Here in Los Angeles, we had fall for two days earlier this week. Temps hovered in the 70s, and clouds made pretty sunsets. Now it’s the dog days of summer again — it’s supposed to be 99 degrees today and tomorrow.
Even if we don’t have consistent autumn around here when it comes to weather, I have my own special way of marking the change of season (and it has nothing to do with Starbucks’ menu): I know it’s that special time of year by the glut of writing assignments on my calendar, all centered around fun seasonal food and decorating ideas. Writing these pieces is my equivalent of the pumpkin spice latte. It signals: Fall is here and it’s fun!
To inspire your seasonal crafting and cooking projects, here’s a little shortcut to the roundups I’ve pulled together over the last couple of weeks:
Last year, I was busily being more “motion” and less “homebody” for various reasons. First, I was pregnant and we were trying to get all possible travel in before babies (I was editing the original version of this post from a tropical lanai). And of course, we’d been booted out of our house while we remodeled in my second trimester. But it’s my very talented sister who was then — and always is, if I’m honest — the more gifted “homebody” anyway, when it comes to mind-blowing Pinterest-worthy DIYs, crafting, and making stuff in the kitchen.
So she took the reigns as guest blogger with this post about how to dye eggs naturally. And given it’s Easter season again, it’s time to bring this gorgeous post back for your DIY inspiration! (After Easter, this project is amaze for a baby shower or other springtime event, too.) Without further ado, check out the wizardry that is Elisabeth’s tutorial for how to dye eggs naturally:
“Last year when my son was in kindergarten, his teacher requested that parents send in some kitchen scraps for coloring boiled eggs using only nature’s bounty. Naturally, I thought, “Oh, this’ll be swell. I’ll send in my cabbage scraps for the kids to make their nature craft, and then run over to CVS to buy some Paas coloring kits for when we dye the pretty eggs at home…” Little did I realize that modern kindergarten teachers are nobody’s fools; one would never propose a craft project that wouldn’t produce a dramatic show to hold the interest of discerning five-year-olds. In this case, the spectacle lay in the power of simple foods to create effective egg dyes that not only cost very little but come out way, way better than Paas. This year, I decided to try my own hand at naturally-dyed eggs. (Enough friends asked me how I did it, so I was inspired to ask my sister to allow me to use this forum to share the joy…)
Here in Los Angeles, we don’t have many weather-related indications that summer is turning to fall, so we have to embrace the signs wherever we can find them — so basically, in Starbucks.
For me, the special sense that fall is creeping in comes with the annual flood of lifestyle writing assignments that turn my attention to the season’s decor, food, crafts, and all the other good stuff. These stories are like pumpkin spice lattes for my laptop. They make me kind of giddy. My job doesn’t suck.
Allow me to share the joy! Following is a little roundup of some of the stories I’ve written in the last couple of weeks, in which I rounded up some of the best ideas from around the Web for Thanksgiving decorations, food, crafts, flowers, tabletop, and plenty more to buy or DIY:
For Halloween today, my son is an off-the-rack skeleton from Old Navy — but that’s whatever. My daughter is a hula girl, and her costume is the point of the story:
When I was a thousand weeks pregnant, David and I were looky-looing a ginormous open house down the block from us—an event that typically brings all the neighbors out in our extremely real-estate-obsessed community. (#Angelenos.) The broker told me I should be sure to meet another neighbor who was also there looky-looing, who’d just delivered twins a couple of weeks before. So I did, and we had a great chat. Mostly what I took away from it was that she looked like she’d never been pregnant in her life—and I had renewed (and it turns out false) hope for my immediately postpartum bod.
Now our twins are eight weeks old, and hers are 12. David and I love walking by their house in the evening. It’s one of our favorite houses in the neighborhood—so quintessentially deco Spanish—and they’re often sitting on the front porch with their babes, so we exchange wisdom and pleasantries. It’s very 227 as L.A. goes.
Given their babes are four weeks ahead of ours, we often get useful information about the best twin baby products we’re going to be needing ourselves any day now. Thanks to this neighbor mom, I have a new list of amazing product recs I am completely drooling over. And of course, I have my own list of things I love and can’t live without—widsom I impart to any twin mom (or twin mom-to-be!) who listens. Without further ado, here they are:
File this one under B for better late than never — but since I’m on a remodeling-post roll, I’m inspired to share a couple of before-and-after photos from our 1930s kitchen remodel… which we completed two years ago.
