As has become recent tradition my Mother's Day gifts come in the form of a home project of my choosing completed by Mike (with help from the boys) starting Sunday morning while I am at the flea market early, then back home to watch them finish it up by the end of the afternoon. It's the best. And nothing is more special to me than seeing something built by hand by someone I love. This year the project iI picked is something I've fantasized about for years. And while it isn't exactly for me, it'll certainly bring me joy to see it finally completed.
As far as items go, I was honored to be asked by Clementine Daily in addition to a couple other lovely ladies about a few of my Mother's Day picks, which you can find here.
If memory serves me right I've been to Disneyland approximaetly 3 times in my life. Once when I was four, wherein the chaotic magic of the park etched a kodochrome colored vision of the day in my young mind's eye. Then again in high school for "Senior Night" where all I can recall is that it was raining, I was freezing, and the bus full of graduating teenagers I came with were tripping on acid spiked sour patch kids they snuck onto the bus on the way down there. Resulting in them having way more fun than me that night. I remember just wanting to be home, and feeling utterly alienated by general sobriety. It was before cell phones. Or else I know I would have surely called my mom to come pick me up to cut the night short.
My second visit came a few years after that when California Adventure first opened. Mike and I were newly dating and it was the thing to do. (I mean, I don't know, maybe it still is?) What I remember then is walking the strip, outside of the park, trying to order what I assumed to be a grown up cup of coffee from the coffee shop on site and royally screwing up the order because I was lacking proper knowledge of all those fancy expresso infused concoctions I was so desperate to enjoy like every one else I knew creeping into their 20s were. That time I think I made it on one roller coaster (which terrified me) Dumbo, Small World, and Soaring Adventure (which also terrified me) We even bought park passes that year on a whim that we never used again.
This next chance though comes bearing genuine delight. As Disneyland has graciously invited our family (and a few families whom we know and adore) for a three day staycation at the resort this week in honor of their 60th anniversary celebration. Meaning we will be given access to both parks and VIP treatment granting us front row seats for each of the shows and events we're scheduled for during our stay there. For a family of six, it's basically like winning the vacation lotto. My kids haven't stopped asking about it since I first spilled the beans a couple weeks ago. It will be our first time there together as a family. Through the years I've seen photos from Mike's parents (who sometimes have annual passes) and videos showing beaming smiles on my sun spent babies, clad in mouse ears, clinging to giant rainbow colored suckers while cruising the expanse of that endless park in umbrella strollers made for slicing around such places, but never first hand. I'm looking forward to like it's my first time. A little like Christmas I suppose in spite of the life long park phobias and general indifference to roller coaster endeavors of all kinds simply because of how excited I am to see it through their eyes. To see what's changed, soak up our time together and slow down enough to share in something I know they're likely remember in the same special way I did at their age. Up until now I've always jokingly deemed Ikea the "Happiest Place on Earth" but that might be about to change. Maybe I won't make it on all of the rides but I'll be damed if I don't shake hands with Mickey, down a couple fresh squeezed lemonades, take four hundred photos, and have at least one kid's name stitched in orange thread on one of those classically adorable mouse felt hats to serve as lasting souvenir to this trip where we'll be blissed out for three long days in the majestic home that Walt built, living it up like it's our last. Because, as big as our family is now, I think we all know it very well could be.
Post footnotes: *Leading up to this event I've been looking up fun facts behind the history of Disneyland and came up with some pretty amazing stuff. Getting better aquatinted with the genius behind Walt Disney himself, and all that he lent to the end vision of the park has been more intriguing than I realized. To those of you more familiar with the park, what are your favorites & your must sees? After all these years I feel like a honest to goodness tourist in my own backyard so I'd love to hear your park picks. And I'd also love it if my DVR behaves and records Game of Thrones for us tomorrow night, while we're parked curbside watching those grand fireworks explode overhead.
I've tried my hand at a couple pathetic attempts at gardening in the past but always ended up feeling slightly disappointed by the frail fruits of my admittedly lazy efforts. However, when Nature's Care approached me last month about partnering for their new organic soil and plant food line I was pretty excited to give it another shot seeing how the herbs I use for cooking regularly is something I've been wanting to grow in a small home garden set up for awhile now. If only because of how much I hate having to run to the store for a bundle of cilantro or rosemary every time I'm out. Having it here and on hand is so much more convenient.
