February 26, 2010

shopping: therapy for the soul

I have the great fortune of spending this afternoon with two of my favorite people: my hubby (of course ♥) and my sister's childhood friend, Nichole. Nichole is the sweetest little thing you could ever meet. I've known her since she was about eight years old, and in many ways consider her to be a part of our family (she played the piano for us at our wedding). She moved to Kansas last year, so I haven't see her for a while.

What's on my shopping and to-do list? Well, I'm so glad you asked! ;)

  • Return couch covers, return duvet cover, return pillow cases (all totaling over $300 worth of merchandise--yikes! I told you I had a nasty little return habit!)
  • Possibly return this vase set I bought. I really loved it in the catalogue and in the store, but for some reason I'm not loving it in our house.
  • Purchase a medium sized Ella canister for our coffee table (the one with the lime-looking things in it). I plan to put a couple of Narcissus bulbs in the bottom with some river stones. Young House Love featured this idea as a Christmas gift and I could never get it out of my head. I purchased the bulbs on Amazon for $12 and I got an entire bag of bulbs! I was shocked! I guess I missed the little description that said "10 bulbs."

  • Purchase this bamboo dish rack. We purchased this bistro dish rack from Ballard Designs, but too late did I realize that a.) it was almost too large for our counter top, and b.) didn't match the "accidental" theme I have going on. Without trying to, I find myself gravitating towards honey colored wood tones and polished silver metals. So unfortunately, the black iron stuck out in a not-so-good way.

    I recently purchased these vintage hanging trays from Etsy, knowing exactly where I wanted them to hang on one of our kitchen walls. See with the honey colored wood? I think it helps warm up all the white we have in there. Plus it will play off a few of the colors the living room will have when it's finished (and that's a good thing since our entire downstairs is completely open).

    I'm really, really hoping to have the wall unit fully painted by the end of the weekend, as well as get up the tutorial for painting large pieces without a bunch of fancy equipment! Have a great weekend!
  • February 24, 2010

    tuesday morning

    I have no idea how common Tuesday Mornings are around the country, but there are several in our little area. I discovered them back when Jason and I were poor little newly-engageds and gifts absolutely had to be bought on a strict budget. Now that we have some breathing room, I just love to wander around and see what I can find.

    On Monday I took a break from the wall unit. I needed to dash out to the mall and buy a new phone charger (I left mine at the hotel we stayed at for our anniversary--d'oh!). Right next door to the mall is a little shopping center which houses a Tuesday Morning, so I figured I'd run in and see if I could find some of the items I've been wanting for our coffee table. Because let's face it, accessorizing a new room is the best part of any renovation!

    I have a 10x16 zinc tray for the coffee table that I want to accessorize. On my list:
  • books in blue and green
  • a decorative apple (which I already have)
  • a rope ball
  • an apothecary jar with some fresh Narcissus, hyacinth, or green hydrangea
  • a few knickknacks like a small frame, or few ceramic figurines

    In my search, I ran across a few items that I really would have liked to take home, but I couldn't quite validate their purchases. These candle holders are bound burlap. I love how they're all attached (it's about seven votive holders long).

    These votive holders were all covered in wood-like finishes. Two of the cork ones (on the right) almost, almost made it into my basket but right now our house run-eth over with candle holders.

    Speaking of candles, I've been longing for ones made of natural beeswax and I adored the crate these were packaged in (as well as those tiny little bees on the candles). As far as beeswax candles go these aren't terribly priced, but at $10 for 4 of them, I wasn't completely sold.

    This ceramic lemon tree would have been adorable in our kitchen, as well as add as nice pop of color. But the tag on it read $130! There was no mark-down price, and the $130 tag was hand written. Sorry, no sale!

    But enough of what didn't come home with me, let's get to what did. The first thing my eyes landed on while walking down the book aisle was this cheery green cover--upon second glance it was a Williams Sonoma outdoor entertaining book. There were two of them and I considered heavily on buying them both; one for our coffee table, and one to cut pictures out of for some cheap artwork. But only one of them came home with me...for now. ;)

    Of course, I'll probably display it sans cover--is that green not delicious?!

    This gorgeous cake plate was the second thing I grabbed during my shopping trip. Yes, yes not on my coffee table list, but I think it's going to look simple and elegant on top of our black table decorated with some green apples or yellow lemons. I love that the scalloped edges mimic vintage dishes. The Ralph Lauren brand name and $16 price tag made it just that much sweeter!

