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Medicine Cabinet from Habitables

This sweet medicine cabinet reminds me of the one I painted for my own bathroom years ago—only much nicer. The size is perfect, and I love that the cross is a cutout. Perfect for small bathrooms! (Madrid-based Habitables makes all kinds of other great stuff, too.)

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White Plus tea towel from Cotton & Flax

Oh Cotton & Flax, how I love thee. I received this lovely tea towel in gray as part of a limited edition collaboration Erin Dollar did with AHeirloom last fall. Both the tea towel and the cutting board are very gorgeous.

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First Aid utility pouch from Apple White

I have a zippered pouch obsession, and this guy is next on my list. How perfect would this be for stashing bandages, hand wipes, and a little sewing kit in your bag? So perfect.

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Cement cross ornaments from LaNique Home

I have no idea what I would do with these, but I want them anyway. I keep picturing them turned into some kind of mobile. I really like the soft pink paint, but they’re also available unpainted or dipped in black if that’s more your thing.

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Safety First earrings from Melanie Favreau

I couldn’t wear these earrings because my ears are lame and I can only wear gold-filled jewelry these days, but I really wish I could. I have a whole bunch of ear-holes, and I love the idea of a whole line of these in black or brass running up my lobes.

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Muslin Swaddle Blanket/Scarf from Modern Burlap

Fritz and Bruno aren’t really into being swaddled, but this sucker is huge (47″ square!), and in my estimation, it would make an awesome scarf. If course, if you have babies or swaddle-loving pets, I’m sure it’s great for that, too…

EDIT: Sometime between last night and now, this item disappeared from Modern Burlap’s Etsy shop. Weird! It’s still available directly from their website, though.

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Cross wood bangle from Voz Collective

I’m not a chunky bracelet person. I’ve tried to be, but as much as I love how they look, they get in my way any time I try to use my hands for anything—which, as I’m sure you can imagine, is not an infrequent occurrence. That said, if I were a chunky bracelet person, these would be first on my list!

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Swiss Cross quilt from Sazerac Stitches

Ooooooh. I don’t know anything about quilting other than that it looks like a lot of work. This pretty quilt is available in six sizes, from lap all the way up to king. Something for the Chihuahuas, something for the Great Danes.

What’s on your Etsy wishlist right now?

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@omgliterallydead: #ootd frolicking through the forest, feeling like an Autumn-Winter princess in my DIY flower crown and faux-vegan-fur cape! #furcape #cape #fallfashion #winterfashion #instacute #flowercrown #diy

This is one of those times where I feel like I’m going to post about something that EVERYONE BUT ME already knows about, but I’ll just go ahead and do it anyway.

So, you know I love the Instagram. Instagram has robbed this blog—and many others—of its spontaneity, but it’s also given me a much better photographic eye than I use to have. Also, selfies.

And of course I love skulls.

Let me introduce you to my latest favorite Instagrammer, Skellie! She posts under the handle @omgliterallydead, and according to her bio, she “cannot literally even,” so she’s “literally dead.”

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@omgliterallydead: OMG sweater weather!

Yes, the captions are pretty excellent. Skellie speaks for all of us. We are all Skellie.

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All photos via @omgliterallydead

And finally, in honor of the fact that I’ll be having gum surgery tomorrow and will most likely wind up Instagramming atrocious selfies skelfies of my stitches that nobody wants to see…

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@omgliterallydead: Skelfie at the dentist! Zero cavities as per usual – my floss game is on point! #dentistoffice #skelfie #organicfitlife #pearlywhites #perfectsmile #livelaughlove

Thanks SO MUCH to Paul Z. for introducing me to Skellie!!

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Well, you’ve heard about the mattress (queen size MYRBACKA from IKEA, and it is awesome—feel free to ask any mattress-specific questions you might have), you’ve seen the cute, cheap sheets, and now…the bed frame!

Yes, it’s the MANDAL bed, also from IKEA. You know I was saying the last week about how sometimes IKEA just nails it? This bed is a perfect example.

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Nearly all of the components of the MANDAL bed are solid birch that’s been finished with a clear lacquer. I was a little concerned about how such a light wood would look in combination with the very warm, oak floors in the apartment, but it turns out to be a perfectly happy mix. The birch will darken a bit in time, anyway, so I’d imagine that in a year or two they’ll be almost the same tone. That inset white “floating” platform helps prevent the whole thing from looking like a continuous block of wood, too.

