Posted by: Mrs. HSH | January 7, 2012

On the Hunt

It never fails. As soon as I make a resolution to save more money, everything I’ve ever wanted goes on sale, no clearance! To top that off, my husband got a crazy idea in his head that he should buy a boat! Yes, a boat! What part of saving money does this all fit into?!

There is one item in particular that I’ve had my eye that is now a whopping 60% off. Ok, it was overpriced to begin with, but now it’s actually reasonably priced! I’m using every ounce of my will power to not go onto the web right now and click “purchase!” It’s the “Modern Windsor Accent Chair” by West Elm, originally $399, and now $160.

This is the scenario. We have an empty corner in the room we call the “nook.”


As you can see, it’s just screaming out for a nice chair, side table and maybe a reading lamp. I got it in my head that a Windsor chair would look amazing in this corner. Ever since I laid my eyes on this picture, I can’t stop thinking about Windsor chairs.


There’s something about the contrast of the black, rigid chair with a light and airy background. I just love it. However, I think I can find something cheaper than $160, although the West Elm chair is beautiful (and, I haven’t completely given up on it yet).  But for now, I’m on the hunt for a used, slightly worn Windsor that with a little TLC will clean up quite nicely.

I’m also in search of ways to convince Jon that a fishing boat is the last thing we need! Any ideas are welcome!

Posted by: Mrs. HSH | January 6, 2012

Surfing with Stingrays (And Not On Purpose)

I’m on a roll with the travel stories, so I’ve got another one for you. Although, I do have my eye on a Windsor chair for our office, but I’ll write more about that later. Back to the fun stuff…

For the New Year’s holiday 2008-09, Jon and I and several of our friends traveled to Costa Rica to spend a couple of weeks on the beach. It was actually one of the most relaxing vacations I’ve ever taken and I have so many fond memories of the trip. However, one that distinctly comes to mind is of a surfing excursion that several of us ladies experienced. After several days of relaxing by the pool and even more days lazing on the beach, one of our friends thought that we all needed a little more activity.  So it was decided that we all needed to take our enjoyment of the ocean to the next level, and actually get in it and go surfing. Quite content with my book and rum concoction, I was a little hesitant to jump into the surfing fray, but decided I’d be a team player. Since none of us really knew how to surf, we thought it prudent to take a lesson at a nearby beach (hot surfing instructors had no influence on our decision whatsoever!)

Plotting our Surfing Adventure

Geared up with board shorts, rash guards and whatever else we thought made us look like real surfers, we gathered round the three guys that introduced themselves as our instructors and their massive boards, ready to learn how to catch a wave. The three American ex-pats quickly ran through the basics: paddle, paddle, paddle, pop-up and ride. Not much of a real lesson, but whatever.  How hard could it be, I thought. Just as we were heading out, dragging our heavy boards behind us, one of the guys stopped short and said, “Dude, watch out for the stingrays. Don’t forget to shuffle your feet as you walk in the water. The stingers like to hang out around here and if you step on them, they’ll get ya!”

Our five minute lesson

That’s all it took for our friend – the organizer of said trip – to stop, drop and… walk away!

Slightly traumatized by an earlier encounter with a jellyfish (and possibly my husband’s offer to pee on her leg to relieve the stinging), our friend just couldn’t hack the idea of wadding through a gaggle of stingrays. To be honest, we were all pretty alarmed by this latest development. However, the money had been exchanged and we were about to step into the water, so the rest of us forged on, although with much trepidation, I have to admit.

Dragging our feet like we were dredging for gold, we wadded through the surf, trying to get out into the waves as quickly as possible. Once on the board, my fears subsided a bit and I was actually able to concentrate on the waves that were about to crash over me. Surfing is exhausting and slightly terrifying if the waves are big and fast enough. And when you’re lying prone on a surfboard, even three foot waves seem huge. So after a while, stingrays were really the last thing on my mind.

Riding for my life...

I could tell that several of the others were still thinking of what lay beneath, as I saw a couple of them sitting on the beach, hanging up their boards only about halfway through our two-hour session. Beginning to get the hang of it, I caught a couple waves and was really starting to enjoy this thing called surfing. But, just as I was beginning to relax, I saw something that sent shock waves through my weary body. A wave headed my way had not three, but four, what appeared to be stingrays riding inside the oncoming blue wall of water, arm to arm (or wing to wing)!

