Monthly Archives: January 2012

Pinterest Presents: Harry Potter Sleepover

My stepdaughter Jensen is turning 8 next week, and she wants to have a Harry Potter-centric sleepover at our house this weekend. We’ve got most of this covered – all 7 books, all 8 DVDs, and Harry Potter Scene It (the game). So I turned to Pinterest for a couple of projects that would make the evening more special.

1. Paper Plate Popcorn Bowls

This tutorial from SarahHearts yields cute little popcorn bowls, which the girls can use while they’re watching the movie.

We already have plain white paper plates, and plenty of ribbon to glue around the outside. Maybe one for each Hogwarts house? Better yet, let them decorate them before the movie starts.

2. Butterbeer cupcakes

Let’s face it. I’m making these for me.

I am considering a few other fun little projects, but those are Top Secret. I’ll have a full report on Monday. 

Hopefully none of my projects turn out like this:

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Friday Quickie: Petite Dresser

Many years ago, when we were young and broke (as opposed to now, when we are older and slightly less broke), we bought the girls some bedroom furniture at an estate sale. We picked up two wicker chairs (which Jason spray-painted a deep purple), a multicolored purple quilt and shams, and this small dresser. I think technically this is a lingerie chest, but anyway. We meant to repaint it. Honest. We did.

The piece is sturdy and well-made, and its small footprint means it can fit almost anywhere. I thought it would be an easy update to paint it a single color and change out the handles (which were crooked).

Famous. Last. Words.

The chest was handmade, and the carpenter decided that those handles were never coming off. They were screwed AND glued in place, and wouldn’t budge.

Suddenly, they looked a lot less offensive.

The girls’ walls are painted in Martha Stewart’s Sea Glass, a color I love. I wanted something rich and deep for the chest, and decided on a dark teal color (with input from the girls). I got the paint during Home Depot’s clearance on the Martha Stewart Glidden paints, so the quart was $3.00.

Here is the dresser being painted, along with my bedside table and Tyler’s desk. 

It took five coats to evenly cover that sucker. FIVE. The paint was very thin, like watered-down Elmer’s glue. Definitely not up to Martha’s standard. I can see why she and Glidden parted ways.

Eventually, Jason got the chest painted, and now it looks great in the girls’ room.

Quick fix for $3.00! I’m considering white vinyl decals for the top and maybe the sides. Because no project shall ever be completed. Ever.  Perhaps numbers for the drawers? Hmmm?

Have a great weekend!

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WIWW: Warm Weather Winter Wear

Linking up with The Pleated Poppy for yet another round of Judge My Closet, er, What I Wore Wednesday…..

pleated poppy

According to my archives, I’ve now been doing this little accountability project for five months. It’s definitely helped me re-evaluate my clothing choices, try new things, and generally pay more attention to my appearance.

Thursday I wore a belt. This almost never happens, so I thought I would mention it.

I also wore black boots, Ann Taylor Loft trousers, an Old Navy tee, and a swing cardigan from Kohl’s.

Friday: So, the temperature in my office is usually set to “meat locker.” And since my desk is pretty much out in the open, a space heater will singe my ankles and leave  my fingers blue. Hence, the Chunky Cardigan:

Shoes, Cardigan: Target
Trouser Jeans: Ann Taylor Loft
Tee: Old Navy

Sunday I went to church:

Flats: Target
Trouser Jeans, Sweater, Necklace: Ann Taylor Loft

Monday: Back to grind, after staying up to watch the end of the Giants game

Shoes: Bare Traps
Pants, cardigan, tank: Ann Taylor Loft 

Tuesday: not a good day. Didn’t take a picture, but I wore a black skirt and tee with a chunky turquoise necklace. Use your imagination. Here’s a visual aid:

Wide-leg Wednesday (I’m talking about my PANTS here, people):

Pants: Urban Thread
Sweater: Ann Taylor
Shoes: Target

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A Perfect Example

When I was ten years old, my parents let me have a voice in re-decorating my childhood bedroom.

My father, the decorator of the family, loved color – deep, rich, saturated color. Our cavernous family room was painted Canyon Coral. The gallery back to my parents’ room was Wedgewood Blue. The foyer was a color whose name I do not know, but was a tomato-y Chinese red.

So what did I do? Like any quasi-rebellious tween, I elected to slather my room in white. White walls. White area rug. White shutters for my windows. White wicker day bed.  

