Barclay Street

I’ve been meaning to blog about this for like an entire year. Now the emotion is kind of fading, but I just had a BIZARRE experience that seemed worth sharing.

I grew up in St. Paul.

Right here, specifically.



That is my childhood home. I was 12 when we moved to the house where my parents still live today. All those years, my parents kept the house, renting it out. Last spring, they decided it was finally time to sell. They (we, I helped some) cleaned it up and prepped it for sale. It sold FAST. Super fast. And early last summer, it was gone. No longer our house.

955 back


That’s the back of the house. Unfortunately I don’t have photos of the playhouse, which was amazing beyond belief. I planned to write a blog about this house because it was my childhood home. I have so many memories there. Kelly and I met when I lived at this house. In fact, outside of my family, she is the only person I know who has been there, has memories there, even slept there. Also, my dad build that amazing deck, which wraps around the side of the house and ends in the front (you can see it in the first photo, but the ramp down the driveway is missing.) He also build the playhouse, on stilts, over the sandbox. There was a ladder going up, a slide going down, a deck on the playhouse, an actual door with a lock, windows that opened and closed, it was painted, carpeted, and had electricity. Basically the coolest place in the world. We slept out there in the summer.

Okay, moving on. So, my parents sold the house almost a year ago and it is not in our family anymore. I was surprisingly nostalgic about it. I even made Kelly drive over to see it our last day visiting (she was at home, pumping and I called and said “come right now” and she literally put down the pump and left Mark with 3 kids, including the baby who was…maybe 2 months old? and drove over to see it).

The point? None. No point. Just to share that a piece of my childhood is gone now.

Now, onto the point. About 15 minutes ago, a student was in my library. When she walked in, in fact, she was the only student in here. She asked me to critique her resume. Ok, I do that often, so no problem. I look at her resume and what do I see?

This girl lives on Barclay Street. Where I grew up. The street where you can find the house pictured above. True story. We lived at 955. I won’t tell you her address, but it wasn’t too far away, a different block, for sure, but not far.

First, I do my actual work and finish her resume. While I am doing that, another girl comes in. Now there are exactly three people in the library, me and these two students. Then, as I give resume girl her papers back, I tell her, “you live just a few houses from where I grew up!” She didn’t seem quite as interested in that tidbit. But I was excited. It’s cool. I said, “955 Barclay Street”. And, just like that, the third girl whips around in her chair and says, “OHMYGOD, WHAT?!?!?” In an amazed tone.

She went on to tell us that she was born on Barclay Street in St. Paul. Her parents lived there when they were first married and after she was born, they moved to Oakdale. She was 3-4 when they moved and she doesn’t remember the house number but she said she’d ask her mom.

Somehow, the only three people in the library at that time ALL LIVED ON THE EXACT SAME STREET. Isn’t that so weird? I am still having trouble processing the sheer magnitude of the coincidence.

We chatted for a minute more but, frankly, the chitchat that accompanies, “we used to live on the same street” dies out faster than you might think. I am considering forming us into an all-girl band…Barclay Girls. Do you think that’s taking it too far?

Snowy Night at Home

In the first substantial snowfall of the season, I was just coming home, the snow was falling and the sun had set. I pulled up outside my house and thought, not for the first time, how beautiful the world looks when it snows.


And captured a photo of my house, decked with Christmas lights, snow, undisturbed by a single track, blanketing the front.

It was magical. I love this season.

Officially Changed

Since I moved into my house, almost a year ago, I’ve never had that sensation that it is “home”. Don’t get me wrong, I like my house just fine. I like having my own place, I like living alone. It’s just a feeling. I lived in my parents’ house for (on and off) 20 years. Before that I spent over a decade in my childhood home.

When someone says home, I think of where my mom and dad live. I think that’s okay.

Then, just a few moments ago, I was filling out an evite. I’m throwing a party with my sister, but we’re having it at their house. The form said Address: I wrote 58- whoops! That’s my address.

Then I started again. I wrote 1156 Ster–Crap! That’s their house number on my street.

Then it hit me.

