Friday, October 29, 2010

AT Fall Cure: Days 9 and 10

Yesterday was Day 9, and the task was to find a recipe and make it. I skipped out on doing it last night for a couple of reasons. First, because I didn't feel like cooking a special meal just for myself after the indulgent meals I ate on my business trip earlier in the week (Brett was working). And second, I got home after my dinner time thanks to election volunteering. So I figured moving it to brunch today when we could both enjoy it would be a better move.

This was a task I really think I needed. Since Brett and I work opposite schedules, I rarely cook except on the weekends. And I have had a really bad attitude about food lately.

I have been focusing on what I can't eat, rather than what I can. I think eating vegetarian for a few months was actually pretty bad for me, because when I had to eat veg and gluten free, my diet was so insanely restrictive that I just didn't enjoy anything. I've started eating fish again, which has helped, but I still just focus on the fact that everyone at my table is enjoying chocolate cake, while I can't order dessert. Or when an office professional I don't really know orders lunch and I'm stuck eating nothing but a bag of chips for the entire day.

So I wanted to use today's task to make a lunch we could really enjoy, that was simple, and mostly from scratch. I didn't wand to depend on the pre-made GF pizza crusts or bread products that I usually use. It's nice to give my kitchen a work out.

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This is when I started getting excited. I love red leaf lettuce and tomatoes.

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The pancakes were extremely simple to put together, with just a few ingredients. Hello lovely!

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I also made my first attempt at poaching an egg. I did not succeed.

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We ended up with sunny side up and over easy eggs, which were just fine!

I have no pictures of the meal put together, because we gobbled the pancakes up as soon as they came out of the oven. But we ate at the table with candles and cloth napkins, and good conversation. And no television. We usually eat breakfast together on Fridays and Saturdays in bed while watching our DVRed tv shows, so not having the distraction was a nice change.

The food was delicious. The pancakes were crispy and chewy. I had smoked salmon and Brett had sour cream. The green salad was great, and I made a white balsamic vinaigrette.

I think I'll make a nice meal tomorrow too. :)

For today's task, I need to come up with a list of my home's top 6 needs. Unfortunately, these are some pretty big needs, so none of these can be tackled today or this weekend. I think that's to be expected, since we've been in our house a relatively short time and it needed SO much work when we moved in.

1. Repair damaged wood around carport and windows (hopefully this spring)

2. Replace kitchen/laundry/powder room tile

3. Rent scaffold/ladder leveler to finish stairwell painting

4. Replace living room media storage (I am thinking this will happen at Christmas, fingers crossed!)

5. Get new dining furniture

6. EITHER: Replace carpet or renovate powder room. Both are in pretty crappy, but usable, shape, so it's a toss up.

Based on the expense involved in 1 (we're hiring someone, obv.), the work involved in 2 and both for 6 with either option, the others are likely to happen sooner. But we know that the wood, the tile, the carpet, the powder room and the painting all have to happen at some point. It's just a matter of when.

I am excited to have a bit of a rest this weekend, and a bit more election work. I hope everybody has a great Halloween. Our house was attacked by a swarm of spiders last night so we're really in the Halloween mood!

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Happy Halloween!

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

AT Fall Cure: Day 8

Today is Day 8 of the AT Fall Cure. Day 6 and 7 were repeats of last week. I was out of town on a quick business trip Monday night, so I couldn't exactly clean a room in my hotel!

So last night, pretty much as soon as I walked in after unpacking, I set to cleaning the kitchen. I cleaned the countertops, the stove top, wiped down the cabinets and cabinets, dusted the shelving unit and spice rack, and swept. I had picked up a bunch of light purple daisies at Target on the way home, so I added a few to my football mums and then made another small arrangement for the console.

Tonight's task is to establish a landing strip. According to the video, I need a place for my keys, a place to hang a coat, and a place to sort mail. We come in from the carport through our screened porch to the laundry room. We already have two hooks on the wall in the laundry room, where I keep my keys, my apron, and my reusable grocery bags. And we have a little expandable folder just past the laundry room, next to the microwave. This is where we sort the mail. Junk goes in the recycling bin, magazines and catalogs we want to read go in the powder room, and anything we need to keep goes in the file folder. Different categories (bills, receipts, financial docs, recipes, etc.) each have their own section. My purse stays on my arm until I get to the living room, where I unload my computer and put my laptop cover and bag on the console table.

