Wishing you the happiest New Year

We’re cuddled up on the couch, waiting for Pk to get home from another trip. The snow is falling and its about 15¬į outside. Lucy and I both have colds and my poor little girl has a terrible black eye from conking her head on Grandma’s table. I think we’ve reached the inevitable post birthday/holiday let down, but honestly, I’m looking forward to some weeks of clean, quiet, living. My goals are to sort through our ever increasing possessions and donate what isn’t beautiful or useful to us. Even Lucy’s in on it – she gathered up a bag of toys to give away this morning. Frequent blog readers know that this time of year we are inundated with to-do lists and resolutions and plans for living better. Mine are pretty simple – prepare for the new baby joining us this year, spend a little less time on Pinterest, and remembering…

We have an incredible amount to be grateful for. My baseboards might be dusty, and my closets in disarray, but our little family gives me the most powerful sense of happiness. I’m pretty sure perfectly folded laundry and kale smoothies can’t improve upon how much just their very existence means to me.

I doubt we will make it to midnight tonight so have an extra glass of bubbly for me!

Happy New Year to you and yours!


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counting down

Both the days until Christmas and the days until Pete gets home again – he has another work trip that the won’t be home from until Christmas eve. Lucky duck gets to miss all the pre-Christmas insanity that happens around here (smart planning Pk!) The past couple weeks have been a non-stop holiday birthday social extravaganza. Two holiday work parties for the mister and we celebrated Lucy’s 3rd birthday with our family a few days early over the weekend.


I know. blurry iPhone instagrams are the worst, but I was having too much fun to stop and take more pics. Please note the dog trying to sneak some cauliflower off the veggie tray. Luckily we had some cupcakes leftover for her actual birthday yesterday.


That face. Honestly. I can’t even.

The parties for Pk’s work have a special significance this year because my rock star hard worker (as he labeled himself in my email account) got a major promotion. It sounds cheesy, but I’m incredibly proud of him. It really makes all the times he was out of town feel worth it and even though his schedule won’t slow down any time soon, I’m thrilled to see him so happy. Also – it was super fun to trade in my yoga pants for heels and dresses. Here’s what Ive been wearing this holiday party season…

Holiday 13' Maternity

I’m just barely still squeezing into non-maternity shift dresses at 25 weeks. I had to size up on the red top shop number to accommodate not my ever growing belly but my ever growing bust (seriously, enough with the boobs already!) I linked to some J.Crew jewelry that I think I might pick up for this sort of thing next year – right now everything at J.Crew is 30% off with the code GIFTNOW. The outfit on the right is what I’ll be wearing when we host our Christmas day open house, with flats on because NO WAY can I imagine wearing heels when decorum doesn’t require it.

Now that our two weeks of partying is over it’s time to finish up our Christmas shopping and get this house spanked into shape so we can spend the days around Christmas just being together (until Pk goes out of town through the New Year)

That’s what’s happening folks! Hope your holiday prep is going well.


Toddler girl outfits – holiday inspiration

Toddler Girl - Holiday '13

I have found it much easier to shop for Lucy this holiday season than for myself, most maternity holiday clothes are pretty garish. Lucy’s options, on the other hand, are fabulous. I tend to shy away from the brighter colors in hopes that she can wear things again when it isn’t Christmastime and I also want her to be comfortable enough to play. I look for fleece lined tights and super soft under layers so that she can throw something sparkly on without being freezing as we go from place to place. Lucy is kind of a funny size – tall enough for some 4t, but a skinny mini so still fitting into some baby collections that go up to 36 moths, like Zara. We picked up a few things at H&M that I wasn’t able to link to, but I was really impressed with their in store selection and sales. The Gap/Old Navy has some darling options for more casual events (pre-school holiday party, holiday play-date, etc.) I rediscovered Garnet Hill kids – I always forget they have charming kids clothes too. Lucy’s birthday party is less than two weeks away so she will surely pick something sparkly to wear that day too (my bet is the gold dot dress from Garnet Hill.)
Hope your holiday prep is going well – I find it awfully tempting to shop for non-gift items this time of year.
ps. The Zara coat has tiny ears on the hood. Little old ladies always cluck and coo over Lucy when she wears it.

It’s the most wonderful time…

Of the year. Truly. We traditionally spend Thanksgiving with Pk’s family in a tiny town in southern Michigan. We’ve had a few years off, like when I was expecting Lucy and didn’t want to travel, or when Pk’s grandma became unable to host. This year Pk’s entire family made the trip and his Mom pulled together an amazing meal. His grandma came up for the night from the assisted care facility and was surrounded by her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. It was wonderful and of course – rural Michigan is beautiful. Lucy had a wonderful time playing with her uncles and cousins.

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It’s hard to explain what a powerful sense of belonging this place has for Pk’s family. Generations have lived and farmed there. His mom grew up here and visits as often as she can. I know that as the next generation grows up and has families of their own it will be harder to maintain a connection to this place, but I feel so fortunate that I’ve been able to see it and get to know Pk’s extended family. Truly something to be thankful for.

Also, farm fresh pie. Did I mention pie? I made it my mission to catch up on my weight gain after such a rough first trimester. We also crowd sourced baby boy names from the family (hilarious – the great grandkids thought Quatro was a winner) and ate as many leftovers as we could.

I hope you and yours had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.



It’s a…



A healthy baby boy. Pk was able to come with me to my ultrasound yesterday and we decided to tell Lucy last night at dinner. She took it pretty well – there was about 5 minutes of crying because she really wanted to have a girl baby, then a few more minutes of crying when she realized she wasn’t going to have the baby herself. Once it sunk in, with lots of descriptions of our friends’ families (i.e. – neighbor Jane has a little baby brother John and you are going to have one too!) she got REALLY excited. She still thinks we should name him Lily, even though he’s not a girl and he should be a dragon for Halloween next year. She kept describing all the things she would show him and do with him and gave my belly lots of kisses. It was so amazing how instantly she felt love for him. This morning she woke up and asked if he was coming today, so we might have to work on that delayed gratification business. We shared the photo above with friends on Facebook and Instagram – it feels so great to celebrate!

It’s finally sinking in, I think. We are really going to have another baby. A whole new personality for us to know and love. A new character in the story of our lives together. I feel so lucky.


ps. I think picking a name is going to be hard! Pk likes to be pretty contrary ūüėČ

More updates in the yard…

Sorry for the unintentional break from posting here. We seem to have fully embraced a summer schedule and that means late nights and no naps and thus, less opportunities for blogging. But! I’ve found ¬†a few minutes, with help from Caillou.

We’ve had the BEST week, mostly because Pete was able to take off a few days around the 4th of July. So needed and so fun just to have him puttering around the house with us. I take for granted how demanding his schedule can be – poor guy was pretty exhausted. Luckily we finished the deck in time to enjoy a little R&R- just what our family needed. The long weekend started with a baseball game (we have White Sox season tickets – a totally much deserved splurge for Pete.)We had an amazing 4th of July that included a parade, a bbq, and some fireworks by the lake. We hosted a little get together on the new deck on Friday night and then saw David Byrne and St. Vincent at Ravinia on Saturday (awesome show!). Lucy slept in her wagon for most of the show, but woke up for a few Talking Heads songs.


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Basically the best extra long weekend ever.

We spent the rest of the weekend prepping for the pavers in our back yard. We knew we needed to have a devoted area for the bbq and AC unit so we left a little 8X8 foot pad next to the patio. I originally planned to do bluestone in that area and for the walkways to the gate and the garage – I love the classic look – but after pricing it out it just wasn’t an option. Bluestone runs about $10 per square foot, whereas concrete pavers run between $1-$6 per square foot. We hit up our local big box stores to see if we could find something large and simple and settled on these ones from Menards. They were $6.99 per 16×24 inch paver which is about $3 per square foot. We just bought a pallet and had it delivered. Easy Peasy.


I’m not usually in favor of material that’s supposed to look like something else – but I think these are totally the right thing for this yard. The stone patterning is pretty subtle and the color is a nice bluish gray. They obviously don’t have the natural color variation of bluestone, but since they are cast from a mold they have a uniform thickness that natural stone wouldn’t. Sean laid down a gravel and crushed limestone base and then added a few inches of sand for leveling.

IMG_5367 IMG_5368I’m not quite ready to so a full reveal of the yard – we have a few more details to pull together and Sean is still laying the walkways today.By details I obviously mean finding a place for all the toys and junk that have accumulated . Here’s what the finished patio/ac/bbq space looks like.

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It sounds kind of funny – but I think working on the yard has brought a really extreme level of happiness. I’ve just been feeling so good lately – like our house is finally coming together and maybe not such a terrible eyesore. Sometimes with a fixer upper you just get so burnt out from all the projects that have to be done vs. projects that are just pretty and pleasing. Having some space to entertain outside is so important for us because our house is really petite – it’s like a whole new addition in comfortable, safe living space. I cant wait to get the new fence which maybe will get started next week, depending on Super-Sean’s schedule. He’ll also build a screen to cover the AC unit since it is so flippin’ old and ugly (fingers crossed it will last the summer though! I’d rather spend money on a new fence than a new compressor.) I’ve got plans for a few furniture pieces for that spot to make it a really functional outdoor cooking space.

So! That’s what’s happening with the yard. Now, what’s happening on the baby making front – ¬†our FET is happening on Tuesday. Crazy right? It seemed like this time has passed so quickly, but maybe that’s because I’m hopped up on estrogen, steroids, and baby aspirin. I started the dreaded progesterone shots last night which is like injecting yourself with a dull pencil full of olive oil. My tush is SORE, but. It’s worth it. I feel optimistic about this try, but guarded, of course. This will be our 3rd IVF/FET since Lucy was born; maybe 3rd time’s the charm? If this round doesn’t work we’re going to take a break from fertility treatments. It’s just too expensive and stressful to think about doing again this year. Or maybe even ever again. I realized this past week that no matter whether or not we have another baby – our little threesome is wonderful the way it is. We are so happy and lucky to have this little house and such a great life in our hometown surrounded by our families. If this is as good as it gets, it’s pretty darn perfect.

I hope  you all are well and having a fabulous summer.


Our bedroom. After!

I think it’s done! Here’s pics of our newly done bedroom. You can see the before pics in the previous post.



Looking right to Pk’s side


The big impact on Pete’s side comes from the gorgeous cowhide I bought from Amazon, and the massive framed Hemnes floor mirror from Ikea. Pete didn’t have a dressing mirror before and this way he can make sure he looks super fly and the mirror can bounce a whole ton of light around the room.¬†We also got new roman shades that add the most lovely filtered light. I outside mounted them and then added inexpensive roller blinds underneath for more privacy at night. The trunk under the window is from World Market.

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I also added some artwork above his dresser (his dresser was a $40 dollar craigslist steal). The art is a lithograph of a train scene from the Belmont station in Chicago and the first framed, expensive art I bought after college. It just screams Pk to me, and the muted colors look really nice in here.


I also added a walnut hook rack from Rejuvenation (thanks for those Nana, they’re perfect!) and a sturdy laundry bag from West Elm Market. This way he has a place to hang clothes he might wear again the next day instead of hanging them off the dresser hooks (ahem.) The laundry bag is for drycleaning (which is about 80% of his wardrobe.) The vintage clock and Shakespeare collection are things he has had forever. I also added a lamp so that he doesn’t have to turn on the over head lights to get dressed in the wee hours of the morning.

Looking left to my side.


You guys, the new rug is soooo soft and fuzzy. It keeps my toes cozy while I get dressed in the morning and just makes the whole space look a bit more sophisticated.


The new chair! I did eventually cave and get a knock-off ghost chair for my vanity. I totally love it and feel no guilt whatsoever.


I replaced the super ugly chair with this one from world market ¬†( true story, I tried to use upholstery paint on the other chair, it looked better, but the velvet felt super stiff so I decided to just replace it. it was an epic DIY fail, but hey, I tried.) The new chair fits the space a whole lot better and I like the black legs. The sconce was a thrifty find that used to be in the living room, but it fits this nook perfectly. I added this gorgeous brass side table from Restoration Hardware that I’ve been eying for approximately forever. It’s so great to finally have some family pictures in here too. They used to be in the living room, but work much better here.


Seriously cannot get enough of the brass, and I like the way it picks up the warm tone from the framed artwork above the bed. Speaking of that…


I ordered these 3 moon prints from a great Etsy seller and had them framed. I saved a bundle by using stock frames, but had mats cut and the prints mounted and backed. It was obviously more expensive than using say, ikea frames, but the total cost was less than $250 dollars (that includes the labor, prints, and frames!) and I think it makes a huge impact.


Our plug in wall sconces are from Lowe’s, and help free up space on our night stand tables.


Our little bedside tables used to be bubble gum pink stools( I got them for $10 at a thrift store a million years ago.) I gave them a quick coat of my favorite black spray paint and now they really ground the space and pick up on the black in the bed linens.


The linens are a total blend of high and low Рwhite Ralph Lauren sheets from Marshalls, Linen shams and duvet cover from Restoration Hardware, herringbone blanket  and accent pillow from Target, and monogrammed shams from Pottery Barn. IMG_4531

Another major change was removal of the ugly bifold closet doors. I replaced them with Aina linen curtain panels hemmed to the correct length. Normally I’m not a huge fan of curtains as doors, but I like the softness they add here. I actually have two antique french doors sitting in the basement waiting to be cut to size and refinished, so in the mean time the curtains will have to do. I got the recommendation for these curtains from Rosa Beltran Design’s blog. They have an awesome hidden hanging system.

I think that’s it! Peter and I both love, love, love it. It’s just more adult now, and feels a lot less random. It really functions now too (which is the foundation of good design!) We each have our separate dressing area – it’s kind of funny how it turned into his and hers, right? I also love that it’s a mix of old and new, thrifted, DIYed (our headboard is a thrift store find that I sewed a camel colored velvet slipcover for), and newly purchased (rugs, bedding, lighting, etc.) We’ve lived here for 3 and 1/2 years and we finally have a bedroom that looks great (or at least better!)

This weekend we’re celebrating my 30th birthday (gaaahhhhohmygodhowdidthathappensofast!!!) and I’m looking forward to partying with Pk and the rest of our family. Have a great weekend!


ps. Taking these pics made me realize that I’m not great at photo styling and that a ton of work goes into those seemingly perfect house images you see all the time. You should see the pile of laundry in the hallway!

pps. This room will never be this clean again, so it’s a good thing I documented it.

Happy Holidays xoxo

IMG_3999IMG_4000IMG_4003IMG_4053 IMG_4016IMG_4067 IMG_4029IMG_4071 IMG_4091Lucinda and I had a little impromptu holiday photo shoot, and I just couldn’t narrow them down. I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your loved ones. We host an open house on Christmas day and do a bit of rushing around Christmas night, but mostly we eat and drink and listen to music and revel in the wonderful moments that the holiday season provides. Merry Christmas to you and yours!


Lucy’s Dance Party

On Sunday we celebrated Lucy’s 2nd birthday with family and friends. Her actual birthday was yesterday, but we wanted to give the main celebration a little breathing room from Christmas. The first ingredient in a successful 2 year old birthday celebration/dance party is this.

disco ball

This is the best $30 bucks I’ve spent in awhile. ¬†Seriously. Go buy one. Lucy is obsessed with the “di-co yite” and wants to have it on whenever possible. It comes with a base/turntable ¬†and a spot light that you can set anywhere to create instant dance party awesomeness. Pk and I created a huge dance music playlist (Madonna, Deeelite, Stevie Wonder, etc) to play during the party and cleared out some furniture to make a dance floor.

IMG_3930IMG_3931 While the adults were grooving, the kids were mostly trashing the playroom (which is exactly what playrooms are for).


I made cupcakes and a star shaped cake and we put out a bunch of finger food and drinks for thirsty dancers (pink prosecco for the adults, juice boxes for the kiddos)


IMG_3959We had such a good time. It was so great to show off all the work we’ve done on the house and to see how all those things make a great space for having get togethers and celebrations. I love that we have a party girl (or at least I love it now – not sure how I’ll feel when she’s a teenager sneaking out to the club!) I think the disco ball might stick around – at least through the new year.


Even though we had a great time, I think all the parents in the room celebrated with a heavy heart. The tragedy in Newtown is so hard to fathom. While we were celebrating I thought about all the families who were planning for their babies funerals instead of parties. It’s hard to think about Lucy growing up in this world, and harder still to think that there will be a time when she’s not always right next to me. That’s the terrible reality of parenting though, you devote your everything to this tiny being and then set them loose in the world to experience everything that is both wonderful and horrific about humanity. My deepest hope for Lucy that it’s mostly wonderful, and I feel a both great and terrible responsibility to make the parts of her life that are with me as wonderful and full as possible. I love you baby girl. These have been the best two years…

your sunday night black and white edition

Guys. We had a fantastic weekend. We co-hosted Pks holiday party for work and had such a wonderful time. It was also our first night away from Lucy overnight (gulp!) Lucy and her grandma had a successful sleepover and Pk and I got to spend a great evening out with his coworkers and stay in a hotel. It was so. much. fun. to get out after a long week home alone with my baby girl. We woke up early to get home to our peanut and, needless to say, I’m a bit fuzzy today. Here’s some pics from this weekend for your viewing pleasure.

dressLucy and DaddyMayaBath party!Lucymother's helper


I hope you had a great weekend!


ps. I finally joined Instagram. I’ve been using Hipstamatic for a while, but I thought I ought to spread the love. My user name is helenhandmaid (truly I have no idea how instagram works, can anyone give me any tips? Can I follow you? I want to see your beautifully filtered lives!)

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