Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fall Break: Over. Attempt at Reclaiming My Life: Success/Failure-you decide!

Last Sunday marked the beginning of my week-long fall break. I posted that I was going to attempt to reclaim my over-booked/overly-busy/over-committed life back. Hmm. A week later and I'm wondering how successful I actually was.
  It's the night before I go back to school and the overly-enthusiastic students. I can actually say I feel pretty ready to get back. With Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas all in the near future, there's lot of fun events to be had with the kiddos. (And lots of opportunities for glittery crafts!) I guess if I can say I feel ready to go back to work, I must be pretty rested?
  I claimed that I wouldn't be a slave to my blackberry, well, as I wrote on Monday that didn't really work out since I switched to an iPhone. Oh, and I had a lovely time at the car dealership waiting for my car to get something installed for several hours. Aside from all of the "waiting" I embraced on Monday and Tuesday, I was really blessed to get to spend a lot of time with friends, sneak in a visit to my husband at work, and celebrate the wedding of a happy couple in a beautiful setting.
  I think I realized something about myself this week: if an empty space exists in my schedule, I will fill it. I know, that's a problem of sorts. However, what I will strive to work on is filling those "empty" spaces with things that I genuinely want to be a part of; things that I feel are positive investments in my life. As much as I hate that I'm a "busy-bee," I realized this week that it makes me, "me".  I'm learning to say "no" more and more and to not feel so icky when people try to guilt me into things. So, going into this week (and the many weeks that follow) my schedule is pretty jammed, BUT, I can happily say that it is full of some pretty wonderful things that I'm very excited to be a part of. The husband and I just committed to a new adventure, and I couldn't be more happy to start this crazy, wild journey.
   Hope you have all had a terrific week and kick-start your Monday with energy and enthusiasm! Remember, if you're a busy bee with a busy schedule, evaluate that schedule and see what things it's filled with. Invest in positive relationships and opportunities. It's never to late to say "yes" to something/someone that could change YOU forever.
             Oh, and who knew you could grow a coffee plant in the desert??? I'll keep you guys updated on it's growth! So fun!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Taking Back Life: Day 1

Well,  day one of my fall break and my attempt at taking back life was partially a success. (For those of you that didn't catch yesterday's blog--don't worry, this blog is still about our old "green" house, I'm just taking a week off for fall break!) Just yesterday I said that I was giving up being a slave to my Blackberry. Funny thing, since my blackberry broke, today I made a trip to the Verizon store and walked out with an iPhone (Thanks, mom for letting me snag your sweet parents are constantly being robbed of their upgrades thanks to my brother and me). So, instead of being a slave to my Blackberry today, I was a whole new kind of slave to an iPhone. This girl spent almost 3.5 hours at the Apple store upgrading my computer's software so that I could sync my phone to it. Sigh. I can never win with technology.
  So, in regards to technology, I lost today's battle. However, for those of you that have heard me joking about it for weeks, I did spend an entire day in yoga pants. 
  Day one coming to an end, and I can honestly say that I feel like I reclaimed time and was able to appreciate the day (and the Apple store as well as its friendly employees). 
  - I managed to sit on the patio, lab-pup in tow, at one of my favorite coffee shops and just BE. This was slightly difficult for me at first as I am absolutely terrible at sitting still and doing nothing. Oh, and the weather was very much FALL weather. 
 - I had a fabulous lunch with my parents before they head off for Ireland! 
 - Myself and the Apple genius team had a lovely conversation and laughs about how "outdated" I am in the technology world. 
 - My friend that is watching our neighbor's home invited me over to check out the chicken coop and pick up some fresh eggs! Once you go fresh, it's so hard to buy a dozen eggs from the market!! 
- Ended the evening with a lovely dinner and glass of wine on the patio with my love. 