As for the box frame, I had originally planned on planting the herbs in a mid sized wooden barrel but Mike offered to make me a custom planter so we ended up with an octagon box built of spare wood from the teepees that turned out so much prettier than anything else we could have purchased locally. In fact we had to turn down so many inquiring farmer market participants at the Nature's Care booth last weekend while there to showcase this demo - hoping to buy one for their own home - that I really started to regret not making a couple more just to spare some of the disappointed faces I saw when we told them the frames weren't actually for sale.
As far as construction is concerned, it'a a fairly simple design with a nice open center to stock a few tools, some food, water can and sheers. Mike drilled small holes at the bottom of each section to ensure proper water drainage keeps the plants from holding too much moisture and each of the boys choose an herb to care which naturally put a competitive edge to the chore with three of them vying for "most promising" herb bed title and one trying to consistently destroy them all just for fun.
Now if only they could get it together and learn to cook some of the meals they're adding these handsomely grown little herbs to.
We are currently in the midst of relocating our shop from it's long run on Etsy to a free standing site which will now belong solely to House Inhabit goods, news, deals, and updates. It's a big move a long time in the making so we're hoping you take some time to check it out once it's up and running come mid May, if, God willing, it goes as easily as planned on.
In this brief break in between shops we've been dutifully devoted to creating new stock that we are really excited to fill our shop with. Everything from an array of new toys, to a rotating string of kid's folk themed tees, to basic baby apparel, teepees, vintage textiles, print work, furniture, and more.
Plenty of good stuff (and celebratory launch sales) on the horizon.
The idea of showcasing friend's homes for tours here is something I've been wanting to include for a long time now, so I'm delighted to have Kate and her lovely, light filled Mission Viejo home as debut feature to the series. If you're a regular here then you probably recognize Kate and her girls from plenty of photos from weekend adventures and family camping trips taken together. Especially in the summer season when the kids are all out of school and we try our hardest to be out of the house as a group as much as possible.
Here she shares a bit about the transformation of this their first home which they've been working on over the last year or so with the end result proving a beautiful, breezy space perfectly suited to the kind of afternoons they love best, spent poolside with friends and fresh squeezed cocktails & great music overhead. The kind of house where every time I leave I'm already looking forward to a next visit. Speaking of which, I think I'm about due.
A few things you should know about Kate:
She is a stellar cook, loyal and devoted friend, excellent hostess, suburb gift giver, dedicated mother to Evie and Iris (whom my family adores) fabulous brunch buddy, fellow Dylan fanatic, dancing queen, and loving wife to Rob, equally charming and currently working on his residency in the ER department at UCI.
Ok, tell us first what drew you to this home? I know you guys were on the hunt for awhile so what was it about this one in particular that really sold you? We loved that it felt very private. It's situated on a corner, up on a small hill, and all of the homes around are all one story so there's no one looking in or down at you. We also liked that it's one story with high ceilings. Overall the home really has an open feel to it that we adored. Another plus is that it's south facing, a perk Rob was really looking for. The light throughout the home is wonderful year round.
What did you love AND despise about this house upon purchase?
It'sfunny we only looked at the house two times very briefly before making an offer, we both had a really good feeling about it and trusted that if it worked out it was meant to be. That being said, we didn't know a whole lot about the house, so there were definitely surprises when we came to do the inspection. We both like light and bright homes and all of the walls were a sand color, I couldn't wait to get a fresh coat of white paint on them. I also was very excited to make changes in the kitchen. The cabinets were a very dark brown, so lightening them, taking many of them down, and getting new fixtures made a world of difference. The fireplace was not our style and it being a focal point when you walked into the home we knew we were going to have to change it. It was a real treat to have one made that we adore every time we walk in the front door.
How did you envision the major structural changes you made? And where do you like to go for design inspiration?