My father was not amused. 

When I got my first apartment, my parents offered to give me their bedside tables, which were painted a deep avocado green, with antique brass ring pulls.

So what did I do? I painted those suckers white (I was clearly Too Clever for sanding, or priming), and swapped the brass hardware for satin nickel.

The pair of tables was separated in 2007 (some people interpret the “division of property” part of a divorce quite literally, it turns out). My bedside table has survived six moves – eight, if you count the removal and replacement after the fire.

It was looking…. a little sad, actually.

Up close, the paint was starting to chip (see the left side of the bottom drawer?) and because I hadn’t sanded or used primer, the original green was showing through:

It didn’t look “rustic” or “distressed,” it just looked “bad” and “kind of nasty.”

It was time for a change.

It was time for…… COLOR.


One of the most awesome things I have learned as an adult is that color is not scary. Color is great! Color goes POP! My father was right all along!

I wanted to use Behr’s French Pale Gold (inspired by The Pleated Poppy’s dresser), but it looked too brown in the space – the darkest corner of my bedroom. Instead, I chose Glidden’s Vintage Yellow, which looks great with the gray walls and white furniture. And voila!

I still like the knobs I picked a decade ago:

And this time, I sanded. And used primer. Learning!

There’s some deeper lesson here about growing up and realizing that your parents are possibly not as dumb as you thought they were when you were a sullen middle schooler. Possibly.


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WIWW: The Playoffs

The playoffs – that time of year when the Jaguars’ season is usually over, and the End of Football for the season is imminent. Sad times, man. Sad times.

pleated poppy

Thursday: I just love the gray and pink, don’t I? And I love, love, love that scarf. Also, I love THE GUN SHOW.

Shoes: Bare Traps
Trousers, Tee: Ann Taylor Loft
Cardigan, Scarf: Target

Friday: in which Tyler singlehandedly jinxes the Bronco’s chances…

Shoes: Converse/Target
Cords: Ann Taylor Loft
Sweater: Urban Thread/J. Crew

Tuesday: It was a fleece tights kind of day.


Shoes: Target
Tights: Shoe Station
Dress: Lole, from Zappos
Scarf: Gift

Aaaaaand Wednesday: I recycled this outfit but added a white tank under the shirt, both for a pop of non-color and also to add a little warmth.

I also added a Tyler for warmth. Let me state for the record that it was already 60 degrees when we left the house, yet he insisted on wearing that hooded jacket. Sigh.

Shoes: Shoe Station
Cords, tank: Ann Taylor Loft
Shirt: Target


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Study Hall: Tyler’s Desk

The weekend before the fire, we visited my mom and scored a bunch of free furniture – which was promptly hauled out of the house after the fire, cleaned, and stored for four months. So I’m just getting around to fixing it now. Don’t judge.

Tyler’s desk was by far in the worst shape of the lot, so I decided to tackle it first. I’m far more handy with paint than I am with reupholstering.

The problems are pretty obvious – the finish is jacked up, the handles need replacing, and it smells faintly of Doritos and socks. But on the other hand it has good lines, doesn’t wobble, and is made of real wood (not veneers).

Luckily, there’s “Covers a Multitude of Sins” in a can, a.k.a. Zinsser’s Cover Stain Primer/Sealer.

Two coats of primer, two coats of semigloss white paint. Then it was time to get fancy.

I carefully measured and taped out a star on the top of the desk, and Jason taped off a couple of stripes down the sides.

After letting it dry overnight, we held our breath and peeled off the tape.


I let Tyler pick out the drawer pulls. He liked these because “they look like shields.”

Ooooohhhh…kay. Fine by me.

So, to refresh your memory, here’s the Before picture:

And the After:

Now, if I can just get him to sit down and study…..

Update: Now with bonus art!

For Tyler’s birthday last year, I got him a set of these amazing prints from Imagekind.

I matted them with – what else? – leftover burlap, recycled the frames from his previous bedroom art, and hung them over his desk.

I love them because they don’t scream “STAR WARS SUPERFAN.” They…. whisper it. Star Wars Superfan. Shhhh.


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Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny: A Master Bathroom

Our master bathroom is small. Not “on the small side,” but small. Not counting the shower enclosure, the bathroom measures 5 feet x 5 feet.

Can you feel the walls closing in?

