Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I've been on this site for a matter of weeks, and it already trumps Facebook in my list of procrastination tools.

And let me tell you, that takes some doing. I'm a fantastic procrastinator.

This site is essentially endless inspiration on any and every topic. Sometimes I filter to see only art prints or bedrooms; sometimes I let it all come through and admire Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies and teny-tiny dogs. 

Yes. There is such a thing as an Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookie. Did you just die and go to heaven? I know I did. 

Gems like that are exactly why I find myself wasting hours a day just looking. I can save anything I like for reference later!

You start pinboards of topics you're interested in. For example, I have a "For the Home" board, a "Cuteness" board and a "Food" board, to name a few.

Then, you can pin items to your boards from anywhere on the internet and it will link back to that site. 

You can also follow people who  you find interesting or inspiring and see what they stumble across and pin up. You can always repin someone else's pin to your own board.

I've already found enough crafts and recipes that I want to try to keep me busy for a year, and somehow I keep coming back for more.

Beyond everything else, it is an incredible tool for bringing scores of inspiration from all over the internet together in one place. Much of the content are things that I would have never seen were it not published in this way. And I'm very thankful for the opportunity to be exposed to so much beauty. 

Before and After: Chairs

When we got engaged, I started following wedding blogs. Shortly before we got married, I discovered interior decorating blogs. They're far more useful. The first one that got me hooked was Design*Sponge. Luckily for...someone (me? the blogger?) I stumbled across this blog for the first time on a Thursday, which just happens to be their Before and After day. Anyone can send in pictures, and the ones that catch the attention of author Grace Bonney get published on Thursdays. I loved many of the projects that I saw that day, and was instantly addicted to the idea that I could take something old and broken (and hopefully inexpensive!) and make it beautiful.

I began a search for furniture for our future home, and was disappointed to see that they don't give away nice (but ugly) furniture for free most of the time. I was showing my dad some of my favorite examples of trash-to-treasure and telling him of my hopes and dreams for my future home when he pointed out that there are three outbuildings on his farm, all of which are bound to have some discarded furniture or other.

He was right! The big red barn housed old church pews (that are probably longer than my entire apartment), the workshop had a row boat (is that furniture?) and the garage had half a bed frame, a toy kitchen, and five beaten-up chairs. I wanted the chairs. So, we pulled them down from the rafters, took off the nasty seat cushions and hosed them off. (I wish I had a picture of them pre-hosing, even still in the rafters! But, alas. I did not think ahead).

Here's a chair post-hosing and pre-painting. It doesn't look awful. I hated the back and wanted to do something different with it, but unfortunately the back is one solid piece of plastic, as are each of the front two legs. Don't ask me; I have no idea what would posses someone to make a half-wood half-plastic chair. The first thing I did for these chairs was pick fabric. I decided it would be easier to fall in love with a fabric and match it with paint than to pick a paint and try to match it to a fabric.

I fell in love. 

I love bright colors, and Dave at least puts up with it (though he says that he loves them too), but I was afraid of going too bright with anything in my home. I wanted to look like an adult, not a teenager playing house.

For the record, I changed my mind approximately 2.4 seconds later.

But because I decided I didn't want to scare off grown-ups, I thought I'd go with a more subdued color tied in with the fabric.

Bad idea.

For the record, it was actually a very pretty color when not paired with this fabric. The picture at the store didn't look at all like grandma's linoleum...

I was unhappy. I didn't want to admit right away that I was unhappy because I knew that sometimes paint takes a while to grow on you. This didn't grow on me. So, we tried again.

It worked better this time. The orange was bold, but it's perfect on these chairs. It matches the fabric better than it appears in this photo, and it gives exactly the right amount of whimsy. And the high-gloss paint really makes them pop.

Things I learned:

Go with your gut. You know what you like, and will probably make the right choice to accomplish that. It was only when I second-guessed myself that we ended up with green chairs out of the 1940s. 

Always use high-gloss paint for furniture painting projects. I'm sure there are exceptions to this rule, but for now I'm going to say that it's worth the extra two bucks.

Don't be afraid to make something "look like you." Just because someone else wouldn't necessarily choose to put it in their house doesn't mean it's not worth having. Your home should fit your personality, and give any visitors a taste of who you are. You can't do this by living in the Pottery Barn showroom. As much as I'd like to do that sometimes.

Always enlist an ever-patient husband to help with jobs like priming. It also helps if he's a bit of a perfectionist and realizes he's better at painting and priming than you are, and takes over the project. 

