Monday, July 7, 2014

Whitewash

Believe it or not, I think about blogging ALL the time, and thanks to us maintaining a pretty steady level of productivity around here I actually have a TON to blog about. But I put a lot of pressure on myself to live up to other bloggers that have beautiful, amazing, professional looking photos of the projects they do, and end up thinking that since I don't have those I should just not post anything at all. Well friends, I'm pretty excited about everything we've been doing around here, so I've decided to suck it up and post about projects regardless of the fact that my good camera hasn't come out in months. My iPhone photos will have to do for now, but I figure it's better than nothing right?

First up is some family room progress in the form of our AWESOME whitewashed brick wall, which finally got finished a couple weekends ago largely thanks to my mom who came over and literally spent all day helping me paint. Thanks mom!!! And of course, thanks to Dan, who was also a huge help despite thinking the wall was just fine the way it was.

I read a bunch of other blogs that talked about how whitewashing is so insanely simple, so my expectations that this project would only take a few hours were waaaaaay off. First up was grabbing a gallon of paint and some extra cheap brushes. I used Simply White by Benjamin Moore, which I picked because a ton of bloggers swear by it as the perfect white and picking out ONE white paint color out of the millions available causes serious anxiety for me so I just went with it. (Spoiler alert - it's the same color we used on the kitchen cabinets and I love it immensely, so, another high five to the blogosphere!) The paint should be mixed half and half with water, and then all you have to do is brush it on a couple bricks at a time and then quickly follow up with a rag and dab over it all. Easy, right? Well, if you had a normal brick wall, sure! But our brick has the mortar set deep in the cracks between each piece, as you can see in the image below... which meant every single little crack required us to wedge a 1" brush in there with messy watery paint and I promise you that was absolutely miserable to do, oh, about 1,427 times. Twice.

 

After a couple hours of work on day 1, a whopping 1/3 of the wall had one coat of paint on it, and I knew right away it was going to need at least 2 coats. This was about the time that I started wondering if this project was worth it at all, and I maybe swore at myself a lot about it considering there was obviously no turning back at this point.


If I'm being completely honest, the wall sat just like you see it above for at least a week while I pouted about how annoying it was. I spent a couple evenings tackling little chunks here and there, but it took my mom coming out and spending the day with us to crank out 95% of this project.


After a full coat on the whole wall, I watered the paint down a little further, but we decided to forego the dabbing with a rag step in favor of having the paint cover just a bit more the second time around. This was not only a huge time savings on the second coat, but I really think it was the right move for our VERY dark brick in the end.


There are a couple of spots and cracks that I need to touch up with a tiny artist's brush, but all in all the wall is finished and I cannot believe how much it brightens the entire room up! As I'd hoped, the variations and coloring in the bricks still shows through the paint, which helps keep this looking a little more "natural" than completely painted brick. And while it was a frustrating project, I'm thrilled with how it turned out in the end!

We've made a couple other fun purchases for the family room since completing the wall, but I'm not quite ready to call it finished just yet... so stay tuned for more updates soon!

Friday, June 20, 2014

#TreatYoSelf

Ladies. It's Friday. It's probably payday (holler!!!). And it's been so humid all week a decent hair day is strictly out of the question. Ok, I don't usually care about good hair days either way, but still. In the spirit of keeping things not completely house focused over here, I thought today was just as good a day as any to tell you about my latest obsession - the PopSugar Monthly Must Have Box! And what better way to do that than to call it a new "series" on my blog so I feel some level of pretend internet pressure to keep it up in future posts?

Introducing.......  Treat Yo Self!

So I figure most everyone has tried or at least heard of the monthly subscriptions like Birchbox or NatureBox that send you a little box full of goodies every month for a fee, right? I got Birchbox for a couple years because it was only $10 a month and it was fun to see what kinds of beauty products would come each time. But, eventually I had to admit to myself that I wasn't using half the stuff - I would get nail polish colors I'll never use, face products I was afraid to try on my super sensitive skin, and teeny little samples of shampoos and body oils and whatnot that I liked but would never pay full price for. So I cancelled. I also tried NatureBox once but their customer service was so awful I cancelled before my box even showed up. The PopSugar Must Have box is waaaaaaay different, and after two months, I can't rave about it enough. 

