photo Whaling-City-Cottage-8-2015_zpsoygeotsf.jpg

a day in the witch city

This past weekend we braved the October mob and journeyed to Salem for the day.  After grad school, my husband and I lived in downtown Salem for over a year and fell in love with the city.  The amount of history and gorgeous architecture packed into their little downtown is staggering.  Our apartment was on Essex St near the House of Seven Gables and we walked everywhere – to the library, to the YMCA, to the market, to the train, to our favorite swimming cove.  Add in my running routes woven through the city and it was heaven for a history and navigation nerd like me.  We got married in the stone rotunda on Salem Common and soon after bought a house in New Bedford.  After which we bawled our eyes out for a few years because we were so homesick for Salem and had zero friends in New Bedford.  But my job required me to be closer to Cape Cod Bay and we couldn’t afford a house in downtown Salem anyway.  Ultimately, it was for the best – we have an incredible group of friends in The Bej and love our life here.  BUT….if we could afford our dream house in downtown Salem and plunk all of our friends and our life from NB there….I’d do it in a heartbeat.  Maybe this gem on historic Chestnut St.

Okay, back to our trip….we put on some serious miles walking around, like 6+ miles.  Our feet were so sore when we got home and we all went to bed at 8pm but it was a good, happy tired.  The crowds were ridiculous, as we expected, but the kids had a blast and loved the spectacle of it all.  It was an awesome day.

Of course I took a zillion pictures, so buckle up.  We parked near this beauty on Federal St.

The lovely potting shed in her carriage house

We then made our way to the pedestrian mall on Essex St and the throngs of people.

Egon….your mucus.

Following the red line of the Heritage Trail around.

We popped into the Custom House, which I’d never been in before.  Here’s the view of Derby Wharf from the upstairs landing.

They had a cool exhibit out back with a replica of their warehouse from olden days, in case you need gunpowder and a cask of molasses.

Next door is the gorgeous Hawkes House.  Oh, the symmetry.

A lot of houses in Salem use rocks as landscaping….and it’s awesome.


The Witch Memorial was mobbed with people but the kids loved the cemetery, checking out the names and dates on the graves.

I’d never seen this urn and weeping willow motif before.

This door handle and lintel are amazing.

We made our way down to the House of Seven Gables after that.

And photographed all the black houses along the way.

There were “blood” fountains all over this side yard.

Back to the masses on Essex St so the kids could spend their mad money.  (June got a pink amigurumi squid she named Steve and Hollis got a toy gun that we only realized was SO LOUD when we weren’t surrounded by 50,000 people).

Then down to historic Chestnut St and the Ropes Mansion from Hocus Pocus.

My favorite….the Pickering House.  Holy fence and finials!

By the point, we were all tired and decided to start heading back to the car.

Hollis said “Mommy, take my picture like I’m in the Walking Dead.”  (He can talk to his therapist about this someday).

They’re officially smoked.  Hollis fell asleep in the car by the time we got back to 95.

Sorry for the really long post!  But it was an awesome day, so much to see, we only scratched the surface.  Next year we’re going to try to hook up with an Airbnb so we can stay longer and most importantly….wander around at night.  My kids don’t scare easily and they were definitely ready to crank up the spookiness.  After a nap, of course.


our trip to cuttyhunk

Holy crow, this summer flew by!  Our spring was chilly and long so we tried to really live it up this summer.  We hit the beach as much as possible, went to Lake George with my cousins, spent a weekend at our friend’s river camp on the Ossipee, had our first annual block party, took the kids to Quassy Amusement Park in Connecticut….and we made it out to Cuttyhunk Island to cap things off.  We went there for the first time two years ago but Hollis had just turned 4 so he was less psyched for a crazy adventure.  This year, the kids were champs about all the walking, we took the late ferry home and did almost all the stuff we wanted to do.  Next year we’re going to spend the weekend out there.  We want to wake up on the island.  Sigh.

Okay, are you ready for a thousand pictures and some island history?

