Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Jump start on the new year...

Remember that gallery wall you were promising to get to in the new year? The one that Nate talked about & then we were all going to run out and develop our photos & become really diligent about making that display we've always wanted? Or maybe that was just me...

Okay, so I still have pics on my camera from all those summer weddings & events we attended. But my gallery wall is intact! Actually, it's been in existence for the better part of a year, but I never got around to sharing a photo.

I can tell you there was zero method to my madness when putting this together. The large "K" in the center is a John & Sherry original (alas, it's no longer for sale). I basically used that as my focus and built from there. No measuring, no practice layout on the floor or bed--I just started hanging things half-hazzardly & was impressed how effortless the whole process was (which is huge for me, given the agony of my indecisiveness).

The layout is easy to add to at any time, while interchanging can be a bit more difficult. Although, I recently switched out a larger photo for the antique gold mirror & lowercase "K" (thank you Karen!) and they fit perfectly. But that's the beauty of a gallery wall--it doesn't have to be perfect. It just is what it is. A collection of photos & memories fit for that empty wall.

I'm not quite sure what I'll do when we run out of space on the wall. But I suppose that isn't cause for concern at this very moment, considering I have about a million photos just sitting on my camera. Time to get developing!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Out with the old, in with the new

Long time, no blog!

Around these parts we've officially recovered from the holidays...I think?! We had a wonderful Chrismas weekend filled with lots of family time, gift giving & an absurd consumption of cut out cookies. At this point, it's safe to say I don't care to see another Christmas cookie until 2011. Which could loosely be interpreted to mean either next week or Christmas 2011. Hey, I have zero willpower...I need to keep my options open!

The day after Christmas I wasted no time taking down all the decorations (minus the tree that will go curbside this weekend). I typically wait until after the new year to do so, but this year I got a bit of a jump start. It's out with the old, in with the new! Call me a scrooge, but it was time to give this stuff a rest. The decorations spent the better portion of a month festively adorning our home (while at times competing for space with the contents of our kitchen) and now they're safely tucked away until next year.

My goal for the new year was to use what I already had on hand. By mixing up the placement of certain things it gave our living space a new, fresh feel. I typically give things a home base & then forget that it's okay to change things up! Just because that white vase looked great in the dining room doesn't mean it won't look as good on the mantle (with old branches that I spray painted white...a bonus look at the low, low price of FREE!). I also left the silver ornaments on the mantle & ornament vases on a side table. Afterall, it's still least until April around here!

So that's how things are looking around here lately! A lot less cluttered, definitely less holiday-ish, and much much cleaner. Now, if only we could do something about that darn snow that's gonna linger for the next few months...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gallery walls

Around this time each year, I get a twinge of excitement at the thought that all this holiday nonsense is about to be packed away for the year. Don't get me wrong, I love the festive feel of a decorated house each December. But to think that a more fresh, simple space is in store for our home is a totally wonderful thought.

Nate Berkus was recently on the Today Show to talk about just that. When the holidays are officially over & the decorations are packed away, our homes become pretty bare. Nate featured 5 decorating tips for the new year that are super easy to implement in any home--one of which is a gallery wall. Most of us fall victim to the digital age, indefinitely keeping photos on our cameras & computers. And I'll admit...I fall into that category. In fact, just months ago I finally got around to developing photos from Christmas 2009. Yep, I get that lazy sometimes. Don't judge.

all photos courtesy of Decor Pad
For someone who doesn't get around to developing photos on a regular basis, I do love displaying them once I actually take the time to do it. I added a gallery wall in our hallway over a year ago, and I've found it's the most easy way to display photos & personalized mementos. In fact, the husband and I dubbed it the "wall of meaning". We have photos from our travels, wedding, places we've lived (and currently live!)...and a giant "K" thrown in there for good measure (the husband's favorite element).

So get out there and develop! Maybe the new year is that kick in the butt that you (and me) need to take some of our most important photos & memories and put them on display. Just add that to your growing list of 2011 resolutions...I guarantee this one will deliver the most satisfying results!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Oh Christmas tree

With Christmas right around the corner (quite literally!), I realized I hadn't posted pics of this year's tree.

For starters, let's have a look at last year's tree, shall we?

