Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hooray for Marshall's

First of all, I feel I should mention that the above photos show the tragic results of 3 consecutive half-days of school combined with unlimited access to 2 bags of M&Ms. The half-days were due to Parent-Teacher conferences this week. The M&Ms were my doing. I thought it would be festive and fun to have some of the Holiday variety in the house. That was yesterday. Both bags are now gone. And while I confess to doing my part in obliterating said bags of kiddie crack, I did not do it alone. Suffice it to say Man-Cub has spent the better part of the past two days pinging about the house and getting himself scolded at surprisingly frequent intervals. And I am tired. When will I ever learn?

On a happier and slightly escapist note, I managed to unearth a few lovely trinkets at the archaeological dig that is the clearance rack at Marshall's the other day.

These pine-scented candles and candle rings are just the thing for my wedding-gift silver candlesticks!

Christmas crackers can be hard to find, but this year I stumbled across a bunch that even match my decor!

I couldn't pass up these sparkly beaded strawberry ornaments. Now, I'm just trying to decide whether to put them on the tree or keep them on display in the dining room year-round.

And finally, these boxes of be-sparkled beaded fruits. I've decided they're going to mingle with a delightful array of pine cones as part of a most becoming centerpiece arrangement. I just haven't decided which container to use.

I could use some opinions on the matter. Should I use this vintage Coca-Cola tray my mom got for me at a garage sale?

It is currently being used in such a manner for my Harvest centerpiece.

Or should I use what I did last year and pile everything up in this lovely compote (also a garage sale find from Mom)? I truly cannot decide. Any thoughts or suggestions?

While we're on the topic of deciding things, I also need to find something to go along with these candles as Christmas gifts for my in-laws.

These candles are amazing. My second cousin makes them herself, they're soy so they burn clean and the wax left in the jar washes out easily with just soap and water, and they smell exactly like they're supposed to. The lilac smells like lilac, the jasmine smells like jasmine and the lemon oatmeal crisp...well, you get the idea. I bought several for our home and decided they'd make great Christmas gifts for those people I never know how to shop for. I bought one each for The Viking's mother, sister, sister-in-law and niece, but I think they need to be paired with something else to make a suitable gift. I'd like to find something homemade, but am not sure where to look. I did think about baking something yummy to go with them, but most of my in-laws have food allergies so edibles aren't usually a good way to go. I would be most open to any ideas!

On that note, I must be off. The Viking was peeking over my shoulder as I was editing this and seemed a little put out that I didn't share with him the pretty things from Marshall's I'm so excited about. So, I'd better go show them to him.

Besides, The Office is on. Even if it is a re-run...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Aftermath

Mmmmmm...leftovers. This is all that I have left to show for my efforts. As you can see I don't like to invest in glamorous storage containers for food. Two bags of turkey bits, a half-pan of dressing, small bowls of both mashed and sweet
potatoes, one sorry slice of chocolate pie and most of the second pumpkin pie (YES). The first pumpkin pie and the pecan were obliterated pretty much immediately, as were the gravy and Brussels sprouts, go figure.

Well, we've enjoyed the feast, braved the crowds, hit a few Holiday sales and now we've settled down into our traditional Thanksgiving weekend stupor. We've rented dvds, slept late each morning, played lots of computer games, eaten what we want when we want, left dishes waiting to be put away (some are still in the dishwasher),

and let the children leave their stuff all over the dining room table (among other places).

There is, of course, much more evidence I could show you, but I don't think any of us have the time or courage for that. Suffice it to say those pics were the only ones I felt I could share without irreversibly incriminating myself.

Thanksgiving itself was very much a success. No one misbehaved, nothing got burned, dropped or splattered, conversation was easy and laughter was abundant. It was all good. But I think my favorite part was the making of the Appetizer. I decided it would be a character-building experience for the children to be forced to prepare at least one dish for the Thanksgiving feast. They weren't crazy about the idea, but I think they will look back on it someday and be grateful. And as far as slave labor goes, it wasn't bad. They were given everything they needed, all the ingredients, explicit, easy-to-follow instructions, and the careful supervision of a benevolent parent and guide (that would be me, breathing down their necks the entire time).

Here they are, assembling the Orange-Almond Bites appetizer out of Triscuits, Brie, orange marmalade and sliced almonds.

Man-Cub, who is nobody's fool, remained resentful to the end, but Red Headed Snippet decided to go with the flow and enjoy herself.

