basement was exclusively a playroom for our babies. I discovered the wonder of chalk paint — it was pretty groundbreaking back in 2011 — and used it in three or four different spots in the room. I thought I’d never get sick of it.
The space morphed into a playroom/guest room over the years, and then last year we turned it into a large home office for me. We lightened the walls (from deep grey to warm greige) and painted over all of the chalkboard paint, and it felt very fresh.
But those electrical cabinet doors still bothered me. I was trying hard to make them blend in, but they were so awkwardly placed. I couldn’t hang art next to them without it looking weird, so I settled for leaning a canvas against the wall. Nothing felt right. I could still see them!
During a recent organizational frenzy, I rearranged the furniture in my home office and decided I was finished trying to pretend those doors didn’t exist. They really had worked better as one big chalkboard.
But wait … I no longer had any chalkboard paint. Would regular matte black
This column was originally written for Bedford magazine in the summer of 2011.
I was sitting on the airplane, a few years back, puzzling over the woman walking slowly up and down the aisle. She had a toddler in front of her, and the little girl was taking teeny-tiny steps from one end of the plane to the other end. The mother was following closely behind, sort of stooped over, and looked embarrassed.
I just sipped my Diet Coke and went back to reading my book — ahhh, my pre-baby life was luxurious — wondering why the hell she didn’t just pick up the baby and sit down? Couldn’t she entertain her at their seat somehow? Why was she walking her around?
That woman on the airplane wasn’t embarrassed. The look on her face was a combination of exhaustion and acceptance over what she had to do. I know this now because I was blessed — or is that cursed? — with an early walker. A NINE-MONTH-OLD WALKER.
He runs up and down the halls. He climbs into the bathtub. He tries to climb the walls of the tub. He climbs out. He takes off down the hall and runs in a circle around a chair. I’m sweating and exhausted every day before 7 a.m.
The especially tricky thing with a walking baby is that suddenly they do not want to sit in their stroller. They do not want you to carry them. They want to WALK — on their own, all the time, until their chubby little legs simply can’t go another step. Forget mules — just start saying someone is “as stubborn as a toddler.”
Growing up, we had a harness for my baby sister so she didn’t go careening off the cliffs in PEI. When my son started walking, I immediately went out to purchase one so he would be safe in public. He’d trot along next to me, easy peasy, right?
Um, no. We chose a quiet weekday evening to start our leash-training at Bedford Place Mall. Once the baby was carefully strapped into the harness, we set him down in front of Zellers and let him explore. He took off with a satisfied little grin on his face. There was so much to see! Fake plants and silky ties and displays of shiny new bicycles!
It turns out, leash-training a baby is way harder than leash-training a dog, because dogs usually understand basics like “No” and “Stop.” Dogs have some common sense, and learn to stop when you stop. They learn that plastic plants are for eating. Dogs certainly don’t drop dramatically to the tiled floor of a mall and wail because you didn’t let them walk over the edge of a balcony.
We still get stares, as he toddles along in his harness and I trail behind. I have taken some flak from parents who do not believe in “restraining” toddlers. I ignore it, as I suspect they are the same parents who don’t believe in Happy Meals. (Hey, if they make special toys for kids under three, who am I to deny my child chicken nuggets?)
Yes, my “restrained toddler” is technically tied up like a prized mare, but at least he has (somewhat) learned how to walk safely next to me in a shopping mall. Your “free-range toddler” is probably running wild and overturning the display of bicycles. Better go catch them!
My friends and I were talking recently and, as usual, the conversation was 70 per cent about our children, 15 per cent about our husbands, 10 per cent about our careers and five per cent about the freezing cold weather.
We were talking about whether or not parenting gets easier as our kids get older and everyone had a different perspective.
Some felt it was getting harder, as their children had more activities (which means lots of ferrying for us, the parents) and more difficult social situations.
We’ve all heard the phrase “bigger kids, bigger problems.” I think that’s true, especially during the teen years. Yikes!
Others felt it was about the same level of difficulty. They’d just swapped breastfeeding challenges for school lunch frustrations and naptime crankiness for after-school freak-outs.
I feel like our kids have been in a sweet spot for a while now, at eight and six years old. Argh, I hate to even say it because I don’t want to jinx it! But it’s true …
When you work in a home office that doubles as your sewing room/craft room and general hang-out zone on evenings and weekends, I think it’s natural to get bored of your surroundings and to enjoy changing things up.
So while I was recovering from the flu last weekend, I couldn’t resist the urge to move around some furniture and create interesting new fabric wall art.
It was printed with hundreds of tiny squares of vivid
Psssst — that turned out so well that I created even MORE oversized fabric wall art for my home office …
I haven’t done a quickie Friday post in ages, but I kept thinking of things I wanted to recommend and writing them down on Post-Its and in random iPhone notes — so let’s spit some of ’em out, blog-like!
This week I’m sharing five of our family’s
I discovered Workin’ Moms late — like three weeks ago in the depths of a never-ending fever/chills/body aches flu — and was instantly OBSESSED. It’s so damn good!
I don’t watch a lot of
The writing is amazing — dry and witty — and I just can’t say enough about it. MUST WATCH.Read More
Our Chocolate Boston Terrier, Annabelle, LOVES to ride in our car or truck. She will happily go anywhere with us, and loves travelling so much that she hates to get out when we’re back at home.
Sometimes she’ll ride in her carry-bag (we have this one* in pink), but other times I just grab her and her leash and pop her onto the passenger seat of my truck.
She is a little princess who gets cold easily, so I turn on the seat-warmer for her and sometimes remember to bring a
One day I realized I could make a dog seat belt that doubled as a warm and snuggly car blanket for her.
Making a dog seat belt like this could NOT be easier.
