Week Two Stateside

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We are two weeks in to being back in Seattle, and all around, we all feel like we never left. Our neighbors are still the same (with one baby addition), our house is still standing (if a bit less put together than when we left it {annoyed}) and we are loving the life we left. It has been a very busy two weeks:

  • Purchased kayaks and took them for their first test run {LOVE}
  • Finalized all the house renovations {and had to add new paint to the entire inside of the house, thanks to the last two years}, and demo is underway
  • Spent a lot of time driving to the library and checking out hordes of book for the Chick and myself {LOVE x a billion}
  • Rushed to the animal hospital at 11 pm (all’s well)
  • Bought a new car (hopefully picking it up this weekend)
  • and made more trips to Target than I actually expected to (nothings changed)

Even though we’ve been gone two years it really feels like no time has passed. I still remember how to get places (mostly), and I still get annoyed at the traffic, but it just feels So Dang Good to be back here. I think we have all finally found a place that definitely feels like home, and is home. For how often we have moved in the past, if 5 years down the road we were asked to move, I believe it would really be a tough sell {unless the destination was Tahiti…just saying}.

Yep, we love where we live, and I can’t see that changing anytime soon.

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still waiting for our 4th paddle to arrive, until then the girl gets to let dad do all the work!

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Inspiration Tuesday: Art Studio

I am a huge fan of art. My bookshelves, and floor space, and coffee table are filled with art books, books about the art world, art history tomes, and catalogs of most of the major art exhibits I’ve been to here in London (I consider them my souvenirs. The Husband thinks of them as the things that break boxes. Potato, pOtato)

A few months ago, as we were finalizing all the downstairs renovations for our house in Seattle we once again started talking about the different rooms and how we wanted to make better use of them. We have a five bedroom house, and most of the rooms are very generous. We only use three as bedrooms. We used to use the downstairs ‘bedroom’ as an office/exercise room. It would have made a perfect guest room because theres a 3/4 bath right next to it. But it’s right off the foyer and has two big windows (that get fabulous sun) and a glass panel door. It was too painful to see it as a room that only received use 3-4 times a year. {it’s ugly and utilitarian here, and a longer rectangle shape than the picture shows, but have faith!}

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So the upstairs extra bedroom became the guest room.

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And no one went in there. I can’t really blame them either. It is uninspired. Since we only lived in the house a year, we hadn’t done much to the house yet (painted two walls downstairs and that was it.)

The guest room was a wasted room. The kids have a family room upstairs for their hang out space, and we have a downstairs living room for adults to lounge around. This room really didn’t have much of a daily purpose. Since we’ve been in London, The Husband said I should take that room as my art studio, and we would work out storing the mattress and bed frame (since it’s just the free one that came with the mattress), and pull those out when we rarely need them. It is the only room with north facing light (perfect for my painting). I can set up a desk for writing, have plenty of storage space for paints/canvas/fabric/etc, and have still have room for photo shoots for fashion posts.

Can I get an Amen and Hallelujah!?

Immediately I had to pull out this book, Studio by Sally Coulthard and starting flipping through. My Pinterest Art Studio and Art boards are long and colorful and full of ideas.

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My mom bought me this painting print for my birthday, and i can’t wait to get it mounted and framed. {I first saw the artist – Samantha French – on YoungHouseLove, and I love her stuff! I also ADORE this artist for a similar theme.}

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I had thought to put it in the kitchen, but now I’m not quite sure since it’s very inspirational. I love the print and it gives me such a happy feeling looking at it. Since we have such an entirely new look planned for the kitchen, the colors of the painting will look amazing {!!!} in there.

White River granite island counter, white cabinets, with navy island cupboards, grey backsplash subway tiles, and Nero Antratice Lux Pental countertops for the outer U of the kitchen with light grey walls.

If it does go in the kitchen, I have plenty of other art for my studio space. I want to keep it fairly light and neutral, but with lots of art I can rotate in and out to keep me inspired. Of course, I’ll have my fantastic collection of art books that are works of art in themselves. I’m also loving some of these storage ideas to keep everything right at my fingertips.

No matter how the room turns, out I am pretty excited to transform it into my space where I can be in the middle of painting and not have to clean up everything to make dinner (I can just close the door!), or worry about anything being disturbed during while drying, or my supplies being pilfered for someone else use. {looking at you Chick…}

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My son gave me this book of inspirational quotes from artists for Christmas and I love flipping through it to remind myself that creating art is about me, not about what other people think of it.

This quote sums it up very well.

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Post-apocalypse; or surviving jet-lag, & vacation review

Jet-lag. Oh, you fun little treat. If jet-lag were the ‘it’ item of the month, then I would be in luck. Because jet-lag is certainly living large and in-charge in my life this week. We are post 6 days since we returned from the US, and I’m still hitting snooze to the point where I’ve started taking my alarm into bed with me so I don’t have to get up to hit reset.

Nicht gut, meine freund.

Tomorrow the kids go back to school, which means I have the school run, which means the alarm will be going off at 6:15. I’m having trouble going to bed before 11, falling asleep before midnight, and rarely sleeping all night long {last nights highlights include obnoxious drunks walking down the street at 3 am, the dog throwing up at 4 am, and then she decided at 7 am that she’d like to get up and go outside. Note: dogs do not care that you would like a nice sleep-in.}

61 days.