She even went as far as to sprinkle leftover almonds all over the plate for presentation. Ta-da!

Those bites were yummy.

My contribution to the group effort was taste-testing the Brie.

And The Viking? Well, in between helping me in the kitchen, blowing the leaves down the driveway and running to the store for last-minute items, he managed to accomplish this:

That's right! The coat cupboard is in! It still needs doors and a few finishing touches, but our stuff is contained and corralled! It felt so good to be able to tell the kids, "Hang up your coats," when we came home last night. I told you my husband is a marvel, right? Didn't I tell you?

So, I know that's a lot of pictures to take in at once, but before I go, I'll leave you with one more. I didn't get any pics of the actual feast or the motley crew assembled to partake of it, but I did get this one that I think captures the essence of Thanksgiving just about perfectly:

Little Cindy Lou Who, who is no more than two, sucking down a plate of homemade whipped cream.

Hope your Thanksgiving was just as yummy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Field Report: Operation Thanksgiving Assault

Thanksgiving preparations are well underway here at our cottage. Most of the Monday tasks are done, due, in large part, to The Viking and his usual lightning blitz through the chores list. Give him a list and he'll blaze through it with blinding speed, as long as you don't ask him to make beds, sort through papers or fold laundry. The man's a marvel. Check it out:
He cleaned out the fridge.

He tidied the pantry.

He did all the grocery shopping (I was going to include a picture of the newly full fridge, too, but somehow it still looks strangely empty).

My fireball of a husband has also been taking care of all the dropping off and picking up of children, loading the washer and dryer, and cleaning the kitchen after I've cooked dinner, all in an effort to save me from walking so my strained ligament will heal faster. And as I will have to be on my feet most of tomorrow and Thursday, mixing, baking, stirring and chopping, I need to save up my energy as much as possible.

Last night I went through all my clothes, giving and throwing away scads, and finally cleared the top of my dresser! Look! There it is! I love my dresser. I've had it ever since I got married and it was my mother's before that. It stood in her room and stored her clothes as far back as I can remember. It probably has no monetary value whatsoever, but it's old and every time I open or close a drawer, the sound of the pulls falling back against the front of the drawer fronts reminds me of my childhood and my Mom and reminds me that now, I'm the Mom. I love that.

Now that we're here, let's have a closer look. I keep many of my favorite things on my dresser and I love looking at them: I took those pics of the kids asleep one night when The Viking was away on a Missions trip. They were missing their dad so I let them sleep with me the whole time he was gone. On that particular night they looked more angelic than usual which is ironic since I remember they had behaved more devilish than usual throughout that entire day. I gave those pics to my mom as a Mother's Day gift and she loved them so much she had copies made, framed them, and gave them to me and my sisters. I think I even had her make an extra one for me to give to my mother-in-law. The small picture on the right is of Red Headed Snippet and me in my sister, Lobelia's wedding. I love it because it was such a happy day and there are so few pics of the two of us together looking so fancy. The wee lamp was a gift from Daria (who hates that kind of frilly stuff but knows I love it), the bud vase was a little thing I've had since college (I think I got it at a house sale), and the pic on the left is of The Viking and me in our younger, thinner days. I believe that was taken at Homecoming 1992. I was a Junior and The Viking was a Senior. We had been dating for about a year-and-a-half, were very much in love, and knew we'd be getting married. That was one of the most giddy, happy periods of my entire life and I think you can tell looking at that shot.

The other side of my dresser holds a candlestick I bought at Goodwill and spray painted (it was dull, icky brass), a fabric heart-shaped box which was one of Man-Cub's first gifts to me that he picked out by himself, a gold jewelry box given to me as payment for one of my first singing jobs (a wedding), a silly, little clock I just really like, a pic of The Viking and me on our wedding day (kind of obvious that), and a dried up, shriveled bouquet of mini-roses I cannot throw away because The Viking gave them to me on the occasion of the birth of our first son who died of SIDS 9 years ago.

This is a sketch of that same son, drawn by Lobelia one day while she was sitting next to him watching him sleep. She just absentmindedly sketched a picture of him, stuck it inside her portfolio with other sketches she had done and forgot about it. She came across it long after he had died and framed it for me with the words to one of my favorite poems, The Baby by George MacDonald. It hangs, with one of my baby bonnets, on the wall next to my dresser and is one of my most prized possessions.

