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I’m turning 29 for the second time.

I’m turning 29 for the second time.

Yep, it’s almost my second 29th birthday.  I can hardly bring myself to type it.  On June 1, I will enter a new life decade and I would be lying if I said I was not freaking out a bit.

To make it more palatable, I am thinking about things that would make great gifts for, ahem, someone, ahem, who might be about to re-celebrate their 29th birthday. Or things that I want to purchase for myself once my birthday has come and passed with no gifts because my family doesn’t do gifts.

In line with my previous wish list, these are lovely things that are not exactly practical, making it unlikely I will purchase them for myself because I have to buy the un-fun things like a new toilet seat and energy-efficient windows. They are fanciful and lovely, like the previous wish list as well.

Without further ado, some things I currently covet:

This chandelier. Yes, it was on the previous list, but I want it so bad. I have made progress on my dining room and I’m dying to update the light fixture.

Chandelier

A marble mortar and pestle. This isn’t even that frivolous – I would use it a lot, but I definitely want a marble one because it’s pretty. Maybe not this exact one, but you get the idea. I would crush garlic and whole spices so hard.

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A lovely cake server. Can you believe I don’t own one already? Neither can I. How did that happen? I make SO many cakes and have to serve them with a knife like some heathen. A scratch-cake-baking heathen. Oh, the horror!

Cake Server

These pretty salad plates. Can’t you just imagine eating a jicama-avocado-grapefruit salad off of these while sitting in my solarium? Your mouth is watering now isn’t it? Mine is.

Animal salad plates world market

One (or eight) sheepskins.  I know I would get so much use of out of it, but every time I go to Ikea I am already spending $300 on things that I need* so I always put the sheepskin back at the last minute. I have some ghost chairs and dining chairs that are just begging for a nice sheepskin. (*Need is a subjective term. Duh.)

Sheep Skin

Some snail place card holders. Or some other equally charming woodland creature in a gold finish place card holders. For labeling cheeses and the like at dinner parties. Nate Berkus for the win. For like the hundredth thousandth time.

Snail Placecard holdersNow, I am can feel my father rolling his eyes, saying that we don’t do gifts and who needs more “crap,” but oh well. It’s my second 29th birthday and I’ll desire lovely and slightly impractical things if I want to. (It kills me to end a sentence with a preposition, but that’s what you get when you quote Leslie Gore.)

Love,

Rachel

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Otomi Fabric

Otomi Fabric

I had a very brief trip to Mexico City for work. I really wanted some Otomi fabric, hand-embroidered fabrics. I was inspired by photos like this:

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Here is what I bought:

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This small piece of Otomi in the photo above will get framed. I just love to burro.

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The piece above is about 7 feet long, maybe 18 inches wide? I got it for about $30, which was a great price, I think. I had originally intended to use it as a table runner, but my mom told me that Otomi doesn’t wash well. Apparently the colors from the thread run and get all over the white fabric. So instead, I will also use it as a wall hanging. The colors are just incredible.

IMG_1871Finally, I bought this serape blanket for about $20 (probably overpaid, since I bought it at the airport with my remaining pesos). It’s really soft and the colors are also just great. I think I will use it in the yellow-floored attic guest room.

I think Mexico is my spirit country – Mexican food is my favorite food in the world and the folk arts and colors just speak to my soul. I really hope I get to spend more time in Mexico City in the future. I was really impressed.

Besos y Abrazos,

Rachel

 

Hanukkah and Christmas Wish List – Lovely and Impractical Gift Guide

Hanukkah and Christmas Wish List – Lovely and Impractical Gift Guide

My family doesn’t do gifts, which is actually kind of nice. My fiance and I exchange gifts, but I think he already got me something. However, I have been putting all my extra funds into things like paint, caulk, and floor wax (updating coming soon). And while that is exciting in one way, I am drooling over all the gorgeous gifts that I cannot afford to buy myself since I am spending my money on the practical work that needs to get done at the new house.  Practicality can sometimes seem so cruel.

