Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Catching my breath

I'm getting the feeling that every moment between now and boarding our flight to Europe is going to feel like one long work meeting. Did anyone else pull that unfortunate professional card over the holidays? Sigh.

Work stress is definitely affecting my desire to decorate for the holidays. Mostly because I have zero time or mental capacity right now. I'm even questioning whether we should get a Christmas tree, given how long we'll be away for our trip and how adventurous the cats may be while we're away. The pet sitters did not sign up to re-rig a knocked-over tree or sweep up broken ornaments every day. This is a dilemma for me. I love Christmas trees. I've been dreaming about our first tree in our first house since forever, yet here I am feeling like we just might not get to it this year. Sigh.

Other elements working against my holiday spirit: the weather. It's been positively spring-like in DC, and it's getting on my nerves. It hasn't been cold enough for a fire since we had our chimney inspection a month ago - another thing I'd been really excited about. Our new fireplace accessories are sitting there mocking us. Sigh.

I really shouldn't be complaining. A slew of amazing things happened over the weekend.

First, my oldest friend Allie had a little girl. Here I am with the mama-to-be at her baby shower in Virginia Beach last month. I can't wait to meet little Miss L! She was born with a full head of hair, which is my all-time favorite baby quality.

Second, I'm still recovering from Thanksgivings #2 and #3. Soooo much fun!

Here's Liam and Lucas at our neighborhood park:

And the food! Thanksgiving #2 featured a fantastic dinner, but I think the dessert was my favorite (and I never say that). Lisa and I made a salted caramel pie, and it was utterly delicious. Impossible not to make embarrassing sounds while eating it. Just perfection. I'm sharing this recipe soon - it's too good not to!

Thanksgiving #3 involved lots of furniture-moving, space-planning, and picture-hanging... my parents' home renovation is coming along beautifully. We drove down to NC with all of our leftovers from Thanksgiving #2 to reheat Friday night, then had a brand-new Thanksgiving #3 on Saturday. The spread was downhome Southern deliciousness. My favorites were the oysters and the ribs:

My other favorite had to be my niece Taylor. Too smart, this one! (And apparently my competition in future dinners where deviled eggs are involved. I think I found my match!)

So that's life over here. What's new on your end?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgivings 1-3

Last weekend, Thanksgiving #1 in Connecticut with T's family. Here's their traditional champagne cocktail... as you might imagine, ridiculous fun and laughter are implied.

Thanksgiving #2 begins tonight, when we're joined by my sister and brother-in-law and these two handsome guys:

If the last time we got together in DC is any indication, we're going to have a great couple of days. Because we didn't want to be turkey-ed out this year, we decided not to make turkey at all for Thanksgiving #2, or to make any uber-traditional dish we may have eaten at Thanksgiving #1 or will eat at Thanksgiving #3, for that matter. Here's our menu:

Not-Terribly-Traditional Thanksgiving #2 Menu

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Chestnuts
Seared Duck Breasts with Red Wine and Figs

My sister's territory... she's going to surprise us.

For Thanksgiving #3, we're headed down to NC to check on my parents' home renovation and to rendezvous with these pretty people:

My family has done so much beach-time this year, between the Outer Banks and my brother's wedding farther south, that I feel like I was barely home in the Triangle at all in 2011. This trip, then, is long overdue for me.

Three Thanksgivings... an embarrassment of riches, no? I'm feeling pretty lucky.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Potato Leek Gratin, and Liam

Hey, Liam, what do you think about having a potato and leek gratin with Thanksgiving dinner at my house?

Okay, great! I've experimented with this recipe a few times and finally have it down-pat. It gets a little weird when I use a turkey baster to limit the runniness and increase the flavor, but just trust me. What do you think?

Alright, settled then! I promise that it's one of the tastiest, coziest dishes you can imagine for fall. So I'll see you and your brother Lucas tomorrow night... and we'll cook up a storm together on Thursday. How does that sound?

Potato Leek Gratin
Liberally adapted from The Beekman Boys

I've added and subtracted some ingredients from the original incarnation of this recipe, which was too soupy. Rather than reducing the amount of cream and milk - because oh how they add so much deliciousness - I've employed a basting method at the end that takes liquid from the bottom of the dish and spreads it back on top. Complicated, maybe - but absolutely delicious, I assure you. This reheats like a dream for leftovers.