Sorry for that long detour around my dresser. That was kind of silly. But anyway, the dresser and the rest of my bedroom are cleaned, our bed has been stripped and remade and right now, as I type, The Viking is building and painting the kitchen coat cupboard down at the fire station. I'm supposed to clean the stove, wash the china, glassware and table linens, make the cranberry sauce, clean the kitchen and wrestle with the kids' bed linens and The Viking and children will take care of the dusting, the bathrooms, the laundry room, and the porches and then we'll be in good form, ready for tomorrow's onslaught of baking and assemblage.

Guess I'd better get away from the computer, huh? Alright, here's to a productive afternoon and evening!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving Listmania

Now, here it is, the post you've all been waiting for! My Master Thanksgiving List! I really do not know why I feel compelled to share such mundane things, but I do! I can't replicate the fancy font I used for the real list, and did have to do a little judicious editing to protect the innocent, but otherwise, here it is.


Orange Almond Bites
Rosemary Roasted Turkey
Apple-Pecan-Cornbread Dressing
Cranberry Sauce With Ginger and Pears
Mashed Potatoes
Candied Sweet Potatoes
Skillet-Braised Brussels Sprouts With Bacon and Shallots
Crescent Rolls
Sparkling Citrus Punch
Pumpkin Pie
Pecan Pie
Chocolate Pudding Pie

-Grocery shop
-Pick up wine
-Laundry away
-Tidy pantry
-Clean fridge and freezer
-Clean stove and sink
-Clean bedroom and go through clothes
-Strip and make beds
-Tidy porch(es)
-Make cranberry sauce
-Clean laundry and powder rooms?
-Clean bathroom
-Clean kitchen
-Dust living and dining rooms
-Wash china and glasses
-Make sure tablecloth and napkins are clean
-Laundry away
-Prepare turkey
-Assemble dressing
-Bake pies
-Peel potatoes and store in water in fridge
-Clean laundry and powder rooms?
-Put turkey in oven
-Put dressing in oven
-Set table
-Make mashed potatoes
-Make Brussels sprouts
-Assemble Orange Almond Bites
-Bake Rolls

*check supplies
-fresh rosemary
-fresh parsley
-2 shallots
-1 large yellow onion
-1 small yellow onion
-1lb Brussels sprouts
-5lbs russet potatoes
-3 large lemons
-12oz fresh cranberries
-2 pears
-2 Granny Smith apples
-paper towels
-toilet paper
-jet dry
-laundry detergent
-10lb turkey
-1lb ground beef
-oven roasting bag
-box Triscuits
-granola bars
-tea bags
-sliced almonds
-4 1/2 cups pecans
-chocolate pudding mix
-dried rosemary*
-vanilla extract
-light brown sugar*
-dark brown sugar*
-light corn syrup
-15oz can pumpkin puree
-16oz apple juice
-club soda
-1 box cornbread mix
-8oz herb-seasoned dry bread stuffing mix
-orange marmalade
-tomato puree*
-lactose-free milk
-whole milk
-heavy cream
-2 lbs unsalted butter*
-2-3 packs Crescent rolls
-3 Pillsbury pie crusts
-frozen limeade
-frozen lemonade
-frozen oj
-garlic bread
-1-2 bottles Riesling or Gewurztraminer
-1 bottle dry white wine

How does it compare to yours?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My Time Management Skillz Are Astounding

Hey, anybody wanna hear how I had envisioned my day yesterday and how it compared to what actually happened? Oh, how kind. Let's begin then! I was going to:

-Rise reasonably early and hop right into the shower to cleanse, rejuvenate and brace myself for the day ahead.
-Properly attend to my personal hygiene. You know, floss thoroughly, give myself a facial, actually put product into my hair and style it as if I had some place to go, put make-up on, dress so that I could dash off on an emergency L.L. Bean run and not be embarrassed no matter who I might run into, the usual.
-Bake up a quick, hearty, chock-full-of-love batch of homemade scones and put the kettle on.
-Skip outdoors to retrieve the Saturday paper, breathing deep, grateful gusts of fresh, crisp autumn air, feeling to my very finger-tips the joy of being alive.
-Enjoy a nice, hot treat of a breakfast while reading the paper, maybe even waking Red Headed Snippet with a plate of her own.
-Cheerfully tackle the frightening mess that has become my bedroom. I've been an invalid for almost a month and my bedroom has been low on my list of cleaning priorities and it's time my closet was cleaned out, my clothes sorted through and the furniture dusted.
-Change the linens on all the beds, whistling all the way.
-Clean out the refrigerator and freezer and tidy up the pantry to get them ready for all the Thanksgiving treats soon to come bursting forth.
-Take down the valances and sink skirt and throw them in the washer.
-Finish my lists for Thanksgiving (my Thanksgiving List of Duh, I'm a Moron just isn't cutting it).

