...because home doesn't happen overnight.
03.28.14 / Made Me Smile

made me smile awesome 2

Despite the rough start (DIY fail + technical bloggy problems = no bueno), I was able to crack a few smiles this week. Take the good with the bad, folks!

*House Beautiful’s kitchen of the month is more like the kitchen of my dreams.

*I spy many Ikea pieces in this fresh and cozy apartment. (If there were an Ikea version of “Where’s Waldo”, I would slay it. I can spot an Ikea item from a mile away.)

*That’s it. I’m moving to Australia.

*Ever wonder what happened to Genevieve Gorder? (She was my favorite “Trading Spaces” designer back in the day.) Well, apparently, Genevieve has been very busy renovating her home. I love her house tour in Design*Sponge at Home so I can’t wait to see the full-on renovation.

*DIY paper towel holder.

*Coolest. dad. ever. (Besides my husband.)

*Chocolate oatmeal no-bake cookies make everything better.

*I grew up on 12 acres of rural land and explored the woods all day every day until evening when my mom would ring the dinner bell. We had a huge, vintage schoolhouse bell on our porch that my mom would manually ring to call us for dinner. I’m thinking of continuing the tradition with my kids, albeit with this suburbia-friendly dinner triangle.

*Mabrey’s awesome shirt. Plus, outtakes…

made me smile awesome

I hope you have a weekend full of smiles! We’re celebrating Everett’s and Mabrey’s birthdays with family then attempting Round 2 of tiling in the bathroom that just won’t finish itself. Keep on keepin’ on, my friends!

made me smile awesome 3

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

burnt chair 1

So that happened.

A popular anti-drug commercial from the late ’80′s comes to mind.

This is your chair. This is your chair on fire. Any questions?

I’m blaming it on my toddler but it was probably *mostly* my fault. Mabrey discovered how to unscrew the lid on her sippy cup then proceeded to dump all her water on the seat cushion of The Chair. Me being the clever stir-crazed, impatient, cabin fevered, frazzled, frustrated mom that I was in that moment (and more moments if I’m being totally honest) decided it would be a good idea to prop the wet cushion up in front of the gas fireplace to facilitate the drying process.

Steve and I have talked to our kids many times about not touching the fireplace. We remind them over and over that they aren’t allowed to turn it on. We’re quick to remove items that come within a foot of the hot fireplace for fear they will burn. In general, we keep a watchful eye over things when the fireplace is on.

So, yeah, I stood the wet cushion up on end in front of the fireplace and supported it with our drying rack so it wouldn’t fall over. I specifically told Mabrey “no touch!” It was the hundredth time Mabrey had dumped out her sippy cup that day. Steve was working late. Again. It was, like, our hundredth snow day. My kids were complaining that they were bored and I was trying to prep dinner. (I fully realize my liberal use of the number 100. It might not be completely accurate. Just go with it.) Not to mention, my brain falls apart at 5:00 p.m. on a daily basis.

I turned my back on the sopping cushion for only a few seconds to check the pot of water on the stove that still wasn’t boiling. And immediately, I smelled it. I knew what had happened before I even turned around.

burnt chair 2

Mabrey had swiftly and silently pushed the cushion over onto the fireplace. (Toddlers are incredibly silent when doing things they aren’t supposed to do.) I ran over and literally peeled the cushion away, leaving fabric and foam charred to the glass insert along with an open lesion on the cushion. I turned off the fireplace. All three of my kids were frozen in fear of what would happen next.

I took a few minutes to compose myself. Basically, that consisted of sitting with my head in my hands, eyes closed, breathing deeply.

It’s just a chair. It’s just a chair. It’s just a chair. It’s just a really f@$#ing awesome chair.

Everyone got a lecture on fire safety but I knew I shouldn’t have put the cushion anywhere near the fireplace with Mabrey awake and I admitted it to my kids. I had to toss the cushion out in the garage because it smelled awful.

After I had calmed down to a point where I could think somewhat rationally, I assessed the damage. The fireplace looked bad but I figured after it completely cooled I could scrape it off with some Goo Gone and a razor blade. (FYI – it worked.) Then I took a look at the cushion. The removable cover was a lost cause. There was no saving it. The side facing the back of the chair is zippered so I couldn’t turn it around and pretend nothing had happened. Upon closer inspection, I determined the foam cushion could be salvaged. I could turn the damaged area to face the back of the chair if I needed to.

I considered my options. I could 1) try the contrasting seat cushion trend and DIY a non-matching cover for the cushion or 2) contact Thrive about having a custom cover re-made for the cushion. I decided I would try the latter.

I was so happy to see the Taylor chair still available. Hopeful, I sent an email to customer service explaining my situation. They replied back within an hour saying they could make and ship a matching cushion cover for $75. Sold.

Things might have been different if we didn’t love the chair. But we LOVE the chair. It’s comfy, oversized, good-looking, sturdy and made here in the U.S. Plus, I didn’t feel like making a cushion cover anyway. It was an easy decision.

I let the burnt cushion air out in the garage for a few days. It didn’t smell after that so I brought it inside and threw a blanket over the seat while we waited for the replacement to arrive. During that time, I would pull back the blanket to show guests the damage. You can imagine the faces made upon seeing a burnt hole in the chair. (Nearly everyone who visits compliments the chair so they were almost as devastated as us.) Steve likens them to the face I made on our wedding day when I got to the end of the aisle and saw that he had squeezed the hell out of a ginormous zit right between his eyes.

thrive chair 1

This long story has a happy ending. Not only did the new cushion cover arrive and match perfectly, it came with a new foam cushion as well. I guess it was easier to make them both? I don’t know. I’m not asking questions. It’s all good.

thrive chair 2

In fact, I think the new cushion is thicker than the original. Sure, the first one was likely worn down from use but I swear this one is thicker than the first when it was brand-new. Steve’s really happy about that. He was regularly adjusting the cover on the first cushion (it didn’t bother me – just felt lived in and reminded me of this post from Lauren) and he hasn’t had to touch this one. We’re about one month in so I’ll let you know how it goes. The burnt cushion is currently residing in the attic…just in case.

I get emails all the time asking if we still love this chair, how it’s holding up, would we recommend it, etc. We love it. It’s a highly sought after seat in our house. We all fight over it. Good thing it can seat up to three people! Other than the fireplace incident, it’s holding up really well. The felt isn’t pilling. I didn’t put any kind of stain guard on it and was able to get black face paint out of the upholstery last Halloween with a little soap and water. My only complaint is that the legs sometimes twist and look crooked but I think it has everything to do with my kids running and jumping onto the chair. They could probably stand to be tightened up a bit. If you’re looking for a high quality, comfortable chair with a modern look I would recommend it. Just remember that it is oversized (it’s almost 40″ wide!) so measure, measure, measure.

thrive chair 3

In conclusion, watch your toddlers and think twice about using your fireplace as a dryer. I’m an idiot. Luckily, this time it only cost me $75 and no one was hurt.

P.S. – It was super dark and gloomy when I took these pictures. I normally try to shoot on bright days but they have been few and far between.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

03.14.14 / Made Me Smile

friday afternoon

Friday afternoons are one of my favorite times of the week. Mabrey naps. Layne gets home from school, does his homework then reads. I mill around and tidy up until Everett gets off the bus. I help Everett with his homework and then Mabrey usually wakes up just in time for snacks with her brothers. We do “Family Fridays” which consists of Steve picking up dinner on his way home from work and watching a movie or TV show with the kids and letting them stay up a little later than normal. Since I don’t have to prep dinner, my Friday afternoons are spent cleaning up from the busy week, reading, playing with the kids, planning weekend projects or catching up on my favorite blogs. Friday afternoons make me smile.

A few more things that have me smiling today…

*The spring issue of TRADhome – specifically the kids’ room on page 91 and the mix of traditional + modern in the bedroom on page 102.

*This cozy cottage.

*Temporary tattoos for grown-ups.

*A french coffee press for surviving the time change. (My inner clock is still “off.”)

*What one dad and a community did to bring a teaching garden to life at a public school in Texas.

*One woman’s mission to bring healthy foods to low income families.

*Big, bigger, biggest.

*The Nano House book. Ever since we downsized, I’ve become somewhat obsessed with living small. It must be rubbing off because my nine-year-old keeps stealing this book from me. He then proceeds to tell me all about the “epic, tiny houses.” (His words, not mine.)

I hope you set aside time to do something that makes you smile this weekend. I’m hoping to check off a few little things on my to-do list. Checking things off makes me smile, too.

