It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Happy Halloween everyone! BJ and I had a fun time handing out candy tonight. We hope you have (or had) a safe night enjoying costumes parties or trick-or-treating! Don’t eat too much candy!

Zoey is spending her evening anxiously awaiting the Great Pumpkin to rise out of the pumpkin patch and bring toys to all the little kiddies and little kitties of the world!

The great pumpkin

Have a great night!

The Blanket Basket Acquisition

When you’re a cat owner/lover, you quickly learn that your stuff, is really your cat’s stuff. Your original purpose for items when they come into your home may not stay that way for long.

Take this basket:


We bought it with the intention that we would use it for blanket storage. Now that we have a bigger couch, we can have extra blankets available for guests or to snuggle up with on a chilly evening.

But since this is really “Zoey’s house,” as we often joke, our blanket basket is now Zoey’s basket.

But that’s why we love her. She is a keeper and definitely brings joy into our home.

Does your pet claim particular items as their own?

Spring Forward

Spring is in the air at our house. Despite the snowflake lights still hanging on our banister, I’m in full Spring-mode. Tonight also marks the beginning of Daylight Saving Time. Don’t forget to set your clocks forward one hour before you go to bed tonight!

I couldn’t be more excited to lose an hour of sleep. Seriously, I’m not being sarcastic. I’m looking forward to more daylight for evening walks and bike rides.

Another sign that Spring is on it way is in our flower garden. Check out what’s coming up already:

The hyacinths I planted last year survived! I worried they wouldn’t come back because I bought the flowers fully grown and then planted them around late April when it was still a little chilly out. I’m excited to see that they made it through the winter and now they are coming up and getting ready to bloom.

The tulips that I planted last year are also coming up. I noticed this little guy today while I was checking out the hyacinths.

Another sign that Spring is in the air is my latest organizing project. The first official day of Spring is still over a week away, but I’ve already got a jump-start on my “spring cleaning.” Remember at the beginning of 2012, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to get organized (closets, bathrooms and kitchen pantry)? I finally started on the pantry. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m happy with how it’s turning out so far. I realize that it still looks a little cluttered, but it’s better than it was. I will spare you the “before” photo. It was messy, so use your imagination. 🙂

I would love for our pantry to look like this:

Maybe some day.

In the meantime, I’ve been collecting Target gift cards like crazy lately so that I can buy more OXO vacuum-sealed containers. I love these containers! And no, I’m not getting any endorsements from OXO.

I hope get all of our pantry items (minus canned foods and individually package foods) into OXO containers.

Did you notice our fun star Post-it notes? Okay, they are a little hard to miss. I ran out of paper in our labeler so I’ve used these Post-its to label the containers. I actually think I like them a little better because I can also add the serving size and Weight Watchers Point Plus values.

I’m still collecting Target gift cards, so I will keep you updated on my progress. It will take a while to get our entire pantry into OXO containers, but I will keep buying a few here and there as I get more gift cards. Unfortunately, it seems like they never go on sale.

Once I get the pantry organized, my next room is the laundry room. It’s kinda drab now. This is one of the only rooms in the house that we didn’t paint. As you can tell, this shelf and wall are not very exciting. And the explanation for why there are so many containers of fabric softener; they were on sale. I also got a $5 Target gift card for purchasing two Downy and Tide items, so I stocked up.

You can also see the top of our very old washing machine in this photo. We will probably keep our washer and dryer until they die, so it might be awhile before I can really get this room looking like much. I would like to add a folding table, but that will have to wait until we buy a front-loading washing machine. As most homeowners know, you never run out of things to buy, or projects to do when you own a house. But that means there is always something new and exciting going on!

So before I wrap up this post, I’ll leave you with this photo. I caught Zoey sun-bathing and looking cute this afternoon.

Also, I’m going to try to post more regularly so check back on Tuesdays and Saturdays of every week for new posts!
Have a great weekend everyone!

A few subtle changes

Now that the Christmas decorations are put away and the tree has vacated our living room, I’ve been making a few subtle changes to our decor.

Subtle change #1: The dining room table

After the holidays, I switched out our reindeer placemats for our year round Vera Bradley Yellow Bird mats. I love these placemats because they are super versatile. And reversible! Also, I decided to keep our red candles from Christmas and I switched the flowers for something that could translate through seasons. I really love the red candles and orchids right now because they are perfect for Valentine’s Day.

