Monday, December 10, 2012

the house i loved

It took me 6 weeks, but I finally finished another book!  I loved Tatiana de Rosnay's Sarah's Key, so when I saw she had written a new book, The House I Loved, I snatched it up.  Of course, it didn't hurt the cover alone was GORGEOUS. I'm a sucker for book covers, and this one had my name written all over it.

De Rosnay's latest work is set in 1860s Paris and chronicles one woman's resistance to Baron Haussman's large scale renovation of the City of Lights. As a history major (with an emphasis on Europe post-Revolution) I've studied Haussman from an analytical point of view. I've read about his many accomplishments and his glorious modernization of the new Paris.  But I never thought about how it affected those who lost  homes or livelihoods.  The House I Loved personalizes one woman's journey of love, tragedy, and connection to a home that would soon become a vestige of the past.

Friday, October 26, 2012


I'll post pictures and video, I said.  Not!!!  Watching the flyby was not the idealized experience I envisioned so I conveniently ignored my promise to provide photos.  Suffice it to say, the itinerary was kept under wraps under the last minute, and there was NO (may I repeat, NO) explanation about exactly how and where the shuttle would fly over Disneyland. Instead of getting the awesome pictures of the shuttle AND 747, those of us at the Big D were treated to a terrific view of the bottom of the carrier plane and a glimpse of Endeavour's engines and the duo flew over our heads.  Exciting?  Sort of.  I still wanted to see the shuttle outside its future exhibit space so the morning of October 13th found me on my way to L.A. at a very early hour...

October 13:  My alarm went off at 5:00 (yes, 5:00), and I was out the door by 6.  I seriously vacillated about where to view the shuttle.  Should I try a random street viewing?  Inglewood Civic Center?  Join the potentially thousands of spectators at the Forum and try to find a decent spot there?  Decisions, decisions.  The shuttle was scheduled to appear at the Inglewood Civic Center at 8:15.  Armed with breakfast and a book to pass the time I was parking near the Inglewood Civic Center at 6:45.  I knew I was early, but I didn't mind the wait.  Unfortunately, as I was walking toward the building I noticed people coming my direction.  Hm.  Finally, one lady told a group of us the shuttle had been...and gone.  Noooo!  My first thought:  There's no way I came all this way to miss this!  Second thought: They say the shuttle travels approx 2 miles/hour.  I can walk faster than that!  So, I did.  I made my way down the street, through an alley, and caught the shuttle as it rounded the curve on Manchester.  I was face to face with the nose!  In case I couldn't go any father, I stopped and took my share of pictures, and then continued around the corner because I wanted to actually see the shuttle coming at me. As you can see, my plan worked.  :-)  

Authors note: For those interested, I probably walked a total of 2 miles.  Talk about the morning workout!


My first glimpse of the shuttle.  I was determined to see more than its hindquarters!

Side view


Some of these clearances were incredibly close

Entrance/rescue hatch.  How many times have I watched the astronauts climb through this hole at the beginning of their journey to space.

Endeavour and I!

My final glimpse of Endeavour.  She was waiting to make her grand entrance to at the Forum. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

dream becoming reality

Not much time to blog tonight, but I wanted to share how EXCITED I am to see the space shuttle Endeavour fly over Disneyland tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  One of the top items on my bucket list (for some reason I despise that phrase but don't know what else to call it) was to see a shuttle launch.  Obviously, that dream went down the drain when the space program was canceled so this is the next best thing. I SERIOUSLY want to be in 3 or 4 places at once tomorrow but decided Disneyland was the perfect spot to watch the shuttle (and accompanying 747) fly by.  I've practically grown up at the Big D and have a pass so what could be better??  Secretly, I'm hoping for a shot of Endeavour with Sleeping Beauty's castle so if you have any connections please pass this info onto the pilot.  :-)  And don't worry.  For everyone not able to see it, I'll post pics and video.  :-)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

black and white

Just for kicks, here are the pictures I used in my display.  Because I wanted a classy/vintage look, I printed them in black and white. 


