Episode #120: Holiday Bucket List

This week, we are celebrating the beginning of November with a festive holiday decorating episode. We are also sharing what is on our holiday season bucket list and Elsie unpacks her sofa drama.


You can stream the episode here on the blog or on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayTuneInPocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.

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Show notes:

-Emma’s gold Christmas tree and holiday mug collection.

-Elsie’s green bows for her kitchen cabinets and mini LED candlesticks (they clip on your tree!).

Click here to download the holiday bucket list.

-Here’s the recipe for sugar cookies with royal icing and vegan sugar cookies.

-Emma’s easy Oreo truffles and puppy chow (also called muddy buddies).

-We mention the Next Door app.

-Check out Psychic Outlaw if you want to turn a quilt into a stocking.

-We answer a listener’s question (ways to remove smells from an old dresser):

  • Let the dresser sit outside to air out
  • Scrub it down with cleaning spray
  • Paint the inside and outside
  • Sprinkle baking soda in the drawers
  • Add cedar chips or charcoal bags

If you’re starting holiday shopping early, here are Elsie’s favorites from Rifle (images are clickable!).


xo, Elsie and Emma

Episode 120 Transcript

Emma: You’re listening to the Beautiful Mess Podcast. This week we’re celebrating the beginning of November with a festive holiday decorating episode. We’re also sharing what’s on our holiday season bucket list and we hope that you will join us in making your own and Elsie unpacks her sofa drama in a usual tale.

Elsie:  It is baby Oscar’s first Christmas, which how magical so I just wanted to ask you on a scale of one to the toy store scene in Elf, how much are you decorating your house this year?

Emma:  In my mind, it’s going to be Elf, but realistically, it’s probably going to be like good, but not my number one year because that’s basically how Halloween went. I got a lot done. I had like a half-day on a Saturday where I put all my skeletons out and I put things out. I did stuff, but then the whole rest of the month is like a Ziploc bag of foam bats just sat in my living room, like I’ll put those up soon by the TV. It never happened because it’s just, you know, working full time and having an infant, or at least baby me, I think I can get so much done.  I can get some done. But I get a lot less than I think. So I’m definitely decorating and I have ideas, and I know what I’m doing. But I’m also like, you know, we’ll see it’s not a big deal if a few things don’t happen. That’s fine.

Elsie:  I think that that’s good to have high expectations, keep your hopes high, keep your goals high. But then when you can’t do it all to be like, ah, that’s fine. I actually think that’s like the healthiest way to live your life.

Emma:  That’s pretty much how I feel. I’m like aim high and then when it doesn’t happen be like, oh well, that was a good try.

Elsie:  Me too. Yeah, that’s kind of how I have been ever since I had kids. I will get a 10 out of 10 Halloween and Christmas by my own standards. But it doesn’t really matter that I usually don’t reach the 10 because it’s still super fun and super magical. Okay, so this is my first Christmas without Collin, who like in the past he put up, you know how I had 10 Christmas trees he lifted all that stuff for me. It was kind of like one of my favorite days of the year and I don’t think it will be anymore now that I have to do it all myself. So I might be able to find a neighborhood helper or something. Jeremy’s really ended next door app and hiring high schoolers to help with things. So maybe that.

Emma:  I would have loved in high school for someone to hire me to set up Christmas trees on a Saturday. I would have loved that. 

Elsie:  I will say it’s worked out great for us. The next-door app is, Jeremy loves it. It’s like his third social media. He goes on it when I don’t know like for fun almost. There’s heartwarming stories on ours a lot because we have some elderly people in our neighborhood and things like that. Lots of high schoolers, so they come and help us powerwash and things like that. Which I think is great, too because when I was in high school, the idea of earning money was very exciting. I did a couple of times earn money on little things and it was so cool. Anyway, so it’s my first year without Collin and we’re renovating. So basically the day after Halloween, a lot of our floors, a lot of the Olive Garden floors, basically all the living spaces floors are getting demoed. Then they’re going to be building subfloor. Then they’re going to be putting in wood. My husband and I compromised because we talked about this in a previous episode, and we compromised, and here was what our compromise was. We’re doing wood for all the living areas and then we’re doing tile for the kitchen and the breakfast room, and the pantry, and the laundry room. So it’ll be a little bit of both and we’re both okay with that. Yeah, yeah, it’s all good. I’m still married, still happy. When we started booking everything, I knew pretty early on, probably in August or September, I already knew that we would be renovating at Christmas. I just made the decision that I’m not going to let it be sad. So I’m probably gonna put up a Christmas tree in our kitchen and one probably in our bedroom, we have a lot of room in there, kind of just wherever. Maybe at the top of the little landing at the top of our stairs, where that big mirror is, maybe I’ll put one there. So I do think we’ll still have Christmas trees and then, of course, we’ll be coming to the pink house in Springfield for Christmas also. So I think this is gonna be a very magical Christmas. I’m going to focus on all the things we can do and we won’t have a Christmas tree by our fireplace this year probably and I’m just going to like delete that out of my mind as something that matters.