Because you’re just tying a knot behind your passenger seat, you could easily untie it if you were transporting a non-dog passenger. (I just leave mine there all the time, though! You don’t notice it when you’re sitting on it.)
When I bring Annabelle out to the truck, I pop her into the little “pocket” the fleece makes, and sometimes I’ll tighten the knot at the back to make sure it’s keeping her snugly against the back of the seat.
She’ll get cranky if I adjust it too much, though, because she thinks I’m taking her out — and she HATES when I have to take her out of her little cocoon.
She LOVES her snuggly little dog seat belt and always falls asleep. I’ll hear snoring and look over, and her eyes are (creepily) open a little.
I mean, how cozy does this look? I wish all seat belts doubled as snuggly blankets!
We bought super-cheap school backpacks last fall, and they miraculously held together for the entire school year. This past fall, we sprung for the “nicer” backpacks — still from Walmart, of course, because we’re not the frigging Kardashians! The universe rewarded us with two backpack zippers that crapped out not even three months later. Sigh.
In hindsight, yeah, I probably should have taken them both back to Walmart and asked about replacements. But I REALLY dislike going to big-box stores (er, most places outside of my house, actually) and my husband refuses to do returns. (He’s of the mind that if you buy something and it doesn’t work out, that’s on you, lol.)
It seemed easier to give C the dingy-but-still-working backpack D used for school last year. When his backpack zipper broke, I lent him a red-and-black plaid drawstring-y backpack of mine. What can I say? It was December and I was overwhelmed with life. Here, take it. Please. I’m done.
I kept promising I’d replace the zippers in their backpacks, and I kept … well, never getting around to it. For a really long time.
Yesterday, though, I decided I was sick of backpack-related complaints — not to mention staring at the two broken zippers every time I opened the front hall closet.
So I got my butt to the fabric store and bought two replacement zippers — the best quality available! No expense spared! It was time to END THE ZIPPER MISERY!
(SIDE NOTE: I didn’t even measure the backpacks before I left, so I just kept picking up zippers and drooping them in a rainbow-shape to see if they looked backpack-sized. It worked out perfectly!?!?)
I had ZERO plans to sew these new zippers using my sewing machine because ZIPPERS ARE HARD TO SEW. Yes, I’m pretty good at sewing. No, that does not include zippers. I can manage them somewhat in a dress, but I wasn’t even attempting to machine-sew a zipper into a backpack. THANK U NEXT.
So all I needed was a needle, thread, and a handful of straight pins. (This no-sewing-machine technique could also work for replacing a broken zipper on a
I tucked one side of the new white zipper underneath the edge of the old (stupid, broken) pink zipper, and pinned it in place. Old zipper edges make a great surface for sewing on a new zipper, because you don’t need to muck around with the fabric of the backpack.
I pinned it all the way around the
I guess I could have used
I circled the stitching so it’s easier to see. Nothing fancy!
Then I pinned the other side of the new zipper to the other side of the old zipper and stitched it on the same way.
Replacing the zipper took me about 15 minutes total, while watching TV before bed.
Then I had to replace D’s zipper. This one took around 10 minutes since I didn’t even bother to pin it first. #rebel
I had two happy kids this morning, glad to be back to their regular backpacks. I felt like a bit of a tool to have waited MONTHS to do something that took me less than half an hour, but at least it’s done. For now?
Don’t forget to pin this post for later — or to help out someone else!
I was working on a few handmade gifts leading up to Christmas when I realized the hardest part of oil painting isn’t the painting itself — it’s getting the scale right.
I was painting a portrait of my mom’s cat and struggled mightily to get the position of the eyes just right. No matter how carefully I thought I’d transferred the details from the photograph to the canvas, using a pencil, the cat’s face just felt … wrong.
I grudgingly finished the painting and decided it was OK, but I kept thinking there had to be a better way. Some kind of method for getting the basic shapes from a photograph perfectly transferred to a canvas so I could get the scale right.
I wasn’t sure if oil paint would adhere to glossy photo paper, so I went online and ordered a few photos to be printed on white
I tacked the photo to a piece of cardboard on my easel and nervously decided to start with the background. These are the oil paints I have, by the way! (Affiliate link)
I mixed blue, green, yellow and white to make the different shades of the trees of the Public Gardens.
I just moved around the picture filling in areas that matched up with the
Want to remember this technique for a future project? Be sure to pin it!
I was in my friend’s house recently to make a decorating plan for her daughter’s bedroom when we stopped in the kitchen. She mentioned she might ask me to help her choose new stools for their island, since the faux leather was cracking on the backs of the ones they were using.
“You don’t need to get rid of those stools!” I exclaimed. They were nice ones — tan faux leather with stainless steel bars. “We could just slipcover the cracked leather backs.”
And so we did.
*** Schlage provided me with the hardware for this post. As always, all opinions are my own. ***
Sometimes it’s hard to believe we moved into our builder-basic house in the fall of 2011 — about seven-and-a-half years ago. We’ve changed so much since then, the house is practically unrecognizable.
Well, until I turn around and see a leftover “basic” feature, like the thin, ribbed carpet (yuck) or the boob-style ceiling lights we have yet to replace.
One of the most ho-hum features of our house was the
So when Schlage asked if I wanted to try replacing them with ones that actually suited our modern farmhouse decorating style, I did a little doorway happy dance. I’d always loved the contrasting look of white doors with black door knobs and backplates — oh, how I loved the look of backplates.
I immediately picked out the Georgian knob with Camelot trim in a matte black finish, knowing it would pop gorgeously against our white doors and mostly neutral wall
I dove into the boxes when they arrived, a little surprised by the intricacies of each knob set. I guess I hadn’t ever looked at the inside of a