We didn't have the budget for any major structural changes, so the bulk of what we did was cosmetic. Luckily the changes we were able to make really made it feel like our home. It's amazing what a little paint will do. Oh and new wood floors really transformed the space. I was surprised at how much I could love flooring. Not only did they lighten the house tremendously, they don't show dirt, are incredibly durable, and eco friendly. So many pluses in my book. Overall, we were able to make some big changes by remodeling the kitchen and bathrooms, repaint the interior and exterior of the home, add new flooring, build a mantel for the fireplace, add a fence in the front yard, & add drought tolerant landscaping.
As far as inspiration, I definitely found myself on Pinterest way too much while we were drawing ideas on what we wanted to do. It's just such an easy resource with endless visual inspiration. I feel like traveling and just being out and about has been a huge inspiration. Many times a hotel, flower shop, a friend's home, a coffee shop, or even being in nature will inspire me and I'll make a mental note or snap a photo.
What about the guest room? It looks pretty tranquil. Can I request a pillowcase with my initials embroidered on it for the next slumber party?
You sure can! I expect plenty of sleepovers this summer. Our guest room is small and doubles as a movie room and play room, so we decided to turn the bed horizontally to act more as a daybed. It gives us more floor space and having the bed turned is awfully cozy for watching movies. As soon as we finished decorating the room, I made Rob and I sleep in there to "test" the comfort. We gave it two thumbs up, hopefully our guests do the same.
What might surprise us? Any cheap items you adore that you care to share with us?
Ha, I'd say most everything was a deal of some sort. Here are a few of my favorite deals we lucked out on.
Rob found the rug in the living room on eBay and we adore it. I think we paid $175 for it and its huge!
The large mirror in our bedroom was $25 unframed, I got it framed for around $50, so it turned out to be a great deal for how large it is.
We had no pantry space in the kitchen so I scoured the Internet for an option and came up with nothing that I felt would be neutral enough for the space it was going. We decided to get a wardrobe from Ikea (Pax system) and it has worked out so well, fully equipped with pull out drawers and tons of storage. It's great because you can create any kind of layout you want & it was way cheaper than any of the free standing pantries I could find, the real bonus is it was under $200. I matched the brass handles I used with the rest of the kitchens drawers to pull things together.
We found our kitchen table on EBay for under $200 (the guy even delivered it for free!) & and the vintage dresser in our room was another EBay find. I think we paid $500 for it, but it's flawless, so I'd say a pretty good deal.
All of our linen curtains are from IKEA and they are great. They wash up nicely, which I do often since there are often small finger stains all over them.
As for art, you've got some good stuff - what is the story behind some of your most beloved prints?
Well, thanks. Let's see, as you know, my most beloved print is a Jim Marshall original that my sister gave me. She had the privilege of knowing him & he let her pick any print he had stashed away at his home. She picked the image of Bob Dylan kicking the tire down the street and she gave it to me, just because she knows how much I love him. Hands down the best present ever.
We have recently accumulated three Kevin Russ prints. The guys got major talent (& Rob has a major crush on him.)
My friend Jason Branson, out of Chicago is incredibly talented at drawing, we have three of his pieces that we simply adore. The two beetle drawings in the girls room were made especially for them & I love the contrast that they give to their relatively girly room. He blows me away with the details to his work. Pencil drawings are so delicate, I just love them.
We have a painting from my grandparents home which hold a special place in my heart, not only from the memories it holds from it being a part of their home, but also for the history it possess.
We are very lucky to have very talented photographer friends, particularly you & my sister who have taken beautiful photos of our girls. We have prints scattered throughout our home that we cherish. So many happy memories captured so perfectly.
What about paint colors - Do you remember which ones you used?
Picking the paint was so much fun. I will say I went a little nuts with the whites. There are so many opinions out there. I think I had seven different white samples on our walls and it took me entirely too long to finally decide. Overall, I am very happy with the colors we finally decided on. For the living room we used BM - Hale Navy, for the girls bathroom we used BM - Dark Harbor. In the girls room we used Valspar - Eternal Moonrise. All of the remaining walls were Behr - Swiss Coffee and BM - White Dove.
What would you say were your main splurges in furnishing the space?
The light fixtures for sure. I had lived in rentals for so long with horrible lighting, I couldn't wait to pick my own. We even invested in the Phillips light bulbs you can adjust from your phone to create the perfect lighting. They are pretty amazing. The girls love it because the can change their overhead light to pink or purple and have a dance party.
