Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Linen and Flocked Velvet Dining Room Draperies

I know it's cool to do minimalism or effortless chic, but let's be honest: Keith and I like fancy. Until last week, the dining room was all minimalist chic. But it felt cavernous and cold. Conversations actually echoed in there! So I decided to embrace the fancy and hang super-tall curtains in here. 

At first, I thought I wanted to use a brightly colored, patterned fabric. I shopped and browsed and Googled, but nothing I saw felt quite right. I love the neutral look in this room, and I didn't really want to change that. When I found this linen-like material with black flocked velvet curlicues on top, I knew it was a winner. I'm not sure what I love more: The fuzziness, or the slightly spooky pattern. In person, it looks a bit like the wallpaper in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyworld. Or like something you'd see drawn over the windows at the Addams Family's house. I dig it.

Once I found the fabric, I worked out a trade with my Mom: In exchange for her sewing services, I'm knitting a custom-made cowl for her. So Mom made the curtains, Keith hung them up, and now the room feels so much cozier. But also fancier. What do you get when you combine cozy and fancy? Fanzy? Yeah! It feels like that. The curtains absorb sound, too, so no more weird echoes in here.

One year ago, the room smelled like an ashtray and looked like this. We've come a long way!

Monday, March 23, 2015

My First Fair Isle Knitting Project - Success!

Like everyone else in Nashville, I spent what felt like half of February stuck at home because of icy roads. Honestly, it was pretty great. Keith worked from home, and I spent more time than I want to admit snuggled under a blanket in front of the fireplace with a hot drink and a good book. I told my best friend, "It feels like a ski trip. Except, you know, without the skiing."

Those lazy days were well-spent, because I started and finished my first Fair Isle knitting project, and I love it. If you're reading this because we're friends, not because you like to knit, here's a quick primer on Fair Isle knitting (also called stranded color work): You knit with both colors at once. You hold the two strands you're using on the back side of your work, and consult a chart to see which color each stitch should be to create the desired effect. Every time you don't use a color, it just sits or "floats" on the back side of your work. Stranded color work creates a very dense, warm fabric, because the floating strands on the back make the fabric extra thick. That's why Fair Isle knitting is great for warm winter hats, gloves, and sweaters.

Now you can be like, "You guys, I know all about stranded colorwork. Psh!" *grin*

This project wasn't just my first Fair Isle piece. It was also my first use of Jeny’s Super Stretchy Bind Off, and my first project with the gorgeous fingering weight Knit Picks Palette yarn that my in-laws gave me for Christmas. To keep the project simple, I worked in the round and made it as a cowl. Working in the round on circular needles allowed me to focus on JUST learning how to do colorwork. No complicated DPNs that make me feel like I'm kitting on a baby porcupine. No purling. Awesome!

Of course, I made things complicated by choosing to adapt a sock pattern into a cowl. And to make matters worse, the sock pattern was written in Finnish! For you knitters out there, I used the Heijastuksia pattern. It's free on Ravelry. Yeah, I know how to make things simple. Pardon me while I smack myself on the forehead. But really, it wasn't so bad. I put all my project notes here on Ravelry, if you're interested. I think it was worth it, because I love the design; it reminds me of Medieval stained glass windows. I learned so much from this project, and I'm excited to try this technique again to make a matching hat. And mittens. And all the things for next winter. I really love Fair Isle knitting!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Sitting Pretty: New Tabouret Dining Chairs

It's been a while! Yesterday, my friends asked me "Why haven't you blogged lately?" I don't know... I guess I didn't want to update until I had something exciting to report. Snow days? Blah. Jury duty and dental work? Meh. New dining chairs? YAY! Let's talk about that. We got these chairs about three weeks ago, and I love them. LOVE.

