Archive for November, 2011

Wow! That’s a lot of Progress!

Posted on November 30, 2011. Filed under: Hobbies, Home |

It’s November almost December and the home-related projects still exist, but we’re tackling them a bit slower due to lack of daylight and BO. That’s burnout, people. And in case you’re wondering why we may be burned out, we’ve had a pretty eventful Summer/Fall:

  • Closed on our house
  • Painted 2 bedrooms, the kitchen, the living room, a closet, a pantry, and we’re working on the halls
  • Installed some blinds
  • Made, bought, and hung curtains and rods for the master and the den
  • Acquired new throw pillows for the bed and the sofa
  • Made some throw pillow covers
  • Made a fall wreath and table runner
  • Planted flowers in assorted pots
  • Ripped down the playground
  • Dug/chopped up a bush
  • Seeded for grass
  • Ripped out ivy
  • Painted and stained door and trim in den
  • Moved in our house – that’s a BIG one
  • Made some artwork
  • Started stenciling the wall — very hard to see in pictures

  • Removed the rose garden, graded the slope, and planted Camellias – more on that coming soon

  • Purchased and installed a new light fixture in master bath
  • Spray painted a floor lamp and dressed it up with a new shade
  • Purchased and assembled a storage cabinet for master bath
  • Patched and painted over various holes in the wall from pictures and shelves
  • Installed lighting over kitchen sink and under overhead kitchen cabinets
  • Got a new kitchen table and chairs from Adam’s parents

Looking back, that’s a lot of accomplishments for two people with full time jobs and pretty full social lives, in my humble opinion. Naturally, we’re exhausted and lacking inspiration. And we’re less ignorant of the amount of work it takes to do things. Therefore, we’re not as motivated or excited to tackle the next big project. Besides, we have been spending a lot of time in the yard this fall. I have blisters from the leaf blower and the rake. Fun times. We live in Georgia and do not have a single pine tree in our yard. How weird is that? I swear every tree we have loses it’s leaves. It’s a constant battle from October to December. Don’t believe me?

This is our deck – under 6 inches of leaves.

And the backyard. This was 3 days before we raked. It got worse. I don’t know how that’s possible. The oak trees still have about a third of their leaves left.

Soon, we’ll hunker down for winter and it will be easier to find time to do a few of the smaller things on my short-term wish list:

  • Make curtains for the kitchen – I have purchased the fabric, but my sewing machine and I are having tension issues. Ugh!
  • Finish stenciling accent wall in living room – this is painful
  • Finish painting halls – 2 down, 1 to go
  • Make curtains for guest room
  • Hang things on the walls for goodness sakes!
  • Treat deck
  • Furniture shopping
  • Buy grill

And while we’re still checking the small stuff off the list, we’re starting to seriously think about the BIG projects. We’ve lived in this house for 4 months now. We’re unpacked except for one measly box. (Yes, it’s been sitting in the corner of our living room untouched all this time.) We have a routine. We have a better understanding of what we’re lacking, what we’d like, and how flexible our house/layout would be to change. So in the next few weeks I’ll be sharing what we’re dreaming up. We’re not ready to pull the trigger on any big project yet. Some of these ideas will take time, thoughtful planning, resources, and require the advice of professionals. But we’re totally excited about DOING a lot of the work ourselves. A sampling of the BIG ideas in our heads:

  • Adding more shelves and functionality to the laundry area along with a utility sink and additional lighting
  • Master bathroom and hall bathroom re-do
  • Total kitchen re-do that will most likely require some load bearing walls to come down. Ai yai yai!
  • Running a gas line to the stump of a lamppost we have now and topping it off with a lamp
  • Landscaping the slope in the backyard formerly covered in ivy with various shrubs and ground cover

I’ll be back with the deets on all of the above in due time. We’re looking forward to slowing down for the rest of year. We plan to start more projects in 2012.

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Thanksgiving Birthday Cake

Posted on November 29, 2011. Filed under: Food and Beverage, Holiday |

Say whaaaaat?!

You read the title right. We have birthdays on or around Thanksgiving in this family. Yep. BirthdayS. Plural. My darling husband and his charming identical twin brother are Thanksgiving babes. They were actually born extremely premature on Thanksgiving morning in a foreign land called Ohio. (They lived in Indiana at the time and were visiting the grandparents for Turkey Day.) And my mother-in-law didn’t know she was having twins! I swear. Their birth story never gets old. Can you imagine going into pre-term labor in a different state on a national holiday knowing that no one at that hospital wants to be there? And then on top of that, there’s a second kid on his way when you only planned for one?!?!?!

