Monday, December 31, 2012

What We Did Over The Holidays

We live in the historic district of our little lakeside town. It's wonderful and lovely and amazingly picturesque.

It also doesn't have streetlights on the extremely narrow roads in the residential section. So this is what our pretty neighborhood looks like at night. Especially on rainy or overcast nights.

So J and I are on our way home from the grocery, on a rainy holiday week night when something glimmers in the corner of my eye. I slam on the brakes. J unfortunately was holding a drink the moment I slammed on the brakes.

Whoops. He was then no longer so much holding the drink as wearing it.

"OH MY GOD WHAT'S WRONG?" J screamed, dripping with milk (yes, he carries milk around in the grown-up equivalent of a sippy cup. It's a long story). "DID YOU HIT SOMETHING?" He later tells me he thought someone's pet had gotten loose. Thank goodness, no.

I'm staring openmouthed, waving my hands around in UTTER SHEER EXCITEMENT. I can't speak. I can't breathe. I'm so excited.

I can see the merest glimmer of a metal foot and a tapered leg. I can make out one long piece topped by a smaller one.

Finally, I breathlessly announce, "There's mid-century furniture in that trash pile!!!!"

"Are you serious?" J asks quietly. Then, "Where? I can't see anything."

This is what I'm seeing in my mind's eye at this point. 

Photo From Strictly Heywake
Yes, for a moment I think I've found Heywood-Wakefield side step tables in the neighbor's trash.Then my mind runs through all the other tiered mid-century tables I've seen and admired. I decide finding any mid-century furniture in a trash pile would pretty much make my life.

I am absolutely ridiculously excited. 

This is when I jump out of the car and run over to the tables. Leaving my door ajar. I see immediately that I'm right, they are bi-level vintage side tables. They aren't Heywood-Wakefield. I don't care. 

"You need to pull the car up so we can put them in the trunk," J says, getting out of the car, into the blowing rain. 

I freeze. Honestly? I was worried if I stopped to move the car up someone else would come along, on this cliched dark and stormy night, and take my mid-century side tables from the trash pile.

"But...someone could take them," I stammer, clutching the table I've freed from the pile in an incredibly awkward embrace.

"MOVE THE CAR. NO ONE WANTS YOUR TRASHED TABLES." He didn't yell, by the way. But there was a certain firmness there.

So I nervously move the car up the requested five feet (I slammed on the brakes the instant my eye registered mid century leg) and we load them into the car. My incredibly patient husband helps me get them in the house, although they (and we) are absolutely soaked. Then he helps me dry them off, because I'm afraid if they stay wet they'll warp. 

The good news is that one table is in really nice shape. 

The other table is missing a leg. HOWEVER. The incredibly considerate neighbors also threw away said leg, and I found it. J says it'll be easy to reattach it. The bigger issue is that the finish on that table is marred. These are Formica, or laminate, side tables. Refinishing isn't an option, so I think I'll just paint them. I am toying with the idea of re-formicaing them.

(Also? These pics were taken while I prepped the living room for waxing the floors. I'll have the horrific details of that experience later in the week. I'm still processing.)

I'm picturing the end result looking something like this.

Photo From A Modern Line
Creamy top, black legs, preserve the vintage brass details. I'm so glad we found these, partly because we recently broke our bed and I think what we will get will be a lot lower than our current bed, which means our nightstands would be higher than the top of the mattress. Not good. These will be perfect with a lower bed.

Also, did you know my Facebook followers got a sneak peak? Follow me to get even more glimpses of the insanity around here! I the only trash picker? Does anyone else have a trash picked score they'd like to share?

I hope everyone has a safe New Year's Eve and I'll see you back here next year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

What Y'all Did This Year

Thank you all for the support and kind messages yesterday.

The reason I have a blog? Is because I love reading blogs. These are the projects I found especially inspiring this year, in no particular order. Except for the last one, because? ABSOLUTELY AMAZING.

