a beautiful day

mother's day turned out to be a lovely one.

i slept in - made it all the way to 7:49! - and had a quiet cup of coffee before everyone else awoke. then we all got ready for the day, there were gifts (a "best mom ever" mug from harp, some funky socks from henry, and a new ipad from mchotness, because my old one has finally updated itself out of reliability), and then we headed to the old old neighborhood for brunch.

back in 2004, before i was pregnant with harper and when henry was still just a little guy, there was a new bakery/restaurant about six blocks from our house in south minneapolis that made the best brunch, so we went there for mother's day. and henry ate more food than i'd ever seen a little person eat, including at least a dozen giant chocolate-covered strawberries. we moved away a few months later, and haven't returned to that restaurant in 12 years. this year, i was feeling nostalgic, so off to turtle bread we went. harper and i had brunch, but the boys opted for soup and sandwich. alas, there were no strawberries - chocolate-covered or otherwise.

we then walked by the old old house, and commented on how huge the pine tree in the front has grown (well over 20' tall, when just a dozen years ago it was only about marc's height), and reminisced over the neighbors we knew and memories we had from our time there. and i got a pic with the best thing to come out of that little bungalow that i loved so much ...


we then drove over to linden hills to walk around lake harriet - as per my usual mother's day request - and take in the blooming spring flowers and charming houses. and while we walked, i told marc that the next time we move, i would really like to end up in a walkable place. while i love the idea of space and quiet, we've learned from our experience in our current neighborhood that no matter where you go where you *think* you'll have a quiet spot, some city official will decide it's a brilliant idea to put a road to the casino in front of your house.

or some such crap.

and, truth be told, my heart has always been in walkable little communities. my favorite spots to visit are that kind of place ... a quiet walk or bike ride to pick up coffee or something from a bakery, or to pop into a little shop or eat lunch at a quaint cafe. we've said that we'll get through harper's high school years and then likely downsize, and to me, downsizing is an all-encompassing idea of making life slower and easier, which includes (in my mind) less yard work. and a sweet little lot in an old neighborhood just won't have a huge yard; a big plus in the pro column.

that doesn't make the yards any less lovely, though. i mean ...








(okay ... that last house isn't exactly "quaint" or "downsized", but the yard IS charming.)

walking around gave us a lot to think about. there are definitely cons as well as pros, and luckily we have time to mull it over. about seven years, to be exact.

(unless that new road makes our life hell, and then all bets are off.)

anyway ... after we got home, the remainder of the day was quiet and nice. i get pretty freaked out when i think about how quickly time is moving, and how our lives will change so much in two years, then seven, and then who knows ... so it was nice to just appreciate being with the kiddos for the day. mother's day may no longer look like this ...


(and yes, that makes me really sad sometimes)

but it does still look like this ...


and as long as i have these two, it's a good day.

mothers day wish list

it has come to my attention that mothers' day is coming.

(actually, i was informed of the date after i registered harper for a swim meet that would take place on the holiday, and when i told my family what i'd done, they gave me so much trouble that i had to un-register her.)


anyway ... i'm gonna pretend that we are fancy holiday-remembering, gift-giving people, and make a list of my dream mothers' day ideas:


"gilmore girls"-inspired candles. because, SO. MUCH. YES.



inspired room and color at home coloring books. because while coloring books are amazing, house coloring books are amazinger. and especially house coloring books created by melissa michaels and the petersiks.


an extra large planter for my aloe, whom i affectionately call The Kraken, and who desperately needs a new, extra large home.



this print, from rifle paper co., because chicago will always mean something to me.



and i could really *really* use a new camera bag


and what is mothers day without a beautiful bouquet of flowers? and this bouquet from my favorite flower shop is pretty much perfection:



or maybe a meaningful piece of jewelry?



chances are, my mothers' day will look a lot like years past: sleep in (i'll still be up before everyone else, and if i'm lucky i'll make it to 8:00 a.m.), quiet coffee, lunch in south minneapolis, a walk around lake harriet to look at flowers and houses, and then who knows where the rest of the day will go ... a good book? a nap? yard work?

anything is possible.

but if i have my kiddos and mchotness, that's all i really need.

(though those coloring books would be pretty awesome ...)