It's important to note a couple of things here:

1. Your eyes to not deceive you, I'm not 7 ft. tall.
2. This miniature--not to mention expensive--tree is a drastic difference from this year's version.
3. This photo is very reminicent of my old dance school photo days. Minus the neon, sequins & shiny tights of course. Check out that pose! And a 5, 6, 7, 8....

Last year's tree found us at the usual spot--picking out a just cut tree & within 10 minutes it was tied onto our car and away we went (okay, so clearly we weren't going for the experience here...I'm vowing this changes once we have children). At any rate, we decided that a nice little tip was in order for the kind worker who very strategically tied the tree on top of our car. After an awkward exchange & shuffle of money with the husband, we tipped the lovely man and went on our merry little way. Less than 5 minutes later we realized we had tipped him FIFTEEN DOLLARS in exhange for our $55 (5 ft.) tree. Well, happy holidays to him! It should be noted that over the course of the following hour, we would also purchase our wedding bands--after vowing (no pun intended) that we would only be "looking" that day. Damn, those ring sales people are good! Either that or we're total suckers. Talk about an expensive day!

So that's the story of last year's tree! 2010 was decidedly less exciting. The tree was larger, cheaper, there were no tipping mistakes to be had & the wedding bands are officially paid for at this point. This 8 FOOT beauty entered our home a couple of weeks ago:

Even Tiggy is super excited about the tree (or maybe she's just waiting for Santa to bring her some mice...or a 2011 weight loss plan):

And yes, I'm a total traditionalist--white lights & old fashioned ornaments that have a story. It's what I grew up with & what I love. That's not to say that somewhere down the road I'd be opposed to a tree with matching ornaments, ribbons & the such. But for now, this look is totally us.

Here's wishing you & your's a happy that includes a great looking tree, of course!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Eye catching

Some random thoughts & things that have caught my attention as of late...

Dear husband: I know we promised to only give stocking stuffers (in lieu of big gifts) this year, but as of today I'm officially purchasing a larger stocking to accomodate these new Jonathan Adler books. And since you have yet to start your x-mas shopping, I thought throwing these ideas at you would be an excellent way to start the process. Smooches, your wife.

photos courtesy of Jonathan Adler

These dipped pine cones from Sarah Richardson's Holiday Party are completely unexpected, but a great twist on unconventional holiday decor. Sometimes it's okay to step outside of the box! For the record, that special was awe-some. Then again, anything Sarah Richardson can be described as such.

I had my heart set on this light fixture for the kitchen (with it's flushmount twin sister for the pantry)

photo courtesy of Lamps Plus
Unfortunately, phrases such as "soft glow" & "takes one 100 watt bulb" are not things I'm looking for when it comes to lighting in the kitchen. Sigh. Moving on. Possibly to this?

photo courtesy of Overstock

Anything would be better than the ugly fixture that's currently in there. But I'm finding that I'm only "in like" with many of the fixtures I've come across. While this isn't our forever home & I'm hoping to not break the bank when it comes to making a lighting purchase...I'd at least like to love what I pick, you know? I'm telling you, it's the agony of making a decision that's going to kill me!

On that note, I'm off to finish my shopping, do some wrapping & finish some painting (or at the very least, make a sizable dent!). Hope you all have a great weekend!

Monday, December 13, 2010

I'm so excited & I just can't hide it...

...I'm about to lose control & I think I like it (oh yeah!).

Why yes, this post is worthy of a Pointer Sister's song. The fact that we have a kitchen sink & dishwasher makes me really want to really lose control! For real. Like, come home, run the sink for no reason & perhaps a dishwasher cycle just because (not that I'm saying we really did this...or maybe we did?).

At any rate, I suppose I should cut to the chase & show a picture or two. Several people have requested to see the recent progress. And I fear that by not giving my loyal friends & family what they want, I'm going to lose major readership. Doubtful, but a possibility.

So the countertops & sink arrived on Friday. Lake effect snow be damned! The installers spent a solid 5.5 hours working away in our tiny kitchen, while drill sergant Katie checked in on their progress every hour or so. There were several mistakes--all of which were corrected with a lot of bossing, finger pointing & a little bit of yelling. Who knew I'd have to be such a hard ass?! 

Oh, and for anyone who's curious--the counters are corian and the color is Maui. You probably can't tell from my craptastic photos, but they're a shade of brown with flecks of gray, tan, taupes & white. I'm sure you can all rest easy now that you know this information...