Terrified, I jumped on top of my board as quickly as possible and shrieked at my instructor, yelling, “Rays! Rays!” Not fazed in the slightest, the instructor chuckled and said, “Oh, those are just manatees. They like to surf too.” It must have been the adrenaline because just as the wave approached, I flipped around, paddled as hard as I could and popped up on my board. It was my longest ride of the day. I lasted maybe an entire ten and possibly 15 seconds standing up. Jon was even able to snap a photo just before I wiped out, not too far from the shore. I shuffled the hell out of my feet and practically ran up the shore, dragging my Cadillac of a board behind me.

Our two hours had passed and I had officially “surfed”— and never was I so happy to be on land and out of the damn ocean! Needless to say, the rest of our vacation was spent sipping pĩna coladas by the pool. And, oh were they good!



Posted by: Mrs. HSH | January 5, 2012

Namibia and the Lions; House Blog meet Travel Blog

Huh? Yeah, it’s confusing, I know. However, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to write more often. And, it’s hard for me write a lot more about home improvement because, frankly I haven’t been improving my home that much lately. So, I had this idea to try to incorporate one of my other passions into this blog— a passion that I do manage to weave into many of my home-improvement related posts anyway —  travel. So, from now on if you happen upon random posts about our recent trip to Africa, or one of our weekend getaways to the mountains, know that you’re not in the wrong place. I’m just sticking to my convictions (day 1) and writing more often this year – just not necessarily about spray painting furniture or renovating kitchens.

Here goes.

I guess I’ll start with our most recent trip to Namibia. Yes, Namibia rhymes with Libya. Apparently this is why I got so many strange looks when I told folks at work where Jon and I were going on our latest adventure.  I’m pretty much used to the blank stares by now. It’s not that I have anything against Hawaii (those blue skies and white beaches are amazing), but I’m at the point in my life where I still crave excitement on my holidays/travels/vacations and I’ve somehow managed to con my husband into going along with it. Admittedly, it’s getting tougher by the day.

Anyway, back to Namibia. Angola borders it on the north, Botswana to the east, and South Africa to the southeast.  It takes about 23 hours of flying to get there from the West Coast, and it’s pretty much as freaking far away as possible. Thus, I highly recommend spending more than the two weeks we did. The place is about the size of Texas, but I read somewhere that there are only about two million people who live in the entire country. Amazing. It’s hard to find places in this world that remote that you can actually visit. Desert – real sand dunes, desert – covers a good portion of the country.

Another good chunk looks reminiscent of the canyons and rock formations one might find in Utah.

And, then there’s Etosha National Park. Think Yellowstone meets San Diego Wild Animal Park. Thousands upon thousands of acres of protected land full of elephants, rhinos, springbok (deer-like), lions, cheetah, you name it.

I really wanted to go to Namibia to see the desert, but I think it was Etosha that sort of stole the show for me. And, that’s because I got to see cats. Correction, I got to see BIG cats. You see, Jon and I had actually been on an overland trip the year before in South Africa and Mozambique. We traveled through the famed Kruger Park and up through some really remote parts of Mozambique. And, while we heard lions at night and saw their tracks during the day, we never actually saw any of them.  So, on my second and maybe last African safari I was damn set on seeing some fucking lions. Excuse my French.

On our first day in Etosha, our guide Joram drove us all over the park, miles and miles. We saw elephants, giraffe, oryx, and all kinds of interesting animals, but no cats. Our big, clunky overland truck cooked us in the desert sun while we searched to no avail.

Discouraged, one of our fellow trip mates from Germany decided to read me the blurb from her guide-book about wildlife viewing in Etosha. She promptly informed me that Kruger National Park in South Africa had hundreds, if not thousands more lions than Etosha, and since I hadn’t seen any lions there, I really shouldn’t get my hopes up here.

The Germans…so practical. But, I wasn’t giving up. I knew they were out there.

On our second night in Etosha, we stayed at a campground on the far eastern edge of the park. Like the other two campgrounds, there was a flood-lit watering hole where you could sit at night behind a low camouflaged fence and wait for the animals to show up, although not always guaranteed. After about 30 minutes of sitting and staring into the dark, Jon and I and a few fellow travelers were about to head back to the camp when we heard a loud,  almost crying noise, a kind of cry-roar.  It’s a really hard sound to explain and one that I won’t forget.  It was coming from what sounded to be really close, not too far from the fence. Jon jumped up  to follow the sound, in the dark. We all scrambled to follow, hoping to catch a glimpse. And then suddenly, I think we all realized what we were doing, froze and stood in silence, waiting for another cry/roar or whatever the hell you call it. But, silence rung out instead.  Probably for the best considering we were a bunch of idiots following a lion in the dark.

