Friday, March 29, 2013

Lights, camera, action!!

Ok, so no camera, but still!

We are in major kitchen over-haul mode. Slightly exaggerating, maybe a little. Here's what we're working with though:

I can't, in good conscience, show you the BEFORE before pictures. They're terribly frightening and you might not sleep for days. The top picture is after I cleaned up. A LOT. The bottom picture is when I finished cleaning and was able to re-arrange things to give us more space to work with.

What you can't see in these pictures are these:

This is what 1979 looks like in lighting. They've had their day in the sun and now it's time for them to go.

Fortunately, these lights are actually spaced properly in the room (the only original ones in the whole house that are!) So changing them out won't be terribly difficult. Good bye faux oak and dingy antiqued brass!!

Eventually, we'd like to put recessed lighting in here, but for my sanity the time being, we will be switching them up with more appealing and functional light fixtures. The top picture is the fan that is centered over the kitchen table. It's getting replaced with this:

I love the industrial look of this light. I love the proportion to our kitchen table and I love that it's brushed steel so it matches all the pretty hardware I bought to add to the cabinets (and the soon-to-be stainless appliances). I also thoroughly enjoy the price tag: $29.99!!!! BOOM!!! I <3 Ikea!

I knew I wanted that light from the minute I saw it. I had been up in the air on nickle or oil rubbed bronze finishes for the kitchen and when I came across this pendant, the deal was sealed! Easy-peasy.

So I should have known that choosing the other light for the kitchen would be far less simple! I wanted some sort of track lighting system for that area so that I could get as much light out of 1 fixture as possible. After scouring Home Depot and Lowes and extensive online research, I narrowed it down to these:

1 , 2 , 3 , 4
1 was hands down my favorite but all of these fixtures were great. After comparing the prices and bang for the buck, 1 and 4 were knocked out. Even though they weren't terribly expensive, the Ikea fixtures were almost 1/2 the price and had an extra lamp. In a townhouse kitchen, that 1 bulb will make a difference. After some serious online comparison shopping on, I still couldn't decide, so off to the store I went. Not remembering how many people were off today for Easter/Spring break. Place was PACKED.

I snapped a few phone pics and consulted with my bff and 20 minutes later I was heading to the car with Ottava and Barometer (#2) in tow. Again, the Ikea prices are hard to beat. I got both lights for the grand total of $84.78, almost 2 lights for the price of 1.... For the WIN!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hoppy Easter!!

We have been barreling through the house at record speeds (ha, yea right)! 6 weeks in and we still have two more rooms to get started on and not a single one all the way finished. Some are waiting on carpet or flooring. Some are waiting on wainscoting or base boards. All of them are waiting on decorations and I CANNOT WAIT TO START DECORATING.

I found this sweet glitter Happy Easter plaque at HomeGoods at the end of February and couldn't wait to bust it out! The mason jar is either from mom's homemade apple sauce OR  it may have once contained apple pie moonshine. I'm really not sure which, but now it holds cute pastel bunny-shaped marshmallows.


It's just not a holiday without a tree, right? I clipped some branches from the trees outside and anchored them in a tall cylindar vase filled with pebbles. Then I took some bakers twine and fed it through these plastic eggs I scored at Target for super cheap and tied them onto random branches. It was missing something so on my next trip, I grabbed a pack of 5 adorable glittered pastel wood cut-outs for $1! Another mason jar filled with bunny-mallows and some cute hot pink flower napkins made the table look more festive.

I went to Target specifically for the yarn wreath and cute little birds. I had no idea how much I was going to LOVE every thing that coordinated with them. I snagged a little of all the Easter swag and justified it right into my cart with "I don't have any Easter decorations and I'll use these every year til they fall apart". SOLD. All these plastic eggs are filled with Hershey kisses from my sweet fiance. He was in Hershey for states (wrestling coach) and he brought me back "The World's Largest Hershey Kiss". Now you all see why I'm marrying this man!!!! The plastic eggs are great for an out-of-sight-out-of-mind kind of game. If they were just hanging out in a candy dish, you best your ass they'd be gone by now.

I spy a Jone's Design Co. bird print! A few weeks ago, Emily was running a sale in her shop so I got a whole package of her prints for a song.

Isn't it the sweetest? I love that from a distance, it just looks like a little birdie silhouette, but up close you see that it's a bible verse and get a subtle reminder about who's in charge around here. I just picked up this frame to keep it in. It's the perfect little frame and I can store all the JDC prints in it and switch them around as I see fit, which I love. I also love that it was only $3.99 (IKEA family card, boom!) PS - if you're like me and love freebies, you should go to her site, right meow and get yourself these adorbs printables. Love um!

