Friday, December 23, 2011

Be careful what you say...

...because it just might mean that the tree trimmers are gonna do that landscaping afterall...

Ah well, what are you going to do. It looks nice & the job was done correctly...even though it took 5 godforsaken months to complete. But who's counting (besides me)?

It's at this point I would normally rant & rave about how these folks grated on my every last nerve, and how I wouldn't recommend you use them either (unless you like waiting absurd amounts of time for a job to be completed). But you know what? It's the holidays, so I'll spare you. Consider it your early Christmas gift!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas decor anyone? Well, it's about time!

I'm already feeling antsy about the amount of decorations cluttering our home (which went up the day after Thanksgiving). So before I get a chance to put them away next week, there's no time like the present to give you a little glimpse into our home, holiday style....

So yeah, then there's the tree. This baby stood at a cool 8.5 ft. and we eventually trimmed it down to a mere 7 ft. And when I say 'we', I'm referring to my sister and myself...naturally. The men are never around to help when you need them, huh? In the husband's defense, he was out of town that weekend, but happened to call just as Mrs. Paul Bunyan was getting her saw on (not the most ideal time, let me tell you).

Starting tomorrow, I'll be officially distancing myself from anything work related, and I think I'm really ready to start enjoying the holidays now. And you do the same, ya hear? 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

And then there was no tree our backyard that is. Remember when we had a tree removed from the backyard, um, this past summer?

Well, months went by before they came out to remove the stump (after several empty promises & no-shows), but stump they did remove! It only took forever, but you know.

But see that small stick-like thing next to our neighbor's fence? Well, that small "stick" was actually a small tree that had sprouted sometime within the last year and was going to be an impossibility to get rid of without removing our neighbor's fence first (which was not fact, the house is a rental property & we don't even know who owns it). So with the promise that they'd return at some point to cut down said "stick", the wait was officially ON. Fast forward to December 20 and finally....oh yeah, wait for it...

The stick is gone...finally! It only took several threats of non-payment for them to finish the job. It's funny how dangling money over someone's head can convince them to actually do their job! Just barely of course. We had planned to contract this same company for landscaping (that was also supposed to happen this past summer) but now I'm having second thoughts. Obviously. But did you notice (minus the leaves) that the before pic is relatively similar to the after photo? Yep, no snow! December 20 and not a flake to be seen. Which just goes to show that it's not always snowing in Buffalo people. Just thought I'd point that out....

So how's that for some excitement today?! Here I thought I'd be sharing Christmas photos & stories on the 'ol blog this December...and instead I'm sharing tree trimming stories. Early Christmas present perhaps?!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas cards...coming to a home near you

Okay, not to all of you. Because I'm pretty sure I don't know every single person reading this here blog. But to my friends and family...they are coming. When exactly, I'm not quite sure. I'm usually on top of the card thing, typically sending them out the first weekend in December (even back in the days when I was crafty and would make my own cards!).

But this year I went the "get your ass to Barnes & Noble STAT" route. Surprisingly, the folks at B&N really came through for all of us lazy folks who hadn't gotten their acts into gear. Don't you love the owls? They're my thing lately. The "Keep Calm" motto is way over used (in my humble opinion), but I'm loving this take on it. Definite words of wisdom to live by this year....

Last year, our cards were a bit more fancy & official (if you will)...

We were newleyweds & felt the need to share it with the world! Oh my, did I love this card from Tiny Prints. Seriously, I could sing their praises until the cows come home (or the fat lady sings...whichever comes first). And no, Tiny Prints didn't pay me to say that. It's just that when you work with good people and good companies, you feel the need to share (equally amazing is their sister company, Wedding Paper Divas, from which we got our wedding invites & save-the-dates).  I opted not to go the photo route for our cards this year. As much as I love seeing the husband and myself in photos, I'm not sure other people are so interested (into ourselves much?). I mean, maybe I'm wrong here. But I think I'll hold off on another photo holiday card until we have kids one day.

And because I've been slacking at the blogging thing lately, I'll be back soon (by husband's orders!) to share pics of our place decked out for the holidays. And a tree story. Ooooh, yeah, that's a good one! And then before we know it, Christmas will be over & I'll be cursing that thing all over again....

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The post where I talk about things I want for Christmas...I think.

So it's that time of year make your list & check it twice. I've gotta say we're waaaaay behind the eight ball on Christmas this year. Maybe it's that we've been busy, or that we still haven't gotten our tree yet, or that it hasn't snowed (a huge WTH?! at this point in Buffalo). Whatever it is, I have yet to totally get into the spirit.