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The best thing about this bed is the storage. There are four nice, big drawers underneath, perfect for storing extra linens, pajamas, or, as seen here, a bazillion tote bags. I’ve even thought about turning one of them into a little trundle bed for the dogs…

I never could get into under-bed storage boxes, but this? Amazing. The amount of stuff you can fit into these drawers essentially clears out an entire closet.

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Here’s a closer look at the construction. On the left, you can see the mitered corners (one of the many nice details IKEA has been incorporating in their solid wood pieces lately) where the sides and top of the frame meet. The picture on the right is a little weirdly angled because I was hefting the mattress up with my left hand while shooting with my right, but I wanted to show how the wood slats (which support the mattress in lieu of a box spring) sit flush with the top of the frame. The whole thing is just so well put-together.

Speaking of being put-together, I’d estimate it took about three hours for me and Evan to assemble the bed. No biggie. Of course, I don’t really understand when people say they hate putting together IKEA furniture. Personally, I find it very relaxing and satisfying. It’s like adult Tinker Toys.

Oh, ALSO. For the first time ever, we sprung for IKEA’s delivery service. The price varies depending on location/distance, but in Brooklyn, it’s $59 no matter how much stuff you’re having delivered. Yeah. At that price you still have to load up your cart in the warehouse yourself and go through the whole checkout process, but if you pay $99, they’ll do everything for you, including pulling the items…but only if they have more than 10 of each thing in stock. And that’s the kicker, of course, because if you’ve ever been to the Brooklyn IKEA, you know that stock counts tend to hover around 0–3 at all times. So we went with the $59 option. SO WORTH IT, OMG. Our apartment is on the 3rd & 4th floors of our building (and of course there’s no legal street parking out in front), and this stuff is heavy. Having a couple of dudes drive it over and carry it upstairs made life so much easier.

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I haven’t done much serious decorating in the apartment yet since I’ve been so focused on just getting large pieces of furniture into place and organizing all of our stuff, but I did order two of the “Bigmouth Strikes Again”-themed prints (Sweetness and Joan of Arc) from my K IS FOR BLACK shop and put them into frames. I’m not sure this will be their final destination, but I do like them leaning against the wall side-by-side.

For reference, these are the X-LARGE size (28″ x 38″) prints in the largest size RIBBA frames (27 ½” x 39 ¼”) from IKEA. This is the birch frame, which they’ve inexplicably discontinued. Weird. At least you can still get them in black and white, though, and the aluminum STRÖMBY frames are an even more affordable alternative that looks great. But I digress.

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Yeah, still using my faux-Aaltos (aka hacked FROSTA stools) as bedside tables. Love ‘em.

If you’re wondering what happened to our former bed, the discontinued (all together now: of course) green wool-upholstered GRIMEN, it went to live with my friend Tiesha, who is awesome. I really loved that bed, and we’d definitely have kept it if it were queen-sized. Two people and two dogs in a full size bed is…tight. Anyway, I’m happy it went to a good home.

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Yesterday I took a peek at all of the new things coming to IKEA next month (some of these things have been available in Europe for a while, but we’re slow to get new stuff here in the US sometimes), and I am so blown away that I almost don’t even know where to start. I’m sure lots of other blogs will, of course, be showcasing the new lines in their entirety, so I’m just pulling a bunch of my favorites. There’s so much good stuff. Sometimes IKEA just really nails it, you know?

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✚ DALSHULT/SLÄHULT table, $189 Solid birch with white laminate top
✚ KRUSNING lamp shade, $9.99 Paper / design by Sigga Heimis

I adore this dining table. The trestle base is so quintessentially Scandinavian, and immediately brings to mind Hans Wegner’s classic X-leg design. The shape of the top makes me think of Piet Hein’s Superelipse tables. It’s a gorgeous combination. I really wish I had somewhere to put this table to use.

The lamp is the work of Malmö-based designer Sigga Heimis, and it’s made of paper. It can be shaped however you like!