On our last day in the park, I was a bit discouraged but we’d happened upon a huge family of elephants about mid-morning and spent so much time sitting and watching them that I almost forgot about lions.

And then turning a corner, we saw a couple of safari trucks sitting, motors off. And, there they were. Two of the biggest cats I’d ever seen, sitting right in front of me. It took my breath away for a moment until I realized there was a lot of steel between me and them. I was still frightened to stick my camera to close to the open window. Just because I go to Africa on safaris does not mean that I’m not scared of lions! And, they were beautiful.

Posted by: Mrs. HSH | January 4, 2012


Call me crazy, but I love making New Year’s Resolutions.  I’m sure that part of the reason is due to the fact that it has something to do with making a list – an enjoyed activity in our household. But, I also like the optimism of it all. There is an entire year ahead and you can vow to do things differently, better, stronger.  In the beginning, it’s anyone’s game. Sure as the months roll on, time will tell if you’re truly sticking to your convictions. But in the beginning, the world is your oyster (have no idea where that analogy comes from, but seems fitting here).

So, here’s to it! The following are my 2012 resolutions. **One small caveat**  Due to a wicked (and I mean wicked) case of the stomach flu over the holidays, I have somehow managed not to put on my typical five pounds of Christmas cookies this year. Consider that resolution checked off the list!

Save More Money –   This resolution seems to sneak back on my list every year. It’s not that we don’t save money, but I think  I need an annual reminder that retirement is only 33 years away, and counting. I also think it’s much more rewarding to save for a project or a trip. It’s all the more satisfying when you actually buy that plane ticket or tile that laundry room!

Explore Creativity – I have a lot of ideas. And, that’s usually where my creativity ends. It’s admittedly hard to find time for everything:  work, relaxation, time with friends and family, health, etc.  BUT, if I have time to devote to this blog, I can certainly find time to be more creative.

Exercise Patience – I am the first to admit that I am not very patient. In fact, impatient would probably be a word I’d use to describe myself.  However, I am beginning to realize that things aren’t always better in the immediate. This is going to be one I have to work on!

Write More – I spend a fair amount of time drafting letters, analysis and reports for my “real” job. So, sometimes it’s not always the first thing I want to do when I get home at the end of the day. However, I love to write and I need to do more of it. It’s one of my lesser-known passions, but a great one all the same!

Never Stop Traveling – I don’t need a reminder for this one. But, I like to keep my eye on the prize. New Zealand 2012! 🙂

Posted by: Mrs. HSH | December 21, 2011

Bathroom Scheming

Christmas is just around the corner and there are SO many things on my wish list. The holidays aren’t typically the time when people think about home improvement, or more specifically, knocking out their home’s one and only bathroom, but I just can’t help myself! I want a new bathroom for Christmas, Santa! Pretty please?

So, maybe I’m being a little greedy here. But, the bathroom remodel is on the 2012 home improvement to-do list. Actually, the reason I’ve been dedicating some serious thought to the ‘ol power room, or nasty pink palace (as Jon refers to it) is because it was about this time last year when Jon and I started doing some preliminary research for our kitchen remodel. And, it just so happens that we found out that Home Depot’s fiscal year ends in the end of January and not in December, as one might think. What this means is that there are a lot of deals to be had in the next month or so. Sales quotas must be reached and that equates to major deals, discounts and giveaways!

So, you see, it’s really in our best interest to investigate our options and see what possibilities are out there right now! We might just end up with something like this:




Posted by: Mrs. HSH | December 10, 2011

Gettin’ in the Christmas Spirit

It’s only December 9th and the Christmas spirit is out in full force at the Jeisel- Martinson abode! The tree is decorated, the stockings are hung and the Annual White Elephant Gift Exchange has already come and gone.

This year, due to friends’ travel plans and busy schedules, we opted to throw our annual friends holiday gift exchange a little early. That forced us to decorate the tree and get the house Christmas-ready by the first weekend of December. The party was a success – champagne punch delivers every time – and now we’re left with a lovely Christmas-y home to enjoy!