Last year I made that fancy list. The list that a few folks in our family found uber helpful & I ultimately found some of those items under the tree. I wasn't planning to make & broadcast a list this year because, frankly...I haven't a clue what I really want (ask me the other 364 days of the year and I could totally tell you, but right here and now...not so much).

But then one trip to Anthro sealed the deal for me....I want coffee table books. Does anyone else think that the books stocked at Anthropologie are the best? They really have a great selection, if you ask me (or if anyone really cares what I think, for that matter). Okay, anyway. On my list?

Our house definitely leans towards the imperfect these days. And this book is gonna teach me to embrace that. Or so I'm told.

I like modern. I like vintage. And I'm a firm believer that the two can totally coexist. Consider this book me.

We all know we can decorate (or at least think we can!). But it certainly doesn't hurt to get someone else's perspective on the subject. Not to mention some added inspiration!

No, I don't own this book. Yes, I'm aware everyone else does.

So that's pretty much where I am right about now. I know, it's not the most spectacular of lists. But ask me what I really want...on December 26. I'll have really good answers for you!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Open for business

Growing up I owned a retail store. In my parents' basement. We sold fine items like stickers, empty Chanel perfume bottles and an assortment of random shoes (mostly belonging to my mom, of which I intercepted before they ever made it into the Goodwill pile). With an inventory like that, I was nothing short of imaginative.

I took great pride in setting up the store, displaying the items and changing out things seasonly. My sister occassionally worked for me. But most times she was bagging groceries at the register in our dining room (which incidentally became her part-time job in high school...minus the dining room, of course). And when I decided to close shop for the day, I'd work in my cousin's basement store...Pier 2. I don't remember her inventory, but man...that shop name! I really felt she was onto a possible franchise there...

But now that I'm an adult, owning a store is way more involved than opening the basement door & "working" whenever I want to. It's about a business plan, managing employees, ordering inventory, budgeting, payroll, advertising, and getting real people--not your parents--to buy your stuff (and like, really buy it...none of this fake money business...).

So for now, I'm living vicariously through Tori Spelling. Because if I had a store, this would be it. Tori is taking all of her finds & selling them at her store InvenTori. Pure genius. She shops & then sells her goods. How's that for a business plan?

Pictures of Tori Spelling's Boutique Inventori in Sherman Oaks


I often find myself thrifting for fabulous things that we just don't have the room for. Aside from purchasing a new & bigger house to hold all of those goods, a store sounds like a more appealing option...right husband?

Hey, at least I have the retail experience.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Another one under our belt...

It's official. We have another thanksgiving under our belt. And this time we did it with a fully operational kitchen! It's the simple things in life, people. If you need a reminder of the hilarity that ensued last year...knock yourself out. And feel free to laugh your ass off when I mention in the post that we're "not it" for hosting duties next year. Joke's on me, apparently....

So for anyone who knows us, you're all aware that the husband does the cooking & I'm in charge of decorating. Up until about 2 days before the big event I had ZERO clue how this was all going down. Until Katie Bower & her burlap entered the picture. So off to Lowes I went. And with a $10 roll of burlap in hand, I intended to make this the most burlap-tastic thanksgiving you ever did see!

I started out by layering what I had on hand...tablecloth, burlap, random wooden runner....

Now, I know things are looking a little iffy with the mismatched chairs & teeny, tiny random wooden runner. But just go with me here. Teeny tiny is gonna come in handy when we start adding in the centerpieces, plates, napkins...and oh yeah, food.

Next came the apothocary jars, fresh flowers, tea lights & a thrifted gold bird and terranium...

The flower arrangments were pre-made from Wegmans. I hesitated at the $19.99/each price tag (I know, I'm cheap). But when I started picking & choosing to create my own arrangements, I had put myself well over $ we just went with it. I'm not a professional florist (oh, you didn't know?), so Wegmans won in this case. I already owned the square vases & then wrapped each with ye 'ol burlap. Are you sensing a theme?

Then out came the china and napkins, wrapped guessed it, burlap.

Our guest list included 14 adults and 2 children (more than the main 'adult' table could handle), so I was forced to set up an ugly stepchild 'kid' table. Even Phil Dunphy's thanksgiving day bistro tables were way cooler than this.

The kid table sported some super fancy paper napkins, more cranberries & a small floral arrangment. And you guessed it...a burlap tablecloth. The kid table was definitely not as cool as it's big sister, but again, I worked with what I had and our guests were none the wiser.

And lest you think the giant cornucopia went away.... was displayed on the buffet, with some other large serving pieces. No need to remove this thing once dinner was served, as it fit in just perfectly this year!

So that's it my friends. Another successful (however you define it) thanksgiving under our belt. Bring it on year three!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I've been so busy, I forgot I had a blog.

