Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Dining Room...

We've been really busy with new house stuff lately.  Most of the projects are well underway... some even finished.  However, Matt and I have noticed that when we check one thing off the list we seem to add 5 more.  It's been fun though and we are seriously enjoying our new space!  I thought I'd share a dining room update since I have literally posted NOTHING in months.  It's about 90% finished and it will  most likely stay that way for a while! 

Here's a before... like really before - as in before we bought the house! (realtor pic) 

The previous owners loved heavy dark cherry stained furniture.  Every room was full of it!  This is just after we moved in...  Doesn't it look so much brighter already?

And here is my beloved INSPIRATION pic...sigh...

I love you Ethan Allen but this room was going to cost me about 20K.  You can see a few pics of our dining furniture (in our old house) in this post.  It's pretty old, not cool old but just outdated old...  I painted it black 6 or 7 years ago because it was that horrible 90s maple and I actually really liked it but I was getting tired of all black.  Plus I sorta didn't use the right paint or prep the wood very well... I've learned a lot since then (thanks Pinterest!)

Here is what our dining room looks like today:


It may not seem like we've done much, but I promise there has been a lot of detail work (mostly to the furniture).  We didn't paint this room, it's one of the few that the paint was in "okay" shape.  Here's what we DID do:

1. stripped the table top of the old black paint... NOT easy but we knocked it out in a day or so.  I then stained it a walnut color.
2. stripped and refinished the hutch.  Again, NOT easy but worth it.  The above pic makes it look more primary red but it's actually a brick red.  Matt replaced the back with bead board and I was happy to add my grandmother's dishes back!
3. built the "lantern" sconces on the sides.  Yep, Matt built those!  We used some old wood from a fence we tore down, ikea lanterns ($7) and plant hangers ($2).  I stained them with the same stain as the table and voila.  I love them!

Here are a few other pics because everyone loves visuals:


Initially I was going to get sconces similar to my inspiration room, but I changed my mind after really studying the details of the room.  My inspiration room has wooden beams - they totally give the room character.  Our dining room has picture molding... so I knew I needed to offset that a bit and bring in that wooden beam feel.

I scoured the internet for some pics of what I was looking for...

(All source info can be found on my Pinterest board.)  Once I figured it out, Matt went to work.  I just love how they turned out!  And they were SO easy to make... 

FYI:  I did find sconces just like the ones in my inspiration room.

The ones on the left are Ethan Allen and they are gorgeous...They are also $300 each.  The ones on the right are Ikea.  You could easily spray paint them with the metallic shiny silver paint...  They are $12 each...


Another of the hutch from a different angle.  This is a little more true to the color we "see".

You can also see in this pic that we added legs!  The legs definitely update the look of the piece.  And the bead board?  Ugh - it's my favorite!  We actually had a piece big enough laying around from another project so it didn't cost us a thing. 

Here's what's left:

There are a few things I'm still thinking about and haven't committed to yet...

1. The light.  We actually purchased that barrel shade from ikea and placed it over the existing chandelier.  The old chandelier is hideous - think giant boob light with silver and frosted glass.  I do like the lighting in the Ethan Allen inspiration room but we put something similar in our breakfast area so for now the barrel shade is staying.
2. A rug.  I found a rug almost EXACTLY like the Ethan Allen one... at Target... on clearance... But Matt said he actually likes the look of the wood floors.  We have large area rugs in the study, living room and breakfast area already (downstairs) so maybe we'll leave it without a rug?  I can't decide.
3. The chairs.  I considered getting chairs like the Ethan Allen white ones at the head of the table.  However, we have kids... so... not a good idea.  I think I'll recover our existing ones, I just can't decide on what I want to recover them in!  We also plan to refinish the chairs and legs of the table at some point but it's not high on our priority list.
4. The curtains.  Every window in this house was covered with tacky heavy curtains when we moved in.  We've replaced most of them.  The dining room curtains are some I already had because I can't decide exactly what I'd like in there. I think eventually I'd like plantation shutters so again, for now it's staying the way it is.

So there ya have it.  I must have looked at hundreds of dining rooms when I was thinking of how I wanted ours to look and I just knew I'd found the right one when I saw the Ethan Allen one.. I didn't want it exactly the same, but I loved the overall feel of the room.  I think ours turned out pretty well. :-)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

We bought a house!

So yeah, we bought a house... in Allen, TX!

I'll try and post some pics over the next few months of projects that we have planned.  We love the house but we have quite a list of things that need to be done!  The front needs all those old shrubs torn out, a facelift on the fence and the grass and flowerbeds need some TLC. 

We love love love that it has a pool!  And a huge backyard!

But again, we've got big plans for the space.  Meanwhile we'll be enjoying our new space (LOTSA LOTSA SPACE!) and neighborhood!

Exciting times! :)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

When faced with disappointment, clean your closet.

