TV Wall

I love our casita.

Being its owner is third on my list of Life’s Joys.  But it, like everything else, is not perfect.  One of her main imperfections is the low amount light that the living room gets from morning until mid afternoon.  The upstairs bedrooms get great morning light, but downstairs takes most of the day to wake up.  That’s her main imperfection.

Her secondary imperfection is an awkwardly configured living room.

(My main imperfection is listing imperfections.)

Both of these architectural foibles have been felt most severely by the north-eastern wall of the living room.  It is furthest away from the bright dining area windows, and meets the fireplace wall at an angle.  It tended to always feel like it was looming.  The Lurking Wall.  It needed something to brighten it up without making it feel cluttered.  So this is what we did:

Wood do you think?

Wood do you think?

The wood slats do not solve the problem of light in the living room, but they do brighten the space and give a person’s eye something to study.  My vision for this wall is a gallery of framed art along with the tv – off center to the right as part of the gallery wall.  And over the fireplace – more framed art!  The Old Man’s vision also includes an abundance of art, adds a guitar, but puts the tv (and speakers) above the fireplace.  A lively debate between The Old Man and me about the very important television placement detail is what made this wall happen on a late afternoon last Saturday.
We have decided to compromise by moving the tv back and forth from one wall to the other until one of us relents / sees the benefit of the other’s vision.  As we are both very opinionated on the subject, I imagine we will be switching back and forth for a while.

Inspiration for having a non-tv centric living space:

Seen at plumprettysugar.blogspot.com

Seen at plumprettysugar.blogspot.com

Seen at thisisnotmylifeforever.tumbler.com

Seen at thisisnotmylifeforever.tumbler.com

This photo above is particularly great. Did you even notice the framed tv screen at the bottom right of the gallery?  No?  Me neither.

Now imagine with me…

Our current living room situation.

Our current living room situation.

… art over the fireplace, the tv mounted on the slatted wall (wires hidden behind the wood), a guitar hanging within an arm’s reach, and a modern mantle.  Not a bad vision, right?  A work in progress, anyway.  Eventually a different rug (I love this rug, but this room needs something less busy that can go a day without being vacuumed for dog hair), different shades on the windows, a chair that will fit two but not block the window too much, a sofa with a lower profile, some other coffee table, the list goes on!  I think I would like to paint the entertainment center, too.  Especially once we figure out what we are doing about the mantle, there is going to be a whole lot of wood happening in here, and a bright colored slap of paint might be just the thing.  And white walls!  I am usually not a fan of totally white walls, but I really think it will help brighten the place.  Gosh, this picture looks cluttered.  I’ll see if The Old Man is amenable to putting doors on the entertainment center.  And the more I look at it, the more sure I am that the black chair has got to go.

Hey!  Want a before picture?

The blank slate.  (And the awful fireplace)

The blank slate. (And the awful fireplace)

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Near Total Domestication

Hello again, friends!  Here I am again after a very long absence from this blog.  So MUCH has happened since my last post, so I will quickly recap:

Since April 2012,

  • My little sister got married (July) and bought a house in Arizona (August)
  • I quit my very stable, well-paying job (August) to go back to school (September) to finish the last 9 units I needed to finally earn by bachelors degree (December) and start working for myself / others (September)
  • The Old Man landed a very stable, well-paying job ONE DAY after I quit mine (August)
  • We celebrated our second wedding anniversary camping in a yurt at Cachuma Lake (October)
  • My twenty-ninth year came to a close, and my thirtieth began! (December)
  • There was a total eclipse and the end of the world (December)
  • The band has gotten back together FINALLY and is working on a handful of new songs (January)
  • Gavin and I began house hunting (February), made three offers on three houses and one was accepted (April)!
  • Escrow closed (May), and we moved in (June)!
  • We adopted an Australian Shepard dog named Orlando (May)

So, as you can see, life has been twirling and The Old Man and I are doing our best to keep up.  We officially moved out of our beloved one bedroom apartment in its Old-Hollywood-Pink plaster shell on June 2nd and are currently finding our way around the boxes, ladders, buckets, and power tools that are strewn around our new little casita.  I am very much looking forward to making this place our own… the little by little headway we will make with every tiny improvement and embellishment, the getting familiar with the quirks and creaks, making a habit of getting off at our new freeway exit instead of the old one – all these things will come in time, and we are full and content to experience it as it unfolds.

