Master Bedroom Transformation

When we first moved into our house, one of the only rooms that didn’t need immediate TLC was the “master” bedroom.

But then we found the mold.

The house has had a mildewy smell since we moved in, but over the summer we started to really notice it; as things got hot, the mold and mildew grew happier. So Shawn started poking around a bit, knowing that the main source was the disaster that is the crawl space (the main reason for any of our grey hairs). But he also found that the master wall adjacent to the master bath had some black mold behind it. Needless to say, we moved out and into the lovely wallpapered guest bedroom, and the master become priority #1 (alongside all the other priority #1s: crawl space, putting the kitchen back together, getting Fios so we can watch TV and have real internet, etc). We really dove into the master bedroom project in December 2014, and finished the major things in February 2015. This past weekend we finally got curtains.

The bedroom before we moved in

Bedroom before we moved in


The bedroom after we moved in


The bedroom now

bedroom collage

Here are the steps we (mostly Shawn) took to get from Point A to Point B: Continue reading

2014, According to My Instagram

According to my Instagram, 2014 was the year of TREES, HOME IMPROVEMENT, MY FACE, & FOOD/COOKING. In other words, I had a pretty basic year. Here’s to an even more fulfillingly basic year to come! I need more seasonal Starbucks and photos of my feet doing seasonally appropriate activities (read: toes in sand, crunching leaves, winter boot swag) next year. Continue reading

Living in Balance



Staying balanced and living our lives while trying to pretty much overhaul an entire house is not easy and has completely thrown off our  ideal schedule, but I’m not complaining.  We could be further along on the house, but we would be completely miserable.  For example, we had originally planned to do nothing but electrical work and drywall yesterday, but instead we had a much-needed date with my parents (and sushi) that made my week. And last week was total chaos at work, so I needed some breaktime.

So, that’s why I don’t update much on the house. It’d be a lot of, “We mowed the lawn” or “I swept the floor once.” And most of what we’ve been doing to the house has been preparing to make big changes by doing things like electrical work (and obviously Shawn does this). But we are moving along.. Continue reading


As most of you know, Shawn recently purchased me a home. Because I am high maintenance.


Humble abode. Three bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, one wood shop, one sunroom, lots of wood paneling.

The house was built in 1971 and I’m not sure anything in it had been updated since 1987, so it’s really the bare bones of our dream home. The house was pretty clean and well maintained, I have to include that. Nothing against the former owners.. just my style is not their style. And they would probably be appalled by some of our plans. But the sellers even gave us the original catalog for the home.  At one point, this house was a designer home where you got to pick your colors (avocado and orange, of course) and your features (wood floors, thankfully). This was the shit. The baby shit green.


1971 Floorplan

Avocado for reals

Was not joking about the avocado. Color of the decade, 1970-1979.

Ladies with hammers.

DIY advice before Pinterest. Look, DIY insulation in your new Allenwood home is so easy, even a woman can do it!

Everyone is saying, “Oh, how great… you are forced to can turn it into exactly what you want!” This is true, but it’s also true that most rooms in our house will be incomplete for the first many months years that we live here. And by incomplete I mean walls half torn down, floors with nails sticking up out of them. It’ll be worth it in the end, we know this, but I am also worn out from watching Shawn do work here. It’s exhausting watching someone do manual labor. Here are some of the little changes we’ve made so far. Most have involved deconstruction. We’ve done minimal construction.


ImageWe had to remove the wood stove in the living room because it was dangerously close to the wall. I’m not sure it will ever go back into the living room because I hate it and the living room is pretty small. We also had carpet in there but Shawn ripped up the carpet that ran through most of the house. Instantly better. Our next BIG project is to tear down the wall between the kitchen and living room (pictured above with crazy swirly glue all over it). That will bring this house into the 21st century.