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Subtle change #2: The master bedroom

Two weeks ago, I was roaming around Target at lunchtime and I stumbled onto a clearance section with a few Springmaid items including this fun orange quilt. It really adds a little something to our bed. Right now it’s not the most exciting styled bed, but it’s getting there. Next on my list to add are new pillows and throw pillows. Oh yeah… And a headboard. Baby steps.
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I also spruced up the storage cubes by our bed. They used to be a mess of fabric cubes with all sorts of random items and papers stuffed in them. Now I have my books and knick knacks neatly on display. I left two fabric cubes to store misc items such as magazines and cords for electronics.
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Subtle change #3: The kitchen

For those of you that know me are already aware that I recently started eating healthier and I lost 15 lbs on Weight Watchers. I’m at my goal weight so that means I need to maintain! To make a long story short, I’ve been cooking more often and I didn’t have an easy way to read my cookbooks while cooking. Well, Crate and Barrel came to my rescue with this awesome cookbook stand. It even has a splatter guard so I don’t splash food on my cookbooks. Genius.

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Subtle change #4: Where did Zoey go?

With all the moving and shaking going on downstairs, Zoey spends more of her time upstairs. To accommodate her new locale, we moved her favorite items upstairs so she can relax in comfort.
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Since it is still winter (despite what retail stores might think) I left our snowflake lights up on the
stair railing. I love the glow they give off a night. We will leave them up until winter is over.

Winter cleaning

It’s that time of year again. Time for spring… err… winter cleaning.

This year I got a head start on my spring cleaning and now I’m calling it “winter cleaning.” As part of my new year’s resolutions, I want to get organized. I started with my scary bathroom drawer and moved my way around the house. So far, I’ve cleaned/organized our closet and now I’m moving on to other locations in the house. My next stops are the laundry room and kitchen pantry.

All of this organization mania started a few weeks ago when I received this in the mail:

I love the Container Store. I would also love to go there and buy an Elfa system for every closet in the house as well as the laundry room. But for now, cleaning and self-organizing will have to do.

So as promised, an update on the closet. Here is the before and after for our master closet.

Before:

After:


It doesn’t look like this yet… but it’s still a work in progress. We are getting closer!

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I spent a few hours just sorting through and getting rid of clothes I no longer wear. A local non-profit will be in receipt of our donations in the near future. After I eliminated the clothes I no longer wear, I start organizing and folding the remaining clothes. For the non hanging clothes, I folded and neatly arranged them on the shelves and then I organized the hanging clothes by color and type. Finally I organized the shoes and scarves and then, I could see the floor again! Hooray! Now I won’t feel as stressed when I walk into the closet every day. I can pick out my clothes in a more welcoming environment.

While I’ve been cleaning, BJ has been busy working on the crown molding project. He made it all the way above the kitchen cabinets before running out of molding. Another trip to the home improvement store is in our future. We also need to pick out new baseboards for the dining room, so the timing worked out well.

So far, our 2012 has been full of cleaning and home improvement projects. Even Zoey is excited to see the progress!

That’s her serious face.

Well even if Zoey isn’t excited, we certainly are. I can’t wait to wrap up the dining room and crown molding projects.

We have some big plans for this year. Here are some of the things we would like to do in 2012:

1. Cleaning/Organizing the garage
2. Cleaning/Organizing the laundry room and kitchen pantry
3. Towel rack projects for master and guest bathroom
4.  Decorate the loft area

And I’m still working on my resolution to blog more often. So much to do! More updates to come.

A year in the making…

One year ago, after a trip to Home Depot, we taped a blue paint chip to our wall. And that paint chip stayed there for a year.

Friends and family came and stayed at our house and still the paint chip stayed on the wall.

Until last weekend, the paint chip seemed like a part of our wall. We even joked that we would go back to Home Depot and get enough paint chips to cover the entire wall. Finally, last weekend we went to Home Depot and bought a gallon of paint instead. After a year of living with our paint chip, we decided to take the leap and paint the wall.

So below is our paint of choice for this project. It’s Behr Premium Plus Interior Eggshell Enamel. We like eggshell paint because it is more durable than a flat, but doesn’t give off any sheen. Our color of choice: Glass Sapphire. The paint chip was actually for paint that included primer. Since our walls were already a light color, we chose to go with the regular interior paint. Because we went for the non-primer paint, they had to color match our chip, which sounds funny, but it turned out perfect.

On Sunday morning we got up, ate some breakfast, prepped the paint brushes and rollers and sanded the rough spots in the wall. After we sanded the wall, we wiped it down with a dry cloth.

While we prepped the brushes, rollers and the wall, Zoey came to inspect the paint supplies and supervise.

And to help BJ tape the trim.

