Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lookin’ Out My Front Door

(I know that lyric isn’t quite right… doo doo doo lookin’ out my back door).

I am once again benefitting from my parent’s move to a condo. Their porch is pretty small so I am happy to inherit this bench.

front-porch-bench I know. The grass looks awful. We don’t water it, we’re saving water lazy.

I love it. Its sturdy and is perfect for our currently bare front porch.


My parents have had this bench for I don’t know how long, so it looked a little worn out.


I thought about painting it some wild, fun color, but since I don’t know what color our house is going to be, I couldn’t decide. We’d like to remove that fake rock next to the front door (its by the garage too) and put more siding up, then paint the house. Someday we’ll get to it :)

So, since a wild and crazy color wasn’t in the cards, I went to old faithful – oil rubbed bronze spray paint. ORB paint looks metallic and really helped make the bench look new again.

My mom didn’t believe me that it would make a difference. But it does, see?


Told you, Mom!

I painted it in the heat of the day. The spray paint started to look like it was sweating as much as me in kettlebell class.


That’s never happened before. Do you guys know – is it because of the hot weather?

Anyway, the bench, along with a little plant I moved from the backyard helped spruce up the front porch a bit.


Some animal is eating the leaves my little plant. I can’t figure it out!


Hopefully the little guy survives, I love the lime green leaves.

Anyway, I know we have a lot of work to do. I’d love to get some new house numbers, paint the lights, and maybe stencil the ceiling above the porch (and of course get rid of the awful faux rock). But for now, that’s my mini makeover of our front porch.

Makes it a little more welcoming, right? A little?


I can’t wait to spice it up even more with some Fall (and Halloween) decor!

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Cardboard Box Turned Board Game Storage

Yesterday I got to work from home. Greatest thing ever. Seriously, I slept a half hour later, started work earlier, and got to pace around the house while I was on conference calls. No more feeling chained to a windowless cubicle all day. So happy! 

But as I sat in our office, I noticed that for a productive work space, it was pretty freakin' messy.

We have some new place settings we received as gifts (beautiful white plates, love them!). For some reason I have been waiting to use them. I think their grand debut should be in a nice new kitchen, not our little run-down one. Cause you know, plates are divas like that.

But the floor of an office is no place to store beautiful dishes. We have a hutch in the living room that's a perfect place, but it is currently occupied by all of our board games.

So in a 30-minute lunch break shuffle, I moved the dishes into the hutch and put the games in our behemoth ottoman (that I still don't know what to do with).

The ottoman was looking like this.


Once the games were in there, it looked pretty cluttered and messy.


So to continue the organizational musical chairs, I threw the games into the box that used to hold the dishes.


Its a little better, but with all the dark furniture in the family room, I thought the white box was standing out too much.


So I did what any logical person would do. I covered the box with shopping bags :) I was looking for a free, temporary solution so the brown box is just what I needed.

Eventually I'd love to get some cute baskets under there to organize our games, magazines, and books. But for now, the cardboard box looks simpler and less cluttered that just shoving the games in alone. And I thought the brown color of the bags would help the box blend in a little more.

Diego helped me work. Carl was just annoyed we woke him from his nap.


Four brown sacks later, the cardboard box was disguised a little.


Its no fun basket, but I think it'll work just fine as a free solution to our storage needs.


Side note: I know we need new curtains. The red ones are from my first color scheme. I've since changed it up but haven't found new curtains yet.

In that pic above Matt's watching The Wire. Has anyone else seen that show? Like usual we're way behind the times, but its really good. Depressing, but good. It takes place in Baltimore and right now we're watching the cops try to crack a case to take down a local drug ring (Get it? Crack? I know, terrible). Unfortunately I think the depiction of the neighborhoods isn't too far from the truth. I feel for the kids growing up there. And I don't care how awful the kids are, cop on kid violence is really hard to watch. Do you think kids really get into that horrible stuff at such a young age? How do we break the cycle? Anyway, the show is great, makes you think. The story draws you in so you get hooked, even though there isn't a feel-good ending each episode. Wow - I should start a blog about all the tv I watch :)

Another aside: I did my field work for my Master's project in the streams of inner city Baltimore. I can't believe we were waltzing around these neighborhoods in chest waders. We probably looks very out of place!

Okay, sorry about that. Back to clutter organization. What's you go-to storage solution at home? Pin It

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

If I Had a Million Dollars (Pinterest Dream House)

Roeshel over at The DIY Showoff is hosting a Pinterest Daydreaming link party that sounded so fun, I'm happy to participate. After all, that’s what I do from 4:30 on at work everyday anyway :)

Funny thing for me about house daydreaming. My whole life changes. Not drastically, don’t worry.

These guys are still there.

Him too.

But when I imagine my dream kitchen, I’m usually standing in it, 15 pounds thinner, with perfect hair and ironed clothes, whipping up some delightfully calorie-free dessert.

