Oh man! I have not updated in awhile. Never fear, we are always constantly working on our house. Most of it is not the showy improvements, but the little things like re-organizing our kitchen, buying house appropriate things (LIKE A BETTER WASTE BASKET), and rearranging our living room furniture. I do have a spring dinner coming up and I will be cooking tody aand tomorrow along with tablescaping. Stay tuned for pictures and all that jazz!
I love the word Bureau. I went to this Youth Literature Around the World Workshop and they talked about changing Australian/English words into American lingo. One word that came up was dresser over bureau. ANYWAY. The point of this post is to show a project I started in repainting old furniture in our house. I had no idea it was so easy. You just sand off the old finish and paint!
My sister-in-law came over to help with awesome paintbrushes and super cool paint colors to choose from. We sanded and painted everything last night. Over the next few weeks we will eventually stain and distress it all. I'm looking forward to the it all!
I'll post pictures when it is all stained and distressed. I think it's going to come out super awesome! To take this dresser to the next level---I might investigate getting some cool knobs.
I will have pictures up soon. During winter break, my husband crafted railings. He used wood and cemented them and just in time. During an ice storm, the pizza delivery guy profusely thanked us. We've gotten quite a few neighbor compliments over it too. They still have to be painted and I'll add pictures when they are absolutely finished. We've both been ill, so that has slowed down house projects.
Thanksgiving was terrific! It is now official that Tom and I are the new Thanksgiving hosts. My husband stated he could tell I had a fantastic time. My biggest worry was not living up to my mom's expectations. My brother reminded me that my mom has four scores of experience to my minute one. The jury of family stated that I surprised everyone with how we were able to not only host our first year, but host well. They were thoroughly impressed at our feast. My dad said it was official that I can throw down. When I was relating my Thanksgiving experience to a co-worker, she helped me realize that if I equate hosting Thanksgiving to a RPG ---I could see that I had unfounded fears.
My mom has hosted Thanksgiving for 45 years. If you make to level 45 in an RPG (especially a JRGP) you've been doing some serious grinding. If you aren't a game player---it just means you have to keep fighting (honing your skills usually for hours) to keep leveling up. I am only on my first year of cooking a large dinner, which means while I feel good about how it went, I shouldn't expect to be at a 45. That being said, it still means that I have a lot to work up to and it will be fun to reach those levels. Essentially, I can't wait to I can make Thanksgiving dinner with my eyes close and using a pinch of that and a dab of that spice there because I know the recipe by memory.
What I liked about doing my first dinner was the time management plan my mom developed. I did not have much vacation this year is very accurate. She essentially project manages Thanksgiving dinner. If you aren't familiar with how African-Americans can throw down for dinner: I was recently tagged in the following post on Facebook, which sums up a African-American Thanksgiving dinner. I thought was hilarious! I covered up the names for privacy reasons, but take no ownership of this post. I did not want my mom's legacy to die out with how she can cook amazing foods for the holidays. I figure I better learn while she is still around to help coach me over the phone in learning how to throw down!
I feel good about getting the basics down this year. I am hoping to improve greatly and level up in the upcoming years so I can feel a stronger sense of pride at being able to prepare for people traveling to Michigan. The bonding was at an all time high in seeing everyone arrive and prepare to share food. I did not even think about pictures taking pictures that day, but my mother-in-law took plenty.
It was fun to see how much everyone enjoyed the food! I did learn a few things:
1) I did not have time to look cute. The turkey looked good though.
One day I'll look like I'm doing a photo-op. All I know is I got up at 5:30a.m. to put turkey in the oven and prepare for guests, woke back up at 10a.m. to check on the turkey and by the time my sous chef arrived (mother-in-law) we didn't slow down at all. Good food trumped wardrobe that day. Maybe next year. I think my mom use to get dressed up (from pictures) and by the time she had kids---she was like forget that! I'll aim for a better outfit next year.
2) The feeling when you've finished hosting and realize no one is going to talk bad about you or your food.
3) There will always be something that doesn't quite go your way (imperfection will abound). Roll with it.
Black people will talk about you. AT LENGTH. It was my husband favorite thing to witness, bahahaha. My aunt forgot to bring rolls. I ran out of time (I made homemade cornbread), but I was hoping that she would bring rolls. She completely forgot. My mom was more upset (than even I had time to be) I just laughed and remembered next year to make sure I make my own rolls. I felt that past me would have definitely freaked out, but I realized that the most important thing was we had an ABUNDANCE of food and everyone arrived safely. Ultimately, as a child my favorite holiday was Christmas. As an adult, my new treasured holiday is Thanksgiving.