    I was standing in line waiting to pay when I realized I'd missed an entire section of the store. And wouldn't you know, it was the one with all the little knickknacks! I found this rubber bird all by his little lonesome on a table and just had to rescue him. I plan to paint him white to give him more of ceramic look (although I just realized he matches my new throw pillows almost perfectly--more on those in another post).

    So that was my big day at Tuesday Morning. It was nice to go back and visit knowing that this time I wanted to shop there, but I didn't need to shop there. A nice little pick-me-up to how far we've come since our newly-engaged days.
  • February 22, 2010

    nemisis, thy name is jigsaw!

    You know you're a DIY-er when you DIY while sick. Ick. Ever since we got home from Las Vegas, I've had a horrible cold. I've literally been down all. week. long. My ears were still plugged as of Thursday, but I thought I was feeling back to normal enough to do a little more work on our wall unit. I shouldn't have, because I was all shaky and dizzy when I called it quits. But it was worth it for the progress I made! ;)

    A few of you have asked why I didn't just add one large piece of plywood to the back with bead board on it. I can't get a good shot of the curved edges in the front, but if you've ever been in a house that has curved wall corners you'll know what I'm talking about. These curved edges create a ledge in the back, which is what I'm using to support the bead board wallpaper.

    It probably seems like a lot of extra work, but I feel like those curves in the front keep the piece really dated.

    Anyways, Thursday I finished ironing all the trim on, wood puttied the gaps, and got started on a kick board. (Sorry for the super pixelated and blurry Blackberry photos.)

    From the front the wall unit looks totally solid, but the the minute you turn it around you realize the top and bottom are actually open.

    So I figured (for the bottom at least) I'd create a sort of kick board. I haven't quite decided what I want to do with the top. I could make a matching piece, but I don't know if I want to "close" everything up, so to speak. I have this vision of an open space perfect for lots of decorating accessories. I guess we'll see once I get a little closer to completion. Anyhoo, I grabbed a small 2x4 from Home Depot thinking it would be the perfect fit for the bottom. Unfortunately because of the odd dimensions, I still had to cut it a little more with my jigsaw (I think I actually needed it to be like, 1.75x4). And as you can see from the photo, my jigsaw skills are atrocious!

    But my iron-on trim came to the rescue! It hides a multitude of sins!

    Working on the advice I got from a hardware guy at Home Depot, I attached the kick board using an "L" bracket and Liquid Nails. I had to use Liquid Nails because the screws would have penetrated the 2x4-now-turned-1.75x4.

    And I'm actually really loving the way the trim looks on both sides! The next step will be to paint it, and hopefully my bead board wallpaper will get here soon. I can't wait to see how it looks once it's all finished!

    February 19, 2010

    happy anniversary

    Four years ago today, I was walking down the aisle stairs at my step-mom's house, to "Opera 68, Number 5 (The Humming Song)" by Robert Schumann.

    I was about to marry the most wonderful man I'd ever met--or could ever imagine meeting. It was raining outside, but inside the living room was warm--packed with 25 members of our friends and family, the only ones who could make it on 48-hours notice.

    My grandfather had his old weathered bibles...

    ...and we had each other. Forever.

    February 18, 2010

    not-so-busy work

    Don't you hate when your project has to come to a screeching halt because of tiny little set backs? Like Home Depot not carrying bead board wall paper in-store, but online only? Arg. It's not so much the online part that bothers me, it's having to pay for shipping when driving to the store is so much more convenient.

    I did get my cube backs though! And if you ever happen to need wood for a project (and you're not picky about what you're getting) the scrap department is a great place to start! I told the lumber man that I was going to need a six-foot by four-foot piece of plywood to create my backing, and showed him my crudely drawn layout of what size cuts I would need (six in all). Our Home Depot doesn't charge for cuts, although I know some out there charge after the first one or two. He was so patient with me, especially since my cuts were odd ball sizes. I walked away with $25 worth of plywood for only $3.06! Can't beat that with a stick!

    February 17, 2010

    I don't think that's a compliment...

    Jason's starting to lose his patience with me, I can tell. How? He's started calling me "Rachel," as in Jennifer Aniston à la Friends. But, hi? I'm short, pale, and dark, so we know it's not because we look the same. Remember how she always returned all her gifts people gave her? Yeeeeah...

    I've developed this really bad habit of buying home decor items, using them for a week, then deciding I don't like them, and I return them (most recently: a Ballard Designs dish rack). Or, I order something from their online website, it arrives, and I don't like anything about it in person (most recently: SureFit slipcovers). Or, I order something, it arrives, and suddenly I figure out how to get the look for a whole lot cheaper by DIY-ing it (most recently: Pottery Barn drop cloth slip covers).

