Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mr. Mom

I had it all sorted out in my head what this week was going to look like. 
Sunday morning we would get the house spotlessly clean, run to the grocery store and food shop, have clothing pressed and lunches made that evening. I even sat down on Sunday and meal planned the week to perfection.
Sunday morning we were still painting so we didn't scrub and dust.
We did run to the grocery store because it was not an option, but come Monday night with the chaos surrounding the car delivery, we ended up ordering pizza at almost 8pm for dinner instead.
Tuesday night, I arrived home very late again as I traveled from the outskirts of NYC sheer across the state almost to the PA border to pick up my wayward laptop that ended up out there. From my laptop pick up point it was another hour home for a grand total of 3 hours of driving. When I did finally get home, I prepared the meal that I had planned on (Shepherd's Pie), and forced myself to prepare tonight's meal as well (Chicken Pot Pie). Thank goodness I did because today was unexpectedly hectic and it took me 2 hours to get home tonight. Luckily Mr. Teenager put it in the oven and I walked into a home that smelled delicious with no additional effort from my part.
I'm tired. My brain is spinning. My feet hurt being back in heels for long stretches after 5 months off. I was up at 3:45 this morning getting ready for work and out the door just after 6. After the long drive home I am completely rendered useless hiding here in the office, banging out this post then going to bed.
Thank God for my husband. 
Over the years we have been together (12!) he has morphed into Mr. Mom. We had built this amazing system of checks and balances running this household together and if I'm honest, I was a little nervous about him snapping back into it since I have taken care of everything on the home front since quitting my prior job. I ironed his clothing every morning, made the lunches, cooked the dinners then did the dishes, cleaned the house and did all the wash, etc. etc.
My worries were in vain. First thing Monday morning he turned right back into Mr. Mom as if I had never stayed home. He shifted his shift at work in order to drop our daughter to school each morning and has been ironing, making lunches, getting her up, dressed and fed without me nary lifting a finger. I truly only have myself to worry about each morning and today he actually followed me out to my car since my arms were full and brought me a couple of bottles of water to take with me. Even now as I sit here trying to relax and unwind, he has studied spelling with our daughter, played video games with my son, tucked the kids into bed, and just started the dishwasher. All while I veg out.
My surprise is at how easy he has transitioned back. I already knew he was incredible at this. I'm talking about the same man who got himself to work and kids to school every day for 2 solid weeks while I worked in St. Louis in 2010. My last job had me traveling 3-4 times a year and each time he slipped right into solo parenting mode and did a pretty darn good job at it too. Sure he makes me nuts sometimes, but I am grateful that he inadvertently is allowing me this time to be still and reflect while adjusting to my new schedule.
I think I'll keep him.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

First Day

Day One started off without a hitch.
Having to wear black and white, I layered a white button up (JCrew Haberdashery) under a black 3/4 sleeve sweater (JCrew Tippi) with a slim cropped pant (JCrew Cafe Capri) and black patent platform pump. I threw the black and white printed infinity scarf over top and left it hanging longer instead of double wrapping it around my neck. 
I was in JCrew almost from head to toe and as a "going back to work" treat I bought myself the Tillary Tote in the tan leather.

come to mama.....

If you were on the fence about splurging on this bag, I cannot say enough about it. With my new job, I have a laptop and Blackberry to juggle as well as my personal iPhone. I opted for the tote because it will fit all these things I will have with me on any given day as well as double as my handbag. To say this bag is swoonworthy is an understatement.
I am not a huge fan of logo blaring bags and would prefer to have a high quality bag that is not screaming out loud who made it.
But that's just me.

Thank you all for your well wishes yesterday. I wish I had time for outfit pictures because this new venture has me truly "shopping the closet". I placed 1 order with JCrew for the Cafe Capri , the black Tippi, the black No.2 pencil skirt, the Tillary, the Minnie in black and 2 bangles. Adding the few basic black bottoms I desperately needed gives me a great starting point to build outfits with pieces I already own. I chose the Tillary in the tan because with all the black and white I will be wearing I wanted something different than a black bag. The tan color is timeless,goes with everything I own and adds a pop to my outfits.
Shall I start gushing over it again?