I'll be sure to follow up with more (brighter/better) photos & progress later this week! I'm on a strict painting schedule--I'm hoping to have the entire pantry painted its new shade of white by this weekend. It's already looking good! We're hoping to start the backsplash (white subway tiles) before the holidays. But seeing as how Christmas is next weekend & I've done little to no shopping...I should probably stick to certain priorities at this point. Which would be the backsplash (just kidding, of course!).

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!  

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The night before Christmas

On the eve of our (supposed) counter installation, I'm reminded of a few things:

1. I'm annoyed. Annoyed that this appointment had to be rescheduled in the first place. Annoyed that the snow arrived (which caused the rescheduling). And most importantly, I'm annoyed that our sparkly, modern christmas trees are fighting for space with a butcher knife, tin foil & a KitchenAid mixer (for the record, they're just about as annoyed as me...afterall, this is their season & their time frame for being displayed is limited to about 3 weeks each year). Also, if the husband asks me "where's this?" or "where's that?" again...I'm gonna lose it.

photo courtesy of Decorpad

2. When I'm not busy being annoyed, I'm super excited. Like, as excited as a kid on Christmas! More specifically, the Christmas when I arrived downstairs to find a full track & town set up under the tree for my collection of matchbox cars. Yep, I was that kid. I was the weird girl with an obsession for cars. To this day I could shout out the make & model of any given car driving down the street. Just add that to the list of things you never knew about me!

photo courtesy of Decorpad
 3. I have my work cut out for me tonight. Last week--when we thought the countertops were due to arrive--I diligently began cleaning out all the base cabinetry (as instructed). I got about halfway done before the husband & I opened a bottle of wine, and the next thing I knew we were watching Real Housewives of Beverly Hills...and nothing was getting accomplished. I'm hoping to get a bit further tonight.

photo courtesy of  Decorpad
 4. I fully intend to beg, act dumb, or promise to be their BFF forever (hey, whatever it takes!) to convince the installers to hook up our plumbing & give us a working sink. Our contractor said he'd take care of this little detail when he arrives on Monday. But I really can't live without a working sink much longer (please reference point #1 if you're unsure of just how annoyed this 3-week stand still is making me).

On that note, I'll be busy painting my life away this weekend. As well as conjuring up some decorating ideas...the most fun part of this kitchen remodel! Once the countertops are installed my mind will be swirling with paint colors, window treatments & accessories. And I. can't. wait.

I'll be sure to update the blog with more photos next week! Including photos of our tree, which I almost forgot about. It's a Christmas miracle the thing isn't sharing square footage with the stove at this point...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Design words of wisdom

I found this post from interior designer, Julie Pierce of Chapman Interiors to be of interest. It's a reminder that design doesn't have to be so boring & beige! I think most people could learn from included! In fact, it makes me want to toss our old beige couch & chair out the window (the same exact window it was hoisted into, thank you very much). A link to the post & Chapman Interiors blog can be found here.

Read on for Julie's words of wisdom...

The secret to Interior Design.

Pick what you like.

It sounds too easy and silly and obvious, but I hear all too often "I'd like a neutral blah-blah so it can be changed easily". We intend to pick what we like, but then faced with a decision it's easy to go into "ohmygoshIcan'tdecidesoI'mpickingbeige" panic mode (that's not to say neutrals are always boring, just picking them only because they are safe is boring). I have spent countless hours looking and researching and wading though the interwebs and I've come to a conclusion (based on the insane range of designers and styles) that it really just boils down to choosing a piece of furniture that's fun and unique and YOU. (And not in a soft pebble beige that's easy with the kids and dog). As it turns out, blue velvet is easy on the dog and kids too, but it also comes with HEAPS of personality!

It's that easy. Pick what you love. Don't worry about matching (this especially, matching is overrated by a 100452267 points), don't fret about things clashing, it's likely that you are drawn to similar styles and shapes, so there's a good chance that once things get into your space they'll all meld together to create something that is uniquely yours (and not available in the most recent Fall's catalog).

There is no secret to design other than go with your gut, choose things you love instead of things that are safe. Your space will be filled things that make you happy. Collect over time, no truly successful design happens in one design review. Design with confidence, try not to let it stress you out, pick with your heart, and then linger in your confident choices..