The hall bathroom was not initially on the list of projects at all. Here’s how it happened: Hmm, let’s paint the walls. Hmm, wouldn’t this mirror look better? But then we’d need a new vanity.. And then we tried to stain the wooden toilet seat (who does that?!), but that didn’t work out. So we bought a vanity, stained the mirror to match, painted the walls and ceiling, moved the A/C thingy, moved the vent thingy and added a recessed light, changed out the lighting. Whew. Non-project will soon be our first complete project. Unless you count this “Master” salmon bathroom, which we did nothing at all to:

Not so master bathroom

Perfectly functional bathroom is perfectly functional. No need to do anything right now. If you’re wondering where the toilet is, it’s in the creepy cubby to the left of the shower.

And we have a complete master bedroom, too, since that wood paneling is painted a greyish blue and the room is good enough to be our very last project.


We will later redo the walls and refinish the floors. And that chandelier is moving to my future office/Nikki room.

Thankful For..My People.

It’s Thanks Giving time, time to Give Thanks. I want to thank my people. Sure, I’m also “thankful” for my impressive leg strength, Chesapeake Bay Retriever hair, and keen sense of smell, but mostly I’m thankful for my peeps.

ImageI’m Thankful for My Family People

My family people are the greatest people. I have a mom who knows the sun doesn’t shine out of my butt, and she wouldn’t tell me it did if I wanted her to; she’s ruthlessly honest and she’s always been my source of personal checks and balances. I’m thankful for her saying, “OK, bye Nikki” when I’m being a brat because I have that tendency. I’m thankful for her not asking why too much when I just want to stay the night with her (but also being keen enough to know there’s a why). I’m thankful she cried every time I left the house to go back to Salisbury during undergrad and grad school. I’m thankful for her never, ever pressuring me to fit an idea of what she wants my life to be like. I’m thankful I bring home rodents instead of children and she spoils them and loves them and hangs pictures of them in her cubicle. I’m thankful she tells me my breath stinks when it does.

I’m thankful for my dad, who chose to be my dad when he decided to put up with my mom. I’m thankful he’s never made me feel like a step-child. I’m thankful he was bold enough to take me clothes shopping during my super hormonal pre-teen and early teen years, when nothing fits! I’m ugly! This isn’t black enough! and mom wanted to choke me. I’m thankful I always had an insomniac buddy on trips home from college who was willing to watch B-movies and The L Word with me. I’m thankful to share a love of late night binge eating, touring model homes, and talking about zombies. And I’m thankful he loves my mom… she’s a real pain in the ass sometimes.

My brother is one of the best people I’ve ever met. He’s kind, he loves helping wounded animals (people included), he does well with old people, babies, and people who are different from him… I’m thankful that we’re not alike in those ways. I’m thankful that he’s always done his own thing. I’m thankful he never counted Christmas presents and I never felt the need to count his. I’m thankful for all the hours he patiently watched me play Super Mario 64. I’m thankful for all the times he wanted to sleep all weekend but came with my parents to see me at college. I’m thankful he shaved that weird devil chin hair thing he had going on in high school.

And I’m thankful for my grandma, who is just amazing and weird and mean. I’m thankful for my dad’s family who, like him, has never made me feel like the step-child, but instead have been closer to me than blood. I’m thankful for my mom’s brother and his family for being so helpful and supportive of my mom lately. And I’m thankful for my boyfriend, who is amazing and definitely family and deserves his own post about how wonderful and good looking he is, and I’m thankful for his family.

I’m Thankful for My Old-School People

I’m thankful my best friend in the world has 2.5 babies that straightened her ass out. I’m thankful she’s happy and doing her thing, and thankful that it never seems like we were apart when we get together–completing each others sentences and all. I’m thankful all my old high school friends forgot how much of an annoying asshole I was and still want to hang out sometimes. I’m thankful most of them seem happy and successful, however they want to define that. And I’m thankful they don’t post a lot of old pictures on Facebook.  I’m thankful for old bosses and co-workers who all seemed to have taken me under their wing and tried to help me succeed wherever I am.