I suppose that last point would only apply to a patient perfectionistic husband who also lets his adoring wife pick the paint colors. (Note: the patient part really comes in handy when you pick a gross color and make him have to paint over the chairs again.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Red-Headed Wife

I've been bored with my hair for a while. I actually got a perm in August.

It didn't stick. 

I knew I didn't want to cut it short because I loved my length. I also thought I didn't want to dye it, because over all I like my hair color. But then I changed my mind.

It was time for something new. I finally got up the nerve to ask Michele (my sister-in-law, who also happens to be a beautician) to cut and dye my hair. I still didn't want it short, but I wanted my blonde-red-brown-what-is-it? hair to be all the same color. My favorite of the three: red.

Specifically, I wanted Amy Adams red. Which is technically strawberry blonde, I think. But it's a gorgeous color. 

See, isn't it pretty? I love her hair, and I loved the idea that I could look like that! So, we went for it!

Before, front. I look rather plump in this picture. Ignore that. Maybe that was a worse hair length for me than I thought!

 Before, back. Aaaaaaand it's pointy. Who knew that it was pointy? Weird.

And after! It actually got even prettier after a couple days. I really  need to get another picture of it now, but it's almost exactly the color of  Amy's in the above picture.

We didn't perm my hair. I love curls, but can't get my hair to hold them, so Shele was trying to teach me how to curl my own hair. These curls stuck quite well; I have yet to try it on my own, however. So we'll see how that goes.

The Couches are Here!

They're finally here! After months of deliberating and weeks of waiting, our couches have arrived! I was so excited when I heard that they were in to the store, that I wasn't able to focus on anything the rest of the day. I figured we wouldn't have time to go get them that night, but apparently Dave was as impatient as I was, and he called his brother for help right away!

Here's Dave and his brother Will unloading them from Will's pickup. This is the only clear picture from the night they came home, because I was so excited I was bouncing.

Yes I bounce. What of it?

Our couches a few days later. I was slightly less bouncy.

They fit so perfectly! It's like they were made for this room. Somehow our room feels bigger, even though we added a couch. 

Dave says it's because they're closer to the wall. I say it's because they're perfect.

I love the shape of them; the heart-shaped back simply won my heart! The fabric is soft and the cushions are comfy. Dave likes to slouch on them with his feet on the coffee table, which I would roll my eyes at but mine are currently on the table as well. Oh well!

I'm so excited that we finally got our long-awaited couches. Our room looks all grown up!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Head of the Issue

This is our bedroom:

I would show you more angles, but this is basically all there is to see. I was standing in the closet when I took this, and there's a dresser at the end of the bed. If the drawers are open I can't get around to my side.

We had decided not to buy a bed frame with our mattress, because we knew eventually we'd want an entire bedroom set, and at the moment we don't have the space or money. However, the lack of frame meant lack of interest on the wall behind the bed. So, last summer we saw these awesome mirrors at Ikea for a grand total of $10. They were packaged together in the scratch and dent section; I think they're doors for a discontinued cabinet. Anyway, I had no idea what we'd do with them when we picked them up, but they seemed to want to live behind our bed, to add some drama to our otherwise drama-less room.

Then, a few months ago, I hung these paper lanterns:

They're actually left over from our wedding, but I think they look pretty good here. (Looking at the picture, I think I need to add another one or two near the head of the bed. I have more white ones, I'll just have to go find them). We actually removed the ugly dome from the light over our bed and hung one of the biggest lanterns from the light fixture, which is why there's an obnoxious bright ball in the middle of the ceiling. Trust me, it looks much better in person. 

They also added lots of drama to our room. Unfortunately, now we have two big dramatic pieces centering around our bed, and they compete. The mirrors are far too tall for the addition of the lanterns. That, combined with the fact that we never did get around to hanging art between them makes me want to try something new. After all, I'd only be out $10!

But what can we do? We don't want to buy a nice bed frame, because then we'll likely replace it when we buy a house and have more space. We can't paint an accent wall to add color. We'd like to avoid putting too many holes in the wall, but if we have to hang something that's fine. 

There are some inexpensive (read: about $100) bed frames at Ikea that are actually pretty cute, and we could potentially just use the frame on a guest bed down the road. 

Or, we could make a headboard of some sort. It need not be conventional; those mirrors are rather out-of-the-box-ish. 