I'm thankful for love----
I am thankful for being the hostess for my family's first thanksgiving
Most importantly, I'm thankful for family (My father-in-law is taking the picture).
I hope your thanksgiving was one to remember, too! Love and peace to all this holiday season!
Creating A Tablescape
I just started to get into tablescaping. According to HGTV , tablescaping is just that fancy word for table decorating.
Growing up, I remember how my mom laid out a formal dinner table two or three times a year (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter). She followed the traditional formal table layout with centerpieces, place cards, napkin rings, the whole nine yards. My dad use to spend time doing everyone's name in calligraphy and would place them in this pristine polished silver rose place card holder. My husband and I are just starting out as newlyweds and while I would love to imitate my mother's table---pfft! That's not happening this year. I've put it as one of my many goals to achieve later in life. I went to assess what we already had---and what I could get purchase reasonably (or borrow).
What I Owned: China | Glasses | Dessert Displays | Serving Plates & Dishes | Fancy Utensils | Place Cards (left-over from wedding)
What I Bought: Table Cloth | Decorative Paper Napkins | Mini- winter squash
What I Borrowed: Serving Spoons | Gravy Bowl | Casserole Dishes
After getting everything, I went to Pinterest just to get some ideas of what I could do. This was my favorite:
I really liked this idea of telling everyone that I'm grateful or thankful that they came for dinner. I took the place cards and did calligraphy of everyone's name and tied them to the squash. At first, I was going to paint each little squash, but decided not to as I felt they were already so colorful it would be a shame to take that away. I did wash the winter squash with a solution recipe I found online that would make them last longer and remove any dirt and grime.
My husband's idea was to mock plate it all first and then decide (which I did).
From doing a sample, I wanted to give the napkins a little extra "pop" because as much as I would LOVE HARVEST COLORED LINEN NAPKINS---we could not afford them this year. I kept reminding myself: we figured out two big things this year (table & china). I had leftover twine from my wedding, which I used to tie the paper napkins together. I thought it instantly made the one place sitting "spiff" up just a little bit more.
Featured is the tablescaping I did based off the ideas I found on Pinterest. I'm not worried about tablescaping past the plates. There will be so much food---that will be used to "fill" up the table. Centerpieces will come later in life.
That's how the finished table looked! I'm excited to do a Thanksgiving reflection! I hope it will all go well.
...for the holidays, Tom and I have made STRIDES to making our house more of a home [instead of rooms stuffed with all types of unsorted bric-a-brac that makes us feel magical anytime we discover something] .
We can now have sleepovers! We've successfully converted our room of horrors into our offices and guest room. I'm still using the guest room closet as a short term goal until we figure out our Master bedroom storage situation.
It is painted. A nice soothing green. I am now sure of the color that I will use to paint accent furniture.
I have found where I want a clock to hang. The shelves are now completed and are currently storing items allowing me maximum counter space in prepping Thanksgiving dinner.
We have a table. The woodchips that were EVERYWHERE are now gone. I have a china cabinet that is built and is holding all our china dishes. Our white shelves are cleared from random items and is currently holding what is necessary.
The house is slowly starting to take shape. It's nice to have impending guests because that means: YOU HAVE TO START GETTING READDDDYYY!
I may have mentioned in a previous post about hosting for the holidays, but to reiterate my husband and I are hosting Thanksgiving this year. Are we crazy? Maybe? I'm just excited to start some family traditions. I also felt my mom was ready to pass the torch on for prepping and feeding people. Considering, I've been helping her cook for the holidays since I was young, it felt like it was time to take a stab and go out there on my own.
The only item we were not close to securing: a table. I'm pretty sure is a vital item in hosting a dinner, haha. I started searching for a table late September and I've been on the hunt ever since.
I could not find a dining room table that could comfortable seat eight to ten people at a reasonable price. I tried Craigslist and few other refurbished options, but most of the tables that did fit eight to ten people for a nice price were round shaped tables. Tom and I tried a circle table, but it just did not look right in our house. Even when I found a table I did like it was usually located in Chicago. Tom estimated by the time we would rent a truck to pick up the table what we would spend in mileage----he could just use that money to build a table.
That's what we did. We built a table. Here is the final table. It's such a beauty! The total cost was less than $300.
