Getting Existential, Hopefully Existing Through the Week

My fish, Guildenstern, is dead.

We named our pair of fish Rosencrantz & Guildenstern thinking it might be amusing when they inevitably went belly-up, but no, it was actually just disappointing and sad. Especially disappointing since I caught a rather satisfied glint in Matilda's eye at his funeral, which leads me to wonder if his death was due to natural causes... or if the feline assassin has struck again. 

Adam made me a chicken sandwich to make me feel better. But there was a bone hidden inside.

So, if Boy and Cat are in cahoots, I may not be safe in this house. If they don't kill me, work certainly will! Leeeeetle bit of stress at my 8 to 5 7 this week.

Aaaaaaand, I'm in the middle of a major project! Since Adam was off at Hoopfest last weekend, I tore apart our bedroom, made a trip to the Benjamin Moore mis-tint shelf, and turned my yellow Ikea Hemnes bed...

Well, "Sandlot Gray," to be exact.

I'm totally enamored with this color.

Adam needn't worry about emasculation or such nonsense- this pastel look is actually just the base coat. Next step is to apply a few streaky layers of tinted glaze in "Stardust," a few dashes of pale pearly gray, and a brown wax finish. Basically, I didn't get as much done last weekend as I'd hoped.  But it's not my fault~

Matilda didn't even raise a paw to help.

So, it's off to the purple bed for me- but I'm sleeping with one eye open in case the furry one tries to smother me.


Fixed: Because I'm Just that into Spoons

Yeah, spoons aren't really my thing. Here's an easy way to adapt this week's fixer to display your jewelry collection:
  • Paint or paper the interior.
  • Select a wire mesh, perforated metal, or piece of caning (simple mesh at your local hardware store, neat designs from McNichols or other online specialists), and have it cut to size.
  • Use small brass tacks or nails to secure it to the front of the spoon rack.
  • Hang up your favorite jewelry- using little brass s-hooks if necessary.
Like so...

Utility... but not for utensils.

This will work well for earrings, bracelets, pins, necklaces, hair accessories, scarves, you name it. A cheap way to showcase your expensive gems (like the sparkly things from Anthropologie that caught my eye- especially the Beams & Sparks bracelet and the Stormy Night earrings, *sigh*).


Making Arrangements

Another successful market outing last night- despite a bit of rain and some angry wind (vendors were making change with one hand and anchoring their tents with the other!). Because the skies were so murky, we gravitated towards the brightest and cheerfulest (my vocabulary is the bestest) summer colors. At least the inside of our apartment will be sunny!

Most of my $5 bouquet is tasked with invigorating my desk, hopefully motivating me to blog, blog, blog!

A sharp looking display, I must say.

I plucked out all the little red poppies and made a romantic vignette for my dresser. I have a modest collection of vintage costume jewelry, but I don't get to wear it frequently (a bit much for my business casual office). I love to look at it, so why not use it as decor?

I like to split bouquets into smaller groupings (did you notice?).
Less really can look like more- and multiple heights make an excellent "frame."

Adam spent his $5 on a gnarly bunch of gold and orange carrots, and proceeded to create the most vibrant and aromatic feast ever to have graced our table. Savory lamb with fresh rosemary, sweet onions and carrots, all served atop a mouthwatering carrot puree. (I'm writing this on my lunch break, and I am desperately wishing I'd had left-overs!)

Adam is a truly phenomenal cook. I suspect he misses being in the kitchen of Spokane's Zagat-Rated Milford's Fish House- so I try to give him lots of opportunities to show off at home! I've been wheedling with him to share his genius in a Shock the Bourgeois guest column. Would any of you be interested in a weekly recipe + tablescape post? Vote on your right! --->

Oh, for one more bite!

As far tablescapes go, I went the organic (read: easy) route. I loved the delicate, frothy look of the carrot tops- and it felt strange to toss them. I plopped them in a vase and used them as a centerpiece!

Carrots are the secret ingredient!

