Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Deck the halls

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

Even in the bathroom...you 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!

Monday, November 22, 2010

And for this, I give thanks

We set a date for the install of our counters! Come December 3, I'll be sitting on the front porch, welcoming our countertop friends with open arms. And our sink. We can't forget the sink. Not that I think anyone has, as I've mentioned our lack of plumbing no less than 38 times in the last 3 posts...

But now it's time to get to work. No rest for the weary! The contractors were able to save the original wainscotting that was being suffocated by the black linoleum that coated the walls. Fearing what lied beneath, we debated whether to just demo the walls all together & start fresh. Boy, I'm glad we didn't! Once refinished, I think the charm of the old walls + the new cabinetry will look fantastic.

After the demo, here's what we ended up with:

It's going to take some scraping, sanding, priming & painting to get it to where we want it. But in the end it will be worth it...no doubt. And we need to have this accomplished before the countertops arrive. So today I'm officially giving thanks for the ability to DIY. Whether I like it or not. Hey, the walls aren't going to sand & repaint themselves now are they??

My thoughts have also turned towards an additional solution for counter/work space & a home for the husband's beloved Boos cutting board. Which, for those who don't know us...have I mentioned the kitchen is the husband's domain? I'm just the decorating diva. In fact, I was told today, "I don't invade your 'area', now please stay out of mine". I believe this direct quote came as a result of too much interjection on my part when it came to hosting this year's Thanksgiving feast...how I wanted the turkey, and how the mashed potatoes should be made the day before as to "save time", and how we need to purchase Cool Whip for the pies because people just want the Cool Whip damn it, and not some fancy homemade stuff (we're simpletons!). Anyhoo. I digress. Hosting a house full of folks without a sink has me a little stressed.

photos courtesy of Decor Pad

I'm loving the old school charm of the island in the first photo. I actually happened upon a similar option while on vacation this summer. But I was stumped as to how to get the thing home in a conversion SUV that was toting 3 passengers & luggage...on a 7-hour drive back to New York (as you can probably guess, it never happened). Craigslist is certainly an option, but I don't know about you...perusing that site is exhausting and very rarely turns up something good. Note to Craigslist sellers: "vintage" and "antique" are not adjectives to describe your 1985 rust orange sectional. Please stop wasting my time with such verbage.

In other news, we're 85% finished with Project Hallway! The husband just needs to touch up some areas on the walls (that are too tall for me to reach...and him too really, but, anyhoo...moving along) & replace the sconce that's currently on the wall. After that I'll need to sort out window treatments & the possibility of a runner on the stairs. But for the most part, we're pretty much ready to welcome guests through the front door! And it only took 3 years...

Lots of photos to come soon!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The post where I talk about a lot of random things

Has anyone seen the show Pure Design on HGTV? I happened to catch it for the first time while I was home waiting for my Canadian Craigslist friend to arrive (more on that in a minute). The show's concept is simple: eco friendly decor, without sacraficing high style. While I don't necessarily consider myself eco-friendly (I know, bad Katie!), I do love the idea of recycling old pieces and making them your own. Which is a no-brainer way to make a space looked lived in and unique, similar to this room:

photo courtesy of HGTV

So as luck would have it, our Canadian Craigslist friend didn't end up buying the cast iron sink unit afterall (insert sad sigh here). I suppose my fears of being scammed or taken out were the least of my worries. Despite getting lost on the way to our house & arriving late, in the end he decided the sink was too much work for him. Which is fair enough. I'm just happy to be alive! Now the plan is to donate it to a local habitat/re-use facility, where I'm sure it will eventually find a great home. Again, the goal is to just get it off our hands...where it ends up is anyone's guess!

In other news, we were measured for countertops today! An install date is TBD, which is making me antsy. If you had to live with an extreme lack of useable work space, I'm sure you'd feel the same. At the very least we'd love a sink. But since it will be installed & arriving with the countertops...well, we're one big sink-less duo in the meantime.

