Reading Room Reveal: Phase 1

This is my first redecorating project – and it’s done! Well part of it, anyway!

If you recall (or you don’t), I took on sprucing up my reading room for my first house project of the year.

I did some interneting to show you the evolution of this space, over its last three owners. First, we have The Blue Room:

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Looks like it was an office space or something. We have that bookshelf in there right now – how funny. And I guess this room has always been a magnet for strong color. (Was the ceiling brown?!?!)

Then, we have The Muppet Show:

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That green looks way more delicate than what it actually was. It was fairly neon. And with the brown trim…not my favorite thing ever. We don’t think this was the color that the previous owners actually had in here – it seems like they did a quick paint job right before selling.

Then, we got to it and threw all our shit in there, along with some crappy hacked up curtains in god awful colors:

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Oh, and it had this lovely little light:

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Glorious, no? It burnt out like a year and a half ago and we never replaced it. #houseproud

It was long time for this room to get some love. And love it we do. Here it is!

It still needs more finishing touches, but I like it much, much more now. It’s a pretty chill space, which is what I wanted for it in the first place.

Besides clearing out the junk and clutter, here is what we did:

New Light

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We had to get rid of that sad little light. It was a crappy fluorescent bulb anyway – now it’s a beautiful, warm light source and it makes a HUGE difference. The light is the Silvain 3 Light Semi Flush Mount by Lite Source , and it is quite pretty in my very humble opinion.

DIY Curtains

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Following a tutorial from Young House Love, I made three curtain panels with no-sew hem tape, clip-on curtain rings from Target, and a loooooot of measuring, re-measuring and measuring some more. I like how simple they are, and the white brightens the space a lot against the rich purple of the walls.

Adding a Distressed Mirror

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The walls were so bare in here, they needed a little something. One item I was intent on putting up was the Temora Mirror by Fetco. 

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It’s a little feminine, a little rustic, and I think it looks gorgeous against the purple walls.

One-of-a-kind Artwork

My good friend Andy Brown took this picture. It was hanging in a restaurant for the longest time – when Ed and I saw it we loved it so much that Andy gave it to us as a gift. I have been wanting  needing to hang it for ages, and we finally made it happen. I’m so happy it’s finally up on that wall!

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Other General Decor:

Just some light touches here and there – I’ve wanted a pineapple forever, and we acquired that cute print of Mickey and Minnie on our last Disney trip.

So what’s left for this room:

  • Create a gallery wall over the bookcase (Feb-March)
  • Repaint the trim
  • Replace the rug
  • Repaint the walls something more neutral
  • Keep adding finishing touches to the decor

Not too shabby for my first house project. What are you tackling the home improvement arena lately? I’d love to hear and see your progress!

 

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The D-Word

This is my depression.

I feel myself losing energy and focus. Only a few days ago, I was all go and optimism. I might get frustrated or be tired – but behind all of that, life was pretty good.

Now, I’m wondering what the point is. I only wrote 87 words of my novel on Wednesday. At least I wrote, but 87 words…I stared at the screen. I stopped and started. The words wouldn’t come. But what does it really matter anyway, because this book-thing probably not even going to get off the ground, in all honesty. Right?

My depression is a slow creep to stagnation, worry and self-criticism, a descent to wondering why I’m even trying, until I’m too tired and anxious to ask the question at all.

I had a big moment this past fall. I had been going through a “slump,” as I called it. I’d gone through them before. Periods of time where no matter how sunny the day, or how much I had going on, or how good things were, I would just feel so stuck and lost – and mostly, anxious. This one had come on in early August and it hung around for a good long while – longer than I was used to. Then one morning – a Tuesday in October – I remembered waking up and my whole outlook was different. Hey! Life is pretty good! Got these holidays coming up, and lots of friends to see, and work is going well – what was I so mopey about, anyway??

