Study makeover!

We have been blessed with a baby who has been sleeping through the night since she was a month old, and who takes consistent and fairly long naps every day. So because of that and because I’m no longer working outside the home, I really needed a project. Our downstairs study/guest room was in desperate need of a makeover; it was the only room left with a different trim color than the rest of the house, did not have a light switch, the wall color was awful and way too dark, the windows were in terrible shape, and the furniture just… bad. It seemed like a good room to take on as a nap time project!

View of old study, picture taken at the boys Minecraft party.

I started off in September last year by restoring the two windows. Working in the basement, I used my “silent paint remover,” a tool that uses infrared heat to remove paint from wood – no yucky chemicals needed – to get all the paint off the frames. Paired with a good sanding, it does a fantastic job and I love my SPR! Once the frames were all stripped and sanded, I ordered new glass panes from the local glass store as well as glaze from Advanced Repair Technology. I already had a caulk gun from restoring the mudroom windows a few years ago. I inserted the glass and glazed the windows, which is easily the most fun part of window work! The final step of the process was to paint the frames – Classic Ivory on the insides and Rockwood Green (both from Sherwin-Williams) on the outside. Voila! It may sound a bit odd, but I genuinely enjoy doing this. And the best part is that it all happens down in the basement – very non-intrusive to our everyday life.

Very old window, in very bad shape

Scrape, sand and glaze…

Once the windows were done, I (with help from Chuck and the boys) cleared the room out. We gave away our old tan sofa sleeper which was AWFUL to sleep on and really too big anyway. We had a big chest of drawers that only aided in accumulating useless junk – this is now in the workshop in which I don’t care if there’s clutter. We kept the rest of the furniture (a desk, filing cabinet, and bookshelf) and added a twin day bed. We already had a box spring and mattress and our neighbor let us have a frame that she wasn’t using anymore – so we didn’t actually have to buy any new furniture at all!

While Chuck was away traveling for work, I painted the radiator, desk and filing cabinet. Love how all three came out! When Chuck returned, we worked together to install a light switch in the room. There used to be a big ugly ceiling fan with pull strings, so now with a regular light fixture it feels soooo much more open and spacious! We had to cut two holes, one in the ceiling and one in the wall, to be able to run the wires. This made for some extra work having to mud and sand repair the holes, but that is okay. It’s so worth having a switch!

By January it was finally time to paint – walls, trim and ceiling. Having painted almost every room in the house at least once, and not to mention the entire exterior, I have become somewhat of a master and this one small room was a breeze. It came out super nice too I must say, and I can tell that I’m getting more experienced. The only thing I’m a tiny bit bummed about is that the wall color that I picked (SW Chelsea Mauve) looks almost identical to the mudroom’s Queen Anne Lilac. I had expected it to be closer to beige/gray than purple. OH WELL.

The final stage entailed my #1 favorite activity: to decorate! It’s a shame that this is the quickest part of the process… Izzy and I took a trip to Target to get some new throw pillows for the daybed, a lovely table lamp, and some other decorations. I made an inspiration display out of our plain old cork board. I hung two paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe I found laying around. Chuck set up the computer and printer. We moved our dear robot vacuum, Sheldon, into the room. Here are some photos of the end result – enjoy:

Love our new study/guest room!

Daybed and art

Bookshelf made by Chuck

New fave hangout spot!

My inspiration board!

View into study from dining room…

I must say I’m very, very happy with how it came out! It’s a huge relief that our house guests will no longer have to stay in that ugly, cluttered dungeon it used to be… It’s also really cool to have some additional space downstairs where one can sit and read a book or do a Sudoku puzzle. I find myself hanging out in here a lot while the boys watch Battlestar Galactica.

It’s the greatest feeling to have a project be completed! Now to take a little break from house projects and enjoy my family who will be visiting later in the month. But once it warms up outside we are going to tackle the next big challenge – adding an above ground swimming pool to the yard! Wish us luck and stay tuned!



10 of my favorite things

So I guess I haven’t written on my blog in about two years. But tonight, I thought to myself that it might be cool to start it up again. I like having a place to gather and organize some thoughts, and I gave up on Facebook since there’s so much drama as well as that it tends to eat up too much of my time. So here we go blogging!

We’ve had a bit of a rough stretch in the Curtis family, with everyone taking turns being sick plus my drawn out (no pun intended) recovery from wisdom tooth removal a few weeks ago. So I’d like to pull a Maria from “Sound of Music” and when I feel sad, I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don’t feel so bad… list 10 of my favorite things!

