Sunday, January 27, 2013

Weekend Roundup

This weekend Chris' uncle came into town to help us finish our basement - we're beyond lucky to have family who offer to help us with projects. We've been working full days throughout the weekend and things are really coming together!

Since we got started early on Saturday morning, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to whip up a recipe I found on Pinterest... Blueberry Crumb Cake!

This recipe turned out so good! I definitely recommend making this one weekend - the top was crumby and the cake was really moist - perfect combo.

Blueberry Buckle Recipe from Jules Food
1/4 c. butter softened
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 c. sifted flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c. milk
2 c. fresh blueberries

Cream together the butter and 3/4 c. sugar. blend egg into creamed mixture. in another bowl sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture alternating with milk. Gently fold in blueberries. Pour into greased 8 x 8 square pan. Sprinkle with crumb topping (recipe below). Bake @ 375 for 40-45 minutes.

Crumb Topping
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c. butter, cold..diced small to "cut" into crumble.

In a small bowl mix together sugar, flour and cinnamon. with a pastry blender cut the butter into sugar mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal.

I'll share photos of the basement later this week - we've definitely had to overcome A LOT of obstacles. You can tell our home's previous owners definitely had no intentions of finishing the basement so framing and planning the rooms took some extra thought. Chris' uncle has been awesome to have through the process!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

An Update on Our Kitchen Makeover

I'm popping in to give you guys an update on our current project - our kitchen! This project will most likely last all year to complete, but it's definitely in the works and every small change makes a big impact (at least to us!)

Let's start with how our kitchen looked when we first bought the house last April.

This is our kitchen in a nutshell - there are two walls of cabinets/counter space and out-dated appliances, but it has a gorgeous bay window and lots of potential.

After moving in, we added a kitchen table and chairs (no shocker there) and painted the walls Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore - we use this color throughout the house. A lot of my ideas for this space actually haven't changed from when we first found our house.

The first transformation we completed was making two top cabinet doors glass-front. We chose the two cabinets on either side of the kitchen sink. The cabinet doors were cut to mimic a photo frame (thanks to my handy boss) and we used clear silicone caulk to adhere the glass to the doors. I recommend reading this tutorial for a how-to breakdown.

Next up, we removed the molding above the kitchen sink. It really dated our kitchen (hello 90's) and was only there to hide the ugly lighting - which is fine by me since I plan to install a pretty pendant light in it's place. We really had no method to how we were going to remove it - my mom came over one afternoon and started hacking it with a skill saw, hammer and screw driver until we were able to remove a piece from the center and hammer out the nails that connected it to the cabinet frame.

Painting our cabinets were next on our list and I just finished this week after 3 weeks of going at it after work and on the weekends (this is no quick project - and hello messy kitchen!) I did a lot of research on the best method to paint cabinets (I want them to be durable) - and it involved a lot of steps. Sand, de-gloss to remove dust and grease, prime and paint at least 2-3 coats. Young House Love has a great tutorial and they even provide you with a video showing each step - you can find it here. I also spent a lot of time finding the right color (shocker, right?) We chose Benjamin Moore's White Dove - you can read about it here.

We're currently finishing up adding the hardware to our doors and drawers. I bounced back and forth from a chrome finish and oil rubbed bronze before choosing knobs and a bin pulls in black from Ikea. I loved how heavy the knobs were and even better - they were on sale when I went to pick them up (score!) I really love the contrast between the cabinet color and soon-to-be back splash - plus it ties in our dark kitchen table.

So that's where we are now! We purchased a new under mount sink this weekend and are choosing granite to be installed soon. Thanks to our awesome friends for hooking us up, we were able to start on this project sooner than expected. I've already purchased the white subway tile back splash that we'll add once we have the new counter top in.

And because I love how Young House Love keeps a super cool list of their project goals, I've decided to do the same with this project. These are ideas I would love to incorporate in our kitchen - the reason why this project is going to last awhile!

Make two cabinets glass-front
Remove molding from above sink
Paint kitchen cabinets
Pick new cabinet hardware
Buy an under mount sink for new counter
Choose granite and find someone to cut/polish/install
Install subway tile back splash
Touch up paint in kitchen (possibly change paint to match adjoining family room)
Add shelving above sink (in between glass-front cabinets)
Buy and install new ORB faucet
Build wine cubby/style open cabinets above refrigerator
Add pendant above sink
Refinish fan/buy new lighting for above kitchen table
Buy new oven/microwave and refrigerator
Replace flooring
Add butcher-block top island that joins family room and kitchen
Add floating shelving above island
Cover kitchen chair seats

Each little change we make to the kitchen makes me so happy and looking back at where we started makes me appreciate all of the hard work we've put into our house - and makes all the little pennies put towards our house instead of new clothes and hair-do's totally worth it!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

DIY: Potting Succulents

I have an affection for succulents. They come in so many varieties and are super easy to care for - I just throw a handful of ice cubes in the planter once a week. In fact, we love them so much we used them as place cards/favors at our wedding and I love hearing from our family and friends that they are still going strong in their homes.