So, picture me that way :) On with the day dreaming!

I can’t imagine what it’d be like to own this laundry room. I may even iron my clothes!


Seriously. That room is bigger than my kitchen. Love all of the storage and counter space.

And having an office without a Michael Jordan poster or Ninja Turtle figurines would be fabulous (its the only room in the house where my husband’s decor is displayed).


And this living room. I’m not usually a country living-style person but look at those windows! Love. I feel more relaxed just looking at it.


This mud room is fantastic. I’d love to have any mud room at all. But in day dreaming land, I’d always be able to keep it this clean :)


And the kitchen. I’d love to cook those calorie-free desserts here.


Doesn’t it remind you of the kitchen from that Diane Keaton movie? You know, that one with Jack Nicholson?

Damn! What is it called?

Seriously, I stepped away from the computer for a few hours and its still not coming to me :)

Well anyway. Her house is beautiful in that movie.

At the end of the day, I’d love to rest my head here.


And finally, though this would be easy, I’d love to find the cajones to do this in our bathroom.

I think its awesome. I don’t care if its childish :)

What does YOUR dream house look like?

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Upcycled Book Ideas

So I resisted as long as humanly possible, but last week I jumped feet first into the Pinterest world. There are just so many amazing ideas on there! And I love how it saves the source for you so you can always reference it.

The only problem is that I stay up waaaay too late getting sucked into Family Ties re-runs while pinning my little heart out.  

I know I'm probably way behind the trend but I really love all the different uses for old books. Check out these inspirational ideas I found on Pinterest.

Love these little pears

This flower is super cute.

Great gift wrap idea!

What a perfect wreath for an office or study room!

Great for Fall

And Christmas too!

I'd love it if you would follow me on Pinterest. Then we can share all the wonderful ideas we see! I'm not sure if you need an invite still to join but if you do, leave me a note and I'll send you one.

 Follow Me on Pinterest

Have a fantastic weekend everyone!

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Banana Craisin Bread (healthy style)

I’ve decided (again) to try to eat healthier. My desk job has not been kind to the waistline and I’ve finally realized I don’t need to keep up with my 6-foot-tall husband’s portions. I’m pretty good except I have two major weakness: carbs and sweets. And cheese. And wine. Oh, and lemon drops!

Okay, I have lots of weaknesses :) But, I’m going to eat healthy and make better choices. Really, I am. Totally ready. (Insert self pep talk here).

This is always an ongoing goal. How successful I am changes as much as Kate Middleton’s hat but lately, I’m on a kick. I’m going to limit myself to reasonable portion sizes (no I don’t need an entire bag of chips for myself) and eat local foods when I can.

I'm excited to share with you a new (to me) recipe I’ve added to my healthy carb repertoire, which currently consists of lemon poppyseed muffins. Yep. That's all I've got. Well, until now. Now I can eat guilt-free banana bread. Yay!

Usually I make banana bread with bisquick, but this healthier option fits in with my goals much better. I started with a recipe from weight watchers but altered it a bit.

banana-bread Only a 1/2 cup of sugar, not bad!

Banana Craisin Bread (with walnuts)

1 1/4 cup(s) all-purpose flour   
1/2 cup(s) unpacked brown sugar (I packed it a little, couldn’t help myself!)
1/2 tsp table salt   
1/2 tsp baking soda   
1/4 tsp baking powder   
6oz vanilla yogurt (I used Tillamook vanilla bean – original recipe calls for 3 tsp canola oil)
1 large egg(s), beaten    
2 large egg white(s), beaten   
3 large banana(s), ripe   
1 cup(s) uncooked old fashioned oats   
1/4 cup craisins (not in original recipe)
1/4 cup smashed walnuts (not in original recipe)

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients. Add yogurt and eggs; mix thoroughly.

In a smaller bowl, mash bananas with a fork.

Add bananas and oatmeal to batter (I accidentally added the oatmeal with the dry ingredients, it was fine).

Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray (I don’t have cooking spray so I just put a little canola oil on a paper towel and wipe it on the pan). Pour batter into pan and bake until top of loaf is firm to touch, 45 to 55 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes. Flip out and cool on a wire rack for another 10 minutes.


If you don’t like craisins or walnuts, you could just leave those out, or replace them with blueberries, strawberries, or any other fruit you feel like.

Oh! I forgot one thing. About halfway through baking I opened the oven, dumped a bunch of cinnamon in, and haphazardly stirred it into the partially set dough (I know, baking genius over here ;). Anyway, the top tasted much better than the bottom. So I recommend adding cinnamon. Before you put it in the oven.


I need to find more healthy recipes that will help my carb cravings. Any ideas?

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Slithery Snake Wreath (Halloween decor – too soon?)

So I know its not even September yet, but I've already started thinking about Halloween decorations (I know, I know). I'm not sure why, but I LOVE it. Maybe because its the one holiday my husband also enjoys decorating (when else do plastic toys count as decor?).

Maybe its just because I love Fall. Could also be college football, colorful trees, and lots of government holidays.

Either way, I get totally into it. Last year (before my blogging days, so forgive the makeshift pics) I made this awesomely creepy snake wreath. I originally got the idea from a Martha Stewart Living mag


I thought I'd share the simple steps to make it yourself.

How to Make a Slithery Snake Wreath

First, go to a craft store and pick up a woven wood wreath frame.

Spray paint it black.

Then, spray paint a bunch of rubber snakes. I used lots of little ones and a few big ones. If you can find black rubber snakes, I bow down to you. I looked everywhere!

After the wreath and snakes are dry, weave a whole bunch of snakes in and out of the branches. Make sure its not too symmetrical; have some heads and tails dangling out in a few places.

I noticed the spray paint stuck to the little guys well but took much longer to adhere to the big snakes. Just a warning so you don’t walk by your wreath and get spray paint on your pants :)

If you want, you can use red paint to put eyes back on the big snakes.

halloween-wreath Good thing I saved all my puff paint from the ‘90s ;)

That's it! Pretty easy.

When I'm having company or on Halloween, I'll hang some tiny, battery-operated lights behind it since our porch is not well-lit at night.

snake-halloween Love the little guy trying to escape!

I'll warn you to start early looking for snakes. I don't know why but it was really hard for me to find them. I ended up getting a package of itty bitty ones online and found a few big ones at a costume store. I couldn't find them in any toy store or stores like Freddie’s. I don't know why, maybe Portlanders don't like toy snakes?


I can't wait to bust out the wreath this year. When is it socially acceptable to start decorating for Halloween?

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Monday, August 15, 2011

We will be better together than we could be alone


Matt and I started dating young. At first it was primarily about Pabst Blue Ribbon, sleeping in, and making pancakes together. As we got older and survived some (big and small) bumps in the road, our relationship grew with us. Eventually I started asking Matt when we’d get hitched.

I’m a planner. Even if the answer was long into the future, I needed to know. So he gave me an answer that seemed really far away at the time.

“When we’re 28”. I’m sure he thought, “Hey, that’s so far away, she’ll never remember!”

Silly man.

Last year on June 11 I woke up with a grin on my face. I was 28. We’d been living together for a couple years, just bought our house and combined finances, and we still really liked each other. And we were 28! We got engaged a few weeks later.

Right after our engagement, a couple things happened that set in motion our perfect wedding. Matt tore his ACL while he had no health insurance and my sister decided to up and move to South Korea for a year.

It was always my plan that my sister would be my maid of honor and witness me get married, so it was either now, or in a year.

Plus, Matt was hobbling around like an old man, waiting for his knee to miraculously heal while I sat there with my kick ass government health insurance. Despite my letter to the President and calls to HR (for several reasons in addition to my own selfish one), I was sadly convinced that domestic partners did not qualify for our health care.

So last August 15th, we decided to tie the knot.

Matt’s brother, Andy, and my sister, Emmy, were our witnesses (Andy’s wife Amy was our photog). My best friend since 6th grade Alyssa became an ordained reverend (thank you internet!) and wrote our beautiful vows. We all gathered on our back deck and Matt and I signed our lives away :)

58553_707421250178_19702296_39690065_8261065_n Emmy, Matt, Alyssa, Me, Andy

Even though we were eloping for untraditional reasons, it was perfect. We loved each other and had made each other happy for 8+ years, so why not! Simple and easy – just the way we like it.

One year later, through many home improvement projects, we still really like each other :)

Matt’s had two surgeries and his knee is on the mend. My sister had an eventful, challenging, fun-filled journey in South Korea and is about three weeks away from moving HOME. And when the mood strikes, I can refer to my BFF as ‘Reverend Alyssa’.

What more could I ask for?


(In case you’re curious, the title of this post is my favorite line from our vows.)

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Friday, August 12, 2011

A little spray paint update

A long time ago, I picked up this tray from Goodwill. For some reason I was really drawn to the tree (leaf?) design in the center. However, I’m not a fan of the finish and its pretty beat up.


I didn’t know what to do with it, but since the tree-leaf was whispering “Buy me! Buy me!” I snatched it right up.

Now that we have a giant ottoman in the family room (still not sure what I think about it), we need some trays in there. Where else can I set my wine while watching high quality educational shows Entourage and Jersey Shore?


My goodwill tray was perfect for this, so I pulled out the brushed nickel spray paint and gave it a nice new finish. 

IMG_2711 It looks more metallic-y in real life

I think it helps light up the ottoman a little, and most importantly, keeps my wine glass upright. I do wish the tree stood out a little more. Maybe I can use a glaze to do that? I’ve never used glaze before.


But for now, I definitely think the brushed nickel is an improvement. Spray paint does it once again!

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