I blog a lot about things the kids do and like and record so many details about our family, but sometimes I forget to include some of the little quirky things that *I* like and do that are a small, but significant part of my day. So, since I don't do much scrapbooking anymore, here's a "blog post" version of an "all about me" layout...
In no particular order...here are some (mostly little) things that make me happy these days and have become my "everyday" luxuries:
I have always been a bowl (or two) of cereal in the morning kind of girl, but lately, I've been feeling much fuller when I eat a bowl of oatmeal with a little bit of unsweetened applesauce, raisins, cinnamon, and a few crushed pecans.
I think it makes me feel "healthy"....
...but don't be fooled. I can also put down a full box of White Cheddar Cheese Its in a day. I'm not *that* healthy. I used to LOVE the "Get Your Own Box" campaign that Cheese Its did a while back. It was VERY fitting for me. Very.
I bought this set of workout DVDs because I love Zuzka's workouts. They're short (usually only 10-20 minutes), SUPER hard, and you don't need any extra equipment. This is her first DVD series, but she also offers a free real-time workout of the week on Thursdays, and it's been perfect for my at-home workouts.
Sorry for the insane amount of Zuzka cleavage... :/
My old bathroom bag finally gave up after daily use for several years. One of the zippers broke, so I had to go searching for a new one that would be just as useful, since I use it every day. It hangs on the back of my bathroom door, and I roll it up and take it with me to the gym too. I couldn't find the exact bag I used to have -- apparently, it's not made anymore -- so...
This Mary Kay Roll Up Travel Bag is the ONLY bag I could find that was big enough for all my stuff, hangs on a hook, has 4 clear pockets, and *bonus* rolls up neatly into a cute little cube with a handle!
Thank you very much Mary Kay!
I.O. Metro Bree Sectional (in Bela Pewter):
We LOOOOOOVE our new couch. It's cozy, comfy, and looks so pretty, and best of all, we ALL fit on it. It took us a while to find it, then about 8 weeks for it to arrive. But that didn't stop me from going into I.O. Metro often to visit it while we waited for ours to arrive. The kids even brought library books to try it out.
I'm sure that's not weird...right?
We (and the store employees too I'm sure...) are happy to be able to sit on our own now, in our own living room.
My old Lily Bloom bag was so worn out I finally had to let it go a few months ago. (I'm sensing a theme here..evidently I like bags with pockets and I use them till they fall apart - I think I get that from my mom). Anyhow, I've been on the lookout for a new one ever since. TJ Maxx had a bunch in stock one week when I went in, so I picked up this fun bag.
Since I wear so many solid colors, I love a bright print purse!
For Christmas, my sister-in-law Rachel made all the Steed girls these cute little heated rice bags. Just heat 'em up in the microwave for a few minutes, and they feel wonderful on your sore shoulders, hips, hands, back, legs, etc. (I'm telling you, those ZCUT workouts make you *very* sore!)
A Twisty Tail Hair Do:
Lately, my hair has gotten very long (which i like), but it's also been giving me the heebie jeebies about mid-day. I think it's something about the mess of curls hanging over my shoulders. Why does my hair always fall forward like giant cocker spaniel ears instead of laying nicely down my back?
Anyhow, my favorite solution for no-nonsense hair days is this twisty-tail hair do. It's fast, it's easy, and it doesn't look like a messy bun or ponytail. It actually makes it appear as if I care a little bit about how it looks. I'll have to post some better photos of it soon, with a tutorial.
So there you go...just a few, mostly frivolous, and unneccessary things that make my days a little brighter. I'm no Oprah, so unfortunately, you can't expect a door prize of each of my favorite things just for reading this, but maybe you'll find someting new that makes you happy too. :)
Perhaps the catlyst for this whole painting endeavor was the living room. I painted it the WRONG color gray first, so it was a totally mismatched mess compared to the rest of the house.
Then, after watching the 2012 Summer Olympics without even enough places to sit for our small little family of four, we decided it was time to add some seats to the room. We settled on a big gray sectional that would be delivered in 8 weeks. So, we had to get going on the painting in order to make space for our new seating arrangement.