Because I know it will come up, let’s talk about the much-beloved FROSTA stools pictured here. They’re clearly heavily inspired by Alvar Aalto’s Stool 60 (years ago, I modified a pair to make them even more Aalto-esque), but they’ve also managed to become an IKEA classic over the years. Sadly (some might say traumatically), IKEA discontinued FROSTA in the North American market a couple of years ago. They made a comeback of sorts in 2014, but only with tops painted yellow and red. It’s really a shame, because the banded-ply edge of the unpainted version is really what made it so nice! It’s still available in the European market, though, so if you had to cram a couple in a suitcase…

IKEA, if you’re listening, bring the original FROSTA stools back to North America!

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✚ REBBESTAD/RYGGESTAD table, $179 Black-stained solid pine
✚ RISATORP kitchen cart, $59.99 Steel & solid birch handle / design by Wiebke Braasch
✚ RISATORP basket, $12.99 Steel & bent birch veneer / design by Wiebke Braasch

Another great dining table with nice legs! I’m really happy to see IKEA incorporating more true black-stained pieces like this and the OLOFSTORP cabinet I hung in my dining room. It’s a very nice change from that weird brown-black color that’s been prevalent on their darker furniture for so long.

I’m really digging the whole RISATORP line. That combination of birch and powder-coated white steel gets an A+ from me. I can see using that cart in any number of rooms, from kitchens to bathrooms to art studios to entryways.

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Another look at the RISATORP kitchen cart. Those wheels are beautiful!

Side note: Mmmmm, Brussels sprouts. I’m going to have to make my mapled Brussels sprouts recipe this weekend!

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✚ NORNÄS queen bed frame, $299 Lacquered solid pine
✚ NORNÄS nightstand, $89 Untreated solid pine

First of all, hats off to the stylists who put this room together. The combination of bare plywood walls and a painted floor (that blue!) is perfection.

The solid pine pieces in the NORNÄS collection (seen here and and the next two photos) are the work of brother and sister design team Marianne Hagberg and Knut Hagberg. All of the wood used to manufacture this line is sourced in the far north of Sweden, cut in a waste-minimizing manner from well-managed forests. IKEA has received a lot of criticism in the past for deforestation practices, and I am glad to see them taking some steps in the right direction. It may not be everything, but it’s something. (I’m also pleased to see even more solid wood in IKEA’s collection, since those are the pieces that can absolutely last for generations!)

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✚ TNORNÄS table, $199 Untreated solid pine
✚ NORNÄS bench, $89 Untreated solid pine

Like many of the pieces in the NORNÄS line, both the bench and table seen here arrive unpainted, made of untreated wood—the legs of the bench have been painted black for this shoot. Yes, that means you’d have to treat the top of the table with something (wax, poly, whatever works best for your purposes), but it’s so nice to have the option to easily paint or stain this type of furniture. I personally love the look of pine, but imagine that table with the legs painted white, or the bench painted entirely yellow. They’d take on a whole new feel.

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✚ NORNÄS wall cabinet, $79 Untreated solid pine & tempered glass

Man, how I love a good wall cabinet. There are several good glass-front pieces in the NORNÄS line, three of them wall-mounted and one with legs. All have really nice beveled, mitered corners, and again, the untreated wood allows you to paint them however you wish.

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✚ SPRUTT cabinet, $89.99 Powder-coated steel / Design by Marcus Arvonen
✚ SPRUTT knob rack, $24.99 Powder-coated steel
✚ SPRUTT cart, $39.99 Powder-coated steel & plastic

The SPRUTT collection is so much fun, and fits right in with other great powder-coated steel IKEA stuff like their ubiquitous PS locker and the cork-topped KVISSLE office storage series, a personal favorite of mine.

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The SPRUTT cabinet is particularly cool. What is it about things that resemble card files?? I guess it’s the promise of being SO organized that you require not just one or two separate drawers, but nine. And labels. To be honest, labels kind of stress me out, so I like that they’ve just used colors and shapes in this styling shot. I can get behind that. Where do you think you could use a cabinet like this? It’s pretty substantial at 12″ deep, so it could even work in the kitchen for storing extra flatware, napkins, jars of spices…it’s a great piece. So many possibilities!

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And finally, the SPRUTT knob rack. How can you not love this?! Ahhhh, that bright yellow. So good!! Keys, necklaces, dog leashes, scarves…this thing would be great in an entryway where you don’t have much clearance since it’s less than 3″ deep—but at 63″ wide, it’ll still add visual interest. I could even see just mounting it on the wall as a decorative object, honestly.