    Half the time, I don't even want to tell him what I'm buying or why anymore. And the worst part, I feel so awful because I feel like I'm wasting money (even if I am returning stuff for refunds--ooh, that reminds me, SureFit hasn't refunded our money yet...).

    Right now, the only silver lining to him having to deploy soon is I'll no longer have to endure that eye-roll, big sigh, and "What are you returning now?" combo he's adopted recently. But that's a very tiny silver lining. I think I'd rather have him home complaining.

    February 15, 2010

    lots o' wood trim

    When the fellow in the Home Depot lumber department mentioned "iron-on veneer trim," my curiosity was immediately piqued. Especially since it turns out our Home Depot is the only one that doesn't carry decorative wood trim. But for about $5 I got 25 feet of trim, and unless I'd been digging through the scrap bins, there's no way I'd have found such a deal.

    When deciding that I was going to refurbish the hulking monster we call a wall unit, I new I wanted to bring it out of the eighties and give it some more charm. I knew I wanted to apply some sort of backing to it, but that meant I had to turn the unit around, since the front edges curved; I figured their natural overlap would create the perfect foundation to apply a simple plywood back (hopefully to be covered by bead board wallpaper). And oh. my. god. taking the measurements for each of those cubes was suuuuuch a paint in the arse!

    But before I could delve into any of that, I needed to finish off the raw edges at the back-soon-to-be-front of the piece. Enter "Veneer Edging."

    Sorry for the empty packaging--I was too excited to try it out and forgot to take a photo of it all wrapped up.

    It's pretty straight forward when it comes to using it. You just roll out your desired length, trim, and iron on using an everyday household iron! I know! Weird! You just set your iron to the cotton/linen setting (no steam) and go to town. The glue on the back of the wood melts from the heat, adhering it to your project. I'm sure my neighbors were wondering why the crazy lady across the street was ironing a huge hunk of wood.

    I swear I didn't iron this piece on crooked; it hasn't been attached yet.

    It really does look like wood and it can be stained or painted once it's applied. It will need some sanding (it has rough little edges, so watch out for splinters--I've had three so far), and I'll probably use a tiny bit of wood putty to hide the seems from where the separate pieces meet up. I'm pretty sure that it saved me many hours of work (sawing and mitering corners of real wood trim), and probably a pretty penny (or dollar!) since I would have had to buy almost 32-feet of trim to complete this beast.

    It makes a huge difference in the appearance of the raw edge. I can't wait to see how it looks all primed and painted. I thought our dinning room table and chairs were a huge undertaking in themselves, but I pretty sure this piece is going to be my pièce de résistance. Y'know, if I can get my vision to come to life.

    February 13, 2010

    a nut's guide to las vegas: things to see


  • Zumanity (New York, New York)
    As "the sensual side of Cirque du Soleil," Zumanity is part fetish, part sex, and part comedy. We were surprised that we actually spent more time laughing than anything else! Tip: spring for the expensive seats--the audience interaction is F-U-N!

  • Bite (The Stratosphere)
    We saw Bite the last time we went to Las Vegas, and I do have to admit, it's not the same the second time around. But if it's your first visit, you can do a lot worse than classic rock and half naked vampires!

  • Jersey Boys (The Palazzo)
    A-effing-mazing is the only way to describe this show! We sat in the 24th row, and they were still excellent seats. The entire show really does make you want to stand up and dance. Plus, learning the stories behind the songs is quite entertaining.

  • Club ROK (New York, New York)
    We got put on the VIP list for club ROK, and it was a blast! I got free champagne for most of the night (ugh--hangover city the next day), and the DJ kicked ass. If you're looking for a good club in Las Vegas, ROK is a great place to visit.

  • The CSI Experience (MGM Grand)
    If you're a huge CSI nerd like we are fan of the show (or the series), test your armature sleuthing skills and play pretend that you're on the clock in Las Vegas! You get to play around in the faux-labs, take in an autopsy (all digital, so don't worry about blood and guts), and you can even have your CSI "diploma" printed out.

  • The Titanic Exhibit (The Luxor)
    I wish I could explain how moving this exhibit is. But I'd also have to admit that it's rather chilling as well. A bit like seeing a holocaust museum--no mater how some one's story begins, you know that it almost certainly ended badly. The exhibit features its own iceberg for you to touch so you can get an idea of what so many suffered through that night. They've even rescued a large piece of the hull and displayed it. Don't tell, but I snuck a photo to share with you all. I know it's difficult to see, but notice the portholes--some still retain shards of the original glass from when they broke.

