2017 Home Tour

I think the best way to enjoy your favorite things is to only possess favorite things. If I don't LOVE something, I consider it a moral imperative to let it go. It's the only compassionate and sustainable thing to do.

Six months ago, I walked away from home ownership and downsized my life. My family of four and a dog moved out of a 2,500 square foot detached home with a full garden into a 1,000 square foot apartment. Now, I know that 1,000 square feet is still a lot of room. But for us, it was a huge shift. We also divested ourselves of 70% of our furniture and belongings.

And guess what? I don't miss a thing.

And to be clear, we're not minimalists. We're not part of the tiny house movement. We just want to preserve the resources we have and to enjoy more time together as a family. A smaller and more manageable household helps us to do that.

So here is the new and improved 2017 house tour. 
You can see my previous home tour HERE

Summer Chickens

My backyard hens are doing well in the summer heat, although they get a little pissy in the late afternoons. I've been letting them eat around the edges of my vegetable beds. This adds a healthy dose of kale, mint, and oregano to their diet. Their favorite snack is still a handful of meal worms, though. When it gets over 100 degrees, I usually take a shallow pan of ice to the hens. The ice melts quickly, but the water is cool and refreshing for the ladies. Gladys likes to stand in the water and cool off her feet.

June Garden Report & Natural Mosquito Repellent

The garden is pretty idyllic right now. Everything is lush, but not overgrown. The pollinators are having orgies over all of the new life and our family is harvesting food every morning. Kale, chard, eggs, herbs, onions, yellow neck squash, French zucchini, green beans and more. Even our salads get a colorful sprinkling of Nasturtium flowers for fun and color. Our tomatoes are almost ready and this year they look plentiful! I'm so thrilled. There are six varieties of tomato in our garden this year, many of which we've never grown or eaten. It will be a new adventure!

Natural Mosquito Repellent Tip
Also - I want to talk about my new successful method for keeping mosquitoes at bay. These buggers are thick this year in Texas. We didn't have a real freeze this winter, so they're especially bad right now. I hate all of the chemical sprays, and even the essential oil based sprays have a really intense odor and residue on our yard. So, I've started burning incense in the garden to smoke them out. It gives our garden the feel of sacred space, smokes out the bugs and smells divine. I just bought the huge pack if India Incense from World Market. It's inexpensive and beautiful.

What's growing in your garden right now?

Baby Grand

I play the piano, as does my 8-year old son. We've been happily using an out-of-tune spinet for the past five years, but we recently happened upon a paper advertisement in the music department of a local university for a baby grand. Our wheels started turning. Could we afford it? Could we justify the expense? Alas, the answer was "no".

But this Christmas, my Dad surprised our little family with a very big gift. He made it possible for us to purchase the baby grand and have it delivered to our home just before the holiday. We are over-the-mood excited to have such a lovely instrument in our midst. When we get her all tuned up, I'll make a little video for you!

A fun side note: The previous piano owner is Peter Protzman, a designer for Herman Miller. He is the designer of many of Herman Miller's most successful furniture pieces. For instance, THESE chairs, THESE chairs and THIS desk are among my favorite of his creations. It was a pleasure to meet Peter and his wife and purchase their piano!

Around the House | Solstice Edition

Here at La Maison Boheme, things are slowing down. Hibernation and quiet are the order of the day. We have family visiting from out of town. Checker boards and puzzles are scattered across the dining room table. Holiday music is streaming. Football games are being recorded. Short brisk walks are taken in the mid-afternoon. Baked goods move in and out of the oven.

Today is the winter solstice. The whole world spins on a dark axis, waiting to be reborn into the light. But inside these four walls, we're toasty and well-fed. Gratitude abounds and my little ones anticipate Christmas. I hope you're all warm and well and with someone you love. Here's a little taste of our holiday scene:

Our Airbnb Studio

Our new Airbnb space is now open for business! Our housemates have moved on to other adventures, which means our 400 square foot studio is now available via Airbnb. It's a 400 square foot garage renovation with AC/heating, flatscreen TV, large mini fridge (is that a thing?), massive walk-in closet, newly remodeled bathroom and garden access. So if you're ever traveling to Dallas, bookmark this little gem! Check out all the details HERE.

Up Close and Personal

Last night, I did a little exercise. My son was practicing piano for 15 minutes and I was feeling particularly grateful for the process of my home life. I decided to grab my camera and take photos of anything in my home that caught my eye. As it turned out, I only had about three minutes before my doorbell rang. But here's what I caught in a three-minute impromptu photo spree around my house last night. 