I’m Thankful for My Salisbury People

I didn’t meet a whole lot of people in undergrad because I’m a recluse, but I lived with some amazing women and met some cool dudes. I’m thankful to this day my old roommate still thinks we’re soulmates and calls me out when I’m being boring or flaky. I’m thankful I went to grad school with the greatest cohort, ever. I’m thankful I got to be surrounded by and was able to soak up a little genius every day. And I’m thankful they didn’t sacrifice personality for their genius; I have never felt more a part of something nor like I belonged somewhere like I did with my grad school people. I’m thankful for people who I could laugh and cry with over theory and class issues. And I’m super thankful to have had such an amazing experience. And, of course, I’m thankful I got to be in a gem of a program with some phenomenal teachers who became friends.

I’m Thankful for My Students

They’re needy, they’re annoying…but sometimes, they’re brilliant. I’m thankful for the ones who care, for the ones who try, and for the ones who challenge me and force me to rethink my approach. I’m thankful for the ones who made a connection with me and became kind of like friends. I’m thankful for the ones who struggled and still kept going and made themselves proud in the end. I’m thankful for the ones who call me out on my BS. I’m thankful for the ones I would have never gotten to know otherwise who have made me less judgmental and less prideful. And I’m thankful for the ones who drop the class in the first week.

I’m Thankful for My New People

I’m thankful for my work mom who always takes care of me. I’m thankful for my ex-officemate who is a great friend and drinking buddy and was the greatest officemate in the world. I’m thankful for her kids who are just awesome and make me laugh every time I see them. I’m thankful for the front desk people at my gym for always telling me to have a good night. I’m thankful for the other women who lift weights, too, so I don’t feel as insecure in the weight room. I’m thankful for the friends-of-friends I’ve gotten to meet and the random people who like my pictures on Instagram. Yep, I still consider all these people my people.

Hey, you… have some thanks.

A Social Media Literacy Narrative, Kind Of


When I was in high school and everyone had MySpace, I got the whole concept of presenting your best, most attractive, most clever, etc self online. I recognized it, but I still compared my very real, pretty boring life to all the super exciting MySpace lives of the people I knew. They seemed so normal in class, even quiet, but wow.. they were pretty cool on MySpace. But like the rest of the world, I got so over MySpace when Facebook replaced it, and I’ve had true Internet-user growth since I first got on Facebook.

In 2006, I was going to college and thought I needed to add a bunch of people from my dorm before I got there, thinking they’d all be online buddies already when I move in, so they’d shun me. That didn’t really happen; in fact, for the first couple years I had Facebook, people didn’t talk about Facebook in real life. It was kind of like AOL Instant Messenger in high school..everyone used it, but it was totally weird if you talked about using it, for some reason. Like my face burned when I overheard people making the social crime of saying “AIM” or accidentally dropping an LOL in person. Same with LiveJournal and Xanga. The first rule of Internet journaling was you didn’t mention internet journaling. At first, people treated Facebook like that. And I think it was because, in order to use it back in the day, you had to physically sit at a computer. We don’t like to think about people physically sitting at computers all lonely-like for some reason, so Facebook has become more socially acceptable in real conversation because now we can totally be out and about with our lovers and friends while Facebooking. We can be cool and still be obsessive Internet users. you can walk up to your old pal and be all, “OMG did you SEE how hideous he got? Ugh, glad I dodged that Frankenbullet.”

And They say we can’t interact with others in person because of Facebook, we are too self-involved because of Facebook, we talk too much about baby shit and complain all the time, we post inappropriate pictures, we give away government secrets, blah blah. Ok, maybe.  Yeah, probably. BUT I think the most self-destructive thing we do on Facebook is shaming. This morning I saw someone post about how “awesome” it feels to see the people who were “bitches” and thought they were “all that” get fat.

Hold. The. Banana Phone.

