Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Before & After: The Dining Room...

OMG guys! We scored big time! Mr. P and I had been on the hunt for dining chairs. For weeks we searched high and low but just couldn't find something we could both agree on. Mr. P wanted comfortable leather. I wanted something modern and clean. Design Assistant Magnus wanted something made out of rawhide and pigs' ears. (he's so "out of the box," you know?)

The few chairs we did like were way out of our price range. (oh how I long to be in a position to spend $600 on EACH chair...but we needed six of them...and we also need to pay our mortgage and eat on occassion - this body doesn't just happen on its' own, you know? it requires a lot of attention...and bacon.)

I had just about given up when Mr. P, ever the crafty bargain hunter, emailed me a link to a Craigslist posting. Six brand new Pottery Barn chairs for the low low price of $350. For all six! I cannot make this stuff up! We drove to the sellers' home, hopes high but still feeling the sting of a recent Craigslist buy gone wrong. (in the immortal words of George W. Bush, "fool me once...shame...on you. [long awkward pause] If you fool me you can't get fooled again.")

But look! They're fantastic! And they work perfectly in our room! First let's remember what this room used to look like:


Sweet lord...I'm having chest pain just remembering it. Deep's what it looks like now:



Dinner is served!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dining Out in Omaha...

Why is it that every time we have guests in town Mr. P and I become drawn like magnets to any foods that are 90% Crisco? This weekend Iowa neighbors Joe and Mary came for a quick visit and we decided to hit The Twisted Fork for one of our favorite treats.

I give you Exhibit A - fried pickles:


With a side of ranch, of course. The deep fried batter wasn't enough - it MUST be dipped in a condiment made entirely of mayonaise and LDL (bad cholesterol for those of us who weren't pre-med majors for all of three months).

But wait! What's this? A new item on the menu? Well it's only right that we give it a whirl. And that's how we got to exhibit B - country-fried bacon:


Yes you read correctly - FRIED BACON. Wrong. Wrong on SO many levels. And yet so so right.

And those were just the appetizers. Dinner for me consisted of a turkey, cheddar and tomato sandwich. Doesn't sound so bad, right? Well it is when you add ranch dressing, bacon, Texas toast and a side of french fries. Gross.

You'll be happy to know that we skipped dessert. At the restaurant. We walked half a block to the Old Market Candy Shop for some mud balls:


A mud ball is like a chocolate Oreo cheesecake ball dipped in more chocolate. Mortal sin in bite-sized chunks.

I'm fairly certain we burned some of the calories during a heated Wii Karaoke session. But then we loaded up again the next morning with a trip back to Dixie Quicks where I ordered French toast the size of my sofa:


Today I start my new Ex-Lax and cucumber diet. I'll let you know how it goes...right after I get one last Dairy Queen Tagalong Blizzard.

Fairacres vandal strikes again!

Remember this?


Still cracks me up! Well yesterday while on our evening walk with Design Assistant Magnus we spotted this one:


Magnus was thrilled. He's a HUGE Vanilla Ice fan. I think it's their shared pain over bad haircuts:

Vanilla Ice Pictures, Images and Photos


Monday, July 27, 2009

From the desk of Design Assistant Magnus...


I have been lied to.

"You'll feel so much better," she said. "Like a new pup," she said.

I do NOT feel better. I feel violated, betrayed, and a little dirty.

At first I was excited by this new outting.

"Hey! I smell other dogs! It's just like the dog park - only with tiled floor instead of grass...and this funny counter thing...and...well, no dogs. Wait...who is this? Yikes, that's cold. Wait, where are they taking me now? And what the heck is THAT thing on the counter? What's a heartworm???"


Readers, they took me to a bad, bad place. They scrubbed out my ears with a cold goo. Then they pinched my tush with something called "steroids" when I wasn't looking. And then - THEN! - it's almost too awful to say. I shudder at the mere memory:


They went...where the sun don't shine. They called it "cleaning out glands." I call it assault. You be the judge.

I'm home now. And I'm trying to sleep off the trauma.


