Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wednesday Wish List

I cannot believe it's almost April.  It feels like just yesterday I had the planner out and was mapping out the weekends we would be traveling and how excited I was that March had five whole weekends in it.  Such is life.

With April comes one day where I make J bow down and celebrate the awesomeness that is Melissa.  Actually, I make him celebrate me for a whole week because I think we should all get more than just one day to celebrate being born.  But before you go saying that isn't fair and I shouldn't take advantage of him, rest assured: he gets a birthday week too.  In fact, birthday weeks started with his birthday a couple of years ago. 

During the week of the birthday, the honoree is given little gifts.  For instance, J likes loves Henri Bendel candles (particularly Vanilla) and he gets one each year for his birthday week.  'Cause this girl ain't about to drop 30 dollars every time homeboy burns through a candle.  Which is like once a week.  Moving on...

Now, I figure J might be at a loss for birthday ideas so what better way to give some hints than to share via blog, right?  I always feel guilty receiving gifts (we just had this conversation yesterday, actually) so I'm going to throw out a few things I've had my eye on and just walk away.

I love silver jewelry.  And given my short hair I don't think I can pull off dangly earrings, so often I resort to a pair of studs.  I've gone through a few pairs of bead earrings that usually end up getting tarnished despite the claim of being "stainless."  I would love to invest in this pair from Tiffany's.  It's a pretty penny for them, but they've been on my list for a while and there is a bracelet and necklace to match.  You know, for future ideas.

Like a lot of girls I know, I'm in dire need of some updated makeup brushes.
While I'm not a heavy makeup wearer, I could use some nicer brushes than the ones I got about ten years ago as a gift with purchase.  

Last on my list this week is a little something to help organize my craft mess projects in the basement:
I've been looking for a cute sewing machine tote since the arrival of my machine for Christmas.  Currently, due to lack of a whole room dedicated to nothing but crafting goodness, the machine goes back in its box after each use.  And there is a complete lack of cute totes out there that don't look like they were made from some 45 year old spinster.  This little guy is a tad pricey, but can you really put a price on functionality combined with cuteness?  No.  No you cannot.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

He Gave Me the Green Light!

In typical J fashion we were at home one night enjoying yet another episode of 30 Rock/Big Bang Theory when out of nowhere he says, "I think you should do it."  "Uh, do what?" I replied.  "Stencil the bathroom."  Like he was just sitting there and casually throws it out there, nbd.

Naturally it was in the middle of the week when getting right to work on stenciling isn't an option and I was almost certain that given his lack of response to this post I wasn't going to get my way.  But, I did!  I've been perusing Etsy and Amazon and the possibilities are truly endless.  So I'm hoping for a little feedback from you guys!

Without further ado, here are the top contenders:

It's busy, but I like it.  Would it work in a small space?

It's the very traditional trellis pattern.  I love it's symmetry, but is it too plain?
THIS has a lot going on.  And it looks like a lot of work to make it seamless.  But it's different, which I like, and it's super busy.
I love the subtlety of this one.  Pretty?  Check.  Symmetrical?   Check.  Fairly easy to apply?  Check!

But then there was this one.  I'm obsessed with gray and yellow lately and I can't help but be drawn to it:
Undecided is where I'm at right now.  And damn if these stencils aren't expensive!  J might be getting out his knife and making me one if I can't muster up the courage to buy one at full price.

It's only my second stencil post and I'm getting overwhelmed by the pictures!  But knowing J, I'll present the options and he'll pick what he wants.  Which always ends up being what I love.  We're good together like that.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Weekend in the District

It is Monday morning so that means J and I have returned from our trip to D.C. to visit with friends and family.  We left early Thursday afternoon for the 7 hour trip and I'm pleased to say that aside from one minor half hour detour so someone could get Starbucks (hint: it wasn't me) we made it there in great time.  We got to meet J's new niece, who is 6 pounds of adorable, and played with his nephew for a little bit before it was bed time.  We seriously love these kids and are so sad they don't live in Columbus anymore.  But I think I got enough baby holding time to tide me over for a little bit longer.

Friday while his brother was at work, J and his sister in law, her mother, the two kids, and I all headed to the national mall for some cherry blossoms.  I love the cherry blossoms, but having lived in D.C. for a couple of years, I was prepared for the tourists that abound the scene.  Needless to say, it was one cramped metro ride!  That evening we went out for a lovely dinner and concluded with a showing of Cars 2.  A favorite of J's nephew, but more a favorite of J's brother.

