house in the ‘burbs

merry valentines day tree

we survived another five day week. i am borderline euphoric leaving work on fridays en route to get dane at day care.

saturdays rule.

i started taking christmas decorations down the day after christmas. the undecking process has been going on all week and is still not quite complete. its rather depressing. dane loved the tree. then it occured to me that i am a grown-up and i own this house and i can do what i want. and that is how the ALL-HOLIDAY-TREE was born.

oh valentinesday tree, oh valentinesday tree..

this is our valentines day tree which will transition into a st patricks day tree come march. the easter slash one year old birthday tree will stick around until its time for the 4th of july tree to spread 4th of july cheer… you get the idea. this tree isnt going anywhere.

i did a little weeknight crafty work to make the glitter heart frame from a cheap crappy clearance frame from michaels.


dane digs the v-day tree and sparkley heart. we’ve been hanging out in the music room quite a bit lately.

it turns out dane is the best musician in the family.
earlier tonight we hung up the second canvas we ordered from canvas4life. (love this photo… dane was only a few days old getting his first kisses from his big brother).

eventually we’ll have one more canvas to finish the wall. i want to wait until dane is a little bigger and get a good family photo.
unrelated: tonight we are eating turkey tips that cost $21. twenty one dollars! i would have never bought these if i paid attention to the price! shopping with an infant = overpriced meat for dinner. 
this weekend i hope to finally make it to ikea so we can work on our plan for this area that it is now tree-free.

music room

this room was very empty for a long time. when we were given mike’s parents’ beautiful piano, we dubbed it the “music room”. late in the fall we found these two little *settees from an estate sale for peanuts and added the round shag rug shortly before the holidays.

*settee is new to my vocabulary as well. it means ‘small couch’ in fancy talk.

we weren’t interested in a sitting room or anything formal where we would drink tea and discuss the fiscal cliff. it may not be worthy of such a hip name, but for lack of an alternative, that is what we have been going with.

at one point, i made this mood board. its so random and nothing like the room has actually evolved into.

its pretty open to the dining room so the color & design schemes need to mesh. we painted 3 walls ‘dove white’ (benjamin moore) – the color below the chair rail in the dining room. 

the forth wall – this yellowy one with the triple window looking into the front yard – i am going to attempt to wall paper with a bold pattern. never done this before. know nothing about it. but since its really not much wall, i don’t think it could go too horribly wrong… (????) 

i went to a local paint & wallpaper store (home depot does not sell wallpaper) and flipped thru many many many books of samples. i took three home and narrowed it down to two.
here they are. each time i think i’ve made up my mind, i change it.

cookies and beer (beer and cookies)

this is the best beer in the world.

Westvleteren 12 is a Belgian Trappist Ale that has consistently been voted the single best tasting beer in the world. All major beer rating sites agree that this is the pinnacle of beers, including: Beer Advocate, Rate Beer and Beer Pal.
That’s a little over 2,300 beer experts saying that this is the best beer, anywhere.
Located in the western corner of Belgium, the St Sixtus Abbey (or Westvleteren Abdij) is home to the Trappist Westvleteren Brewery. The Brewery was founded in 1838 and is owned and operated by the monks of the St Sixus Abbey.

our friend sully came over saturday with an “awesome surprise”. out of his little red cooler came two bottles of this very rare, very expensive belgian ale.

he gingerly placed them on the counter. then i took pictures of them taking pictures… totally normal.


this was potent stuff. extremely flavorful and extremely strong – almost like a hard liquor (hence 10.2% abv). one pint of this stuff would get me close-talking for sure. i love a strong beer, but this was too much for me.. i think the best beer i ever had was in prague – the pilsner urquell on tap at the golden tiger pub. a pretty amazing experience. thats my fancy answer. around these parts my vote would go to dogfish head 90 minute IPA. delicious.

 the boys seemed to agree that this was possibly the best beer in the world.

sully shed a single tear…

i love beer. ALMOST as much as i love cookies. and these girls.
sunday afternoon i hosted a bit of a last minute cookie swap. gabby hosted last year and i hope we can continue the tradition for years to come. its a great, no frills way to get the girls together before the holidays. and there are cookies.

lots of cookies.
even lindsey was able to contribute something very close to a cookie this year…

i thought it might be impossible to get a group shot (animals included) but we did it!

so much fun and good motivation to get the house a step closer to ready for hosting christmas.

all you need is love

its a lie. you need a lot of other things, like food, and, in this state, car insurance… you also need sleep. i have not quite gotten my fill of sleep this week. it was a whirlwind of a weekend with the concert & birthday party, right into a busy week including a monday night football game to watch (luckily, it was a blowout so i didnt feel guilty passing out before the end) and my company holiday party the following night. despite the hectic start, we have been slowing chipping away at some projects and holiday prep around the house.