Here's how things actually played out:

-Woke at 11:00 am from another disturbing bathroom dream because I had to wee. I always have dreams about running from bathroom to bathroom, trying to find a toilet that isn't broken, filthy, disconnected, spraying water, in the middle of the room or in a stall with a broken or completely missing door whenever I have to wee when I'm asleep. I woke disoriented, with mad hair and a full bladder.
-Staggered downstairs, in my pajamas with dragon breath, to find Red Headed Snippet already awake and at the computer (she's supposed to get permission first). The Viking was at a fire class and Man-Cub had spent the night at Grandma's.
-Pushed aside the clutter atop the kitchen island and stirred up a batch of scones. (Here's what was left of them by the time I started this post) Okay, so I did accomplish that one. They don't take long and they're better than good. But instead of tea, I lazily settled for a glass of milk.
-I then planted myself, still in pajamas and unwashed and unbrushed, into the recliner in front of the tv with the laptop on my...well...lap.
-I spent the entire afternoon and into the early hours of the evening surfing around on the Internet, checking out new blogs, updating my templates and enjoying the eye candy provided by Dermot Mulroney, Jack Davenport and the English countryside in The Wedding Date.
-Managed to heave myself out of the recliner and actually change into old grubby clothes in preparation for giving good, old, reliable Mrs. C a good, thorough, old-fashioned cleaning, but wasted so much time taking pictures of Mrs. C's dirty, "before" state (See? Ta-Da! Trust me, she's much dirtier than she appears from this distance) so I could share it and the sure-to-be glorious "after" pictures with the blog world that I lost steam and somehow wound up in the recliner again, this time dressed, but in The Viking's old grubby sweatpants and stained fire department t-shirt.
-Wandered to the computer desk in the kitchen and shuffled my cookbooks, insufficient lists and recipes around for a bit, pretending like that counted as getting ready for Thanksgiving.
-Returned to recliner and spent rest of evening nursing my sore ligament and watching crappy tv.

It was a woeful, shameful day. The only thing I accomplished was making the batch of scones. I did manage to achieve a little more today, but still have lots to do. I got the downstairs tidied, put all the laundry away, sorted through my "in" box, clipped and sorted the coupons, showered, flossed, made-up and otherwise thoroughly groomed myself, and got the Thanksgiving lists mostly done. And these, unlike their predecessors, are not pansy lists. They're multi-indented, fancy-fonted, well-organized and detailed lists of things I'm going to bake, cook, assemble, clean and purchase in the next 4 days. I'd share it with you, but it's not quite finished and I fear would make this entry entirely too long. Maybe tomorrow when it's done. We'll see. But for now, I can share Man-Cub's list of foods he would serve if he was in charge of the Thanksgiving feast:

1. Tortillas and Mexican sauce (tortilla chips and salsa)
2. Lettuce (with no dressing whatsoever)
3. Carrots (raw, with no dressing or dip, in their natural form NOT sliced into sticks!)
4. Turkey
5. Steak
6. Chicken noodle soup
7. Chicken nuggets
8. Vanilla caramel cake with vanilla frosting, sprinkles and M&Ms

I am NOT looking forward to future Thanksgivings at his house! Let's hope his wife has better taste and more sense!

So, for the duration of this evening I will be reclining in the living room with my "Mellow" iTunes list playing, my favorite new Gardenia candle aflame and filling the air with its heady scent,and a hot, bracing cup of tea in my hand, putting the finishing touches on my grocery list. And as soon as Man-Cub is asleep, The Viking is going to join me. He's off from work all week and is going to help me put a game plan together. If ever there was a night for a fireplace, it's tonight! I'd be planted in front of it, staring into it's golden depths dreamily with my handsome husband by my side...

Anyway, it's off to the salt mines for me! More on Thanksgiving preparations later!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

One Misty, Moisty Morning

I went out to pick up Man-Cub from school today and was struck by the loveliness of the day. It wasn't particularly sunny or crisp, but neither was it grey or drab. The clouds seemed to envelop rather than oppress the atmosphere and it felt hushed and muted, misty and mystical. I don't really know what it was, but it thrilled me. So I decided to tramp back outside and snap away with the camera.

