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Fashion Forward for Fifteen

Some of you who follow me on social media were less interested in the juice part of my juice-fast photos and more interested in my hair.  Some of you were loving the bangs, a few of you thought the new dark color looked great and the majority wanted to know….had I cut it? or was it just pulled back?  No one could be sure.  So I’m taking to the blog to set the record straight, and bring you a fashion-related post for 2015.

I’m still rocking the bangs I got cut almost 2 years ago, I didn’t add any color to my hair (to be fair…I think the Instagram filter made it look extra dark), but YES….I did cut it.  I big time cut it.

The juice-fast photo that sparked the haircut discussion.

The juice-fast photo that sparked the haircut discussion.

I am not in the least bit the girl who spends time on her hair or makeup.  I attempt to look somewhat cute and up-to-date, but only if it isn’t difficult and doesn’t take a whole lot of time or effort.  About 5 years ago, I found a hair stylist I really liked and started getting haircuts on a somewhat regular schedule which was a pretty big deal in my world.  And then, in March of 2013…I took a big step and cut bangs…coincidentally on the same day that Mary-Hall got bangs as well.  Great minds, and long-time friends, think alike, apparently, even 7 hours apart.

I don’t know quite what got into me, but I went for a regularly scheduled haircut appointment the other day and decided I wanted some thing a little bit different.  I’d kind of fallen in love with the look that Taylor Swift has been sporting lately (no matter your opinions on her music, her dating life, or her recent move to New York, you gotta admit, she always looks fantastic.) and wondered if I could pull off something similar.

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 1.07.52 PM

Recently, Taylor has been hopping around sporting this cute haircut styled a variety of ways…sometimes curly, sometimes bangs to the side….

But as tends to happen when I hop in the chair, I got a case of hair-fright.  I got a cut, but just a slightly shorter version of what I had.  Still cute, but in my mind, it kind of looked like I went half-way.  So I made another appointment 4 days later and went in and Got. It. Cut.  My stylist was armed with a file of Pinterest hair photos and assured me that the “Lob” (thats the “long bob”) was totally what was coming in for 2015.  And it’s true.  Everywhere I look, I’m seeing images like this of varying lengths.  On commercials, on internet clothing-store websites, in my neighborhood coffee shops.

IMG_0174 IMG_0177 IMG_0176

This photo is the one that made me say, "can you make me look like her?"

This photo is the one that made me say, “can you make me look like her?”

As I scrolled through her photos, I came across the last one above that totally sealed the deal.  “Yes, please, can you make me look like that?”  All in all, I took off about about 8 inches.  The floor of the salon looked like a small herd of guinea pigs had gathered at my feet.  I had that same “I love it, I hate it, I love it again” reaction that I experienced when I cut my bangs.  All my family and close friends seemed to be of the opinion that “it’s super cute but it’s drastic and weird to see it on you” which was how I felt too.  But the more I wear it, the more I love it.  It’s more labor – intensive styling – wise than my old haircut, BUT…that’s not really a deal breaker.  Besides, I never really “fixed” my old hairstyle, and when I did….it certainly didn’t “keep” well.  This new style takes a little time after I wash it, but then it basically holds it’s style until I wash it again which is HUGE.  No more throwing my hair on top of my head in a half-ponytail, half bun and pinning my bangs back with 80 bobby pins.  I feel put-together even if I’ve got on pjs which is nice….because, well, I like wearing pjs.  So here’s to short hair and looking sassy in 2015.

My new hair for 2015.  Showing off my "Lob" on a date night with Keith.

My new hair for 2015. Showing off my “Lob” on a date night with Keith.

Also, for anyone interested in doing a similar cut, here’s a peek at my styling-routine.  I wash my hair, towel dry and spray with a generous amount of Bumble and Bumble’s  “Tonic Lotion Primer.”  Then I work through a nickle sized blob of B&B “Grooming Creme” and brush my hair straight to make sure all the product is worked in.  I blowdry my bangs first using a brush and pushing from one side to the other to give some body.  Then I blowdry the rest of my hair…I divide it into locks and twist each lock into a tight strand and dry it.  (At this length, it really doesn’t take that long.)  Once my hair is mostly dry (with a hint of wave to it) I twist the locks again, spray each with surf spray, fluff it out and blowdry on low anything that isn’t already completely dry.  If you want a stronger curl/wave, I’d suggest following up with a one inch barrel curling iron or curling with a flat iron afterwards.