Our other window has another sweet little yarn chickadee and felted egg (also from Target, the rest are in a bowl in the powder room) I have since moved this jar of bunnies, it now lives with the some bunny loves you sign. My white ceramic plate is another HomeGoods find from about 2 years ago. The sugar bowl and cream pitcher are Threshold Stoneware from Target and the upside-down butter dish is from Sur la Table (but after using it, I'd totally recommend this one instead, the opening in the bell is way better and it's cheaper!).

 I decorated our kitchen up for Easter (after I cleaned it over St. Patrick's day weekend) even though we hadn't painted in there yet. Poor Jay, I told him I die a little every time a holiday passes and I don't get a chance to decorate for it. Maybe that was dramatic, but it certainly helped make Easter a good get-done-by-then deadline. Unfortunately, all the finish work won't be finished by Sunday but most of the painting will be :) Looking more like Memorial Day will be a good hard deadline. We'll see how things play out.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Easter Week

WOW!!! I can't believe that March is almost over (and that it's still sooooooo freaking cold) and Easter is upon us!

Easter week is a time to repent, at least that's what I was taught in 12 years of Catholic school. This is the first year, ever in my life that I can remember, that I didn't give up or pick up something to do for Lent. I don't have any particularly bad habits, other than a potty mouth, which I am actively trying to work on... but not just for Lent. I did try really hard not to eat meat on Fridays (failed the first one though - Jay was away, Mom made chicken, I was hungry, beggers can't be choosers)

I have spent the entire Lenten season rehabbing the house and accidentally stuck to previous promises I've made... drinking less, eating better, losing weight, spending less money on eating out, etc. Not because we did or didn't want to do all those things, it just kind of happened. When you work all day and renovate all night, there is very little time for much else... for the most part, we've been working (all day, at our real jobs), painting/fixing, showering and sleeping. Have we cracked open a few beers and downed a few bottles of wine? Absolutely!! But drinking at home is a lot less costly than going out to the bar.

With Easter comes, WE HOPE, some nice Springy weather and fun Spring-timey events... like busting out the grill and that patio furniture!!

In case you are still looking for something adorbs to wear this weekend, check out Gap - they have 30% online orders and 40% off in stores! I love these!!

Given that it's still FAHREEEEEEEZING in the North-East, I will most likely be rocking a dress with a cardigan over it or a maxi skirt and tee. We'll be having brunch at my sister and brother-in-law's and they're house gets pretty darn hot once it's filled with our whole family, so layering is always a good call anyways. The forecast for Sunday keeps changing on me, but it looks like lowish 50's and may or may not rain... hopefully NOT!

Happy Easter All!! Hope you enjoy spending time with your fam!!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

On Again, Off Again... our roller coaster relationship with the Church

So the church portion of our wedding planning has seriously been tumultuous to say the VERY least. Clearly it's the most important part of the whole day, ya know, since without it, we wouldn't be celebrating a damn thing.

Just when we thought we had it all nailed down, the Catholic Church went and changed the rules on us! Apparently there have been some Canon Law revisions that make it super difficult for a Catholic priest to bless a wedding in a non-Catholic church. I am not so sure how much truth there is to this and if there are any scholars out there that could please explain it to me, I'd be more than happy to listen.

The bottom line is, this change has forced us to re-evaluate where we get married. (Sidebar, our family friend who is a priest is the pastor at a BEAUTIFUL old cathedral in Philadelphia where we may now be getting married. He was originally maybe not going to be available, but turns out, he is and we are so excited about that part.) He is more than happy to have Jay's friend who is a Rector in the Episcopal church partake in the ceremony and bless the marriage as well, GREAT NEWS!! The not-so-great part is that the church is kind of far from the reception and this will require a lot more traveling for our guests. The other part that is not so great is that we now have to remake decisions that were difficult to agree on the first time and not getting any easier. AND now I will have to switch parishes so that we aren't trying to make moves and include 3 priests. PLUS pre-Cana for both faiths.

Sometimes, wedding planning makes my head spin... at least the Church is still really pretty and at the end of the day, we will be married. I just have to keep my eye on what's important :)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day Eve!

St. Patrick's Day is right up there with Christmas for us. We celebrate the entire month leading up to it, we might even have an official countdown clock. I feel like my mom made celebrating every single holiday so much fun while we were growing up that it makes me want to just keep on doing it. Although I'm almost 100% certain that holidays are going to be even more fun once we have kids, I am also 100% certain that St. Patrick's Day is definitely one that is for the 21+ crowd (therefore once we have kids, it will be a night we ship kids off to Gingin & Pop's)

I doubt that I will ever tire of drinking green beer. Even if it's totally cheesy. I will rock shiny green beads and light up "Kiss Me! I'm Irish" necklaces well into my 80's, God willing. However, I will also rock my green for the weeks leading up to St. Patrick's Day and all the fun festive days that help us celebrate our Heritage (St. Practice Day down at Fado's with Blackthorne, The Parade in Philly, the Conshy parade, AOH with Bridgett & Matt, etc. etc. etc.) until we're fall-down-the-Septa-stairs-drunk... ooh, sadly, I was sober when that happened last year. probably why it hurt so effing bad. YIKES!