 I'd like to say that I reclaimed several hours today and that day one was an absolute success. Day 2 and all that's in store- I can't wait! 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pitching The Schedule; Taking Back Life

  I just finished reading an article titled, "It's your time, how do you want to spend it?" by Geraldine Sealey.  While my posts are normally about green living and other household projects, today I'm kicking off my fall break by writing about how I can reclaim my life. If you are a busy, type A, over-achiever, BUSY person like myself--hopefully you will find a bit of inspiration in this.
  Today is my New Year's, pre-New Year's...if that makes sense. We are only weeks away from 1 of several major holidays and I refuse to spend another year being "busy" through the holidays. Lately my "busy" schedule has been a major topic of discussion in our house. In fact, I came home the other day and wrote down my daily work schedule, in addition to everything I do at home and discovered that after working 40 hours a week, I'm coming home and working another 20-25 hours, Monday-Friday...that doesn't even include the weekend or hours I spend volunteering. Enough is enough folks! This mid-20s girl is taking her life back.
  In order for me to get started on this week-long mission to stop being the "busy-bee" that I am, I'm taking a look at why I'm the busy girl. Here's some of the reasons why I've become this way:
  1. I think I allow my busyness to validate my self-worth. Yep, I said it. I buy into this American way of life and feel that, if I'm not busy, I must be lazy/not working enough, etc.
2. I feel that if I let someone else take on a project, I won't be as pleased with the results.
3. I'm afraid that if I don't do something, it won't get done.
4. I struggle with saying 'no' to people.
  Okay, these are just a few of the reasons why I think I am so busy. So, I'm going to begin the week by tackling these "hinderances" in my path. Here's how I plan on making that happen:
1. I will not be a slave to my blackberry this week.
2. I will not let other people dictate or create my schedule. I refuse to be the "yes" girl. Recently, I saw a quote that said, "If you want something done, ask the busy girl"....I quickly realized that I don't want to be the lazy person's yes girl anymore!
3. I'm not going to obsess over the disasters my dogs seem to be creating on a daily basis in my home. My friends and family are dog-lovers and I need to start embracing the fact that I do not have a full-time staff like Martha Stewart that will take care of the daily disasters.
4. I'm going to take time to pursue my dreams this week.
5. I'm going to spend more time reading.
 These are just a few of the ways I plan to get started. I realized that I can't enjoy, "Our Old Green House," if I'm too busy being busy. So this week I plan on spending more time loving on the ones I love and taking time to breathe.
Can't wait for daily morning walks and runs with this girl

Can't wait for sunsets with the one I love

Excited for meals and great conversations with family and friends in one of my most favorite spots.
   Here's my challenge to you this week: replenish your energy, kindly decline offers, put away the phone a little more. We only get to enjoy this life for a such a time. Fill your day with the ones you love and spend more time doing things that you love and that matter. At the end of your life, I doubt you'll say: "I wish I would have spent more time emailing, more time working, more time cleaning." 
  Happy Sunday afternoon, everyone!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fall Burlap Banner: Because I refuse to be defeated by a roll of burlap

Although I continue to write about the woes of working with burlap, I'm too competitive to give up working with it. I absolutely refuse to be "owned" by a material.
  I attempted make a "Fall" burlap banner for my kitchen window. After a frustrating hour of cutting/fraying/glue/glitter/hanging, I decided I'm officially on the hunt for a better burlap. It seems my problem might be that I'm simply using the wrong type of burlap. Either way, a fall banner has been made and I'm not too terribly ashamed of it. I used old book pages to cut out the word "fall" and then outlined the word in Martha Stewart's coppery/orange glitter.
  Here's the result:

      I'm keeping my eyes out for a better, less frustrating burlap so that I can get started on a Thanksgiving/Christmas banner. It certainly seems to be the thing right now-as all the antique stores and boutiques I've been in have these hanging all over....clearly, there has to be a more user-friendly burlap.
  Friends, I'm happy to report that FALL (in the weather sense) is finally hitting this desert girl's city. When I drove to work today it was 65 degrees- brrrr! I absolutely love it! Now, if I could just get a side of rain so I could bust out my Hunter rain boots!
  Happy FALL everyone!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pumpkin Trees: Or Shall I Say Ornamental Eggplants?