51 months in (the christmas edition)

i get so many emails from people who have seen our house on pinterest and ask for floor plans, who built it, do we love this choice or that choice, what have we changed/added since moving in. for the interest: thank you! this house truly was a labor of love for us, and continues to be our happy place in the world.

so if you are coming here from pinterest or, specifically, the one month in post, welcome to the future!

while the house was all clean and christmasy and waiting for guests to arrive last week, i took some new pictures of the space. not every room was photographed, and i will definitely be better about documenting things in 2016 ... i've found a real love for answering emails about our house, and want to offer more to those who are working on their own build or redecorating projects. and once the holidays are put away, i will try to do a more complete tour, including the rooms i didn't photograph last week. i will also update on the projects we have in the works (whether plans only or baby steps being taken) for '16.

without further chattiness ... our house, 51 months in and dressed for the holidays:


main floor

i'll start with the entryway, because this post on the craigslist dresser is one of the most pinned things i've posted on the ol' blog.



because of its status, i probably should have taken more than one photo. anyway ... moving on.



the great room is still one of my favorite spots in the house. we literally never use the fireplace (makes the house too hot), but i love the mantel and the built-ins. they remind me of what i loved in our first house - a 1925 bungalow in south minneapolis, and missed in our second house - a 1965 ranch in the 'burbs. and yes, i should have made sure the blinds were equally open before taking the picture.




i know ... i told you months ago i would share the gallery wall process. i will do that in january. making myself a note Right Now.




(i was inspired by the glass box of travel ephemera in the asid design house that i toured with erin from house of turquoise back in october, and knew a similar box would be perfect for christmas cards. the box is from west elm.)



(blending my old school crosley with marc's new school mp3/receiver/buttony tech.)





(the mantel seemed boring this year ... new garland took up too much real estate and i couldn't put other things out. luckily, i still had a bunch of paper snowflakes from last year - our elf brought them - and added them to the wall around the picture of the kids. perfect filler, zero cash involved.)



moving on to the tv room ... this room has gone through the biggest change since i last blogged about it. four years ago, the room was empty of all but boxes, but i did have some ideas for where it might go. the rug i wanted sold out shortly after falling in love with it, but we moved forward with the white couch and the cabinet of my dreams. and then ... stuck again. we had the couch, we had the cabinet, we had a tv, but the room needed some warmth - a rug, some curtains. so again, i brainstormed. and eventually, it came together. we went with the graphic yellow rug from west elm, and some adorable white curtains - also from west elm; i may need a 12-step program - with translucent circles in the fabric, and sweet little pom pom trim. then i attended junk bonanza with a girlfriend, found a vintage german periodic table school chart, and my life - and this room - was complete. and today, it looks like this:







and ... i took no photos of the kitchen or other areas on the main floor. like i said, post-holiday complete tour is on my To Do list. so, then, let's move




the only room i really photographed is the guest room. it has gone through several looks in the past four years. it started with harper's ikea pull-out bed


but when she wanted her bed back, we switched it out for the two jenny linds we had put in her room. however, when we upgraded to a king bed over the summer, we did a bedroom furniture shuffle, and put our bed in the basement guest room (more on that in a minute), and the guest bed that was in the basement moved to the upstairs guest room. and that's where we are right now.







more about this room when i do the actual, factual tour.

and ... a brief tease of the master bedroom:





yes, the new bed ... black and white. the the $50 craigslist chair also got fancied up in new black and white fabric. shocker, i know.

now it's time to move on to the




a quick glimpse at where the past four years have brought this space.

when i last shared pix of the basement, we had pretty much just moved in all the main furniture from our last house and called it good. with the exception of finally buying a piece of furniture for the tv (instead of the old desk i found on the side of the road in college that we HAD been using), and some bookshelves, this space is largely the same, just more finished.






(a star wars tree. because, yes. i found it at treetopia, and it is a black-to-silver ombre tree, which in my mind meant it was a dark side to light side ombre. of course. i really should have gotten one that was a foot taller, but we'll make this work.)












on to the guest room, where the old master bedroom bed now resides ...





usually, there is flannel snowflake bedding on the basement guest bed at christmastime, because it can get pretty cold in this room when the door stays closed. but truth be told ... i couldn't find it. the linens got lost somewhere in the mess of the upstairs guest closet, where all spare linens go ... to never be seen again. organizing that closet is *also* on my To Do list for 2016.

i have a lot to do in 2016.


and there you have it.

hope you liked the little holiday tour, and i hope it will hold you over until the official tour of All The Rooms in the coming months.


later this weekend: actual christmas photos and re-cap. because it was super fun.