Cuttyhunk Island is the outermost of the Elizabeth Islands that separate Buzzards Bay from Vineyard Sound.  Technically the whole stretch of islands comprises the Town of Gosnold.  It’s only an hour-long ferry ride from New Bedford.

As you get closer to the island (and further away from New Bedford harbor), the water turns a gorgeous green-turquoise.

After an hour and an almost-disastrous spilling of hot chocolate (June, so close to soaking the only sweatshirt she brought), we arrived at Cuttyhunk harbor.

The island is sparsely populated – a couple hundred in the summer and maybe 20 people in the winter – and many of the same families have owned property there for like 100 years.  I don’t think houses ever actually go on the market.  I’ve seen articles comparing Cuttyhunk to how the Vineyard was like 60 years ago.  There are only a couple places to stay the night on the island – at the Cuttyhunk Fishing Club and the Avalon.  Next year we’re definitely going to plan ahead and stay the night.

There’s no public transportation on the island, just walk or bring your bike on the ferry, and most of the locals get around by golf cart.  I saw a few pick up trucks too.  We had a 1 mile walk from the dock to Church’s Beach, a secluded spot on a sandy spit.  We each brought a backpack or tote, plus our wheely cooler and a beach umbrella.  That was it.

We also brought the house-obsessed criminal element to the island.  Hollis saw this place and said “Oh mommy, I wanna steal dat house.”  Me too, baby.  I’m teaching them young.

Finally we arrive at this dreamy beach.

Set up our compound for the day.

Oh yeah, this is the good stuff.  Of course there’s also white wine in a stainless steel water bottle in that cooler.

Drying my Turkish towel on the hot rocks.  I’m basically Gwyneth on Mallorca.

The beach was quite deserted, as you can imagine, but the kids made some friends which was awesome!  The water is about as Caribbean as it gets for Massachusetts.  This is easily my favorite beach in the state.

Soon after I snapped this, Hollis took a chest-first digger on the road.  Oy.  My poor baby!  Good thing we brought a first aid kit.  Needless to say he didn’t get in the water again but he had fun playing on the rocks with his new buddy so it was fine.  I felt terrible for him though.

We stay at the beach until 3:30, then walked back to the dock to say good-bye to the 4pm ferry.

An island tradition is to see the ferry off (literally the island comes out to wave good-bye to the ferry) and then everybody jumps off the dock.  June wasn’t going to miss this so we planned to take the 8pm ferry home.

This turned into a 30 minute jumping free-for-all with kids everywhere.  It was a ton of fun, June could have jumped all day.

At this point, we left our stuff at the ferry dock and moseyed over to the Fish Dock, where they have ice cream, clam chowder, a rustic raw bar and you can get steamed lobsters.

The fish cutting station.

My chowder-loving baby.

Then we walked up Tower Road to the highest point on the island.

On the way I peeped out the vegetable garden of my dreams.

The views from the top were insane.  You can see our beach on the left, on that spit of land.

Looking the other way toward the harbor and Nashawena Island.

There are hiking trails from the top that we didn’t take….next time.  After soaking in the glorious views, we headed back down the hill to explore more.  At this point we still had 2.5 hours until the ferry home.

Oh, what’s up other dream house!  It’s hard to see in this pic but this was a teeny, tiny stand-alone house.  Basically a studio house.

There were painted rocks with inspirational sayings scattered all over the island, which the kids loved.  This one says hugs.

Playing hoops at the community basketball court.

We then cruised back to the Fish Dock to see if the french fry stand was open.  The sign said “3ish to 7ish” but it was closed.  As was the Scuttlebutt, which I think is a restaurant in somebody’s backyard.  But we knew to bring tons of food in our cooler so we were fine.

As we wandered back to the ferry dock, we stopped at Barges Beach.

In the 1940’s a Nor’easter tore through the beach, so to rebuild and stabilize it they buried wooden railroad cars and covered them with sand in 1949.  Slowly over time they’ve started to become exposed and the wood is so beautifully worn.

We got to the ferry dock just before sunset.

Even though it was pitch dark by the time we shoved off, teenagers still came down to give the traditional good-bye to the ferry.  They climbed up the pilings and did synchronized back flips off them.  Our kids fell asleep on the ferry ride home, of course.  They were totally smoked.

