A Place at the Table

shutterstock_76105909My kitchen table is, in its own right, an accomplished piece of furniture. It is the site where meals, art projects, homework, pumpkin carving, egg dying, cookie decorating and gift wrapping takes place. Backpacks are deposited on top and shoes are kicked off underneath. It can support the goldfish bowl and the cereal bowls with equal finesse. And once I even caught it supporting three young children (who were quickly sent into a timeout for standing on the furniture).

The kitchen table has many a story to tell, most of which can be read on its surface: water rings, glitter glue and paint smears…chips, dents, scuffs and warps….A very long time ago I used to have the table refinished every year, but after child number three, I more or less threw in the towel and embraced the table’s well worn aesthetic. Lest you think I am completely turning a blind eye to the table abuse taking place in my kitchen, I do make a small attempt at preservation and insist on placemats underneath all art projects and meals. No, the mats don’t make much of a difference in terms of surface protection (we’re just that messy) but we have amassed a fun assortment of placemats over the years, and the girls enjoy selecting one from our little collection at mealtimes.

And so today, as a small homage to my bedraggled but faithful kitchen table, I’m telling everyone that One King’s Lane is featuring placemats, runners, cloths and coasters in an assortment of colors and patterns to spice (get it?) up your kitchen decor and conceal those table blemishes.

But now my duty is done.  While there’s no better way to attempt to preserve your table than with a charming set of placemats, you are on your own for attempts at getting the kids to set and clear it!

What’s Grosser than Gross?

Okay, so I know I’ve shared that I live in a house built in 1929, and that on the whole, I find it charming.  However…the pipes are also very old, and apparently the ones between my house and the sewer have a million tree roots finding their way inside, which is FAR LESS THAN CHARMING.  Yep folks, I am the unfortunate victim of sewage backing up into my basement.  I’ll spare you the particulars, but what you are imagining right now?  Uh-huh.  It’s that bad.

I learned a lot of things from this unfortunate incident, and in no particular order:

a) A homeowner’s insurance policy that covers this kind of mishap is a valuable thing.

b) And speaking of valuable things…don’t keep them in your basement.

c) Telling your girls, “She’s covered in poop,” is the best possible way to purge your basement of the long forgotten Barbies without evoking any “But she’s my favorite, I was going to play with her today” drama.

d) Hiring a firm such as ServiceMaster to pump scalding water and bleach everywhere is worth every penny in peace of mind.

e) Per the plumber: only use Scott TP.  No exceptions.  Everything else blocks and clogs and therefore is synonmous with disaster.

And good news if you’re looking to save at the supermarket – Scott TP is cheap. 🙂  In fact, at their bargain basement (pun intended) prices, I could end up with enough for a Project Runway moment all my own:

(Yes, that’s made of toilet paper!)

Heading downstairs to do the laundry in what is now a dry and surgically sterile basement!

A Place for Everything

I live in a very old house – circa 1929 I’m told.  I know there are plenty who prefer new, and when I remodeled the bathroom and the contractor actually pulled newspaper out of the walls , I understood why.  But at the end of the day, I just love my home.  I love that creaky third step and would never have it fixed; I can always tell when someone’s outta bed and up to no good.  I love looking at the hardwood floors and imagining the dozens of people who’ve traversed them over time; I can see the peplums and pleats, capelets and cloches.  I love listening to the wind through the huge trees in our yard at night; I think about all of the families who have gone to bed before me and done the very same thing.

Though my father will insist the very worst thing about my house is the fact that it is constantly in need of repair and is the “money pit” of all “money pits” (Really, Dad?  How about the golf habit?  The convertible in the garage that is rarely, if ever driven?  The wine club membership to every vineyard in Napa and Virgina and a few in between?) I will tell you the absolute worst thing about my house is the closet space.  It is pathetic at best, and keep in mind, I have a nasty shoe habit and three growing girls.  I’m not really sure if people in 1929 just didn’t own many clothes (likely) or were perhaps so diminutive in stature, they actually did own a lot of clothes, but they were tiny clothes (less likely).

I’ve tried everything to create more space.  First, shoe racks. The plus: I could see my fave shoes at a glance.  The minus: The racks actually took up too much space on the floor, and they couldn’t accommodate all of the shoes anyway. Next, portable closet storage thingies that I put in the basement.  The plus: good cardio running up and down the stairs to grab a dress.  The minus: the basement is damp and icky, and so were the clothes.  What worked the best and was truly game changing, were Elfa shelves.  I had the girls’ closets done as well as my own, and they were worth every penny.  I had shelves installed from top to bottom on all three sides of the closets, some with drawers, some for hanging, and I managed to  create enough vertical space to decently accommodate most of our wardrobes.  The folks at The Container Store did all of the design work, and they were very insightful.  To this day, I’m forever grateful for the little drawers they suggested to house belts (me) and Zhu Zhu pets (my girls).