Here's where we started:
BEFORE (view from entryway):
...and where we sit now...
AFTER (view from entryway):
After we painted all the walls and ceiling the same SW Worldly Gray 7043 from my office and the entryway, we started filling it back up with furniture (and our brand new couch - which is the Bree Corner Sectional from I.O.Metro, in Bela Pewter)
We hauled off the green rug, moved the green curtains, couch and loveseat to the den, and started working with a new color scheme of mostly gray, teal and gold.
I bought the coordinating (but not matching) pillows from World Market, Kohls, and Target.
Here's a view from the other corner of the room, looking toward the front door. The big round coffee table is borrowed from Paxton's room for now (he had his fire station on it). I think it's a little too big for the room though, so we'll probably replace it with a rectangular coffee table eventually. But, since we haven't been out to shop for that yet, this one is sufficing for now (even if it does look like a kids' play table). It's a good height though, and *bonus* - it doesn't matter if it gets rings on it from drinks!
Now, our Dot Calm painting (see it back there in the corner?) seems to fit in a little better with the gold and turquoise shades in the painting and the gray and gold accents around the room.
For the floor, I lucked out one day at Target and found this 5' x 7' rug on clearance with the perfect colors - for only $45! I couldn't pass that up.
BEFORE (view from my office):
AFTER (view from my office):
We moved the Expedit bookshelves all to the back wall to make one long set of shelves. Even though I loved the L-shaped corner bookshelf look, it was too many "L-Shapes" for the room when you added in the sectional. I'm still hoping to replace that silver lamp behind the couch with something more interesting one of these days.
I had all sorts of curtain shopping drama that I'll spare you, but I finally was able to find (and buy, and successfully hang) these long-length Imperial Blue/Taupe Striped Grommet curtains from World Market. They seem to be perfectly subtle, while not being a solid color. It was worth the drama.
Here's a view from that back corner, looking into my office.
We still need to find a new piece of furniture to put our television on, and then we'll find some artwork or a big mirror to hang on that big blank wall. But, even with the boring view, this is DEFINITELY the best (and coziest) seat of the house!
I highly recommend a sectional...it's awesome. Even in a small living room. We've enjoyed many Saturday and Sunday afternoons watching shows and football all together on the big couch. It's a major upgrade from fighting over the three available seats we used to have...
The "den" or the "playroom" or "downstairs" is kind of a giant holding room for leftover furniture, decorations and lots and lots of toys. Not quite a living-room, not quite a basement, maybe we should call it a rec room?
Whatever it is, it's needed some help along the way - and we're not there yet. But, in our painting marathon of October 2012, we did manage to step it up a small notch. Here's what we did:
Exhibit A: BEFORE (looking down)
Believe it or not, this is after MANY improvements and variations. Note the lovely cat food containers (on the mantle) that make *great* storage containers. Just keeping it real. We don't apologize for recycling.
And yes, we have a television in our fireplace. We live in Alabama. We don't need heat.
Exhibit B: AFTER (looking down)
When we did our big painting marathon, we continued the SW Anonymous 7046 color from the kitchen down the big wall where the mantle is, and used the lighter SW Worldly Gray 7043 color (used also in the entryway and my office) on the other three walls and ceiling.
Exhibit C: BEFORE (looking up)
We moved our loveseat and chair from the living room down to the playroom and removed or relocated a few of the bigger toys. The easel was disassembled and turned into a flat chalkboard and dry erase board. The pink chair was moved back to Ayla's bedroom. The tool bench moved up to Paxton's bedroom, the basketball hoop to the garage, and that great big "craft" desk (that was ALWAYS a disaster of papers and markers) was donated to Goodwill.
Exhibit D: AFTER (looking up)
We moved the treadmill and deep freezer over to the less-visible space next to the stairs, which has seemed to work really well (both for convenience and asthetics).
Notice anything else missing? We removed the railing and the carpet on the stairs, which significantly opened up the room. Safe? Probably not to code, but it's working for us, so for now, that's how it stays. Painting the top metal railing the same wall-color as the kitchen helped it disappear, as did painting the door that goes to the garage.
