Saturday, August 01, 2009


Even though the upstairs isn't "finished," I thought I'd post pictures, since it's as finished as it's going to be in the near future. I mean, all the icky work stuff is done. What remains is fun nesting/decorating, like putting up some art and having a dear, crafty friend help us with some simple sewing which, though simple, is still beyond spastic me, who cannot use a sewing machine. Anyway, without further ado, the upstairs:

The bedroom:
The stairs come straight up to a landing . . .

. . . which is what we use as our bedroom:

When the house was built in 1924, this space was the extent of the upstairs. In the '50s, someone added on the very large adjacent room, which we use as our art studio.

The arch doorway in the above photo leads to the new "nursery nook." It's not a room exactly, but more of a nook. That is, it lacks a window, and the ceiling slants precipitously, but it's space. Before we hired our friend/ contractor Tyler to carve out this space, it was a weird no-man's-land hidden behind a big Ikea armoire. This doorway is what the armoire hid:

Insulation hung from the unfinished walls and heating ducts went straight across the unfinished floor. See:
Yikes! It was weird and hidden and a little scary, and I've said in the past I've imagined an alien living there and taking secret notes on the human occupants as part of his research for a potential occupation of Earth. You can even see his chair.

The nursery:
Anyway, it's much cuter now. Tyler took out the weird double doors and put in an open archway:
Since the room is windowless and small, we didn't want a door that closes. It would seem too much like a closet. Instead, it's open and colorful, with simple white semi-transparent drapes. I made a mini version of my bird garlands for the arch:
Within, this is more or less the space:
That built-in bench hides heating ducts. It's decorated with the most awesome decals from Alexandra:
Here's another (they show up better on the white):
Love them!!!

This little cabinet we found on sale at Cost Plus, and the colors are perfect:
It's full of swaddling blankets. How weird that soon I will be attempting a swaddle on a real baby!!!

So, that right there was our main project of the past month, and it started out as the only project. Everything else (refinishing the floors, painting the living room and bathroom, new door, soffit, new base boards, and more) just cropped up as we went along. Tyler did an awesome job, and if you're in the Portland area and in need of a contractor, we recommend him highly! We have another friend who's a carpenter who's done a lot of work for us too -- Dave Fox -- the kitchen and writing room remodels, plus deck awnings and stair railings, and his work is fantastic as well. And how we know both Dave and Tyler is that we all started out as vendors at the Portland Saturday Market on the same day years ago -- Jim and me, Tyler and his wife Jennifer, and Dave and his wife, also Jennifer (that's two distinct Jennifers, of course). Jim and I were selling prints of our artwork; it was our very first foray into vending, and I recall it being a bit scary, and we probably didn't sell a whole lot that first day. I stuck it out, though, and it turned into my job for several years. Weekends spent under a canopy at the Burnside Bridge, surrounding by other crafty folks. I dreamed up Laini's Ladies down there and debuted them there, which changed my career as an artist in profound ways. Anyway. That's off the point a little. If you're looking for quality carpentry and building work, email me for info. Tyler Fuqua has a website HERE; I can forward inquiries to Dave.

So, that's a peek at the upstairs. It's a little spare still, un-art-ified, but it's very neat and peaceful and bright. I love having white bedding. The blue paint is Embellish Blue from Behr, and I love it. It's so tranquil, a little beachy.

And yes, today IS Professor's due date, but nothing is happening as of yet. Jim and I went out on a "due date date" and had our favorite pizza and saw [500] Days of Summer -- terrific movie!
So original, which is a real feat for a romantic movie. Joseph Gordon Levitt is terrific, and Zooey Deschanel wears the cutest clothes. And of course, the script is really different. It tells you right up front: it's not a love story, not really. It's more a story of the way people and relationships act as catalysts in our lives, in completely unpredictable ways. See it!

Throughout the movie, I think Professor was trying to get out through my skin, like a little bird trying to bust out of an egg. It was madness -- my belly must have stretched 6 inches this way, then 6 that way, on and on. There were little BIG repetitive motions, like she was banging on the door. She's getting strong! Time to come out! My belly is officially Really Big now. Funny how I got the "huge" comments before I was huge, and now that I am, no one says a word. They must be afraid I'll squash them.

Oh, I made my first-ever ice cream cake yesterday, for my mom's birthday. It was really good, and nice and cold :-) AND: easy!
I looked at recipes online for making a basic ice cream cake, and then I sort of improvised:

Lemon-blueberry Ice Cream Cake

1 box lemon cake mix (prepare using box directions, 2 circular cake pans)
Vanilla ice cream
Jar lemon curd
Jar blueberry jam
whipping cream, powdered sugar, vanilla

That's all the ingredients (of course, you'll need eggs and oil for the cake mix). Bake the cakes and cool them; I sliced one in half longwise, you know, to make a total of 3 cake layers. The online recipes all called for using a rectangular baking pan and then slicing the "brick" of ice cream to make the layers that way, but I couldn't find my rectangular cake pan. So for the ice cream, I had to melt and re-freeze it in circular cake pans. This was a good thing, though, because it allowed me to add a jar of lemon curd to the vanilla ice cream and make it lemonier.

So: melt ice cream, blend in jar of lemon curd. Line 2 round cake pans with saran wrap (for easy removal later) and pour in melted ice cream/lemon curd mixture. Refreeze; freeze cake layers too. When all is frozen, assemble as so:

Full cake layer + spread blueberry jam + ice cream layer + half cake layer + spread blueberry jam + ice cream layer + half cake layer. Then refreeze it again.

