Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays!

Wishing you and yours a very merry holiday season and a happy new year!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fireplace update

We have fire!

This is really, really fun!

Can't wait to snuggle up to the fire and geek out with a Battlestar Galactica marathon this weekend ;)

Sunday, December 11, 2011


This is a small thing, but it's not so bad for 15 minutes of work...

We have this butcher block counter top on just a small section of our kitchen cabinets. I have scrubbed this gross crud to death and usually have a huge glass cutting board covering as much of the counter top as possible.

So John got his inner-Norm-Abrams on and sanded this sucker down with our beloved power sander:

Then I broke out my beeswax furniture polish I had been saving for such an occasion:

There are still some marks, but it is really so much better than before. 

Lessons learned - 1) existing butcher blocks can be sanded and refinished pretty easily and 2) don't put butcher block counters in if you can avoid it...

Firenze prints

In Firenze, in June, John and I purchased a couple of prints of antique measuring instruments. 5 months later, we ventured over to Michaels, coupon in hand, to get these items framed:

I was hesitant when we got there because most of their frames are, like, really ornate and ostentatious. But we wanted something modern and simple and I had a moment of ugghhhhhh!!

But John found this brushed bronze metal frame and the incredibly helpful and patient women who was running the framing department picked out this dark taupe silky linen fabric matte:

The print is "over-matted" so the loose threads around the perimeter are visible. And the mix of textures and shine - it's just really awesome.

We put the prints on either side of the doorway. Also, it seems that you don't actually need the physical coupon to get the discount at Michaels, they'll give it to you if you are breathing and in their store. However, with the discount you will still be paying about one arm and one leg to get a few things framed.

Now we need to get serious about a chandelier and dining table and chairs! Gah!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pillow Talk

I've spent the better part of this past week laying on my back on the floor. All it took was one sneeze... I stumbled backwards, threw myself on the couch, wiggled my way to the floor. Through the crazy spasming I somehow made it to an emergency physical therapy visit. Let's hope that doesn't happen again anytime soon...

Sooo... painting plans are off this week. I'm still fuming about that as I thought I would have 2 whole days to finish up the third bedroom. Needless to say, I've been getting all my Christmas shopping done... online of course! Not planning on any mall days for quite a while!

I've been thinking a lot about warming up the living room a bit. The current pillows were getting to matchy-match for me. Right now this is what our living room looks like:
1) Rug from Garnet Hill
2) Layla Pillow from Crate and Barrel
3) Pillow is from TJMaxx, but you can find similar ones here
4) Pillow from Wilma Long, etsy seller

* * *

Which brings me to my new discovery... ETSY PILLOW COVERS!!!!

You can search for pillow covers BY DESIGNER NAME OR FABRIC NAME and you sometimes get literally dozens of pillow covers in different color versions.

I may be late to the etsy party but I am literally freaking out.

So let's say I've been eye-balling this Robert Allen Vintage Plumes fabric in Jade...
Robert Allen  Vintage Plumes Jade
I see it in magazines, I like it, it costs about $50 per yard.

But let's say I really want a pillow made from it. I would need to purchase the fabric and also learn to sew, or make my mom sew a pillow cover for me. 

Now we're talking about $50 PLUS an afternoon of time trying to figure out what we're doing.

But I typed in "Vintage Plumes Jade" in etsy and I get this:
Dwell Studio Vintage Plumes peacock pillow cover in Jade - 12 x 20 Lumbar
Here for $55

Isn't that so worth the 5 dollars??

It's opened up a whole new range of possibilities. Here are some of my other favorite pillows, still mulling over them...

Robert Allen Velvet Geo turquoise pillow cover - 12 x 20

Pillow Covers - Decorative Pillows - Sofa Pillows - Throw Pillows - Navy - Both Sides - Set of Two - 18x18 in - Lattice - Trellis

New 18x18 inch Designer Handmade Pillow Cases. Dwell Studio. lattice, trellis, link. warm grey

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Stuff we want to hang on the walls

Here's something new...

Until this weekend we had a large section of our guest bedrom closet devoted to "stuff we want to hang on the walls."

We managed to get some of this stuff up on the wall. It's a little but it's a start!

It was a process much more simple than anticipated... 

