House TalkN is a fun lookiloo at houses, houses, houses. It will answer pressing questions like, "When folks build a McMansion on a small lot, what are they compensating for?" or "Was the real estate agent drunk when they staged this house?" or "Why don't the Smiths' ever leave their drapes open when I am on a harmless walk-by?"

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Living Room "50 Shades of Grey" Makeover!

When HomeRight asked if I wanted to try their painting stick, I knew the time had come. The time had come to paint my living room, dining room, hallway and kitchen. They had not been painted in 10 years and I had the finger smudges, dings and food splatters to prove it!
I had been putting it off because I knew it would be like a scene from the children's book, "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie." If you are going to paint the kitchen, you might as well paint the dining room. If you are going to paint the walls, you might as well paint the trim. If you are going to...well, you get the picture. It was going to be a big job.
I had tried to be a colorful girl. Really, I did. I love color in other people's houses. My walls were yellow and I listened when the experts advised me to "add pops of color!" 
It just wasn't me. I am a white girl. Wait...that didn't sound right. 
I love neutrals. I love shades of white and grey. Contrary to what my friends think- GREY IS A COLOR! 
Here is what I started with: 
I chose "Incredible White" (which is code for "pale grey") from Sherwin Williams and called in my pals to help me tackle the job! Booze may or may not have been promised.
My friend and designer extraordinaire, Karen helped me pick paint and even did the dirty work of taping off the floors!
Some pals tried to send SOS messages...

Here is the deal with the paint stick. You suction a ton of paint into the wand and get down to business. No dripping or splattering (thank you splash guard!) and no more 872 trips to the paint tray!
The paint stick was so easy to use that my 10 year old daughter got in on the action!
An unnamed friend ditched the paint party and sent her dad to help out! 
The best part was putting everything back together. This was my kind of "50 Shades of Grey" party!
Remember what my china cupboard looked like? Talk about a POP of color! 
It was fun for 7 minutes but I quickly longed for "Serenity NOW!" I painted over the green with dark grey.







My one remaining POP of color is on the back of my dining room chair. 
TA-DA! 
Finally, a 50 Shades of Grey that I can get into.
How about you? Does color make you happy or stabby?
Thank you for helping me get my serenity on, HomeRight!

Link Par-taay at:
http://www.savvysouthernstyle.net
http://www.homestoriesatoz.com
http://www.alderberryhill.com
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Sharing Some Humble Pie

Funny is my happy place. I am comfortable with funny. Funny is my drug of choice. 
I am stepping out of my happy place and sharing my sappy In The Powder Room today. Please meet me there, hold my hand and stroke my hair. 
I am also sharing some Humble Pie with my BonBon Break peeps. Come on over- bonbons and Humble Pie for everyone!

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Magic of Allerton

We have been taking our kiddos to Allerton Park and Retreat Center for years. We pass through the gates and leave our busy schedules behind. No laundry, no practices, no homework and best of all- no dirty dishes!


We each have our own favorite spot in the park. The kiddos love the statues- especially the Sun Singer.  (AKA, Mr. Fanny Man)
But me? I swoon a thousand swoons over the Allerton Mansion.


After 20 years of stalking swooning, the Allerton staff was so kind to grant me a tour.

Oh, the books I could read here!

 The details, the fixtures, the windows, the french doors, the art, and the many staircases are overwhelmingly beautiful and perfectly maintained.
The mansion is not a museum. It is available for conferences, weddings, family gatherings and special events. 
The bedrooms are huge with private bathrooms and gorgeous views.
 Walking through the mansion, I felt like I had taken a step back in time. 
 Even though the mansion has been updated, it has maintained the integrity of it's bones. 
So many of the original details have been maintained, like the detailing on the marble vanity.
 Each corridor led to another...and another.



In the dining hall, I couldn't help but think, "If these walls could talk" when I saw this window. It used to be an entrance to the carriage house.
 Each chandelier is more beautiful than the last.
The Allerton mansion has been home to many weddings. 

Photographer Mark Romine has captured countless wedding images at the Allerton mansion.



The mansion was everything I dreamed it would be. 
After my tour, I spent the entire drive home dreaming up events to plan at Allerton. Family reunions, girl's weekends away, conferences, and someday, one of my own children's weddings. 

For more information about Allerton, click HERE.