So here’s a shout out to those of you who, while pretty certain your fave LBD is at the back of your closet, know retrieving it will require a carabiner and a crash pad.  The Container Store is currently running its annual Elfa sale – 25% off everything including installation!   And once everything is within eyesight and arm’s reach, you can save even further by shopping in your own closet!

Wishing you tidings of tidy!


I’d Like to File a Missing Utensils Report, Please

This morning, as I was unloading the dishwasher, it occurred to me I am down to three spoons.  I have no idea how this happened, or where the spoons went.  Lost in the dryer with the socks?  Eloped with some ne’er-do-well forks?  I’m truly perplexed by how my placesettings for 12 have dwindled to three, and since there are more than three living in my household, I guess we can never eat cereal, yogurt or ice cream all at the same time.  Perhaps there’s a diet plan in there…I’ll keep you posted.

Fortunately, Williams-Sonoma is not about to let my clan go hungry for creme brulee and oatmeal.  In honor of Labor Day, there are some great discounts to be had on their everyday, “kids will try to scoop up the goldfish with this” flatware.  Great news!  Now if I can just find my sunglasses…

If You Try Sometimes…You Get What You Need!

Not too long ago, I shared with everyone that I am the owner of a new gas grill, and so far, this relationship really seems to be taking off!  We were safe on first base mid last week with some burgers and slid into second with tasty kabobs last weekend.  I’m contemplating rounding third with a flank steak tomorrow night, but I don’t want to get labeled as “fast.” 😉

I also have to tell ya’, the grill is a nice patio accessory.  It’s shiny and new and in the early evening it reflects a glint or two of the setting sun…kind of like a pretty Van Cleef & Arpels bangle.

By some freak accident yesterday, I actually found myself alone in the early evening, and so I neglected the laundry (sshhh….don’t tell Martha Stewart!), took my current read (Keith Richards’ “Life”) and sat out back to catch the breeze and turn a few pages.  But somewhere between Exile on Main Street and Goats Head Soup, I noticed the sharp contrast between my shiny new grill and my pathetic patio furniture.  It’s kind of like the Van Cleef bangle is resting on the gnarled arm of the garden gnome.  While I appreciate a healthy amount of contrast in my decor – a new white couch atop a centuries old kilim rug, for example, this is different.  The patio situation just isn’t cutting it.  So lucky for me, summer is almost over, and whether you shop at Jason Home & Garden or Target, pretty much all patio furniture is on sale.  Well doesn’t that just “Start Me Up?!”  Were I really a lady of leisure, I would do the whole “Gimme Shelter” thing and consider a daybed and a gazebo (Which crack me up.  Do those fit under the swing set?).  But I’m a mom.  Leisure is mostly left to the five-minute drive between school drop-off and work, and so I’m taking an extra long gander at tables and chairs instead.  And there are some really attractive outdoor throw pillows available everywhere from West Elm to Etsy, so I can still get a little bit of the “lady” thing going, even without the gazebo.

And that, dear friends, is a great way to “keep me happy!” (yeah…all done with the Stones puns now).

Take a Whiff

So I’m kind of a sucker for scents.  Yes, I have my favorite perfume, and that lemon-y candle on the kitchen counter?  Pretty much always burning.  Ooh, and the way my girls smell after they hop out of the bath?  Delish!

But I have to confess, I have used my love of scents for less… a-hem, shall we say, “noble” purposes?  Like to sell my home.  Yep, I know.  You’re horrified.  If you’ve been following my posts you now know I a) occasionally wear flip-flops to work and b) deploy underhanded sensory-triggering tactics for financial gain.  And yes, the real estate agent was excellent and with all of the appropriate authority told me to “Clean, organize and empty” when I put the house on the market.

But instead,  I baked.  Before every visit from a potential buyer.  Betty Crocker’s Cinnamon Streusel Muffins, to be specific.  My house was awash in the scent of cinnamon muffin-ness, and I’m pretty sure the restaurant next door did a ton of business while my humble abode was for sale because everyone left my crib with their mouth watering and their stomach grumbling.  Have you given these babies a try?  Even if you hate muffins (not that I think there is any validity to that possibility) you should whip up a batch if for no other reason than to give your house a signature scent.  And a yummy cinnamon smell around the holidays?  Come on!  I promise: your home has never felt more inviting, and it’s cheaper than incense any day!

Oh yeah – and I sold my place in no time.  The buyers’ one concern: “They’re leaving the oven, right?”