Archive for the ‘nesting’ Category

I checked out The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up from the library a couple of weeks ago, curious to find out for myself what all the buzz was about.  I’d heard stories about people completely overhauling their homes after heeding the author’s call to declutter, and though I like to think I run a relatively tight ship around here, I’m always open to ideas about how to live more simply.  The main premise of the book is this:  if you don’t love it, if it doesn’t bring you joy, LET IT GO.  Pretty revolutionary in this day and age of excess, isn’t it?  But I’m nothing if not revolutionary (says the woman who breaks out in hives at the mere thought of change!), so I’ve decided to see what kinds of un-loved things are lurking in the recesses of our closets and cabinets.  One of the primary guidelines for purging is to evaluate your belongings by category rather than location – rather than going through your home room by room, gather all your books or clothes or mementos in one place and go through the pile at one time, so that you get a truer sense of how much you own.  I’ve broken down our stuff into the following categories and hope to tackle one or two bunches a week, with the ultimate goal of handling every single item in our house by the time summer rolls around.

  • books
  • eating/drinking/cooking wares
  • linens and towels
  • toiletries
  • toys
  • art supplies
  • papers
  • decor items
  • mementos/keepsakes
  • clothes
  • random crap

According to the book, you’re actually supposed to start with clothes, but given the number of things in my closet that I know I’m doomed to part with, I’m not ready to go there.  Books it is, then!  Shane and I aren’t major book collectors, so this should be easy, right?  Right?!

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I grabbed every last book in our house and piled them all on the kitchen island today.  I was a little taken aback to see these all stacked up together – I thought I did a solid bookshelf purge a couple of years ago?  I was even more taken aback when I started sifting through the stacks and realized how many novels I’ve been hanging on to that I have no intention of reading again.  In about 45 minutes, I’d weeded out a good third of our collection – what remains are my favorite art and architecture books, about 30 memoirs and novels I love, and a small pile for Jules.  I actually did a second culling as I was putting these away and came up with another 20 titles I was ready to ditch.

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Coming soon to Goodwill on Dearborn!

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Seven paper bags of books now sit in our downstairs hall, ready to leave our house and never return again.  Our bookshelves are looking wonderfully sparse.  “Life-changing magic” might be a stretch, but this felt good.

Things have been relatively uneventful at Chez Schnell since we returned from our week in Oregon – we fell back into our regular routine pretty smoothly and picked up right where we left off at work and daycare.  I wouldn’t necessarily say we came home rested, as Juliette missed the vacation memo about sleeping in and whiling away the afternoons with a good book, but I did come back with a burst of productive energy.  I’ve been hitting my task list hard this past couple of weeks, declaring August “get ‘er done month!”

Most significantly, after nine years of procrastination, we have a wedding album!  I spent a weekend combing through all 1700 of our wedding photos, pulling out and editing my favorites.  The album came in the mail a couple of days ago, and I’m thrilled with it.  We don’t have top-notch pictures of our special day, but this book definitely captures the most important moments and people.  CHECK.

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After three years of lamenting the state of our water-marked dining room table, we borrowed a disc sander from a friend and I went to town on my first furniture refinishing project.  I put the final coat of polyurethane on it tonight and, with the exception of one gut-wrenching spot where I sanded through the veneer, it looks pretty good.   Much improved, at least. The dining room makeover that I started back in April is nearly complete!

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I also cleaned out our closets and took four bags of clothes to Goodwill, got Juliette’s baby book up-to-date, purged my iPhone photo library, and picked enough blackberries to make a damn good pie (super-important stuff).  Phew!  I haven’t been this productive since that final burst of nesting momentum I felt when I was eight months pregnant (no, I’m not pregnant!  had you wondering, though, huh?).

Admittedly, I think I’m addicted to that rush of check-marking adrenaline – I’ve recently been falling asleep and waking up with nothing but to-do’s on the brain.  Thankfully, Juliette is quick to remind me that all work and no play just ain’t gonna fly, so we’ve had a couple of good romps at the playground and took a very satisfying dip in Lake Washington this evening.  Thanks, Jules, for keeping my neuroses in check.  Now go clean your room.

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After several months of purging and organizing and painting and shopping, this bedroom is ready for a baby!  I’ve had a lot of fun preparing the nursery – there were moments when I questioned what I had gotten into with that wall mural, and how I was going to find the stamina for one last day in the print studio, and whether or not we should have gone ahead and bought that fancy Oeuf crib, but in the end, it all came together into a room that’s perfect for baby.  And me.

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Shane and I had a fairly intense design debate about this wall – I wanted to line it with several rows of shelves to put books on display; Shane thought it made more sense to buy a low shelf (that a toddler could actually reach) and keep the wall free from the holes for all those wall brackets.  Shane won.  And kudos, hon – this turned out to be cleaner and much more functional.