This year their birthdays were on Thanksgiving because of the way the calendar fell. Adam says people ask him all the time if his birthday is on Thanksgiving every year. No people. Think about it. Thanksgiving is on a Thursday every year. Is your birthday on a Thursday every year? Yeah, point for the twins.

Adam’s brother, Ryan, decided to visit us for Thanksgiving/Birthdays and we were so glad he could come. Twins kind of need each other on major holidays and especially birthdays. If you are a twin, related to one, or married to one, you understand. We planned to do Thanksgiving and Birthdays all in one with a large dessert spread: pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and 2 birthday cakes. All that dessert for 9 people.

My mom made Ryan a caramel coconut pecan cake. It was yummy.

And I made Adam a chocolate raspberry cake, a combination he cannot get enough of.

I just used a Devil’s Food cake mix for the cake. Why fix it if it isn’t broke? Their cake mixes are so good and so easy. Plus, I had a lot of other Turkey Day cooking to accomplish. I think I made up for my shortcut in presentation. The icing is actually chocolate ganache, but I modified it a little.

I started boiling heaving whipping cream in a saucepan and added chopped semi-sweet chocolate squares, taking the sauce off the burner. But it was too rich and not enough. I played with it until I got it the way I wanted by adding more whipping cream, chocolate, a generous helping of sugar and some salt. I put it in a mixing bowl with some plastic wrap against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. I let it set for an hour or so.

The filling was about 4 T of seedless raspberry jam and 6-8 ounces of fresh raspberries. I mixed that together and it went in between the layers.

After the ganache set up, I carefully and artistically poured it over the top of the cake letting it drip down the sides. I wiped the excess of the cake plate with a wet dish cloth. Just prior to serving, I arranged extra raspberries (rinsed and dried) on top of the cake. They were drizzled with more ganache and dusted with some white chocolate flakes.

With desserts like we had, I made sure to save room so I could sample them all. Yum!

Here we are post-Thanksgiving feast, pre-Thanksgiving birthday cake:

Anybody else share their birthday with a holiday? Or do you have a birthday that sometimes falls on a holiday like Memorial Day? One of my good friends is supposed to have a baby on Christmas Day! Let’s all say a prayer for her that she delivers a week early so she doesn’t have to be in the hospital on Christmas.

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Finally… A Table and Chairs

Posted on November 18, 2011. Filed under: Home, Purdy Things |

After months of looking and coping with the realization that they don’t make furniture like they used to, we have a kitchen table and chairs!!!

Adam’s parents were so generous in gifting us this beee-you-tiful table and chairs that we picked out as a wonderful housewarming present. They broke the furniture-buying ice so to speak. We’ve been in this house for 4 months and this is our first furniture acquisition. And we have a long way to go!

Why did it take so long? Well, in what little experience I have shopping for furniture, it always takes a long time. Additive to that, I was and usually am very, very picky. I wanted a round pedestal table on a true pedestal, with a drop-in leaf, solid wood, and one color finish. Besides those qualities, I had to like it stylistically. So it took a long time. You’d think I was asking for the moon when I wanted a solid wood table. A lot of manufacturers don’t make solid wood furniture and substitute a lesser quality wood with wood veneers. And most solid wood tables were out of this world expensive. But I finally found one that I love and Adam likes it too:

forgive the pictures. I had to use the older camera. 😦

This table is made out of poplar and hemlock. The top is planked and a little rustic/worn looking. The planks have these pretty tongue and groove joints that you can see from the side of the table top.

There is a 2 foot leaf that drops in and it is planked as well. The leaf really blends in because of all those planks.  It has a warm mahogany finish and I love the over-sized ball turning in the pedestal.

The feet are pretty fabulous too. See how there are nicks and knots and a general rustic vibe? We love it!!!

The chairs are made out of solid wood as well. The seats can pop out. We plan to re-upholster them in a fabric that is complimentary to the kitchen curtains. Kitchen curtains will be an adventure for later.

The seats of the chair are smaller than your average kitchen chair, but we’re small people. Our behinds fit in them just fine. And the other chair options were REALLY wide. For special occasions, we’d like to be able to fit 6-8 people around this table if we can, so getting slimmer chairs is key. (With the leaf, the table is supposed to seat 8.) We really like the shape of the backs. The chairs are the same stain finish as the table, but less rustic. They still match though. I made sure of that before we ordered them.

Why solid wood? Why not? When it comes to a kitchen table, something that will get used multiple times a day for eating, crafting, doing homework (one day), I wanted it to be very durable. It’s comforting to know that we can sand this baby down in 20 years and refinish it without going through a veneer.