I also purchased these christmas ball vases yesterday:

Fun, huh?! Even more fun is the fact that they were a DOLLAR each from Christmas Tree Shops (who's name is completely ironic, given the upcoming holiday). My initial thought was to use spray adhesive & coat them with glitter. But when I got them home I decided they were festive enough in their current state. I'm thinking these will be making an appearance in our day-to-day decor, long after the holidays have passed. Holiday decor that doubles as everyday decor (for the low, low price of $3!) = a major score in my book!

And on the agenda this weekend...LOTS of cleaning! Since Thanksgiving is a week away (say what now??) & we have some down time before we resume kitchen work...I figured it's now or never to whip this place into shape! Either that or our family will be sitting on baking dishes come Thanksgiving day. The husband's goal for this weekend? To finish Project Hallway for the love of god! It should be noted that he's out of town this weekend, so the pressure of finishing this space falls solely on my shoulders. Which is exactly the push I needed to get this area cleaned up! I'm ready for it to be finished, and to check an "in progress" project off the 'ol to do list.

And if you've made it this far in Katie's random rants post...CONGRATS! It's time to grab yourself a cocktail & absorb all that information. I promise to check back with a less scattered post next time around, as well as some progress on the 'ol hallway. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

'tis the season

Who's ready for Christmas? Not me! Whatever happened to Thanksgiving?? If I missed it, then I'm gonna be really upset. Especially since I never got to put that fabulous table scape together. Heck, I can barely find our table, let alone design a table scape. Maybe missing out on Thanksgiving wasn't such a bad thing afterall...

Since when did everyone become so anxious to rush the season? I suppose it gets worse & worse each year. But I can tell you I was totally not prepared for the big box stores to be stocking their shelves with ornaments & festive what-nots in October (we had barely thought to rake our leaves at that point!). Nor was I prepared to hear holiday tunes as I drove to work today. And what about the lady buying pointsettas at Home Depot this afternoon? Um...excuse me for asking, but won't those be dead by next week?!

I can't tell a lie though...I have begun to think about Christmas gifts. If I didn't start making lists & gathering ideas for everyone, I can confidently tell you I'd be majorly unprepared come December 25...and in the midst of one big holiday meltdown. While the husband & I decided not to exchange big gifts this year, that doesn't mean I can't put together a dreamy wish list, right?

(The appropriately named) Kate frame from Zgallerie

Personalized Octopus-Moderne stationary from Rock Paper Scissors

Vintage candlestick holders--like these from Etsy seller KlinesJewelry
Floral beaded headband from Forever 21

Sequin panel cardigan from Charlotte Russe

Now if that festive (and somewhat selfish) wish list doesn't scream happy holidays, I don't know what does! Happy shopping to you & your's....minus any meltdowns of course (that goes for me too). And when all else fails, grab a holiday cocktail. It's nature's cure-all.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


...of this:

photo courtesy of Young House Love
When in reality, things are looking more like this:

Not bad, huh? Can you even remember we had a door where the fridge currently resides?! It's an entirely new space! So yeah, we're making progress...slooowly but surely. Actually, we're further ahead of schedule than I originally anticipated, which is great. Unfortunately, I'm getting antsy. We could really use a sink (that's due to come with the countertops in approximately 2-3 weeks), and I'd love to start picking out paint colors, window treatments & accessories (oh my!). But in reality I'm busy scheduling electrical inspections, countertop measurements, and trying to figure out why the cabinet company sent us too much crown molding instead of the base molding we should have received. Which, let me tell you, fitting a 7 ft. long box of crown molding into my little conversion SUV (to return to Home Depot) was not, I repeat, not easy. Come tomorrow, this should make driving with this thing (poking into my face) mildly entertaining, to say the least.

And for those of you who had a chance to read my post with handy-dandy tips to keeping a clean home, check out the current state of our abode:

And that's only a snippet of what our entire house currently looks like. The mess extends into most of our home, along with an inch of dust lying on every square inch of every last darn surface around here. So yeah, it's safe to say all bets are currently off when it comes to the "rules" of keeping a pristine home...

