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Miss Behaved Life in a Houzz

For two years Miss Behaved appeared in a local paper – I know, a real paper.  Now I want to periodically share some of her here in my blog.

Spoiler Alert:  You will learn nothing.

Dear Miss Behaved,

All I want is to experience just one evening where my husband stands on a freshly waxed oak floor chopping bright orange carrots on a tan bamboo cutting board resting on the new black granite kitchen counter while I stand across the cavernous kitchen expanse, admire the new soffits and distressed cabinet shelves and sip a glass of Chardonnay and a magical and life-transforming moment, we will indeed look like every busy couple who  enjoy cooking gourmet dinners together on the weekend and having long conversations about tumbled marble versus Spanish tile.

Is there any way to achieve this dream?


Can’t Find the Right Room in which to  Hide the Singing Bass Plaque.

Dear Too Deep into Pinterest,

  I have a cautionary tale for you.  A Miss Behaved fan recently described her own adventure in pursuing the perfect dream home.   

Since I cannot achieve perfection in the office (my staff will not cooperate), or in my person (my body won’t cooperate),  I inflict my fantasies of perfection and photo-worthy creations on my home. If I can’t look like the models I follow, I want to live in the same rooms I consistently bookmark.

One of my goals is to own the perfect floor. I re-decorated my first apartment to look exactly like an apartment featured in  Architecture Everywhere. #JustStandingAround.  In that home, the owners needed more room and so expanded their 3,500 square foot flat to something more spacious. There were many helpful photos of space-saving appliances the takeaway: the smaller the appliance, the more it cost.

“The white wool carpets are so easy to keep clean,” explained the mother of three.   “And we added a dash of color to the apartment by balancing our irreplaceable Venetian glass collection on this wobbly antique shelving unit.”   

I obediently bought white carpet to make our 600 square foot apartment feel more expansive. And I felt proud that since all we owned at that time was a toaster oven, we were covered in the space-saving-appliance department. I found a rickety antique shelving unit and some precariously perched glass object d’art.  I managed to take three photos before a minor 3.4 temblor knocked them all down.  The carpet lasted for days until the evening our two-year-old staggered across the living room carrying a Sippy cup filled with cranberry juice and a spill-proof lid he screwed on himself.

In my second house, I wanted the look I saw on my Pinterest board – Lofty Home. A couple named Max and Stan just finished re-building their turn-of-the-century lighthouse with re-finished, then stressed wood floors and little else. Clean floors!  More open space!    

When we re-modeled that living room, the cost escalated every time our son helped the contractor by dropping another $19.95 tape measure through the floorboards. Current estimate for the overrun: $4,450.00.      

Still, I continue to pursue the image of perfection.  I want empty tables decorated with clever centerpieces instead of homework projects. I want clean bedrooms instead of floors hidden by layers of summer clothing that must be raked into bags come fall. So I convinced my husband to take the equivalent of seven years tuition at a small private college and re-model our kitchen with granite counters, cherry cabinets and whimsical cupboard knobs.   

Designer touches in my new pristine kitchen also included those drawers that feature slim front pockets filled with layers of rice or beans to add fiber to the décor.  I spent hours layering white navy beans, green peas, and yellow corn into the front pockets of every drawer in the kitchen. I bought dish towels to match the pattern. Every day for two days I kept the glass free of fingerprints because one never knows when the photographers for Field, Stream, and Driveway, or any friend with a phone, will stop by.

   Finally, I was ready to stage the evening of my fantasy.    I positioned my husband at one end of the new granite counter top. He obediently held his wine in his left hand and a carrot in the right.  But before I could tell him that he could no longer wear his favorite sweatshirt in the kitchen anymore because it’s tacky and it clashes with the finish on the cabinets, our youngest raced into the kitchen full speed on his tricycle and was stopped by the edge of the new farm table.    As we stanched the blood from the head wound, we debated on whether to take him to the emergency room for the third time this month since CPS keeps track of these things.

Meanwhile, we entertained guilty hopes that the new tile flooring wouldn’t stain. To help, the oldest child leaped onto the new counters, discovered the clever hiding place for the paper towels, and while he crowed in triumph, slipped on a carrot peel, grabbed a decorative cupboard pull, swung out over the aforementioned tile and pulled the entire cupboard down with him.  We think the cupboard unit can be saved.

It wasn’t until we returned home with three stitches, five stickers and four new happy meal toys that I noticed three action figures plunged between the dried peas and navy beans and the glass. Not only was the wine warm and the carrots limp, but we were also greeted with the sight of Action Man pressed up against the smudged glass of the drawer front as if to say  “Curse you, Joker, I’ll get my revenge as soon as we eat rice for dinner.”    

The good news is that while we waited in the emergency room I found a new Pinterest account called  Lived In Home. All the photos were of distressed furniture, garage sale finds, Craig’s List advice.  The board on how to freshen used Caspar Mattresses said – Give up and just be comfortable.

And hang the Singing Bass in the guest bathroom.


Catharine Bramkamp is a successful writing coach and author. She has published over 300 newspaper and magazine articles in publications like Modern Maturity (AARP), SF Chronicle and Santa Rosa Magazine. She was a contributor to two Chicken Soup Books and has published anthologies of her work, non-fiction works and novels. Her work has also appeared in a number of poetry and fiction anthologies. She has experimented with the self-publishing world since 2001. She has published and self-published seven books through companies like Author House, author assist companies like 3L Publishing and through traditional publishers like Write Life. Her poetry collection, Ammonia Sunrise, will be released in August 2011 by Finishing Line Press and her mystery novel, In Good Faith will be released by Write Life in 2011. Catharine holds a BA in English from UCSB and a MA in English from Sonoma State University. She is a 25 year member of California Writer’s Club. She is an adjunct professor for the University of Phoenix. She works with authors of both fiction and non-fiction to make their dream of producing a book come true. For more information on that, visit her at Catharine has lived in Sonoma County for 25 years and considers wine a food group. She is married to an adorable and very patient man who complains he’s never featured in any of her books. Her grown children who are featured in a few of her books have fled the county.

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