New Kitchen Lights (and a quandary)

I mentioned last week in my lighting roundup post that you guys might be surprised by the pendants that I chose for our kitchen island.

I said that because, after all of my openly professed love of color, it only seemed natural that I would go for one of the loud options. But the thing is, even though I do prefer vibrant looks to neutrals (at least for my own home; get me in a neutral-lover’s house done well, and I always adore the layers of texture and calming colors), and I have been known to layer color upon color,  I don’t like to take it too far.

And I knew that, for our kitchen, as much as we’ve already got going on, I wanted something that would provide a bit of sparkle and contrast over something too attention-drawing.

Which is why, after a ridiculous amount of deliberation and many consultations with Shaun that went something like: Me – “What do you think of this one.” Shaun – (cocks head and squints) “It’s ooookay, I guess”…I finally showed him this picture…

pendannts

…and his answer was an immediate, “THAT. I like that.”

Which is awesome, since I’d already been leaning toward one of these designs.

We liked the look of the three grouped together so much that we bought one of each.

kitchen lights 3

I’m super excited about the wow factor they’re going to bring to the kitchen. We’re going to try them with old-fashioned Edison bulbs for a bit of added funk (hopefully, since there are three, and we also have recessed lighting, it won’t be too dim).

The best part is that three of these cost what just two (or, in some far out just dreaming scenario, one) of some of the others I liked cost. They are $69, $79, and $89 respectively (from left to right) from Grandin Road, and they are BIG. So you get some serious bang for your buck.

Other than the fun, curvy shapes, the thing that sold me was the unique white-washed wood caps.

kitchen lights1

Other than color, my other decorating love is mixing textures. Like wood and glass. Or shiny gold against rough burlap. It just adds so much interest, no?

There’s just one teensy, tinsy little problem. Can you see it?

kitchen lights2

 

Yeah, I couldn’t at first either. But Shaun immediately spotted that little dark spot at the bottom of the plain dome.

kitchen lights2

Grrrrrr!

Y’all. I can look and look (for weeks–heck–MONTHS), patiently biding my time until I find just the perfect something for my house at the perfect price. But once it’s here, that’s it. I’m done. I have zero interest in sending it back and then waiting for them to process the return, make the exchange, and send me a new one. I want that baby HUNG!

So, tell me. What would you do? Yes, it’s a very small imperfection (I would say that in person it is both less and more noticeable depending on the angle). But it’s a light I paid for that’s not perfect, and I am perfectly capable of getting a good replacement (assuming it doesn’t arrive damaged again, I guess). On the other hand, it’s so very small that maybe no one would ever notice.

Hm. It’s hardly one of life’s most important or pressing questions, but I’d still love to get your feedback on what you think I should do.

 

4 Pairs of Designer Jeans

Hi ya, folks! I’ve got 4 pairs of designer jeans up for grabs in various sizes. The first one to comment “Sold” with their (paypal) email address gets the pair they claim! (Don’t forget to specify which pair you want).

#1 – Citizens of Humanity Kelly Low-Waist Bootcut

jeans2

98% Cotton/2% Lycra

Size: 30

Inseam: 31 1/2″

Price: $8

Shipping: $6

#2 – Citizens of Humanity Ingrid Low-Waist Flare

jeans1

98% Cotton/2% Lycra

Size: 27

Inseam: 29 1/2″ (I’m 5’7″ and can wear these with flats, but I am long-waisted with shorter legs, so there’s that)

Price: $5

Shipping: $6

#3 – Lucky Brand Jeans (slight flair) jeans3

lucky jeans

100% cotton (these don’t give so make sure they’re the right size)

Size: 26/2 (true to size)

Inseam: 32″

Price: $5

Shipping: $6

#4 – BCBG Max Azria Sophie Twisted Flare

jeans4

bcbg jeans

98% Cotton/2% Spandex

*Missing the covering to one back button (see pic); otherwise perfect condition

Size: 30

Inseam: 30″

Price: $5

Shipping: $6

Ogio Crossbody Bag

Hey guys! Up for grabs is this fab navy/white striped Ogio crossbody bag. It’s wipeable, has an adorable red/white floral sateen lining. Tons of pockets. Would make a fantastic school or even diaper bag, and is crazy-comfy to carry.