We also spent more money than I had hoped on framing art. Over the years we've collected quite a bit and never really properly framed things, so we decided that with the new home we would be grown up and get some of our special pieces framed professionally. It sure was worth it.
Evie and Iris share a room, right, how has that been so far? Pretty darn good, knock on wood. Rob and I love the idea of them sharing a room for as long as possible. They've always shared a room, so they don't know any different. I imagine there will be a time that they may want their own space, but for now they enjoy each others company and (most of the time) live in a beautiful world all their own. The two of them can sit in there room and play with their dollhouse for hours. It's amazing to hear them pretend, they really have wild imaginations. They are actually pretty good at sharing with one another & I think it has something to do with their belongings being so intertwined. To be honest, it'd be really hard to separate things into two rooms at this point. Don't get me wrong, there are moments I'd love to separate them, mostly because they gang up on me, but I feel like there would be a different drama that would come with their own rooms. Hopefully they will look back on this experience fondly. In the very least we hope they learn to respect shared spaces.
Let's talk about the yard. Looks lovely. I've seen the transformation firsthand so I can appreciate all the work that went into the final results but can you tell readers here a little bit about what you did to get it there and how you made good use of the local rebate program in your area?
I'd be happy to, we were reimbursed for removing our grass in the front yard and replacing it with drought tolerant landscaping. For the ground we chose a mix of stabilized DG (decomposed granite) and mulch. In the end we gained so much more usable space by creating an enclosed front yard with a large table, small garden, and a swing for the girls. Our backyard is mostly pool, so we wanted an area where we could host a dinner party or have brunch with friends. I feels like we gained square footage to our home by making this change & practically broke even financially doing it. Major win. Adding the fence was something we did on our own and was not covered by the rebate program. We live on a corner and we didn't like the idea of the girls or our pets having direct access to the road when they went outside. It's been great. We can have both our front door and back doors open and enjoy the cross breeze without being concerned that anyone's going to take off.
The rebate program itself was pretty simple. You complete a basic application online, an inspector comes out and verifies the square footage of grass you will be removing (this is how they determine what dollar amount you will be eligible for), you get an "OK to proceed" letter, you do the work, file for a "final inspection", somebody comes out and verifies the work you did & collects copies of your receipts, it gets approved, and you get a check in the mail. Easy peasy.
We also used the rebate program for our three rain barrels, a toilet, and our sprinkler system. Really all were fantastic deals and for those of you living in Southern CA I highly recommend taking advantage of all of the many different programs out there. They make it pretty darn easy with online applications. The only qualm I had was the waiting game for the reimbursement checks, but hey it's free money so how can I complain.
What are your favorite plants in the space?
Gosh, that's a hard question. We found an amazing nursery outside of Riverside and the guy who runs it was very educational and taught me so much about the different drought tolerant options out there. There are so many great choices that not only save water, but also attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Plus many of them smell amazing! When we first planted everything looked small and I could hardly imagine them filling in the space, now that things have grown and it's all blooming I'm pretty in love with everything. We have a lot of salvia which I love for there delicate bright flowers, and the Mexican grass is so pretty when there's any sort of breeze, I really like the texture it adds to the yard. There's a succulent with leopard stripes (sorry I'm not sure if it's official name) that has bloomed at least three times since we planted it and it has the loveliest orange flowers. Actually all of the succulents have made little babies and we are getting ready to transplant some of them to other areas of the yard. Huge bonus - free plants for life! The lavender smells amazing and also brings beautiful color to the yard. Our olive tree is small, but I look forward to it growing and providing a little shade. It's just so much fun to see everything come to life.
In the backyard (which was not part of the rebate program) I really enjoy the hanging succulent baskets I made. The baskets where left from the previous owners, however most of the succulents were dead. I bought to liners and soil and replanted what I could, then we lucked out at the local hardware store and were given a bunch of free succulents that they were ultimately going to throw away. In the end I had so many fun plants to work with. They are all very happy now. I love to see them flowering. I also have been enjoying the Jasmine that has been making the entire backyard smell heavenly.
Any you are experimenting with any unfamiliar ones currently?
