Happy Birthday To Me

The Ultimate Espresso MachineNo, it’s not my birthday yet. It’s about two weeks away. Before we went to bed last night my husband said, “What if someone got you a birthday present that was so cool that you wish they had given it to you earlier, rather than make you wait for your birthday.” Suffice it to say, I gave him permission to give me his gift early and he told me he’d have it ready the next morning.

Sitting on the counter waiting for me today was the Gaggia Accademia espresso machine. I about peed my pants. This thing does everything but wipe the drool off your face when you’re standing there completely overcome by its awesomeness.

Gaggia Accademia coffeemaker

Can you even stand its awesomeness?!

To say that my little family likes coffee is a huge understatement. We’ve been through way too many machines over the years, looking for the perfect maker. I think the real problem is that my husband and I have both spent a considerable amount of time in Italy which caused us to be seriously disappointed in every cup we’ve had in America since then. Even my daughter who has traveled quite a bit can tell you that the best cappuccino she ever had was at a flea market in Paris. Totally spoiled, I know, but she really is a very nice girl, and if it makes you feel better, she is short, which I’m sure is payback for that perfect cappuccino when she was 13.

So here I sit, with a big stupid grin on my face, an empty cup beside me, trying to type with hands that are so jittery that my spellcheck feature has abandoned me, and all I can think about is that even in this day and age, it’s so important for girls to marry well. (thanks, Hon, you’re the best!)

A Peaceful Bedroom

grey and lavenderMy daughter chose a color palette of powder grey, lavender and sky blue for her bedroom’s last makeover. As I mentioned earlier, this would be the fourth makeover since she was five. She’s nearly 18 now and wanted to make her surroundings peaceful and serene. The challenge in redoing this room was that the third makeover had made the walls extremely difficult to paint.

the writing on the wallThis was what I had to cover up. I had at least been smart in that only water-based products had been used on the walls. I had even found water-based Sharpie paint markers so that the writing wouldn’t bleed through the next layer. The biggest problem was covering up the paper images. Apparently, I really glued those things down. So rather than try to remove them, I decided to plaster over them. I have several gallons of various plaster products in my Stash and this was a great opportunity to use them. I’m not going to tell you what I used because they can’t be bought by the general public, and I didn’t use them the way they were supposed to be used and I really don’t want to give you people any ideas.

plaster over sheet musicThis is what I call “artistic experimentation.” I troweled on different products until I found one that gave me the look that I wanted. I ended up giving the walls a skip-troweled finish which I love. It took me a week to get the walls plastered and even. Once it was sanded and level we finally got to paint.

Whomping Willow muralMy daughter is still not ready to let go of the Whomping Willow mural I painted two makeovers ago. It originally looked like this:

Hogwarts mural

Then I transformed it to this:

Harry Potter posterThe idea was to make the mural look like an advertising poster for the Harry Potter exhibit opening at Universal Studios in 2010. One mistake I made was stamping those designs in the corners. I didn’t think about what the ink was made of and when I tried to plaster and paint over them, the ink kept bleeding through. It took about 5 coats, no kidding.

trompe l'oeil muralI didn’t like the raw plaster edges around the mural so I ended up cutting wood trim and attaching it to the edges. The bottom piece of trim actually has a small lip like a ledge. I faux finished the trim to match the mural, added some trompe l’oeil details to the top corners and lightened up the color of the frame so that it complements the wall color better. I’m really happy with how it came out.

thrift store fabric curtainsWe really lucked out on the day we went shopping for curtain fabric. We went to our local DAV thrift store and these sheets were just sitting there, along with a lavender sheet that I used as a dust ruffle.The curtains were cut from one twin size sheet and one queen size. I lined them with two plain white sheets to block out more light. I think I spent less than $20 on all the fabric. The rods and rings are from Target. I made the tie backs from lace, ribbon and fabric snaps out of my sewing stash. I absolutely love how these look on the windows.

wood birdhouseMy daughter got rid of a lot of stuff so that the walls would be sparsely decorated and less busy. This is the first room in the entire house that I haven’t added pattern to the walls in one form or another. It’s a new experience, but I think I love it.