Sooo, I had written this long winded whiney post about how my New Year's Resolutions were already in the toilet but I decided to delete and start over.  In a nutshell, we got some bad news about our move to the East Coast and it appears we will be staying in the North Texas area for longer than either of us wanted.  SUCK.  The first few days I wanted to wallow in self pity and cuss out everyone but I think I'm starting to feel a little better... Not a lot, but a little.  Matt and I went house hunting last weekend and it was nearly enough to throw me back into despair but I'm trying, ok?  I just can't get excited about paying 300K for a stupid house that barely has a yard or extra room.  I've spent the last 3 months looking at houses in South Carolina that had huge yards and wooded lots and finished basements...  Like you could go into your backyard and be surrounded by trees and greenery and barely see your neighbors house a few hundred yards away.  Instead, we'll look for a house here where our neighbors houses are about 10 FEET from ours.  Of course you can't really see anyone's house anyway because for some reason people see it fit to park their cars all along the streets here.  Drives me insane.  But, I digress and I realize these are even less than first world problems and I need to put on my big girl panties and move on.  It's only a small set-back and not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.  I've sort of fallen off the wagon on the rest of my resolutions because I needed to be sad and miserable for several days.  In order to make myself do something productive (and that would be a positive experience for me) I decided to clean my closet. 

Reasons to clean your closet:
1. You can't find anything and therefore wear the same leggings and Mumford and Sons concert tee over and over again...without a bra cause who the hell knows where the only one that fits is?  Probably under that lone snow boot that is missing it's mate.  
2. Your clothes get so messy they fall off the hangers and onto the floor where you store your dirty clothes so you end up washing random clothes that you never even wore - true story.  And I hates doin' the laundry so doing extra is just dumb.
3. You buy a cute top only to realize you already have one almost EXACTLY like it hidden in the recesses of your closet. 
4. You start digging thru there for something and find a Christmas present that you had hidden.
5. Being disorganized is the devil's playshop... wait, that's not how that goes... organization is close to godliness?  I don't know, but there is something about being organized that does make you feel better. 

So here's where we started:

I want to point out a few things.
1. I had to pick a few things up off the floor in order to take this pic - some stuff you just don't want to share with the WWW, trust me.  The first pic is looking to the left side of the closet, the second is looking to the right side.
2. I went thru a major overhaul and got rid of half my clothes and shoes when Matt and I got married 3 years ago because I had to go from 2 small walk-in closets to one.  Yes, all my stuff has to fit in the tiny closet.  (again with the whining...I'll stop)
3. I have attempted to organize it in the past because it's pretty small.  Hence the door shoe organizer, the shelf shoe organizer and all the baskets on the shelves.
4. I don't have a good pic of the top shelf but there was all kind of junk up there.  Honestly I think I threw most of it away.

When cleaning your closet the first thing you have to do is pull all the sh*t out and start from scratch.  Our whole bathroom floor and most of the bedroom floor was covered.  I took all the baskets out and went thru those and organized them.  That top basket is my "work out clothes" basket.  I put everything in there so it would be easy to find and grab and I'd have no excuses to not work out.  Well that will work if you are willing to keep it neat and tidy.

I emptied them, separated and folded the contents and then only put the necessities back in. 
For example, I took my yoga stuff out of my workout basket and only put in a couple of running shorts, sports bras and running pants.  Now it's much easier to find what I'm looking for.

Next I made sure I had all my summer stuff (I keep the off season stuff stored somewhere else due to the size of my closet) was weeded out and put in our extra suitcase that I store on the top shelf.  I've found that this process works.  You could probably use a big plastic bin but I use the suitcase because it's stored up there 99% of the time anyway.  I then separated the clothes by type - pants, long sleeve button shirts, pullover shirts, etc.  I also pulled all of my cocktail dresses out and went thru those...

I had over 15 cocktail dresses in my closet and most of them I haven't worn for over 3 years.   I put most of them aside to donate and kept 3 or 4 of my favorites.  I should also mention that over half of them were a size small or a size 4 and this sister ain't a size 4 no mo. truth.  After I decided on which ones to keep, I took those and the jackets I had hung in my closet and hung all of those in the hall coat closet.  They only take up about a quarter of the space and that's a much better spot with more room.  Once everything was separated I hung it all back up.


I then put my shoe shelf organizer on the opposite wall and stocked it with the shoes I wear the least (fancy heels for the most part...).  I do wear my boots often this time of year so they fit nicely on the top shelf and I actually used a rubber band to hang some of the taller ones up (pic below).  The over the door shoe organizer keeps my flats, running shoes and Toms convenient - which is good because I wear those most!  I kept one of my built in shelves open to fold sweaters.  I can't stand when I hang sweaters and they get those weird pulls and bumps on the shoulders, you know what I mean?  I also moved my giant laundry basket to the laundry room and replaced it with a smaller one that doesn't take up as much space.  The very top of the closet has the suitcase filled with summer clothes, a plastic bin with random summer essentials (suits and cover-ups, flip flops, etc).  I'll switch those to a basket on the shelves in the summer and put away sweaters, leggings and boots.  That top shelf is also a place for my extra purses, a Rubbermaid file organizer and a few other boxes of trinkets.