We received 3 stag horns as gifts and are doing our best to care for them, however they make we nervous. We love them so much we don't want to wrong them in any way. So far so good, but any tips would be greatly appreciated!
Ok, swimming pools are a major plus in California, right? And your girls are serious water babies so how would you say the addition of having one in your lives has changed things for the better? I don't know what we would do without the pool. It gets very warm in Mission Viejo and our pool gets used a lot of the year. It takes so much pressure off of summer because no matter what they can always go swimming & I can basically chill out. I love it. They love it. It's the best. The hot tub is also a major plus. Rob and I don't get to go out much these days, so even when he gets home late we can always relax in the hot tub. We both really like that it's an opportunity for uninterrupted conversation, no phones or computers to distract us. It's pretty cozy when we put a couple logs in the fire pit that's right next to it. It always turns out to be a pretty nice "date night in".
Tell us about that handy outdoor shower system you've got going on. Oh the shower, Rob's very favorite thing about our home. Since we've put it in, I think he's showered inside maybe twice because it was raining out. It is pretty glorious to take an outdoor shower in the morning & or late night. It's also great for the kids when they get out of the pool, no more running through the house all wet to the shower. Another plus is when we get home from the beach we just walk around to the side yard and clean up avoiding sand in the house altogether. We were on a tight budget for that, so aesthetically we did what we could. I had grander plans for the hardware, but in the end the hot water and a nice shower head is all we really needed and it has not disappointed us.
What is your favorite thing to do at home? There's a few favorites. Relaxing by the pool with family and friends, margarita in hand & good tunes playing. I also really like taking naps on the outdoor couch. It's very cozy.
What about future plans. Do you guys have any? Or do you feel content with what you've accomplished so far? Oh boy, there are always going to be things to do. However we are doing our best to hold off on any big projects for a while and enjoy our home as it is. The good news is my sister just bought a beautiful Spanish revival house in Long Beach and she's asked me to help with some projects they have planned. I can't wait to dig in.
When Nature Care reached out wondering if I might be up for a collaboration on their "Beginner's Garden" campaign I was thrilled. Seeing how Mike and I had been meaning to set up something simple to house herbs for months now and this job gave us the extra little push we needed. Initially I planned on using the wood barrels you can buy at any local garden haunt but he ended up building me something much more beautiful to crate my 8 herb selections with room for garden tools. I'll be sharing details of that project here next week as well as hanging around the L.A's farmer's market downtown this Saturday afternoon from 9- 12 with our garden on display at the Nature Care booth, so be sure to stop by and say hello if you happened to be in those parts!
Overheard L.a, Trust me on this one. I can't tell you how many convos I've read here and either had, or overheard in similar fashion myself. The blurbs are hilarious. It's L.A in a nutshell. *with heavy emphasis on the nut
Lauren Winter Introduced to me by my friend Victoria who's black jumpsuit turned me on to the line on a recent visit.
Chelsea Does Mrs. Handler's new four part series on Netflix that (for me) offers up a perfect mix of what she's known for - blunt raunchy humor mixed with some heavy insights we're not typically use to seeing linked to comedians. The show is funny and serious, tackling some pretty big issues in the manner only Chelsea could. I loved every second of it I devoured in the midst of my mid day laundry folding this week. And I think it's a super smart move on her part to test the limits and try something new.
Weelicious run by a woman I met at an event last Spring and have followed ever since. I love the simplicity of her meals and am dying to try her black bean cakes.
Nico Nico for women. Because I kept saying every time I would see Denise's girls in these stunning little dresses how much I needed them in my size. And now they are.
Spring just arrived and already it's feeling to me like we're on the edge of another season. The past few days the weather's been so nice, so warm, so close to summer that it got my head swelling with the kind of ripe anticipation usually left dormat till the end of May. This past Sunday I laid outback on an old cot getting some sun, thinking about our friends arriving from out of state - whom we've missed all year - here to spend the entire summer with our boys. Best long distance friends together again for the short stretch of 9 weeks where we seek to squeeze in as many endless (hourless) beach days and camp spots and bbq back yard gatherings and swimming pools and water gun fights as we possbily can. Where I can't help but get caught up in visions of these kids at dusk on the banks of our favorite beach to kick off the end of another school year by eating tacos from the grill and sending white paper lanterns into he sky lit by a tiny fire high enough to carry them into oblivion.
9 weeks we work so hard to own the other 9 months out of the year we're stuck in school mode with tight laced routines and non stop duties and obligation.
The countdown feel close. But until then we'll be busy wrapping up this Spring time, taking field trips and volunteering at all of the end of year events that come to claim most of my calendar in the last few weeks of school. Celebrating our kinder graduate, accompanying a first grader to the Wild Animal Park, chaperoning a 4th grade gold rush day on a makeshift western town unveiled on the wide green field used for kickball. Bidding farewell to the meek end of the El Nino season that never even warranted pulling rain boots from the rafters, or lining sandbags up the street to redirect water flow from the new housing development like we were all prepared for.
In fact the rain days were few and far between, save for the misty morning spent visiting a high school farm with Rex's class last week to learn a thing or two about basic agriculture and kiss newborn goats from behind iron gate. Good stuff. All the last the season has to offer before we break loose and begin keeping time in richer ways that don't call for clocks, dates, or penciled in agendas.
When I recieved the invitation for the Shop Up L.A "bloggers brunch" put on by the Babycinco crew this past weekend I couldn't say yes fast enough. Sure I figured it would be a pretty event likely to draw out some familiar faces, as well as exquisite curation made up by a couple of my favorite kiddie shops, but really, I'll take any excuse for a sunny L.A brunch date when and however I can get it. So then let's not talk about the sad fact of exceptional traffic that stuck me Monday morning on a grossly clogged highway, stretching my typical 1 hour commute downtown to 3, causing me to miss that brunch all together, arrive an hour late - starving - and without a drop of coffee in my system (of which I had been dreaming of like a misty morning mirage those 3 hours alone there in the car, inching towards the entrance to the lovely Lombardi house) and instead, focus on the clothes.
Pop UP reflected exactly the vibe and aesthetic one would imagine from the Babycinco gals. Lined with booths by several brand's I was already familiar with as well as a few new ones I was happy to get acquainted with. I roamed around trying to spot people I knew (luckily, I found a couple) and chatted about new business with Plain Jane who's brilliantly basic nightgown shirt dresses are even sweeter in person. And talked fabric designs with Samara Mahendru of Muny Designs - a line I was instantly smitten with because of the texture and bold gingham for both boys and girls and even came away with a two piece plaid outfit for Hayes to sport on his 2nd birthday next month. I also scored a cute wooden camera from Tiny Crane, and finally got to meet the ladies behind the beloved brand ARQ and Sollybaby oh whom I've only known (and adored) via email up until this point.
A lovely morning spent with amazing women full of inspiring endeavors. Just the thing I needed to help give me a boost of motivation to get our own new shop site up and moving sooner than later, which is rough considering how tired I've been and how hectic things are here just with regular life. Mike and I are working day and night, juggling business with home life and dropping the ball here and there on both ends sometimes in between. But reminding ourselves to keep our sights steady on the end result which I hope will prove well worth all the stress and work in the end. Details and updates I'll be sharing as the arise, here soon.
For now I'm off to separate and package a new stock of tees, iron boy scout uniforms for tomorrow's ranch archery event, assist with a kindergarten collage that was actually due today, check the contents of a crockpot that looks fairly promising, maybe squeeze in a run, and make it back in time for a quick shower before our dreaded tax appointment this evening. Which is likely to leave me in dire need of something stiffer than a hot latte. But hey, at leas it'll be over and done with.
In other random weekend news: Crafting Community is partnering with Milk and Bookies for a fun-filled day involving story time, scavenger hunts, costumes, books, and more in way of a good cause this coming Sunday afternoon, in downtown L.A - Link here
And if you're Orange Country based AND happen to be Merle Haggard fan who's feeling lonesome and blue about no sure plans for the night, Mike's band will be down at Mother's Bar in Sunset Beach Saturday night from 7-10pm with at least one Haggard tribute hour. I'm doing everything I can to make sure I'm there with a chilled mason jar in hand and peanut shells at my feet singing along, so come by and say hello if you're in the mood for cheap beer and a little honky tonk.