Also, I now need white Swedish headphones.

All images courtesy of IKEA

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Interior by Antonio Martins / Via Remodelista

HELLO! It’s 2015. How about some nice kitchens with vintage rugs in them to start off the new year? I’ve been on a quest to find the perfect rug for the kitchen at the house for quite a while now, and I keep coming back to these photos—this is exactly what I want. I love the way that worn-in, vintage rugs take the edge off of black and white.

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From Hither & Thither

Yeah, technically this rug is in a sitting area next to the kitchen, but the effect is the same. So soft and warm. (That row of Tom Dixon-esque pendants the homeowners bought in Bali ain’t too shabby, either. And yeah, I still need a light fixture for the kitchen.)

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Home of Edin & Lena from Dusty Deco / Photos by Martin Löf for Elle Decoration.

Mmmmhmmm. The glossy white floor, the Smeg fridge, the whitewashed GROLAND island…pretty perfect. That rug makes the room, though.

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Photos by Karin Foberg for Hus & Hem

I don’t know if it’s because of the black floor, but I feel like this rug right here would be perfect in my kitchen. The problem is that finding a rug like the ones in this post seems like an exercise in futility, unless you have bucks to spend on a kitchen rug…which is not in the budget right now. Doesn’t it seem like you should be able to walk into any junk shop and find an old, beautiful rug that nobody wants just lying around? I keep thinking that’s going to happen, but it’s not happening.

Until very recently, I had a rule about what kind of shirts I’d wear and wouldn’t wear outside of the house. In the “wouldn’t” category, I had (mentally) listed t-shirts with things printed on them, especially slogans. Much like my issues with “affirmation” posters and the like (though there are some that don’t make me want to puke), I’ve always kind of seen message t-shirts as being attention-seeking and obnoxious. And maybe they are, but maybe I’ve also kind of started to love them a little. Maybe I’m an obnoxious attention-seeker, and I need a uniform.

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I think what triggered my recent obsession was purchasing two DON’T BE BASIC t-shirts from the clearance rack in the teen girls department at Target (I can’t find them on their website, sorry) for me and Daniel. We were getting ready for our trip to Wisconsin in October (somehow I never blogged about that—oops), and we thought matching shirts would be a good idea. Because really, what’s more obnoxious than one person wearing a DON’T BE BASIC t-shirt? That’s right, two people wearing DON’T BE BASIC t-shirts.

And yeah, Daniel looks way better in teen girl clothing than I do, which is unfair.

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1. My Spirit Animal Is a Goth Teenager
Heather Gabel’s awesome, truth-speaking t-shirt is perpetually out of stock (I was on a wait list for months before I snagged one!), but she has a tank top version in her shop right now.

2. Sad Dude Fan Club
Stay Home Club basically has the best t-shirts ever and I want to buy EVERYTHING THEY SELL. I also love sad dudes, and I’m not ashamed to let the world know.

3. Be Kind to Animals or I’ll Kill You
Oh, Morrissey. You fight with your right hand, and caress with your left hand…and I wouldn’t want it any other way. (This shirt is a nod to one worn by Doris Day.)

4. I’m So Tired
I am. It’s true. That vertical apostrophe is giving me hives, but I want the shirt anyway.

5. I Just Want to Drink Coffee Save Animals and Sleep
Kind of puts everything important right there on one shirt, doesn’t it? If ever there were a message shirt for me, this is it. Thug Life has a number of cool shirts, and a number of lame ones as well. I’ll let you sort out which are which.

6. Feck Perfuction
Maybe it’s unfair for me to include this shirt since it’s no longer available, but it’s one of my favorite recent acquisitions…so I really had to. It was made by heroic designer James Victore and sold through Cotton Bureau, which means all sales were pre-orders. There’s always a chance that it could be re-listed, though, so if you really want one, put your email address on their notification list. UPDATE! Straight from the horse’s mouth: “‘Feck Perfuction’ will be available in January from Cotton Bureau” Excellent!

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Sweetness I Was Only Joking
I can’t not mention my own design from my K Is For Black shop! Modeled here by my handsome designer friend Richard Yoo, this fine shirt is available as a women’s fitted tee, men’s fitted tee, unisex v-neck, long-sleeve tee, tank top, biker tank, or onesie. I mean…that’s a lot of options. (And there’s even a sequel.)

