Monday, November 30, 2009

It has begun

Christmas mania, that is.  Otherwise known as the time of year I get ulcers from worring about living up to my reputation as a 'GOOD GIFT GIVER'.  The 'GOOD GIFT GIVER' status is a very hard thing to maintain.  Sometimes I think I overshot it in the beginning, and now I have nowhere to go but down.  Also, Shaun has this annoying habit of only buying things for himself at Christmas time buying whatever I got him for a gift before I can give it to him.  Annoying, right?  Maybe this post will be a subtle hint to  Ahem. 

So, this is the first year that we were really gung-ho about getting Christmas decor up in the house.  Maybe we were both trying to distract ourselves from our recent super-big purchase of a Tempur-pedic mattress (to the tune of 3 THOUSAND bucks - hello, ulcer!).  In about one hour flat we had our pre-lit tree up and decorated with aqua, red, and brown ornaments I scored at Hobby Lobby for a few bucks a package.  Seriously, is there anything better than Hobby Lobby's 50% off sales?  No, there isn't.  Throw in the fact that my mom scored us our $300 tree for around $40 from JCPenney's clearance sale last January, and this is going to be a pretty frugal xmas decorating extravaganza.  Here are the highlights:

Behold the beauty of our tree.  Please.  I must toot my own horn on this one, I did good.  It also looks amazing from the outside, I'm so happy with how it turned out.  I was lucky enough to find that ivory polka-dotted tree skirt at TJ Maxx for $25.  I really hate cheesy tree skirts, this one is cheese-free, froufrou-free, and perfect. 

I feel guilty that the only action this piano gets is being used as a surface for decor...I really need to get it tuned.  Is that pic too dark to see?  Here, let me turn the light on to better appreciate the 'hurricane of doodads':

I know I said I don't like this kind of stuff, but I guess I make an exception for Christmas time.  Sue me.  With that in mind, please say hello to the prettiest little sparkly trees I've ever seen:

It's like they were made for my front hall, at least that is what I tell myself.  I also have more sparkly ridiculousness on our mantle, but Shaun wants me to wait on taking a picture until we get stockings (yeah, I'm shocked he even cares) it must be a serious relationship if we are getting stockings together, right?  Not serious because we're engaged, but because he wants stockings.  Yeeeeaaaaaah.   

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Are we smart or crazy?

Last night, Shaun and I dropped 3k on a Tempur-pedic 'DeluxeBed' queen mattress set.  It is two steps above the bottom of the line, and a few steps below the 'top' bed, so it's right in the middle of the pack.  Now, after the purchase, I'm seeing all kinds of bad reviews about Tempur mattresses online.  And I'm sweating about it, literally.  The biggest complaints are that you get really hot while sleeping on it because of the way it cradles you, and that after a couple years the material sags and gets really soft underneath you, and the company won't honor the warranty unless there is a visible dip when you're NOT laying on it.  Do any of you have a Tempur-pedic, and what has your experience been?  Did anyone go for the organic latex mattress that John and Sherry at Young House Love picked out from Savvy Rest?  I must say that the only reason we would ever drop this kind of money on a mattress is because we were in absolute heaven when we tested out the Tempur-pedic mattress at the store.  For about 30 minutes we monopolized the display bed.  No joke.  He is a side sleeper, and I am a back sleeper, but both of us felt like we were being cradled in Salma Hayak's cleavage a cloud.  We were rolling around exclaiming things like, "Oh man, turn this way!"  "I know, it's so awesome!"  "Ahhh, I feel like I'm in heaven!"  "I feel like I'm floating on air!"  "This mattress set is the same price as our entire patio project!"  "I know, we're crazy!"  "We'll take it, oh and throw in two of these $100 pillows, too!" 

I figured, why would we spend 3k on a patio we will only be able to use three months out of the year, but not spend the same amount on something we will sleep on every night for the next 15+ years? 