But I thought it would be fun to put together a Wish List of pretty things that I would like if my family did gifts or if I wasn’t spending all my extra dough at Home Depot.  Almost none of these things are truly practical – I often think a good gift is something someone wants put won’t buy for themselves because it’s just not practical.

Without further ado, my Wish List:

These adorable measuring cups from Anthropologie

Anthro Measuring Bowls

This adorable and cheery scarf (not the impractical, really, never mind my drawer full of scarves)

Gap Scarf

This iced coffee cup – you keep it in the freezer and it chills down the hot coffee or tea for you so that it doesn’t get all watery. I LOVE this idea.

Iced Coffee Cup

This INCREDIBLE french press. Be still my beating heart.

French Press.

This (or any, really) awesome live edge cutting board. Can you say “cheese party?”

Live Edge Cutting Board

This chandelier (for the dining room). It’s actually practical because I need to replace the dining room light fixture, but it’s got crystal, so by definition it’s a bit impractical and definitely luxurious. It will look amazing against the navy dining room walls.

Chandelier

Gold Flatware. ‘Nuff said.

Gold Flatware

 

I want to hang this picture above my bed. I love it. And it’s HUGE. And actually pretty reasonably priced for such a large piece of art.

The Stare Down

 

And finally, this pair of agate book ends. Because only lovely stone chunks are good enough to hold up my books. And because I definitely don’t have three other pairs of book ends. Nope. Definitely don’t. (Please don’t look on my mantle.)

Agate Bookends

OK. Dreaming over. Back to Home Depot.

Love,

Rachel

PS. I also want something from Home Depot for the holidays. The Nest thermostat. It’s practical and comes from a hardware store. Has no crystals or gold on it.

 

Big News, People. House-sized News.

Big News, People. House-sized News.

You. guys. It’s. Finally. Happening.

It needs a new paint job, obviously, but how cute is this?

It needs a new paint job, obviously, but how cute is this?

That’s right. We bought a house! Like an actual, honest-to-goodness house with walls and basement and attic and a front door and windows and a garage.

It’s in Seattle and it’s almost 100 years old and has coved ceilings and so much charm! So so much charm that I can hardly write a normal sentence.  The ceilings are tall – like 9 or 10 feet. Can we say big chandeliers, anyone? (Well, not huge, but you know, relatively big.)

The living room and fireplace. Windows on the left face the street.

The living room and fireplace. Windows on the left face the street.

The dining room has a great window!

The dining room has a great window!

I’m supposed to get the keys either tomorrow or Wednesday, just in time to answer the doors for trick-or-treaters. I already bought the Halloween candy and will lug it around in my truck until I can get into the house.

From kitchen towards back of the house. The cabinets are from the 50s but are in incredible shape.

From kitchen towards back of the house. The cabinets are from the 50s but are in incredible shape.

From the kitchen into the dining room. I need some new appliances.

From the kitchen into the dining room. I need some new appliances.

So stay tuned because there is some big stuff a-brewing here on Suits and Aprons with all the good home repair things I have in store for this gorgeous, old, charming, craftsman-ish house. I say craftsman-ish because it’s not entirely craftsman style on the outside, but the inside has arched doorways and coved ceilings which are just awesome.

This is the front bedroom. it's small, but charming.

This is the front bedroom. it’s small, but charming.

The back bedroom - looks right out onto the solarium.

The back bedroom – looks right out onto the solarium.

Here are the pictures from the MLS listing. As I get into the house, I will start posting more before and after pics.

Upstairs attic will become the master bedroom.

Upstairs attic will become the master bedroom.

Other side of the upstairs closet.

Other side of the upstairs attic.

This is the bathroom in the basement. It needs a lot of work, but it has potential and it has a WINDOW. And it's there.

This is the bathroom in the basement. It needs a lot of work, but it has potential and it has a WINDOW. And it’s there.

Upstairs bathroom - check out my sweet turquoise tub and toilet. In great shape.

Upstairs bathroom – check out my sweet turquoise tub and toilet. In great shape.

Oh, and check out the sweet solarium it has in the back. In Seattle, you really need a solarium – a place to absorb the limited sun that we get.

THE SOLARIUM! That's right, a solarium. Because that's what fancy people have.

