Wednesday, September 24, 2014

an update from the land of chaos (i.e. the new home)



Hello friends. Today I thought I’d give you an update from the new home, even though my photos are pretty unexciting. It’s slowly dawning on me that if I wait until a room is completely finished I’ll never post again.

So here it goes. Acceptance. This is my house right now, and it’s not pretty.

(and gulp, I miss my Fall decorating…)


last year’s Fall mantel

Thank goodness my parents came for a visit and stayed for five whole, glorious days and helped me get back on track. My Mom said, “Leslie you’ve got to focus on one room at a time.” And I know what she means, it’s pretty chaotic around here, with me starting projects in just about every room.

Are you good at moving? Because I’m giving myself a big fat “F” for unpacking. I prefer to move on to the painting and decorating instead of opening up more boxes of stuff.

But after they left I felt so revitalized again… because my parents—who are both 73 years old are ball of kinetic energy.

When my Mom is at home she’s at the gym every morning before most people are outta bed. Seriously. So together we got some things done.

My Dad, …well he can do just about any home project. But it’s his attitude I admire. He’s got amazing stamina for his age, and we have to literally make him stop once he starts something.

He showed me how to use an electric saw and we both did this to my little backyard:


The previous owner let the Ficus trees grow into a jungle.

Some of them were still in their pots. For a gardener like me, that kind of neglect makes me sad. But my Dad took one look and just started cutting and sweeping and all of a sudden, the jungle seemed do-able.

And now I have my very own saw.


He also hung my Ikea curtains for me in the dining room. This is the one room in the house that’s making definite progress.


And here’s my Dad taking the cabinet doors off before he installs the bead board.


If you remember, we removed the old, broken microwave off the wall and had an ugly spot left.

Because our plan is to remodel this kitchen I didn’t want to invest in a hood.

So bead board it is for now.


I’m painting it later today. It’s not my favorite paint job, because those grooves make it tough but I’ve got a good brush.

Before my parents came I fixed up Patrick’s room for them.

New bedding and pillows. Fresh flowers. We even moved a TV in the room.


I also prepared our upstairs bathroom for their visit.

This was the bathroom tub and tile before re-glazing. Pretty disgusting right?

After it was re-glazed, I gave this bathroom a coat of BM’s Brilliant White and bought a cream colored rug. Nothing like shiny white tile and fresh paint to update an old bathroom.


after re-glazing

I chose re-glazing instead of replacing the tile and tub because of budget. I would’ve loved to renovate this entire bathroom but there’s so many other projects first. As soon as I find a new curtain, I’ll share some pictures.

The one thing I love about this house is that all three bathrooms have Toto toilets. They also have the same granite on all the counters which is not a favorite of mine, but oh well.



Do you know the talented Debra from Common Ground?

She recently relocated too and had to paint her chandelier because it clashed in her new surroundings. Funny how that works. I’m seeing the same thing with items I’ve brought from my old home. Suddenly they look out of place here.

Right now I’m still feeling my way around here, trying to figure out what stays and what goes.

This is the chandelier that came with our house and while it’s nice, it doesn’t work in the room.  But until I find the right replacement, I’m stuck with it so I’m trying Debra’s idea.


This was an impulse buy.

I saw these jars while standing at the paint counter at Home Depot and thought I’d try to paint my chandelier last night.


After one coat; Hmmm…I’m not loving it….but I’ll finish tomorrow and let you know.

I’m also painting the beadboard too and hope to have a kitchen update soon.

As far as the visit, I was thrilled at how relaxed my parents were the entire week. We had so much fun just hanging out together.


patrick, papa and michael

Each grandson spent time with them, we ate delicious food at some cool restaurants and went to the Huntington Beach Pier at night to find out about the fishing.


Here’s my Mom taking a break from talking to everyone she met on the Pier.

She’s a tiny thing, only 4’11 but she’s a spitfire.



Later we watched some beach volleyball that was being televised





while Michael fished with Papa.



During their visit, my mom and I had coffee and chatted each morning before everyone  else got up and

I think those early, peaceful mornings might have been my favorite part of their visit.



Before I go I have to share this cute message.

When I was driving through Newport Beach I grabbed my cell phone and snapped a picture of this giant chalk art on the side of a building. Isn’t it great?

I had to smile when I saw it.


Tell me.

What’s making you smile these days?





I’m sharing this post with these friends:





Monday, September 15, 2014

the one outrageously great thing about aging….



This past weekend I had my first ever blogger meet up in my new city.


