With our humblest a(nthro)pologies

Ok, so, we’ve been a little quieter than intended here.  Somehow, we went from a full docket of projects, to the extent that we were jockeying for who was going to get to post next, to total radio silence.  For months.

There are reasons.  Oh, yes, there are reasons.  Admittedly, a lot of those reasons hover awfully close to the boundary of being excuses.  In the simplest of terms, simultaneously, things got very weird.

And then they got very real.

And then they got really, really weird.

Life seems to be settling down somewhat, and we are perilously close to ready, if not eager, to resume normal activities like making things! doing stuff!  talking about making things and doing stuff!  We’d like to say that it’ll be nothing but full swing again from here on out, but realistically, the holidays that are immediately ahead of us, and the really-weirdness that is only very shortly behind us will probably keep things quiet until the new year.

But we are sorry.  Really, we are.

As it turns out, we are sorry for our failings in excellent company, because oh, let us tell you, we are not the only ones with some serious apologizing to do.  We would like, above all else in this world, to call Anthropologie to the WTF mat.  Which is probably a real thing that you can buy at Urban Outfitters, but that’s not the point.

Here’s the thing about Anthropologie:  we love Anthropologie.  We una(nthro)pologetically shop there at regular intervals.  They are our first stop for all manner of things – hardware! candles! gifts! accessories! inspiration!  And then, just when we think we’ve reached an excellent place of accord, they do something plumb crazy and make us wonder what particular frequency of crazy they, and all their customers, must be vibrating at.

Have you seen their 2014 gift catalog?  Does the mere mention make your brain turn slightly slushy and yet full of ill-defined anger?

Yeah, us too.

It starts out so promising:

featherFeathers?  Teal?  Bold penstroke fonts?  Yes, thank you, we accept.  And why wouldn’t we?  This lovely bit of glossy aspiration has just assured us that we are fundamentally like them.  We belong.  Excellent.

There are certainly things in these pages that are perfect – that wonderful, hard-to-find kind of perfect that promises you that this item, these things, would slide effortlessly into your home and life and décor, creating almost no splash or ripple, and yet flawlessly enhancing not just their surroundings, but really, your entire being.  Say, for example, you had recently redone your dining room in deep green-kissed navy and warm antique gold (which Shannon did!  behold the lack of posts on the subject!  again:  so very sorry, have we said that?) then baby, this page of giftables is for you:

fine

See?  Perfect.  Who doesn’t love a good objet?

There’s also always things that you can appreciate without being appalled by the cost – either because you harbor delusions of DIY, or are convinced you can find similar at a more sensible price elsewhere.  Like hand-made felted blankets:

throw

Ok.  Sure.  They’re kind of gaudy, and terrifyingly overpriced.  Also, there’s something charmingly delusional about touting the joys of a handmade life while charging hundreds of dollars for the privilege of someone else’s hands doing the dirty work.  But we get it.  They’re pretty.  They’re quaint.  They’re the kind of idiosyncratic décor that declares the owner to be just-funky-enough.  This, on our best day and in our best dreams, is our wheelhouse, and we respect it.

Unfortunately, these little snippets of bliss are lost in a sea of utter ridiculousness.  Behold:

dirtNo doubt there is someone out there who truly believes these are the ideal gift for a gardener.  Pro tip: THESE GO IN DIRT.  Nothing says crazy quite like spending $130 on copper-clad artwork that you shove into holes in the ground, right?

Nothing except $158 potted plants, anyway:

orchidOne. Hundred. And. Fifty. Eight. Dollars. For something that is likely, if not destined, to die after a short, rapidly dessicating life! Seriously, for $160, we could buy and accidentally kill 70 houseplants from Lowes, and shove their blighted carcasses into all the glass orbs ever.  Side note:  the glass orb?  Super cute, and ridiculously affordable at $4, especially next to a ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY EIGHT DOLLAR FLOWERING TUB OF SOIL AND WEEDS.

