Saturday, April 25, 2015

a house to a home

I have a very important announcement to make:


The house hunting emotions are over. The Bank finally conceded, although I'm not going to say they were civil about it. (I told Dusty I nicknamed The Bank bastardions, because they're illegitimate and make me cry.)

My head has been swimming since we found out the news, mostly with the crazy projects I can't wait to get started on. This house needs a lot of tender love and care - as well as ruthless ripping up of carpets and violent scrubbing of absolutely everything. Spare the rod, spoil the child. Maybe that doesn't really apply here.

The point is, this is a great big [potentially] beautiful house just waiting to be Caitlined. I've had a secret Pinterest board I've been adding to over the last few weeks in the hopes that we would win the house war, and now that the dust is settling and the other offers are tending to their wounded, we can raise our victory flag and start buying clay to make CAT COASTERS.

cat coaster DIY via ABM

I know that expectations hardly ever meet up with reality, but I can't help but dream about the crazy eccentricities this house is going to feature. This house will be a work-in-progress for several years, but the prospect of constantly innovating and creating new touches to transform a house to a home is incredibly exciting to me. 

We'll build a good home, with lots of scope for the imagination. 
- Gilbert Blythe

Having a husband means I probably can't paint a giant gold moon on my wall like I'm really dying to, but maybe he'll let me sketch some tasteful constellations instead. But that's why I need him. We'll come up with ideas and compromises together, so our home can avoid looking like The Yellow Submarine (no but really, who wouldn't want to live in that house!?) and instead look more like a place that adult humans live. Ones that are socially capable of inviting friends over. 

I want to know how many ways you can use twinkle lights. I want cheesy things like a hutch to hold our coffee mugs and a big shiny sign that says "Cheers!" and an entire room dedicated to being a jungle gym for our cats. Don't tell me that wouldn't be hilarious. (Our cats could also really use the exercise). 

Before too long, we'll be swimming in carpet samples and tile ideas and paint swatches. We'll be donning hazmat suits while we attempt to douse the bathrooms in bleach. We'll be wearing shoes all day err day because that carpet ain't touching my bare feet. It'll be gross and magical and we'll be able to say "one small step for us, one GIANT step for sanitation!" when things are finished and beautified. 

I can't wait to give you a tour of the new house when the time comes, and to let you in on our little secrets of turning that house into our home. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

vogue is a cat lady

To land on your feet, fashion-wise, lose the heel.

It's fitting that although my blog name is inspired by Vogue magazine, the first time I'm featuring anything Vogue-related is when they decide to use cats as models.

The cat and the flat is a playful (and oh so fluffy!) Spring editorial featuring this season's name brand flats and their much cuter counterparts, da cats. The spread consists of 31 photos, one for every day of March. I feel a certain pride and contentment that Vogue is a cat lady.

I think my favorite part of the editorial are the details below each photo - such as the names of the cats, like Princess Monster Truck, Carmelo Anthony, Capone, and the little kitten named Pignoli. They also use all ordinary felines, many of them up for adoption! I'm sure these Vogue mittens have been snatched up already. Princess Monster Truck is already a celebrity, though, and spoiled rotten I'm sure. She's the grizzly one with the adorable underbite that makes her look like a cuddly troll.

Now shhhh and look at the kittens.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

skirts in the wind

Tank Top (remixed): Ruche, Skirt: LOFT

I've learned that I have a special superpower. It's kind of like a unique sense, a subconscious propulsion, to wear pleated skirts on windy days. It's true. I wanna say this is a gift bestowed upon many unfortunate gals, which makes me feel a little better because it's not really a superpower. It's a curse. It causes a lot of problems and gives strangers an intimate one on one with my biznass. 

It'd be a lot more helpful if I had the innate ability to never forget anything before I leave the house, or to be able to produce strong, hot coffee straight from my mind and into my coffee cup.

Although really, the more I think about it, the more I realize that this skirt sitch may be, could be, a little bit my fault. It's vaguely possible that I bring the skirt disasters upon myself, because I wear dresses and skirts pretty much every day. So of course some of those days are going to be windy, right? In fact, my dad loves gadgets and recently installed a weather instrument device, so there's literally a bright screen right next to the sink that I apparently ignore every day even when it might say "20 mph winds WEAR PANTS".

I think we often find ourselves in these types of debacles. It's really easy to say, why does this keep happening to me even if the answer may be within ourselves instead of resting on the shoulders of the world. Sometimes the responsibility does rest with me. Sometimes my environment isn't to blame, and I find myself without excuse. There are times when I can no longer blame my family, my past, my upbringing, my society, the government....uh oh. This almost got political. Let's move on.

