Monday, January 28, 2013

A Sweet Treat: Peppermint Patty Brownies

Oh, sweet chocolatey goodness! Lately, I've had the worst chocolate cravings.  I'm normally a salty girl, both in personality and my snack preference, but when I saw this idea on Two Twenty One, the sweet tooth stars aligned and I had to have them!  The fact that they are super easy to make also makes this recipe a winner.

Step 1: purchase brownie mix and peppermint patties.
(I chose the heart shaped ones for Valentine's Day)

Step 2: make brownies according to directions
(I used the 9 x 13 pan so I could fit more patties in the batch)

Step 3: as soon as brownies are done baking, insert peppermint patties

Step 4: slice up and enjoy with a glass of cold milk! 
(Or hot coffee if that's more your style)

Unfortunately I also made a double batch of chocolate chip cookies so keep your fingers crossed that J and I don't turn into diabetics from the sugar overload!

Happy Monday! 

Friday, January 25, 2013

DIY Valentines

Oh Pinterest, how I love thee.  You give me endless inspiration on everything from home decor to what I should make for dinner.  And holiday decor is no different.

Last year I made J's valentine card using a little bit of elementary quilling.  This year I'm attempting to get my Valentine's Day plans in order a little bit earlier than the day of so I can share with you the crafty.  So I've been perusing Pinterest and I've come up with a few ideas.

This printout shows you how to make a pop up card.  Unfortunately the link to this took me a to a tumblr without any accreditation, so I apologize if this is your project! 

I love this idea and the directions look pretty straightforward considering they aren't in English!

And for another heart garland idea, this comes from the Silhouette blog. (I'm DYING for one of these machines now that I've seen the uses everywhere!)

Super cute and I love the simplicity of this!

What are your plans for decorating for Valentine's Day?  Or do you prefer to ignore the day altogether?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Easy Peasy Curtains

One point of contention in J and I's relationship has always been the office.  When we moved into our new house, it was a no brainer--he could have his man cave, but I claimed the den as my office.  After all, every household manager needs a place from which she can do the managing! 

So we put all the boxes marked "office" into that room, moved in my desk, and there it all sat for the past two months.  The weekends have been busy and after working in an office all day, did I really want to come home and organize more papers?  No.  But the real determining factor was the lack of window coverings on the window.  In the winter, when it gets dark at 5:00, the lights come on and since this room sits right at the front of the house, I didn't want to be sitting in there in my sweats and hair pulled up while the neighbors got a direct view of the inside.

This weekend was the first in a long time that we had absolutely no plans.  I made it my goal to get the office unpacked and organized (more on that later) and figure out window treatments.

We began Friday night by hanging an old sheet over the window so I could get started

Classy, huh? I thought for sure this would get us through the weekend but after running outside to see what it looked like in the dark (it looked exactly like we had hung a sheet), I was determined not to be the trashy neighbor.  After remembering that Jo-Ann's had their home decor fabric at 60% off, off I went.

My heart was set on finding this fabric from Waverly:

It only took two Jo-Ann's to find it and I snatched it right up.  Before I left, J measured the dimensions of the window and I made a sketch

After consulting the nice lady at the cutting counter, we determined 2.5 yds would be just the right amount.  And with the fabric being 54 inches wide, we had a few extra inches to play with--which meant not having to buy a lot more fabric.

Seeing how my sewing skills are still pretty basic, I opted to make these curtains the "no sew" way by getting some hem tape.  (I also took into consideration my patience level--I wanted curtains as soon as possible, with the least amount of whining on my end)

I began by laying the fabric on the floor face down.  Ignore the "helper"--she sees a camera and just poses despite J calling to her from the other room.

I then took the hem tape and folded the salvage edge over it.  Typically you would cut this off, but since I was folding it under it allowed me an extra inch of hem that I didn't have to cut into the pattern for.

Followed by pinning periodically to keep it all in place

I made my way down both sides of the fabric.  The hem tape is heat activated so once they were all pinned, I ironed each side, holding the iron on a section for about three seconds before moving on, removing the pins as you go.  Then you flip the fabric over and iron each section again.

After the sides were done, it was time to cut the panels.  I laid the fabric out again and measured the width.  I divided that number in two and began marking the fabric from end to end:

After the marks were made, and measured twice to make sure they really were equidistant throughout the entire piece, I had J come in and do the cutting. 

The "table" is actually an old built in shelf that was in the master closet.  It was just the right length and kept me from having to scoot my cutting mat under the fabric, section by section.

Once the fabric was cut, it was time to hem the new edges:

I did buy a hem gauge, but instead opted to use the hem tape as my guide.  Again, impatience won.  When the sides were done, I finished the top hem as well.

While all of this was going on, J hung the curtain rod:

After the additional hems were "sewn," we hung a panel to measure where we would need to cut the excess bottom fabric off.  Two cuts and two finished hems later, we have the finished product:

I opted to go with clip rings from Target because I like the look and it made the curtain super easy to hang.