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I had found pumpkin trees at our local Trader Joe's. (This should tell you how busy I've been, when I'm going weeks in between updates....sigh...I just asked my husband the other day if life would ever slow down) Anyways, after discovering pumpkin trees and not buying them my first time around, I had to travel to several Trader Joe's before finding them again (apparently they sell out fast).
  I absolutely love how fun these little pumpkins are, but my husband-being the researcher that he is- discovered that they are really not "pumpkin trees," but ornamental eggplant.

      I decided to try placing some inside and outside. Our cashier at Trader Joe's shared with us that TJ's has been carrying the "pumpkin trees" for 12 years and that she has been unsuccessful at keeping them alive for longer than a week. I'm hoping that they last until Halloween atleast, but we will see! When my husband read up on the "pumpkin trees", he also discovered that they can be dried out as well.
     If you have a Trader Joe's near you, or perhaps a market or nursery that carries these, give 'em a try! I think they make a fabulous centerpiece and are a great talking piece.
  Hope you guys have all had a fabulous fall weekend! I'm excited to say that the husband and I found some fabulous estate sales this weekend and scored on some pretty sweet pieces! Some days it pays to have a lab pup that wakes us up way too early in the morning!!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Lampshade Makeover

A few months back, I picked up a fabulous vintage glass lamp from Italy at an estate sale for $10.00. The only catch was its black lamp shade. Nothing in my house is black, so I decided I was going to have to purchase a new lampshade or revamp the black shade. I decided to tackle the burlap garland and re-cover the shade in burlap.
     The before pictures:


At first I tried wrapping the burlap garland completely around the shade. However, I thought this looked like a fire hazard based on how close the burlap was to the light bulb. So, I took off the burlap (a slightly messy ordeal) and grabbed my favorite fabric glue and scissors.

      The entire process took close to an hour. As I've mentioned before, burlap and I have a love/hate relationship. So far, the fabric glue is holding onto the shade pretty well!

I'm pretty happy with the final results and it's a nice compliment to my paper mache and burlap lamp that sits on my desk!
  Hope you've had a wonderful and productive weekend!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Pinterest Inspired Fall Calendar

Pinterest + Fall Fever = One Fall Fanatic

A while back I wrote about my love of Pinterest. However, I've made a rule with myself: if I'm going to look at Pinterest, then I will be proactive. This means that each week I need to use at least 3 things that I have found through Pinterest.

One of my friends recently "re-pinned" a paint chip calendar from the website that I had pinned quite some time back. I had everything I needed to make the calendar: fall colored paint chips, a vintage frame, and burlap. The "re-pinning" was enough to light my fire; I was definitely up for the challenge of working with my least favorite/most loved product: BURLAP. Burlap and I have a love-hate relationship. I just finished up a project using burlap and realized I actually might have a lovely allergy to it. When I pull the burlap out, it's always a battle: how to attach it, how to not make a complete disaster while using it , how to cut it properly, and the list continues.

I found that working with burlap garland is the perfect solution for me. You can pick up a roll of it at Michaels- be warned though: with the holidays approaching, I'm finding that they are often sold out of it or down to one or two rolls.

To make the paint chip calendar, I rolled out two strips of the burlap garland and stapled them straight into the wooden frame. Next, I cut out different shades of fall-colored paint chips to the size needed and used a fabric glue to adhere them to the burlap. Please note: if you want to change out your calendar each month, simply remove the staples and burlap and apply new paint chips and burlap to the frame. When I had everything attached, I added the dates to the chips and found scrabble pieces to spell out "October". I decided not to attach the scrabble pieces to the frame since I would like to reuse the frame each month.

As you can see, I didn't need to use much of the burlap garland. However, it all depends on the size of the frame you choose to use. 

I used a vintage, cream-colored frame. 

Fall-colored assortment of paint chips

Make sure to pull the burlap tight when stapling into the frame.

