Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Is your TV over the fireplace? Here’s what I’m doing.


Did I mention we’ve finally begun construction on our weird 60s living room wall?

It’s pretty chaotic with the backyard renovation happening at the same time, but it’s exciting when you begin to see some progress.


This is one of the inspiration photos I showed Chuck, the contractor we hired to demo and re-frame our wall.


And ta-daaaa…’s what we started with. Our circa 1966 living room wall.

Since our new home has only one main room for “living,” the big TV is definitely going in here. And although we considered putting it on other walls in this room nothing worked.

The very best viewing spot is over the fireplace. The good news is that the firebox is low and the size of the TV works with the ceiling height. No straining necks, which is nice.

But since it’s my only fireplace in the house, I’m not crazy about losing the chance to have a mantel. TVs don’t bother me. I know they get a bad rap in the decorating world but we love watching movies as a family. And I think one should decorate for one’s lifestyle.

But here’s what I’m doing with our TV.

As a nice little camouflage solution I decided to have miniature barn doors put on a slider and positioned over the TV. You’ve probably seen this already.


Here’s a picture to give you a better idea. 



The hardware looks almost identical to the hardware on the barn door in my office. 


I love having the option of not having the TV be the focal point.

Regarding materials, I’ve seen the sliding barn doors with dark, rustic wood, but I prefer going with white woodwork and having the doors blend into the wall rather than stand out.


After living several months with some exploratory holes in the wall (“It’s hard to give you a quote when I don’t know what’s behind the wall’ said the contractor ) we finally got started last week.



We were so excited to finally have this wall look like this. Ha. Isn’t remodeling a funny process?

Who gets excited by the demo process?



The TV will be recessed in the wall.


Opps. When I came down the stairs I had to break the bad news to Chuck.

I wanted the two light fixtures to be in a header over the bookshelves.


Here’s what I was thinking.

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Oh well, it all worked out.



The hubby wants a rustic brick surround and I have some ideas for the mantel.

But one thing I know for sure.

I’ve been lugging this heavy, architectural remnant with me for years---I still remember seeing it in an antique store and having absolutely NO idea what I’d do with it.

And now here we are. Years later. Living in a beach community…




Don’t you think it would look good as part of a mantel?





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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

my cottage bathroom reveal….



If you’re a regular to my blog you already know about our move to Southern California last year.

I always knew I’d need to transform any house we ended up in--- but our decision to live walking distance to the beach meant choosing a real fixer upper.

And it’s been an adventure for sure.

Although the fun part has been decorating with a fresh slate. Plus, I like to think of our new place as our future beach cottage (although we’ve got a loooong ways to go).

It’s hard to believe we’ve been here seven months already, but today I’ve got some pictures of our first bathroom reveal. Thank goodness for that water damage in the wall because it meant a whole new bathroom.

There’s still a few details left. Some towel hooks to find and and a distressed sign I’m making, but so far I’m so happy with the results.


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As you can see I’ve been painting our interior doors with Benjamin Moore’s Mopboard Black. After seeing it HERE, I decided my plain, cheapo doors needed a little sprucing up.


The first thing people notice when they use this bathroom is the pretty chandelier. 

I was so bummed from the dark, gloomy feeling in this previous space that my number one priority was lighting.


I picked this chandelier because of all the great reviews HERE.


It’s got three bulbs which was important to me.

Yes! Let there be light. And lots of it.


Once the wall was opened up I decided to have the electrician wire it for sconces on either side of the mirror.

I read somewhere that overhead lighting in the bathroom casts unflattering shadows on the face so when it came time to pick lighting …I knew what I didn’t want.


I also had both the chandelier and sconces put on dimmers which I love.

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I decided to bring my old bamboo shelves in here for towels but I still have to find the rustic, nautical towel hooks I want.



I had the bead board installed horizontally and I really like it.

I determined the height of it by figuring out the placement of the sconces and mirror first.


Here’s a shot of the vanity.

Tough to get a good picture but you can see it has the feet that I wanted.



Standard white subway tiles with my splurge of marble on the shower floor.

And I’m very happy with my charcoal grout color.


The flooring is actually a sturdy porcelain tile that mimics the real marble in the room.

It has a matte finish which I love because I tend to worry about people slipping on wet floors.




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To save on costs I chose mostly shiny, chrome fixtures (faucet and sconces) except on the shower handle. I liked the brushed metal so much more.


Then we splurged on Moen shower fixtures.


Is it possible to have a crush on a shower?

Because I’m in love with this frameless beauty.


Here’s an inside view of the bathroom door right now. I just couldn’t bring myself to paint it black on this side… although it definitely needs a fresh coat of paint.

What’s your opinion—black or white?


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While that’s it for now.

Stay tuned for some updates on our backyard transformation currently taking place. I’ve been taking lots of photos through the tedious process of filling in our old in-ground pool. And I can’t wait to talk about outdoor living areas with you.

Thanks for visiting today, I love your company.





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Thursday, April 9, 2015

how to feel beautiful ….. part 2



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I recently wrote a blog post about feeling beautiful while you age.