Measures approximately 12″X15″.

Excellent condition.
crossbody bag

Price: $10

Shipping: $6

First to comment “sold” with email address (please use the one you use for Paypal transaction) gets it!

Old Navy Strapless Dress + Ambercrombie and Fitch Jeans Jacket + MIA Wedges

Hey guys! How about another blog exclusive Shop My Closet item?

Well, 3, actually.

I’m selling this entire ensemble:

strapless dress

If you want to see more pics, go here.

Old Navy strapless knit dress (worn once).

SIZE: Small

PRICE: $6

SHIPPING: $5

………………………………………………………………

Ambercrombie and Fitch light-wash distressed denim jacket, perfect condition.

SIZE: Medium (fits like an XS)

PRICE: $15

SHIPPING: $5

………………………………………………………………..

MIA wedges in good used condition

SIZE: 9 (TTS)

PRICE: $3

SHIPPING: $5

P.S. If you buy items together, I will combine shipping and give you a custom quote.

Comment with your email address and which item(s) you want, and I’ll contact you!

MIFM Closet Cleanse

Hey guys! shop my closet

This is happening right now over at @misformama on Instagram!!

However, I will also be listing items here on the blog for those of you without instagram throughout the day so be sure to check back in and see if there’s something you want.

And if you’re not my size, don’t worry! I’ll have some bags, shoes (okay, well you’ll have to be my size in those too), and accessories for sale too!

And then, there were 10…

I’m afraid that I’ve been very remiss in the introductions department around here. You see, we have a new addition. Actually, make that three new additions.

IMG_1586

Meet Whiskers, Ginger, and Scout (top to bottom).

They’re the cutest little invaders, and regardless of the fact that the twins have done their best to choke them to death on numerous occasions, the truth is we’re all very happy they’re here.

They’re really rather remarkable felines.

They like to quietly ponder life’s greater mysteries. IMG_1590

“I wonder how long I can stand here in peace before Scout and Whiskers ambush me?”

IMG_1611

“Not long, apparently.”

They play piano.

IMG_1654

Their favorite song? Why, “Fur” Elise, of course. {Groan}

They do magic tricks every now and then.

IMG_1608

Behold the Genius Ginger, and his incredible two-tailed cat trick!

They even do their best to blend in with the decor.

IMG_1604

But mostly, they just lie around a lot and chase each other’s tales.

IMG_1729

Oh, and they make my kids smile.

IMG_1735   IMG_1732

And that’s enough for me.

What about you guys? Any new additions in your house?

Are you a pet family? We’re not. I mean, my kids would (theoretically) be all about it, but we’ve tried our hands at fish and now cats, and while the fish were, ahem, not entirely successful, we’ve had the kittens for a few months now, and the kids are still feeding and playing with them, so we’ll call that a win.

God’s got this, Mama.

Update: I whipped up this simple little printable for you guys just in case you need a visual reminder of this truth (just click the image, then right click, “save image as,” and print—up to an 8X10)

gods got this

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine with five little boys in a row (I think the oldest is 6) looked me straight in the eyes and said: “Are there ever days when you just feel like you want to give up?”

My answer (while laughing) was a resounding: “YES!” I wasn’t laughing because I found her question funny. I was laughing because I was thinking, “Doesn’t everybody??”

And then she said: “Well, what do you do on those days?”

My answer? “The next thing. When I’m overwhelmed, I shove my extra to-do list out of my mind and do whatever needs to be done that doesn’t seem like too much work. Like laundry or dishes or putting the pillows back on the couch. That usually helps my perspective and gets me going on the next thing after that. If that doesn’t help, I take a nap if I can.”

And then this week, a young mama left this comment on a post:

“Please oh please, tell me your secret! How do you have time for travel and dinner parties and thrifting and decorating and have 5 kids?! I have 3, ages 4, 2 , and 7 months (my Ezra, btw :) ). I can’t seem to do anything besides cook, clean, and keep my kids alive.”

I thought about it for a bit, and this is what I came up with:

“Hi Leslie! Yay for Ezras!

You know, I was originally just going to be all self-deprecating and say, ‘I don’t have any secrets.’

