Memorial Day

Memorial day, my most highly anticipated Monday holiday, has come, gone, and left the first hint of a tan line. I hope your long weekend was spent in an absence of work and with an abundance of the Good Things in life. For me, those Good Things are my family, the husband, a Hadley-dog, and the beach. The opening of summer seasons everywhere, ours is always spent on the island. We pack our summer clothes- freshly woken from winter’s hibernation and trailing a nostalgic mothball perfume. We will wear these summer clothes in defiance of the springtime chill. This is the reason why sweatshirt businesses thrive on the island. First time tourists we are not, but it’s fun to play the part after so many months trapped on the mainland. Window-shopping, lighthouse exploring, old-house peeping, boat watching.





A precursor to real vacations, summer’s first weekend involves less relaxation and more work than we ever seem to remember. There are several generations of sun-faded outdoor furniture to be scrubbed, pebble pathways that require weeding, and overgrown bushes that need trimming.




But in between we find the moments that remind us what we work for. There is a Hadley-dog who demands that her humans entertain her.


Entertain we do. To the point of exhaustion… both hers and ours.



My sister and I re-introduce our pale skin to the sun. We trade the treadmill for dirt roads and salty air. The beach becomes our personal cardio studio. Our sneakers fill with sand, but we don’t care. We forget what time it is, but remember to break out the boxed wine when the sun starts her daily Westerly stroll.




We grill the first fresh bluefish of the season and fight over a post food-coma movie. Rocky II is quickly vetoed, and no one wants anymore HGTV, so we settle on America’s Funniest Home Videos and remember the days when Bob Saget ruled the airways. There’s brief talk of heading back into town for a waffle cone, but falling asleep on the couch becomes the chosen plan.

The boat ride home is The Worst. I’m not ready to leave. But this year there is something extra special to look forward to upon our return. Construction progress. The transformation of the Island house is well underway and soon we will accessorize the new walls and shelves with our good memories of many more Memorial days to come.





So fresh and so clean

In the apartments of our past, by far the smallest room has always been the bathroom.  Our current bathroom fits this trend, but she’s about double the size of our previous bathrooms.   A full size washer and dryer commandeer much of this extra square footage, but we’re still left with a few open nooks and crannies.  Literally, a little cranny of a nook:DSC_0775

I can’t quite fathom the original purpose of such a small window alcove in the architectural grand scheme of our 1890’s home, but I do know that nooks should not be left empty.  No lonely nooks here.  Luckily, my inherited hoarder tendencies translate to an accumulation of furniture in almost every shape and size.  I located a retired bedside table that nestled in nicely…. but still the nook looked lonely.  It was too sterile and white, and it needed some clutter.  I’m good with clutter.

But how do you decorate a bathroom?  Although I love the idea of art in the bathroom, I’m not ready to take such a drastic leap.  There’s an absence of real artsy art in the rest of my living space, so who am I to tack a nice watercolor above my toilet?  And the shower-steam- I cringe thinking how shower-steam will transform my first masterpiece.

So I didn’t go with art.  I went with soap.  I’m comfortable with the presence of soap in a bathroom, that’s where it’s supposed to be.  Water and steam- these things help soap do its job even better.  And there’s major perk to decorating with soap, because when your shower stash runs low there’s always an extra bar (or dozen) on hand.

I used a Container Store glass canister to layer Dove and Dial soap in an alternating white and yellow pattern.  Can’t get any easier than that.  The jar fills nicely with 9 bars of the yellow Dial, and 12 bars of the slightly smaller Dove.

bathroom soap decor

soap bathroom decor

soap  jar bathroom

bathroom soap jar

bathroom soap jar white and yellow

On the bottom shelf, I jelly-rolled some of our grey hand towels and stacked them in a spa-like pyramid.  Nook filled, table cluttered; my job here is done.

soap jar

bathroom soap jar white yellow and grey

grey yellow and white bathroom soap jar decor

grey and yellow bathroom

sharing with Tatertots and Jello, Funky Junk Interiors That DIY Showoff



The One That Got Away (but that’s okay)

Spring has sprung.  Around Boston that means another depressing installment of someone-take-my-money-I-want-to-buy-a-home.  Based on Redfin (which I can never seem to stop stalking) and my Internet wanderings, we are in the middle of another seller’s market, same as last year.  Prospective buyers, I feel your pain.  Time for a sad story.

