Friday, January 31, 2014

Off to Paris....

Hello Friday!
 I am more than pleased to say January is behind us. With temps below freezing and lots of snow, I am hoping we are truly headed towards spring. Speaking of light at the end of the tunnel. 6 months ago a dear friend gave me a weekend getaway to any European city of my choosing. I have finally received my updated passport, and I am left wondering which city will I visit. 

When thinking through my choices, Rome, Milan, or Paris I thought to make a list of pros and cons.

Here is a little insight in how Liza and I both travel. We organize our trips around meals, shopping, and a tad of sight-seeing (we don't want to be totally indulgent). So, in the end I picked PARIS. Why, because of course there are so many important sights to see, the Eiffel Tower etc..... but, what hooked me in where the Parisian flea markets. I can already imagine all the beautiful little treasures I would find and could not live without. 
When traveling I always love to visit flea markets, you find the best bits of history and nostalgia. If I am able to find something that lives in my home with its very own place, I am always taken back to city from which the item originated and am reminded of wonderful memories. Also, it is so romantic to think of these little treasures we find traveling all over the world, from one home to the next. 

I know just dreaming up my little weekend escape is going to get us through a few more weeks of dreary winter weather and now I left with the dilemma of what to pack. Paris street style here I come!



Thursday, January 30, 2014

Kitchen Plans and DIY Tiling

Our kitchen has been about as finished as it is now for something close to a year.  This time last year we had rearranged the layout to give us better flow and accommodate our best ebay find ever: our enormous new range, and we had finished building the island and painting all of the cabinets.  We also figured out how to make our refrigerator its own built in style cubby to integrate it with the rest of the cabinetry.  You can see more of the before and after here.  Once we reached the point where the space was functional, we decided to hold off on a few of the final touches for the room 1) because there were other, more pressing projects to be prioritized, and 2) I just couldn't seem to make up my mind about what I wanted.  Sometimes I find that when I'm not sure what direction I'd like to take, it's better to live with the space for a while and see what happens.

Something we decided to wait on in the kitchen was tiling a backsplash.  Over a year and a half ago I was thinking about what tile to use and posted about it here.  We're just taking our sweet time getting around to this project, I guess! :)  For the past couple of weeks, though, I've been feeling like the time might be right pretty soon to pull out the buckets and rubber gloves again and make a huge mess-- and hopefully end up with a backsplash in the end.

For a while we toyed with the idea of a large stainless steel sheet behind the stove and tile around the rest of the wall, but eventually I scratched that and decided to go with all tile.  In order to narrow down which tile options we might like I picked up a couple of subway samples from Home Depot, taped them to some scraps of wood and propped them up on the counter to see them in their "natural habitat."  I chose two inexpensive options, one ceramic tile that's super budget friendly, and a marble that's the cheapest version of gray and white I've found.

Here are some of my inspiration photos-- and check out that blue range and hood!  



Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Balance Lost

Wasn't January supposed to be a SLOW month? For Liza and me, we have found ourselves busier than we expected. Last weekend Liza's wonderful Rev. was just announced as the incoming Rector of their parish in Louisville (GREAT NEWS!!). My Rev. and I have been busy preparing our all our Spring programs headed our way. It must have been wishful thinking counting on January as a month of solitude and catch-up. This winter has proven to only be more full then we thought. 

Last evening we hosted a work-dinner and a friend asked if I am ever overwhelmed with our ever FULL schedule. I thought to myself, I love our lives. Our door is always open and every dinner party we host is life giving through our company and conversations. Then I woke up this morning looked at our schedules and realized we are very busy people, juggling a church, children, and our very own relationship. 

I have no wisdom here and what I realize is BUSY is the new " I am just fine." Busy is the reality for most of us, right?! All I can say finding moments really listening to one another, in a walk to school, or a conversation over hot chocolate is what keeps us all connected in the midst of our ever busy lives. I don't kid myself thinking our lives will slow down, I just hope to insert a few interruptions each day to connect. 

How do you stay SANE in this ever busy life?



Saturday, January 25, 2014

Engagement Party Ideas

The Rev. was away all last week so, I was swamped with pick up and drop offs in 8 degree weather with 6 inches of snow. Yes, you can all feel a little sorry for me!! You can imagine how pleased I was to see him walk through the door last night, oh just an hour before an engagement party. Our neighbors and Director of Operations is getting married, and we happily threw together a party to celebrate the occasion. 

Since the weather was pretty awful last week, I could only muster up enough energy to do one shopping day. I had imagined having a room full of balloons and take aways, but in the end was only able to get to Trader Joe's and Paper Presentation.  I had no choice but to keep the festivities simple, and I am sure the pocket book and the Rev. did not mind. 