This is what it looked like when we moved in (the first time):

It had been remodeled, and I really liked the flooring and fixtures they chose, especially the decorative metal tile band in the shower:


In fact, after the fire, the only thing we changed was the color on the walls and the shower curtain. We also added an outlet by the sink. But in such a small space, those changes made quite an impact.

The biggest challenge was storage. We perched things precariously on the back of the toilet, and I brought in a narrow black plastic rolling cart that I’ve had since college. We used that for toiletries and hair devices, but there was nowhere to store extra toilet paper, soap, or any of the other things we run through on a weekly basis.  

The only area suitable for a storage solution was the 20-inch-wide strip of wall directly across from the toilet, and I planned to maximize the space by going tall.

I looked at Goodwill, vintage stores, and Craigslist. I couldn’t find anything that was narrow enough, or shallow enough, or with the “right” space – I briefly considered a tall narrow dresser, but the drawers were too shallow to hold a hairdryer or toilet paper.

So I did something crazy. Something I never do.

I paid full price.

I KNOW. But the cabinet I found was the right size and shape, and looks just perfect in the space. Also, I had a gift card, so it was technically free.


So here’s what the bathroom looks like now (on a good day):

There isn’t any room for decorative fluff, but I would like to get some amusing art to hang above the toilet, and have had my eye on several pieces over on Etsy that may have to come live with us, like this one. I’d also like to get something classier than miniblinds for the window, but for now function wins out over form.

No bathroom of mine would be complete without my bathroom cow, who lived in the bathroom of my first apartment, and every bathroom I’ve had since then.


She watches me brush my teeth. So?


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What I Wore Wednesday: January 11, 2012

Heeeeeeeeere we go.

pleated poppy

Thursday I channeled my inner Stevie-Nicks-as-office-drone.

Trousers and tee by Ann Taylor Loft, cardigan by Old Navy, Necklace by Etsy, shoes from Shoe Station.

Friday I was going to slack off. I wasn’t even going to take a picture. I was going to wear my cords and a tee and be done with it. But then I thought, “Hmmm, well, maybe this button-down would look a little better…. and if I’m going to do that, I should probably wear my infinity scarf… and hey! why don’t I tie it differently?”


Cords by Ann Taylor Loft, shirt by Old Navy, scarf by Target. I did wear clogs. 

Another Monday, another scarf:

Sweater and scarf from Ann Taylor Loft, skirt from Old Navy, tights from Target, shoes from Shoe Station.

Tuesday it was overcast but not cold:

Trouser Jeans and Tee from Ann Taylor Loft, jacket from Goodwill, boots from Clark’s.


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Context Matters

Or, why the subtitle of parenting should be “Stop, Drop, and Think.”

Last night was not a good one for the younger daughter. She got up way too early yesterday, so by the time dinner rolled around, she was tired and grumpy. I made a spinach-alfredo-bacon pizza for dinner, and with every single bite (Every. Single. Bite.), she would grimace and squirm, or make a gagging face. Needless to say, she got in serious trouble for this appallingly rude behavior.

She then tried to deflect our irritation by complaining about an old blister on the side of her foot. It had healed up, but the flap of dead skin was still hanging on.  She pouted and demanded that we buy more band-aids so she could keep the flap down until she graduated from high school. That didn’t go over well, either. Despite her blubbering and freaking out, Jason removed the flap in about 30 seconds, at which point even Jensen admitted that it didn’t hurt and in fact felt better.

Then Jason’s ex called. Jensen took the phone in the other room. Shortly after she hung up, Jason got an e-mail from the ex about how Jensen was “crying” about how much her foot hurt, and inquiring as to what kind of medical attention Jason was giving to said foot.

Lady, you got played.

Jensen was ticked off that she got in trouble for her behavior. She was ticked off because we chose to watch the end of the (thrilling!) Denver game instead of letting them comandeer the TV to watch the Simpsons. She was ticked off that Daddy touched her blister flap.  And so she cried to her mama as the Last Resort of Sympathy, and it worked perfectly. The Oldest Trick in the Book.

Context matters.

Look, I understand the impulse. When Tyler tells me that he’s having hot dogs for dinner for the third night in a row, it’s super tempting to want to know why. Or when he tells me he’s gotten in trouble for something, I want to rush over there and scoop him up and carry him away. All logic and common sense are obliterated by the sound of your child’s tearful voice. You find yourself thinking things like, “I know he lit the cat on fire, but…..” 