Do you have any brilliant ideas? I'd love your wisdom. Maybe you've been hoarding pictures of creative headboards, just waiting for someone to ask you to help them design their bedroom. Well, I'm asking.

Or maybe you just hate the lanterns. Hey, that's cool too. Just be glad I didn't hang the pink ones.

p.s. You see that awesome quilt? That was a wedding gift from my mom. She spent months finding the perfect pattern and fabric, and then months more making it. It is a labor of love, and it is so perfect for us. The pattern is great and the colors are vibrant, which is one of our favorite things. 

Can't Live With It, Can't Live Without It

Technology, that is. I had photos of a before and after that we had done on our dining chars that I was planning on sharing with you this week. Unfortunately, my computer had other plans.

The battery's slowly been getting worse, and last time I checked, it lasted for about 40 minutes without being plugged in. On top of that, I could only turn up the screen brightness when it was plugged in, which made it difficult to impossible to read when functioning as the laptop computer it's supposed to be.

However, besides these power issues, it was running as well as ever. Everything was fast and I had plenty of space to save my homework, photos, inspiration, and music. As a student, I use my computer for virtually every class and both my jobs. I also waste spend hours stalking socializing on Facebook and perusing blogs for inspiration.

Imagine my dismay when I plugged in my computer Monday morning and punched the power button, and nothing happened. No, that's a lie. There was a blue light that blinked for a second. Then it was gone. So, I punched the button again, and again, the light blinked. I tried wiggling the power cord, switching outlets, and calling my dear husband. His best guess was that my power cord (which has certainly seen better days) had finally disconnected inside itself and needed to be spliced back together. He promised to fix it for me that evening, and I trudged off to a computer lab for the remainder of my pre-class break.

That evening, Dave took a knife to my cord, scaring me a bit, but since it was dead if he did and dead if he didn't, I honestly didn't mind much. After pinching wires together and tightly wrapping the break in electrical tape, he plugged it back in and dramatically hit the button.

No dice.

So, while Dave wiggled and punched and clicked, I grabbed his computer and looked up power cords on Amazon. When your computer is as old as mine, you can replace most parts for about the price of a Big Mac meal. Then, just before I clicked "Proceed to Checkout," Dave mentioned that maybe it wasn't the power cord at all. Maybe it was the battery, or some connection inside the computer itself. So, we decided to wait a day and try someone else's charger with my computer.

I tracked down a friend with a Dell, and asked to borrow her cord. It didn't fit. Mine was round and hers was octagonal. How much sense does that make?

So, we went ahead and bought the cord, and the battery. They should be here Friday. But until then, all my pictures are missing.

On the plus side, I'm very glad that I'm a procrastinator, because this means that I didn't spend a week working on my big project and lose it all. At least all the last-minute scrambling I'm avoiding is only the first time I'll have to work on this particular assignment!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

Apparently, "a few" is more than three but less than 11. This definition doesn't make it easy for me to limit my choices of my favorite things, so I'll instead tell you what my favorite things are today. Warning: this is subject to change based on the day, weather, time, and/or frizziness of my hair. The order in which they appear is purely random.

1. Ravelry
Ravelry is a knitting and crocheting community on the internet, designed to allow crafters to share patterns they've written and pictures of projects they've completed. They can also ask for and give help on help forums, and browse a directory of thousands of patterns, many of which are free. I love this site, because it allows me access to so many free patterns. My favorite patterns lately are for baby hats for my recently-born niece and my soon-to-arrive nephew.

2. Amazon
I love this website. When I started college, I mainly used it for buying textbooks, but now Amazon and I are nearly inseperable. I love to decorate my home, but I also love to over-think everything. I can't just need a clock, go to Target and pick their cutest one. No, I scour the internet for weeks looking for the perfect clock, and when I find it, I second guess myself for several more weeks while I try to decide if it is, in fact, perfect or if it costs too much money. This year, Amazon gave me a free Prime membership (a promotion for students), which gives me free two-day shipping. They're just feeding my addiction. The above picture is the perfect clock, by the way. And I ordered it on Amazon last week. When I opened it yesterday, I saw the glass face was chipped and cracked, so I reported it to Amazon and shipped it back (free of charge, I might add), and I'll have a replacement tomorrow. I'm pretty pumped about that kind of customer service.

3. Design Blogs
I'm a sucker for a beautiful home decorating blog. I subscribe to more than I'll admit to in my Google reader, and I love pouring over inspirational photos and collections. I collect the photos that inspire me most, and use them to motivate me to make our apartment just a little bit more beautiful. Apartment Therapy, Design*Sponge and Young House Love are a few of my favorites.