1) choose a bunch of stuff
2) arrange stuff on bed
3) cut out paper the size of each piece of stuff (or for the lazy - create painter's tape Xs!):

 4) hang paper or Xs on the wall:

5) wiggle stuff around as needed
6) before hammering nails, check the back of each piece to assess placement of nail holes
7) hang stuff:

I even got around to some paint touch-ups that were needed in here. (I know, right???)

We still have lots to do in here, but it is starting to shape up:
- the desk is calling for a large white lamp shade with some kind of awesome lamp base
- the chair is screaming for a floor-length slipcover in grey and white stripes
- a rug
- some throw pillows
- better curtain situation on the windows
- closet curtain covering needed

Oh and I'm debating re-painting the room at some point! More of a charcoal grey? I don't know if the blue is too much? Any opinions?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Life and Lists and a 2 year Housiversary...

liquid gold

Sorry for the lack of updates. After an impromptu trip to California (yay!), I've been laid up with back and neck spasms (Grrr...), I'm just getting back into the swing of things.

I'm at the point now where I just keep making lists...

- To-do lists for each week
- Grocery lists
- Lists of stuff to do in the office
- Lists of house projects
- Christmas lists

I just realized I actually made a list of lists? Is that even possible?

Ok, so in honor of our 2 year Housiversary coming up this week, I'm listing our goals for the winter:
- butcher block - sand and wax
- sand, patch, and touch-up some troublesome areas of wall (stairs corner and upstairs bedroom spots)
- touch up white paint on trim (allover house)
- apply poly to stairs!
- finish priming and painting trim around stairs!
- pick paint and finish painting 3rd bedroom
- paint large dresser
- paint 2 small nightstands
- purchase pillow covers for living room throw pillows
- purchase and install chandelier for dining room
- purchase and install sconce and outdoor ceiling light for entrance area
- purchase king sized comforter (queen sized is too small for the bed!)
- lamps for bedroom
- organize recipe file and actually, like, cook
- frame and hang pictures, seriously, just do it (I actually did this a little bit this weekend!!)
- hang lamp in guest bedroom
- get new desktop and work on the office furniture situation

I feel pretty good about this list as most of the projects are not too time consuming! And the more time-consuming of the projects have already progressed.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Staircase Progress

Progress has been veeeeeerrryy slooooow on the staircase. At this rate I will be happy to be done with this project by Christmas - which is actually happening pretty soon...

Since stain takes a WHILE to dry (like a couple of days?) I decided to experiment and do the left half of the staircase first, so we could walk on the right side:

I was a little nervous that the middle area would look funny, but it's actually fine:

The only thing I'm a little worried about are the areas where the old polyurethane didn't lift off in the sanding stage. You can see the stripey lines in this photo:

It's ok, but not perfect. I might put another coat of stain over some of these lighter areas. By the way, the flash on this camera is more lighting than this staircase ever sees under normal conditions. So this is really the worst view possible.

I am kind of at a standstill with this project since we haven't had a chance to run to the store to get a fresh can of poly, and MY BACK IS KILLING ME! For realsies. The past few weeks of bending over the staircase might or might not be the culprit. Either way, I'm taking a break from the stairs for a bit!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

OctoSnow 2011

Yesterday afternoon, the snowflakes were gently falling. 
It was extremely bizarre but nothing could prepare us for...


Route 3 by Giants Stadium...
(yeah, the slush forming on the windshield should have been a warning sign)

Toll booth on the Turnpike...

(too late to turn back!)

Goethals bridge...

Staten Island Expressway...
 (winter wonderland?)

We came home later last night to a scene. After navigating through downed trees and road blocks, we arrived to two police cars with their lights on in front of our house and a downed power line (whomp whomp).

BUT! THANKFULLY!!! We still had power! (Knock on wood a million times to infinity!!!!)

This morning I woke up early to survey the damage...

Here is the view of the front yard and street with the downed power line...

Highlighted in pink for all to see...

Cars are not supposed to drive under, but they do anyway. 
We are not supposed to go outside, but seriously, had to catch up with the neighbors this morning!

All the trees and bushes in our yard look like upside-down U's...

And the pièce de résistance...

A branch off our old tree, and a neighbor's shed roof smashed. And many phone calls this morning.

I'm starting to think I need to add a tab on this website for "Natural Disasters"??

Friday, October 21, 2011

Stairs update!

Last spring I removed the carpet on the steps. It was pretty cruddy underneath and we've been living with it like this for, like, ever:

Funny story - the guys who refinished our floor way back like almost two years ago were like "We can refinish the staircase for $300" and I was like "Ummmmmm.... well... no, i don't know what we're doing" and they were like "Are you sure?" and I was like "Yes, I'm just not sure if we're going to replace the carpet or what we're doing, so I'll wait til later to make a decision" and they were like "ARE YOU SURE???"

Lesson learned - just get the stairs refinished next time!

So this week I sanded it myself. First with 60 grit, which was really slow going. Then I upped it to 50 grit, which did help a lot. Smoothed it over with 60 and 120 and we're ready to stain:

There are still little dents and dark spots and places where old grime didn't lift up, but seriously, after 6 hours of mind-numbing labor I just don't care.

You can see the remains of a runner from years back. Also, you can't see from this angle, but a lot of the front parts of the steps are worn down and a little busted. 

My plan is to stain the treads dark to match the floors and if we can still see these lines, or if we are not satisfied with the outcome, we'll add a runner.  

The risers will be painted white and I see lots of touching-up in my future!

To date this is the most "outside my comfort zone" project I've taken on. Crossing my fingers this will work!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Our third bedroom built-in shelf/closet is a lilac nightmare that never ends!

It took forever just to get the first coat on:

Since this photo was taken I've painted a bunch more, but slowly coming to the realization that this will probably need 3 coats all together.

Normally this task would include taking out each shelf, painting each side, painting the closet and sliding the shelves back in. However, these shelves are painted in and the few shelves I could pry out are in there TIGHT! No wonder I procrastinated so long!

Now I have a non-binding agreement with myself to finish this by Friday and get on with my life.
I also keep telling myself that when this ends, I can finish sanding and staining the stairs, then I can easily paint the walls in this room, and when that's over I can work on some fun projects (!) like painting the dresser, refurbishing a couple of antique chairs, making curtains and buying rugs and lighting fixtures for all of our other rooms. Just trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

In other slightly related news, I've already started sanding down the gunk on the stairwell. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Yay! A before and after. It's been awhile, hasn't it?

So this was the first weekend we had gorgeous dry weather at home, after weeks and weeks and months of rain, or travel, or weddings, or sick days. I actually got round to painting our repaired stoop. Just a reminder of what it looked like before...

...pretty badly cracked and hazardous!

Well, now look at it...

 ...Ah, smooth!

Even our next door neighbor came over to tell us how awesome it looks. Guess it was an eye-sore for everybody else too?

I tried to take a full view shot of the house from the street but the sun was insanely bright. This was the best I could do...



Thursday, October 6, 2011

Third Bedroom...

From the time we moved into this house, up until last week, our third bedroom basically looked something like this:

Various stages of storage and work space. This was the place I would pour paint into the tray. It was very dusty and usually much messier than in the photos above.

Since moving in we refinished the floor. Before that, this room held a wall-to-wall dark purple carpet. It was like sensory overload.


Side note - I case you are wondering, the walls are just a shade bluer than Tiffany blue. It is a manic color. I highly recommend staying away from anything close to this color in a wall paint.
This is coming from someone who loves the color turquoise FYI.


The other thing we did was replace the hollow replacement 1960's door with an original 1920's solid door we found in the garage. It was the only door in the house that we needed to switch. Not sure what happened to make previous owners mess with this to begin with...

And now for a counter-clockwise tour of the room...

The back of this garage-found door needed major stripping (which I did exactly 1.5 years ago!).

Also, last February we had a contractor install new quarter-round foot trim.  

Yesterday I ripped out the scalloped header over the large opening of the built-in closet.

Yay for procrastination!

But I'm ready to move on now. I've already painted a fresh white coat over most of the woodwork. The closet is going to consume a lot of time, but also hope to get it knocked out real soon.


Sneak peek:

Someone previously painted all the chunky window framing the same color and matte finish as the wall. See photo at left - notice the window looks small and the woodwork blends right into the wall. All architectural detail has been removed and the window looks very very blah. See photo at right - After just one coat of semi-gloss white paint, the window stands out! I'm not even close to finishing but already the window looks larger and there is a lot more interest to the room. Working with what I got, I tell ya!