Tools of the trade. Bumble and Bumble’s “Tonic Lotion Primer” “Grooming Creme” & “Surf Spray.”




The Perks of Framing Wallflowers

Two Novembers ago my dear friend Jessica and her husband came to visit us.  Jessica has home decor style oozing out her very pores and so I naturally mentioned to her that I was stumped on what to hang above my desk in our office/music room/library.  She suggested that I needed a colorful painting and showed me some floral pieces online by a favorite artist of hers that I loved but couldn’t even begin to afford.  But Jess was completely unphased and said she’d painted a similar piece for her house…what colors did I like?  She bet she could make me one.  Barely 3 days after she got home, a gigantic package showed up on my front porch with a beautiful and bright painting inside.  I loved it and immediately hung it above my desk.  It made me smile every day as I worked.

My happy flower painting by my dear friend Jess.  Girl has an eye for decor...AND some mad painting skills.

My happy flower painting by my dear friend Jess. Girl has an eye for decor…AND some mad painting skills.

Ever since then, I have wanted to make some sort of whitewashed frame to make the happy painting pop even more against the chocolate brown walls.  But as I’m sure many of you have experienced, it just sort of sat at the top of my “to do” list and never got done.  Until I had the trifecta of perfect circumstances that made me put my intentions into action.  First, I had a rare free afternoon. Second, Keith had a few yard projects he wanted to knock out so I was hunting for a DIY to do and third, we’d just gotten some Hatch Show Prints framed on sale at Michael’s so we were in the picture-hanging mood.

I knew that I wanted something with a slightly whitewashed appearance.  Something similar to when my friend Amy and I made a decorative shelf for her bathroom.  I also really love the look of variegated planks (like on our chicken coop) so I decided that instead of doing a frame around the painting, I’d do one behind it out of slats of wood.  I wanted something a little sleeker than palate wood and not as heavy as lumber, so I headed to Michael’s craft store and straight to the model-plane making aisle where I chose 6 slats of ultra-light weight Balsa wood.  I got lucky because my painting was 20″ x 20″ and the Balsa wood slats were 4″ x 24″ inches which meant that 6 of them made a 24″ x 24″ square leaving 2 inches on each side of the painting.  The boards were $3.49 each so with tax the wood for the project cost less than $25.

Balsa wood planks from Michael's.

Balsa wood planks from Michael’s.

I laid out all the planks on a sheet of plastic and decided to go with a light grey paint instead of the minwax stain that I’d used on the shelf project as I felt like it complimented the white flower accents better than a stain would have.  However, I diluted the paint with water to it wouldn’t be so thick and would give more of a stain appearance than a paint appearance.  It worked really well and I painted all the boards with two thin coats.

Painting the boards

Painting the boards

The hardest part about the project by far was centering the boards on the back of the painting.   I laid the painting face down and then measured the slats and the painting to make sure that all sides were equal.  Then starting in the middle and working out, I nailed each slat to the wooden frame of the canvas using tiny tacks and a hammer.  (Make sure your nails are tiny as balsa wood splits easily.)  Then I attached a picture hanger to the back (we had one in the shed, but they are only a dollar or two if you have to buy one) and voila!

The finished product!!  So excited about how it turned out!

The finished product!! So excited about how it turned out!

The Hatch prints we’d gotten framed (that I mentioned at the top of the post) were originally intended to be hung in our living room which has gotten a bit of a facelift as of late.  But as seems to often happen with redecorating, hanging one print turned into an all-out fruit-basket-turnover of wall art throughout the house.  While I loved having the painting from Jess above my desk, I also wanted it somewhere that everyone would see it…not hidden in my office.  So we gave it a home on the most prominent wall in our living room where it will make everyone who comes through our doors smile.  Hanging next to it is my Nickel Creek reunion tour Hatch Print from the Ryman show, while my Eucharisteo painting adorns the wall to the left and a wood-mounted photo of a piano by local photographer Eden Frangipane (it’s the first photo you see if you click here) hangs on the wall opposite.  And our living room is now officially the happiest place to be.  There are definitely perks to having wallflowers.

My happy painting and my favorite chair.  The perfect nook.

My happy painting and my favorite chair. The perfect nook.


The Not Dinner Party

One of the things I most love about Nashville is the creative community and nontraditional work atmosphere that I’m surrounded by.  So many people here are involved in the arts or events or some other occupation where work doesn’t mean sitting behind a desk from 8-5, which often leads to really interesting collaborations and projects.