I happily stepped away from my time-sucking list of home projects, washed my paint brushes, yanked most of the white paint out my dark hair, and drove minutes away (to Newport Beach) to meet up with the wise and wonderful Tamera of the blog Tamera Beardsley. 

And what an unsuspecting gift I got.

Tamera has it turns out, is the real deal. She’s warm and vulnerable and insightful and refreshingly real. Although truthfully, I wasn’t really surprised. Any woman who posts a picture of her face without a stitch of makeup, who freely announces her age (55) at any opportunity and shares courageous posts about her son, is destined to be a friend of mine.

Of course we traded a cup of coffee for a glass of wine and ended up having one of those deep, meandering conversations that I find so replenishing. You know the kind. Where you start off talking about one thing and you end up talking about something totally different.

Lifting the lid on those parts of your life where you keep your deepest worries and tender life lessons, the stuff that makes us so damn interesting.

And do you want to know what I learned from the whole experience? Besides the fact that I have a new friend?

I walked away from the afternoon being reminded that the very best part of aging is that incredible feeling of being comfortable in your own skin.

And wondering, why-oh-why don’t we talk about this more?!

Why aren’t we celebrating these good parts of aging instead of focusing so much attention on the losses that are associated with our beauty and appearance?

Because I’m learning that there are some wonderful benefits that can come with age when we keep pushing ourselves to grow. A refreshing shift inside us, as we get older.

Are you feeling it too?

I first noticed it in a startling way a few years ago when my hubby and I flew into Utah for his company’s annual Christmas party. Each year, we pack our cocktail dress/business suit attire in anticipation of the typical dressy affair, except on this year when I walked into the room wearing my black Ralph Lauren dress and high heels, a young colleague of my husband’s immediately came up, looked me up and down and asked, “Where’s your ugly Christmas sweater?”

And when I looked around, sure enough, for the first time ever I saw a sea of casual jeans and bulky, god-awful sweaters and do you know what I did?

I burst out laughing.

Yep. I actually thought it was hilarious (it’s official I’m a geek) that we had literally missed the memo and even though we both changed much later ---I proceeded to the crowded bar, talked, and mingled and even helped a young, nervous couple clean up their spilled drinks before dinner.

And only later did I truly reflect on this growing change in me.  Honestly, I would’ve been utterly horrified in my 30s maybe into my 40s- in that same situation, but as I was walking around that night, this freedom from caring what others thought felt downright exhilarating.

Have you discovered this yet?

There’s something so liberating when we stop focusing on what others are doing.

Don’t misunderstand; I’m not describing anything remotely angry or defensive though. No cold, ‘frankly my dear I don’t give a damn’ attitude here. It actually feels more like an awakening about other women that comes from a warm, reassuring place.

A realization that comes from decades of seeing first-hand--- that what we see on the outside is never the whole story and no matter how different our paths as women might be, we’re all bonded by our wounds in the end.

So…. how did I go from sharing about a delightful get-together with a fellow blogger and end up on the topic of being comfortable in my own skin? 

Well it sprang from the idea of meeting someone new and sorta glamorous. And wondering what she would think about me. You know, meeting the blogger behind the blog. It’s a little unnerving.

When I was younger Tamera would have been one of those women I could’ve easily been intimidated by…

(for all the reasons that don’t really matter)

she’s tall----- I’m 5’2

she’s fabulously beautiful----I’m not

she’s a chic fashion guru who looks like she just stepped off a magazine cover ---my favorite outfit is a white t-shirt and jeans. Or something black and white.

Are you getting a picture here?

So OK.

What do you wear when you’re on your way to meet someone like this? I know in my younger days I would have agonized over my outfit. I probably would’ve gone out and bought something new and expensive. And to be perfectly honest, I did think about this, mostly because I still don’t know where all my clothes are. Although I did find my leopard  heels and thought about wearing those.

But in the end, on a hot afternoon in Newport Beach… I opted to be me.

I wore some fun jewelry, some open-toe heels, and my favorite jeans with a white T-shirt.

And when I saw Tamera she looked exactly as I expected, impeccably put together. In fact, I wish I’d taken pictures of her outfit to show you because I love her bold, elegant style.

Tamera looked wonderful and I felt wonderful.

And I sure wish you could’ve joined us.


Here’s what I’m learning.

Being comfortable in your own skin means

when you make comparisons –of course we all do--- you don’t walk away feeling diminished, or less than… because you realize that we’re all on own unique journey.