  • 3 pounds small potatoes (such as red russet or Yukon gold), sliced 1/6-inch thick
  • 5 medium leeks, white and light-green parts only, halved lengthwise and sliced to 1/8-inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for buttering dish
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2-cup panko, plus more for dusting
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4-cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
  • Salt
  • I use my food processor to make quick work of the potatoes and leeks, using the widest slicer setting for the potatoes and one two notches lower for the leeks.
  • Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large pot of salted boiling water, parboil the sliced potatoes for 5 minutes. Drain potatoes well and set aside.
  • In a large skillet, heat butter over medium heat. Saute leeks and garlic until leeks are tender, about 7 minutes. Set aside and combine with the panko.
  • In a buttered 9x13-inch baking dish, arrange half of reserved potatoes in an overlapping pattern. Pour 1 cup cream and 1/2 cup milk over top and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Top with the reserved leek mixture and arrange the remaining potatoes.
  • Pour remaining cream and milk over potatoes and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Dust the top with few sprinkles of panko.
  • Bake until potatoes are tender and the top of the gratin is golden brown, about 60 minutes.
  • Take the dish out of the oven, and if you see obvious amounts of liquid on the bottom and on the sides of the gratin (I always do), carefully tip it to one side so that the remaining cream and milk gathers on one end. Use a turkey baster to gather the liquid and spread it back on top of the gratin. Cook for another 10 minutes, until the liquids are completely absorbed.
  • Garnish with fresh parsley.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Butterfly map WINNER!

I'm uber-excited about the winner of my 2nd blogiversary giveaway. She's one of my dearest friends - aren't the folks over at smart?

Drumroll please... the winner of a Bug Under Glass butterfly map is....

Yay! Kate, I'll hook you up with Kevin for your map asap... enjoy!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Office politics

This week is kicking my tail. In lieu of a real post, please enjoy this video of Switters bathing Fanny on my office desk (the leaves on that tree out the window have since turned a vivid orange and disappeared, by the way). Some weeks, it's cat videos or bust. Please also enjoy the public radio broadcast in the background. It's just the way we roll in the home office.

And don't forget... my blogiversary giveaway is live! You can enter all week long.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thank you, with butterflies

I forgot my blogiversary this year. It was July, and I was traveling like a madwoman and hosting visitors like a madwoman, and so it slipped through the cracks. But I love celebrating milestones, even if I'm a half-year late. The second year of my blog was very much about the concept of home - what it means to look for one, and what it takes to make one. And so a home-related blogiversary giveaway - however late - seemed a fitting end to a week of house renovation report-backs, where you humored my discussions of paint colors and construction projects.

For my oh-so-belated blogiversary, I'd like to give one Freckled Citizen reader a little something from the (figurative) walls of my dining room, which make me smile daily. I'm referring, of course, to our fantastic butterfly maps, which highlight our respective journeys toward the place we now call home together. 

Top row: North Carolina, New York City, Connecticut
Bottom row: Boston, New Mexico, Dallas

I had a great experience working with Bug Under Glass to develop this collection. Bug Under Glass is run by Kevin Clarke, and is one of the few green-certified insect display businesses in the country. Kevin really loves what he does, and it shows - his proud status as an insect nerd is firmly on display in this recent San Francisco Chronicle article about his business. Nerds doing what they love are among my favorite kinds of people (hellooo, Amtrak poster in the office and streetcar paintings in the dining room!).

From my little home on the web to your actual home, I'd love to give away one of Bug Under Glass' gorgeous U.S. state maps with a native butterfly. Maybe you have a little corner of your home calling out for something special... or maybe someone on your holiday wish list does. Here's how to win:

Freckled Citizen Belated Blogiversary Butterfly Map Giveaway
(how many times can you say that quickly?)

  • Leave me a comment telling me which state map you'll have Bug Under Glass make for you, and why. (As always, make sure I have a way to contact you if you're the winner. I say this every time, and every time I get anonymous entries.)
  • For a second entry, you can tweet about the giveaway and mention me, @magmaeA. If you do this, leave me another comment telling me that you did so.
  • I'll accept entries through next Thursday at midnight and use to select a winner, then announce the winner on Friday, November 19.

Good luck - I hope you're as excited about having a butterfly map on your wall as I am!

The fine print, FCC-style: This is not a sponsored post. I just really like Bug Under Glass. I'm providing this prize with my own money.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The First Six Months: Backyard... and done!