But guys, this place is magic.  It’s so beautiful, so peaceful, so chill.  None of our friends have ever been here and some of them had never even heard of the island.  But we are absolutely coming back next year.  We’ll never be Nantucket or Vineyard or Cape Cod people. Too crowded, too fancy.  We’re CTHK people.  Next year we want to stay the weekend at the Fish Club.  There’s still so much we didn’t get to see and explore on the island.  So…till next year, Cuttyhunk, you seductive little squirrel.


new art in the dining room

After Christmas I painted the dining room lavender and planned to load the walls up with crazy/cool/unique art.  This is easier said than done.  Needless to say, it’s been a slow process.  There were only three pieces of art on the wall until recently when I finally got an awesome fourth one!  Breakneck speed, I know.  The reason for the feet-dragging is partly because I’m cheap but also didn’t want to pull the trigger on art I wasn’t super in love with or that was mass produced.  (*whispering*….Am I the only who thinks Minted is 90% boring and spenny?  If I see another picture of a pineapple….shhhh, they can probably hear me)

Now that that act of blogger treason is out of the way…..

I knew the space needed a few black and white pieces to anchor things and balance the sweetness of the lavender walls.  Then I would add a bunch of other quirky/colorful pieces in between.

I started with this Matthew Korbel-Bowers print called Burnt Mountain.  I love the shape and graphic punch.  Yes, it’s technically mass-produced….let’s not talk about it.

This little ocean art over the light switch is from Salvation Army in Wareham.  I think it’s a painted photograph actually.  No clue though, it was $2.

Next I found a photograph of an ancient Italian ruin in the attic at an estate sale.

It cost 25 cents.  The photo says the picture was taken in 1891 but I’m not sure when this print itself was actually made.  I had it framed at Michaels with a coupon because the print was odd-sized.

Then nothing happened on the art hunt for a shamefully long time.  I finally decided to start with one section of wall, just like knocking over the first domino, and make a decision.  One really good decision and it would all tumble from there.  I hope.

My search started on Etsy for black and white photos of Chicago – I grew up just outside the city and lived in Logan Square with my husband before we went to grad school.  I was looking for shots of the El or some of the city’s amazing architecture.  Then found this print from Saltwater and Vanilla on Etsy and literally gasped.

My grandparents, who I lived with growing up, went to the Palmer House Hotel on their honeymoon!  I still have their bill from 1947 and a postcard they saved from the hotel.

Charge for the radio.  75 cents.

Digging these out of my bin of old photos, I found this adorableness of my Grandma.  A pin with a faux mug shot.

The Palmer print is in an Ikea Ribba frame for now but I want to get it professionally framed down the line.

Shockingly, taking these photos at 6:30 am in a north-facing room wasn’t a good idea.  But….I love the print so much!  Kinda retro/Deco.  The lights.  There’s just something about it.

Which is obviously the beautiful thing about art.  What you hang on your walls should call your name and make you smile.  That visceral reaction when you walk past it.

Hopefully it won’t take me another 6 months to get more art in this room.  And daymmmmn we need to have a bench cushion made for the window seat.

Okay I’m out….Happy Friday everyone!


one room challenge – foyer closet {REVEAL}

This may be anti-climatic – after all it’s just a closet – but here we go….it’s One Room Challenge reveal day!

This is my third ORC and I still love it.  The pressure, the camaraderie, the inspiration from everyone’s projects.  For a bush league blogger like me, the community aspect of ORC is the best part.  The “point” of my blog is to write, share my perspective (smart ass though it may be) and connect with people.  ORC is a great way to do that.  So thank you, Linda!

Alright, let’s jump into the closet.  Recall this is the puke fest we started with.

Take your time pinning.  I’ll wait.

What the cripes were these people thinking with this wallpaper?  At what point in looking at samples are you like, oh yeah this is the one, my stomach hurts just looking at it.

We planked right over that madness.

