Archive for December, 2010


I get a lot of questions from friends & readers about where I find inspiration and ideas for house projects. The honest answer is that it’s a full-time hobby. I’ve been collecting magazine pages, jotting notes and saving websites for years. It’s easy to pin photos and magazine pages on a bulletin board. But what do you do with photos you find on blogs, and products you want to bookmark to buy later? There’s never been a truly great way to do that.
Until now.
It’s called Pinterest, and I’m officially addicted.

It’s like someone threw my RSS reader, Amazon wishlist and magazine clippings in a blender. The result is so clean and crisp and fantastically useful that it’s quickly replacing all my other systems. Now I have a place to collect images and ideas from all over the web. Here’s a board I’ve started for house stuff (you’ll recognize at least one item from a previous blog post):
Plus you get to see all the great things that other people are posting, and can repost them to your own boards. Pinterest keeps track of your links for you, so you don’t have to worry about bookmarking or copying&pasting all those URLs anymore. (LOVE that part.)

It’s still in beta, but I have a few invites left. If you want to join the fun right away, let me know and I’ll shoot one your way. Otherwise you can also request an invitation here.
Anyone else out there using Pinterest? Find me! I can’t wait to see your boards.

finishing the floor

Back in May, my dad and uncle helped me replace the floor in the master bedroom. It used to look like this. Then, for a while (due to my spectacular lack of knowledge regarding flooring installation), it looked like this:

Those would be the transitions between the floor and its neighbors: carpet in the closet and another type of wood in the hallway.

But now, thanks to the help of an awesome handyman (seriously, let me know if you need a recommendation in Minneapolis), the floor is finally finished. Doesn’t it look purty?

For such a little detail, I’m amazed at what a difference it makes.

Christmassy kitchen

A few fall-to-winter changes to the kitchen recently:

My mom used to display these blocks at our house in Texas… we had a desk in the kitchen with cubbyholes above it, just below the landing of the stairs. I always loved helping her change them for each new holiday. She sent them to me in September, and they fit perfectly on the ledge above my stove.

Whoops, guess I forgot to take a before picture 🙂 But this holder was filled with an autumn foliage assortment, courtesy of my mother, and sat on the top-most white corner shelf in October and November. For Christmas, I filled it with red glass beads and four ornaments that I picked up for free at a swap meet a few months back.


I also switched out the kitchen towels, and replaced my beloved Snow White and Dopey salt and pepper shaker set with an adorable snowman S&P set from my aunt. Overall…

jack frost

I’m still snowed in, so I think that means I’m allowed to post another set of snow pictures.

frames frames frames

Way back in July, I spray-painted some thrift store frames white. This weekend, I finally filled them with photos and hung them in the stairwell! I started with nine, but I plan to build the arrangement up the wall over time.


Maybe you’ve heard? Snow day of massive proportions here in Minnesota. After almost 24 hours of steady snowfall, it’s finally tapering off. As of 6 pm the tally for Minneapolis was 16.5 inches. Yikes!!

Drifts around the back door ~ 2 pm

Drifts in the front/side yard

Backyard (I love seeing the top of the bench peeking out from the drifts by the garage)

Although I stayed inside most of the day, I did have one little adventure. A friend’s casual comment online sent a shiver of fear into my heart when I realized I didn’t know where my furnace vent was. So I went a-searching (just to make sure it was clear of snow and not secretly filling my house with carbon monoxide). After trudging through knee-deep snow all around the perimeter of my house, and digging along the foundation most of the way, I made it to the backyard. Above the howling wind, I could hear a fan whirring, so I hoisted myself on top of the grill and onto the fence between my yard and the neighbor’s. Sure enough, there it was:

My dad was right. A house doesn’t last 110 years without having a furnace vent that can accommodate a Minnesota blizzard. We still have a few inches to go before I would need to call the neighbor and have her dig it out. (My property line runs about 12 inches away from the north side of the house, so the facade is actually only accessible through the neighbor’s yard because of the way the fences are constructed.)
Which got me to thinking… I wonder how many blizzards of this magnitude the house has weathered? I haven’t yet located the total number, but here’s a start (courtesy of the Star Tribune):

Before Saturday, here’s the previous records recorded by the National Weather Service in Chanhassen:

1. Oct. 31-Nov. 3, 1991: 28.4 inches
2. Nov. 29-Dec. 1, 1985: 21.1 inches
3. Jan. 22-23, 1982: 20.0 inches
4. Jan. 20-21, 1982: 17.4 inches
5. Nov. 11-12, 1940: 16.8 inches
6. March 3-4, 1985: 16.7 inches

Interesting, huh? Needless to say, I’m not going anywhere tonight. I’ll shovel out tomorrow morning. Until then, I’m working on some house projects and exploring the channels on my now-functioning TV (thanks, Dad!) Bummed to miss my brother’s play in Northfield today, but otherwise relishing in the chance to relax. Stay safe and warm, MN friends.

full house

It was just after Thanksgiving last year when I first thought about buying a house. I had been visiting my cousins in Thailand, and they were contemplating buying a house for their return to Minneapolis before the tax credit expired (which they ended up doing… and lucky me, it’s only a few blocks from mine!) Another cousin had purchased a house in the neighborhood earlier in November, and I started wondering if it was something I should consider doing as well.