And remember this oldie but goodie?

I posted it to Craigslist late last week & received a call from a man in Canada who was remodeling a cottage and thought it would be the perfect fit for his home. After e-mailing him dimensions & specifics, I proceeded to google this man (who's a fashion photographer in Toronto) for a good 15 minutes. The husband thinks I'm nuts. But here's the thing...I need to know what this person looks like if he's potentially coming to my home & planning to scam me. Or worse. Can you imagine?! Ugh, I watch entirely too much Dateline. At any rate, I'm sure this man is charming, and amazing, and is willing to lug this cast iron mess off our property...with relatively no drama or police report necessary.

And on that note, I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! I'm hoping to post more this week--life got a little crazy last week with multiple contractors trapsing through our home at any given moment of the day. But since we're in a bit of a stand-still for the next couple of weeks, life should resume to normal. Whatever "normal" is around these parts. If there is such a thing?!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

So fresh & so clean

Recently, my cousin Allie gave me a shout-out on her blog, Don't Put Up a Fuss. It's only fair that I should do the same! Afterall, you'll get to look at super cute pictures of her super cute daughter. Who, in my mind, is still super cute even when she's tossing crayons into the living room radiator. Yum, can you just smell the wax now?

In one of her latest entries, she asked your's truly for tips to keeping your house clean & orderly. Because according to her (and I quote), our house is "pristine". Perhaps she missed my recent post about the current chaos that is our house?! At any rate, when we're not in the midst of a kitchen upgrade, I can say that our house is relatively orderly on a regular basis. Which delights & annoys the husband to no end (let's just say, on an "off" day there might be some freaking out if socks don't make it to the hamper or a remote has gone missing).

While I can toot my own horn about being organized, that's not to say that our house is always so clean (you can check under our bed & ask the dust bunnies if you don't believe me). Back in the days of living a solo life in my small, one bedroom apartment, it was fairly easy to do a deep clean--dusting, vacuuming, bathroom cleaning & general tidying--on a weekly basis. I tried that in our current home, and it didn't work out so well. Life is busy, we have other priorities, and let's face it--I'd rather be doing other things than scrubbing that god-forsaken tile in the bathtub.

So without further ado, here are my tips for keeping a pristine (in other people's eyes) home:

1. "Deep" clean on a bi-weekly basis. I've found that dusting, vaccuuming & scrubbing isn't a weekly necessity. That's not to say I won't be sweeping random crumbs or wiping up spills as they arise. I'm just saying I'd rather go to brunch on Saturdays vs. polishing the furniture every weekend.

2. Make sure everything has a home base. It makes tidying a no-brainer. Something out of place? Put it back in its "home". This rule of thumb is especially handy when out & about at HomeGoods, an antique shop or flea market. If I won't have a place or use for it, then it doesn't come home with me. Plain & simple.

3. Do a clean "sweep" before bed. By taking the time to put everything in it's place every evening, I find waking up to an organized house is a more pleasant experience. That's not to say that I'm diligent about this every night. There are many nights that I'm just plain 'ol tired & heading straight to bed with a good gossip magazine wins in the end. But on most occassions I've found that tidying up before bed eliminates the a.m. hassles of wondering where a wallet is, where we hung the coat the night before, and the dread of looking at a sink full of last night's dishes.

4. Make your bed! Your mom told you to do this, now follow her lead. Depending on the day, the husband & I have completely different schedules, so our bed doesn't get made every single day. But just think, taking 3 minutes to make your bed means that your bedroom will never look so put together!

5. Fall in love...with a basket. Look, I've never met a basket or storage container I didn't like. It stores our stuff in a streamlined way. Plus, I don't have to look at the messy contents because they're tucked away on a regular basis. Around these parts we have baskets for everything: gloves, hats, scarves, clutches/purses, paperwork, random sporting goods, scrapbook supplies, greeting cards...you name it. The fact that I haven't forced the husband to sleep in a basket by now is nothing short of amazing.