Susanna's sunflowers

  1. My family! Chuck, Will, Ben, and Isabella. My core. My support system. My gang. I don’t know what I’d do without them. Also my extended family – my parents, sisters, brothers-in-law, nephews, and Chuck’s parents and step parents!
  2. Music! I honestly don’t think I could survive without music. I need to consume it as well as create it every single day; if I don’t I feel malnourished somehow. I love singing with Izzy and her friends at my baby music group. Going to concerts. Playing the piano with a glass of wine. Blasting Spotify in the car. Music has saved my life so many times over!
  3. Good food & drink. I find myself daydreaming about what I’ll be eating for dinner several times per day. There is nothing better than going out for sushi or Indian or a good veggie burger with someone you hold dear. I love to cook too! Crispy stir fries with lots of garlic and ginger, homemade pizzas, fresh seafood dishes, or a hot wintery soup in the crockpot. What did we do to deserve this savory pleasure?
  4. Zumba! This is a newfound love. I finally joined a gym last year that offers Zumba classes. I had expected that I’d be DRAGGING my lazy butt over there, but it turns out that it’s a BLAST, and every week I can hardly wait for Zumba night! It’s not as much a workout as it is a Latin dance party. My serotonin levels are awesome and I’m happier than ever!
  5. Summer! She’s a dear old friend, and I long for her with such passion. I want long days on the beach. The smells of a hundred kinds of flowers. Bare legs and sandals and painted toe nails.
  6. Adventures! I like being at home and living my sweet, predictable life in Preston most of the time. But sometimes a girl just needs a good adventure. Traveling somewhere new, meeting new people, creating new memories. I loved my volunteer vacation at a kids camp in Greece, Chuck’s and my trip to Australia, and taking the boys to Cancun.
  7. Fighting for my core values! We all sing with the same voice. It’s true. I may risk sounding naive or whatever, but I will never stop believing in a more fair and loving world. I will never stop fighting for (in my own way) the things that I really care about – gender equality, multiculturalism, LGBTQ and women&kids rights.
  8. Relaxing in my neat & clean home! Nothing stresses me out like having my house be filthy or disorganized. I have become a Monica Geller type – I clean all the time and my best friend is a robot vacuum. Other people have hobbies. I just clean while listening to NPR!
  9. My friends! I joined my awesome Moms Club before I was even a mom, because I know that I only thrive when I have friends and a community around me. They’re awesome, and we have so much fun together. I love all my other friends too – I’m really fortunate that they’re too many to list – but you know who you are! I love spending time with you all!
  10. Beautiful things. I’m like a magpie bird. Love things that sparkle, glitter and shine. Whether it’s a sequin dress, or a golden piece of wall decor – nothing can lift my spirits like beautiful things. Planning outfits and decorating my home are two of my greatest passions. And if I don’t have my finger nails painted… actually not sure how to finish that sentence – my finger nails are always painted!

There. Now I feel much better. Hopefully it’ll hold me through tomorrow’s snow storm.

Making Art!

On President’s Day, Monday 2/16/2015, we invited Anne Marie Boroughs (artist and preschool teacher) to the house to do an art workshop with us.  Anne Marie had previously told me about her special technique of using one’s fingertips to make impressionist style paintings, and I had immediately thought to myself that having her make one with us would be an amazing experience to share with Will and Ben. The perfect opportunity to do it arose with William’s 12th birthday, and since it was his gift, he got to pick the motive and decided to go for a hummingbird (his “spirit animal.”)

The process started with Will picking a photo of a hummingbird to use as inspiration. It took him about ten seconds to find one:



Anne Marie showed up and we had lunch together. Afterwards we set up the canvas and all the supplies. Anne Marie drew a grid over both the photo as well as the canvas, then numbered the squares. We (Will, Ben, Chuck, Anne Marie and I) each picked one or two squares from the photo and started to sketch on the corresponding square on the canvas. No erasing allowed! We learned that it doesn’t matter if the drawings are exact, they will just work as a guide.

Once we were finished with our pencils, we got a lesson in color study. We learned what the primary colors are, and how a color wheel works. After that the truly fun part began! We started mixing up the colors and painted the bird, flowers, and background with their OPPOSITE colors on the color wheel (at this point using brushes.) It was kind of odd to see green flowers and red background, but the purpose is to make the art more interesting and have the background layer make the top layer “POP.”

We finished the bottom layered, drank some coffee and let the paint dry. We used acrylics so it dried pretty quickly. At least dry enough to make the top part. This is where our fingertips got to get busy! We simply dipped them in the paint and lightly tapped them onto the painting. Wow it was so awesome to feel the paint on your fingers, mix colors up and go “dot dot dot” over the canvas.