Seriously, for that price, that’s not a plant, it’s a pet.  It might even warrant a college fund.  You definitely don’t just put it artfully on a table to just…plant around with its bare foliage hanging out.  You take that thing out on errands – hell, you tell it to get purdy and then you take it out on dates.  Preferably, of course, strapped safely onto the back of your Anthro-approved bike:

bikeOnly $3500.  $3500, and they’ve left it carelessly strewn about, covered in vines and suspended by a tangled mass of jute.  $3500, and it doesn’t even make you cookies or massage your feet while you pedal. $3500, and you still have to pedal!

No.  Oh, precious lambs, no.

Here’s the thing about Anthropologie:  just when you think you’ve reached ridiculousness saturation, and you can walk away with your wallet and dignity intact, they always find a way to suck you back in.  After all the eyerolling that some of these “gifts” inspired, we think they knew they’d have to dig deep and work extra hard to win us back, and oh, they did:

toddle

 Ambiguously ethnically diverse toddlers:  check.  Fabulous dress-ups in a smattering of woodland-creature-esque motifs:  check.  Tutus as far as the eye can see:  check.  This play date is on it’s way to being a tea party we can get into. Hell, this might be a tea party we have to have.  Ourselves.  Right now.

Fine, Anthropologie.  We will accept this as your token show of remorse and remonstration.  For now.

We’ll try and take a bit of time off from our busy holiday (read: shopping.  probably at Anthropologie, because we are terrible, terrible people) schedules, but just in case, we will also just go ahead and apologize in advance for not posting again til January.

Celebrating Independence Day!

Presently I’m itching to get back outside and putz around in my garden; I desperately need to water plants that have been neglected through the week and marvel at how nature knows exactly when to bloom and surprise.

The fireworks have already begun to explode in my neighborhood and we are in the early stages of dog freak outs. Should make for a great day!

In honor of Independence Day and to set the stage for this month, here are some great inspirations for how to show your Red, White and Blue around the garden, in the house, and not just on a single day each year.

Enjoy!!

 

Have  a Safe and Happy 4th of July

-Jenn

 

 

April, fools!

We had this awesome plan: April! April showers! Let’s tackle some bathrooms!

I was crazy excited about this plan, because one of my bathrooms is a décor nightmare, and my other bathroom, no matter how good it looks, is a utilitarian nightmare thanks to a total lack of storage.

April was going to be my month. April was going to be my absolute jam. CRAZY EXCITED.

And then I just woke up March 31st feeling plain old crazy, and ready to do anything, ANYTHING, except tackle my bathrooms this month, or possibly ever.

Jenn did an admirable one-two punch of tolerating me and talking me down, and after a few days’ hyperventilation and revision of plans, I’m ready to say that we are going to take our respective bathrooms to the figurative cleaners.

But first.

FIRST.

It’s Fig Race Check In Time!

I was prepared to do a victory lap – not only did our fiddle leaf fig fetish get totally validated on Apartment Therapy recently (with a side order of “you think you need to spend $300 for one of those?” gloating) but my little Pudding measures in at 29″ as of today.

29! That’s 4″! and let me celebrate both that accomplishment AND my own laziness by saying I haven’t even repotted Pudding from the nursery pot he came in. HOW DO YOU BEAT THAT?

The answer is…with sheer adorableness. Behold what Jenn’s little Omar is up to:

omargosh!

Yep. That’s a baby leaf. A BABY LEAF! You just can’t conquer that kind of cute.

And now…on with the show(ers)!

All that glitters

So a while back, Jenn sent me a link to a tray she found instant, swoony love with on etsy. I took a peek, and had two nearly-simultaneous thoughts:

screenshot

1.) Instant, swoony love is an unfaithful beast, and we are just going to have to make this work somehow.

2.) $98? $98?? NINETY EIGHT DOLLARS? That better be real gold. It also better smell like cookies and hand-wash my laundry for me. For $98, the snozzberries sure as hell better taste like snozzberries.

Don’t get me wrong, I am usually a huge proponent of the idea that there really isn’t too high a price to pay for The Perfect Thing, but this seriously challenged that belief system.