Off to lunch- back later for a tasteful improvement to this week's fixer...


Fixer: Collector's Edition

This week's Craig's List Fixer is dedicated to all you spoon fanatics out there (or spork fanatics, I don't judge).

A lovely Spoon Rack
Just the thing for displaying prized utensils, only $20, spoons not included.

For those of you not scouring the world eBay for commemorative gems like the 1920 Slesvig Lion & Castle Finial spoon or the (be still my heart!) Toronto Zoo Largemouth Bass spoon... how about we shake this thing up a bit, eh?

PS: To learn more about spoons, this guide is an excellent resource. Were you aware that a spoon's "main purposes are for conveying food to the mouth and for stirring, though it has a number of other uses?" The more you know...


The Weekend in Review

The trouble with a legendary weekend... is that Monday finds you dull and glassy-eyed, facing an almost insurmountable pile of neglected chores (and if you uh, put the work off until Tuesday, it's all the more daunting). Excuse me while I engage in an epic battle with the fearsome piles of laundry and dishes that have usurped my apartment. Should I prevail, I'll regale you with tales of feasting, festing, and feats of fashion.

Coming up soon...
  • I wasn't kidding about the festing. Pictures from the Fremont Solstice Parade and the Edmonds Art Festival are on the way.
  • My style woes are history- thanks to a little help from my friends. See how we addressed the problem for under $150, and see how I take on the winner's decoration vexation. (Pssst, Rachel! Send me pictures!)
  • I'm entering the Apartment Therapy My Great Outdoors Competition, and I'm in it to win it. (Which is funny, as I don't actually have a yard...)
  • I have a knack for spotting a fab find... but sometimes I'm not quick enough on the draw. This week I'll show you some great stuff I didn't win.
  • Next weekend I'm rolling out the drop cloth and revving up the orbital sander- it's time to attack that to-do list. I've got an apartment full of "befores," let's see if I can crank out some "afters."
In the meantime, here's a glimpse of last weekend's adventuring...

Cheering the Mariners on to victory with Alex, Cory & Megan (and celebrating said victory at the Pyramid Brewery later...)

Who knew that baseball players were into decor?
The M's spice up their bullpen with some awesome "antiquities" and a "we're going to kick your ass" theme.

Megan got a souvenir from the Diamondback's bullpen.
Adam was a little jealous, so we had to buy him some rally fries.


Things You Never Knew You Were Looking For...

Some of you may wonder, "how does she do it? How does ShockTheBourgeois reach into the black depths of Craig's List and, week after week, find a gleaming gem??"

Truth is, there isn't much magic to it... just a little method.

When I'm looking for something specific, I don't waste time wading through the mire of really, really gross furniture, but I also don't limit my search to the point where I'm missing things in the periphery. The key is thinking like a decor thesaurus. If I want an armoire, I'll search for that. I'll also run a search for a wardrobe, a chifferobe, a chiffonier, a closet, and a cabinet. I never limit my searches by price or location- because the seller of that $1,000 sofa could be so %*@#ing sick of it that they'll sell it to me for $150 and drop it off at my doorstep. You never know.

Of course, when I'm not looking for something specific, and I have, say, 15 minutes with no immediate obligations... woohoo, the rules are out the door! Using stream of consciousness search terms is like writing Dada poetry: sometimes you get gibberish, sometimes you get enlightened. (Uh-oh, is my English major showing?)

I pulled three random adjectives out a hat, and voila- poetry.

Feeling all kinds of blue: a sweet vintage floral framed in gold bamboo ($60.00), or an antique Romanian sideboard that I am totally dying to possess (but can't afford for $575.00).

For the $40.00 burning a hole in your pocket: a vibrantly green mantle (that would kick ass in my bedroom with a new coat of gray paint... hmmm), an empty antique mirror, or a chartreuse bistro table.

Perfect for that factory loft vibe: a rusty metal stool ($80.00), a stainless display cabinet circa 1969 ($1,675.00), or a pair of sculptural oxen yokes ($66.00- $74.00).