Saturday we traveled to my old neighborhood and visited Eastern Market.  I absolutely love the outdoor vendors and all of their products.  I may or may not have bought a new necklace and some handmade soap.  I later met with a dear friend of mine for lunch.  We hadn't seen each other in nearly 3 years but it was like we picked up right where we left off. 

Sunday we hit the road early to head home.  J is notorious for getting up around 5 and leaving before the rest of the house even wakes up.  When it's time to go home, he's ready to go as early as possible.  But we've made a little progress by getting him to sleep just a little longer and leaving just a little later.  With morning Starbucks in hand, we were on the road by 8:30.  The rest of the day was spent driving, catching up on laundry and resting so we were ready for our week to begin.  Oh and of course finishing the third book of the Hunger Games trilogy.  I am DYING to see the movie so if you already have, don't spoil it for me!  I think I've convinced J to see it with me after work on Tuesday.  

The first of four busy weekends is now complete and I'm hoping to get some Easter crafting done this week so I have some content to blog about. Plus, J gave the green light to stencil our half bath so I will be obsessing over stencil options until I'm able to pull the trigger!

And for a little Monday morning pick me up:
Isn't it beautiful?  This year's Cherry Blossom Festival marked the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the trees.  They take my breath away every time!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Has Sprung

Ohio has had a bout of unseasonably warm weather lately and as someone who doesn't particularly care for summer, it's making me a little nervous for what the approaching season has to offer.

That being said, I am loving that the bulbs that I put into the ground last fall are now coming through and starting to bloom!  The above crocuses are just a sample of the blooms that are arriving and I cannot wait to plant more flowers and plants.  And clean out those dried up leaves there.

This weekend was a relaxing one to say the least.  My dad was in town overnight Friday and then Saturday J and I partook in a little St. Patrick's Day date night.  Sunday was nothing but indulging in the spa package that J gave me for my birthday last April.  6 hours of peace and quiet.  No phone, no laundry, and no making the boyfriend sandwiches--hence the reason for today's post lacking a particular theme or craft idea.  

This week we are getting ready to head to DC to visit J's brother and sister in law so I might be a bit scarce, but I'll be back in full force next week.  

In the meantime, I'll be daydreaming of the different flowers I'll be planting in our landscaping.  And figuring out how I'm decorating the house for Easter.

Happy Monday to you all!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sponsor Feature: Messy @ 2Messy

It's time for another sponsor feature!  Today we have Messy who blogs over at 2 Messy.  We connected when she became my first follower on bloglovin' and the rest is history!  Here's a few words from Messy herself:

My name is Messy and I am coming up on my 30th birthday in April. My blog is about my life adventures, trying to figure out who I am, what I want and how to get it. I love to do crafty things, laugh until I cry and color with crayons. I have a puppy named Chuck Norris and teach children how to dance for a living. Come help me try and navigate through life without crashing.  

Be sure to visit her blog and stop over at her Etsy Shop where she has a variety of items including pillows and prints!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wednesday Wish List (a little late)

This week's list is a little late, but I hope you think it's worth it!  I've been wanting to do a post on my favorite online decor shop for a while now but keep getting distracted, so today is the day!

I am a long standing member of Rue La La, Gilt Groupe, Haute Look, Shop It To Me, Beyond the Rack, and even attempted to do the various shoe programs like Shoe Dazzle.  I was even among the first of the Birch Box subscribers back in early 2010.  You name the private designer sale website and I've got a membership.  It's only fitting that I had to sign up for Joss & Main when my friend Sarah sent it over.

Each day, much like the clothing sites mentioned above, Joss & Main adds boutiques by different vendors on everything from home decor, to stationery, small appliances and more!  They even do a "Curator's Collection" boutique where different interior designers pull together pieces that fit the trends they are using now.  Even John Sherry from Young House Love had their own Curator's Collection.

Now, you might already be a member of Gilt and Rue La La so you know that Gilt has Gilt Home, and Rue La La occasionally throws in a home related boutique.  But the kicker of Joss & Main is that there is truly something for every budget.  Which is key when you're renovating a home and looking to pinch your pennies where you can.

So while this isn't my usual bullet pointed list of what I want right now, I'd like to think I'm sharing a valuable piece of online shopping with you.  If you're not already a member, you should be.  And if you're not, leave a comment with your email address and I'll send you an invitation.  If for nothing more than getting ideas for your home.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Next Project

If you were to ask J what the next project is on our list, he'd tell you that it's getting me motivated to unpack/organize/de-clutter the upstairs office.  I'd be inclined to agree, but by the time I get the laundry and ironing done, the bathrooms cleaned, the upstairs swept with uniform vacuum lines (we both appreciate that), and plan the weekly menu followed by trips to the grocery store and Target, I just want to curl up with the Kindle and read some more Hunger Games.  Can I get an amen?  Not to mention I need to write blog posts!

