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!