Seriously? Ok, so either you are friends with these people purely so you can see their fat asses and feel better about your bitter one, or you’re not friends with them at all and you’re searching for them. To see their fat asses. You may as well use Graph Search to find “[Shitty photos] of [women] from [my high school] taken [in the past month].” (Y’all know about Graph Search, right?) I see they’re still the center of your attention, so at least they’ve moved on to pie while you’re still stuck on high school. But, more importantly, what happens when you find the ones who were bitchy and mean and made your life a living hell that are still totes hot (maybe hotter?) and married rich men and have fulfilling jobs? You feel bad about yourself, right? So then you look up that newly fat chick whose home is in foreclosure? LOL SO FUNNY, RIGHT? Zoom in on your smartphones, people, because I want this message to be big and clear:

If you feel hot, successful, or happy because other people fail, you are losing, not winning.

If your self-worth is based on comparison, you actually have no self-worth. The whole self part of the self-worth idea comes from…the self. Not from comparison. And if you allow your self-perceived worth to come from others’ worth on some sort of creepy social network BUY-HOLD-SELL scale, you’re working with a very fragile facade of social and emotional well being. And if you do this often, you might need therapy. She did. Or save a lot of money and read this awesome article about Girl-on-Girl Hate, from which I stole the opening image for this post. Or familiarize yourself with the Shine Theory, which I posted on the FB a few weeks ago.

I am not a particularly good person.  I don’t volunteer, I’m not super nice, and I definitely have bad thoughts about people and have the patience of a fly and a super short temper. So when I tell you to stop doing these things, I don’t mean “stop because it’s mean.” I mean stop because you’re ruining your life and you’re probably miserable. Ladies, don’t bash each other. Women, we like to compare ourselves to other women, but couldn’t we also look at the state of a woman as one case study of the state of women’s possibilities and liberation?

Before social media, all we had to compare ourselves to were those perfect creatures in the far away land of Hollywood. We know they are fake and stuff, but we’re still a little jealous. But in the end, they are not real things..they are creations. With the dawn of social media, we could all become these people whose lives were on display. But we interpret it differently–we read these creations as less of creations, and as more of captured moments of a person’s real life. We take them as truth, as the person’s identity, even though it is only a selective representation of them. And even understanding that people only put their best selves out there, I still fell into this trap back in the MySpace days. And as social media has become more and more intricately woven into the fabric of our lives, these social media spaces become a person’s identity to us (and, in some cases, to them), especially if we don’t see them or rarely see them in person. And so women compare their very real to other women’s very selective; they alter their selective to be better than others’. And because these people are creations like celebrities, we feel like we can treat them like celebrities: bash, shame, hate, pop some popcorn and watch the trainwreck. Ah, so sweet.

I’ve accidentally shifted away from that thinking, even as I’ve become more Facebook friendly. I didn’t use FB a lot in undergrad, and I actually deleted my FB for a while during grad school. Now back in action e’rryday, I read it differently. No, I don’t read it in a way that makes me a better person because, like I said, I’m still not a good person. I just read it in a totally different, yet equally selfish, way…

ImageI don’t get all happy and muahaha about girls who were thin before being fat now. If she looks happy and fat, I am happy that she’s happy–maybe I will still be happy when I’m fat, too. If she looks happier and healthier now that she’s fat? Praise the Lord. She’s fat and happy and that’s amazing. And look at her, not caring that she’s fat. Why would I care that someone else is fat or not fat? That doesn’t make sense. That doesn’t affect me. And if it doesn’t seem to affect her, go ahead girl. But I have so many other things to worry about.

If someone has a better job than me, it makes me feel better about our generation’s prospects. She found a job…maybe I can also find a great job! There are good jobs out there! For women! Who rules the world?! Girls! Not everyone hates their job and is treated like an ornament! Etc etc. She got a great job without even going to college? I ain’t even mad about my student loans–it means maybe if I hate the field my degree takes me, I can start over and be OK.