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I wanted to incorporate a few personal touches to the nursery, while keeping it simple and modern.  I’m hoping we’ll look at this photo wall with the baby and talk about grandmas and grandpas and cousins and friends.  Then we’ll look at the AT&T Park print and talk about Buster Posy and Matt Cain.  😉

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The glider was hands-down the best purchase for this room – after test-driving a dozen different chairs, this one from West Elm won out for comfort and style (most stores make it an either/or decision).  I imagine we’ll be logging a lot of hours in this seat…

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The deets:

Paint: “Storm” by Valspar

Hudson Crib by babyletto

Parsons Low Bookshelf by West Elm

Wooden Storage Crates by Lucky Clover Trading Co.

Graham Glider by West Elm

Tripod End Table by Urban Outfitters

Malm Dresser by Ikea

SF Giants Print by Bird Ave

I capitalized on a final bout of nesting adrenaline and spent Sunday in the print studio, wrapping up a couple things for the baby’s room.  I had initially flagged a few cute prints of birds and trains and fruit as inspiration for the nursery art wall, but ultimately decided I wanted something a little more personal.  So I gathered some photos of our most memorable trips and put together a series of prints based on our favorite places:

One incredibly bumpy car ride landed us at Polihale Beach in Kauai – Shane swam in the ocean while I laid in the warm sand.  I remember thinking that this was the closest we’d ever come to paradise.

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We caught one absolutely perfect sunset in Bruges three years ago.  It was pouring when our train pulled into town that morning, but by mid-day the clouds had parted and the sun had come out.  We stood on a little bridge that evening and watched the sky change colors with the town’s charming skyline in the foreground.  Oh, and the mussels and beer we had for dinner that night…Belgium was good to us.

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And Banff…I’ll never forget the sunny afternoon we spent paddling around Lake Moraine’s crystal blue waters in a little canoe, surrounded by snow-capped mountains.  That trip was also the scene of my first and only bear sighting!

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Here’s to hoping that little Schnell shares our affinity for travel and adventure – there’s a big, beautiful world out there!

Happy Fourth, indeed.  I love me a mid-week holiday, and we made this one count.  Shane met up with the guys early this morning for a bike ride and run, and I enjoyed a leisurely morning at home, doing a little baking and catching up on the latest Princess Kate news via the Today Show (have you ever seen a smaller 9-month baby bump?!).  Shane came home around 10 and we and drove over to Jason and Nancy’s for a brunch bonanza – mimosas (gosh, I miss champagne…), breakfast sandwiches, and several hours of doting on Jack and La Verne’s sweet baby Nico.  Shane can be pretty intimidated by the fragility of newborns, but once he was finally coaxed into taking the baby in his arms, his fears waned as his heart-strings were tugged.  That’s one crazy-adorable little boy.

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Shane has been complaining lately about his limited wardrobe, and I had a Banana Republic coupon I couldn’t bear to waste, so we headed to the outlets in the afternoon to get my man some new duds.  He scored big – one pair of jeans, two button-downs, and four t-shirts for $120!  I seriously lamented the fact that they don’t have a maternity section.  Although technically, I suppose I could be wearing Shane’s clothes these days – I’m quickly closing the weight gap between us!

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After an impromptu test drive of a Prius V at the Toyota dealership (we were in the new car market for all of 45 minutes, but that quickly passed) I spent the evening working on our nursery mural.  Per my typical overly-ambitious tendencies, I grossly underestimated the amount of time this project would take, but it’s nearly done and it looks good.  Our kid better like gray and white.

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Shane made tacos for dinner and I sighed a contented sigh as I put my feet up, propped my plate on my (festively clothed!) belly, and gave thanks for good friends, for good food, for a blessed day off.  Happy Independence Day, folks.

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We have slowly but surely been making room for baby in our house – we had an entire room of stuff to toss or donate or squirrel away in other closets.  And Operation Organize is nearly complete, which means our extra upstairs bedroom is empty and ready for Operation Nursery.  I’ve had lots of fun dreaming about what this room could be, imagining myself rocking a baby to sleep in a comfy glider or pulling a book off a shelf to read our toddler a bedtime story.  We’re keeping it modern and simple, relatively quiet with a few pops of color through art and books.  Tomorrow we finish painting and do one final round of glider-shopping.  Then it’s time to hang shelves and buy a crib and make art for the walls.  This very well might be my favorite home improvement project yet…

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the 411:

Paint: “Storm” by Valspar

Graham Glider by West Elm

Tripod End Table by Urban Outfitters

Ada Table Lamp by CB2

Hudson Crib by babyletto

Malm Dresser by Ikea

Animal Prints by Avalisa

Books, books, books!

Paris Screen Print by Famille Summerbelle

I still remember the day we closed on our house.  After 7 years of being renters, moving every year to a different apartment, we were settling down into a place of our very own.  Ohhhh, I was excited – I had picked up a gallon of paint on our way to get the keys and was rolling that blue-gray on the walls before we’d moved even a single box into the place.  Add a smattering of framed photos to the wall, some orange-red damask curtains fashioned out of remnants from the Joann Fabrics clearance bin, and I was really starting to feel like all those years of watching Trading Spaces had finally paid off.