In lieu of a true backyard update in the style of my other First Six Months posts, I'll just refer you back to this post from the summer. Our weird backyard is the same today, save for dead plants and lots of leaves that need to be swept up. Here's my birds-eye home office view today, through the screen:

And with that... we're done! Thanks for tagging along for the "tour" this week, everyone. And if you detest home renovation chatter, my apologies, truly. Tomorrow I have a fun surprise for you guys - and you don't have to like DIY renovations to enjoy it. Oh, and next week? I promise not to talk about the house even once. Deal?

The First Six Months: Guest Bedroom

While we've done a little more in the guest bedroom than our own bedroom, you'll see that this room is still very bare-bones. The big challenge will be replacing the ugly old built-in closets, given that we'll probably take on the master bedroom closets that are the backside of these at the same. I love this soothing paint color, but still need to do another coat - and you can see under the weird desk area that I still have a big patch of the previous yellow to cover. Oops. Let's pretend that pile of stuff in the way is just my attempt at camoflauge.

Guest Bedroom, Done
  • Painted (well, most of it, anyway)
Guest Bedroom, To Do
  • Finish decorating
  • Replace old built-in closets
  • Remove recessed lighting
  • Replace overhead light/fan
Guest Bedroom, Paint
  • Primary Color: Benjamin Moore Classic Gray, color-matched to no-VOC Mythic Paint
  • Trim and Door: Mythic Bright White

Note: For this week's First Six Month Series, I'm using the realtor photos that advertised our house as the "Move-in" photo, and my own images for "6 months later."

The First Six Months: Master Bedroom and Basement

Well. We have the Master Bedroom and Basement at Move-In.

And we have the Six Months Later version:

We've done a whole lot of nothing in these two areas. Imagine piles of clothes in the bedroom and old furniture thrown into place - nothing even on the wall yet! - and you have the bedroom. I have plans and some prints to frame, but that's it. And in the basement, we have boxes and piles marked Goodwill. It isn't pretty. So let's just check back on these two at the one year anniversary, why don't we?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The First Six Months: Home Office

My office has the only original paint color in the house that I actually like. I need to hang a few more things on the wall in here, which will involve taking all the books off the bookcases and moving them down toward the wall. As you might imagine, it's an easy task to postpone.

Home Office, Done
  • Nothing... plug and play with this one.
Home Office, To Do
  • Push bookcases toward the window for more wall space to hang art
  • Install blinds
  • Replace light/fan
Home Office, Paint
  • Primary Color: Unidentified light blue from previous homeowners
  • Trim and Door: not Mythic Bright White

Note: For this week's First Six Month Series, I'm using the realtor photos that advertised our house as the "Move-in" photo, and my own images for "6 months later."

    The First Six Months: Full Bath

    Our bathroom was one of the first projects we took on once we moved in. Aren't bathrooms perfect for that? A small contained space that you can start and finish... so reassuring in the midst of a house full of waiting repairs. Our wedding-tablecloth-turned-shower-curtain makes me smile on a regular basis.

    Full Bath, Done
    • Painted (walls, wainscoting, trim, door)
    • Switched out towel racks for towel hooks
    • Replaced all hardware
    • Gave our bathroom window a little modesty
    Full Bath, To Do
    • Install the fancy new light/fan combo we bought after we get someone over here to vent the ceiling for us
    Full Bath, Paint
    • Primary Color: Benjamin Moore Newburyport Blue, color-matched to no-VOC Mythic Paint
    • Wainscoting, Trim, Door: Mythic Bright White

    Note: For this week's First Six Month Series, I'm using the realtor photos that advertised our house as the "Move-in" photo, and my own images for "6 months later."

    The First Six Months: Stairs and Upstairs Hallway

    Our stairs were my first big (and solo) project in La Casa, and every time I walk in the door, I'm reminded again that all that time inhaling fumes was worth it.

    Stairs, Done
    • Sanded
    • Stained
    • Painted
    Stairs, To Do
    • Because of the stairs' age, there are a few spots where we could use wood putty to fill in some cracks. You know, when we're done with every other chore in the house and just looking for work to do.
    Stairs, Paint
    • Wall Color: Benjamin Moore Chestertown Buff, color-matched to no-VOC Mythic Paint
    • Trim and Stair Risers: Mythic Bright White
    • Stairs: Minwax Dark Walnut

    Some of my favorite art is hanging in our upstairs hallway. But the floor is still... wait for it... linoleum! Painful kitchen reminder - ahhhh! The original floor is still underneath (for real this time), and now that we are experts at pulling this stuff up, the real work should be in cleaning and restoring the wood. The other big issue up here is the horrid lighting. A simple set of pendants will be a vast improvement. One day. And I sometimes want to either re-stain the bannister or paint it something exciting. That's on the eventual (I hope) "I'm bored" list. The realtor didn't take any photos up here, so I just have the current state for you. (Please note how the terrible lighting makes it impossible to take a good photo.)