"Allerton Park was built as the private estate of Robert Henry Allerton. Named “The Farms,” the estate was the center of the 12,000-acre Illinois agricultural enterprise assembled during the late 1800s by Robert’s father Samuel. The family wealth extended well beyond Illinois as Samuel Allerton amassed more than 80,000 acres of farmland across the Midwest. The elder Allerton was a founding principal of the First National Bank of Chicago, and held prominent leadership positions in five major stockyards, including the Union Stockyards of Chicago.
Although he oversaw his father’s interests in the Central Illinois farms, Robert Allerton’s passion was art. Educated in Europe, he travelled extensively in winter, and became an avid art collector, philanthropist and artist who viewed the landscape as his canvas. Allerton believed that through nature, art could surround and embrace every human. This belief in the artistic power of nature led to his lifelong commitment to stewardship of the land and its natural elements. With the help of John Gregg, his protégé and, later, adopted son, Robert spent decades shaping the Illinois farmland to create ever-evolving landscapes that captured the natural beauty of the woodland and prairie, and formal gardens which served as an outdoor gallery for the sculpture he collected during his travels around the world."
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Monday, November 18, 2013

Helicopter Parenting

You know what? I am sick and tired (Yes, I have become my mother. "I am sick and tired of...") helicopter parents getting a bad rap.
I am guilty of throwing around "darn helicopter parents!" accusations. Truth be told, I have a long history of helicopter parenting. I'm betting that you do, too.
My helicopter parenting peaked with my firstborn. When it was time to feed the prince, the world stopped. Soft music would be playing in the background while we would cuddle in the "nursing chair." By the time our fourth arrived, I would feed her while chasing screaming toddlers. Boobs on the loose be damned. 
My firstborn never ate in the car. Developing good table manners is important, yo'. Now, I chuck sandwiches to the back of the swagger wagon with Peyton Manning accuracy. "LOOK ALIVE! Dinner is served!" 
My sister often pointed out my Helicopter Parenting offenses. 
"Why are you getting their drinks? They can do it themselves."
"Why are you laying out their clothes? They can do it themselves."
"Why are you peeling their grapes? That is just plain stupid."
"Why are you still wiping their butts? They can do it themselves."
"Why are you tying their shoes? They can do it themselves."
No one can put you in your place like your sister. 
I remember asking my husband if we should maybe, just maybe, move our brood out of our bed. He responded, "We have bigger fish to fry than kids in our bed. This will be over before we know it."
Now, it's just the two of us (and the dog) in our bed. He was right. That stage was over in a blink. I actually miss the days of toddler feet against my back...or against my chin. I miss waking up with warm, snuggly babies. I miss looking across a sea of toddlers at my husband clinging to the side of the bed. 
The truth is that we all do the best we can. Every family finds it's own kind of crazy rhythm. What works for one family might seem crazy to another family. And vise versa. I remember laughing at with a friend that had to push her son around the house in his stroller to get him to sleep. I was in no place to judge. My son had to play with my hair to go to sleep. 
I am In The Powder Room today confessing a litany of helicopter parenting moments. Meet me there and confess your sins. 
I see this chart on our basement door everyday. It reminds me how fast this whole parenting gig is flying by.
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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Backstage of That's What She Said!

I don't know about you, but I always love to see the behind the scenes of everything. Behind the scenes of movies, shows, remodels, and everyday life. 
I'm nosy like that. 
After the That's What She Said show, I shared official photos like this:
Today, I am sharing the behind the scenes photos. (Photo credits to Jen Cochrane and Karyl Wackerlin) 
If you are like me and wondered what was going on behind the scenes, here is a lookiloo. 
This is why I love these women so hard. (Find out more about the speakers HERE) As much as I loved seeing them brave the stage and share their stories- the best part for me was yukking it up and getting to know them behind the scenes. 
Knepper in a nutshell
Mrs. Ewing and Angela Shelton Kail (Angela's face? Why is she looking at me like that?)
The young blood of the show, cutiedoodle Peyton Stewart
I couldn't stop kissing Angela's baby bump...my bad!

Val was truly the wind beneath our wings. As our "dramaturg," she kept our shenanigans in order!

Casey is unimpressed by Jill's enthusiasm!
Our technical mastermind, graphic designer extraordinaire, Anni Poppen.
Channeling my inner Mary Katherine Gallagher- "Sometimes, when I get nervous..."
Dr. Love bringing the big love!
Putting up with us Growing a baby is exhausting...Angela catches a catnap during rehearsal. 
This is me pretending to understand choir talk.
Keesha and Knepper share a moment...
Final instructions...we look terrified. Oh, wait. We were terrified.
Someone captured a rare schmoopy moment between sho-conspirators. Embarrassed, we promptly called each other names. 
Youse threw some last minute changes at me. I love surprises (NOT!) as you can see by the look on my face. 
This is possibly the best picture ever taken. 
Time to get our purdy on!
Let the crazy begin!
Of all the wonderful moments surrounding the show, this moment melted my heart. One of our greatest inspirations, Mrs. Ruth Latham wished us luck. "We bow before you!"
Wedgie alert...
All was going fine until...
Youse had a bout of the nervous toots!
A MAN! A MAN IS BACKSTAGE!! 
The Brownings were the choir gurus of the show!
As the show neared, each of us took a peek at the crowd. My knees buckled but it was encouraging to see so many smiling, loving faces looking back at us.
Let's do this...
This show was dedicated to women and to the power of their friendships. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I'm In The Powder Room today sharing some inappropriate tales of friendship.
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