The House Cleanse

The Nester’s post today about having a month with no accessories in your home, is right up my alley. I am on a ruthless quest to eliminate extra baggage, be it from the kids’ closets as they grow out of things or these blubby things around my waist that didn’t use to be there.

Her idea of getting your house to the bare bones is very appealing to me, with one caveat: Not in the kids’ spaces. Sure, I will be purging too-small clothes and un-played-with toys, but I don’t think there will be anything bare bones about my boys’ rooms or the playroom.

We are having a little soiree in late June but that involves using things that will – most likely – not be used again, so all that can go out the door once that day is over.

I am a total photo fanatic so this will be tough, but it will be a good thing to see what we can live with, and what is just cluttering up our lives.

Have a wonderful weekend!


When my boys were little, they loved eating their “boos”. Now that we grow them in our backyard, their taste is even sweeter when warmed by the sun.

Also peeking out last weekend were these beauties:

Homegrown tomatoes! Yum. Can’t wait to make caprese salads with these!

Memorial Day 2013

I have always tried to be vocal about my gratitude to the country that received me and my family almost thirty years ago – the country where my children now grow, where my dreams have come true, where I truly could do and be anything I wanted. My thanks extend to those who have given their lives so that I and countless others could live freely, and to the family and loved ones of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you, always.

Memorial Day printable from How to Nest for Less.

My husband the sniffer

If you’re ever out and about and some dude comes up to you and asks you what perfume you’re wearing, and he looks nice rather than sleazy, you may just have met my husband.

Seriously. My “scent bar” is full of fragrances that he bought me after smelling them on other women 😀

From left to right: neighbor, friend, waitress at Legoland, friend.

Currently I also have Flowerbomb from Viktor & Rolf, which I got back when I worked at Nordstrom one holiday season. I tend to like warm, vanilla-type scents over green or overly floral scents. Other scents I have liked include Thierry Mugler’s Angel, which I wore on my wedding day, Chanel Chance, and Flower by Kenzo, which my husband knocked off the edge of the sink in our master bedroom and it got smashed into a zillion pieces. I think he’s been trying to make up for that ever since.

Since my boys are off school in a couple of weeks and there is No Way I am taking them to Sephora, I bought my husband his Father’s Day gift today. I won’t share which fragrance I got for him (yet), except that the friend I met up with later recommended the same scent I had bought. She also said she liked my makeup, which was funny because I looked into one of the mirrors in Sephora, panicked, and slapped some Laura Mercier foundation powder (love this stuff!!!) and a bit of Dior gloss in Night Fantasy. I’ve never bought $30 lip gloss but now I might, since we have similar coloring and I trust her opinion 😀

Tomorrow is my mama’s birthday – she is having a great time in Peru so I will have to save her birthday present for when she gets back in a few weeks. Happy Birthday, mommy!!!

The orange roof

We’ve started to think about painting the outside of our home. Probably will not happen this year, but it’s in the somewhat near future.

I would love to have a pale turquoise or aqua door:

Or maybe something like this charming little fence?

Then I remember . . .

I have an orange roof.

It doesn’t look very bright here. But it is. Bright enough that a turquoise door is out of the question.

So we’re going for a warm neutral palette. The current grey is very dingy so something lighter and brighter is a must.

Something like this would look nice:

This wall color would be as dark as I’d want to go:

I love my window boxes and like to have a variety of colors so a neutral background is best so it doesn’t all get too crazy. My husband likes the door in its natural color, so that will stay. We love the color we used in our living room, Valspar’s Cream in my Coffee, so perhaps something similar?

Do you have any painting projects coming up?

Camping in Big Basin

We spent Mother’s Day camping – this time we went to the place where I had my first-ever camping experience, Big Basin. Considering I was five months along with our first baby, my husband did an amazing job to get me to love camping.

This time, though, I am looking like Glimmer from The Hunger Games, post-tracker jacker attack.

Mosquitoes like me a lot, but this weekend they just LOVED me. My arms are covered in huge welts, as are the sides of my face. My right leg got bit, but not my left leg. Weird.

Hoping to be less “bumpy” by the end of the week!

Colorful cupcake stands

This year I am missing my mama. She is in Peru, spending time with friends and family until next month so a mother’s day phone call will have to do. Still, I decided to do a little crafty goodness with some pieces I’d had for a while and set up a colorful table.

The pretty purple flowers grow in our front yard so they came in handy. The three little stands were made from plain wood circles and candle holders from Michaels.

Isn’t my mama stylish in her red wedges, summery white pants and peasant top?

I don’t remember this picture at all, she found it last year and gave it to me in the little frame.

I painted the candle holders in different colors, gold, mocha and pale pink (actually Valspar’s Apricot Ice, which my youngest chose), and cut out circles from 3 coordinating scrapbooking papers for the tops:

I hadn’t planned on the papers to coordinate with the flowers but that’s how it worked out!

So, happy mother’s day, mama, I can’t wait to see you in a few weeks!

Saving Saffron Sweeting – review, excerpt and Q&A

Most of you probably don’t know, but I was a book reviewer (on the side) in a past life. I am happy to put on my reviewing hat on today to share a great debut novel by a Bay Area author. Here is an excerpt:

“‘I’m not sleeping with her. It was just one time. One stupid bloody time. I’m so sorry.’

‘I don’t believe you. You knew about that goddamn purple wall.’ I was looking around wildly, seeking my escape route. I didn’t want to be in the same room with him.

‘All right, so I happened to see her bedroom! That doesn’t mean anything.’

‘No, it means everything.’ I was sobbing now. ‘It means I’ll never trust you again.’