Being comfortable in your own skin means

you can truly celebrate another woman’s beauty, or her chic outfit or her thin body, and be absolutely happy and admiring …because what she looks like has absolutely no connection to you and your own beauty.

Being comfortable in your own skin means

when you walk into an event, your eyes don’t immediately search the room for confirmation that you ‘wore the right thing.’ …because you chose the clothes that you feel good in.

Being comfortable in your own skin 

is an expression of self-love. When there’s enough to go around, it’s easier to say, “I love you and… I love me too.”

And so far, it’s been the very best part of aging.



Can you relate?




I’m spreading the love with these friends:



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

8 ways to bring Orange into your home


Maybe it’s because Fall is around the corner.

But every year when September rolls around this happens. Suddenly, I start craving little doses of orange in my surroundings and I have to admit, some of my happiest memories are associated with this color.

According to color psychology, if your favorite color is orange, you are warm, optimistic, and extroverted, even a bit of a show-off. You have an adventurous streak, are always looking for your next challenge, and tend to make decisions based on your ‘gut-reaction’.

Don’t ‘orange’ personalities seem like fun people?


house beautiful

Even if this color is not one of your favorites, there are so many variations of this shade you might like consider, especially for Fall.

So today I thought I’d share eight ways to add orange into your home.

1. Upholstered pieces


How about this room?  I love this entire space beginning with these incredible wood paneled walls and ending with those vibrant fabric choices.

I’d love to meet the person who lives here, something tells me they’d be a blast to hang out with.



I personally love big stripes only I don’t see stripes in this particular shade very often.

The person who lives here is definitely not afraid to take risks.


2. A simple throw


country living

This might be my favorite Fall photo of all time. And this is how I prefer to add my pops of orange in my own living room…with a pretty throw and some pillows.

3. A statement wall


martha stewart

Leave it to Martha to find a way to make an orange wall look classic and bold at the same time. The black trimmed walls and black frames paired with simple botanicals are perfection.


southern living

Any wall that’s a backdrop for stacks of books would be lovely to me, but this lively shade is balanced with traditional furnishings and neutral fabrics.

4. Lamp shades

Who would’ve thought lamp shades could make such a difference?

Jennifer Hehl Schoenberger


5. Drapery

And I can’t stop staring at this fabric and trim combo…I love Jennifer’s taste.

Jennifer Hehl Schoenberger


southern living


6. Side table



In the mood for a simple paint job?

A small side table is one way to make a strong color statement.


7. Front Door


pure style home

Why am I not surprised the bold and talented Lauren Liess would pick this color for her door?



Jennifer Hehl Schoenberger


8. Flowers and fruits

And of course number 8 is…..ta daaaa….

flowers of course.

It’s probably my favorite-and simplest--way to bring orange into my home.


For me, the beauty of Fall is embodied in the lush shades of orange that are found in nature.

Decorating simply, with flowers, fruits and leaves is my favorite way to create texture and rich color on my Fall table.







My pumpkin centerpiece is still one of my top pins on Pinterest.

And it’s SO easy to do too.


But wait.



Before I go I can’t do a post on orange without mentioning Halloween.

Because if you know me, you know how much I’ve always loved this holiday. And while I won’t pull out my pile of orange and black Halloween photos yet….

I will show you this photo from one of my parties:


This was the year I covered my patio cushions in orange felt using safety pins and a good pair of scissors. I also hung panels of orange and black burlap on PVC poles that we attached to our patio. This is the BEFORE photo… before the creepy decorations were added, before the guests arrived and before the black vodka was poured.

Like I was saying, some of my happiest memories have happened when I was surrounded by the color orange.

What about you?

How do you incorporate orange in your decorating?



Do you have it in your closet?








Thursday, September 4, 2014

Embracing change…(sort of)….and some house photos…



Hello my friends!

Hello month of September (dear August where did you go?)

Hello Impatience and the rest of all my nagging character flaws.

Oh it’s so good to be back.

Ok. Here’s the question of this post. Do you want to learn about yourself? Do you want to dive in, get a deeper look at your state of mind? Discover your true level of optimism? Learn all about your inner peace (or in my case, your level of neurosis?)

Here’s what you do.

You relocate three times in five months. You spend the summer in a tiny, two-bedroom condo with your hubby, two (big) college age sons and an anxious German Sheppard next to a busy, insanely loud street while you search for a home in a surprisingly tight real estate market. And then--- you finally move into your new home which happens to be walking distance to the ocean—yayyyy-hallelujah-thank you Lord-pass the champagne- and did I mention?