But just you wait. Once they're asleep I'll show them. I'm going to chew up all their shoes, turn over the trash cans, pee on the couch and blame it on the 'roid rage. That'll show 'em.

- D.A. Magnus

Garden update...

It's pink!!! We almost have a ripe tomato! Look!


And check out these peppers - we've already used the anaheim peppers (the darker green ones) in some dishes and boy are they spicy!



This gardening thing is going really well! Maybe next year we'll diversify our crop - less tomatoes, more...I don't know...other stuff that grows in a garden.

(Forgive me for being clueless but you're talking to the woman who didn't know that the blinking lights in her backyard were fireflies. Sue me.)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dining out in Omaha...

Signs you've found a good Thai restaurant:

1. The name includes the words "Thai" or "Bangkok." Here in town we have Thai Pepper, Thai Spice, etc. And then there's one called Noodles & Company. If you were craving Thai food and didn't know any better would YOU choose Noodles & Company over Thai Spice? I think I've made my point.

2. They ask you how spicy you want your food, the insinuation being "Hey white lady, no way you can handle this dish as it's meant to be prepared. Save yourself." And I appreciate that - because I like spicy, but not Thai spicy.

3. You can hear diners around you combating runny noses. No it's not a bizarre form of Asian Bird's the spices. Gets me every time.

4. It looks like this from the outside:


Bangkok & Cuisine (yes there is an "&" in I don't get it either) on 19th & Farnam is fantastic. The food was fresh and delicious, and the service, while a bit slow, was friendly and helpful. My one complaint - no beer. I love a cold Singha when I'm launching an assault on my taste buds with some spicy Pad Prik Khing. But Sprite would have to do.

Still, so worth a visit if you're ever in town!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Before & After: The Hallway

We are equal opportunity house lovers - each tiny crevice in our home gets the royal treatment. Well except for the master bathroom which currently looks like the loo in some sort of horrible P.O.W. camp. We'll get to it one day but until then I'll just have to dream of my Kohler BubbleMassage tub. But as Mr. P is constantly reminding me, we must first finish tackling other less glamorous projects.

Did I mention that the Kohler BubbleMassage tub has 120 airjets and a variable speed-blower? I don't even know what a variable speed-blower is but I know that I want it.

FOCUS, MRS. P. Where were we?

Right. Less glamour. Hallways.

One main hallway connects all three bedrooms and the guest bathroom to the living room. And when we moved in, the master bathroom could be accessed through the bedroom and through the hallway. The previous owner had used that bath as another guest bathroom. As for Mr. P and I? Well we decided that we didn't want to share that bathroom. It's not that we're selfish - no. It's just that we have a lot of crap, have complex and off-putting grooming rituals, and, well shed a lot. There, I said it. I shed a lot. I hope you're happy now.

Long story short, I don't want to have to clean up every time someone sets foot in my house. And I don't like the idea of the A/C repairman having access to my make-up or seeing my collection of mini-shampoo bottles stolen from hotels. (I know, I know - don't do the crime if you can't do the time.) It's just creepy, okay?

Anywho all of that is a long way of saying that we decided to seal the door. And by "we" I mean Mr. P with a lot of moral support from me. Here's the before:


It's like the pathway to Blah-ville, no? Well here's the after:


The paintings are from a fabulous Brooklyn-based artist named Steve Keene who was introduced to us by our fabulous friends in LA. (shout-out to Sharon and Jeff!) Steve's philosophy is that art should be like CDs - anyone should be able to afford it and you should be able to change it out as often as you want to. When you visit his web site ( you can choose between two sizes and then Steve will mail you whatever he happens to be working on that day. That's it. You don't get to pick. You don't get to dictate subjects or colors or's basically a control freak's worst nightmare.

But grouped together like this:


It adds the perfect pop of color to an otherwise dreary hallway!

I would venture a guess that it'd also "go" well with a Kohler BubbleMassage Tub. Because really everything looks good surrounded by 120 airjets. EVERYTHING. Sigh...if only Kohler believed BubbleMassage tubs should be like CDs. Life is so cruel.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New home owners...