I can’t overstate how much I loved this house when we first saw it. It felt so right. It was like that magical Say Yes to the Dress moment. Is this the one? Oh yes, gurrrl, this is the one. But I’ve said a hundred times before on this blog, the only thing not ideal about this house is its size, at about 1,350 square feet. (Fine for a couple, but not so much for growing into as a family.) The kitchen was among the rooms in particular that did not feel large, but part of the problem wasn’t actually the size itself, but rather the dearth of storage. There seemed to be just a few cabinets willy nilly, but nothing that maximized the space.
What happens when you have a two-bedroom house and two babies on the way? Well, first thing is you can kiss your sweet home office goodbye in favor of a nursery. Second thing is, you can figure out what the heck to do instead if you are a writer-editor who works from home.
Our solution (after considering other options like buying a new house, for instance) was to go for a detached garage office conversion. At first, I was opposed to this idea (proposed by husband), because I’m not sure you really see ROI from a future sale of a home, unless you add square footage onto the main house. But I really started to warm up to the idea when I began realizing its utility as a major custom feature for a new mom who makes her living as I do; I can be close enough to be accessible, but still two closed doors away from babies and nanny and noise enough to have the reasonable expectation of actual work. That’s a setup that works for me.
Beyond that, we needed to maintain some storage space. Otherwise, what would happen to husband’s 23 crates of ’90s hip-hop records from his DJing days, or my endless hoard of sentimental artifacts (I know, I know, call A&E — but I just love life and people and memories)? So we divided the garage into partial raw storage, and partial office space. That sounds sort of simple, but required hoop jumping to accommodate the movement of the existing garage door, as well as un-motorizing it so the motor didn’t run through the ceiling of our space.
With those considerations all addressed, prospective garage-office converters among my dear readers will be pleased to know the project was a fairly simple one!
One of my best friend’s Holocaust-survivor bubbies had an expression. She’d say — and you have to imagine this in an old-country accent — “Everywhere is it nice, but home is it the best.”
This is more or less my own life’s most fundamental mantra, and the underpinning beneath every word written on this blog. I want to go everywhere and see everything, and in between I want to come home to my own coordinates, on my teeny-tiny piece of the earth, and sit in my sweet little 1,350-square-foot house, surrounded by my family and my friends and rascally cats. That’s the nougat filling if travel is the chocolate coating.
So quite literally every time I touch down at LAX, or pull into the driveway after a long time away, I say out loud — affecting the same Yiddish accent — “Everywhere is it nice, but home is it the best.”
After more than six weeks out of our house, living with parents and in-laws and traveling out of town every single weekend, our bathroom remodel finally wrapped up and allowed us to move back in earlier this month. And by then, home felt more luxurious than even the most far-flung five-star resort.
As you know by now, I’m in the middle of a house remodel that has necessitated our move out of our house — and in with parents and in-laws. As disruptive as this is (and I’m sure I could think of a few other choice adjectives to describe it as well), it also provides a great sense of excitement: When we move back in, we’re going to have a brand-new-feeling place and a fresh start.
To go with our new bathroom, new office, new dining room, and revamped dressing and laundry room, we’re definitely eyeing plenty of new furniture. (Obvi!)
LA Furniture Store has a couple of locations right near us, at the Westside Pavilion and in Downtown L.A. (not to mention e-commerce and locations in Florida and New York as well), and would be a great place to pick up some key pieces. Here’s what I’m thinking…
OK, dear readers and impeccable home decorators! It’s giveaway time again. And I’m pretty pumped on the latest prize.
The modern home decor, furniture and accessories retailer LA Furniture Store is offering Homebody in Motion readers a $125 gift card toward its super chic and sleek modern styles, available online as well as at locations all over the country (including several right here in my home town of Los Angeles — DTLA and Westside Pavilion holler! — plus New York and Florida).
Put your (free!) money toward a huge selection of modern furniture, or use it to completely cover one amazing accent piece — like this gilded starburst mirror with kind of a mid-century modern feel, a steal at $125 on the nose. (It reminds me of my fave Palm Springs, and I totally want it in my house — we can be twinsies).