picture ledge

I'm almost finished with the room redecoration project.  Can you believe it?!  What started Memorial Day weekend is finally coming to a close.  I'm actually rather excited to cross one more thing off my to do list, however that does not mean I'm finished with the cleaning aspect.  Instead of spring cleaning, I've added fall cleaning to the list of to dos, and that seems to be slow going, folks.  My brother's room/aka staging area is still rather disorganized and full of things that need to find a new home. Stuff like theater programs, scarves, baseball hats, old magazines, just your average, run-of-the-mill items everyone saves...right?  Either way, these things need a new place to live and that doesn't include their previous digs: crammed into the space between my desk and the wall, stacked under my dresser, and the real eye catcher, neatly arranged in a nice, but somewhat outdated, basket by my door.  At this point I've purged as much as I'm willing to part with, which means I have some major work to do before this project is actually complete. However from a purely aesthetic perspective, I'm almost done.  So, let's talk about my beautiful new ledge...

As you may recall I suffered major anxiety deciding which picture frames to purchase, and in true Kira fashion, bought a wide selection.  My original goal was to put together a picture gallery, but it never came together. Believe me, I tried, but I could never create the look I wanted.  So I waited  and waited and waited for the perfect solution to present itself.  And one day it did.  Remember that Pottery Barn picture ledge I purchased and couldn't return?  I thought it might go to a friend because I just couldn't figure out how to make it fit with the look I was going for, but then, one day, I hit the jackpot.  But first, I took a little detour...since I was struggling to find the right balance between photo sizes and frames, I thought Pottery Barn's opening multi-size frame would be an acceptable compromise.  (think of it as a portrait gallery for dummies!)  The only decision I had to make was what pictures to put inside.  Simple, right?  Well, the frame arrived....and I didn't like it. (shocking, I know)  It took all the fun out of creative possibility, and even though it was "nice" I found myself at Pottery Barn the following weekend making yet another return.  (editors note: I just might have gone to new PB.  I wouldn't want them to think I'm a returnaholic or anything.)  Anyway, after getting the latest frame off my hands, I spent  45 minutes mentally putting together my picture ledge.  Deep down inside I knew I wanted to make this a Pottery Barn original, and I was so excited to see this little dream become a reality.  So, without further adieu, here it is!

Close up of photos 

Top of display -- words to live by

Side view -- It's not a very good picture.  
Because this is by my window it was very difficult to take photos without a glare. 

Shot of new ledge and new desk set up including...Pottery Barn desk organizer!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

stencil fun

As promised, here's the scoop on my awesome CD boxes.  I ran out of room years ago but had yet to find something I liked to replace them.  (I actually liked the holders I was using, but they were discontinued years ago.)  So, I went on the hunt and eventually found myself at the Container Store.  Initially, I bought these, but they didn't fit the look I was going for.  I also wanted something made from natural materials, and it wasn't until after I got home I realized they were plastic.  So, it was back to the drawing board.  Eventually, I bought white-washed wooden boxes, but they looked a little bland.  I haven't used stencils since I was a little girl, and for some reason I thought it would be fun to decorate the boxes in a vintage European theme.  I found some awesome stencils on Etsy and let the boxes come together naturally.  I worked on them one at a time and after a couple of weeks put together what you see below! (in an effort to be even more resourceful, I used the paint from the numerous samples I've purchased over the weeks!)

The front

The side

Can you tell I love Paris!

Monday, August 6, 2012

room redecoration update

Well...the room is painted. I'm still not entirely sold on the purple accent wall (actually, the official color is Cabernet), but for now it stays.  I had a moment yesterday where I seriously thought about repainting but the thought only lasted for a few minutes.  I've always wanted a striking accent wall and really do love darker colors. And that's what I got.  I think I just expected something a little less intense, and while it will take some serious getting used to, I've decided to embrace the change.  That's what this whole project was about, right?  To break out of my mold and do something different.  By the looks of things, I'd say I succeeded.

