Thursday, October 2, 2014

Jam of the Month: alt-J

I know.
But, since you didn't get to hear anything because the video was removed from Youtube I decided to share another really amazing group with you so that you don't have to wait another whole month for your ears to be all tingly and happy.

During the summer I heard this song and immediately knew this would end up being a new favorite group.

The song is called "Hunger of the Pine" and it's off the newest album, This Is All Yours from English Indie Rock band, alt-J.

I'm not overly fond of the video necessarily (although I can often relate to it) but the song itself is enchanting to say the least.

It's softly haunting melody slowly builds over the course of the entire song with the help of some serious oboe-y saxophone sound.

It reminds me of a rainy night in the back alley of a smoke filled New York jazz bar.

And, yes, the addition of the sampling of Miley Cyrus' song, "4x4" certainly adds a sexy and quirky sort of depth to it. 

Now you know why I couldn't wait to share it with you.

And I pinky promise that their other songs are great, too, so you should go check out other alt-J videos on Youtube.

Do that now.

À la vie et à l'amour

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Jam of the Month: Valise

If you have not had the good fortune of having yet heard the Dallas, Texas based band, Valise, you really do not know what you're missing.

So, the original link to the Youtube video no longer works and it took a while for me to find a working link so you could hear this song, called "Digadig."

Click this link then scroll down to the 4th song:

They are still under the radar so if you want to be ultra-hip you should go tell all your friends to listen to them and do some fangirling or fanboying or whatever it is we do when we love stuff a whole big bunch.

Because these guys are good and their popularity will probably start spreading like ebola.

***Update to post - I wrote this over a month ago, not knowing that the first case of Ebola in the US would happen to be in Dallas and information about it would be released on the same day that this post was scheduled.
I promise it was not me who started Ebola here.
I just share good music.

If you don't spread the word now someone else is going to out-hip you on the indie music scene.

À la vie et à l'amour

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Class-y Lady's Room Tour

Just before school started my friend, Faye, asked for my help with decorating her newly remodeled 5th grade classroom.
I could not have been more honored or excited!

These were NOT the first photos she sent to me.
These photos were after she had already done a significant amount of work un-packing boxes, organizing and putting things away.

The first photos looked more like this:

So let me give you a little background on my fabulous friend before we move along to the room tour.

I first met Faye 2 years ago at Meet the Teacher when my son was entering 5th grade.

No, I did not upload the wrong photos - this is actually her.
(Photos above courtesy of  Pixel and Grain photography.)

Faye with my son at 5th grade graduation. His bowtie unintentionally coordinated. 

Aside from her super model looks and incredible fashion sense (it's a family thing), Faye is also smart as a whip, funny, unbelievably kind and giving, always classy and so much fun to have wine and cheese with while talking decorating and projects.

Additionally, she's an avid DIYer and an award winning peach cobbler maker.
No joke, people.

But, most importantly, she loves Harry Potter.

Faye's newly DIYed lamp, painted with a Dumbledore quote.

The plan for her new room was to use the items she already had on hand and just sort of give them new life.
(You know I'm all about using what you have.)
And she certainly had LOTS of great decorative objects and teacher stuff from which to choose!

When I arrived,  one of her bulletin boards was already complete, which was great because then I had a starting point.
Faye also had a fantastic idea for another bulletin board that evolved into something sort of Kate Spade-esque.

Pretty much the only thing she lacked was sharp scissors.

The following day I brought my own scissors, along with a few 'donations' to add some final touches and her room was finished just in time for Meet The Teacher.

Welcome, everyone, to Mrs Middleton's 5th grade class!

Remember this???

Here's what it looks like now.

This harlequin adorned bulletin board was the room's starting point.

A sink will be installed in this area.

Fabric was added to the plain white wall above her desk to serve as a bulletin board.
Also, I just noticed she has an interrogation lamp.
Which is entirely necessary in 5th grade.
Peel-able and write-able labels.

How about this wall before???

And now...

The gold ribbon helped cover the rough edges of the cut paper and added a little sparkle.

Faye made that pouf in just a few minutes before I arrived so naturally I had to use it on this gallery wall.

A perfect reading corner.

Dry erase marker on glass in a frame backed with cute paper.

Faye painted the Superhero canvas herself - so cute!

I gave Faye this 'class-y' framed art because she is certainly classy but also loves a good (or bad) pun.

Paint chips in a jar???

Faye's brilliant idea for (free) bookmarks!

The early stages of this wall...

This ribbon garland that I had on hand was perfect here so I was happy to part with it!

Doesn't her Dumbledore lamp look great in this spot?

My 5th grade classroom certainly didn't look like this!

(classroom photos courtesy of Faye's and my cell phone cameras because we are professional like that!)

I love that her room is full of personal homey touches rather than a sea of cardboard cut outs and generic lamination.
It would be tough for me to pry myself out of that reading nook, though!

I'm so grateful to Faye for inviting me to come expend a little creative energy and trusting me with her 'second home.'

She is an absolute testament to her profession and I am fortunate to be able to call her my friend.

À la vie et à l'amour

Thursday, September 11, 2014


I've been working on a new room tour blog post for a while now.
It's still not quite finished but should be next week.
In the meantime I thought I 'd share an update on other things going on around here.

Mainly it's dealing with this:

You may recall this post about picking this stray guy up off the streets back in early June.
Housebreaking was no easy task but I think we have finally conquered that.
He is sweet and cuddly and is slowly learning how to behave.

But, as they say, there is no such thing as a free puppy.
When we first picked him up and had him checked out, he was treated for mites (scabies) and seemed to recover fairly quickly after 2 injections, a couple weeks apart.

Then, there was a tapeworm debacle.
The one pill treatment after diagnosis was easy.
Taking in a stool sample to get that diagnosis was less than glamorous.

We've also been getting all of his vaccinations up to date, which have to be spaced apart a few weeks each time which means we've had to wait to have him neutered until they are complete.
Unfortunately he's sometimes...amorous so that day will arrive none too soon.

This past weekend we took him in for his final round of boosters.
At that time I mentioned needing new flea treatment because it looked like he was covered in bites.

The tech said they were mites, not bites.

Basically it's mange.
Which is the other type of mites than what he had the first time.
So his fur is falling out in patches and he has bumps all over his pink skin and he's back to looking like a chupacabra again.

We're treating him with oral medication daily for the next month.

The good news is that the mange type of mites are usually immune related and caused from stress.
Since he's no longer in the wild and he's now receiving proper nutrition and soon will not have 'hormonal' issues wreaking havoc, the mites should stay gone once his treatment is complete.

Fingers crossed.
Because the 'do-gooder' in me is wondering what the hell kind of mess I have brought upon myself!?

À la vie et à l'amour

Monday, September 1, 2014

Jam of the Month: Vance Joy

September's Jam of the Month is "Riptide" and comes from Australian singer-song writer, Vance Joy.

Let's take a listen, shall we?

The song is featured on his debut album, Dream Your life Away, due to release this month.

My daughter shared several other great songs of his with me and, I assure you, his music will not disappoint.

She is already a huge fan and has purchased tickets to see him in person next next month at a Dallas venue.

I'm sure that will bring her much... Joy.

Yeah, I know.
That was really bad.

À la vie et à l'amour

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sweet and Simple Birthdays

Over the years I have hosted an exorbitant number of birthday parties for my 3 kids.
We've had big family parties, Chuck E Cheese parties, Halloween parties, Hollywood parties complete with a red carpet and formal dresses, huge park parties with rented pavilion space, Harry Potter parties with handmade stuffed owl invitations and a fortune teller, and countless swim parties with clever games and homemade volcano cakes.

Recently my son, who is my youngest child, turned 13.

By the time you get to the 13th birthday of your youngest child, you're pretty much partied out.
I am at a loss for creative ideas for party themes, snacks, cakes or favors.

But the funny thing is... he doesn't care about any of that stuff.
He cares about spending time with his friends, eating cake and opening some presents.

So this year we kept the party sweet and simple.
A giant pizza not cooked by me, store bought cupcakes, and a backyard pool full of friends.

Dollar Tree paper goods

DIY party favors tutorial here.

Store bought cupcakes

Ginormous pizza

Flotation scarf

Does it really get any better than that?

À la vie et à l'amour

Monday, August 25, 2014

Dorm Sweet Dorm

So it's been a little over a week since my oldest daughter moved into her new college dorm room.
Move in day went very smoothly and we didn't even have to take any trips to stores for forgotten items.
I'd love to think it's because we planned everything out so well that nothing was forgotten.

We certainly brought plenty of stuff with us.

Plenty of stuff.

Sardine can.

After some goodbye hugs for everyone (and the dogs) we made the trek to her school which is a little over an hour from where we live.

Sister hug.
Bro hug.
Hugs for Gidget.
Ear scratches for Buster, crate for Winston.
Hugs for dad.
We barely had room for the plants, Fred (not pictured) and Ginger, the red-headed cactus.

We unloaded everything from the car and while I parked, my daughter, with the help of volunteers, managed to drag everything to her room.

Since her roommate had already moved in, we worked around where she had already placed some furniture and other items that needed to stay where they were, including a GIANT TV which my daughter couldn't have been happier about!

We started putting things away and moving things around...

Wee closet.
Desk supplies.
Very tall bed.
More desk supplies.
Hooking up the DVD player.

It was so fun to see all of our plans and DIY projects from the past few months finally come together in her new space.

Even though they didn't coordinate colors, bedding etc. beforehand, all of Jordyn's and her roommate's things worked really well together.

I like that they didn't go 'matchy' for their room.
Because isn't individuality what college is all about???

The DIY heart pillow based on another project I did looked really cute on the chair her roommate brought.

The DIY cork tile dorm shelf fit (and looked) great and added storage which is something you can never have too much of in a dorm room.

The DIY quilted bunting was something that I grabbed just before leaving in case she wanted to use it.
I like that it added a touch of vintage amidst all of the modern items.

We made most o the throw pillows except for the polka dot one from Ikea.

Lofted bed, giant TV.

Small basket from Ikea tied to the bed post to hold a book or an Iphone in lieu of a nightstand. 

Her red trunk that I wrote about here works great for extra seating or a place to toss stuff on top of or inside.
She added a lock in case she wants to lock up her laptop or the loads of extra cash college students always have.

Bless Ikea and their storage boxes and baskets.
Fred and Ginger in the window.
I wonder if this room still looks this clean a week later???

It took several hours and by then we were pretty much starving.
So we headed to a local burger place for fried pickles, tater tots, and milkshakes.

We're pretty much health food junkies!

And, of course I've already mailed her some items I thought she wouldn't be able to live without.
Hopefully she'll let me take more pictures during Family Weekend.

I'll use this door sign I made for her as my bartering tool...

And yes, I miss her already.

À la vie et à l'amour