This Is How I Make It Through The Annual Road Trip

This year's road trip marks the fifth year in which I have traveled to New York with the kids, without the assistance of my husband. This means no ESPN on the radio, but also no help managing the crazies. Each year I learn something new, and naturally, as the kids get older these trips become easier. 

This is what works for our family, and every family is different. 

Our first road trip was ridiculous. I packed sandwiches, healthy snacks, drinks, activities, crafts, movies, travel games. I went overboard with planning and organizing. Within an hour the food was gone, and the water was sitting dangerously on their bladders. No one touched the games, and the car was littered with garbage. They were a young, angry mob, forced into a car for many hours. 

1) Take it easy with the refreshments. This might sound crazy, but I don't pack any food or drinks. We make a quick stop first thing before we leave, and they each get a small bottle of water and a healthy snack. Ideally, we stop every four hours, so the more they drink, the more frequently we need to stop. Kids don't require snacks every 20 minutes just because they're in a car. The next time we stop, they can each pick out another drink and healthy snack. 

2) They don't need to have every thought of every minute planned for them. Each kid brings his/her iPad, and an activity clipboard + crayons and markers. That's it. If they get bored they can look out the window or have conversations with each other. 

3) Comfort is important. They also bring their favorite pillow and blanket. We forgot a pillow for Owen once. It wasn't pretty. It will never happen again. 

4) Individual activities help pass time. Their clipboards contain a map for each day's drive. They love to follow along as we go. I also print state license plate sheets, scavenger hunts, and coloring pages. 

5) Save new movies for the trip. We have a DVD player in the vehicle, along with wireless headphones. {More on how that saves my sanity in a minute} This year we are watching the first two DVDs of Season 1 of Gilmore Girls. I kinda wish I could be back there watching with them! I miss that show. 

6) The reward system. Each stop at a gas station guarantees each kid a healthy snack and drink, because I'm not an evil person. If they've been really good, they have an opportunity to earn a special treat. I keep track with these tickets. I printed these on cardstock so they're not so flimsy, then cut them out. 

Free Printable Source

The parameters: you need to earn five tickets if you want to pick out a special treat. Screaming, kicking, scratching, general obnoxiousness, or excessive use of the following words will cost you a ticket: "fart" "poop" "toilet" and the always popular, "poop-butt." Tickets are earned back over time with good behavior. This actually works.

7) Mom (a.k.a. The Pilot) needs to be happy too. My area in the cockpit is kid-free. I listen to talk radio, my music, or an audio book. I loaded up on audio books during my most recent visit to the library. Of course, since we're not returning to Fargo, these will never be returned. Just kidding. I'll mail them back. 

8) Always book a hotel with a pool. Goes without saying. After so many hours cooped up in a car, they need a place to let loose and get the crazies out.

Ten more days until we move in to our new home! (but who's counting, right?)

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Best Of What's Around 7/18/14

This is our last full day in Fargo! The train leaves the station Saturday morning, arriving in New York Monday afternoon. (no, we're not actually taking the train)

I can't wait to spend time back home, even if only for ten days.

This year I am excited to visit the house I grew up in, which is none other than 58 Water Street. Ever wonder where my blog name came from?

And while we're on the topic on Upstate New York, I love this motel project in Woodstock by The Novogratz.

Hotel Dylan, in Woodstock, with a classic rock-peace & love theme, designed by Robert & Courtney Novogratz. LOVE.

On the opposite side of the state, in Brooklyn, guess who this gorgeous bathroom was designed for?

Manhattan Nest | Ana Gasteyer's Bathroom Makeover
I love every amazing renovation Daniel from Manhattan Nest designs in his own home, and he is equally talented as a designer in other people's homes. That wallpaper is amazing. 

This table makeover at The Painted Hive blew my mind. I don't know if I'll ever be this gifted, patient, or imaginative. 

DIY Multi-Drawer Cabinet from Laminate Bedside Table | The Painted Hive

Finally, look who hast a pretty new accessory:

Of course, it comes in handy with the cell phone and other necessities during a trip to the park.

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One More Last Minute Project

This chair is the last home project I will tackle before the move. 