For frosting, whip whipping cream with powdered sugar and vanilla to taste, until thickened. Frost the whole dang thing, sprinkle blueberries on top, and refreeze again. Voila.

See? Easy. You could adapt this to any ice cream or cake or fruit flavors, and add in all sorts of other layers in between: caramel, crushed candy bars, whatever. Great for a summer party. Enjoy!


Connie Onnie said...

You just have to be the cutest, I told my sister about your blog because I knew how much she would love it. Which she does her and her husband just put an offer in on a house I know this post will inspire her for future renovations. We also just saw 500 Days of Summer, oh man I just loved it. Actually went and saw it again.

lizardek said...

Laini, thank you so much for the lovely glimpses into your life: it's so full of beauty and color and wonder and it spills out over all of us that get to share it vicariously here. :)

tone almhjell said...

I love your home <3. It's just the cutest, cosiest house, like something out of a fairy tale. And Professor's little nook is just perfect! I love the colours. Good job you guys, (and Tyler, too), and even better on the due date date. What an amazing idea!

I think Professor with her little dance was telling you that she thinks you're already the most amazing parents for taking such good care of each other and your love, which I suspect is one of the most important things new parents can do.

Heather said...

The little bassinette in the corner is just like the one I had for my kids (side note - it was the same one I had slept in)! Gorgeous! The baby nook is adorable and more than enough room for now. Hang in there Laini! Blessedly it has cooled down considerably.

Just Your Typical Book Blog said...

Ohmygosh, I adore your guy's upstairs! I love all the colors, everything is just so bright and cheerful and fun looking! Can I hire you guys to remodel my house? lol


Rachael King said...

Good luck with the birth Laini. And if you think you're huge, you ain't seen nothing! I just got the news that my baby is in the 97th percentile and will most likely be 11 pounds by the time he is born (3 weeks to go!). Help!

Katie said...

Laini, you are positively adorable! And so is your precious house :-)

Stacy Dillon said...

So sweet and cozy. How blessed will this baby be?

storyqueen said...

Love, love, love the upstairs!!


It's so hot here and everything in your post, from the white linens to the lemon curd in the ice cream looks sooooo refreshing!

Good Luck!


dawn said...

such STYLE and outrageous good taste. you come from good stock! :)

seriously, those before/after pictures belong on a home-makeover feature (if i watched TV i could name one). gorgeous. the professor is SO lucky...and i think she's practicing her yoga moves before making her glorious debut! i send love and positive vibes to you and jim, and those awesome grandparents.

love, love, love and tell jim "good luck" at focusing on work until the professor arrives. yipes.

persnickety_jen said...

Love love love what you've done with your house. It's so charming and colorful and HAPPY. Professor will be a lucky baby, indeed.

I hope you won't have to wait too long before Professor makes her debut. I can't imagine - the waiting must be torture. I was a month overdue and I think my mom was a saint for putting up with my hiccups and stretches. (Alas, the impending Christmas forced the doctor's hand. He had a golf trip scheduled, after all. Haha.)

Wasn't 500 Days of Summer fabulous? Boyfriend and I saw it a couple weeks ago, and I thought it was incredible. (Especially Harrison Ford's "cameo"!!!)

Suzanne Young said...

Everything is looking so great!!!! I can't wait to meet the Professor!!

When I was due--but not happening--someone suggested I eat KFC. I swear.haha. Next day...

Tricia said...

Thank you so much for sharing your renovation/redecoration endeavors. The house is beautiful and so darn inspiring.

BTW, we called William the "little professor" since, well, I am one! I was at work on my due date, waiting, waiting ... He didn't come for 8 more days! Given the heat you've been experiencing there, I hope your wait is over soon.

Best wishes,

Anonymous said...

I love the Due Date Date, what a fun thing to do. The upstairs looks fabulous; the light blue really makes the space look airy. The whole house looks rather picturesque. I can't wait to see pictures of Professor!


johanna said...

Laini! Your house looks absolutely, gorgeous. I can't even express how much I love it. The colors and shapes and..everything! It's all so satisfying to me on such a deep level. Magical.

So excited for you guys to meet the little professor! I can't wait to meet her too. I can only imagine what kind of powerful human she is bound to be...

And ice cream cake. Yes! I will be making that this week. Why not? My two favorite foods, together at last...


Amber said...

I love that blue, indeed. Very pretty. And that dresser works so well, I would have thought you painted it to match! That is great.

Very exciting stuff!


jone said...

You always have the best cake recipes!

Anonymous said...

I have a dream and it involves smore cookies, but no one will make them for me because all they want to do is have (weird! I almost wrote "eat" instead of "have") babies and make other kinds of cookies insteaad. So, here I sit, wasting away. Just 115 pounds now. Sure, I am still super toned but lets not get sidetracked...I bet if Clementine wanted smore cookies, there would be smore cookies snipsnappitysnap. Alibaba always gets the shaft. This is tragedy at its most epic.

Laini Taylor said...

Dear Anonymous,
You're welcome to come over for oatmeal-choc chip cookies :-)

PV Lundqvist said...

That has to be the cutest house ever.

Abigail said...

Laini---The bedroom and nursery look gorgeous! They belong in a magazine (and believe me, I'm an expert about decorating magazines). What a lovely place for a new baby to dream.
I'm sending a few things your way today.


Annie said...

Laini, just in case no one has mentioned it yet, your little one is going to grow up in the most magical world of color and imagination. That little soul did good when he/she picked you two as parents. I can hear the laughter already.