This box is a bigger investment at $40 a month, but it's a lifestyle box that comes with full size products that are ultimately worth way more than you pay for the subscription. Here's what came in my first box in May:


I pretty much won't leave the house without the water bottle, the perfume screams summer, the skinny sticks taste just like funyuns but aren't as awful for you, and the DVD is probably amazing but I have yet to learn how to use our DVD player so you'll just have to take my word for it for now. I'm honestly too big of a chicken to sleep with the mask on (what if the boogieman comes in the middle of the night?!?!?), but I have a feeling the hubs will steal this come winter when it's dark all the time and I need to turn the bedroom lights on at 7am to get ready for work. 

And here's some iPhone pictures of June:


Seriously awesome. The lotion is bordering on decadent, the ponytail holders are perfect (and look cute on your wrist), the wipes smell amazing and are in some of the best packaging I've ever seen, the fancy beach wrap/towel feels incredibly luxe and the book is perfect for a summer read. There were also BBQ potato chips in the box but, well, I ate them all.

Besides the fact that the box that comes in the mail is huge and incredibly exciting to get, when it shows up it basically feels like getting a birthday present from your best friend full of things that she hand-picked just for you because she knows you would like all of it. You can sign up for one month to try it out or several to get a bit of a savings, but I couldn't recommend this box enough. I've justified the cost by (mostly) knocking Starbucks and unnecessary crap in the dollar spot at Target out of my spending, and you should give it a shot too!

Check it out!! And, of course, Happy Friday :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Be All There


Well folks, I am officially the worst blogger on earth lately, aren't I? Forgive me - it's been busy around these parts! The weeks since I've written have been a bit of a whirlwind, but also strangely calming in a bit of an odd way. I think that is because I have quickly decided that I was absolutely, positively made for the suburbs. My level of love for this new home of ours is inexplainable, and a huge part of that comes from the overall feeling I get when I'm here - in our yard, taking a walk with the hubby and Buddy Louie, driving home (a whopping 10 minutes!) from work. I just LOVE it. I love that when I'm in my backyard, I feel like I live in Wisconsin, but 5 minutes later I can decide I want to be back to reality and swing around the corner to Starbucks. I love that Target is just a couple miles away, but so is the absolutely gorgeous riverwalk. A friend from my last job also lives in our town and I love every time she posts a picture on instagram of something here that I haven't discovered yet - my list of things to do and see this summer is quickly coming together!

I'll have to do another walk through the house this weekend and take more photos of our progress, but honestly, it's been a bit slower than the first couple weeks here simply because I have forced myself to just BE here and not feel like I have to constantly be doing a project. Sure, there are plenty of messes still to be taken care of, plenty of boxes that are yet to be unpacked. There's nothing hanging on the walls yet, I somehow have an abundance of end tables with nowhere to go, and truth be told - there's an entire corner of our bedroom with boxes and bins I'm just flat out too lazy to go through right now. But we're settled into actually living here, and it really is great so far.

As promised, more pictures will come, but in the meantime here's a quick recap of what we've been up to around here! 
- We bought a paint sprayer for the kitchen cabinet doors. I'm not sold on it being an incredible time savings, and I think we'll still have to do one coat of paint with a brush to get in all the little crevices of the doors. We've been using the kitchen constantly sans-doors, so I'm unfortunately not in a terrible rush to finish those up.
- Dan put in an electric fence for Louie, and it is both hysterical and AWESOME. We have it on the very lowest setting that literally barely vibrates, and our poor anxious little guy is still terrified of it. I'm still not sure on how well it will work if another dog or a stranger comes by, but we'll see how it goes.
- I scored 2 West Elm bookshelves on craigslist for $45 each instead of the retail price of $350 a pop. They look perfect in the living room and I'm in the process of planning a gallery wall for above them!
- We bought a couch! An amazing gray comfy sectional couch to be exact. It delivers next week and I am giddy excited for it to arrive.
- I have half of a whitewashed brick wall in the family room... with the rest to come as soon as I find the motivation to tackle it. This project is waaaay more time-consuming than I was anticipating, but I can already tell it will be worth it in the end. My goal is to have it done before the new couch arrives, so keep your fingers crossed for me on that one.

I'm anxious to get to a point where I'm doing more fun little projects that I can post about, rather than massive undertakings like painting the kitchen cabinets. Hopefully this will come sooner than later!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Full Disclosure

This week's reminder that some people still read my blog is courtesy of my dad, who pointed out that I haven't posted any pictures of the house since we moved in. Good call dad! Just for you, here's a photo dump of the house as of this morning. It's messy and still full of boxes, but it's starting to feel like home.