Ugh, it is a ton of cash.  So now, I'm having buyers remorse and wondering if I should cancel this order before it gets delivered next Friday.  Please help me if you have any insight/opinions on the merits of Tempur-pedic!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


That my wonderful moms (mine and Shaun's) brought ALL the food to my house for Thanksgiving this year. 
That my mom also brought her famous Sangria and the red napkins on our table because I forgot where the rest of my brown ones were.  (We found them later)  
That the Packers won again!
That I don't have to go back to work for three whole days!
That my pajamas have an elastic waist.
That all sorts of cute holiday movies are on tv in rotation.  Elf!  Home Alone!
That me and Shaun are happy and healthy.
That I have such a great family.

And here is my table, plain and simple as predicted in my previous post: 

It was loaded with goodies, and we had such a nice time.  I hope you all had a wonderful day, and Happy Black Friday shopping to everyone!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Baby you can park my car

The garage is done!  Well, as done as it will get.  It is, after all, just a garage.  Jury is out on whether we will paint the floor next year.  Or fix that classless glassless window.  The garage is old, sinking in one corner, and a good amount of moisture comes in from the floor cracks and the lower portion of the walls, so we may just leave it.  Here's the craptastic before again:

And the pared-down and painted after:

Our garbage cans have a new home in a little alcove next to the back porch that was not being used for anything.  So, that means.....we now have room.....for CARS!

I did throw out quite a bit of stuff, but I will admit that I also put some household tools, folding tables, and miscellaneous stuff into the basement because it really didn't need to be outside getting rusty.  I found a great deal on totes to hold alot of what remained, the big ones were 4 bucks at Home Depot, and the small ones along the bottom were 3.50 at Menards! 

The black areas are a little project I wanted to try.  I taped off rectangles, used posterboard with the middle cut out to cover the rest of the totes, then sprayed them with chalkboard paint.  I haven't gotten to the little ones yet because I did this backwards, and those babies are FULL so I don't want to empty them out to lay them on their side. 
After it's totally dry I will be able to write what's in the totes without removing them because they are pretty heavy with stuff.  It was a pain, so we'll see if I actually use it. 

Thank goodness it's all over, it's feeling like Forks cold and rainy around here!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

They like me, they really like me!

In September, I blogged about a little contest I entered in this post.  I am very excited to say that I was chosen as a FINALIST in the Old House Blogger Contest!  Someone else actually thinks I know what I'm doing!  Someone else liked our stairway and entry remodel enough to say I may deserve to win a $250 gift card to Lowes and an opportunity to be a paid contributor to the Old House Blog!!!  I am officially not just blogging to see myself type!!!  I am worthy!  I am worthy!

Ahem, also chosen as finalists are the lovely ladies at Oh! Apostrophe and DIY Diva.  But please vote for ME instead!  I'm kidding.  Kind of.  Ok, I'm not kidding.  Yes I am.  Uh, moving on....please check out my contest entry post here and the official voting (rating) page here.  If you like my stairway renovation, please rate it 5 stars and share the page with your blog friends, it would mean the world to me!



Monday, November 23, 2009

Public Service Announcement

What gets me through my constant house projects?  Is it gallons of coffee?  The love of peeling paint off my fingers?  A constant fear of having an ugly house?  An egotistical need to be the best?  NAY, new music on my iPod is what I need to get through boring un-glamorous projects.  Which is why I stalk's MP3 section daily for FREE albums and songs.  I get so much good tunage for free just by checking it every day.  Well, today they started offering a little freebie that can be used on any MP3, not just specific albums and songs.  If you go here and enter this promo code before Nov 30th, you will get three bones to use on music!  Yayah!


You're welcome.

Ever have one of THOSE weekends?

When did it become Monday?  Why did I do so much, yet get nothing 'done' this weekend? Why won't all THIS:
Fit into THESE:
And WHY, if this garage is big enough to have taken ten years days to paint, is it too small to fit all our stuff along with two average-sized cars??!  And WHY did our brand new garage door opener decide to stop working a week after installation??