Out with the instant, swoony love and in with the throwing of gauntlets: surely, SURELY we could make something passably similar? You know, like, for any dollar amount UNDER $98??

After our last foray into a challenge like this, Jenn insisted on ground rules, because apparently admittedly, I cheat. So, the non-negotiables:

– start with this big, basic, under-$8 tray from ikea

– make it white and gold

– make it as cheaply as possible.

We weren’t even out of Ikea before Jenn was talking technical concerns like primer. Honestly I kind of zoned out, because I knew I had more than enough leftover chalk paint from prior projects. Primer? That’s just precious. Excuse me while I just slap down some no-fail covers-anything Old White magic.

onecoat

No need for primer here!

I was blissfully unconcerned with sparse and wibbly first coat coverage because, well, first coat. This wasn’t my first chalk paint rodeo. I’ve thrown this stuff down on some of the grossest things a thrift store run has ever produced, and it never fails me. My faith in Annie Sloan was absolute.

Until.

crackalack

UNTIL!

Here’s the thing: I am not super great at reading directions. So I didn’t really stop and read the “if you have left this can of paint sitting idle in a drawer for more than a year, do the following” that was super-clearly printed on the label. Actual instructions: flip over, shake like crazy. What I did: half-assedly stirred with a chopstick, then started painting.

So, basically, my faith in chalk paint and my faith in my ability to make new and awesomely stupid mistakes pretty much daily both escaped unscathed.

In the meantime, I had a project to salvage. So…yeah. Primer to the rescue.

primed

Sigh.

I went heavy handed, mostly due to blind panic, and partly due to beer. Also, it’s very possible that I was using spray primer and in my kitchen and with no thought what so ever to ventilation. Because I am super smart.

When it came time to gild this fume-heavy melamine lily, I ditched the straight lines entirely. My reasoning was simple: this rectangular tray was going to go onto my rectangular dining table in my rectangular dining room. Any opportunity to add a soft edge and a little swirl of curve and curl was just not to be missed.

swirl

$2 paint pen at the craft store + 30 minutes of harnessing my adolescent self, who majored in swirly doodles in high school = oh. hell. yes.

golden

Total cost: new materials, tray included, $10. Primer, paint, and brushes were already on hand. So was the beer I pounded in a panic when the paint started chipping away on me, for that matter.

Net result: instant, swoony love? Not really. But I like what I’ve got. And clearly, it likes living in my dining room, where it’s already played host to condiments and salt and pepper shakers for a family dinner and served as a catch-all for my garden planning notes.

inplace

I’m a little worried about its long-term durability, thanks to the early panic, but I’m pretty sure there was some polyurethane in the same drawer as the chalk paint. Don’t worry, I’ll remember to shake it really well before I use it.

On your mark…

We tend to go on binges, and these binges tend to turn into challenges. Like, we’ve recently been had fancy salads for lunch, which turned into fancy salads everyday for lunch, and we were all manner of smug and nutrient rich until we made the mistake of adding up exactly how much we’ve been spend on fancy salads every day for lunch. While we’re happy to accept the letters of thanks we will undoubtedly shortly receive for personally fixing the national economy, boy howdy did we need to cut back.

Except, because we are crazy, “cutting back” became competitive salad-making. Because of course it did. Why wouldn’t it?

The last time we hit the folie au deux skids, it was for fiddleleaf figs.

If you’ve ever picked up any home décor magazine, or perused a shelter blog, or had any contact with design porn at all, you already know that this was inevitable. On the off chance you’ve somehow escaped the craze, allow Houzz to shine a little broadleaved light into your world:

Come on. I mean, COME ON. Can you blame us for going a little crazy?

It would be nice to tell you that what happened was a calm discussion about our mutual fondness for these preposterously grand-scale houseplants. Tea was consumed, and mellow agreements to keep eyes peeled for exceptional specimens while out and about.

Instead, in the name of honesty, a nearly-perfect transcript of events:

Jenn: I need a fiddleleaf fig tree for my dining room, I think.

Shannon: LET’S RACE!