My address is officially changed. Iknew it was, of course, but somehow, it just hit me that it isn’t my address anymore. When I see an address field, I now automatically use my own address. I get that’s how it is supposed to be, but somehow, that last link has escaped me all this time.

I feel like someone cut the last strand of the cord that binds me to my childhood. When I made this realization, tears pricked my eyes. It made me sad. Maybe I’m not ready to let go. I like that my parents’ home is still my home. Will always be my home, no matter where I make my life.

I’m resisting this final change.

With Two Cats in the Yard

My girl Elena bought a house! I’m very excited for her. More excited than she is, actually. She’s dwelling quite firmly on Fear Avenue right now. I get that. I’ve lived there. However, I know the exciting stuff that is to come. It was not too long ago that I went through this myself.

I know that most of my friends, and Lane’s, too, have gone through this, but, I’ll tell you, it is very, very different to do this completely and utterly on your own. Believe me, I know scared.

I actually drove by her house the other night and am going to see it (the inside) on Friday, but for now, I will not post the pictures. Just in case that creeps her out, too. I’m very excited to see the inside, the house was a flipped property, and though it was built in 1925, it is completely upgraded and brand new inside.

Also, I wanted to mention that at her bday party on Friday night, she pulled me aside and said the nicest thing. We were talking and she told me she wanted to apologize to me. I couldn’t imagine what she had done wrong. She told me she was sorry that when I was going through this (buying a house) that she wasn’t more excited for me. She said that she just didn’t understand what it meant at the time. Now that she is going through it and I am so excited for her, it means a great deal to her and she now understands that she let me down.

I was so touched. Mostly that she would say that. I might think something like that, but I’d never say it. And, clearly, I should, because it was amazing to hear. I was very proud of her in that moment.

At any rate, this was just to mention that her new house is adorable and I can’t wait for the first fabulous event we throw there! Congrats, Lane!

Photographs and Memories

During December, I spent many a night at home, marveling at MY house, staring at my beautifully decorated tree. One night, shortly after I got my new camera, I was laying on my living room floor and I just started playing.

Eventually, I was lying UNDER the tree taking pictures.

Red Lights

My angel 2

Close up tree

Green lights

My tree

Christmas is so magical. Even when you’re not a child, but a fully-grown adult with a home of your own.


Purple Stripes

I’ve been meaning to blog this particular topic for some time now. It is my living room, in my new house. I decided, in uniquely Livlife fashion, that I simply couldn’t live life without “something different”. I decided that the something different should be stripes and that they should be done in my favorite color. Purple.

The idea was sparked by Project Runway. In its eighth season, the workroom was decorated in pastel purple stripes. I was instantly transfixed. I spent more time studying the walls than the contestants. I kept thinking…I could do that. When I put in the offer on my house, that whisper became louder and louder until I finally said it aloud. I told my mom, I’m doing random-width purple stripes in my living room.


That was pretty much her response. And the response of everyone who heard the idea. I think, that unless you saw the inspiration, the idea was pretty difficult to reconcile in your head. Even those of you reading might be a little worried I’ve gone round the bend. But, when you see it, it is a whole different story.

I ended up deciding that there would be four different colors of purple. Then it was a hunt (seriously, Home Depot and their three different palettes, Ace and their four different palettes, Sherwin Williams and three palettes, and Benjamin Moore) for paint samples. I finally found the four purples of my dreams. Concord Grape. Plummy. Kimono Violet. Vigorous Violet. For the curious, Plummy was the color that started it all. When I saw it, I knew instantly that it was the purple I had been looking for. Concord Grape is then one segment darker on the same sample sheet. They were perfect. I didn’t like the softer colors nearby, so we kept hunting. Eventually, Vigorous Violet popped for me and Kimono is one darker than that. I held the four together and I knew they were the right colors. It was amazing.

They were dark colors, and I knew that, so it influenced my original design. Fortunately, I have a high-vaulted ceiling and a long (20′) wall that would absorb dark colors well. It was clear that this needed a professional touch. Not that I couldn’t do it, but it would be really hard. Plus, the highest peak of the vault is over the staircase and well…that just seemed dumb to attempt it myself. (And by “myself” I mean my mom…obviously).