We are so grateful for our wonderful parents. Adam’s parents were more than generous with this gift. We couldn’t be happier. Every morning this week when I’ve walked into the kitchen, I grin like an idiot. And then I pet the table or put my nose to it so I can smell the newness. It’s love. My parents gave us some money to use on stuff around the house. We haven’t used it yet. Yeah, we’re tightwads. We’re thinking about using it on a grill or some furniture in the living room. I’ll let you know when we finally make a decision.

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Ombre, Hombre

Posted on November 16, 2011. Filed under: Hobbies, Home |

Jackson Pollock, eat your heart out. There’s a new girl in town. And she is a virtuoso.

A few Sundays ago I got my paint on and created this masterpiece:

Yeah. I did that. Woo to the hoo. And I don’t consider myself very artistic. Translation: It wasn’t too hard.

So here we go with the instructions…

Materials:

  1. Canvas
  2. Paint Brush
  3. Drop cloth
  4. Cup of water
  5. Paint tray – I used a disposable plate
  6. 2 colors of paint – one light and one dark, preferably in the same color family

Method:

  1. Mix a medium paint (for the middle) by adding a little of the dark paint to some of your light paint. Play with it until you get your desired color. (Note: it’s always easier to add dark to light, not light to dark)
  2. Dip your dry brush into the lightest color and start painting the top third of the canvas, starting at 1/3 of the way down and blending the paint upward, allowing it to gradually lighten.
  3. Dip your brush into a teeny, tiny bit of water, dab it off, and use it to pull paint up to the top of the canvas. This will dilute the color toward the top, creating a nice fade out effect.
  4. Dip your brush into the middle color and start painting in left to right strokes 1/3 of the way up the canvas (the middle), blending upward. You will overlap some of color 1.
  5. Dip your brush into the darkest color and start at the bottom of the canvas working up into the middle section.

Some other helpful tips:

  1. Use less paint the further up you go in each section.
  2. A little goes a long way when it comes to water. Damp bristles should suffice, not dripping wet.
  3. Paint the sides of your canvas for a finished look. You can carry the painting around to the sides or paint all the sides your darkest color.
  4. Don’t overwork the paint. Eventually, the paint will lift off the canvas if you keep working it. It cannot be manipulated as well when it dries.
  5. Left to right strokes all the way from side to side.
  6. You may need to go back to another color and add it in to improve your blend in between sections.

Obviously, there is an ombre craze going on out there. If you don’t believe me, here’s some proof:

image from the Beauty Department

I have been affected by the ombre, hombre. I just had to have something ombre. I cannot commit my lovely lady locks yet. Maybe I’m too old-fashioned since I still believe that your roots showing is trashy – even if it is “so HOT right now!” according to my hair stylist. So I went for some ombre in the form of home décor. I was able to make this in less than an hour for about 30 buckaroos. Buying a piece of artwork this big would be a few hundred dollars. Yay me! Dyeing my hair a la ombre wouldn’t be cheap and could be emotionally damaging as well. I asked Adam to hang my ombre art in our master bedroom. I think it’s just what this blank wall needs.

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Do note our new pillow acquisitions: two Euro pillows and a gray feathery pillow. Doesn’t it look comfy?

Update: Milk & Honey Home are also digging the Ombre craze! I officially feel cool and justified in my love for ombre.

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Envelope Throw Pillow Covers

Posted on November 14, 2011. Filed under: Hobbies, Home |

Just in case you didn’t take me seriously when I said I’ve been getting my craft on lately, here’s further proof…

I ordered extra curtain fabric for the den curtains so I could make throw pillow covers. I probably have enough fabric left to dress all the von Trapp children. Well, that’s Adam’s plan for the curtains once we get sick of them. I just hope he doesn’t want me to pop out 7 little Austrian kids. Not gonna happen – the 7 kids part or the Austrian part.

I told myself that if I could make 6 fully lined curtain panels with zero experience, throw pillow covers would be a cinch. And they were. If you know how to sew a straight stitch on a sewing machine, you can do this.