I feel a bit out of whack since I have no routine and a bit overwhelmed. My company car is a Prius and was delivered to my house unexpectedly last night. I'm not lying when I say it took me 40 minutes last night in the dark to figure out how to start it. (Had to consult the manual)  My husband thought it was hilarious that I couldn't start the car (there is no key!) and stood watching me from the windows this morning getting a chuckle at my expense. He said it looked like I didn't know how to drive, but aside from the nerves of operating a car that IS NOT MINE that requires you to put it in drive, step on the brake and push a button to start it...well, it's all a bit much.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Back To The Grind

The past few days went by in a blur and today it's back to the grind!
Remember this picture and how I complained that now that I love my living room so much that the contrast of the halls and foyer was bugging me? more!

The husband and I spent the weekend painting to remedy my discontent. It was a lot to take on 2 days before returning to work, but I work best under pressure and now we're talking! Everything flows and I am in love with the whole look. The color is called Polished Silver and definitely delivers the pop I was looking for. All of our hallway and foyer accents, as well as our front door are black and it is the perfect back ground color.

Before and after: What do you think?

I can't believe this day is finally here and after 5 full months at home it's back to work for this girl!
Have a great day!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Room Reveal!

If you follow me on Instagram (@shoppingcloset, of course!) then you saw these little "sneak peeks" of the living room. Well, after a ton of elbow grease and me, staring at the room for hours on is finally complete! Do you want to see?

The view from our front door.
As we began rolling the paint out over the weekend I started having a heart attack because it was reminding me of that 80's colonial blue my mom had painted in almost every room of my childhood home. She was a huge fan of 80's country style and as I rolled and rolled I was getting upset as my vision for the room was fading and images of country style ducks waddled through my head!
Once the second coat was on and almost dry, I felt relieved as it bared no homage to decades old decor that we would all be better off just forgetting about. I should know better than to question myself, I always go with my gut and it is always 99% of the time dead on.

Other than paint and painting supplies, the only thing I purchased for this re~do was this side table from Pottery Barn. I knew this vignette needed something round to contradict the square angles and this table was the perfect solution. It was reasonably priced for the quality and finish and I cannot even begin to tell you all how unbelievable Pottery Barn customer service is. I ordered this table Monday morning people. It is Wednesday afternoon and I already have it assembled and in place, and I did NOT pay for expedited shipping. Isn't that fantastic? (I wish I could say the same for JCrew and an experience I had with them this week, but that in itself might be another blog post!)

These bookcases were freebies. Now, before you hate me forever, I will tell you how that came to be. In the late 90's they were the "bath and body" fixtures for an apparel company I worked for. We received a memo to throw them out since they were being discontinued. My girlfriend and I took them from the stores we each ran and then called all the other stores in our district and drove in her truck from store to store to rescue the ones headed for the trash. In the end, I only got these two and she obtained three for herself. They were in my husband's office since we moved here 6 years ago and I cannot believe it took me this long to realize they rightfully belong in the formal living room. Ironically, they lived in the formal living room of our previous home!

The left bookcase.
Symmetry and balance are important to me in home decor. I spent an entire day decorating these two. This one is my absolute favorite. Since this is the formal living room, the books turned spine in give a more calming , neutral feel than if you were to see all the different spine colors and type.

I am a book lover (which also deserves it's own post) and I had to make some tough decisions to scale back some of my collection in order to keep the aesthetic I was looking for. I adore the sculptural quality of religious artifacts. I love Thai Cart Wheels (I have 2) and this stone Buddhist head I purchased years ago. It is solid stone and has to weigh over 50 pounds!

The right side bookcase was a challenge. I was so pleased with the results on the left that it was hard to come up with something that would appeal to me on the same level. In the end, I am happy with it. I still love the other one more, but such is life.

As I have mentioned before, my attic is a veritable prop closet and I spent the day going in and out bringing out items I have collected over many, many years. 

What really pleased me with the right bookcase was incorporating some inherited elements into it that had been previously tucked away. This clock was passed down to me from my father's side and I wound it for the first time after placing it here. It works like a charm and chimes the most beautiful sounds on the hour and at every half hour mark.