    Upstairs Hallway, Done
    • Painted walls, trim, doors
    Upstairs Hallway, To Do
    • Remove linoleum
    • Restore original floors
    • Replace lighting with something... anything
    Upstairs Hallway, Paint
    • Stairway-side Wall Color: Benjamin Moore Chestertown Buff, color-matched to no-VOC Mythic Paint
    • Opposite-side Wall Color: Benjamin Moore Cream Fleece, color-matched to no-VOC Mythic Paint
    • Trim and Doors: Mythic Bright White

      Tuesday, November 8, 2011

      The First Six Months: Half Bath

      I'm loving the way this room has come together, thanks to our collection of sea-themed newsprint images. I'd really love to take it to the next level with a great wow-factor pendant light... and oh, do I have bookmarks. Barring that plan, we'll replace the existing light at the least, and update all the hardware, too.

      Half Bath, Done
      • Painted
      • New floors and quarter-round moulding
      • New (old, reclaimed) mirror
      • New art to go with old shells
      Half Bath, To Do
      • Remove light
      • Add either a new pendant light (first choice), or barring that, a new over-the-mirror light
      • Add a vented fan
      • Switch out hardware to oil-rubbed bronze (including sink faucet)
      Half Bath, Paint
      • Primary Color: Benjamin Moore Galapagos Turquoise
      • Trim and Door: Mythic Bright White

      Note: For this week's First Six Month Series, I'm using the realtor photos that advertised our house as the "Move-in" photo, and my own images for "6 months later."

      The First Six Months: Kitchen

      Oh, the kitchen. It's my happy room. You read all about our floor drama, so we can all agree that the new floor is the big kitchen accomplishment. The color is another one for me, and more generally, the way it's all come together. The space is roomy (for the city - suburban folks, note this please), airy, light, and bright. We'll get to updating our appliances one of these days, but until that happens, I'm not sweating anything about the room's general layout or functionality. Even the old cabinets don't bug me, which is truly the power of a fresh coat of white paint. The thing I'd like most? Pendant lighting. The old-school stage lights in the kitchen are really hot to cook underneath... and you already know how I feel about that '70s-era recessed lighting...

      Kitchen, Done
      Kitchen, To Do
      • Lighting
      • New cabinet hardware
      • Buy a new pot rack - this one is from the previous homeowners and is slanted on the left side, where the screw broke off in the wall
      • Appliances... eventually
      • Rug for the cooking area
      • Fix the cord "situation" over on the tall built-in with the counter. It's time to drill somes holes and hide the cords.
      Kitchen Paint
      • Primary Color: Benjamin Moore Azores, color-matched to no-VOC Mythic Paint
      • Upper Level Color: Benjamin Moore Cliffside Gray
      • Cabinets: Mythic Bright White
      • Trim: Mythic Bright White
      • Floor: Vintage White Pine Pergo

      Note: For this week's First Six Month Series, I'm using the realtor photos that advertised our house as the "Move-in" photo, and my own images for "6 months later."

      The First Six Months: Dining Room

      Our dining room is thisclose to being done. Yes, we still have a newspaper cutout on the wall representing "future vertical art." Yes, that newspaper happens to feature the Norway massacre, which is a most unfortunate coincidence. But we have a plan! And ironically, it doesn't even involve vertical art. More on that later. We have our completed set of butterfly maps up over our bar, un-saran-wrapped dining chairs that our cats are tentatively ignoring, a gallery of old family photos, and those great windows. Our big To Do in this room is removing the awful recessed lighting and hanging a chandelier. All in time.