4. Pinterest
I'm proud to say that I jumped on this one before it was a big deal. Meaning, I signed up for it before it was live. I put in my request and a week or so later was sent an "invite" saying that the site was no longer in beta mode and I was free to start pinning. It's a really cool concept, and if you're not careful, you could waste hours looking at the diverse pictures that show up just on the home page. It gives you a space to create pin boards on any subject you want, and you can go anywhere on the internet and "pin" images you like to your boards using a shortcut button. Then later you can find the images when you want them, and they'll be organized with similar images. It's really quite fun.

5. Friends
The real kind and the TV kind. My best friends from back home are coming to visit me this weekend, and I'm super pumped. In fact, I'm so busy being excited that I'm going to get to see them, that I haven't thought about where I'm going to put six people in this tiny two-bedroom apartment. Actually, bedroom is relative. There is only one bed in this apartment. There just happens to be an extra room that can't be called "living room" "kitchen" or "bathroom." That will be fun.

Also, my neighbor got me hooked, and I subsequently got Dave hooked, on Friends the TV show. We just started season 10, and I'm sad that it's going to end.

What's that? Oh yes, I know I'm pathetic. But you know you have your own guilty pleasure show, too. Don't deny it.

6. Ikea
I went to Ikea for the first time this summer (after spending weeks researching what I wanted to look at, of course), and I was blown away. That store is an experience in itself, but the fact that we could come away from it with much of our living room furniture, tables for our bedroom and a shelf for our kitchen (plus other miscellaneous things) for less than $300 was really what won my favor. Oh, that and the fact that everything looks so pulled together. I know it's not high quality furniture, but it's good looking, inexpensive, and made for small apartments like ours. We went again this weekend and picked up some random decorating things we'd been needing, such as baskets for the bottom of the Expedit-bookcase-turned-TV-console, and a rug for the living room.

These are a few of my favorite things. Today, anyway. What are your favorite things?

New Couches!

Dave and I have been talking about the possibility of buying a couch almost since we got married. The original reason was because the couch we were using was a love seat borrowed from one of Dave's brothers, and we thought he and his wife would want it back when they bought their house. So we started looking into the idea of buying a couch for ourselves.

After we had stocked our home with the essentials (like a pink Kitchen Aid mixer...priorities people!), we looked at how much money we had leftover from wedding gifts and set a budget. We started looking at couches before we needed one because I knew how long it takes me to make an opinion, especially about big purchases. We looked at Ikea and Ashley and Value City and anywhere else we could think of. No dice. 

In our search, we came across an outlet store nearby completely by chance. It carried floor models or cancelled orders at discontinued prices. We went here several times looking for gems, but had very little luck. Then, about a month ago, we came across these adorable couches in an unfortunate shade of green. 

We didn't want avocado-colored couches, and since these were sold as-is, we moved on. We went to Panera to grab supper and discuss the couches we had seen, and I said that I couldn't stop thinking about these two. They had a very similar shape to one I had fallen in love with at Pier 1 but had decided against because it was a bit out of our price range and we didn't agree on liking it enough to justify it. I told Dave that I liked them so much I was almost willing to consider the green. 

So we started our iPhone research. We looked up the couches by name and found that Morris Home Furnishings and JC Penny both carried them. Unfortunately, to get the set it was about double our budget. So, we looked for other stores that might also carry them.

We found this family-owned store called Lower Valley Furniture in Springfield that carried the brand that made these couches (Klausner). So, we went over there to check it out. When we found out that they carried it we were excited. Then they quoted us the price, and we almost fell over. It was $200 less per couch than Penny's. We were elated. At that price, we could order both couches without breaking the bank! And, we could pick them up to save on shipping (JC Penny's had a mandatory $300 shipping rate. Gross!).

So, last week we went back with our trusty furniture testers (also known as Dave's older brothers). They told us that it looked sturdy enough, and then proceeded to try out nearly every recliner in the store. At least they are easily entertained!

We got them in this color, khaki microfiber. It looks a little lighter in person. I decided to recover the pillows when we got it so that we could make them the crazy bright colors that Dave and I are both so fond of.

I'm so excited about our new couches, but I'm already impatient to get them! Since they're customizable (they had like 100 fabric options, as well as customizable pillows and legs), it will take about a month to come in. I'll keep you posted!