This Wedgewood vase was tucked away on a shelf in the attic and I was thrilled to have a rightful home for it.  There is just something so elegant and timeless about Wedgewood isn't there? 

When we bought this home, my mother was selling my grandfather's home here in NJ and taking him to live with her in North Carolina. He kept insisting that I take his china cabinet. He gave me the sofa and set of chairs I have in this room, but I already had a cabinet in my dining room for my china and dishes. I adore him so much, that I took it simply because I didn't want to disappoint him and I am so glad I did! Since we moved in, it has functioned as a bar cabinet and stores all my glassware, barware, and table linens! There is even a stereo tucked into the bottom right cabinet so we can listen to some Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra whenever we have guests over for cocktails!

The view from our dining room.
A sisal rug was just what this room needed to take the formality down a notch. It's like one of those tuxedo says, "I'm can be formal, but I still like to party". Or perhaps that just happens to be a line from one of my favorite movies....

After my grandfather had moved away, my husband and I were commissioned to clean out the last bit of stuff in his house. We found this coffee table in the garage attic and my husband refinished it. There is nothing I love more than when my Pops has come here and he sits back on his old sofa and nods with approval at how I have breathed new life into his old things. I wish he were well enough to travel and see this new incarnation, but I know my mom will show him these photos!

See the reflection of my hallway in my gorgeous starburst mirror? Well, with this update I've decided that the hallway color has really got to go....I'm thinking a soft grey with white undertones to go with this new "cool" color palette.

As I mentioned before, all of the elements in this room have been remixed and reused. The drapes were an investment years ago and I knew any new color palette would have to work with them. I feel like this proves two major points:
1. If you collect things you truly love, you will always be able to incorporate them into your home.
2. A little thought and elbow grease can create a whole new look and feel and breathe new life into any room!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I Love New York

New Jersey gets a bad rap.
Television has portrayed the Garden State in some very not~so~nice ways. It's true that we move extremely quickly and get easily annoyed with slowpokes. It's also true that we tawk funny, and I, myself even admit to pronouncing words like coffee as cawfee. Many of us are loud and move our hands wildly when we speak because if we didn't you might not understand just how important the thing we are telling you is. But we don't all hang out at Karma (I live a mere 5 minutes from the joint and I have never, ever been there!) and spend our days at the gym, tanning salon or tucked away in our McMansions adding tons of drama to everyday situations. In fact, I own a Cape Cod style house and there is not one McMansion in my neighborhood (thank goodness!)
Having been born and raised here my entire life, there are some things about NJ that simply can't be beat. The eastern side of our state is nothing but endless beaches. Atlantic City is a reasonable drive from any part of the state. In under two hours I can be in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania snowboarding my little heart out. From where I reside, I am equal distance from both New York and Philadelphia which basically equals options people....options.
Of course, living inbetween two major US cities causes some rifts. You are either a New York sports fan or a Philly sports fan. There is no mix or match are strictly one or the other. Philly folk tend to vacation in the southern part of the New Jersey Shore while the New Yorkers stick mostly to the northern half. People definitely have their favorite city too. Perhaps it's because both my mother and father's sides settled there after emigrating from both Scotland and Ireland, but I have always been and always will be a New York girl at heart.
Ironically, with all the time I have spent in NYC over the past 30 some odd years, I have never done any of the typically touristy things that most people do. Certainly we go to Rockefeller Center at Christmas time to see the tree and window shop up and down 5th Avenue, but I have never skated while seeing the tree, been inside Central Park, or even gone inside the Empire State Building. Can you believe I have never even been to The Statue of Liberty?
My girlfriend and I decided to take our children to New York on Friday to do all sorts of sightseeing.We obtained tickets to go to the 9/11 Memorial, because we both wanted to see it and felt it was important that the children see it too. We thought it was high time the kids saw the Empire State Building and Greenwich Village since that is where my friend and I spent so much time in our teens. That is exactly what we did:

