Thursday, January 27, 2011

power to the people; except us

You know, it's pretty.  It really is.  All the branches are hanging low with the weight of the snow, which was so wet that it stuck to everything.  But... but maybe it's a little too heavy?  Maybe it would have been a touch nicer if this was a dry snow, and, oh I don't know... MEANT THAT WE COULD HAVE KEPT OUR POWER?!?!?!?  

Speed Limit: Snow

Yup, officially without power since 7-8pm last night.  We are officially in Pioneer-Mode.  The bummer is all our wood to make a fire in the outdoor pit?  Not protected from the elements.  And is covered in snow.  Man, a fire would have been so awesome- grill some sausages over the open flame!  But it was not to be.  (We do have a grill, so in the event that our power is still out for more than one day, we can always use that.  Or just eat out.  Every. Day.)

We have a pair of hurricane lanterns from my aunt and uncle that are AWESOME!  If you don't have any, go out and get some.  Seriously.  These puppies on full-flame give off an insane amount of light.  Plus, they are sturdier than candles and the flame is almost completely enclosed, so there's less worry about one knocking over or lighting your hair on fire.  Just passing on some advice to anyone else in power-challenged areas!

Keep warm, you guys!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

holiday re-cap: fa la la la la

 Not too late for a Christmas post, right?  Right.  Again, we didn't want to ruin the surprise for when our families came to visit, so no pre-holiday post!

First things first: The Tree.

This is one fat tree, lemme tell you.  We went to a cut-your-own farm, and SOMEHOW found ourselves looking at the 8-10 footers... our ceilings are not 8-10 feet.  Details, details.  We found that the more mature, taller trees had a better shape (the perfect triangle!) and tended to be fuller all around (particularly at the top).  As luck would have it, many of these larger trees also have a bare trunk for a couple feet before the branches start.  So we simply cut the tree to our height, leaving the rest of the bare trunk behind, and lugged this sucker home!

Next Step: Decorating the Tree!

We are some crazy-lights people, so 345 strands of lights later... ok, maybe not THAT many strands, but close!  We make sure to fully light from the inside to the outside of the tree before thinking about hanging ornaments.  I, also, hang ornaments inside for depth and interest- I found some mirrored star ornaments (Ikea) which reflected all lights and other colors awesomely!  I put all of those puppies deep in the tree.

Also at Ikea, I picked up two other types of ornaments: some black & white and red & white Scandanavian folk style bulbs, and some clear bulbs with red bursts inside.  You can see both in the pics above and below- I cant tell you how much these new ornaments make me happy!!!  

 Another thing we like to do is to have an ornament that is for/represents each member of our family... this gets to be A LOT of fun (read: I took poetic license.  Liberties.)

 First we have me and the beau: I am the mixer- I love how retro it is, and obviously I am le chef de extraordinare.  I am also le French language master.  The beau is the Grill Meister, and if you've had his ribs, you understand why!

Then we have my brother...

Apparently, he is an alligator.

With grey hair and a cape.  

Ok, I will admit that this has nothing to do with my brother, but it cracked me up and I liked the idea of getting him the most ridiculous ornament I could find.  Besides, it is hand-crafted.  From Germany.  He should feel honored I found such a high-quality piece of art.

We found a great golf ornament for my father, and a pagoda for his fiancĂ©e.

This piece of awesomeness is for the beau's brother's girlfriend, who works at an aquarium- I think anyone would be honored to be associated with such a character, don't you?

 And this guy just made us happy- Santa is a bad-ass snowboarder.

Ok, ok, enough with the close-ups, you say, and give us some full-tree-action?  Well, alright already, here it is:

Ta-da!  I love it.  We have a good amount of basic ornaments, and I look forward to accumulating more and more personal (unique!) ornaments in the years to come!

Now, onto the stockings!!!

