Thursday, December 29, 2011

Clean House- My New Obsession

My new guilty pleasure/obsession: Clean House with Niecy Nash.  I watch it on Netflix.. Wow does it ever inspire you to clean out and pitch out. It's so sad to see how some of the families live- and to hear why. I was struck by how many people collect/horde items from a specific time in their lives. One man was hoarding 1960's memorabilia- it finally came out that the 60's for him had been a great time in his childhood, prior to his parents' divorce and losing contact with his father.

It also struck me that each and every hoarder/mess-maker without fail mentioned that their parents were the same way. Well, that did it for me! I do not want our kids to grow up with any of that. With Clean House playing in the background, out came the boxes and boy did they ever get filled quick! My husband needed a bit more motivation- 3 episodes of A&E's Hoarders did the trick.  Here's the first wave of boxes we filled:

Granted, a couple of the boxes are small, but it's so embarrassing that we let that much accumulate in what is basically a thousand square foot house. What's even more embarrassing is that we aren't done yet.We got rid of about 15 boxes in 3 weeks time. And there is more to go.

While I was at it, I figured some good old fashioned organization never hurt anyone. It' sort of awesome to be able to find the stuff you need, when you need it.

Now to get rid of it:I've never had any luck with garage sales. Our house is hard to find and I hate storing stuff. I'd really rather just give it to charity. I'd also rather not cart it around. So I donate to Northwest Center. If you are local, you can sign up and request a pick up here. Just tag the boxes, stick them outside, and their nice driver will come spirit them away. Love it! If you live in a larger town, Goodwill and Salvation Army may well offer pickup services. If you have a metric ton of crap, than 1-800-got-junk would probably be a great bet for you. They'll even load it!

To keep it clean: it's certainly not the prettiest solution, but I keep a cardboard box in the kitchen, master closet, and kids room. If something needs donating, it goes straight into the box instead of taking up precious space in our home. Periodically, I'll consolidate the boxes and out they go! My downfall- paperwork. I hate to file so once a month, I have to get a big sack and just purge my desk. What's the hardest thing for you to organize/keep clean?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Super Quick Floral Arrangement

There's nothing like fresh flowers to brighten up a Pacific Northwest winter. I used an old punch bowl and 2 bunches of tulips:

Yup, those are computer components in the background and a tarp. Sigh. The husband's latest project.

But- bright, cheerful, and big impact for the money!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Our Christmas Mantel

It's finally done! I was so inspired by the pictures I showed you earlier. And while our mantel is certainly nothing like those, I'm very pleased with the way it turned out. I like a reasonably spare mantel. Ours typically looks like this:

If you'd like to see the hot mess we started with, you can click here.

I centered this year's decor around the Hereford cow painting. I think it is absolutely gorgeous and I'm not going to take it down, not even for the holidays. My mom-in-law painted it for her father, who was a Texas cattle rancher. And while we're unlikely to ever live in Texas again, it's crucial to us that our kids are raised with the same culture and heritage that we were. So, in that vein I decided that we'd go all green. The fireplace is sage and the painting's framw has hunter green in it, so why not?

We took a quick (ha!) trip to Target and got our stocking holders. I like that they're flat- they'll go with anything I decide to do decor-wise in the coming years. The best part, though, was the price. Each 2 pack was 8 bucks, so we got out of there for 16.

Then, a trip to Michael's for the hunter green candles. Once again, I have to say that I am married to the best guy on earth. How many men would brave Michael's on Black Friday just to keep their wives company?! Mine! And my friend's husband, too. They both rock! And mine got a pressure washer out of the bargain- 69 bucks at Lowe's- go now if you're in the market for one! But he's out pressure washing our porches right now, so I came out pretty good, too :)

 The candles were about a dollar each and the green poinsettias were 98c each. So, everything you see here was achieved for a whopping 24 bucks.

And here it is, almost all done: we made our stockings last year, but I need to make another one for our newest addition. Fortunately, I always buy way too much fabric, so that won't be an issue. I'd love if the picture had them all up, but that stocking isn't likely to get made this week, so I'm just going to go with what we have. I'll update when it's all done and give you the lowdown on making your own stockings, too.