Happy Monday, everyone. 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

'No pine cone' zone

When it comes to holiday decor, I suck.  Everyone out on the home/decor blogs is doing all these glittery, bling-bling, leafy, pine-coney decor posts, and I just can't get into it.  I really don't like clutter or 'tablescapes' because I'm a practical girl.  I get annoyed when I can't fit platters of food or see my guests across the table because I've got bowls of pine cones, tree branches, or gigantic glass hurricanes filled with doodads in the way.  Or when I have to take a swiffer to these things when they aren't on the table.  Don't get me wrong, these things can be really beautiful.  I just don't like spending time on beautifulness that isn't also functional and useful.  I think that is why I (and the man, actually) have a crazy obsession with candles and buy them by the truckload.  I also have a major aversion to fake greenery, leaves, potpourri, vines, etc.....see the 'swiffer' comment above. 
We are hosting Thanksgiving again this year, and again my table will look a lot like this:

Check out the old chandy, molding on the walls incomplete, china cabinet doors MIA, no rug, etc.  I guess my dining room has come a long way since then!  This table setting may seem boring, but at Thanksgiving I don't really need anything more than plates, napkins and a little candlelight.  Oh, and silverware.  And the food!  And some wine.  And ice cream.  And pumpkin pie.  Preferably those last two will come together.  Yummm

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Less junky

Ok, the junk is still there, but the walls holding the junk look better.  We used a beige 'masonry' primer to cover the sickly green, here is Shaun going over the primer with the first coat of paint:

You may notice we used a brush first in all the crevices.  I bought the expensive 'extra fluffy' roller covers made for masonry, but it still wasn't getting in there.  Oh well....brush it was.  We did two coats of paint, but we probably didn't need to.  The paint is Behr Stucco and Masonry paint, which I have mixed feelings about.  It was very runny for a 'self priming' paint, however it covered surprisingly well.  I guess the bottom line will be the staying power and scrub-ability.  You know, because I expect to be scrubbing the walls of my garage on a regular basis - NOT! 

I chose Behr Antique White for the walls because that is the color of all our interior hallways, and I didn't want to use gray and make it look more cinderblock-y.  I extended the white ceiling down to the first row of blocks to sort of mimic crown molding.  You likey?  The ceiling is a big pain, I have to cut in around all the garage door apparatus and other weird things that are stuck into that ceiling with no hope of removal.  But I'm getting it done slowly.  The next thing is a shopping trip to Lowe's with a $10 coupon to get more shelves and new garbage cans! 

Yes, I'm excited about new garbage cans!  You would be too, if yours looked like they lost a battle with a chain saw.

And uh, just ignore the empty keg back there. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cars don't live here

Ah, the infamous garage.  The downfall of messy homeowners everywhere.  Similar to the guest room, the garage ends up being chalk full of junk instead of what the space was intended to be used for.  We have 5 bedrooms and a full basement, but somehow our garage still turned into a storage unit.  Oh, and it is quite a scary-looking cinderblock prison, too:

This is after Shaun had cleaned it out.  We could only park one car in here, on the side with the half-assed attempt at painting it blue, next to the broken window that had been filled with bricks (problem solved!!) and the previous owner's helpful message to 'STOP HERE!' painted on the wall.  In our defense, until last week we couldn't really park on the other side because that garage door's opener was broken before we moved in.  That has been fixed, thankfully.  So, what are we to do about the mess?  Well, we started by putting everything into the middle of the garage and ripping out that stupid shelf in the back that prevented us from moving our tall storage shelves back there. 
Then we left it like this and went to have some drinkys:
Ha ha ho ho hee hee, I'm just kidding!  I will show you the goods tomorrow when I'm kinda done.  Ah, painting a cinderblock tomb while it's 45 degrees outside....good times.  Thank goodness for wine space heaters - and not just for me, but so my paint doesn't glob onto the walls like Amy Winehouse's liquid liner.  They don't put those 'minimum temperature 50 degrees' warnings on your paint cans for nothing!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Jamie's condo: Concrete jungle

One of the projects I worked on this weekend is Jamie's never ending mess poor dismantled condo.  This is how our sessions go: I saunter in there and tear things apart, spray paint some things, slap primer all over every possible surface, laugh at her outdated light fixtures and furnishings like a mean child on the playground, and then leave her there to live in the disaster.  Really, I don't mean to make fun of her at all....we laugh about these things together.  Right?  Right, Jamie?  Hello? 