It's a good day to be held accountable, I think. To laugh at the faces of the shocked passersby as they catch sight of my knickers, and to know that my particular choices that morning led to such a humorous encounter. It does no good to shout at the wind, or to cry about how unfair the weather is. It's much more effective to dress appropriately for the day. To learn from the skirts in the wind.

Monday, April 20, 2015

house hunting emotions (as told by troy barnes)

My husband and I have entered into our first house-buying experience, and I'm suddenly realizing I'm not the greatest at handling this kind of exciting, stressful and emotional journey. I've always been a homebody, and the two of us are probably the most sentimental humans in Arizona. We walk into a house that's for sale and we're like, oh well hello there, destiny, thanks for bringing us to our new place of solace and happiness. The problem is, when it's listed way out of our budget or sells before we can make an offer, we might take it a little too hard. It feels personal. Like we've just been betrayed by the very destiny that promised us so much.

I figured Troy Barnes, a character on the TV show Community, was the best man for the job of illustrating our complex emotions of the past few weeks.

We hadn't actually planned on buying a house this early. But we came across a few local properties, and our interest was piqued. The wheels started turning. What if we bought a fixer upper, lived in it for a few years while we fixed it up, then resold it to provide us with enough money to build our own house (which is our ultimate dream)?

We saw the house for the first time a week and a half ago. We knew right away it was the perfect type of dingy, in need of our tender love and care but not too far gone. It was priced low; most of the houses around our city at the same price are half the size. It had only been listed for one day, so we were confident with our offer and waited the necessary 10 days before the bank would tell us we were officially home owners.

But then, over the weekend, our realtor told us that the bank was rejecting all of the offers. There are a total of 3, we found out, so our initial feelings of being the special chosen ones quickly vanished. The bank wanted our highest and our best. We could raise the offer, raise the earnest money, waive the inspection period (or shorten it)...

Our confidence was shaken and we had no idea what to do. The market began rising as we twiddled our thumbs and lost sleep. Even if we raise the offer, will the other offers raise theirs as well? How can we be sure we beat them to the highest bid? Why couldn't this be a personal interview, where we charm The Bank and make them love us? Is there any way I could send The Bank a basket of mini muffins to endear them to us? Is this a sign? And if so, what's it pointing at? Are signs even a thing? 

So many questions! So much doubt! In the back of our minds we kept telling ourselves that everything will work out either way - if this isn't the house, then we'll move on with our lives and continue saving our money. If it is, then we'll get it...right? 

The Bank is impossible to mind read, unfortunately, but we decided to just do everything available to us. Raise the offer, raise the earnest money, shorten the inspection time. I tried to also send the mini muffins, but they don't like baked goods; they only eat pure gold and our hopes and dreams.

We submitted the new offer this morning. So now we're left to wait again. We'll hopefully know by tomorrow, but while I sit here typing at work it's all just like


It's stressful not knowing the future. I know we're not the only human beings with this problem, but it would be so much easier knowing whether or not this is the house. I'm not even sure if there's such a thing as the anything. While I believe God cares about the smallest desires of our hearts, I am not positive that he always tells us direct answers to the decisions we make. Things like where we go to school, or what we have for lunch, or what job we take. Sometimes there are clear answers, but sometimes there aren't. In this time of uncertainty and stress, I have to remember that the future is taken care of whether we're directly lead to purchasing this house or passing it by. We've done everything we can to make it happen, because in our minds it's the house - but dealing with the loss of it will not break us. It will simply be another story to tell.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

april wishlist

I've been having some major wishlist itches this week. I've long admired these adorable matchboxes that feature various book covers on them, and recently I've been hoping this sweater from Ruche goes on sale - I love the orange "you are the apple of my eye" with the matching stripes on the sleeves.

If you've never seen Love And Other Disasters, it's seriously a very underrated Brittany Murphy movie. I always loved her and I'm eager to add this one to my collection. It's quirky and funny and sweet. The "Cuss Yeah" necklace is especially endearing for any Fantastic Mr. Fox fan, which I certainly am.

Probably the biggest and most earnest wishlist item is the special edition Harry Potter series book set. This set came out in 2013, and while it's currently unavailable, I'm dying to have it. The art is just beautiful. Take a look at the set on Amazon, which includes photos of every book. They're completely magical. Sigh.

What's on your wishlist lately?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

harry potter book club: the sorcerer's stone

First of all - Happy Birthday to Emma Watson!

Last month I officially commenced The Harry Potter Book Club. Over the past 30+ days, a good handful of us began to read (or reread) these delightful books, and I am here to review and discuss The Sorcerer's Stone with you all. I tried my best to read this book with an entirely fresh perspective, going back in time to 1997 when this volume was brand new and the story was a puzzle of exciting mystery and anticipation.

This is just a general collection of my impressions and thoughts, so feel free to use them as a jumping point for our discussion. You can also go way off course and share absolutely anything you want from this reading experience! 

I hate to state the obvious, but SPOILERS ABOUND. If you have never read this book, I feel sad. But this is a spoiler-filled review. 

Albus Dumbledore had gotten to his feet. He was beaming at the students, his arms open wide, as if nothing could have pleased him more than to see them all there. "Welcome," he said. "Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are:
Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!
Thank you!"

1. First Impressions
are sometimes the most important. Were you able to finish the book this month? If so, what did you think? What did you think of J. K. Rowling's writing style? Answers vary depending on whether it's a first-time read or a reread, but I'd love to hear your initial thoughts.

Questions: What was going through your head the moment you finished the last page? Who is your favorite character so far? If it's your first time reading, do you feel compelled to continue? If it's not, did anything specifically jump out at you this time around?

2. Fear and Jealousy
can be so destructive and ugly. They can rot a person to their very core. I remember vehemently hating the Dursleys when I read these books the first time, and it wasn't until I finished the series that I realized how sorry I felt for them. There's a very complex family dynamic that's going on here that isn't completely realized until the last book. I'm paying much closer attention to them this time around.

The biggest thing that jumped out at me this time around is this: you have to wonder why Dumbledore really left Harry there, instead of with a wizarding family that would have loved and cherished him. The Dursleys' relationship with Harry has always been driven mainly by fear and jealousy, and while it's a horrid thing to watch, it also exposes impressive and important qualities in Harry that seem to be inherent from the beginning: bravery, humility, goodness, fairness, hope. Could that have been Dumbledore's purpose all along?

Questions: Did you secretly wish the snake had taken a bite out of Dudley before escaping the zoo? Do you think Dumbledore left Harry with the Dursleys to build character and shield him from a childhood of entitlement and excess? How do you think Harry managed to maintain such noble character traits while living beneath the stairs (and beyond)?

3. A Huge Life Change
very rarely comes in the form of a giant man breaking down your door and declaring, "Yer a wizard, Harry!" but when it does, it makes for great reading. I absolutely adore the shack-on-a-stormy-rock scene, because the Dursleys finally get scared spitless and Harry finally learns about the secret we've been dying to tell him since page 1. The introduction to the wizarding world is pretty overwhelming for the poor boy. It's even worse when he has to leave it again to go back to his dull and miserable life with the Dursleys until the school year starts!

On a side note, Hagrid's life story seems awfully tragic to me. He was expelled from Hogwarts, and apparently in the wizarding world that means you never get another chance to legally practice magic. You are trapped in a magic-less life forever. Granted, he doesn't strictly adhere to that rule...but doesn't it seem a tad extreme that an 11 year old could get into mischief at school and end up exiled forever?

Questions: How easy/difficult is it for you to read the supernatural/magical? How do you feel about the fact that Hagrid was expelled from Hogwarts, and is never allowed to use magic again

4. Harry's First Choices
about who to spend his time with arrive early on in his introduction to the wizarding world. He spent 11 years in the forced company of the Dursleys, never having the time or the means to build other relationships. Luckily he has great instincts, and thus the trio was born. He was also able to immediately recognize Dursley-esque characteristics in others, and knew he wanted no more of that.

He has a keen eye, perhaps paying more attention to the needs of others to make up for all of the years that he was undervalued and ignored. He is naturally attracted to other possible outcasts, in which he is able to see the strengths that he desires and admires. Hermione, the brilliant muggle-born, and Ron, the loyal boy from a poor family, become his core. Although Hermione doesn't actually join the boys until chapter 10, after earning their immediate dislike for her know-it-all tendencies. But as J. K. Rowling writes in chapter 7, "There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them."

5. The Mirror of Erised
is an incredibly poignant segment of this book. I was reminded that this isn't necessarily a book just for children, as much as it is a story about children. The series grows along with the reader. There are many intricate tragedies in this book (including the worst detention ever concocted, like whoa). The loss of innocence (unicorn blood), the Mirror, facing death. Harry encounters all of these and despite them or because of them he is more emboldened than ever to stand firm against the dark side. The more I think about the Mirror, the sadder I feel. It's the very first time Harry is able to see his parents. Until Hagrid gives him a scrapbook of his parents at the end of the book (sob!), he had never even seen a photograph of them.

This chapter also brings us one of the best Dumbledore quotes: "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live." For those of you who have seen the movies, I would like to announce that the real Dumbledore of the books is quirky, strange, mysterious, magical, and wonderful in every way. He is not mean, he is not creepy, he does not scream or throttle people. He is definitely my favorite character to reread. That is all.

6. The Mystery of Snape
is one of the greatly debated Harry Potter universe subjects. Is he good or evil? Either way, I think it's fairly clear that even though he saves Harry's life a time or two in this book, he also goes out of his way to make Harry's life miserable in the meantime. Despite the fact that Harry's father James has been dead for 11 years, Snape takes it upon himself to continue dishing out his pent up wrath on his only child. We get some explanation from Dumbledore at the end, but it doesn't provide a lot of comfort, to me or to Harry.

"Well, they did rather detest each other. Not unlike yourself and Mr. Malfoy. And then, your father did something Snape could never forgive."


"He saved his life."


"Yes..." said Dumbledore dreamily. "Funny, the way people's minds work, isn't it? Professor Snape couldn't bear being in your father's debt.... I do believe he worked so hard to protect you this year because he felt that would make him and your father even. Then he could go back to hating your father's memory in peace...."

Harry tried to understand this but it 
made his head pound, so he stopped.

7. The Ending!
J. K. Rowling does a mighty fine job of weaving together a story. She brings a lot of elements full-circle, including the Mirror of Erised and the various personal talents of the trio that allows them to successfully navigate the puzzles and charms that lead to the Sorcerer's Stone.

This book is really about laying the groundwork for the kind of hero Harry is going to be, and how he's going to empower himself by choosing goodness and love instead of power in and of itself. Quirrell says, "There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it." He's immediately proven wrong when Harry demonstrates that the power he has within is greater than anything Quirrell (or Voldemort) could ever know.

"Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn't realize that love as powerful as your mother's for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign... to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever. It is in your very skin. Quirrell, full of hatred, greed, and ambition, sharing his soul with Voldemort, could not touch you for this reason. 
It was agony to touch a person marked by something so good."

Dumbledore now became very interested in a bird out on the windowsill, which gave Harry time to dry his eyes on the sheet.

Questions: Were you surprised when the stuttering, turban-wearing Quirrell turned out to be the one who was after the Sorcerer’s Stone? Was there anything in the plot that led you to suspect him? Was there a particularly heartfelt moment in the book that got to you?

Thanks for joining our Harry Potter Book Club for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone!!
Share your thoughts below, but be careful of spoilers if it's your first time through this series because there are a few. If you've read them/seen them before and are commenting, try to only mention plot points from this book and avoid big series-wide spoilers. Thanks!!

The next review will be up on the blog one month from today, on May 15th, in celebration of Professor Sprout's birthday. See you then!

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

featured artist: hajin bae

Green art print | Hajin Bae

I recently came across the artwork of Hajin Bae when the photo above was chosen by Hello Giggles to represent my article on individuality. Unfortunately, Hajin Bae was not informed of its usage and HG did not properly credit her work. I woke up on Sunday morning to a lot of outraged tweets directed toward me about the injustice, and I had to explain that I did not choose the artwork (as much as I love it!) and hoped that Hello Giggles would work with Hajin Bae to resolve the issue. The photo in the article has since been replaced by another, and they are (hopefully) working to appropriately make amends.

Having friends that are full-time creatives has exposed me to the frustrations of art theft, and I would never willingly or knowingly participate in it. I love investing in the creations of others, and I have a vision of someday filling an entire wall in my home with work that I love and admire from other artists.

I wanted to take the time to feature some of Hajin Bae's artwork here, because I still adore the green-haired beauty above and feel that it perfectly represents what I wrote. I purchased the art print and cannot wait to hang it on that art room wall someday.

Hajin Bae is from Seoul, Korea, and her artwork has been featured all over the world. Check out her website for full details about her career and for more of her work. You can also purchase prints, clothing, and other accessories of her art over at I especially love her character creations with bright hair and uniquely stunning details. It was very difficult to choose my favorites! I hope you enjoy her work as much as I do.

Hajin Bae:

Woman in Blue art print | Hajin Bae
Pink Hair Girl art print | Hajin Bae
Red & Girl art print | Hajin Bae
French Girl clock | Hajin Bae
Red Lips clock | Hajin Bae

Girl art print | Hajin Bae
Spring & Girl art print | Hajin Bae
Girls in Blue phone case | Hajin Bae
Green tote bag | Hajin Bae

Bubble Gum Girl phone case | Hajin Bae
#01 throw pillow | Hajin Bae

Love is Always There art printHajin Bae
Night art print | Hajin Bae