Oh I have plenty of little projects all over this house, but I know when to say when. And between my own projects, and finishing up client projects, at some point I need to do laundry and pack some snacks for the road trip that happens in three days.

I considered selling it on Craigslist or in a yard sale, but "what if our next house has a huge veranda-style front porch and we need six rocking chairs? I sure would regret getting rid of this guy. As it turns out, the new house has a very small stoop, so this chair will go on the back patio.

So he has sat on our front porch, through mind-numbing winters and hot summers. These conditions did nothing for his shiny black coat. It was flaking off in a fine powder. It took very little effort to brush the paint off, then sand it smooth before applying a coat of primer. 

The hardest part was deciding on a paint color. 

I am so over painted black furniture in my house. I went through a serious black furniture phase, and as a result, I have too many pieces of black furniture. Most of these will be made over in the new house. 

I knew I wanted to go with turquoise for a shot of color. But nothing crazy.

Side note: do you know how hard it is to convince two kids to go to the paint store for the fourth time in one week, when they just want to stay home and play with their friends? Probably like forcing me to go to a country music concert. I would need major bribery and rewards. And even then, I would be grouchy and bitter for weeks.

My point is that I was not going to make it to the paint store, so I had to invent my own perfect turquoise paint color for the chair, with paints from my own stash. Which I did, and this is the result:

This just screams cotton candy, which is delicious, but not on a chair.

So after a trip to Eco Chic, here we are. My plan B should have been my plan A.

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Where Did You Get That?

I've had such a positive response to the design of Maria's new basement! Thank you to everyone who left positive comments, emails, messages, and questions! I have received several emails and comments asking where certain items in this design came from, and Maria is kind enough to allow me to share these details with you. 

She had the new wall color picked out before we began the project. She chose Creek Bend, a beautiful, rich gray color by Behr. 

The curtains are from the Nate Berkus line at Target.

They were cut and hemmed to length, and black grosgrain ribbon was added at the bottom for a custom detail. 

Maria sourced the cow prints and stag head from Eco Chic.

Real flowers - I follow the Nate Berkus "no fake flowers" rule as often as possible

All of the amazing and beautiful white salvaged windows were already in Maria's basement, available to be used if they worked into the design. And they did - beautifully!

Fabric for the pillows is from Modern Textiles. Love that place.

The dresser was a terrific Craigslist find, painted by Maria. One day I said, "Hey there's a dresser on CL you might want to check out." The next day she had it. Maybe I'm exaggerating, but my point is that she was ON IT.

All other furniture was Maria's.

The basket/plant container on the floor is from TJ Maxx.

My favorite brass accent-turned plant container (on the mantle) is from Antiques on Broadway, along with these teal/turquoise books:

The tripod floor lamp came from Lowe's. I painted it gold, because as much as I love to mix metals, brushed nickel wasn't going to work in this room. 

The ceiling light came from Home Depot. It was also hit with a coat of gold spray paint.

The lantern, candles, gold frame, and faux flowers (below) are from Pier 1.

Maria fought me on the naked lady painting, but with a vintage gold frame and that turquoise color, I think it was MADE for this design! And that long vertical shape is perfect in that spot.

Sorry Nate, these branches will last forever.

The wall baskets, white plates, petite white vase, and pineapple lamp base were thrifted locally.

This guy lives on the other side of the room, and didn't get a lot of camera time. But I love him. 

The snake plant (Sansevieria) and small plant on the mantle came from Baker's Garden & Gift.

That should cover it!

I'll be back tomorrow with a new project, probably my last home project before the big move!

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The Best Of What's Around 7/11/14

This week passed by in a flash! We were down two family members, with Natalie at summer camp and Jason working at his new location, but there was no shortage of crazy in their absence. Ella and Owen really pick up the "maniac slack" when they sense calm and know I'm being productive.

I'm so excited to pick Natalie up this afternoon and hear all about her adventures at camp. 
I'm guilty of living through my kid in this case. I would've loved to go to summer camp at her age. No, that's not true. At her age I would have been a homesick mess. I would love to go to summer camp at my current age. 

Summer camp for grown-ups. I think I'll do that next year, in the form of Haven. I know several of my blog acquaintances are there and I wish I was there too. I'll start saving my pennies now for 2015! So much creativity and support. I really need to find a way to make it happen next year. 

