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It all started with an impromptu trip to Meijers last week with one Miss Howard. Despite not finding slip-on vans there, the wheels in my head got spinning as I started looking at dishes and pillows and remembering that in about 6 months, I’ll be packing all those things up and towing them to who-knows-where. (currently, in the running is everything as south as Hyde Park and Mt. Lookout, as north as Pleasant Ridge and Silverton, as west as Reading, and as east as, well, Mariemont.)

I’m not rushing through what time I have left, by any means, but you know me: by nature I’m a planner and a forecaster and I like to look ahead. So it is with decorating and updating my stock of household items and getting my ducks all in a row.
So I’ve started accumulating the necessary odds and ends that will come in handy like cookie sheets and a dish drainer and a knife set and drinking glasses and converting a folder-full of recipes onto more-functional index cards, which if you ask me, is a start not to snub at!

But more exciting than that are a couple projects I can’t wait to do:

  1. I bought some teal RIT dye to give a new hue to our current couch cover. As nice as it would be to buy a new couch (there are some affordable versions on and b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l velvet chaise lounges on I just feel like I ought to make do with what I have for now, rather than rushing out and not making do with what I have. Anyway, I think the teal-ish hue ought to be a great revamp, because the living room currently  has a bit of a musty-looking air to it—lots of yellows and mustards, which is a color I love, but that I think has to be juxtaposed to other hip pastels.
  2. I have a bookshelf that currently houses our dvds/cds but in whatever new abode I take over, will have to function as an old-fashioned bookshelf. And while I’ve kicked around the idea of painting the interior shelves a la all the pretty shelter magazines, but I just felt that was very permanent. So I’ve decided to, instead, go the semi-permanent route and find a perky little wrapping paper (in my mind’s eye, it’s of the vintage floral variety) that I can cut and line the shelves/background with. I also saw on a blog one time where they tacked a pretty ribbon around the facing edges, although I think it could be a bit much in this rendition. Megan at my work gave me some suggestions of local paper boutiques to check out for the paper ideas. A visual of the colored-background idea:

There are lots of other projects swimming around my skull, but those are the two at the forefront that I’m most excited about. And, depending on where I land, I’d love to make a bulletin board like this curly-cue one, where I imagine tacking up in a kitchen corner or over a desk with all my little inspiration quotes and magazine clippings:

i love ideas!


i finally got my camera back (had left it at my parents’ house) so for some belated decorating updates:

la boudoir
for awhile i’d been trying to decide what to put over my bed that wouldn’t clash with the bedspread or headboard–which proved more difficult than one would think, considering it’s a pretty big wall to fill. and i couldn’t do sconces because there are already mounted light fixtures on two of the walls and that would be overkill.

so instead, i created a poster with one of my favorite lyrics “what inspires you should entire you, live how you want to be loved.” (it’s from this band, troubled hubble, who used to play at my university ever once and awhile and we got to be friends with.) i mounted the poster on a moss green fabric and spray painted an old frame white. then i cut some bird silhouettes out of black felt and strung them from the ceiling with off-white ribbon.

and there you have it:




happy holidays
then, on to christmas decorations in the rest of the house, including mistle toe, all my gift wrapping and the greatest holiday vinyl wall clings you’ve ever seen:








I was talking to the one guy friend who I’m closest to the other day (and one of my all-time favorite emailing buddies) and we were talking about my recent little break-up. He was telling me about how it’ll be good for me to take this time for myself and figure out what I want—rather than what society says you want. He was talking about us being rushed into finding love, as we watch everyone around us traipse into relationships and get married off, and then he made a good point: “We’re still so young. I hate that we’re in our twenties, and we’re saying, ‘I’m so old!’”

As shouldn’t surprise me, it was a very good point. I’m still so young with a multitude of possibilities laid out before me, a nice little smorgasbord to select from and arrange on my plate. (Little known fact: “smorgasbord” used to be one of my favorite words, circa 1997.)

One of the nice things that’s come from this whole status change is that I know feel like I have so much time on my hands! I know I had time before, but I always felt obligated to save a chunk here and there, “just in case.” (Because, of course, you know that boyfriends and girlfriends have a quota of time to fill, don’t you?!) But now, my time is my own and I don’t owe it to anyone, nor can I have expectations about what to do with it. I know it was always my own, but that’s the trap I set myself in when I’m in a relationship—getting trapped in obligations and “shoulds.”

