Our Babies Hatched!

Ugly and cute all at the same time 🙂


Free Furniture Makeover

Last week marked one of my favorite days of the year… spring clean-up trash day!  In our neighborhood, we are allowed to set out as much “garbage” as we want just one day a year.  Most people take this opportunity to get rid of unwanted furniture and household items.  Our own trash pile included complete junk such as a disintegrating vanity, old toilet, shower doors, beat up chair that I once had hopes of refinishing, and other nasty items taken out of the house during remodeling. Last year, we got rid of urine soaked rash-inducing carpet thanks to our amazing neighbors.

Spring clean-up trash day is pretty big news around here.  There’s typically a parade of cars and trucks, filled with other people’s junk, going up and down the street.  It’s actually pretty entertaining to watch 🙂  For instance…we watched one man get out of his truck, reach into our disgusting uncleaned toilet and take out a part.  I laughed for a while over that one!

My neighbor a few doors down just happened to be getting rid of an impressive pile of stuff.  This table stood out among the treasures, so I promptly took it, in the rain, and carried down the street and right into our living room (after a good wipe-down, of course).

It seems to have an interesting story… it’s hard to tell what it used to be, but it looks like it was pieced together a long time ago from other pieces of furniture.  For instance, it is split right down the middle and held together with brackets.  The back of the table doesn’t match the rest, and looks like it was made from an old wooden box, with a small part of the paper label still attached.  It was in very rough condition, with the veneer popping off in places on the top, made even worse by the rain.  To me, though, this just enhanced the curiosity of it.  I mixed some gray called Urban Pulse (Lowe’s), with Honeysuckle from Sherwin Williams, and a bit of white trim paint.  I didn’t want a very vibrant yellow… but I also didn’t want to go out and buy paint just for my freebie find.  I’ve had good success with mixing paint in a mason jar in the past, so I used that trick again.  And here she is in all her distressed glory!

Because I used latex paint, I didn’t feel as though a protective coat was necessary, so I just left it the way it was without wax or polyurethane.  I don’t mind if she gets a little more beat up!

Now the waiting begins for next year’s big trash day!

Details: the birdcage was a gift from my mom, and contains an African violet. The jar next to it is filled with decorative balls with our letters on them; E, J, and N.  The wall color is Sharkey Grey by Martha Stewart, mixed by Sherwin Williams.

Disappearing Act

Such a simple task, but it made such a huge difference!  Obviously we still need to dig out the roots, but at least now people can walk by our sidewalk without stepping off!  And we can see when we’re pulling out of our driveway!  🙂

This actually spurred us on to clean up the front gardens, too.  The left side is done and mulched, but we have to wait on a little something for the right side…

Once these little baby robins hatch, the bush is out of there!

Emily’s Senior Pictures

I was very happy to be able to take Emily’s senior pictures today.  I was slightly apprehensive when I woke up and it was a gorgeous, cloudless day out, a brisk 25 degrees, and a bright sun shining as early as 9:30.  That may sound strange, but harsh sunlight is the most difficult light to photograph for me!  But once we got to our location I felt more and more confident using the sun (and the shade) to my advantage.  And not only that, but Emily was a perfect model – beautiful, with an easy smile!  Here are a few of my favorites from the day.

A Small Bedroom Update

Just a few pictures of our bedroom – these are already semi-outdated considering we have changed our comforter to a plain white one we found on black Friday (for $20!).  I also have some pillows on the bed now… but the artwork over our bed hasn’t changed, and that’s the focus of this post!

The “e” and “j” are from Anthropologie, my first purchase from there ever!  What an awesome store.

And up close:

For the “&” I was way too cheap to buy another letter from Anthropologie, so I used a door from a cabinet we had removed from the kitchen, painted it white and distressed it.  I then painted the “&” with some acrylic paint, and before it had dried, I wiped some of the paint off with a paper towel to make it look distressed as well (this has become a favorite method of mine!).  I used this method on the centerpiece for our dining room as well, where I stenciled our wedding date on an old wooden box.

I purchased some chicken wire to use in the frames, that way we can clip whatever mementos we want to them.  I’ll admit that we haven’t updated them since I made them, but they’re nice memories to have!  I typically don’t hang too many pictures of ourselves on the walls, so it was a nice change to have something more personal in our bedroom.

I think I can call the bedroom officially “done” for now!

Also, I’ve updated the pictures and a few descriptions on the house tour page, so be sure to check it out!