We kept a few from the wedding as a reminder and I'm just now getting around to potting them. Since I had such success with the succulents I scooped up from Home Depot last year (literally they grew at least 5 times in size) I thought I would show you step-by-step how I pot them.

I picked up three ceramic pots from Ikea (for 1.99 each!). I thought the glossy white finish would look great in our kitchen once we install the white subway tile back splash. Make sure you buy pots that have enough room for your succulents to grow (for every space a succulent takes up, there should be an extra space from them to multiply/expand).

If your pots don't have holes in the bottom for drainage it is important to place rocks in the bottom - at least an inch deep. This allows for drainage and prevents over-water. Over watering your plants = dead plants. The plants will "drown" and mold will form in the soil.

I add potting soil on top of the rocks and insert my 1 inch by 1 inch succulents (these are actually tops from my original succulents that grew to be humungous). Just like planting regular plants, pat down the soil around the succulents. I like to water the plant at this point - it helps the plants feel at home.

I like to add another thin layer of rocks on top of the soil to finish it off. Now sit back and watch your succulents grow! I've found that my succulents do really well in a sunny spot - so I recommend keeping them on a window sill or sunny spot for at least a few days (if not permanently).

Monday, January 14, 2013

Weekend Recap

This weekend's weather made me crave Spring...badly. Does anyone else feel that way? I'm tired of it being dark when I wake up and dark when I get off work. I always feel more productive when the sun is shining!

Friday night Chris and I stayed in and watched Loopers. I threw the ingredients for enchilada chili in the crock pot before going to work so dinner was served when we got home.


I persuaded Chris into helping me attach the glass to two cabinet doors we transformed into glass front with the help from my boss. I read a few blogs that recommended using silicone caulk to apply the glass and that worked well for us too!

After letting it rest a full 24 hours we re-hung the cabinet door to the box. I'm waiting a few days for the paint to fully cure inside before placing our glasses in there. Better safe than sorry! We also have to do touch up caulking/painting to a few spots.

I also finished up painting the upper cabinet frames and boxes (3 coats) this weekend. Painting your cabinets + working a full time job = a project like this lasts a few weeks. But, it's totally worth it. The kitchen already seems brighter and more open with only the top cabinets done. I can picture the light at the end of the tunnel. I've been following YHL's direction of sanding, deglossing, priming and then painting which seems a bit much, but I want the paint to be durable and last the long haul. I'm adding a subway back splash after our new counters are installed so I'm not too worried about the paint on the wall.

Instead of watching paint dry, I dragged Chris with me to World Market where I had put our side table on hold.

We tested out dining chairs for my friend Nikki. These were approved by Chris!

I really loved this bright curtain panel and thought it would be fun in a dining room for an added pop. 

I love wicker chairs! I would love these for our kitchen table or as bar stools for an island. They are actually a lot more comfortable than imagined.

World Market ended up disappointing and didn't actually hold our side table for us (thanks for the 50 minute drive each way), so we drove back home with me pouting the entire way - yes, I still pout and yes, I see a future with pouty kids. I ended up purchasing the side table online and found a 10% off coupon which evened out the shipping costs.

Sunday involved pancakes (peanut butter chocolate chip) for breakfast and being lazy while watching the movie Brave. Which is the best kind of Sunday to have in my book.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Side Table Look Alike

If you're anything like me, you keep your eyes open to sales at all of your favorite home stores. I love browsing West Elm, Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel and more (many more), but I always wait for my must have items to go on sale before buying. Why? We really are in no hurry of replacing the hand-me-down furniture we have and it's worth it to us to wait for the things we love. Plus the wait usually gives me time to process if this item is really going to fit in with our space or not.

These stores always rotate their sales, so it's beneficial to wait it out.

I've been crazy for the West Elm carved wood side table for awhile - wanting one for our back family room. I thought it would look great with a cream sofa and dark walls. This side table could work in so many spaces, I can picture it moving from room to room in our house. The bummer - it sells for $199 at West Elm. Crazy!

We recently purchased our dining room buffet at World Market, and I love the way it looks! It fits in with our Crate and Barrel purchases and you can't tell we got it for a fraction of the price. Right now World Market has up to 50% off their furniture and guess what...

Their look alike tribal carved wood accent table is selling for 50% off for only $75. I couldn't believe it. The dimensions are identical to West Elm's side table... actually, the entire table is practically identical. I'm making a trip to the store this weekend to check it out in person. If you are grabbing it from a store, I always find it beneficial to call ahead to make sure it's in stock and to put one on hold.

How cute does this look in the hubble chronicles living room? I love their high back sofa too!

And here is Making it Lovely's living room with the West Elm version. I like searching for how other people use furniture pieces in their homes when looking.