Emma:  Nice. I think that’s the perfect attitude. I think you will have great happiness and success this coming season.

Elsie:  Oh my God, that sounded just like a fortune cookie.

Emma:  Yeah. Yeah, I was I was trying to make it that way.

Elsie:  I like it. So let’s each tell like a little part of our decorating plan, just something you’re looking forward to, and if you’re going to try anything new this year or add anything. 

Emma:  Okay, so I have two traditions that I know I’m going to do and then one new thing. So I’ll tell you the new thing because it’s more exciting. So the new thing is, when Oscar was born, I got a number of baby quilts as gifts. I think I got three or four. They’re all so special and so sweet. He uses all of them, not when he’s sleeping but generally he uses them for tummy time and all this. Anyway, so since I got quite a few, and they’re also beautiful and unique, and they’re handmade, they’re handmade quilts, I decided to take one of them that our friend Rachel, Rachel Denbo made, and I’m working with this company called Psychic Outlaw, that you can send them a quilt and they’ll turn it into a stocking, a Christmas Stocking.

Elsie:  Oh, my gosh, that’s so cool. 

Emma:  I’m hoping the quilts are big enough like I’m still emailing with them, but that I can get three or four stockings made. So that it’ll be like all the family, it’ll be matching stockings, and it’s one of Oscar’s baby quilts and my friend Rachel made it. 

Elsie:  Yeah, and one for the future, huh? 

Emma:  Well, once kind of for Steve slash, it could be something else in the future. I don’t know. But for now, it’s Steve’s our dog. So that’s the idea. That’s my new thing. I think it’ll be done by Christmas but I don’t know. I just emailed them this past weekend they’re a small business so I have realistic expectations. I’m sure they get a ton of stocking orders this time of year but I’m really excited for that. Even if it’s not this year, even if they’re not on my mantle this year, they will be in the future. I just love that it’s this sentimental thing that my friend Rachel made me and it’s a baby quilt. But it’s also going to become something that I hang up every year at Christmas. It’s a family thing so I’m really into that.

Elsie:  That’s amazing. I love that. 

Emma:  Yeah, I’m very excited. Then my two traditions that I’ve done in the past is one, I’m going to be putting up a Christmas tree in my office. It’s so my Zoom calls are festive because I gotta have festive Zoom calls very important to me. It’s just such a big part of my life and a big part of my holiday season is talking to people on my computer for work. Then the other thing is I’m going to get back out my holiday mug collection, which is kind of turned into basically a Santa mug collection over the years. I don’t know how it happened, but I have tons of Santas. Santa mug collection at this point, but I love to make tea, hot chocolate, whatever, morning coffee. I do this with Halloween mugs and so it’s about time to get out those Christmas mugs, my holiday mugs. So feeling festive.

Elsie:  Adorable. I got a few holiday mugs last year too and I’m excited to use them. So my tradition that I’m excited to repeat is last year I got some cabinet bows, do remember this? They’re like making your kitchen cabinets look like presence. I originally saw it from Kelly from Studio DIY does it every year and she said it was a tradition from her mom. When we first moved into our house last year, the kitchen is very big and white and plain. I talked about it before. We did update it a little bit, but not really. So anyway, I thought this would be a really fun way to make it more cozy and more vibey and kind of just add something and it really did. So I’ll put the link in the show notes. I just got mine from Amazon and I just use painter’s tape to tape them onto the back because my cabinets were too big, like the Velcro. They have a Velcro that attaches, you know what I’m saying? But mine were too big so they didn’t attach. So I just taped them and honestly, there’s no difference, it’s fine. That was really fun and I’m excited to do it again. I feel like it makes my kitchen feel like Christmas and it’s definitely the cutest it looks all year. So that will be fun. Then the new thing I’m adding, so like I said we’re renovating our house this season, and we won’t have our living room. I mean, we might sort of have our dining room back but it’s just going it’s not going to be a finished space for this holiday season, which is fine. So I’m kind of going to focus my energy this year on decorating the pink house for Missouri since that is a new special thing in our life. Since I don’t have any Christmas decorations, and I did want to keep some tubs of decor there in the basement. So I actually think I’m going to shop my own garage, take a bunch of stuff with me because does it matter if I buy new stuff and take it or if I just take some stuff and buy more, you know what I mean? Like whatever. Yeah, so I’m just gonna do that because it’s easier when we come to town next week, and then as soon as Halloween is over the next day, Emma and I are planning to Christmasafy it. I do think it will look like a gingerbread house because it’s pink and it’s cottagey. I think it’ll be so, so fun decorated for Christmas. So I’m really excited about that. Have you ever seen I don’t know how I’ve never seen this before because I think it’s been around forever. But I am so excited. It’s these little LED fake candles, candlesticks, like little mini ones that you can clip on your tree all around it, like they clip onto the branches to light it up. Then you just have a remote and I’m so excited about it because I think it’ll just be this really classic nostalgic Christmas tree vibe. I’ll probably keep the other lights on there, too. But yeah, I think that those will be really special. I’m excited.

