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All I want for Christmas is…

27 Nov

Ummm…where have I been that I missed this?  Mad Men Barbies?  Came out almost three years ago?  For reals?  I am transported back to the time when all I wanted for Christmas was the Barbie condo with the elevator.  Sigh, to be a kid again.

However, nothing compares to these awesome Mad Men dolls.  I know I am 41 years old, but I want them.  I really want them.  Unfortunately, looking at the Mattel site, many are sold out.  I can buy Joan Halloway on Ebay for $80+ but I don’t think I want to do that.

I know.  Maybe I’ll ask Santa.

Betty Draper

Don Draper

Joan Halloway

Roger Sterling

And as if that weren’t enough, I just saw the sets Michael Williams created for the dolls, martinis and all.  (Courtesy of If it’s Hip, It’s Here blog.)

And Michael Williams homage to Jonathan Adler.  These dolls have nicer homes than I do!

Michael a photographer and graphic designer whose personal work focuses on collectible 1:6 scale fashion dolls, including Barbie, Ken, Fashion Royalty, FR Nippon Misaki and R&D Susie, as well as dioramas and dollhouses, who hordes RE-MENT and MegaHouse miniatures as props for my photos.

See more of Michael’s work at his site here.
And on for whom he shoots.


Owl Heaven

15 Jul

After we started on Hailey and Hannah’s room, of course Ainsley decided she wanted us to get moving on hers too.  Though Ainsley, Hailey and Hannah are all going into 6th grade next year, Ainsley is more than seven months older than the twins.  She is entering that stage between child and teenager where she wants to hold on to her old stuffies and toys, but doesn’t want them to dominate her room the way they used to.  And ‘no more pink!’ she declared. 

We started here after just moving in:

We got some nets for them to hang from the ceiling and bought her a little more sleeping space on her bed. It was the best option for a room being over-taken by stuffed animals that she refuses to part with.

She got owl linens from Dwell Studio for her birthday because she really has a thing for owls.  Then she asked that we paint one wall of her room the deep teal color from the linens.  Holding our breath as we obliged, it actually turned out really well.  I like the warm wood next to the blue and it gives her room a lot of dimension now, which it didn’t have before.

I think the owl thing comes from the fact that we have a real live owl living in the forest preserve next to our house.  (And the owl motif is very mid-century.) You can see him sitting majestically in a tree and sometimes swooping down for prey.  Isn’t he gorgeous?

Next to Ainsley’s bed is a felt owl made as a Christmas gift  from the twins.  The stitched owl on the wall was also for Christmas from her aunt.  And finally, the white ceramic one she stole from me after I ordered it from West Elm.  (Like the twin’s room, lamp also from Target $19.99, as well as shag rug.)

Of all of us, Ainsley is probably the one most comfortable with living in the in between.  She can only handle change in small doses.  She is perfectly happy with the fact that we have not yet taken down the Peanuts wallpaper, though it drives her mother crazy now.  Nor have we patched or painted the other two walls with white.  Baby steps.  Or big girl steps now, I guess.

Double Trouble

15 Jul

Until I met Brett, Hailey and Hannah, I hadn’t spent much time around twins.  In fact, I hadn’t spent any time around identical twins.  My grandfather was an identical twin, but I only met his brother once or twice my life when I was very young.  I had no idea about the dynamics between two people who not only shared a womb for nine months, but also the same skin, eyes, hair, lips…well, everything. 

Though that’s not really entirely true.  It’s pretty easy once you get to know them to identify who is who.  However, not being a twin myself and being an only child for years, it’s hard for me to wrap my head around always being with someone.  In fact, when I was pregnant with both Maeve and Ainsley, I was a bit freaked out by the notion that I was never truly alone.  (And I really like my alone time.)  Hailey told me yesterday that she and Hannah have never been apart for more than eight hours.  Wow.

That being said, I also see a determined desire to differentiate from each other, to form distinct and individual identities.  We have been trying to think about how to do that in the house, given that they share a room.  The go-to approach is to be all matchy-matchy or risk having a room of clashing chaos.

And in fairness, their room has been a LONG time process.  Of all the wallpaper experiences we have had in this house, it was by far the most challenging.  We began with this post in January, gave up in frustration and pretty much didn’t touch it again until June.  The wallpaper itself came off quite easily.  The glue was a different story entirely.  Poor girls.  Their room looked like this for a long long time.


