Just Add Water

If I wasn't consistently fat currently pregnant I would buy myself this suit for summer. Doesn't this just beg for a big sunhat, glamorous red lips and retro sunglasses? And a pool boy. It definitely needs a pool boy.

suit by Hayden-Harnett - via Greedy Girl*

*I don't normally poach blog material, but this was too delicious not to pass on.

Nursery Moodboard

I have been pondering the nursery decor for some time now and I finally have a mood board to show for it.

I won't elaborate on it now because I don't want to spoil the surprise - each item will get a full post once it's completed or installed. However, I will give you a basic run-down.

1) color scheme

2) fabric for crib bedding

3) crib

4) nursing chair

5) possible decor idea

6) curtains

7) adorable art

8) lamp

9) inspiration for DIY mobile

10) inspiration for DIY fabric collage

My Husband Is An Internet Ninja

Last weekend I was having a MAJOR problem with the blog.

Picture it: I was in the zone. I was uploading vacation pictures and writing posts like a mad woman. This is why I love the 'schedule post' feature. I can write posts in batches, when I have the time to make them worth reading, and then schedule them to appear later in the week.

Only Blogger was in no mood to cooperate. As soon as I hit 'Publish' the post would appear on the blog, no matter what post date I had assigned. I was beyond frustrated and about to pull out my hair.

Enter my hubby to save the day. He grabbed the laptop and commenced googling. He googled my topic, which led him to a blogger forum, which led him to a message feed which contained the answer to my problem. All in about 5 minutes. That search would have taken me an hour. It's an odd skill to have, but he should totally put "Internet Ninja" on his resume.


Incidentally, if you are having the same problem and would like to know how to fix it follow these steps:
1) Click 'edit post'
2) Click 'post options' and set the appropriate date and time for your future post
3) Click 'save now'
4) Click 'return to lists of posts'
5) Click 'edit post' again
6) Click 'publish post'

Apparently the problem comes when Blogger gets hung up on the date on which you wrote and saved the original draft and posts your content then as opposed to following your posting instructions. By resaving and reposting this somehow refreshes things and gets you back to sanity.

I'm Having a Tom Cruise Moment

Instead of jumping on a couch because I'm in love with a starlet, I'm jumping up and down because I'm in love with a couch. This could only mean one thing...

MY COUCH IS HERE! The much anticipated replacement for the awful futon is now in my living room.

After months of searching (and arguing) the hubby and I finally decided on this couch. Here's a breakdown of why this one's a winner.


When it comes to couches, I like 'em long and wide. That's what she said. Seriously though, both the hubby and I are big fans of lounging, napping and snuggling on the couch. We had to have enough length to accomodate a fully reclined adult and enough depth to allow us both to lay on it at the same time - and none of that space saving head-to-foot crap - have you smelled a foot lately? We're avid spooners.
What really sold us on the couch is its versatility. The (included and matching) bolster pillows can be moved around to make room for plenty of couch activities. Sitting up and chatting? Throw a bolster behind your back. In the mood for sitting with your feet on the couch? Pull the pillow out and lounge away. Feeling sleepy? Throw a bolster or two against the armrest and have a nap. Making a pillow fort? They work for that too.

I was willing to admit that our couch needed to be comfortable, but I wasn't quite ready to concede on sleek design lines.

I wanted a couch that looked like this:

but hubby wanted a couch that was as comfortable as this:

We didn't exactly start on the same page, did we? Allow me to diagram why our couch was a great compromise for us.

A- Pillows, pillows and more pillows thus providing the necessary comfort factor.

B- Relative squareness. Not quite as dainty as my ideal couch, but the lines are clean are there isn't a pleat or cup holder in sight.

C- Feet. It was important to me that our couch sit off the ground - even just an inch - to keep it from looking so weighted.


Color was perhaps the greatest challenge for me. As you know, I had already established a color palette of grays, yellows and shades of white. I really had my mind set on a nice nubby tweed fabric, in a gray that was darker and richer than my wall color but still on the warm end of the spectrum. As you can probably guess such a specific fabric was not available (at least not on my budget). I was really against the idea of microsuede, it just seems cheap to me. Unfortunately 75% of couches sold in mainstream furniture stores only come in microsuede. So that eliminated many couches right off the bat. When we were browsing at Z Gallerie I was beyond excited that they had a huge stack of upholstery options to choose from.

Other than no microsuede, the only rule we had to follow was no leather. We learned early on - our first couch was a leather hand-me-down - that cats and leather are not a good combination. Leather is great for furry pets, not so great when those pets have claws and like to leap off your furniture. Our sad old couch was so covered in track marks it looked like it needed an intervention.