imaginary presents

so, mother's day is coming. again. didn't we just have one of those? i mean, seriously ... moms are celebrated all the friggin' time. enough already ... i don't need any more appreciation showered upon me or offers from others to clean the house for a change, or the family giving me quiet time in my own home without interruption or someone needing a ride somewhere. it's too much! show someone else how much you care for a change!

oh, wait ...

so in honor of the imaginary love-and-gratitudefest that motherhood is, i've put together an imaginary list of things i would love to receive for mother's day:



because all good days start with coffee.




because "zen" and "coloring book" in the same sentence is a win.



because i love my purse, but it doesn't close at the top. and every time it falls over, all my stuff falls out. that's getting annoying. and we all know what happens when little annoying things happen throughout mama's day and just keep piling up and piling up ...




because my husband knows my love for jadeite and my obsession with bowls, so this one seems like a no-brainer, right?




because, bill murray.




because it is mother's day, after all.


truth be told, some sweet handmade cards (that were made with a little time and thought, not made in a rush on sunday morning because no one reminded the kids until then that they needed to have a card for me. not that i'm speaking from previous experience or anything.), lunch at a place i want to go to, a walk around the lake, cooperative and happy picture-taking-time of the kids, and a bouquet of pretty flowers (the ones i like, not the ones marc thinks i like because he actually likes them ahemliliesahem) would suffice, as long as everyone is happy and gets along.

and then leaves me alone with a book for the afternoon.

happy mother's day, friends.

our little holiday

as 2014 drifts away tonight, i'm spending a few final moments on christmas.


when i was a kid, there was always the anticipation of christmas, then the actual holiday; it all seemed to just morph and swell, and i didn't notice the crazed pace of the days preceding it. but now that i'm the adult, and the buying and planning and cleaning and prepping and decorating all fall on me, the month of december seems so short and frenetic.


in my desire to make things lovely and magical, somehow the season also becomes chaotic and stressful; likely because i forget to factor in things like schedules and chores and business trips and swim meets and grocery shopping and laundry and addressing christmas cards, etc.


but all the work is worth it when, at the end, you are sitting in a warm and twinkling home, sipping a cup of coffee and awaiting the arrival of family, and it seems like time can finally slow down so you can enjoy every moment of christmas.



but then the family arrives, and the luggage is brought in, and the bags are deposited, and the food is put away, and the laughter starts, and the kids run around, and suddenly - time goes even faster than it did the day before.


we had four solid days with my parents and my sister and her family. we made sure food was bought and things were made ahead and the plans were for "simple and easy" so that we had more time to just relax and enjoy. it was all very intentional.

and it worked. at least, it worked better than other years. but yet time still went so crazy fast.

monday morning, henry had swim practice. so while he was off doing that, harper and nora watched "my little pony"


while marc blew wyatt's mind with the sheer amount of legos in our basement.


we did puzzles, we hung out, we ate a quick dinner. then henry was off to a current team vs alumni swim meet, and we all got to attend and cheer him on. best part? he raced one of last year's captains in the 100 free and, even though henry didn't win (by a nose), he got a lifetime best :52.70. the crowd (well, OUR crowd) went wild.


after the oldest and youngest went to bed, matt and becca and i pulled out our phones and played several rounds of heads up ... and laughed until we cried.

the next two days were full of games - both board and video (stratego, five crowns, settlers of cattan, tenzi, pokemon, etc.), snacks, wine and more wine, hanging out.






and nora kept an eye on the sky, looking for snow that never came.


we also managed a quick family photo, despite the cold wind.



my mom and sister and i had come up with the idea to get stuff to make ugly christmas sweaters, which we did on christmas eve. it ended up being such a fun activity for everyone that we've declared it our new family tradition.




there was much laughter, enthusiasm, and photo-bombing.



oh, and cookie-making. there was much cookie-making.




then: christmas eve traditions. the stockings, the letters, the reading of "the night before christmas."



followed by the traditional "get the kids to bed because we still have an hour's worth of wrapping and stocking-filling and present-under-the-tree-putting to do!"


three days in, one day to go. it all had been so fun and had gone so quickly. usually, we have only three days altogether, but four was so much better because christmas day goes faster than any other. and it was so good that i took hardly any photos.

i've learned over the years that i prefer to just be in the moment and soak it all in.




we ended the day with our ugly sweater family photos


then put the tired, happy kiddos to bed, pulled out five crowns and a bottle of gin, and capped off a great holiday in style.