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A couple of months ago, the nice people at Herbivore Botanicals contacted me asking if they could send me one of their soon-to-launched facial oils to try out. Uh…YES, that would be just fine. I fell in love with Herbivore’s products earlier this year when I bought their Coconut Bath Soak, which got me addicted to taking relaxation baths on a regular basis. Since then, I’ve ordered a number of other products from them, and all have been wonderful. Evan is a devotee of their Mens Face Elixer, and is currently on his third bottle (!).

My bottle of Orchid Facial Oil arrived on November 12 (about 5 ½ weeks ago), and I’ve been using nightly it ever since. My friends, this stuff is heaven.

My skin has not looked this good since…I don’t know, since I was a child? I’m not kidding. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve spent a long time trying to find a combination of products that works well for my sensitive, dry, adult acne-prone, and generally cranky skin, and while the prescription medications I use (Retin-A Micro and Aczone) have gone a long way toward keeping breakouts at bay and reducing clogged pores, I’ve still had issues with texture, discoloration, and dryness. I’ve had good results from Huile Prodigieuse and Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Complex, so I wasn’t actively looking for anything else, but I am so glad that this stuff made its way into my life. I had no idea my skin was capable of improving so drastically, and in a relatively short period of time.

And, of course, the packaging is gorgeous. The square bottle is heavy and solid, and feels noticeably more luxe than their other products. It looks great on display in the bathroom, and yeah, that matters to me.

Herbivore’s full line of facial oils includes three different blends: Orchid (youth preserving/normal skin), Phoenix (cell regenerating/mature or sensitive skin), and Lapis (oil balancing/combination skin). I didn’t choose with variety to try, but Orchid seems to be the exact right choice for me. The directions say to use it twice daily, but I’ve only been using it at night—as nicely as it absorbs into my skin, I haven’t yet done a test drive to see if it would play well with my face makeup during the day. I apply it immediately after washing my face, before the Retin-A and Aczone. It provides a really nice buffering layer, preventing dryness while still allowing the medications to do their jobs. My skin feels so unbelievably soft and looks clear and luminous. I’m happy.

Since I was sent my bottle at no cost, I wasn’t sure of the price until I started writing this post. Turns out it’s a bit spendy—$80 for 1.7oz. Judging by how much I’ve used in 5 ½ weeks, though (I took the photo above about an hour ago), I estimate this bottle will last me the better part of a year. Taking that into account, it’s not so bad…and I will definitely be purchasing a second bottle when the time comes.

Oh, and! There are also miniature-sized, roller ball versions of Herbivore’s facial oils available—both singly and as a set with the larger bottle. Perfect if you want to do a trial run, or if you’re traveling and don’t want to deal with packing a large glass bottle of oil in your carry-on. So smart.

Disclaimer: Herbivore Botanicals sent me this product at no cost, but they did not ask for anything in return. This review was written entirely out of my own enthusiasm and remarkably positive experience with said product. Thumbs up.

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In my last post, I mentioned having bought a queen-size mattress for the new apartment. Knowing that we were going to be making that upgrade, I bought new sheets a couple of months in advance. A number of people have emailed me about Target’s plus-sign bath rugs and towels, which led me to these great plus-sign sheets! (They’re a little tricky to find on the site since they’re not consistently depicted in the main product photo—just click the “plus print” icon under the color selector and you’ll see ‘em. And if you don’t want a whole sheet set, they sell a set of two pillowcases separately. That product photo looks gray, but they’re definitely bright white.)

They’ve only been washed twice, but I’m really happy with the quality of them so far. Normally I would shy away from a cotton-poly blend, but I honestly wouldn’t have known they aren’t 100% cotton if I hadn’t seen the label. They’re very soft, almost like flannel. And the scale of the pattern is perfect. (I like them even more than this much more pricey variation from Normann Copenhagen, in fact.)

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By the way, since a few people have asked, the black blanket with the white stitching is from IKEA’s 2009 PS line, designed by textile artist Kazuyo Nomura. Sadly (and predictably), the STICKA blanket is not still in production. Maybe I should start a blog entirely devoted to nice stuff that IKEA discontinued…

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See that? It’s the kitchen in the new apartment. Doesn’t it look peaceful? Doesn’t it look like everything is in place and as though I’m probably just out of frame, casually eating a banana? HAH!

