New Knobs

Many years ago, before my Godmother Becky passed away, she asked me what I wanted from her house. I was in my early twenties at the time, and wasn’t quite sure how to respond. I knew why she was asking, it was the last time I’d likely see her. I distinctly remember looking around her beautiful minimalist house in Pittsburg, Texas – unsure of whether to name some little knick-nack or something larger. I knew I wanted to have pieces of her life to stay with me, but wasn’t sure what was appropriate. I smiled and told her that I’d love to have her copy of The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway. I hated reading that book in high school whereas it was one of her favorites. We had an animated discussion about it some time prior – and although I’ll probably never enjoy actually reading that book, I smile every time I see our copies on my bookshelf.

Then Becky asked what else I wanted. Hmmmm, so the book was too small. I walked through her house and told her that I’d love to one day have one of her beautiful vintage writing desks. One belonged to her husband Dan’s mother, one belonged to Becky’s father, and I cannot remember who the third desk belong to.

Time passed, as did Becky. Pieces of hers show up throughout our house: The Old Man and The Sea is on a bookshelf, some of her jewelry is in my nightstand, her silk scarves fill my scarf drawer. There are other things, a Jacques Pepin cookbook, a grocery basket, and various other odds and ends. I assumed that perhaps the writing desk was too big an ask.

When her husband put their house on the market this past year, my parents went down to Texas to spend their last long weekend in the house. I know it was really difficult for my mom as she spent so much time there, particularly towards the end of Becky’s life. And even the times that we visited that house after she had passed away, everyone felt a sense of her calm presence the moment they walked in the door. To us, that house gave her life. On their way back home I got a phone call from my mom, she asked if one of us would be home later that evening, she had a desk to drop off at our house. My mom had remembered that Becky wanted me to have one of her writing desks and made sure that she wasn’t leaving Texas without one for me.

This is Becky’s father’s writing desk, patented in the early 1900s. It lives in our living room with a wooden try of knick-nacks on top. You might recognize the top of it from some of my stationery photoshoots 🙂


The desk is in fantastic condition with the exception of the knobs. Somewhere along the line (before it was mine) one of them lost their metallic piece. This made them appear mismatched and overall they did nothing to add any further visual interest to the desk.


So on my lunch break today I headed over to Anthropologie to see if they had any interesting knobs for sale. And by if, I really mean I knew they’d have some fantastic knobs. After studying each of the knobs in their large selection I’d narrowed it down to 4. From there I noticed that I was really drawn to the knobs that looked a little older (with the antique metal) and less crafty, so I narrowed it down to 2.


I texted Mike to ask which one he preferred (he’s got great taste and pretty much always has an opinion) and he surprised me with a neutral response. So I texted my mom, figuring that she has a vested in this desk and, like Mike, always has an opinion. She told me she liked both of them. This was of no help. So I bought both to bring home and try on the desk.


I was actually a little surprised by the results. I expected to either still be wishy washy over the two knobs or to like the more traditional round knob (I picked up the long ivory colored knob more as a wild card). I really, really preferred the long ivory colored knob.


I think that they’re understated and a little unexpected.


Don’t mind all of the stuff on the coffee table, I was photographing stationery this past weekend and need to reshoot some of what I shot so I left everything out.

That was such an easy upgrade. Unfortunately there are only two other places in our house where knobs show up (the hutch in the dining room – which is already donning an Anthropologie knob – and the vanity in the bathroom – which Mike and I don’t agree on whether or not it needs its knobs changed out… * cough * yes * cough *). While there aren’t a lot of knobs in our house… there are a lot of handles/pulls… #ohthepossibilities

What I’d like to do now is to make the writing desk a stationery station of sorts, and maybe even add a chair over there. I’d like to populate the drawer with our address stamps, lined envelopes, our monogram stamp, note cards, postage stamps, our address book and a nice pen or two. I think it would make it easier for our personal correspondence to not live all over my office and be a nice way to pay homage to the original purpose of that desk.


Weekend Warriors

The last of my end of week/weekend to-do list was crossed off just as June ended. At first glance (and second, and third) my list was daunting. After spending all of my mental energy early last week on getting the last of the day-of paper needs out the door for my last two spring weddings (okay, June is summertime, but I still considered them spring weddings) I needed to turn most of my end of week/weekend focus towards getting invitations wrapped up for two September weddings. Thanks to Mike and my friend Nichole, we were able to get some of the heavy lifting (cutting ribbon, tying 120 bows and putting the invitations together) out of the way on Thursday night. Nichole came back for round 2 Friday evening (she must be a glutton for punishment) and we cut out 100 metallic purple envelope liners for another wedding. Mike had gigs with his band Get Well Cards on both Friday and Saturday night so he missed out on the envelope liner cutting action.