Emma:  Oh, yeah, link those in the show notes. I kind of want to buy some of those because I have the kind of fake candles in my fake mantel with the remote and I turn them on in the evenings and I love it. It’s such a cozy little vibe. They almost like kind of flicker a tiny bit and it’s just really cute. But like 100% safe, you know, if they fell over or whatever, it’s not gonna do anything.

Elsie:  I think that probably at one point in history, people actually put candles on their Christmas tree, which is terrifying. This is not that, but it feels kind of like historic and traditional, I think so I’m excited.

Emma:  No, I love that. Well, let’s talk about holiday bucket lists.

Elsie:  Yes. Okay. So we will link in the show notes, our holiday bucket list that you can download and print it yourself. We got a lot of requests to make the holiday one be shorter, or have less spaces since it’s less time 

Emma:  Was it stressing people out?

Elsie:  Yeah, but actually, it’s the same amount of time because I do my fall one September and October and then I do my holiday one November and December. We did make it with less spaces and so it’ll be perfectly easy. We’ve given you the pep talk before, don’t forget, it doesn’t matter if you don’t finish everything on the list. The point is making the memories and enjoying what you do get done.

Emma:  Mm-hmm. That’s right. Take the pressure off people. It’s just for fun. It’s just so you could do some things. You don’t have to do everything.  Well, let’s share, maybe three things that are on our holiday bucket list for this coming season. 

Elsie:  Perfect. Okay, you go first,

Emma:  I’m going to start with a work one so this is a little bit of a teaser. Elsie and I, this year are creating a holiday special, a Beautiful Mess Holiday special. It’s going to be available, we’ll just we’re going to do more of an episode on this at some point. 

Elsie:  Don’t give them all the details, Emma. 

Emma:  Yeah, we’ll tell you all about it then. That’s on my bucket list because I really excited for it. We have a ton of costume changes. We have a bunch of projects planned that we’re going to be filming. We booked a film crew. It’s a little bit of a thing. It’s still very homemade. It’s still very, you know, a beautiful mess and us. It’s about as polished as this podcast so like, it’s polished, but you know.

Elsie:  Let’s just put it this way, if you ever wished that the podcast could be a little produced TV show, just like one time. This is going to be a special moment for you.

Emma:  Yes, so I’m really excited to film that. It is a ton of work too so I think I’ll also feel super festive and then afterward like a lot of relief. We’re also making a bunch of things so I’m gonna use all that to decorate my house afterward. It’s gonna be fun. Yeah, anyway, so that’s on my bucket list. Then two other things that are more for fun persona, not work-related. One, I’ve got to do some holiday sugar cookie decorating with friends. So I’m gonna make the sugar cookies ahead of time, make the royal icing, and then people come over and we just decorate them together because I love that. We have a recipe I’ll link it in the show notes for both regular sugar cookies and royal icing and then a vegan version. They’re both really good, I’ve made both. Then the other thing is so, I don’t know if you remember but when we did the autumn bucket list I talked about how I had gotten Oscar, my son, a little pumpkin outfit so that when I take him on walks around the neighborhood, he was in a pumpkin outfit.  

Elsie:  I think I know where this is going. 

Emma:  That went over great. Every time I walked him around, he was in his pumpkin outfit people would see him and I swear to God I could tell that it was sparking joy for people because they were like oh tiny pumpkin. So of course I had to do something for this coming season. So he’s got a little Santa coat that he can wear and it has a little belt buckle that is velvet, Velcro, and looks like a little Santa belt, the whole thing. I’m very excited to walk him around the neighborhood in his little Santa coat here pretty soon. 

Elsie:  Oh, that’s adorable, Emma.

Emma:  He’s just got seasonal outfits for his walks.

Elsie:  Perfect. Okay, so my three items on my list. I actually haven’t filled out my full list yet. I’m really excited to do it. These are the ones I know for sure. So first of all, I think it would make sense for me to do a Nancy Meyers marathon because I’m just in the mood to watch them all again. Even though I watched them all this year already. I kind of feel like rewatching comfort movies is like an itch you should always scratch. You know what I mean? 

Emma:  It doesn’t hurt. 

Elsie:  Yeah, I just think it’s if you’re the type of, I know not everyone is if you’re the type of person who loves the rewatch because it’s like a comforting thing. Emma likes to marathon Harry Potter during the holidays. This is my thing. I’ll definitely put other holiday movies on the list as well. I don’t think I’ve watched every holiday movie. I know last year there was one that came out new that like, do you know the Dan Levy one that was like Happy Season? I didn’t watch that last year so I’ll definitely watch that.

Emma:  I didn’t see it. I want to see it. 