Photo From Young House Love
Young House Love moved into their new home in 2011, painted their master bedroom Carolina Inn Club Aqua by Valspar (embarrassingly? I didn't even have to look that up. Love that color.), bought a new bed, bedding, a rug, and decorated their nest. And then? They realized it wasn't working. Kudos to them for admitting it. Not only to themselves, but to their MILLIONS of readers. They proceeded to switch the bedding, rework the bed, buy an amazing new rug, rearrange the furniture...and then they hit pay dirt when they repainted the room in a great, moody gray. Their room looks amazing and it illustrates the point it's okay if you've made a decorating choice you've come to regret. Move on and make yourself happy.

Photo From Broke Ass Home
If your puppy needs a new bed, do you....

1. Go to Petsmart?
2. Recycle an old television?

If you are Emma from Broke Ass Home, you go with option two. Isn't the television turned dog bed adorable?

Photo From Interiors By Kenz
When the adorable Kenz from Interiors By Kenz announced she was going to revamp her um, not lovely fireplace I gave her the internet equivalent of a pat on the head. It was bad, and I didn't think a few DIY projects could change it.

Yeah. I was wrong. It looks amazing, and totally changed her living room.

Photo From Sandpaper and Glue
Anytime Stephanie from Sandpaper and Glue posts a picture of her master bedroom I comment on how much I love this dresser. She took a regular you-see-them-at-every-junk-store older dresser and completely transformed it with some navy paint and and reworking the original hardware.

This project makes me think of Stephanie every night before I go to sleep. Why? Because I stare at a our giant hulk of a 1970s chest of drawers and plot a hopefully as effective new look for it.

Photo From Boxy Colonial
Gretchen from Boxy Colonial is pregnant, homeschools, and is DIY-ing an entire house makeover. In the midst of all this she created a lovely little library I like to call "my dream space"! The storage! A room devoted to my books! A cozy chair! A cool lamp! Pretty blue paint!

She knocked it right out of the park.

Photo From DIY On The Cheap
DIY On The Cheap's office/living room is filled with the end products of great projects. These include the shelving unit, a dresser, and a card catalogue, amongst others. Also? I'm completely obsessed with that desk.

Photo From Ugly Duckling House
Sarah from the Ugly Duckling House is a DIY wunderkind. I love this bathroom update that included painting linoleum floors and a new vanity.

Photo From The Brick House
The Brick House didn't have one specific project or post I could point to this year as especially inspiring, but Morgan's whole aesthetic inspires me. I love her white walls and vintage modern minimalism. I'll never achieve it, but I love it. Her furniture choices are always amazing, and I love that she rotates pieces in and out of her home.

Photo From House*Tweaking
Dana from House*Tweaking walked into your average 1950s ranch and thought, hmm, this would look so much better with fewer walls and a vaulted ceiling.

She proceeded to tear out the walls and loft the ceiling to the rafters, along with installing a brand new kitchen (okay, she had help, but you get my point). There are no words for how much I love this.

So what projects inspired y'all this year? And, more importantly, what projects did you complete you are especially proud of?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Our Girl

When we celebrated Lila's first Christmas we had no idea it would be her only Christmas; indeed, that we would have less than forty-eight hours to spend with her. SIDS is just...a bitch. Lila was beautiful and developmentally on target and a voracious eater and had learned how to smile and was learning how to control her hands to pet Emily and loved laying on J's chest and insisted on being held every moment she was awake. And then she was gone.

We lost her two years ago today. Instead of focusing on what we lost, we are choosing to take a moment to concentrate on what we had. So we are posting some of our favorite pictures of our darling girl.

Lila on her birthday. When I was picking pictures to post I almost skipped this one because I was afraid she'd be embarrassed when she's older. Acceptance is not an everyday thing,

Laying on a quilt my grandmother made in her gender bending blue onesie. We were boring her.

Lila was always curious about everything. She looked at the world like she really wanted to figure it out.

