This Saturday my two oldest girls are coming home for Thanksgiving!! Their impending arrival sure makes the holiday exciting and something we look forward to all year. We've already been mapping out our week -- all the restaurants we want to visit, seeing Dickens' A Christmas Carol at the Alley Theater, and our annual Thanksgiving Day Segway ride. It is in this, the Segway ride, that we like to differentiate ourselves as the quintessential nerd family. Just imagine us . . . all in a row . . . with helmets strapped tightly around our chins . . .

Just between you and me? One of the daughters is bringing home a boyfriend to MEET THE FAMILY. This situation promotes an interesting dynamic, namely that we want the boyfriend to feel welcome and to NOT think we are CRAZY. Doubtless, we will be watching him closely to make sure he is good enough for our precious-princess-baby-girl. And, likewise, I suspect he will be surveying our family culture and his potential spot within the family o' nerds. Heavens, if young adult parenting doesn't make for some dramatic introductions!

This week I'm readying the nest for all of my little chicks (+1). This includes a long-planned re-do of Parker's room -- replacing his bunk beds and repainting and reorganizing. We will be offering Parker's room to the boyfriend for his stay, so this is a nice, self-imposed deadline. I need deadlines desperately, because . . . you know . . . Netflix.

The room was freshly painted last week. And this weekend the husband and I collaborated on a queen-sized bed frame. And by collaborated, I mean I made him a sandwich and he let me use the nail gun. We settled on a Pottery Barn Teen inspired platform bed that I originally spotted on Shanty2Chic. The plans are at

image via  Shanty2Chic

image via Shanty2Chic

Here's what I've got so far:

PJbed web.jpg

Today I'm filling the screw and nail holes and sanding. This evening Sterling will attach the feet. And at some point I will have the distinct privilege of going to Ikea for some bedding, which I imagine to be woodsy yet sophisticated, manly yet hipster.

I so enjoy these periods of preparation and anticipation. I try my hardest to make our home a place of refuge and happiness that our kids will want to return to again and again. And while, certainly, a platform bed is not entirely necessary to that project, I am aiming for order and peace, warmth and acceptance. Somehow, cozy spaces make the holidays . . . well, more cozy.

Here are a few more holiday ideas from around the web to cozy up your spaces:

Tidying for high school

There was a day last week when I was crossing the Target parking lot that I could sense the coming of Fall. I certainly couldn't feel the coming of Fall -- it really doesn't work that way along the Gulf Coast of Texas. But there is a quality of light, a certain slant of gold, that takes my mind directly to yellow pencils and fresh notebooks. I'm uncertain just how many more high school physics projects I can emotionally withstand, but new school supplies will always signal hope and happiness. School supplies are evergreen.

I'm doing my best to channel every good back-to-school feeling I can muster into Parker's room. It needs a major clean out. He grew about 27 sizes this summer, which means that very little of the size 10-12 clothing currently stuffed into his drawers and closet still fits him. Like seven things. Even the khaki pants I bought him at the Gap three and a half weeks ago are borderline too short. I'm beginning to worry that tomorrow I'll find a grown, bearded man sprawled across his lower bunk. My girls didn't do this. They grew predictably. Their growth was gradual. This boy-growing seems to be of a different order.

Also concerning --  Parker's room hasn't changed one bit since we moved into this house when he was FOUR YEARS OLD. The super cute dinosaur quilt from The Company Store? Yep, it's still there (and it has held up great!). I realize this is a fluffy, inconsequential, first-world problem. But dino bedding for a high schooler? That's the stuff therapy sessions are made of.

I'm all about keeping it real here at N&L. Behold the 'before.'

I'm all about keeping it real here at N&L. Behold the 'before.'

About six months ago I read Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. There have been synopses of this book ALL over the Internet, so I won't bore you with a lengthy recap. Suffice it to say that Kondo recommends a hefty purge, keeping only those possessions that "spark joy." I employed this method on my own closet and can report that her techniques really are life-changing! My closet is ALWAYS tidy, and has been for six months now. Turns out that if you don't have much stuff, then that stuff requires very little upkeep. I hope to help Parker learn to tidy up. I casually mentioned spending an hour a day for the next few days getting his belongings in order. He gritted his teeth a bit at the edict, but found the hour passed quickly, and then he was off to hang out with other lanky, quickly-growing friends. Yesterday we sorted clothes. Today we move to legos. Tomorrow? The dino bedding is retired in a silent ceremony.