So I present to you the last major project we need to achieve before selling the house: replacing our wood floors.

The first level is comprised of the kitchen and the living room and the half bath.  The half bath, as you remember, has gray tile floors.  The rest of the first level has wood floors original to the house.  As in the house is 100+ years old and the floors are too.  Here's a couple of shots of how it currently stands:

You might be asking yourself, does that floor flow in two different directions?  To which I'd have to answer yes, yes it does.  And you might ask yourself does that mean the joists also go in two directions?  Again, I'd have to reply yes, yes they do.  I'm willing to bet the kitchen part could have been an addition onto an already existing house but one can never be certain.

In addition to the multi directional joists, the floor has created some interesting discoveries for us.  First, there is no sub floor.  Something J learned when he did the initial tour.  That means there is nothing separating the floor from the joists and therefore nothing separating the floor from the basement:
That's the floor riiiiiiight there.

In fact, you can even see the basement light from the floor in certain areas:
In all fairness, I made that hole with a shoe.  And then I promptly covered it up with a rug, later to be busted.  Read on.

Early last year, J and I did some looking at different kinds of hardwood floors.  Bamboo.  Distressed.  Cork.  Raw hardwood that we'd finish ourselves.  We looked at discount flooring outlets, asked for quotes from Lowe's and Home Depot and even checked out Lumber Liquidators.  J finally found it at a floor store that works with contractors: 3/4" maple in Kahlua:
The shinier part on top is the bottom stair to illustrate the color match.

We had the stairs going to the second floor custom stained to match the impending wood floor and I love the color.  I think it would look amazing with the cabinets and the wood work.  Our dilemma, however, is that as we budget and plan, we're wondering if this is the floor that would get us a decent return on our investment.  We look at homes as a "how can we boost the value?" since we won't be staying in them forever.

One option now is to leave the floor as is.  I don't see this as a strong option just because I've already fallen through the floor in areas when I'm wearing heels.  I'll just be going about my business and all of a sudden I drop down and inch or two.  It's happened twice and the first time I covered it up with the rug, only for J to ask me that night why he found a piece of floor in the basement.  Whoops.  The second time he was standing right next to me.  

The next option is to find a cheaper floor.  This is a more realistic option because no one wants to buy a house where everything is fixed up except for the floor.  At least not in my opinion.  But every time we have people over, they compliment us on the original floors.

The third option is to go with the floor that we originally picked out even though it will be expensive.  And as master house planner, I have to say that's a decision for J to make.

I believe our next move is going to be calling in the real estate agent to get his opinion on what sells.  We don't want to pump a ton of money into a floor that has no return on it.

So, much like the kitchen counter project, this is a beginning work in progress and will probably experience much back and forth until a decision is made.

In the meantime, J will research floors and I'll be putting off unpacking that office.  Even if he tries bribing me.  Which he did last night but saying I'd get presents for handling it.  And I told him the only present I'm interested in is a size 6 1/2 and is measured in carats.  Once that present is on the table, we'll talk.  I'm just sayin'.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Operation Pendant Lights: Complete!

Well folks, I am pleased to inform you that the pendant lights are DONE!  If you'll remember, we left off last week with our ceiling looking like this:

J used last week to apply the mud to the drywall, sand it, mud it again, and sand some more.  Once it was up to snuff, he taped off the kitchen and got to work painting.  And the man is dedicated--we were skyping with his brother and sister in law after the birth of their little girl that morning and all you would see is J's shadow in the background painting, throwing in the occasional comment or only stopping when the computer was facing the baby.  Honestly.

Come Friday, after a busy week at work, I was ready for an evening of doing absolutely nothing.  Of course J was darn antsy to get the lights up since he had finished the second coat of paint earlier that day and it was dry and ready to go.

The first part of the installation was putting up the blue electrical boxes.  These boxes serve as the anchor for the light fixture.  The wiring seen above is brought through the electrical box and the box is then put up in to the hole (a lip around the outside of the box keeps it from going into the ceiling).  Once the box is in, screws on either side of the circle are used to secure it into place--these particular boxes had these wings that were flush against the box when placed into the ceiling but would flip out when screws were used, thus securing the wings and the box into the drywall.