So we've got those two covered. And as for the third? Well, here it is the last week of October, and our heat index today was 95 degrees. There's a reason houses are built without coat closets here. We don't wear coats! Most chilly days I wear a light sweater, which goes into the dirty clothes when I change into my lounge clothes after work. For the two weeks a year that we actually break out the wool jackets, there's really no justification for coat storage.

Brett actually has his own little landing strip on the dresser in our bedroom. It's a pretty wooden tray that's just the perfect size to hold his wallet, phone, keys, change, and whatever else he might have in his pockets.

So this task just required a little thinking about how we already do things, and no actual work. I would like to move my shopping bags unto my trunk full time (I'm just too lazy to take them back out after I unload groceries) to declutter that hook, and get some sort of wall mounted storage for that area.

I really want this Kikkerland First Aid Storage Box, which would be the perfect size for that spot. It's too adorable, and we could use it for storage of anything, not just first aid supplies, right?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Um, finally

I think I first said I was going to make these in like August. I know I got the fabric in July. Here it is almost Halloween, and we finally have curtains in our guestroom!

It's my first big dose of chevron, and my next in a series of seemingly never ending shots of yellow. We're slowly returning to the embrace of whimsy and bright color, and we are loving it.

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Hello, gorgeous.

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Seriously. Look at that light. Both bedrooms upstairs get great light, and these filter it wonderfully.

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Hi hems. You're kind of perfect, aren't you?

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The black rod, which was like my 97th choice, worked out wonderfully. So glad I didn't go with white.

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I'm in love with the mix of modern pattern and color with classic furnishings in this room. This room is where we've hit the mark closest in our house, in my opinion. This, and the kitchen.

I'm kind of crazily in love with these curtains. I may have wrapped myself in them and done a Stevie Nicks-esque dance earlier. BUT THAT'S OKAY!!!!! Because our love, coupled with the ease of their construction, is giving me motivation to make curtains for the living and dining room NOW NOW NOW! Even though those won't be as easy. No, they won't. Because one of them is a Roman shade.

And since I never posted about the AT Cure, Day 5, a quick update. The challenge was to switch to a green cleaner or replenish one you use. I kind of did both. I picked up some Seventh Generation dishwashing detergent and mixed up a fresh batch of all purpose vinegar cleaner. The dishwashing detergent didn't leave our glasses spot free like Cascade, but we're okay with that if it means we're not drinking P&G's proprietary ingredients.

I'll have to skip tomorrow's task because I'm leaving in the morning to go out of town. I may clean the kitchen in the morning if I have time, but that's the only room I can clean without waking up the hubs. We'll see! Otherwise, I'll just tackle two tasks on Tuesday.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

AT Fall Cure: Day 4

Today's task is one that I was simultaneously excited about and dreading. Today we had to get rid of one item in our home and establish an outbox.

I thought about this on and off today, but I never decided exactly what I'd get rid of. Still, I thought it would be easy. When I got home and watched the video, I knew I couldn't live up to Maxwell's giving up an old iPod, but I was going to do my best.

I started with my outbox.

I wanted to put it someplace where it was out of sight most of the day, but where we would still be faced with it every day. I decided the powder room would be the perfect spot. I chose an old wastebasket that held ll of our paint swatches and some tile samples that we ordered for the fireplace and backsplash long before we actually got to the project. Actually looking through them was kind of great, because it reminded me how far we've come. They were tiny, bright colored tiles, and so different from what we ended up with! I hesitated to get rid of them, but what was I going to do with a few square inches of tile? Nothing. And we've already chosen every paint color for the house. So into the trash they went!

And I set the wastebasket up on the powder room shelves so we'll be sure to see it every day.

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This won't be permanent, because those shelves won't be there once we redo the powder room. Then we'll think of something else.

I started out the removal with a stack of old magazines and catalogs. I'm not sure why we've been keeping them honestly. It's just a habit.

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But into the recycling they go!

But that wasn't enough. I started in on the pantry next. First I got rid of a box we've been keeping just in case we wanted to return the light that came in it. But I kept going with couple of wedding gifts that we haven't touched. Since we've been married two and a half years, I think it's safe to donate them now.