Table Building 101: Coordinating Schedules
Ya'll, Tom waited until I was gone for three days to do this. BAHAHAHAHA. We all know that coordinating your schedule does not matter AT. ALL. I'm also sure it's a big help. I wasn't necessarily in the way, nor could complain about anything. Usually, navigating around numerous tools strewn about only to arrive in the kitchen area wondering how you'll be able to cook or even get a glass of water makes you turn around and
It was awesome to not have to experience any of that. I was on the other side of the state at a conference before he even purchased the wood. When I came back it was SUCH A GREAT SURPRISE!!! Let's get to the basics---or as it was explained to me:
Table 101: Table Dimensions & Design
Tom had dimensions in mind of the how large he wanted the table. He showed it to his friend Seth who fleshed out in detailed exactly what he wanted. Then came the buying of wood from (Home Depot) and the table legs were bought from DendroCo a Chicago Etsy seller.
Tom said they took these pictures the first night---- after they did the following: bought the wood, cut the plywood, cut the frame, attached the frame, attached the legs.
The second night: attached the top, which Tom said was the most critical part, and put up the trim.
The next night they filled the wood holes and sanded the table again.
I will have finally pictures were stain was applied three times and the clear coat went on. In my next post, I will put the final picture of the table and updated pictures of the shelves.
My husband just finished building kitchen shelves. We are in the process of trying to free up counter and shelf space so we have more food space. Old houses are fascinating. I'm not sure I quite get how most families were quite large and while the houses are roomy they have no real storage space. I'll save researching turn of the century houses and space for another date.
Side note: I visited Chicago last weekend and showed my dad pictures of the completed shelves. My father replies, "THOSE ARE MAN SHELVES!" If you are a nerd (like I am) and have seen the anime (Fairy Tale) you will know there's this character that always refer to himself (and everyone) as a MAN!
I swear to God, I [internally] went---did you just channel Elfman? My dad kept saying if the house falls down, those shelves will still be left standing. On to building:
Started from the bottom:
Price: (<$100) Materials: 1x12 | 2x4 (6) | Screws | Paint | Brackets
The hardest part of the project pictured was leveling.
Now we're here:
That right there----is the semi-final picture. We were making sure our island of randomness fit nice and neat under the shelves.
Tom has been painting the shelves over the weekend. When they are finally finished, I will post up pictures of the final results. He also decided to paint the Ikea island that we put on wheels, too.
We are currently deep in projects in preparation for Thanksgiving. I'm so excited!!!
Thanksgiving is on it's way. I figured that slowly through the years, I'll start perfecting what it will look like. Start simple and slowly add a few things to the tradition each year, until it resembles my family's renowned Thanksgiving tradition: good food, comfortable space, and great bonding experiences. I have a few design ideas that I'm hoping to incorporate this year.
Dining Room Decor: Table
Tom and I have been going back and forth on dining room tables. He loves a Sorrento style table:
I'm more wanting a rectangle table that could comfortably sit 8-10 people. We searched a few sites and I think we've settled on Tom building a dining room table. I hope this project happens by Thanksgiving, but we will see! I'm thinking worst case scenario we stick two tables together this year. We will figure it out!
Dining Room Table Decor: China
I've been saving up for china. My mom's china was a big deal growing up and I would like to continue that tradition. I was raised by a Southern woman and would love to carrying on that torch of using fine china for holiday meals. Speaking of southern woman, Tom's sister recently pointed me toward Draper James by Reese Witherspoon. It is mostly clothing, but they do carry some great accent house decor.
Guest Bedrooms: Family
My family is super excited to come for the holidays! figure that each year, I'll have a goal to expand housing designs and decor and see how far I can come in three to five years! This year, our plan is to clean our room of horrors so we have enough sleeping space for everyone. I want everything cleaned and organized so everyone has a place to sleep. I'll work on getting comfortable guest beds. Until then, we just have to make do.
I recently attended a party where in talking to another couple they mentioned that since owning a house most projects start at 1K.
I mean, it shouldn't seem like a lot. When you think about how much your textbooks in college cost for one semester or how much you've probably spent in acquiring articles of clothing:
Housing projects SHOULD seem reasonable. I mean seriously, I'm beginning to think that every time I tell my husband I want a cosmetic change to the house, I should think about doing a crowd-source for funds.
