How-to: DIY “weathered zinc” pendant lamp

I dusted off my DIY skills and decided to do something about that ho-hum pendant lamp in my kitchen.


It bothered me that the pendant light wasn’t centered over our table, and as long as I was uninstalling it to lengthen the chain I might as well do something fun with the color. I mused over spray-painting it bright yellow, but decided something deeper, more grounding was in order.

If I had all the money in the world and nothing better to do with it than decorate, I would probably get a pendent like one of these kick-ass pendants.










But since I don’t have all the money in the world, and what I do have can’t all go toward decorating, I had to get creative.

I took the inspiration of the weathered zinc look with the gilded inside. Here’s another beauty to look at.


And I decided to make something similar out of the one I already had. Let me walk you through it.

1) Uninstall your light. My kids were around to tell me I should wait until Daddy got home to help, and then I pridefully told them I was the only one in the household with electrical skills. That alone was worth the project.

2) Remove the light bulb and use painter’s tape to tape off the place where the bulb get screwed in and also along the edge where you want to have the colors meet.


3) Sand that baby. I sanded mine for about 30 seconds before I decided it probably wouldn’t make thaaaat much of a difference, and mine turned out just fine.

4) Paint the inside. I started with the gilded inner dome because I figured I would need to handle the outer part a lot more. I used Rustoleum’s Metallic Paint & Primer spray paint in Pure Gold. I chose this one because it’s more of a muted gold, but there are more glitzy metallic gold spray paints out there too if that’s what you like.8d98a333-15cf-4cbd-bf64-83cc46bf47ab_400



5) Paint the outside with chalkboard paint to get that zinc look (and read on for the chalk trick). I used Rustoleum’s Chalk Board Spray Paint. 81UBSA8pQpL._SL1500_



6) Paint the chain, cord, and the top (if there’s a top that you want to look slightly different than the outer dome like in the expensive examples above). I used Rustoleum Metallic Paint & Primer spray paint in Flat Soft Iron for the chain.ffd73373-cf06-4e55-b889-249078979e02_400

7) Wait about 20 minutes and then do a second coat on everything.

8) Reinstall after it dries completely. I waited about 24 hours.

9) Here’s the chalk trick! To get that weathered zinc look, I took a wet paper towel and rubbed white chalk on it, then I rubbed the paper towel around in different sweeping horizontal-ish motions until it had the right look. Go at it a few times. There’s no way to mess this part up because it’s chalkboard paint and you can always clean it off with a wet paper towel and start over. I took a few tries before it was exactly the way I wanted it.

Now wasn’t that easy?! I’m loving my new kick-ass “weathered zinc” pendant lamp!


Diva went on a nursing strike

Photo credit: io9

Photo credit: io9 in 10 Reasons Why Oxytocin is the Most Amazing Molecule in the World

Things had been going pretty wonderfully in my life, and I thought I no longer needed this blog as an emotional crutch, and then the diva went on a nursing strike and I quickly redacted that conclusion.

I was pretty sure that I had staved off postpartum depression with my other two babies because the feel-good breastfeeding hormone oxytocin was my steady drip line.

This belief was confirmed when my third child, my 9.5 month-old, went from 8 feedings a day down to absolutely nothing for 36 hours. If you don’t know about the miracle of oxytocin, you’re missing out. And read this Huffington Pos article on the correlation between weaning and depression.

Having had this miracle drug ripped away, I felt like someone pulled the rug out from under me. I went into oxytocin withdrawal. I was a sobbing, soppy mess. My poor husband witnessed it all and quite honestly didn’t know what to do with me.

I was so desperate to get those feel-good hormones back I even crawled into baby’s crib while she was sleeping to try to nurse her. Twice. And both attempts were unsuccessful. That was my low point.

I’m an oxytocin junkie.

The great news is that this stubborn baby came around and started nursing again. So my free drugs are back, thank God.

Photo on 6-5-14 at 3.01 PM #2

Oxytocin drugs are back: note how I don’t care that my living room is a mess


Mama B*tch

imagesLast night I was at the mall when I ran into someone who looked so familiar. We made eye contact and said, “I know you from somewhere.” [Pause, head cocked, brow furrowed.]