But really, I have three very practical ones:

1) I have really nice family 30 minutes away. My mom is an angel, and keeps my older kids (sometimes all of them) one day each week for me.

2) I have worked with my kids a lot. I know that sounds like bragging, and I’m sure you work with yours too, but I honestly believe that one of my greatest strengths as a mama is my tenacity. I will keep hammering the same thing until my kids get it, even if it’s torture for me! :) Which means that, while my kids have lots of things that they still need work on, and I am by no means perfect in my consistency, they ARE pretty dang good at helping out with things like laundry, dishes, vacuuming, getting their own food, cleaning their rooms, etc. And we’re adding new tasks all the time as they get older.

So hang in there and keep fighting the good fight in teaching them how to be self-sufficient. It will pay off BIG time before you know it.

AND AND AND

3) Mine are older than yours. Seriously, the hardest mama-ing time of my life was when I only had two kids and they were both little bitty. Seriously. 5 is actually easier because my boys, while not old, are old enough to be extremely helpful, and, because of all the afore-mentioned training we’ve done, they are genuinely so.

You have three little bitties very close together, and it may just be that during this particularly season in your life, not much gets done other than the keeping alive and the cleaning and cooking (HEY! That’s a TON!).

Try not to be too hard on yourself and ask Jesus for help every second you think of it. You got this, Mama! :)

………………………………………………………………………………………………

Over the last three years of blogging, I’ve gotten a lot of  emails with similarly themed questions, and it’s taken me a while to swallow this concept, but I’m realizing that, even with very small children still, I’m entering a different phase of Mamahood. I’ve made it through 5 rounds of sleep-training and nursing/feeding transitions. I’m a three time veteran of The Terrible Twos and potty-training. I’ve taught two children to read.

At almost 32, I’m hardly a “seasoned pro,” but I’m no longer the clueless 23-year-old I was with Ezra.

Color me surprised, but I might actually have some hope to offer to younger moms who are still deep in the trenches of that fumbly, what-in-the-world-have-I-gotten-myself-into place of motherhood that feels so profoundly terrifying and isolating (never mind that if you were to get a straight answer from a fellow mama of littles, she would know just how you feel, no matter how put together she appears on the outside).

So! For what it’s worth, young mamas, if you’re wondering whether I ever have those throw-in-the-towel kind of days, the answer is most definitely affirmative.

But I have fewer of them than I used to, praise Jesus. And I have the perspective of knowing that those peskily adorable little blessings will eventually sleep through the night. They won’t always prostrate themselves on the stickiest, nastiest aisle in Walmart, screeching until their throats are raw because they didn’t get their favorite cereal. The ability to share and play independently will slowly take the place of grunting and grabbing and SHE-TOOK-MY-TOY tantrums.

It won’t happen on its own, mind you. Oh no. It will take years off your life in perseverance and patience. You will grow so weary of hearing your own voice repeating phrases like: “Put your bowl in the sink. Say ‘thank you.’ CLOSE THE DOOR!!!” You will weep and question God’s judgment in ever making you a mother because surely no other woman in the history of ever has lost her cool 326 times in one hour.

But one day, after all that praying and crying and monotonous repetition, you will come down the stairs to discover your 6-year-old changing a toddler without being asked, the 8-year-old getting snacks ready for everyone just like he was asked, and the 3 1/2-year-old putting her shoes on (the wrong feet, of course) without melting down every time the straps don’t do what she wants.

The heavens will break open, and legions of angels will descend upon you singing the Hallelujah Chorus.

And then you’ll do something crazy like take your older boys with you to the grocery store while all the littles are sleeping, just because it sounds like fun.

shopping with the boys

And you know what? It will be!

So, don’t despair. Remember that children are proof that that whole, “God won’t give us more than we can handle” business is a load of crock. And that’s okay. Because the realization that we are insufficient drives us toward Him, which is always a good thing.

I ended my response to Leslie with, “You got this, Mama.” But that’s not quite true. Because the reality is:

“God’s got this, Mama!”

And that is infinitely better.

A Pendant for Your Thoughts…

I mentioned a while back when we were talking kitchen that one thing on my to-do list was to find the right lighting for over our kitchen island. Well, life (read: summer and traveling) has gotten in the way of that little job (no complaints here), but I finally got around to doing some hunting.