One thing I am extremely proud of are my new CD boxes.  My CDs have been unceremoniously stacked atop my CD holders for several years. It started with a mere few and quickly escalated to three disorganized, messy stacks. (it's not my fault I outgrew my space. I love music!)  I wasn't happy with any of the replacement options and decided to think outside the box.  Instead of buying a standard CD tower or equivalent I turned to the Container Store and found these stinkin cute white washed bins.  Granted, they were a little on the boring side, but I saw potential.  I wasn't exactly sure how to make them fit my new theme, but I knew I could make this work. And I did!  Etsy had some fabulous options for European stencils and coupled with a Martha Stewart set I found at Michaels (and the many paint samples I've purchased over the past few months) I spent two weeks stenciling the boxes.  I took my time, designed as I went, and adapted to what did/didn't work. I'll post pictures soon, but let's just say this DIY project turned out far better than I imagined, and I'm soooo happy with the result!

Now all that's left is to:

  • decide whether or not to hang my Pottery Barn ledge (seems I missed the return date so I'm stuck with it whether I hang it or not)
  • make a decision about which photos to frame (I'm fast realizing less is more in the interior decorating world so my original plan has taken a little turn)
  • choose which wall quotes to order (my aunt introduced me to my new favorite web site -- it's addicting for a quote addict like me!)
  • Take a deep break and reconsider tackling another multi layer project like this for a loooong while.  (did I mention I'm hoping to update our bathroom? :-) )

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

the dilemma

Now that my room has been beautified with a fresh coat of paint, it's time to tackle wall art, and specifically, pictures frames.  I plan to display photos Dad and I have taken on our various trips, but I can't decide what color frames to use.  Should I use all the same style and color (such as Pottery Barn's wood frames), a variety of colors and styles, pick two get the idea.  My typical MO would be to go with a uniform look, but I like the idea of changing it up.  I've already okay'd two framed pictures that have dark brown frames.  Would it look okay to pair dark brown with black?  I try to visualize the various choices, and while I've spent a small fortune on returnable items (so I can see them in the space), I'm getting a little tired of driving around Southern California returning my purchases.

Here are the frames I'm looking at.  The Pottery Barn expresso frame (2 5x7s) has already been vetoed. (the off white mat is so yellow it would drive me bonkers!)  I borrowed the picture with Seth so I could see what a black frame looks like next to the brown one.  And I'm not entirely sold on the white...

I really want to branch out of my comfort zone, but I also want a certain air of sophistication.  Gah!

Friday, June 22, 2012


It's taken me over a month to write this post.  So many elements about our trip to Europe were quite lovely, but this was one that was neither fun or cheery.  But it was memorable. Our first excursion in Munich was to Dachau, the infamous concentration camp, which opened soon after Adolf Hitler came to power.  It was was nothing like I imagined, my reaction completely unexpected.  I actually wanted to go because of my interest in WWII history and used to read about this era all the time.  In fact, I could read horrific eyewitness accounts and still sleep at night.  I realized after I graduated I somehow separated these stories from my emotions and blazed through to write my thesis.  Not anymore.

My recent experience with death has had a far more profound impact on my life than I realized.  Having actually watched someone die has changed how I view historians interpretation of these events. Literally the minute we arrived at Dachau I wanted to get as far away as possible. I found myself consciously protecting my heart and shying away from the details a German WWII historian should embrace. I looked away during the video, purposely avoided areas of the camp, and did a cursory walk through of the exhibit.  I'm still surprised by my reaction, yet I don't think I will regret it in the years to come. I did what I had to do to survive the experience and leave emotionally intact.  And oh was I happy to leave the place.

Dachau was much smaller than I expected.  Only two barracks currently stand, the remainder marked by their foundations.  The roll call area was both immense yet tiny when one imagines thousands upon thousands of prisoners lined up here. The gate was no where near as massive as I imagined it would be. I touched it with my bare hands.  The grass strip -- this drew me. This is where I found my connection.  So beautiful and so deadly.  This area was verboten!, forbidden, and any prisoner who set foot on the grass was immediately shot.  I can only imagine how many men "accidently" ventured a little too far so their souls could be free of the horror that was Dachau.  The guards could not claim distance or error. They were close enough to see the features on the men's faces. The whites of their eyes. This is not how I thought it would be. I assumed the watchtowers were taller. The area wider. It makes the actions of Holocaust perpetrators even more horrific, but that is a discussion for another time.  I purposefully stood on the grass, defiant, and like countless others before me, stood in memory of those denied the freedom to stand on this ground themselves.  

Center of Dachau.  The duel rows of Poplar trees date back to 1933.

Gate leading into the camp.  Loosely translates: Work makes you free (Arbeit Macht Frei). 
Oh, the irony.

Puzzling warning, Rauchen verboten: smoking forbidden. 
This was on the wall of the administration building, otherwise known as the processing center. I'm not clear on the purpose of this warning. Was it to further the lie this was no more than a "work camp" and make the area seem more "normal?"  

One of many watchtowers bordering the property.

The grass strip, left side of Dachau. The barracks are out of sight to the right.

Leaving my mark in the grass. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

my favorite meal in Vienna

The infamous Sachertorte.  This delicacy was best thing I ate on the entire trip!  (and we just might have gone back the following afternoon for another delightful lunch...)


FINALLY found my cafe mocha.  Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find these in Austria?!

Dad giving his sign of approval. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

room pics

Hm, I'm not sure why these posted in reverse order or why the photos are so small, but without further adieu, here are photos of my latest handiwork. 

The new lamp

Gift from my aunt, and my life quote.  It's on my wall to remind me to always dance in the rain.

Close up of the comforter 

The pillow on the right started it all...

And finally, the finished look! (new wall color to follow later in the summer)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

it all started with a pillow…

How on earth could a month have passed since Dad and I were in Europe?  It’s crazy how quickly time flies.  The good news is I have crossed a task or two off my list but am still woefully behind in the blogging department.  And since I have nothing else to do with my time, I’ve added interior decorator to my list of summer to-dos.  Specifically, I am redecorating my bedroom and the upstairs bathroom.  Not at all a time consuming or (slightly!) expensive hobby all started with a pillow.  A Bed, Bath, and Beyond pillow to be precise.  You see, I’ve wanted to change my color schema for several years but never found anything I liked.  And I mean anything!  Mother and I looked at comforters galore trying to find a starting point but nothing rocked my boat.   About ten years ago I finally painted my walls white since nothing else stood out to me (the teenage inspired lavender walls had to go) , and though I’ve never been satisfied with the end result it seemed silly to redecorate since I wasn’t sure how long I would stay at home.  Recent life events encouraged me to rethink this decision, but I didn’t intended to begin quite so soon. 

Memorial Day weekend was a little difficult for me  and to get out of the house, I decided to begin shopping for  upcoming weddings I'm going to.  It sounded like a good plan, but I  struck out completely at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  They either didn't have what I wanted or I didn't like the selection.  However, at one point, I wandered over to the bedding section to check out the wedding registry selections and found the comforter.  It was me to a T: the colors, style, and price.  It eventually found its way into my cart as did a lamp and curtains.  Seems I can’t do anything small!  I still wasn’t 100% percent sold on the idea,  so I decided to buy everything so I could see them in my room.  Sometimes a girl just has to see things in person. This visualization thing only goes so far. 

Six days later I was back at BBB returning the lamp (it had a crack through the middle) and the curtains (they didn’t match).  I spent a good 45 minutes looking at window options for the current bedding and finally found something that could work. Then I went back to the bedding section to see if they matched the bedspread and found ANOTHER one I liked.  That’s where the pillow comes in.  I absolutely loved the color and design (of course, it didn’t match the comforter I just bought) and within a few minutes found another bedspread (also on sale), 2 pillows, and window treatments.  I thought I liked it better than the set I bought last week and was ready to pack it up and return #1, but when I got home I decided it was nicer than I remembered.  Which meant I had TWO sets of bedding, with TWO different looks, and had to decide which one to keep.  Gah!