Elsie:  My next thing is a baking marathon. So last year, we did a baking marathon and it was my first time to practice, what is it called buttercream icing, like cake decorating icing, what you put on a cupcake instead of a sugar cookie. So I got all the little tips set so that you can make different designs and it was my first time to do it. It was really fun. I baked with the kids every single day. Last year, we stayed home for Christmas. So it was something that really also just kind of kept our day moving in a positive direction during a time, we were having a Christmas away from family so it was really sad and that kept it happy. So anyway, the baking marathon I want to keep again because I do think it’s just so much fun to just bake an excessive amount of different cookies and cakes and cupcakes. We did your Oreo truffles, Emma. We did the muddy buddies and just like everything, it was so fun. So I’ll do that again. Anyone who’s interested put that on your list because you’re gonna love it. It just is definitely like a sparks joy situation. Then my last one is that I really want to make more handmade gifts this year, especially with my kids. So we got our pottery kiln in the mail recently, and it’s in the space now. It’s waiting for an electrician appointment and then they have to kind of install a vent, there’s a lot more steps to it than I thought. Yeah, so I don’t know, positively for sure, when it will be ready to actually function but hopefully, it’ll be before Christmas and hopefully, we’ll be able to make some pottery gifts. I think that would be really special. Also, I got a notification when I woke up this morning that our pottery wheel shipped. That’s really exciting. So anyway, hopefully, we’ll be able to make ceramics for the first time I think. I’m trying not to put a timeline on it just because you know, like, I can’t. I can’t install it myself and I do have to wait until the professional licensed electrician comes so that it’s safe. 

Emma:  You don’t want to just drag a bunch of extension cords out there and just see what happens. Yeah, yeah, don’t do that.

Elsie:  Yeah, I hope everyone makes a bucket list if you’ve never done it before. First of all, if you listen to our podcast and you’ve never done it before, I’m surprised you’ve made it this far. But if you never have and you’re just kind of like well I already do fun things, I don’t really need the list. I promise you. I promise promise promise the list does make a difference. It always makes me do at least a couple of things that I wouldn’t have gotten to so it is worth it. I keep mine usually on my fridge. My kids like to cross them off. They like to help think of things for the list as well. So if you do have kids, I highly recommend that you’ll get some creative ideas.

Emma:  Nice. I can’t wait to hear those too. Let’s talk about your sofa. So here’s what I know so far. I saw on Elsie’s Instagram and the close friends with the green little icon that she had posted selling the pink sofa. It’s her Jonathan Adler sofa. That was her dream sofa so I thought. This just pops up in my stories feed that she’s selling it and I’m like, what’s going on? Like, what? So why are you selling the sofa? What happened?

Elsie:  This is a complicated story because the sofa story that I was going to tell is the movie room sofa, it’s a different sofa even. 

Emma:  Oh my gosh. 

Elsie:  Sofa dramas. Let me just say my disclaimer, I tried to adjust the number of disclaimers I do on this podcast because we’ve heard we do too many. But let me just say that if you hate me after hearing about all these sofas, I get it and that’s all that’s the disclaimer.

Emma:  No need to write in. We already get it.

Elsie:  Please don’t send me hate mail. I hate myself, my husband, he’s a little bit over it and a little bit not. Okay. Anyway, here’s where it started. It started when we were living in our like, whatever you call it segway house last year for four or five months or whatever. And we moved in there right as COVID was beginning and we were planning to build on. It was very mid-century house and I ordered two sofas, two dream sofas. A few months later, we decided that building onto our house was not a good idea because of the current events in the world and our own emotional capacity as parents. We decided to just take the money saved for building on and just buy a bigger house that didn’t have to be remodeled. We’ve been through that podcast many times so you guys understand all that. So at that time, obviously there were some considerations like I had just bought two really nice sofas.  I was like, I promise you Jeremy, will still be able to use those sofas in our new house.

Emma:  Does Jeremy believe these things when he hears them or is he like at this stage in the marriage like, yeah, yeah, okay?

Elsie:  It’s a longer story than this, but he does not believe it. Let’s leave it at that. 

Emma:  He’s no fool. 

Elsie:  He’s no fool. So anyway, we moved into our house, the Jonathan Adler sofa, it was working, kind of. I’ll get to that one in a little bit. The other one, never even came when we lived at the first house so I had to reroute the shipping. I tried to cancel it and they wouldn’t let me it was too late. So I was like, okay, well, it’s still a sectional. Let’s just make it work basically. So I painted our movie room, a pretty weird color to go with it and we got the sofa. It was velvet. It was from Joy Bird.  I will say I’m about to give some like up and down reviews about sofa companies so let me just say another disclaimer. This is stuff that I like, wouldn’t really put online. But I do think that like, you know, whatever we’re like a casual group of friends here and I’m going to give more honest reviews than I normally would give, just like more honest, you know, whatever. I’ve had great experiences with Joy Bird and I honestly have nothing bad to say about them. I think they’re a great sofa company and I would recommend them.

Emma:  I have a sofa from them and I love it. 

Elsie:  I 100% would recommend them. But this sofa because it was velvet, I think it was a poor choice for a movie room, which is like it’s our TV sofa. It’s our everyday sofa and it had buttons on the cushions where you sit. They started to get loose pretty immediately. So anyway Joy Bird has a very generous 90 day, I think, return policy so I decided before the 90 days was over to return it and just move on to another sofa and they were great. So another reason why I would recommend them, they did accept the return and it was obviously very annoying because then we had no sofa again. The next sofa I ordered took about nine months to arrive. We moved on to their second option and I was really torn between a leather sectional and a, they call it performance fabric sectional and I kinda wanted to get a lighter color. So I heard really good reviews about Interior Define and I ordered a light-colored it was kind of like a linen color. It wasn’t white, but it wasn’t not white. It was kind of like, I don’t want to call it dirty white, but dark white, like, linen color, right? Yeah, natural, light beige. So I ordered the sofa, it did take about nine months to arrive and it was a big mistake. So I’m just gonna be very honest here. So when we first got the sofa and it arrived, it looked great. It looked really pretty. It was a U-shaped sectional. I will say it was very expensive. 