This move has been both exhausting and comically fraught with problems. And we thought we’d planned everything so well. Nothing life-threatening, thankfully, but the kind of things that you start putting on a “to be resolved” list, and then the next thing you know that list has 300 things on it, and you don’t know where to start and people aren’t calling you back and everything you thought you could cross off the list actually needs to go back on again. Oh, and we’re still not done moving out of the old place. And I really should have taken more than two days off work. (Do I sound tired? I’m very tired.)

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Another moment of peace, taken on the first morning in the new place. Chaos aside, I always love those first few days in a new place when stuff is in boxes and you can pretend to be the kind of person who, for some weird reason, would need a big empty room with nothing in it but a rug and a side table.

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BOXES! This is the second move we’ve done with these Jugglebox crates. They’re awesome. Guys come and drop them off before your move, then they come and pick them up when you’re done with them. They’re easy to pack, they nest, they require no tape, they stack well, and they’re easy to carry. (There are a lot of companies out there that provide this service, so Google for “rent plastic moving boxes” if you want to find something similar in your area.)

I managed to unpack the last of these boxes the day before yesterday (let’s just pretend the contents of the last five are neatly put away and not just crammed into a closet), and the guys are coming to pick them up tonight. Just having them out of here is going to make a big difference.

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This is the new view from the bedroom/upstairs window! If you look down, you see a bunch of garbage and broken furniture and stuff, so I’ve decided that looking up is really the way to go. Isn’t that a good tip for happy living? And how cool is that solarium?? I’ve always wanted a solarium. I can’t wait to see how it looks out there in the snow…

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Bookshelves! Accomplishment! This is upstairs, in the loft area. It’s the short wall in photo #2 from my floor plan post. These are the same bookshelves I had in the last apartment and in the apartment before that. In the grand tradition of IKEA discontinuing all of their best stuff, these great steel brackets (EXBY OXIE) are no longer available. Typical! The poster is by the awesome Wasted Rita.

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We had a really dumb idea to go mattress-shopping at IKEA on a Saturday right after moving. We didn’t take our old bed with us, so it wasn’t really an option—we just had to go. Totally worth the crowds! We’ve had a full size bed for years, so upgrading to a queen feels really, really luxurious. We went with the medium-firm MYRBACKA mattress. So comfortable. I really like IKEA mattresses. We have one at the house, too, and it still feels great after 8 years.

Now we just need a new bed to go with the mattress!

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Fritz and Bruno are settling in really well, as you can tell. So helpful! If it were up to them, we’d keep the mattress directly on the floor forever.

More photos as soon as I figure out where I packed my camera…

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This is a reposting of a guest blog post I did for Dos Family five years ago. I regularly receive emails asking for the link to download the Swedish Christmas record, so I will repost it here yearly!

In the United States, it’s not uncommon to hear Christmas music wafting from shop speakers as early as the beginning of November, but it’s not “Here Comes Santa Claus” or “Jingle Bell Rock” that puts me in the holiday spirit. For me, it’s not Christmastime until I put on the recording of Swedish Christmas music that I grew up listening to each and every year: Christmas in Sweden, recorded in 1962 by Åke Jelving and a chorus of parents and children.

This is jovial, happy music, sung with energy and enthusiasm…and with audible gasping and stomping!

Our mother may be Swedish, but my siblings and I haven’t got a clue what the lyrics mean. I suspect that they, like me, sing along phonetically (and badly) in the privacy of their own homes. On Christmas day, we put the record on and leave the singing to Mommy as we all hold hands and dance in a circle, usually around the spread of snacks and glögg on the kitchen island.

My gift to you is a download of Christmas in Sweden. Evan made the MP3s directly from the record, so you’ll hear all the same snaps and crackles that I do when I listen to the original. I think that just adds to the appeal! Unless you’re a Swede, this may not sound like Christmas music to you at first, but give it time. (And maybe enjoy it with a little glögg.)

To download the album, you’ll need to visit this link. No need to create an account, just click on “download.” Easy!

God Jul! (& Happy December 16th!)

Christmas in Sweden

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