Turns out, photographing a windowless closet that resides in a windowless foyer is very difficult.  It was beyond my skill set with the manual setting on my Canon.  Most of these shots are from my iPhone and I’ve come to grips with that.

That’s about all there is to see in this tiny space.  A huge thank you to my husband for all his hard work on the shiplap!  And a big thanks to you all for your support and kind words during this process.  Be sure to check out all the other amazing transformations over at Calling It Home.  The featured participants and the guests rocked it this round.

Paint color – Benjamin Moore Palace Green
Floor basket – World Market
Tote – LL Bean
Wall hooks – Lowe’s
Laundry chute cabinet latch – Martha Stewart for Home Depot
Bowl and tray – Marshalls
Rug – ecarpetgallery on Ebay





one room challenge – foyer closet {week 5}

I’m going to try to be more civilized this week.  While my husband was reading our last ORC post, I heard him guffaw in the other room and then make a surprisingly-accurate water bong sound effect and pretend to blow smoke.  Pretty sure he was mocking my sense of humor and the je ne sais Joliet, Illinois quality of my posts.  To which I reply –  sir, I pay the bills on this blog and will write what I please, get your own creative outlet (cue Destiny’s Child song Independent Woman).  Ps – I don’t smoke weed or own a water bong…..anymore.

Linda, my apologies for putting the words “water bong” and your logo together.

Okay, the final details of the closet….

I combed the internet hard for brass coat hooks.  But it’s difficult to get an accurate read on the finish from a computer screen and all the options I liked were kinda pricey.  Then I popped into Lowe’s to get microfiber rollers and found these affordable and sturdy beauties.

The cabinet latch for the laundry chute is from Martha Stewart Living for Home Depot, which obviously isn’t a perfect match for the brass hooks from Lowe’s but I’m cool with that.  You can barely tell.

We had to update the closet rod too – the old one was galvanized pipe covered in duct tape.  I would expect nothing less from Puking Snake Closet.  A big AHA moment was realizing I should rotate the orientation of the rod.

OMG, I cannot get the lighting right on these photos!!!  Panic.  Why did I choose this “room”?  Breath.  Breath.  Where’s my water bong?

Ignore the color problems and let’s focus on the coat rod.  Instead of having a wall-o-coats smack you in the face when you open the door, I tucked it over to the side.  Much better.  The rod is poplar wood from Lowe’s stained Minwax Special Walnut.

Since we have 12 square feet of space in here, I figured we needed a storage basket on the floor.  I  snagged the medium size basket in this series from World Market.  It has a touch of black in the weave which I love.

We also needed better storage on the shelf to corral items.  These grasscloth wrapped storage bins were on clearance at Home Goods – they’re sturdy, have a lid and the color and texture are great.

And finally….art.
To play up the room-like quality of the closet and make me smile when tossing socks down the chute.  One of my favorite vendors at Acushnet River Antiques is Carolann Burke.  (In her defense and due to the earlier water bong discussion, I should mention we’re not related).  These vintage British soldier watercolors are from her booth.

There are plenty of little bits to pull together and style before the reveal next week.  Fingers crossed I can get the lighting right for the reveal photos.  It’s finally dawning on me that this closet was a really bad choice for a photo-based event.  But I can’t turn back now!


one room challenge – foyer closet {week 4}

It’s Week 4 of the One Room Challenge!  From here on out, it’s all about the fun stuff – the DETAILS!

I know it’s just a closet but the choice of rug for this space has stressed me out.  In my mind, the rug should cover as much of the footprint as possible, to make it seem more like an actual room.

Lucky for me, Stark Carpet was very interested in partnering on this high-profile and dynamic project.  They reached out to me and will be sending us an antelope rug, custom-cut for our foyer closet #soblessed #itsahardknocklifebutsomebodysgottadoit.

Wait, sorry, that’s the paint fumes talking again.  Seriously though….how stunning would this antelope rug be with the green walls?  Meow.  Or whatever antelopes say.  (Consult your local terrestrial mammalogist for more information but antelopes are an ungulate so….moo?)

Okay, back to reality – I initially bought this vintage rug from Carpetsmall on Etsy to go in the closet.