And this is what I discovered: one could easily spend the rest of one’s life looking at pendant lighting options and never exhaust all of them.

Seriously, people. It’s a dangerous, suck-you-in kind of search. But one that ended in victory! (I hope. I haven’t actually received the ones I ordered yet). And so, I thought I’d share some of my findings with you, just in case you too are in the market for some new lighting and don’t want to get sucked into the vortex of oblivion that is finding the just.the.right.one.for.just.the.right.price.

Oh, and just so you know, since I don’t do expensive (although, holy wow, pretty lighting gets up there fast), there are only 3 options $200 and over (most are $40-150), and all of these are substantially-sized. No mini-pendants here.

First up, let’s take a gander at the light and bright variety.

light and bright

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7

I think all of these would look ah-mazing in a neutral kitchen and add a ton of personality without being too LOOK-AT-ME. (That Ikea pendant at the bottom right, for example, has subtle details like a brass collar and black/white patterned cording).

Next up, we have the exact opposite end of the spectrum with a group of lights whose entire purpose in life is to draw attention to themselves. (Oh, and maybe help light up a room too).

colorful characters

1 / 2 / 3 / 4

We came thisclose to buying an Addie Pendant (bottom left) from Ballard Designs (they’re on sale today and tomorrow for 15% off, which doesn’t happen that often), but once I’d read all the reviews and realized that the colors were considerably more saturated than they appear in the photos, we passed (anybody else shocked that I passed on something because it was too colorful? :) ).

And last up, we have the grungiest of the bunch—the industrial gang.

 

industrial

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

I absolutely love that funky gold caged one on the top left (which is why I included it even though it’s one of the most expensive). But, in general, I find the strong lines, scuffed metal, and intricate details of the industrial look really appealing. I think any of these would look just as awesome in a pristine white traditional kitchen as a funky, eclectic one.

So, which one(s) do you think we chose for our kitchen? Hint:  you might be surprised.

Let’s Tour a Parisian Penthouse!

Okay, first up, reading all of your comments about what color Annabelle should be painted (or, in many cases, your horror at the concept that I might even consider such a thing!) was really entertaining. It ranged from a simple, straightforward “I like Option B” to impassioned pleas to not to sully her beauty and character with paint to bold assurances that painting pianos is the best thing ever.

Y’all are awesome. And I really appreciate all the feedback. But, I must warn all of you who are in the anti-painting camp that I specifically searched for a small, beat-up, super cheap piano with the express purpose in my mind of painting her. I’m a piano player myself, and if my boys continue with lessons, then I’m sure Annabelle won’t be the only piano we ever own. And if we ever do invest in a nice instrument, let me assure you that nary a drop of paint will reach her wood. So! I promise to give you fair warning when I do the big reveal so that if you need to skip that post, you can. :)

……………………………………………………………………………………………………

I’ve been bouncing an idea for a post around in my head for a while about tips for saving money in Europe or making your trip go more smoothly. That one’s still in the works, but if I had one suggestion above all others, it would be to never stay in a hotel again if you can help it.

Shaun and I haven’t stayed in a traditional hotel, except a work-related one, (other than the Mission Inn, which I wouldn’t call a “traditional hotel” by a long shot) on any of our recent trips.

If you’re thinking, “But, Abbie, if I don’t stay at a hotel, what do I do? I’m not too into hostels or sleeping on park benches.”

But that’s the beauty of it! Because of an emerging short-term rental market over the last 10 years or so, it’s now possible to get entire houses to yourself for less than the price of one hotel room. You can have multiple bathrooms, a kitchen, a selection of beds, and all other kinds of special amenities, without having to share any of them just because some enterprising homeowner decided to rent out his place for a while.

The two rental by owner sites that we have experience with are VRBO.com and Airbnb.com. We’ve favored Airbnb for our last few trips, including all three of our rentals (in Santorini, London, and Paris) on our great European adventure last month (was it really only a month ago??).

And while we’ve had really good experiences with all of our rentals, all three of the European ones were especially great.