What about you? How do you get ready for the new school year?

Make this now: big art.

What do you think about the fox? Too much?

What do you think about the fox? Too much?

I've come to be quite skeptical of Pinterest projects. I have a multi-step process by which I screen potential endeavors that goes something like this:

1. Is completing this project going to take longer than two hours? (Because I'm lazy.)
2. Will procuring the supplies make me tired? 
3. Will I want to keep the finished project longer than two weeks?

Surprisingly, those three questions rule out the majority of the Pinterest kingdom. Regardless, I keep pinning away because sometimes I just like to pull up my boards and look at pretty things.

Today, however, I'm going to tell you of a complete Pinterest success. Many moons ago I pinned this link for "DIY CANVAS PRINTS: HUGE IMPACT, LOW COST." That pin just sat patiently, waiting for the moment when I would need some large, inexpensive art for Jordan's room. In case you haven't heard (and who are we kidding? I've told EVERYONE), Jordan is coming home from her mission and thus requires large, impactful and inexpensive art. 

Guys, this tutorial is spot on. I nicely asked Sterling to accompany me to the Home Depot since, on my own, I can't find ANYTHING in that store. There, we quickly located the spray adhesive and 3/4" foam insulation board (the board is gigantic so bring a big vehicle or have the Home Depot folks cut it down for you). I'd already sent a photo to Staples, which was printed as an engineering print (size 48" x 36"). 

At home I cut the foam to size with a straight edge and a box cutter, sprayed on the adhesive and then slapped on the print. It took about 30 minutes and really does look like a canvas (make sure you wrap the edges). I'm super happy with it, and I have enough foam board left to make two more -- so I'm greedily sizing up any blank wall space.

As for the picture (the trees arching over a country road), I simply browsed one of my favorite free image sites, Unsplash. I downloaded the photo and then uploaded it to Staples. Downloading and uploading are two of my favorite things. They are undemanding tasks. Plus, you can do them in your pajamas.

So. Yeah. Big art. Item 128 checked off my list. Two bajillion things left to do!

Giving this year: DIY city quilts

Now that the calendar is hitting the last week of October I'm giving a little thought (very very little, mind you) to Christmas giving. I'd love to make at least a few of the gifts so I should probably get started! Maybe you're in the same boat. One thing for sure: I am itching to make a city quilt (or fourteen) from Haptic Lab. 

I've had my eye on their work for a couple of years. Their city quilts are amazing. Now they also offer DIY quilt kits, either the basic kit (pattern and instruction) for $38 or with materials included for $74.

NYC DIY city quilt kit,  photos via Haptic Lab

NYC DIY city quilt kit, photos via Haptic Lab

I can think of so many great recipients for these--as a hometown remembrance for kids who are getting ready to leave for uni or jobs or who have dreams of traveling, for friends with affinities for a certain city, for your own family to remember and mentally travel through cities you've loved together. It would also be wonderful to give the kit itself as a gift to one of your kids who loves creating things.

The beauty is that you can embroider little messages and important spots onto the quilt to personalize it and make it especially meaningful.

Boston DIY city quilt

Boston DIY city quilt

The only problem for me is I wouldn't be able to decide which city (there are 19 to choose from so far). And it's not just cities. They also offer USA and world map quilt kits--a fun gift to personalize and give someone (or, let's face it, yourself!) to document all the places they've lived or to highlight a journey. AND THEN there's the constellation quilt kits!

Haptic Labs also offers very cool ship kites and other custom kites. I think this red orange one could be fun for kite flying and equally fabulous hanging from the ceiling in a favorite room:

Here's a great little clip from Emily Fischer, the artist behind Haptic Labs, on the constellation quilts:

p.s Haptic Labs doesn't know I exist and definitely didn't pay for me to rave about them. I just get really excited when people come up with great ideas, create them, and share with the rest of us.

Definitely let me know if you decide to make one. I'd love to see what you do with it! Right now I'm trying to decide between Boston, NYC, London, or the world. 

So what do I do NOW?

[Note: Friday gems this week are going to be Saturday gems. A post! On Saturday even.]