as fast as it went, and as great as it was to be together, and as much fun as we had, on december 26th the house was quiet: marc was watching tv, the kids were playing new video games, and i sat alone in the kitchen, drinking a glass of wine and flipping through a new cookbook, while listening to annie lennox sing "georgia on my mind" and "summertime" on vinyl on my new, perfect crosley record player. and it was just as good to enjoy the stillness as it had been to enjoy the chaos.


maybe that's what christmas is all about when you are the adult. the crazy fun is for the kids, but it's a whirlwind for you. but the 26th? that's just for you, the time alone to reflect and be grateful and exhale, and eagerly look forward to the next year.

snowflake, days 16 - 25

i blinked, and christmas is over.

don't get me wrong: we had my family here for four full days. and they were FULL. DAYS. but yet it flew by.

and i'll write more about that later.

first: giving snowflake her proper wrap-up.

day 16: snowflake got a little crafty with some glitter paint, a glass ornament, and mica flakes.


day 17: snowflake was hiding, adorably, in our container of chocolate chips. sadly, though, harper never saw her. she woke up at 3 a.m. vomiting, and kept going until lunchtime. she spent the entire day in bed and didn't once venture downstairs. i did tell her that i found snowflake while making lunch, and took my camera upstairs to show her a photo. that was good enough for my poor sick girl.


day 18: still sick but no longer vomitous, harper spent most of the day lying in bed, watching "magic school bus" episodes on the ipad. she had company, though. snowflake and gray kitty were sitting on her dresser, offering moral support - with proper safety precautions.


day 19: harp flirted with fever status on and off the day before, so on friday, she missed her last day of school before christmas break. she was, however, feeling better, and convalesced on the couch. snowflake kept a cheeky eye on her from inside a bowl.


day 20: one last crazy day of cleaning before my family arrived, one last day of rest and recuperation for harper. snowflake, meanwhile, channeled her inner miley.


day 21: harp woke up sunday morning to discover snowflake sitting in the little tree in her room, bearing a gift.



the note on the gift read, "santa knows this is my favorite job as your elf!"

what job was that?

bringing harp's christmas jammies.


day 22: snowflake was part of the family festivities, but from a safe vantage point.


day 23: snowflake and gray kitty hid a dozen candy canes, and harper had to hunt for them. much like easter, she zipped through the house, glancing at eye level, and declared, "i can't find any!" while we, the rest of the people in the room, looked around and said, "uh ... we can see five just from here."


eventually, harp decided to Look.


day 24: our last day with snowflake. she celebrated the arrival of christmas by sitting on the mantle with a banner declaring, "one more day until christmas!" and there was much excitement.


bonus day 25: before she flew back to the north pole, snowflake let me take a photo of her with a little gift that she left for harper for christmas morning: a book, entitled "sparky." if you know harper at all, you will understand why this is the most perfect book in the world for her. it's about a little girl who desperately wants a pet, and her mom says no to them all, then says she'll say yes if the girl can find one that doesn't require care. so the girl orders a sloth, which is delivered via express mail.


harp was super excited to find this little special gift in her room christmas morning.

and that was our month with snowflake. i'm challenging myself to put a bit more effort into the elf thing next year ... this year was pretty ... let's just say basic.

i'll get to actual christmas ... maybe tomorrow.

here's a teaser of just what you can expect, though:


hope your holiday was merry and wonderful!

snowflake, days 12 - 15

the last weekend before the last weekend before christmas has come and gone. and we got ... very little done.

oh well.

henry had a swim meet on both friday and saturday, so the rest of saturday was shot with us being too tired for productivity. sunday was all about battling harper and her insistence that she really does have a sore throat need to take a nap have a sore elbow not want to do her homework. that was lots of fun.

maybe i need to get snowflake on the case. harper might listen to her.

about snowflake:

on friday, she was hiding in the little nook by the microwave and phone. harper walked right by her half a dozen times before finally spotting her. however, snowflake knew she was being sneaky.


on saturday, she ventured to the basement. which was also hard for harper to find, because she rarely goes to the basement. truth be told, neither do i. like, i totally forget there's a bathroom in the basement that needs to be cleaned. glad snowflake forced us to go down there.


on sunday, we woke up to this sweet scene:


snowflake was reading a christmas book to gray kitty, the vietnamese nativity people, and a stuffed snowman.

before bed, i noticed harper had strung about 10 hairbands on the antlers of the deer head outside her room. i asked what that was all about, and she said because then she would know where hairbands are when she needs one. because the container in the bathroom and the dish in her room are easily forgotten? hmm. we'll have to deal with that later, because this morning, snowflake was doing some aerial work with those bands.