No, not race to the nearest greenhouse. Race fig trees. Competitively. As in, let’s buy plants and grow them in some kind of winner-take-all Beyond Biodome THRILL RACE.

This is probably the kind of idea that we would have gotten over in short order if it weren’t for a well-timed stop at a local mega-mart that just happened to be having a sale on house plants, and just happened to have exactly 2 fiddlehead fig plants on sale.

The universe had spoken. LET THE GAMES BEGIN.

In corner one: Pudding!

pudding in situ

Starting height:  25″, large and in charge of Shannon’s front hall!

And in the opposite corner, Omar!

Omar in situ

Starting height: 22″, dominating Jenn’s dining room!

We weren’t lucky enough to find identically-sized plants, so we’re going to have to work with inches grown and proportionate matters rather than overall size.  Beyond that, we haven’t figured out exactly what happens next. Leaf count?  Glossiness?  Who Manages To Keep Their Tree From Becoming A Very Stylish Dog Toy?

We’ll be playing it by ear.  There’s no rules here yet.  That’s because we are, as far as we know, the first competitive fig-tree racers ever.  We are pioneers!

If we’re lucky, that’ll turn out to be “pioneers” in the visionary sense, not the whole Oregon Trail Fun And Games With Dysentery thing.

Sugar and spice and everything nice

It’s February!  That magical month where one greeting card holiday mid-month ensures 28 days of everything being so chocolate-coated and strawberry-flavored and lace-bedecked and so lovey-dovey-precious that you could just choke. 

We would like to apologize in advance for not being Those Kinds Of People. Don’t mistake us, it’s not that we object to all the saccharine cuteness or the endless mushy love-themed decorations, at least in theory.  One of us – name withheld to protect the dignity of the victim – may possibly have already used the impending holiday as an excuse to festoon her entire office with glittery hearts and doilies. 

No, we like the frilliness and the sparkles and pink and purple and ribbons and lace.  We just don’t see why we should confine fancy sweets and candy colors to one month:  these should be long-term commitments and legitimate lifestyle choices.    So, instead of turning this month into a shrine to all things Valentine, we’re going to use this as an excuse to revel in the little bits of sweet and girly we want to see in our homes all year round, and to make the kinds of decadent little treats we find irresistible in any season.

 

 

 

 

Priorities, yo

So we had this genius idea:  we will totally launch the new blog at the beginning of the new year!  1/1/2014: it’s gonna be big.  BEST. RESOLUTION. EVER.

Like most of the known world, our resolutions have been less than optimally kept.

Here’s how it worked in our heads:  we’ll do a countdown!  We have all of December for preparation! And then on 1/1, we go big with the actual content! GO TIME FOR AWESOMENESS.  BECAUSE WE ARE AWESOME.  THAT’S HOW IT WORKS, RIGHT?

Here’s how it panned out:  December was for the holidays, and more holidays, and oh god why are there all these holidays.  Also, for some of us, December got sneak-attack spent surviving without running water while Santa brought us first a collapsed sewer line and then a sewer line replacement.  (That would be me, and my 100+ year old house, and it’s 100+ year old sewer.  Nothing says “festive” like spending the gross domestic product of a third world nation just to keep from living like you’re in a third world nation!)

And then, January first hit.  And oh, were we ready.  We had projects to post, projects to wrap up, and exciting new projects to start!

But also, we had all those infernal holidays to recover from, reentry into the normal non-gingerbread-and-eggnog world to manage, and pesky day jobs to return to.  More importantly, we had brand new shiny 2014s to plan, and for some of us, that meant spending a week making the world’s most comprehensive Excel-based budget for the year.  (That would be Jenn.  She’s amazing like that.  My budget is more like vague intentions haphazardly recorded on post-its and and smudged with whiskey.)

So, short story long, things will happen, just as soon as the fate of the financial world is settled, and the shiny newness of all the new year’s prospects fade to a warm, welcoming glow, and I finish very important things which I are assure you are terribly important no matter how much they resemble binge-knitting sweaters while watching reruns on tv.

Stick around.  We promise, cocktails will be served in the lounge soon.