When Keith and I got married just over four years ago, our dear friend Hannah Blanton (Hannah Elaine Photography) was an easy pick to hire as our wedding photographer.  Not only is she a kind and fabulous individual, but her photos capture moments in an almost photo-journalistic way.  We were thrilled with the images from our big day..all those special moments frozen forever…and my sweet friend Jessica even hired Hannah for her wedding the next year (a photo of Jess and all her bridesmaids is still the first photo that pops up when you click on Hannah’s page.)

Husband and Wife!  One of my favorite hots by Hannah Elaine Photography from our Dec 2010 wedding.

Husband and Wife! One of my favorite shots by Hannah Elaine Photography from our Jan 2010 wedding.

Hannah and her husband John are often our partners in crime for everything from canoeing to improptu trips to the art museum (John was one of Keith’s roommates back in both of their bachelor days) so when she needed a shoot location (and a few “models”) Keith and I were game to offer up our backyard and gather a few friends. It wasn’t the first time that we’d had a wedding-related-backyard-dinner party: just a couple of years ago we hosted the wedding rehearsal dinner of our dear friends Bubba & Erin, so naturally we were thrilled that they could be part of this shoot!  It was a sentimental nod to their big day and great to catch up.  Hannah’s husband John and our good friend Keely sat in as “models” as well and the six of us had a blast sitting around our table in the backyard while Hannah snapped photos right and left.

I just thought I’d pass along some fun photos for you to enjoy…and I might have one or two more related posts up my sleeve in the coming days, so be sure to check back.

Cheers: To friendship and fotoshoots.

Cheers: To friendship and fotoshoots.

Cake balls and wedding cake by Frosted Affair. I love that the photo on the wall behind the cake is an actual wedding photo that Hannah shot over 4 years ago at my wedding!

Cake balls and wedding cake by Frosted Affair. I love that the photo on the wall behind the cake is an actual wedding photo that Hannah shot over 4 years ago at my wedding, as well as a sweet photo of my grandparents off to the left.

L to R: Erin, Keely and Me.  Thankful for the sweet friendship these girls bring to my life.

L to R: Erin, Keely and Me. Thankful for the sweet friendship these girls bring to my life.

Gift boxes by Batch.  We were so excited to receive a box with lots of local personal care products and an adorable dishtowel!

Gift boxes by Batch. We were so excited to receive a box with lots of local personal care products and an adorable dishtowel!

Wish my table looked this amazing all the time!

Wish my table looked this amazing all the time!

Bubba and Erin....these two crack me up to no end.  So fun to have a second Bordeaux/Frizzell backyard dinner party.

Bubba and Erin….these two crack me up to no end. So fun to have a second Bordeaux/Frizzell backyard dinner party.

Paper goods by Maria of Green Bean Paper co.  Such a fun girl and such adorable paper goods.

Paper goods by Maria of Green Bean Paper co. Such a fun girl and such adorable paper goods.

Nothing brings me more joy than watching my husband laugh.

Nothing brings me more joy than watching my husband laugh.

Thanks Hannah for this sweet portrait of Keith and me.  Love this man.

Thanks Hannah for this sweet portrait of Keith and me. Love this man.

Nothing better than fresh flowers!!

Nothing better than fresh flowers!!

L to R: Keith, Me, Keely, John, Erin & Bubba.  The "model" squad.

L to R: Keith, Me, Keely, John, Erin & Bubba. The “model” squad.

You can check out more images from the shoot on Hannah’s blog by clicking here.  And check out our amazing vendors as well!  They were all amazing to work with and the best at their craft.  (I’m trying to come up with an excuse to hire Hayley to come make my face look pretty again.)  And you don’t have to be getting married to use their services.  They’d be happy to help you out with any type of party or gift needs.

Hayley Bidez Makeup Artistry – Model Hair and Makeup

Events by Elaine – Product Staging and Table Design

Caroline of Batch Nashville  – Guest Party Favors

Maria & Green Bean Paper Co – Invitations, Name Cards

Mary Love & Rosemary & Finch – Floral Arrangements

The Bride Room – Girl’s dresses

Southern Events  – Linen and Tableware Rentals

Frosted Affair  – Cake and Cake Pops

Reuben Victor – “Peace in the Valley” Signature cocktail

An Update “Couched” in a Sectional…

One of the first things Keith and I did as newlyweds (well, besides go on our honeymoon) was buy new couches.  I didn’t own a couch and his had been around for a while and we just felt it was time to update a bit as we sought to turn “his” house into “our house.”  After checking out a few stores, we found some light blue microfiber couches at Rooms-To-Go that fit our taste and our budget.  We bought the sofa and matching loveseat and I just couldn’t get past how pretty the robin’s-egg-blue looked in our newly painted front room.  But after the remodel of our house a year later, we started to feel that the love seat and couch scenario wasn’t as practical for our new space.  And while the couches aren’t uncomfortable, they also never turned into that sink-into-and-take-a-long-nap sort of coziness we kind of hoped they would one day soften into.