I got it! She was the girl who got pissed at me at the front desk of the YMCA when she mistakenly took me for the person who snaked her precious parking spot.

That episode happened about a year ago, and with arms full of kids, being in the first trimester, and feeling like I had to regain control of my life somewhere, I started with that girl who wrongfully told me off and I retaliated.

No b*tch slap. No yelling either. But there was swearing. And then there was crying.

   *                  *                 *

This week as we were waiting for preschool to start, a gaggle of 4-year-olds (mine included) were running little circles at top-4-year-old-speed. I wasn’t bothered, because it was zero f*cking degrees outside and I figured they had to get the wiggles out somehow.

Just when I was admiring the giggly bunch, another mama yelled loud and at length at the kids to stop running. Her kid must have been angelically sitting on her carpet square waiting for class to commence. I can’t recall.

However, being the recipient of a foreign and harsh disciplinary action, my kid lost it. He ran to me crying, clinging to my legs, saying he didn’t like school anymore. I had to run out the door, leaving an anxious kid in the arms of the preschool teacher, disappointed that this happened.

When I picked him up from school a couple hours later, that yeller-mama asked if my kid cheered up about school, and I replied with a heavy dose of condescension, “He was shocked and hurt that you yelled at him to stop running. That’s not how we do it in our family.”

What I almost said was, “Do you even know how much self-control it takes me to not yell at this kid?!? And then you go and waste a good yell on a little ring-around-the-rosie?!? B*tch, please.”

This Mama B*tch is getting harder and harder to contain.

New art – like meds for the soul

It’s no secret that I suffer from the winter blues, which means that in the Pacific Northwest, from late November through late May, I’m about as worthless as a turtle. Or more like a turtle in the snow. Well, actually like a turtle upside-down in the snow. With a hawk circling overhead.

Pretty grim.

So you can imagine how excited I was when I came across these wall murals from West Elm. The perfect thing to brighten up an otherwise gloomy day.

Each one is 12′ wide by 8′ high. You can put them up on a blank wall and envision you are enjoying a beautiful scene outdoors. At only $399 each, that’s probably less than one month of therapy and meds.

Maybe if I’m enjoying snow from a living room set to the tune of 70 degrees, I could bear it. While I’m at it, I’ll point you in the direction of some of my current favorite sunny West Elm wall art pieces.

Setting myself up for success, one wall at a time.


West Elm’s Snow Drift Wall Mural


West Elm’s Enchanted Forest Wall Mural

Minted for West Elm - Sunset

Minted for West Elm – Sunset

Minted for West Elm - Forest for the Trees

Minted for West Elm – Forest for the Trees

Minted for West Elm - Candy Coated

Minted for West Elm – Candy Coated



Surprise college reunion

I have late-onset social anxiety. Taking a vacation in my hometown of San Diego heightens my anxiety of running into someone I used to know. When I’m there, I run in and out of Target with sunglasses on. Costco is even more risky. But there nearly no risk at all in taking a vacation anywhere in the Pacific Northwest because we never run into anyone we know there.

After a busy couple of days of driving and sight-seeing in Seattle, my kids were exhausted. But because we had just arrived at the park, and I was tired of being cooped up in a vehicle, I wasn’t about to let them nap in the car. I had to employ some heavy love & logic. I picked up my 4 year-old by the collar of his jacket, plopped him on his feet in the parking lot, and sternly instructed him to walk to the park so we can have an enjoyable family picnic, dammit.

But he played the injured card. He screamed and cried with such fervor that I kept looking around to make sure I wasn’t going to be affronted by some concerned witness. Pretending to ignore his performance, I walked on toward the park,  praying that my strong-willed child would follow. 



Then the baby started in. Here I am in the middle of a park with a crying newborn in my arms and a wailing 4 year-old in the distance. I notice a line-up of stylish parkour participants looking in my direction.

Embarrassing, sure. But not unusual.