So go green in the cutest things this Spring!!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Self-Diagnosis: H.R.A.D.H.D.

I am not a doctor, but I think I'm coming down with a version of Home Renovation A.D.H.D. I cannot keep my attention to one project. Our plan was to finish the upstairs and move our furniture out of the basement so that we could have one area finished before moving onto the next. We've almost completed the painting (hopefully, it will be done tonight or tomorrow) and carpet is going in next week so in the mean time, I've moved onto the lower level.

It all started last weekend when my sister brought Elisabeth over. We have 100% completely ignored our downstairs over the past month because we've been trying to get the upstairs livable. However, it was brought to my attention... by a 3 year old... that my system just won't do. Granted, the kid is a total germaphobe and at one point in her life had a meltdown that "Aunt Cara's room is messy" and made my mom clean my little sister's room during a party... Regardless, when a tiny-tot tells her mom she doesn't want to use your bathroom because it's a "dirty potty", you might, just maybe, stay up til 3 am cleaning. Then again, maybe it's just me.

Unfortunately, I didn't just stop at the powder room. I vacuumed the whole house (even upstairs where we're still working, because I didn't want us tracking dust and junk through the house- and I had the vacuum out anyways), scrubbed the powder room and then started working in the kitchen. I have a love-hate relationship with my kitchen. It is very large, which is awesome, but it needs a lot of work and updating. Sometimes I get overwhelmed in there because I feel like nothing can be salvaged and everything needs to be replaced immediately.

Here's a tiny glimpse... this is the "after-before" shot... by that I mean, post cleaning, pre-painting/redoing.
and only 1/2 the kitchen, since the other side still looks like a bomb went off.

microwave, garbage disposal, fridge, bead board, trim, counter top (1), (2), switch covers, primer, trim paint, light, chair, table, dishwasher, knob (similar here), pull, stain, island, stools, floor (1), (2), paint, range

Notice, I have quite the project board started... pretty good for my staying-in-the-upstairs plan, right?! Please don't notice that the handle has broken off our oven door and it's currently being held together by duct tape (just because it can be fixed with duct tape, doesn't mean it should be).

Our current kitchen is totally in need of some TLC and I was amazed at what a good cleaning did for our cabinets. Over the course of the week, I scrubbed them down with Murphy's Oil Soap and then polished them with Old English (for dark wood - originally bought for our bedroom furniture - but perfect for toning down the Honey Oak cabinets). I'm happy to report that cleaning the cabinets has now saved us about $10k because they are still in good shape, if not for the slightly dated color (Like all things, I'm sure this color will cycle back around and I'll be ready when it's all the rage again, HA! No woman in her right mind will ever let the oak-phenom happen again!). I also bleached the shit out of the counters and back splash which did wonders.

Also note, the floor samples are for sheet vinyl, not my first choice, but the most cost-effective... that is until you get a quote from Home Depot where the installation costs 2x as much as the flooring, WHAT?!?! Also notice, I have 2 choices of flooring and counter top colors. I can't decide if I want to go grayer or tanner in the kitchen so that's something I'm still toying with. I'm trying to keep an open mind so that I don't end up with my heart set on something too expensive and/or needing custom-everything to get the colors I want.

Oh, what's that? You want another list? oh me too!!

Kitchen To Do

Phase 1

  • Remove vertical blinds from back door
  • Patch, spackle, prime and paint walls/ceiling
  • New Floor
  • New Appliances (replace range-hood with over-the-range microwave with built-in fan)
  • Install garbage disposal
  • Closet doors on pantry
  • New outlets/switches and replace covers
  • Gel-stain cabinets (either just to glaze/highlight or whole thing - haven't quite decided on that either - most likely to be a game-time decision based on how much work is involved and/or what looks nice) 
  • Add hardware to cabinets
  • New table & chairs
Phase 2
  • Crown moulding, new 6" baseboards
  • Bead board  
  • Install recessed lighting throughout, under-cabinet lights, and pendant light(s) over island (2) or kitchen table (1) (still deciding on placement for lights and which place should get the pendant, leaning toward table)
  • Add island and counter-height stools
 Phase 3
  • replace counter tops with stone or solid surface counters
  • replace bask splash (tile)
  • install larger/deeper sink 
  • change faucet to pull-out style, with soap pump

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The OTHER Story of The Tortoise & The Hare

Just a few weeks ago, we started working on the house. I almost can't believe that we've been at it so long and have so little finished. I'm telling you, I feel like we're working at a glacial speed, but that's how it goes when you work full-time and have to travel to Alabama for one of the primo-fix-up weekends.

