Monday, January 30, 2012

hello, monday.

hello, monday.

hello, end of january. already? already.
hello, begin again. & again. etc.

hello, three fewer pounds.
hello, water. ola, agua. bonjour, l'eau.
hello, neck exercises [neckercises?].

hello, morning minutes.
hello, truth talking.
hello, flowers just because.

hello, winter??

hello, teen budget experiment.
hello, financial planner confession.

hello, new milestone.
hello, region choir.
hello, austin ducks.
hello, puppy bowl.

hello, february.
hello, dear hearts.

bring the love.

image source: lulu bug jewelry @

Friday, January 27, 2012

what's your musical taste?

whatever it may be, drinkify's got you covered.

thanks to clever jessica jones of how about orange
for introducing this little boozy bff to my e-universe.

just type in what you're listening to,
& drinkify recommends just the right mix . . . er.
along with an alcoholic accompaniment, of course.

ella fitzgerald? bottle of merlot, room temp w/a twist of orange.

jack johnson? gin, honey & cranberry juice, garnished with shrimp.

puccini? 12 oz. reb bull.

john fahey? old rip van winkle bourbon, rocks w/bubblegum garnish.

kristin chenoweth? crown royal whiskey & red bull.

see how much fun?
go. try. giggle.
& if you've got the money for a liquor-store run
& the time to nurse a hangover, then sure — imbibe.

just be careful mixing genres.

image source:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

mama bear jewel.

update on jewel, the ely, mn, black bear
with a den cam full of people of the interwebs
watching & waiting for her to give birth
[the pressure!!] . . .

jewel had two healthy, lively cubs
last sunday, 1.22.2012, around 7:30a.

the addition of newborns has made the den cam
much more interesting & made jewel's hopes of hibernation
much less likely to be realized —
tons of noise & activity pretty much around the clock.

you can read up on den happenings at the
wildlife research institute's daily updates,

you can watch a video of jewel
comforting her cacophonous cubs

or you can go directly to the den cam for current cub status.

happy happy congratulations to first-time mama bear, jewel!

image source: wildlife research institute.

Monday, January 23, 2012

mount everest parenting.

thanks to my beautiful sister-friend, betsy
[who just had her second equally beautiful boy —
welcome to the world, baby o!!],
for sharing a brilliant parenting perspective
from the huffington post's glennon melton,
titled don't carpe diem:

"i think parenting young children (& old ones, i've heard)
is a little like climbing mount everest.

brave, adventurous souls try it because they've heard
there's magic in the climb.

they try because they believe that finishing, or even attempting the climb,
are impressive accomplishments.

they try because during the climb, if they allow themselves to
pause & lift their eyes & minds from the pain & drudgery,
the views are breathtaking.

they try because even though it hurts & it's hard,
there are moments that make it worth the hard.
these moments are so intense & unique that many people
who reach the top start planning, almost immediately, to climb again.

even though any climber will tell you that
most of the climb is treacherous, exhausting, killer.
that they literally cried most of the way up."

omg, am i feeling this.

ok, owning it:
if they did job interviews for parenting,
then either i'd never have gotten the position to begin with,
or i'd have been limited to the newborn-adolescent division.

i'm feeling i'm not a good "fit" for parenting a teen.

of course, the natural next question for sardonic adults such as myself is,
"who is??"

& maybe assuming there are parents who "get" their teenagers,
who can sustain the teen tantrums without breaking a sweat
[or pouring a half-glass of pinot grigio or requesting a prescription],
who can be helpful to their child without being vilified for it by said child,
maybe assuming such parents exist is part of my problem.

but there definitely seem to be parents around
who are riding the waters | waves | tsunamis of adolescence
with relative ease, while i flail & sputter & gulp for air,
perpetually just moments from being dragged under for good.

but now i'm mixing my mother-nature metaphors . . .
c'mon, kristen — is it mountain-climbing or tsunami-riding?

well, maybe it's both. or maybe it's neither. i don't know.
but treacherous? exhausting? killer? this, i know.

& i know those pauses — the ones when i lift
my eyes & mind from the pain & drudgery in front of me
to soak in the breathtaking views?
those are definitely harder to remember to take.

it's a big-ass mountain, y'all.
& i reckon i haven't even entered the death zone yet.
but i didn't begin this climb to surrender to the elements.

so i guess i'll just keep on scrambling & traversing,
pausing whenever i feel the call to rest & survey the landscape . . .

trying to appreciate the spectacular in this miracle called everyday life,
& cherishing each breath as the atmosphere thins.

image source: photo by ryszard pawłowski, courtesy of wikipedia.