After we put the kitten upstairs to enjoy lounging on our bed while we were busy working, we finished taping the trim, laying all the drop cloths, ate some lunch and then painted. So here is the wall sans blue paint:

Then the first coat went on:

And as the sun set Sunday evening, we ate some dinner then painted the second coat and wrapped up our painting project.

We waited over 24 hours before we hung the decorations and curtains back on the wall. After two days, our wall was finished and looked great.

So now the moment you’ve been waiting for: the before and after (from slightly different angles).

Before:

After:

After one year in the making, our big blue accent wall is complete!

Curtains = Cat Beds

Did you know that curtains can also double as cat beds? Zoey certainly thinks they can. Normally when I’m working in my office, Zoey can either be found laying in my lap or the desk by my feet. The other day, she was no where to be found. That is, until I looked behind the curtains to find a sleeping kitten:

I’ll admit it was a little chilly last week, but I didn’t think it would be cold enough for Zoey to seek warmth in the curtains. Maybe she is just getting herself ready for the winter months. It was really cute to see her all snuggled up in the curtains. I wish I could’ve gotten a picture of when she was sleeping on the other side of the room on top of the curtains.

Here is Zoey all tucked in her new curtain bed.

To give you some perspective, I have one curtain panel hung on each window of my office and then the curtain is draped over a hook. Zoey was laying in the part of the curtains that gathered on the floor.


S
o aside from finding sleeping kittens in our curtains, BJ and I have been busy working on projects around the house.

Here is a sneak peek of some upcoming posts about our projects.

The blue paint is finally on the wall! Remember the paint chip that we taped on our wall nearly one year ago:

Well, we finally finished the wall!

Over the weekend, I learned a very valuable lesson about gardening. Do not put off cleaning your flowers beds and then spend all day working on them. You will wake up the next morning with sore muscles you didn’t even know you had. My hat goes off to professional landscapers. I’m still beat from spending all day weeding, trimming flowers and bushes and pulling out unwanted sticker bushes. And there is still more to do.

The before:

It’s already been a busy October and there is still more month ahead!

Candy corn

Has anyone noticed the insane amount of Halloween candy in stores? This year it seemed extremely early that the Halloween candy started creeping its way into stores (no pun intended). Was it just me, or did it start showing up at the end of August? Seeing holiday decorations and candy early always makes me anxious to start decorating for that holiday, but I always try to withstand the urge to start decorating over a month ahead of time. It keeps me from getting tired of the decorations before the holiday arrives. But this year, I gave in and started decorating for Halloween a little early.

Now that it’s pretty much a month from Halloween, I decided to try a fun centerpiece idea I found on Pinterest.

Feed the Flames

To make my version of this fun candy corn centerpiece, I used our Crate and Barrel vases and our candles from Ikea …

…And added some candy corn I bought at Target to make my interpretation:

I arranged them on our dining room table with a wire pumpkin I found at Michael’s last year for a fun fall table display. They look really nice with our Vera Bradley Yellow Bird placemats.

I’m still not sure I’m crazy about the garland, but I’m going to wait a bit and see if it grows on me. Or I will leave there until I find an alternative that I like better.

So on another note, lately Zoey has been very helpful around the house. She really enjoys redecorating our fall displays. Evidently, our fall leaves are also fun toys. Some of our friends came for a visit recently and they found a few leaves Zoey sampled from the stairway garland. The other day, I caught her in action.

And to end my short Fall-themed post, if I had smell-o-vision for my blog, it would smell like the delicious apple crisp I made on Monday. So for all you pumpkin spice latte drinkers out there, this is the perfect Fall dessert (other than pumpkin pie) to enjoy with your Fall beverage of choice. For me, it’s a carmel macchiato, because I’ve never been a big pumpkin spice latte drinker. So grab a dish of apple crisp (with vanilla ice cream, of course), curl up with a blanket and your pumpkin spice latte and enjoy the rest of the week!

Another busy, yet accomplished weekend

These days it seems like every weekend is a busy one. However, this weekend was successful despite our busy schedule. So to catch you up on the past few days, I’ve spent most of the week calling home and working on projects around the house. Here are the highlights of this past week’s happenings:

1. The earthquake on the East Coast.

Since all of my family lives on the East Coast, I spent Tuesday evening sending text messages and calling home to my mom and dad to hear the stories of their experiences during the quake.

2. Hurricane Irene.

It’s been a crazy week for my friends and family on the East Coast. More phone calls home and watching the weather to see the path of the storm.

3. Despite the bad weather on the East Coast, it’s been a beautiful week here in the Midwest.

Although I hoped to get more work done outside in the beautiful weather, I’ve been spending some time indoors trying to get projects done and catch up on some cleaning, etc. Tonight is the first night we’ve opened up the windows since sometime in April or May. Zoey is so excited to see the windows open that she’s been running from room to room.