J then did some electrical magic and we were ready to put up the base of the lights.  The base fit over the blue electrical box and screwed into the box to secure it.
Once the base was secured, we measured 30" off of the counter and raised the cord so the bottom of each globe would hit that mark.
After that, it was just a matter of popping on the globes themselves.  Once the ceiling was put back together and the painting done, it was fairly smooth sailing on the installation itself.
We did some looking at a local lighting store and online and found a lot of lights for $100+.  Which means not in our budget.  We found these at our local Lowe's (I couldn't find the white online but they come in red and an amber color) for $14.98 for the globe and then we  could pick out which fixture we wanted--we went with this one for $20 apiece.  Bringing our total per light to about $35.  Not bad if I do say so myself.  I love how the white accents the counter and the backsplash so well, don't you think?

We are now just one refrigerator (looking for a black one to match the rest of the appliances) and one backordered backsplash (to complete the island) away from having a finished kitchen!

That was our weekend, how was yours?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sponsor Feature: Caitlin & Mara @ From Sea to Shining Port

This week's sponsor feature is Caitlin and Mara who join us from their blog, From Sea to Shining Port.  We started our blogs around the same time last year and Caitlin was kind enough to reach out to me about doing a sponsor swap.  The two best friends co-blog despite living over 3 hours away from each other!  I always love a good play on words, so it's only natural that I love the title of their blog:  Mara lives in SEAttle and Caitlin lives in PORTland.  Get it??

Here's a little bit more about them:

Hi!! We're Mara and Caitlin, and have been best friends for over 15 years. We love blogging about our lives, 160 miles apart! Mara is a newlywed in Seattle, beginning the process of home renovation with the new hubby while Caitlin lives in Portland, madly in love with her boyfriend and life in the big city. We love spending time with each other (duh!) our family, friends in our cities, talking to each other on the phone while we shop (and work, and drive, and eat,and...anytime!), and being there for one another 100%. Come hang out with us!!

Head on over to their blog and check them out!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

To Stencil or Not to Stencil? That is the Question.

A few weeks ago, J randomly thew out the option of stenciling our first floor bathroom's walls.  You may or may not remember that I did a mini version of canvas art for the bathroom back in December and the canvas has been sitting above the beadboard ever since.  So when he mentioned the idea of stenciling, my ears perked up.

Here are some current (brighter) shots of our bathroom as it currently stands:

I will admit, I love the gray and antique white together.  Love the floor.  Love the beadboard. Love the guy who put it all together.  So I ask you, readers, do I explore stencil options or do I leave well enough alone?

Naturally all you have to type in is "stenciled walls" and Pinterest gives you a plethora of options:

And for something less symmetrical...
Gotta love that Young House Love option at the end, I can only imagine how hard that was to complete!

There you have it, the top four.  What do you think?  Leave it as is and finish with some artwork or maybe do a light gray stencil?  I'm conflicted on this one, but I suppose if it's dreadful, I could always paint over it, right?  Are there any different stencils out there that you'd recommend?  Am I asking too many questions?

In other news, if you live in Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, or Virginia, today is the day to vote in your primary election.  I'd be remiss if I didn't remind you to go vote, seeing how I work in politics and all.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pendant Light Installation, Part 1

You may recall from this post that J and I have had a hole in our ceiling for the better part of two months.  J wanted to get the messier part of that project out of the way prior to installing the counters and as such, we haven't done anything with it until we picked out our new pendant lights last weekend.

Given we have this weird metal brace running through the ceiling, we had to be somewhat flexible in where we placed each light since the exact measurements wouldn't work.

Taken looking up from the floor.

In order to accomplish this task, we used three things: a plumb bob, painters' tape, and a tape measure.  We have three pendant lights to install so J started by marking an X in painters tape on the counter, squared up with the faucet.  We figured having them squared up with the faucet made more sense than squaring them up with the counter dimensions, since the light would hang just to the right of the faucet and give an off balanced look.

We then measured out equal distance from the center to the right and to the left for the other two lights--keeping in mind that our counter arcs outward.  But given that we would be using circular electrical boxes that have to sit completely on the drywall and not next to a joist, we had to do some adjusting.  More on those boxes in Part 2.

So with the use of the plumb bob and the measuring tape, we were able to map out the remaining two lights:
The X in the middle of the painters tape is where the plumb bob fell.

A plumb bob is quite an ingenious little tool.  When strung up, the bob falls in a direct vertical line from the point of which it is being held.  In our case, J held the string where the electrical box would be placed so we knew that the blue x's were in the right spot.  If you'd like a little history lesson, here's the Wikipedia version.  