Emma:  That’s a big, big couch. 

Elsie:  Yeah, U-shaped sectionals are always going to be expensive and that’s really what our room needs and what is best for our family and having guests and all the considerations we have. I got the sofa, we used it for about, I think seven days. Then it was the day that my photographer was going to come and we were going to shoot our fully finished movie room. This was a while ago, like months and months ago. So I went in there to sort of just clean the room and straighten it up and do what you do to prep before tour pictures. I was kind of just trying to re-fluff the cushion, which is normal, but they were super lumpy. It was like the bottom cushion where your body sits, there were just huge lumps everywhere. I was like, okay, we’ve had this for seven days and it honestly looked unphotographable. It looked like it came from a thrift store. I was scared to talk to Jeremy about this, obviously, because he just doesn’t want to not have a sofa, right? And I was like, I think I need to return the sofa because this is just not okay. This was expensive, and you know, whatever. It looks really bad immediately. I was like, I would rather just try now to return it and get something else than to just live with it for years and be mad because I could tell it was just like, it would be a situation where I would have to cover it with blankets or I don’t even know. So anyway, not the best situation so I emailed them. First of all, I looked up the return policy, which I hadn’t looked up before. Warnings, red flags going up everywhere. It wasn’t really on their website. It was not clear at all. It was kind of like maybe we’ll accept your return, we’ll see. So I emailed them, and I was like, here’s my situation, here’s a picture. I waited for this for a really long time and I paid full price and I really just think you should accept my return. And they said, okay, we’ll accept your return for a 50% restocking fee so you only get half of your money back. At that point, I had a mini email freak out as I think any customer would, and then they said, okay, a 25% restocking fee. Which after giving it more thought I accepted that and I lost that money. Honestly,  the reason why I wanted to, I asked some of my blogger friends, should I tell the story and they were like, yes. I wanted people to understand that I’m not doing this to call out the company or hurt them. I’m doing this to just warn people because that’s a lot of money. I lost about $1,000 and I wouldn’t want that to happen to other people. So unless you’re 100% sure, I definitely would be aware about Interior Define because their return policy is to me just not very generous. Anyway, returned that one, that’s done. Now we’re like back to our situation in our movie room where we have two chairs in there, two beanbag chairs.

Emma:  When we visited recently, I forget why we even went in there because we never even watched TV, we were so busy when we were there. But Trey was like, oh, they’re only doing chairs and beanbags. I was like no, it’s a couch thing. I didn’t even know the story. But I was like, I was like now it’s some kind of couch thing. Don’t worry. I don’t know what’s going on. 

Elsie:  So anyway, after that, I was like, I’m getting a leather sofa no matter what because leather sofas, I know that they age well and pretty much everything I looked at had a long lead time, which is normal. At this point, I can accept it but I ended up finding one. I’m not going to say the brand of it or the name or anything because now I feel like I’m too nervous and I just want to get it in and know that it’s good. Then as long as it’s good, I will recommend it all day everyday and I’ll show you guys and I’ll finally post that tour. But anyway, we have one that’s coming in December now and I am hoping that this chapter will just be closed and we’ll have this sofa for more than 10 years and be all merry and bright and a good choice.

Emma:  Your forever sofa 

Elsie:  That’s not a thing but it could be I guess. Do you think that I’m justified or not? What do you think?

Emma:  Well, I will say this, it sounds like, the next thing I buy, I’m definitely going to look on Joy Bird first, because that was a pretty good return situation so that’s pretty good. I get anxiety, whenever I feel like I need to return something or say something kind of like I’ve never left a negative review on a website before. It just gives me anxiety to even think about doing that. I have told friends before, like, oh, I bought this, it wasn’t worth it, don’t do it. You know, but it’s just a hard thing to do because you don’t want to, you know how hard other companies work and it’s just a thing. But it does sound like that was a pretty, I mean, seven days, that’s pretty short for an expensive couch that you paid full price and waited nine months for it. That’s a bummer. 

Elsie:  Yeah, it was a pretty extreme situation. It’s like a really popular sofa brand, and even one of our blogger friends does a collaboration there. I have no bad feelings about it. But I do just want to like pointed out that like, if you’re not 100% sure, then it’s probably just good information to know about that return policy because if I would have known that ahead of time, I probably would have made a different choice. I didn’t think it was a risky sofa when I ordered it. I thought it was a very safe sofa. So I was actually very shocked. So you want to hear about the pink one? 

Emma:  Yes, what’s up with the pink one? This was your dream sofa and it was kind of like Ramit encouraged you to buy. It just has like cute little backstory so I was like, oh, she’s selling it what’s going on? I thought it looked cute in that space but maybe you didn’t and that’s cool. It’s none of my business, it’s not my house.

Elsie:  Okay, so this is actually very easy to explain. So we’re remodeling the room, we have a perfect design for it. When we viewed the house like I said before, we already had this pink sofa in our other house and it was like that was already done. We did not buy the sofa for this room, which you know that’s always hard. Sometimes you make things work because they’re meaningful to you. Sometimes they work perfectly and you’re just lucky and sometimes you try to make things work and they don’t. When we viewed this house, there were so many like design mishaps about it but the one thing that I always thought that they did really, really right is that the way they had that living room setup was two smaller sofas facing each other, kind of the other direction in front of the fireplace. It just felt really good and like having guests over and playing games and just like all these different reasons, it would be a better layout. So I always had that in the back of my mind but for this past year, I was like, I’m not moving the pink sofa. It’s much too big to have two of them and there’s really like no other options. The thing that put me over the edge is that when we finally design the room, and we’re picking out the colors and everything, the pink wasn’t really fitting the color scheme. So I was thinking about having it reupholstered and at that point, I was like, I think I’m holding on to something, it’s the Jonathan Adler nostalgia, magic more than that the actual sofa makes sense. So anyway, we ended up ordering two smaller couches to face each other and we’re selling the pink one or maybe storing it, we’ll see. I don’t have a place for it.

Emma:  Question, why don’t you put in your bedroom, the pink couch?

Elsie:  I think that’s a good idea and maybe I should try it.

Emma:  Maybe it’s too big. I don’t know. I don’t know. I just feel the pink would look really cute in there and it is a big bedroom. It’s just a very 90s large bedroom so it could make it feel a little cozy. There’s no reason to have a couch in a bedroom. like I get that but it’s kind of more of a decor piece at that point. I’m sure it will have clothes sitting on it and stuff. 

Elsie:  Ting did suggest that we put a couch in there because that room has scale issues. It does need a little bit more furniture and we know that but we just haven’t figured out what to do so that’s a good idea. That’s something I might try. I wish that I would have just ordered the regular size sofa but I ordered the extra long one, which makes it a little bit more tricky. But anyway, that one, I will just admit it’s my fault. I’ve actually made a lot of mistakes that I’ve admitted lately. Like, if anyone feels the need to hate me a little bit momentarily, I accept that.

Emma:  Who cares? I mean, yeah, it’s kind of normal to buy something and then resell it. I don’t really know if that needs an apology. That seems pretty normal to me. 

Elsie:  You know, maybeI am putting too much emotional weight on a piece of furniture. Hmm, yeah.

Emma:  I don’t even know if you need to call it a mistake. You’ve had it for a couple years now and you’re just reselling it or maybe going to put it in storage, which is also fine. Some people don’t like storage, I get that but a lot of people do. It’s not really that big of a deal. If you can’t find a place for it I think reselling a piece of furniture from a previous home is really not very shocking, nothing to apologize for, in my opinion. Pretty normal. 

Elsie:  Ah, thanks. Em. I do think that the new layout is going to be a lot more entertaining friendly, kid friendly, family friendly, just like everything friendly. I just think it’s gonna be the perfect fit for the room and with already making all these changes with our renovation, it did seem like the right time to do it. So I’m gonna stop apologizing. I think you’re I think you’re right I’ve made it too much of a confessional. Confessional booth, not needed.

Emma:  Yeah. And I mean, the other couch I don’t even think that was, you didn’t know it was gonna need to be returned. Maybe you should have checked the return policy.

Elsie:  The return policy was really the main part I wanted to point out because it’s not that like, normally you get a sofa and you love it, especially ones that are recommended.

Emma:  Yeah. Oh, yeah. So I don’t really I don’t know. I don’t know if you need to feel so bad about that either.

Elsie:  Well, fingers crossed that in the new year, we will be in a more permanent sofa situation and I’ll be like closing this chapter of sofa indecision forever.

Emma:  Get that forever sofa.

Elsie:  Okay, cool. Alright, so we have a voicemail question.

Voicemail:  Hi, Elsie, and Emma, this is Gillian from Sammamish, Washington and I got a question for you. I just got this really cool dresser off of Offer Up and it’s vintage and it’s kind of stinky. I’m wondering, what have you guys found that is a good way to remove smells from vintage furniture? So it’s not a terrible smell. It’s just smells old and I want to use it for my daughter’s bedroom and I don’t want all of her clothes to stick. So any help would be great. Thanks so much love the show.

Elsie:  I have two ideas.

Emma:  Okay, I also have two ideas. Let’s see if they’re the same.