These babies are from Target, and I instantly fell in love with these guys when I saw them online.  I love how bright and fun the green is, and (in case you can't tell) that white one is more of a cream.  I like the knit look- it feels more authentic and cozy... like these were actual socks that we hung by our, er, TV with care.  Plus?  POM-POMS!!!!

Anyways, it wasn't all snowflakes-on-my-lashes and holiday cheer trying to get these.  You would think it's just a simple trip to the Big T, pick up two of each color and call it a day, wouldn't you? BUT NO!  The first (yes, first) store we went to had all but a second green stocking.  So, we bought them and figured we will just hit up another store for the final one.  Only to go to another store and see they were almost completely out of this style!  This is when I start worrying obsessively.  They did have an extra cream, so we bought that one just-in-case.  THEN, I called every single Target within 20 miles in the hunt for the stocking... I finally found it, and, after sitting almost an hour in rush-hour-traffic, that sucker was MINE!

Totally worth it.

Yup, that's me!

And here are the stocking holders!  Side note: who knew stocking holders were so freakin expensive?!  Back to the matter at hand: these were totally DIY holders.  The base was from Target (and THESE were just as hard to find as the stupid stocking!!!  Every time they came into stock, they flew off the shelves!  Sigh.  Luckily, the store with the stocking had a ton of these guys, which is total fate,) and the picture frames were from Michael's.  A quick bead of super glue (hot glue solidified instantly,) secured the frame to the base, and VOILA!  Instant personalizable* stocking holders!  Now, you can buy these in a store, but they will be a good $5-10 more expensive than crafting it yourself.  We also picked up some garland and cut off a piece and glued to the holder for added decorating awesomeness.

The rest of the garland went around the chandelier... BONUS!

 We threw a set of battery-powered lights (maybe 15-20 lights per strand) in with the pine cone centerpiece to make it more festive- I totally love this effect!  It is one of the first things you see coming in the house, and really added a sense of romance and magic.  Confession: both this and the chandelier garland ideas were courtesy of the beau.  But I will take all the credit that you may chose to bestow on me.

This little guy has been with me since college.  I gave him an update this year by spray-painting the base white, and dusting the needles ever so lightly with more white spray paint.  The overall outcome is awesome- looks like a blue spruce or a light snow dusting!  I also found some silver glitter/shimmer spray paint and put that on, cuz... why not?!  Love.**

Other un-pictured decorations include the previously-posted dining room table centerpiece, some garland on the metal railing, candles in red, silver & green scattered around the house, and a fantastic red, green & white outdoor light arrangement!

And now for the horrors that no one tells you about.  The embarrassment that comes after the lights go off.  The death of the tree:

Our tree skirt is made of pine needles.

Oddly, this tree started falling apart in record time.  Which was, ya know, fun.  Always a good thing to have your tree, that has to survive not one, but TWO Christmases, to clutch desperately to the needles within two weeks of bringing it home.  And we had an automatic waterer!   Not fair, tree nymphs, not fair.  Anyways, every time someone touched the tree- hell, every time you BREATHED on it- a shower of needles would pitter-patter to the floor.  This made getting presents out from under the tree particularly amusing.

We ended up cutting the branches off the trunk, and putting those in a trash bag, instead of carrying the whole thing out of the house.  If we did the latter, for one thing, we wouldn't have been able to get the full width out the sliding door, and  secondly, there would have been a mammoth trail of needles the entire way.  The divide-and-conquer method definitely kept all carnage to one area of the house.


So there you go!  Our holiday house in a nutshell.  Ho ho ho.

*I will make this a real word.  Watch me.
**I have pictures from this, and the spray painting re-do of that little white basket: promise, promise, PROMISE to post that soon!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

new duvet: i'm pressed!

For a while, I had my eye on this duvet cover from West Elm.  Then, soon after Xmas, a friend pointed out that it was on SUPER sale, WITH a 20% off code!  This meant that I was able to get the duvet cover and two shams for less than $60- cant go wrong with that!  Add in a down-alternative duvet insert/comforter from HomeGoods, and new bedding complete!