Friday, January 20, 2012

live pregnant bears.

today, i'm grateful not to be a pregnant black bear
up in -24F ely, minnesota,
with a den cam streaming live video of me
24/7 worldwide.

& i'm grateful to be able to watch live streaming video
of a black bear up in ely, minnesota,
as she prepares to give birth for the first time,
on my laptop in my climate-controlled home office here in austin, texas.

i mean, how amazing is that??

jewel is a 3yo black bear being tracked by
the north american bear center & the wildlife research institute.

the nabc is a nonprofit organization working to advance the long-term survival
of bears worldwide by replacing misconceptions with scientific facts.
it's also working to conserve bear habitat, stop bear poaching,
rehabilitate injured or orphaned bears back into the wild, &
find ways to reduce conflict between people & bears.

the wri is conducting the longest & most detailed black bear study
& the largest educational outreach program ever done for black bears.
its research is intended to improve the coexistence of people & bears
in an increasingly urbanized environment.

so these are good folks, trying to save great bears.

& they've got three different den cams working. totally awesome.
explore their websites, & if you want to follow jewel's journey, check this:
jewel's den cam.

image source: wildlife research institute daily updates.

Monday, January 16, 2012

before & after: the laundry room.

last monday, i shared my just-before-christmas
guest room makeover-lite . . .
no building, no painting, not even a furniture rearrange;
just a lot of cleanup & a little decor refresh.

so, just before christmas this year,
i launched another room makeover . . .

because, really, what better time to
take on an additional home-improvement project than
in-between holiday shopping, wrapping, baking,
decorating, entertaining, etc.?

what is wrong with me?
yeah, don't answer that.

in my sanity's defense, i actually planned
& purchased all the materials for this revamp
way back last august/september.
but i needed help with the execution,
& it took a while to get around
to getting that part of it together.

yes, it's my laundry room.
i spend an abundance of time in there,
in that rather smallish, hallish room,
literally airing my family's dirty linens
[well, ok, if not airing, then washing, drying & folding them].
& while our old-school washer & dryer
are holding up for the time being,
the rest of the room wasn't really playing its supporting role.

ok, time for the befores:

from the entryway, viewing the left wall. beige, blah. & mess, yes.
kids' swimsuits hung up on door hooks.
pool tote & sack o' returnables hanging out on doorknob.
husband's clean shirt hung over door, awaiting transport
to the upstairs master closet & a hanger all its own.
lack of working storage space, as you'll see, was a HUGE issue.

panning down so you can see the galley-ness of the space,
the perky rugs i purchased in an inadequate effort to happy it up a little,
& the random crap accumulating around the room for lack of proper homes
[yes, that is a vacuum attachment hose sticking out of teen girl's riding boots].

panning up so you can see the atrocious amount of wasted vertical space,
thanks to our beautifully vaulted first-floor ceilings
& our builder's cheap-a$$ one-wall-long-shelf-in-a-laundry-room-is-plenty
approach [you know, some people actually call it a UTILITY room].
[& yes, that is a tin movie poster replica for viva las vegas.
i love me some elvis-annmargaret action. who doesn't?]

& showing the opposite side of the room, so you can see
the other end of the wall-long shelf, the extendable wall-hanger thing —
another stopgap measure, being misused for empty mismatched hangers,
dog harnesses & my travel purse — how more random crap has accumulated
up on the little wire storage shelf i added to the top of the washer,
& my wizard of oz movie poster calendar.

[i'm just realizing for the first time that this room had a theme:
garish vintage movie posters. not a good or desirable or well-executed theme,
but a theme, nonetheless. of sorts.]

also, you can't see it, but there's about 15 inches between the far wall & the washer,
where the aforementioned stuff is hanging over the aforementioned boots/vacuum hose,
a tall, pink, cylindrical trash can, a beatup green bucket, our steam cleaner &
a container of baking soda.

