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Ode to Sinéad. Sort of.


Most days the mail routine at our house is on autopilot — pick up at mailbox, drop off at recycling bin — interrupted only to deposit the rare piece of real mail on the kitchen counter.

But last week was different. As I absentmindedly leafed through the back-to-school flyers headed for recycling, it occurred to me that for the first time in nearly 15 years I have no need for school supplies.

Out of nowhere, I am reduced to tears. Read more…


The Edited Makeup Bag: 9 Essentials


 J. Crew bag* | Nars blush | MAC lipstick | MAC eye shadow | CG concealer | L’Oreal foundation | Rimmel brow pencil | CG mascara | Almay eye liner | Bobbi Brown bronzing powder   | West Elm tray

For years I bought beauty products by one simple rule: whatever magazines told me to buy. While some things I actually liked and used, much of it I ultimately gave — or threw — away.

Since the process of editing my life means streamlining routines and reducing clutter everywhere, I decided it was time to tackle my overflowing makeup stash, keeping only what I use on a regular basis. Read more…

Light[er] Bacon and Onion Tart


I discovered the original Saveur recipe for this tart on a friend’s Pinterest board. Bacon AND caramelized onions? I’m in. But the “slab” of bacon, bacon fat and butter the original calls for seemed like overkill.

After substituting oven-baked turkey bacon and olive oil, the result still tastes decadent but is a little more calorie friendly — even with a toss of freshly grated Parmesan. And despite the 10-minute preparation/rest times, it comes together pretty quickly since you can mix the batter while the bacon’s in the oven and the onions are caramelizing.

Read more…

Pillow talk.


Our move to California happened faster than planned, leaving us about two weeks to find a house. And not just any house, but one that had space for a photography studio.

And a baby grand piano.

I don’t play the piano very well — certainly not well enough to justify owning one, let alone moving it 400 miles — but mine was a gift from my parents and playing it is one of my favorite forms of stress relief.

So I was thrilled when, during the final hours of our house-hunting trip, we found a place with a small front room that would accommodate a piano and not much else. But since we also loved the idea of a combination music room/library, we were determined to squeeze in a few of our books and something comfortable to sit on, too.

I knew we could repurpose some existing bookshelves — handmade by my dear friend Kim’s father — but the seating was a challenge. There was no way to fit a couch or loveseat; even our existing leather club chair was too bulky for the space.

Read more…

Well, HALLO there.


As a 20+-year veteran IKEA shopper, my top tip for sanity preservation is this: always start at the checkout area and work your way back. I haven’t been upstairs in an IKEA in ages.

This backward route means I pass the garden area twice, so a couple months ago I got lucky and spotted these $5.99 striped HÅLLÖ pillows: Read more…

Teacher gifts that won’t get tossed.


If Pinterest trends are any indication, teacher-gift season is almost here. And with it the challenge of finding a budget-friendly idea that adequately conveys thankfulness and saves face in the implied creativity competition. (If you’ve ever had a child in elementary school, you know what I’m talking about.)

Although my son just finished his first year of college, I spent a lot of time over the years volunteering at his school. I got to know many teachers and witnessed firsthand the demands of their job and the sacrifices they make for our kids.

Fact: Teachers absolutely deserve our gratitude.

But I also learned the hard way that sometimes the best way to thank them is by keeping it simple.

Read more…

A fond farewell…


… to an Arizona house. My boy started kindergarten and graduated from high school here. Walls painted, then painted over. Fences stuccoed, curtains hung, pool built, gardens planted. Many memories — most wonderful, a few best forgotten.

I love living in California, but I miss this house and, most of all, the incredible people we met while living here.

The lollipop-looking ficus trees were my nod to East Coast landscaping.

The light maple floors throughout the house were one of my favorite features. They also hid dirt pretty well. Read more…

Back to basics.


I started this blog as a way to document my quest to revise, improve and simplify my life to focus on what’s most important.

A lot has changed since then. My only child started college 700 miles away. I sold my home of nearly 14 years. My husband and I moved from Arizona to Southern California.

But as I pause to catch my breath, I realize the words I initially chose as filters for editing my life — revise, improve, simplify — have not changed. In fact, they’ve helped guide and ground me during particularly stressful times. Read more…

[Not So] Traditional Swedish Butter Cookies


I was recently invited to a cookie exchange — my first. The party sounded like fun, but I was completely stumped by what to make.

Let’s face it, everyone knows cookie exchanges are basically beauty contests for baked goods, and even though this one wouldn’t involve judges or prizes (thank heavens!), I didn’t want to be the one bearing the ‘platter of shame.’ Read more…

Edited Entry: Painting Door Hardware


As is the plight of many homes in Arizona, the street view of our house is dominated by a three-car garage. Blech.

Our lipstick-on-a-pig solution was to paint it a solid color and attempt to dress it up with modern mission-inspired light fixtures and windows. But since the garage still makes up nearly half the facade, the front entrance needs to be a standout to get noticed at all.

While cleaning up the aftermath of a recent haboob (which is way more fun to say than it is to experience), I realized our entry was standing out — just not in the way I’d hoped.

Our front door is looking tired and neglected, the welcome mat is not welcoming anyone, and the weathered bench is barely holding it together.

Time to spruce it up — starting with the door hardware.

Read more…