The entire process took less than two hours and was amazingly fun! I was a tad nervous if the boys would enjoy it, but Will said “this is kinda fun” and Ben said “that’s probably the best painting I’ve ever seen.” It makes me so happy that Will is always going to have this piece of art that has such a special meaning and story behind it. (And I’m going to print this blog post and tape it to the back of the painting.) The final result is pretty darn nice, if I may say so myself. Thank you Anne Marie for giving us all this fun experience…it’s good to have talented friends!

Sketching Outlines Brushing Bottom Layer Dot Dot Dot Williams Hummingbird

You Can’t Get to Me, Winter!

Despite being Swedish, I am the antithesis of Elsa in Frozen. “Hate” is a strong word, but I STRONGLY dislike winter and the yucky cold temperatures and snow that come with it. I have basically been depressed every winter of my entire life (well maybe not when I was a baby.)

BUT SINCE THIS IS MY GOLDEN YEAR, I have decided to EMBRACE the Winter of 2015 and create my own happiness. I think I’m doing pretty well so far! Let me tell you (and the future me going back to read this whenever I may feel the D word sneaking up on me) how good I did this weekend doing fun things:

Friday night after work, I swung by one of my Heavens on Earth–Mirch Masala Indian Restaurant in Groton, and picked up two delicious meals for Chuck and myself. I got home and we did my absolute favorite activity of all times–watched three episodes of an awesome TV show (we’re always addicted to something, right now it’s Suits) while devouring our dinner! Yup, that is the somewhat sad truth about me, watching TV is the best thing I know!

But not more than a few hours per day. That would be counterproductive in my fight to beat my seasonal depression tendency. So on Saturday, Chuck and I took a long walk with the doggies. And even though it was cold, it was nice, because I actually bought my very first pair of warm hiking boots a few weeks ago. (Yes, I’m proud of myself for this. I used to go everywhere in a pair of falling-apart Converse or Uggs and I’m only just now discovering the joy of comfortable shoes!) I also went to the store and cleaned the house, because Saturday night we had guests coming over for homemade pizza and to play some cards. It was so much fun!!! Dave, Lauren & Jake, we’ll have to do it again!


Today, Sunday, was also fabulous. I tried to jam in as many fun things as I could. One of those is actually-believe it or not-to fold laundry while watching På Spåret, a Swedish quiz show. I also talked to my Mom on the phone, helped Chuck in the workshop and met up with Anne Marie (my friend and coworker, or “work wife”) at Panera Bread to type up some observations of our students. We were really behind and it’s always a great feeling to catch up. And actually get to talk a little too…we don’t really get to do that much with 20 pre-schoolers in our care. Anyway, I had fun. It’s awesome having a job and coworkers that you love! ❤️


Then tonight, I decided to try a new recipe (from Pinterest, where else,) well actually two new recipes–baked salmon filets marinaded in a soy sauce/brown sugar marinade and Parmesan baked potatoes! I served it with an arugula salad and sour cream. Mm-mm-mm! It’s good to get away from pasta & red sauce sometimes.

Then I decided to practice my piano homework. The piece I’m currently working on still needs fine tuning, so I’m not going to post it, but here’s another one that I like, it’s a Swedish children’s song and is called Vad det är bra att jag har dig. I’d like to dedicate it to Chuck because this is how I feel about him. The lyrics translated into English are:

How good it is that I have you
How good it is that you have me
That we can see each other every day
And be together, you and I
Because no one, no, no one, wants to be alone

Yup, it was a weekend in January and I wasn’t in a black hole=SUCCESS!!!!
Right now I’m listening to: Tucker barking to get back in after doing night-night potty

The Great Curtis Boy Quote Collection, pt 1

Chuck, Will and Ben are the men of my life. They just make me so darn happy. The reasons for that are many, but one is that they keep me laughing with the silly, sometimes a little stupid, always adorable stuff they say. A while back, I decided I wanted to keep remembering these epic quotes forever by recording them as they occur on my iPhone. In case you who are reading this are in need of a laugh, I’ll share what I’ve got so far.




While wedding planning…
S: I still have to decide on something borrowed, something new, something blue…
C: Something old? Well, that’s me.

S: If you would describe yourself with three words, what would they be?
C: Attention. Deficit. Disorder.

S: Let’s go somewhere fun and romantic!
C: Home Depot?

S: What do you most look forward to about one day having a baby?
C: It’ll be a good excuse to get a bigger boat.

S: Let’s go to a club on New Years! MIST at Mohegan opens at 9!
C: I was hoping on being home by 9…

S: I was thinking about what we talked about, and I don’t want to stand in the way of your dreams so…
S: Chickens!!!!