So, the hunt for painters began. I used a website that I adore called Servicemagic. You simply put in your location and what the job is (anything in home remodeling/repair) and they will connect you to local contractors in your area. They go so far as to have the contractors call YOU so you don’t have to do hardly any work. I loved it. I got four appointments out of it and I set up one on my own.  Five different painters came out to do the estimates.

I won’t bore you with the details, except to tell you this. My dad, upon hearing that I was alone, in my house, having four strangers come to meet me said to my mom, “she’s by herself? Call her every ten minutes.” Cute, right? My mom called once and told me that and I asked her NOT to call me every ten minutes, I would be fine. And I am.

I chose my painter, Jim, during the phone call, before I even met him. When he called me, I just got this gut feeling about him. I knew from his voice, his demeanor, what have you, but I knew. He was the first painter I met with and I liked him even more. I told my mom that he was the one before we met him and then after, she agreed with me. She said there was just something trustworthy about him. He knew his stuff and was so genuinely likeable. But, I know that isn’t why you choose a painter–I needed numbers. After all the estimates were in, his was second lowest.

I didn’t know what to do. So I called Kelly’s husband Mark. Actually, I was talking to Kelly and asked if I could talk to Mark. Mark is someone I know and trust and his opinion means a great deal to me. I know he’s smart and super-professional, so I wanted his opinion. (Not the first time, and I doubt it will be the last). He told me that if I wanted Jim, I should give him the chance to lower his bid. I never even knew that was an option. I followed Mark’s advice and ended up with the painter I wanted at the price I wanted. It was incredible! And Jim actually thanked me for giving him the chance to adjust his bid. (If you’re in the market for a house painter and want a number…let me know. I’ll happily recommend Jim from Moving Presentations!)

So, eventually we got it scheduled and Jim showed up and painted my house. End of story.

Nah…not even close!

What happened was that before he could paint, he needed to know WHAT to paint. I had to design and create a diagram for the crazy stripe wall. I came up with a template and moved color and spacing around. While I wanted it to look random, it couldn’t actually BE random or it would drive me crazy. Jim worked off the template and painted the stripe wall, the staircase wall, the living room and the dining room. He did it all in 1.5 days, by himself. And it wouldn’t have been 1.5 days if he hadn’t had to let it dry overnight to finish the stripes.

Here is my living room the night before Jim came:


The staircase wall is to the left, the “stripe” wall is the right. I didn’t do “before” shots of the dining room because..well who really cares?

Here is the same shot after night 1:


Crazy, right? The staircase wall is finished–that is Plummy from floor to ceiling. The stripe wall is 1/2 done. Every other stripe is finished.

Here is a second shot of just the stripe wall:


I couldn’t quite fit it all in, but that is about 18′ of it.

Here is the final result:


Incredible, right? I was actually speechless when I saw it for the first time. And if you know me…that’s saying something.

Here’s just the finished stripe wall:


I tried to get as much of that light streaming in as I could so you could really see the colors, but I am not that good of a photographer. Apparently I should stick to designing stripe patterns, I rock at that.

This is the dining room:


That wall is directly opposite the stripes. I decided to bring in some purple so the room didn’t look lopsided with bright and dark purples on one end and a soft, pale, gray on the other. The wall color is Sleigh Bells by Benjamin Moore. I then pulled some of the Concord Grape down that way and did just a few touches.

And, lastly, we have the stripes, as viewed from the Maine Lobster kitchen.


Pretty, right? I know. My house is awesome. Fully of color and whimsy. Just like me!

And, if you stuck it out, you know why I took so long to blog this. It was just a long damn post.

The Hundred Dollar Girl

Look at me, I’m the Hundred Dollar Girl.

Every single time I have to purchase something it costs a hundred dollars. One item or 20, it doesn’t seem to matter, the total is always $100.

It’s kind of depressing. I get scared to leave the house.

It’s like I’m in a spending frenzy and can’t come down off the high. But, I might just be the best Justifier (take that Timothy Olyphant!) in the universe, because in my head, every single item was a good purchase. I don’t know how I do it sometimes.