I'm pretty sure she was watching Emily in this picture.

Lila's Christmas.

Changing clothes is just so tiring!

J was eating a candy bar while holding when Lila did her trademark throw herself at what she wanted (I've never seen a newborn who could toss herself about before) and she threw herself right at the chocolate bar. I wiped out her mouth, but she was super excited about what remained!

Thank you all for reading.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The 10 Best Books of 2012

Original Image From Harvest Books
...or at least the best books I read in 2012 that I think all of you should read! Certainly I didn't read ALL THE BOOKS. No matter what my family thinks (I am, admittedly, a rather voracious reader).

All Book Images From Amazon

Gone Girl  will be an ubiquitous  entry on the Best Books of 2012 lists. There's a reason. It's a really, really good read. I started it after dinner one night and J woke up at 2am to find me still enthralled with it. Sometimes its nice to read a well-plotted novel full of interesting characters that isn't trying to redefine the genre.

I couldn't help casting it in my head, and it's a shame about Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillipe's divorce because they are MEANT to play the main characters. Add in Sarah Michelle Gellar as Phillipe's sister and we'd have a Cruel Intentions reunion. Which would be nothing short of awesome.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business explains the psychology of habit. It also delves into how corporations utilize our habits to make us better consumers. The New York Times ran an excerpt explaining how Target can predict which customers are pregnant. Freaky.

Imagine: How Creativity Works demystifies creativity, explaining the historical, cultural, and environmental factors behind individual creativity and creative movements. The good news is that anyone can harvest their own imagination by reconsidering their preconceptions of how creativity works. As a frustrated novelist I found it fascinating, informative, and helpful.

UPDATE: My brilliant friend the Englishist informed me Jonah Lehrer was accused of self-plagiarism and problems with attributions regarding this work and some of his other journalism. I enjoyed the book, but find plagiarism abhorrent (although I find self-plagiarism to be a complex topic, Lehrer's was apparently rather blatant. The issues with attributions are more troubling).

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb: A Novel's author, Melanie Benjamin also wrote Alice I Have Been about the girl who inspired Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I loved that book. I equally loved "Mrs. Tom Thumb." Benjamin creates worlds you simply fall into and characters whom seem incredibly real, no matter how strange the circumstances. Plus I find descriptions of circuses and other traveling shows from the 19th and 20th centuries reliably fascinating.

John Irving's In One Person feels like an old-fashioned novel in the best possible sense. There's a rootable if deeply flawed narrator and a character driven plot. The Hotel New Hampshire and The World According to Garp are two of my favorite novels of the post-WWII era. This book is just as good.

Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West is simply amazing. It covers the adventures of two rich young women in 1916 who want more out of life than tea parties, so they volunteer to teach out west. This decision completely changes their lives in amazing ways. Non-fiction, but reads like a great novel. If you ever read These Happy Golden Years and wondered what Laura's first teaching job was really like for her...this helps provide context for an answer.

The House of Velvet and Glass is the follow up to The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. Just like in "Dane" Howe creates a magical New England full of atmosphere and complicated, well-drawn women dealing with the ties of families and the pull of history.

Next to Love was maybe my favorite book of the year. I just loved it. Feldman creates complicated women who must send their men overseas in WWII and then deal with the fall out after the war ends. Her portrayal of PTSD in returning vets is just amazing, and as the wife of a vet I found it deeply touching. I also love how she realistically weaves in how history effects the fabric of every day life for these women, but in different and surprising ways. I really can't recommend this enough.

The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat: Craig Claiborne and the American Food Renaissance is a lot of fun, and full of interesting information about how Claiborne (amongst others, like Julia Child) changed the  food culture in America with the power of his New York Times column and how what he started continues to inform food trends today.

The Age of Miracleis a heart-breaking, mind-twisting what if of a book. The world starts turning more slowly and we experience what that means through an incredibly fleshed out young girl. I kept thinking about her experiences and the vulnerability of existence way after I finished the book.