It's like when I use to play all the games where you saved up for expensive items by questing----and you could usually do it the good old fashion way: by buying and selling your own items OR seeing if everyone in the community would donate 1 gold coin to your quest... What does this have to do with our bathroom?
This is a picture of our bathroom. It's the before picture because I'm not sure when there will be an after picture. Our bathroom needs a whole NEW makeover. Partially, because Tom LOVES baths, and would have never bought a house without one.
I'm not sure why anyone would EVER get rid of a tub. I completely hard-core SOLD Tom on the idea of getting this house in lieu of pursuing our own avenues of getting a bathtub BACK into bathroom. I'm currently trying to find blueprints of the original layout to see if I can figure out how it was designed back then.
Anyway, we received an astronomical estimate that was just jaw dropping crazy. I was going, "DUDE?! Seriously-----No way....."
When Tom first told me what they said I laughed and rolled my eyes in exasperation about how house projects are rarely straightforward. It's mostly because I'm impatient and wish I could just DO ALL THE THINGS NOW!!! Well if I have anything...it's tenacity so I went to pursue some other avenues for second-hand opinions. I knew two people who have renovated their bathrooms as a DIY so I called my dad and another fellow house flipper to just confirm just in case we take this as a DIY project. They both said the same things about us being able to do the project for way less than estimated but going about it different avenues, starting with another estimate.
Currently, we have discussed that we will probably be waiting until next year to start on this major project overhaul. Stay tuned for any bathroom progress updates!
Seriously, what's your bedroom style? How did you figure out something would personally represent you or your partner? I never even thought about it. I'm not sure how I thought a future adult bedroom of mine would look? I actually never thought I'd be around long enough to sort that out. In trying to figure life out, ya'll, I took a quiz.
I'm all about certain quizzes. Sure, most of them on quotev are TERRIBLE (but my teens love 'em), but sometimes they have their usefulness. I acknowledge my strengths: give me some little kids to entertain, I got you. Give me some books to read and recite to you plot lines: CAN DO. Give me the interior of a house that I need to design---and immediately I start going:
MAN! (I sound like Elfman from Fairy Tale) did any of my high school or college class prepare me for this? I can apparently set a table, but I'm outta luck when it comes to setting up a room. WHERE ARE MY PAPERS ABOUT ROOM DESIGN?! Great thing about librarians is how we're resourceful. My first resource was asking our friend, Julie, an interior design to "PLEASE COME HELP US, I'LL PAY YOU WITH WINE AND ANYTHING YOU WANT" to help us plan. We did meet for preliminaries---and yes, she's still coming over for a planning night. ::CHEERS::
Let's backtrack again to the quiz. I went to BHG and took their bedroom style quiz. I giggled as I read my bedroom decor label: Romantic Retreat
NAILED IT. Well, at least my confirmed love for canopy beds. The best thing about the answer is that while I wouldn't necessarily have a soft romantic bedroom going on, I could at least glean some Pinterest ideas. Pinterest now has these labels that at times may help pinpoint, what you might be searching for looking for but it is not necessarily accurate. It's completely subjective (for me) or what I would consider style classification. Essentially, I think people label ANYTHING as a certain style, and it could very well not really fit completely in that style. They could have also pinned it to the wrong board. What I did like from the BHG quiz, is that I have this generic field/industry trend---which may result in better search results thanme pressing random labels to scroll through endlessly on Pinterest. Usually, I get so frustrated by the broad scope of all these ideas that I do not know how to narrow down that after a few hours my brain is overflowing with images and information and no cognizant plan on regurgitating that design back to my husband:
What I'm trying to say, is that the Pinterest wonders are overflowing and while I want ideas, I want a way to process those ideas to have some idea of what i'm talking about besides, "that one picture..." Anyway, I went back over the simple plan that I made with Julie. She started with a few simple questions that turned into some awesome suggestions that MORPHED into---voila! a bedroom plot. <---as if i’m writing a novel. We started off discussing style and essential bedroom items. I told her all the things that I didn't like and tried terribly to describe what I did want. I told her:
- We are lacking bedroom organization/storage. What are my options? Bed-frame with or without storage options?
- I didn’t want my room to look like EVERYTHING came from Ikea or Pottery Barn
- I want some type of vintage feel, but not a cottage or shabby chic decor
- I didn't want to necessarily break budget (that hasn't even been planned, yet, but you've looked at that Pinterest picture and go, either we spend TO MUCH TIME DIY or I need a Bill Gates salary) or as I like to say---we’re hopefully ‘moving ON UP!’ Jefferson style but not right now...