I moved a few of my 12" x 12" frames to the space over the mantle, and with the help of some white spray paint, they pop really well on the dark gray wall. While I was spray painting, I brightened up the wood "Family" sign and several smaller frames to bring some color to the otherwise dark and gray wall of stone:
We didn't ban Ayla from doing crafts entirely, but we significanly down-sized her desk space in the hopes that it would downsize the mess. All her papers and coloring books and art supplies are stored in this cabinet, and she works at the little table next to it. This setup has worked *pretty* well so far. But still, the floor is often covered in papers and markers. You just can't hold an artist back. :)
The room still needs some artwork on the walls, a coffee table, and hopefully wall-to-wall carpet before too long (when we'll probably say goodbye to the area rug). But for now, it's been a step in the right direction -- more living space, less "junk" space.
While Ben was out of town for a few days and the kids were both sick and watching movies, I started itching to do a small project. I settled on this scrap wood framed print of our personalized "Places We've Lived" subway art. (It's easy to make your own! Just use the Subway style and add your "locations" with my Custom Family Rules Builder).
It was pretty easy to do, and only took about 10 minutes - truly.
I had already ordered the 8" x 10" poster print through my Zazzle store a while back (though you can also get an instant personalized downloadable version for only $9, and print it at home on cardstock or photo paper). It features all the important places in our lives together -- which started almost 18 years ago!
I had recenly collected a bunch of 4" scrap wood that had some really cool color and grain, so I rough-cut a few boards down to size - three 18" boards for the back, and two 12" boards for the front. They aren't perfect, but that's kind of the point. :)
I used some brass screws that we had at our workbench in the garage to attach the front two vertical boards to the three back horizontal boards, and then used more brass screws and washers to wedge a page protector (trimmed down to 8" x 10") onto the front of the board. An 8" x 10" piece of plastic would work well too, but I didn't have any on-hand, and the page protector covers both the front and the back of the print, which seemed like a good idea.
Since the wood was pretty soft, I didn't have to pre-drill, but if it had been harder wood, I'd recommend pre-drilling.
That's it. Then I just propped it up in the corner of our bookshelf and admired it. (Then I probably had to go clean up some vomit...the kids were sick, remember?)
I've been looking to find something substantial in size to put at the top corner of my living room bookshelves that wasn't a vase or a photograph (I have plenty of those!). So, this "Places We've Lived" print and some natural wood seemed like a good choice, since I've started using a golden yellow as one of the accent colors in our livingroom, that I've been slowly working on redecorating.
Now if I could just find a coffee table that we both like...
We repainted several rooms in our house WAY back in October, but things got kinda crazy in November and December around here, so the "redecorating" had to take a back seat. We're still lacking several things, but since it doesn't look like things will be "FINISHED" for a while...so I thought I'd post a few photo updates of the other rooms we painted.
Here it was BEFORE:
What you can't see in this picture is how dirty those walls are, and how many giant holes there are up there on the wall (next to the B & A).
We painted the walls and ceiling the same color as my office (Sherwin Williams Worldly Gray 7043), repaired all the walls, and cleaned all the baseboards. Amazing what a little elbow grease can fix!
When we started putting everything back, I decided to take down the plate holders with frames in them and retire 'em. They've been around a long long time. :) Instead, we put back our monogram, family tree canvas, and brought in the secretary desk that I'd had refinished not too long ago.
Here's a view from the stairway, looking toward the front door.
The framed print by the door is the original building permit for our house. We found it in the garage after we moved here, and thought it was pretty neat looking. The entryway just seems like the right place for it to stay!
I'm still shopping for the right rug for this space, but haven't come across the right thing quite yet...
The two buckets next to the desk aren't exactly a "decorating" choice, but they have been VERY functional - so they're staying! These are the kids' junk buckets. Anytime we find something of theirs laying in the living room, kitchen, stairway, or my office, it goes in the bucket. At the end of the day, they carry their buckets upstairs and put everything away before bedtime.
We've been doing this a few weeks now and it's worked PERFECTLY. The kids are glad they don't have to put their stuff away immediately. We're happy there's not junk all over the "adult" areas of the house (especially the kitchen island), and they've been happy to put it all away when it's time to do it.