As a parent, as an adult, I have to show a little self-control in these situations. I can’t rush in, guns blazing, demanding to know X and Y and why-haven’t-you-done-Z? My ex has his own household, with his own rules. Jason’s ex has her own household with her own rules. And we have our own household. We don’t get to control or affect what goes on “over there,” even when we find it abhorrent or even relatively harmful (too much television, too many donuts). And they don’t get to invade/influence our household with their nagging. I’m lucky – I don’t think my ex could care less about what goes on at my house. But Jason’s ex frequently sends e-mails that start, “(Daughter) said on the phone that you…..” 

The children are not messengers. They are not even reliable sources of information most of the time. And they will shamelessly spin any situation so that they avoid judgment or punishment. As parents, as adults, we have to resist the temptation to intercede on our children’s behalf at every perceived slight. We simply don’t have all the information, and we risk looking foolish – or worse. Sure, if your child tells you that he’s being beaten, or left in an objectively dangerous situation, then by all means step in. But we clearly trusted our ex-spouse’s ability to raise a child (including performing first aid, administering discipline, and avoiding public nudity) when we decided to make babies with him/her.  

Besides, if the situation was reversed, Jason’s ex would be furious if he started e-mailing her with every petty grievance. “Hollyn said she was searching for videos on YouTube. Do you properly monitor her internet usage? You need to install a filter so she’s not exposed to something inappropriate.” “Jensen said she fell in the driveway and scraped her knee. Were you watching her? Did you clean it properly? You need to….”   

We have to take a deep breath and accept that our children are not always within the sphere of our control. That the day-to-day workings of the other parent’s home are not something we get any say in. And we don’t have a “right to know” what goes on over there (except, again, in the case of actual harm). We don’t have a right to interrogate our kids. We don’t have a right to demand information from our exes. 

Context matters. And when we take statements from children out of context, we almost invariably leap to an incorrect conclusion, one that is colored by our own suspicions and biases.

Hot dogs three days in a row never killed anybody. Neither did a flap of old blister. And neither will taking the high road.

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Survival Guide

This fall, when we were teaching co-facilitating our Divorce Care class, the class members agreed that a city-specific “Divorce Survival Guide” would be very helpful for the newly separated/divorced. Most singles guides are oriented to people looking for dates, or people without children, or people who aren’t suffering the forced austerity that frequently accompanies separation and/or divorce.

I understand this. After I left my ex, I spent a few weeks holed up at home, not venturing out. When I was ready to leave my Fortress of Solitude, I didn’t really know where to go. I didn’t have money to take Tyler to movies and out for dinner. I didn’t have any interest in bars or parties (not that I got invited to any!).

No matter where you live, the best place to start is the good old local newspaper. They usually have a section on upcoming events, and many of them are free.

In Tallahassee, we are blessed with 1) year-round nice weather and 2) one of the best Parks & Rec departments in the country. If you live in Tallahassee and are looking for something to do outside, I suggest starting there. The parks have walking trails, tennis leagues, disc golf courses, playgrounds, mountain bike and BMX courses, and team sports. You can spend a few solitary hours exploring the Elinor Klapp-Phipps trails, or join a softball league if you want company.

Not outdoorsy? Look for First Friday events at the super-funky Railroad Square Art Park. Treat yourself to a latte and a magazine at Books-a-Million. Attend a wine tasting – some places have free tastings, others charge $5.00 or so.

A Tallahassee transplant named Lily started a blog of “365 Things to Do in Tallahassee” when she moved here from Austin, TX. Her blog is full of ideas for things to do. I’ve lived here for six years and I found dozens of untried adventures in her posts.

The biggest barrier to getting out of the house is you. The prospect of crossing the threshold can turn a person into a whiny 4-year-old. “But it’s haaaaard and I don’t waaaaaanna.” “There’s nothing to doooooo.” “Everything’s so expeeeeeensive.”

A word on that: a cable/internet subscription starts at $70 a month and can run into the hundreds of dollars. A gym membership at Gold’s is $15. A smartphone with a data plan will run you $100 a month – that’s 20 wine tastings (this is called Windy Math).

Only one person can get you out of those yoga pants and out the door. And it’s not me. It’s not your mom. It’s not your friends. It’s you.

Go forth and conquer.    


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