ORC – Patio Reveal Day


Calling It Home’s One Room Challenge, where you decorate one room in six weeks from start to finish, is like having a newborn.  Those first six sleep deprived weeks are both joyful, tearful, blissful and insane.  And then the baby starts sleeping and you forget about those weeks and you want to do it all over again and again.  At least that’s what happens to me.

I’m pregnant with my third child so that could be why the analogy feels so fitting.  Well at the end of week six, I’m exhausted and I could use a drink that isn’t a “mocktail.”

For those allowed cocktails, let me show you our new favorite spot for drinks and dinner.  Our revamped patio…


And here is what it looked like six weeks ago…

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Goodbye to that unused, unattractive table and chairs that the previous owner of our home just left behind.  Hello to the custom Christopher Farr Cloth cushions, Serena and Lily pillows, bench handmade by my husband, Dash and Albert Rug, Turf clad coffee table, vintage faux bamboo chairs and a vintage elephant side table.  Each of these pieces makes me super happy.


Isn’t that bench amazing?!  I’m super proud of my husband’s secret woodworking skills.  He should never have revealed his skills because now I’m constantly coming up with projects for him.


It’s hard to pick a winner but I must say this fabric makes me the happiest of them all.  I’ve been dreaming of having it in my home for the past eight years when I first saw it in Australian Vogue.  It didn’t hurt that my mom had the left over fabric from the One Room Challenge that I did four times ago of her pool house.  I took the left over fabric from her sofa.  Thanks mom!


Back to the project this time around.  In addition to my favorite Christopher Far Cloth Fabric, I also loved the Montecito pillow from Serena and Lily.  It’s the softest outdoor pillow I have ever felt.  I have no idea how they pulled it off.


The other loves are the grass ottoman that I got at the Filoli Gardens boutique.  It’s a beautiful local garden that I visit often with my girls and for month’s on end, I would walk by that grass ottoman and wish for it to be mine.  They have a once a year sale and I grabbed it faster than you can say, “sold sweetie.”


Those vintage bamboo chairs I bought about eight years ago at a thrift store for $40.  I sprayed them in an outdoor spray paint and we’ll see how long they last outdoors.  We don’t have a spot for them indoors.



Remember New York Seltzer?  I thought they went to the land of Tab.  I drank one after the shoot and it was delicious – absolutely packed with sugar but delicious.  Also, that flower looks straight out of a cartoon but I assure you it’s a real peony.

Down those steps comes our newly revamped bar/bar-b-que area…


As a refresher, here is what it looked like six weeks ago…


They say the heart of the home is the kitchen, for us it’s our bar-b-que.  We use this spot all the time from May through October.  And I have HATED the red chipped tile since we moved in two years ago.I absolutely love the new tile and I’m so happy that we decided to tile the entire bar.  What a difference!

I wanted an antique blue/white tile to go with our 1936 spanish colonial home.  But sometimes “wants” run a couple hundred a square foot.  Enter this faux antique from Wayfair tile for $5.65 sq/ft!


We nearly cheaped out and didn’t fully tile the back but I’m thrilled we went the extra mile.  That hole to the right will be getting a refrigerator and that brick area is where a wood burning fire pit goes.


That Salamat Designs light, hanging over the bar, was a battle to get with my husband; we tried out three different lights until we landed on that one – the best one!  It was my top choice all along.  Luckily for me, Salamat Designs is based out of San Francisco and they let me come to their warehouse earlier this week to get the light.  It’s actually only up by fishing wire right now.  Electrician will be out next week – because it truly has only been six weeks.

Moving right along, just beyond the bar is a large farmhouse table that my husband also built.  We didn’t do any changes to it but I did put together a tablescape.  PS – I cut that palm frond from our own back yard!


I tried to keep the tablesetting as simple as possible which is tough for a maximalist like me.


Those flower pots are some of my favorites ever for tablescapes; they were a gift from my mom.



You can see that just beyond the table sit two green wicker chairs that are positioned to look out on the lawn.


I just had new cushions made for the green chairs.  Even though the least was done here, this is where I spend most of my time, sitting and watching the girls run on the lawn.


It’s all very new but I can already say that we use it all the time.


Some find a spot to dance


Some lounge on it like little queens.

IMG_3746It’s a pretty awesome spot.  I’m not going to lie.  Now to invite people over.

I encourage you to go check out all the participants and their hard work in the One Room Challenge at Linda’s blog, here.

May 12, 2016 at 5:30 AM 49 comments

ORC: Shit Happens

Honestly, I’m not the hugest fan of rugs used outdoors.  But I’m even less of a fan of my outdoor hardscape.  So, I got this rug from Dash and Albert for our patio lounge area.


It arrived during nap time this past Saturday which was a perfect opportunity to lay it out and to debate wether or not to keep it.


Then, my 20 month old and three year old woke up and I moved on.

It was a hot day and so naturally my girls got naked because that’s what kids do.  Right?

The number one unsolicited parenting advice I receive is to potty train in the summer so that your kids can run around naked.  Graham suggested we take the diaper off our twenty month old so we can “potty train” her.  To which I replied, “what if she poos?” to which he responded “I’ll clean it up” to which I quickly agreed.

We were all four roaming around outside doing our own things when we hear our three year old exclaim, “who pooed on the rug?!”

I ran to the rug and sure enough there was poo, without question, supplied by our 20 month old.  And she successfully landed 100% on the rug; there was no half-assing it.

Graham was stuck on clean up duty.  He did a very thorough job while the girls and I stood back and watched.  Then we flipped the rug over.


So guess what?  We’re keeping the rug.  But, the good news is that I like it!

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See the full monty (of the rug, not my daughter) next week.  Until then, here are a few sneak peeks in whats to come…




check out the other participants here at Calling it Home.

May 5, 2016 at 5:17 AM 14 comments

Baby Boy Nursery Plans

Thank you so much for the comments and phone calls after Gene’s post.  It was so very healing to hear from you and I’m glad that the story of his life could touch so many.

Last week, Graham and I went and checked in on our baby boy with the 20 week ultrasound.  Thankfully, all is looking good with him.  So, I asked the Dr. if I could start working on the nursery and she said yes.  Dr’s orders!

The baby will be going into Grace’s room and Gracie will be moving in with Josie.

Most everything will remain the same – carpet, crib, glider, lighting, art.  I just want to add a few things that make it feel more boy.


When we found out we were having a boy, Graham came home so excited with a nursery theme: Sports!!  To which I laughed and said I just couldn’t do a chic sports nursery.  He tried to claim that it would be a fun challenge for me.  Nope.

I got to looking through schemes and we came up with a compromise.  A room in Golden State Warriors colors.  Doesn’t this room just scream Warriors to you?


I’d like to do Katie Ridder’s wallpaper – Beetlecat on three of the four walls and then Quadrille’s zig zag as Roman shades and a bit more boy bedding.  It got Graham’s approval.  Items have already started arriving and I like how the scheme is coming together…


Go Warriors!!

PS – Don’t feel sorry for Graham because in like ten short years, our boy will likely cover his room in sports posters and will absolutely live in those sports jerseys.  So really this is my five minutes of a “sports themed” room before it all goes very full on Steph Curry.

May 2, 2016 at 5:18 AM 5 comments

To Gene: In Loving Memory


This is a difficult topic to put words to as everything still feels so raw right now.  But, today is my Godfather’s funeral and he deserves a post in his honor.

Gene was certainly my Godfather, yet he was so much more than that.  He was my dad’s lifelong best friend; he was my mom’s confidant and support; he was a loving father; a loyal husband; an adoring Grandfather and a giving friend to many.

Gene was one of the greatest listeners I knew and someone who laughed with great freedom and abundance.  My dad was one of the greatest story tellers I knew and someone who could perfectly time his jokes.  They were the perfect pair like that.

And a pair they were.  Gene and my dad have been best friends since elementary school.  As little boys, they’d take to the hills of East San Jose and they’d go fishing and hunting.  In high school, they would bring girls to the James Lick Observatory to look at the view and to attempt a make out session, with little success.  In college, they were fraternity brothers and they got up to more trouble than good in the very best of ways.  I gave the social side of college my all because of the raucous fireside stories we grew up listening to Gene, Dad and Mom laugh their way through.  Post college, they each got married and lived in San Francisco and began families.  My dad soon moved out of the city while Gene stayed.  Even though adulthood inevitably crept into their lives, they remained foolish little boys together.

Moves and children and jobs never took an ounce of their strong bond away.  They would still check in with each other, poke fun of each other and cry with each other.  They had a history of leaving each other long, hilarious phone messages.  My dad would find Gene’s messages so funny that he would put it on speaker for his office to listen or he’d replay it to us while we drove to Sunday mass.

They were enthralling and hilarious messages because Gene was a story teller.  He was a poet.  He was a connoisseur and appreciator of words.  He could nail a well crafted joke.  In actuality, he was a sports loving CPA and banking consultant living in San Francisco.  However, in my mind, Gene will always be a cowboy poet.

Certainly, we loved growing up listening to Gene’s phone messages but what far surpassed that was Gene in person.  Here is where the cowboy part of Gene comes in for me.  Gene would come on all of our fishing trips.  He was happiest in nature.  He was one hell of a fly fisherman.  But, one thing I always found so cool about him was that he would prefer to sleep outdoors under the stars.  So even if we had rented a cabin, Gene would take to the deck in his sleeping bag, refusing the bed.  He climbed Mount Shasta many times.  When my mom turned 40, with four young kids at home, she climbed the mountain, with Gene cheering her up all 14, 180 feet.

When Gene became my Godfather at my baptism, when I was just a baby, he wrote up and framed a very official contract saying that he was to start a fly fishing fund for me to be given in completion on my 13 birthday.  He was to totally equip me with fly fishing gear and to remain my fly fishing spiritual advisor.

One of the greatest and most memorable gifts I have ever received was shortly following my 13th birthday at the Bollibokka Club on the McCloud River.  Gene gave me waders, boots, a fly fishing vest, a new reel and all the flies you could possibly need.

As much as I’d love to be as passionate of the sport of fly fishing as the rest of my family, I really have preferred a book by the side of the stream.  So, why would such a gift be so wonderful?  Because I can still picture the ear to ear grins on both Gene and my father’s faces.  I can remember like yesterday their pride beaming on me, as my little bony body put on the oversized waders and massive wading boots and took to the stream with the two of them.  It was one of those moments where I felt on top of the world, absolutely ensconced in their love.

And love, Gene did.  My mom recently said that she didn’t know anyone who was as loved as Gene.  I think it’s because he loved so much.  I always felt so incredibly special around him.  And it’s not until his passing that I’m realizing I wasn’t the only one.  He had a way of making you believe you were the only one in the room, showing you how much he deeply cared for you, ever listening, laughing and encouraging.

When my dad passed away, Gene surely lost a large part of himself as well.  But he never let us know it because he immediately stood in as the rock for all of us.  He gave a beautiful, eloquent, touching eulogy that perfectly captured my dad.  He took my mom for hikes and listened as she talked through her grief.  He read my blog posts from the day I began writing and he would send me e-mails of support, recounting his favorite posts.  He came to the hospital on the day Josie was born, which helped to mend my broken heart that my dad could not be there.  If ever anything any of us needed, Gene would have dropped all to be there in a heartbeat.  He wasn’t just my dad’s best friend, he was family through and through.

My last visit with Gene came at my mom’s 70th birthday party.  He was weak from chemo and intense cancer treatment.  I thought he’d won the awful fight and we were ready to put that dreadful C word to rest.  He came to say goodbye to me as he was leaving the party.  Then he began to walk to the car, ever the cowboy, he didn’t ask for assistance for the rather far walk.  Remembering how hard it was for my dad to walk when he was that physically weak but how difficult it was for him to ask for help, I ran to Gene, grabbed his arm and assisted him to the car.  He didn’t refuse the help as I think he also enjoyed the time with his Goddaughter and I loved the time with him.  Little did I know that would be our last walk.

The keyboard is wet as I have fallen into another crying session.  But, I know Gene is sending his love, support and helping me to walk as I work through the grief.

Gene, it was all too soon.  Know you are massively loved and you will always be missed.  Enjoy the humongous hugs, guttural laughs and Old Crow with my dad.  Thank you for living up to your contract and for being the best damn fly fishing spiritual guide that ever lived.  Can’t wait to get back on the stream to have a good fish, a healing cry and an abundant laugh in your honor.

April 28, 2016 at 5:01 AM 13 comments

ORC: Tile It Up!

Things are moving right along on the One Room Challenge.  As a refresher, here is the plan for the upper patio area…

backyard plan 2

Bench is built, all cushions are done, rug is ordered.  We ended up changing directions on that beautiful umbrella in the plan because, frankly, the umbrella cost an arm and a leg. Even with husband approval, I just couldn’t pull the trigger.  Which has made Graham oh so proud of my frugality.  I found one off of Wayfair for less than a quarter of the price in a solid gray and it is…wait for it…backordered.  Of course.

Next up on the list…this bar area is getting retiled…


with this tile…


The tilers have already begun and it’s looking so much better.


Of course when it comes to projects, things never go totally to plan.  The plan was to have the tile stop on the front wall exactly where the red tile used to stop and have the white wall for most of the bar front facing wall.  However, this tile is thicker then the old tile and so there would be this weird bump out from the tile to the wall and the only way to fix it is to float the wall which aint cheap.


Then I thought, well, why not tile the entire wall?  Lightly suggested it to Graham and he was on board.

The beauty of the ORC is that there is absolutely no time to hem and haw over our decision.  We both slept on it and the next morning I bought the extra tile.  Now I’m hoping the extra tile will come on time and we will get everything finished in time.  And, most importantly that it’ll look good and we’ll be happy with our decision.

The race is on.  Go cheer on the contestants at Linda’s Calling It Home blog.


April 21, 2016 at 5:29 AM 10 comments

One Room Challenge – Handyman Graham Style

For those of you new to my blog, welcome!  I’m happy to have you here!  I’d also like to introduce you to my husband, Handyman Graham; I will now post a photo of to thoroughly embarrass him.


While he crunches numbers by day, he cuts wood with his table saw by night.

For some background, about a year ago, he found out about the Anna White website and he decided to all of sudden build a table with zero woodworking experience.  As a loving wife, I had little confidence in the whole endeavor.  I thought he was insane for taking it on. He proved me wrong and he built this lovely outdoor table…


You can read the full post on this table, here.

So for our outdoor space that I’m working on, I got rid of the round table and chairs

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and I put Handyman Graham to work.  Thereby, fulfilling the ancient saying, “If you prove your woodworking skills your wife will take advantage.”  He built this outdoor sofa off of Anna White’s website…


For full disclosure, we are not an HGTV show.  He did not build this overnight for $80 total.  Nope.  It took him many weekends and he got it done before this challenge began.  The price also still adds up with the cost of materials.

But, for this week, let me introduce you to our new bench in the space.  Aint she a beaut?! I love the x base back.


(Sorry for the horrible photos)

A bench cushion is currently being made in this fabulous Christopher Farr fabric that I had left over from my first One Room Challenge.


The bench will be paired with two of these faux bamboo barrel chairs.  My upholsterer already finished up the cushions for them and I picked them up and they are beautiful!  The chairs need another coat of spray paint but we’re getting there.


And that’s where we’re at so far.  Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you next week.

Please check out the other participants here.

April 14, 2016 at 4:15 AM 14 comments

One Room Challenge: Outdoor Spruce Up

It’s that time of year again.  One Room Challenge Time (to be read in Oprah voice).  I’m diving in with both feet and I have yet to know if I’ll sink or swim.  The big question is, will my workrooms pull through and deliver what I need to be done on time?  Six weeks of taking a space from blah to (hopefully) wow is a tight deadline.  But, you already knew that.

For those of you who are new to my site, welcome!  Here are pics of my last three One Room Challenges so you can be familiar with my work.

Project 1: Poolhouse Redo


Project 2 – Country Bedroom

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Project 3 – My Girls’ Closet


What will I be working on this time?  Our outdoor space.

Here comes the before shots…

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You see that uninspiring, round table and chairs that’s sticking out in the photo?  Yeah, well that set came with the house when we bought it.  When we were doing our final walkthrough to get our keys, we came along this lovely set of patio furniture and the previous owner matter of factly stated to us, “I’m going to leave this here.  You can keep it or you can have your movers get rid of it.”  And that was that.

The patio furniture we unintentionally inherited, has sat there for far too long and that little space is getting a makeover with this basic plan

backyard plan 2

Also, this little bar-b-que area


is getting this new tile and this hanging lantern

This table will be getting all done up with a fresh tablescape for the reveal photos.


These chairs will be getting cushions made.


I’m excited for the changes coming and I hope that it all comes together in time. The one thing that can’t be changed, that I wish could be, is the hardscape.  We’ll be remodeling in a number of years and tearing up the hardscape at that point.  So, for now, I’ll just work with what we’ve got.

I hope you’ll follow along with me for the next six weeks.  Your support truly means the world to me.

Please check out the other participants in the One Room Challenge, here.

April 7, 2016 at 5:40 AM 11 comments

Big Girl Bed

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For the record, Josie is a “big girl” and I am getting a bit verklempt about it all.  The fun thing is that she’s my little pal and we’re starting to have actual, real conversations.  The sad part is that she’s outgrowing that itty bitty, cuddly wuddly, rock a bye baby stage.  This weekend she officially left the crib and entered her big girl bed…

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All of the bedding hasn’t arrived yet.  Eventually, the quilt that will be folded at the end of the bed; for now, it is layed all the way out.  I scored and the green in the quilt matches the green of the headboard perfectly.  I also love the quilt with the Madeline Weinrib fabric I have on Josie’s stool that she uses to hoist her little body into her bed.  Perhaps, she’s not such a “big girl” after all.

April 6, 2016 at 5:30 AM 4 comments

Lindsey Lane Design

First and foremost, thank you so much for your kind words on my big news last week!  We are so excited!

Our wonderful sitter who comes two mornings a week so I can have uninterrupted work time, is out this week so the girls went up to daycare at Graham’s office today.  Why share this rather mundane tidbit of information?  I just wanted to set the scene that for the first time in a long time I have the house completely to myself all day long.  It’s paradise!  No offense, family.

The purpose for this uninterrupted silence is to do my business taxes.  But, like with any dreadful task, comes the wonderful pursuit of procrastination.  Enter blogging.  Ah, yes, I remember you daily blog.  You were so fun!

Let’s get started.  How about some inspiration?

When debating tackling a God awful Ikea hack, I came across this image as inspiration (a decidedly non Ikea hack) –


The room was packed to the brim with swoon worthy elements, that I had to find the entire house tour.  Feast your eyes on Lindsey Lane‘s work.






That custom scalloped settee may be the most perfect thing that I have ever laid eyes on.  The entire New York City flat feels fresh and fun with plenty of timeless elements mixed in.  What a happy spot to live.  You can view more of Lindsey’s inspiring portfolio, here.

April 5, 2016 at 5:30 AM 1 comment

Bring on The Chaos


Growing up as the youngest of four, I was born into organized chaos.  I want to stress the organized because my parents did a good job at keeping all their ducks in a row.  But no matter how you spin it, three boys and a girl calls for chaos.  There are way more dog piles, interruptions, giggles and farts then your average household.  I didn’t know it any other way and so I grew up loving the chaos.

I now thrive under chaos.  Perhaps that’s why I’m such an incredible mess.  We’ll go with that as the answer.  When things get lackadaisical, I go a little stir crazy.  When things are spinning every which direction, I feed on the energy.

Enter our own little family.  Two littles, 18 months apart, is chaotic.  There are way more diapers, temper tantrums, hugs and snuggles than you average household.

Recently, Josie and Grace have begun to play with each other.  I find myself more and more with a solid ten minutes of quiet time as they recede into their own play worlds together.

Just as things inch towards the lackadaisical at home, I find myself pregnant!!  And with the snap of a finger, or the pee on a stick, we’re back in the realm of chaos.

While I’m nervous for handling three kids, 3 1/2 years and younger, in the end, it’ll just be more chaos.  And I think that makes us really damn lucky.

There will be another dancer; another ball player; another storyteller; another bike rider; another joke teller; another personality; another unique child to love.  And this time we get to experience a boy!!

I’ve always known I wanted a big family.  I just never believed I would get it.

The special thing is that Graham didn’t always know he wanted a big family.  When we were dating, I said that I wanted four kids and he said that he wanted two.  But after Graham became a father for the first time, he was so in love that he wanted more.  When Grace came along he was so happy with two that he wanted more.  I find that beautiful that he loved being a dad so much he wanted to continue to add to the crew.  Although, he too, never thought a third child would actually happen.

When we had Josie, the fertility Dr.’s stressed concern for us getting a second child.  I have a low egg count and unfortunately there is nothing you can do about that.  When we conceived Grace, our Dr told us how the odds were against us for that happening; we had a less then 10% chance of conceiving naturally.  After Grace, we just thought we’d see what happened but told ourselves not to get emotionally invested.  Low and behold, 17 months later, we beat the odds again.  And here I sit, writing a pregnancy post for the third time in 3.5 years.  Just as the other two times, I still am in disbelief that we can be so lucky.

I keep picturing myself absolutely covered in my little chillens and that brings a huge smile to my face.  Bring on the blessed, brilliant, beautiful chaos.


Photo by Pam Hansen

March 31, 2016 at 5:04 AM 6 comments

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