It sounds nuts, but I spent the better part of a year searching for dining room seating that wouldn't cost an arm and a leg. When you need eight chairs, $200+ per chair is too much. And that's a problem, because I was picky. I wanted:
  • Low backs. I'd rather look at the china cabinet than the backs of chairs.
  • Simple backs. Spindly bits that press into the spine are no good. Ouch.
  • No upholstery. I don't want spills to be a big deal.
  • No DIY projects. I like DIY, but I already have enough projects on my to-do list!  

I was open to mixing and matching, with two big chairs on the ends of the table, but I couldn't find one chair style that fit the bill and stayed within budget--much less two. I considered dozens of vintage sets, but the chairs I liked always came in sets with five side chairs and one arm chair. I needed six matching side chairs and two arm chairs. I looked at modern plastic chairs, but Keith vetoed them. I looked at big box stores like Pier One, World Market and Target, and the quality was lacking. Around Christmas, I got frustrated and stopped looking.

And then last month, I saw a picture of a dining table surrounded by Tabouret metal chairs. I realized that (duh!) they would work perfectly. They had low, simple backs. They were low maintenance. I loved the gunmetal finish. And the price was right: We paid $428 for all eight chairs.* SOLD!

This is what we started with. The old chairs weren't horrible, but they were a bit too Grandma's Country Kitchen for me. The real problem, though, was that they felt like torture devices. My mother gave me those chairs because she and Dad couldn't stand to sit on them. And I agreed: They hurt my back and made me feel 80 years old. Mom encouraged me to sell them on Craigslist, and I was pleasantly surprised to get $400 for them. So I'm telling myself that the net cost of new chairs was $28. WIN!

The new chairs  make the room feel more casual than it did before, and I like that. This isn't a formal dining room; it's the only place in our house meant for eating. My taste often veers toward more formal things, but I don't want things to get too stuffy.

Another reason I like them? They're comfortable. They don't hurt my back or wobble. They're well made, with no jagged metal bits or welding issues. The metal seats don't feel too hard, but they do get cold. So I bought some low maintenance faux leather to sew box cushions/bun warmers. Ha! So much for no DIY projects! While I was at the fabric store, I also picked up fabric to sew draperies to flank the French doors. With those high ceilings, it gets a bit echo-y in there. This room needs draperies to soften the look, absorb sound, and draw the eye upward. As always, this is a work in progress. So please judge accordingly, and stay tuned.

* Since we bought our chairs, Amazon jacked up the price to $284 for a set of four. Not cool. I'm guessing the price won't remain high forever, so if you love these, I'd keep an eye on them and buy when the price drops.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Chinoiserie Chic Art: Kathleen Millay Portrait by Joseph Stella

The guest room is coming together at a snail's pace, but I can finally cross "hang art" off of my to-do list. I'm so happy, because I've been waiting so long to display this piece! Five years ago, I completed an internship at Cheekwood and received a large collection of beautiful and rare prints as a parting gift. For five long years, they sat in the back of my closet. Last weekend, I finally framed and hung this beautiful portrait of author Kathleen Millay. Yes, Kathleen is Edna St. Vincent Millay's sister. 

The original is in Cheekwood's permanent collection. Isn't Kathleen fierce and sexy? I love her piercing gaze!
Kathleen Millay by  Joseph Stella. Circa 1923/1924.
I apologize for the reflection in the glass; it's hard to photograph framed art!
The print is an odd size (22'' by 28''), and I couldn't afford custom framing, so I DIY'd it. I found a 22 by 28 backless frame on clearance at Michael's for $20. I had a mat custom cut for $7.50 from an Amazon seller, The shipping was $9, which stung a bit, but it was still cheaper than custom framing. Last, I bought a framing kit with a 24'' by 36'' sheet of plexiglass and backing board. I believe it was $10, but I can't find the receipt now. Derp.

The frame was originally black, and it drew attention away from the art itself. It needed to be a softer color, and some shine wouldn't hurt. So last week I applied multiple layers of Rub 'n' Buff, over three days, to make it silver. On Saturday I cut the plexi and backing board with a straightedge and razor blade and assembled everything. It's not an archival, fancy framing job. The backing board is held in place with masking tape! Yes, you can laugh at me. I'm laughing, too! But it looks great from the front, and the print is safer here than in my closet. Since it cost MUCH less than professional framing, I'm pleased with the result.