Pictures coming soon!

 

 

Ok, ok, here are some pictures:

Orlando on his drive home.

Orlando on his drive home.

Hallway and guest room in process

Hallway and guest room in process

The empty dining room currently full of boxes, etc

The empty dining room currently full of boxes, etc

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Hipster Handbag DIY

You have probably noticed how hipsters can take old, uglyassshit and make it totally sexy.  Ref:  discarded huge reading glasses worn with confidence, howling wolf sweaters improved with strategic tailoring and the addition of fringe, florescent colors used sparsely paired with neutrals, et cetera.

And my old, uglyass handbag

Totally ugly, very practical, and generally excellent handbag of mine, I adore thee.  But damn.

I mean, DEEEEAAAAMMMNNNN.

Continue reading

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Dyed of Natural Causes

Hanging out with kids gives childless adults a good excuse to get crafty.  This weekend, I had lots of time with my littlest sister and even-littler brother, and in order to take full advantage of kid time, I made it a priority to come up with an Easter project.

Enter natural egg dyes:

I remember enjoying the result of egg dyeing adventures of my childhood… but I don’t seem to remember the actual process of dyeing them.  Hopefully, as Littlest Sis grows up, the sweet aroma of boiling cabbage, hardboiled eggs, and onion skins will bring a wash of memories (if not nausea) over her.

Red cabbage, which is actually purple, produces blue dye. Color confusion!

To achieve this remarkable blue, we chopped and boiled a head of red cabbage in 3 or 4 inches of water for a good 20 minutes.  Strained it, added a couple glugs of white vinegar, added hard boiled eggs, and left it in the refrigerator overnight.  For orange, we did the same as above, only substituted skins from a couple yellow onions for the cabbage.  For a mottled grey-brown (which I had expected to be pinkish-grey), we emptied a bottle of cheap red wine along with some white vinegar into a bowl and added eggs.  I wonder if vinegar is necessary for the wine dye… a weird curdled-looking film gathered on the eggs dyed in wine, and I think it may have been the addition of the vinegar that caused this.

As an egg dye, I give wine a two thumbs meh. Although I love the way this particular flower turned out.

For the super-awesome shell-tattoos, we “borrowed” a pair of my Not So Little Sister’s stockings, some flowers and confetti, and string.  We placed the flower / confetti against the undyed egg, put the egg in the stocking (after cutting the stocking so it will stretched tight around the egg), and tied it off.  The stockinged egg went into the dye and WA-BAM:  overnight eggshell excellence.  (Littlest sis had the great idea to try the confetti.  Way to go, smartie pants!)

The most impressive color came from the unassuming yellow onion skins.  Who knew yellow = orange?

Cuteness overload. This is Littlest Sis and Even-Littler Bro. Awww!

Craft-time success!

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Baby Got Brass

There we were, The Old Man and I, minding our own business, abiding by our recently implemented austerity measures in a local thrift store, when suddenly this happens:

It reminded me of that one time a toilet seat and the eighties adopted their cousin, this seat cushion.

BUT.  Somehow I was drawn to this chair.  I felt compelled to know more about this chair – to learn her story – to know what went wrong… and I found that underneath it all,  she had a heart of brass.

And the body of a hottie.

Is it inappropriate to discuss lady-boners in a blog?  Let’s assume it is, and move on.

To find out who was responsible for this amazingness, I inspected my new infatuation and discovered:

SHE’S ITALIAN!  ONE MILLION EXTRA POINTS!

Upon a google, I found that a set of 4 vintage Cidue chairs on a European website sold for 500 euros!!!  (Roughly 1000 dollars.)  I buy for 20 dollars per chair?!?!