Elsie:  The first idea, I think that you need to let it air out outside first of all. I feel really strongly about this. This could go for anything that just has a strong smell that you get in the mail. I would just try setting it, if you have a covered porch, setting it out for a couple of days and spray it down with, if you have any kind of nice smelling cleaning spray, or you know just soap and water, things like that. Give it a good scrub, the best you can and then let it sit out and dry for a couple days and just see if that fixes it because a lot of times it will. If that is not enough, my other suggestion would be to paint the inside of all the drawers, which I think would be annoying and a lot of work but it would probably take care of a smell. I’m assuming the smell is coming from the inside. If it’s coming from the inside and outside then maybe you’d have to do a combination of painting or sealing the whole thing but that can definitely take care of a smell as well. Especially if you’ve ever lived in a house that has just that ongoing smell when you move in, a fresh coat of paint usually knocks it out or removing the old carpet. Anyway, did you have any other ideas?

Emma:  Yes, I would try baking soda. So I put that in my fridge for garlic or that type of smells and I’ll also do that on rugs and things so I would try putting some baking soda in there. Okay and then the other thing I would maybe try is cedar chips. So you can buy these usually like the closet section and laundry section at lots of stores and just putting a whole bunch of cedar chips in there. Sometimes they come on little hangers that you can hang but a lot of times they’re just like little pieces of wood cedar and you put them in drawers anyway so if you put a bunch of those in there.

Elsie:  Is it like an odor absorber? 

Emma:  I don’t know if it absorbs odor or if it’s supposed to scent it a little more like cedar. You know how people line closets with cedar. 

Elsie:  I remember our grandma had that stuff. 

Emma:  Yes. 

Elsie:  Okay, one more thing that we can link to is, do you remember Sherry used to always talk about these little charcoal bags on her podcast? So I got some of those when we had a bad diaper pail problem at one point.

Emma:  Oh, I have a story about these too.

Elsie:  They worked really well for me. Did they work well for you?

Emma:  Yes, I use them when that giant snake died in the wall of our house. Do you remember that?

Elsie:  Yeah, but I think you’re gonna have to just briefly explain it because this is so crazy and I want everyone to hear it. It’s so bizarre. 

Emma:  So a snake got into our attic, got into the walls, and apparently it was in there for a while and it was eating, I guess mice or I don’t know something. It got so fat, it got stuck in the wall and it died, and then it started to rot and kind of like liquefy.

Elsie:  So describe the size of it because that was the part that was the most shocking to me.

Emma:  Yes, we had a gentleman come over who is sort of an animal trapper slash finds things like that. He came over because we didn’t know if the animal was dead or not. We thought it could be something injured like stuck in our crawlspace stuck somewhere. So then he will catch them and release them that type of thing. So anyway, he found the snake where it was and he was like, do you know if any neighbor kids have had a Python get loose lately or something? I was like, no, not that I know of. It was a black snake it turned out but it was just huge and he pulled it out of the wall in multiple pieces because like I said it was liquefying. This is disgusting and it smelled terrible. I bought those bags that you’re talking about, the charcoal bags, and hung them inside of the wall like multiples and those got stinky and I threw them away and put more in. That worked. It was such a bad smell and this worked kind of miraculously so I am a true believer.

Elsie:  I had a good experience with them as well. But I had kind of forgotten about that. So Emma’s snake stories in her old house were so crazy because there was more than one like that trapper guy became like your new best friend, right?

Emma:  Yeah, Gary Chapman turned out we had some cousins from Buffalo. We’re related kinda. Yeah. Anyway, his wife Crystal, shout out to Gary my animal control guy. Actually, he’s really nice, he’s a  super nice guy. 

Elsie:  No, I believe you. Yeah. Okay. So hopefully one of those ideas will work. I think that thrift store furniture is so worth it to try and save it.  I definitely think there’s hope for getting the smell out. I’ve had that a few times with different things through the years and you can do it. Thank you so much for listening. We really appreciate it when you share a podcast with friends, especially your friends who also enjoy podcasts. So thank you for that. Thank you for sharing it on Instagram. We hope you have a great week and we’ll be back next week. 

Emma:  Bye

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  • Loves this holiday bucket list idea. I recently went thru a rough breakup and the holidays feel a bit lonelier this year. Using this idea to have things to look forward to!

  • Hi
    Just wanted to let you know that I’m Denmark It is still very normal to have real candles on the Christmas tree. On Christmas Eve after the Christmas dinner, we light them, walk around the tree holding hands while singing Christmas songs and afterwards it’s time for presents.
    I have never known anyone who have had any accidents with real candles on the tree. Off course you have to keep an eye on it an accidents do happen but not very often.
    It’s a beautiful old tradition known from the very first indoor Christmas tree in Germany.
    Happy Holidays
    Janni ?

  • Is there a digital holiday bucket list anywhere? Loveeddd the fall one and was hoping for a Christmas one!

  • I was telling my husband about your sofa saga and he reminded me that happened to me (on a smaller scale) with a beautiful green velvet chair from Article. So cute in the picture, so low to the ground and not comfortable in person. I’ve moved it from room to room, but it’s just not working. I probably should learn from you and just sell the thing.
    So my hubby has been wanting theatre style seating for our movie room. But actual theatre style seating is HORRIBLE. All the links he sent me look like the inside of a racecar. So we went to a La-z-Boy store so we could try out the couches. We settled on a comfy but still somewhat visually acceptable compromise couch.
    In sum, please let us know when you find a cute AND comfy couch. It’s apparently a white whale.