Lovely lassies didn’t really complain at all.  But before they got here for the summer, Brett really wanted to make sure their room was finished.  He went at it again with the TSP and finished that wall above near the door, which he said was pretty much the most hellish job ever.  The glue comes off in these web-like sheets.  Gross.  Then (despite my protestations) he thought about trying to paint a patch over the glue to see what happened.  And as predicted, the paint began cracking within a week.  Good thing it was only a patch. 


Then he tried sanding it, in the hope that he could just sand it right off.  Alas, this was just as horrid of an endeavor as the TSP.  However, the magic combination was sanding a bit followed by the TSP.  Now this was by no means easy, just slightly less painful.

Then the question arose of what color to paint the room.  And like all children who want to make their individual mark, they couldn’t agree.  One wanted orange.  One wanted green.  Okay, that’s good.  Those colors work together and work with their duvet covers.  At first we thought of painting one wall each color, but we couldn’t decide which walls because the allocation of color must be fair and balanced of course. And because great minds think alike, Maeve and I came to the same conclusion at almost the same time:  cut the room in half with color.

While I loved the idea in theory, I have to admit I had my reservations about the outcome.  Such a doubting Thomas.  The result was better than I could have imagined.  The side benefit being the sense of actually having TWO rooms in one.  We juxtaposed the orange side with green accents and the green side with orange accents.  We had these two prints of Buddha that used to hang in our old kitchen, which the girls loved so we repurposed them in their room.  We bought the lamps at Tar-jay.  With shades, they were $19.99 each.  Though we couldn’t find a lamp in orange to match the one in green, so we went with silver instead, which I think works well.  Shag rug also courtesy of Tar-jay, $29.99.

The girls love the result and so do I.  And I love that every time I walk by their room now, I smile instead of cringe.

Have any of you had to solve for shared rooms?  How did you do it?

Mad Girls

19 Jun

I am truly blessed.  Truly.  When I am crazy busy with work and traveling and have done absolutely nothing on the house, I have an amazing gaggle of girls who keep the mid-century love going.

On my way home from work today, I got a text from Maeve saying they had a ‘surprise’ for me.  Now, as many of you parents may know, a ‘surprise’ from one’s children can be a delight or a disaster.  Now that they are older, the delights outnumber the disasters.  (Though the disasters still happen, don’t get me wrong.)  I would be a liar if I said I had no trepidation about this.  I had a long and somewhat disappointing day and really didn’t relish the prospect of a cooking experiment that left me a crusty and floury and oily kitchen.  So as a typical parent I ask, ‘What is it?’ to which she cleverly responds, ‘Then it wouldn’t be a surprise.’

I walked in the door and everything seemed in place.  The kitchen was relatively clean.  No one was crying, though they were all in tons of make-up as they came to hug me.  In heels and her graduation dress with her hair in a bee-hive, Maeve motions me over to the computer to share their creations with me.

What can I say?  It’s moments like this, as my daughters stand around me giggling and I look at their work, that I know in my marrow why I became a parent. And I also know that these moments have an eventual end, and one coming sooner than I realize as I look at these gorgeous mad women almost all grown up, talented, intelligent, inventive.  Appreciation from one’s children is precious and rare.  These four ladies will run the world someday, I swear.

(Though as I write this, I listen to one asking the other…’Are you ticklish on your butt?’  Ahhh…parenthood.)

These also remind me of another post of photos with the word ‘Mad’ in it.  Biggest difference is that there was no alcohol in the photo shoot with the girls and I think PLENTY in the photos of my grandparents!

Maeve took these photographs and speaks to them with more detail on her blog.  Please check it out at Blue Paper Lanterns.

The Wonder Years

18 Jan

We are getting a lot of snow here in the Northwest. A lot. Like can’t drive down the driveway kind of snow.  Like no school and work from home kind of snow.  We are about six inches deep and it still keeps coming. And when you’re done with the requisite sledding and snowman building and snowball fights, you watch TV.  A lot of TV. (Or if you’re a dog you run round and round and round in circles chasing your sister as Baker and Molly did.)