Our current condo was not our first love.  In all fairness to Ellie (name of our condo) we didn’t meet her until 5 months into our home search.  Before that we had virtually snooped through hundreds of homes on Redfin and had attended upwards of 30 open houses.  In that time there were many condos that tempted us, but it wasn’t until our third month of searching when we experienced love at first Redfin-sight.

She was listed on Thursday, with open houses slated for that Saturday and Sunday.  As soon as the Redfin update email hit my inbox, I called my cousin (who acted as our real estate agent) and told him we had to see this place.  Preferably before the open houses, because I knew how crazy those would be.  Unsurprisingly, the listing agent said no to a private showing, as she was no doubt expecting the overly crowded open houses to feed a bidding war and drive up the selling price.  Bravo real estate agent, your evil scheme worked.

We hit the scene of the first open house early in the time window, but the sidewalk, stairwell, and 3rd floor condo were already uncomfortably cramped with potential buyers.  Even through the mass of people, we could see that the-one-that-got-away (TOTGA from now on) surpassed the already high expectations that had been set by the real-estate photos.  Holy exposed brick.  This place had more than I had ever seen in a single unit.


exposed brick interior

photo credit: Mae Chevrette via photopin cc



photo credit: Professor Bop via photopin cc

I’m not up-to-date on the etiquette rules for posting pictures of someone else’s property (because, spoiler alert: we lost out on this one), so instead let me bullet point the three major selling points not commonly found in old, character laden buildings around these parts:


  • Solid hardwoods floors.  No creaking.
  • New, energy saving and noise canceling windows
  • Central AC (the only place we ever saw with central AC)


I knew there was a 95% chance we’d be putting in an offer, so before stepping foot in the door I had written a “Dear Homeowner” letter and had my checkbook on hand.  Deciding on the offer price wasn’t overly difficult- with no visible fixes and a surplus of eager buyers we figured that going in at slightly over list price was a decent first offer.  We filled out the paperwork, cut our earnest money check, left everything in the realty office across the street, and prepared to wait.

Sunday morning my cousin called the listing agent to confirm when all offers would be reviewed (7 pm that night).  During that conversation the agent casually dropped a “best and final” bomb.  Meaning that there would be no counteroffers from the sellers, thus creating a special kind of bidding war where a buyer is pitted against herself and is forced to compete with her own imagination.  Should we go in at 6K over asking, or 11K to hedge against a 10K over scenario?  Of course there was the small, but concerning worry that ours was the only offer on the table.  In the end we went 12K over asking, a gut wrenching decision that involved several phone calls to both our families for advice.

And then it was back to the worst game ever: waiting.  I made brownies.  We’d either use them to celebrate, or I’d be consuming my disappointment.

Consume them I did… the entire pan, all by myself.  Want picture proof?


Don’t worry, they were No Pudge brownies, which meant I only consumed about ¾ the calories and shame of regular brownies.  It was necessary though; when my cousin called with the bad news that our offer wasn’t accepted he added that the sellers were going with an offer 26K over asking.  We weren’t even close.  Looking back now I realize that this doesn’t even reach base camp on the Mt. Everest of crazy over asking offers (we know a couple who sold their condo for $100,000 over asking to an all-cash buyer during this time).

All things happen for a reason, and yada yada yada, but at the time this felt like a devastating blow from the real estate gods.  Eventually I put the brownie pan down and jumped back into the greater-Boston-condo-market-shark-tank, but it was with considerably less excitement than what we had brought to the beginning of our search.

End of sad story, time for some brownies.  I’ll bake them in my gas oven… the-one-that-got-away didn’t have one of those…




Under the Sea

Did you know that a group of jellyfish is called a ‘smack?’  This useful piece of trivia now lives in my brain thanks to the impending birth of a little family member.  You see, my sister-in-law is a very pregnant lady.  This is exciting for several reasons, the most important being that I get to be an aunt again, but also because I recently had the opportunity to help plan and execute her baby shower.  My sister and brother-in-law are enthusiastic scuba divers, were married in the Florida Keys, and are using oceanic elements in their nursery decorating.  When taken together, these factoids practically demand an ‘under the sea’ shower theme, so we dove right in (pun intended).

Unsurprisingly, flowers ended up being the trickiest part of my to-do list.  Flowers are pretty.  Foresty.  Earthy.  A beachy bouquet seems easy, but I wanted flowers that could reflect the ocean depths and all the unearthly critters that call the sea-bed home.  It wasn’t long before I realized I was out of my league and that it was time to recruit a professional….. my mother.  In reality, her chosen profession is attorney, not florist, but she happens to be an amazing entertainer and flower arranger.  She took pity on my lack of skills and offered her help along with the services of her favorite florist in Boston.