The Kitchen Finale… Finally!

This Christmas break has given us a bunch of extra time to work on projects around the house.  It felt great to get moving on the house again since it’s been a while since we’ve done anything big!  We decided to tackle the kitchen and finish it up… if you remember, we left off after painting the brick and cabinets, but the rest of the walls were still dirty, stained, grungy “white”.  Or yellow, really.  We had actually already purchased the paint and everything, so this stage of the kitchen was almost free!

The majority of what we needed to do was finish painting the ceiling, walls, and trim.  I also finished the floor by stenciling on it, and I love the results!  I don’t know if I would have had the guts to do the floor stencil if this was our “forever” kitchen, but since this is a “live-with-it” stage until we can do a whole gut job, I went for it!  I’m so glad I did!  The floor was probably the most tedious part of the entire kitchen update.  It started with peeling old linoleum off of the plywood subfloor, which of course required very nasty chemicals to get all of the glue off.  Then it needed to be wood puttied, sanded down a bit, and finally primed and painted.  This part of the process has been done for a while, but we needed to wait until the rest was done to finish the painting and stenciling part.  I’m glad we waited – the floor got pretty scratched up moving things around, and it had more than a couple paint drips on it!

There are just a few minor details to still finish up, but here is our kitchen as it is right now!

We purchased our fridge from the Sears scratch and dent in Lawrenceville.  It’s a Whirlpool, and we really like it.  I love having the freezer drawer on the bottom!  We didn’t get a french door fridge because we were afraid the door handle would hit the wall on the right side.  We also didn’t want a water dispenser in the door so that we’d have more room on the inside.

The red letter “N” above is from an antique shop down the road in Tarentum.  You can also see above how we replaced the old cabinet and stove hood with a new microwave and a shelf to hold pretty fiestaware dishes.  We were able to find the microwave on craigslist, brand new.  Our oven and dishwasher are from a local store called Good Housekeeping, which I would highly recommend.  We purchased a Frigidaire Pro stove with induction and electric cook top, and convection or conventional oven.  Our dishwasher is also a Frigidaire Pro, and we’ve been extremely pleased with both of them.

In the few months since we decided to stencil the floor, I’ve been searching high and low for a stencil to use.  The only place I found that sells large scale stencils was extremely expensive.  So I decided to make my own 🙂  I used Adobe Illustrator to create the design, then I printed it out and transferred it on to plastic used by quilters for their templates.  I cut it out and voila – my own custom stencil!  I was very pleased with how it all worked out, and I saved a TON of money by doing it myself.  For the colors, I used gray on gray.  I actually just used the same floor paint (Valspar floor paint in gray) but mixed in a little of our white trim paint to get the lighter gray color.

You can also see the pot rack in the picture – it’s a Grundtal shelf from Ikea, with s-hooks allowing the pots to hang.  We desperately needed the storage – our kitchen is fairly small (which also makes it difficult to photograph).

The artwork above are two vintage pieces … one is the instruction manual for my mother’s old Sunbeam mixer, and the other is a cookbook found at a friend’s house which had been left by a previous owner.  I love that both of them worked perfectly with the color scheme!  You can also see the curtains in the room… I actually made them with a flat twin bed sheet from Walmart with red trim sewn on (from Jo-Ann’s).  The curtain hardware is from Ikea.  The wall color is Palm Springs, from ACE hardware.  It’s their Royal brand.

Above shows the detail on the red trim.  I actually just machine-sewed it on – it took no time at all!

Obviously the biggest impact in the kitchen was just paint, paint, and more paint.  I don’t think we left a single surface untouched!  We use Purdy paintbrushes for all of our painting, they are by far the best that we’ve used.  Typically when we paint, I cut in while Jared rolls.  I’ve found that Purdy’s angled brushes are perfect for this, my favorite being the Cub XL brush.  I’ve been using the same Cub XL brush for months now, and it’s still holding up great.  Purdy recently provided me with a set of paintbrushes to review, and I give them 2 thumbs up for great brushes that are long lasting and perfect for all of our needs!

So there it is… the kitchen is FINALLY done for now!!  There are always a few minor things we need to do, but I’m very pleased with how it all turned out.

The Mansion

I recently found out about an awesome location for photoshoots – and the best part is it’s totally free, no permit required for small groups.  The Mansion at Hartwood Acres was just gorgeous for a semi-warm fall day taking pictures of this lovely couple. I’m looking forward to doing many more shoots here!  The possibilities were endless.