The office still has a little work to go before it's completely done, so I'll save that for another post, another time.  For now, I can enjoy my space in the evening hours without feeling exposed to the outside world! 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Doors

And I ain't talking 'bout the band.

One of the things that J has done in both of our houses is update and paint the trim work and the doors.  By the time I moved into the first home, the work was already complete and I had no exposure to the sheer time sucker that is painting doors.  I went one week without cabinets in that house, but we're going on a month without doors to the upstairs rooms.  In no way am I blaming J because he works as fast as he can, I'm just sayin, this stuff takes a while.

In our last house, we had a total of 9 doors in the entire house to paint.  Including closets, bedroom doors, bathroom doors, and a basement door.  In this house, the second floor alone has 16 doors on the second floor alone.  Again, that number includes sliding closet doors, bedroom doors, linen closets, and bathroom doors.  So you can imagine that after several weeks without doors, my first request was to get a bathroom door.  Running downstairs in the middle of the night, or down the hall, was getting a little old.

Once we began tearing out the carpet and painting the walls, J got to work taking the doors down and clearing out.  Our hallway looked like this:

As such, J needed a place to work on the doors so he commandeered the dining room--which is totally fine seeing how we do not possess a dining room table:

The process begins with J sanding down all of the doors so the glossy finish is no more.  This makes the primer stick to the wood much better.  It also removes scratches from whatever animal was locked in the bathroom.  And in the master closet.  And in every bedroom upstairs.

We also took this time to fill the cracks and crevices with wood putty to make sure everything was tightened up.  Minnow provides excellent assistance and makes sure we don't lose the putty:

Once the door is adequately shop vac-ed and cleaned up, J uses a tac cloth to remove anything further before wiping it down with a damp rag.

Add one coat of primer for each side:

Followed by two coats of paint for each side (including ample time for drying between coats), and you end up with a finished door:

At this point we're just two doors away from having all bedroom doors completed and hung and I can't wait to share the finished look with you! 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Project in Progress: The Man Cave

As I very wordily told you on Wednesday, the pool table gifted to us by my grandparents is officially in place, making the basement one step closer to an official man cave.  

Now, we haven't discussed the basement portion of the house at all.  Much of the focus, rightfully so, has been on all of the work being done on the second floor to get it ready for accommodating guests, the new carpet, and making it generally less gross since the previous owners were not good pet parents.

We began with a basement that looked like this when we moved in:

The carpet (we thought) was in decent condition but that back corner you see in the second picture needed some help.  In its previous life it was wet bar, complete with one cabinet, one towel bar.  But something must have gone awry because when we got here, the whole thing was tore out and a rag was stuck in the drainpipe so no leaks would occur.  Probably not a professional job.  The door you see beside the wet bar area leads to J's work room, but more on that later.

We began by attempting to clean the existing carpet and hopefully saving us some cash when it came time to pick out the carpet for the second floor.  But after about an hour, we decided it wasn't worth it.  The carpet itself was in good condition but there were stains and black marks all over that just wouldn't come out.  So we waited and when it was time to get measurements from the carpet vendor, we threw in a hypothetical basement.  

We ended up picking a carpet wholesale warehouse in town who offers discontinued products in addition to the "boards" of carpet you would get at the normal retail store.  And in the interest of full disclosure, they were referred to us by our realtor.  If it's a flooring product you can find it at this place and at a good deal.  I borrowed the below picture from their website, but this is what you work with:

So J and I walked, aisle by aisle, through the rolls of carpet until we found two that we liked.  As a side note, this place will even pull out whatever roll you are interested in and roll it out on the floor so you get the gist of what an entire room would look like.

We decided on the following options:

shaggy for the upstairs, a tighter knit for the downstairs

I am pleased to say that the carpet for both the basement and second floor only took us a couple of hundred dollars over budget for what we had planned for the second floor alone.

Carpet installation day came and went and for a while it was just the furniture downstairs:

hooking up the tv/playstation/soundbar was too important to jump out of the frame

Now, as of Tuesday night, we have pool table.  I've also added a few things to the space to make it homey, but we still have a ton of work to do.

Our plans for the basement include the following:

1. Painting all of the woodwork the slightly off white color we chose for upstairs

2. Removing the drop ceiling and replacing it with drywall

3. Running the satellite wire through the drywall, not just through the drop ceiling and letting it hang.

4. Creating better access to the water meter and sump pump (located behind those window shutters you see in the corner)

5.  Replacing the drafty windows with something more private and energy efficient.

6. Painting the walls/adding some dimension to the room so distinguish between the pool table/bar space and the sitting area.

