Archive for January, 2011

decorating for a non-season

Decorating the house after the Christmas decorations come down is always hard. It was the same way in my parent’s house, and after New Year’s I found myself climbing into closets and digging deep into my hoard of vintage PartyLite pieces to find something, anything, that would make me excited about decorating for January/February/March. Valentine’s Day aside (because I really don’t like to decorate with hearts, so sue me) it is ironic that these are the months with so many government holidays and yet nothing to anchor the season. The letdown from the beauty and ambiance of Christmas doesn’t help either.

So, after a few hours of cleaning and arranging and moving things around about a thousand times, I ended up with this in my dining room:

and this in my living room:

The brass candlesticks in the dining room are from my mother, and I’ve carried them to every house and apartment for years without ever really using them. This season is their chance to shine, alone on the table in the dining room nook. I’ve even managed to put my mail and magazines elsewhere most of the time so the table is clean and inviting.

The living room arrangement is much more random, but it’s fun to try something I haven’t done before. I had the dried hydrangeas on the porch for a while, and the other pieces have been elsewhere in the house or packed away in closets since the fall. I like that the front living room has mostly stayed a music & conversation room and not a TV room, and this set-up reinforces that. For now, one of my vintage printer trays is behind the table, but I have some plans in mind for the trays when I redecorate the living room later this year.

Unless I go stir-crazy (always possible in the middle of winter) and decide to redecorate, this season-neutral set-up will probably stay until Easter. We shall see…

the dinner project

Call it a resolution, call it a goal, call it a lifestyle priority. But I will consider 2011 a great year if I’ve had friends or family over for a home-cooked meal at least once a week. I’ve done pretty well so far – three separate dinner guests so far in the first three weeks of the year.

One was a special friend who came all the way from San Diego… to see the new house… to frolic in the snow… to reminisce and hang out and explore Minneapolis with me for the long MLK weekend. We ate out almost every meal because there are so many places I wanted her to try. But we made a point to cook at least once.

Pasta, of course.

We broke out the new mandoline slicer that mom and dad gave me for Christmas:

This version of Backpacker’s Pasta featured onions, mushrooms, zucchini plus vodka sauce, parmesan cheese and fresh basil:

A typical weeknight has me eating dinner on the road or standing in the kitchen, so whenever I have guests I can’t help but break out the real linens:

Pictures like this make me irrationally happy.

And I want more of them. So if you haven’t been over for dinner yet, call me. We’ll get it on the calendar.
I can’t reach my goal without you – see how sneaky that was? 🙂


a bathroom with no drawers

It didn’t occur to me until I’d already bought the house that there are no drawers in the bathroom. Not. a. one. It’s logical: no countertop vanity = no drawers. And it took about two seconds for me to realize that this was an awesome thing. No drawers = less to clean (and we all know that dust just loves to collect in the hard-to-reach corners of bathroom drawers). It also helps me keep my toiletries down to a bare minimum, considering that most of them are on open shelves or contained within the small mirrored medicine cabinet above the sink.

So, for any of you considering a bathroom remodel, I can highly recommend doing so with no drawers. Baskets and well-designed shelves will do the trick for most things… and for eyeshadow and jewelry, just grab a few pretty glass bowls from a thrift or antique store. If you’re like me, they’ll make you smile every morning.

Granted, none of this would be possible without the linen closet across the hall – crucial for storing extra boxes of kleenex, bottles of shampoo and guest towels.

If not for that, the no-drawers and no-cabinets situation might be a little harder to manage. But otherwise, it’s going great so far.

hello 2011

2010 saw a lot of major projects here at the farmhouse…

a new floor in the master bedroom

painted walls and floor in the basement

a kitchen makeover

vegetables in the garden

…and countless weekends of smaller projects, unpacking, organizing and hosting visitors. A wonderful year.

In the spirit of taking stock and looking forward, here are a few projects I plan to tackle in the new year. Now that they’re public, you can hold me to them 🙂

  • paint walls and add furniture in the third bedroom (former nursery)
  • headboard and bedside tables for the yellow bedroom
  • finish the front living room (new couches, shelves, tables and rug)
  • more framed photo arrangements
  • a bigger garden

Bring it on, 2011.