Our light blue couch and loveseat.  I sure did love them!!!

Our light blue couch and loveseat. I sure did love them!!!

As we talked about what sort of couch we might like to one day have, the conversation turned to a sectional.  It seemed like a great way to be able to snuggle on the couch together while still having enough room, provide additional seating, and best utilize the space in our now-much-larger living room.  So the great sectional search began.  And as with all furniture purchases in our house (you guys know the drill by now) I was looking to find exactly what I wanted at exactly the price I was willing to pay and would settle for no less than fulfilling both of those goals.  (If this is your first time “furniture shopping” with me here on the blog, you can catch up on my find-what-you-like and then at-the-price-you-want style by checking out my posts on buying an ottoman and my dining set, a chair, and light fixture…just to get you started.)

After considering possibly every sectional ever created, Keith and I decided that the Pearce sectional from Pottery Barn was precisely what we needed.  We loved the style, the dimensions were perfect (dimensions were tricky for us as everything seemed to either be too long or too short) and the price was, well, close.  We knew that a sectional was going to be something we were going to save up for since giant pieces of well-made furniture don’t typically come cheap, but we also wanted to get the best price we could.  So we waited.  And window shopped the Pottery Barn store in the mall several times.  And requested practically every free fabric swatch you can request on the PB website.  Unfortunately for us, the clerk told us that the “oatmeal linen” upholstery that we loved had never gone on sale in her several-year tenure at the store…a fact supported by the three times the piece went on sale in other fabrics since we first looked at it about 2 years ago.

And then.  Behold.  One day as I was surfing the web, I clicked over to look at “my sectional” again for fun and the oatmeal linen was on sale!!!  I couldn’t believe it.  Keith and I decided that maybe it was time to pull the trigger on our big purchase.  But when we added the couch to the online cart, it showed a $125 “large item” delivery surcharge on top of the normal taxes and fees that get added on at the end.  So we called the Pottery Barn store about 20 minutes away to see if we could waive the fee.   Not only did the store offer to match the online sale price, but they added on some mysterious discount to erase the $125 delivery fee that ended up discounting it even further.  A win all the way around!

We sold our other couches on Craigslist for exactly what we were asking for them (the girl who bought them was positively delighted and kept saying, “but they look NEW!”) and the sectional was delivered last Thursday….just in time for me to hit the Memorial Day sales this weekend to grab some new throw pillows.   And I can for sure say that it’s everything we hoped it would be and more.  It’s comfy, it brightens up the room, we can both curl up without anyone’s elbow in the other person’s ribcage.  It’s lovely.  And it could probably sleep a person or two as well if anyone needed to crash.

And I promise, next week I’ll blog about something that has nothing to do with furniture.  Probably.

Our new Pearce sectional and it's throw pillow friends.  So thrilled with our new set-up!

Our new Pearce sectional and it’s throw pillow friends. So thrilled with our new set-up!

Out With The Old, In With the…….Older

By now, you’ve probably realized that I can’t keep anything the same for too long when it comes to furniture.  I love swapping out items for something cuter and more functional, particularly if I can get it at a bargain.  But my quest for something new doesn’t always mean actually NEW….just new whatever place in the house needs something different.  In fact, some of my most favorite pieces in our home are old, like a dresser that I’ve been using since just after college.  It was my grandfather’s dresser when I was a kid and sometimes I expect to find his clean white hankies carefully folded in the top left-hand drawer when I open it.

But as all you married folks out there know, one dresser, no matter how fabulous, is not enough for two people.  We’ve been on the hunt for a second dresser for a while now, limping along with a cool, but impractically designed inside, chifferobe that I bought at an antique store for cheap in college.  The problem was that we loved my grandfather’s dresser so much that we didn’t want to give that up, but finding something that matched was impossible and even something that merely complimented it was proving a monumental task.  I was about to just throw in the towel and buy a dresser, any old dresser, just to be able to put my laundry away.