Inventory used: 1 gallon faux stone

 

The Hardest People to Shop For – aka, my family

My immediate family is very small, so leaving home yesterday with the intention of doing all my Christmas shopping in one day was not outside the realm of possibility. I got my Starbucks on and good music in my car and shuttled myself up to one of San Diego’s major malls. (For all you people who like to guilt people for shopping in malls: I already did my small business and Etsy shopping last week and have made 50% of my gifts, so back off)

I’ll let you know ahead of time that I did achieve my goal, but about two thirds of the way through my day I started to get the panic that only comes from shopping for my family. I’ve put off telling you my family’s ugly little secret, but I think I need a little support from all the normal people out there so here goes…….

Two out of the three people in my family suffer from Urticaria….there, I said it. Wikipedia defines it this way:

Urticaria (from the Latin urtica, nettle,[1]) commonly referred to as hives, is a kind of skin rash notable for pale red, raised, itchy bumps. Hives might also cause a burning or stinging sensation. Chronic urticaria (hives lasting longer than six weeks) is rarely due to an allergy. Less common causes of hives include friction, pressure, temperature extremes, exercise, and sunlight.

Okay, so now you’re sitting there saying, “What do you mean they get hives from pressure and friction?” To state it simply, they break out from seams in clothing, uneven fabric, carved details, ridges, bumps, dirt, sand, dust, basically from being alive. My husband has had it all his life and I had high hopes that my daughter wouldn’t develop it, but this year she went from sensitive skin to insane requirements for anything that may touch her. Awesome.

Now back to shopping…..remember, the panic was setting in. I had ideas for what I was shopping for (which I won’t tell you because that would ruin the surprise), but having not been out in public lately, I was unaware that this year’s styles are an urticaria sufferers worst night mare.

I’m not even going to get into the zippers and the studs, which are ridiculous, what mostly caused the panic was the texture of the sweater itself. My daughter would get a rash from just looking at these…….and that’s all they’re selling this year.

About halfway through my trip I started laughing because if any security person was watching the manner in which I shopped, they would think I was blind. I manhandle every single item I consider, for way too long. Even in Sur la Table I was fondling the handles of utensils for over 20 minutes. You have no idea how many items were not purchased because they had ridges, or fibers, or were designed in such a way that it would rub a neck, a finger or wrist which could possibly result in hives.

And here’s the kicker, as much time as I spent trying to find these perfectly smooth items, they will probably end up returning half of what I bought because of a seam or ridge that I missed. Let’s just say that I put a definite dent in the box of wine when I got home, which I drank it out of my special bumpy, carved glass as a sort of F U to the Urticaria Gods. Take that!

The Evolution of a Girl and her Room

My daughter and I just finished making over her room for the fourth and final time (whew!). Her room has had more ideas splashed on its walls than any other room in the house. I swear her room has decreased in square footage from all the plaster and paint we’ve added over the last 12 years. Each makeover reflected her growth and her latest and greatest dreams. I’ve loved trying to bring her ideas to life and it’s been worth every bruise and back spasm to give her a space that’s all hers.

first day homeOur house was a model home, so when we moved in, her room had already been given a theme – butterflies (the caterpillar came with the room as well). I can’t even believe how little she was when we first got there.

butterfly roomThe paint job had been poorly done so we repainted it with a slightly different palette and expanded on the butterfly theme to include all sorts of insects (those butterflies came with the room as well). Dianna was a tomboy and wanted more bugs than beauty so we added ants and spiders to keep it from being too precious. The fun part was having my paint friends come help. We figured out how to do raised stenciling and then we added little jewels to the wings for a little sparkle. So totally fun!

I searched forever for pictures of the raised stenciling and all I’ve figured out is that they’re gone and this computer is refusing to do anything with the pile of negatives I have in a shoe box. I’ve tried cramming them in the disc drive, but my husband says that’s not good for the computer. Negatives! Can you even remember those?