We'll start in the family room, which is sitting pretty with my new favorite things - the craigslist sideboard from a mile away and my new snazzy gold shelves, which my mom and I spray painted last weekend in the garage. I looooove them.



The dining room is the main reason for the "full disclosure" title on this post. Full disclosure - this is what the table currently looks like. Tools, paint, sandpaper, and I think my keys are probably in there somewhere. Hoping to get this cleared off this weekend since we'll finally have a functioning kitchen, which means no more fast food for dinner! 



The hubs got the washer and dryer all installed last night (on top of the other million things he's been doing around the house - seriously, this guy is the best), so I decided to sit down on the toilet this morning (fully clothed, mind you), to show everyone how they can check themselves out in the mirrored dryer door when they pee in our downstairs bathroom. You're welcome for that.


Another full disclosure: I hit the power buttons on both the washer and dryer no less than 6 times each last night just to hear the little tune they play when they go on or off. It's the little things, people.


And speaking of that functioning kitchen... here it is this morning all beautiful and painted white just waiting for the new appliances to get installed!


I'm obsessed with the dark gray island. Definitely one of my favorite decorating decisions to date! It will be topped with butcher block eventually.



Upstairs we have Stuart the Elephant chilling in his rocker in one of the extra bedrooms. We will be adding a futon for guests to this room for now thanks to the bestie having one she's looking to get rid of. 


The other extra bedroom (also known as Bridget's room) is all set up and ready for guests! (Pending clean sheets, of course).


I finally took the time to get the dresser for the big bathroom all organized last night, so it now houses all of our toiletries and medications and whatnot. It's going to look fantastic once that little half wall next to it gets ripped out.


The small bedroom is on it's way to being transformed into an office/craft room, and I'm loving how it's coming along. I need to find some desk chairs that I both like and am willing to spend the money on and put a few more things away, but this just might be the first room that's completely organized and ready to go.



 Our bedroom is also coming along nicely, although we haven't put up our headboard yet and I need to buy knobs for the nightstands so we can actually close the drawers.


...and put a bunch more clothes away and in storage for the summer.


And here's our amazing closet!!! Thanks to, once again, the hubs, who got all of these shelves up right away so we could get our clothes where they belong. 


For the final full disclosure, here's what the front of the house looks like - COVERED in weeds. I'd like to get these pulled up this weekend, but we have to get some siding work done above the brick so I don't think it's worth planting anything just yet as it will probably get trampled on by contractors and scaffolding. 


So that's the house post-moving! Lots more progress to come (I hope) thanks to the upcoming long weekend, and also to come - bringing Buddy Louie home! He hasn't seen the house yet thanks to my wonderful gramma who has had him all week for us while we try to minimize the messes, disasters and dangerous materials laying around, but we're planning to pick him up tomorrow morning. Happy weekend friends, enjoy the holiday!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

If I had a Million Dollars: Spring Dream

I should be packing up the last of my things at my gramma's, going to bed early, or browsing around online for things we need for the house... but instead, I'm blogging. Surprise! I figured it was time to treat myself to a little "window" shopping online since I've done very little besides house stuff lately. And we all know that fitting all these little pictures into a square box calms me, so there's that.


blazer  //  necklace  //  desk lamp  //  end table

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Lately

I've said it before and I'll say it again - buying a house is a major time (and energy) suck. We haven't even moved yet, and I am exhausted. But we close on THURSDAY, and I couldn't be more excited.

Here's some tidbits from lately... all of which are house related (surprise!) and cost a lot of money (sigh).


Scored this beauty on craigslist for $250, and it's only a half mile from the new house, so I'll be meeting a neighbor as well when I pick it up! Planning on putting this in the family room for the TV. It's going to stay gray for now, but I'm also planning on a gray sectional couch, so long term this could end up a different color. I reallllllly like the gray though.

Also found an Ikea Docksta table for $50 on craigslist, which will most likely be a craft table, but could potentially also go in the breakfast nook we're planning to build down the road. Definitely kicking around the idea of faux marbling the top.

In keeping with our trend of spending money like we're made of it (we're not), we also dropped a nice chunk of change on brand spanking new appliances over the weekend, and I am beyond giddy about them. The fridge has the ice maker and water dispenser on the outside of the door (I'm a real grownup now!), and the washing machine plays a little tune when you hit the power button. The stove is gas, which will take some getting used to, but the burners are wide and cover the entire range and I kind of think it looks way fancier than it actually is. And it all gets delivered right away Friday!