  1. Measure your pillow form. I had 2 pillows that were 18” x 18”. Add 1” to the length and to the width for seam allowances. For me this equaled 19” x 19”
  2. Calculate measurements for your back pieces by using the same width above. For length, multiply the length of the pillow by ¾ + ½” for seam allowance. My pillow length is 18” x ¾ = 13.5” + ½” = 14”.
  3. Cut out your fabric. 1 square piece (19” x 19”) and 2 rectangle back pieces (19” x 14”) per pillow. If you have patterned fabric, make sure you’re making your cuts appropriately – i.e. not sideways. My fabric had these large damask pineapple thingies. Thankfully, I realized BEFORE I started cutting that the front piece of the pillows should have the pineapple centered on the finished pillow. For the back, it didn’t matter as long as the fabric was facing the right direction.
  4. Line up your back pieces the way you want them over your pillow. For one of them, you will be sewing a hemline on the bottom. For the other, the hemline will be at the top. Pin your hemlines for both back pieces at ½” and press. Pin and press again at 1”.
  5. Sew your hemlines on the back pieces with a straight stitch.
  6. With your front piece face up and with the print in the right direction, lay your back pieces face down on top of the square fabric with their hemlines in the middle. If you want the top part of the back to be the outside part of the envelope, lay it down first. Line up the sides of the first back piece and pin. Remember to keep wrong sides out, right sides in, and that your fabric is facing the right direction.
  7. Sew first back piece to front of pillow case with a ½” seam allowance remembering to reverse stitch when you start and stop.
  8. Line up the sides of the second back piece – it will overlap the first back piece – and pin.
  9. Sew the second back piece to the front of the pillow case with a ½” seam allowance.
  10. Flip the pillow case right side out and insert pillow form!

The back side of the pillow

Easy, peasy. This little project took about an hour and a half. It could probably go quicker, but I was watching TV too.

I didn’t pre-shrink the fabric this time. I was impatient and wanted to get these bad boys made. I plan to scotch guard them. If anything gets past that, they are small enough to hand wash in cold water.

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The Paper Anniversary

Posted on November 1, 2011. Filed under: Newlywed, Travel |

Our 1 year anniversary was at the beginning of October. Crazy. We can’t believe a year has gone by either. It seems like yesterday that we were up to our eyeballs in wedding paraphernalia, rocking out with our closest friends and family at our reception, almost missing our flight out of Atlanta because the Ritz didn’t deliver our scheduled wake-up call. Yeah. The Ritz messed up. Who can you trust these days if you can’t trust the Ritz-Carlton? They felt real bad though. And about this time last year, we were having the best time ever on our honeymoon in St. Lucia.

 

I asked Adam if we could go back this year. I was only half kidding. He said no. Something about money and hurricanes and that St. Lucia will lose its luster if we overexpose ourselves… (I disagreed to all points.) But we still took a mini-vacay to celebrate the occasion.

We rented a lovely house in Western North Carolina on Lake Nantahala for the weekend. There was absolutely nothing to do in the nearest one-horse town of Andrews. Thank goodness. To be honest, we’re both pretty sick and tired of all the going, going, going we’ve been doing lately. It seems like we’re always working on the house, working at our jobs, or attending some function or another.

The house was great. It had a huge front porch with views of the lake and Smokey Mountains. The fall foliage was amazing! Check it out:

There was also a hot tub and a big screen TV. I hit up the Red Box before we left Atlanta with a nice selection of movies. We relaxed all weekend, watched some flicks, watched college football, read (I caught up on all my catalogues and magazines), and disconnected from the outside world (no cell phone service or internet).

We’ve decided to adopt the traditional anniversary gift practice. Well, at least for this year. It may get harder as we progress. Like once we get to steel. That’s year 11, so I have a decade to save up for that Corvette Adam wants. Or a tank. I guess Corvettes aren’t made out of steel. They wouldn’t go very fast. Oh well. I’ve got 10 years to figure that one out. The first year is paper and coupled with our mountain getaway, we decided to do gifts less than $50. I ordered this custom print from Etsy’s your very own artist.

We have this Peter Pan thing that everyone on the outside of our relationship probably thinks is super cheesy and they’re right. But it’s special to us.  Adam and I did the long distance thing for a few years when we were dating and we’d always say on the phone at night that we’d see each other in Neverland (i.e. our dreams). So Peter Pan has become our thang. Adam even got me a first edition Peter and Wendy book as a wedding present. Yeah, he’s a really good gift giver. He’s so much more romantic than me.

He got me a Wedding Anniversary journal where you can jot down significant events for every year of marriage, what gifts you gave each other, memories from your wedding and the first year. It was super thoughtful. He filled out some of the questions in the book with his take on things which made me tear up a little. But that’s not all. He also wrote a note and sealed it like the memory notes I gave him in his wedding present last year. AND, he gave me a few frames of film from an actual Peter Pan film reel. How sweet is that? Now I’ve got to figure out the best way to display them.

It was such a nice trip. We really enjoyed relaxing, eating big breakfasts, drinking French press coffee, and curling up on the couch. Here are a few pictures of us on the mountain:

And here’s a little video of the drive down the mountain. Adam added some stock music because all you can hear otherwise is the phhhhhh of the wind. Can you say idyllic? So beautiful!

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