ONE TRILLION EXTRA POINTS!

Problem:  The Old Man was completely unimpressed.  Disgusted.  Distraught by my enthusiasm.  Unconvinced that I was in fact not joking.

But, as you might have already guessed, the poor bastard despite himself and his better judgement eventually said, “I cannot believe this.”  And we left that store a few chairs richer.

For at least two days, he eyed the one chair suspiciously, muttering curses under his breath at it.  Only one chair had been allowed upstairs.  But slowly, slowly, he has relented.  Three chairs now live in the apartment.  The Old Man still glares at them if they step out of line, but he now admits that he hates them only a little.

File this under “Awesome Sauce”.

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Indulgences!

Yesterday was an exceptionally indulgent day.

It started off on an excellent note since both The Old Man and I had the day off from work and got to spend the morning playing music together, with our cat Nancy providing the cuddles.  Apparently, she enjoys the sound of the harmonium and front row seating.

After filling up on musical togetherness and kitty lovings, we decided to drive up to Santa Ynez to pick up The OM’s mom’s wine order… which – since she generously added us to her membership at Gainey Vineyard – had the added benefit of allowing us a free wine tasting.  Not a bad deal.

Not a bad deal at all.

After that, my delightful neighbor and artist-friend EmmieBean invited myself and our other two neighbor ladies to an event at a nearby salon celebrating the one year birthday of a local blog called LOVEmikana.  (I highly recommend visiting the LOVEmikana blog if you live in or plan on visiting Santa Barbara.  The ladies of LOVE can always be counted on for the best current tips on where to go and what to do around town.)  The salon that hosted the event is a gem of a place on upper State Street called Salon U wherein we were delighted to get to sample delicious eats, ogle gorgeous accessories from Stella and Dot, and best of all receive free hair and makeup demos.  See below for awesome braid event happening on my head.

The final indulgence of the day:  seeing The Hunger Games premiere at midnight.  SO GOOD!

So many indulgences!  On a weekday!  Such an unexpected delightful pearl of a day… thank you for allowing me the extra indulgence of getting to write about it.

If you’ve got an indulgence you are planning on treating yourself to, I would love to hear about it!  Please feel free to leave a comment decadent with details.  I’d love to know!

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Lamb Stew on St. Patrick’s Day

I admit that when The Old Man and I went to Ireland and Spain last year, I was planning on writing many detailed posts about every meal, every adventure, every milestone.  Instead I wrote two posts (this one and this one), neither of which detail the delicious food we experienced.  So, let me take this opportunity to talk about Ireland’s lamb stew.

IT IS SO GOOD.  Especially when it is freezing and raining outside (which it was) and served with soda bread (which everything is) near a hearth fire (of which there are many).  Our favorite place for stew in Dublin was a pub near Trinity College called The Duke.  It is two stories tall with nooks and booths to hide away in, there are several hearths crackling, comfortable seating, lovely servers, and – of course – delicious lamb stew.  It was so perfectly warm and welcoming in The Duke, and the stew was hearty and flavorful; a happy combination perfectly suited to weary travelers on a chilly afternoon.

In honor of all things Irish, on St. Patrick’s day whilst pining for beautiful Ireland, I made my own version of Lamb Stew.  See below for the recipe.

And since I neglected to snap any photos of my stew, please accept this Instagram shot of Ireland instead.

Galway

The Domestic B’s Lamb Stew
Makes almost enough for 8 neighbors in your backyard on St. Patrick’s Day.