Yesterday, we got up in the morning, went to breakfast and then headed over to Borders’ going out of business sale. It’s sad to see places like Borders close. I’ve been frequenting the sale over the past few weeks buying up photography, decor and comic books.

In the realm of home decor, I found a couple of great buys for my mom on organizing and a few on home decor and Real Simple’s book on simple solutions:


After our trip to Borders, my husband and I hopped back in the car and headed to Ikea for the afternoon.

Earlier this week I signed up for Ikea Family and wanted to go pick up my new card and check out a few items that are on our project list. Our visit to Ikea was a successful one and we came home with a few new items for our home and even got to enjoy a few frozen yogurt for signing up for Ikea Family!

Our trips to Ikea not only end up with new stuff for our home, but we always leave with a better idea of what we might pick up on our next visit. This time we shopped for couches. Previously, we were set on the idea that we would be buying a different couch then the one we picked out this time. When we walked into the showroom on Saturday, this particular couch caught our eye:

We are looking for something that sits low to the floor (because our entertainment center, which is also from Ikea, has our TV sitting pretty low to the floor) and is large enough that when we have a guests over, everyone can find a place to sit to watch a football game, movie or play video games. Right now with one couch, most of our guest have to curl up on the floor with a pillow.
We really like the charcoal color they had in the showroom and since we have a palette of neutral colors in our home, my plan is to brighten up the couch with brightly colored throw pillows and blankets. I especially love this couch because it is so large and both BJ and I can curl up and watch a movie and be completely comfortable! Now we just need to do some measurements to see if it will fit in our living room. If not, there are plenty of configurations for this couch, so we can go with a smaller option.
And of course, a trip to Ikea isn’t complete without the adventure of figuring out how all of your purchases will fit in the trunk! This time, I thought for sure we would get everything in without a problem. Especially since we didn’t buy as much as we normally do. But, in perfect Ikea trip fashion, there we were standing at the car sweating it out because the shelves I picked out for my office didn’t fit even with the seats folded down. But no worries. We got it all in! And this is how we drove home:
Now that everything we bought is safely at home, here are the finished results of another successful trip to Ikea.
Hallway to garage and utility room before:
Hallway to garage and utility room after:
We also purchased a bench for shoes that we put in the kitchen which allows us to come in the garage door and have a place to sit down and take off our shoes. And it also serves as storage for our shoes. I can’t count the number of times I’ve tripped over my own shoes in that back hallway. I’m glad we now have a place to put them that is out of the path to the laundry room.
And lastly, coming soon will be a post on the finished project of adding shelves to the wall in my office! Look for that post in the future!

The kitchen island and a home for my wrapping paper photo frames

After we moved into our house and began unpacking all of our existing kitchen dishes and appliances and then added all of our wedding gifts on top of that, we quickly filled up every existing storage space in our kitchen. We had things crammed in our cabinets and we were constantly digging around and stuffing to get everything to fit. Most people would consider getting rid of some of their items, but not us. Our solution: build more storage so our appliances and dishes could be spread out around the kitchen. The result: our fabulous kitchen island, built by us! Well, all of the pieces are from Ikea and we designed and assembled the whole thing.

Our goal with the island was to not only increase our existing storage space, built also to have a big workspace for preparing meals and a place to entertain guests in our kitchen while we prepare meals. We also wanted a place where we could eat dinner in our kitchen, but we weren’t interested in the traditional dinette table. The unit is also freestanding which will allow us to take it with us if or when we move out (some disassembly required).

The color choice of the island, which is different from our existing cherry kitchen cabinets was to create a contrast between the dark wood and the white cabinets. We also wanted to brighten up the kitchen. The dark cabinet and dark floor needed something that would pop against them! We chose the butcher block counters for a couple of reasons. First, they look really nice with the white cabinets and second, they were much more cost effective then the granite countertops we originally picked out. Because the bar and the work surface were two different pieces, the cost of granite skyrocketed.

Here’s our progress as we put the island together:


Zoey was also very helpful during the assembly. She supervised the entire project.

Some of the other fun features of the island include, the hidden trash can…
The book shelve for cookbooks and decorations…
And the cabinets to display our drink ware (with lights installed!):
So lastly, you might have noticed the new home for my Beating the Heat DIY project. I was originally planning to hang the frames in the kitchen on the backsplash, but I changed my mind after tapping the frames up to see how they would look. I’m happy to report that they still look great in the kitchen. I placed them on a few of the counters and I really like how they look. I think they’ve found their new home… for awhile at least!
They really brighten up the kitchen!