Room to Live | aka Living Room

My mom was visiting Dallas this week. It's always such a pleasure to have her here. But nothing is more pleasurable than sitting in my living room over a cup of coffee with cream and talking with her while the morning comes up in the front window. It's that wonderful liminal period when the kids aren't demanding anything of me, the dog is calm and I can just sit and chat and listen and enjoy my mother's good company.

Dark Eden

This morning, in the first hours of dawn, my son Charlie woke up screaming. He does this periodically. He's not hurt or waking from a bad dream, he just wants out of his bed. He's almost five years old. Most kids his age are in a twin bed and when they want to get up and help themselves to cereal in the kitchen, they do.

But not Charlie. He's still in a crib and he cannot walk. And he cannot help himself to much of anything. So when I hear the early morning shriek, that's my cue to to stumble from my bed into the hallway and help him out of bed, into a clean diaper and into the kitchen for some breakfast, which I spoon feed him.

I am not telling you all this for attention or pity (God, I hate pity), but to illuminate my next thought: Serenity can exist anywhere. Yes. Anywhere. After Charlie is settled and fed and diapered and The Wiggles are streaming on the screen, I sneak away for a cup of coffee and a stroll, albeit a quick one, through my little back yard garden. Why? Because I'm seeking serenity. I need to hear that it's all going to be okay. And if you listen closely, that is what plants whisper when you walk by. "It's all going to be okay."

It is only 6:34am. I've been up for 15 minutes and I still have an entire day of childcare ahead of me. I also have lots of work calling my name. But for these next few minutes, I feed the chickens, snap a few beans off of the bean pole, fondle an almost ripe tomato and greet the morning with a deep breath.

This is my Eden. The almost ripe tomato, the coffee, the kid who can't walk, the one who is still asleep, the chicken scratching at the ground, the prickly cucumber stems, the rising sun, the power line, the clothesline, the camera hanging around my neck to snap photos for the blog, the slight smell of ammonia wafting from the coop that reminds me its time to change their bedding - all of it, my Eden.

Summer Musings | Disheveled Order

Today is officially the first day of summer for school kids all over the state of Texas. Both of my boys are out of school and ready for some down time. So am I. This week also marks the beginning of a three month stretch of solo parenting for me.

In addition to his work as a professor, my husband is also an actor. This week, he left Dallas for the west coast. He'll be playing the title role in Macbeth and Leonato in Much Ado About Nothing at the New Swan Shakespeare Festival in Irvine, California. When bucket list roles come calling, you say YES. It doesn't matter how far away or how long the run. Yes yes yes.

It's going to be a long summer. Solo parenting isn't easy. But it doesn't have to be a slog. This summer, I'm redefining what success looks like. I'm sweeping all expectations off the table. These three months will be measured not in days, but rather in calm breaths and cups of coffee. Sure, things will be accomplished. And sometimes they won't. Dishes will be washed or they'll sit in the sink. Compost will accumulate and turn, chickens will lay, diapers will fill the pail, demands will be made, tears will fall, bread will bake, friends will visit and all will be well. Release expectation and all will be well.

Here are two photographs of my home this morning. The first is of my bed at 8am. This photo embodies a sense of leisure, nourishment and a kind of disheveled order. I'm posting this photo here today so I can look back and remember my summer mantra, "Release expectation and all will be well."

This second photo is of the sofa in my living room. There is room to sit, room to read, room to hug and cuddle. There is space for reflection and rest. I love sitting here in the morning and looking out on my front yard. Unlike my bedroom, where disheveled order is more acceptable, this room is public. People pass through and guests see this immediately upon entering. This is the room that tries to put its best foot forward. But what of it? Still, I must remember my mantra. Dust will accumulate, children will spill their drinks, the dog may chew the corners. Do what you can. Care for all things with patience and love. Release expectation and all will be well.

Dusk in the Garden

If you've been watching the news, you know that Texas is under water. Several people have lost their lives to flash floods and many more are missing. The deluge is fierce and the 10-day forecast has more rain in store. Last night I visited with my neighbor who is pumping water out from under his house. I can hear frogs under our own house and my back yard is filled with weird mushrooms, fat Oregon-sized slugs and swampy bits of grass where mosquitoes swarm when rustled. It's a weird time to be in Texas. Sundown, however, is always a treat. The quality of light is very odd and the whole world takes on a reddish, green glow. Here are some photos from my back yard last night at dusk.

Meet Griffin

Hello dear readers. This weekend, our much anticipated puppy joined our family. My brother-in-law and his wife, gifted us this very special puppy for Christmas. Griffin, an Austrailian Labradoodle, is almost 12 weeks old and comes to us from Liberty Labradoodles in Oregon. He arrived this weekend by plane and is now in the process of getting to know our family. Griffin will eventually train to be my son's therapy / assistive dog, but until then, he's just our sweet floppy family pup.