My mom consulted with her florist, threw around words like ‘organic,’ ‘green,’ and ‘reef,’ and left the rest up to a combination of trust and fate.  On the Thursday before my SIL’s Saturday shower she arrived at my place, flowers in hand, for some mother-daughter bonding.  Here’s what we were working with:


  •  yellow protea
  • white wax flowers
  • white gerber daisies
  • white snapdragons
  • green trachelium
  • yellow solidago
  • nautical rope vases from Homegoods

Oh my gosh the protea.  I was in love at first sight… these guys are the South African land version of a coral reef.  Next to the seaweed look of the trachelium I could finally envision ‘under the sea’ in the language of flowers.


After a lot of ‘does this look right?’ and ‘what’s missing in this section?’ my mom and I assembled one large and two small arrangements.  These capable hands proved to be the heart and soul of this project:


under the sea flowers protea

under the sea flowers protea

Miraculously all three arrangements survived inter-state car travel with no water spillage or petal sheddage.  And as good quality flowers should, they retained their fresh appearance for the 1pm Saturday show time.

under the sea flower rope vase

under the sea shower protea

under the sea baby shower flowers

Our ‘under the sea theme’ began with flowers, but extended to a smack of paper lantern jellyfish, lots of shells and deceptively inedible sand dollars (apologies to those who didn’t get this message in time), fisherman’s netting, enough seafood to feed a small village, and a bottle full of birthday messages to the baby-to-be for years to come.

paper lantern jellyfish

under the sea paper lantern jellyfish

under the sea baby shower

under the sea place setting

under the sea place setting

under the sea fisherman net

birthday message in a bottle baby shower

And cake.  What’s a party without the cake?

baby shower cake

Best wishes to M and S, can’t wait to build sandcastles with the little guy!

Sharing with Simply Gloriatatertots and jello


Salem Witch Trials

If you’ve ever taken a class in American history, chances are that you’ve heard of Salem, Massachusetts and the drama that unfolded there in 1692.  Most likely you’ve listened to tales of the young women whose accusations against Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba catalyzed the mass hysteria that snowballed into the Salem Witch Trials.  More than 200 men and women were accused of witchcraft between 1692 and 1693, 19 of whom were executed by hanging.  This unlucky group consisted of 14 women and 5 men.  My forebear, a Grandfather with 7 greats in front of his name, was one of those 5 hanged wizards.  By most historical accounts, my ancestor was not particularly liked within the community- he made an above average living making above average furniture, and married a young widow of below average repute.  Perhaps he did consort with the devil- but most likely his neighbors accused him out of jealousy, pettiness, and personal dislike.  Fortunately for my existence, he and his wife had several children prior to the Salem debacle.

You may be asking what the Salem Witch Trials have to do with our condo life.  A valid question, and one that would have been answered with ‘not a clue- no connection’ had you asked several months ago.  However I’ve recently learned of a coincidence 221 years in the making.

In mid-November, once all the leaves had fallen, we participated in a yard-work Sunday with our association members.  Although raking and leaf bagging were the main events, breaks with hot mulled cider and pastries facilitated some neighborly socializing.  Deciding that the best way to learn about our home was to talk to the people who’ve lived there for decades, I asked if anyone knew the origins of our Victorain houses.  Luckily for me, the Parking Tsar* of our association grew up in Boston, has lived in his condo for 30 years, and dabbles in local history.  He told us about the many tenants our home has seen over the years from immigrant Irish factory workers to the married student population of a local college.

(*This title actually exists in our association documents.  He’s responsible for allocating parking spaces, and scheduling use of the two guest parking spots.  Parking in this neighborhood is no laughing matter.)

leaf raking

Of the information our Parking Tsar shared, the tidbit with the most relevance to my family’s history is that the land where we now live originally belonged to a prominent judge in the Salem Witch Trials.  He was the only magistrate to later express regret at the role he played in the trials (though this did not stop his eventual rise to become the chief justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court).

How karmically ironic that as a descendant of a Salem wizard I partially own what once belonged to a man who delivered that death sentence to my family.  I like to think of this as the worlds’ way of finding a bit of balance.  When I started this blog, one of my goals was to unearth the people, stories, and events my home has seen over the years, but I never expected that a piece of that history would have such a clear link to my family’s story.