I wish I’d had the panache to storm out of our apartment in an expensive cloud of Chanel perfume. I wish I’d owned a Louis Vuitton bag to grab on my way to check into a luxury hotel, where I’d instigate a passionate revenge fling with a nineteen-year-old bellboy. Unfortunately, I clambered off the sofa with pins and needles in my legs and tripped over my blankie instead. Then I trailed soggy tissues across the floor and locked myself in the bathroom, where my only company was a dog-eared copy of National Geographic.

I had followed my British husband – and his job – from London to California, but my own attempt at the American dream had flopped. I’d been working crazily, had failed to see my marriage falling apart, and felt like a total fool.

I certainly couldn’t afford to kick James out and stay in our apartment on my own. My so-called business was barely breathing. I had no idea how many months or years of scraping by might be ahead of me, if I attempted to build a list of design clients who weren’t going to thank me by stealing my husband. Did I have the energy to move out, find a job, and rebuild my life in the fast-moving world of Silicon Valley? What the heck was I doing in this country, anyway? All I wanted was to crawl under the bed covers and hide, preferably with a packet of imported Cadbury’s biscuits.

In the small, mocking hours of the next morning, I found myself unearthing a suitcase from the closet. With safety, seclusion and comfort food as my primary motives, I booked a flight home to England.”

My review:

I found Saving Saffron Sweeting to be a very engaging debut novel, with charming supporting characters (well, except one) and a well-crafted lead in the form of Grace Palmer. Her world has just come undone and it is a satisfying journey to see her go from being an isolated, emotional wreck to the self-assured and confident woman she is by the end of the book. The transformation doesn’t happen overnight; no magic wand or fairy godmother, instead we cheer Grace on with each small triumph and see her become her own best advocate.

The charm of the village and its inhabitants is plentiful, Ms. Wiles’s writing is polished and doesn’t get in its own way, and I am glad that she is planning further adventures for the people of Saffron Sweeting. If you are looking for a book to read this spring, I highly recommend Saving Saffron Sweeting.

I recently had the chance to ask Pauline a few questions:
1. Was the balance between writing of what you know (being an ex-pat, English vs. American idiosyncracies, etc.) and what was new an easy one to achieve?

For this book, I stuck pretty closely to what I know, although I’m happy to report the cheating husband plot line was fiction. Although Saffron Sweeting itself is fictional, I have visited all the real places in the book at least once and I took tonnes of weird photos on my last trip to England. Nonetheless, the small details still needed lots of research, including oddities such as locations of bio-tech companies, flight times to Manchester, and horse-racing protocol. And naturally, I had to research afternoon tea at Dukes Hotel with great care!

2. Saving Saffron Sweeting is your first novel – how was the writing process, and actually completing a book, different from what you had envisioned?

When I began the book, I definitely saw myself aiming for a ‘traditional’ publishing deal and pitching the novel to an agent. However, as I got further through it, impatience and irreverence took over; I decided that readers should be the ultimate judge of whether my work is enjoyable. My age had something to do with it, too: I needed to speed this career choice up a little! And I love the overall creative control which indie publishing gives the author.

The second surprise was how much the book changed, compared to my original outline. I’m a super-organized person but I now feel a bit more planning wouldn’t have hurt. And the characters themselves came up with some great plot twists, too.

3. What three words (or more!) would you use to describe your main character?

Thoughtful, cautious, foodie.

4. Did you ever have a different ending in mind for Grace?

Grace’s love life was mapped out from the start, but how she would get there wasn’t clear until quite late in writing the process. However, her home and career choices were more fluid in my mind. I don’t like books where everything ends too tidily: life is messy!

5. What can we expect next from you? Are you working on your next book?

Yes: I have a basic plot nailed down but have some more work to do on my main character. I’m pretty sure, though, that she will either live or work in Saffron Sweeting and the action will take place a year or two before the first novel. So, you can expect to encounter some familiar characters and locations. If the Sweeting Bakery isn’t in there somewhere, I’ll be very surprised.

5 Reasons Writing Makes a Great Hobby ~ Pauline Wiles

Aside from the terrible short stories I wrote when I was twelve, my first consistent pieces of writing were for my blog, as a pure hobby. Within a couple of years, I began producing magazine articles to promote my organizing business. The business nose-dived, but my wordsmithing survived… and here I am, with a full-length novel now preening itself on my desk. Writing is a great hobby, and here’s why:

· It’s free. Assuming you can get your hands on a pencil and a bit of paper, ideas are limitless and cost nothing. Between fiction, non-fiction, memoir, poetry and script-writing, there’s probably a style of writing to suit you.

· You can indulge any time, any place, anywhere. Unless, that is, you’re in a dark cave, in which case you might need to add a candle to your equipment list.

· Unlike running, rock-climbing or roller-blading, writing doesn’t get harder as you get older. In fact, it keeps your brain sharp and the longer you’ve lived, the more you have to write about.

· Writing is a form of therapy. Not only can you explore past pain and regret, but if anything embarrassing happens to you, just put it in a story. This insight occurred to me when I panicked that I hadn’t locked the restroom door, directly off a busy hallway at a posh San Francisco hotel. What’s more, once your acquaintances know you are a writer, they will think twice about being mean to you, for fear of ending up in your next book.

· It’s one of the easiest hobbies to turn into a business. Admittedly, you probably shouldn’t plan to retire to Barbados on the strength of your debut novel, but if you enjoy what you do and friends like your work, it has never been simpler to share your work commercially.

With over 2 million books published each year and and an estimated 1 million new blog posts each day, it’s possible that more words are being written than ever before. And I think that’s just fabulous.

British by birth, Pauline Wiles moved to California eight years ago and, apart from a yearning for afternoon tea and historic homes, has never looked back. Her work has been published by House of Fifty, Open Exchange and Alfie Dog Fiction. Saving Saffron Sweeting is her first novel.

Connect with Pauline!