61 days left on the Great London Adventure and I am most looking forward to the fact that we will be spending 9 of those days in other countries {Ireland, Scotland, Norway} I am, as they say, done. Home is where the heart is, and my heart is definitely at home in Seattle. It seems strange that I am so looking forward to going back to one of the rainiest places, but when you have views like these just driving down the freeway, how could you not want to be there??

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Seeing that -those glorious mountains- never, ever gets old. Even in awful phone snaps.

I had planned to blog about the Spring 10×10 but I ended up not taking my computer with me on holiday, and that’s good; as I would have had zero time to actually write anything. We pretty much spent vacation {especially our brief trip to Seattle} going from 6 am to 9 pm without much of a break. The days were full, and productive {the kitchen is fully planned and picked, our contractor has already picked up our granite slab we chose at the warehouse. that’s a post for another day.} I did take some admittedly terrible selfie outfit shots which you can find on my Instagram. At some point I might get around to writing more about it.

The trip to the US was really good, and we managed to go a great hike with my sister in law aka The Hiking Guru. The day truly was spectacular {even if it was 4.2 miles!}

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You could even see the skyline of New York City in the distance at one of the lookout points.

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I can see many hikes ahead in our future back in Seattle {which is kind of the mecca of hiking/outdoor activities}, because we all really enjoyed it. We also enjoyed a walk around Princeton and the campus, which I had never been to before (the campus, I’ve been to the town a few times). The weather turned so nice we stood outside eating ice cream in the shade and didn’t even get cold. {I love NJ in the spring!}

Vacation is always welcome, even if I am glad this was our last back and forth to the US {because all I want right now is a nap}. Even though we were crazy busy most of the days, I definitely know that I felt relaxed in a way that I never am in London. Maybe it’s just being home, in my own country, or in my city, but I think it might be awhile before I get the expat itch again.

It might be a good long while indeed.

 

*journal style blogs are out it seems, but I’m in the thought of who gives a peach?

Buried alive in my kitchen {5,000 miles away}

How many of us bemoan the lack of posting? I have been particularly bad at getting anything up these days other than inspiration posts. The calendar is very full my friends, and next month is even busier. And so is May. And June is moving month so we can forget anything remotely lengthy happening.

I thought I would share a bit about what has my mind so busy that I’m even dreaming about it now {literally dreaming about it. I wake up freaked out that my kitchen is purple with yellow flowers.}

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As I’ve mentioned, we are preparing to renovate our kitchen in Seattle {it really needs to lose the 2006 look}. It is crunch time. Work begins around July 5th. Selection needs to be Final Answer in about two weeks, so countertop slabs can be reserved, long-lead item orders placed and a construction crew booked in. We’ll be spending a day and half in Seattle with our contractor picking finishes {the other half day we’ll be ordering/buying cars. A very fun but no less anxiety producing task for me}

That’s a whole lot of pressure to get it right {yo. I want to add yo to everything these days – and frequently do in my head. I started watching Breaking Bad for the first time (thanks Netflix!) and I can’t seem to help it. yo} This renovation thing is only happening once. Period. Full stop.

Because it’s expensive. And it’s hard to make your spouse agree with your vision when he actually has the NERVE to have an opinion.

We negotiated. I wanted to add hardwood to the family room, he didn’t {he won}. I wanted to remove the cabinets on the right side of the window and do a floating shelf {I won}. In the big picture, we have a similar vision, we just differed on some things, and I’m sure we’ll have to employ more negotiating as we move forward. It does feel exciting to be at the stage we are at.

Over the last couple of weeks we hired a designer here in London to help us visualize our goals. I could have done this myself but it helps to have a professional provide her thoughts. We now have a solid image of what we want {even though it turned out a bit opposite of what we originally thought we wanted}.

This is what we’ve chosen thus far:

  • Whirlpool hood (to replace the silver country monstrosity)
  • Elkay sink (wide enough for baking dishes)
  • Paint: Farrow & Ball Down Pipe for the island, Cornforth White for the walls, and Strong White for the cabinets
  • Caesarstone Raven (for the outer lying countertops around the kitchen)
  • More contemporary squared handles for cabinets & drawers
  • Ann Sacks Lucian Field tiles for the backsplash (currently the color is ‘oxygen’)
  • Pental Quartz White Fusion (for island countertop)
  • Natural tone wood floors (refinishing existing and adding hardwood to dining room)

We haven’t sorted out paint colors for the stairwell (which is a very unpleasant brown), the downstairs guest bathroom (even darker brown, and that includes the ceiling as well…). With the openness of our foyer/stairwell/dining room/hallway, it’s hard to know where to stop the color without shelling out to repaint the entire house (in truth it needs it, it needed it when we bought it 3 years ago – the previous owners picked the green and brown scheme – but have you seen what it costs to repaint a room these days? That is not cheap. I can do most of it myself but the two-story on the stairs with a ladder is not my cup of tea.) We also need to finalize the exact design of the island (which will be made smaller in width but longer to move the seating to the end, adding big drawers instead of cabinets and building in a wine fridge and wine storage area.)

Things like a light fixture for the dining room, redoing the weird mirrored area, and deciding one hundred percent on the smaller items (like floor color, I’m still on the fence about a light stain). These keep me up at night.

My head is spinning with all the decisions. It is a lot more than I thought. We’ve built two houses through builders, and you basically pick package A or B or C and it comes with everything all coordinated and decided. It’s much harder when you are in charge of all those choices.

But it’s also a lot more fun.

What’s been occupying your mind lately? Are you tackling any renovation projects?