6. Marry a more relaxed person than yourself. Or find a roomate who's just as laid back. Honestly, it works! The husband never gets wound up if something is out of place. It's just not in his nature. While I'm still a bit over-the-top when it comes to house keeping requirements, in the end I've learned when to pick my battles & when to just let go. When papers are strewn about the man's den, or random dishware is laying about, I learn to let it slide. Depending on the day of course...

So there you have it! My somewhat "tried & true" tips for keeping a clean house. I'm fully aware that this system works for us now, but when we eventually throw kids in the mix...well, let's just say all bets are off and I'll be referring to tip #6.

Happy housekeeping!

Monday, November 8, 2010


Around these parts, we're in overdrive. I can't decide what I'm more stressed out about. This:


Or this:

(More on that disaster in a minute).

At any rate, we started the kitchen demo today (yay!), which is the sole reason our dining room & pantry look like the inside of a moving van. I woke up this morning and told the husband that my brain was pulsing from the mess & chaos (all the while using dramatic hand gestures around my head). His blank stare only added to the craziness in my head. Why isn't he understanding me? Why can't he relate? I'm guessing because he's a normal non-crazed person, that's why!

It was sometime around 9:00 p.m. on Sunday evening it dawned on us that the to-be-demo'd cabinets were not going to empty themselves & it would require us to do a little work to get ready for this momentous day. I'm not sure why we were hoarding THREE different varieties of carpet cleaner (when we in fact have no carpets). Or why there was a random bottle of white shoe polish beneath the sink (which, I presume was from the previous owner & why we still had it was unbeknownst to either of us). I believe the husband's exact words were, "uh...I don't own white shoes, so is it okay if we toss this?". Our garbage tote has never seen such treasures!

Well, one day later we ended up with this:

With any luck we'll have the cabinetry fully installed by next week & the next step is waiting for the countertops to arrive. Only 3 more weeks of washing utensils in the shower!

Oh, and I suppose you're all wondering about the DIY lampshade project that went horribly, horribly wrong. Well, your's truly decided to cover the shade with fabric vs. just ordering a decorative one (which I now realize would have been the easier option...hindsight, my friends, hindsight). It would have been a relatively easy project, if it weren't for the fact that the drum shade was two different sizes on either end. Hence, the fabric's pattern laid in a diagonal direction. Oh well, lesson learned. Although, I should mention that at one point the husband was working with me to find a solution to my problem. He was barking out orders, and carrying on about cuts, cinching & glue application. In the end, it still didn't work out the way I'd envisioned. But it left me wondering...does the husband moonlight as a decorating diva??

So for now, we're down one lamp shade & living in the land of the lost. With any luck we'll be alive to tell the tale of our kitchen demo (and my mind will still be intact). So stick around now, ya hear?!

Friday, November 5, 2010

When the husband's away, the girl shall play!

With the husband away at the cabin, it's a decidedly all-girl weekend! That's not to say that I have anything fabulous planned, or fancy nightly cocktails with the ladies (for the record, it's just me & the kitty). Instead, my thoughts have turned to girly interiors. Especially this amazing space:

photos courtesy of The Cross Decor & Design
Isn't this space delightful? It's the perfect mix of girly & glam. And that mirror is to die for! I discovered these images via two fabulous blogs, Fabulous K & Bazaar of Serendipity. Which, incidentally I've added to my list of daily reads. They're both chocked full of daily inspiration & goodness!

Happy weekend-ing all!

Photobooks, christmas cards & enlargements...oh my!

We recently welcomed this fabulousness into our home:

photography by Susie Campbell
 812 photos to be exact...our professional wedding pics have arrived! In the words of my friend Jen, "your photographer rocked it!" We waited 5 long months for these, but they were well worth it!