Home Tour

Hello dear readers. It's been almost 2 years since I last posted a home tour. So much has changed in my household, including the complete reshuffling of rooms, a bathroom remodel, the inclusion of an AirBnB space and the creation of a backyard chicken coop.

This blog is a place where I explore and examine "home" as a not only a construct, but a work in progress - a real, living organism. So it makes sense that much of this blog's content comes directly from my home "making" journey. I always enjoy sharing photos of my home's transformation. It's a way to mark change, progress and sustainability. I'll update this post as new photos become available. But until then, here are the most up to date shots of my home.






Chicks on Ice

Today, we're dusting off the sleet and snow. We're supposed to have a warmer day before temps drop once again and we get a third round of snow. The hens, while a little pissed, seem to be handling the cool weather beautifully. These cold dark days have kept them from producing their first egg, but we're hopeful that things will change when the spring weather arrives.

Do you do anything special to "winterize" your chickens? 

Weren't you doing a bathroom remodel?

Remember THIS? And THIS? And then THIS? Yes, you remember... there were all sorts of updates along the way. The bathroom remodel project is now done! It's been done for a few weeks. I still have some painting to do in the laundry room area, but generally it's done.

However, I haven't shared any photos with you all because I'm stalling. We immediately began using the bathroom everyday and I haven't had a chance to clean up the dust and prepare the space for photos. I'm also going to be writing an article about it for Houzz.com, so the photos need to be good! So sorry for the long wait. To tide you over, here are two yellowy snapshots of the space.

Fire Pit Project

My son is seven and among his favorite things "behind Legos and before sweets" is making an outdoor fire. He's not a pyro or anything like that. He just likes shootin' the breeze around a campfire and roasting marshmallows. As I write this, I realize that his request for a fire pit may have been one elaborate ploy to consume marshmallows. Ah, well, taken again by a child.

Yesterday he and I procured some circular stones and built a small fire pit for our small back yard. As my mother-in-law said, its big enough for fun but small enough to quell the chicken's rotisserie fears. We'll be firing this baby up as soon as the rain clears, but until then, take a look at our latest edition to the back yard!

Good Morning, Patio

Winter is still in full swing, but here in Dallas the past week has been sunny and spring-like. My yellow Jasmine is blooming, the Wisteria is covered with buds and the little lemon tree I recently added to the yard is in bloom. My vegetable garden has chard and baby onions and its warm enough for me to set out my seedling trays for a little sun tan. I know the cool weather will strike again, but until then, I'm soaking up the rays.

Time to Write

My husband is out of town this weekend, and while that means I'm solo parenting, it also means that my evening hours are mine alone. And time alone is perfect for writing. This weekend I'll be taking time to write some long over due thank you notes, pre-sketch for a portrait I'm working on, and write in my neglected journal. It's been almost eight days since my last entry.

Tea. Pen. Paper. Quiet babies. Carpe diem. 

Note cards by Nikki McClure.
Photos by Hilary Walker.

It's Time

I bought this wonderful Pottery Barn sofa almost 10 years ago. It's been a fantastic piece for me and my family, but we need something a little more dual-purpose. Since we no longer have a designated guest room, we need to have space for visiting family and friends.

So, I'm selling our sofa! And in it's place, we're hoping to find a pull-out sleeper sofa. Now, I don't want some old piece of crap pull-out. You know the kind I'm talking about: the bar down the center of your back, squeaking hinge monstrosity you slept on at that sweet sixteen sleep over in 1993. No. I want a sleeper sofa that my mother can be comfortable on.

So the first part of getting a new sofa for my living room is to sell the old one and make space. Bye bye, old friend. Here are some photos of my beloved sofa over our decade-long relationship.

And for my new sofa?
I'm looking at the Paige sleeper sofa from West Elm.
I'm thinking the Linen Weave upholstery in Regal Blue, shown on the bottom image.

Shifting Perspectives | Home Art Studio

I'm continuing the house tour today with a look at my home art studio. Yesterday I featured my living room and on Tuesday, I featured my dining space. This room used to be my sons' bedroom. They shared this space and I had my studio in our converted garage. Now that the converted garage has been updated to make room for our house mates, I needed to move my studio. This room is perfect. It's the largest bedroom in the house and is the only room that has wood floors for easy clean up.

This fall, I had a queen sized bed in this room. I was trying to make this a dual purpose space to include guests. But after spending a month with the bed, I realized that it had to go! It was completely in my way.

My goal was to have three areas: one for painting, one for reading and writing and one for sewing. I also wanted enough floor space that I could stretch out, throw a yoga mat on the floor or layout a large canvas on the floor. I'm really happy with the results. And while it's not nearly as big as my old studio, it's just as functional. Here is the new space sans bed: