Thursday, December 20, 2012

Nursery Sneak Peek / Where have I been?

Right now I'm at 31 weeks and although we still have time, we've been working HARD the past few weeks trying to get the nursery together.

What we've done so far:
- finished painting the closet (thanks to Mom!) and now all surfaces are painted, yes!
- crib, dresser, chair, nightstand and lamp, all assembled/painted/delivered and in place
- acquired lots of baby stuff, unpacked and sorted into loose piles
- washed, sorted, and put away all baby clothes

What we need to do, yesterday:
- call electrician to install ceiling light
- acquire and hang window shades
- acquire and hang closet curtains
- acquire rug
- acquire toss pillows and comfy pouf ottoman thing
- organize shelves
- frame and hang artwork

What we need to do soon:
- pick out a name for this little one
- pack a hospital bag
- wait and freak out

Here is a sneak peek of the nursery: 
puppy rocker courtesy of my lil sis

Ok, so apparently I only post once every 3 months or so? What happened to me? I think I have a pregnancy-induced reluctance to sit on the blog. While we've been prepping and making the house cozy, I've just been meh about blogging. It's weird because it started almost exactly when I became pregnant. 

I've gone so far as to take a bunch of blogs off my reader. I have a really strong aversion to "crafting" and any mention of someone making custom labels for their leftover paint supply or anyone referring to themselves as a "maker" - it's just like ughhhhhhhh. Can't take myself that seriously. 

Also - I have, like, no time? What's up with that? I'm still going to sleep after midnight, waking up at 6:30am and running what feels like a marathon all day (big belly and all). Chores, errands, paperwork these things are, like, never-ending, in addition to my job. Thankfully the work load is lightening up and I will spend the next couple of weeks at work doing the "nesting" equivalent of office work. Organizing, throwing old stuff out, planning for the time I'm not there.

Now it's Christmas-time and I'm in overdrive getting presents wrapped and together. I think next year I'm going to cut back on presents. It's getting to be too much work. (Yes, I'm a Scrooge).

John told me he would be working late tonight, so when I got home I managed to get a bunch of Christmas lights up in the front window and even hung a wreath on the front stoop. I can't wait to surprise him. (I already made a big deal that I was too tired and busy to deal with Christmas decorations.) Well, 4 days before Christmas - not too bad, right?

Monday, October 8, 2012


Since we've had the driveway replaced, John pointed out that we haven't had any leaks or water in the basement when it rains. A minor victory!

I cleaned out the basement yesterday - 6 hours and 4 large construction bags later, we are almost all cleaned out. I still have to make a donation of some old items and we have to drag some old sheet rock and doors to the curb.

I don't anticipate ever having a completely "finished" basement. We're looking for a cheap and quick update. We're both schkeeved every time we walk downstairs, and I hate feeling that way.

So we're thinking of having someone paint the space - ceiling, walls, and floor.

The basement is now used for:
- working out - we have a treadmill and weight bench
- laundry - right now we set it and forget it
- storage - the back corner is walled-off and we use it to store hardware, paint, etc

Ideally we would add the following function:
- Storage shelving for larger excess kitchen items, Christmas decoration, etc
- Storage area for toys and excess baby items
- Empty area for kids to play

The main goal is to keep it neat and simple, but it would be awesome to add some rugs and have cohesive shelving to prevent things from looking sloppy.

This shelving from IKEA might work out nicely:

I would also like to add some nicer track lighting. We currently have those flourescent tubes that are really harsh. 

Below are some examples of unfinished basements that have been painted - I would love a white ceiling, but I fear that it might take more coats of paint and get expensive, so I'm thinking a medium grey color.

Crazy how the ceiling paint immediately pulls it together:

I like the curtain the installed to the left of this photo, something like that might come in handy:

All white - looks nice, but might be too "neat" for the basement anyway?

Hopefully we can get this thing painted within the next few months - have to call up some people for estimates!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


The day we closed on our house, the third bedroom looked like this:

This room went through many stages over the past 2 and a half years. 

First weekend we owned the house, we tore out the purple carpet. 

6 months later we had the floor refinished (along with the rest of the second floor). Click here for the cruddy before photo.

Then we replaced the door to match the rest of the house, and added the missing quarter-round molding.

Last winter I painted all the trim white and painted the walls soft aqua blue - Benjamin Moore matched to Valspar Pianissimo:

Last winter I painted the dresser and mirror soft grey:

We just got around to hanging the mirror. 

The dresser was a little musty smelling. I had tried cleaning with Murphy's oil, spraying with vinegar water, and then I left sprinkles of baking soda in the drawers for a long time. I left the drawers open for a year just to air out, but none of these remedies worked! So last week my mother and I gave the inside of the drawers a quick coat of polyurethane. It is airing out right now and so far so good. 

The ceiling fan has to go. I ordered a new light from Overstock. I really hope it works out because the price was almost too good to be true. Crossing my fingers and will be sure to write it up when we're done with that.

I'm just so glad we are this far along at this point! I still have some touch ups to do on the built in closet shelves. Then I'll tackle the window treatments. I already have a crib and comfy chair picked out. Also I need to shop for some lamps, pillows and fun stuff. There is a new Home Goods opening up nearby in a couple weeks. Just saying.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Big news!

Just dusting off the cobwebs in here. Wow. My longest hiatus by far, it's been over 3 months since my last post.

What the what???

I've been busy doing a million things, traveling, and - you know - making a baby.

barefoot and pregnant at 13 weeks

I just haven't had the desire to do much of anything the past few months. It's weird. I think there are many psychological side effects of this craziness.

But now I am a woman on a mission. 
I have a long to-do list that I won't bore you with. But basically it's like:
Part A: Do all this stuff before baby is born
Part B: Forget about accomplishing anything from Part A after baby is born

I'm due February 20th. Just under 6 months from now. Can I get it all done? Will I drive myself crazy trying? Is anybody even reading this anymore? Besides my mom?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Check that box off...

Remember this post a few weeks back? 

Oh yeah...
I am disproportionately excited about this driveway

Just to remind you again, here's the before...

And the view from the backyard...
 before and after

Not too shabby, not too shabby at all...

Just for fun, here's a photo taken in March, 2010 - 2 years ago...

And here's the same view now...

Over the next couple of weeks we have to work on that front bed - do some trimming, weeding, and mulching. We need to rearrange some of the plantings too.

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend everyone!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

TV cabinet

How our tv cabinet went...

from this... to that...

This cabinet (like many other things in our house!) came from one of our grandparents (specifically Grandma Millie!). It has been with us for at least 5 or 6 years. It is something from about 40 years ago? I don't know.

It is a great size and pretty solid piece of furniture. But... the top is veneered and the center quatrefoil panels are plastic. The back is masonite board. In other words, it isn't an exceptional piece of woodworking. So no guilty wood-empathetic feelings, please!

We always intended to replace this piece with a new TV console. I've looked around a little bit but have not really seen anything I loved. The main problem with this piece is that all our components are stashed in the cabinets, but with the doors closed we couldn't use the remote. Whenever we watched tv, the cabinet was open and stuff was spilling out onto the floor. I know there are ways to add a remote control "eye" or whatever, but then realized I can re-purpose this cabinet to be a little more multitasking and leave room for future devices and future technology. Also, as much as I love quatrefoil, I was growing weary of the 3 solid panels.

So we detached the side doors and popped the center panel right out of the frame... 

I searched high and low for some kind of metal mesh the insert into the empty space. There are many places that sell beautiful decorative metal mesh and will even cut it to size... for a price. I highly recommend this website if you want someone else to take care of this part for you. But, just warning you - it is not cheap and you can probably find a new cabinet for the price of two small mesh panels...

So I took a trip to Lowes for some brainstorming. Brainstorming at Lowes means I walk up and down every aisle looking for something to repurpose. I found rolls and rolls of soft mesh for window screens, which really would not work well.

But in one area I found this:

A "Screen and Storm Door Grill" - It's a hard mesh inside a metal frame. People use it to prevent toddlers and dogs from tearing through their screen doors. I bought two panels for $20 each.

The next issue was - how do we cut this thing to size? First I tried our mini power saw with a metal-cutting blade. 

"Hahahahaha" the universe said as I struggled to even put a dent in the edge of the frame.

Next trip to Lowes we bought a bolt-cutter. It cut through the mesh like butter.

BUT! You can only make one or two cuts before the thing gets in the way of itself. Kind of like a metaphor for DIY!

I almost gave up but remembered these wire cutters:

I was able to trim 2 pieces to size and pop them into the cabinet door frames. I didn't take pictures of this stage, but I glued the edges down with wood glue and it stuck...

Next came the paint - "Wrought Iron" Benjamin Moore Aura in Satin finish, which I already had left over from this project.

Everything was painted - both inside and outside the cabinet. The hardware was sprayed with a fresh coat of Rustoleum "Oil Rubbed Bronze." Then we put everything back together.

Next we re-wired everything. I'm not kidding when I say it took about 3 hours to sort through this mess: 

We zip-tied most of the excess wires into loops and even stashed some things inside a bin in the cabinet. The surge protector was screwed onto the back of the cabinet and everything went in and out of that. All the wires are now off the floor and the only wire going from the cabinet to the wall is the power strip plug and the cable cord... If you are interested, I think this website has some good tips on basic wire organization.

So this is the final result. It's much much more usable than before and looks updated too.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Let's have fun with the driveway...

We are in the middle of a literal driveway overhaul - just waiting for our permits and such to come through.

Isn't it a mess?

It's supposed to be gravel.

But it's really just a glorified dirt patch with weeds that is in a convenient location to park the car.

At the back end of the driveway we have a chainlink fence that will be torn down. The fence used to have a "BEWARE OF DOG" sign. It took me like a year after we bought the house to remove because we were so busy inside the house. I wish I were kidding...

We really can't wait to get this going. Hopefully soon?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spring Purge

I'm going through a major spring purge. Last weekend we were expecting an overnight guest and I realized our guest-room closet had overflowed into a dumping grounds for god-knows-what...

First things first. I cleared away everything that didn't belong. Then I pulled some things out of the attic to add to the mix. This is what we are storing here:

fancy dresses and suits, evening shoes and bags, 
pictures to hang, photos, photo cds, photo albums,
extra throw pillows and comforters...

After everything was in place, I installed a curtain rod with a couple of curtain panels from TJMaxx...

This room definitely needs a little more work, but it is so much neater! My goal is to tackle each room/closet in the house over the next few weeks and then set up a donation pickup. I'm hoping to finish our room and closet this weekend!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Easter and Coin

I read a lot of house and design blogs and I usually get bored by the overly-enthusiastic attitudes of the writers toward such mundane ho-hum things like table settings. Sometimes I can picture bloggers foaming at the mouth over the hammered edge of a plate or the hand silk-screened paisley of a tablecloth pattern. So I apologize in advance if my Easter table photos are resonating in your brain like, "why does she think we're interested in this?"

So anyway, I present to you our Easter table...

The table cloth I purchased in Florence at Coin. Don't click on that link because you will surely regret it as you realize how awesome and how far away this department store is. And it looks like they have an online store but they don't sell any of the good stuff there. 

Gah, sorry, but here is a small collection of the good stuff from Coin. How about that hexagon pillow?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Which do you prefer?

My Sister-in-law, Dina is expecting a baby boy this summer! She recently picked out his crib and bedding but is not sure what color to paint the nursery. 

The current room trim is white, and it is best to stick with that for a myriad of obvious reasons.

Dina has repeatedly mentioned adding a chair-railing stained in a dark espresso color. 

Through the magic of photoshop, I present different options below:

I personally prefer options D and F with the white chair rail. (Really? Big surprise!) But if I had to pick an option with the darker chair rail, i would pick option C.
Which do you prefer? Any other suggestions?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

If today is Wednesday, then this must be Paris...*

A few times a year the company I work for sends me on a shopping trip to Europe. This is completely normal for the Footwear industry. In fact, many times on these trips I have bumped into friends and old colleagues in totally random restaurants or shops. It's a small world after all.

When I mention this trip to friends and family who aren't in the biz, I usually get one of the following responses:

"You're being paid to go shopping?!?"
"Do you need someone to carry your bags?!?"

Most people in my life don't understand what exactly happens while I'm traveling, so I'm going to summarize my week here.

Long story short: NYC to Dusseldorf to Paris to Florence to London to NYC. In five days. 

Yes, you read that right - five days. I'm basically breaking the sound barrier.


Long story:


I don't travel alone - I'm paired up with my friend from work for the whole trip, which is awesome!
We leave NYC in the evening. I make sure I take an Advil pm to get some zzzzs. If I don't sleep it's a big problem. We land in Dusseldorf, Germany about 6am Monday. I sleep on and off during the night but estimate about 2 hours all together. Crap. I am usually better with overnight flights but it just doesn't work out too well this time.

Since we land so early and had reserved a hotel room for the night before, I have a little bit of time to spend napping. 
Sunrise in Dusseldorf

I sleep about 30 minutes, my alarm goes off, I get up, get dressed, go to breakfast, and we're out on the street by 10am when the stores are opening. We walk the streets for the next 7 or 8 hours. As we buy stuff, we carry it. Every time we back-track towards the hotel, we drop our bags in our room, and head out again. This is my first time in Dusseldorf, so there is a lot of back-tracking and exploring to figure out what streets had good shopping. We finish in time for dinner and I'm in bed by 9:30 pm.


No rest for the weary.
Got up around 4:15 am since we had a 7 am flight to Paris. We eat breakfast in the airport and sleep a little on the plane. Arrive in Paris during rush hour so it takes a long time to get into the city. Check into the hotel but my room isn't ready, so I leave my stuff in my friend's room. 

View from the hotel

We head out for shopping immediately.
I eat goat cheese for lunch at a typical French cafe.

An insane amount of goat cheese
There are numerous problems with my credit card today. I always call in advance to alert the bank of my travels. But this time it didn't stick and the bank keeps stopping me. I have to make lots of expensive international calls to clear up this mess. Frakking bank! But by mid-afternoon I'm up and running again.
We had to make multiple stops at the hotel just to drop our bags off.

At the end of the day we arrive back at the hotel and assess the damage...

We shop for a lot of stuff

We unpack/photograph/repack everything into our bags. I still haven't been to my room since it was unavailable earlier. I'm really hungry, but I decide I want to get my bags to my room before we go to dinner. We head down to the 6th floor and open the door.


It's a box of fruit and champagne on ice on my coffee table in the living room of my hotel room. Because they gave me a suite. Because 1 year ago I complained over some really bad things that happened last time at the hotel? Is that what this is for??

This never happens, by the way.


 And my room has a view of the Eiffel Tower

This also never happens, ever, ever, ever.

We devour the champagne and some of the fruit. By now we are starving and head to our favorite Parisian restaurant, which is really just an awesome Italian restaurant down a little side street nearby - Pizza Positano. It is excellent home-cooking style and everyone speaks Italian. It is tiny but I've eaten there a bunch of times and it really is as great as anything in Italy.

After dinner, we go back to the hotel. I call John to say goodnight and I'm prepping my clothes for tomorrow morning. I notice there is something wrong with the shower. The cold water doesn't work, so I'm only getting boiling hot water. Ugh really?? I can't deal with this as it's already 11:30 at night. Let me just brush my teeth and wash my face and get in bed. Oh - the sink isn't draining properly. Let me try to - no that doesn't work. If I get up under the sink and fiddle with the chain... Nope. This is a 4 star hotel, by the way.

I call downstairs and they move me to the "Eiffel Suite"


It is on the 7th floor and is probably the nicest room in this hotel. I take a shower and pass out.


Wake up about 8am. 

View from my window
Get dressed and go. Breakfast downstairs. We have to meet some people on the Right Bank. More shopping at the big department stores over there. Then we have a big lunch, because we're with our clients. We head back to the hotel. Pick up our stuff. Our flight leaves at 6:45pm but it takes a while to get to the airport.

I'm glad to leave Paris. I know it's hard to understand, because so many people are enamored by this city. But I just don't get the mystique. Don't I sound like an ass just saying it? I won't get into details, but similar to the story above, there are just too many things that have gone wrong while I've been there. Unfortunately, the shopping is good which ensures I'll have to return next time. But thankfully we are heading to Italy tonight.

We land in Florence about 9 pm and speed over to the hotel. Drop our bags. We are starving so we walk over to Buca Mario, which is an underground restaurant. 

Spinach Ravioli

It's about 10pm now. The great food is worth the wait.

Fresh produce and beef in their fridge!

I go to sleep late - after midnight. But I don't sleep very well. Crap.


Wake up, pack up, head to breakfast. Our time is limited today and we have a lot of ground to cover. We walk all over the place. It's magical. Florence is my most favorite city in Europe. 

Pasta in a random window

 Chandelier at breakfast

We buy lots. We arrive back at the hotel and make a mess in the lobby while furiously re-packing and squeezing everything in our bags. We head to the airport.

The flight to London is about 2 hours. We land in Gatwick, then head into the city. By the time we arrive at the hotel it's 9 pm and we're starving (see a pattern here? ha!). We at least had the foresight to make a dinner reservation at the always-crowded Sale e Pepe restaurant. Which is insanely good Italian. See another pattern here?

It's 11pm and we go back to our rooms. We have a serious issue with space in our bags. So we once again unpack/photograph/repack everything. Then it's light's out.


Wake up, pack up, head to breakfast. We shop for the next 7 hours, squeeze in lunch, then furiously pack our bags on the curb outside the hotel. The days are really blending together now. It seems like we're always packing, eating or walking. We both pass out in the taxi on the way to the airport. Check in. Walk around the airport. I spend my last bits of foreign currency. Sweet - I love it when that happens!

We board the plane and here goes the 7 hour flight back to NY. I manage to watch 3 movies. We land in JFK at 10:30. I'm home by 12 midnight, completely exhausted.

* Quote from Dad