& finally, a quick snapshot of my other storage addition
[along with the washer-top shelf], a skinny, three-tiered wire caddy
sandwiched between the washer & dryer, & holding laundry necessities
like detergent, dryer sheets, lingerie bags & a bowl for pocket paraphernalia
in the top tier, along with even more accumulated random crap in the bottom tiers.

i can so feel your envy [snark snarksnark].

ok, time for the afters [yay!]:

i purposely chose a decor concept for my new & oh-so-improved laundry room:
the beach. because the beach is my favorite place to be, period.
i love the colors of the water & how the sunlight twinkles on it,
the soothing motion of the waves, the salty air, the feeling of the sea breeze.

so here's the view from the entryway, straight on.
i kept the hooks on the door, as they worked really well during summertime
for getting kids' soaked swimsuits off the floor & up to dry.

the paint is martha stewart living enamelware,
in eggshell finish, from the home depot.
it's a little greener — closer to aqua — than it's reading on my monitor.
i heart it, bigtime.

the comfy little rug is a microdry® ultimate luxury memory foam bath mat,
from bed bath & beyond.

against the left wall is this handy-dandy ironing organizer,
from target. the darling ironing board cover
came from etsy shop city chic country mouse
[sorry — the poor lighting situation doesn't do it cuteness-justice].
now i'm jonesin' for a new, cuter iron to go with it . . . maybe this one?

here's closer look at the wall opposite the door,
where i did a little decor detail.
the vintage blue glass ball jars came from etsy shop sunshine hill farm 1848;
the middle one is semi-filled with shells from world market.
the frame is one i got from exposures long ago,
but they don't seem to offer it any longer.
the "life is good at the beach" plaque is from primitives by kathy;
i found it at a barnes & noble store, of all spots.

oh, & the photo is of teen girl & little boy, when they were
little girl & baby boy [ca. 2006], loving the beach at galveston.

panning around to the right, you glean a sneak peek at some of my
new & HUGELY improved storage, along with my much, much happier
washer & dryer. we scooted them together against the back wall, but had to also
scoot them farther out from the right wall, to accommodate the dryer vent.

ok, here's the spectacular storage shot,
showing my wonderful white wire shelving [long shelves from organize-it,
short shelf over the dryer from my friendly neighborhood target store],
& all my beautiful baskety storage [white plastic woven baskets from world market;
water hyacinth bins from the container store].

do you hear angels singing? i do.

this is just a closer look at the area above the washer,
so you can see the beachy art
[ocean view {left} from etsy shop alice b. gardens photography,
conch shell closeup {right} from etsy shop ginger street studio]
& the salvaged white wire shelf atop the washer, now gorgeously organized
with more world market plastic woven storage [holding lingerie bags],
a bamboo organizer from the container store [holding dryer sheets],
& some plastic-lined planter baskets from ikea
[holding microfiber cloths & a tiny ipod speaker].

here's the door wall again, with my biggest storage addition
& the reason behind the scooting-over of the appliances:
a four-cube expedit shelving unit from ikea.
adding this puppy gives me not only a little more floor space
[since it's only about half as deep as the w/d], but also a little work surface
&, of course, the square storage shelves beneath.

atop the expedit are more ikea planter baskets, a lamp from target, &
a little puppy-schtuff bin from the container store [no longer available].
above the expedit is some space for hanging clothes,
along with a dozen joy mangano huggable hangers from target.

also, please note my self-created, streamlined new 2012 calender
hanging up on the wall, 100% gaudy-movie-poster-free. :)

ok, final shot — of the expedit in all its storing glory,
holding our bevy of beach towels, naturally,
& a couple of plastic milk crates from the container store
[they fit the cubes perfectly!].
the left one is holding a small bucket + sponge & laundry-essential extras;
the right one is [gasp!] empty . . . for now.

oh, & there's my new vellum-y trash can, too . . .
can't seem to remember whereabouts i found it. snap.

well, if you've hung in with me through this l - o - n - g post,
then a thousand thanks for indulging me in my latest love affair.

& just to wrap it all up with a big, beachy bow . . .



my laundry room.
aw, ma — i love it awful.

wanna see a laundry room that inspired me to makeover mine?
you already have — it's at the top o' the post!
but you should check jen joneses' whole amazing i heart organizing blog,

while you're at it. thank you, jen!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

liza, judy & mario.

i just can't get enough of the holidays.

ok, that's a lie.
i've had more than enough holiday hubbub & hoopla
[& histrionics?] to last me another near-year.

so next sunday, under threat of death
[or a nasty note, at least] from our homeowners association,
we're definitely packing up the merry at our house
[the christmas kind, at least].

but before we say farewell to all the falala,
i've just got to sneak in this final bit of jolly:

comedian mario cantone [whom i typically find obnoxious]
in a christmastime appearance on the view, holiday 2009,
doing impressions of celebrity xmas albums.

the finale mother-daughter "duet"
brings me to tears [of joy] every. single. time.

merry on, y'all. :)

image source: ms. t's blog.