As Annie explained in our last post, we've been tossing back and forth the evolution of this little old blog. We are admittedly all over the map, and I think that's because our lives are, in many ways, pinging random-like amongst our family responsibilities, church duties, academic pursuits, interests, and, of course, Netflix. There's no neatly outlined game plan for this portion of our lives, which I find wildly exhilarating and mildly confusing. Some days I'm carpooling and planning birthday dinners and writing. Some nights I find myself in this house alone. ALONE. Can you even believe it? I know I can't.

And right now? Now I'm nesting.

In two and half weeks Sterling and I fly to France to pick up our daughter from her 18 month mission. The plane tickets were purchased some months ago, but now I'm finalizing places to stay, and a car to rent, and googe translating directions. Of course, once Jordan is with us she can be our translator, but before we actually swoop in and claim her . . . we have to rent a car, find our airbnb flat, AND find her mission office. Wish us luck.

I've imagined our reunion with her dozens of times. I think I'll be nervous, which seems ridiculous. There is absolutely nothing to be nervous about. I know I'll be excited out of my mind. Have you seen the YouTube video where the missionary tackles his mom? I'm thinking it might go something like that -- except it will be me . . . flattening Jordan. And then I have a million things to tell her and a million questions to ask. I want to hear about every adventure, and all of the people she has met, and exactly what it is like to be a Texan living in France. (For instance, 18  months without queso. It's horrifying.)

Have I mentioned we pick her up at 9 PM? And that we will be jet lagged?

Honestly, I try not to envision the reunion too much. It's a little too MUCH emotional anticipation even for me. So, I'm nesting. Jordan's childhood room has long ago been taken over by a younger sibling -- all of Jordan's college belongings hastily stashed in an unused bedroom. Two days ago I painstakingly cleaned out the room, dragging its miscellaneous contents into the gameroom. Yesterday the painter came. Now I have a clean, white slate and innumerable Justin Bieber posters with which to begin. (JK on the Biebs re-entering the room.)

I'm hoping for a grown-up, peaceful, eclectic vibe that rejuvenates my weary traveler.

Maybe something like this:

image via  decorpad

image via decorpad

Or this:

image via  southernweddings

My only constraints are time (two weeks people) and money (flying to France, ahem). I'm heading to Marshall's now. Wish me luck!

DIY heaven

Time and energy are both scarce commodities for me today. Hopefully I'll be back tomorrow with a well-thought-out, inspirational essay that will change your life FOREVER. But how about today we just look at pretty pictures? And dream of making beautiful things? 

I happened upon this blog the other night (thanks to the wonders of Pinterest) and spent a good 45 minutes reading through the project tutorials. This is a home-decorating, husband and wife team that will knock your socks off. They do some awesome stuff. Like make incredible furniture out of thrift store finds.

See how they added mid-century inspired legs to this dresser.

Or check out their studio/living room. Awww, man! Why didn't I think of that?

There is even a tutorial for those beautiful drapes.

Pardon me while I daydream.

A few good gems

We are officially on summer break in Texas!! Well, my kids finished up school yesterday, but I'm still in NYC helping Maddie find all the best restaurants in her new neighborhood. It's a tough job, but I'm totally up for it.

Maddie and I are off to try to get some last-minute Jimmy Fallon tickets (a very, very, very long shot), but I wanted to share a few good gems I've turned up over the past week. Enjoy!

via  ishandchi

I love everything about this Zoey Murphy dresser. I'm trolling Craigslist for a likely candidate for some striping of my own. Lots of color ideas at ishandchi.

Last weekend I read The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. I have mixed feelings about the book. I mean, I liked it, but it somehow left me feeling a little deflated . . . in a everything-turns-out-crappy kind of way. BUT . . . it also reminded me of this Slate article about kids at camp -- a place where their essential version of themselves can fully emerge. I'm curious if you would agree.

When her son left for college, this mom dealt with her sadness and anxiety by drawing advice for him. Check it here.

Have you looked into #YesAllWomen? I'm thinking a lot about it as I drop my 19 year-old daughter off in the big city all by her lonesome. Mostly to make myself feel better, I keep saying "You won't run around NYC at night by yourself. Right? RIGHT??" I like how DesignMom talked to her kids about #YesAllWomen.

Billy Collins and Cheerios.


Typography makes me happy. Framing and enlarged book page is genius. I can't find the original post, but I'm thinking Staples engineer prints would work here.

Amen! Have a happy weekend!