Saturday morning I had 20 stamps to package so I decided to make the same breakfast that I made Mike on our first Saturday Hot Breakfast: bacon/egg cups. I figured that they were easy to make the first time and that since they have to bake for 30 minutes, that would give me more time with the packaging of stamps before Mike woke up. I decided to add cut up sun-dried tomato sausage to the cups as well. While the packaging got done – but I couldn’t say the same for breakfast when it came out of the oven. Mike was awake by this time and saw me trying with little success to get the bacon/egg/sausage cups out of the muffin tin (I swear they practically fell out the first time I made them!). Once released from their chambers we took one look at the lower part of the bacon and noticed that it was not cooked. Being pregnant (and a human being) uncooked bacon was not an option. Eventually the bacon cooked enough and we were able to eat breakfast – but it certainly wasn’t as pretty as the first time I made that particular recipe…


You can see the comparison between the first time that I made this recipe (left) and how Saturday’s version turned out (right)

After a, er, hearty breakfast we needed to get ready for our day of errands. This included taking passport photos (yay for having a good camera, a white fridge and photoshop to take out the handle/label from the photo). Mike looks the same as he always does in ID photos – no joke, his face never changes. I decided not to smile (I’m convinced that my face has rounded out since becoming pregnant which is highlighted when I smile in photos and cannot turn my head just slightly) since I’m going to have to live with this photo for the next 10 years.


Since Mike was getting a passport for the first time, he needed to bring his birth certificate with him to the Post Office, which meant that we needed to swing by his parents house to obtain that. We got to the post office just in time before a long line formed (I love it when that happens) and were out relatively quickly, Mike just had to take a quick oath and I needed to drop of the 20 packages from earlier (thanks to prepaid shipping labels that took about 20 seconds verses the 30 minutes it would have taken otherwise).

Next stop was Home Depot. The impending rain (that never actually happened over by our house) kept Mike from painting the garage on Saturday – but that wasn’t the end of the world since we still needed to buy the paint… and the hose for the air compressor… and the painting attachment. Over $200 later (I swear you cannot leave Home Depot without spending at least $175) we were back on the road for a quick stop to Jewel and then onto my parent’s house to pick up a package that I’d had shipped there. We got home with enough time to eat lunch while watching an episode of the West Wing (we’re in Season 6) before heading out to Mike’s uncle and aunt’s house for a birthday party for his grandmother. After a day on the go, I finally got to plant myself in one spot and spend an enjoyable evening mingling with Mike’s extended family – but Mike was only able to stay for a couple hours before he was off again to the second Get Well Cards gig.

While Mike played basketball on Sunday morning, I went to hang out with my mom while she scrapbooked and I took those 100 envelope liners from Friday, stamped them by hand with two different stamps and then adhered them to the envelopes that they’d be living in. That took up the entire morning. By the time I got back home it was time to photograph some stationery for both Studio255 and Peas & Thank You Paperie.


Wedding invitation suite, mailed in tins instead of envelopes, tied with a loose-weave Italian ribbon, featuring a double Z-fold invitation and 4 additional cards


Close-up of wedding invitation. Prop is a pocket watch – I assume that it was Mike’s grandfather’s.


RSVP post card front and back. Prop is that same pocket watch, but turned over.


All interior cards found inside the tin along with the ribbon that ties them all together.


Baby shower invitation with a stamped, lined envelope


Minimal birth announcement with a matching lined kraft paper envelope. Prop is loos-weave Italian ribbon.


Gender neutral birth announcement with lined white envelope. Color on announcement can be switched out.

Meanwhile, while I was photographing stationery, Mike was outside starting to paint the garage. He’s gathered some key learnings, the biggest of which is that the wind is not your friend when you’re using an air compressor to paint outside. Although we had a gorgeous sunny, mildly warm Sunday – there was just enough wind to keep Mike from being able to use the spray gun’s full capability. This meant that he had to spray very close to the garage with a thin paint stream so that the paint wouldn’t blow away. So currently our the parts of our garage that got painted look more graffitied than finished. Looks like we’ll need another coat or two. I’d post photos, but I think Mike would prefer that you view the final product rather than the current state that the garage is in. In the meantime, here are some images of the air compressor that I got him for his birthday and the spray guns at Home Depot.


The weekend ended with Mike at work doing a set strike and myself attempting to make it look less like a tornado tore through our house (it tends to get that way when I’m assembling stationery and photographing it).

The Desk that Mike Built

In a previous post I wrote about the wonderful card that Mike made me for our anniversary and included an excerpt from what he’d written “The traditional first anniversary gift is supposed to be paper, but you run a paper based company, so that’s a bust.” What came after that in the card was an explanation about how he’d like to do some heavy lifting in my office (since I run a company based on paper) as my anniversary gift.

The new home of Studio255 aka The CaveThe first thing to go was the deep purple painted walls. Admittedly, painting two of the walls and the ceiling purple was one of my ideas that was better in concept than in execution and my office was, as a result, a dark place (actually dark, not sad dark). Mike re-painted those walls and the ceiling white and then painted one of the previously white walls middle grey. It took quite a few coats to cover up all of that purple paint.