Financial benefits of homeownership aside (and they do exist, as expensive as home maintenance is)… what I really dreamed of was my entire family gathering for holidays here in Minnesota. In early December of last year, my brother found out he’d been accepted Early Decision at the same college that my sister, mom and I attended. Twenty-eight years after my parents left Minnesota for their new life in Texas, we realized that all three kids would soon be in Minnesota the majority of the year. And even an English major can do the math: flying three kids to Cali is more expensive than flying two parents to Minnesota – especially if the parents have a free place to stay.

Life has a funny way of working out, doesn’t it? I ended up finding a great house (obviously) and my parents came home to Minne for their first Thanksgiving here since 1982. All of this is a long way of saying that, when I arrived home after work on the day before Thanksgiving, I was so excited to see this scene in my living room:

That morning, I’d thrown together a crock pot dinner of carnitas (recipe courtesy of the lovely Megan E., a California friend and blogger). It was de-licious and perfect for a snowy evening.

And we even moved the TV from the basement to the upstairs living room so we could all sit around and watch a movie together. (Sadly, there’s not enough room on the couch down there for all of us.) It worked out perfectly.

Even if a bit messy. I think at one point, I counted five laptops, two iPads, six cell phones, three iPods and two cameras on the main level of my house — not to mention the countless magazines, water glasses and winter jackets that go along with five people. Next time they come to visit, my family just might have their own little baskets where they can throw everything 😉 But, despite the chaotic moments, it was awesome to spend Thanksgiving* week with my entire family for the first time since 2006. Blessings abound.

*No, I did not host Thanksgiving. I’m not that crazy (nor is my kitchen that well outfitted). We went to my aunt’s, as usual. I think my hosting days are a few years away yet. And I’m totally cool with that.

merry and bright

We spent the Saturday after Thanksgiving decorating the house for Christmas… just like we used to do growing up. With everyone here to help me, it didn’t take long at all. The tree came from a lot in a nearby park, and we decorated it with the ornaments that I brought out from California this summer – angels, nutcrackers, and my favorite silver beauties from James Avery. The finishing touch is two sheepskin rugs from IKEA (credit for the idea goes to the ever-inspiring John and Sherry at Young House Love). Needless to say, there’s all sorts of holiday cheer over here 🙂

in the lane snow is glistening

Saturday, 9 am

my favorite kind of snow: the kind that actually covers the ground. and hopefully sticks around for a while.


Whoops. It’s been so long since I’ve posted here that Blogger kicked me out of the system. I think this is the first time I’ve had to log in since I started the blog 🙂
But, well, it’s been worth it. My family has been visiting for a while, and a recent vision diagnosis has kept me away from the computer (that too is being fixed… the glasses have arrived!) So while a lot has been going on at the house, and I’ve definitely been taking pictures with the intention of posting them, I’ve been putting off blogging in favor of spending time with my fam. (So sue me.)

However, tonight I couldn’t resist. Because my parents are the best and surprised me with an awesome birthday/Christmas gift when I got home tonight…

Hello garage door opener!

It was pretty cute how they planned the whole thing, actually. And mom was smart enough to take pictures, so…
While I was at work, they had the nice garage door installation guys come over and set me up with an automatic opener.

I’ve been parking in the garage since the day I woke up to a quarter-inch of ice on my car. But, doing so has required opening and closing the door manually. Not a problem, really… but the door had a funny habit of sliding back down while I was pulling out of the garage. Kind of a nerve-wracking way to start the day, honestly.
When I got home, they were hiding in their car next to the garage. As I pulled up, the garage door started rising. I thought my dad was on the other side of it, just helping me out. But no. They were sitting in their car, sending the door up and down and watching me walk around the alley trying to figure out what was going on 🙂 Funny, aren’t they?

No more futzing with the door… yay! Funny how a very practical gift can be so exciting nowadays.
And then we went inside and celebrated my birthday (early) with the Millers. Double yay.

I’ll be back soon with photos from Thanksgiving week and decorating the house for Christmas. And thanks, Mom and Dad. You’re the best.