Then I hear, “Mandy? Is that you?”

No one ever wants to hear those words while kids are not in line. Which means those words are pretty unwelcome on any given day at any given time. I looked up to see Hilary, one of my closest friends from college, walking toward me, while her whole parkour class looked on.

You have to know Hilary to know how comical this is. Hilary is a former actress. She is at all times perfectly coiffed, even during a parkour class. She is stylish and child-free. She’s straight-up Georgian, and was in Seattle only for that weekend.

Usually when Hilary and I get together (when our paths cross in California) I try to make sure my kids aren’t present so I have the best chance to put my best foot forward. Not only was I embarrassed that my good friend saw me (and my brood) in that state, but as I scanned her parkour class, I noticed three more old friends from college among us. Quadruply embarrassed.

It was like a f*cking surprise college reunion. I didn’t go to my high school reunion or my college reunion. But if I had I would have damn well made sure I had left the wild card kids at home.

Top 8 reasons to cook with cast iron


Our own non-stick cookware was wearing down, and it was just the impetus I needed to quit cooking with a chemical that is hazardous to children and small animals.

With the endorsements of good foodies, and a hefty amount of research, I decided on cast iron. Here are the top 8 reasons for cooking with cast iron:

8) The pros do it. Check out this page of pan-roasting with a cast iron skillet at Bon Appetit and try to tell me you’re not impressed.

7) Function wins: it distributes heat evenly for perfect cooking, and you can move it from stovetop to oven. But since the heat is dispersed evenly throughout the pan, that motherf*cker heats up pretty damn quickly. Watch the handle.

6) A seasoned (oiled) pan functions like a “non-stick” pan and the food in it tastes way better than cooking spray. It just makes sense that food tastes better than chemicals.

5) They’re affordable. Lodge cookware starts at around $15 for a small skillet. This Dutch oven with a lid that doubles as a skillet is a great starting piece at only $35. 

4) You will never have to replace them. They will outlast you. If you have nothing more to pass along to your spawn, at least you can give them some hefty cast iron cookware.

3) You can accumulate a collection over time. And if you’re into this sort of thing, you can even find cast iron cookware at thrift stores. That gives me the chills, but perhaps you can get away with it.

2) If you’re looking for an excuse to clean less, you don’t have to clean cast iron every time – just wipe it down with oil and a paper towel because in 4 minutes on medium heat the cookware is sterile. If that scares you, here’s Design*Sponge’s 10 Second How To: Cleaning a Cast Iron Skillet. And if you share my level of cleanliness or anxiety, you can still clean it with water and mild soap and oil it up again after each wash.

1) Instead of a gun, you can just sleep with your cast iron skillet under your bed. And you don’t have to worry if your kids find it.

It’s not manic…it’s motherhood

I may come across as manic. But let me assure you it is just motherhood that is doing this to me. I might have flown off the handle. I might have been crying in the grocery store. I might have run off, leaving my cart full of groceries all alone in the aisle. It can all be explained away by motherhood.

For example, I enter the grocery store with three kids yet I’m in high spirits because I am making contact with grown-ups for the first time in 12 hours. My hair is washed. My clothes are clean. Things are going so well.

I try a sample from the sample corner. I taste a new wine they are offering. And then all of the sudden the kids with walking abilities are out of sight. In a panic I spin around looking for them. I know the longer it takes to locate them the more fatal this trip grows.

Will bottles of wine roll off the display and crash in violet explosions against the floor? Will an unknowing stranger try to abduct them? Will they be reprimanded by other workers (or worse, customers) for running in the store? Is my motherhood being judged and found wanting?

See what just happened there? What started as a joyful reprieve from kid-only confinement quickly transformed into an overwhelming experience that took a huge hit to my identity.

As mothers, so much of our identity is wrapped up in the uncontrollable actions of our kids. We find positive identity in motherhood when the kid spontaneously shares, or helps another kid, or reads quietly alone. We find positive identity when our kid is potty-trained, or dresses nice, or says thank you. Our identity takes a hit when the kid hits another, or forgets homework, or shouts an expletive at a park.