In person, it was more orange than it looked online (not what I was going for) and plus I really like it in front of the console table, so I had to start over.

Not shocking to anyone – it is flipping hard to find a 3’x4’-ish vintage oushak rug in just the right color, pattern, patina and price.  Like, impossible.  I briefly considered a custom-cut bound seagrass rug from Pottery Barn but….snooze….and besides those jamokes charge out the yang for everything.  I refuse to give them money.

Given these issues and my completely one-sided relationship with Stark, I had to switch gears.  This wool kilim from Ecarpet Gallery was super affordable and I liked the colors – some green to tie in with the walls and red for warmth.  It’s not a deliciously faded oushak, obviously, but it’ll do.  It can always be placed down the line, if I find something stellar.

Watching the shiplap come to life this week has been fun though.

Green gorgeousness.  Come to mama.

And a real life, evening time shot.  Second coat just went on.  Moana soundtrack on constant repeat.  My kids can’t stop, won’t stop.

Hardware and art (yes, art in a closet) go in next week.  Fingers crossed for the sunniest week EVER to photograph.  A windowless closets is not a camera’s friend.  I think I need a clear incandescent bulb in here, not a frosted LED.  Maybe that will help things….it still seems so dim.

(From a sexy ORC/Pinterest-worthy image perspective, what was I thinking choosing this room?  No natural light?  Oh right….Bubonic Plague snakeskin…now I remember)

We’re closing in on the finish line!  Be sure to pop over to Calling It Home and check up on the ORC featured and guest participants.  There are over 200 guest participants this round!


my dream house is on the market!

Guys.  I’m having a coronary.  One of my New Bedford dream houses is on the market!

I’ve never seen inside the house, only stalked it from the outside.  We used to live around the corner.  The listing doesn’t have many pictures, which is odd.  Either the kitchen and bathrooms have major issues or the realtor has her head on backwards.  9 pictures?  Really?  But what I do see…I love!  I’d buy this baby furnished, thank you very much.

I can’t.  With this wallpaper.  Sooo good.

Look at this goodness.  Very Gray Gardens before cat pee rotted the floor boards.  And yeah, I see those Staffordshire dogs on that fabulous table.

I’m not even playing….we either need to buy this house or I have to sneak into the open house or make the estate sale my BITCH.  Seriously, I’ll camp out at 2am and train Iron Man style for it.

At this price, the house won’t be on the market long.  Probably not even long enough to need an open house.


one room challenge – foyer closet {week 3}

Nothing like the gentle hum of the air nailer to rattle your fillings out.

Welcome to Week 3 of the One Room Challenge!  This is the time to seriously crank on work…and thanks to my lovely contractor husband, we did.

The closet is full of corners and the area around the laundry chute was particularly tricky but my husband did an amazing job on the faux shiplap.  Though you should have seen his face when I kindly requested the corners be mitered super tight, caulked and look seamless #sorrybabe.

Last week, we narrowed our paint color options.  When it comes to choosing wall color, I’m like a hyper Pomeranian – very easily distracted by the next chew toy (i.e. color) – but I tried to ratchet down my level of crazy this time.

After testing a totally reasonably number of samples (7), I landed on Palace Green from Benjamin Moore.  It has a skosh of blue and yellow in it.

I didn’t want any white primer to show between the nickel-sized gaps in the boards (if that was even possible), so I impulsively started painting a stripe every 6″….with a 5″ roller….soon realizing that meant essentially putting a coat of paint under planks.  Oh well, that’s why I bought a gallon.  And it gave me a chance to really test out the color.  Heart eyes!  It’s not sage.  Not emerald green.  Not hunter green.  It’s perfect.

The crown molding is next on our to-do list.

Then installing and re-orientating the new closet rod and adding coat hooks.

Lowe’s.  $3.50 a pop.  Mic drop.

The paint was giving me animal print vibes so I put on my leopard flats for this shot.  Give *in* to the crazy….let it wash over you….

What do you guys think of the color?  My husband says it looks like an avocado (stone-face emoji).


one room challenge – foyer closet {week 2}

It’s so relaxing to do an ORC that doesn’t involve installing new floor joists.  (I’m looking at you, mudroom).