Speaking of functional spaces...the entryway is also our school bag and homework central area. We kept the little board with coat hooks just like it was before. Four hooks - two for coats and two for backpacks - for two little kids. :)
When the kids get home from school everyday, they unload their lunch bags and backpacks and hang them and their coats up here.
Then, I sort all the papers that come home at this desk, and Ayla does her homework at it - we just open the desk up and scoot the chair over for her). This has helped keep papers and books and "stuff" from cluttering up the kitchen island or my desk and then Ayla has a dedicated space to do her homework.
The top dresser drawer of the desk holds folders for each kid, with all the schoolwork we are saving throughout the year. We also keep the little photo albums that hold all our postcards from Noni, as well as any coupons or flyers that we need to hold onto in the top drawers of the desk.
So that's it. Entry way is mostly done. :) And it's turned into a functional space, instead of just being a walkway. Yay.
I am offering my biggest and best SignsByAndrea sale of the entire year. Seriously. This sale is SO BIG, it only happens once a year! And it's almost over!
All of my standard personalized signs are BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE!* through Cyber Monday (11/26/12). There is no limit on how many you can purchase, so go ahead and pick out personalized hand-crafted signs for all the people on your shopping list! Just add each personalized sign to your cart, and the discounts will be automatically applied -- no coupon code needed!
*For each painted wood sign you purchase, you will receive one equal or lesser-valued sign for free. Custom wood signs are not included in this sale and will be quoted and priced separately. Gift Certificates, (de)Signs posters and canvases and digital downloads are also excluded from this sale.
As part of our painting marathon a couple of weeks ago, my office got a new coat of paint - on both the walls and the ceiling.
While I would have loved some turquoise walls, I decided that it was probably better for our house as a whole to go with the same color we had chosen for the livingroom (which is attached to my office) and the rest of the house. - Sherwin Williams Worldly Gray 7043. We painted both the walls and ceiling the same color - and remarkably, only needed one coat of paint to cover it (we used the Sherwin Williams Cashmere paint and were very happy with it).
Along with covering over lots of scratches, dirt and a WHOLE bunch of holes in the walls, I took the opportunity to give my office a little sophistication upgrade as well.
It used to be crafty and crowded (here's a before picture from a few years ago):
When I started feeling claustrophobic, I removed several things from the room, including that giant shelf on the left, that was relocated to Paxton's bedroom to store toys. But then my office was just kind of yellow-ish and boring as you can see here (photo taken a few weeks ago):
So here it is now, after a little more thought and attention to detail (probably too much if you ask Ben...I tend to get obsessive).
While there may still be a few tweaks to make along the way, I'm very happy with my slightly more sophisticated office. It flows much better now from the kitchen and livingroom on either side of it.
Subconsiously, I think I used this office as inspiration and stuck with very neutral shades of gray, tan, and brown, with a touch of color, found mostly in the artwork.
Here's a view from the living room (which is painted in the same color).
I replaced the lampshades on lamps on top of my desk with round white shades instead of the old-style pleated shades that were on there before. I'm considering adding some trim or covering them with fabric to add some color...but haven't settled on that quite yet.
I also bought a new office chair (Temur-Pedic TP8000), which while it isn't exactly winning any style awards, is very comfortable, and that wins out when I sit in it ALL the time! My old chair was giving me all sorts of hip problems -- and I'm too young for that.
I really wanted the artwork in my office to be inspiring and meaningful -- and made by other artists...not by me. My old office was a little too self-indulgent I think, full of my own projects and artwork. It's time to appreciate the talent of others! Here's some info about some of the artwork I chose:
- A pen drawing of a statue and aquaduct called Fuente de las Tarascas that I bought in Morelia, Michoachan, Mexico the summer I studied there. (hanging to the right of my desk in the gold frame)
- A watercolor print "Flowers in Vase" from an Israeli artist called Victor Shrem (a wedding gift from my aunt & uncle)
- Do What You Love and Do it Often Printable from How Joyful (FREE)
- Vintage Camera Printable by Design Editor (FREE)
Here's a look at the left corner of the office BEFORE:
I bought, hung & hemmed (in that order) new curtains from World Market (Silver Dupioni Grommet Curtain). Don't look at the back of them. It ain't pretty. Seriously. But from the front...it'll do. A little tip - I hemmed these faux silk curtains by hand, while they were hanging on the pole. That way I knew they'd rest just above the top of my desk. Measuring isn't my strong suit and sewing faux silk was WAY too intimidating to attack with my sewing machine. I hung the curtains right below the crown molding instead of just above the window to help make the room look taller, and to match the height of the new curtains I bought for the living room.