So, I did what all girls do during times of crisis: turn to friends for advice!  I e-mailed my two closest friends with an abbreviated version of my saga and photos to get their opinion.  In retrospect, I overreacted, but I think I was feeling overwhelmed by how much I needed to do and the thought of making another decision related to my room was more than I could handle. Silly!  It took a few days of laying out a different comforter on my bed before I knew I wanted #2.  Even though the colors differ from my usual taste, something about the look makes me happy, and right now that’s all the matters. 

And to top it off the set I chose is called Vienna.  Perfect, huh?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


It's 11:10, and I really should be sleeping. Or at least trying to sleep, but instead I'm blogging because I am wide awake. Not good when one is transatlantic bound and should get some rest.  Such is the life. Tomorrow Dad and I are off to Germany and Austria. Munich to be precise and then on to Innsbruck, Salzburg, and Vienna. There are a couple more stops in there, but I can't recall the specifics off the top of my head. I packed last night and think I broke my personal record for lightest suitcase. Even though the general size of my suitcase doesn't reflect this, I didn't pack a ton. Of course, I added a few snack items (since I don't plan to gorge myself on bratwurst and bier), and they take up a little space. Truth be told, I'm leaving room for the souvenirs I'm sure to bring back. A German historian can't actually go to Germany and not come back with a book or two which weigh more than a doily. So the extra pounds will come in handy. This has turned into one very random post, but that's okay. I'd better attempt to get some rest. Busy days await, and I already feel jet lagged.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

matter of perspective

It's amazing what a difference a few months make. Yesterday I went to the post office for what I thought would be a quick visit, you know, of the mid-Saturday morning, no line variety? Boy was I wrong! The line was out the door, and it literally took me an hour to run 3 errands in a 1 mile radius of my house. Seems everyone had the same idea I did. But I digress. After standing in the PO line for about 10 minutes (where there was only 1 employee helping customers, most with complicated mailing requests requiring multiple forms) I overheard 3 ladies in front of me complaining about the line and various employees who work at our branch. One lady in particular did most of the "talking." I understood her frustration, but the more she talked the madder I got. Seems I had no patience for her lack of it. I may have appeared nice and sweet on the outside, but on the inside I was seething. I kept thinking, There are people in this world who are dying. People who can't get get out of a chair by themselves. Little ones who never had a chance at life. My mother will never go the post office again. And you're complaining about a measly little line? It was all I could do to not tell the woman off. And while I probably over reacted myself, recent events have given me a new appreciation for what's truly important in life and what's a mere nuisance. Here's hoping I remember this lesson in 10 years when I'm in another looooooong's just a matter of keeping perspective.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

who i am today

April 1, 2012. A year ago I would never have imagined my life would look like it does today. I would never have guessed November 13 would forever transform my life and February 8 would end what was. My life is now before - during - after. Period. During felt like an eternity. Before was eons ago. After is still being written. Our family chose to not openly talk about Mother's illness via social media but now I feel guilty if I do not acknowledge what happened here. Because to blog about life and say nothing is to ignore her. Yet sometimes I need to think about something else because those days are never far from my mind. So...future entries will more than likely consist of a reflection, factoids about my life, and whatever random tidbits I feel compelled to post. Without further adieu, I present said random tidbits, written in no particular order...

* I'm learning grieving is a process and is different for everyone. It cannot be rushed. Cannot be categorized into a "stage" or explained. It simply is. I must simply be. And that's okay.

* Friends are the biggest lifesaver on the planet. They give you a shoulder to cry on, tell you it's okay to be down or unhappy or just have a bad day. And they laugh with you and celebrate the good times. :-)

* Working full time and managing a household is every bit as difficult as I imagined it would be. Kira and domestication never went hand-in-hand and now...who knew!

* I've spent more time with my dad and brother this year than I have in years. It's been wonderful bonding over food (family trait, what can I say!), good conversation, and just being together. I've also eaten more than I have in a while. :-/

* I've rediscovered my passion for reading. With the exception of long flights reading hours have been few and far between but the past week has seen a reemergence of cracking a book open for pleasure. Joy!