This is a cake walk in comparison, which probably means I punked out on the difficulty this round.  Or my general euphoria could be from all the primer fumes.  Oil based primer in a windowless closet = Lalapolooza 1994 level of getting high.  And not in a good way.

As you may recall – that is, if you haven’t been huffing Zissner like me – this is the situation in our 60’s snakeskin foyer closet.

Popping off scallop trim like it’s our job.

The old light fixture is in the garbage and we’re painting the ceiling and priming everything.

The wallpaper is in excellent shape, though ugly as sin, so I decided to leave it up and cover it with horizontal planks.  Now…before you roll your eyes and fall asleep in your chowder, I promise this won’t be a boring Fixer Upper white box.

Remember these luxurious bastards?

BM Forest Hills Green  //  BM Palace Green  //  BM Alligator Alley

Yep, these are totally different greens than my initial go at it.  Picking the right color for this windowless closet is hard!  I’m on round two of samples.

Before I decide on a color though, the wallpaper and trim had to be primed and the light fixture installed so the color decision wouldn’t be related at ALL to the old closet vibe.

My apologies for the crappy nighttime photos but….it’s Week 2.  Good lord, why does our trim look lime green?

The primer doesn’t have to be perfect because we’re just planking over it.  But I plan to paint the nickel-sized gaps between the boards so we just primed everything.

I’m not buying another round of samples though….the final color is somewhere on that wall.  It’s decision time.  I promise they look much better in person and when photographed during the day.

Our shiplap boards have been bought, cut in 6″ wide planks and primed, so we’re firing up the air nailer this weekend.  After that, we get down to the fun stuff – rug, hardware, art, and storage bins.

Hop over to Calling it Home and see how knee-deep in dust everybody else is.  Week 2 is always ugly.





one room challenge – foyer closet {week 1}

It’s ORC time!!! (Liz Lemon’s Oprah voice)

And despite residual stress-twitching from our mudroom renovation, we’re jumping back in.  Thank you, Linda, at Calling It Home for the kick in pants that is this mayhem!  Here’s a peek at my two other ORC rooms.

Mudroom, fall 2015 – this room saves our bacon on the daily.


Vintage boy’s room, spring 2015 – still super love this room, even with the scars on my feet from Legos.


This time we’re taking on a more manageable project – the foyer closet in our front hall.  No, it’s not a super sexy project….but it is super ugly.  According to the ORC code, I have 6 weeks to transform this disaster.  Get ready to be embarrassed for us.


So poorly lit, it can barely be photographed.

The ceiling is brown.

I believe the wallpaper is from the limited edition 1964 Snake with the Stomach Flu collection.  Very rare.  Ooooh…and matching (I use that word liberally) sponge-painted trim?

Please, humans – don’t do this to your walls.


The amount of scallop trim in this house is mind-boggling.

But it’s not all bad.  Here’s the upside.

  • It’s spacious (~12 square feet)
  • The wraparound shelf
  • The shoe nook
  • The laundry chute! (It has two entrances – one in the upstairs hallway and one here.  Word.)

*Here’s a cool article about the history of laundry chutes*

Obviously we use this space for coats and shoes but it’s also a storage closet.  Although right now it’s a disorganized dumping ground for crap and needs to be wa-aaay more functional.  And bear less resemblance to fungus.

Think… English library vibe.  I want to take this sucker from bad green to good green.

farrow and ball

The tricky part will be finding the right shade of green for this windowless nook.  I’m thinking a mid-tone mix of leafy green and sage-but-not-in-a-1990’s-kind-of-way.

country living

James F. Carter via Habitually Chic

Maybe army green instead?

kate marker interiors

Here’s the plan…..

Dreamy green everything
Vintage style light fixture
Antique rug
Woven baskets
Brass accents

Stay tuned for total annihilation of the funky snakeskin and be sure to check out what my other ORC peeps are cooking up, both the featured participants and the guests.  There’s never a shortage of talent and inspiration in this challenge!