I built a third section to my desk to give myself some table space on the blank wall behind me. (Actually, I built about 75% of it. Ben finished it off after I messed it up and abandoned it to make dinner instead one night. He saves the day often on stuff like that - he's so much more precise than me!)
More Artwork Info:
- The large painting on the left is a watercolor print called "Autumn Sunset" of Chicago, painted by a family friend, Tom Lynch.
- "Nothing Worth Having Comes Easy" printed from internet - I can't find the original source... :(
- The black and white photograph of the bare tree was taken by my mom. I'm not sure where or when? I'll have to ask her. She had this frame & photo up in her old house on a gallery wall, and I inherited it when she downsized to a camper (she's a rambler now!)
I bought that new table lamp for the corner at Home Goods. I'm still thinking I might paint it a dark turquoise, but for now, I like the yellow.
This rug took me FOREVER to decide on. I was pretty much obsessed with rug and curtain shopping both online and locally until I settled on this one from Target.com - Mohawk Medallion Rug. I had already bought and returned another rug, so I wasn't willing to order online unless I could easily return it locally. So I stuck with stores like Target. :) I like how it has a pattern, but isn't completely overwhelming and busy. Plus, the dark gray medallions tie in the couch from the livingroom (so do the curtains) and the light colored medallions bring out the gold in my storage baskets.
The "Hallway" Corner:
Finally, here's the last corner of the room, which may still need a little work. You can see how the room connects to both the livingroom (on the left) and kitchen on the right. It was originally supposed to be a formal dining room.
I'm thinking about painting this antique corner shelf, but can't decide on a color. Maybe a buttercream yellow? Or muted turqouise? I would leave it in the natural color, except I don't like how it looks next to the red hardwood floors. Maybe I could just paint the legs or the legs and the outside panels? I'm open to suggestions!
I'm not sure what (if anything) to put on the walls above it. Maybe some bare wall aren't so bad...
In any case, I'm calling the office "done" for now! And I love it. Maybe now I can get back to doing some work...instead of obsessively shopping for rugs and curtains.
So...since there never seems to be a true and official "DONE" to this decorating thing (even though I wish there were), I'll go ahead and share the kitchen and dining room after our painting marathon last week (1 week + 7 rooms + 7 ceilings, + 2 sick kids = pure chaos).
We went from a dirty, scratched, banged up and beaten khaki flat paint (that looks unbelievably better in photos than it did in person) to a rich, dark gray in the kitchen and dining room (that, ironically *doesn't* seem to photograph as well, but we love in person).
Besides the dirt and scuffs we were anxious to cover up, we weren't digging the brown on brown on more brown color scheme and have never liked how the khaki walls meshed with the reddish floors.
So, with the help of a professional decorating friend, we chose a dark gray paint - Sherwin Williams Anonymous 7046 - that we pulled from the flecks in our granite countertops. Since we started with almost NO contrast, we were looking for a very distinctly different color than the cabinets and counters.
In natural daylight, the color has a nice dark gray tone, but in more tungsten lighting at night, it does have a slight olive-greenish hue that I'm not *crazy* about...but it works, and replacing some light bulbs for whiter lighting might help with that.
Is the room darker? Yes. Cleaner? MUCH. And most importantly -- it's not so dang brown! It has a little bit of a restaurant/cafe feeling to it now.
Here are some photos from all four corners of the room...
I'd still like to figure out how and where to add a pop of color without adding much clutter, (I'm open to suggestions - Throw rugs? Curtains on the porch doors? Backsplash art?) but for now, just being clean and painted is reward enough!
Per our friend's professional suggestions, we also painted the ceilings the same color as the walls. We had intended to paint both the kitchen and dining room ceilings that same dark gray color, which we love in the kitchen (it actually makes the ceilings appear to recede and get taller). But...after one coat on the dining room ceiling, we were not happy with the way our light fixture reflected light off of the dark color. It looked very green and just wasn't good. So instead, we painted the ceiling in the dining room (which is nicely divided from the kitchen, even though it's an open space), two shades lighter in the same color family - Sherwin Williams Worldly Gray 7043. Ahh. Much better. With all the windows in there, it actually makes you kind of feel like you step outside when you sit down at the dining room table.
In addition to all the painting (and cleaning), we did a little bit of decluttering and moved some furniture out of the room to try and open it up even more. The tall brown bookshelf in the corner of the dining room has been replaced with a small round table and plant. And my black secretary desk that was underneath the gallery wall has been happily relocated to the entryway. Moving those larger pieces out gives us a little more breathing room and makes the rooms feel bigger.
I'm also trying to be *really* sure about the wall art and decor before I put more holes in the walls, and am trying hard not to fill EVERY. SINGLE. SPACE. That's very hard for me - it runs in my blood. Just ask my mom. :) So, I'm still pondering what to hang and whether to re-hang some of the wall art, which is why a few spots look oddly bare.
Wondering about how the gallery wall survived the repainting? No? I'm gonna tell you anyway.
I was pretty sure I wanted to keep it, and I KNEW I didn't want to have to rehang the whole thing from scratch, so when we prepped to paint the wall, I took everything down, but left the nails and marked the holes that I wanted filled with a red marker. Then I took all the nails out and we filled the unwanted holes (there were plenty of extras), but left the ones we needed. We painted right over it all, and when it came time to hang the gallery back up, I just followed a photograph of the old wall like a map to find the places where I could push the nails back into place and hang the photos. Worked wonderfully.
And whew...I think I still like it. :)
So there you have it. The kitchen/dining room not-so-big reveal, that no one on earth cares one bit about, except me. It's not plastic surgery...just a little makeup change. :)
You know I have an affinity for favorite old t-shirts. I simply cannot throw away a sentimental shirt. Especially the Chicago Fire Department shirts that my dad has given us. We wear them till they literally start falling apart, I alter them to fit better so I'll wear them more, and now I've begun using them as wall art!
Paxton has grown out of his animal-themed nursery. So gradually we've been turning his room into a more big-boy room. He already had a giant fire station (Kidkraft Deluxe Fire Rescue Set) that he got for Christmas last year, plus several larger fire trucks, so we decided to continue that theme.
Lucky me. :) I had several old authentic CFD t-shirts and a few red record album cover frames that made the perfect (and cheap) wall-art project for his big boy room.
This t-shirt framing idea would be really cool in a teen's room - maybe to display old sports team tees or jerseys, or favorite concert t-shirts, etc.
I used several different t-shirts for all the frames. The back design for three of the shirts were put into these red frames. I took the backing of the frame out, wrapped the design on the back of t-shirt around the wood backing, and placed it in the frame.
Next, I cut the rest of the t-shirt off and secured it to the board with good ol' duct tape! No one sees the back -- it's okay that it's not pretty.
I still had the front emblems from the t-shirts leftover that I didn't want to throw away, so I used those in some smaller frames that I had spray-painted red. I used duct tape again to attach the fabric to the the back of the white photo mat.
I like how this 5-minute project turned out, and I think it gives his "big boy fire station" room a more grown-up feel.
I still have a few projects I might work on to finish off his room:
- maybe a custom-painted sign that says "PAXTON FIRE DEPARTMENT" to go below the t-shirt frames
- or a fire-bell lamp above his bed
- paint the walls
- add a big life-sized dalmation figurine at the foot of his bed
- a white ladder shelf above the bed on the side wall
- and wouldn't it be cool to have a brick wall installed alongside his bed? (okay, I probably won't really do that one).
But for now, this is a good upgrade (along with that headboard I got from craigslist & the little red dresser that was about to be tossed in the trash by my neighbors - a good sanding and a fresh coat of glossy red paint, and it fits right in!)
He seems to like it too. That's important, right? :)