A few weeks ago when Keith and I were in Mississippi helping with the garage sale at my grandmother’s house, my mom was trying to figure out what to do with the “good furniture.”  We’d been able to sell anything that lacked sentimental or actual value, but there were several pieces remaining in the living room that were legitimately antique,  were still in fabulous shape, and that quite frankly, no one could bear to part with because there were just too many memories attached.  We were able to make space in my parent’s house for a couple of them by rearranging and selling a bookshelf of my mom’s, and several things were earmarked to go to my uncle’s apartment, but a few pieces still needed a place including a beautiful buffet that has been in my grandparent’s dining room as long as I can remember.  It had been given to them by my great-grandmother who had used it in her house, so while I’m not sure exactly how old it is, I’m thinking that 75 years or so at least is a safe estimate.

And then it hit me.  Just because it was intended to house dishes and silverware, china and goblets, didn’t mean it couldn’t be the perfect home for socks and t-shirts and running clothes.  And while my grandmother always adorned the top with a teapot and tea cozy year round and tins upon tins of pecan sandies and other cookies at Christmas, that didn’t mean I couldn’t set all my perfume bottles and jewelry out on an old mirror.  I bought some dark wood Old English scratch cover and polish, gave it a loving coat, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out.  And love that not only is it practical, but it’s a little piece of history as well.






Oil Pulling

I first discovered the joys of coconut oil when Keith and I started our journey into the Paleo eating plan.  It was a recommended alternative in cooking to butter or other fats and so we bought a jar and started using it in our cooking.  Then my mother-in-law mentioned that not only did she use it in her cooking, but she often used it as a makeup-remover or in place of facial lotions.  My love for the stuff was cemented when I got a painful sunburn on our trip to Mexico last year.  I rubbed coconut oil into the burn, went to bed, and it was almost completely gone the next morning!

But then I started to see things online about a mysterious thing called “oil pulling” that was being credited for solving just about everything except world peace.  What could this magical cure-all possibly be?  So the other day armed with some spare time and intrigue, I did some research.  Since the list of potential benefits is high and the cost is low, I decided it was worth giving it a try so this past Friday night I purchased a gigantic tub of coconut oil from CostCo for $14 and Saturday morning I started my regimen.  But I’m getting ahead of myself and you’re probably thinking, what the heck IS it?  I’ll give you a brief run down.

What Is Oil Pulling?

Oil pulling is a practice supposedly rooted in some ancient medicinal practice from Asia.  You swish the oil around in your mouth and it supposedly absorbs or “pulls” all the toxins from your mouth into the oil, then you spit it out.  You’ll want to use the highest quality oil you can find, of course as it is the purest and has the most benefits.  And just what benefits does this practice have?  Well, here’s a list of what I’ve found online:

* Helping to strengthen the gums, jaws and teeth.
* Helping to prevent gum disease, cavities and even gingivitis
* Helping to prevent bad breath
* Provide a holistic method and remedy for dealing with bleeding gums
* Helping to prevent dryness of the mouth, throat and the lips
* Helping to prevent general soreness around the area of the jaw (such as TMJ sufferers)
* Relief for migraines and headaches
* Reducing arthritic inflammation
* Helping to reduce the signs of eczema
* Helping to reduce insomnia
* Reducing the effects of a hangover after consuming too much alcohol
* Helping to support the normal function of the kidneys
* Helping to reduce the symptoms of bronchitis
* May help to reduce pain
* Some oil pullers have even reported that it helped to improve their vision

How-To Steps

  1. Oil pulling is apparently most effective when you do it first thing in the morning before you eat, drink or brush your teeth.
  2. Take a teaspoon (approx) of coconut oil and stick it in your mouth.  (I stick it in there in its room temperature state and it quickly melts in your mouth.  However, it does make me gag a little at first, so if you have serious texture issues, you might want to melt it for about 10 seconds in the microwave.)
  3. Set a timer for 20 minutes (no more, no less) and swish the oil around in your mouth.  (This would be a great time to take a shower, read your morning devotional, cook breakfast check your email, whatever.  Doing an activity makes the time pass quickly!)
  4. At the end of 20 minutes, spit it into the trash can.  DO NOT SWALLOW (remember, it’s got all those toxins in it!).  DO NOT SPIT DOWN THE DRAIN (or your drains will quickly clog.)
  5. Brush your teeth and go about your day.
  6. Repeat each morning.