oh, and by the way:


snowflake, days 9 - 11

december is going way too fast. waaaaay. too fast.

however, the house is 85% ready for family to visit for christmas; starting on monday, i'll have marc home for three weeks; and i'm ready to spend next week enjoying the glitter of the tree and the twinkle of lights, and listening to frank and nat and bing and perry while baking and prepping food. (and attending three swim meets, one band concert, picking henry up from swim practices, taking harper to and from swim practices, and taking henry to and from a hockey game for which the pep band is playing. oh, and harper has an eye appointment. and who knows what else ... i'm afraid to look. don't want the calendar to harsh my holiday mellow. but thankfully, there is a swingin' christmas pandora channel ... frank and nat and bing and perry come with me everywhere i go.)

there will also be more elf adventures.

on tuesday, we found snowflake sitting on a wreath in the stairway.


and she lived up to her name and the "let it snow" sign on the wreath, because leading down the stairs to where she sat, we also found a flurry of snowflakes.


it isn't looking like it will be a white christmas outside, so she brought the snow inside for us. thanks, snowflake!

on wednesday, she was taking a ride on a reindeer in the bathroom:


pretty pedestrian.

however, today? oh, was my daughter happy!

first, you need to know that every christmas since she was three, harper has been obsessed with "the nutcracker." it started with a barbie nutcracker dvd. that lasted two or three years. then, when she was in her all-day, every-day tom & jerry phase, we discovered that there is a tom & jerry nutcracker special that airs only at christmastime, and only once. so we have recorded it for the past four years. she watches it over and over ... and over again.

this year, we found it and set the tivo, but for some reason, it didn't record. harper was heartbroken. but, thanks to the power of amazon the north pole, snowflake knew how to remedy the situation. this morning, this is what harper found when she went on her snowflake search:


to say our morning started with a happy squeal would be an understatement. also? she had an ortho appointment before school, so that happy squeal took place at about 6:58 a.m.

and on the way to school, she asked if she could watch "tom & jerry" after school, and i said sure, once homework is done. she immediately responded, "if i don't have homework, maybe i can watch it twice!"

happy kiddo.

snowflake, days 5 - 8

we - and snowflake - had a busy few days!

first, on friday, day 5, she sent us a subtle reminder that the tree had been up for nearly a week and was still lacking ornamentation.


later on friday, harper and i drove 45 mins away to her second swim meet. she was feeling very nervous about it in the car, but once she got there, all the worry melted away, she got to be with her bff and another friend who has been super dear to her since they were three, and it was time for fun! she even helped her friend over a case of her own First Meet jitters, which probably helped harp out, too.






she placed 3rd overall in her age group's 50 backstroke, 5th in the 50 breakstroke, and  6th in the 50 free, and earned a C time in the backstroke and freestyle. she was super proud of herself!

(then i had to pull over on the way home so she could throw up on the side of the road. still haven't figured out if that was from nerves or a bad sandwich, but she's fine now.)

saturday morning, instead of being super tired and sleeping in until 7:30, harper was up and searching for snowflake.

here is where she found her:


apparently, snowflake and gray kitty are not so good with the pot holder loom.

sunday morning, snowflake gave us all a good giggle:


silly elf.

and this morning, we found her dressed in holiday finery and sitting atop the barbie tree:



this week, i have a city council meeting to go to ... our neighborhood is fighting the city's desire to connect a through-road from our 'hood to the casino's doorstep. to say we are infuriated is an understatement. ... henry's parent/teacher conferences, his first high school swim meet of the season, marc's heading to seattle, and who knows what else.

hopefully, snowflake will act accordingly and be nice and easy for the next five days.

snowflake, days 3 & 4

yesterday, harper came down to breakfast and said she hadn't yet found snowflake. i told her she needed to eat, finish getting ready, and then she could look for her elf. which apparently she took as permission to peek into other rooms while brushing her hair and teeth, because she discovered right away that snowflake had brought her laundry to our house overnight.


that sounded like a good plan to me, too, and i decided to hang out with snowflake and play catch-up from the four days i didn't do laundry over thanksgiving, while marc's family was here.

however, as with most days, plans changed. i received a text from my lovely friend, tina, who said "breakfast in linden hills with me and amy." well, i love any minute i get to spend in linden hills, so laundry was promptly abandoned in favor of brunch and christmas shopping.

which is likely why snowflake showed up this morning with new socks for harper; she knew i hadn't gotten those washed yesterday and harp would have had to wear who knows what.


that snowflake. she's always thinking.