This is the view from the kitchen porch of the woods across the street .

The front lawn, dotted with oak leaves.

Looking across the street from the end of the driveway. This is the view that helps me forget I'm in New Jersey suburbs.

Looking back at the house from the driveway.

Here are my beloved hydrangeas, looking delightfully gnarly and weird.

Yet one still clings to its bloom of youth.

And heading back, this is what I see every time I climb the stairs to re-enter my house. Incidentally, that screen door has become a small bone of contention recently. It's just a wooden frame with screening stretched over it, but I love it. It has a long spring and no latch so when it opens you hear a long, low groan and then a good, sharp SLAP when it bangs shut! The Viking put it up for me, but he's losing patience with it. Apparently, it is not very energy-efficient and the drafts of cold air it allows in are starting to dull the effects of its simple, old-fashioned charm. He wants to replace it with a new-fangled, air-tight, modern storm door with a screen that rolls up and down like a shade. I admit, that sounds impressive, but I like my old fashioned slapping screen door. I wonder if a happy compromise is possible? I guess only time will tell...

Ooh! Guess what? There's a Fed Ex truck in the driveway! A package? A package! For us? For us! Hang on while I scurry to the door...


Wow, that was fast! I ordered a tablecloth from Jack and Friends two days ago and it's just arrived!

I never thought I'd actually find a vintage-looking tablecloth with strawberries on it! And just look at that lovely bubble-wrap!

It came in its own sweet little matching envelope. Now if only I can think of something creative to do with it...

Yes, I know it's a little small for my table and needs to be ironed, but it'll do nicely. It was the only size they had and I wanted it badly!

Maybe it'll look better turned the other way. Of course, I could turn it catty-cornered like I do with my other tablecloths that don't fit (old wedding gifts), which drives my mother crazy cause she thinks catty-cornered tablecloths are nothing short of irritating, but for now I think I'll just enjoy it like it is!

Yay! I love getting things in the mail! Especially pretty things for my house!

And now for that bubble-wrap...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Please try to stay awake

So, our cottage is one closet richer tonight. After getting caught at the computer when I was supposed to be creating organization and order, I managed to pull myself together enough to help The Viking sketch out our coat closet. Which basically amounted to me trying in vain to draw what I thought I wanted (I cannot draw), then petulantly flicking the paper at The Viking who then patiently (and most skillfully) drew out exactly what we need. It had hooks, shelves, bins, doors, even an optional mirror! By the time he trotted off to The Depot for all the supplies, I was happily debating the imagined effect of doors wallpapered and bead boarded just like the walls vs doors somehow festooned with red ticking fabric leftover from the sink skirt and valances as seen here...

The Viking thinks wallpaper/bead board on the doors is stupid, but we'll just have to see, won't we?

I was so excited about the new coat closet and was envisioning hats, scarves, mittens, boots and coats all living in perfect harmony, snuggled behind cleverly decorated doors! My days of having to wear a jacket I've retrieved from the floor were coming to an end! No more cries of, "Where's my brown purse", "Has anyone seen my other glove", or "What is all over this scarf" punctuating the morning rush out the door! The children would never be late to school again!

And then, The Viking came home with stacks and piles of stuff and proceeded to carry it all upstairs. Wait, upstairs? We're storing our coats upstairs?

Apparently, my husband acquired some much-needed clarity while walking around his most holy place. Soothed and quieted by the smell of lumber, the glint of hardware and the glow of all that orange everywhere, he looked deep within and found what we really need is for Man-Cub's closet to be finished first. So, crash, bang, boom, that's what he did!

What used to look like this (bad pic, I know):

Now looks like this (not much better, I'm afraid):

Man-Cub's closet is kind of L-shaped because of the linen closet it's built around. And the bedrooms are under the eaves so all the ceilings are sloped which makes for lots of odd angles in there. It really is a strangely-shaped space. But we're using the back of the long part for out-of-season or rarely used clothes and the front for Man-Cub's stuff.

Wow, closets make pretty poor blog fodder. How boring. I've just realized I spent the entire weekend boring the children senseless, making them run upstairs just to see the interior of a bedroom closet. No wonder they spent the whole weekend treating me like I'm one stern scolding away from erupting into tears. What a nut I've been! It's a sad, pathetic life that leads a once intelligent, clever, vibrant woman (okay, vibrant may be taking things a bit too far) to become unreasonably excited about closet shelves (which you couldn't see in the above photo because I'm a bad photographeress and even I know closet shelves push the boundaries of boredom for anyone). I think this excitement stems more from the prospect of becoming reacquainted with the lovely knick-knacks and photos which have been hidden underneath a vast pile of Man-Cub's hanging clothes on top of my dresser for months now. I'm going to see my dresser again! Yippee!