St.Paul's Church

Trinity Church

Ground Zero

St.Mark's Place in Greenwich Village

Empire State Building

My favorite parts were seeing St.Paul's Church and Trinity Church. They were both incredibly beautiful and so full of history. Definitely a do not miss if visiting NYC. The 9/11 Memorial was moving especially since it has impacted the lives of so many people we have known and met. I was sad because the Village looked so run down to me and so many shops have been shuttered in the many years since I have been there. The kids got a kick out of shopping at Trash and Vaudeville and seeing some of the unique people you spot on the streets there. 
There really is no place like New York!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Overly Ambitious

This week has shot by in a Manhattan Minute! If you follow me on Twitter you saw that I got overly ambitious during the Grammy's Sunday evening and started redecorating my house. By redecorating I mean moving large scale pieces of furniture from one side of the house to the other, taking this from here and moving it there, taking that from there and moving it here. It was like how my husband tagged along behind me as I pondered moving artwork except he refused to take any part in my shenanigans Sunday night and basically informed me I was nuts. I believe he said, "No one starts projects like this at 7:30 on a Sunday night!" Oh, but Sweetie...we've been married for almost 11 years now! You should know that when the mood strikes, I take on all sorts of ambitious projects!
Of course, when he caught me dragging full size wooden bookcases through the house on old sheets (so they wouldn't scratch my wood floors!) he was left little option but to offer help as I assume he was terrified I was going to destroy something. See, I always get my way in the end...
Unfortunately, my grand master plan hit a big snafu when my tufted leather ottoman was about 2" too wide to fit between my pair of full size wooden bookcase where I had newly placed them! Agggghhhh! I had measured and knew it would be a tight squeeze, but was hoping for the best. Not to be. Now I had our home office ripped apart and our formal living room ripped apart with no clue as to how to place the furniture. So I did what all clever women do in time of crisis and slept on it.
I spent the entire day Monday re working the office. I was able to figure out a solution to the furniture placement and gave the office a much needed face lift. The big wooden bookcases ate up too much space in a small room and by swapping them with two smaller bookcases I had in the formal living room the room feels so much better. Have a peek:

This whole corner was taken up by my other bookcases! I was afraid I wouldn't fit all of my husband's collections in these smaller ones, but I managed to make it all work! The leather ottoman is a large, bench style piece I splurged on six years ago from Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams. It fits beautifully under the window on that wall. These two bookcases were a yard sale find over a decade ago for $20.

When we are in our favorite state (I bet you couldn't guess which one it is....)and visiting Portland, we always make a stop at Shipyard Brewing Company. It's like a family tradition. The sign was purchased at the Shipyard shop there in Portland and I found the license plate at an antiques store in southern NJ.

The desk is so large and cumbersome and it used to face out the window to the left but always felt a bit awkward. I love it turned to the wall and it works perfectly under the shelves.

I even took the time to reorganize all of our desk accessories in this great wooden carrier I bought at Pottery Barn years and years ago.

I was able to fit the printer on the desk and moved the matching printer stand to a previously cluttered corner.
It stores papers and my husband graphic design and computer books. 

I love this thrifted globe I found recently for $5 and I was even able to display the "treasure chest" my grandfather made as a boy in 1924. A very special heirloom.

I couldn't believe the shelves held all of his stuff! And yes, it is a pain to dust! As you can see my husband is a beer drinking, sports loving fisherman.

As the day wound down, I ran out to Target and purchased these frames to properly display all of his Giants Superbowl memorabilia. I even picked up two new magazines from the recent Superbowl and framed them too. I had it all framed and hung before he arrived home from work to surprise him. Instead of falling all over my incredible framing and collage making skills and the fact that I am basically a female version of Bob Vila, he said, "Thanks, but why is there a vintage tennis racket hung on a wall dedicated to football?"
I can't win. So I sighed and replied, "Because it's not a football's a sports wall."
Wait until I go back to one of the local thrift stores where I saw a pair of vintage skis for $5 and I place them in that wall my arse....they better still be there...
It was a crazy week to take on these projects because Tuesday I spent the day at the salon/spa, Wednesday I lunched and shopped with the fabulous Carly, today had to grocery shop and run some odd errands and tomorrow we will be in NYC all day.
And my living room currently looks like this:

poor homeless stone carving...

I have purchased the paint and I spackled the walls this morning, but instead of caulking crown molding like I should be, I decided to show you all my mess instead. I should really get caulking.