Tonight we spent a decent amount of time in the shelving aisle at Home Depot planning our closet out, since it is currently just an empty room with not even a hanging bar. I think we figured out how to really utilize the space as best as possible, and I've decided the pricing on closet shelving is a total scam, much like I feel about table lamps and decent mascara. More money spent, but a fantastic new closet to come!

In other news that's not house related but still involves money, I have a lot of heart for this week's Sevenly campaign. If anyone feels like buying me a present that I just can't justify right now (because, um, see above), I'll take this in a medium ;).

Happy Wednesday!

Friday, April 25, 2014

NEW: Brilliant Earth Windsor Collection!

To say that I'm a bit obsessed with everything wedding would be a dramatic understatement, and truth be told, I get sad when I don't have some sort of wedding project to be working on - whether it's helping to plan and craft my best friend's wedding, doing freelance invitation design or simply chatting at the lunch table with engaged coworkers.

So, you can imagine my excitement when Brilliant Earth reached out to me to write a post today to help celebrate the launch of their new retro-inspired Windsor Collection! That's right friends - a really incredible company reached out to little old me to write a post for them! Happy Friday to me!

I didn't know a whole lot about Brilliant Earth prior to learning about this collection, but holy moly, I'm in love. The company's mission statement calls out their dedication to socially and environmentally responsible sourcing for their jewelry, and all of their products are handcrafted in America. I'm sure it's no surprise to anyone that I spent a good deal of time this week ooohing and ahhing over nearly everything on their website! Can we say "anniversary gift" anyone? (hint hint hubs). I joke, I kid. Kind of.

Brilliant Earth gave me the creative freedom to help launch the beautiful Windsor Collection however I wanted, so I of course took the opportunity to put together a wedding mood board and do a little daydreaming about what my perfect wedding might look like today. Don't get me wrong - I loved every minute of our big day, but isn't it incredible how much your tastes change year after year? If I were planning a wedding right now it would look nothing like ours did two and a half years ago, which makes the daydreaming all the more fun!

all images from Pinterest

I chose Brilliant Earth's Posie diamond ring as my inspiration for this board because I love how it's classic but still has that little something extra special to it. Lots of gold and sparkle and a bit of a vintage feel made up my board for an overall softer palette that's still incredibly fresh and bold in that perfectly understated way. 

There's lots more eye candy in the new Windsor Collection, so be sure to check out Brilliant Earth's website or find them on Pinterest! And a big thanks to Brilliant Earth for this super fun opportunity! Happy weekend all - hope it's a good one.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Dining Room Planning

Chatting with a work friend over email today, I realized that my daily shifting of how I feel about this new house adventure in pretty in line with when we bought our first house. One day I'm so excited about how I'm going to decorate a specific room that I can't think about anything else... and the very next I am convinced we should walk away and find a house that doesn't have any issues or setbacks. I suppose if that's the way I feel, we should stop buying foreclosures, huh? Regardless, right this very minute I am excited about the potential this house has, so I'm using the positive attitude to my advantage and dreaming about the dining room.

At our old house, the dining room was used more than any other space. It's where we gathered when we had friends over, it's where we ate dinner when we actually managed to both be home in time to cook, it's where we planned and crafted nearly our entire wedding (we dubbed it Wedding Central at the time). It's where we found out some of our best friends were engaged, it's where we played left-right-center year after year on New Years Eve. And, it's where we signed the paperwork to officially sell that house. Our dining room table has seen a lot of love, and while I'm planning to replace the current set with something new, the memories that come from gathering around the table meal after meal will remain. 

Here's some basic thoughts for the dining room - 


I'm 110% planning on getting (or making?!?) a big reclaimed wood farmhouse-style table for the new house. I absolutely love the idea of something that will look better over time as it inevitably gets dings and scratches (and crayon and crumbs from kiddos down the road) all over it, and I get all warm and fuzzy thinking about friends and their kids squeezing in on a long bench on one side of the table for a birthday party or a holiday. Pinterest is bursting with tutorials to make these tables, so this is a project I can't wait to tackle. 

I'm also more and more drawn to oriental rugs lately, which is a shift from my usual style. I appreciate that something like this is a bit more traditional, and like the idea of something that like the table, will look better over time as it fades and flattens from foot traffic. 

I've loved the West Elm capiz orb pendants since they were introduced, and think two in different sizes clustered together over the table would be a little different and look perfect. 

And oh, the wallpaper. Talk about obsessed. Honestly, I can't even believe I'm allowing myself to think about using this, since it's uber-expensive at $125 a roll, but hear me out!... 

