Family Portrait: August 2014 (Happy Birthday, Pearl!)

What happened to that little puff of a puppy we brought home in October?


Well, now she’s a really, really big puff. And we sure do love her. Happy 1st Birthday, Pearlie!

Happy Birthday, Pearl WarLock

Here’s our little family (cats not pictured :D), month-by-month.





Family Portrait: July 2014

Oh, hey… just running a little behind here, as always.

Pearl WarLock, 11-Months-OldThe doggone pup is 11-months-old, and we’re facing an expiration date on the “she’s just a puppy” excuse. It’s been amusing to me how often I feel compelled to say that, when Pearl is more enthusiastic than polite. It’s not an excuse, it’s a truth. She’s just a puppy. This has been one of the tricky bits of raising a gentle giant- remembering that Great Pyrs grow fast and mature slow, and tailoring our expectations to her age rather than her size. She’s just a puppy. A massive, happy puppy, who does us very proud. And it’s okay for her to be silly, as long as she keeps her paws on the ground.

Here’s our wonderful dog, month by month. Only one more photo to go, and we can hardly believe it.



Family Portrait: June-uary 2014

Another month come and gone. After an unseasonably warm May, we have an unpredictable, shifty June-uary. Is that not the most delicious portmanteau? I can hardly stop using it, though it might be one of those black licorice words that you have to savor sparingly, or people will start to think you’re weird.

Regardless. It’s been a hot and cold month in many ways, but we’re getting through it. The same could be said of 10-month-old Pearl’s most recent phase… we’re hoping there is more consistently sunny weather and attitude in the forecast.

Pearl WarLock, 10 Months Old

Our young miss is sweet and sour these days. We tell her to sit, and she does- by perching herself on the edge of the couch. Well played, dog. Training has become a battle of wits and wills, and at 75+ pounds, she’s a heavy-weight contender. But not the champ. Sorry Pearl, we are the bosses of you.

Luckily we are patient people, accustomed to fickle weather. We’ll wait out Pearl’s tween-aged sulks and sass, and will heap on the praise when she’s obedient. Because when she’s good, she’s the best- bright and beaming.

Here’s our sunshine, month by month…

PS: Yes- I cut most of my hair off! Yes- it’s asymmetrical. Yes- it was on purpose. I love it!



Family Portrait: May 2014

Yes, we skipped our April family photo. It was a bad hair day for all of us: Adam was still refusing to cut his, I’d made a not-so-bright decision with a box of very bright red dye, and the pup was sporting a shaved belly from her spay surgery. Not a moment we were keen to photograph and publish.

So here we are (accordingly trimmed, dyed, and fluffed) with our 9-month-old Great Pyrenees.

Pearl WarLock, 9 Months Old

Pearl could hardly sit still for a photo this month. If you can’t guess from our boots and baseball tees, it was dog park day. Good thing we remembered our picture before Pearl’s dip in the lake and roll in the dust… or you might not have heard from us until June!

Here’s how our gorgeous galumpher has grown…


The Living Room: Moss Wall

Seattle, between January and May, is the worst version of itself. Damp and gray, its inhabitants pale and impatient. We’re rewarded, of course, with an incredibly lush Spring. Everything blooms, we toss our galoshes to the back of the closet, we forgive our fair city and forget the months of drizzle and muck. The end is teasingly near- but the fickle shifts between rays and rain have us all fidgeting, weary of our own walls.

It was on a particularly dreary day that inspiration struck- a project to channel my restless energy, to bring the outdoors in, and to invigorate one of the boring walls I’d been staring at for months. Well, a very small section of a wall.

Brass & Lucite Sconce

A disproportionate number of the few posts I’ve written here have focused on the South wall of our Living Room. The plaster fireplace is a statement- and it hasn’t always said what I wanted it to. I struggled with styling the shallow, arched alcove until I installed my lucite sconce. Dramatic, but still not quite there. Should I paint? Wallpaper? I didn’t realize what was missing until I took down my holiday garland– the fireplace didn’t just need color, it needed texture too.

Enter inspiration.

Gilles Jauffret moss wall web


This is the kind of image you pin with absolutely no illusions: it is inspiration only. Who puts a messy moss wall in their house? Me, apparently. The fireplace alcove gave me the opportunity to realize this look in a small, practical way.

Moss Wall Treatment, WarLock Manor Living Room

As to execution, this project was as easy as it gets. I measured and cut out a piece of stiff cardboard, then scribed it for an exact fit. I also marked the location of back plate and mounting screws of the lucite sconce to avoid placing any of the moss underneath the fixture. And then I got busy with my glue gun! I used preserved moss in a variety of textures and colors, and arranged it in clumps- just like the living moss that grows so prolifically here in the Pacific Northwest, thanks to all the aforementioned rain!

Moss Wall Project: Step 1Moss Wall Project: Step 2
Project Progress via Instagram

Installation was even easier- the moss panel is simply held in place by the sconce. No additional damage to our crumbly plaster, and totally removable.

Moss Wall Treatment + Lucite Sconce, WarLock Manor Living RoomYou might also notice a few other tweaks. We painted the interior of the arch chalky white to match the arched doorways throughout the house. I rewired the sconce with a far more attractive cloth-covered cord, and draped it in a way that looks purposeful (the best option, as we’re not able to hardwire a fixture in this location). I also finally got around to installing drapes on the windows surrounding the fireplace. Small changes, but this elevation now has depth and continuity with the rest of the Living Room.

Moss Wall Treatment + Lucite Sconce, WarLock Manor Living Room

I love it. It’s an unexpected counterpoint to the many metallic elements in the room, and a bold swatch of color. Best of all, the moss plays a magical trick on us cooped-up Seattleites: it reads as a third window. It merges the house with our pride-and-joy garden in an surreal and organic way- no rain gear necessary.