You can read Part One HERE.

I was inspired to write about this topic after hearing a story from a vibrant, attractive fifty-something-year-old woman who had a door slammed in her face by a stranger, a “gentleman” who was rushing ahead of her. Outraged, she confronted him about his rudeness, but afterwards she reflected on the experience, and the sting of feeling invisible that she felt.

Of course my instant reaction was to join her in her anger. What a rude man. He did what? Yes, you go-girl!

Although part of my bristling was focused elsewhere. Instead of wasting my energy on this faceless man and his thoughtless behavior—I kept coming back to the feelings his actions had triggered. The painful reactions beneath this woman’s anger that so many women will grapple with as we grow older.

The self doubt.

The sudden awareness of our changing looks that can trigger regret or loss.

The feeling of being overlooked in certain situations.

And the discomfort of feeling less relevant in a world that is expected to spend $291.9 billion on anti-aging products by 2015. (Global Industry Analysts,)

Did you hear that?  That’s $291.9 billion dollars on anti-aging products. Which in case you don’t realize, is a whole lot of messing with our minds. (Okay advertising world we-get-it, aging is bad).

Although this helps explains my next reaction.

Because instead of using this man’s behavior as reason for us to re-examine our looks and our wardrobe, so next time we can be more visible, I think we should be asking ourselves this more compelling question:


“When are we going to stop letting other people tell us our value?”



I don’t know about you, but when I lather my face with luxurious night cream, or visit my favorite hair colorist or head out for a run at the beach I want to do these things because it feels like self-care. I care about my health. I like my Self and I want my choices to reflect this.

What I don’t want is to choose my exercise program or plan my wardrobe out of some frantic hope that I’m warding off time. Yes, I want to look my best but I don’t want to feel like I’m at war with the natural changes happening to my face or my body.

This is what I reject. I reject making choices out of Fear.

Sure, there are mornings when I glance at the mirror and feel surprised. When I see how much longer it takes for my eyes to wake up after a bad sleep. And oh yes, I miss my long, smooth neck of my twenties and thirties.

But there are gifts that comes with aging well. An intangible wisdom and that mysterious feeling of being comfortable in your own skin.

Gone are the days when I would walk into a big party or room of strangers and scan their outfits to reassure myself I’m dressed ok.  Because today I could care less. I don’t mean that in a defiant way but as a simple matter-of-fact. Now I choose my clothing for me. I don’t read tips on what I should wear at my age because honestly, I don’t use them.

I prefer to wear whatever makes me feel confident and expresses my mood in the moment. Sexy, fun, serious, casual.  I spend zero time worrying about being judged by what I wear.

Saturday night I wore jeans and heels on a dance floor. I still wear my hair way below my shoulders.

My personal experience of aging can be described as a gradual awakening. There’s a freedom to be Me and to be enough, which is light years away from my twenties when I was on a frenetic mission to prove myself—and my worth-- through my academics and my career. 

Of course the irony is that the more you need this kind of approval, the more elusive it becomes. But these are things you have to work out for yourself.

What I find fascinating about growing older as a woman, is while you’re losing some of your physical self—your smooth forehead, tight jawline, small waist—you’re expanding in other ways. And as my feelings about my Self and my definition of beauty have changed so have my feelings about other women.

Whereas I once I felt confused and alienated by the kind of femaleness expressed through social ‘cliques’ and exclusionism, now my view is much keener. I see insecurities where once I saw mean girls. I see pain where once I saw petty gossip.

Seeing other women through my older eyes helps me realize that we are more alike than not. We are bonded through the rawness of caretaking. Through our struggles with loving and worrying and letting go. We can connect through our wounds. This is the realness that can be found behind a woman’s expensive outfit or impressive job title or even her plastic surgery.

Personally I want you look fabulous and to feel damn confident.

I want you to know that beauty is not perfect teeth and fake boobs and young skin.

I want you to know that beauty is a certain je ne sais quoi. 

That beauty is seen in the sense of security that oozes from a woman after she’s learned how to set limits and say “No” without guilt.

Beauty is the confidence that comes from falling down and getting back up, over and over again. And from knowing one’s strength and one’s flaws.

Beauty is the courage to show on the outside what you feel on the inside.

And beauty is the face of gratitude you feel for the ordinary moments. And for the mere chance to wake up each morning and start again.

I’m still learning how to age well. I certainly don’t have any magic answers. But I do believe that growing ourselves from within is the path I want to stay on.

Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way that I find empowering. Maybe you can relate.



Stop going back to an empty well


I love this line. It’s so crystal clear.

In the session room this was a phrase used to describe our tendency to keep going back to the same withholding, insensitive people for our emotional needs. For whatever reason these are people in our life who are incapable of giving us what we desperately want. Only we never learn. We keep going back. And we keep feeling bad afterwards.

An empty well can be a person or a situation but we can recognize them because they deplete us.

They make us question ourselves.

They ‘hook’ us with the hope that “if only…blank….then I would feel…blank…..” 