Today I called our home warranty folks about our central air conditioning system which was not cooling. One could imagine how that would be problematic in the dead of summer. (read: just plain nasty)

For the low, low price of $80 these folks come out to investigate the problem. I walked Jeremy, the very nice technician down into the basement. As he set down his tools I said I'd be right back and walked back up the stairs. When I reached the top of the stairs I heard the A/C unit turn on so I ran back down to give Jeremy this update.

Turns out there was a panel on the furnace that was open a smidge. Jeremy simply shut it and the A/C came back on.

$80 to shut a door. How can I get that gig?

A unique drive-thru experience...

Things I love about Omaha - Number 345: Really tasty drive-thru chicken parm with a side of pizza at Fazoli's.


No, for real. A SIDE of pizza - as in, it's part of a combo meal. Of course one could argue that pizza is a main course but to those people I say, "PIZZA WILL NOT STAND FOR BEING PIGEONHOLED LIKE THAT, THANK YOU VERY MUCH."

Okay that was actually Mr. P's order - I opted for the slightly more sensible spaghetti with tomato and meat sauce and a side salad. But no matter. The point is that you CAN get drive-thru chicken parm if you want it. And want it I do.

My thighs on the other hand...well, not so much.

Oh, did I mention that you can also drive-thru for Dairy Queen Tagalongs Blizzards? For those of you communists who don't know, Tagalongs are THE BEST Girl Scout Cookies ever. And the geniuses at Dairy Queen mash them up and put them in ice cream. And then you eat it. And then you regret it. And then you get over it and decide that life is too short and you get another one the next day. And then you realize you have a problem - too many Blizzards, not enough Lycra.

Perhaps we'll have to limit our chicken parm/Blizzards outtings. This could get ugly.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Design Assistant Magnus gets a new bed...

I'm afraid that given all the work underway at the Ranch we've been neglecting the needs of our favorite design assistant, Magnus. And although he's really not much of a complainer, one thing was clear - he did not care for his dog bed. And when Magnus is unhappy...boy, what a whiner!


So we hit PetSmart to find the perfect bed. A bed that, selfishly, had to match the living room decor while still providing the perfect place for a mid-afternoon snooze. Low walls for chin-resting? Check. A furry lining for maximum comfort? Check. A color that goes nicely with white fur? Check. (that's the beauty of white dogs...they match everything!)

By jove I think we've found it!


But no bed would be complete without a personally monogrammed pillow, made of the same fabric as our headboard and bed skirt, and also courtesy of my mom.

Photobucket is good!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Before & After: The Fireplace

Sometimes less is best.

Sometimes. Not always. Definitely not when it comes to chocolate, sequins, James Bond movie marathons or DSW. I could go on but you get the point.

Less IS best when it comes to mismatched fireplace design.

Behold our fireplace. A too-small colonial-style mantle with a modern stone face, a cheaply made built-in unit on one side and beige carpet.



We struggled over how to fix the mantle. Replace it with some reclaimed lumber? Build a box over it? Paint it black? Ignore it and pretend it's not there? Tempting. In the end we decided to simply remove it all together. We hung our favorite painting over it the fireplace, added some accessories and cleaned the dang thing out (note to homeowners: a little shoveling of the ashes and some Windex go a long way). Paired with our new wood floors and kick-butt furniture layout and voila:


Now THAT'S a fireplace!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Before & After...again: Master Bedroom

I can admit when I'm wrong. Sometimes. Or I can at least admit when there's a better way to skin a cat. (What a gross phrase, huh? Some masochistic pre-serial killer probably came up with it right before hacking the heads off his sister's Barbie dolls and setting them on fire.)

But I digress.

Mom poo-pooed my Target sheets and make-shift master bedroom design. And so we hit the mall, the fabric store and our friendly neighborhood Thrift World in search of a way to make it better.

Let's revisit. Here's what the room looked like when we first spent the night in it.


Quaint, no? Sort of East LA chic.

Well we made it better with furniture and a bed and paint. (yay paint!)