Those rash, antsy-new-home-owner decorating decisions have served us well over the last six years – I was really content in our cozy little living room…until we visited Mitch and Kathryn a few weeks ago and I went a little gaga over their new deep gray bedroom walls.  That blue I had loved quickly lost its charm.  And then I started looking at our photos more closely – good Lord, when was the last time I had updated anything on that wall?  And black picture frames?  Ugh.  I was so over those black picture frames – they needed to be white.  And bigger.  With large mats.  Set against a warm gray wall.  Stat!  I was suddenly jonesin’ for change in a bad, bad way.  A couple of trips to Lowes for paint and supplies, one 9 pm mad dash to IKEA for picture frames, an online print order to Costco for the photos, and I busted this facelift out in just a few days – it’s done!  And we love it.  For now. (Gray is the new blue, but it’s only a matter of time before green is the new gray.)

The deets:

Wall Color:  Valspar ‘Cathedral Gray’

Frames:  IKEA ‘Ribba’

Photos:  mine, printed at Costco

Summer has settled upon Seattle with a vengeance, and O – M – G.  The days are gloriously warm, the evenings long and full of leisure.  Shane played basketball and volleyball with the boys on Tuesday night and came home with a sweat-soaked shirt, a twisted ankle, and mile-wide grin on his face.  I met with my book club gals on the lawn of Seward Park last night and watched the last of the sun’s rays glint off Lake Washington.  I finally got around to planting my little herb garden tonight, and then we sat on the back patio until 9:00 and ate grilled nectarines over ice cream.  In shorts!  Until 9 pm!  This weather makes me want to end all my sentences in exclamation points!  And then I want to crank up Sublime on the stereo and let it rip until the neighbors come over to tell me to turn it down, at which point I’ll hand them a Corona with a lime in it and they’ll shrug their shoulders and join the party.  Anyone who says Disneyland is the happiest place on earth clearly hasn’t enjoyed a string of 80-degree days in Seattle…

It’s Springtime in Seattle!  Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, and the sun is streaming through our windows as I type.  It feels so good to be in a home full of daylight…until that daylight starts illuminating dust on the floors and scuffs on the walls and crusty char on the stovetop.  And so it’s been home improvement month at Chez Schnell (insert sympathetic sigh for Shane here).  I’m cleaning with a vengeance, scrubbing the oven and repainting walls and generally sprucing things up in this little abode of ours.

Our downstairs white walls received a fresh coat of paint (next time Shane suggests we hire someone for all those hard-to-reach places, I think I might cave…).

The air plant that Mitch and Kathryn gave me for Christmas found a home in our dining room, along with a couple of new friends:

The white pot that’s been sitting empty on our table for the last two years was finally filled with a fresh green succulent:

Our bookshelves have been “West Elmed”…

Our bathroom received new art on the walls and a fresh zig-zaggy bathmat:

And our front yard was just planted with a row of newly blooming flowers in cheery shades of purple.

And with all that, project spruce-up is nearly complete – we’ve still got windows to wash and dust bunnies to evict from under our bed, but things are shaping up around here*.  Shane has been dreaming about this little lake-view plot of land for sale in Mount Baker, but I don’t know – I think we’ve got a good thing goin’ on in this place…

*This post was sponsored in part by our good friends at West Elm.  Ok, not really, but they owe me one, right?

I’ve mentioned before, I’m big on traditions. Real big. And one of my most favorite traditions is our annual visit to the Christmas tree farm in North Bend. This is the first Christmas that we’ll actually spend at home in Seattle, so I’ve really been looking forward to making our house all Christmas-y, with a tree and sparkly lights and stockings and all that goodness. Project “holiday decor” kicked off this morning as we headed east to find the perfect pine; Jack and La Verne were also in the market for a tree today and joined us on our hunt. It was chilly out there, but dry and with small patches of blue sky over beautiful Mount Si. I’m in the middle of The Hobbit right now, and felt very Bilbo-ish as we meandered among the trees, with “Lonely Mountain” hovering above us. We wandered for awhile before settling on a full, round 7-foot Grand Fir. Jack and La Verne one-upped us with an 8-footer (plus some), and this was after we talked Jack down from the 9 and 10-foot trees he initially had his eye on (I had visions of a tree with it’s top branches bent over at their ceiling, but La Verne’s voice of reason eventually won out).

Our mighty lumberjacks chopped down the trees and we headed to the entrance to get them baled and sip our cider. See that little Honda Civic in the background with the tree perched precariously on its roof? Yeah, that’s us, and it was a slow drive home…

And now here I sit by the light of the tree, glass of egg nog in hand and Sufjan’s Christmas album playing on the stereo, and I am so full of thanks – for good friends, for our cozy home, for the Northwest’s natural beauty, and most of all, for the true reason behind this Advent season. God is good.