7. Re-felting the pool table 

8. Replacing the wet bar but on a smaller scale.

A BIG thank you to my grandparents for the pool table and for our friends for coming over to help move it--free games of pool on us! 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I Broke It

First of all, I apologize for the lack of the Wedding Planning Wednesday post.  I am becoming/already became a lackluster blogger and we're only 9 days into the New Year.  As if last week's post wasn't painful enough (can somebody say "unprepared?"), this week's is worse because there isn't one.  But I'll be back with wedding related shiznit in the near future, mark my words.  Now on to this non-themed post.

Let me just start off by saying that in my defense, I'm attracted to mushrooms like a moth to a flame.  And if they're cooked, I will devour them.  So let me back up and tell you what exactly I broke.

Waaaaayyyyy back in September (and it could have been August for all I remember), my grandparents called and offered up one exciting wedding gift: a pool table.  Not just any pool table, but the one that my Grandpa had specifically picked out for their sunroom.  I can't tell you how many family gatherings were spent watching my cousins, aunts, and uncles play pool.  It was a lot.  So, seeing how the soon-to-be-Mr. and I had just bought ourselves a house complete with a bonafide man cave, and they were looking to revamp the sunroom,  said pool table was offered up to us as a gift.  A very expensive, very heavy, gift.

Now, fast forward to November and we have closed on the house and the pool table is waiting to be brought to its new home, three hours from its current digs.  We make the trip and it sits in our garage, secured to its trailer, while we wait for the new carpet to be installed. 

Fast forward a little bit more to last night and the future hubs and I finally have our ducks in a row and have lined up 3 burly men + 1 last minute plea to a neighbor (for a total of 5 men, including J), to haul this thing downstairs.  The slate alone is easily 500 pounds and comes in one piece.  And FYI, moving companies won't touch that shit and pool table vendors won't move it for less than $400.  I digress.

So naturally, we attempt to bribe our helpers with pizza. But I, in my desperate attempt to not break my January resolution, made myself some vegetable soup and a grilled cheese before they arrived and I let J order from his favorite pizza place, which I detest.

However, none of the guys were interested in pizza (I chalk that up to the fact that they arrived around 8 and their wives had probably fixed a far better meal for dinner) and that left J with two large pizzas.  The first, pepperoni and cheese, no biggie.  I can refrain.  

But the second.  Ohmygoodnessthesecond, was a supreme.  With mushrooms.   And sausage.  And onions.  And peppers.  And pepperoni.  I'm salivating now just thinking about it.  All of the glorious things on a piece of dough that I had told myself absolutely "no" to.

So J eats his pepperoni pizza, we watch a little New Girl, and then he heads to bed.  I take the dog out, make the coffee for the next morning, and before I know it, I'm eating a piece of the pizza.  And it. tastes. amazing.  Boy, did it ever.  So I present to you, ladies and gentlemen, exhibit A of my complete lack of willpower and my broken resolution:

that's weak sauce right there, I tell you, WEAK SAUCE

I went to bed right after I took that picture and lamented my failings to J, to which he replied, oh well, it will make a good story.  THANKS FOR THE SUPPORT.  I have a sneaking suspicion he knew I couldn't hold out, but for 7.75 days I went without a single piece of restaurant produced food or beverage.  Yes, it was only a sliver, but it still counts.  Today we are back on the wagon.

An overly dramatic story?  Probably.  Want that 3 minutes of your life back that you spent reading this? Definitely.  But did it qualify as a post for today?  Absolutely.

And tomorrow I'll show ya that pool table.

Monday, January 7, 2013

What a Difference Paint Can Make

Having been in the house a month and a half now, I feel like the whole thing should be completed.  Walls painted, furniture in every room, and a daily blog post to update you on the progress.  But, alas, that's utterly unrealistic and I'm sure J will agree that it seems he's done nothing but work on the house since we moved in.  And he has.  I just swoop in and pick a paint color here, put a piece of furniture there, and spend time online trying to find that perfect duvet cover for our additional guest room (when I'm not cooking dinners or doing laundry, of course)

When I last posted pictures of the house, we were two days away from having the carpet installed upstairs and J had just finished priming all of the rooms and most of the wood work.  We're now two weeks post-carpet install and I think you might like what we've done with the place.  Starting with the hallway:

Hallway before:

And the hallway after:

Master bedroom before:

Master bedroom after:

Bedroom number two before:

Bedroom number two after:

Bedroom number three before:

Bedroom number three after:

And finally, bedroom number four before:

And bedroom number four after:

the guest room in need of bedding that I referred to earlier

I love, love, LOVE how the paint turned out.  We chose to do this house in various shades of gray whereas our previous house was done in shades of tan/beige.  The hallway tends to look a little too periwinkle, at least to me, so we may be changing that one.

In the meantime, J has started working on sanding all of the doors and painting them the color of the woodwork.  And lemme tell ya, getting a door back on the bathroom totally made my month! I'm a big fan of leaving a little mystery in the relationship, you know?

While J is tackling the rest of the projects, I've got a Pinterest list a mile long of decor ideas; anything and everything ranging from furniture to art to window coverings.  If only my wallet was as deep as that list.  All in due time.

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