It seems to me that there are two schools of thought when it comes to decorating for Christmas. There are those that have the boxes down from the attic and ready to go the day after Thanksgiving. I believe those are also the same folks that listen to Christmas music for four weeks in a row.  And, then there are the folks, like my parents, who barely get the tree up by Christmas Eve, but like to keep it around until Martin Luther King Day!

I was a bit apprehensive about dragging out the Christmas decorations on Thanksgiving weekend, but I’m starting to think that I will be a Thanksgiving-Christmas tree convert.  The Christmas season is fairly confined, nicely tucked between Turkey Day and New Years Eve. So why not enjoy not enjoy the full season with all trimmings! Just as long as I don’t’ have to listen to Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer for entire month!

Posted by: Mrs. HSH | November 23, 2011

Hallway Magic

It’s been a little over two weeks since we started the 2-day hallway project. However, I’m happy to report that we are done! I’ve also promised my husband that we won’t paint again for at least a year!

Fresh paint really has brightened up this dark, small space. But, it’s the hallway art gallery that I’m really in love with.

I did have to scale back my plans a bit, i.e. no pricey art, and no expensive frames. I stuck with basic white to keep the small space as bright as possible. As for paint, we decided to carry Behr’s “Calm Air” into the hallway (currently taking up residence in our living room as well). I does take on a much more yellow tone than the living room, primarily due to the lack of natural light. But, it keeps the space nice and light.

As for the art, I tried not to make it an homage to our wedding since those are the only “real” pictures that we have that don’t have one of us holding the camera!  But, I had to sneak in a few wedding photos, along with some shots from our travels and a few prints that remind us of places we’ve been! Hint: the Andy Warhol ‘Footsteps’ print is a tango dance diagram! It’s a great reminder of the tango dance hall we spent 2 hours looking for in Buenos Aires and never ended up finding! Ahhh…travel adventures!

I think it looks great! Most importantly, the last painting project is officially crossed off the list!

Posted by: Mrs. HSH | November 19, 2011

I Heart Fall

It’s a beautiful fall day in California! The leaves are all starting to turn bright shades of yellow, orange and red!

I’m also in a good mood because the hallway painting project is finally DONE! I’m slowly assembling my gallery of frames and pictures to put in them. More on that later… Today, I’m just going to enjoy the weather!

Posted by: Mrs. HSH | November 10, 2011

A Tale of the Two-Day Project…

I guess it’s no surprise that this new little painting project of mine is taking more than my estimated two days. It’s Murphy’s Law, right? Or, something like that. The fact of the matter is that I always seem to either overestimate or underestimate. For instance, my husband and I took a rather “long” flight to Buenos Aires a few years ago. Before purchasing our tickets, I assumed it was only a 5-6 hour flight from the East Coast – don’t ask me why. After boarding the plane in D.C., I realized it was over 10 hours to Argentina! Oops. To my credit, the time change factor was very confusing!

But, I digress. The reason project paint-the-hallway is taking so long is because of all the beautiful/annoying trim that adorns our walls and doorways.

 See what I’m taking about…

On top of all the baseboards and door frames, we have a couple of built-in cabinets in the hallway that are in desperate need of a new coat of paint!

It’s this type of detail that made me fall in love with our house in the first place. However, it makes any project – no matter how small – take a lot more than two days! In the meantime, I’m keeping my eye on the prize and scoping out ideas for the soon-to-be hallway photo gallery. The following are a couple designs that caught my eye.

Apartment Therapy

Southern Accents

PS…We went with Behr’s ‘Calm Air’ for the walls and Behr’s ‘Moonlight White’ for the baseboards.

Posted by: Mrs. HSH | November 8, 2011

White or just Light?

I’m having a hard time deciding what color to paint the hallway. I thought it was conventional wisdom that small spaces should be painted white. However, the more research I do, the more I realize that this ‘conventional wisdom’ is kind of like not wearing white after Labor Day. It’s tradition based on no real discernible reason.

I am definitely leaning towards a lighter color, but I am debating whether or not to continue the living room’s ‘calm air’ into the hallway, or the kitchen’s ‘dolphin fin’.  In the meantime, we’ve sanded down the baseboards and primed the doors.  Jon wasn’t too pleased with me for co-opting his Sunday, but we are now two steps closer to the era of NO MORE PAINTING!

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