Since we are neighbors and our children are very playful with them, I decided to create a greeting sign that felt very childlike, which was a big success. I used Sophia's glittered clothespins and string to pin up their names. I then strung together white paper flowers with a few ribbons hanging in between. I guess you could say I am much more whimsical then formal. 

Lucky for me Trader Joe's is fully stocked in rananculas and hyacinth in all colors. Shocker-- I went for a variety of pinks and whites. I am not sure what the pink, white, blue obsession is, but hey why mess with it. Of course we had a variety of pink and white candles for the table top and this time, I decided not to use linens for the tables. Last week when we had our Taco Night I ironed all the linens. I just could not imagine ironing any more linens for at least a month. 

In the end I think everything turned out to be lovely and the Rev. of course gave such a lovely toast we could not help but feel celebratory. We had a table full of cheeses, olives, and varieties of chocolate, which we have happily been eating this morning. The food was very simple and indulgent.

Pssss….. did I forget to mention the heart sparklers where a hit. After the toasts we lit them and cheered our friends on. They were definitely worth the 6.95--again I love a little whimsy; we were all like giddy little children watching the sparklers go. 

Happy Weekending!!


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Living Room: DIY Crown Molding Before & After

We did it!  We've been thinking about installing crown molding, talking about it, saying we'll get to it ever since we bought this house, and now we've officially finished a whole room.  

Before I delve into the details of this project, just for fun, let's take a look back at the way this space used to look back when we first bought the house.  Be sure to notice the psychedelic textured ceilings and no fireplace!

Here's what the living room looked like just a few months ago.  We were all settled in and loving the space, but knew at some point we would want to install some crown molding.  At first we had grand visions of covering the whole first floor with three piece, built up trim, but thankfully we decided to start with one room, reassess and see how our motivation level was doing.  As with any home project, it's important to balance the cost, the outcome and the amount of time you have to invest to figure out if tackling something is really worth it to you.  So I'm glad we started with one contained space we could complete before deciding how much of the rest of the house really "needs" crown molding.

Before beginning, I picked up a few short sections of trim from Home Depot and created a three piece, built up style of crown molding that I thought we might like in a one foot section as a mock up.  That way we could get a sense of what the finished product would look like and check the proportions before diving in.  Here's a cross section of the design we chose, except we went with a wider, 5 1/4" section of crown, since our ceilings are so high:

The first step involved cutting and nailing the baseboard sections of trim into the walls with our pneumatic finish nailer, which was pretty straightforward with simple 45 degree cuts for the corners.  

Next I cut and nailed up the baseboard sections into the ceiling, piecing them together like you would a picture frame.  This part of the project proved to be somewhat tricky, since the ceiling joists only cooperate as anchors for the molding running in one direction.  So nailing into the joists is only possible for two of the sides of the room, which makes attaching the molding to the ceiling on the other sections much more difficult.  The nails will only hold the wood in place temporarily, but they're not enough to support the weight of the finished product.  So we drilled through the baseboard sections into the drywall above and attached them with huge anchors that splay out to distribute the weight.

(I got the idea for attaching the top pieces with toggle bolts here.)

 For instructions I referred to a book we own on woodworking and trim, but the Family Handyman website also offers a great tutorial on how to install a built up three piece trim like this one.  In fact, if you follow their instructions, you're doing much better than I am-- I definitely cheated some on this project!  Coping is a technique that professional trim installers use to create tighter joints between pieces of wood and keep the corners from gaping when the wood contracts... and I just couldn't be bothered to take the time to learn how to do it!  Don't try this at home...  :)  

Instead of coping the corner pieces, I mitered the corners to match as closely as possible, filling in sections too wide with tiny slivers of extra crown that I cut to fit.  Then I filled in any extra gaps with copious amounts of caulk and called it a day.  Honestly, I'm sure I'll have to get up there on the ladder and re-caulk the seams at some point, but that's the price I was willing to pay for (more) immediate satisfaction on this project, and I can live with it.  

Once the trim was all in place, I started the tedious but critical work of filling all of the nail holes with wood putty and any gaps with caulk.  I'm pretty sure this old house doesn't have a single straight wall, floor or ceiling in it, which meant I had some serious gaps to fill!  But once those little spaces between the woodwork and the walls or ceiling have been filled in and the whole thing painted over, it's amazing how the imperfections disappear.  Sure, if you look closely you might see a lumpy section or two, but overall I'm thrilled with the outcome.  I'm proud of us!  And happy to think of all of the money we saved by our DIY efforts.

Now we'll have to see if we can ever motivate to attempt another room... :)


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