Thursday, December 13, 2007

"we are family..."

(you have to mentally sing the title for it to be effective)

I just got back from dinner with three of my college buddies, which was a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season. I'm lucky- though my friends all live out of state, family and work bring them into town fairly regularly, and sometimes the stars align and we're all in DC together. At this point, we've been friends so long that we can talk about both friends we have in common, and members of our separate circles because everyone knows a little bit about everyone else's family and friends. I am especially lucky that the fact that I often miss out on these dinners when I'm overseas doesn't change my ability to slip back into the mix when I'm home. I don't talk to all these girls on a daily basis, but I know in my heart of hearts that if I were having problems, or needed something, I could call any one of them for help. Thanks for the laughs girls, and for being equally willing to discuss presidential politics and vapid reality TV shows!

I have a similar group of friends from high school that make my life rich. No matter how different our lives are now, I delight in the fact that we are all making the effort to stay in touch and to stay friends. I love that we can all still get together and giggle like silly 16 year olds stalking though the mall in blackwatch tartan kilts. Thanks for getting me through those awkward teenage years, and for making me an honorary aunt to the 2nd generation!

In the words of William Butler Yeats,
"Say where man's glory most begins and ends,
And say my glory was I had such friends."

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

just what I need- another home improvement project!

The pictures above are of my living room from a couple of different angles. As some of you may remember, I desperately want to change the look of the sofa. I don't want to go the pre-made slipcover route because those always move on me and look bunchy (plus this has a pullout bed). The couch is super comfortable and sucks me into many an unplanned nap, but everytime I look at it I am filled with fabric hatred. I'm thinking of reupholstering it (well, really recovering it because I plan to go over the existing fabric rather than to remove it), but I'm having a hard time picking a color. I found a burgundy velvet that I love the look of, and I can kind of dig the idea of a big soft reddish-purple couch, but will that be too damn much with the rest of the room?

This would be an after-Christmas project because I already have too many projects going on what with the unfinished cure and WT. My family is pushing the "you're crazy- leave it alone" viewpoint (mom, sis, and husband) but I'm kind of excited about the possibilities. Of course, I need mom to sew the cushion covers, which might be why she's less than thrilled!

Oh, and I found this coat online, and am in love...

Friday, November 30, 2007

my new favorite game

If you haven't already, check out Free Rice and test your vocabulary while donating rice to the United Nations World Food Program. I got a vocab level of 44- I knew those damn Wordly Wise books would pay off beyond the SATs! The highest level is 50 and I suspect I'll be addictively playing to try to get my score closer to that rarified level...

ETA: I hit 47 but can't seem to push through. damn- I'm going to have to start reading the dictionary at night to beat this website!

ETA2: I'm officially addicted. I'm stuck at 49, but can't seem to hit 50. I'll be feeding whole nations at this point just trying to hit the jackpot...

ETA3: I finally hit 50, on mangonel of all words. Who knew reading medieval romance novels would pay off in this manner?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

a reminder of why I love my job

I do have updates to post on Macedonia and Albania, but I arrived in Athens today and just have to share. I met an old boss from Sarajevo and she insisted we head upstairs to the bar in my hotel for one drink before dinner. The reason? We had a stunning view of the Acropolis lit up at night looking so close I felt we could reach out and touch it. This isn't my picure (because I'm on a dummy terminal in a hotel business center that won't let me upload), but it could be:

I'm tired of being on planes, but that kind of view is the reason I love my job. It is a happy reminder of why given the latest and greatest about directed assignments to Iraq. I'm not bidding this year, but my heart goes out to those who are bidding. We're all just watching to see how this plays out and how the Department chooses the people on the shortlist...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Walking in Memphis

So the party was awesome. A complete surprise. My mom was SHOCKED and I have the photos to prove it (will upload later). The family was also very complimentary about the changes in mom's house (especially the bathroom) which made that last crazy week before they arrived totally worth the work.

The road trip was fabulous. We saw Carrie Underwood and others at the Grand Ole Opry. I don't know the others because I don't listen to country music, but the show was definitely a fun experience. Memphis is a wonderful city, and I got tons of great new decorating ideas during the Graceland tour. Well OK, not really, but the house was smaller and much less tacky than I had expected, and the downstairs bar was just kind of cool. The Sun Studio tour was definitely the highlight of the trip; I highly recommend it if you are ever in Memphis. One attraction I'm devastated we missed? Foamhenge in Virginia. Really- look at the link and wonder...