I talked about it with my therapist. “It’s weird, it’s like I’ll go through these cycles of feeling so down,” I said to her at our next session. “Like I’m depressed or something. I’ve never thought of myself as a depressed person, but…maybe I am.”

“You are,” she said, not unkindly. More like holding a mirror up to have me really see what I was already seeing.

I left that session reeling, in a good way. I’m depressed. I have depression. I’d never let myself think the thought before, but there it was, undeniable.

I know there are some schools of thought where there’s a hesitation to label things. Like if you define yourself too rigidly, you don’t have any possibility of being something else. I think I had been unconsciously hesitating to put the label “depressed” on myself because that would make it too true – like I would cling to the label and make it much worse.

But instead, the opposite happened for me. I suddenly got a profound sense of relief. I had depression. It was like everything about me made sense for the first time in a long, long time.

That cynical, worrying critic that comes out when I’m in a down-swing isn’t a character flaw. It isn’t some weird part of my personality that I can’t seem to get a hold of, no matter how hard I try. It’s just my brain out of alignment. No different if than if I had a sprained ankle or a stomach bug. Every once and awhile, the system gets out of alignment.

I’ve been getting better at noticing when I start moving into a down period. It’s actually so clear this past week: I’ve started exercising again after a long break to, you know, to avoid throwing my back out while taking a nap or something. On Monday, I went to a class at a studio I’ve never been to – Zumba and weights, for an hour. Thursday, I was signed up for my first Pure Barre class, again at a studio I’ve never been to, for an hour.

Monday: “I wonder if I’ll be the only new person in the class. Will that be awkward? Maybe there will be someone friendly there to talk to. I wonder if I’ll look weird – I haven’t done any kind of dancing in about 4 scrillion years. Eh, who cares – I just have to move around and get my core strong. I can do anything for an hour.”

Thursday: “I’m probably going to be the only new person, and everyone in their perfect Lululemon- wearing, messy bun glory is going to judge me for not knowing exactly what’s going on and they’re all probably friends and I’m going to be this weird girl in the corner struggling to figure out what’s happening and my WHOLE body is going to be too sore to move the next day and you know what? Fuck it, I don’t need this pressure. It doesn’t matter anyway, I’ll be fine until the spring when I can run again. I’d rather just be home.”

They were and are both true. I was a little anxious about Monday’s class, but it was totally fine. I was SUPER anxious about Thursday’s, and I lost the battle. I didn’t have the energy to tackle that hill. Nothing is different about Monday and Thursday except somewhere along the way, my brain chemistry changed.

The good thing is, I know that now. I’m not weird. I’m not hopeless. I’ve got a sprained brain at the moment. And I’ll be gentle with myself, as I would be with any other temporary pain in my body. I won’t be in this spot forever. If I have low reserves in the tank, I just have to focus on not tearing holes in the side of it and depleting it even further. The best thing I can do for myself is to not punish myself for the “losses.” Focus on the small wins instead. Get in the car. Write 87 words. Make the call. Send the text. Do one thing I enjoy. Don’t worry if I don’t enjoy it as much as I usually do. Have the thought. Watch it pass.

I went to another class yesterday. It ended up being pretty great.

It’s all okay. 

 

 

 

 

 

Time to Make the Curtains

This is my no-sew curtain experience.

You guys. I MADE something for my HOUSE. And I didn’t totally suck at it. I can barely believe it.

I’m not a DIY-type. I’m really more of a DIBuy. Need a new desk? Ikea can handle that! Window Treatments? That’s why God created West Elm.  My entire living room? Basically an ad for Crate and Barrel.

But then I had to deal with these wonk windows in my reading room.

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They’re really low  and wide, and for the life of me, I could not DIBuy a solution that really worked.

So I decided to follow the steps of better decorators, bloggers and human beings than me, and followed Young House Love’s tutorial on making no-sew curtains. Because let’s face it – I can’t sew. I can’t even really measure a straight line. So I needed something easy for my First Ever DIY Adventure(tm).