Ingredients:

4 to 6 pounds of lamb (Ask your butcher which cuts he / she recommends for stews.  I like to make sure at least one bone is included for flavor.)
1/2 pound end cut bacon pieces
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
flour (enough to coat pieces of lamb)
a handful of carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
5 to 7 small red potatoes, cut into chunks
1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
1 clove of garlic, diced
1 leek, chopped
5 cups of water
3 beef bouillon cubes, dissolved
1 can / bottle Guinness beer
grapeseed oil
2 bay leaves
thyme

Instructions:

1)  Fry bacon pieces in a pan.  Remove from pan, cut away as much visible fat as possible, cut into bite-sized pieces and add bacon to empty crock pot.  Discard fat, or toss a little back into the pan.
2)  Re-heat pan (using the bacon fat that still remains), and add whole pieces of lamb, lightly browning the outsides.  Remove from pan, cut into pieces and remove as much excess fat as possible.
3)  In a bowl, add plenty of sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and flour to a bowl.  Coat pieces of lamb.  Re-heat frying pan and add the lamb pieces.  Fry until cooked medium rare.  Add to crock pot.
4)  Sautee chopped leek and minced garlic in pan for a few minutes (use a drizzle of grape seed oil if all bacon fat is gone).  Add to crock pot.
5)  Add 5 cups of water and beef bouillon to the crock pot.  Cover and turn on high.  Allow to cook for 1 hour.
6)  Add Guinness beer, carrots, celery, potatoes, barley, and bay leaves to the crock pot.  Sprinkle a pinch of thyme on top, stir and cover.  Cook for 1 hour.

For best results, serve on a cold and rainy day with soda bread near a crackling fire.  Have lots of craic.

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Living Room Updates

Few things are as satisfying as living room redecoration, and few decorating moves are as effective as living room sofa pillow cover change-out.  I had the genius idea of making my own (this was supposed to be an amazing DIY post.  FAIL)… and then succumbed to my need for instant gratification and ordered some from Etsy.  And I am SO happy I did.  They’re glorious.  And sturdy.  Much unlike anything I would probably make.

Before these beauts arrived, our poor couch was littered with this:

Barf.

If you too are craving a quick and easy living room re-do, allow me to recommend the Etsy shop ElemenOPillows.  Karen is very quick to respond to inquiries before and after orders are placed.  And her selection is fresh, modern, and interesting.

DO THIS.

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The Oscars!

As a life-long appreciator of cinema, clothing, and reasons to drink with friends, I always look forward to the Oscars.  This year, The Old Man and I opted to celebrate Hollywood’s Annual Horn-Tootin’ by attending the Oscar party thrown by [my favorite independently-owned shopping haven] The Closet.  The lovely ladies of The Closet who are all incredibly nice, hilarious, and adorable goddesses of fashion, had a pre-Oscars champagne and cupcake event in-store.  Shoppers were encouraged to fill out Oscar ballots and reconvene at a nearby restaurant / bar to watch the red carpet arrival and award show.  Prizes for most accurate ballots and best-dressed were to be awarded at the end of the night.

I am proud to announce that I won!
Everything!
Because I was the only [non-employee] attendee!
HORRAY FOR ABSOLUTE VICTORY BY DEFAULT!

Actually, I won almost everything.  Because another group of three Oscar-watchers sat near us and joined in on the ballot action.  And totally kicked my ass.  Luckily, there was only one woman in their group, so she was the only eligible contestant and walked away with one of the three gift certificates.  I made off with two.  BOOM:  $30 shopping sprizzle.  Also, I should make clear that I was the only female attendee.  The Old Man was also present.  Surrounded by five of us designer-dress-drooling-oogling dames.  He wins the prize for best husband in a supporting role.

I had so much fun.  And I am very much looking forward to The Closet’s next cinematic event… WATCHING THE TITANIC IN 3-D on April 4th!!!  Anyone reading this blog should plan on coming along.  The girls are seriously so cool, and how can you not want to re-see TITANIC?!  That was Leo at his beautifullest.  I will keep you posted on news for this event, or you can become a fan of The Closet on Facebook and keep up to date that way.  https://www.facebook.com/theclosettradingco

And since I am a blogger who wants to learn new and exciting blogger skills, I took this opportunity to get to know my Photoshop.  Look what I made!

It’s my first attempt at anything Photoshop, and I know it’s pretty rough, but damn it feels good to be a Photoshop-literate gansta.

The above collage represents a few of the notable dresses by notable designers on notable ladies at the Oscars / after parties.  Honorable mention goes to Viola Davis in Vera Wang.

