Happy New Year

It's an odd finish to 2010 at Chez Malaise. As I type the substitute electrician is trying to get the ceiling lights to work in the bathroom, Prada is penned in another bathroom because she wouldn't stop barking, and Alex is napping with Brett, who is in bed sick.

The temperature hit the low 60s here yesterday, yet there is ice on the trees this morning from an overnight rain. Also this week a bird flew into the dining room bay window, hard enough to take a cone-shaped chunk out of the glass.

The contractor we met with about reconfiguring the entry/living/family rooms finally got back to us this week. His bid was exactly twice what I told him our budget was. I was hoping for a breakdown of costs per item but that didn't happen, which makes me think he's not terribly interested in the job.

You might think I'd be bummed out, but for some reason I'm not. The lights will eventually come on and Prada will go home to her daddy. Brett will go to the doctor for drugs and get well, and if we have to get more quotes or GC another project ourselves, well, we'll do that.

We've lived here just over a year and while there's so much left to do to make this place a home, truly quite a bit got done.

And through the occasional scary parts and numerous little wins, you were here reading my rants and cheering us on.

Wishing you all the best in 2011.

This is gorgeous

Roger Ebert thinks it should win an academy award for short subject. I'm totally charmed.

Christmas wrap up

Turns out there was no need for my Christmas crankiness. Brett had a good holiday with his family and made it back in time to head to my family's gathering for drinks and dessert. We intended to stay about an hour and head home to exchange our gifts but were having such a good time catching up with my cousins Eric and Mauria and their mates that we were there all evening.

Eric did indeed wrap up his Emmy for his parents for Christmas so it was the popular photo op as you see here. Brett was surprised by the weight. I never pick up important things like that because I always fear dropping them. Plus I had a glass in my hand most of the time.

Mauria and I lived together at KU and she's moved to Chicago in the years since. We don't see each other nearly often enough so I was super happy we got to spend time together. She and her man are also heading to Cabo this week, so I'm also super envious.

Cranky Christmas

We're a bit out of sorts here. The traditional goings-on have all changed and Brett and I neither one are too happy about it. But we'll deal, and after meeting all the obligations Christmas night will find us here together, which is where we'd both prefer to be. With dinner and a good bottle of prosecco and Alex and Prada running around. Some gifts and probably some Wii gaming as well. Who knows, maybe even a movie if we're feeling crazy.

May your Christmas be exactly what you're hoping for!


December has been a pain in the ass. Work has been incredibly busy, which is a good news story except that I'm accustomed to a certain pace to my days. Family stuff has also taken a bit of time and energy, and so my annual December 15th post to say happy anniversary to my sweetie, well it didn't happen.

But it was our anniversary this past week, lucky number thirteen. As I tweeted that evening, 13 years ago I had a date with a guy. And Wednesday night that guy and I were sitting on our couch, in our house, drinking wine with our dog in our lap. I'm amazed and surprised, but mostly I'm grateful for loving, and being loved, more than I ever imagined I would.

Brett and I have traveled a bit, and you know by now of my love for France. My gift from Brett was two french things I'd mentioned. A Le Creuset braising pan in the Ocean color, and Dorie Greenspan's new cookbook, Around My French Table.

You might be thinking "They don't even have a working stove, why would he want either of those things right now?" And to that I can only say, with a long shared history comes a certain amount of faith in the future. It may not be right here, right now, but at some point I'll cook from that book, in that pan. And when I sit down to eat it'll be with the guy who gave them to me.

Happy anniversary sweetheart.

Would someone show John McCain the door

First it was "Wait until the Don't Ask Don't Tell" study is complete. The study said the majority of the armed services didn't care if the gays served openly.

Then it was "The study is flawed, they should do another one."

Now it's "Three out of four military leaders agree, now isn't the right time to repeal. Lets look at a path to repeal sometime in the future."

Mr. McCain, please stop. Any shred of credibility you had before foisting Sarah Palin on the world is now completely gone. You're pandering and everyone knows it. Your wife and daughter (both of whom I like a great deal!) don't even agree with you. You've become a dinosaur, and one who'll say anything in an effort to remain relevant. Thank you for your past service. It's time for you to go.

Balls out

I took this shot from Jenny, who got it here. And knowing my history with balls, you know I think its fab. Other happenings:

My office adopted families again this Christmas, and once again Brett and I were to buy for a seven year old boy. I forgot to take pictures of his haul before I wrapped, but there were boot cut jeans, cargos, shirts and half-zip sweaters, and most exciting, a soccer ball and goal, and the radio controlled helicopter that were on his wish list. The helicopter has a missile launcher. I hope that if he tries to shoot his older sisters that he doesn't injure them.