After the painting was complete Mike took apart the executive desk that came with the house so that he could use pieces of it in my new desk. We sat down one Saturday to plan out what the rest of the desk would look like, what supplies would live in the desk and how much space they needed. Measurements were taken so that everything from the boxes that my shipping envelopes come in to the stack of fine paper that I’ve accumulated had a place.

The next several days for Mike were filled with cutting, building and staining, and then staining some more. After the base of the desk was complete, Mike took me to Home Depot to pick out a top for the desk. Originally we were going to use a kitchen countertop, but none of the things that they had in stock really went with the look that we were going for, and they all had lips that weren’t going to work with the plans that Mike had come up with. After reviewing several other options (wood, tiles, faux hard wood floors, etc) we settled on laminate flooring. It’s durable and in the right patterns it looks really nice, it’s super inexpensive, and best of all, it was available that day! You see, I was getting a little stir-crazy in the temporary office that was set up for me in our guest room (pictured below). What you don’t see is the rest of the space which is piled high with the rest of the contents of my office. While it was nice to have somewhere to continue to work while Mike was re-doing my office, it was very disorientating not knowing where anything was and having no room to spread out.


In the end the wait was well worth it. Mike does excellent work and took his time to ensure that everything was built correctly and stained well. And now, without further ado, I’d like to introduce, my new workspace…


That’s 12 glorious feet of workspace right there 🙂



A Letter to the Washing Machine

Dear Washing Machine,

We haven’t always seen eye-to-viewing window. Initially I was excited at your newness. But that excitement and relief dwindled when I saw that your non-handwash cycles take 56-60 minutes instead of the 20 minute cycles that I’ve grown accustomed to over my lifetime. I’ll admit that I’ve been not-so-secretly hoping for your demise – before our homeowners warranty for this year is up.

Needless to say, I was quite disappointed with you when I woke up this morning and noticed that the clothing that you contained was soaking wet. Not ‘just washed damp’ but ‘wring it out in the sink and it is still too wet’ wet. I sighed as I suggested you do a spin cycle to remedy the problem. Neither that or the added drain cycle helped – my clothing was still saturated.

I should be happy that you’re malfunctioning on your own, and not at the hands of a well placed wrench. But I fear that that small level of malfunction will not get me a new washing machine, just a lot of irritation. To add insult to injury, you proceeded to wash the next batch of clothing without a problem. I’m sure the dryer is also resenting you right now as it’s having to work double time to dry the mess that you left behind.

Please work as you should or have a complete breakdown so I can replace you with something that can properly wash three loads in the time that it takes you to complete one improper load.

The Management

Trip #3 to Home Depot

Mike and I made a quick (operative word) jaunt to Home Depot yesterday to pick up some shelving for the basement storage area. Although we’re not in a floodplain, or at a low point on our block, he wanted to make sure everything was off the ground and in plastic bins.

A quick insurance lesson: flood insurance is only sold through the government. What you can buy with your homeowners insurance is sewage and water back-up insurance. That covers the cost of replacing your walls/floors/house-pertaining things. Not your things. To cover your things costs extra, a lot extra. Those shelves at Home Depot cost $40 per. So for now, that’s how we’re going to roll.

The Basement Storage/Laundry Area Before:

The Basement Laundry/Storage Area After:

Paintapalooza Weekend

“It’s going to be Paintapalooza at the new Musselman house this weekend. Sorta like Lollapalooza, but with less live music and more painting. Headlining this weekend will be Stormy Night on the Dining Room stage and Midday Mocha on the Living Room stage. Don’t miss some of our smaller acts Juicy Cantaloupe in the bathroom and Purely Purple in Studio255’s office area. Lastly, we’ve got a battle of the samples to put on the bedroom, guest room and study walls – winner announced as soon as we make a decision.”
– Sydney’s post on Facebook 4/20/2012

Were we ambitious expecting to paint 7 rooms in a weekend, yes. Did we do it, yes.

Mike and I were very excited to finally be moving into a place where we could actually throw some paint on the walls and call it our own. We decided that the living room, dining room, master bedroom, study, guest room, bathroom and office could all stand to be painted with colors that better matched our tastes. Especially the brownish yellow bedroom, lime green bathroom and green green living room!

After the offer on our house was accepted, negotiations between the two of us in regards to paint colors commenced. My tastes trend towards shades of gray and other dark, cool colors. On the other end of the spectrum, Mike prefers bright colors (unless those colors are green or yellow or pink or red haha). Thanks to Glidden’s color 2-room visualizer we were able to ‘see’ colors on the walls, and how they interacted with adjoining rooms. We were able to select 4 of the 7 colors that way. The remaining 3 rooms each got a few samples painted onto the walls before colors were selected.

We rolled up our sleeves (and the sleeves of my mom, sister, brother, dad and our friend Kristi) and set to work. The extra hands paid off as we finished all of what we set out to accomplish!