The steps are super-simple. I recommend checking out YHL’s tutorial if you want to replicate the process. Instead, I’ll share stuff I learned as a total and utter DIY novice trying like hell not to run a project into the ground.

  1. Consistency is hard (for me). I had to measure and re-measure and make sure I was placing the tape at the right spots and that it was straight (that was the worst. Why can’t I make straight lines??). But if you are impatient (like me) and want instant results (like me) and aren’t so keen on super nitty gritty details (yeeep), I recommend getting the eff over it and making yourself do it right. Even if that means it takes a long time.
  2. No-sew hem tape is the best. Seriously, so easy. You just measure, lay your tape, iron, fold, iron, done. I used HeatnBond Ultra Hold, and I had no issues. Other than sometimes the paper liner wouldn’t come off easily and you’d have to scrape it off. IMG_5841Look at how straight that line is! And check out those super awesome iron marks that I had to iron out! Yeah, I did that!
  3. Cut your own fabric, or else. Sometimes it was much, much harder to work with the fabric because I had the person I bought it from cut my panels into three separate pieces, and she did not cut straight (I feel your pain, sister). In the future, I’d probably just buy the length of what I needed and cut it myself so that I can ensure a straight edge. I had to compensate by making my curtains shorter than I wanted, though not by too much.

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Not perfect, but not too shabby for my first foray out. I feel so accomplished! So productive! I feel like I could reno my whole kitchen! Or, like, maybe at least paint it!

(Oh btw, if you experts see something off in these pictures, just give me like 2 more days before you tell me- I want to ride this DIYHigh for as long as possible, man.)

In true novice fashion, I didn’t get enough HeatnBond for the last panel, so things aren’t quite finished on the curtain front. But more to come soon! I’ll show pics of the finished product once the room is together.

Pain in the Neck

This is the situation. I have been having back and neck problems for a good, long while now, and I’m so over it.

I know my issues. My desk situation is the primary culprit – the desk is too low and the chair is too high, so I am craning forward all day. I also sleep like a fetus – all curled up and pushing my head forward weirdly and I somehow strain my shoulder all night by sleeping with one shoulder all ganked out and I dunno.

I threw out my back for the first time a few weeks ago. THAT sucked. I felt my entire lower back wrench to the left while I was (wait for it) reaching down to get leftovers out of the fridge. I know, right? Really overreached on that one.

But I’m 31, you guys. THIRTY ONE. I’m not going to let this dominate me.

So here’s what I’m doing:

  • Got a new, custom mattress from Helix Sleep. Allow me to blow some sunshine here – they’re a pretty cool company. You take a quick survey about your sleeping habits and preferences, and they send you a custom-built mattress – for cheap! Their customer service is also fantastic – the first bed we got was just not doing it for me, and they delivered a new mattress and took away the old one, free of charge. Very responsive and very friendly. The Anti-Comcast.
    • The verdict? I don’t know yet, because I’m sleeping like an asshole. Once I can stop myself from sleeping wonk, I’ll let you know.
  • Osteopathy with Bob at Massage Therapy Works. Oh man. There was a point where I couldn’t move any part of my body without severe pain due my muscles being totally jacked up – particularly in my neck and shoulders. Bob gave me my first pain-free day in a loooong while. Osteopathy works with your muscles and your skeletal structure to treat injury and strengthen how those two systems work together. I don’t know how it works exactly, but I don’t care if it’s voodoo magic. It has really made a difference.
    • The verdict? Working wonders, but not a cure-all.

But here’s where I need your help, ya’ll. I can replace the desk and work on my super-weird sleep posture, but I also need some good back and core strengthening stuff to do.

What do you recommend for good core/back strengthening exercise?  I have been thinking things like Pure Barre, Yoga, etc, but I’m not sure what is best to do when I still have pain that I’m dealing with.

What else do you do to ease chronic pain? You know, other than seven Advil and a shot of tequila.