Prada the Christmas Schnauzer will be joining us again for the holiday, staying from December 20th through January 3rd. She is practically svelte since moving out of the high rise, I'll try to showcase her new figure with a photo comparison.

And finally its cold. Freakishly cold. Low tire pressure and going out to buy Alex a little jacket cold. We had an energy audit and the guy is coming back with the results tomorrow evening. I'm WAY looking forward to finding out what we need to do to make the bedroom feel less like its outside.

Moving the ball down the field

Raina, fellow passenger on the bathroom renovation train, posted an update today. We've made some progress ourselves so I thought I should put up a shot as well. The drywall is all up and it actually feels like a room again.

The big surprise is that the doors are in. Who did them? We did!

The internet is amazing. I simply googled "how to install a split-jamb door" and was watching a video in mere seconds. You need a hammer and finish nails (long ones), a level and some shims, and then some shorter finish nails for securing the casing to your walls. The first took a bit longer but the second door practically hung itself. And happy accident, the door looks to be exactly the right size to clear the floor tile with no trimming necessary.

Its been forever since I've painted anything around here, so thats on my list for this week.

Like Raina, I'm shooting for a January reveal. Cross your fingers.

The MidMal Gift Guide

Its December, its cold, and I don't think I've ever done a gift guide. We cap Christmas pretty low at Chez Malaise, so think of it as a guide not only for the holiday, but for gifting (yourself or others) all year long. Spreading it out is much better than concentrated Christmas excess.

I somehow forgot to upload this when I first posted, it's C. Jere's Raindrops wall sculpture, available through Jonathan Adler. Love.

I saw these at Hall's and guessed that they were made by Global Views, and I was right.

They're the Geometry Covered Vases, and 19 and 25.5 inches tall respectively. Global Views' website has a handy dealer locater if Hall's isn't convenient. Note, the ones I saw were much brighter than these appear, which is good. The green was way more acid than grass.

It wouldn't be my gift guide if there wasn't a lamp, so how about two.
From Barbara Cosgrove's BCL line, the Glitz lamp. Eighteen inches tall, silver on porcelain, $356 for a pair, which is the only way they're sold. (Pairs are good, we like pairs.)

Imagine a tree full of silver balls and these.

Unglazed porcelain origami crane ornaments, $48 per pair at Gump's. At that price a full tree is going to require some severe markdowns, but still they're very cool.

I love mirrors, especially big, round ones.

From Global Views again, the Galt mirror. 36" of beveled mirror and pale wood goodness. I can think of a number of places this would be really great.

Good gifting always requires a little work, but please do not steal this Winifred Turner sculpture, Crouching Youth, from the Victoria & Albert in London.

Austin Productions made an authorized cast of the original. I've been watching one on eBay forever, but it seems to have disappeared. If you ever run across one I need to know.

Getting to those covered vases at Hall's took me right past the shelves of Votivo, where I remembered how much I like their Clean Crisp White scent.
I know, I don't really want to look at a reed diffuser either. The problem is, while Votivo's candles smell great, they also smoke a lot. Like enough to set the alarm off when you leave one burning in your condo bathroom on Christmas eve. Tuck this in a discreet spot and you're good to go.

This isn't just a list of things for the house though. Everyone wants a little something for themselves.

Like a black guccissima bifold wallet, $280 from Gucci. Just remember, men are often particular about wallets, don't give one unless you know what he likes.

Jewelry is much the same. He's likely either a jewelry guy or he isn't.

I wish David Yurman wouldn't plaster his initials all over things, but even with, I like the multiple pieces of the Special Petrvs Amulet Necklace, $1350 from Neiman Marcus. The 22" chain seems a little long, but that's an easy fix. I think it would be a lot more interesting up a bit closer to the throat.

Another good idea I must mention is a gift thats fun and does some good at the same time. What could be more fun than a puppy! The doing good part comes from getting one from your regional rescue.

This sweet little guy (and his brother - another pair!) is available from a shelter in St. Louis, but there are plenty of extra dogs everywhere. And if you're not up to housebreaking or dealing with all the mess (schnauzers are a handful until they're about two) there are plenty of adult and senior dogs who need a home as much, if not more than the babies. This is one gift you should ask about before hand. We're serious about dogs here, and 'forever home' means forever.

And finally, the big gun. Yes, every winter we're bombarded with the commercials. Often the family in the driveway presenting Mom with her new Lexus.

I say if you really want it make it a December to Remember, go vintage. This 76 Eldorado convertible is fab and way more reliable than something old and British or Italian. 19 feet long and not much more than that to the gallon. White is nice, and black is always good. (Red is a bit much in my mind.) Perfect, to me at least, is Innsbruck Blue, with the blue leather interior. Get the parade boot too. You probably won't end up behind a marching band, but you never know.