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

If you follow me on instagram, you may have noticed that a stuffed strawberry frequently makes an appearance alongside Mabrey. My cousin gifted Mabrey the Ikea strawberry lovey over a year ago and, ever since, the two have been inseperable. Mabrey and her strawberry are BFF’s. Mabrey affectionately refers to her lovey as “B” and their relationship is just about the sweetest thing I’ve ever encountered.

mabrey & B

My boys had blankies they loved when they were babies and toddlers but they only slept with them. (They still do but they don’t have to have them.) The blankies never made it out of their beds. But Mabrey and B go everywhere together. Mabrey talks to B. Mabrey sleeps with her face buried in B. Mabrey clings to B when she’s upset. B sits on the corner of the kitchen island to watch Mabrey eat. B goes for rides in the car with Mabrey. Mabrey takes B along for walks in her stroller. B watches movies with us. (To date, the only movie Mabrey has sat through from start to finish is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. One of the main characters is a little strawberry.) Mabrey makes us talk to, hug and kiss B. Mabrey blames B for her messes.

Me: Maaay-breeee, who dumped out all the Legos?

Mabrey: B did-dit.

So it should come as no surprise that our entire family was completely heartbroken when B went missing last month. Ironically enough, we lost B on a trip to Ikea – the same place B hails from. I wasn’t paying attention (I am easily distracted at Ikea) and didn’t realize that B had made it into the store with us. So I never noticed when Mabrey accidentally left B lying somewhere. In fact, I didn’t notice B was missing until after we returned home and I was putting Mabrey down for her nap. I couldn’t find B. She wasn’t in the car. She wasn’t in the house. She wasn’t dropped between the car and the house.

Frantically, I called Ikea. You can imagine how confusing that phone call was for the person on the opposite end of the line.

Me: Hi. We were just at your store and my daughter lost a stuffed strawberry. It’s actually an item you guys used to carry so someone may have thrown in onto a shelf thinking it belonged to the store but ours has all the tags removed. Has anyone turned it in?

Ikea employee: (silence for a while) So….um….you bought a strawberry today?

I left my name and phone number but, needless to say, no stray stuffed strawberries had been turned in. I broke the news to Mabrey telling her B was all gone. B went bye-bye. Initially, she took it pretty well. I think I was more upset than she was. Everett came to the rescue and selflessly offered up his stuffed puppy for Mabrey to sleep with. Mabrey went down for her nap (with Everett’s puppy) with no problems. She didn’t mention B anymore that day. She went to bed that night with Everett’s puppy and didn’t make a peep. I was relieved.

I’m a firm believer in “everything happens for a reason.” Mabrey seemed to be handling the loss of B quite well so I thought maybe it was meant to be. Maybe it was time to move on.

The next morning I went in the nursery and lifted Mabrey out of her crib.

Mabrey: B go bye-bye.

A lone tear rolled down her cheek. Ugh. My heart sank. I felt horrible. Mabrey had lost her best friend. Normally, Mabrey is a pretty happy girl but that day she was pitiful. She was sad and clingy and mentioned B several times throughout the day. I was sad, too. Screw “everything happens for a reason.”

When Steve came home from work that evening, we scoured the internet for a B replacement. (Our local Ikea no longer carried the stuffed strawberry.) We found a new one on eBay for $15 and bought it immediately. It took six days for B 2.0 to arrive and it was a loooooong six days. Mabrey was sleeping okay with her brother’s puppy stand-in but she asked for B from time to time and she wasn’t her normal happy self. I was anticipating the arrival of B 2.0 but worried that Mabrey might not go for it. Surely, B 2.0 wouldn’t look, smell or feel exactly the same as the original.

Much to my surprise Mabrey took to the replacement. I remember handing her B 2.0 for the first time. I could tell right away Mabrey knew it wasn’t the real B. But after a few seconds a huge smile spread across her face and she gave B 2.0 a big heartfelt squeeze. B 2.0 was better than nothing. B 2.0 was good enough. I had my happy girl back.

Now Mabrey treats B 2.0 just like the original. They are best friends and I am so grateful for a happy ending to our lost lovey story.

A lost lovey might seem like a minor thing to get worked up about but it really felt as if Mabrey had lost her best friend and, being her mom, I felt like I was the one who had let her down by not paying closer attention to B’s whereabouts. Has your child ever lost a lovey? How did your child react? How did you react? I hope your stories have happy endings, too.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking