Christmas Chaos and Concrete Countertops

The bathroom is not quite to the finish line yet. Almost. The shower door is going to be reworked, a shelf redone or removed and the shower handles either fixed or replaced. We decided not to wait on the bathroom any longer and . . .

Moved into the house two days before Christmas. I would advise against the Christmas move. My husband cannot take much time off from work so it was then or maybe never. Our children worried Christmas may not come as they watched their friends’ houses light up with Christmas cheer, while ours house filled up with moving boxes. And it was a valid concern. A very valid concern.

Christmas came and went and now I realize I overcomplicated Christmas in the past. This year I did everything in two days or less. We baked cookies, decorated a gingerbread house, shopped and wrapped presents . . . in two days. Why was I spending weeks on this in prior years? Never mind those two days were nearly 20-hour days. It was only two days. Never mind we had time limits on everything. Sorry kids, you had 30 minutes to decorate the gingerbread house and only 30 minutes!!! It got done.

Now that we have moved into the house, we have learned:

1. The stopper bathtub in the kids’ bathroom does not work.
2. The pipes in the basement are leaking.
3. There is no overhead light in the hallway upstairs which scares the beejesus out of some members of our family come bedtime.
4. The coat closet near the door holds about 1/100th of my coat collection.
5. The powder room on the first floor is about as private as a freestanding toilet in the middle of Grand Central Station.
6. The freezer does not work and may never work. We miss ice.

This list will surely grow as right now my husband is in the basement ripping up the floor and stage due to leaky pipes. Yes, I wrote stage. We have a stage in our basement. A stage and a lab.

Because pictures are more fun. I will leave you with some pictures of the countertops I am considering for the new kitchen.  I have granite fatigue, marble is too fussy, soapstone too chippy so that leaves me with not much else. Concrete and quartz are high on the list right now.  The lighter concretes could be a good option.

Love concrete countertops by guida

farmhouse sink with concrete countertop I love everything about this, the sink, the cabinets, the light colored cabinets, the faucet.  All very nice!


Concrete countertop - this setup is awesome  --Do these three things and make money every time. FREE VIDEO shows you how. Click here:

Steal This Look: James Huniford's Hamptons Kitchen : Remodelista

rustic vintage kitchen style, white kitchen, tile backsplash, natural wood, open shelving, herbs

// Moroccan tiles and concrete countertops - love how this brightens things up


A Few More of My Favorite Things

We placed a move order ahead of time with Verizon.  We were thinking: look how organized and on the ball we are.  Verizon was thinking: shut them down forever now.  Never. ever. do. that.  If you place an order for a week ahead, they will shut everything down as soon as you click end call – accidentally, of course. Four days, and a lifetime’s worth of phone calls later, we were restored. Lesson learned.

We conveniently lost our Internet during the time I typically make a mad shopping dash online.  And, being that this year our move coincided with Christmas preparation that online shopping thing would have been helpful.

Nevertheless, here are some more of my favorite gifts to give and receive:

StationeryCheree Berry Paper makes some of my favorite stationery and Christmas cards.


A personalized card with your family’s crest . . .


I sent these cards out a couple of years ago and the envelope lining may have been my favorite part.


I don’t like spending money on candles but I love them and now that the kids are older can burn them without worrying about curious little fingers.

These tall tapers from Terrain would look beautiful grouped en masse.

Tall Taper Pair, 24”

Goodies for the Desk

Felix Doolittle creates these charming personalized illustrations for bookmarks, paperweights, labels and much more.

The hardcover children’s books in our house are adorned with these bookplates.  There are dozens to choose from and each one is cuter than the next.

Let's See - Bookplates

And Iomoi’s lucite trays are a welcome addition to any table top.  Pretty pretty!

lucite tray-marjorelle gardens blue and white


This one from Pottery Barn is a favorite.

Faux Fur Throw - Gray Ombre

This one is even better.


There are still workers fluttering about the house.  In fact, right this minute the house smells like burning flesh.  There is something going on downstairs involving HVAC and the burning of old pipes.

More pictures to come after I find my camera cable.  The number of move casualties seems to be mounting. I will be back with more.  In the meantime, Merry Merry Christmas!

And, I will leave you with one last favorite thing.

This card.

New Year's Card - Holy S&#T It's 2015! Why Don't We Live In Space Yet?!? - Holiday Card - 2015 Card - Happy New Year's/C-206

A Few of My Favorite Things

Another more organized and ambitious author would have titled this post – Last-Minute Christmas Gifts – but for me buying and wrapping gifts, even up to the night before is part of the excitement and exhaustion of the season.

And while shopping for gifts you inevitably find dozens of things you must have and cannot live without. Happens every year, at least to me.

Here are those things:

Books. Still, one of my favorite gifts to give and receive.

tom scheerer cover

Mirrors are always welcome under the Christmas Tree!

This French Gilt mirror from Wisteria is an easy fit most anywhere.

Or this one from Terrain.

This flatware set from Ballard would be a pretty addition to the flatware drawer.

Bunny Williams Melange Flatware Set

Am I the only one who always seems to need table lamps.  Two of these from Circa would look pretty bedside.


Or, one or two of these would be pretty over tables, in entries, in hallways.

 Richmond Outdoor Hanging Lantern

This bench from Target is a great price.  I would put this pretty little thing in my closet.

Threshold™ Tufted Bench - Buff Beige and Gold

This is the best Christmas/winter candle hands-down.

Glass jars for dry pantry goods are one of those things I hate spending money on but always appreciate receiving.

More ideas to follow . . .


The Kitchen

I am dreading one thing about this move.  And it’s not the packing, chaos, exhaustion, it’s the kitchen.

This is the kitchen I am inheriting.  It is a 1970s/2013 hybrid and it is the size of most Manhattan kitchens. The granite and tile backsplash were installed prior to listing the house.  I hate both but it is new and clean and will be fine until Phase II of our construction. What I am struggling with is the actual space.  If you put down the dishwasher door you cannot move in the kitchen, similarly if you dare open the oven door you need to back up and to the side as it is just that tight.


The refrigerator is on repair #3 and we are hoping it can squeak out just another year.  It is at least 30 years old.

The cabinetry is solid wood, inset and well-built.  We lucked out as we will re-purpose the cabinetry for the new butler’s pantry.  The uppers will get some glass inserts and they will all get some paint.  The hardware is unlaquered brass that has aged quite nicely so those may be used again as well.

The floors will also go. It is pre-engineered wood and probably covers up 6 layers of linoleum.  Interestingly, I have noticed the wood, floors, granite and backsplash attract the attention of nearly every construction worker to cross the threshold of our house.  Apparently it speaks to men in a meaningful way. I have had plumbers pet the granite and an estimator from a tree company try to convince me to give this kitchen to him when it was time for demo.

I wish it spoke to me!

Our current, smaller project has helped me realize every last minute detail needs to be ironed out so the bidding process and ultimately the construction for the bigger project runs as smoothly as possible.  So I am working on planning out our kitchen down to the fussiest detail.  And here are some of the kitchens I am drawing elements from:

Portraits, Interiors
Laquered Life
Bespoke kitchen in burnished lacquer, English oak and statuary marble. Created by
Artichoke Ltd.
Kitchen - After
Cupcakes & Cashmere
6 photo mark roper - country style
Country Style – Mark Roper
Elle Decor

Visual and Sensual

And here’s a wishlist for the new space:

1.  painted cabinetry

2.  plate racks

3.  open shelving with interesting/antique brackets

4.  lower cabinetry only in all but one part of the kitchen

5.  range versus wall ovens

6.  custom hood

7.  very little stainless – paneled refrigerators and black or white appliances

8.  antique island + long narrow table for seating as well

9.  mix of countertop materials – quartzite, concrete, soapstone

10. solid wood, inset cabinets

11. herringbone wood floors

12.  banks and banks of windows and French doors

13.  spacious walk-in pantry

I could go on. . . and on . . .but I hit the major elements.  I’ll start the finish breakdowns soon as I am working on choosing lighting and cabinetry.  Yes, all a year in advance because when you present unfinished spaces to builders they give you an estimated range and these ranges can vary significantly.  We are doing the legwork so that the builders bidding on our project know what they are looking at materials-wise.