Good Clean Design

In the process of redecorating my bathroom I pored over my image files for inspiration- and I was amazed at the consistency of my taste! What do these images have in common?

Solid furniture and patinated metals...

Pristine white fixtures and bit of whimsy...
(Image by Domino Magazine)

Soft neutrals and a vintage apothecary vibe.
(Image by House Beautiful)

Yes, I'd have to win the lottery to make any of this happen (you know, to buy a house with a bathroom bigger than broom closet). But if I do, and I'm simply drowning in money... I'm still turning to Craig's List for the goods!

I'd combine a rusty relic...

Victorian wrought iron fencing (Craig's List, Full Set for $225.00)

With an elegant chest...

Distressed black French Country dresser (Craig's List, $350.00)

To create a totally original bathroom vanity!
The fencing would be perfect for hanging a simple beveled mirror, hand towel, decor, & jewelry.
The dresser can be modified to accommodate for plumbing- without sacrificing the six outer drawers.

It's easy to find accessories...

I'd take a quirky Santa Barbara lavatory faucet (California Faucets), a floor of classic white hex tile (Craig's List, $7.00 per square foot) with dark grout, and the sleek hanging fixture I've been sighing over at Harold's.
I highly recommend Pottery Barn's organic hand towels ($9.99, shown in "Soft Lilac"), I love the old-school pharmacy look of their classic glass bath accessories (Pottery Barn, $7.99 - $19.00), and I wouldn't mind saving some cash on a Hollviken vessel sink (Ikea, $90.00).

The result? Old-fashioned aesthetic with the convenience of modern plumbing- a timeless combination. Timeless, as in: when I'm filthy rich, I can bubble-bath in here for hours.


Reflections on Mirrored Paint

At long last, my overdue review of Krylon Mirror Finish Spray Paint.  Why the delay?
  • I discovered that I can't trust anything printed on the label, which meant that...
  • One can did not cover the promised square footage, and...
  • I ran out halfway through my project, and...
  • I could not find another can anywhere.
"One Step." HA!

I tried to be pretty thorough in testing this product. I started with an apothecary jar (as I mentioned here), but when I experienced some trouble with the curved surface I decided to test it on a flat surface and compare the results. I found a frame with cracked glass and gave it a go. I followed the directions exactingly, and these are my findings:

The BAD, and/or The UGLY
  • The manufacturer's 5 coat suggestion is hilarious.  After 5 coats all I had was a blotchy shimmer- still completely transparent.  After 10 coats I had a hazy silver.  After 20 I had run out of paint, but was still only moderately pleased with the results.  This also means that their square footage estimate is wayyyy off.  
  • The paint is intended for use on glass, but it drips, runs, and puddles- even on a completely flat surface. This makes a mockery of their label, which shows several different vases (with sloping sides) sporting a perfectly even reflective finish. I can't see how they could achieve this by spraying this watery mess from an 8 inch distance. Impossible!
  • The finish is apparently water soluble- the tiniest bit of moisture will cause it to melt off. It is also easily scratched. A clear topcoat of some sort would need to be applied to prevent this.
  • This stuff smells NASTY. I've been exposed to all kinds of wild-smelling art supplies before (turpentine, oils, fixatives, you name it), but this was too much for me. One spray was like swimming in nail polish- I feel like I sacrificed way too many brain cells for the sake of this experiment. The things I'll do in the name of science decor!
  • The price is outrageous, especially considering the low yield.
See the drips?  The strange grainy finish?  That's the UGLY.

  • I feel like this product has potential. When I painted the framed glass, I decided to simulate an antique mirror or mercury glass finish, and I'm pleasantly surprised by the results. I splotched on some black acrylic paint between coats and intermittently tossed in some gold dust. Because the spray paint's finish is naturally cloudy and distorted, I think this really maximized the effect.
Which do you like?  My antiqued look, or straight from the can?