But let's face it. This hodge-podge of mismatched furniture was sort of funky and cute, but it was a small step up from a dorm room. We could do better! We could have - gasp! dare we dream? - a headboard! And matching sheets that didn't come from Target! (not that I'm knocking Target...I love me some Target...some of my finest ensembles were created at Target)

BUT (and there's always a but) we still had to stay within our budget which is, ahem, tiny. Hence our visit to Thrift World where we found a headboard for - WAIT FOR IT - 98 cents. No, I'm not kidding - look at the receipt:


Add $28 to rent a U-Haul truck to get it home...


...and we've got ourselves a good starting point. Next we hit Dillard's for a super linen sale. And then it was on to Hancock Fabrics to find some coordinating fabrics for a bedskirt, throw pillow and headboard. We hit the jackpot!

Now to reupholster - there were two layers of fabric, each lovelier than the next:



I was tempted to keep this one but stained pastel paisley is SO last season.

Big thanks to Mom the Sewing Queen and Design Assistant Magnus for "testing" out all the fabrics for chew-resistance and softness against his nether regions. A little elbow grease and good sense and we're left with this:



I can't wait to sleep in it tonight! And Design Assistant Magnus and his nether regions are just going to have to find another place to park themselves.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Before & After: Guest Room #2

Things I love about my mother:

1. Her unconditional love no matter how crazy I try to drive her. And believe me when I say I try HARD.
2. Her quirky sense of humor.
3. Her cooking skills and patience with my lack thereof.

But possibly one of the most admirable things about the woman who gave me life is her ability to sew a bed skirt in under 15 minutes. Her proverbial kick in the pants got us feeling quite rejuvinated about home improvement. And together we decided to tackle the second guest room.

Let's take a trip down memory lane and see what it used to look like, shall we?


One word: Meh. Nothing great and nothing horrific about it. Sort of vanilla. No wait, I take it back...I love vanilla. This is more like...well like a plain rice cake. Nothing great, nothing stomach-turning.

The inspiration for the room? Mr. P's passion for surfing. As you may imagine there isn't a TON of surfing in Omaha. (shock! dismay!) So we decided to surprise him with a fun room that pays homage to his passion and makes our guests feel totally radical dude.



If I may take a moment to toot my own thrifty horn, notice the black lamp on the nightstand. Here's what it used to look like:


$2 at a yard sale. $4 can of glossy black spray paint. Shade recycled from another lamp we had.

Toot, toot! Okay, now back to the room:




Design Assistant Magnus has never seen the ocean but he's pretty sure he would really like surfing and therefore approves of the room:


Surfs up!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Changing a light fixture...

Last week Mr. P and I decided it was time to add some pizzazz to our dining room which is still chairless. (sigh...) We decided that a new chandelier would be just what the doctor ordered. Perhaps you'll remember what the old one looked like:


Not bad, right? Just not as eye-catching as we wanted it to be. We picked out a new fixture and Mr. P decided to hang it himself. Only we decided to do this at 10pm...and we had to cut the lights for safety. So at about 11pm this is how things were going at our place:


Not good. But then we discovered the GENIUSES at and from then on it was smooth (-ish) sailing! Check it out!



P.S. Mr. P insists on putting Design Assistant Magnus' squeaky cheeseburger on my gorgeous palm-leaf platter. Why must he torment me?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Design Assistant Magnus got a bad haircut...

I shouldn't have listened to Mr. P. "Trim it short, get rid of the skirt and have them cut it all one length - he'll be cooler that way."

Here's the before:


Sure he's a little scraggly looking but so cute and cuddly!

And here's the after:


Oh Magnus. I am so sorry, buddy. It'll grow out...someday.

Garden progress...

Well helloooooooooooo blueberries! Yesterday I ate these for breakfast!


Poor Mr. blueberries for him. (this is all our little bush produced) But I'm confident there will be more where that came from. Afterall, check out our robust garden:


Soon we're going to have tomatoes up the wazoo!



And I almost forgot...peppers, too! These are anaheim peppers which I think Mr. P planted in homage to our Southern California roots:


Does anyone have some fun tomato recipes? Otherwise I'll be using them as decorative centerpieces the way the HGTV designers use green apples.

...hey, I may be on to something there! Back off, Vern Yip! This one is mine!