S: I love you.
W: Kinda doubt that, you only bought me ONE doughnut!

We had a discussion about dissecting dead animals (I had to do a fetal pig in my Biology class at Mitchell…ick!) over dinner.
C: You know, if you go to medical school, you have to dissect a human.
W: That stinks, then you have to go kill someone first?!

S: All you need is love!
W: All you need is video games!

When his sheets were all messed up one morning:
W: Why should I make my bed when it doesn’t appreciate being made?!

C: Have you heard of pi? Well, it’s a Greek number…
W: It’s also very yummy!


B: There’s a ladybug in the bathroom!
C: So?
B: I don’t wanna take a shower with a girl in there!

S: Sometimes people choose to be cremated so their ashes can be spread over a place that was special to them and that they loved. For instance, a sailor may choose the ocean.
B: Oh I know where you’d want to be spread–over Targa or Tucker?
S: Hahahah, no.
B: Over Dad? Or your classroom?

B: Look under there!
S: Under where?
B: You said underwear!

S: Do I look pretty enough to go out to dinner?
B: You look like a regular woman.

And finally, a classic from when Ben was around 3 years old and couldn’t distinguish between pronouns.
W: No Ben, that toy is a “he!”
S: It’s Ben’s toy so Ben decides whether if it’s a “he” or a “she.”
B: He’s a she!

Right now I’m listening to: “Bröllopsresan” by BKO

Happy New Year!


Happy New Year from a Lazy Christmas Break!

For 2015, I want to make some changes in my life. It is going to be a golden year! The main theme is going to be to maximize any fun, cozy, romantic, exciting and healthy I can get – and to eliminate as much stress and negativity as possible. Like this:

> I’m going to practice my piano homework every day, if only for 10 minutes. My goal is to get through the 3B books!
> I’m going to make a big effort to be as social as I can, because I have found that is what truly makes me happy. I need to meet people every single day; I simply need distraction from my own thoughts. I want to host one big party at our house per year, maybe throw a “girls night,” and go out to dinner with my friends whenever I get the chance.
> I’m going to be a lot more physically active this year. Chuck and I will go hiking every weekend with the dogs, and the boys on the days they are with us. Unfortunately, the trails that we used to go on all the time in the woods behind the house were blocked with fallen trees during previous big storms. But luckily there are a lot of great parks with trails close-by. I also want to start going to a yoga studio; I’m just not self-driven enough to consistently do it at home. HOWEVER! There will be no dieting or counting calories or weighing myself every five seconds. My focus will be on having fun and eating yummy, healthy things.
> I’m going to get a Rhode Island beach pass this year. I also want to get back into reading, and why not combine these two? I mean, who can feel anxious while reading a good book at the beach?
> I’m going to THINK TWICE before saying yes to things. Last year I said yes to taking an evening college class that my work paid for. While it was an interesting course, I just couldn’t handle it on top of a full time job and managing a household! 2015 is the year I stop being a people-pleaser!
> I’m going to set up goals on what I want to save my money for. I want a new recliner for the living room, a new pair of Uggs and some more clothes for work. I also need to save up spending money for our Mexico vacation as well as a few gifts. In general I want to continue spending as little as possible on junky knick-knacks that I don’t need but rather save up for fun experiences!
> I’m going to be kind to myself. I have a tendency to plan a million things to do every day, and if/when I don’t complete every little one, I just don’t feel accomplished. It might sound like a cliche but no one will die if I don’t fold all the laundry right away or write a perfect lesson plan every week.

I’m sure there’s more, but I’m going to get off the iPad now and go help Chuck do some work in the workshop. Then I think we’re going to play Settlers and after that I’m going to work on next weeks lesson plan for a bit. Because tomorrow reality returns…back to school for the boys and to work for Chuck and me. Mixed feelings with that, but hey! It’s my golden year and it’s going to be fabulous!