So. What books did y'all read and love this year?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays.

Photo from Atlanta Modern

We hope you are all kicking back...

Photo From Vintage Ad Browser
...that all is merry and bright...
Picture From Out Of The Past
...and that you all have a very happy holiday.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Isn't Christmas Without A Monorail

Guest Dog returned to her owners Sunday night, and we are very happy they are reunited for the holidays!

My particular historical interest is post-WWII America, particularly as it relates to the built environment and the experience of everyday life. The Greatest Generation saw such incredible technical and lifestyle change over their lifespan (my grandparents were born when home telephones were still relatively rare amongst most Americans, and all lived to see the invention of the internet. I don't think ANY other generation ever saw so much change in their daily lives).

ANYWAY. Shopping became an EXPERIENCE during this time period, and the baby boom made merchandisers realize the power of children. Marketing to children became a thing. Part of this was making children enjoy the act of going shopping.

What kid doesn't want to ride a monorail through the toy section of their local department store? This made the kid excited to go to the store and turned shopping into an experience for the entire family instead of just another errand. Making the downtown department store into a destination became critically important as their core customer bases moved to the suburbs and branch stores (often in new shopping centers and malls) opened.

I mentioned my love of the Pink Pig (named? Priscilla) in the post about family history projects. The Pink Pig was a monorail that originally circled Atlanta's Rich Department Store's toy section. Originally built in 1953 at some point Rich's moved it to the roof.

Picture from Atlanta Journal Constitution Archives
I love this picture because it encapsulates my experience of riding the pig perfectly. It swayed over a very tall building, with the street seemingly hundreds of feet beneath you. I loved it. It was also slightly terrifying.

In the best possible way.

The Ping Pig closed in 1991 (sniff), but when Federated decided to retire the Rich's nameplate in favor of making every store they owned a Macy's, they decided to throw Atlanta a bone and bring back the Pig.

Photo From the AJC
Yeah...not so much, Federated. There's no slight thrill of danger. It's not a monorail. They pretend it's always been the Macy's Pink Pig. Why not just restore the monorail and hang it up at Lennox, Macy's? Why? Actually you can visit parts of the original Pig at the Atlanta History Center, one of my favorite places in town.

Awhile ago I stumbled upon The Pink Pig Flyer and learned Atlanta wasn't the only city with a magical department store train. I'm not sure why I never pondered the idea that Atlanta just isn't that special.

Picture from K Transit
This is the Meir and Frank Department Store in Portland, Oregon. Apparently their monorail, the Santaland, still ran as of 2005. However, that's also the year Federated turned all their stores into a Macy's and it sounds like the Santaland was a victim of the switchover. (Thanks for ruining EVERYTHING, Federated!) Love seeing one running through a toy department!

Photo from The Post Standard

The Edwards department store in Syracuse was graced with the Rocket Ship monorail which circled Toy Land. The Rocket Ship last circled Edwards in 1972 when the downtown department store was demolished.  I found multiple articles discussing resurrecting it in the Victor Gruen designed local mall. Sounds like an awesome idea to me!

Photo From Michigan Live

I think I love this monorail the best because it reminds me of the Pink Pig's face. This, apparently, was the latter day appearance of the Santa Express. It started out resembling the Meir and Frank train and went through various appearance changes. The monorail outlived the department store, Herpolsheimer's, that brought it to Grand Rapids. After the department store left the downtown area the ride continued to operate as various government and civic groups used the building. It now resides at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

Photo From The Monorail Society
Remember my spiel about how Christmas monorails helped downtown department stores compete against fledgling suburban malls? Yeah, well. The Christmas Express at Rochester's Victor Gruen designed Midtown Plaza began and ended its life in a suburban mall. The Christmas Express last circled the plaza in 2007 and the mall itself was demolished in 2008. The Christmas Express is currently in storage.

