Thursday, June 23, 2011

Making My House Fit My Life, Not My Life Fit My House

There are so many times I hear, "I'll put that up when we buy a house," or "we'll throw a party when we have more space," or "we can't have a baby until we move someplace larger," and it makes me feel sad. Our home is also small – 1200 square feet and only a sliver of deck space. No yard, no basement, and we share one wall with our next door neighbors and live above our downstairs neighbors. It's less than perfect in a lot of ways. But I'm 31 and living my life now. And I'm known for being impatient. I don't want to wait until I have a house to do things, like have children and throw them birthday parties. So we do the best we can with what we have. We make our house fit our life, and we don't change our life to fit our house.

This weekend we had M's family over for dinner to celebrate Father's Day. It was lovely, and we didn't need a bigger house to do it. We actually keep our old dining room table (the one we had before we made over the formal dining room into a play room) disassembled underneath our bed. When we're going to have a large dinner gathering, we just drag it out, put the legs on, and we're good to go. It takes about 10 minutes to do, and allows us to have these larger gatherings without having a place to keep a big dining room set permanently. I don't want to wait to sit around a big dining table sipping wine and eating grilled steaks, laughing with my in laws about what Matt and his sister were like as kids. I want to do these things, make these memories now.

I don't want to wait until we have a yard to plant flowers and herbs, and create a little outdoor living area. So we work with what we have – lots of containers and small furniture and a little electric grill. It's a little messy and cramped, but it's also welcoming and cozy.

We still have big parties at our house … my birthday party was a crazy gathering of 23 adults, four toddlers and two babies. It was pouring rain that day, so everyone circled around the peninsula in the kitchen, perched on the sectional, played with toddlers at the train table, nursed babies in the nursery, or sat on the floor eating pizza and drinking beer. It was loud and boisterous and fun. In theory, we totally don't have room for 29 people, but we did it anyway.

That's kind of how we operate. We just go for it and figure it will all work itself out. Because it usually does, and then we've had a lot of fun on the journey instead of waiting.

Friday, June 17, 2011

"Thursday" Dinner

It's been three years or so since our "Thursday" Dinners with our dear friends and their son have actually been held on a Thursday, but we have continued the tradition of a weekly dinner night. It started in March of 2005, where we gathered for the first time to watch the pilot of the American Office and eat homemade lo mein at A and B's apartment. A tradition was immediately born, and we started rotating dinner and Office nights. In six years two homes were purchased, four new jobs started, two children born and many, many vegetarian meals and bottles of wine consumed.

These dinners ground our week. No matter what we have going on, whether it's a big project at work, or the birth of a new child, we always know we'll have a dinner with friends to look forward to. (We actually did not stop weekly dinners even when A and I each gave birth. I went into labor on a Friday, was out of the hospital the following Wednesday, and we hosted weekly dinner on Thursday!) Our sons are the best little buddies, and now that we're parents, these dinners are punctuated with little boy giggles and the occasional tantrum. With the boys running about, we don't have time to watch TV together anymore, but we still gather to try new recipes and sample different beers and wines.

It's traditions like these that I'm so happy to have, and that I never had growing up, where we moved every four years or so. To be able to look back and remember eating off TV trays before A and B had a dining room in their new townhome, the first meal I cooked in our condo's kitchen, how A announced she was pregnant during dessert on our night, and how A and B brought baked pasta to our house and came to hold newborn S (while I enjoyed my first post-pregnancy glass of wine) makes me feel so much more connected to the place I call home. There is such value in that history. Our boys will hopefully someday remember eating things like this and playing trucks together as kids.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Spray Painting!

I'm home a bit earlier than usual, to pass the parenting baton as I come home from work and Matt heads to his summer job. Sebastian decided to take a ridiculously late nap, so I jumped at the opportunity to bust out the can of spray paint. Three picture frames are drying on our deck, having gone from silver, black and brown to glossy white.

If all goes well, a gallery wall is in my future.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Letting Go

The hardest part, for me, about becoming a mother has been the letting go of my perfectionist, neat-nik tendencies. This lovely little post I read this morning says it really well. My carpets right now are absymal, there are little trucks and Thomas trains on every possible surface, but there's that silly little smile with the wrinkled up nose, and that's all I really need right now.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Finally - New Blinds

A lot of times when I complete a new project around the condo, I can't keep my eyes off it. I love to go into whatever room I've made over and sneak another peek, even if I've already peeped at it a million times. This project I didn't really do that. Not because it didn't make a huge difference in our house, and not because I didn't love it. I think the reason I wasn't quite as giddy about putting up new blinds in our bedroom was because I'd imagined this so many times in my head, and it turned out exactly as I'd imagined, that I'd already seen it a jillion times in my mind's eye.

This is what our bedroom looked like before. I don't usually show this angle of the room, because I hated those curtains so much. Our setup there before was plastic white mini blinds, and maroon black out panels. Blech. The panels were made of a really stiff fabric, and they matched the color scheme of our old Morroccan themed room, so they weren't working here at all. But, as many low budget makeovers go, it took us awhile to get around to changing the blinds (we did small changes, like adding new art and accessories first).

I'm not ashamed to show this angle any more! Here's how things are looking now.

It's so much lighter and airier in here now. The blinds are black out roller shades from JC Penny. Black outs are a must in this room, because there's a bright parking lot light that shines in at night, making it seem like we're snoozing under a spotlight. The curtains are panels from Ikea in a crisp, white linen.

I was inspired by these two photos. I love the texture of the bamboo shades here paired with the airy white curtains.

From of course.

I found this pic on Apartment Therapy, and loved how similar it was to our room - same bed, similar bedding, a kitty. I liked the casualness of the tab tops and breezy linen.


The new curtains make the room so much brighter and pulled together. And they look like they've always been a part of our cozy, warm, eclectic bedroom.

Our master bedroom went from one of my least favorite rooms in the house to a relaxing retreat. Maybe I'll head back in and take another peek.