All suggestions welcome! I’ll just be hunched over my desk, eagerly awaiting your thoughts.

 

 

 

Major House Project #1: The Reading Room

This is my reading room.

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I know.

While it is supposed to be a nice, tranquil place to read a book or listen to music or just generally chill out, it essentially functions as a dumping ground for anything that we need to get out of our sight – hence the lovely assortment of CB2 boxes stacked in the corner there.

We painted the room purple when we moved in – an homage and blatant rip off of a color that some of our best friends have in the living room of their Philadelphia row home.

It was lime green before. Like GREEN. With brown trim. It looked like a Muppet barfed on my walls. Like the worst part of 70’s decorating styles came back vengeful and hungry for shame. I’ll have to share the “before” pics we took at some point.

We like the purple (though we’ll probably end up painting it something neutral when we’re ready to move). Everything else though…

Red pillows? Teal curtains? With those walls? Are we serious? WTF sort of psychotic color scheme am I going for, exactly?

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The hutch in the above shot was given to us by my grandparents – it belonged to my great-grandmother. It’s beautiful. And see what I’ve done with it? Look closely. Yep, those are Birchboxes. I’ve decorated my antique hutch with BIRCHBOXES. Basically the thinking was – “oh these are kind of purple! Why not toss them in the hutch?!” Don’t act like you aren’t in awe of my resourcefulness and sharp design eye.

 

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This may be my favorite thing happening in this room in the realm of “Ridiculous Decorating Decisions” – we had these curtains left over from our living room. They weren’t wide enough for our windows. So we (naturally) put them in the dumping ground  the reading room. Only problem was, they were way too long for our low windows. So what did I do?

Yep. Cut them. Straight up. Actually not at all straight because WILL YOU LOOK AT THAT LINE?

Clearly I need some help.

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Like a lot of help.

Here’s the rundown of everything I want to do in this space. Most of it will be done in January and into the first week of February, but like all decorating and home improvements, it will be an ongoing thing.

SHORT TERM  (Jan – 1st week Feb):

  • Purchase and install new light fixture (the light in there right now a: doesn’t work and b: is hideous. Pictures to come)
  • DIY-ing some curtains, with help from the tutorials on Young House Love 
  • Framing and hanging pictures of our wedding and a gift from a good friend of ours
  • Buying this gorgeous, glorious beauty and hanging it
  • New pillows for the papasan

MEDIUM TERM

  • Other general decor – for the bookcase and the hutch
  • Repaint the side table that’s hiding somewhere in the rubble of this room so that it works with the space

LONG TERM

  • Repaint the walls a more neutral color
  • Clean up the trim
  • Replace the rug (it’s rather old)

 

Almost There


This is my book. It’s almost done.

Well, the first draft, at least. The draft that when you read it back makes you go “WHYYYY” and wonder what the hell you could have been thinking, writing this absolute, utter, complete garbage, and who would ever read this and *crysobflail*.

I also love this draft. I love this story. I’ve gotten to know it and my characters, slowly (that’s how I like it. I’ve never been the love-at-first-sight type. I need time). Over the year and 4 months I’ve been at it, I’m still learning something new about these people and what they are up to, every time I write.

I went out yesterday and printed all but the last few chapters that are in the works. I put them in a cute little green binder and realized that holy shizz, very soon, VERY soon…I will have written a whole freaking book.

 

Dammit if I didn’t get emotional right there in the middle of the FedEx Kinko’s, holding a three-hole punch, misty-eyed over this thing that I’m creating.

I tend to do things without really getting that I’m doing them. Getting jobs, moving away, singing, performing, building products, leading teams. I look back on the achievement and tend to be like “oh. cool. *kanyeshrug*”

This one is different. I can’t wait to get to the end, see how it will feel once it’s revised and edited and as done as it can be. My labor of love complete.

Then, of course, comes the 3 movie deal. I mean…that’s how this works right?