Why did we keep these? The wheat pitcher was not our style, and has never been our style. And the novelty filled cake pan? I'm kind of a classic baker, myself. I'd rather have a nice round cake. For some reason, it's just been hard to give up wedding gifts. But just because we appreciate the sentiment and the thought doesn't mean we have to keep the gift itself.

It's the same with the last item I got rid of, the double blender set. It was a gift from my parents when I moved out into my first apartment alone. And I loved that apartment. Most of the things I had in that apartment are gone now (our guest bed and the TV in our bedroom were the only items I can think of. WAIT! our microwave was also in that apartment.). But it was a really wonderful place and time, and I've hesitated to get rid of them.

But the reality is the blenders are big, bulky, and a hassle to clean. And I have a stick blender that I'd much rather use if I want to make a smoothie or a small batch of soup, and a food processor for bigger jobs. And there's no reason to be sentimental over a blender.

So I loaded up my trunk and I'll stop by Goodwill on my way home tomorrow.

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Giving things up may not come easily to me, but it's worth it. It's a nice reminder that I should only have things I LOVE. I got another reminder today as I put out my new little dish that I bought last weekend at an antique store. At $7, it was probably one of my more expensive plates as far as surface area, but it's by far my favorite. It's a Japanese piece, based on a silky chicken, and it's the perfect size to hold my jewelry while I do the dishes or work in the yard.

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I hope that someday all of the things in my home will make me smile like this little chicken. There are quite a few items that I love like this. My little owl on the mantel, our shadowbox with an imprint of Weenie's paw print, the letterpress prints in our guest bath, my vintage brass candlesticks, and our owl sugar bowl.

It's good practice to remember that letting go of things you don't use, need, or truly love makes room for new things to come into your house. Things that are useful, things that are beautiful, things that make you smile every time you look at them.

That's what we're striving for, and I think today's 20 minutes got us a little bit closer.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

AT Fall Cure: Days 1-3

So as I mentioned this morning, I just now caught up on the Apartment Therapy Fall Cure, so I needed to do three tasks in one day.

Luckily each task only required 20 minutes of effort!

First was to clean a room. Not a deep clean, but a good surface clean. I chose our bedroom, admittedly partially because it's a quick one to clean. I dusted and wiped down the furniture, rearranged our nightstands since we switched sides recently, cleared some clutter, and vacuumed the carpet. I even vacuumed the living room rug an a bit of the tile while I had the vacuum downstairs.

AND! I made the bed! It was a little weird since I was going to crawl back into it in two hours, but I bet it will feel great when I get in. We're weekly bed makers, so it was also an eye-opener for me. Brett hasn't been lying the past four years when he complains about me stealing the covers.

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Dude, this carpet smells really clean! (I know these pictures are AWFUL. Forgive me, please)

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Look at all those pillows! And I even put my Apartment Therapy book out on my nightstand as inspiration.

With that task complete, I moved on to Day Two, Buy Fresh flowers. I went with something that made me think of Fall and got a bunch of football mums in a golden yellow. I split the bunch in two between the living room and the kitchen.

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Then it was time for Day Three, finding inspiration pictures. I went to my favorite sources: Design Sponge, Canadian House and Home, Rate My Space, AT, and Domino. Here's what I came up with.

The home of Gemma Ahern via Design Sponge Online

Trish Grantham's bird themed gallery wall, also via Design Sponge Online

A black office with wood touches from Lauren Bradshaw, via Design Sponge Online. Her entire house is drop dead gorgeous. I would KILL to have her style.

How fun is this scene from Amie Corley's home? It would make the perfect landing strip (and yes, I'm aware it's gray, muted color, gray, black, white, TEAL AND YELLOW!!!!!). Also via Design Sponge Online.

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I love this kitchen from Domino: the Book of Decorating. I'm semi-obsessed with bentwood chairs, and I love subway tile and open kitchen shelving.

Anna of Door Sixteen's living and dining room, via Apartment Therapy.

Even though we're nowhere near here yet, these pictures do give me hope. Because we're a hell of a lot closer than we were a year and a half ago!

Tomorrow: remove 1 item from my home and setup my outbox!

Apartment Therapy's Home Cure

Apartment Therapy's Fall Home Cure started Monday, but I'm a little late joining the bandwagon.