Find any good steals lately?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Favorite White Paint

I'm currently in the process of painting our kitchen cabinets. After months of planning (I mean pinning) ideas for our kitchen makeover, I decided on Benjamin Moore's white dove. It's not a bright white and has a slight taupe hint to it that is perfect for our space. I love it so much, I am contemplating on one day updating our bedroom furniture with this white (right now they are more of a white-white). 

Here's a look at a few kitchens that use this color:

via houzz

Next up, picking hardware for the cabinets. I'm back and forth between a nickel finish and oil rubbed bronze. Any favorites?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Adding Nail Trim to Our Couch

My first project of 2013 is 3/4 completed and it was a little terrifying at first to be honest. I've been thinking of adding nail trim to our couch for a couple of months, but was afraid that I would completely mess it up and be left with a million tiny holes and Chris shooting me dirty looks lol

This was actually the photo that inspired me to add nail trim to our couch (source). See how the chair fabric and color are similar to ours? I loved the way it added a little glam to an ordinary piece.


During our Christmas break, Chris and I headed to our local ACE hardware to get glass cut for our kitchen cabinets, and I had remembered my mom mentioning that they had upholstery nails there. I was actually surprised by the selection they had. I ended up choosing a larger round head with a nickel finish. We have a lot of bronze elements in the room, but I think mixing finishes are okay as long as there is another item in the room that has the same finish - and our  side table lamps help tie the nickel to the room. 

At first, I put 3 nail heads in for a few days before committing to do the entire arm just to make sure I liked the look. I read a few tutorials (here and here) that mentioned measuring the nail head placement, but I ran out of patience and ended up eye balling all of ours - which ended up fine. You get the hang of the placement after a few are in. 

The process went along pretty quickly. I know people hammer them in all the way to the wood base for a tufted look, but I decided against that for us since the tufts didn't look completely even and made everything look funky. these are securely into our couch, just not hammered in all of the way. 

Our couch legs go in slightly at the bottom which scared me at first, because I felt as though the nail trim wouldn't appear to be in a consistent, pretty line. It turned out well, but next time I add nail trim, I may stick to furniture pieces that have that have a straight line characteristic. 

So what do you think? I was a little worried at first, but so many people reached out on Facebook and Instagram calling it a win (Thank you! You reassured me!)

Materials needed - my couch took approx. 4 boxes of 25 nail heads for this larger arm and 2 boxes for the smaller arm (since it has a chaise lounge), tape measure (for those who are OCD) and a hammer. I wouldn't drink any wine while doing this...

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Hello, 2013!

Yesterday I asked Chris what his New Year's resolution was. He told me he was going to eat healthy and work out 3-4 times a week... Well, that's not predictable or anything.

In 2012 Chris and I bought our first home, completed several house projects (installing a fence, building a retaining wall/bench/fire pit, painting the entire house, updating our shutters and front door + more), went to Maine with family and the beach with friends, got hitched (check it out) and honeymooned in Cabo. We got to decorate the house for Christmas and ring in the New Year with our best friends - who are our soon-to-be neighbors. We really couldn't have asked for a better year!

I like to start off each year with goals... it's fun to look back and see if they were achieved!

1. Finish my first project of 2013 (eek! sneak peak above)
2. Keep in mind finishing the house is not a race. I want to take our time scoping and planning out bigger projects like our kitchen/family room combo and basement. These projects definitely don't need to be done this year, but I'd like to finalize a firm plan.
3. Spend time working on the backyard landscaping.
4. Renovate our downstairs 1/2 bath and kitchen (paint cabinets, new counter tops, new hardware and back splash).
5. Throw a summer BBQ with friends and family.

1. Focus on my relationships. I want to continue to strive to be a better friend, a better daughter/sister/wife/etc. and to continually treat others the way I wish to be treated. I want to focus on the positive and less on the negative.
2. Donate my hair. It took me 3 years to grow my hair from my chin to my elbows (roughly), but I'd really like to get the guts to cut it at some point in 2013 and give it to someone who needs it more than I do.
3. Cut back on eating meat. I really loved the way being a pescatarian made me feel, but making two separate meals for me and Chris became way too hard while buying a house and planning a wedding.
4. Get into a gym routine that is manageable - which may mean paying twice as much for a membership that is closer to home.

1. Plan a getaway for Chris and I - maybe another trip to Cabo or our favorite city (Boston) for our 1 year anniversary.
2. Maybe start working on a baby bucket list. I know we have a few years before we want to start a family, but we probably should start making a list of all of things we would like to accomplish/do before becoming parents (weird!)
3. Plan a fun date activity at least twice a month.
4. Officially become Mrs. Lucas - meaning, change my name! (Thanks for the reminder, Alyssa!) Someone can't remember where they put our marriage license so I should probably start looking in every closet/box/drawer of the house so I can get a jump start before we have to do our taxes!

I think these are all manageable to accomplish in 2013! Here's to an even better year than last...I'm up for the challenge.