In the future, I'll avoid the plexi/backing board kits. The backing board was just a piece of cardboard! It wasn't acid free or archival. It was exactly like any old piece of a cardboard box. Next time I'll buy plexiglass, cut it to fit, and use a piece of cardboard box as a backer. Come to think of it, the cardboard box they shipped the mat in is the perfect size for this, and it (slightly) justifies the shipping price.

I'm amazed by how much better the room looks with a single piece of art on the wall. Next I'd like to hang something on the wall over the bed (but what?), replace the godawful light fixture that came with the house, and sew pillow shams and throw pillows. When the weather warms up and I can work outside, I'll paint the nightstands and dresser. It's so hard to pace myself--I want to do it all now!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Design Trends I'd Like To See Disappear...

... and no, I'm not talking about the ubiquitous chevron print! Lately, I've noticed that certain design trends aren't just overdone. Some are actually giving me headaches and ruining my nights out. And that's not good, functional design. I love the vintage industrial look, but I'm starting to see why some of these things were originally designed for factory use, not residential use.

1. Exposed light bulbs in cages
Yes, they look cool when you're shopping online. In reality, though, the unfiltered light burns my eyes and eventually gives me a headache. And the cage casts bizarre and unflattering shadows all over the room. I'd like to see more interesting light fixtures with glass globes or shades that filter the light.

Industrial Cage Light and Possini Euro Open Cage Glass Pendant Light

2. Hard surfaces with no sound absorbers
The restaurants and bars in Nashville are full of metal, concrete, brick... and nothing soft to absorb sound. I'm so tired of going out to places that are loud because sound won't stop bouncing off the hard surfaces! I have a librarian's quiet voice, and when no one can hear me, I give up and spend the evening in silence. At this point, I'd rather stay in, and that's a bummer. The problem would be so easy to fix with soft banquettes, draperies, rugs, or even wall hangings to absorb sound. Basically, I'd like to see more textiles and soft furnishings in restaurants.

At least it's undeniably beautiful. Design by Brinkworth
3. Reclaimed wood everywhere, just because
First of all, SPLINTERS. Ouch. Yes, reusing building materials is a nice idea. But I'm not convinced that using reclaimed wood is the greenest option. Because, HELLO! It's WOOD. Wood can be composted, which would save all the pesky environmental problems of shipping it. And since this look is so trendy, soon it's going to look about as cool as 1970s wood paneling. I'd rather see reclaimed wood used in smaller projects that aren't built-in and semi-permanent. Like furniture.

What design trends do you hope will go away soon?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Update: A Gallery Wall and Mirror in the Dining Room

Right now I'm chipping away at the most dull items on my 2015 to-do list. Hello, new lampshade! And goodbye, ceiling light fixture that looks like a tiny penis! Wait, what?! More about those things later, because I'm dreaming of more exciting and photogenic things, like new dining room chairs. 

Speaking of photogenic things, I *finally* got myself a proper tripod and remote for my camera so I can take better photos of the house. For months, I've been putting off blog posts because Mrs. Shaky Hands couldn't take great indoor photos. No longer!

I love this picture because you can see the subtle carved pattern on
the tabletop, and how it echoes the pattern on the front of the buffet. 
In the dining room, I decided against the Spanish Revival chairs I wanted to hunt down a few months back. Womp womp. Big, fancy, rustic Spanish pieces would have looked great with Aunt Judy's Spanish style cabinet in the corner, but they would have have clashed with everything else. For now, Aunt Judy's cabinet will be the lone Spanish piece that (hopefully) adds interest and keeps everything from being too matchy.