This season's cure is specifically designed for those of us with busy lives, so it will be perfect for me this time of year. Each task takes just 20 minutes a day, and the cure lasts for 20 days. Anyone going to join?

Monday's task was to floor and surface clean 1 room. I actually did this in the kitchen on Sunday, but I'm not going to count it! So tonight I'm going to clean either the living/dining room or our bedroom. I haven't decided yet.

Tuesday's task was to buy fresh flowers. Luckily, I already have a shopping trip planned tonight, so I'll stop in the grocery store in the shopping center and pick up a bunch.

Today's task is to find inspirational photos for my home. I already have a folder full of these, but I might stop by the bookstore to flip through some magazines and add some additional images I hunt down tonight. Either way, I'll be posting some of my finds tonight or tomorrow.

There are a lot of great tasks coming up (remove one unneeded item and set up my outbox, establish a landing strip, and declutter my medicine cabinet, all sorely needed!).

So is anyone else up for the Fall Cure? You can sign up and see all the tasks here!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Sure, we may not have bought our Halloween candy yet, and the high may be 91 today, but guess what.

There's only 75 days to Christmas!

It's been two years since my grandma had to feed me at Thanksgiving, so the questions on what I can eat started a few weeks ago. Then I thought about how fast Christmas will come after that. It's just around the corner, really!

So here's what I'm hoping to find under the tree on Christmas morning (if they'll fit!)

First, I've had my eye on this big wooden ampersand since I saw it on Door Sixteen (I think).

But at $125 plus $25 shipping, that's a little rich for my blood, even if someone else might be paying! But you can get custom unpainted letters from Woodland Manufacturing in your choice of font (the one on etsy is Helvetica, I'm almost positive). For the size of the one on etsy, I'd pay only $48.85 including shipping. I already have matte black paint from the fireplace, but wouldn't t be gorgeous stained a deep wood tone? Hmmmmmm.....

I want to hang it to the left of the fireplace. I think it will be the perfect thing once we find a low storage piece for that side.

And speaking of storage. I'm really digging the IKEA PS Cabinet in red.

At $99, it's a phenomenal deal. And I think the pop of red would look great with our new wall color. I think the touch of metal would bring a new texture to all the wood in our living room.

Still on my list from last year is the Manzanita Candelabra from West Elm.

And I would love to snuggle up under this handknit throw in Platinum.

And while we're on West Elm, their Christmas decor this year has me swooning. We scored a new tree on clearance last year, and it's a natural tree with pinecones, so we're going for a certain look. West Elm's ornaments make me want to go on a buying spree. Some highlights:

Another great gift would be to reupholster/repair my $3 chair. I've already got the fabric, below, but I've got plenty of other things to spend the $300 on.

I definitely wouldn't mind finding this yellow desk lamp under the tree. I love the classic design with the unexpected color.

Even though I know none of my friends or family will indulge my unhealthy tea towel obsession, I would love one of these French inspired towels from Our Workshop.

Of course I have some non-home related items on my list too.

I have my eye on some original Hunter boots, but I can't decide between the classic hunter green or this gorgeous aubergine.

I'm also in love with these Britten boots from J. Crew, but they are waaay too expensive. I guess a girl can dream.

Also from J. Crew, I'm really itching for these.

Silk and wool ruffle shell

Ruffled jersey dress

Dream draped V-sweater

But in real life, I rarely wear J Crew stuff, so I know I should go back to my first love, GAP.

I want to wear this cap sleeve dress with textured gray tights and a cardigan all winter long.

And this navy and red skirt is calling me.

And from GAP, I'd be happy to add to my weekday uniform stash. Always Skinny jeans (plus I'd like to try the Real Straight fit), scoopneck or crewneck Favorite Ts (or vintage Ts), embellished tanks, and cardigans.

And something that's been on my list for a while, I'm still dying for a Sharon Montrose print (or three). I'd love a 17x22, but at $350, I just can't. Instead, a grouping of two or three (or just one!) 7x9 images would be wonderful.

My favorite by far (at this moment) is the baby goat.

But I also LOVE the baby deer

And the porcupine.

These can be framed with West Elm's 14x17 gallery frames, which I would love in white.

So that's what I'm hoping to unwrap this Christmas morning. Am I the only one working on the list and shopping this early? Or am I just crazy?