Monday, January 9, 2012

before & after: the guest room.

i love our home.

above is what it looked like
on our first christmas here, 2004.

isn't it amazing? i honestly hope to live here
the rest of my many thousands of days.

on the outside, it still looks much like this today,
except for our big, beautiful oak tree,
which is even bigger & more beautiful now.

but during the past year & a half or so,
i've begun to change it on the inside.

at 44, my decor style is finally developing
beyond a random gathering of items i like.

inspired by fellow bloggers diy heroes
john & sherry over at young house love,
i began making small changes here & there
to simply give some spaces & our home overall
a more complete & connected look & feel.

i'm not explaining this too well,
so here's hoping the photos tell the story a little better.

our guest room is our only downstairs bedroom,
& serves as our resident indoor storage facility
[counting the garage as our resident outdoor storage facility].

during much of the year, stuff just gets piled up in there —
stuff for craft, home & homework projects,
stuff from the last celebration, stuff for the next celebration,
all manner of photos & the stuff with which to organize them,
stuff en route to other destinations, both known & unknown . . .

i'm sure you understand. many homes & families,
i've discovered, have such an unintended way station.

anyway, our guest room gets cleaned up only under duress,
i.e., whenever an overnight guest visit is imminent.

like just before christmas, for example.

so just before christmas 2010,
i not only cleaned up our guest room,
but also reworked some of its key decor elements
in order to make it lighter, brighter & just plain happier.

ok, so here are the rather humiliating befores . . .

the view as you enter [clutter much?]:

the bed, head-on:

panning to the right, my photo wrangling project table + rather random bookcase:

directly right of the entry, the open door to the closet in the back
with a clutter-collecting tea tray in the front
[& our curious canine daisy investigating on the left]:
here, i am realizing i should have stepped into the room
& snapped a few shots from the bed side of the room
to provide a view of the closet/tea tray/entry side of the room.
sorry — i'm new to this whole before & after thing. sue me.

ok, so here are the greatly improved afters . . . 

again, the entry view:

the bed with new linens, plus new curtains & a temporary bookbox nightstand:

the photo table, tidied up & a little top space cleared:

the bookcase, tidied & cleared, but still rather random:

the tea tray, tidied & cleared, + more carpet, less canine:

a "before" angle i neglected — the real nightstand: 

it's so much better, but there's still so much work to be done in here.

mostly, i want to clear more clutter &
improve the storage so most of it is hidden.
& i want to work on the wall art,
so it's more thoughtful, more engaging & more complete.

so while there will likely be a b&a: the guest room 2 — the sequel,
i'm happy with the beginning i've created . . .

from this:

to this:

how about you? what fun room makeovers have you done lately?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

holiday 2011 debrief: the get-real edition.

oh, how i wish i could say
i haven't been blogging lately because
i was basking in a picture-perfect,
joyful, peaceful, carols at the hearth
with hot cocoa & baby marshmallows,
martha-stewart-style holiday.

but let's get real, shall we?

the truth is, i haven't been blogging lately
because i was tangled up in a holiday haze
of to-do lists, credit-card debt, sleep deprivation,
matriarchal martyrdom & good old-fashioned stress.


yeah, 2011 wasn't my best year . . .
for christmas or much else.

& i'm not wading into the self-pity pool
for a wallowing. it wasn't all terrible.

christmas itself was rather lovely.
it was just the lead-up that sucked.

in spite of my best intentions,
i let self-care go,
which left plenty of space for
over-caffeination, over-carbohydration,
severe under-rest
& an overdeveloped sense of underappreciation.

can anyone relate at all?

so, thank goodness for new beginnings.
thank goodness for the new year,
for new intentions,
for a clean, crisp, blank white sheet of paper
upon which to write them.

thank goodness.
& hello, 2012!!

image source: erick maximo.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

welcome back, mates.

a light welcome-back post today for you & i both
following my month-long yuletide-induced hiatus . . .

courtesy of the 176-member crew of
the british royal navy's hms ocean,

who planned for a seven-week deployment exercise
but were diverted to libya for further operations

lasting seven-&-a-half months.

they returned safe & sound december ninth,
just in time for the holidays.

that was their day; this will brighten yours.
& here's to a wonderful 2012 for us all.

glad to be back, blogees & blogettes.