We have been sooo lucky that Jay's friend who is a painter has been over to help us get things done at least 3 nights a week. He's fantastic! Cuts in with no tape and gets enough paint on the walls in the first coat that it *almost* doesn't need a 2nd, almost. My OCD-tendencies require at least 2 coats though.

I have a hard time sticking to one project and seeing it through to completion before moving onto the next one. I am a multi-tasker, I can't help it but to be doing 5 things at once. Hence the handful of unfinished projects.This is both a blessing and a curse as I have all the projects partially completed, but nothing officially finished yet.

That being said, I feel like I am tearing through the house at warp-speed but somehow we are still moving along at a snail's pace. SO ANNOYING. I have random little lists lying all around the house of what needs to be completed where and a giant wish-list of sorts compiled and saved in my lil Home Depot/Lowes/Misc. Home Improvement receipts folder.

We know I love that "check off the list" feeling... So far, our to-do list looks kind of like this:

  • Paint All Rooms/Hall/Stairwell
    • Ceilings (prime, 2 coats paint)
    • Walls (prime, 2 coats paint)
    • Trim (2 coats paint) one coat left
    • Doors (2 coats paint) 
    • Closet Doors (spray: prime, paint) waiting for nicer weather so I can spray outside
  • Stair railings Planning for this weekend
  • Chandelier and new lighting for stairwell/hallway
  • Carpet Planning for this weekend
    • bedrooms
    • hall 
    • steps
  •  New hardware on all doors
    • door knobs
    • hinges
    • door stops
  • New Closet doors for Master (french-style), move current ones to office and pantry.
  • Add pot lights to all rooms and hall
  • Bathrooms Planning for this summer
    • Redo Hall Bath (all white pieces)
      • New vanity
      • New light
      • New medicine cabinets
      • New tub (soaker, deep!)
      • New Toilet
      • New tile floor
      • New faucets (sink, bath, shower)
      • New fan
      • Close up wall between bathroom and vanity/closet area (where new bathroom will go)
      • New fixtures (shower curtain bar, towel bars, toilet paper holder, etc)
      • New shower curtain, towels, accessories
      • New cabinet over toilet
    • Add Master Bath Planning for this summer
      • Run plumbing
      • Change drywall to water-resistant
      • New vanity
      • New light
      • New medicine cabinets 
      • New stall shower with glass door
      • New floor
      • New faucets (sink, shower)
      • New fan
      • New cabinet over toilet
      • New towels, accessories.
      • Move existing door to current bathroom to other side to opening between new bathroom and master bedroom.
  • Move furniture upstairs (from basement and storage) Planning for this weekend
  • Hang plantation blinds, curtain rods, and new curtains in all windows. Planning for this weekend
  • Decorate. Planning for this weekend, but will most likely be an ongoing venture.
Downstairs... AHHHHH
NAPALM kitchen
Hire arsonist for living room/dining room
bead board in powder room.
Ok, not really.... The real list is here:

  • Paint all ceilings (prime, 2 coats paint)
  • Paint all walls (prime, 2 coats paint)
  • Paint all trim (2 coats paint)
  • Paint doors (prime, 2 coats paint)
  •  New hardware on all doors
    • door knobs purchased!
    • hinges purchased!
    • door stops purchased!
  •  Kitchen
    • Take down vertical blinds (and destroy them!)
    • Take down ceiling fans (let them go the way of the vertical blinds)
    • Clean and organize cabinets and pantry
    • shelf liner inside cabinets
    • New flooring
    • Add closet doors to pantry (use doors from master bedroom closet)
    • New hinges and hardware on cabinets ordered!
    • New stainless appliances (fridge, range, dishwasher, over-range microwave with vent)
    • Bead board back splash
    • New stone counter tops (some light whitish-gray color)
    • New kitchen table & chairs
    • Add moulding around windows and doors + new base boards
    • Add island with 2 stools
    • Decorate: chalk board!! and memo-center stuffins
  •  Living Room
    • sand walls to remove the lovely faux finish (which also is sand) in preparation for painting
    • Hang plantation blinds, curtain rods (from Shiela and Jay), and new curtains in all windows.
    • Hang TV above fireplace
    • Decorate: need rug and furniture and lamps... 
  • Dining Room
    • Hang chandelier
    • Recover chairs for dining room set
    • 2 new chairs for table-heads
    • Decorate: Rug, mirror above buffet
  • Powder Room
    • Bead board or board and batten
    • new medicine cabinet
    • new flooring 
    • new fixtures (towel rack, toilet paper holder)
    • new lighting - vanity style
    • new fan