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A few weeks ago, I posted a new Facebook profile picture photo, and my pals went crazy over my sunglasses.

Aviators

I’ve hunted for the perfect aviators forever.

I finally found them on one of those gift shop sunglass spinner racks while on vacation this winter.

And they are…perfect. (And a deal.)

Get ‘em here.

Image credit: Paige Lewin

It’s 24 hours until Thanksgiving…have you set your table yet?

Get yourself over to Boston Mamas to see my elegant and kid-friendly Thanksgiving table, then hit your local craft store for the supplies. It will keep your kids busy and get your table ready for family mayhem. Promise.

ThanksgivingPlacecards

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Vases

Over on Boston Mamas, my Use-What-You-Own Hanukkah Table Setting is featured. Fun! Central to the design are these pretty dipped vases. They’re super easy to make, customizable for any holiday or event, and usable long after the celebration is over.

Ready to go? Here’s what you need:

  • Protective table covering
  • Plain glass vases (the kind that end up in closets from florist arrangements or in the 50-cent-bin at your local thrift shop)
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Baking sheet or tray
  • Tinfoil
  • Gallon of white latex paint (Please note that you will have nearly all the white paint left, so choose a shade that will work in your house or for some other project later! I used a gallon left over from a bookshelf we painted.)
  • Gallon freezer bag
  • Pint or more of additional colored latex paint (Check the OOPS! rack at your local hardware store for discounted colors that were returned by customers.)

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  1. Clean your vases thoroughly with soap and water. Dry, then wipe down with rubbing alcohol.
  2. Place a protective covering on your work surface.
  3. Cover a baking sheet or tray with tinfoil.
  4. Dip the vases, bottom-first, into the white paint. Hold each vase in the paint for about 10 seconds, then pull out and let the paint drip off. Set down on tinfoil-covered baking sheet or tray; bottom-down for a clean top edge (as I have done in this example) or top-down for a dripped edge.
  5. Let dry for one hour.
  6. Create a “bucket” with your gallon freezer bag by folding the bottom corners of the bag onto themselves. Secure with tape.
  7. Fill your “bucket” with your second paint.
  8. Dip the vases into the second paint. Swoosh the paint around so you get edges that have some movement, then pull out and let the paint drip off. Set down on a newly-tinfoil-covered baking sheet or tray; again, bottom-down for a clean top edge or top-down for a dripped edge.
  9. Let dry for one hour. Wipe down bottoms if there is a thick layer of wet paint.
  10. Fill with flowers and enjoy!

Please note that the paint WILL COME OFF if these vases are put in a dishwasher or washed by hand with too much vigor. Rinse and dry carefully to make them last!

THIS?

SalmonSupper

Took SIX MINUTES.

And my kids — okay, one of my two kids — devoured it before I even sat down.

For all you real chefs out there, THIS, in SIX MINUTES, won’t surprise you.

But for me, who can barely get dinner on the table each night, it is HUGE.

Find the recipe at Make More, Buy Less — another place where you can find me (talking less about design-y things and more about, well, pretty much everything else).

Earlier this month, Dave and I got away for a night to celebrate his birthday. We had fewer than 24 hours kid-free, so we did what any good suburban couple would do and headed into the big city for the night.

Aw, yeah…we drove the whole 25 minutes into Boston.

Because we stayed down on the waterfront, it really felt like we got away, especially as we hung on the deck looking at this pretty view.

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Before dinner, we took a nice long harbor walk, and found these fun little houseboats along the way.

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I don’t know about you, but ever since watching that Seattle RomCom classic from the ’90s, I’ve always fantasized about living on a houseboat. From what I’ve read, owning a houseboat is not all that it’s cracked up to be — dead fish caught under the boat, bird poop on your deck, etc. — but still, there’s something totally cool about it. Or maybe it’s just that Tom Hanks was there.

Seattle Houseboat

As I looked closer at this lineup of houseboats, I figured they must have been some sort of floating hotel or something since they all had the same signs on them. Upon a little Googling, I discovered that they are part of the Sleep Afloat fleet — houseboats for nightly (or longer) rentals in cities up and down the Eastern seaboard, as well as Los Angeles. Started by a houseboat owner who traveled for work and was disappointed by the “cookie cutter” hotel options, Sleep Afloat became the answer to his own conundrum: enjoying the live-afloat life while needing a short-term place to stay.

Docked in Miami Beach, “Living the Dream” which sleeps eight, has two bathrooms, and looks pretty well appointed, seems like a bargain to me at $200 per night.

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Vessels from Sleep Afloat’s fleet are docked in 11 cities, including a few that we’re going to hit on an upcoming family road trip.

I think my houseboat fantasy might just come true, if even for a night (minus Tom).

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So — have any of you ever slept on a houseboat?

Image credits: Boston images by Paige Lewin, “Sleepless in Seattle” houseboat from Seattle PI“Living the Dream” from Sleep Afloat

One domestic pursuit I’ve never been able to wrap my head around is gardening. It’s always seemed very complicated to me with its chemistry and logistics. Managing planting and blooming times; planning out a garden to allow for the plants to mature; understanding soil pH; making sure the buggers aren’t over- or under-watered, etc. etc. etc.

Am I overthinking this?

Maybe so.

Maybe if I planted a whole garden full of these beauties I’d be all set.

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According to my emerald-thumbed friends, Hellebores are some of the easiest plants to grow. They’re perennials (so they’ll come back every year), they like shade, and they bloom from late winter to late spring (in the Northeast), so you get to enjoy them for months on the plant, or clipped and set in a bowl.

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Gorgeous, right?

What do you have in your garden? Any easy-to-grow, easy-to-keep-alive plant suggestions for me?

Image and gardening credit: Valerie Schrade

A few weeks ago I made the long trek down to IKEA to pick up a bookshelf for my younger son’s room. He has about 2,763 books and I wanted to poke my eyes out every time I went into his room because it was such a sty. When I was visiting my mom in North Carolina, we went to a pretty little museum shop in Chapel Hill and I fell in love with their display shelves. Turned out that they were from IKEA’s BESTA media storage line, so I hightailed it down to my local shop as soon as I returned.

I don’t know about you, but every time I go to IKEA I’m sort of blown away by how awesome it is. I’ve been buying IKEA wares for nearly 20 years — from furnishing my first post-collegiate New York City apartment to replacing my most-loved stock pot just a few months ago. Mid-century-inspired furniture, Swedish holiday accessories, live plants (including fiddle leaf fig plants — I scored three the last time I was there!), the design-y P.S. line…I love it all. Here are my five favorites right now:

Five-Favorites-IKEA

1. BESTA Shelf Unit -  Used as a museum store display, intended to hold living room electronics, purchased for my son’s excessive library. I no longer want to poke my eyes out every time I go into his room. 2. SOCKER Vase (set of 2) – got them in the coral and aqua (couldn’t resist). 3. RENS Sheepskin - graces the back of my office chair. 4. UPPTACKA Shopping Bag with Wheels – perfect for flea- or farmers-marketing. 5. EIVOR Throw – super cozy, light, and graphic.

What’s your favorite IKEA item? Tell me below or on the Mudroom Boston Facebook page. You’re a fan, right?

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