Miles Redd's very confident apartment, and while it's not for everyone, it's certainly for him, which is just right.


I especially love the concept of picking what you love. Because ultimately, that leads to a space that's unique, tells a story & makes you happy! And who doesn't love to come home to a happy home at the end of the day?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

This and that

I'm loving anything chevron these days--which (I never knew) is also known as herringbone. Is that an embarrassing admission?! Man, is my crafty, sewing mother going to kill me for not knowing that one! Eh, you learn something new everyday, right? At any rate, here is some great chevron inspiration...

DIY canvases from Make Under My Life:

photo courtesy of Make Under My Life via Decor8

DIY curtains by Kristen Davis Designs:

Made By Girl's chevron rug & calling cards (which you can order directly from her site):

photo courtesy of Made By Girl via Decor8

photo courtesy of Made By Girl
A collage of chevron goodness from (the now defunct) Domino:

photos courtesy of Decor8
I've been seeing a lot of DIY chevron projects out there, which I'm interested in trying. They seem relatively simple given the straight forward design. But the online tutorials I've seen seem SO involved...even when the DIY'r in question tells you it's easy. If ever there was a person to screw this one up, it would certainly be me! Although, at this point it would be totally foolish of me to start another project around here (especially with the holidays in full swing). I guess this would be filed under "things to do in 2011"!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Absence makes the heart grow fonder...

I've been a little absent from the blog these days. Life is busy, things are happening, and other things...well, not so much.

So let's cut to the chase here. I know you've all (and by all, I mean all four of you) have been sitting on the edge of your seats all weekend waiting for photos of the new countertops. never happened. Something about snow & being short-staffed & having to reschedule. Which didn't seem like much of an excuse to me, especially given the fact that at our house we could still mow our lawn if we felt so inclined. And also because we live in Buffalo. There's no such thing as excuses when it comes to snow around here.

As of today, we're rescheduled for an install this coming Friday (fingers crossed!). The electrician showed up this morning to twiddle his thumbs & the contractor didn't bother to show at all. He must have had a premonition the countertops never arrived. Or I'm lying & really we just called him on the phone and told him not to bother coming until next week...

But that's not to say we haven't been busy getting some other work done in the kitchen! Here's what the pantry backsplash looked like after the laminate was removed:

After scraping & sanding (by hand & by way of 2 belt of which we broke), a coat of primer & THREE coats of Glidden's "White by White" we have a refinished backsplash!

It's not perfect, but it'll do for now. We were unable to completely remove the adhesive that held the old laminate. So depending on the light & time of day you can see the wood isn't 100% smooth. I'm not sure how much harder we could have sanded--I mean, we did bust a belt sander for crying out loud! But I'm hoping the countertops will take away from the imperfections that were left behind. Remember when I said the old wood would look "charming" against the new elements of the kitchen?! Well folks--mission accomplished--we have ourselves a charming backsplash alright!

We also have plans to repaint the entire pantry. My desire to have the cabinets & moldings all match was a little ambitious of me (something I didn't really think about before picking up a paint brush). But if it all doesn't match just right, I'll be lamenting the "Dover White" vs. "White by White" color differential for as long as we live in this house.

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! I'm off to tackle some painting in the pantry. I may as well do something while we wait for those countertops to arrive!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Deck the halls

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here...

Even in the can't forget festive adornments for the bathroom (if adornments is even a word)!

Unfortunately, our decorations have co-mingled with several elements of our never-ending-ongoing house projects taking place around here (including, but not limited to the following: pots & pans, the new disposal, a shop vac, a belt sander, 1 can of paint, 1 can of primer...and a little drywall dust thrown in for good measure). 

But all that mess hasn't gotten me down. No sir! We're getting our tree this weekend! And we're hoping for a slightly better & cheaper experience this time around (more on that story in another post). But let's just say that this year's outing will not include the purchase of wedding bands, after accidentally tipping the tree man $15 for his short, overpriced tree. So we're already off to a more budget-friendly start! And we're days away from even leaving the house...

So happy holidays to all! May your days be merry & bright (and may all your Christmas's be white...)!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Handmade holidays

I'm a huge fan of everything Etsy. So as you might imagine, I was over the moon when I discovered HGTV's holiday special, 15 Fresh Handmade Gift Ideas. It's been recorded, watched, saved & ready to watch again! The featured gift ideas weren't holiday themed, making all of the items great ideas for year-round gift giving.