Or the other appropriate title would be 'Our house got robbed & in addition to life, I've just been waaaay too busy dealing with insurance, detectives & security systems to think about this here little blog'. But that would be too long of a title, now wouldn't it?

So yes, I've been an absentee blogger these days. In one of those "it will never happen to me" moments, our house was robbed last week. It's not fun, it's not glamorous, and I sure as hell find myself a little (okay a lot) nervous to come home alone most days. We were lucky in that the intruder made off with mostly jewelry (some of which were family pieces, that sadly, we'll never see again) and the sister's netbook & ipod. Ironically, said intruder was relatively respectful of our property, with the exception of this....

They kicked in our side door, taking the interior moldings & half of the wall with it. Lovely, eh? As upset as we were about the robbery itself, this door nearly put me over the edge. What a freaking mess. Luckily, the husband's contractor friend showed up bright & early the next morning to repair the door (we'll replace it as soon as the insurance settles, whenever that may be....), and we were able to rid ourselves of those projection screen stands that temporarily secured our door.

Ironically, the bulk of the mess came from the police & their fingerprinting dust....

Area rug....ruined. I crossed my fingers that the insurance adjusters would have sympathy & tell me to purchase a new rug ASAP. But instead, they told me to call a cleaning service to remedy this little issue. Which isn't so bad, I suppose. But it's certainly not the West Elm or Crate & Barrel replacement I had in mind...

But onward & upward! It's time to move on & get to some stuff I meant to talk about earlier this week. We finally got around to replacing the light in the real, real entryway. Remember when I dabbled with the idea of having a professional come & install overhead lighting? Well guess what...a $29.99 sconce from Home Depot won.

I begged the husband to replace the light right away. Afterall, I'd be welcoming my book club friends through these doors in a matter of days & people generally like to be able to see where they're going when it's dark. Which ended up being just one big LIE, since the real reason we needed a light was to welcome our friends to the husband's surprise, "Yay! You have an MBA!" party (I got really good at lying that week....).

But sadly, the light is just decorative at this point. The wiring is all f'd up. I'd always wondered why the old light never worked? Well, there you have it. The husband was so annoyed with this fact that after a solid 30 minutes of working, everything got tossed aside in a huff. And we're no further along than when we started. But it sure does look better! 

I also finished painting the steps. Hoorah! Lack of lighting kept me from tackling this project on weeknights, so whenever a spare moment presented itself on the weekends, I was painting (scratch that...I was actually frantically painting a mere days before the husband's party....I'm the poster child for procrastination). 

Oh my. I looooove that this is complete. Amazing what some painted risers can do for your home! I'm still debating about installing a runner, but that's way down the line, if ever. Snow & salt is much easier to clean off the wood floors!

So that's about it! I'm hoping to get my house mojo back in action...enough to be posting more frequently! With Thanksgiving just around the corner (um, quite literally!), I'll be sharing my thoughts & ideas for how we'll be celebrating next week.

Hint...this year it involves a kitchen. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

DIY cake stands

I'm back to share my mini-tutorial for the cake stands that debuted at the husband's "Yay! You have your MBA!" surprise party this past weekend. Honestly, this project was so easy, I'm not even sure why I'm sharing the deets. But for the 3 of you who are're welcome.

I found these fabulous ikat plates at HomeGoods. They were so fabulous that the lovely sales girl almost convinced me to buy the whole set. And then I realized bringing home an entire set of plates "just because they're cute!" probably wouldn't go over so well with the husband. Anyhoo! Moving along.

The next step was thrifting for the bases, which ultimately turned up nothing. So I went with these large candle holders from HomeGoods (I loved that they were substantial enough to hold their own against the plates).

But sadly, these babies just weren't meant to be. After several coats of glossy spray (and no primer...although, I'm not sure that would have made a difference), these things were a disaster. They had drip marks & uneven coverage. You'll have to trust & use your imagination here, because I was too devestated by the results to take any "after" photos. Not to mention it was one day before said party & I hadn't a clue what my next step was going to be (aside from opening the garbage can & inserting stupid, disasterous looking candle holders...and then crying).

So I frantically drove myself to two separate Michaels (forgetting my coupons...but of course!) before locating these lovely wooden candle holders. I figured paint would take to the wood base of these much better than the stupid, glossy ceramic ones (which were taking up residency in the garbage can). Sorry, no can do on the before pics...we were t-minus 12 hours until go-time and I had to get my paint on! But here's what things looked like after 3 coats of glossy yellow paint...