Opposition and Disclaimers

Because I do my research carefully, I checked out both sides of the story before trying it, or bringing this blog to my readers.  And just as there are millions who claim it heals everything from acne to cancer, there are an equal number of folks who say it’s total malarkey.  I checked out what had to say  (they think it’s neither helpful nor harmful) and also found this blog of a girl who had a crazy-bad reaction after “pulling” for 2 days with coconut oil (she had done 2 treatments a day, so 4 treatments).  Other folks have said that while they had a reaction to or couldn’t handle the texture of coconut oil pulling but have had positive results with safflower, sunflower or olive oil (the blog author referenced above switched oils and did fine!).  However, a note of caution, the Paleo guidelines recommend you avoid safflower and sunflower oils at all costs, so there’s that to consider too.

My Experience

Granted I’m only a few days in and I don’t have any particular horrible maladies.  I’m not sure that it will really affect the dry scalp that I battle in the winter (although I certainly hope so) and while I do think that my teeth look a tiny bit whiter, that could really honestly be the power of suggestion.  But here’s what I DO know.  My mouth feels cleaner than it’s ever felt.  Like straight-from-the-dentist clean.  And it lasts most of the day even after I’ve eaten.  And it’s amazingly relaxing.  I’ve been using the time spent oil-pulling to read my Lenten devotional and pray and that combined with the swishing is such an amazing way to start my morning.  So if I have a super clean mouth and a relaxed mindset going into my day, that’s enough reason for me to keep doing it.

I guess the bottom line is that oil-pulling, like ANY out-of-the-ordinary health practice, probably isn’t for everybody. Listen to YOUR body! If you have a particular health condition you might want to check with your doctor (or dentist as well in this case) to make sure they don’t know of anything that might conflict or react with your medicines or illness.  And know that results can vary….something that cures one person might not cure another, etc.  But so far…my experiences have been positive.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Have you tried it? Liked it? Heard of it? Hated it?

Let There Be Light

Well it seems like living room upgrades have become a theme around the blog lately as Mary-Hall is painting hers grey and I recently added a new chair to mine.  Although Keith and I gutted our entire 1920’s home about 3 years ago, we still have a few minor things that we’d like to do, mostly in the decor department.  Things like a comfy sectional to replace our couches and built-ins on one of our living room walls.  Another big thing on my list was replacing the fan in the living room with a lightfixture.  The fan that we had there was really nice, but we never used it and it didn’t have a light fixture on it, so it was this big dark looming object hanging on the ceiling.

Our living room ceiling with fan.

Our living room ceiling with fan.

When we were in West Elm looking at the chair a few weeks ago, we saw a particular light fixture that fit the bill of what we were looking for: something bright…simple, but with some sort of pattern or feature, soft light, and preferably a drum style.  At $299+ tax, it was a little over what I was willing to spend on something that we didn’t NEED, just wanted.  But because I knew it was what I wanted, I began to employ all of my furniture-for-less tactics.

Step one was to search for a knock-off fixture that looked like the Metal Honeycomb Drum Pendant, but cost less.  Unfortunately, that was a total bust.  Anything I found either was cheaper, but LOOKED cheaper, or was even more expensive than the original fixture.   Step two was to check out Craigslist to see if anyone was selling one used….which they weren’t.  Step three was to just start watching the prices at West Elm to see if it went on sale.  This past Sunday, my sale-watching paid off.  West Elm was running a sale on lighting…20% off on all fixtures (online AND in-store) bringing the pendant light of my dreams down to $239.  Much closer to the “under $200” category that I was willing to spend.

gotta love a good sale.

gotta love a good sale.

my lamp with the discount!

my lamp with the discount!

It seemed like a good price, plus I had a $50 gift card in my wallet that I’d been given for Christmas (thanks to my awesome in-laws!), but with shipping, it still wasn’t quite the bargain I’d been hoping for.  Fortunately, there is a West Elm store in Nashville, so I picked up the phone to see if they had the lamp in stock.  They didn’t, nor was it on the list of things they would be getting in anytime soon, NOR was it on the ship-to-store list.  (Tip: sometimes retailers that have both online and in-store sales will have a “ship to store” list of items that the stores don’t carry in-stock, but that you can pay for in-store, and have shipped to your house or at least to the store for free).  This was where I played the ace up my sleeve.  I mentioned that I’d seen the lamp in the store a few months ago and asked if buying the floor model would be an option.  Cha-ching.   Not only did they let me buy the store model (which meant no shipping fee), but they also gave me an additional 10% off meaning that my final price after taxes and discounts was $185.  I could not have been more thrilled.  When you consider no shipping, 20% off, the additional 10% off and the gift card, I ended up getting the lamp at over a 40% discount.  And it was even easy for us to install ourselves which was a huge perk.

finished light fixture hanging in our living room!  we love it!

finished light fixture hanging in our living room! we love it!