Much better! I think the key to having a tiny closet is rotating things seasonally.  When I had two closets I could keep everything out.  Now that I've got limited space, it's a good practice to donate/sale things you don't wear. Store things that are out of season.  And utilize other storage areas of your house.  It's ok to keep you LBDs in the coat closet, no one cares.  Who knows, maybe our next house will have one of those giant exorbitant closets with a chaise and mirrors and fancy glass cases to display my Prada bags and Louboutin shoes.  If so, I will totally need to go shopping for a Prada bag and Louboutin shoes.

PS - I actually did this about a week ago and the good news is that my closet is still THIS organized! Win!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Resolution that is about ME

Here they are... I'll explain after.

I haven't really participated in the New Years Resolutions practice for the past couple of years.  I used to write about them on my old blog.  I would commit to working on things that I needed to improve... patience, being more open minded, reading my bible every day, etc.  Sometimes I'd aim to be better organized or more strict with our finances.  The last couple of years I just haven't had the energy to commit to any of it.  Not losing weight, not saving money, none of it.  And to be honest I still don't have the energy to come up with some new way I'm going to "make a bunch of changes"... I have, however, decided that this year I will take more time for just me.  Not big stuff, little stuff...  Let's face it, we have to focus on ourselves sometimes so that we can better focus on others.  Little things like - I'm going to take time to paint my nails more often... time to give myself a pedicure because the days of getting a professional one every 2 weeks are long gone (childcare costs A LOT!).  I invested in a good skin care line and I want to take the time each day to use it.  Those are small things but they can add up.  I don't have a goal to lose weight, but I do want to take time to be more active.  I will go thru spurts where I run every day.  In the past I have trained for marathons and triathlons and 100+ mile bike races... but lately I'll go for weeks doing ZERO exercise...  I get up and walk 10 yards to sit at my desk where I will then sit ALL DAY LONG...  In the evening we generally eat and then sit on the couch for several more hours watching TV.  Netflix binge watching with the hubby is the way more attractive option than getting out in the cold, what can I say.  It's really ridiculous and I need to change or I may end up old, out of shape and arthritic. 

One of the bigger goals this year is getting my novel published (or at least gaining representation from a literary agent).  I haven't shared much about my novel but I seriously need to stop dragging my feet.  I actually wrote it last year... in three months.  I then had several meetings with literary agents with a more than positive outcome.  Out of the 3 meetings I had, 2 agents asked for my manuscript.  However, while at a writing conference I was given the same advice by more than one industry expert... change the main premise of my book.   I have three main characters in my book and the advice was to take out one of them... only thing is that the one they suggested eliminating is the reason I wrote the book.  My novel is considered paranormal fiction, if I took out the character in question there would be nothing paranormal about it anymore.  But I decided to follow their advice...so after the conference I decided to do a ton of rewriting.  My plan was to rewrite a big chunk of it and then submit it to the agents who had been interested.  Well, that worked for a week or so and then I hit a standstill.  I couldn't write it without the main character that I had grown so close to.  At that point I decided to put it aside and pick it back up several weeks (which turned into months) later.  When I started writing again I felt refreshed, I went back to my original draft because that is the novel I wanted to write - not the changed version I had attempted after the conference.  I rewrote and added several chapters to the book and started in on some final edits.  I was literally preparing emails to prospective agents when my external hard drive crashed.  Everything was on that hard drive... Digital photos from the last decade...my novel...copies of important documents...  I found out the "passport" is known for doing this - crashing and you lose all your schtuff.  I was devastated.  I took it as a sign and pretty much gave up on my novel.  I did have an old copy from 6 months prior but I had made so many changes and added a ton of work since then (yes, I am thankful that I had thought enough to back it that long ago).  Fast forward to now... when I decided to focus on myself a little more this year, I decided I wanted to add writing back into my life on a regular basis.  I bought myself a new laptop - my first time to ever have a brand new computer for just me!  Matt bought me an extra flash drive and now I'm set to "restart" on my book... and restart my photo collection... Everything I lost can't be replaced but I have to start somewhere. 

This year will hopefully be full of changes without making resolutions though.  Matt and I are tentatively planning an out of state move.  *fingers crossed that all works out*  We've been looking at homes and even discussing with family and friends.  We'll know more about that in a couple months but the thought of having OUR own house (one that we both buy and move in together) is an exciting one.  Hopefully I will have more to blog about that whole endeavor later.

I know that's not much of a resolutions list, but they are important things that I'd like to do this year... I don't want to set up goals that I will only keep for a few weeks or months.   A new year (even tho it's just a page change on the calendar) does symbolize new beginnings.  I hope you set new goals for yourself as well... and most of all, I hope you reach crush them!