Even with so many options, most of my fabric choices were in the warm sand/beige family. Don't get me wrong, I love a good taupe, but they just wouldn't have worked in our room. I came across the navy blue velvet swatch and said to the hubby "It's so crazy it just might work!" Several days after we ordered (and paid for) the couch I began to panic that the blue would look too foreign with my grays and yellows. Now that we have it in the living room, and have added some navy blue accents, everything looks nothing short of harmonious.

However, there was one major "Doh!" moment: about 30 seconds after the delivery men were out the door, the cats hopped on the couch and immediately set about their mission to coat the entire thing in fur. For those of you who say "Just train them not to jump on the couch," I say "Yeah right! Have you ever met an obedient cat?" Enter our two new best friends:

1) A navy blue throw blanket. We already had this laying around the house, but it just so happened to match the couch almost perfectly. We tucked it over the back cushions - this been claimed as a prime spot for bird/squirrel watching - and we can whip it off when company comes over and pop it in the wash.

2) The Fur-Zoff pet hair remover. The hubby found this after some internet digging and it works wonders. For just under $10, it has already earned its keep. No sticky, disposable rollers to deal with and it's made from 90% post-consumer recycled materials right here in USA - and it works like a charm! Who could ask for more? If you have cats, dogs or other furry critters I highly recommend ordering one of these bad boys to help combat your pet hair problems.


While on our couch hunting expedition the hubby and I knew we were looking for a couch that was "only a little expensive" - yes, we actually agreed on something! We wanted to invest in something of quality that would stay with us for many years. We didn't want a cheap, but potentially flimsy, sofa from Target or Ikea. We also didn't want a huge $4000 couch from some fancy designer. So our Z Gallerie sofa was the perfect fit for us. The price tag said $1299 but with the fabric upgrade* and shipping it came out to around $1550. Don't worry, we think that's a lot of money for a young couple starting out and we thought long and hard before laying down the cash. In the end we think it was worth it to invest in a couch we love.

So there you have it. The how's and why's of picking our couch. Do you have anything in your home that you had to search high and low for? Do tell!

NOTE: The folks over at Fur-Zoff (or Z Gallerie, or BB&B) did not pay me or otherwise perk me for mentioning their products. They are all things the hubby and I found, paid for and are enjoying in our home. I just wanted to share the love with my readers.

*In what world does fabric cost more than leather?

Happy Birthday Dad!

It's my Dad's birthday and today he is 58 years young.

me and Dad hiking Grandfather Mountain for my 25th birthday

A few things you should know about my Dad:

- He is an avid outdoors man - hiking, camping, backpacking, canoeing, skiing, fishing, biking, climbing, diving - you name it, he's probably done it at least once, and probably better than you. The easiest way to make his day is to mistake him for a Park Ranger and ask him for directions. He will happily whip out his map, tell you not only where to go, but where to stop for a scenic view on the way.

- He is a passionate writer. Like myself, he enjoys writing whether anyone will read it or not. Several years ago he married his passions and started a website, Blue Ridge Outings, where you can find essays and videos from his trips, gear reviews and sign-ups for future adventures.

- He is really, really good at driving a truck in reverse. This sounds like a strange skill to have, but he has it. When you spend your time driving in the back-country searching for streams, campsites or hiking trails you often take a wrong turn somewhere and end up on a narrow dirt road. So narrow, in fact, there is nowhere to turn around and the only choice is go go back out the way you came in... backwards.

- He loves babies. Yeah, most people like babies, but he goes nuts for them. His favorite thing to do is to wave to or make faces at a baby, any baby, and get a drooly little smile. To say he is excited about being a grandfather is an understatement.

The older I get the more I see his traits in myself. As a teenager I would have been horrified by that, but now I don't mind. We have the same analytical (and often stubborn) nature and we have little patience for pretension or social obligations. We share a fondness for bluegrass music and I have been told we have the same amused giggle.

Happy birthday, Dad. I love you!

Yard Sale Finds

I think I'm turning into an old lady,* but it's totally worth it.

Saturday the hubby and I got up really early to join his dad and grandmother for a morning of yard sale hopping. It was so early we had to use flashlights at the first few yard sales before the sun came up.

Going to yard sales is similar to treasure hunting. You may or may not find anything of value, but either way it's quite entertaining. I found a lot of good stuff at the first yard sale and they rest of the day was kind of a bust. It just goes to show that you never know what you'll find.

My first goody was this stainless steel watering can, for which I paid a whopping $0.75.

