Did you get it last week? Were you one of the likely hundreds of thousands of households that received a hulking hunk of paper and ink? Of course I'm talking about the epically substantial Restoration Hardware catalog meant to convince you all that the Internet is merely a phase and direct mail is far from dead. You know, the several volume catalog filled with mass produced and attractively styled furniture and oversized home accessories that has made everyone go squee, have a swoon, get all excitedish...ness...ly, and all that other crap?

The multi volume assault on our home decor senses was no doubt meant to thrust us into a frantic fit of perusal ultimately resulting in an "I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT THAT COUCH THAT CAN FIT 40 PEOPLE!!!!" moment. 

The ironic thing about the above photo is that it's from the "Small Spaces" volume of their collection. As someone who lives in a relatively small space, I think their definition of "petite" might be a little bit off. It's like saying a large French fry container is small in comparison to a Super Size. That "Small Spaces" couch is still too large to reasonably fit in any room in our house.

But that can't be all this catalog...err...source books are meant for. An item this substantial should have much loftier goals, but what? The answer to this question is the result of the journey we've been on.

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Comments 31
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Despite years of deliberation, it's official. We've bid farewell to our outdoor teak furniture. As we previously discussed, we absolutely loved the look of the natural wood but the maintenance just became too much to keep up with. Well, too much to keep up with if I'd like a new master bathroom before 2020.

I scoured store after store, both online and in person, and had narrowed it down to two sets -- this one from Ballard Design...

...or this slightly better priced alternative from Macys.

It's funny how things tend to have a way of working out, even if the route to the finish line is filled with discouraging events. Case in point, the evening I finally decided to pull the trigger and purchase the Macy's set, even though I wasn't crazy about the "blue only" option for the seat cushions, I discovered the price had dramatically increased by 50 percent in the 5 hours since I has last checked the set earlier in the afternoon. Yes, you read that correctly. 

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Comments 6

Over the past several days we've been splitting our DIY time on many different projects all over the house. From routine maintenance items, like putting a fresh coat of paint on the cast iron front stairs and urns...

...to individual "punch list" items from the lengthy list Wendy put together over the winter after she decided "our house is starting to look like we don't give a crap that it's looking horrible."

Yes, that's our grill cover. Yes, that's moss growing on it. Yes, that's a hole in it so it's really no doing anything to protect. No, we're not happy with ourselves. Yes, we should be ashamed. How do we drown our pool of sorrows filled by our own self loathing? We visit puppies at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, that's how. (We were thrilled to learn these darling babies have now found a foster home!)

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Comments 11

It's no secret. I'm totally enamored with the Washington Monument. I will go ahead and ignore the obvious jibes which can be taken at my infatuation with a decidedly phallic monument built to honor one of our nation's most important founding fathers, and instead focus on the things I find truly impressive about the 555 foot tall stone structure held together by a mixture of gravity and masonry ingenuity.

The monument is one of those iconic DC landmarks that truly defines the region's skyline. Whether you're seeing it against the backdrop of a sunrise, sunset, bright blue sky, or fierce thunderstorm, its ever present outline represents one of the identities of the Federal City.

Unfortunately, nearly three years ago, a major earthquake (by east coast standards), followed almost immediately by a hurricane, significantly damaged the 130 year old structure closing its interior to public tours. Over the past three years I've watched and documented the process to first inspect (note the ant-like people repelling down the face of the monument)...

...then repair of the structure.

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Comments 6

Around this time of year back in 2003, the year we bought our home, the birds chirping and the warmer temperatures signaled the start of warm weather and outdoor living. After a long winter we, as fresh faced newlyweds, excitedly greeted the change in seasons with talks of how we wanted to spruce up our back yard and transform it into a space in which we could relax, dine, and entertain. We launched into a mini upgrade/overhaul that saw the removal of overgrowth, addition of a pond, and a general sprucing that was long overdue. The yard we had when we moved into our home was a far cry from "nice."

A crucial decision and investment at the time was centered around the type of outdoor furniture we would purchase. We scoured stores, ads, and online, before finally deciding on a teak set -- a table, four chairs, and a bench -- from our neighborhood Crate and Barrel outlet that's just a few blocks walk from our place. Short on cash but full of new homeowner excitement and motivation, we scrimped together the greenbacks and wedding gift cards needed to make the purchase. How tight were we on cash? The table didn't fit in our car, and this was before car sharing options, so we went so far as to carry the entire set home the eight or so blocks in order to avoid paying shipping charges. That, was a long walk home.

Just look at my young face and the signature ill fitting clothing of the early 2000s.

While we've greatly enjoyed this set over the years, we found ourselves swearing at our decision year after year, as the maintenance of the wood was truly...high maintenance. However, we justified its worth as it gave us wonderful neighborhood settings like this scene.

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Comments 23
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