We're fairly certain the dining room was actually a bedroom at some point, as there's a big wide closet with sliding doors on one wall. Knowing that we won't have our beautiful built-in hutch from our previous house that we used for EVERYTHING, I'm planning to remove the doors from the closet and turn it into somewhat of a built-in myself. The bottom half will have cabinets and a countertop of some sort which will automatically gain us a flat surface for a couple of decorative items and a place to set out appetizers or drinks during a party. Above will be simple wall-to-wall white shelves for glassware and the like. And behind those shelves... this gorgeous wallpaper, designed by one of my all-time favorite bloggers, Oh Joy! for Hygge & West. SO, since I essentially only need to actually wallpaper half of a closet, and it will be there as long as we own this house... I'm thinking I can justify this purchase as a birthday present for myself this summer (hint hint, hubs)... right?! I have no doubts it would be stunning.

Add in a couple of big prints or a gallery wall opposite the closet, my fabulous bar cart that I cannot wait to get back out of storage and a bunch of friends, and I'm certain our new dining room will be as loved as the last!

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Buddy Louie

One of my favorite things ever is when you meet a friend of a friend, and you hit it off so well that eventually, that person just becomes your friend and you can hang out whether or not the mutual connection is there. The one and only Shannon Wyatt has turned into one of those people for me. We met through our friend Rachel, and for awhile, we didn't hang out a whole lot. But lately? We're texting about what knobs she should add to her new dresser, going to Christian music concerts with my kid sister, making plans with the hubs to build a prop for her photography business, grocery shopping together and sharing pizzas (and cheese curds, of course). For someone like me that's never really had a ton of girlfriends, I really treasure the ones I have. Shannon has turned into a really great friend over the last few months, and I'm really grateful for her friendship!

Now on top of being a great friend, Shannon is also BANANAS talented in the photography department. She runs her business out of her studio and mainly focuses on newborn and children as her subjects. I told Dan we need to start saving up now because when we have kids Shannon will obviously be taking their photos on a regular basis. But a few weeks ago, Shannon said she was planning to start offering dog photography and asked if she could use the Buddy Louie as a test subject for her portfolio! I of course freaked out with excitement and insisted that Dan and I take him for a bath the morning of his photo shoot, and I'm so glad we did cause he looks all perfect and fluffy and bright white in his pictures. Shannon loaded Louie up with treats and got some really incredible shots, and I absolutely love how his little personality comes through in them!

Shannon posted a few favorites yesterday to announce the new part of her business for her 3rd anniversary, and thankfully, she said I can share them here as well! 

First up is my absolute number one new favorite photo of all time. I LOVE this picture and have already told Shannon that I HAVE to order a giant print of this for the new house -


Look at his little front teeth! I love that the buddy is totally smiling in this picture. And I adore when his ears perk up like this -


We brought one of the hubby's ties for a few photos, which I got a huge kick out of. Doesn't Louie look so dapper? -


If you have a dog and want to capture little moments like this, I couldn't recommend Shannon enough. You can reach out to her here on her website! And be sure to like her page on facebook and check out her blog and for some absolutely adorable family and newborn shots as well.

Happy Good Friday, friends! Have a wonderful Easter weekend!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Uncertainty


Well friends, a lot has happened since I posted my little daydream about our new kitchen. Most importantly, we had our inspections done on the house and they were terrifying, to say the least. There were some pretty major issues that came up that we weren't prepared for, and it was enough to really stop all of us - the hubs and I, our parents, our realtors and the inspectors - and make us rethink if this house is really the best move for us right now. We are working on getting further information, but we have some pretty big decisions to make in the next few days. 

A big part of me wants to say "Psh. No big deal! It's going to take more than a scary inspection report to scare me away!" After all, the report on our first home was 26 pages long and we still went with it and loved our little house dearly for almost 6 years. What's the fun of homeownership without a few unexpected hiccups, right? But, I also know there's a whole lot more to it than that - namely finding the funds to deal with said hiccups. I am so incredibly in love with this house, but definitely do not want us to get in over our heads.

The good news? Our realtors are fantastic and 110% looking out for our best interest. We're settled in at my gramma's for the time being. I get to go to New York for work next month. And, I've been working on some really exciting freelance projects in the midst of all the madness. I finished up a reception invitation last week and am working on another invitation suite, and am about to start on some wedding vows art that I think is going to be a really fun project! 

Keep your fingers crossed and say a little prayer for us this week if you think of it. We need all the good vibes we can get while we figure all of this out!