There were no markings to show when or where it was made, but I don't care. I think it's pretty bad-ass for a watering can. So bad-ass, in fact, that I chose to display it in my living room rather than hide it under the kitchen sink.

My second find was a set of 6 acrylic canisters. Nothing particularly special, but it was a steal at just $2.

Once I got them home, I could hardly wait to get them cleaned, filled and tagged. Again I pulled out my stash of manilla tags and made labels for my baking goods, this time by hand - I'm all stamped out after making Morgan's favors a few weeks ago. I used more of the black bakers twine to hang the tags.

I just love seeing them lined up next to my shiny red stand mixer!

I found a few other goodies worth mentioning but not worth photographing. I picked up a stainless steel flour sifter for $0.75, 12 glasses that match our everyday set for $3 and a box of 40 metal 'L' brackets for $3. Those deals are great but they're nothing compared to the mother load I found later.

I spotted a large rubbermaid box with a sign that read "Cake Stuff - $10." I peeked under the lid and saw a tackle box for cake decorating supplies and 2 plastic cake carriers. Those things alone were worth way more than $10, so I paid the man and loaded the box in the car.

I don't claim to be a talented cake decorator, but I plan on making homemade birthday cakes for my kids, so it's nice to have the tools to do so. Just wait, it gets better.

I got the box home and emptied everything out to clean it and the loot** just kept coming out. The box contained:

1 tackle box

2 plastic cake carriers (1 for round cakes and 1 for cupcakes)

1 lazy susan

5 piping couplers

12 assorted cake boards

75 piping tips

Yes, you read that right - 75 piping tips. I don't know why an individual would have that many tips, or why they would sell them for such a steal but you don't ask questions when you're the one doing the stealing. The contents were easily worth over $250 if you were to pay retail prices!

The family goes yard saleing every weekend in the Spring, so I hope this is just the first round of great finds. I challenge you to try your hand at yard saling next weekend!

*I already had a head start with the cardigan collection and fondness for Jeopardy.
** I apologize if all this cake talk is way over your head. All you need to know is this stuff is valuable if you know how to use it.

Vacation Day 5 - Morgan's Favors

So, now on to Part 2!

As a thank you to all her guests, Morgan wanted to do some simple table favors at the reception. I had the idea to give out small bags of red rock candy. Red Rock Canyon... rock candy... get it? Yeah, I love a good pun. We ordered strawberry candy and it was a little pinker than I had hoped, but I still the favors look adorable.

I ordered the chipboard tags and baker's twine from Etsy. The front of each tag had the wedding date and the back was stamped with the guests' names. The best part of making the favors was getting to use my rubber stamp kit again. See, I told you I had big plans for it!

The wedding and reception were beautiful and we had a wonderful time. Once everything got started it was nice to be able to relax and just be a guest.

We finished off the vacation with dinner with the hubby's grandparents and some crib shopping - you'll have to wait for my nursery design posts to hear about that!

Vacation Day 5 - Morgan's Programs

Today I'm back with the final 2-part installment of Morgan's wedding.

For those keeping track of the vacation days, Day 4 was spent prepping programs and favors, chilling in the pool and enjoying some great food at the Welcome Dinner (you can't really call it a rehearsal dinner since you don't have wedding rehearsals when you get married in Vegas). It was a great day of making new friends and catching up with old ones. Now back to Day 5, the wedding day!

As I mentioned earlier, Morgan is a no frills kind of gal so she didn't want much out of her programs. In fact, she didn't even want them but her mom is traditional so programs were made. They're quite simple - just a list of parents and grandparents and a quick thank you paragraph.

Morgan had the idea to put a personalized crossword puzzle on the back of the programs, which I loved. She used some software to create the puzzle then I drew up the puzzle in CAD - I didn't want it all gross and pixelated from bringing in the jpeg.

She also ordered some pens to give out with the crossword puzzles. They were just simple pens from Oriental Trading, but they made such a nice touch.

My best "aha" moment came when I figured out how to incorporate the pencil into the program. I toyed with tying it on with twine or ribbon, handing them out separately, but none of that seemed right. Then, out of nowhere, it occurred to me to use the "Valentine's Lollipop" method. All I did was add the guide lines to the printed program then cut and scored them by hand. Easy, peasy.

At the ceremony it was my job to hand out the programs so I served them up in this fancy, schmancy basket.

Stay tuned for part 2 later this afternoon!

