...because home doesn't happen overnight.

bday 2

On Saturday, we celebrated Mabrey’s and Everett’s birthdays with extended family. (Mabrey turned two on Sunday and Everett will turn six on Monday.) Their birthdays are close enough to warrant a joint celebration – at least with extended family. Mabrey and Everett have such a close, unique relationship. They don’t mind sharing the spotlight with the other. At least for now.

On my kids’ actual birth days, the goal is to make them feel as special as they are. For us, that doesn’t mean oodles of gifts or an expensive party for all their classmates or even matching decorations. Extra cuddles, some balloons, a special gift, favorite foods, revisiting their birth story, maybe a visit to their favorite park and saying “I can’t believe you’re X years old already!” is all it takes. And we always read Dr. Seuss’s Happy Birthday to You!

bday 3

It got me thinking about how other families celebrate birthdays. Back when I working as a pharmacist, one of my co-worker’s had a Birthday Hat. It was a big, obnoxious (in a good way) hat that each person wore on their special day. They have pictures of each family member wearing the hat each year on their birthday. Such a fun tradition!

Growing up, my family took pride in singing the most horrible, drawn-out version of “Happy Birthday” you’ve ever heard. Loud, off-key, out of sync – that’s the stuff! The worse, the better. It’s always funny to see how non-family members not accustomed to our tradition react to the rendition. Usually, they look on in horror!

bday 1

How do you celebrate birthdays in your family? Any unique traditions? I’d love to hear ‘em.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

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!

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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