    The exhibit will be in Las Vegas for about 10 years, so if you can't make it right away, you have some time. I really recommend going. These are pieces that you'll never see anywhere else.

  • The Grand Spa (MGM Grand)
    Escape into the lap of luxury at the MGM's spa. We spent about 4 hours here and could have spent many more! I did their classic spa package, while Jason did their gentleman's package. You get the use of the facilities for the entire day which includes a sauna, steam room, and Jacuzzi (clothing optional). Do yourself a favor and don't make plans for after the spa. You'll only want to relax the whole rest of the day!

    Now it's back to reality (happily). I'm anxious to get back to work on our living room (and breath clean smoke-free air). I hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend, while we try and recoup!
  • February 12, 2010

    a nut's guide to las vegas: eating

    If it's called "sin city," we definitely partook in the gluttony aspect of the seven deadly sins! (Note: links will take you to the restaurant website, not the hotel.)

  • Margaritaville (next to The Flamingo)
    Try... the classic Cheesebruger in Paradise (like the song!), with a big kosher pickle on the side! And bonus: they're finally offering veggie burgers on the menu.

  • The Café Bellagio (inside The Bellagio)
    Try... the Chilean sea bass with roasted asparagus. The fish is pan seared, which makes the edges golden and crispy. Mm! Enjoy a fabulous cocktail with your meal--the pomegranate cherry martini is heavenly, but watch those cherries on the skewer! Baby, those are sour!

  • Nine Fine Irishmen Pub (inside New York, New York)
    Try... the onion rings (which are first marinated in bloody Mary mix) with hot mustard, and the fish n' chips with the malt vinegar. Classic pub eating at its best. Plus, live entertainment! And if you're feeling really daring, try one of their many types of whiskey.

    Yours truly after having her first shot of Jameson Irish Whiskey. I was positive that I was going to have hair on my chest later that day.

    And if you fancy some lovely Irish-inspired jewelry, they can help you out there too! Check out the gorgeous diamante necklace I snagged. I couldn't resist the perfect emerald green or the way the lights bounced off those crystals.

  • Lombardi's Romagna Mia (The Miracle Mile Shops inside Planet Hollywood)
    Try... the shrimp scampi, if you're in the mood for something light. Garlic and capers add a wonderful taste to this dish. And if you're int he mood for dessert, their crème brûlée is creamy without being too sweet.

  • The Grand Wok & Sushi Bar (inside The MGM Grand)
    Try... the spicy tuna roll, if you like sushi (like Jason), or the Vietnamese spring rolls if you can't quite handle the raw stuff (like me). They're stuffed with chilled shrimp, rice, and a hint of mint. If you're allergic to peanuts, be sure to ask them to leave the crushed stuff off the dipping sauce (it's delicious)!

  • Fellini's Ristorante (inside The Stratosphere)
    We popped into Fellini's for a quick bite before we caught a show. Try... the shrimp cocktail (I couldn't get enough on our trip). You get six huge tiger shrimp, each with their own lemon wedge. Their cocktail sauce has a nice little kick to it as well.

  • Trevi (inside the Forum Shops at Caesar's)
    Try... the eggplant appetizer and the cheese ravioli--both large enough to share! Their cheese ravioli isn't like your grocery-store-variety. The cheeses are smokey, nutty, and rich. Plus, you can enjoy your meal under the lights of the (replica) Trevi Fountain.

  • America (inside New York, New York)
    Try... (and share) the nachos--get 'em sans beans if you're a veghead. For comfort food, dig into their creamy macaroni and cheese. And to satisfy your sweet tooth, try one of their delicious milkshakes! Simple as it was, this had to be one of our favorite meals while we were in Las Vegas. Sometimes, there's no substitute for "home cooked" meals.

  • The dessert bar in the Village Eateries (inside New York, New York's Greenwich Village)
    Try... the caramel apple bar, and the lemon bar. If I could let out a guttural moan of sheer delectability, I would! This dessert bar caught my eye and I couldn't stop staring! Jason and I shared two of the dessert bars (I wanted one of each all to myself, but my husband quickly vetoed that idea).

  • JJ's Boulangerie (inside Paris), and Café Belle Madeleine (also inside Paris)
    I'm grouping these two together because neither is outstanding. While the café has some amazing desserts (try the six-inch chocolate éclaire), both it and the boulangerie have horrible line systems, a seemingly clueless staff, and a run-down atmosphere. "Everything's sexier in Paris"? Mm, not so much.