1. i made a quick diy wreath with some stuff from michaels. why i didn’t just buy a wreath? i don’t know, i hate spare time? i didn’t use any glue or anything. i just wove the wire stems into the twine.

2. we ordered a “trial” photo canvas. we love it. the plan is to get at least 2 more family photo canvases in black & white and hang them in the music room. there are a lot of places that will put your photo to canvas. we randomly found canvas4life online… it was a simple process and their prices were competitive… ordered this 20″x30″ canvas, and will definitely be going back for more.

3. i also ordered a massive roll of brown craft paper for all my xmas wrapping (and all the wrapping i have to do between now & when dane goes to college). its massive. and its the best thing that has happened to shakey in a long time. he went nuts over it. it was hilarious.

4. the new pulls for our kitchen cabinets finally arrived. i have been wanting to replace these since we moved in, so i’m really looking forward to getting them all installed. (mike has tackled about 8 out of 47.. baby steps).
in other news – dane still has his endless cold. its never. ending.
(crusty nosed baby):
and the dining room still looks like this:
bonus points if you can find the bulldog:

we did something really cool.

the hallway wall leading from the kitchen to the stairway is now a magnetic, chalk board wonderland.

we picked up these rust-oleum quarts at home depot on the way back from brewster last weekend, and a day & a half later mike had banged out the whole wall.

the magnetic primer [one coat] had a strong chemically smell, so we had to open up some windows and i took dane out for a jog then played upstairs while mike was rolling it on (with a “hot dog” roller. really, thats what its called). the chalk board paint [two coats] was odorless. both were a little messy (black drips against white trim is not very forgiving, but the trim needed to be painted anyway).

mike often second guesses my quirky design ideas [what do you mean you’re not sure about the rhino?], so i’m glad he was on board with this one. its probably my favorite project we’ve done in the house so far.

one thing: the magnetic primer = not so magnetic. we should have done two coats. maybe even three. certain magnetics will stick, some wont. no chance we’ll be hanging up paper/photos with magnets – they fall right off. some areas are stronger than others. i cant imagine how ineffective it must have been before it was “3xs stronger!”.

i didnt take many pictures of the process since i was keeping dane away from the work site. but this is the wall before. all naked and sad:

and now black and magic:

 quality control inspection:

ok, pass.

lots of other stuff going on around here. we’re trying to get the house ready for company over the holidays. tomorrow, however, we are headed to mohegan sun for a dmb show! dane is spending the night with grandma, which means it will be my first night away from him. i really can’t imagine not waking up to our 6am nursing session. i’m either going to be really sad and cry, or blissfully fast asleep late into the morning . it could go either way.

omg i don’t know if i will be able to do it!

chair fair

its been a big few weeks. 
dane turned 7 months old and we bought 6 chairs. 

they are from hayneedle. its a pretty amazing operation over there.. free shipping and they practically overnight them. we got two to start… to see how they looked and how we got along. we decided they were probably the best we were going to do for the price (on sale… $165 for a set of 2). they look great with the table. they are not amazing quality (see price above), but we will only be using this dining arrangement for holidays and the rare dinner gathering, so i’m not too worried about wear & tear. they are comfortable… would i want to sit in one for hours while i got my hair braided into tiny cornrows? no. but comfortable enough to sit through a meal or two without complaint. so i ordered another couple sets last week and here is where we are at:

as for the 7 month old baby… he is crawling (army style) everywhere. talking up a storm in the silliest, most adorable language ever. and he has TEETH. two razor sharp little bottom teeth.
he has been new york city, his first patriots game (vs buffalo.. a close one, but we got the w) and has been in serious training mode for his first 5k this thursday (the hingham turkey trot). a busy man to say the least.

in other news, someone will THREE YEARS OLD in just a few short weeks. do you know who? here is a hint:
if you guessed shakespeare, then you’re right! i can’t believe its been a whole year since his 2 year old birthday bash.

i have some party planning to do…

shine on you crazy pendant

our dining room has a new light! its from pottery barn… teen…

i love it. and it was freeeeeeeee.
allow me to explain. when we bought the dining table at pottery barn (during tax-free weekend) we opened a pb credit card (with the intention of paying it off right away then feeding it to shakespeare) and earned 10% in “rewards” which translated to $175. these lights are still at great deal at $99, but we like to think of it as free since we had more than enough reward dollars.

i didn’t even know pottery barn had a “teen” brand until i was doing a search for lighting. this woody, orb-like pendant caught my eye and i honestly liked the idea of it for the dining room better than the fancy shmancy chandeliers 3xs this price.

we also mcgyvered the old chandelier base & chain to use to hang the pendant from, so it wasn’t just wire (which would feel a little cheap for a “formal” dining room).

you have to buy the actual light bulb & wire part separate.. annoying. i had one from a west elm chandelier i haven’t gotten around to installing yet, so we used that.

our electrician friend came over & walked mike thru how to wire it. which is a good thing bc we were extremely intimidated by this process and what took 15 mins. probably would have taken us hours.

nice guy. let us know if you’re looking for an electrician in the south shore neck of the woods.

we’re getting there slowly but surely.

dining room update in 100 words or less

the dining room is starting to resemble an actual dining room (you have to squint):
mike bought some new manly tools and did an awesome job painting and putting up chair rail.

the new colors (gentlemans gray and white dove) are a huge improvement. i was nervous about opting for the darkest/boldest blue, but we’re happy with it.. and thankfully, after spending an hour choosing among 900 shades of white, this one works just fine. 

table is here. love.

lots more to be done. lighting. window treatment. wall art. CHAIRS. and we have a deadline. christmas. 
so this room will be up and running in a couple months for better or for worse.

i’m so overwhelmed with the task of choosing a chair. we (i) want 6 matching side chairs, & probably a different set of matching armchairs for the ends (??). its a big, expensive decision. these are two variations of what i’ve been considering. i really don’t know which direction to go at this point. the dark brown looks nice (pb pic below) and the new light we are considering would work with this look. we’ll see.
regardless, this is definitely a step in the right direction!

my next post will be dane’s first fenway experience. this little guy has had a big summer / fall. so much to share 🙂


in case you were on the edge of your seat, hoping, waiting, wishing to know what became of the newly yellow numbers, today is your day.

in effort to make the changing corner of dane’s nursery more functional, i added a little shelf, diaper dispenser, and hooks with the yellow, playful numbers, in preparation for mcas testing just for fun.

i have come to realize that the best time… the only time… i am up for contributing to my little blog is early in the morning when i’m all hopped up on caffeine. down time is almost non-existent these days. its so crazy how much has changed since last summer.

so much has happened around here in the past month or so that i wish i had chronicled. baby dane has rounded the 3 month corner and is just weeks away from peas and carrots and real life FOOD. what a BIG BOY!

i mean… seriously….
this little man is by far the most photogenic in the family. more big boy pics to come!
oh, and living room updates…

dining room design

after five months in the new house (at what point must i stop calling it new??), we are finally ready to address the two empty rooms that have become a dumping ground for unpacked boxes and baby gear over-flow… 
the formal sitting room is in the front of the house which flows into the dining room with a slider out to the deck in the back and entrance to the kitchen off the side.

here’s the view from the back of the dining room:

the first order of business is painting. the current colors are blah and the walls are filthy. the plan is to install a chair rail with white and panel moulding below and a rich blue above to pick up the color of the velvet west elm chairs..


the two finalists from the samples above (all benjamin moore) are “gentlemens gray”: 

and “blue danube”:

somehow, they both coordinate well with the chairs. i am partial to the gentlemens gray (a bit of a misnomer if you ask me) but it makes me nervous to go so dark. 

i’ve never been one to shy away from color (see my bright teal cape house and sunshine yellow laundry room).. so gentlemens gray it is.
oh, big news.. i finally figured out how to make normal mood boards. olioboard is the best site ever. lately nursing time = olioboard time. this really helps make creating a room from scratch much less scary. it will be a long time before we actually pull everything together (primarily because we just don’t have the money to do it all at once) but this is what i’m going for.. minus the chairs.. i have no vision for these yet, as you can see!..
so, hopefully over the next couple months, i will have a somewhat dramatic transformation to check back in with.

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