  • Elsie, when you were talking about the LED christmas tree candles, it made me think of the movie, “A Mom for Christmas” with Olivia Newton John. Has anyone seen it? They lit real candles in the tree and then totally had a house fire! Gosh I loved that movie though.

  • Just a thought that if Elsie is putting a tree in her bedroom for Christmas, it might be the perfect season to have the pink couch there as well. It might add to the nostalgia of the couch, even if you decide to sell/store it afterwards.

  • For anyone else struggling with sofa purchases, I recommend taking a look at Lovesac sofas! They’re modular and quite large/chunky, so the look is not for folks going for an airy mid-mod look, but the quality is amazing. I have a friend with a 100 pound dog that has absolutely destroyed two showroom purchased couches, but their Lovesac couch has lasted 10 years of dog life. The covers are all machine washable and really stand up to abuse. My tips for buying: never pay full price, they do a flash sale on their social media about once a month at 20-30% off; if you have a showroom nearby go sit on them to see what configurations you like (I find rotating the seats to the “deep” configuration is comfiest); if you think your couch might take a lot of hard wear/might occasionally need new covers for just one cushion here and there, be sure to get one of the padded velvet neutral colors because those are the only ones that never get discontinued.

  • I have only ever had second hand sofas until this year. My husband and I decided to finally buy one made to order just exactly how we wanted it. We waited over 8 months and when it came, it didn’t even fit together seamlessly and the cushions were off center. I had built this sofa up so much in my mind and we had waited so long (it felt like!) plus I’m so non-confrontational that I honestly couldn’t bring myself to complain or return it. I am ashamed of that! I wish I was more like Elsie! You go, Elsie! If they are not working: return those sofas, sell those sofas!

  • Hi! Love, love, love the podcast! Thank you for the honest sofa story. I have been wanting a new sofa for a while but am afraid to do it because of what you shared – poor quality but high prices, poor return policies, etc. Thank you so much for sharing your story and please keep sharing your sofa stories and all of your other stories!

  • As a professional furniture restorer— industry standard for smells in casegoods is to coat the inside with shellac. Buy five or six aerosol shellac cans from Home Depot, get somewhere with good ventilation, and go to town. Shellac is a natural product and is food safe, so you don’t have to worry about toxic off-gassing. It’s straight up magic for any kind of gross smell in wood.

  • Did you ever show any of the couches on stories? I wish you’d show on the blog, but I get why you don’t. I love when we see how things are normally! And love a review providing helpful caution. People will still buy these brands, but some will have the same experience as you.

  • There are still regions in the world where people put real candles on a Christmas tree. (I myself am from Germany and some people here (definitely not everybody, I’d say less and less) still use candles and I have family in Denmark where people also do it.) I for one refuse (and always have – my mother wanted to switch to fake ones years ago) to do a tree without real candles. Of course we only light them when we are right there (like at least one adult has to be present in the room), we have a fire extinguisher next to the couch (hidden but there) and are just generally very cautious. It looks just so much better than any fake candle ever could! We have regular lights as well and turn them on for the rest of the day, but that half hour on Christmas Eve and both Christmas days (plus usually the days until New Year’s Eve) is just so magical!
    Best Sarah

  • Just left a comment, but have a question! I just ordered the kitchen cabinet bows and the LED candles. So excited! I want to do a tree train this year. I was thinking about ordering the one Chris Loves Julia has — I think it’s about $200, but then I saw that your train was $50 – Definitely a great price point! So I wondered if it held up ok last year and if you’d still recommend. Thanks so much! So excited for all things holiday on ABM!

  • Amazing episode! Thank you for putting the bucket list out so early! Excited to get going on it! And for the caller with the stinky dresser, I love this spray for all vintage purchases… https://www.amazon.com/Microban-Disinfectant-Sanitizing-Spray-Citrus/dp/B085S97MWM/ref=sxts_rp_s1_0?crid=VJS2L05EEHPF&cv_ct_cx=sanitizer+spray&dchild=1&keywords=santizer+spray&pd_rd_i=B085S97MWM&pd_rd_r=0f69af40-edad-4493-8ef7-9b5e724c59b0&pd_rd_w=LRkN2&pd_rd_wg=YXAKb&pf_rd_p=6dd352dd-2180-4fb8-a818-63c42d6c6824&pf_rd_r=74RWZRWDWV25P5DMKRZ7&psc=1&qid=1635788172&sprefix=santizer+spray%2Caps%2C169&sr=1-1-5e1b2986-06e6-4004-a85e-73bfa3ee44fe

  • Thank you for the honest reviews of your internet sofa buying experiences!! It is SO scary to spend tons of money on a couch online without ever even trying it in person first. FWIW, after agonizing over the many options for what felt like years, I tried a company called Maiden Home, that handmakes all their furniture in North Carolina. I bought their Dune Sectional and LOVE it. I was sweating bullets because it was the most money I’ve ever spent on a piece of furniture, but I have been really happy with the purchase. Just sharing for anybody else having the same couch anxiety!

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