Family Portrait: March 2014

7 months old, and always smiling- my, what big teeth you have, Pearl WarLock!

Pearl WarLock, 7 Months Old

Having spat out the last of her baby teeth last month, she seems to have made it through the phase of dramatic daily change. Her growth and appetite have tapered off, and I’m now wondering if Pearl might be a more “petite” Pyrenees. I wouldn’t complain!

She’s a wonderful size right now: her head at exactly the right height to be patted when she’s standing at my side, tall enough to put her paws on my shoulders for hugs and kisses, and (at least in her mind) not too big to be a lapdog (though, oof, 70 pounds).

Who knows how big she’ll get- for now she’s still learning how big she IS. We’re impressed by how gently she plays with the littler dogs at the park, a bit sore at how much she pulls on her leash, and confused by how the dog who walks like a polar bear on roller-skates can also tiptoe oh-so sneakily into the kitchen for a cat food snack…

Here’s our rascally pup, month by month.

Wishful Thinking for WarLock Manor

I’ve discovered Polyvore. By that, I mean: “I’ve discovered a very pretty way to avoid doing chores.”
I think I’ll always prefer the control and perfectionism of Photoshop for projects like my WarLock Manor design binder and inspiration pages, but it’s neat to shop, style, and share  all with one easy tool. Plus, Polyvore hosts giveaways that are like coloring contests for grown-ups. DREAM.COME.TRUE. Let me tell ya- I was a coloring contest champ back in the under-12 glory days. Other kids had soccer trophies, I had QFC holiday bag design blue ribbons.
So when Kristin of The Hunted Interior announced her Project Decorate “Layered Living” challenge, I decided to step into the ring. Here’s how we layer at WarLock Manor…
Wishful Thinking for WarLock ManorWishful Thinking for WarLock Manor by allthedarkrooms

We go overboard with neutrals and punctuate with sharp metallic accents. At least, that’s how we’d like to layer… (a $500.00 Ballard Designs gift card would certainly help!).

Flipping Switches

Sometimes it’s the littlest things- like having to wiggle a switch just right to get the damn light on when you’re trying to haul laundry up a dark and slippery staircase- that make you curse your house. “Period details” are charming, 20s-era light switches encrusted with 80-some years of paint and dust are not.

Original Switch

Luckily, swapping out switches is cheap, quick, and painless (provided you have the good sense to turn off the circuit breaker first).

But what if you don’t know which breaker to flip? Because maybe the only legible notation on your panel refers to a water feature that you don’t have? Well then! What a convenient time to take on the task of labeling your panel (and the tertiary chore of resetting every electric clock in the house!). Most efficient way to do this? No idea. Adam and I chose to put on a trial-and-error light show and it was super fun. We’re really looking forward to playing the same game with the outlets. Electrical diagraming is tedious, and our wiring isn’t logical, but I know that getting organized now is scoring me major points with my future self.

Labeled Switch Plates

For extra credit, I’ve put the breaker number on the back of each switch plate. The switch plates, by the way, are old but new to the house. I tossed out a mish-mash of plastic and shiny brass greek key covers and replaced them with patinated and period-appropriate pretties that look like they’ve been there all along. I love, love, love them. When I get around to switching out the screws, I’ll have a few square inches of perfection in every room.

Vintage Switch Plates, Modern Switches

There we go. A perfect combination of vintage aesthetic and modern convenience. And no more cussing.

This is about the only instantly gratifying task on our electrical punch list. While a former owner modernized the kitchen and bathroom wiring (and we thank them for it), the rest of the house is powered with the original knob and tube. I’ve inspected it carefully, and I don’t have major safety concerns (the clusters of 3-prong adaptors and tangles of extension cords hiding behind my couch pose a far bigger risk), but an upgrade would be a complement to our house and its value.

I’m confident enough in my own competence that I’ve pondered taking this on myself, but oh, blah… I’m not sure that I want to devote precious weekend time to stapling romex to our basement ceiling and fishing wires up through plaster walls. Saving money will always be a priority for us house-rich cash-poor new homeowners, but a competitive bid from a licensed electrician might win me over in the end. My time is valuable too, and I prefer to spend it on projects that I can show off to admiring guests and blog readers. Herringbone tile floor, upholstered wingback chairs, and a faux-finished ceiling? Prepare to be impressed by my handiwork. House innards? Not so much. It’s difficult to talk people into a tour of your unfinished basement. But we’ll see. After all, you just read a 500 word blog post on light switches…


Family Portrait: February 2014

Has it really been a month since our last post? Sure enough: weekends in snowy Spokane and on rainy Anderson Island, winter pruning at the orchard, many enthusiastic “Go Seahawks” high-fives,  and suddenly our pup is six months old.

Pearl WarLock, 6 Months Old

I’m not sure which is harder to believe: that we’ve had Pearl for four months, or that we haven’t had her forever. This dog makes me so darn happy. Or rather, she makes it easy to be happy- to seek adventure everyday, to share smiles, to laugh when she steals my socks, to jump for joy and run for no reason at all, to work hard knowing a wagging tail awaits me, to fall even more in love with my patient and caring husband, to be contented when we’re all snuggled in for the night.

Here’s our much-loved Pearl, month-by-month…


Family Portrait: January 2014

WarLock Family Portrait, January 2014

She’s the belle of the dog park and the star of every sidewalk from Seattle to Portland. She’s welcoming new members to the Pearl WarLock fan club with a firm handshake. She’s pushing 50 pounds and parental lap capacity. And now she’s 5 months old!

Pearl is growing so fast, this slideshow feels like real time.


If that’s not enough oh-so-fluffy puppy goodness for you, we’ll be posting some outtakes on the WarLock Manor Facebook page tomorrow.