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Can You Keep A Secret?

July 30, 2013

In two weeks, Harry is getting a roommate.

A very furry roommate.

He doesn’t know it yet…and he won’t until the second before it happens, so please, Internet, let’s keep this between us…but in 10 sleeps we will retrieve this new family member…who is coming in miniature schnauzer + dachshund form.

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Best Attitude

June 27, 2013

He started the week with a steel cold run in with a hot steel beam. 

He went back for more.

And he ended the week with one of four awards given at the Texas State Baseball Camp.

Best Attitude.

Which, as far as I’m concerned, is the best award you can get. The head coach said he was going to change the name of the award to be “The Tough Guy Award for the Guy with the Most Stitches in His Face.” Harry liked that, so he’s going to claim it.

Because if the kid’s got anything, it’s attitude.

My New Closet

July 30, 2012

This is my new closet. It need to be ironed.


After we moved into our first pre-WWI home, I was complaining to my new neighbor…an old ad man…about the ridiculously tiny closets. “Ah,” he said, thoughtfully nodding his head, “That’s the blessing of an old house.” And I thought, this guy has been in advertising way too long, also, he’s lost his mind. But then after a while of living it, I got it. He was right. The obvious lack of closet space IS a gift. It forces you to only keep what you use, and use just enough. It encourages you to choose quality over quantity. And it inspires you to be creative with what you have.

You can read more about it (and see more photos) on Hitting Refresh.

The Last Auction.

March 2, 2012

Tomorrow we will have our third and final auction of my great uncle PJ Allen’s estate. As you may remember (last fall I wrote about this and Jenny did too), PJ was a professional Parade Float and party decorator for festivals, parades, bar mitzvahs, debutantes, and a variety of other celebrations from  the 1940s to the 1990s. Five decades. Five barns. And it’s all going tomorrow. Hopefully. I say that, but I will miss it.

On Sunday, Jenny and I trudged through the barns for one last floaty time. And it just wasn’t the same. A number of things found new homes last fall…to be used in school plays, haunted houses, sold at Uncommon Objects. And Maggie even saw a ton of PJ’s stuff at a market in San Francisco. So freaking cool. Many things have found new homes. Many more will this weekend.

If you’re around, stop by. We’ll be saying goodbye to a lifetime of work…and waving happily as our long-time paper mache neighbors drive off to their new homes.

I’ll miss those crazy guys.

Here’s more info and photos of all that will be sold. 

Photo by Jenny Lawson.

I Am Shopping for Crystal Chandeliers on the Internet. I’m Not Sure Which Part of This is the Most Unsettling.

January 28, 2012

The words crystal and chandelier creep me out. Put them together and, I don’t know, weird. I get that this is overly irrational, but shopping for crystal chandeliers is unsettling.  It makes me think of bawdy Old (Mae) West brothels, or snobby Marie Antoinette, or the stranger parts of the 1970s.  But my MIL sent me this great photo of an entryway in a house, and it’s exactly what I want. And if I find the right one, I think it could bring some old fashioned 1915 Downton Abbey glam to the 1915 Central Texas house. The juxtaposition might be interesting.

In other words, I think I’m now in the market for a crystal chandelier. Or just a chandelier maybe. I don’t know.

From Adams Antiques Importers

From Alexander & Pearl


From Gallery 74

From Anthropologie 

Let There Be Flight hanging lamp from Mod Cloth

(Ok, I realize this is going in a completely different direction. But it’s kinda cute.)

From Amazon

From Lamps Plus

Also from Lamps Plus

From Bowery Lighting Company

And again with the Bowery Lighting Company

And one more from Bowery

For the most part, I tried to stay on the lower end of the price scale. Just because, whatever. But there are some amazing ones if you’re willing to spend $5K on ceiling crystal. I am not.

Anyone have any lighting tips? Like the most amazing vintage store to get 1915 chandeliers in my neighborhood for $500 or less? I feel like a grown up just talking about this. Next, I’m going to discuss politics and taxes. And have a bridge party. You’re all invited.


Pam pointed me CSN Lighting, where I found this one…which is the closest I’ve seen to the top photo online. It’s still way more than I want to spend (Of course I want to spend $25) and maybe smaller than I want, maybe. But yes. Closer.