Gryffindor room In 2003 I was fully entrenched in my faux finishing business and had been introduced to a product that created a stone-like finish in two easy steps. That sparked the idea for a Harry Potter themed room. We’re both huge fans (friends will tell you that huge does not describe our obsession accurately) of the books and the movies, and had traveled to Oxford, England just to visit some of the spots where the movies were filmed. I incorporated some of the architectural elements into the room including a carved window looking out toward the Whomping Willow (she has kept this mural through all the other makeovers).

Hogwarts muralThe room reflected Dianna’s love of dragons and magic without going to that girly side where glitter and unicorns usually spring up. Most of her friends were boys at this age so a feminine room would have been less than inviting. Thankfully all the work we put in to this room was rewarded by her loving it for six years……an eternity in kid-time.

graffiti on2009 was the year she decided to move on. She was loving rockers like Hayley Williams, Avril Lavigne and Green Day and the Potter room just wasn’t working any more. She really didn’t know what she was looking for, but she knew she wanted it to be dark. We dove in to that makeover with a gallon of nearly black paint. It was awesome.

metallic foil guitarWe experimented with spray painting through stencils and a lot of metallic foil. The foil guitar image was one of Dianna’s own designs and gave the room a focus wall.

the writing on the wallAfter wallpapering photos, maps and posters everywhere, we decided to let her and her friends fill in the blank spaces. So one afternoon I taught 5 junior high boys how to stencil, gave them paint and brushes and then let them all go. They created a graffiti masterpiece. I think the boys’ mothers thought I was crazy, but that really was one of the funnest things we’ve ever done and I know Dianna will never forget it.

All through high school Dianna’s friends added to the walls whenever they were inspired. It was like living inside a yearbook with all your friends’ comments and inside jokes. I kept the base colors in little cans so she could subtract things like old boyfriends or bad memories….you can paint over almost anything.

This summer Dianna decided she needed a change. Heading in to her senior year was moving a little too quickly. With friends leaving and her trying to figure out what to do after graduation, she was feeling the need for a small refuge from all the changes going on outside. The graffiti and the darkness of her room seemed to be dragging her down and she was searching for calm and light.

The graffiti room had a lot of stuff that had to be removed, patch and plastered. It was definitely a suck job and I’ll tell you all about it some other day, but for now, just know that Dianna finally has some peace, and a quiet place  to slow down in.

peaceful room

Haunted Halloween Porch 2013

2013 Halloween PorchSeeing as we will be moving next summer, this will be our last Halloween in this house. We don’t know where we’ll end up just yet, so I don’t even know if I’ll have a place to decorate, like if we move to a condo. My daughter and I put everything up yesterday and we’re pretty pleased with the results.

creepy abandoned porchWe have two new pieces of furniture to work with on the porch; the repurposed sewing table and the garden bench. We draped the bench in white sheets and topped the sewing table with a variety of creepy decorations.

love my creepy dollI got my creepy doll last year at Matilda’s Mouse Antique Show and I still love her. Earlier this year my friend found these glass display globes and she knew they needed to be on my porch on Halloween. They came complete with years and years worth of dust accumulation from her grandparents garage. Thanks, Kate! The creepy clown bottle in the back is for my friend Jeremiah because I know he loves clowns. He’s coming for you, Jerry!

Halloween crows and pumpkinsWe love crows so they are placed throughout the porch, in bushes, on planters, etc. I go to Trader Joe’s for my pumpkins because they sell both the fantasy pumpkins and what I call, ugly pumpkins. I like the black ones and the ones unfortunately stricken with small pox.Halloween signs zombie-Halloween-decorThe signs hanging from my wine barrel rings are new and came from Target’s $1 bins. I love the zombie reference, “Eat Locals.” The back of the Stop sign says, “STOP Scaring Me.” Cracks me up.they're watching youMy daughter had a great idea for the white sheets covering the bench. We poked holes in the sheets, pushed red twinkle lights through and then drew eyes around the holes. Way cool, totally love it, she’s brilliant.