And now, just because I found myself up in Man-Cub's bedroom with the camera, here is a gratuitous shot of his ceiling. I took this in the dark in hopes of actually capturing the stars and planets glowing in it, but it just looks like the light is on. I had originally planned to put glow-in-the-dark stars in straight rows like the American flag (which was the inspiration for the room's decor) but when the time came to spend hours perched atop a ladder, meticulously measuring and placing dozens of stars, my courage failed me. Instead, The Viking bought a pack of glow-in-the-dark stars and haphazardly, I mean artistically, slapped them up there, bless him.

And for any of you Brian Regan fans out there, "the big yellow one is the SUN!"

Saturday, November 10, 2007

And so it begins again

It's been 8 months or so since we finished the major over-hauling of our kitchen and The Viking is growing ever restless. He can only sit back and enjoy the afterglow of a project for so long before his fingers starting itching for a new one. For the past 6 weeks or so I've been seeing warning signs and, this weekend, my suspicions were confirmed.

You may recall this door, pictured here in a "before" photo of our kitchen:

This was taken as The Viking was just starting to tear stuff out (can't you tell by the two detached cupboards and the clump of insulation visible in this shot?) and I stopped him so I could properly document it.

Anyway, that old door remained much the same even after the rest of the kitchen had been given its much-needed facelift. It became one of those things we meant to finish but ran out of energy for.

Well, as of yesterday, the door now looks like this:

I love it and think it looks just lovely. But I know he's been haunting The Home Depot again and I know what that means; he's gearing up for another project.

Sure enough, he said something to me a few hours ago about doing something about the coat closet or Man-Cub's closet, I get to pick. He thinks the coat closet is a more pressing need right now, but I still get to pick. I think we're going to be tackling the coat closet.

And, directing your attention back to the photo of the newly green door, can you blame us?

Just scroll up a bit. That area, that wasteland of coats, jackets, bags, gloves, hats and umbrellas is where the coat closet is set to be. You can see we need it badly.

This is just completely unacceptable. You can't see it, but there is a most lovely umbrella stand buried under there. I want that to be seen. I want to keep actual umbrellas in it (even though I know there are going to be baseball bats and field hockey sticks stashed in there as well) so I don't have to go rummaging about in a pile of nylon and wool whenever it's raining outside.

You may wonder why we have been dragging our feet on this. Well, we've been looking for a suitable piece to fill that space, but can't seem to find one that's just right. It's an awkwardly sized area and we want a lot out of it. We need hooks for coats and jackets, enough for all of us and a few for guests. We need hooks for bags as Red Headed Snippet and I have at least 2 each. We need storage for hats, scarves and gloves once the weather gets delightfully cold, and I would like a place to stash wet shoes and drippy boots, if possible. It would really be nice if there could be a place for the kids to deposit their backpacks after school and a mirror placed near the door for last-minute check-ups on the way out would be heavenly. As if all that isn't enough, it would really make me happy if all that lovely organization could be contained behind a set of doors, or even a single one, so I don't have to be tidying it all up all the time. So, basically, I want to build a coat closet behind the kitchen door, but I want it to be pretty. I am impossible to please, aren't I?

I am supposed to be looking around for ideas right now while The Viking has the kids at Target picking out things for their Operation Christmas Child gift boxes but I've decided I need to blog/whine for a while first. I know designing a space on our own is the best way to get an organized space custom-made for us, but I just hate doing it. I can't come up with stuff on my own out of the blue. I need inspiration, a visual example. I need to see a picture of a great coat closet someone has built in their own home and then expand on that. And I can't seem to find any. And The Viking is going to be home soon and if I don't have some good ideas, he's just going to pound some 6-inch nails into the wall for us to hang coats on! No, he won't do that, but he's going to want to leave for The Depot with a list in his hand within an hour of coming back.

While I'm whining, anyone got any brilliant ideas for what I could do with this empty space?

It's the wall just outside the pantry and it's been bare ever since the remodel. The Viking likes it bare. He enjoys having just one wall that I haven't filled with stuff. But it's really bugging me.

Uh-oh, guess who's home? I'd better go...