Once the tape was in place, J did the electrical work to make sure we had three drops for the three lights.  Have I mentioned how nice it is not to have to call an electrician for this kind of stuff?  He can do it all, folks!

Then came the hard part for me.  I have the upper body strength of an infant.  I'm not even kidding.  Any muscle I have is confined to my legs--if you corner me in a dark alley, I will most likely kick the crap out of you before I punch you in the face.  Just saying.  So imagine my excitement to find that J needed my assistance in holding the new drywall into place above my head while he screwed it into the ceiling.  Yeah, no excitement.  

Plenty of curse words, whimpering, ALMOST crying and trying to hold the drywall in place with my head so my arms wouldn't collapse (weak I tell you!) the drywall was up:
We both remark how nice it is to have a ceiling in one piece again.  Now just imagine how nice it will look with lights!

Once the drywall was up and had it's first coat of mud on it, J got the templates for the electrical boxes put up:
This required a bit more shifting of the X's once the templates were up in order to space them out as evenly as possible but we ended up with three pretty even drops.

Unfortunately any pictures I have of the templates going up include J and he is opposed to being featured on the blog.  For the time being...

Once the paper was taped up, J cut out the circle with a razor, leaving the rest of the square in place to make sure he had the exact size of the circle.  He then cut out the drywall inside  of the template.  A little maneuvering of the wires in the ceiling and we ended our day with this:
J is going to continue the sanding and the mudding on the drywall and then paint the ceiling before we finish installing the lights, so stay tuned for Part 2.

That was our weekend, how was yours?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Delicious Avocado Chicken Parmesan

J and I love to cook.  Well, scratch that.  I love to peruse Pinterest and find things for J to cook.  Honestly, it just makes sense that if he's home a few hours before me, why not whip up some dinner?  I know how lucky I am, I tell him that every night.  But I think it's a fair exchange when I do the planning, shopping, and the dishes afterward, right?

Tuesday night was no different when I pulled out the ingredients to make chicken parmesan.  J makes one mean chicken parm, likely because of his culinary school background but I wouldn't be surprised if it's just another awesome talent of his.  I grew up with ground beef, a jar of Prego/Ragu, and noodles (yes I realize some might call it "pasta," but it's always been noodles for me)  Noodles = spaghetti, fettuccini, or angel hair; anything you can twirl with a fork.  And this version has always worked for me.  Until I had his dish.  

But anything and everything can be modified and I was intrigued when I came across a recipe for chicken parmesan with avocados on top.  Now you might be thinking, "That Melissa is crazy.  I'm not reading this."  I assure you, my crazy doesn't come out in my cooking.  I save it for completely irrational times like every other girl.  Here's the recipe:

Avocado Chicken Parmigiana 
adapted from Cuisine Paradise

2 chicken breast fillets, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons milk
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup tomato pasta sauce
2 avocados, sliced
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese (we also used some cheddar)

1.  Place chicken breasts in a clear plastic bag and using a rolling pin or meat tenderizer (flat end), pound the breasts until they are thin.  Turn on oven broiler.
2.  Place the flour in one plate and the breadcrumbs in another.  Lightly whisk milk and eggs together in a shallow bowl.
3.  Coat one piece of chicken in the flour, dip in egg mixture, then coat in breadcrumbs.  Repeat.
4.  Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat and saute chicken breasts.
5.  Once the chicken is browned, place on baking sheet.  
6.  Spoon a small amount of pasta sauce onto the chicken.
7.  Add avocado slices
8.  Cover with cheese
9.  Place under broiler just long enough to melt and brown the cheese.

You can serve with a simple side salad, or if you're like us and love those noodles, add a side of noodles and sauce.  Enjoy!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sponsor Feature: Shannon @ Bungalow960

One of the perks of this whole blog business is reaching out to other bloggers and making connections.  This week, we are featuring Shannon from Bungalow960!

Shannon's blog is dedicated to the renovation of a 1924 Bungalow that she is working on with her boyfriend Andy--a topic near and dear to my heart!  Her house is super cute and she's got great taste when it comes to paint colors!  Before I go on, I'll let Shannon tell you a little bit about herself:

Hello! I'm Shannon and I blog over at Bungalow960. I started Bungalow960 as a place to document the happenings in renovations and improvements in the 1924 American Bungalow that I share with my boyfriend and our two cats, but it has morphed into a place where I share snippets of my life. I hope you'll stop by for a visit!  

Be sure to stop by Shannon's blog and check it out, I promise you won't be disappointed!

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