Anyhow, I know I haven't given you a full 'after' picture of the kitchen, and that is because we're waiting for the new flooring and lighting.  The flooring will run through the entire place, so we need to prime and paint the walls and trim throughout before the gorgeous (and only $1.59/sq ft!) laminate floor is installed.  So, no full kitchen pics for you!  Here are a few blurry 'before' shots of what we're working with:

And, this is what the place looked like on Friday night after the carpet removal:
Don't you just want to park your car in there curl up and watch a movie in there?  No?  Don't wanna pull up some concrete slab and chill?  How about now?
It looks like the perfect cozy place for a three-year-old to watch cartoons, doesn't it?  There's even a tiny bit of carpet there for comfort.  Or, you could have a seat in the 'couch mosh pit' and eat your dinner in the totally swank dining area:

Where's the table?  Well, leaning against the owner's bed, of course.  DUH!  Americans love to eat in bed!  They also love to do this to get through some really boring priming and tack-strip removal:

No sneaking peeks at the kitchen, just focus on the bottles, people.  You see, you really can't get men to help without some beer.  Not that we need a man to help, but it makes things easier since no one really likes to prime miles of trim alone: 

And because I'm so proud of her, here is a pristine little feature of the kitchen that Jamie has done a great job on:

The $6 shelves I snagged from Hobby Lobby have been primed, painted, and styled with the help of adorable clearance items from Pier 1.  With new outlet covers installed, it will be looking mighty nice in there.  Stay tuned as we make more progress!   

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fitting your life into a carry-on

I have not been spending quality time with my computer this weekend, so I apologize for being a bad blogger.  I spent most of last week lugging my laptop and wheelie case around multiple airports, but I did make everything fit:

Notice the black case above my shoe.  That is a projector that I had to take with me, and it seemed to take up all the space in my carry-on!  Seriously, paring down to only a couple outfits and a quart size bag of toiletries was so hard.  The trip was a big reminder of why I don't like to travel, for work, pleasure, or otherwise.  I sometimes think vacations are just not worth the hassle of getting there.  Maybe I'm a bad vacation planner, but I find that dealing with airports, crowds, cabs, rental cars, traffic, hotels, etc is just such a headache that it makes a trip "not that great" in the end.  I know, I'm a weirdo for not liking vacations.  
I did spend my entire weekend working on projects, so I will update on those soon!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A 400 square foot yoga mat

Our deck on top of the garage is huge.  And rubbery.  Like a hollywood starlet's lips.  It is also a pain in the patootie because this darn railing goes on for miles:
(Those are not our brokedown chairs)
It is old, slightly rotted and was peeling down to the bare wood:

But I love the shape and that it is original, so we spent hours this summer scraping and priming all those little nooks and crannies.  Then we got paint matched to the pieces we peeled off, and did absolutely nothing else until this past Sunday when the house gods slapped us with a warm day and boomed "You cannot go through the entire winter without painting this railing, you lazy #&$*%&^!"  And we couldn't come up with an excuse not to.  Well, yes we could've - but we had the paint, the Packer game wasn't on until noon, and it was 65 degrees in November.  So we got to work.  I'm so glad it's done!  

Now if only we could get some kind of decking to go over the rubber membrane roof, we would be in business to have a swank deck party.  I'm just not willing to shell out the big bucks to have an engineer look at it, and I also don't want to DIY and have water coming into my house or garage if we accidentally puncture the membrane.  Also, the railing isn't high enough to be 'up to code' for gatherings.  So for now, it will be a place for Shaun to smoke his cigars.  By himself.  Stinky!  

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I'm leaving on several jet planes

My company is sending me to Sacramento, CA to conduct an all day training session tomorrow.  I am not looking forward to the three (3) flights I will have to take down there today, and the two (2) flights I will have to take back home on Thursday.  We're talking 16 hours of travel, people!  For one day of work.  Le sigh.  The only good thing is that I have a fresh Sookie Stackhouse novel to read....I seriously love those books. 