A few days after buying the duvet, and while (impatiently) waiting for it to arrive, I see YoungHouseLove got the same one!  So, now I look like a copy-cat.... not true!  But doesn't matter, cuz LOOK HOW AWESOME!!

I previously had a reddish-orange quilt in the room, and a lot of red-hued furniture.  This was great, and very lux, but I was tired of it and felt it was too much red & gold and not enough contrast.  Then, when the beau moved in, the mix-match furniture added to the many red-orange-gold tones in the room!  The teal-green duvet presents the perfect amount of contrast and color to the room.  I also love the amount of white in the design, as it keeps the room bright and lighter... and allows me to work in that ceramic rhino (from ZGallerie- I have a weird love of rhinos.)

I also really dig how the golden-brown in the duvet design really ties in perfectly with the gold on the walls, curtains, and previously-purchased decorative pillows. 

We also opened up the room by re-organizing our clothes and closets, which allowed us to take out the tall dresser, (seen here.)  I want to confess that re-organizing and re-arranging furniture makes me giddy-happy... and moving this dresser opened up so much space!  Visually, when you walk in the door, you now have an unobstructed path straight into the room and there is a wider walkway on the other side of the bed.  It also makes the back closet easy to access, and therefor use.  And finally, removing the tall dresser from my bed set means that the only furniture remaining is from the same matching set.  Makes for a much better, put-together room.  LOVE IT!

UPDATE: I had some trouble getting these shams (which was a real "SHAM"!  OH I kill myself!!)  Anyways, I ordered two standards with the duvet, but they were listed as back-ordered until 12/31.  Well, when the duvet finally shipped, the shams were still listed as back-ordered.  I've had trouble before when things say they are back-ordered, only to suddenly change and say "nope, you ain't getttin' squat!" 3 weeks after you made the order!  So, I started fretting and going back and forth about buying the Euro shams, which were still in stock... only to get a notice that said my shams were out-of-stock and sorry, SOL.  Then I looked online, after deciding to get the Euros, and see that THEY were out of stock, but the standards were available for purchase?? Totally confused I called customer service and the lovely lady helped straighten it all out and put me down for a new set.  End of the Story: I got my shams, the bed is made, and I love that WestElm customer service lady, where-ever she may be!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

this is the bar that jack built, ya'll

[or, how to create a bar from a closet]

Baby, it's cold outside...  And I don't want to leave the house to go out.  Logical decision: build a bar.  Obvious, right?

TA DA!!!  So, we decided to tackle this RIGHT before Thanksgiving... RIGHT before family was coming to stay for the weekend...


Anyways, this was previously a closet.  Now, this is a bit of a controversial move: in a house that has almost no storage space, why would you get rid of a closet?!  Well, I'll tell you why- because I said so.  There.  So here's how you convert a closet into a (dry) bar:

First step is removing the doors, shelf, hanging bar, and anything else left on the wall.  Then we removed the inside molding.  When you do this, you are left with a gap between the existing drywall and the end stud.  We filled this with GreatStuff, (an expanding insulation foam.)  Once this has hardened and set, we sawed off any excess and spackled over.

 the beau sawing off extra GreatStuff*

After a fresh coat of paint (we painted this the same color as the rest of the living room to really make it part of the room - I forget who makes this paint, but I remember it being called Trench-coat,) we were ready to get crackin!  And apparently, crackin means SHOPPING!!

We lucked out that Ikea has a mirror that fit our design to within half an inch or so??  Perfect!  No glass cutting or special orders!

We also decided to go with a short Gorm shelving unit from Ikea, which fit perfectly AGAIN!  Double awesome.

See how well that mirror fit?  After a trip (or seven) to Home Depot, we got started: we mounted the mirror to measure off of, and installed the support strips.  These will hold the counter and the top shelf.

Here is the puppy sawing some lumber.  Poor pooch never gets a day off!

