The DIY that started it all

John asked me to move in with him at IKEA. It probably doesn’t sound very romantic to anyone but me, but we were there picking up a few items that any functioning human being should have in their home which, of course, Bachelor John did not have. I don’t remember if he said he’d ever been there or not. ┬áPossibly not. We were walking around the showroom when he casually mentioned that since my lease was about to expire and I didn’t want to renew at my current apartment, Ellie and I could move in with him– y’know, if we wanted┬áto. To me, this nonchalant suggestion in the midst of all of those reasonably priced, stylish yet functional housewares was aptly romantic. My daughter and I spent a considerable amount of time at his house anyway. He and I were spending pretty much all of our free time together. It was practical and yet romantic because it meant he wanted me around all the time and he was okay with the fact that my daughter was part of the package deal. I was totally okay with waking up to his face every morning.

Glidden “Extra Virgin Olive Oil” from Home Depot something like $25 per gallon

We moved into his three bedroom, two bathroom house. In true bachelor pad fashion, he had the two areas where he did his living burrowed out and the rest of the house was essentially a big storage unit. After clearing out one of the two spare bedrooms, I started setting up a nursery for Ellie, my then-18 month old daughter. I used a color called “Extra Virgin Olive Oil” for the walls that I had used in the living room of my old apartment, which had a bamboo tree in front of the windows that kept the room shaded and made the wall color look like a gorgeous jewel-toned chartreuse. I loved that color so much in my old apartment, but thanks to the big window that let lots of natural light into her new nursery, it looked like a bright banana yellow and drove me insane. It didn’t help that the accent wall I painted that looked like a nice shade of tan while wet in the can dried into the ugliest, weird shade of light brown that I’ve ever seen. Her nursery reminded me of a soft pretzel with mustard on it. The jungle safari-themed decor she had from her last nursery went with it, though, so I just went along with it. (Mainly because I didn’t want to buy paint and start over right after moving in and doing all that.) So, yellow and brown the nursery remained. (Because apparently I’m Yoda now.)

Ellie lived in the yellow and brown nursery for about six months before I decided to redo it. By that time, I was pregnant with her little brother and getting into nesting mode. John and I had decided to combine both kids into one nursery, turn the den into a nice, spacious dining room, and turn the small dining room into a playroom so we could keep the third bedroom for guests and his drum set. That meant that I got to design and decorate these new rooms completely from scratch, which is more than fine with me. I set about making the nursery first. As an avid lover follower of Apartment Therapy, I went there first for inspiration. I love looking at the nurseries and playrooms that readers have shared and found what ended up influencing the direction of our nursery’s decor. I wanted this chest of drawers. I loved contrast of the dark wood and the white, the clean lines, and the way it all looked against the light tan wallpaper. It would be the perfect opportunity to makeover a “Rast” from IKEA. Those things are $35, real pine, and begging to be someone’s next DIY project. They’re so easily customizable that I’m surprised I haven’t hacked one for every room of the house. As it is, I’m already planning to do another in the exact same style so each of the kids can have their own.

So, I bought my “Rast,” a gallon of white paint, and a quart of walnut stain, cleared out space in my garage, and got to work. I painted the outer frame crisp, ultra white. It was a flat paint, which wasn’t the best idea. Whenever I make the second one, I plan on doing them both with a semi-gloss to make it easier to wipe down for the inevitable tiny fingerprints that will end up all over them. I painted the insides of the drawers with orange paint as a little surprise when you open them. I stained the drawers with walnut Minwax, front and back. It was a pretty simple project. I think the most difficult part was waiting for it to dry so I could get it in the room. I was so excited to have a project to work on that brought the room one step closer to being the fun space I had envisioned.

I added bigger wood knobs than the ones that came with it, which I spray painted silver. I’m still not completely in love with the knobs, but I haven’t found anything that I like better. Once the chest had a place in the room, I got so inspired. I really started to figure out exactly how I was going to piece together the nursery and it jumpstarted a ton of projects that I am really proud of. I’ve always liked DIY projects. My mom spent the first five years of her marriage to my pop renovating and decorating the house we moved into, so I grew up watching her roll up her sleeves and create an amazing, well decorated, well loved home on her own. She really instilled that same spirit in me. Having an amazing living space is as simple as figuring out how to make what you want and doing it. The toughest part for me is reigning myself in when I start working on twenty projects at once. I’d love to hear about some reader DIY projects in the comments!


What’s in a name?

A brief explanation behind the title of this blog:

My children have different dads.

My daughter’s last name is a hyphenate of my last name and her dad’s.
My son’s last name is a hyphenate of my last name and his dad’s.

I didn’t know that I wouldn’t stay with my ex when I chose to hyphenate my daughter’s last name almost three years ago. I chose her last name because I really love my last name. My dad has four daughters and no sons, so our branch of our last name dies with my generation. I’m very proud of my French Creole heritage and of being from New Orleans and my last name is a reflection of both of those aspects of who I am. I want my children to have a same appreciation of their heritage and never lose touch with their roots, so I included my last name in both of their last names.

My last name is simple but strong. Five letters, two syllables. It rolls off the tongue nicely. Both of the children’s fathers have five letter last names, so the hyphenate isn’t overwhelming or super long. Their last names sound nice and look really great on paper, in my opinion.

Now that I’ve had my son, I also really like the fact that the children share part of their last name.

Because of the hyphenated last names, both of my children have four names each.

[Almost] Three years ago…

Three years ago, I found out I was going to be a mother.
Almost a year ago, I found out I was going to be a mother of two.

My daughter Elliott is a happy, bright, independent two-and-a-half year old. She likes being called “Princess” and wants to have a castle in every color of the rainbow. She likes to put her shoes on by herself and run in the front of the pack. She loves mac and cheese and fingerpainting. She looks just like her dad when she’s grumpy or breaking the rules. She likes to cook food in her play kitchen. She gives really tight hugs and big, happy kisses. She likes to help her toys go night night and loves to dance. She almost always shares her Goldfish crackers. Her grandpa Poppy is her favorite person in the entire world and her favorite color is blue.

My son Grayson is five weeks old. His favorite things are my boobs and the milk that comes from them. He was born a week early and came bursting into the world after only two pushes. The ultrasound tech said he was measuring at 7 pounds and 11 ounces onscreen, but he turned out to be 6 pounds and 4 ounces. He makes the best squishy faces and looks like a turtle when he sticks out the tip of his tongue. He has a lot more hair than his big sister did when she was born and his eyes are dark blue, for now at least. He wears cloth diapers. He makes really cute squeaky noises, has the sweetest smell, and looks just like his daddy.