Anywho, I will have a new post somewhere in there, and maybe I will find something blog-worthy on my trip.  Hey, do celebrities hang out in Sacramento??!  I also hope there is a good vegetarian restaurant near my hotel.  When I get back, I will share what I did to avoid checking a bag with a laptop, projector, clothes and toiletries along for the ride. That's if I actually figure out how to do it!  Do you have a story about how you packed light for a very short trip? 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Worth their weight in wool

While I was taking clutter from the living room and dumping it in the dining room cleaning up the living room for new pictures this weekend, I was overwhelmed with love for my rug, and decided to do a post on how awesome it is.  In reading other people's blogs, I understand that a rug is one of the most maddening elements of a room.  It can make it or break it.  It has to be perfect, but can also be the cost of a mortgage payment.  I hear you.  I knew right when we put an offer in on our house that I wanted, nay, NEEDED, the Pottery Barn zebra rug for our living room.  I agonized over the price, but my mom convinced me to buy the 8x10 - for $633 including tax - immediately upon closing because her wool rugs are still going strong after 10 years.  When we finally got the living room all arranged, I was in love.  I love looking at the soft pile getting fluffed up while vacuuming (with my amazing 30 year old vacuum) and marveling that a year later it still looks new.  

Many people balk at the price of wool rugs, but let me tell you...IT IS SO WORTH IT.

My cats have puked on this rug countless times (do they purposely head for the rugs, or what?) and you can't see one spot.  When it happens, I spray on my Woolite Oxy Clean, scrub gently with a brush, and hum a happy tune because I know it will clean up like a dream.  Every. Time.  Thanks to my mom's advice, I only buy wool when I purchase room-size rugs.  So here's my rug reasoning:

Fibers - Wool pile will 'bounce back' after a good scrubbing, lots of foot traffic, and general wear.  Synthetic fiber rugs are stain resistant and offer more vibrant colors than wool, but a cheaper synthetic pile will mat down over time.  Wool rugs are softer and 'springier' under your feet - and they stay that way for decades if regularily cleaned and vacuumed. 

Damage - Wool rugs can handle loops being pulled out better than synthetic rugs.  You snip off the yarn and immediately, you can't tell where it came from.  Well-made wool rugs are packed tight and stand up to losing threads here and there.  Many synthetics can look 'bald' when this happens too often.  Also, my cat peed a few separate times on my dining room rug (a horrible ongoing problem in itself) and it still looks great after an extensive remedy that included soaking it with urine-off and blotting it dry for days. 

Cost - Some people think it's crazy to spend $600+ on a room-sized rug, but I say you get what you pay for.  I went the cheap route for the guest room, I got a sythetic rug for $100 and it's dropping threads like crazy and just generally isn't holding up.  And we don't even use that room!  Now, I only buy wool and if I want it brand new, I pay the $600 dollars.  I particularily love Pottery Barn's rugs because they are extremely high quality for the price, and they have beautiful colors and patterns.  If you think the price is high, do some research and it will start to look like a screaming bargain!  My dining room rug was a PB 8x10 purchased gently used on eBay, and I am so pleased with it.  I paid $240 including shipping, which was a steal for the size.  I have also found high quality wool rugs at TJ Maxx/Homegoods for a fraction of this price, but I wouldn't buy cheaper priced wool online unless I was familiar with the quality.

Pads - I never buy expensive rug pads, I go to TJ Maxx or Homegoods and pay about $20 for an 8x10 rubber non-slip pad.  The key is to get the rubber pads with the TIGHT weave, not the ones with the big spaces in between.  You don't need the $60+ rug pads the stores try to sell you, the rubber ones work just fine and won't ruin hardwoods. 

Care - I vacuum all the time because I have two cats, but even without the cats, I would vacuum at least weekly to keep the pile lifted and fresh.  Wool rugs will shed for awhile after you buy them, but the high quality rugs won't shed as much as cheaper ones do. 