THE SOLARIUM! That’s right, a solarium. Because that’s what fancy people have.

As you can tell, it needs some love, but I. Am. So. Freaking. Excited. That. My. Face. Hurts. From. Smiling. AHHH!

So that’s what’s happening here, dear readers. Soon I will walk you through all my remodelling and updating plans.

Here is a brief list of things I want to do:

1. Paint house so it’s no longer mustard brown. Maybe dark gray with white trim?

2. Paint kitchen cabinets white. Maybe black/charcoal lower cabinets? Brass hardware. Paint counters to look like marble. New lighting.

3. Paint almost everything flat white.

4. Polish/seal floors. They are in surprisingly good shape but need either Restore-A-Finish or Danish Oil to come back to life after 50 years under carpet.

5. Do the Apartment Therapy Style Cure in the dining room. SAY WHAT?! That post is coming up soon.

6. Paint fire place surround black, I think?

7. Do something awesome with solarium. I have no idea about this room, but it’s exciting. I want to fill it with plants and a cozy place to drink coffee in the morning. Not sure quite how to get there.

8. Attic: Rip out carpet, get rid of low-ceiling tiles to vault the ceiling. Add third bathroom. Obvi, the attic will take some time. And money that we don’t yet have, but we will. Eventually I also want to make it bigger by adding two dormer windows. Again, this will depend on finances. May be a few years…

9. Fix the turquoise bathroom. Needs new floors. I cannot afford to replace the tub and toilet, so I’m going to celebrate the vintage turquoise fixtures and do some fancy design tricks that maybe make the turquoise look intentional. Because it totally was intentional. I wanted a house with turquoise fixtures from the beginning.

10. Eventually rip out door between dining and kitchen and replace it with an arch that matches the arch between the dining and living room.

11. A million other things that I want to happen.

Who wants to come visit and stay in my guest room?

House-sized hugs!

Rachel

Latest Ikea Winners

Latest Ikea Winners

Wowza! Those designers at Ikea are knocking it out of the park lately. Maybe it’s because I haven’t poked around Ikea in a while, but some of their newer stuff (and some of their older things) are just so spot on – both in terms of design and price.

Here are a few things that recently jumped out at me on the Ikea website, and I just wanted to share:

RANARP Wall Lamp: The white, the gold, the flexibility! I just love it. A pair of these bad boys flanking my bed just has to happen. It HAS to.  In the words of Tracy Jordan, I love it so much I want to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant. And then it would give birth to more baby white and gold lamps = AMAZING.

Ikea ranarp-clamp-spotlight__0210363_PE363794_S4

RANARP Floor Lamp: Just like its smaller, wall-hanging brother, this lamp has stolen my heart, without stealing my money. I cannot wait till we get to Seattle and I can snatch this (and possibly a pair of its brothers) right up!

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BAROMETER Floor Lamp: Another great floor lamp, slightly more traditional than the RANARP. The nickel-plated finish looks expensive and the counterweight arm is very elegant. I can just imagine myself adjusting that light next to a cozy arm chair, a cup of tea nearby, Dickens in hand. (BTW, All Dickens books can be found for free on Kindle, so I’ve read many of them. If you are looking for a good book, David Copperfield is one of my faves.)

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GUNNERN Pedestal Table: I’m a sucker for anything robin’s egg blue, and this diminutive table, with its lovely legs and round shape just hits all the right buttons.  Would be great in an empty corner with a picture frame and a pretty vase, or next to some occasional seating as a place to put some nibbles.  The website says its not designed for outdoor use, but I suspect a covered porch or patio would also make a nice home for this sweet table.

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PS 2014 Green House: Charming and useful, with this adorable windowsill greenhouse, maybe I could make my black thumb a little greener.  (Editor’s note: I have kept alive both a mint and a basil plant for over two months now, so that’s something!)

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PS 2014 Plant Stand:  This minimalist little plant stand could hold so many plants right near a good light source, also reducing the chance that I will kill them.  Maybe I should invest in some fake plants? (Ooh, I also just remembered that my spider plant is thriving, and even has a baby offshoot going. So plant stand full of spider plants and bamboo it is.)