-it’s on sale

-I need it for my house

-I’m having ______over and need to be a good hostess

-it’s food

-toilet paper and laundry soap are necessities

-it might not be here when I come back (one of my favorites because, really, is that a REASON to buy something?)

-it’s expensive to set up a house

-my other one is old

-it’s a one time expense

and the list goes on and on. I tell myself that I have a good reason for every purchase and that they’re all necessary but then I see I’ve spent a hundred bucks at Target for the fifth consecutive day and I wonder what the hell has happened to my quiet, normal, life.

Well, that’s easy. I bought a house. And I’m not good at denying myself.

So, for now I’ll be the Hundred Dollar Girl and soon (December 1st), once I start paying my mortgage and utilities, I’ll curtail all the “fun” spending and just have to live on broken dreams and memories of the days when I could buy with impunity. Such was the life of 20-something girl. But, I keep reminding myself to be thankful I’m not Thousand Dollar Girl, but think of the stuff I’d own!


All Saints’ Day

The next day, I was back at work. I was extremely disappointed because I had hoped to have this day off to work on getting my house in order. Still, it was fine.

Toward the end of my work day, I had talked to my mom about bringing Simon by to see my new house. He’d never been there and I wanted to see him. He was also a fireman for Halloween, though I have no pictures of him. My mom agreed to bring him over for dinner, and on impulse, I called the Humphreys for a “take-two” of the night before.

They were free and on their way.

Somehow, Kelly managed to get her kids dressed in costumes, but NOT the same costumes I had seen them in the night before. In less than 24 hours, I saw V and C dressed in two different Halloween costumes–EACH!

This time, C was Spiderman and V was Dorothy (from the Wizard of Oz).


Standing on my flower well….

The three kids were there to play-and somehow, luckily, we got Simon practically in full costume. That is how we got this adorable photo of the three kids.


They are all three smiling…they are looking to the side because that is where I was, acting the goofball to get them to smile. I love that they are sitting in front of a roaring fire and that you can see my new pumpkin that Aunt Judy made me, and that Victoria is sitting so lady-like. Just adorable these three are!

We all had pizza (Broadway…yum!) and played and had fun. It was a perfectly enjoyable first worknight in my new house. I am so grateful to Kelly for always being willing to drop everything and come share the excitement of my new home. It takes a true friend to rearrange plans and daily life just to help me feel like my time in my new home is special. She will probably never know how wonderful it feels that she went out of her way so many times and how it really did leave me with extra-special memories of this exciting time.

After the Humphrey’s left, my mom and I played with Simon in my house. Simon discovered my old-fashioned alarm clock, and after I showed him how it worked, he went crazy making the alarm go off. He’d order us to “go to sleep!” and then seconds later he’d set off the alarm, causing us to “wake up” wildly and with flourishes and then he’d giggle like a maniac and we’d do it all again. For like a half an hour!

Then, as they were leaving, I asked Simon if he liked Auntie Livi’s new house. His reply?

“Yes. And I really like your bed, it’s got a lot of flowers.”

Bedroom Haven

And it really does.

What a delight he is!

Moving Day

I am going to try and do this quickly. I’ve been so busy lately at work my blogging is falling to the wayside. At the new house, I don’t have internet, so no blogging at home. Yikes.

Last Friday 10/29, I spent the day packing. I had previously packed about 8 boxes. The other 8,o00,000 were packed on Friday. I have a lot of stuff! 31 years of living and pack-ratting (that is now an official verb) add up quickly. I trashed as much as possible (to the tune of three lawn and leaf size garbage bags!) but it still ended up being so much. I couldn’t sort a ton because my “movers” were due at 9am Saturday.

The bulk (98%) of the packing was completed by 3:30 am. I slept super-fast and was up by 7:30. Somewhere during my measly four hours, one of my friends text me that he was not showing up to help at 9. My movers had been dropping like flies for weeks. When I woke up it was down to me (with a broken foot), my dad, and Justin.

