Oh Busy Times…

My oh my, how busy life have been lately! First off, I’m officially unemployed now. So, I’ve filed for unemployment and purchased more yoga pants, not necessarily in that order. I found out pretty quickly that my wardrobe had become very work-oriented and while I have a lot of ‘work-out’ clothes, they are all shorts or capris. I have a few pairs of sweats, but they tend to be my pajamas and not necessarily fit for public consumption. So, I filled in that gap, thank you Target.

I’m finding my days ‘at home’ go by really fast! Between stalking my email for job hits (only a couple of responses so far), checking my FaceBook ‘farm’ (dear Lord, why did I start that?) and then playing Mom and wife with some cooking and house projects, I’m really very busy!

First, we took a trip to Ikea. It’s what every newly unemployed person should do, right? NO! It’s not! However in this case, it was a money saver. We are working on redoing our office and we had picked out a sweet freestanding Elfa double desk with wall shelves at Container Store for the hefty price of almost $2000. It was kinda like this, but with another desk section:

Birch & Platinum elfa dรฉcor freestanding Study Zone from Container Store

But alas, Ikea had a more affordable option that offered more toddler friendly (aka, hidden from plain site) storage…

Billy from Ikea

Which we choose to pair with two tabletops with one cabinet and legs from Vika system. Sorry, this is in pieces since it’s customizable, so you will see the picture when we are all done. But, the best part of the trip, which I look forward to every time, is lunch in their restaurant. Elena LOVES it!

Mommy and Ellie waiting for lunch!

An appetizer while we wait…

Nom Nom Cheerios!
Getting the goods! Elena wasn’t sure what to think of this part and just quietly took it all in.
Success!! We got everything we wanted and Elena got a new stuffed bunny! He’s currently one of her fav toys ๐Ÿ™‚

Furniture assembly began during Blizzard Nemo last weekend. I expect it will take at least another week or two before it’s all finished, so stay tuned for the final product and hopefully a few more updates along the way!



House Update & Halloween!

Sooooooooooo, been a while since I posted but that’s because there has been TONS going on! First and foremost, my PORCH!!!!

Anyone who has been with me a while knows that I have dreamed of a front porch. You can take a girl out of the South, but she will still want to sit on the porch, drink tea and chat with the neighbors!!

I first posted about my porch ideas just over a year ago here.

Just for perspective, here’s our house just after purchase last year:

I LOVE my house!!!! But, I didn’t love the ancient overgrown shrubs out front, including the awkward square guy right in front (I called it the brownie bush, because it’s totally square and flat like those box-o-brownies you can get at Sam’s or Costco and cut up to serve). It was also kind of awkward that the front door opened into the dining room. That basically meant no entryway and a squished dining table that the door almost bumped into!

So, we went through the craziness of getting a billion variances approved from the city (ok, not a billion, but it felt like it sometimes!), got a contractor, save up our pennies and now we have a porch!!!

Porch addition, pre-new door installation
Back of the house minus siding
New siding!

We are so excited to have new vinyl siding! We choose ‘oxford blue’ as the color and plan to add shutters, probably in the spring after we have time to shutter-shop.

We got to go shopping for a new front door, which was super exciting! There’s a lot to consider when buying a door that you don’t really think about until you have to shop for one. Seriously, I think it took us an hour to pick out new handle/locks! We went with the Blakely door from Jewlden:

Blakely door

It’s decorative, but not froo-froo. Perfect!

And all that got finished up just in time for us to do some super-last minute Halloween decorating yesterday!

First, we dug out the stump of the brownie bush (cut down by our contractor), and found something spooky:

Remnants of the brownie bush!

Then, we outlined a pathway to the door, since we don’t have a new sidewalk yet:

Walkway to the front door

And we couldn’t help but add some creepiness to that new door:

Hope you had fun decorating for Halloween, I sure did!!!!!

Behold, le jungle.

Yes, this is the best way to describe our back garden……..

Until recently that is. This is a ‘before’ picture. We decided our sad garden needed some attention. Ok, that’s a lie, we knew this for a while so I guess you could say we decided it was bad enough we couldn’t ignore it. We made a plan for a super quick cleanup/update and headed to Home Depot. While standing in the garden center, we promptly tossed that plan and winged it, going with our inspiration. A few hours later, the Home Depot truck had been rented, used, and returned. By the end of the day, we were midway with this amount of progress:

Wow, what a difference! By then end of the weekend, we were done and left with this:

Quite the improvement! Of course I couldn’t walk normal for a few days, but it was worth it!ย  Believe it or not, that’s about $400 right there. Goes fast, doesn’t it? Of course we have a few leftover supplies (landscape fabric, stones, a bag or two of paving sand, etc) for future projects. I declare the effort a success and several weeks later I’m proud today, it still looks like that ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy Memorial Day!!

In memory of all our fallen soldiers who have dedicated their lives to protecting our freedom! While I avoid political discussion in general, I will say that our top-notch military is the legs our country stand on! Regardless of our political views in these controversial times, it remains true that without our military defending our country and our freedom our way of life would cease to exist! So a SUPER BIG THANK YOU to all our armed forces for allowing me and mine to live the American Dream!!

Well I am still here and sifting through the rubble! The last couple of weeks have been serious home improvement project time for me and while I’ve been bad about taking in-progress photos, you’ll get to see the end results, PROMISE!

First things first, the living room dilemma. You may remember my call for help about what to do with the living room furniture arrangement/lack of space/ sucky lighting dilemma. Well I got a little Better Homes and Gardens inspiration in my email. Their weekly newsletter had a link to decor tips for small spaces and they mention that furniture should not be flat against the walls because that will make a small space feel cluttered and blocky, rather than casual and comfy. With that in mind, I rearranged the room like so:

While this did not replace my super annoying floor lamp, it did encase it completely behind the couch. Not seeing the entire length of it does help to hide the fact that it really doesn’t stand straight! So now I just have to deal with the annoying switch, which I can live with for now. This did accomplish my goal of freeing up more space in front of the stairs, which will one day be my entryway. While I don’t have a ‘real’ picture to show you (it is SO not picture-worthy right now because there is stuff everywhere) I must say that I’m quite happy with the arrangement and I do like that the couch is not smashed up against the wall. It’s also more in line with the TV, which DH really likes so we are happy all around ๐Ÿ™‚

And that bedroom painting plan I had? Well things did not go quite as planned. First off, my plan to paint the alcove area the darker shade totally went out the window when I started painting and discovered this:

Yep. The walls flanking the area don’t line up! They are about 6-8 inches offset from one another, which makes for a weird transition. Solution? Toss the original idea and go with another!! So, the solution was to paint all the ‘walls’ the darker shade and the ‘ceilings’ the lighter shade. (Quotes because the ‘walls’ are super short and ‘ceiling’ is generously used to refer to the tiny landing space strip + the angled eaves we often bump our heads on!). Here are a few deep thoughts on painting:

-how come the swatch on the card matches the dot of paint they put on the top of the can in the store light and home light, but then you roll that on the wall and it takes on a new life of its own that is totally different?

–WOW, flat paint makes SUCH a HUGE difference. Huge. (for real). As previously mentioned, our walls are far from perfect. There are divets, bad seams/cracks (me thinks the previous homeowners were not-so-great at DIY, but they tried hard). We did lots of repair and sanding but it is still far from perfect. The previous wall paint was semi-gloss, which really showed everything because the light reflected right off it, but no more I say! The flat paint looks so much better!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-I’ve decided that on all those home and garden shows when they say a color is ‘dramatic’ what they mean is “WOW! That is WAY darker than I thought it would be! But…..I think I like it. I mean, it’s different, it rich…….it’s DRAMATIC!”

My Cup of Cocoa color is dramatic. I REALLY like it.

We officially finished the last coat on the trim today! Tomorrow we can move back in and vacate the guest room (good thing since guests are due in on Thursday!) and then on Friday our new bedroom furniture will arrive, Woo-Hoo!!! Hopefully you will see pictures in the near future!!!!!

I’m not boring, PROMISE!

At least I don’t think so. But the guy in the paint department at Home Depot might have other opinions. I have this brilliant plan to paint my bedroom before the new furniture we have on order arrives. I think this is a brilliant plan! Right now the walls are tan, I like them plenty, but they are beat up from the previous owners pictures, mounted TV, etc etc and repainting them has been on the to-do list since we bought our house a little over a year ago. (yea, it’s been that long ALREADY!)

So after work today I made the trek over to Home Depot to get some of this fabulous primer/paint all in one from Behr I’ve seen commercials about. I grabbed a couple of swatches and next this you know I had a fab palette:

Oh yes, I see you trembling in excitement over this combo. (sarcasm)

Two shades of tan/beige/brown. It’s clean. I like it. Why two shades?? Here’s the room:

Here’s the plan:

Paint the large/main area in the Classic Taupe (lighter) color. Then paint the alcove/cubby in the ‘accent’ color of Cup of Cocoa, this room’s version of an accent wall. Keep the white trim (fresh coat of paint though).

So, where’s the excitement. In the accessories of course. I have hiding out in my closet my deep red curtains, red/chocolate brown/green pillows, etc. Of course, tan walls, wood floor and wood furniture might be a bit bland for the accessories to cure…..here’s hoping it works out. Nothing a few well chosen rugs can’t handle!!

Thanks to those who commented on the living room lighting conundrum. I have an idea. We’re going to try it this weekend, so stay tuned for more!!

Still here & need some help!

OK, so I haven’t done so well keeping up lately, but it’s just because I’m so darn busy lately!! So I’ve decided to expand my blog-posting to ask for help!

So, our house is quite small. “Cozy” many would call it. Thanks to an open format the main living space looks…well……open and not too “cozy.” But, it’s also very limited in options for furniture arrangement. Add the fact that the only lighting is the ceiling fan/light fixture, and you have to have either tables for lamps, floorlamps, or something. So, this is where I have trouble…….

Welcome to my living room with limited seating (not quite to scale, click on the image for full size):

So here’s where the help comes in!

First, I HATE the floor lamp. H.A.T.E. HATE! Not because of how it looks, but it functions poorly. The switch doesn’t work well and it’s never been quite level no matter how I shim it this way or that. I also feel like the corner there is just some dead space. Now one change we are making to our home is to move our front entry from the dining room to the living room, right in front of the stairwell. Of course, this is going to be a tiny entry….no foyer or mudroom, etc for us! So I feel like if I could slide the sofa closer to the half-wall and fill in that ‘dead’ space, I can free up more room for a less cluttered entry AND eliminate the dead space/hated light. However, we need the light and moving the couch would also eliminate space for the end table there. So, here are the ideas I’ve come up with, none of which I’m sold on:

1. Combo table/lamp: kinda like this guy…..which would save a tiny bit of space, but not really (so dead corner space still an issue)

2. a hanging pendant lamp in the corner, hanging over the chaise seat of the sofa: kinda like this guy……

My problem/doubt with this is that would give me 2 things hanging from the ceiling, this and the ceiling fan. Would that look weird?

And 3. a lamp/shelf combo which would go on the wall next to the sofa, like this guy……

So, is there an idea that I’ve missed? Unfortunately I feel like I don’t have a lot of options on furniture placement, and I’m not unhappy with the placement, I just think it could be better, so I’m really trying to make this work. HELP! Recruit your friends! Come tell me which option you think would be fab!! Or, scrap them all and send me an idea! Run to the comments folks, I’m desperate here!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Whew! I am STUFFED! Although we were home all alone this Thanksgiving, it was a great day! Last night we made a trip to Lowe’s and bought supplies for kitchen cabinet we are adding to the kitchen. Since it’s a long weekend for Terry (I have to work tomorrow) we thought this was the perfect weekend for tackling a project Weekend Warrior style! Today Terry worked on that while I cooked and baked! Here’s a little trip through our day:

I started my day off making our cheesecake, since it needed to chill a few hours and I didn’t get to make it last night. Here is the recipe I used (click on image to enlarge and print, or right click to copy and paste into your fav program to print your recipe card!):

This is my first ever cheesecake but it was really easy!!

Crumb mixture for crust
Ready for the oven!
The final product!

So yummy, I think this will definitely be on future holiday menus! The biggest problem now….this thing is going to be in my fridge until we eat it. Me and Terry. That’s it. Want to come help? My hips will thank you if you do!

I didn’t really have a Thanksgiving ‘menu’ or anything, but I did plan for green bean casserole and I got rolls and turkey tenderloins. A quick spin in the kitchen and we had this for dinner:

Mmmmm, dinner...

Outside of the kitchen, much was accomplished. Here is the current state of our future cabinet:

Cabinet (can you tell we were on a coffee break when this picture was taken?)

The tiles on top are not actually adhered yet, just there for our visual inspection. YES, we measured PERFECTLY!!!!!! Notice we are working in the office. This is how we DIY when the weather is crummy. Here is what it really looked like all day:

What a mess!

The hall and office are completely off-limits to the puppies, which means of course that they are more determined than ever to go back there! I can’t wait to see this done! Terry is blowing me away with his handiness and ideas!

Lastly I decorated my Christmas tree, YAY! We haven’t put up a tree the last two years so I was really jazzed! The puppies were REALLY into it, especially Jasper who kept stealing ornaments!

Jasper checking out the ornaments while I chat with my Mom
Ooooo, what's this Mommy?
I think Mickey takes after me with his love for coffee.

I hope everyone out there had a fabulous Thanksgiving!!!