Picture from Humanities Magazine
From my research I believe Philadelphia's Wanamaker's department store debuted the first toyland monorail, the Rocket Express, in 1946. The train ran until 1984. It is now on display at Philly's Please Touch museum.

Does anyone else have memories of riding department store trains? Or know of any I missed? 

I am taking a break from all things house related until after the new year. The rest of this week/start of next will be all about the other things I find fascinating. I'm sure you guys are all super excited to learn about what I read/where I go/other stuff I love! 

However I'm busy WORKING on house projects. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for sneak peaks.

Friday, December 21, 2012

House Stalking: Christmas Edition

Picture From An Old Grad School Blog
A northeast suburb of Atlanta boasts of a neighborhood called Merry Hills. Within this neighborhood you'll find streets named Christmas, Holly, Merry, North Holly, Pine Tree, and Reindeer. Who wouldn't want to live at the intersection of Reindeer and North Holly? The original neighborhood was built 1950 and 1963 as one story ranches on 1/4 to 3/4 acre lots. The houses were built to be eligible for VA loans, making them attractive to returning WWII and Korea vets.

So this neighborhood? PRIME Grandma house territory...except this is a very popular area of town (near all the interstates, Emory, and the CDC) with great schools, which usually ups the chances of turnover and remodeling.

So...what's available in grandma style houses with a Christmas address?

1755 Reindeer Lane 

This house lists at 200k with four bedrooms and three baths.
Reindeer Lane Photos From Redfin
I love the outside. It looks like a split level from the outside, but after looking through the pictures I think the bottom right window is part of a daylight basement. This house, by the way? Kind of reminds me of Young House Love's house.
I love the openness of the kitchen. I would love, love, love a sitting area with a fireplace attached to the kitchen. It needs new flooring and a new light fixture, but the white painted brick and paneling is sweet. And I've learned from people like Kenz how to deal with a fireplace surround you are unhappy with.
The great room, which shares the fireplace with the kitchen. The smurf holocaust carpet would have to go, but the bones of the room are awesome. That lofted ceiling? The bank of windows? I love. This is obviously an addition to the original house.

Remember in the1980s/early 1990s when colored mini-blinds were a thing? Here is a sad, sad remnant of that time period. Here's a hint: while shades of green often look amazing together, mint and forest green? Not so much. I do like the tile, though!

All in all, a very cute house.

1324 Merry Lane

This three bedroom, 1.5 bath lists for $180,000.
Photos of Merry Lane from Zillow
The outside of this house is straight up adorable. Love the glassed in porch and brick facade.

 This staging just leaves me cold. It reminds me of apartment listings, and when you are expecting someone to shell out almost 200k for a house with one bathtub/shower do you really want them thinking mid-level apartment? It's not bad, it's just...blah. It doesn't do anything to show up the house's good points. These aren't horrific pictures, or anything, (I mean, there's no guns stored over cribs or evidence of alien abduction like other real estate pictures I've featured) they just don't stimulate my interest in the house.

 The kitchen is  cute, but I would have moved the awkwardly placed microwave before I worried about setting out wine and wineglasses.

I do love the original cabinets, and painting them ACTUAL white instead of this weird pinkish shade would go far.

The glassed in porch and the yard are fantastic.

1442 Christmas Lane

This is a classic grandma ranch with four bedrooms, two baths, and an asking price of $299,000.

Christmas Lane Photos From Willow

The front is really cute. I love the tree, long driveway, and two car garage in the back.
 I think this is the screened porch, and I love it. White painted paneling and angled ceilings are a real estate sweet spot for me, apparently! I think the floor is either vintage linoleum or polished concrete. I'm leaning towards polished concrete. 
There aren't enough words to express my love of this front door. My last house had a similar one, and I loved it. People pay almost a $1000 for reproductions of this door style.

The den. I love the build-ins. Another room also had some great built ins that featured a two person desk. The perfect office! All the hardwoods looked like they were in great shape.

So, if you lived in Merry Hills what Christmas flavored address would you go for?


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