Staple around the back of the frame

Paint chips laid out ahead of time- Make sure to lay them on top of your burlap in the frame to make sure you have the chips cut to the right size.

I simply placed the scrabble tiles standing up next to the frame, rather than gluing them to the frame.

The final product! 

Allow about 30-45 minutes to make this project. If you use a paper cutter and pre-measure out your chips, it would most likely be faster. Also, I spent time trying to decide how I wanted to attach the chips to the burlap. Fabric glue was the perfect solution. The whole project was under $5.00. 

   Hope you are all enjoying your weekend. My husband texted me yesterday to specifically let me know that fall had arrived. Fall has officially been "brought"!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Making Fall Happen: Part 2

So I admitted yesterday that I have a small obsession with fall. Imagine my excitement when I found Pumpkin Trees at Trader Joe's today. I ended up not buying them since they were on display outside and I feel like I need to do some research to see whether they would last in a vase inside- but, you had better believe I will be going back for one!
  Outside of planting Mums in my front flower bed, adding wreaths to the back porch and front door, purchasing my favorite fall-scented candles and decorating the tables with gourds, I've also been "bringing fall" to the bedrooms.
   Here's a glimpse at how I "brought fall" to my office:
If I read this enough times, I believe it's fall. This print tray is directly behind my computer, so it is a constant  reminder of my favorite season!!! 

I added small pumpkins to my larger print tray. 

       I changed out my print trays to make them more fall-ish and added my favorite pumpkins that I found at Michaels over the weekend. They sell a huge tub of the small pumpkins for $5.99.
   My husband is starting to understand that I will make fall happen. It doesn't matter that it was over 100 today, I still brought my fall game.
  I can hardly wait to show you the other fall projects I've been working on! Happy Desert Fall, everyone!   

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Making Fall Happen": Part 1

My husband tells me I'm trying to "make fall happen." As of late we've had conversations that go something like this:
  Me: Don't you just love fall?
   C: Babe, it's not fall. It's still 104 degrees out.
  Me: It's September- nearly October- therefore, it's fall!
  C: You can't make fall happen.
  Me: Yes, I can and it is happening in our home.

 I spent most of my life living in the midwest. This is by far the hardest time of year for me every year to live in a city that does not experience or understand fall. Sure, I can go to Michaels, Pottery Barn, Target, you name it- they are trying to "bring fall". It's not the same. It never will be. I miss the trees changing. I miss the smells of fireplaces burning in the evening. I miss watching my brother play soccer while sipping on hot cider or cocoa (never thought I'd say that). I miss going to pick out pumpkins at local pumpkin patches. I miss FALL.
  Last year, we moved into our home the day before Halloween. So, this is my first "fall" to live in our home. The weather has been cooling off in the mornings and at night (we're talking 70s) and so I feel it's time to embrace what I have been given.
  I can't control the weather or all of the little things that make it truly feel like fall, but I can make fall happen in my house.
I started by picking up two grapevine wreaths at Michaels this weekend (they were 2 for $5)
Front door
Back patio
  I will never claim to be a wreath-guru. Ever. To be quite honest, I hate everything about making wreaths. I'm terrible at it, and I have a very low level of patience. Add in a hot glue gun and it's a recipe for disaster. However, I'm not one to throw in the towel, so I brought what little "wreath-game" I have and knocked out two fall wreaths. That's just the beginning...
                 Next, I picked up fresh gourds from my local Trader Joe's for 70 cents/each. I brought out my fall-ish color plates and candles and SHABAM- I brought fall to the kitchen table. 
   This weekend Bath and Body Works had a Home Fragrance event. My most favorite scent ever, Leaves, was on sale for 2/$20 (the largest size). Now our home smells like fall.

   I know...some of you might be thinking that this is all sad and pathetic of me. I've decided that instead of continuously telling my husband as the weather hits 114 degrees that, "I can't live here another day," to make the most out of what has been given to me. Although I might not be able to "make fall happen" outside, I can sure try to "make fall happen" inside.
   Just wait until you see how I have kept the fall frenzy going around our home. My husband just might ship me somewhere "fall-ish" by the time this is all over! 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Part 2: The Kitchen is Done...for the most part...