Bottom line - I view rugs as an investment, and I'm willing to pay more for one that will last and look beautiful until I am ready for a new look.  I am not saying there aren't some very nice synthetic rugs out there, there definitely are, but they will not be cheap either.  Your rugs will be walked on, spilled on, crushed, and abused.  Spend the money now instead of replacing it in a couple years!  Please note that if I was going for a very trendy look that I knew I wouldn't want forever, I would most certainly pick out a cheaper Olefin or Poly rug and just give it away when I was ready for a change.  But for the most part, my rugs are a long term commitment! 

**And yes, my fingers are crossed that I don't hate animal prints in a couple years!**


Saturday, November 7, 2009


I changed some things in the living room for fall/winter:

I had to have that starburst mirror for above the fireplace, so my painting has been moved to the dining room where it looks great.  I had plans to paint the mirror, but I'm really liking the gold - very surprising because I really have never cared for gold anything.    

I also couldn't pass up these awesome teal velvet curtains from World Market that almost perfectly match the front hall color. They were a total steal, too! World Market has always had great prices, but they have really stepped it up a notch with 25% off your entire purchase and other wonderful coupons.  I think these look really cozy for the colder months, in the spring I will pull out my ivory cotton panels again.

I love that they look awesome with the teal pillows I already had, too.  I'm putting together a source list right now, so everything that is in this room will soon be documented!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Daydreaming about doors

Our front door is a filthy-looking white and no matter what I do, it will continue to look that way until we I repaint it.  Very soon we will be getting all new storm doors for our exterior doors.  Since we are upgrading to a 'full view' storm door for the front, almost the entire entry door will be visible.  Do you know what this means, bloggies?  Time to hire Mariah Carey's retoucher to photoshop different door colors onto our house!  Or to do it myself, badly and crookedly.  Please ignore the outdated picture and my neighbor who was in the middle of beating something with a stick taking down a fence when I rudely captured him in this shot....
Here is a nice, basic (boring?) black:

A similar color as our interior front hall:

Sexy bright red:

A darker, maroon-y red:

And a totally unexpected green:

Please tell me what your favorite is, and if there are any other colors you think would look great.  Or, feel free to leave an anonymous comment about how stupid my color choices are!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Renovation accusations

Last week I told Shaun that I was finally going to prime (and eventually paint) the french doors in the dining room that have sat untouched for over a year while everything else in the room was done.  He was working late one night, so I decided to make good on my promise by whipping out my primer and going to town on the doors, as well as the other set of french doors currently living in our basement.  When he got home, this is how the conversation went:
Shaun: Oh, you didn't paint the doors?

Me: Of course I did, don't you see all the tape and towels covering the floor?

Shaun: Hmm....they look the same.

Me: What are you talking about? They were all yellow-y before and it's only primer, not the final paint coat.

Shaun: Whatever, I don't think you did anything, you've just been reading Perez Hilton all night.

Me: For your information, I not only primed these, but the ones downstairs, too.  And I knew you were going say this, so I took photographic evidence after I finished the first door so you could see the difference.

And here is my submission to the jury that I was not lazy that night, half of the left door is primed:

And here is the left door totally done:

Here's to thankless jobs that take forever, and yet yield no immediate rewards.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween fun

Here is what we looked like for the trick-or-treaters on Saturday:

I had so many little girls tell me "I like your costume!"  It was too cute.  It's too bad it was so cold, because we didn't really get that many kids and now I have to eat 3 bags of candy bring 3 bags of candy to work so I don't eat it.  We also went out to see my brother's band play and enjoyed seeing some ridiculous costumes Saturday night.  Ours were borrowed from my mom and dad, they were pirates two years ago when 'Pirates of the Caribbean' was huge. 

Part of the band dressed up as superheros.  My bro was The Punisher.  Aren't they all very muscle-y??

And please check out my mother...yes, my mother.  If I look like this in 25 years I will thank my lucky stars!
Most of our group did 'Batman' themed costumes.  They had Batman, Robin, Poison Ivy, Catwoman, Joker, and Harlequin.  Not bad, eh? 

We had a good time.  I'm already trying to come up with next year's costume - I will not wait until the last minute again!!  Famous last words.....