Looking Back at 2015

The frequency of my blogging has significantly waned as I hem and haw over the future of Kate Collins Interiors.  But, I don’t want to let a year pass without sending out one of my favorite posts.  I learned from my dad, a lifelong journaler, that the great mark of a new year is an apropos time to look both backwards and forwards.  Because this is a blog and not  a leather bound journal, I thought I’d include some of my most liked Instagram pics over the past year.

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Today I will look back and tomorrow onwards.

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This year has given me the gift of simplicity.  No moves, no new babies, no pregnancies.  It has been a year of routines and roots.  We know every inch of our neighborhood block; we know the fastest route to the fresh pressed smoothie store; we know the timing of mail arrival and the sound of construction as neighbors remodel.   We know how to repair the antique doorknob when it inevitably falls off; we know what stair squeaks the loudest as we’re tiptoeing up; and we know how to run from dining room around to the kitchen in a repetitive loop.

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Coming off of years of moves, transitions, deaths and births, this year of normalcy did not go unnoticed.  I awoke truly grateful that my day consisted of feeding toddlers, wrangling them to the grocery store, a stop at the park, more feeding and then peaceful naps (while I work), waking up to a library visit then home for dinner and a bath, bed, cleaning and then restful, deep, uncomplicated sleep for myself.

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I’ve done the best sleeping of my life in 2015.  As a lifelong insomniac this is an absolutely wondrous, amazing thing.  And it’s the permanent simplicty and relatively stress free days that have brought on the zzzz’s.

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Sure, it’s not all buttercups and rainbows.  Every day there are tantrums, sibling squabbles, compromises and moments of deep boredom. There are days strung together where I want to pull my hair out and I’m convinced I’ll absolutely lose it. But relative to years past that’s stress free baby and I’m thankful for it.

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January 1, 2015, I set out with the one goal to make friends in our then new community.  Guess what?!  I did it!!  I have this amazing play group with the most wonderful women and friends that I could possibly ask for.  We meet up every week; we’re there for each other; supportive and completely non-judgemental.  We can finish each other’s sentences because we’re all going through the exact same thing.  And we have an amazing ability to carry on a conversation, all while 7 toddlers, ages 2 and under are running around us.  These girls keep my insanity intact and my sense of humor strong.  They are my complaint dumping haven and my special moments sharing spot.  I’m so glad I forced myself to make those awkward first moves all those months ago.

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I can’t finish up a year looking back without including the man who made those awkward first moves on me 10 years ago.  Graham and I have further solidified as a team as we battle out the tantrums, squabbles and begging sessions.  Yet, consistently at the end of the night, we’re scrolling through that day’s photos of the girls in absolute thankfulness that those two sweethearts are ours.  Both of us are acutely aware that the years are short, no matter how long the days feel.

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Those three are my complete heart and I’m thankful for another grand year with them.

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Wishing each one of you readers, whom I absolutely treasure, a wonderfully simple 2016.

December 30, 2015 at 5:11 AM 8 comments

Raining Babies

Miniature fingers and toes, thighs with multiple rolls and a little button nose.  Few things in life can beat that first sight of a newborn baby.  I’m at the point in life where it is raining babies all around me.  We’re in a massive drought here in California but I’m pretty sure you can head outside and catch a bundle of joy as it falls from the sky.  Pretty sure.

With all the babies come nurseries to decorate.  Hallelujah!!  Kids spaces are by far and away my favorite to design.

Here are two plans that I recently put together.

For the Tahoe lovers whose little boy will be shredding the pow pow in no time…

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For the city dwellers who escape every weekend to take to the open sea whose baby can tie a sailor knot better than you can…

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Now get on out there and catch yourself a baby.  Clearly I shouldn’t be the one in charge of explaining the birds and the bees to my children.

 

December 10, 2015 at 5:17 AM 1 comment

Creating Traditions

Jingle bells, a little red nose and an elf named “goofball.”  The girls don’t fully understand Christmas.  But, they can feel something in the air and they like it.

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Graham and I are at the helm of creating our own little family traditions: fun games, silly moments, special deliveries, all that may one day be passed on to our grandchildren and beyond.