The cabinet is packed with board games, and we still have to stick a few
games on this floor underneath it. We have a board game addiction, I tell you.
While I was focused on chairs, Keith was focused on the walls. He actually asked me to hang some art, because the blankness was bothering him. So first, we hung a big honkin' mirror over the bar. If you're trying to hunt down a BIG mirror, this one will do the job. It's 43 inches wide! Yeah. This is the Junius Mirror by Uttermost. It has a lightly smoked finish, so it's a bit darker than the walls, but it still bounces light around the room. And the round, gold painted frame echoes the round gold frame on a piece of art just around the corner from it. I love the way it looks in here. Also, we never could have afforded it at retail price, and I want to thank the Uttermost dealer we know who kindly charged us the wholesale price. You know who you are, and I owe you a huge hug!

Much later, we hung a neat grid of gallery style frames on the other wall. I'd wanted to do this for months, but buying so many frames at once is expensive. Fast forward to two weeks ago. I was cleaning out a cabinet, and I found two Target gift cards. Where did they come from? I don't know! I felt like I hit the jackpot, and I went out and bought these frames from Target's Room Essentials line. Then I found pictures online of fancy trays by iBride, cropped the images, and printed them out. I love the way they look, but not paying for art makes  me feel shady. Is that shady?

This room is becoming exactly what I hoped it would be. The black trim and white walls look clean and modern, and the warm colored wood is so welcoming and... well... warm. But the chairs are so, so uncomfortable! Those spindly chair backs always press into the wrong place on my spine. If we sit there playing board games for a while, it actually starts to hurt. I'd like to get chairs that are shorter and less prominent. I feel like the chairs are the first thing you see when you look at the room! 

I've been ogling the Rustic Dining Chair from West Elm online, but I wondered if the chair looked cheap in person. So yesterday, I stopped by the local West Elm shop to examine it in person. It's beautiful! West Elm's photographer didn't do it justice, I tell you. And on top of that, it's comfortable. And the exact same color as our table. What's the catch? At $200 a pop, it's NOT a bargain. This table seats eight, so we'd have to plan and budget it out, and buy one or two chairs at a time. Which is absolutely not the end of the world.

What do you think of the progress we've made? 

Source List
Walls - White Dove by Benjamin Moore, color matched to Valspar paint
Trim and doors - Black Beauty by Benjamin Moore, color matched to Valspar paint
Chandelier - Helena by Cal Lighting
Rug - Nyla rug in beige by Loloi (Wait 'til Wayfair is offering it at half price!)
Mirror - Junius by Uttermost
Picture Frames - Target
Blinds - The cheap "cut while you wait" blinds at Lowe's. I can't remember the brand!
All furniture is family hand me downs or from thrift stores.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Acero by Minka Aire. I'm a Fan.

I've been putting this post off for twelve days, because Nashville has been so dark and sad that I couldn't get a good picture of the room until yesterday. #bloggerproblems But hey, guess what? The big, dark, banana leaf ceiling fan is gone! Woo-hoo!! At Christmas, Keith gave me a beautiful, sleek silver ceiling fan that I'd been eyeing for months.

He wrapped all the pieces in separate boxes, and when we opened presents under the tree it took a minute for me to realize exactly what I was opening. When it dawned on me, I was ecstatic. "Oh boy, a downrod!" *tearing more paper* "Oh honey, you got me a motor!" Maybe you had to be there, but it was really funny.

Here's an old picture to remind you how the previous ceiling fan looked. Sorry, I always tried to crop the old fan out of photos, so I don't have a lot of pictures of it! Obviously, this is a really old pic, from before we moved the furniture into the room. But you can see that the brass motor and tropical style of the old fan just didn't work for us. That fan looked big and heavy, and it called a lot of attention to itself. I couldn't wait to get rid of it, because I wanted the attention to be on the art over the fireplace, not on the fan.

I don't like the look of most ceiling fans. But in Tennessee, a good fan is practically a necessity. So I spent weeks looking for a fan I liked, and this one is my favorite. It's the Acero model by Minka Aire. Acero has a simple shape that doesn't call a lot of attention to the fan. With just 3 blades, it doesn't take up a lot of visual space. The nickel finish matches the other metal in the room, and it blends into our white ceiling better than dark wooden fans. And the light kit (usually the ugliest part of a fan!) is flat and barely visible. Best of all, I love the cage around the motor because it reminds me of pretty vintage table top fans. One last thing: The Acero fan is sold at Restoration Hardware, but don't buy it from them--they overcharge by more than $100!

So far, we love it. It's practically silent, and blades move air well. We've been using it every day because it reverses to push warm air down in the winter. It has a nice bright white light with a built-in dimmer, and the wall panel is fancy schmancy. Unfortunately, the old wall panel had two switches. One controlled the fan blades, and one was for the (nonexistent) fan lights. So if you found this post because you're looking for info about this fan, keep in mind that you may need to replace your switchplate cover.

 We need to get a 2-gang switchplate with one blank side, like this.


It feels great to cross the fan off of the to-do list. I'm one step closer to the plan I put together for this room waaaay back in August. Here was the original mood board. All that remains are the curtains and sectional! But first, we'll probably put up a picture rail behind Keith's desk. But more about that later!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Nude Art - Yes or No?

How do you feel about (presumably tasteful) nude art displayed in the home?

From Lonny Magazine
My first instinct is to say, "No problem." When I was a kid, I visited a lot of Chicago museums with my parents. They were comfortable viewing Greek and Roman sculptures with me, and through their example I learned not to be prudish about art. But now I live in the south! And it's not just about what I think; I don't want my art to make my guests feel uncomfortable. When I visit friends' houses, I don't see any nudes hanging on the walls, except for maybe a kitschy topless J.H. Lynch piece.

I ask because I'm choosing art for the guest bedroom, and I want to use this print. Except, well, boobs. The image is a portrait of Kathleen Millay, drawn in 1925 by Joseph Stella. The original is part of Cheekwood's permanent collection, and I received this print (and many others) as a parting gift when I completed my grad school internship there. I've never displayed any of these gifted prints, but I think this one would be perfect in our guest room. The colors and even the Asian motif on her robe are just right. And I like that she is both feminine and strong. Look at that gaze--she is not a woman to be trifled with!

I really want to know what you think. What do you think of nudes on the wall in general? And would you be uncomfortable staying in a guest room with this picture on the wall? What if your children were staying with you? Would that change things?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Plans for 2015

Do you have any big plans for 2015? I have friends who are planning weddings, having babies, pursuing more education, and launching huge creative projects in 2015. Me? I just want to work on my house... and maybe see a new part of the world! Our house projects go more smoothly when I organize my thoughts first, so I'm making a list. At the end of the year, I'll revisit the list and grade myself on how well we did (or didn't!) address each item. 

Ick. I'd like to put built-in bookcases on this wall. And flank the gold table with a pair of comfy armchairs.
Living Room
- Seating. I'm looking for comfy armchairs with neutral upholstery. It's hard to find good quality chairs in our price range.

I have my eye on these Uttermost chairs for the living room.
- BOOKSHELVES. We've only unpacked half our books because we don't have enough shelf space! I'm dreaming of built-in bookshelves filling the back wall of the living room. Keith wants to build them himself. We'll see.

This black built-in bookcase is my inspiration. It doesn't go all the way to the ceiling, and our probably won't, either. From Desire to  Inspire
Dining Room
- CHAIRS! Right now we have five very uncomfortable chairs at a table that seats eight. I wouldn't mind punching up our traditional dining room with a more modern chair, but Keith wants to keep it traditional. Stay tuned.
It hurts to sit in those chairs for too long.
- Curtains? I'm toying with the idea of sewing curtains to frame the French doors.

This is my inspiration for hanging curtains on either side of French doors. I think it would soften the room and provide a bit of much-needed insulation at the doors. From Better Homes & Gardens
- Tile. I want to retile the backsplash with lighter tile. The kitchen doesn't have any windows, and it always looks so dark.
- Lighting. Keith wants to install task lighting under the cabinets. I'm all for it!

The white walls and light cabinets helped, but it's still dark in here.  A lighter backsplash and task lighting would help a lot.
- Seating. We need a sectional! The current sofa isn't comfortable because it's too low, and we need more seating for when friends come over.

The seat of the sofa is just 12 inches off the floor. It's too low for this room! It will be much more appropriate in Keith's workroom upstairs, where the ceiling slopes down and low seating is actually needed.
- Picture rail. I want to hang two picture rails on the wall behind Keith's desk.

Keith's desk faces outward, not toward the wall. Other than that, this is the effect I'm going for with the picture rail. From Domaine Home
- Curtains? I think I want to sew simple turquoise panels for the windows that flank the fireplace. I'm still toying with this idea.
This is my inspiration for curtains in the den. I like the look of one panel per window, only on the windows that flank the fireplace. The windows on the other wall don't have curtains, and it works. By J & J Design Group
Guest Bedroom
- Lighting. Install new overhead fixture. Put a lampshade on the lamp on the dresser.
- Paint. Paint the nightstands white and dresser a vivid rusty red. I'll need to work in the garage, so it's a warm weather project and I have a good excuse for procrastinating. *grin*
- Art. The walls are still bare!
To do: Paint nightstand. Paint dresser. Hang art.
Master Bathroom
- Paint the water closet.
- Install new light fixture in water closet.

- Get a fence for the dogs ($$$ *sob*)
- Remove the stump in the backyard
- Use magic powers to bring brown grass back to life
- Rip out overgrown 20 foot high holly bushes and replace with I don't know what

Inspiration for new floor tile. From
- Replace the icky faux finished mushroom lights in the hallway.
- Remove/replace/make over the gross faux finished doorbell box.
- Replace the light fixture in the laundry room with something that doesn't fill up with dead bugs.
- Replace the orange floor tile that runs from the front door to the kitchen. I hoped the orange color would grow on us, but Keith and I both hate it. It's freezing, too! If we replace it, we can install radiant heat underneath it!

I hate the tacky pink and blue bathroom so much that I'm using the most unflattering picture of it I can find. Take that, ugly bathroom! And no, that's not our stuff. This photo came from the real estate listing.
I'm sure we won't get to all of these, but I figure it's best to aim high. A year from now, it will be interesting to see which things we did, and which things we changed our minds about or just didn't get around to doing. Sadly, with so many smaller projects to do, I'm pushing the master bathroom project back to 2016. Don't be surprised if I go crazy and prime the walls, though, just to get rid of the pink paint!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Yearly Retrospective: 2014

Happy New Year! How has the first week of 2015 treated you? So far, so good. I've been recovering from the holidays, catching up with friends, and contemplating these questions. I've completed this survey every year since the dark ages of Live Journal. I think I first did it in 2002. Some of the questions seem pretty dumb now, but I hate to break with tradition. How else would I remember that The Futureheads were my greatest musical discovery of 2005?! But on a more serious note, this survey always helps me focus on what I really want to get out of each year. So without further ado, let's sum up the year!
Best day of 2014. This was snapped on the balcony at the Biltmore Estate.
1. What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before?
Basically, 2014 was the year Cosmo wrote an article about me becoming a housewife. I signed mortgage papers, installed a ceiling fan (by myself!), made hand-sewn draperies, was in the same room with British nobility (that is, I attended Lady Carnarvon's talk at the Antiques and Garden show), learned to trim hedges ("Am I holding the shears upside down?"), developed a fierce fondness for Dole Whips at Disney World, and was featured in the April issue of Cosmopolitan magazine.

'I Chose To Be a Stay At Home Wife'
2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year? 
I don't make resolutions. If you really want to do something, don't wait until January 1.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
YES!!! I became an Auntie in 2014, and I'm thrilled by the new addition to our family tree! I haven't posted pictures of my nephew because I want to respect the privacy of my sister and her family. So you'll have to trust me when I say he's the most beautiful baby I've ever seen. He lives in Hong Kong, so I haven't met him yet. I'm hoping to change that in 2015.

This is cute... but not as cute as my nephew.
4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What countries did you visit?
I didn't use my passport this year. Does the World Showcase at Walt Disney World count?

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
Overall, I'm happy with my life. But I'll never turn down travel and projects at home! I'd like to meet and hold my baby nephew, visit New Orleans (I've been saying that for years!), design and build bookshelves, tile the kitchen backsplash, and renovate the bathroom.

This is the bathroom that I want to renovate, and that's my Mom posing like a mudflap girl on the edge of the tub. Before we closed on the house, my parents broke into the house to poke around. *sigh* Kids Middle aged people these days! When I say "Broke into the house," I mean "Walked in through an unlocked door." But still! I was shocked. Dad sent me this picture as proof of their shenanigans. 
7. What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
On April 17, we closed on the house. Closing was rough because the seller was reluctant to do things the bank required her to do in order for closing to occur. On April 16, we weren't sure we'd be closing the next day. At the last minute, though, her realtor stepped in and took care of her obligations.

Pure joy. An hour later, I was stripping off the wallpaper in the guest bathroom. No joke.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I still can't believe I pulled these rooms together. They slowly went from being ideas in my head, to mood boards, to fully realized spaces. It was incredibly satisfying to turn the vision into reality! Now if we could just find a nice pair of chairs to face the sofa, and build the bookshelves for the other side of the room...

9. What was your biggest failure?
I haven't finished painting and fixing up the horrible pink water closet in our bathroom. I washed the nicotine off the walls to prep for paint, took down the fixtures, and then ran screaming from the project. I can't stand to be in that tiny scary hot pink closet for more than a few minutes at a time! It's like being inside an electric womb!!

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
A vague allergy-like cold kept me sick for most of September and October. Boring.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
The Ballard Designs Orb Chandelier is 72 billion times better than the florescent lighting we had before.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Keith has trouble making BIG decisions, like choosing a house. After a few months of house hunting I was so frustrated. I knew that if I left the decision up to him, we'd never move out of the condo. But when I knew we'd found the right house, he trusted my judgement. Even though it was a fixer-upper. His faith in me and his trust in my vision meant so much. On top of that, he goes out of his way to tell me he appreciates everything I do to make our home nicer and his life easier, and he's always happy to help me with projects that I couldn't do by myself. I feel so loved. I couldn't have married a better man.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
In the middle of our house search, our realtor disappeared for a month. He gave us no warning that he was going to spend a month in Europe. Really?! 

14. Where did most of your money go? 
See #7.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
My best friend moved back to Nashville!! When she told me she was finally coming home, I was so happy and relieved that I cried. Also, spending 10 days in Disney World with Keith's parents. My mother in law knows all the ins and outs for avoiding crowds and lines. She planned the perfect Disney trip.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?
In October, I spent ten days at Disney World with Keith and my in-laws. Every morning, my mother in law blasted this song to wake us up. When I got home, I couldn't start the day without it.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder: Happier!
Richer or poorer: Richer!
Thinner or fatter: Same.
Older or wiser: Older. Ugh.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Same answer as always: Travel! Bigger trips are hard to plan around Keith's work schedule, but I'd like to take more small weekend road trips. So many good bands come to Atlanta but skip Nashville.

JELLIES! I made one excellent day trip to Chattanooga to visit the Chattanooga Aquarium (where I
snapped this pic) and have lunch with my in-laws. I'd love to do things like that more often in 2015. 

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Scrubbing tar, nicotine, and spilled Coca-Cola off of walls. And ceilings. And cabinetry. And tile floors. And wire closet shelving. And myself. *shudder*

20. How did you spend Christmas?
It was the first time I've ever hosted a major holiday event for family. My parents, Keith's parents, and his brother Sam came over. Keith and  I cooked, and in the evening we opened presents and walked around looking at Christmas lights while my mother in law sang Hooked On a Feeling. 