  • Tao (inside The Venetian)
    Try... the crispy Thai shrimp with spicy pineapple sauce, the Imperial vegetable egg rolls, and the Hong Kong XO shrimp with long beans. Yeeeeah...we definitely got gluttonous in Tao. And that's not even counting the delicious chocolate spring rolls we had for dessert...

  • February 4, 2010

    you-pick pillows

    We're getting ready to take a little vacay to one of our favorite places: Las Vegas! You know we had such a great time last year we decided to go for an entire week this time around.

    I was trying to cram a week's worth of work into a few days and whip up some posts to keep everyone busy while we were away. But the need to pack took over the need to add trim to our big hulking wall unit, and the filler posts were feeling empty, forced, and sub-par for the wittiness that is my blog. ;) I'm too excited here folks! We have tickets to see three shows while we're there! Not to mention reservations at a fabulous restaurant and all sorts of plans for shenanigans (and spas...mmm...spaaaaaaaaaas...).

    However, this morning Jason notified me that our new pillow inserts will be arriving from eBay soon! I'm so excited! I'm also so happy that I went the eBay route, because through places like Pottery Barn and Ballard Designs I was going to rack up a $70+ bill on just three pillows alone--and I'm in need of six! Once they get here and I can thoroughly inspect their quality, I'll be happy to share my supplier with you all. :) In the meantime, you can help me decide on a design for my lumbar pillow.

    Design #1:

    or Design #2:

    (Love this font? Find it and download it for free here.)

    The only difference is the little lines under the "o," but I can't decide which I like better. The pillows will have simple burlap covers. And the significance of "No. 19:" we were married on the 19th of February. ;) You'll be seeing a lot of 19s popping up here and there in the future.

    So cast your vote, pray we don't go bankrupt in Vegas (not! we're so not gamblers), and I'll see you all next weekend!

    February 1, 2010

    a new old coffee table

    You may remember this post on our coffee table; the one that badly needed painting since the finish had been stripped by Bath & Body Works Wall Flower oil. But what you didn't see in those photos was this:

    Yes. My paint job in all its splotchy goodness. I don't know what the hell happened. I think that was the first night the temperature really fell in SoCal, and it just effed up the paint beyond belief. I tried to cover it with regular roll-on paint, but nothing seemed to fix the problem. So instead, I stripped it down and painted the whole thing Heirloom white. It's now sitting in Jason's game room awaiting the TV.

    Wondering why I decided not to use the piece I'd slaved, agonized, cursed, and cried over worked so diligently on? Blame Pottery Barn. Well, Pottery Barn and my catalogue addiction. While sipping my Plantation Mint tea and leisurely flipping through the glossy pages of their January catalogue, my heart absolutely stopped when I saw this photo.

    It's not just that Benjamin Moore Wedgewood Gray wall (although how gorgeous is it over those planks?). Or that amazing photo gallery set-up (humina humina humina) or even that bright green tree in that to die for braided basket. No, what made my heart skip a beat (or twelve!) was the Norfolk Bench.

    The chunky legs, the distressing. The whitewash finish. And I practically started salivating when I read this in the description:

    ... We've captured its appeal in this family-friendly bench, crafted with the generous proportions of 19th-century Irish farmhouse furniture.
    Oh shut up! You all know I'm a sucker for all things Irish. But at $400, this bench was just not meant to be. I immediately started scheming over how I could turn my once-French Country coffee table into an Irish farmhouse coffee table.

    Imagine my delight when I remembered we had this in the house.

    That planked top, those turned legs, that distressing! And it was free! All it needed was a couple coats of Heirloom White paint (and only to the top! the bottom was a near perfect match as it was!), some more distressing...

    ...some Ralph Lauren Smoke glaze (thank you Shanty Sisters!)...

    ..and some fabulous new hardware courtesy of Anthropologie...

    ...and I now have my very own Pottery Barn knock-off Irish farm house coffee table for the sweet sweet price of $35! AH! Fabulous!

    For those who are curious, the table originally came from a local furniture store called Jerome's, but I'm pretty sure it's an Ashley Furniture table.

    I'll be linking up to:
    Inspired Ideas @ The Shabby Chic Cottage
    Make Your Monday @ The Twice Remembered Cottage
    Trash to Treasure Tuesday @ Reinvented
    Power of Paint Party @ Domestically Speaking
    The Pottery Barn Knock-Off Party @ Homebody