In which I try to make our bedroom a lovely place

“Vintage Floral Quilt.” Land’s End.

Our house is pretty standard ’50s ranch house, but a few decades ago the owners built an addition onto the master bedroom. And now it is ginormous. It was one of the things I loved about the house the first time I walked through it. I was envisioning a sitting area or a little office space and a luxurious bed stacked high with pillows and, you know, luxury.

The reality has been somewhat different.

The only thing sitting in the “sitting area” most of the time is laundry. Although sometimes the cats sit in there, too, when the sun is at the right angle. The luxurious bed is luxurious compared to, say, a cot, but the mattress has been getting increasingly sad and saggy and I usually can’t find any king-size pillowcases to go on the king-size pillows so — shocking confessions ahead! — they either go without or wear a standard-size case.

Things are turning around, though. Last week we replaced our 10-year-old Sam’s Club mattress, and I’m working on turning the bed into more Westin than Super 8. It’s been a slow process, because have you seen how much pillow shams cost? Roughly a billion dollars a piece. So I’ve been waiting for things to go on sale. Things like the Vintage Floral Quilt I paid $30 for at Land’s End (clearance + friends & family sale + Shop Your Way points FTW!) or the Restoration Hardware pillow shams that were on clearance for $5 a piece.

Now that the foundation of fanciness is coming together, I’m on the lookout for decorative pillows to put in front of the utilitarian pillows. Here are a few I like. (But probably won’t buy, because $95 for a pillow is crazypants.)

“The Allman Brothers, Blue Sky- Double sided lyric pillow” from Three Little Finches. $43.
“Orange Circles on Ivory” by Mi Casa Bella.” $34.
“Stag Grainsack pillow slip” by AtelierBe. $95. (Which means, sadly, that it will never, ever belong to me. But I still love it.)
“Suzani Yellow and Orange Indoor Outdoor Pillow” by Mi Casa Bella. $34.

I still want to put together a sitting area of some sort, but my budget is still standing in the way of my dreams. Chairs are expensive, you guys. Everything is expensive.

Anyway, do you like any of those pillows? Do you have a secret cheap-beautiful-pillow store you could share with me? Are you Emily Henderson taking pity on me and wanting to come over and design my room?

(Call me, Emily. You can use all the creepy porcelain phrenology heads and hot pink you’d like.)

Nothing like soup to follow a night of glamour

Last night we had a few people over to watch the Oscars, and we snacked on our neighbor’s delicious pumpkin bread and Nutmeg Nanny’s S’mores Popcorn. I didn’t take notes during the show — because I was too busy eating popcorn and pumpkin bread — but here are a few things I thought:

  • I will continue to have never watched “The Family Guy.” Seth MacFarlane’s humor isn’t my cup o’ tea.
  • Hugh Jackman rushing up to help Jennifer Lawrence when she stumbled. I’m a fan of gentlemen.
  • Speaking of whom, I’m glad she won. I love her.
  • My favorite dress of the evening: Naomi Watts. She looked like a glorious glamorous robot.
  • Anywho, here’s what we’re eating this week!

    Monday: Chicken Tortilla Soup

    The kids have swim lessons today, which means I’ll be spending about 2 hours at the Y. Maybe just maybe I’ll spend some of that time exercising! And then we’ll eat soup.

    Tuesday: Out

    The kids have simultaneous activities in different parts of town tomorrow, which means we’ll be dividing and conquering for dinner.

    Wednesday: Breakfast for dinner

    I’m thinking omelets, but Rockford will probably be thinking pancakes.

    Thursday: Cheeseburgers

    Because it’s Pete’s Choice night!

    Friday: Pizza

    “A Good American” was just what I needed

    Every now and then a book pops into your life at just the right moment.

    I finished “1Q84” for a book club a few weeks ago, and I hated every bit of it. (For a lot of reasons, but this post isn’t about that book.) I thought about picking up an old favorite next to cleanse the palate, so to speak, but I had other business to tend to first. I’d agreed to read Alex George’s “A Good American” for the BlogHer Book Club, and it arrived a few days before I finished “1Q84.” All I knew about it was from the few lines I’d read in the initial email from BlogHer —

    Everything he’d seen had been unimaginably different from the dry, dour streets of home, and to his surprise he was not sorry in the slightest. He was smitten by the beguiling otherness of it all.

    And so began my grandfather’s rapturous love affair with America — an affair that would continue until the day he died.

    — but I was hopeful. My brother and I spent a good part of the 2012 holiday season obsessively tracking branches of our family tree on and musing about what had prompted our ancestors to leave their homes and come to America, so I was primed for a good immigration story.

    “A Good American” is just that. The story follows Frederick Meisenheimer — he of the “rapturous love affair with America” — from his “meet-cute” with his wife-to-be in Germany to the legacy their family leaves in small-town Missouri, and it’s written in a clear, straightforward manner befitting of its setting. (Not to say that Missouri doesn’t have its moments, but there’s a reason it’s not called the Showy State.) We lived in Columbia, Mo., for five years, and I have great memories from that time. I’m sure that connection influenced how much I liked the book, but I would’ve enjoyed it even if it had been set elsewhere.

    I carried “A Good American” around in my purse, anxious for an opportunity to keep reading. I read it courtside during Pete’s basketball practice. I read it while I waited for the water to boil and while I stirred the macaroni. I stayed up far past my bedtime reading it, and there were tears in my eyes when I finished it.

    It’s an enchanting, heartbreaking book, and it was just what I needed. I may not have known it when “A Good American” arrived at my house, but it turns out that I did pick up an old favorite to cleanse the palate after all.

    Nichole was compensated for this review via the BlogHer Book Club, but all opinions expressed are solely her own.