(you fill in the blanks)

One of the most hurtful dynamics about going to an empty well is that we unconsciously put someone else in charge of our value. For example, the man that rushes by you without holding the door. The universe is full of situations like that. What’s important is not him. And what he thinks of you, it’s what you tell yourself about the experience.

Maybe it’s happened to me too. Honestly? I don’t know. Because I’m not the type to notice. Or to personalize it and attribute it to my age or my looks or whatever I wore that day.

I guess I have a different view, one that’s emerged from my awareness of my many flaws, but when it comes to rude strangers with bad behavior, I realize that most of the time it’s about them.

It’s not about ME. 

Try saying that the next time you’re frustrated with someone. It’s so liberating. Like a peaceful mantra, but it’s so true.

Most of the time it’s just not about you. It’s about the other person. And where they are on their own life journey. To me this means when I see overt rudeness it’s most likely someone being distracted by their struggles. Their own suffering. On a tough day.

If we want to age gracefully, we need to identify these empty wells that keep draining us of our good feelings and let go. We need to recognize when we’re insisting that someone make us feel worthy.  And this includes people in our lives that we love, whom might not be ‘ready’ to change in the ways we hope.

The more self acceptance and compassion we have for ourselves, the less approval we will require from others.

Can you identify an empty well in your own life?


The one empty well in our daily lives

Because I’m going to tell you about one now.

Ready? Here it is. When it comes to feeling beautiful the mirror is your empty well.

The mirror will never give you what you really long for and need, which is to be full seen in your glorious wholeness.

Your kindness,

your impeccable cooking,

your goofy laugh,

your astute sensitivity.

Everything about you that is deliciously quirky and special will be instantly distorted when you look in the mirror.

Why?  Because the reflection you see in the mirror is always filtered through your emotions and your mood at a particular moment.

You know the guy at the street corner with the wolf whistle, the one who looks at you like a pair of boobs and nice legs and could care less about your great personality?  The mirror is like that guy but worse. Because the mirror causes a sneaky shift in your own perspective.

You can think of it as an optical illusion; the longer you gaze at yourself in the mirror the harder it becomes to see yourself as a whole person. At the worse you see yourself as a collection of parts that shrink or become inflated depending on your level of scrutiny and your mood at that moment.

I’m not saying the mirror can’t reflect our good stuff. I’m just saying we have be wary of it as we get older.

There is an abundance of research on how we develop our body image that’s outside the scope of this little post, but the message to take away is a simple one.

You will never find your self worth in a mirror. Never. 








“Except for the dying part, getting older is so fabulous, I love it…everyone I know is getting older. They are more relaxed, they are mellow, they are more alert as friends, they have a confidence. You really do acquire a kind of “I don’t give a damn” what people think, which is so liberating. I love this age now.”

Candice Bergen




Julia Louise-Dreyfus and Katie Couric talking about aging (love these gals)













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Part One: how to be beautiful series….

Part Three:  how to feel beautiful series 















Thursday, April 2, 2015

a pretty Easter table…in green and blue


Well my friends. April is finally here and somehow I’m not quite ready for her.

How about you?

It’s hard to put my finger on it… but if April was a party guest I’d find myself opening up my door feeling slightly annoyed. I’d be thinking,

“Oh no, you’re here already?! But I still haven’t wiped down the bathrooms yet!”

I don’t like that feeling. The sudden flinching when you realize the month’s half over. But it’s also a reminder that life round here has been pretty chaotic. And stressful too. Nothing big. Just a lot of little things happening in succession that leave you walking around with a stiff neck.

The good news is that we’re nearing completion of our swimming pool demolition and I seem to be getting used to all the noise and dust and the fact that nothing is where is should be these days.

But the bad news is that I’ve discovered I’m not really good at blogging when everything around me seems to be in a state of incompletion. It’s like having all these little orphan projects calling my name when I walk around the house,

“Psss.. Leslie, over here. I need you. Please. Sand me.”

“Paint me.”

“Clean me.” 

“Fix me.”

Oh boy. If you’re a DIYer you know exactly how that feels.

So life these days seems to be about finding a good balance. And I confess it’s a constant learning experience. Maybe you can relate.

In the meantime today I’m doing something that makes me feel good. I’m returning to my tablescapes again and I’ve got some blue and green inspiration for you. A little rustic prettiness for your day.



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How about an Easter table with a few rustic touches and lots of white?

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For your Easter table I think dyed eggs make perfect place cards.

I used a gold marker to write on mine.


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I used moss inside my vintage pots because I already had some leftover, but wheat grass would have been a cute substitute.



Yep, those are fresh, organic carrots. Added to the table for color.



Using a single flower like Bells of Ireland makes a statement. I also used white hydrangea at both ends of the table and decided against adding any other colors for simplicity.

(other than the carrots for fun)

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Aren’t these burlap bunny ears sweet? They came four–in–a-pack from Michael’s Craft Store.









This is BM’s Kendall Charcoal in the dining room in case you’re wondering.




Are you hosting Easter this year?

Whatever your plans are, I wish you an abundance of love and blessings.


Happy Easter! 




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