Need more inspiration or general mantel advice? Check out Elle Decor's Making The Most of The Mantel. Gorgeous Slideshow!
Hints, Tips & Tricks:
  • Off-the-shelf- candles never look quite right when you place them. Burn them for about 20 minutes to get that rounded edge going.
  • A poinsettia in a quart pot will thrive on 1 ice cube per day- it's the perfect amount of water and it melts slowly, so you shouldn't have to worry about leaking.
  • Stuff stockings with wadded up plastic bags- they're light and will help fill them out if you haven't prchased the real "stuffers" yet.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Decor (so far)

Well, we got about a third accomplished of what we set out to do this weekend. We started on the front entry. I had visions of icicle lights and a lush winterscape and it did not happen. First, our door wreath didn't really survive storage. and I was not going back to the craft store this weekend. I stripped the wreath that was already on our door, threw some ribbon on and shoved a couple of peacocks on it. It's okay. Hint: dab essential oil or diffuser fragrance onto your entry wreath with a q-tip. The scent will follow your guests as they walk in.

The leaded glass cut out is in entirely the wrong spot, but it is what it is. We started in on the lights, but they kept shorting out- brand new lights mind you. So, I turned my attention to the tree. it's a magnificent tree and it smells wonderful.

This is what we had at around 10 am. I kept running out of lights, so it took until about 5pm to get this:

burlap tree skirt

There are approximately 1000 lights on this tree, or 7 strands of lights. I am pleased with the "tree skirt" though. It's a bout 8 dollars worth of burlap, strategically shoved under the tree. I'm bound and determined to get it done today, ornaments and all. I will have order Christmas in this house!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

I whipped up a batch of these for Sunday breakfast as we were putting up the Christmas tree, which I will show you soon! They were super simple and turned out amazing. THe apple ws the perfect combination of sweet/tart. Here's the recipe:

1/2 stick butter ,melted
1 scant cup of sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon to preference
3 dashes (I almost never measure) nutmeg
1 large apple (I used a Jonagold) coarsely chopped

Combine all ingredients and spoon into a paper lined muffin tin. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

More Ikea Finds

Good morning! Enjoying my coffee and trying to keep our 90 pound mutt from obsessively licking our son's face.

A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that Ikea was our go-to source for knock-off replicas of interior furnishings. I showed you the couches we ordered, but you can see them here if you missed that. I though that I'd share some other finds with you. Here they are:

First up, a gorgeous Pottery Barn lamp:

Cole Task Table Lamp, Antique Silver finish
credit:Pottery Barn

This retails for about $150.00. Absolutely gorgeous, but I'd want two, and I'm not going to drop $300 for two lamps. Not with kids and dogs in the house ;)

Here's the Ikea version:

BAROMETER Work lamp, nickel plated Height: 19 " Base diameter: 7 " Shade diameter: 6 " Cord length: 5 ' 5 "  Height: 48 cm Base diameter: 18 cm Shade diameter: 14.5 cm Cord length: 1 m 65 cm

Retail is about 50 bucks. And while it isn't quite identical, I think it's pretty close. And for a third of the price, it looks even better.

Here's an artichoke lamp. Designed by Poul Hennigsen:

Artichoke Lamp - Small, White

It'll run you between 7k and 14k, depending upon the size. Or you can get this for about 40 bucks:

KNAPPA Pendant lamp, white Diameter: 18 " Height: 14 ¼ " Cord length: 15 ' 5 "  Diameter: 46 cm Height: 36 cm Cord length: 4.7 m

Saarinen Tables- my Dad has two reproduction Saarinen side tables in his house. My sister is also an interior decorator. Here's the fun part: my Dad has her absolutely convinced that they are the real deal. She has been trying to get him to give them to her for the last million years. There were a couple of times I though she was going to wet herself. It is hilarious watching her trying to convince Dad to hand over his side tables, but even more so watching Dad pretend he doesn't know why she wants them so badly. Anyway, the real deal isn't cheap:

Saarinen Dining Table 42 in Laminate

Depending upon size, you can expect to pay anywhere between 2k and 4k for this table. Or you can own this one for about 200 bucks.

DOCKSTA Dining table, white Diameter: 41 3/8 " Height: 29 3/8 "  Diameter: 105 cm Height: 75 cm

So, a few fun knock offs at a fraction of the price :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Christmas Entryway Inspiration

This year, I'm starting our Christmas decor at the entryway and working my way inside. I'm gathering up ideas for our own home and thought I'd share with you. Our family's rule is no Christmas anything until Thanksgiving dinner has been eaten- I'm itching to get started, though. Enjoy!

We'll show you our front door soon. I hope it'll be half as cool as these. And, since blogger is being difficult, the photo credits starting from the 2nd photo are as follows:,,,, and

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Visible Tabletop

We're that family- the one that comes in, chunks the gym bag, hat, scarf, whatever on the table and leaves it there. It's a nasty habit. But, I've been working on that and even have proof of it. I am ridiculously proud of myself over the fact that you can see actual table top.

The roses are from my awesome husband- he loves me. Or maybe he's trying to butter me up...I heard him say something about upgrading his table saw not 10 minutes after the bouquet showed up :) And the wooden panel on the wall is Chinese. They are acually part of the interior walls in Chinese homes. This particular one was cut out of a home that was being demolished and sold by a dealer in Dallas, Texas.

But there you have it- I do occasionally clean AND dust.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Kitchen: In Progress

I am officially one happy housewife. Our couches will be delivered on Dec. 6th, in 4 more days I can start decorating for Christmas, AND we have finally, finally -after 8 months of obsessive compulsive nuttiness- picked out our kitchen countertops and cabinet colors! So, just a quick recap here: this is what the kichen looked like before we moved in.

Yes, that is green and pink paint. And here's what we've got now:

It's not really that bad. I'm not in love with the cabinets or anything, but we have an original, almost 100 year old brick column in our kitchen. It could be worse. But I digress.

The countertops we picked are Wilsonart laminate and the color is Tumbled Roca. It comes precut, so all we have to do is slap it in place.

Tumbled Roca 4835
Wilsonart Tumbled Roca
 Probably kind of hard to tell, but there are tiny little flecks of sage green in there. Which made picking out the cabinet color really easy. Yep, sage green. Trust me, it'll be fab. Plus, it'll  coordinate with our sage green fireplace, which is visible from the kitchen. This is the general idea:
Traditional Green Kitchen
the overall effect

Traditional Green Kitchen
with brick
 Can't wait to get started. Kitchen photos are from  You can browse by color, so if you're in need of inspiration, check them out.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Living Room Redo

If you've seen our "living room", you know it's a challenging shape- long, rectangular, and divided by our fireplace.

one iteration of the living room- I miss those colors!

The best way I've found to work with it is to divide it into three separate areas- dining, fireplace, living. We previously had a mammoth of a corduroy couch- very comfy but way huge for the space. It made our modest living area seem miniscule.

To really play up the space we do have, we decided to go with a more modern, streamlined looking this one....

Theatre Sofa in Edelman All-Grain Leather
But not this one. Because it is almost $7,000 dollars and that just isn't gonna happen! So, where to go for designer knockoff furniture? Ikea, of course:

 SÄTER 2.5-seat sofa, Fräsig dark brown Width: 77 1/2 " Depth: 32 1/4 " Height: 29 1/2 " Width: 197 cm Depth: 82 cm Height: 75 cm
The color isn't as cool, but for 400 bucks, I'm not complaining. And I've got a trick up my sleeve to "customize" them that I'll show you later, too. If all goes well, they should be delivered in 2-3 weeks, right before we host Christmas. Fingers crossed.

Ikea also does a really great job of knocking off high-end light fixtures and Saarinen tables, too.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Free Benjamin Moore Paint!

Just "like" Benjamin Moore on Facebook and receive a free sample of paint! I'm going to get the husband to paint us some wall art with this sample and the free one I got from Glidden a while back.

Hurry, deadline is June 30th!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Our Mantel

I think it's safe to say that our mantel has come a very long way since the day we moved in:

One of the first things we did was remove the mirror. it added emphasis in all the wrong places. Then, since the original firebrick had been painted with a combo of white and red oil paint (aargh!) we painted over it with a flat sage-green color. Next, we unboarded the opening. Husband got some old ceiling tiles from the local salvage yard and cut them to fit the inside of the fireplace. Reddish-greeninsh slate tiles were installed on the hearth area. We're lucky enough to have a professional insert for our fireplace, but wood burning stoves are so expensive in this part of the country. So for now, we're foregoing one.
We added a painting my mom-in-law did...she's so talented. I've always loved this painting...I have a thing for Hereford cows, which this is. A mix-mash of candlesticks and the two stools that originally sat at the foot of our bed, and viola! It could be better, but it is such an improvement over what was there. And here's a closer-ish look at the painting:

We have an ultra-long mantel, so it's a challenge to get it adequately decorated without junking it up. I'm sure it'll change, but the cow is there to stay :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Pretty Lighting, on the Cheap

We just scored what might possibly be the deal of the century. It meant braving Lowe's on a weekend, but it was worth it. We'd been using a paper lantern from the bachelorette pad with a lightbulb stuck in it (which is probably the ultimate in Lighting on the Cheap) over our dining table for a while. It was very college-apartment chic. We knew we wanted to replace it, but couldn't find anything we loved. And then we saw this:
Kichler Chandelier
It's a Kichler and was originally $124, which means there was no way we would have bought it. Not that it's a bad price for quality lighting, we're just that (insert one: cheap, frugal, tight with a buck.) We snapped it up for $20. How? We were lucky enough to happen upon it at Lowe's as they were changing out their display models. They had some awesome deals...we saw pretty sconces for as low as $4! To sweeten the deal, it came with all the CFL's that it needed for the 5 up-lights, and an ultra-expensive LED bulb in the down-light. All we had to do was clean the heck out of it- display models get dusty!

We got so lucky on this one. I've also found some amazing deals by stalking stores' weekly ads and the good fortune of being friends with people who work retail. I also think that holding out for something you love, at a price that you're comfortable with always pays off in the long-run. Even if it means pushing thirty and eating your mac-n-cheese under a paper light for a while :)

Oh, and I still love my paper lantern- we're going to hang it in our baby girl's room, where it'll be much more age-appropriate.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Potrack on a Whim

Our diy potrack was made entirely out of galvanized pipe and secured to the brick column in our kitchen with wall anchors. We spent about $60 on the pipes and the actual hooks were $1 each at Gretchen's.

Galzanized potrack

Friday, June 17, 2011

Salvaging Our Old Wooden Doors

Full disclosure: This freakin' project has taken me more than 2 months! to complete, even with help from the husband. I've literally lost skin working on these damn things and I'm only 1 door into 2.

But... I'm really not big on putting hollow-core interior doors in an old house. They just look too new. However, we have these really old, solid wood interior doors that came with the house, so I feel like they deserve to be salvaged. Even if it kills me. Which it might. They were coated in 5 separate layers of paint, some latex, some oil. Actually, that was the easy side of the door; the reverse had no less than 8 distinct coats. So, we used this stuff on the advice of a nice man at Lowes:
thanks, home depot, for the pic

 You can actually use this stuff inside. It's safe enough that with proper protective equipment (goggles, gloves, mask) even pregnant people can use it! So, I brushed the stuff on, waited, and scraped a couple of layers of paint off with a dinky little plastic scraper.

Repeated. Repeated again, this time using a professional scraper with a razor blade on the business end. Attempted to use my Black and Decker Mouse Sander (the one that husband affectionately refers to as the "little woman sander") to get the rest of the crud off.  Which worked about as well as just asking it politely to remove itself from my door. The next day, I was gifted with a DeWalt orbit sander, which I think means that he felt guilty for buying himself a new 18 volt lithium drill. Whatever. The orbit sander didn't get all of it, though. We wound up buying these Gator attachments for our old corded drill. They look like brillo pads on steroids and are labeled "for aggressive paint removal."
photo credit: the home depot

They got the remaining paint off, albeit very slowly,  and they certainly weren't gentle on the wood. Then, I finally got smart and swiped the husband's belt sander. Ever used one of those? For a tiny chick, it's like walking a dog that outweighs you by 90 pounds, knowing full well that you are the one getting walked.
To recap, we used:
  1. Citristrip (multiple coats)
  2. A plastic scraper
  3. A metal scraper
  4. A mouse sander, with no less than 3 different grits of sandpaper
  5. An orbit sander with 2 different grits of sandpaper
  6. A "paint eater" drill attachment
  7. A belt sander
Here's what we started with:
Ok, so it doesn't look that bad, but really, the paint is dingy white and peeling.
The whole sticky process with the Citristrip:

Bare. Freakin'. Wood!:

And the finished product, hung in our baby's room:
Ugh. It's soo shiny. And you can see every little line the belt sander made.
The original plan was to paint the door stark white to match our trim work, but no way was I going to go through all of this and paint over the woodgrain. So, we're matching it to the French doors with Minwax Bombay Mahogany in Satin. Between buying the Citristrip and the paint eaters, we didn't save money by salvaging. Hollow-cores are only 30 bucks. We may have saved money over buying solid wood interior doors, though I rather doubt it. And I still have one more to do...which makes me want a margarita, which I can't have until the little guy is done incubating. I'm honestly not in love with it...the stain didn't take even remotely closely to the way our french doors did. Was it worth it in the long run? Probably not. I'm going to have to think long and hard before I tackle the one in our bathroom, even though it is driving me batty. But, if you're curious as to what the salvage process looks like, consider yourself warned ;)

What We Did (And Did Not) Accomplish This Week:

We didn't make any more progress on the kitchen. We're still in Scandinavian Cabinet Land and will be until I get some energy.

Here's what did get done and what I'll be sharing later this week:
  1. My door project: I'll be posting a detailed rant about this door, just in case anyone reading is ever stupid brave enough to think of doing this at home. I don't recommend it. This is one project that I'm filing away under "live and learn."
  2. The lighting over the dining table. It's beautiful and we got it for a steal!
  3. A DIY pot rack that husband whipped up out of galvanized pipe.
  4. Our gorgeous bathroom, sooo close to done, we just need to put in baseboards, but I can't wait to show it off!
  5. And most importantly, baby girl's 1st birthday. It was a chocolately, cheese-pizza-filled blast and we aren't done celebrating yet :)
The next major project will likely be either roughing in the basement to make one heck of a workshop for husband or refinishing the rest of our hardwood floors. For myself, I am officially big pregnant and uncomfortable. I will be spending the rest of my time putting my swollen and puffy ankles up, though I'll continue to stalk the husband's projects and keep the updates coming.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Gutting the Kitchen

We're a long way from done with our kitchen renovation, but it's a definite improvement!
Especially considering that this is what we started with:

It's called "Scandinavian Style." I call it "Blech!"

Sorry the picture is so tiny. See the area to the right of the brick? That's gone. In it's place is our refrigerator, which had previously been taking up way too much room on a different wall.
We painted the area behind the fridge with our new paint color, but obviously, we still need to do the rest of the kitchen. This week's mammoth project will be refacing the cabinets and installing new countertops. We're on a tight schedule, too...this Saturday is our Baby's 1st Birthday/Father's Day BBQ Joint Celebration, so the kitchen HAS to be done! At some point, we'll rip up the linoleum and put in ceramic, too.

Here's where the fridge was:

Like the mess?! The fridge was really in the way of the entry door.
And is now:
The brick pillar is original to the house. Cool, huh?

We also got a killer deal on a black gas range from Sears. I love this range! The white stove that came with the house was cranky like no other and had several different hot spots. We called it Vesuvius. Thanks to Craigslist, though, Vesuvius has gone to a new home.

We haven't decided if we'll stain the wood ourselves as we reface the cabinets or if we'll use Rustoleum's Cabinet Transformations kit, but I'll keep you posted as to our progress. If anyone's used the Cabinet Transformations, please let us know how it worked- did you love it or hate it?

Added bonus: rearranging and gutting the kitchen left room for my laptop to have a permanent home:

My husband made the desk for me when we moved in. I couldn't find any small-scale desks I liked, so "I'll just make you one, and it'll be cheaper," he announced. This conveniently provided him the excuse reason he'd been looking for to purchase a table saw. But, I love it- it's lightweight enough that I can move it myself, too. And here's my reading light:

He was a Ross find. Yes, I have a thing for dogs. :) Will keep the kitchen renovation updates coming this next week!