We got back into town about 45 minutes before the start of my 15 year high school reunion so that was an adventure (especially as two friends were bunking with me that night). Despite my driving fatigue, that party was also a blast and left me wishing for nothing but rest on Sunday. Needless to say, I'm behind on my Cure, but I have high hopes I can get back on track this week and finish with the group.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

phase 1 complete

Family all arrived safely last night and mom was delighted and surprised! Now if we can only keep the party a secret for the next 10 hours...

In the meantime, I thought I would share more pics of mom's house.

the framed pen and inks my sister made:

the framed calendar pages showing aerial views of Dublin:

the newly green room as a whole:

The green was chosen to coordinate with the window treatments which, while not my cup of tea, make my mother very happy. We also pulled up very old, creamy white wall-to-wall carpeting in that room; the hardwood floors are a definitely improvement despite their age. The family was all very complimentary and I like that my Mom has a new room because she's been in a bit of a rut since my dad passed away two years ago.

I'll post some pictures of the party later this weekend. Hope everyone is having a happy Saturday!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

ta da: the new bathroom

of course, I have no before pictures, but trust me- this is an improvement!

we replaced this floor cabinet:

with this wall unit to open up the space in this tiny bathroom:

Here are more pictures of my mom's new bathroom (please excuse the weird merge wiggles but the room is so small it is hard to get a decent angle)...

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

finally- photographic evidence of progess

OK, I know it isn't much, but we are so happy with the newly discovered brass. I haven't taken pics of the new bathroom and mom's bedroom because we have pictures to hang- hopefully tomorrow. regardless, looking at this picture is making me smile...

Monday, October 1, 2007

progress, ever progress

My "frantic clean up before the family descends on Friday night" contiunes apace, and this weekend was surprisingly productive despite the fact that Sunday was the 2nd anniversary of my father's death. All painting in my mom's house is finished, and the bathroom is done (except for the deep-clean she has planned for tomorrow). We got frames for the artwork mom wants to hang in her room; they look wonderful and are ready to be hung tonight. My clean laundry situation is being addressed, and so my living room should return to normal by tomorrow evening at the latest.

We've gotten 32 "yes" RSVPs and are still waiting to hear from another 18 invitees, so the party on Saturday should be a big success (though goodness knows what I'm going to wear!) My mom continues to have no idea that her siblings are heading out here- I'm hoping the surprise will make all this absurd housework worth it in the end. Note to self- the next time you decide to undertake a total redo of someone else's space, don't also plan a huge surprise party and visit to take place in said space!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

slow and steady wins the race

or so I keep telling myself! Last night I completed sanding down the once painted-shut closet door to Mom's closet; priming and painting will take place this weekend, marking the end of the painting in Mom's house! I found out the Social Concerns committee in our parish will be open on Friday so a huge pile of bedding/towels/etc will be heading up there on Friday when I'm off clearing out at least half of the chaos currently in my childhood bedroom (essential because surprise-visiting aunts will be sleeping in there). The rest of Friday will be devoted to my house; putting away laundry and books will bascially eliminate all living room chaos in my house so once I vacuum, I'll be ready for company (on the surface at least). I finally feel like the light at the end of the tunnel isn't an on-rushing train, and my sister is helping with the party planning which takes a load off my mind.

I've been reading other blogs but not commenting as often as I should- everyone out there is doing a magnificent job and I look forward to getting back to the normal cure once the family arrives. Thanks for all your support!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Outer Mongolia off the table

OK, so I am no longer planning to move to Outer Mongolia (at least not this week!) After Friday night's debacle, I was ready to head out, but thankfully the rest of the weekend projects went much much better. How much better you ask?

1) Touched up the green paint my mom's room (ceiling painters managed to get white on the top of the wall despite the tape and paper I put up)

2) Painted black stripe in window trim in bathroom. This project was a mixed success- the line isn't as crisp in places as I would like, but I discovered I can easily touch it up by hand so I'm counting it as a positive.

3) Stripped many layers of paint off of old face plates on half of the doors and light switches in the apartment. My mom and I were delighted to discover that the old plates are a wonderful brass; they were polished up and are ready to be re-installed.

4) Stripped off many layers of old paint on mom's closet door, including the chunky lip that obviously was the result of the door being painted when shut then forced open. The door has been primed and is ready to be painted this evening as soon as I plane away one small area that always sticks.

5) Stripped off many layers of old paint on half the door hinges in the apartment. Again delighted to discover beautiful old brass. Doors have been rehung to make painting easier; hinges will be well taped to prevent paint transfer onto their newly discovered finish.

6) Hung two newly framed pen-and-inks done by my sister many years ago that my mom has been wanting to display for ages.