But the one that took the cake was definitely our Paris rental. It was located in the very heart of the city, a 5 minute walk from the Louvre and Pont Neuf and within easy walking distance of most everything else. As I mentioned in my Parisian eats roundup, our street was packed with restaurants, not to mention that a park and beautiful cathedral were just steps away from our door. It really was a dream location.

And also?

IMG_3752

It’s the only rental we’ve ever shared with Superman! Mega bonus!

Okay, so a bit of back story: I trolled Airbnb for a couple of weeks looking for the perfect spot in Paris before a super-funky, light-filled space caught my eye. It was phenomenally priced for what it offered, and the location couldn’t be beat. So, I emailed the owner with almost no hope of its being available. Imagine my delight when she responded immediately that it was open for our dates! I snapped it up and danced a little jig that we had managed such a score in Paris. Of course, one of the most interesting things about it was our host (but more on that in a minute).

When we got to the rental, we got a bit of an unpleasant surprise when we discovered that, not only was it situated on the top floor (the description didn’t mention this), but there was no elevator. We were kind of wondering what we’d gotten ourselves into as we hauled 60 pounds of luggage each (no, we did not pack particularly light) up 5 steep flights of rather uneven, slippery, sloping stairs.

Once we got inside, though, we were sold.

IMG_3780

{I kept calling that awesome contraption you see there the “spaceship chair”}

Sure, the decor was ultra-modern, which is pretty much the opposite of my own design aesthetic. But what’s a vacation for but to experience new and different things? It was kind of fun to live like hipsters (or at least pretend that we did) for a few days.

IMG_3742 IMG_3748

I’m sure I didn’t even catch half of them, but all of the film references in the decor suddenly made sense when we spotted a director’s slate (that black and white clapper thingy that they slap together before yelling, “CUT!” in movies) with our host’s name in the director slot. We talked to her and discovered that not only was she a director, but she was the screenwriter, director, and actress in a relatively well-received, popular French film that is being slated for an American remake. She was such a fun personality too (as you might guess from how she decorated her apartment) and was so helpful and friendly.

IMG_3749   IMG_3755 IMG_3751  

She owned the entire top floor of the building we were in and lived in the apartment down the hall from us. She even offered to rent both spaces to us were we to ever return with all our kids! (I couldn’t help but laugh as I pictured all of the moaning and groaning that would happen every time our whole troop climbed all those stairs).

IMG_3756

Her apartment was so great because everything was painted white and there were huge skylights, so it was constantly full of light and felt so airy and cheerful and huge. IMG_3758 IMG_3761

We didn’t cook once while were there because we were always on the move during eating hours,  but the kitchen was a pretty sweet set up with stainless steel cabinetry hiding everything from the fridge and freezer to the dishwasher and even washer/dryer and all the necessary gadgets (I always feel a little sad that my husband and I don’t drink coffee whenever we stay somewhere with a fancy espresso machine). 

IMG_3762

In case you’re wondering where Shaun was while I was taking these pictures…

IMG_3764

{Okay, he wasn’t there the whole time; I just told him to duck so I could photograph the kitchen and then tricked him out to get this shot}

Even the bathroom was super-luxe (I got to use Bobbi Brown facial products for the first time in my life!) with a cool stone wall and a large, glass-walled shower.

IMG_3766

Oh, and EVEN the hallway was fun!

IMG_3769

{That’s Reem’s door}

IMG_3774  

{I wished I’d nabbed a better shot of this print; it was my favorite}

And there you have it, friends. A tour of the coolest rental I’ve ever stayed in.

Oh, and in case you were wondering…

spaceship chair

…I sat in the chair!

So, what do you think? Would you stay in someone else’s house instead of going to a hotel? I guess you know our answer is a resounding YES!

Have you tried Airbnb or VRBO? We used VRBO for years before we tried Airbnb (we even used it for our honeymoon!), and we’ve been really pleased with both.

Ever had an unexpected celebrity run-in? I think this is really our first, although I do have friends who got engaged on a beach in California and were congratulated immediately afterwards by Pierce Brosnan who just so happened to be sauntering down that same beach with his son. (Well, that and I think I almost collided with Gemma Arterton as I was coming back from viewing the sunset in Santorini…but I’ll never know that for sure).