We have woven together each other’s traditions from our individual upbringings and it’s now time to sprinkle in our own unique creations.

Enter the new twist on the advent calendar.

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I swiped the idea from the ever inspiring Reading My Tea Leaves blog.  The idea?  Simply think of 24 activities you’d like to do as a family – from simple to adventurous – write them down on cards, slip the cards into 24 envelopes and open an envelope a day.

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The girls are still too young to fully understand but within a few years, I hope this is a tradition that they love.  Tomorrow’s card is to drink a hot chocolate so I have a feeling this could be a tradition that actually sticks around.

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This mornings card was to decorate a spot in the home.  I got a few bits of greenery at our grocery store and I let Josie pick out some festive red candles.

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The candles were way too round for our dainty brass candlesticks but those are the ones that Josie picked out and I wanted to give her a sense of ownership.  So I jammed those suckers in there like a pig in a mini skirt (just made that saying up – ha!).

Our halls are not completely decked but we are getting there one glorious December day at a time.

For curiosity or inspiration sake, here are my 24 days…

  1. Cut down Christmas tree or if it’s already cut down go sit in the room and smell it.
  2.  Decorate a portion of the home with holiday cheer.
  3.  Drink a hot chocolate.
  4.  Have champagne; girls can have sparkling apple juice.
  5.  Give a gift to someone who has been on your mind but isn’t on your Christmas shopping list.
  6.  Decorate the Christmas tree.
  7.  Go to the library and check out Christmas books.
  8. Do a random act of kindness
  9. Craft project
  10. Eat a cookie or if up to it bake some
  11. Go to Union Square
  12. Write Santa a letter
  13. Give a toy to a toy drive
  14. Sing Christmas Carols
  15. Have a family cuddle session
  16. Dance your heart out to a song
  17. Go to Filoli
  18. Give food to a food bank
  19. Visit Santa
  20. Give a hug to the person standing next to you
  21. Visit a neighborhood with great Christmas lights
  22. Give a book to a book drive
  23. Family day
  24. Open a present chosen by Mom and Dad  (hint, hint – they are matching pajamas…that’s one of my family Christmas traditions woven in).

 

December 3, 2015 at 5:34 AM 6 comments

The Meandering Walk

Yesterday, we walked our neighborhood, a loop that the girls and I have done a hundred times before.  If you live on my block, hearing my girls chirping voices cascade down from the street to your living room is more reliable than the post man.  It’s a daily activity.

The chilly weather and light rain was calling out to my inner crab like self to crawl inside my shell and remain indoors.  However, my girls were at each other with the punching and screaming; the pushing and taunting; the pleading and whining.  Enough was enough.  Nothing could solve this problem but nature itself.

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Josie gave it her very best to not leave the house.  I wrestled the flailing legs and flipping feet until little Miss was donning a pair of sparkly turquoise tennis shoes.  I coaxed an extra layer onto both the protesting girls for warmth.  And finally, exasperated, I reached for a two simple brown paper lunch bags as an idea switched on in my head.

Groaning out the door, the girls reluctantly marched.

I handed Josie a brown paper bag and said “this is all yours”.  Then I handed another one to Gracie.  “We are going on a leaf hunt.”

The tears and whines abruptly switched to the sound of silence.  A silence brought on solely by the strongest of curiosity that could reboot such foul moods.  As I explained the activity, their eyes opened as wide as a full harvest moon.  “A leaf hunt?”  “Yes, Josie.  You can look around the streets and find any interesting leaves or acorns or sticks and put them in your special bag”

IMG_8785Within moments there was a spring in her step.  What big sis does, 9 times out of 10, Gracie will follow.  They were inspecting crimson crackled leaves; they were rubbing smooth chestnut acorns; they were peering at small darkened puddles.  Our suburbia neighborhood in the heart of fast paced silicon valley had transformed to an idyllic, unhurried, country walk.

Without realizing it, I got caught up in the experiential spirit as well.  I watched a leaf slowly fall from a tree and I actually meant it when I said, “wow, girls, this is beautiful”  And yet, we weren’t deep in the woods; or lakeside; or on a mountains ridge line.  We were at my neighbors driveway, next to a truck delivering a port-o-potty to a construction site.