Holiday Hack: Hauling Out the Holly.

December 16, 2011

Okay, I think it’s technically not holly. From what I understand, Holly is sharp and hurts people (the plant, not Hugh Hefner’s ex girlfriend). I think this is technically garland. If you’ve ever spent time in London over the Holidays you may have noticed that almost every doorway is adorned with living pine draperies of awesome. They’re imperfect, they’re unique, and they smell amazing. This kind of live garland is super hard to find in the states (at least around here), and when I have spotted it, it has been priced at about 4,000 times more than what I would ever pay. So. Last year, I did this little hack and it worked out so well, I rocked it out again this weekend. First, I started with this horrible plastic garland that I purchased at the dollar store.

It has lights included. It’s ugly (it’s actually even more ugly in person, trust me). And it was $5.

Then I got out the bakers twine and cut off a few branches from the bottom of our Christmas tree.

I began to tie the pieces of cut branch to the plastic garland. Along with ornaments. And love. Etc.

It’s nice, yes?

I didn’t even clip off the baker’s twine very well. I don’t even care.

Even if the crappy plastic garland shows up in some spots, the overall effect is so great it doesn’t matter.

The house smells amazing. And if I squint, I can almost believe I’m at the Gore Hotel in London. Or at least believe that these incredibly decked halls cost me more than $10.

A Voice From the Past

August 30, 2011

Yesterday, Jenny sent me an email full of ghost voices. (After she wrote this lovely thing here.)

If you know Jenny, it isn’t all that surprising that she found an oddity, but this one stopped me.

With her superhuman internet search powers, she found an obscure interview that my great uncle PJ did in the 1970s about his parade float business.

It has been decades since I’ve heard my uncle speak. He passed only five years ago, but he suffered from a form of Lou Gehrig’s disease for years before that, and honestly I had forgotten.

It’s amazing how quickly we change and fade away.

But this took me straight back.

Thank you, Jenny.


What? You Don’t Have Five Barns Full of Parade Floats? Weird.

August 30, 2011

My Great Uncle PJ Allen was a man who danced on Broadway in the 1930s and early 40s, but then moved back to Texas in the late 40s to be closer to his family and start a Parade Float business. Because of course he did.

We are now lucky enough to now be the caretakers of his body of work. Or some of it. And, as I’ve mentioned, I feel so honored to have known him and spent time with him. He was smart, interesting, and hilarious…and I knew this, even as a small kid. I just didn’t understand what the hell he was talking about. But I do remember him being the first adult who talked to me like I was an adult. And oh-what-I-would-give to hear his stories now. Especially those involving Cole Porter. I’m just saying.

Of course, when I was younger I didn’t get it.

I thought it was weird to have a great uncle who made parade floats. Perhaps even embarrassing to have a great uncle who wore a toga to Easter brunch. But now I understand how beyond wonderful it is.

So then you can understand how I’m a bit conflicted that my mom and dad decided to auction off most of his cool weird awesome creations next month. (Details. Photos. Etc.) Of course, I get it. Because seriously, why in the heck would we want all this stuff just silently taking up space. But, I feel surprisingly nostalgic about letting it go. It’s like it all belongs together or something…a little family of misfit toys who’ve been stored side-by-side for six decades.

Of course, the pragmatic side of me wins this one. Because, first, hello, Hoarders.  And secondly, this stuff is serving no one stacked high in barns. My great uncle created things to be enjoyed. And hundreds of people will now be able to enjoy bits of his creations.

For me, I love just knowing that this all exists. That people are so uniquely creative and bizarrely talented that they can conceptualize happiness from nothing. And, the fact that he made his living (and quite a good living, actually) doing what he loved…It’s really inspiring.

PJ passed five years ago on Memorial Day. And, when I say that something drew me back to Central Texas, if I’m being honest, I’ll tell you that I believe he had something to do with it. If I’m tipsy, I’ll say he called us here. I still don’t completely understand why, but I believe he had a good reason. And I’m so proud to be in his parents’ home.

I feel like I’m learning more from these strong, proud, past people every single day. And I’m thankful. Specifically, PJ Allen, thank you for being awesome. For doing what you loved. And for being who you were.

I’m so glad we’re made of the same float materials.