It’s a bona fide fixer upper.

Isn’t life funny?  But the real truth is, we decided to go for location which meant giving up a “few” things with the place.

Although I’ll be honest. It’s been a LONNGGGGG… time since I’ve lived in a fixer, …as in, when you actually wake up with someone else’s old carpet and their strange design choices and they don’t go away.

Let’s see, where do I begin?

Light dimmers in all the bathrooms (what?) …but none in the dining room. Ahem.

A mysterious unfinished wall in the living room which is half real rock and half sheet-rock with a protruding fire box…

A concrete wall that runs across the entire backyard that was never covered with vines or greenery in twenty-five years-making it the ugliest view in the world from the kitchen window?

I know, honestly I’m annoying myself now. After all, how many times can I walk around my house looking at oddities and think, “What is that?!

Although I am discovering that living in a fixer upper is a fascinating life lesson. It’s making me take a long, hard look at my ability to tolerate glaring imperfections even when they really-truly-bug me. It means acceptance of the NOW. It means a healthy dose of humbleness that comes with the realization that no matter what state of prettiness or ugliness our house may currently be in, it is not us.

We are not our stuff.

See? I know these things, but still, it’s hard.

Maybe I can blame it on the pinkish taupe-colored walls in the new house. OK. I admit this color was so much of a downer to me that on moving day, I was already slathering my walls with BM’s Simply White. So that even Mr. M shook his head as he carried stuff inside and said, “Really Les, really? Painting right now?”

I know, but I couldn’t stop myself.

Remember this scene from When Harry Met Sally?



I’m just saying, I might--just might be able to relate…a teeny weeny bit ..…

I don’t know. Maybe you’re living in a fixer right now and you’re secretly thinking. Oh Leslie, please. Get over yourself. This is part of the process, and I totally get it. I really do. I agree I have a lot to be grateful for…

We’ve got incredibly friendly (and funny too) neighbors. A sweet, tree-line neighborhood with a distinct beachy vibe. We’re surrounded by a constant source of happy activity with tanned, smiling people riding by on pastel colored bikes and my favorite? The cutest three year old twins who live two doors down and ride by daily on their tiny tricycles to the beach with their young, blonde Mama. Talk about a visual joy. And of course, there’s that waft of salty, ocean air that flows into our home from my open Dutch door.

(yes! I love my Dutch door)


(my entry from the future)



Ok ready for some real pictures?

I still have to upload my cell phone photos, but here’s a few photos taken before the previous owners moved out….



Here’s the original mystery wall.


Except today it’s got a light coat of white and holes in the drywall because various contractors were trying to figure out if the rock is behind the entire wall. IF you were closer you would see the wall isn’t flush. The sheetrock protrudes four inches over the rock like someone just decided to stop mid-job.


And we’re still trying to figure out what’s under this ugly tile “hearth” …the demo process will be SO much easier if it’s not concrete….


So as I was saying….the entry is a bit tight.

(can you hear me giggling through the computer?)

The house was built in 1969 and evidently clearance requirements were different.


Here’s another view. As you can see, the rails are not code and luckily I don’t have little ones that could fall through the gaping spaces (i.e add new stairs and railing to our things- to-do-list)


DSC_1065 (2)use

If you’re new to my blog, this was my entry in my old home.

Now you can see why I was a little taken aback. But hey, I love a good challenge.

Back to the new place:

The previous owners had furniture in the other side of the kitchen but the good news is that now that it’s gone and the walls are painted, the kitchen looks surprisingly bigger.




DSC_0884 (2)



I have so many projects going on right now I can’t wait to share a few with you.


Since the dining room is so small I decided to go with color, maybe do something bold. Only I felt like I had two personalities when it came to picking the color.

In a beach cottage the softer gray-blue hues seem perfect….

But I’ve been wanting to do a room in BM’s Kendall Charcoal for awhile…it’s such a deliciously, dark color.

So which do you think I picked?



There’s so much you could do with either.

But here’s a clue.

Which color do you think would look most dramatic with my mirror?

(from my old office)



You guessed it. I’ve got more pictures coming.

And as always, I SO appreciate your visit. You have no idea how much I’ve missed you.  Before I go here’s a few shares:


a house down the street. (love the picket fence)




12 Things Successful People Do Differently


My Summer Movie Crush 


10 ways to make an old home feel new


a design blog you should be following









So tell me. Did you have a good summer?





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