I love living three doors down from this.
22. Did you fall in love in 2014?
I stayed in love in 2014. That's even better.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
I watched Gilmore Girls for the first time... and ended up marathoning the entire series in about a month. I love to hate Emily Gilmore. And yes, I know that I'm like 20 years behind. 

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
I feel like I'm in a silently antagonistic, long-term relationship with the former owner of our house. Why did she put a dark backsplash in a dark kitchen? Why didn't she trim the hedges, like, ever? Why did she smoke in the house?!

25. What was the best book you read?
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. READ IT.

It's also worth mentioning that I spent half the year revisiting an old favorite: The Agent Pendergast series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I think Agent Pendergast is one of the most unique and under-appreciated characters in modern literature, and I love the way the authors weave together history, the supernatural, and hard science that's been twisted until it seems supernatural. Want to read them? Start with Relic!

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I mostly stuck with old favorites this year.

27. What did you want and get?
See #7!

28. What did you want and not get?
Keith is involved in an exciting project, the Haven Lock. Haven received over $116,000 in pledges on Kickstarter, but wasn't fully funded. That was a disappointment. Happily, the project is still  moving forward, but with investors rather than crowd-sourced funds. Still, it would've been really cool for him to be part of a successfully funded Kickstarter!

29. What was your favorite film of this year?

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I SAW A BEAR! But let's back up. In July I turned 33, and Keith and I celebrated with a trip to Asheville. The best day of the Asheville trip was spent at the Biltmore Estate, where I saw a bear running down the road between the mansion and the winery. Also, I saw a lot of fancy old stuff, and gargoyle butt cracks on the roof of the mansion. The Biltmore feels magical, especially for someone like me who loves history, architecture, art, and antique furniture. It was the happiest day of 2014.

George Vanderbilt paid stonemasons to carve butt cracks on his gargoyles. Talk about attention to detail! 
31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Meeting and holding my baby nephew. I haven't met him in person yet. 

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
Umm... It was very 2013. Most of our money went to the house, so I didn't buy a lot of new clothes.

33. What kept you sane?
Knitting! This year I knitted about a dozen baby gifts, a handful of scarves, and four pillows. This pillow is my favorite knitting project of 2014, and my first completed project with cables.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I am embarrassingly interested in everything Kate Middleton does. I was glued to coverage of the Australian and New York City tours, and so disappointed that she was too ill to make her scheduled official visit to Malta.

IMO, this Alice Temperley dress was the Duchess' best look of 2014.
Alas, I'm the only person who seems to think so. Source
35. What political issue stirred you the most?
I was disappointed that Tennessee approved Amendment 1. It's scary to consider starting a family in a state where abortion is one step closer to being illegal, even when the mother's life is in danger. No one thinks that will ever apply to them, but it happened to one of my professors. She had strokes while she was pregnant, due to preeclampsia, and needed an abortion to save her own life. It's rare, but it happens. So approving Amendment 1 was not cool, Tennessee. Not cool.

36. Who did you miss?
My sister Erin.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
I don't know. The nice people at Brentwood Interiors who give me generously sized fabric samples?

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014:
Don't skip breakfast. Just don't.

Use primer. On your walls and on your face.

Friendships with single friends do change after you get married.
a) Be sensitive to your single friends, and don't neglect to give them a +1.
b) When you were single, you didn't realize how much time you and the girls spent talking about guys... but it was a lot. Now when you get together with the girls, they go on and on about their dating lives, then look at the clock and say, "Oops! Time to go!" They don't ask what you're doing, because you aren't dating anymore. If you start to feel ignored, lonely, or angry, say something. It will be awkward at first, but your friendships will become so much stronger as a result.

Are you hanging something on the wall? Is it heavier or bigger than an 11" by 14" picture frame? Use anchors.

When you and your partner allow yourselves to lean on each other, your partnership becomes stronger.