I'm finally posting pictures of the almost grand finale in our kitchen. My husband is going to hunt down our "before" photos of the kitchen from when we moved in so y'all can really understand what we've been up to the last 10 months.
  Before I show you the final photos, here's a re-cap of what we have completed, just in the kitchen since last Halloween:
   1. New refrigerator, microwave, and stove
   2. Mint green walls said goodbye and welcomed a caramel color.
   3. Hunter green display cabinet painted a burnt red
   4. White countertops replaced with butcher block
   5. Linoleum floors ripped out-- kept the exposed concrete (it was a great shade of brown)
   6. Cabinets refinished
   7. New knobs for all cabinets
   8. New lighting
  9. Ceiling ripped out and raised
  10. Backsplash changed out
   11. Window re-painted and fixed
   12. Farmhouse sink to replace the old stainless steel sink
   13. New faucet

  So, we've been kinda busy. And...this is only one room of our house that we are working in! For those those of you that have been following along through this kitchen reno process, yes, we made our deadline in having the kitchen done for the family wedding last weekend!
  It feels amazing to spend a weekend without our kitchen completely ripped out, but I can't say we haven't made plans for our next big project.  I can honestly hardly even wait to completely demo my hall bath. This past February I went on a rampage and ripped all my floors out an hour before company arrived (yes, I tend to get in the renovating mood right before guests arrive). So stay tuned as we begin our next big adventure.
  Here's some photos from our kitchen (please don't judge the terrible quality of picture's been kinda busy)

  It's finally finished and I couldn't be happier. Outside of still needing to change out our dishwasher and the hood over our oven, it's complete! We've decided to stick with the exposed concrete floors for a while. With all the dogs coming and going in our house, it's the perfect match for this house.
  Happy weekend everyone!  

Monday, August 29, 2011

DIY weekend: Small Projects on the Side...because Renovating Your Kitchen isn't Enough...

That's right. I said renovating my kitchen was simply not enough of a project. At our house we like to see how many projects we can get rolling at once...find out what our breaking point is. (Heavy on the sarcasm here folks). I hit my breaking point on Saturday around 2 P.M. when a simple baseboard touch-up turned into a near 2 hour NIGHTMARE. When we moved we repainted most of the baseboards. We ripped our flooring out after the fact, which left about 1/2 inch of brown wood exposed. I decided that I would tackle the baseboard touch-ups while my husband took care of the disaster zone in our kitchen (pictures to come). Apparently the first coat of white paint went on over a clear coating on the wood baseboards. Imagine my delight and sheer excitement when I discovered that all of the paint that had just put on in November was already peeling off. Two miserable hours of peeling, sanding and re-painting later, that project was complete.
  While I was on a kick of fun projects, I knew one that, given the 114 degree blistering heat, would for sure be the cherry on top.  A month ago my mom and I happened to be in a Jo-Ann's Fabric purchasing things for my brother's upcoming wedding when we happened to notice some flower boxes on sale. I had been in search of planters to hang from my front windows for months, but couldn't bring myself to pay some of the hefty prices. We scored two window planter boxes for a ridiculously good deal on an "end-of-summer" clearance (if only it was the end of summer here). I had been putting off the actual hanging and planting until it cooled down, but being the over-achiever-beaver that I am decided this weekend would be the PERFECT time. I'll admit, I'm slightly driven by the fact that I have family coming over that might possibly only ever see my house this one time. Since I'm not an expert at drilling into brick, my husband drilled the planters into the brick wall for me. He added an extra screw for reinforcement, as there were only two to begin with. After hanging the planters we made our first of four trips of the day to Home Depot and picked up some succulent plants that can withstand our delightful heat. The front of our house takes direct sunlight until late afternoon, so we needed something that could basically withstand a blow torch. Here's some pictures from that project...
Before: All the white trim is set to come out one day soon...hopefully to be replaced with black shutters. I can't even fathom an outdoor project like that right now!