And we couldn’t be more thrilled with how stylish it looks and the soft lighted glow it emits.  We love our can-lights, but it’s nice to have an alternative lighting solution, especially one that just looks so awesome.

Now if I can just figure out how to get a bargain on the Pearce Sectional that we’re lusting after at Pottery Barn (it’s on sale now, but not in the upholstry that I want, of course), and settle on a design for some built-ins, our living room will be 100% complete.  Well, mostly, anyway.  I’m thinking that nothing will ever be “complete” as I kind of have the decorating bug.

Fifty Shades of Gray Paint

This could’ve been a blog post where I explain how to pick the perfect gray paint color and show how grand it looks in our living room, but ahem… Our paint color selection process is not yet over.  Currently we have 5 shades of gray paint doing tryouts in the living room.  (Only 45 more to go.)


Turns out that picking a gray paint is quite difficult.  I should’ve hired an interior decorator or color expert or whatnot but instead, I’m just going the usual DIY brute force route by staring at paint strips for hours and buying tons of little sample pots (5 so far).  Here is my collection of paint strips, very helpful indeed.

paintchipsI’ll let you guess which one was Ransom’s suggestion. 

Our living room has a lot going on already: pine trim, khaki-ish cabinets, several walls of exposed brick.. i.e. red with gray mortar.  Combine all that with decent daylight but very dim lighting at night (which we plan to replace).  So a nice light shade of neutral is in order, right?  Gray seems like the obvious choice.  Its kind of ‘a thing’ these days, just ask pinterest or google.  It can be ‘neutral’ and ‘interesting’ and ‘unobtrusive’ all at the same time.

But what I’ve learned thus far is, gray paint (grey? greige?) can actually completely transform, right before your very eyes – to pink, blue, green, even purple.  Which direction each paint sample will lean on my walls is totally different from how it looks on the paint strip, so we’re sort of in a guessing game at this point.  And, the colors that look half decent during the day look a lot worse at night, or look at lot worse right next to the cabinetry.

Also there’s the added pressure that this one room is literally 50% of our house, with vaulted ceilings.  i.e. painting will require extension ladders (or scaffolding?) and many gallons of paints..  I.e. lots of both time and money.  OH THE PRESSURE.

And a final tip to anyone else buying paint samples.  You can paint those samples on to white posterboard which can then be moved around, switched in an out, and then conveniently placed in the garbage when you finish.  Thus avoiding the permanent patchwork look in your home.  Here’s an example from the internet:

from here

I knew that trick, but was too lazy to implement since I didn’t have any posterboard on hand…

Later today I’m heading back to Home Depot to gather a few more options.  Maybe ditch gray entirely and go with ‘white’.  Oh but there are so many shades of white too.

More Stuff to (Not) Buy Off Craigslist

I haven’t been spending as much time trolling Craigslist lately… The last few months of life were pretty much swallowed up by holiday fun and the big Russia trip but now we are back to regularly scheduled programming at Casa Johnson. And that means, its time to do some ‘nesting’. And by nesting, I mean – its time get our mattresses up off the floor and otherwise get things “settled” like “grownups” before we get sucked into the impending baby vortex.

First pregnancy nesting means agonizing over nursery decorations. Second pregnancy nesting means ‘do we have a place to put the baby?” (No, not at this moment we don’t…)

So, here are a few recent Craigslist posts that have made me laugh.


First, this “antique” wheel “barrel” for $125.  Somebody please buy this thing.  It has been reposted continuously for at least 6 months.  That’s a lot of reposting effort right there.  And yet, the seller can’t even be bothered to bring this valuable wheel barrel down to ground-level for a proper photo shoot.  Also, after 6 months, perhaps the price is too high.  Frankly, you Mr. Seller are playing pretty fast and loose with the term ‘antique’.


Candle operas anyone?  For your fancy table settings. Very hard to find.


The “candle opera” may be an iPhone auto-correct situation, but this next item – a Read valentine mannequin – was probably listed by someone who had purchased their first iPhone earlier that same day.  I guess the phone corrected the first use of the word ‘manikin’ but couldn’t fix the second version:

This is a beautiful red and half bust manikin for displaying me’s dresses any kind of clothing with that great in anyone shop I would put it in mine but I need the cash.

Likely the cash is needed to pay off that new phone on the credit card bill.