Vacation Day 3 - The Salk Institute

When the hubby and I were planning out this vacation the first thing added to the itinerary was a trip up to the Salk Institute. Located in coastal La Jolla, the Salk Institute was designed in 1960 by the great Louis Kahn. I won't babble on about architecture or materiality - I will just let the pictures speak for themselves.

the famous shot - not very creative, but I couldn't not take it



love this - someone shows Kahn the love on an outdoor chalkboard

a few shots of the water feature

landscaping of choice - citrus trees

the hubby enjoying a concrete chair

the view looking back

This visit was definitely a pilgrimage for us. I'm not going to say this is the best building in the country but it is pretty high on the list. To just be in the space knowing Louis Kahn had stood where I stood almost 50 years ago is, well, magical.

Stay tuned for details from Morgan's wedding!

Double Dipping

As you may or may not know I have the baby blog in addition to my design rants and inspirations here at gimmeakiss*. I fully remember my vow not to talk about babies much and stick to design based content.

Well, the time has come to begin designing our nursery, and that just happens to fall under the categories of 'design' and 'babies.'*

So, my point is that any nursery design content will be posted on both blogs. If you happen to be a reader of both, please disregard the duplicate content. I just thought it would make things easier for the folks that only read one or the other - they get the full nursery scoop without lots of blog hopping and cross-linking. I will try to make up for this by continuing to post awesome stuff to the individual blogs, but don't hold your breath. I do have a job, a life, a husband and a PERSON TO GROW.

My goal is to pick paint colors and set up a mood board over the weekend, so I'll be sure to share my progress.

*No, I don't think you're too stupid to grasp that concept without a visual aid. I'm just a nerd that really likes making diagrams.

Vacation Day 2 - Santa Fe

Keep in mind this post is about Santa Fe the bus stop not Santa Fe the city in New Mexico.

The hubby and I were making our way around town on the city bus when we got off at Santa Fe to change bus lines. First I spied this charming terminal sign. I can't explain why but I was very inspired by the way it was flanked by the towers with the beautiful sky in the background. Maybe all the blue, perhaps?

When I stopped drooling over the Santa Fe sign I turned around, spied the Copley Building and immediately nerded out over the board-formed concrete. The Copley Building is one of several locations of the Museum of Contemporary Art. We took a few minutes to walk through the museum but I couldn't take any pictures of the exhibits, obviously.

This type of concrete is one of my favorites in the vast palette of building materials. Just as yummy was the pairing of the rough concrete and the slick corrugated metal panel.

I would have grabbed a shot of the whole building for you but someone decided the best place for a dumpster was on the sidewalk in front of the building. Sigh.

Stay tuned for the Salk Institute!

Vacation Day 1 - San Diego Zoo

After our quick walk through Balboa Park we spent the day at the San Diego Zoo. As I walked through the entrance gate, the first thing I noticed was that there were several resident peacocks and peahens roaming around the campus. I was determined - no, obsessed - with getting some pictures of some gorgeous plumage.

At first this guy was being stubborn, strutting his stuff up on the roof. As you can see, this isn't exactly the best angle for taking pictures.

Because the hubby was getting frustrated with my peacock stalking, we went on our merry way. As we looped back past the flamingo exhibit...

... I spotted him chilling out with these long legged shrimp-eaters. I stuck my camera through the rails to get some close-ups.
I may have gotten in his face and pissed him off, because then he did this:
Ok, ok, point taken. I backed off a bit and after waiting a few minutes he turned around and showed me something quite lovely.

I have to say his face looks quite striking with his face framed by that luscious green plumage. Once I had my precious peacock photos we wandered off to enjoy other parts of the zoo.

One of my favorites was this little guy keeping watch in the meercat exhibit. Something about his expression reminded me of my kitties back home.

Next up we walked to the Australian section. I had never seen a live koala before and this gal didn't disappoint. The exhibit keeper told us that koalas sleep 22 hours a day and so to see her awake was quite rare. She was just so cute sitting up there in her tree perch!
We were starting to get tired but we persevered and trekked to the panda exhibit. San Diego is one of the few zoos that have giant pandas and we didn't want to miss the experience! We were asked to be very quiet because pandas are sensitive to noise and, since these pandas are part of a research program, it was very important to keep their behaviors relaxed and natural.
We got to see something quite special - one of the females had recently birthed a cub and he was just being introduced to life in the exhibit. We were told he and his mother only came out a few hours a day so we were lucky to see him. He was very lively and playful while his mother laid still and tried to rest - this seems to be a common theme with all members of the animal kingdom. He spent much of his time behind her, but I was able to get this quick shot of him squirming around her bottom.

Obviously we saw many more interesting animals that day, but I was trying to enjoy the moment and not have the camera out every second of the day. I think the hubby has a lot more fun when I'm less of a shutter-bug and more of a chill person to hang out with.
Stay tuned for Santa Fe (the bus stop, not the town)!