To my surprise, Kim showed up at 9 to help. Tom and his kids (Clay and Lew) showed up about 11:30 to help us finish. They actually brought the last load. Despite the minimal help, we got it done quickly. We had two pickup trucks and in two loads apiece we got everything from my old house to my new house.

By 12:30 everything was inside my new house and we were all sitting down to lunch. My mom had been at new house finishing the touchups on the bedroom walls so we could move my bed into my freshly (!) painted bedroom. She also made lunch. And cleaned. And helped me unpack some stuff. And organized my living room. And my kitchen. And my dining room. Thus, she was exempt from moving.

Names you might have missed on the list: Emily and Chad. They helped Chad’s parents clean out their garage instead of helping me move. Zack. My idiot younger brother thought it was more important to get wasted on Friday night and be hungover and passed out then to come and help me move. So, yeah, siblings aren’t too high on my list these days.

On a lighter note, my friends are great people to take time out of their lives to help me move. Justin was there bright and early and moved the lion’s share of boxes. He also heavy-lifted furniture with my dad and with Tom so that everything was moved in. I owe him beer. At least. Kim showed up and lugged boxes with the best of them. Sometimes I think the stuff she carried weighed more than she does. Tom came with his sons and helped move. The boys even pitched in. They found my Halloween decorations and starting jazzing up my house. I was fully ready for the holiday by the time they left.

Lastly, we have my parents. They’re just amazing. My mom has done so much for me that it boggles the mind. Every day she is doing something to help ease my transition. Now, she is working on painting my kitchen. My dad took two weeks of vacation to pitch in doing “man things” at my house. He is hanging pictures, fixing a clogged drain, setting up my garage, things of that nature. I leave him lists and he gets them done. How lucky is that?!?!?!?

Saturday night I slept there. At my house. By myself. I am not ashamed to admit, I was scared to do it. I tried to get my mom to spend the night…but she didn’t. If Kelly wasn’t at a Halloween party, I’d have called her. And knowing Kelly, she’d have been there in two seconds. But, in the end, it was probably good that I just put on my big-girl jammies and bucked up. I didn’t sleep well that first night, too many spooky sounds and odd light patterns. A bit of time and it will really start to feel like home.

But, it is done. I am moved. I have a new home. Yay!

Housing Haps

I’ve been intending to blog regularly about getting my house set up. Then I would have an official record of the process, complete with photos.

How’s that working out for me?

Essentially, I work six days a week and around work, I go spend obscene amounts of money and stop by the house to do little projects. My mom is painting.

That’s about it.  The whole story in 70 words or less.

As Cher Horowitz would say, “As IF!”

(Bonus points if you understood the reference).

Really, that was a pretty complete summary, but there are a few things I’d like to recall.

-My parents doing everything in their power to talk me out of painting my kitchen cabinets (might be working…)

-My dad cleaning out his attic to get rid of stuff in my house.

-My mom telling me to watch my spending and then ooohing and aaahing over what I bought, all in the same breath

-My siblings being jackasses and not being people I can count on (okay, I don’t really WANT to remember this)

-Getting excited to walk down the aisle at Menard’s that sells sinks

-Planning how I am going to do my holiday decorations with my mom

-Reaffirming that my mom is the best friend/family member a girl could ever want

-Talking Melissa (the paint girl at Home Depot–yeah, I’m there alot) into taking back the terrible Behr paint and then stopping by on a daily basis. She recognizes me when I walk in.

-Dreaming about cinnamon scented pinecones in my house.

-The moment when Mindy stopped by and I was changing hardware in my kitchen and she said to me, “I’ve never seen you with a screwdriver in your hand. I had no idea you were handy.” (I hide it well, but I am pretty handy).

-Finding little ways to express myself in my home–like a purse hook right inside the door

-Getting five painting estimates and judging them with my gut. I was right on.

-Being able to call Mark and ask him questions

-Planning my housewarming (I’m headed for 12/11/10….mark your calendars!)

-Realizing that Bed, Bath, & Beyond could be my favorite store

-Realizing that Elena was right–this won’t feel like home until my books move in.

Just small moments and little things, but they’re the pieces that are snapping together to build my home. I’m so excited. Finally.