So now begins the task of sorting through said photos for the purpose of photobooks, enlargements & our Christmas card. Which, I need to get on these soon as the holidays are right around the corner! Actually, they're knocking at my door & I'm hiding under the covers in an attempt to avoid them. I've been doing some research on photobooks, but I can't seem to narrow down my decision (it's a toss up between Kodak or Blurb.com). If anyone has any thoughts or suggestions in the arena of photobooks, please enlighten me! Again, marrying the husband was easy. Deciding on a photobook = impossible.

In other exciting news, my inner electrical geek has come out to play. We're getting the entire house updated today!! Bye, bye fuses...hello shiny new electrical boxes! Just to give you an idea of what the electrician is up against, here's the ancient before:

I'll be sure to update the 'ol blog with after shots once the job is complete!

And with that, I hope you all have a great weekend! I'd better hurry it along, as we'll be without electric soon. Better get on that vacuuming while the gettin's good!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tuesday Tour: The kitchen (before)

*** Disclaimer: the following photos were taken in their natural, ready-for-demo state. They are not representative of City Dwellin', nor approved by the creators of this blog. Just saying.***

Well, now that we got that out of the way! To add to that little disclaimer, I should point out that the current state of our kitchen is ONE HOT MESS. Back when I was house hunting (pre-husband days) one of my "must haves" was an updated kitchen and bath. Well, I didn't get either. How's that for luck of the draw!? The house was charming & had great bones, so I was willing to overlook those minor details. I figured one day a new kitchen was in the works. And three years later we're finally tackling it!

For starters I apologize for the awful pictures. Apparently the month of November brought with it clouds & gray skies. Hence, the quality of these photos makes our kitchen look worse than it really is. Or maybe it's really that bad & I'm just in denial. Yeah, that's it. So anyway, here we are in the walk-in pantry. It's one of the first areas of the kitchen you'll see when entering from the dining room. The amazing glass front cabinetry & charm were selling points to this home! The awful gray-green countertops, on the other hand, were not a selling point. Also, there's not ONE electrical outlet in this area, which makes the counter space usable, but not totally functional. How's that for charm?

To the right of the pantry is the main area of the kitchen. Also known as the most inefficient use of space known to man. See that awful retro cast iron sink unit & the dinky kitchen cart left behind by the previous owners? Yep, that would be our "usable" workspace. Oh, and how can I forget the charming cabinet add-on to the right of the sink? Mmmm...amazing. BEST part of the kitchen (insert sarcasm here). It adequately holds the tower of electronic kitchen devices we use on a daily basis. Well, if that isn't safe, I don't know what is! Above the sink you'll notice an amazing bathroom light fixture (seriously, did the previous owners have taste or what!). And then there are the yellow walls--YUM. They used to be covered by textured white-turned beige (because the previous owner smoked) wallpaper. Delicious! The stove & fridge are stand alone, which drive me to the brink of the edge. The room is so choppy!

And here we have a view into the kitchen & pantry from the doorway that sits next to the leaning tower of appliances. Currently, this door sits idle & open (for the kitty to access the stairs to the basement). The plan is to drywall this baby up, put the fridge in its place & find a new access for kitty to find her way downstairs. Did you know that our house is full of random doors? Which is actually quite funny as many guests typically find themselves leaving our house through a closet door. Believe me, that humor is not lost on myself, nor the husband! At one point, our attic had live-in maid quarters. The maids had access to the kitchen & entry through one set of doors, and the residents had access to the house through another set. How's that for a little 'our-house-was-built-in-1909' history for you?

And without further ado...I give you the delicious, mouthwatering black laminate that adorns our walls (but not all of them, because apparently there was a shortage of black laminate "wall" covering the day the previous owners tackled this project):

And that's all I have to say about that.

So stay tuned! The demo officially begins next Monday. We'll be a little out of sorts for the next month or so, but I'm sure the end result will be worth the wait. I think. It's just hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel at this point. Hmmm...why didn't I just call Nate Berkus for help??

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