Julie had me pin some things for future ideas and she suggested I think about what I wanted to paint the master bedroom. Figure out what my long term storage options would be since we live in a 100+ house which has tiny closets. I'm super pumped to get a french wardrobe, btw. The current plan is to figure out what shade I would like to paint our bedroom. I've been occasionally getting a chance to scour Pinterest for ideas. I'll definitely be cashing in on my Chicago connections for unique pieces in the near future.
The decor I don't care about, but I like the paint color. I'm not sure if a filter has been applied, but it seems like a darker sage green. The picture, found on Pinterest, is linked to its original blog source.
The picture below is from the blog: Vintage Whites
I do adore the minimalist theme she has going on, but my absolutely favorite piece of the whole decor is the chandelier. I think I will be chandelier shopping in the near future because it's just such an awesome look.
I have figured out that I'm going to get a chandelier, but I'm still working on that final bedroom color.
Our main priority was to create a workable kitchen. I equate starting off as new homeowners to my past years of starting out on level one of The Sims:
Mixing that emotionally with how overwhelming and daunting housing projects are.
Our dream kitchen would be this eclectic modern vintage U-shaped kitchen, but our reality was a medium sized kitchen with no prep space and an archaic sink and bubbly counter tops. We went to all the big stores to price laminate counter tops, but we were not fully sold.
I forgot to take a before picture, but just so you get a visual, part of the house selling feature included new counter tops by the owner. Unfortunately, the inspector killed that dream when some electrical features needed to be updated. The seller let us pick: electrical work or counter tops. Fast forward, we could not place our new kitchen items on the counter tops because they would tilt lean, and it was just a hot mess. Tom's friend Pete who had recently remodeled their kitchen suggested butcher block countertops.
Tom also built a kitchen island ON WHEELS! He is the absolute best. I'll eventually show more house image stages when we get past basic projects. We're continually rethinking kitchen design concepts now that we are cooking and baking in this room.
What We Learned
As our first major project:
- Our project budget had a built-in cushion, but I still would have upped the value for small mishaps.
- A featured mishap: The sink featured in the picture was returned along with 3 others for damaged parts, missing pieces, and all around terrible quality. We eventually settled on a great sink, but there was a lot of store returning.
- We did not figure out a meal plan accurately. We spent a lot of money eating out, which I'm not sure how you supplement that when your oven has been moved.
Tom has done professional paint jobs so he was pretty antsy to start painting.
He started painted the cupboards in the kitchen white to make the space bigger. He also used a ton of paint to coat the basement walls to make it look quite fresh. I was a little worried about the cupboards, yet everything turned out great. We got this awesome Ace giftcard from our wedding, and Ace was having a sample sale so we went home with some room samples.
We went with Clark & Kensington for all our paint needs. My husband is severely colorblind, but that doesn't stop him from finding some amazing color combinations. He immediately spotted this color purple and was in love.
Next, we wanted a neutral gray to sort of off-set the purple. We couldn't have people covering their eyes as they walk through our house. We tried different grey samples with no luck. Our house has really big windows so the light would hit the grey color differently in every room. It was pretty fascinating to see how a color could change and make the walls look fresh or seriously dirty. We ended up settling on Clark + Kensington's Silver Bonnet.
After painting hallways and a few rooms we've mostly put our painting projects aside for now. We're still working on the kitchen and figuring out design concepts for our living room and personal bedroom.
After purchasing our house. We had to lay out some remodeling project priorities. The appealing feature of our house was its structural integrity. The house we purchased was attractive to our overall needs because all the big ticket items were new. We had a new roof, water heater, boiling, windows plumbing, floors, etc.
I viewed the house as a blank canvas in terms of design and customization.
Our general assessment factored both importance and budget:
The whole house was painted one color. BLECK.
Kitchen was not usable.
The full bathroom had NO TUB and the worst SHOWER ON THE PLANET. Tom still hasn't forgiven me for telling him that it wouldn't be THAT big of a loss. He's a bath man.
Our gutters had their own eco-system and our backyard seemed small due to the overgrowth and dead trees running amok.
The closets had no rails to hang clothes.
We owned no furniture or organizational containers.
I'm still getting the hang of home improvement pictures. I was debating about starting a blog while remodeling was happening, which caused me not have any before pictures. You'll just have to use your imagination (and may see some stock web images) to picture some of the before.