Who needs more flip-flop themed decor at their abode? Anyone?  This set’s been for sale for a good 8 or 9 months and regularly reposted throughout that time.  The price has also been RISING.  Ingenious marketing strategy, folks.  Just look at the sheer number of pieces of furniture you can purchase for $450 with flip-flop stickers on them.  Also, there are flip-flop knobs.  Clearly a bargain, the description lists the retail price for this set at over $2,000.  Discount what what!


Another lesson for you: Things that are VINTAGE are worth a lot of money. That includes potty chairs, especially when they are decorative. Seriously people, this is a huge step up from most of the potty chairs I’ve seen that look all utilitarian, and ‘medical device’-y. (New adjective coined.) Most potty chairs are clearly potties but this one is so sneaky.  And for $275?  What would you pick, a couple of pairs of Bethany’s fancy footwear or this chair?


I posted this last time but just FYI, its still for sale.  Can’t believe no one has snapped ‘er up. You know, you could buy a car with $9k but that globe will look better in your library.


Or, alternate idea, you could buy ALL this stuff and keep it in this little $50k cabin. That globe would look pretty great in there.  The cabin is so old that it was built without nails. In other words, this is basically a giant Lincoln Log set just waiting for you to come and pickup.  And sure, the asking price is a smidgen high, but I bet they would take less if you asked nicely.


Now, go forth and shop, all you Craigslist bargain hunters! (And here’s my first MS Craigslist round up, if you want more of this nonsense.)

Framing the Hens….

Don’t worry.  Despite the title, there’s no “fowl play” going on.  Nobody is blaming my girls for crimes they didn’t commit.  But they DID get framed recently.  Confused?  Let me explain.

Back in June, Mary-Hall got all crafty and painted four lovely mini-portraits….one of each of our original four hens.  She said the paintings were intended to bring a little lively decor to the inside of our henhouse, but I just couldn’t stand the thought of these lovely little works of art getting potentially ruined over time due to the elements….or….well….the chickens themselves.  (They are sweet little ladies but not exactly careful critters all the time.)  Although I’d looked many times, I couldn’t decide how to frame the paintings, couldn’t find ready-made frames that fit, and couldn’t quite justify spending money on custom framing. So, for months the canvases have been sitting on my desk where I look at them daily and smile at the thought of the sort of friendship that makes one paint pictures of the other one’s pet chickens.


L to R: Gertrude (now deceased and replaced by Beverly Clucky), Jane, Sylvia & Louisa. Paintings by Mary-Hall.

But then a few weeks ago, two things happened: one, I had a day of super clean-out mood and cleaned everything off my desk leaving the paintings displaced, and two, on a late-night JoAnn’s run for something work-related, I located the perfect framing solution!  Behold….a shadow box!  Intended to frame anything that isn’t flat (such as seashells, or paper embelishments), the shadowbox frame is about an inch and a half deep, and comes in several standard sizes, one of which, 8in x 8in, was just perfect to from my 4, 4in x 4in canvases all in the same frame!  Although the frame was originally $19.99, I had a 50% off coupon and paid just over $10 including tax…and when I looked the product up to link it here for you guys, it looks like it’s currently only $8.00 online, so get it while you can!

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 10.32.01 AM

This shadowbox frame perfectly fits the four 4in x 4in mini canvases of my chicken portraits!

The next decision was where to display this tribute to our feathered friends.  Certainly the paintings are adorable and sentimental, but the fact remains that they are of, well, chickens and therefore slightly comical.  I needed a place where everyone would be able to enjoy their charm, but I wouldn’t be the girl with the chicken paintings hanging in the living room…..then it hit me.  There was an empty shelf in the downstairs bathroom just begging for something happy, so I brought the chickens in and bingo!  Perfection.

Our bathroom shelf.....

Our bathroom shelf…..don’t the chickens look so perfect all together in their little frame?

The downstairs bath.  Its so tiny....truly one of my favorite rooms in the house.

The downstairs bath. Its so tiny….truly one of my favorite rooms in the house.

What’s that book on the shelf next to the chicken pictures you ask?  Yes!  It’s a copy of “I Could Pee On This: And Other Poems By Cats.”  If you don’t have it.  You need it.  Trust me.  It’s so hilarious you might pee your pants though, so best to read it while you’re already planning on heading to the bathroom…..Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Keeping it classy.

Keeping it classy.

Update: Keith thinks that Mary-Halls paintings formatted the way I have framed them is very Andy Warhol a la Marilyn Monroe.  What do you guys think?


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