My recommendation? Don't buy this if you're not willing to put in a lot of time and creative energy. Following the instructions is bound to disappoint!


My Shockingly Domestic Life

Last night Adam and I took advantage of a warm evening and walked down the street to the Wallingford Farmer's Market. I find browsing the market incredibly satisfying, even when my pockets are empty and my refrigerator is already full (though that's a rare occurrence).

It's not about being a consumer. I really dislike the chore of grocery shopping: the chilly ammonia-scented air, maneuvering a wonky-wheeled cart through a maze of aisles, the necessary (and discouraging) price tag mathematics. When every brightly colored package is shouting its merits and every fruit is hot-house grown in the dead of winter, I am strangely compelled to buy really awful food!

There's something refreshingly honest about a local market- after all, they can only sell what is ripe and good! This week, the first of the strawberries and the last of the peonies. In a few weeks, heirloom tomatoes in wild colors... in a few months, bundles of enormous dahlias.

It's a treat for the senses- brushing dirt off of Washington potatoes, the smell of fresh-baked bread wafting in the open air, the anticipation of tasting the raspberries and Camembert you're bringing home... 

Plus, everything just LOOKS gorgeous.

So sorry to wax poetic, my patient readers- but I encourage you to seek out a farmer's market near you and see for yourself.  It's such a lovely way to connect with the subtle shift of seasons AND actually make eye contact (or conversation!) with members of your community.  With that, on to the decor segment of this post!

While Adam was busy cooking up the goat cheese & bell pepper ravioli he selected at the market, I set to work arranging my purchase- a massive bouquet of flowers (for only $5!).  I had so many that I was able to fill two vases.

One for my "office," where I spend so many hours blogging away...

I recommend placing flowers where you'll enjoy them most.

My desk, complete with ubiquitous (but beloved) iMac, red schtapler, and Design Bible.
I try to keep things lively with fun finds, like the glass flower frog for pens & pencils, or my collection of vintage frames (the largest of which is plastic, a road-side find that has been drastically improved with spray paint!)

A spray of indigo and white was saved for my dresser...

This arrangement made me a little nostalgic- I had a blue and white bedroom throughout my childhood.  

So I was inspired to make the bed up with a crisp set of sheets, and my favorite summer quilt (Matilda approved).

I searched out blue and gold items, and I'm rather enamored with the array. Do you like the change?

My apartment feels so bright and summery- even Tildy-Cat is stopping to smell the flowers!

Remember, I'm looking to wake up my wardrobe as well... and I need your help!


Dare to Dream: Playing Dress Up, Playing House

When I beg my family to nominate me for What Not to Wear, they roll their eyes- and I guess they have a point. I'm not exactly schlumping around in men's clothing or teva sandals with wool socks...

But I'm not making the best-dressed page either.  In the winter I adhere to a uniform of black turtleneck sweater + jeans, and in the summer I transition to a black ribbed tank.  Totally dressed to depress.  My fashion sense died the day I moved away from my female friends- and I've been in mourning attire ever since!  

So, I may be dreaming of a Stacey & Clinton-esque $5,000 rescue... but I'd be thrilled just to have a shopping buddy to help me spend my $150 allowance!  Readers, in my desperation, I turn to you!

Here's what I propose.  Comment with some links to clothing that will liven up my wardrobe (for under $150 total). In return, I'll do some personal shopping for YOU.  That's right!  Add a design dilemma to your comment: one lucky reader will get a whole post of solutions.  (See how I'm slyly encouraging some reader participation here?  See what I did there?)

Let's get those creative juices flowing, shall we?  

I have...
A lovely jewelry collection, sweet & sassy shoes, a couple great bags...

and a few key pieces, like this lilac-colored ruffled tank (also bought this and this), my vintage brocade skirt, and a sheer floral blouse.

I need pieces that are intricate & feminine, like so...
Totally romantic- definitely a change from stark black.
(Images from Anthropologie, Lucky Magazine)

Lend me a hand, friends- outfit me for summer, and I'll help you outfit your home.