Don’t get me wrong–if someone has ugly kids or their new hair color looks gross and they post a thousand pictures of both, I’m not gonna not judge. Them kids is hideous and she looks like crackhead Barbie.  I’m just not gonna be happy that their kids are ugly or that they look terrible as a blonde. The point is to stop the hate and competition, not to tell you to stop being human and pretend all babies are cute. When I come across sad things or bad things that happen to people, I don’t swell with pride at my comparatively good choices and still fresh-from-the-mold butt. All these posts about people losing their jobs, not being able to find one after college, having to sell all their shit because they were doing well and now they’re not? I just hope things work out for them because I don’t want the world to be a sucky place. I don’t want to worry. I want all these women to be happy.

I don’t go looking for info, unless it’s because I love them, miss them, and want to take them in from afar and feel connected to them again. And if we’re not friends on Facebook? If they’re not choosing to show me their selective identity, I’ll pass. But hope they’re doing alright. I like seeing women succeed, especially women who have had some of the same walks of life as I have. Keep on keepin’ on, ladies. P.S.-Your boobs look great in that profile pic, for realz. There’s some girl-on-girl love for ya.

On My 25th Anniversary

1988 was kind of a big deal.

We got Dunk-A-Roos, Sega Genesis, Prozac, Wild Cherry Pepsi, and Koosh. Haley Joel Osment spawned and Adele was dropped in from the heavens on a . The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles deservedly won an award at the first Kids’ Choice Awards. We kicked off World Aids Day and Pi Day–3.14…, what?!

But 25 years ago today, some particularly rad things were going on.

In Tulsa, Zac Hanson and the Hanson family were celebrating Zac’s 3rd birthday. Americans were psyched about the upcoming videotape release of “E.T. – The Extra Terrestrial.” They had UB40’s hit “Red, Red Wine” stuck in their heads. And somewhere in Montgomery County, Maryland, baby me had flipped upside down in the womb and was getting C-sectioned out.

I was born with long phalanges. My cheeks were chipmunky and they just ballooned and reflected light, and my ears stuck out so much you’d think my real father was Dumbo (I know it isn’t because my true father is Emilio Estevez). I was hideous. And I just got more and more hideous and round and pokey outey all over until all the sudden it stopped and I was a vision. But that didn’t happen for 21 or so years.

Me, as a baby. With my grandma.

As of this day, I’ve officially been alive for 9,103 days. That’s a lot of days. If I had saved a nickel every day starting at age 3, I’d have $401.75 today. But I didn’t do that. In fact, I haven’t done much of anything on most of my 9,103 days alive. I spend a lot of time doing nothing. Seriously? I’ve had over 9,000 days to perfect the art of civilized eating and I still stab myself in the face with a fork sometimes? I consider quitting my job and working at PetCo because… pets, man! I might need to reflect.

I’m having a pretty typical Gen Y quarter-life crisis. I have $283,473,383.17 in student loans, I’m not sure I chose the right major, I worry a lot about “intellectual fulfillment,” I want a work-life balance without real work, I’m currently in two jobs (one in which I’m underworked and underpaid; one where I’m overworked and underpaid). I can’t make decisions that require commitment because I don’t know when and where I’ll yell “fuck it!” and start over. But there are some cool things about this age:

  • I’m in that awkward liminal space where I fit in anywhere; I could go play Bingo with the olds, or I could hit up a bar and do shots
  • I am so much more confident in my body than I was in my teens, definitely, but also my early 20s. And not because I look better, although I do
  • I can still move home if I just decide I miss my mom and, because of the economy, I can blame it on being “poor” (I’m actually not that poor, but being poor is kind of en vogue right now and taking naps with mom is not)
  • I don’t care as much about what other people think or are doing. When I was in college, I always wondered if I was missing out on something fun & exciting going on out there and felt awkward if I was the only one not drinking. Now I just kind of do what I feel like doing (which is also bad because I’m usually in a comfort zone)

All these things make it likely that 25 (or maybe 26) will be the year of “fuck it!” And that’s really all I came here to say. 🙂