Friday, April 30, 2010

Down Memory Lane - The Pirate Room

When I learned I was pregnant with bebe #2, we realized that we would have to give up our office. Instead of creating a nursery for our new baby, we decided to leave bebe #1's nursery as it was and move him to a new, Big Boy room.

A Big Boy Pirate Room!

Testing some colors on the original pale blue wall:
My husband made the original sketch, then his friend - who is an awesome artist - expanded it and measure the room to transfer the sketch onto the walls.

Everything was penciled in
and then the background color was added.

My husband decided to make a "real" ship side
and sketched the ship details onto a piece of plywood.

On the beach side, the different tones of beige and tan were applied for a sandy effect

Over the light switch, a friendly shape was penciled in
along with detailed ocean waves.

The first layer of coloring onto the ship side
on the bottom you can see the realistic railing made of unfinished wood candlesticks from Michaels. The railing on the other side was painted on the wall.

Can't have a pirate beach without a treasure chest
Here, the first layer of color.

A rope ladder was riggedfor our young scalawag's toys to climb to the crow's nest.

A composite view of the corner where the crib would later go:
Lanterns and chains in each corner complete the look.

Details that peek through the crib railings.
Our big boy loved to trace around the figures with his little fingers.

A smiling dolphin leaps out of the ocean to greet him good morning:
or good night - he loved it.

The finished ship with a muslin sail (sewn by my mom) and crow's nest.
We later filled in the ladder with a bunch of small stuffed animals.

In the distance, a pirate ship approaches . . .
The sails were painted with glow-in-the-dark paint.

The treasure chest, with gold coins and gems
with lots of metallic paint for that golden sparkle.

Our sweet boy in his crib
He LOVED his room and had no problem trading in his nursery for his new pirate's lair.

My husband, his artist friend, and our friend J did a great job in transforming our office into a fabulous room for our son, don't you think?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

About grapes

(click on pictures for full size)

"The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do." Galileo Galilei

"We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry." E.B. White

"What I do and what I dream include thee, as the wine must taste of its own grapes." Elizabeth Barrett Browning

"There is too much sour grapes for my taste in the present American attitude." Edith Wharton

Well, Edith, all I know is that next year we are turning all these glorious Concord grapes into glorious jelly, mm-kay?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

For future reference . . .

We were looking for one of our house paint colors today so I figure I should have all our house colors somewhere I can always look them up :D

Yes, I know, that burgundy. You see, I used to LOVE burgundy, and still do, but when we do our master bedroom redo, that burgundy is going away. And the two golden tones were done in a sponge finish so they are mixed together. We still like the sponge finish and the neutrals so I think we will keep those.

The living room was a dreary grayish peach, a la "my spinster aunt's parlor" - it was really dark and oppressive even though the color wasn't that dark, but it was hideous, so I chose a very sunny color and voila, big and gorgeous living room.

Our former office was painted light blue per my husband's preference. Then we bought paint to match (we thought) when we needed to touch things up for our second son, and oops! ended up with the upper third a lighter color than the rest. Oh well, he doesn't care.

My husband thought our finished kitchen looked like a Chili's restaurant. All brick red and tan, but hey, he chose the red for the walls. We love it, though, it's full of color and with all our wrought iron details, totally us.

Our bathroom was recently painted in Ralph Lauren's Chamois. Which is really close to Sunporch from the master bedroom, now that I think of it.

My older son's room is a different post altogether. A huge DIY project that my husband and his friend undertook, I shall post about it some other time :D

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Is she reading my mind?

I was just telling the awesome group of women I met on Sunday, that I love rich, saturated color and how it my bathroom is pumpkin orange and my kitchen/dining room is brick red, etc. and what I do I see at the newsstand?

A Martha Stewart Living issue devoted to color - love it!

Monday, April 26, 2010


Lookit what our lovely cousin gave to me last week. Can you guess what she is? Yes, it's a she.

She's a beauty, despite some peeling and discoloration. She sounds like me with my adult acne symptoms. Once her surface is done she will be a beauty!

It's my new potting bench! I even love the color of the peeling paint, I might try for a similar terracotta hue.

I could also paint it a light color, like these one from Sunset and

For now I'm thinking of keeping it a natural color, I can't wait to tackle making over this pretty bench!

Field Trip: The Petaluma Antiques Fair

A few weeks ago, the always fabulous Centsational Girl posted about this gem of a fair - the Petaluma Antiques Fair. Lots of gorgeous old things (and I don't just mean me, thank you) for not that much. Or at least, not as much as I expected.
Look at this sweetheart. If I didn't already have two naked boys running around my backyard I would bring him home.

Same here. If the aforementioned naked runners weren't trampling every delicate thing I own, I would have purchased some of these lovely tea cup sets. We have wolf mugs. And that's it. They're my husband's from before her met me, of course, I would never have allowed such wild animal displays in my home. Oh wait, naked running boys. Hmmm.

See, this is more my speed. A tool box for my manly husband, that can also hold pretty flowers for me. Win-win.

I liked the church relics from France, but more than anything I just wanted to grab those Provencal tablecloths and run. I don't think the vendor would have been happy.

On the way to lunch with the gang, I walked into an antique shop. At that point I'd been walking about 3 1/2 hours and this bed was calling my name. Then I went to the bathroom and saw an antique item (allegedly) from Mexico, but it had a Peruvian flag on it. Mm-hmm. Girl, I was born and raised in Peru and this whole "oh y'all Latin people are all the same" shit kind of rubbed me the wrong way and I told the counter lady their "antique" was all wrong and to stop calling Peruvian things "Mexican".

No, I didn't. I just asked where they'd gotten it and she had no clue. Oh and by the way, potatoes are from Peru. Not Ireland. I know, right? I'm going to tell See's Candies to stop making those Irish potato things for St. Patrick's Day.

After the antiques store lady threw me out of her shop (kidding!) I joined the lovely ladies and the gracious Mr. CG for lunch at Risi Bisi. Oh my goodness. I love to try pumpkin ravioli wherever I can find it and this one was deee-licious! I delicately cleared my plate while surreptitiously looking to see if anyone else (three of us ordered it) was leaving any pieces behind. Damn. Everyone ate theirs. The bread was yummy, too, as was the veggie mousse Mr. CG shared with us. At the end we got two orders of tiramisu on the house and it took all my willpower to not grab them and run off before anyone else could get a bite. So good.

Who's in the pic? Ok, from left to right:
Kate from Centsational Girl, Kim from Yep They’re All Mine, photographer (and future blogger!) Marie, Pauline from Struggling to be Stylish, and yours truly. Great food and even better company - a perfect Sunday!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Adding some beauty to my lovely veggie world

Lookit what my husband surprised me with yesterday!

Yellow roses are my absolute favorite and we used to have a yellow rose bush in our last house. When we moved, we left it behind and last night I was totally surprised to see this beauty greeting me at the door!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The art above my desk

During our recent Caribbean cruise, I snapped a few pics at Orchid World in Barbados. It was, as the name indicates, an orchid-lover's dream. Every type, every color, every shape of orchid was beautifully represented there.

When I came home and posted some pics, I was incredibly flattered when a dear friend asked if she could have one of the pics to put up in her home. Of course, I said, and then thought, why shouldn't I have some of these framed and put up in my home?

The end result was this:
they reside above my computer monitor and provide a splash of color on cold, dreary mornings.

The frames were $3.99 each on clearance at Michaels, and the prints were 99 cents each. Can't beat that :D

Friday, April 23, 2010

A kitchen wall

Our cookbooks reside in the living room - there simply is no room in the kitchen to store them. However, we are considering a couple of changes to the kitchen which will clear an entire wall, and my plan is to put up some shelves for our cookbooks to reside.

I can't wait for our new cookbook nook :D I'm thinking something like this:
Photo: Real Simple

I also love the look of baskets on the wall, although the husband is not too hip on the pegboard:
Photo: Martha Stewart

Maybe I could do shelves with baskets at the sides?

We have a few days before we change things up, but the thought of our cookbooks having their own little home is cheering me up a lot :D

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Frugal Spotlight: Springdream Jewelry

I am starting a feature on the blog to shine a big, bright spotlight on people, businesses, places, etc. that provide great value for cost. Isn't that what living frugally is all about? Getting the best you can for what you pay.

My first Frugal Spotlight is none other than Springdream Jewelry - I met designer extraordinaire Stephanie when I was planning my wedding and was making jewelry myself. I saw that Springdream was highly recommended, we started talking, and seven years later, Stephanie and I remain friends. I had the pleasure of chatting with her the other day:

Welcome, Stephanie – how would you describe your jewelry?
Right now I would say it looks very springy. I live in Colorado where it's cold and everything is dead for months on end, so I look forward to spring all through winter. I have lots of colors and flowers in the jewelry right now because of it.

How long have you been making jewelry?

I have been making jewelry since I was in High School, but I would hardly get too excited over that stuff! I have been making jewelry more seriously though for the last 10 years when I started my bridal line (prior to getting married).

What does value mean to you as a consumer and how does that influence your pricing?
I will admit I am a cheap person. I make nearly everything I can (including all my cleaning products, etc). As a consumer I find value in things that are "unique" more than anything else because I think that people like to feel special and different. I also like to try to support individuals such as myself that are "makers". I try to make sure that I can always keep my costs low in order to offer affordable and unique jewelry at the same time. That way people can have something that will get them compliments and make them feel pretty while not breaking the bank.

Your pieces are so beautiful and delicate, how do you go from inspiration to the finished product?
I spend a lot of time on the internet searching for cool findings that I can add to my designs that are popular (birds, butterflies, flowers, etc), but I like to find new ways to make things with them, or take two styles and put them together. I try to think of my friends for inspiration and pay attention to the trends they pick up on and then find another way to make something similar but with my own style attached. I will admit, I get bored easily and "my style" changes like the wind.

What piece from your collection would you recommend to the first-time Springdream customer?
I think that all depends on the person, but I have two styles that seem to get a lot of attention. My first is the "Romantic" collection that uses silk flowers in an asymmetrical style. I haven't been able to find those flowers for some time now, so what is left is all I have unless I get lucky and find them again. The other one is from my Casual line with the lucite (german plastic) flowers that are asymmetrical. Everyone seems to love those as well. Both collections are one of a kind.

Thank you, Stephanie, for talking to us, and congratulations on your recent feature on the Etsy front page!

Now, Mother's Day is coming, wouldn't you love to give your mom, his mom, any mom, yourself if you are a mom, a beautiful piece from Springdream? To make it even more enticing, Stephanie is offering $5 off her already super low prices if you mention my blog in the Message to Seller section when you place an order from her Etsy shop. Go check it out!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

My last clothing purchase for 2010

In the past few weeks I have come to a decision that will encompass the rest of the year.

I will not be purchasing any clothing items, shoes or accessories for myself until 2011.

The main reason is that I am determined to work on our house and want to put as much of our limited funds as I can towards taking our home to the next level, and considering I am well set in clothes, this should not probe much of a hardship. The only purchase I foresee being tough to delay is a new pair of black ankle boots. I've had mine for 15 years and they're in good condition but little things are starting to happen with them and had I not taken this pledge I would probably have already bought a new pair. But spring is here and I won't think of boots until October or so. And hopefully I can scrape by until the new year :D

So my last purchase was a hat, because now I am on retinoids for acne and need to keep my face from the sun - I needed something more manageable than my big floppy hat I got for the cruise and the little caps I have. I found the perfect hat for $7, although I kind of look like I'm going on safari. Hmm.

Wish me well!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

How to Be a Savvy Cheapskate

I was intrigued by this article from US News and World Report. The part that resonated with me was this bit about what our priorities REALLY are - "We're really mostly committed to buying cool, expensive, green stuff."

What do you think?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Red alert!

Ok, I just got a FANTASTIC deal and wanted to share with everyone. I might, in fact, go back tomorrow in between kid birthday parties and get another one because I am so stoked.

If you have a Paper Source store close to you, they have these great maps of places like Paris, Rome, etc. I got the Paris monument map.
The size is 20x28. The price?


Really. It's actually wrapping paper but given my fetish for all things French, I've hung up the thing above my desk and it looks grand. If I wanted, I could even get some nice, thin moulding and frame it directly onto the wall, but I like it as is.

Of course you can also order it online, and make it worth the shipping by adding some more French-themed items like these
Paris file folders I have my eye on, or these super cute
glitter Paris postcard set.

Check out their fabulous website, there are loads of adorable papers, gifts, and craft-making items you won't find elsewhere.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Summer goodness in the ground

We hit our favorite plant place, OSH, last week since it was time to get our summer veggies in the ground and they were having a 2-for-1 sale. We have had good luck with OSH plants and had decided to expand last year's garden since it had been such a roaring success.

Check out the bok choy we planted a few weeks ago!
It's going to be great in a stir fry, yum yum.

The chard is doing wonderfully:
We lucked out in that the next 2 days it rained a lot so the soil had a chance to settle.

Gorgeous butter lettuce:

Last but not least, I got some flowers.
These pretty dahlias are going to brighten up my veggie land of green :D

Most of our available ground has been taken so I think that's it for this year's planting, but we'll see. We also planted corn and bell peppers, last year's corn was sweet and delicious, I hope as much this year!