I'll post some pics later to track the progress. Mom's place should be done by Thursday night at the latest, leaving me Friday/Saturday/Sunday to focus on my house (thank goodness I don't have to work this Friday).

Thanks for all the support and offers of assistance; just knowing other people are pulling for me while undergoing their own house-trials makes it all easier. That, and a nice glass of wine whenever I finish a big project!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

I'm moving to Outer Mongolia!

Tonight has been a total and utter cluster****. Mom's new retro-feel black and white bathroom was almost perfect- it needed only a thin line of black trim about the windows and for the radiator pole to be painted. We had decided to paint it black to make it an architectural feature. We researched and bought the high-heat spray paint that indicated it was designed for radiators. Apparently those designers believe you will be disconnecting your radiator and moving it to an empty lot to paint it. Black fine spray EVERYWHERE. All over the bathroom floor (OK, easily cleaned off so not too huge a problem). On the edge of the skirting board in the hall off the bathroom (glossy paint so again it cleaned up decently easily). All over the wood floor of the hall despite the fact that (1) the door to the bathroom was only partially open, and (2) that most of the hall in question isn't even in any kind of direct line from the bathroom. My mom and I just spent an hour trying to get rid of the fine black mist everywhere, and I'm not even sure we were successful- we just got to the point where we couldn't do any more. I've used white spray paint in a bathroom before and NOT had a similar problem (colored tile floor so I would have known if the white went everywhere). I hate Rustoleum. I hate the person who decided to market this paint for radiators. I hate that what was supposed to be a finishing touch turned into such a never-ending nightmare and has ruined all the pleasure my mom had been taking in her new bathroom. AARRGGHH!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

week 2 already???

I can't believe I'm already off-track! well, truthfully, I can believe it, but I'm trying to act all organized and stuff so my fellow curators don't share my family's amused disbelief that I am participating in this Cure...

I have made some inroads- all outstanding laundry previously strewn about bedroom has been washed and folded. Of course, it hasn't been put away so now the living room is a disaster, but I have high hopes for tonight. I'm skipping the fresh flowers because though I love the way they look and smell, I'm already coughing up a storm because of my lovely ragweed allergy so I can't really introduce more pollen into my house at the moment. I've also started an outbox that will hopefully soon overflow with clothes to be donated, thereby creating room for the aforementioned clean laundry I need to put away.

I'm skipping ahead a bit with this next part, but what the heck- it's my blog so I can skip ahead if I want! I bought new bedding for my bed a few months ago but never got around to putting it on because I wanted to wait until the room was more settled. I bought it for the soothing colors, the soft feel, and the rich pattern (and it wasn't cheap).

I still love it, but now I am also drawn to a bright bold set from Ikea (which is cheap) and I don't know what to do...

as an aside, does anyone know if I can change the margins or the layout to make the box for my posts wider? I seem to be missing a lot of space on the left...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

pretty bad to be slacking in Week 1 of the cure...

OK, so I have already fallen behind, but it wasn't all my fault, I swear! Early in the week I was helping my mom finish up some projects in her place (most of which I may have started and dragged her into) and Thursday I headed down to Pensacola to visit my husband for the week, which doesn't do much for my house, but does a lot for my mental health! Despite my love of all things housey, I have to confess our walk on the beach tonight with the tiny sliver moon and the warm soft waves was pretty much the happiest I've been in a long while. Maybe I need to somehow translate that feeling into my room decor?

I have made some small changes to his place (curtains and the like) so I've been Curing, just not in the house that really needs it. He's a Marine, so neat and tidy is the watchword in the house- he definitely does NOT suffer from my packrat tendencies. Heck, he's got all this empty space I'd love to fill with my excess belongings, but he's wise to me and threatens a giant yard sale if I try ;-)
Regardless, I'll be back in DC tomorrow and I'll catch up I promise- I'm already so inspired by what many of my fellow AT junkies have accomplished that I'm determined to create a wonderful space of my own.

new window treatments and shower curtain courtesy of Mom, the sewing wonder (she also made the bedding)...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Interview/Self Diagnostic


Actress: Audrey Hepburn, Jennifer Garner, Meg Ryan
Actor: Clark Gable, Pierce Brosnan, Matt Damon
Artist: Mersad Berber, Jack Butler Yeats, Ansel Adams
Writer: Jane Austen, Dorothy Sayers, Harper Lee
Music: Barenaked Ladies, other groups I can’t even think of right now (I tend to like individual songs rather than groups)
Restaurant: Cheesecake Factory
Television Show: Alias, Fawlty Towers, House
Clothing: Ann Taylor, Principles (UK store), Gap