So what have I been using all this newfound time on? Well hopefully by the end of this weekend I’ll have some photographic proof: My latest crafts is birds cut from felt that I want to string from the ceiling. I’ve also started trolling the stores in search of Christmas presents (my mom is going to be the toughie this year), and last night I sat down and tried my hand at design. Even though I work on a design magazine and appreciate design to the utmost, I’ve never fancied myself a designer. I still don’t, but I tried to flip that whole “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” Anyway, we needed some logos for our student ministry at church and I had a couple of ideas that I decided to put to the challenge. The hard part is that I don’t know any how to maximize any of the software so it was a pretty rudimentary process. Yet and still, whether they work out, it was still a fulfilling little project.

Here they are in all their glory (except that they’re crappy files). They’re all based off our church’s tagline, “Building a growing community of passionate Jesus followers.” Within each logo idea are a couple variations to choose from (different type treatments or sizes, etc.):

Spectrum one pays homage to the 6 passions with 6 different colored petals (which can also be read as colored drops, ie drops of Jesus’ blood). Also, the petaled image in the middle incorporates Eastside’s new logo.

Elevate also incorporates Eastside’s new logo and can take on a couple different variations (either filling in the space in the “e” or just coloring in the background). The rest of the word is (fittingly) “elevated.”

Roots takes to the “growing” part of the tagline and is a little bit more youthful/playful than the others. I thought this would lend itself well if we ever make t-shirts.

i noticed that i haven’t been very good about posting with pictures lately. my apologies with that.

as it turns out, there has been a lot going on visually in the life of carmen, so here’s a little retrospective:

over my bed, there’s a big white wall. currently i have a pretty picture of dancers above the headboard, but i think the picture is too small for the space. i’m contemplating blowing up a lyric into a big poster and framing that for overhead. you can do it pretty cheap through; i’m just not 100% that i’m going to love it. but i hope so. here’s a version of what i’m thinking, image-wise (although the green will be more sage-y, but i do like the white background. not sure what color for the frame though):

has anyone ordered posters through there? i’m afraid that the resolution will come out blurry. (the lyric is from the end of our dear old boys troubled hubble‘s song, “nancy.”)

additionally, i’d been fretting over my necklaces and so i went on a crafting binge while i hung out at my parents’ house. my dad helped me find a proper stick and cut it down to size, and then i hammered and nailed and spraypainted until i came up with this:



i’m pleased with it. not 100% in love, but i think it will do. i’m not sure what i think it’s missing. maybe another coat of spray paint? honestly i’m too lazy for that. at least it’s sturdy.

and earlier this week, our staff took a little “inspiration outing” and checked out some designerly shops downtown, one of which was High Street, a place where i seriously want to call home. it was beautiful, with all kinds of old couches and beautiful chandeliers and patterns and lots of nature-y accents:




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see? home by 10:30. refreshing.

this has been week no. 1 in my attempt to recalibrate. it has been good. although really it’s worked out less because of my attempts and more because everyone (meaning the lovelies and paul) have been busy. so i haven’t really had to try to take things slow and take time for myself. it’s nice to be eased into things.

yesterday, after having what was officially titled “my no good, very bad day” (don’t ask), i left work 15 minutes early and took the time to do something i haven’t done in over a month: run. in high school i was a really good runner. i played soccer and could almost always be the first player to finish all our laps around the practice complex. halfway through the season my junior year, though, i got really bad shin splints and couldn’t run without shooting pains. so i stopped running and was afraid to for years. this past summer i decided to try again. and, surprisingly, i wasn’t half bad. although i guess i’m not sure what i’m measuring it against, but i’m not disappointed in where i’ve picked up.

so it was, that i ran for an hour yesterday and was quite heartened by it. it did help clear the bumbling air that was gathering in my head.

today i went over to my parents’ house and visited my grandma who was actually much herself, which typically isn’t the case. that was such a good feeling. she was laughing and cracking jokes. she had a hard time hearing and many times misinterpreted what i was saying (i guess i have a hard time speaking up), but that made it more entertaining. she slipped a few times into her own little world, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it has been. that was a good feeling. we ordered pizza and i made tasty pumpkin cupcakes for sir paul and then i worked a new project of mine.