And Kristen Wiig in J. Mendel

And Octavia Spencer in Tadashi

Horray for new skills!  Photoshopping stuff It takes so much time!  Why are there fingers growing out of Berenice Bejo’s hip?!  The type is too little!  So much more to learn!

(All photos originally from style.com.)

40 Days and 40 Nights

I am proud to announce that today marks my Old Man’s FORTIETH DAY WITHOUT A CIGARETTE!

(Trumpets!)  (Applause!)

It has by no means been easy for him.  And he hasn’t quit “cold turkey”… more like warm turkey.  Or cold game hen.  But he has gone forty days without a cigarette.  There have been easy days, there have been hard days, and he still does have cravings, but for the most part, he has made a most excellent transition from being a real smoker to a fake smoker.  Or, as he likes to look at it, “a smoker who just isn’t smoking today”.  His transition would not have been nearly as smooth had it not been for the help of a few new friends:

Friend #1:  His e-cigarette.  If you are unfamiliar with these contraptions, the e-cigarette is a little cigarette-like battery-operated apparatus that is made up of two main parts; a cartridge containing liquid nicotine, and an atomizer which, when puffed on, vaporizes the nicotine, making it breathable.  They look like this:

E-cigs make you sexy.

They are great because they satisfy the nicotine craving but omit all the bad chemicals and additives in real cigarettes.  The Old Man, being a good combination of nerd and Virgo, did a lot of research on e-cigarettes before quitting and found that there are quite a few e-cigs on the market.  Since they are still relatively new, there has not been an enormous amount of research on them, but from what he gathered, he learned that most e-cigs are manufactured in China, and some are made in the United States.  The ones made in the US use only vegetable oil and nicotine in the cartridge.  The ones made in China… no one really knows what are put in them.  So he opted for the slightly more expensive US-made version.  (His particular brand is 21st Century Smoking.  His favorite flavor is Atlantic City.  You can find these e-cigs at kiosks in malls, or online at the link above.)

Friend #2:  Snus.  Although the e-cigarette is fantastic, and the “smoke” it creates is not harmful to second-hand breathers, it still garners glares from passers-by and is not always an appropriate social utensil.  To avoid those potentially awkward moments (or when the e-cigarette needs to be recharged), The Old Man resorts to snus: a tobacco-filled pouch that is placed against the gums to deliver nicotine an a nearly-unoticable way.  They are by no means The OM’s favorite thing, but they are not a cigarette, and do the job in a pinch.

Friend #3:  The iPhone app called My Last Cigarette.  Since so much of smoking’s allure is psychological, it helps to have any kind of encouragement while quitting.  The OM finds solace in this app which tracks his progress by calculating how many cigarettes he hasn’t smoked, how much his circulation has improved, how much money he has saved, and how many days he had added to his life.  As of today, he has not smoked six hundred and forty nine cigarettes.  CAN YOU IMAGINE?!?!

Stats as of February 24, 2012

This app is more accurate for the cold-turkey quitter since his nicotine intake is still high, and the cigarette savings are offset by e-cig costs, but it is still a comfort for him to be able to track his progress everyday.

As you can imagine, the everyday benefits of The Old Man’s decision to quit smoking have been many.  He no longer has to go outside in the cold / heat to pace around smoking and talking on his phone and making the elderly lady neighbors nervous.  He also takes fewer breaks at work now (which is a combo good / bad thing).  And although I never really minded the smell of smoke on his breath or clothes, I did not like the way his hands would smell – and judging from the way our cat Sid interacts with him – I think the pets felt the same way.  All this to say, my husband kicks ass, and you can too!  If you are a smoker, ex-smoker, or smoker who just isn’t smoking today, I am interested to know how quitting has gone for you and whether you went cold turkey.  How’s it been?

Congratulations on making it through forty days, Husband!  Here’s to the coming of your forty YEAR anniversary of not smoking!  I am looking forward to celebrating it with a healthy 68 year old you.

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