Right now I’m listening to: Animals (Maroon 5) off of Will’s Spotify playlist

1+ year later…

I randomly stumbled into this blog tonight, and thought for myself that maybe I should start writing on here again. I guess my last post was about the summer of 2013, so I’m not going to bore you reader(s) (hi Chuck!) with ALL that’s been going on since then. But let me share a few highlights:

One of the big things that has happened is that I officially started my teaching career back in August 2013, working for the TVCCA Head Start preschool program in New London. It turned out to be my dream job, and I love every aspect of it, although it IS mentally and physically exhausting to care for and teach 16 three to five-year olds every day. But the rewards make up for it a hundred times over, really, can it get any more wonderful than to walk through the doors at work every day and have 16 beautiful children run towards you shouting “Miss Susanna! Miss Susanna!” and giving out hugs–not bugs!

preschool teacher

Last fall, shortly after starting at TVCCA, I signed up for a Lucia choir at the Swedish Church in NYC. We started rehearsals mid October and the big concert was December 14, 2013. I had so much fun that I am planning on participating again this year. Aside from my Swedish friends and family, I don’t really miss too much about Sweden except for certain TV shows and music. Lucia is one of those things and I’m so happy I found the choir in NYC to be a part of. Singing is truly a spiritual experience for me and the Lucia songs totally put me in the Christmas spirit! For the remaining part of the year I get my need to make music met by taking piano lessons twice every month, and practicing (almost) every day. I’ve been going to my wonderful piano teacher for almost three years now, and it is so nice to have a hobby and do something that is just for me. I also recently picked up a portable keyboard which I can bring into work–and I love sharing my musical bliss with my students!

My life at home has continued to be very very busy, but oh so much fun. Will & Ben are at such an amazing age right now, and I am so lucky to be their step-mom. And Chuck and I are enjoying being husband & wife, and it was really nice this year to not have a wedding to plan or stress, and so we could actually just relax and enjoy life. We’ve had a fantastic year, and some of the fun things we’ve done are (not in chronological order):

  • All four of us rode our bicycles to Dunkin Donuts in downtown Norwich.
  • We’ve babysat Michael Matkovich a crap ton, and we all love hanging out with him (except for the FEW times he’s woken up in the middle of the night crying)!
  • We went camping on our sailboat with Targa and Tucker — IT WAS CROWDED!!
  • Chuck and the boys came down to NYC to watch me sing at my Lucia concert…I’m sure it was pretty boring for them, but staying at a hotel with a swimming pool helped.
  • We had grandma Mary and Papa & Uncle Bill with cousins come visit us over the summer, and it was FUN FUN FUN.
  • Will and Ben have been on so many different soccer teams and gone to so many different soccer camps that I lost count. It’s been a lot of work (and a lot of laundry) to be a soccer step-mom, but it’s so much fun to watch them play and I’m just wicked thankful that they chose SOCCER and not some American sport that I don’t understand. 😉
  • Will and I went to Launch! trampoline park in the spring, and it was awesome. I’m planning on giving tickets to Ben for his birthday that is coming up… shhh!
  • We didn’t go to the beach as much as I wanted to. I guess that’s one of the few drawbacks of working in a school that’s open all year round, but then again even if I went to the beach every day I wouldn’t feel like I had enough. I just LOVE the waves, and the sand, and the warmth and the smells. I think next year calls for a season parking pass for the Rhode Island state beaches

2014-05-14 17.11.30 2014-05-31 15.53.19-1 2014-08-07 16.31.02 2014-08-30 06.51.15

2013-10-13 10.42.59 2014-07-12 19.38.39


Yikes. I already spent a long long time writing, and although it didn’t generate too much quantity (or quality) it is now 9:50 which nowadays happens to be past my bedtime. A fun day in NYC awaits tomorrow, which I will actually spend with an ADULT (and NO CHILDREN) — my lovely friend Frida who is traveling the Americas this summer and fall. Time for some beauty sleep! Sorry, no energy left to proof-read.

I’m now listening to: whatever weird little noises my netbook is making


Summer 2013

Beach. Sailing. Wedding. Family. Settlers of Catan. Aquarium. Ice cream. Piano. Books. Laughing. Snuggling. Daydreaming. House Projects. Mimosas.. Six Flags. Playing. Swimming. Elliptical Training. Dancing. Subway Sandwiches. Breaking Bad. Chatting with Siri. Hanging with Friends. Water Slides.

And it’s not over yet!

photo image  image_10 image_11image_1 image_7 image_8Bride and Groom Sepia image_4 image_3 image_2 Curtis Family

And the house is painted!

Oh, happy day! My family are on their way over from Sweden, Ben received an award at his school, and last night we finished painting the house!!! We have been working on it since last summer, and got the front and sun porches done last year. Thus it remained goofy-looking half painted through the winter, and it left me feeling pretty stressed. I don’t like having things unfinished, so the relief I am feeling today is HUGE! I have been looking forward to posting “before” and “after” pictures since we started almost a year ago, so I am going to savor this moment…

BEFORE                                                                                          AFTER

OLD front NEW front

DSCN3129 NEW front porch

OLD side NEW side

OLD back porch NEW back porch

OLD back NEW back

front porch 2013

Right now I’m listening to: “One last time” by Agnes