right now i have this crappy piece of cardboard that i made holes in with a hole punch and have strung my necklaces through. although i’ve received compliments on it, i think it’s pretty shoddy. so my new effort is to take a medium-sized branch and cut it down and then pop nails into it and spray paint it white. all i have left is the spray paint and mounting. cross your fingers. i can’t have my necklaces get tangled and this is the best idea i’ve come up with yet. (plus i just like nature-y stuff. i’m also working a poster to blow up for over my bed. more on that later.)

and i think the best part of my day was at work i decided to start working on my lesson plan for this sunday. if you don’t know, i teach sunday school for the teen girls at church. well every once and a while i like to do “Fireside Chats” with the girls–basically a chance for them to tap into what’s going on in their life and apply it to God and look at it through that lens, and get the support of the rest of the group. so, considering what’s been going on lately in my life, i decided to hone in this week on struggles. so i spent some time looking up verses and came across a bunch that just heartened me. it was pretty cool to go from, one moment being self-pitying and ‘woe is me’ to, the next, being content and satisfied despite the circumstances or ‘what if’s.

here’s an example, 2 cor. 4:16-18 (MSG): Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye.

one of the things i did was type up all the verses so that the girls can cut the various ones up and keep them with them, in their purse or put them on their mirror or in their locker–just so that they have them nearby when they need them for reassurance. i do that at work; have a little “inspiration/reassurance wall.” it’s mostly made of encouragements i received when i went to haiti this winter. and i look to it often, so i know it’s worthwhile. so i’m amped for it–for both my sake and for the girls’. i haven’t felt like i’ve really given them the time and effort they deserve lately, so i’d like to work on that.

although i did get an email today about the OTR efforts and that they might be acquiring a n old church down there and attempting “betterment” efforts like helping the homeless neighbors find jobs or learn to read or to write. that’s totally the kind of thing i want to be involved in. so we’ll see. i’m excited about the opportunity, although i’m already wondering how i would be able to fit yet another commitment into my schedule. but i think it’s a good thing. so i guess i just have trust that the pieces will all fall into their place. i have faith that they will… one way or another, they alway do, right?

for the most part, we got settled into our mariemont place pretty quickly. we had people come over the day after we moved in, so that was our impetus to get everything put into place and arranged and boxes unpacked.

but since then, our drive has lagged due to all the other life distractions that get in the way (meeting so-and-so for dinner, stopping by here, running over there, etc.). well the one big “hole” in our decorating scheme has been the living room. when we moved, we only had 3 sitting chairs, all of which were pretty old to begin with–some sturdier than others. well, needless to say, the term “sitting chair” is a bit misleading. after trying to sit through the royal tenenbaums on those chairs, it soon became apparent that they weren’t going to cut it, even though the space in the room is next to nothing.

so we did our shopping and canvassing, looking for something: a) within our price range but also b) that we actually liked and could see ourselves living pleasantly with. needless to say, that’s a pretty big wishlist. so for about two months, we made do without. then, on wednesday night, i got a call from my mom informing me that one of her coworkers’ parents’ had a couch they were getting rid of for free. she said it was from ethan allen with brown flowers all over it.

it sounded ugly, but hit the “a)” on our list superbly, so i said, let’s just do it. if we can find the perfect piece later, then we can just give this one away and swap it out. i resigned myself to the couch being hideous but figured we could find a pretty sheet or something to throw over it and make some cool pillows.

yesterday, while i was at betsy’s, my mom called to tell me they’d sent pictures of the couch to us; and that they thought it was perfect for me. so i went to the basement where jeremy (betsy’s fiance) and steve (kitty’s husband) were hanging out to open up the pictures. jeremy said, “wow, that’ll be perfect in your living room.” steve, who hasn’t been to our place yet, didn’t say anything; just sat there with his jaw dropped and face scrunched up–like he was looking at a dead cat or something. when i saw his face, i knew it was a winner.

it actually reminds me of the new upholstered couches that anthropologie is selling (for $3500 no less).




so the next task is to put it into the living room and see what kind of decorating magic we can stir up with it. but i think it’ll be pretty cool; definitely a conversation piece!

some online scrapbooks of recent turns-of-events:




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(i always think of Rob Bell when i say that.) anyway, i think this living room is just beautiful and very magazine-y. how jealous am i that it actually exists?