It took a little searching on HGTV's website to find the featured products (most of which can be purchased on Etsy!), but I finally found a link here. There were so many great gift ideas, it was hard to narrow down my favorites. So without further ado, here are some of my picks...

This tray is awesome with or without a monogram:

Acrylic engraved tray by Initially Amy Fay

Why (oh why) hadn't I discovered these for our wedding earlier this year?

Printable personalized mini-wine labels from Etsy seller, Print Your Party

In a word, YUM:

Brown sugar & fig body sugar cubes from Etsy seller, Naiad Soap Arts

Totally lovely for your drawers:

Bird nest sachets from Etsy seller, Victorian Station

Perfect for those 812 photos I have laying around:

Custom photo boxes from Etsy seller, Little Put Books

Because I like to frequent Starbuck's on occassion:

Cozy/cuff reusable cup sleeve from Etsy seller, Megan Auman

I know a certain doggie who would look super cute in this get-up:

The Arbour shirt by Etsy seller, Rover Dog
So check out the link if you're in need of some good handmade gift ideas! And I promise the link is there. It's quite difficult to see (I need to adjust the font color on my links), but rest assured I always link everything I post on this blog--so do check them out!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Friday, November 26, 2010

This isn't the Martha Stewart holiday you were expecting...

With our first thanksgiving hosting stint officially behind us, I'm reminded that things aren't always so perfect. My quest for the quintessential Martha Stewart holiday is but a dream (well, minus the food part...the husband had that one down pat!). And really, that's okay. But for the sake of conversation, let's discuss the finer points of the day, shall we?

1. For starters, I'm a little annoyed that our formal dining room table didn't come with 13 chairs to perfectly accomodate our 13 guests. Instead, we were left to improvise with what we had...6 formal chairs & 7 blue folding chairs. Surely Martha would have had extra formal chairs floating around somewhere & wouldn't need to resort to such half-hazzard ways of seating dinner guests.

2. Equally annoying is the fact that not one wedding guest thought to give us that THIRTEENTH place setting. Instead, we used our 12 beautiful sets of china & 1 everyday plate. And guess who got the everyday plate (that was set on a corner seat, no less)? Your's truly. Which, truth be told was just fine with me. Nothing says happy thanksgiving like sitting in the corner seat while wearing a sweater dress.

3. It's a good thing we registered for the 8-piece setting of silverware. Because, surely, we'd never have more than 8 dinner guests in our home at the same time. Right?

4. For the love of god, why don't we have 13 cloth napkins that actually match?? The husband thought it would be okay to "blend" our neutral cream colored napkins with our fun & punchy green Crate & Barrel napkins. Dear husband: fun & punchy was not the look I'm going for here. Neither were the "last resort" fall paper napkins I picked up at Wegman's (classy, eh?). Which meant my fabulous napkin rings were also a no-go. Nothing was going right at this point...
photo courtesy of Crate & Barrel

5. People want the cool whip...they need the cool whip! The husband "conveniently" forgot this point during his shopping trip. Thankfully, my cousin Allie was on top of it. Whew. We were this close to a major Thanksgiving catastrophe.

6. I never thought it was possible to lose weight during the actual thanksgiving day celebration. This was made possible due to the constant running up and down the stairs (x's 3,984) during the course of the day (after running a 5-mile Turkey Trot that same morning, no less). I don't think the husband realized it at the time, but a finished kitchen is actually necessary to host a feast for 13 people. Minor detail, no?

But you know what? In the end, our first hosting gig was a success. A tad bit exhausting--I may or may not be still recovering--but a success no less. The food was perfect (thank you husband), everyone had a great time (I'm guessing consumption of alcohol helped this aspect), and no one noticed if the house wasn't perfect. But they did enjoy the fabulous table scape with a last minute assortment of cloth napkins made possible by HomeGoods (& the great sales girl who gave them to me for $1.99...must have been the preferred customer "discount" wink, wink).

(omg, did I really leave my camera case on the table??)

I think the husband affectionately referred to this thanksgiving as the Superbowl. Should I remind him that the Superbowl travels from city to city, which means we're officially NOT IT for next year's hosting duties??

On that note, here's hoping your thanksgiving was equally as enjoyable, somewhat less stressful, and the most memorable one yet!

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