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Funny how the simplicity of a brown paper bag can change one’s perspective. I’m thankful for that moment living life through the magic of my children’s eyes.  May it continue.

 

 

December 1, 2015 at 5:28 AM 6 comments

The Ribbon Touch

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!  We’re headed to my In-Law’s for Thanksgiving where the table will be packed with people that I love. I couldn’t ask for more.

Since we’re not hosting, I won’t be doing any tablescaping.  I’m happy to pass on the baton though as it does take a lot of prep and energy to put together.  My mother in law does a beautiful job.

For those of you who are hosting and looking for a last minute tip,some beautiful ribbon goes a long way, simply tie it in a bow and use as a napkin ring.

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Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  And as always, thanks so much for reading!

November 25, 2015 at 5:25 AM 3 comments

South Congress Hotel

First and foremost, I can’t possibly thank you enough for the kind and thoughtful feedback on the One Room Challenge.  It really made all that stress worth it.  After all these years of blogging, it’s still hard to present my own work so thank you for your kind feedback.

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Graham and I snuck away for four days to Austin, Texas with good friends of ours.  It’s an awesome town and the food was nothing short of amazing.  I ate some body part of a pig at every single meal.

One of my favorite spots, from a design perspective, is The South Congress Standard Hotel.  It is way cooler than me.

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So much cooler than me, see top spaz out photo for reference on my coolness factor.

If you can truly pull off vintage clothing; if you drop $600 on a locally made artisanal leather cuff; if you have ironic facial hair paired with a manbun, if your day job is less then 20 hours a week and involves macrame, then, you can stay here.

 

November 24, 2015 at 5:30 AM Leave a comment

One Room Challenge: Reveal Day

We made it to the finish line.  Even though, it was just a walk-in closet, I still managed to get all stressy and obsessive.  BUT – it’s so good to have the kick in the pants needed to get an entire project finished.  And this time, unlike the last two times (seen here and here), I get to live with it!!

As a reminder, I redid my daughter’s walk in closet, which we now call The Clubhouse…

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We really do have so much fun in there.

Gracie usually walks straight for her rocking elephant and rides away…

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Josie will pull a princess dress out of one of her dress up bags that I had embroidered with the words “Tomfoolery” and “Mischief” – that’s one of my favorite little elements.

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And I usually head for the books on the shelf and plop down on the sheepskin rug to read to the girls….

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The girls will often stare out the window together, which they love.  I will often stare at the Sister Parish curtains with black pom pom trim and thank my lucky stars that I have a mom and helping friend that know what to do in front of a sewing machine.

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Sometimes this closet does mean the business of getting dressed, but into frilly dresses, so it’s not the most serious business in town.

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Rarely, I put clothes away but I’m much better at posing while fake putting clothes away than actually putting them away.  I’m much much better at faking it.

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This closet door is never shut now.  If, say, my husband shuts it, I’ll follow right behind him and open it right back up.

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I have been known to say “Goodnight closet” moments before tucking my daughter into bed and just last night Josie said goodnight to it.

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For the record, her future husband is screwed.  He can thank me when Josie is straightfaced talking about the necessity to wallpaper her closet – to which he shall respond, “you can wish upon all the stars in the land, but we’re not papering our closet” and then she’ll think of this star light…

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But my girls won’t remember what their closet used to be like because they are 2 and 1.  Perhaps you don’t remember what it looked like either…here is the before.

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And after…

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With that, we’re off to stare out the window to spy on our neighbor’s dog because apparently we have a thing about dogs.

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Grace is especially fond of dogs…

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While we’re looking out the window, I highly recommend going to see everyone’s hard work and big reveal on the One Room Challenge at Linda’s blog Calling It Home.

Thanks so much for looking!!

The vast majority of the pics posted today were taken by Tracey Mammolito who is a wonderful photographer and so kind and super easy to work with.  If you live in bay area, you can check her out here.

 

 

November 12, 2015 at 5:54 AM 29 comments

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