The counter-top, shelf and molding were bought from Home Depot.  After these were cut to size, they were stained along with the Gorm shelves.  The stain was picked to match the existing furniture in our living room.**  After stain, we poly-urethaned the hell out of everything!  Everything got at least two coats of poly, but the counter-top has four.

Meanwhile, we were also assembling the light box/liquor shelf... yup, like they have in real bars!  The plastic was a cut-to-size order from an online store, which was adhered to the top of a wooden box that was painted black.  Inside the box is a fluorescent light- we installed a new outlet in the old closet by running electrical from the bordering bedroom (where there was an existing outlet right behind the wall,) and installed a light switch and second outlet into the light box, (the second outlet is for blenders, etc.)  One thing to remember when doing this is to drill a hole in the box and the counter-top in the same spot to feed the cord through to the wall outlet.

So, installation!  The first thing to go up was the top shelf.  This was a bit difficult and aggravating, as it is tough to keep the shelf flush with the support beam.  We chose to put the support strips above the shelf because it is prettier that way!

The hardware to hang the glasses was purchased online.  We went with a piece of wood that's usually used for stairs, as it has a curved outside edge.  Works fine for a shelf, too!

After the shelf was hung, everything else went fairly quickly- the counter was screwed in, the molding was installed, and the light box was hooked-up.

Here's the molding around the mirror back-splash.  I believe this is technically crown/ceiling molding?  It really finished off the look and hides that extra half-inch gap between the mirror and the wall.

There is also molding on the lip of the counter...

and around the edges of the counter where it met the wall!  Man, look at that corner!!  And that's with just using a manual miter box.***

Now, as for the Gorm shelves- Ikea makes wine/bottle shelves for Gorm, but not for all shelf sizes.  And we happened to get the size that doesn't have the pre-made bottle shelves.  Because that makes life easier.  Anyways, all that needs to be done for a bottle shelf is to install thin 1x1 strips onto the shelves, spaced to accommodate whatever bottles you plan to store there.

We also hooked up a mini-fridge with a basket on top to hide any of the many things that need hiding when you have a bar.

 I think that pretty much sums it up... time for glamor shots!!

this pic was taken pre-bottle & glass stocking

Now, the only problem with having a bar, is you HAVE to stock it....

So whats the internet verdict??  We are beyond thrilled with the outcome and love-love-LOVE showing it off and using it for chic cocktails!  We think it really finishes the room off, and definitely looks better than a boring closet.  And, icing on the cake?  We got this sucker finished, installed, and everything cleaned up all before our guests arrived!!

*You know, that stuff??  It really is great...
**Ugh, it is such a pain in the butt to match a new stain to an old piece of furniture?  It is stupid tough.  So my advice to you would be, if you are staining an item and have any smidgen of a notion that you may want to sometime in the future get another piece to go with that set?  Buy enough stain for the whole dreamed-up project.
***OMG We totally got a fancy-pants miter saw with a LASER for xmas!  IT IS THE BEST EVER!  Molding, get ready to meet your maker!

Monday, January 3, 2011

happy new year!!!

Happy New Year, Kiddos!

Sorry I have been M.I.A., but there was just TOO MUCH going on and SO MANY guests to blog.  Added onto that?  My laptop charging cord broke!  But rest assured, I have replaced said cord and will be back and badder (literally) than ever!!  I hope to have an all-encompassing Christmas post, a new closet-turned-bar post, and a great "my house is insane" post!  Many apologies for keeping the first two items on that list under wraps- we wanted those to be a surprise for our visiting family and the inter-webs have a tendency to ruin that!

Oh, and New Years Resolutions?
1) Finish floor molding in EVERY ROOM OF THE HOUSE!
2) Finish upstairs bathroom renovation.
3) Major outdoor overhaul (curb appeal, backyard living space, actual grass?!??!)

Here's a little glimpse into how we spent our New Years Eve:

Yes, those are all bags...