      Dining Room, Done
      • Painted
      • New table and chairs
      Dining Room, To Do
      • Remove recessed lighting
      • Buy and hang chandelier
      • Finalize art - no more Norway massacre on the wall! (I know, I should've taken this down forever ago... but my visual brain would rather see newspaper than "blank." And apparently I don't notice the details enough to hang up a happy front page.)
      • Install crown moulding
      Dining Room Paint
      • Primary Color: Benjamin Moore Olive Branch, color-matched to no-VOC Mythic Paint
      • Staircase Wall: Behr A Dozen Roses
      • Trim: Mythic Bright White

      Note: For this week's First Six Month Series, I'm using the realtor photos that advertised our house as the "Move-in" photo, and my own images for "6 months later."

      Monday, November 7, 2011

      The First Six Months: Entryway and Living Room

      Besides the whole basement fiasco, we saw one big problem when we first walked into this house: the tiny living room created by what we refer to around here with an eyeroll as "The Wall." It's actually two walls - a rather normal wall than contains a hall closet on one side and bookshelves on the other, and then a ludicrous angled half-wall, likely built during a '70s home renovation acid trip. It was so clear before we moved in. "We'll open up this room immediately!" we thought. Or not. We got estimates and did some daydreaming, but it turned out that working on projects we could complete ourselves took precedence. Knocking down the wall to open up the living room is now a 2012 project, as are the ensuing furniture decisions. Just wait... more than three adults able to watch tv in our living room, coming next year!

      We didn't put much thought into furnishing this room, because it's always felt temporary to us. Our couch fit nicely into the nook. The other furniture... not so much. It's a tad squeezed. We put some art we already had on the walls, and my favorite rug works well in here. The curtains used to hang in our old Dallas apartment - I forgot about them and found them in a box in the basement. That sort of represents how this room was put together. To be continued.

      The fireplace was a bigger priority for us than The Wall. We hated the old mantel, and the strange angles of the fireplace meant that the old mirrored space was the only place to put our television. Do I like having a television on our wall? No. Have I made peace with it? Yes. We hired a great carpenter who built a new mantel for us - we wanted something as simple as possible. The weird angles of this wall make for an assymetrical look with the outer shelves off the mantel (we needed the shelving to house all the tv-related electronics). Sometimes this bugs me, sometimes it doesn't.

      Entryway/Living Room, Done
      • Painted
      • Removed old fireplace mantel
      • Hired a carpenter to build a new fireplace mantel
      • Installed television on the wall (it has a large arm so the tv can be pulled out and angled toward the couch)
      Entryway/Living Room, To Do
      • "Mr. Carpenter, Mr. Electrician, tear down this wall!" (nerd alert) More specifically, we're going to entirely remove the angled wall and remove about half of the "real" wall, which will preserve only the hall closet and give us room for another chair/loveseat.
      • Figure out furniture once room is opened up
      • Replace awful recessed lighting in the living room with... something
      • Remove recessed lighting in the entry and add a pendant light
      • Finalize entryway wall hangings - the stuff up there now was pretty much just thrown on the wall so it wouldn't be empty
      • Paint the interior of the fireplace shelves the green of the wall
      • Install crown moulding
      • Buy a fireplace screen and fireplace tools - our chimney passed inspection last week, woo hoo! Bring on the roaring fires...
      Entryway/Living Room Paint
      • Primary Color: Benjamin Moore Chestertown Buff, color-matched to no-VOC Mythic Paint
      • Fireplace Wall: Benjamin Moore Eucalyptus Leaf, color-matched to no-VOC Mythic Paint
      • Fireplace: Unknown carpenter's white (might repaint to match our "house white," Mythic Bright White)
      • Trim: Mythic Bright White

      Note: For this week's First Six Month Series, I'm using the realtor photos that advertised our house as the "Move-in" photo, and my own images for "6 months later."

      The First Six Months: Front and Side of the House

      Nothing could top the grand housewarming present that was our blossoming cherry trees, but I must admit, our newly red front door gives me a smile every time I see it. The new hardware (light, door features, house number) also takes us into this decade, which I think we can all agree is a good thing. (1970s does not equal "historic Capitol Hill" in my book.)

      When we moved in, we thought we'd repaint the exterior of the house a deeper, more vibrant color. It's the side of the house that prevents us from doing so now; due to our side yard (yay light! yay windows!), we fear a dark color would simply look like a wall of darkness, instead of something great. The jury's out on the house color... but we do think repainting our creamy trim a bright white would be an immediate upgrade.