We aren’t a big TV family, per se.  We don’t like the girls watching commercial TV.  (Yes, I see the irony in that given my occupation.)  We don’t have cable, but we do have Netflix and we like introducing the girls to the shows we used to watch. We’ve gone through the entire series of The Brady Bunch (a necessary introduction as we blended our families), Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie and Gilligan’s Island.  We occasionally watch contemporary shows like Modern Family but on the whole, we keep an eye (and a fair bit of control) on what they watch. (And of course, I get my fair share of Mad Men, Downton Abbey and Dexter when the kiddies aren’t around.)

Which is why, when flipping through Netflix recently and running across The Wonder Years, I knew this was the next series for our family. It was perfect.  Middle school politics, mid-century family dynamics and enough awesome clothing and interiors to make my heart pound.

Not only that, but I got very excited upon seeing the glass grapes on the Wonder Years family TV set.  When my grandmother passed last year, the only thing I wanted from her place was the glass (maybe) grapes that had sat on her end tables in the formal sunken living room with white shag carpet.  Strange, I know. But I had always loved those things and I knew they would be perfect in my mid-century house.

But even more wonderful about The Wonder Years, is the lovely simplicity and universality of the middle school experience; of that moment when the world tips from sweet into bittersweet; of that time when a child starts to realize what adults are really like and just how damn huge the world and universe really is and little control we have over anything.

However, it’s funny seeing how traumatized my girls are by the realization (courtesy of Kevin Arnold) that all boys think about is girls.  And girls.  And more girls. (‘Is that really what they are thinking? I don’t know how I will look at any of the boys at my school again!’) Ah….youth.

The Devil Made Wallpaper

16 Jan

**Apologies in advance for the poor photos.  I took these with my phone because I can’t find the camera and Maeve and her wonderful photo skills are not at home.

Mid-way through today’s project (which is still incomplete), Brett turns to me and says ‘You should call your post about this The Devil Made Wallpaper.’ And he’s right.  I will never ever ever wallpaper another wall in this house because un-doing it is a nightmare.

Today’s project was removing the wallpaper glue from Hailey and Hannah’s room. When I was working on the bathroom, I had tested it a while ago to see what it would take. The vinyl wallpaper itself came down super easily, courtesy of Maeve, who I think won a championship medal in wall-paper stripping. However, it left behind a mustardy glue that I knew needed to come down too.

We mixed up some TSP and water, put it in spray bottles and put gloves on everyone and got to work.

And I am glad we did because beneath what looks like just glue was this spider-webby grossness that I have never seen before. Has anyone seen this before because I never have?

All in all, we scrubbed and scrubbed and didn’t make as much progress as we had hoped.  We sprayed the TSP mixture on and scrubbed in circles.  The webby stuff came off in wet clump and the glue was muddy and sticky.  Then we wiped the cleaned wall with a wet rag. It was definitely high labor intensive and after an hour your arms are not feeling super strong nor do you get all that far.  After an hour of four people scrubbing (okay, two little people gave up after half an hour), we got maybe 25% of the room done.  Our goal is to finish over the long weekend and start painting next week.

Dresser Facelift

14 Jan

Remember my wish for a large low-boy MCM style dresser for Maeve’s room?  And how it suddenly presented itself one day? (Okay, that makes it sound like it up and walked into our house on its own. We bought it off Craigslist.) And okay, it’s a little more dowdy mid-century than modern. But we changed all that. Ithad a solid (very solid as in super heavy) structure and these lovely curved drawers on the lower six.

Inspired by the photo above, Maeve set out with sander and paint and turned her dresser into a masterpiece.  There was some frustration with certain aspects of the project.  Certainly she had her challenges waiting for the paint to dry. (This is the beginning of the DIY education that everything takes WAY longer than you want it to.) Also, she wanted new handles and I didn’t blame her.  The original ones were kind of fussy looking, so we bought some sleek squarish brushed nickel ones at Home Depot for about $2/each.  The problem was that they were just a fraction off and didn’t fit the original holes.

She used the Ultra White semi-gloss Behr paint and an ebony colored wood stain which I was concerned would be too dark, but it was just perfect.

We Brett filled the old holes and drilled new ones just above them so the filled were hidden somewhat by the handle. The photo progression below is courtesy of Maeve and the result is spectacular!  Now, if she’d only actually keep the clothes in the drawers instead of on the floor we will have really accomplished something!

 UPDATE:  I just saw this on Etsy and asked Maeve if she wanted to sell hers and make some money…like $380!  I am sure the answer is no, but just goes to show what some elbow grease can do.

Refinished Mid-Century Retro Dresser- SOLD

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