How would you describe your style (3 words):
1. Classic
2. Eclectic
3. Disjointed

Personal History:

Where have you lived?
1. Where were you born? Washington DC
2. Where you grew up? Washington DC
3. As an adult? Washington DC, Barbados, Kuwait, Bosnia

What three adjectives describe the qualities that you admire in people?
Intelligent, confident, witty


What is the problem with your apartment?
1. Overstuffed
2. Disorganized
3. Awkward

If your apartment could speak, what would it say is the problem?
I’m too crammed with stuff to ever be comfortable. I know I’m smaller than your once and future homes, but I aspire to be more than just a glorified storage unit. Appreciate me for what I am rather than condemning me for what I am not!

What one thing would you like to do or do more of in your apartment?
I want to be able to entertain without making excuses for the state of the house, and to feel comfortable and relaxed in my home rather than constantly stressed because of the clutter.

Eight weeks from now, when this project is done, if friends came to visit, how would you like them to describe your home?
1. Comfortable
2. Clean/Tidy
3. Interesting

1. Does your home support everything you want to do?
Not really. I’d like to entertain more, and feel more relaxed when I’m home alone. Some of the things in my house make me happy, but the overall effect right now is more stress inducing than anything else.

2. Do you use your home often?
Yes- when I’m not at work, I’m at home.

3. Is there room for everything you want to do in your home?
I would like to have a small desk to hold the laptop when I’m not surfing the Internet on my couch, and to hold the printer and scanner which I use less often now that they are not out and about. I would also like more closet space- the two tiny ones I have are laughable.

4. Is there a good space for what is most important to you?
I love to read and to relax when I’m at home. I do have a wonderful reading spot in a squishy double papasan chair under the window, but the clean laundry tends to build up there for lack of drawer space in the bedroom. Creating space for the clothes I wear by getting rid of the ones I don’t is a major focus for this cure.


5. Do you consider your home beautiful?
No. It has good bones (hardwood floors, high ceilings, large windows) and some lovely d├ęcor, but the clutter prevents the house from shining the way it ought.

6. Do you feel you have a sense of style?
I believe I have a strong sense of style, but don’t always express it. When I have space, my house has style.

7. Does your clothing express your style?
No. My clothing expresses very little at all.

8. Does your home express your style?
Elements of it do. My collection of art and artifacts from my travels expresses a lot about who I am and what I do. These pieces make me happy; the fact that it is hard to focus on them in the house does not.


9. Do you consider your home comfortable?
No not really, though some days are much better than others…

10. Do you sleep well at night?
Usually, though I sleep better when my husband is in town.

11. Is your apartment organized?
Resounding no, echoed by anyone who has been in the house lately!

12. Is it easy to clean and declutter?
No, I hate to clean and hate to declutter.


13. Do you consider your home to be in good shape?Yes for the most part. I have some cosmetic issues I hope to address (note to apt management- stop painting all the lovely vintage hardware on the doors and in the kitchens of the building!) but everything is in working order.

14. Is everything in good working order?
Yes, though I should knock on wood with that answer...

15. Do you take care of repairs quickly?

16. Do you clean your home often?
No. I hate to clean- hate it, hate it, hate it!

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Here are links to my various Flickr albums that relate to posts on this blog:

Apartment Therapy Cure
Spring 2008:
Before and After

Fall 2007:
Childhood Bedroom After
Childhood Bedroom Before

Spring 2007:

Style Trays
Velvet Couch Inspirations

Bucharest, Romania
Athens, Greece
Tirana, Albania
Skopje, Macedonia

Start at the Beginning

OK, I love Dr. Wende for pointing out this fun feature:

create your own visited states map

19 states is actually better than I thought, but I've obviously got to stop flying across the country because I'm missing all the bits in the middle!

create your own visited countries map

so many places left to go, but I do love the visual representation of my wanderlust. Nothing about this fun tool has anything to do with my inspiration for starting this blog (the Apartment Therapy Cure) but I couldn't resist the urge to open with maps because I just love maps! I collect them everywhere I go (which might help explain my clutter problem) and looking at them makes me happy.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

Thanks to all my fellow curators (great term polkadot), I've been inspired to start this online journal to chronicle my apartment's transformation into a happy healthy home. I cured my living room in the spring, and was thrilled with the result (though I muse admit to some backsliding on the day-to-day maintenance). This time around I'm going to focus on my bedroom while restoring the living room to it's May-Day glory of tidiness. My pics are up on flickr and I'm getting ready to start the process. I hope to have my quiz answers up this evening, and I've already started on the outbox creation. Good luck everyone!