My house was a curtain stenciling sweatshop this week. I stenciled six full panels for a client. If you follow on Instagram, then you've already seen this image:

This was my first full-scale stencil project. Honestly, it wasn't that bad, and when these panels go up on the wall, it will all be worth it. And I did learn a lot in the process, which I will share soon. 

Some other things that caught my attention...

The Mandala Project at Attic 24 is re-igniting my love for crochet. 

Source: Attic 24

Lucy submitted a request to her readers, to create a unique mandala and send it to her, and she has received over a thousand of these amazing beauties! For someone who loves textiles, colors, and crochet, this project has been a trip to watch. 

I loved all of the images submitted to Design Sponge for the Great Lettering Hashtag Challenge. Then this post at Door Sixteen put me over the edge. I'm planning a post about great typography, signs, nostalgia, and anything of this nature that had a visual impact on me in Fargo. There are some beauties!

Finally, I have received several questions about the details of Maria's basement, so I will write a post with a source list, and try to have that up on the blog Monday. 

In the meantime, I will be planning for our road trip to New York, which happens in eight days! 

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Natalie's Chair And A Goofy Girl

I finished Natalie's chair, and it was a surprisingly quick project. 

I'd love to share a tutorial, but this project was a prime example of winging it. It was a blur of pinning, cutting, pulling, and stapling. Then I changed my mind a few times, mid-project, as I do. I pulled out staples, shifted fabric, sewed things together, then crossed my fingers and hoped that it would come together. 

Natalie loves it. Truthfully, I wouldn't have chosen these materials, but I am not the client here - Natalie is. She loves this chair, and that makes me happy. 

I wanted something a little funkier, but Nat simultaneously snorted and looked visually assaulted when I showed her my idea. I learned that Natalie is revolted by plaid flannel, and can't stand gray. Who knew? And who doesn't like gray?

How cute would this be?!

I added this trim to the back to cover the staples. 

I'm keeping the wood as-is for now. 

In other chair news, this is the chair in Ella's room:

I love the seat, hate the base. I think someone MacGyver'd the two together, because they are clearly not of the same era.

Ella had mixed feelings about it until I showed her this picture from an episode of Mad Men:

Now she loves the chair and has requested a typewriter. 

The fact that she recreated the Mad Men scene, and added a "briefcase" just makes me love being her Mom. She is a trip. 

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Tween Chair Makeover, Take Two

The next project on my "before we move to Ohio" list is this little chair in Natalie's room.

This chair has had a long life with the Stevens Family. Our master bath in Utah had a built-in vanity, and we bought this chair to go in that spot. Within a month, the beige upholstery was covered in Bare Minerals makeup, courtesy of our extremely mischievous Ella. She was two at the time, and still holds the record for requiring us to call 911 the most times on her behalf.

"Yay! I ruined mommy's new chair!"
Following the Bare Minerals incident, my Mom (the professional upholsterer) visited us in Utah. She removed the horribly stained fabric, then promptly returned to NY, with the naked chair in pieces. In her defense, she had a stomach bug and I kept her pretty busy throughout her visit. The silver lining in this story is that somehow, after two moves, I kept the naked chair and hardware together long enough to reupholster and reassemble it here in Fargo. 

For the first makeover, which I did not post on this blog, I recovered the chair with faux white fur, inspired by the fuzzy chairs in PB Teen. I know, totally different style chair, but you get the point.

Polar Bear Airgo Chair
Source: PB Teen

This quick, cheap fabric treatment has not weathered the social tween storm very well. The fabric is discolored and literally pulls off the chair seat every time someone sits on it. And each time I enter her room I fix the fabric and pretend it will stay that way.

See how the material just bunches and hangs off the chair?

Time for a change.

I was rummaging through old Emily Henderson posts the other day and was reminded of this office chair makeover, and she referenced the same makeover again last week. 


Natalie was super-excited to go to the fabric store to pick out two cute fabrics for her chair. We know her new room will be turquoise and hot pink, so these are the fabrics she chose:

And maybe the legs will be painted white before we're done. We'll see how it looks with the new fabric. 

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