23 November 2010

Making things suck less

This is such an embarrassing photo of my pantry but it is the beginning of what we affectionately call "making things suck less" or getting our house ready to sell.
None of these things are showstoppers. They are the fixes that just make the house not suck.
In defense of the pantry, we have an 18 month old and must overstuff all of the high shelves to keep most of it out of her reach. In a few weeks the bulk of it will be moving with me, leaving only the best looking items in nice and neat rows.

I'll continue the humiliation with these kitchen renovation pics.
This is the early part of the $3000 update.
The plans are simple because we are not staying.
The walls originally had this wall paper (before the orange which was my biggest color mistake ever)

We've removed lots of dated wallpaper in this house. 

The cabinets went from this...

to this...

$300 for paint and hardware (and my husband's one week vacation in time invested)

$ 1700 for new solid surface counters and sink
$ 400 for new faucet and an additional cabinet to replace the peninsula in the photo above.

$40 for fabric and boards to make three custom valances.
The valances were super easy. I got 1 1/2 yards of fabric on sale and used lining I had left from other window projects.
I cut 18 inch pieces, this worked on my window width with 54 inch fabric, and sewed three sides with right sides facing each other. Turned it right side out to iron flat and then iron in the center pleat. It is then stapled to a fabric covered 1x3 board and mounted using "L" brackets.
I have done this in several rooms where I never got around to dressing the windows. I like the custom look and its cheap and easy.
We did not remove the goofy cabinet valance because it woulld expose an unsightly light fixture.

This week instead of decking the halls and stuffing the turkey my talented and patient husband is taking our kitchen floor from this crime...

to this, in progress $400 improvement.

Making things suck less has involved bunches of boring stuff like painting the underside of the gutters and  the fascia around the screened porch along with replacing 45 year-old plastic swichplates with new plastic ones.
It won't make anyone say, "Wow" but they won't say ,"Ewwww" either.

19 November 2010

Dahling I love you, but give me Saks Fifth Avenue

This was just too delicious not show you.

It is a Pagoda napkin ring.

A truly civilized accessory HERE $135 at Saks.

18 November 2010


I got my wish for a library in my new house in what was billed as a main floor bedroom. It 11 by 11 feet with one window, french doors to the foyer, a closet and door to a bath.
I have pondered its tiny decor and considered something glossy like this Miles Redd library. (above)

I adore this Chesterfeild sofa but I think I will be using my Duncan Phyfe style settee.

Built-ins are a long way in the future for us. They are cozy looking though.

This nook created by shelves would be easy to replicate with ready-made shelves.

Who wouldn't love a library ladder? The chandelier and floor are marvelous too.

All images via House Beautiful

16 November 2010

TV room nonsense and sensiblity

I am decorating my new family room in my mind.
I can really only do it in my head at this point because,
a) I haven't physically moved yet.
b) starting today my husband is unemployed and our house isn't even on the market yet so there is ZERO budget,
c) we disagree on how it should look.

I'd like the Carlisle sofa from Pottery Barn (shown above)

to have its back toward but not against the windows.  Oddly enough, I would like the walls the same greige/putty color in the PB photo.
We do agree that the TV should not go above the fireplace. It will be wall mounted on the stair wall, which is bigger than it appears and have some piece of furniture under it.

This painting will go over the fireplace. This photo cuts a bit of it out. It happens to be the only one large enough  that I already own.

I would also like to

have two Wassily chairs but the narrow room might only accomodate one, which is funny because my wallet accomodates none.

The disagreement lies in the mix of traditional furniture with post-modern iconic pieces. My family does not like the eclecticism.

I pointed out Mrs. Kennedy's (Ethel) clear lucite table amongst piles of floral chintz to no avail.

I would love a lucite table although I'm not sure they are toddler friendly.
Oh, did I mention that this must also be my little girl's play space--cringe.
Luckily, my husband and I have lived the "toy bomb" family room before and are commited to avoiding a sea of plastic toys in favor of fewer high quality toys that can be kept out of view when needed.

The mere mention of the lucite table brought us to our next tooth and nail throwdown. I should tell you that that I have an intense dislike for clutter tables, I mean cofee tables. In my experience, they serve to collect everyone's crap and if I want to keep it presentable it invovles yelling daily followed by a heaving a huge sigh and tidying it myself.
My husband wants a coffee table to (and this is where I shudder) put his feet on.
To this I offer the compromise of the ever trite leather ottoman which he does not like because its not a table that you can put a drink on or let the littlest use as a coloring table.
 I think the following is my best and final offer being both sturdy and versatile, the pair of tables would be far less offensive to my sensibilties.

Who should win the arguements?
Do you think any of my choices are horrible?
Suggestions, please.

05 November 2010


I have not posted anything "Good Tasting" in awhile.
When I think of Virginia I think of southern tradition and history and some of the food (the non-French stuff) that I grew up eating.
In honor of my upcoming move to Virginia I made a Chess Pie, a southern favorite.

This is it, piping hot out of the oven.

Here is the reciepe I used :

1/2 cup butter

2 cups white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 eggs

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1/4 cup evaporated milk

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

1 (9 inch) unbaked pie shell


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

In a large bowl, mix the butter, sugar and vanilla together. Mix in the eggs, then stir in the cornmeal, evaporated milk and vinegar until smooth.

Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, then reduce heat to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) for 40 minutes. Let cool. Cut and top servings with whipped cream. You will think you have died and gone to heaven.

I used a Pate Brisee reciepe for the crust but any crust you like will do.

Another Virginia favorite of mine is Peanut soup. It was enjoyed by several of our Virginian forefathers and combines both West-African and European tradition and technique.


2 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 tablespoons grated onion

1 celery rib, minced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup half-and-half

2 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts


Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; add onion and celery, and saute 5 minutes. Stir in flour, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute.

Add broth; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes.

Stir in peanut butter and half-and-half. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, 3 to 4 minutes or until heated. Sprinkle with peanuts.

This is most delicious alongside a plate of ham and bisciuts.

These are all very rich. Just the thing to comfort the soul and transport you to a place and time that should never be forgotten.

04 November 2010


Wow, what a crazy year its been.
Today a new door opens for me and my family.
We decided to buy a house in Virginia about a year ago and began scouting town and communities last January. Today we go to settlement on our house.

Every time I feel like I hate something about the house I get a little embarrassed that I am not, at every moment, falling over with gratefulness, for I am very blessed. 

I will be posting pictures and my ideas for the house in the coming weeks.