So that’s our porch for Halloween. Come by if you need candy on October 31st. We’ll be open for business.

Matilda’s Mouse Antique Show – Halloween 2013

Welcome to Matilda's MouseI am totally loving my daughter’s senior year. Every once in awhile she gets out of school at 11:19 am because she doesn’t have a 6th period class. Today that scheduled blessing was timed perfectly to coincide with Matilda’s Mouse monthly antique show………the Halloween Edition! Our favorite. (One sad note: Matilda, the dog who the show is named for, passed away last month. Make sure you sign the condolences book at the entrance)

Skeleton welcome crewLoved the welcome gate. The skeleton dude just gives you that warm fuzzy feeling.

Halloween barn entranceMatilda’s Mouse Antique Show takes place once a month in a barn on the Betty Crocker Estate in Valley Center (29200 Miller Road, Valley Center, CA 92082). It’s a three day event from Friday through Sunday. There’s a theme every month, and October is always Halloween. We love Halloween.

creepy portrait vignetteThe show has everything from crystal and china, to rusted primitives and architectural salvage. Definitely something for everybody.

3 guys and a coffinIt’s a antique home decor show…….with a twist. I wanted this coffin box bad but it’s not as fun without the three creepy dudes, and I just couldn’t swing the whole group. Their prices are very reasonable, but having just come off a big trip, I’m trying to keep the purse strings tight.
antique dress formI have a thing for crows and a couple of cool ones did make it home with me. This dress form is fantastic, even without the raven wings. The metal frame at the bottom is in perfect condition. She’d be so much fun to decorate for each season, don’t you think?

upside down furniture

The women that put this event together are so creative, and the layers are so deep. This vignette is hanging high in the rafters. You have to go slow to catch all their ingenuity.

wood carved birdcageThis highly detailed, carved wood birdcage is so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. I’ve never seen anything like it.

frightful frolicLove the witches legs. Great job with the chalkboards all around the place as well.

Halloween vignetteWe’re putting our Halloween porch together this weekend and we love going to Matilda’s to pick up a couple new things, but what we really fill up on is inspiration. How could we not?

witch vignetteIt’s an outstanding show and I can’t recommend it enough. Before the holiday season gets in full swing, take a quick Saturday drive out to Valley Center. It’s a great mother-daughter day out. I know this mother-daughter couple sure had a great time. What are you doing this weekend?

End of Days – West Texas Infinity

(This is the last post of a series that began September 27th)

Our last fun night was spent with our good friends in San Antonio. They had enough room that we were able to sleep indoors, which was nice. Then we started the long trek home.

west TexasIf you haven’t had the joy of driving through West Texas on the I-10, this is what you’re missing.

more West TexasYou’re also missing this. Those are two completely different pictures. I’m not kidding. It all looks like this. They should have mental health facilities at either end because it takes two days to drive to the border of Texas and it all looks like this. When you’re heading to California you get the added bonus of driving straight into the sunset with nothing between you and the sun. Awesome!

Arizona rocksAfter two days of that you’re thrilled to look at stuff like this in Arizona. This seems friggin’ majestic after all that desert.

The best views were actually on the inside of the RV:

sunbathingcan you find him?Percy has a questionPercy definitely kept us entertained.

The best part of any trip is always coming home……….

finally home

I’d like to take a minute to thank the rv pilot, my husband.

pilot and copilot(He’s a security buff and didn’t want me to let anyone think our home was vacant, so I had to keep the pilot’s identity a secret)

My husband kept us safe through rain, snow, humidity and mosquitoes, not to mention hours of mind-numbing desert. We didn’t have a single bad day on this trip, except for the bad fish night, but that wasn’t his fault. This was one of the most memorable trips we’ve been on and we couldn’t have done it without him.

Love you, Russ!