Vacation Day 1 - Balboa Park

We flew into San Diego Tuesday night and settled into our hotel, the Park Manor Suites. It is a quaint old building, built in 1926, and I'm pretty sure the suites were converted from small efficiency apartments.

Our hotel was just a block away from Balboa Park, which houses walking trails, museums and the San Diego Zoo (more on that later). Many of the buildings in the park are Spanish Colonial style, but I later learned they were built in the 1920's for an expo exhibit. Original colonial or not, they really are quite lovely.

One of my favorites was the lattice roof of this Botanical Building.

And speaking of lattice, I just love the unique growth pattern of this tree. The trees and plants in California are truly remarkable - it is like being in another country!

The most amazing part of the park is the incredible size. Not only does the park house the HUGE San Diego Zoo, but there is acre after acre of walking trails, dog parks and other landscaped goodness. It feels to be on the same scale as New York's Central Park but it has a very different feel and character. Stay tuned for our trip through the zoo.

Post-Trip Update

Now that I'm home I've started uploading pictures, writing blog posts, etc. At first I was going to post things in order of aweseomeness, but then I realized the posts would peter off into lameness. So I am going to post chronilogically, awesomeness be damned.

Over the next week or so I will post highlights from my trip, one little adventure at a time. I might intersperse other posts in between, but for the most part it will be West Coast all the way.

Stay tuned!

Vignette #1

As I was taking pictures around the house for some of my recent posts I decided to keep shooting away and capture some of my favorite vignettes for your viewing pleasure.

This set of frames is hanging on the angled wall by my front door. Much like the landing strip and the china cabinet, this area is impossible to photograph because you can't get far enough away from it to take a decent picture, so here is my best attempt. I think these frames are too important to not show.

On the left is an antique piece my great-aunt gave me as a wedding present. The drawing is a drafting exercises done my my Great Grandfather in 1922. He was trained as an engineer but the techniques are more similar to architectural drafting and rendering because back in 1922 most colleges didn't separate the two educations.

Here is a close up of the drawing. At the top you have two examples of a compass (used on drawings to indicate the direction of North) and on the bottom are some types of decorative borders that would be used to frame a drawing.

I absolutely love this piece and I am so thrilled my great-aunt gave it to me. I have an older cousin that's also an architect, but I guess I lucked out by getting married first!

On the right are a pair of photographs that I won in a charity auction to benefit Hurricane Katrina relief. I don't know the artist and as far as I know they don't qualify as 'fine art' but I love the style of the photography.

So that's just a quick peek at some of the art around my house. I hope to take more pictures as I get things hung on the walls. I love that our house is starting to get that lived-in, homey feeling!

I'm So Awesome I Even Amaze Myself

When we moved into our house, the unpacking went in three phases:
1) Just put the boxes in the right room and we'll rummage as we need to.
2) Boxes are making me crazy! I don't care if it's organized, just put everything AWAY!
3) I can't live like this. MUST. ORGANIZE. EVERYTHING.

As you can imagine, phase 3 is a long, long process. I am not afraid to reorganize something until it "feels" right. Usually these fits of organization come when I am supposed to be doing something else. Case in point: Last weekend, while folding and putting away laundry, I reorganized most of my folded clothes because I didn't like what drawers they were in.

Often these organization sessions cause me to re-examine what I have, how I store it and how I can make it work better. Because these moments are almost always spontaneous I don't have the chance to buy any supplies beforehand, so I'm solving problems on the fly.

Most recently I was re-re-reorganizing the contents of my kitchen cabinets. I have lots of big pots and pans, but they hang from a ceiling mounted pot-rack. This is great for the pots, but it means I end up with a big pile of orphaned pot lids.

I really, really don't like shoving a pile of lids in a cabinet and calling it a day. The lids are hard to find, they can scratch each other and I dread the loud crash that inevitably happens when you want the lid on the bottom of the pile.

I was wandering around the house, looking for a solution, when I noticed this little guy peeking out from my toaster oven.

It's actually a baking rack from my old, broken toaster oven - and it doesn't even fit in my current toaster oven - but I kept it becuase I MIGHT NEED IT SOMEDAY. In the past I have used it as a cooling rack for cookies, but on that fateful day I looked at it and knew it would be the answer to all my problems.

Moral of the story: pile of lids + toaster oven baking rack = organizational miracle.

This makes me happy for so many reasons.
1) It is easier to install, adjust and remove than traditional "mounted" lid organizers.
2) It was just something I had lying around the house so it didn't cost me a penny!
So there you have it. Feel free to think I am unbelievably awesome.
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