      Front of the House, Done:
      Front of the House, To Do:
      • Landscaping
      • Replace fence
      • Repaint trim
      • Investigate cast iron stairs
      House Paint
      • Exterior: Unidentified taupe/gray
      • Trim: Unidentified cream
      • Door: Benjamin Moore Heritage Red

      Here's a look at the side yard that demonstrates our Wall Of Darkness concern. The light color of the house breathes nicely along the corner, in my mind. You'll also see that our dining room window trim is painted a bright white instead of the cream of the rest of the trim - and it looks a heck of a lot better. For my "6 months later" photo, I couldn't catch the side without cars parked alongside us, so I took a closeup shot of the side yard instead. This serves to demonstrate that we've done absolutely nothing there except allow weeds take over. Sigh.

      Side Yard, Done
      • Nothing! Okay... placed my grandmother's old garden bench there? Set up a hose? Yeah, not much.
      Side Yard, To Do
      • Something! Namely, landscaping. I'd love a real garden here. And our hedges and falling-apart fence have got to go.

      Note: For this week's First Six Month Series, I'm using the realtor photos that advertised our house as the "Move-in" photo, and my own images for "6 months later."

      The First Six Months: Doers

      It was a simple question, really. We were at a party and the subject of our house came up, so we ticked off the completed projects and the To Do's. Someone then asked us, completely nonchalantly, "Who are you paying to do all of the work?"

      We laughed.

      We've paid one person to help us out so far: a carpenter who took down the old fireplace mantel and built us a new one. We are not carpenters. But here's what we are, I'm proud to say: we are painters, stainers, sanders, floor-layers, mould-ers, caulk-ers, saw-ers, hardware-ers, framers, door-hangers, light-ers, decorators, and more.

      In the first six months of homeownership, we've been doers. I like it that way.

      Of course, it's cheaper to be doers. And our local housing market... it isn't cheap. We put it all on the line to get into this house of ours, and working on it ourselves stretches our dollars in a big way. Being doers is about so much more than saving money, though. It's about putting your mark on a space, about truly making it your own. It's about investing with your time and your energy, our most personal currencies. It's about getting personal, with every nail and screw and paint stroke. It's about a sense of accomplishment.

      My grandparents did it. My parents did it. And now I do it.

      There are things about a new house that are appealing, no doubt about it. The existence of even a single right angle, for instance. That's a novelty to us now. (Or at least to me - T grew up in a pre-Revolutionary War house that was even more crooked than ours is.) The thing about old, though... it has soul. It has romance. This is a house that talks to me with every creak. And I love it.

      This week, I thought it'd be fun to honor our first six months in our house with a report card of sorts, and to lay out what we've planned for the next six. Some might say the second half of our year will be a little less doer than the first. We're calling in reinforcements to help with some biggies. Knocking out walls, for instance. Rebuilding ceilings for new lighting. Stuff that scares me. But there are lots of projects left, both big and small. I also know that because it's me, there will always be projects. This house is a work in progress, just like I am. We're in it together.

      One more thing: thanks for playing along the past six months, truly. You guys have made all of it more fun. Stay tuned through the week for a special surprise on Friday... just one more way for me to say thank you.

      Thursday, November 3, 2011

      Oreck Steam-It Winner!

      Drumroll, please...

      The winner of the Oreck Steam-It is....


      Lindsay's a NC-turned-DC gal that I actually met randomly at a mutual friend's cookout last spring... what a small world! She recognized me even though I was decked out in pearls and pastels due to the event's "genteel sporting attire" dress code. Linday's planning her wedding at the DAR (I can already hear my mom swooning) and does lots of cooking with her fiancĂ© David. Congrats, Lindsay! I'll put you in touch with Oreck right away.

      Thanks for participating, everyone!

      Tuesday, November 1, 2011

      MVP Monday?

      In the history of my little world, has Monday ever been the best day of the week? Has it ever been the highlight of anyone's week? Mondays are usually, at best, a blur or a slog. At worst, they're a cacophony of horror. But as the week unfolds in front of me in days marked by endless meetings and To Do's, I just might go ahead and call Monday the best day yet.

      Our place, Halloween night

      I don't know if it was the adorable homemade lobster with giant claws or the pint-size President Obama, but trick-or-treating was good for my soul yesterday. Even the grandma asking for candy made me smile. I'm just going to ride that high, then, and go ahead and call the rest of the week a wash.

      That fun house-themed week of blogging I'd planned? Next week instead. When I can breathe again and write a little more coherently.

      In the meantime, you have one more day to enter the Oreck giveaway. I'll announce the winner on Thursday.

      Monday - who knew?!

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