* There are more changes ahead, big changes, and usually I'd be struggling with my usual what-will-I-do, must-have-everything-under-control mode. But the past months obviously put life into perspective, and I'm not overly concerned about the future. It's an odd feeling but freeing.
After all, life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain. And dance I shall.

Friday, March 16, 2012

living in the now

Excerpted with permission from a friends blog who also lost a loved one to cancer. Though I've been unable to articulate exactly how I feel, he does it beautifully. Here's the link if you care to read in its entirety.

God did not design cancer. God did not design death. These things are not a part of His plan. God is not pleased to see Ramon’s family, friends and wife of 10 months down here on Earth, grieving the loss of this man to cancer.

While we are here breaking and crumbling, trying to wrap our souls around the loss of Ramon - God’s heart breaks for us too - for His creation. This is why He sent Jesus; to finally, ultimately, defeat sin, death and cancer. Jesus came to bring us new life; He came to bring healing; He came to bring redemption; He came to usher in His kingdom.

Yet, we don’t fully have His kingdom today. Look around, it’s obvious. If you can’t see it - I’ll show you it. Cancer is still here. I am sitting in this - grieving the loss of my brother. While, I also celebrate his life and how God has given Ramon full healing and one day I will get to see my brother again.

It will be glorious.

But in the mean time, my heart breaks.

I look forward to the not yet, but I live in the now.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

current reading list

(yup, I included Great Expectations!)

the way we were

Being the consummate Barbs fan that I am, I've loved this song for ages. Listened to it countless times. And somehow always thought I knew what it meant. Whatever I thought I knew, I was wrong. Recent events have given me a new understanding of the true meaning behind the Bergman's lyrics.

scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind / can it be that it was all so simple then / tell me, would we? could we? / what's too painful to remember / we simply choose to forget

I understand. I remember.

Memories, light the corners of my mind
Misty watercolor memories of the way we were.
Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we give to one another
For the way we were.
Can it be that it was all so simple then
Or has time rewritten every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me would we? Could we?
Memories, may be beautiful and yet
What's too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget
So it's the laughter we will remember
Whenever we remember
The way we were.

Friday, March 9, 2012


It's so hard to get used to the quiet.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

on awesome brothers

On my way downstairs to attack the mound otherwise known as the dishes I took a detour by way of the shower. In the meantime, my wonderful brother came home from work and did ALL the dishes. Happy sigh. :-) Now I go to work by way of my bedroom...

on life as it currently exists

Who knew that a day could begin at 9:30 pm. Depending on who's around and what kind of craziness ensued in the previous 15 hours of consciousness, this is often when *I* actually have time for myself. It's when I shake my head in amazement I've lived with clutter for this long and not driven myself crazy. It's when I head downstairs and attempt to tidy up, all the while creating more piles as I go. It's when I think about facing the dinner dishes (because I had to make both dinner AND dessert). It's when I shut myself off from the world and work (after all, a paycheck is somewhat necessary). It's when I try desperately to not fall asleep before midnight so I can actually accomplish something for the day. It's when I wonder if tomorrow will be a coffee day or if I can abstain from making my fast becoming regular visit through the Starbucks drive-thru. (when it's the only time one gets out of the house the drive thru can be quite therapeutic) It's when I'm grateful for another day of life and time spent with those I love.

And now it's time to actually do something those dishes. :-/

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

early morning bliss

After planning for weeks to actually get up early to put in work time, missing more than one alarm, oversleeping, or simply ignoring the plan because of rough nights I FINALLY got myself out of bed this morning. As long as I ignore the still unpacked suitcase in the corner and random bits of clutter surrounding me, it's already quite a lovely morning: devotional, quick peak at e-mail, and then off to work. Much as I didn't want to get up, there's peace in the early (or should I say "earlier") morning silence - especially when one can take a few personal moments and regroup in solitude. I think I'm ready for the day...and maybe a cup of coffee!