Ah, much better! I went the easy route & attached the base to the plate with super glue. And after it dried, I realized a more temporary solution (possibly velcroe?) would have been a better idea. In the end, it was all a moot point, since the husband ripped the plate from it's base when tossing the old cupcakes into the garbage. And whoever said the husband doesn't have brute strength just doesn't know what they're talking about!

Anyway, I give to you the lovely after....

And with some party treats...

This project was so easy & something that can be used for a variety of entertaining needs. Sort of like tonight's book club that I'm hosting. Which means I've gotta bolt....I'm off to get my entertaining act in gear!

Happy hump!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Wife of the year here...

I've been a busy, busy girl these past couple of weeks. Between life, work and um, this....

Yep, that's doggie with a bum foot. You know, just your run-of-the-mill open foot wound issue (ouch!). For the record, that may be the last time the husband takes him to the cabin by himself (I'm guessing there wasn't much supervision happening that weekend). At any rate, that little wound set us back some cash, not to mention time. We visited the vet no less than 3 times in a 5-day period. I like our vet, but I could do without seeing her as often as we did last week.

In addition to the chaos that was our life, I decided to throw the husband a surprise MBA graduation party (you know, for that MBA he received in August...hello, wife of the year here!) Nothing like getting my act into gear 3 months after the fact. After weeks of running around & planning every last detail of this shin-dig, I'm happy to report that everything went off without a hitch. The husband was pleasantly surprised, even after seeing 3 friends walk in the door before him. He's nothing if not observant.

For some reason, I didn't bother to pick up the camera come party time. But I did manage to snap a few photos of the details beforehand...

Yes, I'm aware that the details of this party were a little girly, but's my party & I'll plan how I want to! And for anyone looking for details, here ya go....

**The banner was made from paint samples courtesy of Home Depot (strung together with the husband's bakers twine & stamped to say "Yay! You have an MBA!").

**The cupcake picks were also made from HD paint samples (they were circle hole punched & stamped to say "way to go!").

**The graduation caps are Godiva chocolates & Reeses peanut butter cups on bbq skewers & the base is a gift wrapped foam block from Michaels.

**The flowers are courtesy of Wegmans--aside from a professional florist, I can hands down say they're my go-to place for fresh flowers.

And I'll be back tomorrow to share how I made the cake stands! SO easy & so fun....even if I was a little pressed for time & didn't finish these babies until just hours before go-time. Nothing says party time, excellent like a little procrastination!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Belly up to the bar...cart.

Happy Halloween! Or is it? I'm not a huge fan (in fact, I think you either are or you're not), and I feel like a bit of a scrooge saying this, but...I'm not handing out candy this year. In fact, I didn't even decorate because I just didn't have it in me. My halloween decor consists of one glittery skull and a fake that just makes me lazy, right? Ah well, maybe next year. My sister will be holding down the fort & handing out candy to all the kids that insist on pushing each other on our stairs for that god forsaken Twix bar. Note to self: remove my precious mums from the danger zone.

Okay, moving along! Something that's not halloween related? I just finished working for my first client! Okay, so that client would be my sister, but everyone has to start somewhere, right?! We found this retro tea cart with the intention of turning it into a bar cart. Tea, booze. Tomato, tomatoe.

The four removeable trays were rather scrufty (yes, it's a word), so I needed to figure out a way to cover the existing surface which was half faux wood, half laminate. Yummy. Lucky for me, my sister is pretty laid back, and with the exception of the color of the cart (she chose black), I was given free reign to figure out the rest.

First, I thought about decopage. But then I realized I have ZERO experience in that arena. So my genius ways led me to a local hardware store, where the helpful sales guy cut me 4 pieces of double pane glass. I made sure to bring ALL four trays with me, just to make sure they were all the same size--which they were. Whew! Can you imagine having to go back for MORE glass in the event that they weren't?! I did opt to forgo the finished edging, as it would have been more expensive. Which, I'm sure I'll regret that decision the next time I try to ch-ch-change things up & cut a huge hole in my hand.

Then the cart got 3 coats of paint, and the trays got 2. As you can see, I wasn't particular about spraying the trays, since my plan was to line them with paper or fabric...

And in the spririt of using what you've got, I lined the trays with some leftover wallpaper from the real, real entryway. My sister was totally cool with the bonus points to me for saving us some cash along the way.

Woot, woot! Looks good, right? Let's get this party started!

The amazing glassware is courtesy of our mom....she scored those silver polka dot babies for $20 at a local thrift/junk shop, and they're in amazing condition! The vintage cocktail shaker is also a gift from my mom...a nod to my sister's old riding days.

We've since added new booze & accessories to the cart and I'm happy to report the end result is 100% sister approved! Pumpkin martinis anyone? Now that's the halloween spirit!

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