Which is why I can go from fully at peace in motherhood to screaming, running from it, in the matter of seconds. Because that’s all it takes to send countless red wine bottles rolling off the display and crashing onto the floor.

Nursery reveal: decorating on a budget

Our little baby finally has a sweet spot to rest her head. We put her in the teeny room adjacent to our bedroom. Here it is before with the previous owner’s poor taste on prominent display. A moment of silence, please.


God-forsaken before: blame it on the previous owners

Here’s what we did. We tore out the carpet and had hardwood floors installed. Then we primed and painted the whole room Benjamin Moore’s Simply White (my go-to white) and Super White on the trim. I used Jonathan Adler wall decals from Target ($28), Jenny Lind White Crib (gift), Land of Nod crib sheets ($29), vintage quilt ($35), and vintage rug ($40). I used a white twin bed skirt I already owned and artfully folded it to fit the crib, and then sewed grograin ribbon ($3 so there’s no guilt to switch out colors) on the edge and used the leftover ribbon to trim the lampshade (already had the lamp). Book basket on the floor was on clearance at Target ($5).

The “mobile” is a repurposed thrift store find ($20), decorated with bird christmas ornaments I already owned. I like how the shape of the “bird cage” echoes the shape of the wall decal lanterns behind it. The Vogue print was a hand-me-down from my mom. Midcentury dresser was a thrift store find ($85). We have owned that rocking chair since our first child, but even that was nabbed at a garage sale six years ago ($27). I used an old t-shirt to recover a pillow we already owned to make a more comfy seat for late night rocking.

It feels so good to be done. Almost like I’m getting my sh*t together.


Much improved after


Thrift store objet-turned-mobile


Thrift store midcentury dresser


Garage sale rocking chair; pillow recovered with an old t-shirt. Vintage Vogue print.

What came first, the anxiety or the minivan?

Have you ever looked at a mom driving a minivan and thought that she looks peaceful? Me neither.

It seems like every f*cking minivan is driven by a frazzled mom who is barking threats while throwing juice boxes and goldfish crackers two rows back to growling, crying children who are simultaneously sticking hands and feet out the side windows.

I know I could be begging the question here. I mean, by the time the woman needs a minivan she has enough kids to drive her up the wall. But perhaps, just perhaps, that minivan has robbed her of her last semblance of peace.

Minivans are like the potato sack of cars. I get in one and quickly become invisible behind that big box of metal. I become the minivan. I am big. I am drawn to Costco. I volunteer to carpool. All is lost.

And how does everyone just stand by and watch this grotesque thing happening to millions of moms across the nation?

Stand up mothers! Fight against the pressure! We will not drive a f*cking box of metal that eats us up and spits us out! We will be better than that! We will resist.

Resist! Resist! Resist!

Musical beds

Sounds pretty kinky. But it’s not like that. I hereby humbly confess that an unfortunate combination of my pregnancy and indecision has forced Josh and me to have slept in each of our four bedrooms. I just keep dictating yet another room change, hoping the next spot our bed lands will be its last. The past year has seen countless room configurations. Josh has been ever-so-patient with me.

Unfortunately, I’m not done yet. I want to upgrade from a full-sized mattress to something bigger. But the only room in the house that will fit a bigger bed is what I had previously dubbed the guest room. And since I’m too good to sleep on the air mattress (we tried it and it won’t suffice), I’m shopping for beds (and a mattress), hoping to make a good and somewhat quicker decision than I usually do.

Oh and to make this a little more challenging, I am trying to keep the bed cost under $1,000, and we need to get creative with fitting a mattress upstairs.

I keep warning Josh that we have yet another game of musical beds on the horizon.

He keeps looking at me as if to say, “Again? Just be sure it’s what you want.”

And I shoot a look back that says, “I’m never sure of what I want. Just move the f*cking bed.”

Here are the beds I’m eyeing [today].


West Elm’s Midcentury Bed Set Acorn


Restoration Hardware’s 19th C. Campaign Iron Canopy Bed


World Market Cute as a Button Bed