Planter box (I's not really a box) hung

Freshly filled. I love the look of green living things when everything is so dry and dead right now!

I also decided to take on another small project in this front flower bed. We had been using one of those hoses that has small coils like a snake. It was constantly getting stuck/clogged/not spraying which is very frustrating when you are trying to water your plants quickly and get out of the heat. I happened to be at Target and found a new hose for $6 and the holder for $13--pretty great deals! 
We just drilled straight into the brick. Excellent time to check out the garden department at your local Target for their
end of the season sales.
    It was an exciting weekend at our house. We literally had about 3 projects going at once all weekend. Both of us woke up with sore backs, bloodshot eyes, feeling sick and haggard- an altogether perfect way to launch the week of my brother's wedding. BUT, our kitchen looks ABSOLUTELY fantastic because my husband is truly a rockstar and knocked out an incredibly daunting task with none other than some tools and Zac Brown Band in the background. I can't wait to show you all the newest photos of our kitchen! Hope you all had a productive (but hopefully more relaxing) weekend!!  

Friday, August 26, 2011

Weekend DIY: Backsplash Phase 1

I realize I am exactly a week late in updating everyone on last weekend's kitchen escapades. We have had something going on every day/night since last Friday when we began our first phase of ripping out and replacing our kitchen backsplash and this is my first chance to update you all on how we did last weekend.
   If you haven't been following our story, my husband and I have set a goal of having our kitchen renovated by Labor Day weekend (yep, NEXT weekend). My brother is getting married and we are hosting a lunch on Labor Day. We are now 6 days out from needing to be finished with the kitchen!!! YIKES!!! This project began with counter tops, a new sink, faucet and garbage disposal on weekend one. Only one section of the kitchen is left- it needs countertops and backplash. In addition to needing to finish countertops and backsplash for that section, we also need to touch up with paint, and other tile-y things.
   It's been a whirlwind trying to finish this kitchen and definitely an exhausting experience. Last Friday night my husband and I started ripping the old nasty tile off the walls. He decided to begin tiling that night with the new white, subway tiles we had purchased, and kept working until 3:00 AM on Saturday!! However, I am so proud/blessed to have a husband that is able to do all of these projects since it is literally saving us THOUSANDS of dollars!!!
    I think the pictures will really speak for themselves, take a look at where we are at as of this weekend:
First glance at the white subway tile with black grout. My husband wasn't sure about the black grout at first, but it had been in my vision since day one. He told me after the fact that he thought it made the kitchen. 

Another after shot of the subway tile.

The black grout--I have to admit, I nearly had a panic attack when I walked into the kitchen and saw the walls looking like this! 

The subway tiles freshly hung, without the black grout. 

Nothing like having a saw parked in the kitchen for the weekend.

Backsplash around the stove area.

Hanging the subway tiles.

This tile is very special to me- it's the very first tile hung. I had a huge vision for our kitchen when we purchased our home and seeing this tile hung was all part of the dream coming true!

Scary looking walls behind our stove!

Yes, someone hung tile all around the window and on the ceiling. This area was a treat! 

So grateful that someone hung the tiles ON TOP OF WALLPAPER--it made taking the old tiles down a BREEZE and didn't destroy the walls!

Delicious looking floral wallpaper and its glue.

From the time we moved in, this was my husbands least favorite part of the kitchen. The tile job was HORRIFIC around this window and he constantly talked about wanting to rip these tiles out!

This spot is going to be fun this weekend---tile was laid over the door way! 

Another exciting spot to work on this upcoming weekend!
What do you guys think? It's come so far from it's mint green/white cabinet/white countertop days! I really wish that I had taken more before pictures of our kitchen when we moved in! Six days and counting, can't wait to share with you all where we are at by the time the family arrives for the wedding next week! Have a great weekend everyone!