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SOLRUN Fabric: The water-colored effect in those vibrant colors make this an incredible floral. How great would this fabric be as cushion covers for a built-in dinette, in an otherwise mostly white kitchen?

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Now to get all the details of our big move to Seattle finalized, so I can hit up the Ikea!

Love,

Rachel

Being Happy with Where I Am

Being Happy with Where I Am

January is definitely the month of self-improvement, or at least affirmations of self-improvement. I guess I’ve jumped on the bandwagon. This post will, therefore, be rather self-indulgent and fairly meander-y (because after a long day at work fighting bad guys, the last thing I want to do is write up an outline for a blog post).

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Something that I’ve been struggling with lately is feeling dissatisfied with what my apartment looks like, and letting that make me really depressed.  Yeah, it doesn’t look like a picture out of HGTV. And yeah, it’s a work in progress. And no, I still don’t have art for over the TV.  But what I want to focus on is not what is wrong with my apartment or what I want to change. Rather, I want to focus on what is working and try to find more ways to make moments that are working.

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On step I am taking in this direction is participating in Apartment Therapy’s January Cure.  So far, I am really digging it. It’s a realistic way for me to make progress on getting my apartment in shape, but not in a picture perfect way. Just in a normal people, with normal lives, trying to make their homes a little more beautiful.  After just scrubbing the crap out of my floors and vacuuming behind and underneath furniture I don’t usually move, plus adding fresh flowers, my apartment already feels a million times better. Who’d have thunk?

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Sort of in the vein of being happy with what I’ve done instead of focusing on what I want to do, I am sharing pictures of my bar area. I’m happy with how this “moment” in my apartment looks.  Everything in it was either thrifted, DIY, or is an heirloom.

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My GREAT GRANDMOTHER made that charcoal horse drawing. I’m obsessed. It’s still in the frame I got it in, because I’m scared that if I change the frame, the picture will disintegrate. This came into my life just at a time when I was really wanting more horse art, and the fact that it’s an heirloom (I have only one other real heirlooms), well that was awesome.

I painted the little owl painting, and blogged about it here.

I found the small deer antlers at Brooklyn Flea for $20.

I MADE both the deer and moose taxidermy. It’s papier mache, and I’m pretty stoked with how it came out. I will try to post a tutorial soon.

I got the dresser for $35 on craigslist and the distressing you see is REAL distressing because that’s exactly how the paint chipped just from being old. No faux distressing for me. I’m currently debating repainting it, but part of me loves the original paint finish.

Here’s this area all dolled up for the holidays, with a garland of pom poms and bells that I made (tutorial from A Beautiful Mess). IMG_0519

So I guess what I am trying to say is this: I’m going to be proud of myself when I am awesome, and go easier on myself for things that aren’t perfect. And keep my floors clean. 😉

Happy New Year, my dear readers! I am so glad you are on this journey with me.

Love,

Rachel

Painter’s Crush: Leila Jeffreys

Painter’s Crush: Leila Jeffreys

OK. She is technically not a painter, but since I have started this new bit on my blog called “Painter’s Crush” it just seemed easier to call this another part of that segment, even though she’s a photographer. Disclaimer over.
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I have another new painter’s crush: Leila Jeffreys. And yes, her artwork also features birds. Yes, I know I have a weird thing for animal art as shown by giraffe, blue rhino, and recent painter’s crush on Matt Adrian.

Matilda

Leila Jeffreys takes incredible photographs of birds up-close – mostly parrots. Then she makes them huge (like almost 3 by 4 feet). These birds are then basically human size, and are just stunning.  Jonathan Adler carries some of her work. Again, I cannot afford any of it, but I can covet it from afar (or from the safety of the internet).  What I wouldn’t give to hang that giant pink/white cockatoo (Matilda) in my apartment…

Pete

To provide some context, here is one of her photos in a lovely Australian home. The scale is just perfect.

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So if anyone wants to get me a Christmas present, a really really nice extravagant Christmas present, you now know what I want. 😉

For the love of birds,

Rachel