Wednesday, September 30, 2009

one step forward, two steps back

Just when I start to think I am getting bits of this thing called domesticity under my belt, the Martha gods slap me in the face. Let me set the stage for you.

It's Monday night. Kyle and I have gotten back from the gym, and I start the dinner process. Honestly, everything was going well until I put the bread in the oven to toast. Here's some background. Sunday morning I made Kyle French Toast Casserole. He's been begging for it since I made it for my girls at a bridal brunch, which he was obviously not invited to. Wanting to make my hubby happy, I decided Sunday morning I would finally make him breakfast. Well, as it baked, it rose, and a bit spilled over into the bottom of the oven (the casserole was super yummy though!) I had honestly forgotten about it until I opened the heated oven to put in the bread, and smoke came pouring out. As I tried to get the smoke sting out of my eyes, and the bread into the oven...the fire alarm went off. Thankfully I have done this enough we sort of have getting the terrible noise to go away down to an art. We got the alarm down to a periodic beeping when I realized the pasta was ready to be strained. As I stupidly (I now realize) tried to hurry, I managed to pour the SCORCHING, boiling water onto my hand, rather than into the strainer. Real nice, Brit. At which point I remembered the bread. I opened the oven to be bombarded with more smoke, and some incredibly black, burnt bread. Thankfully, Kyle rushed to the rescue to drain the pasta and ice my hand. Thanks, babe. I am still on my journey to become a bit more domestic, but finding the journey is not all puppies and candy canes like I hoped.

In other news...We got one of our new pillows in! I'll put up some pictures when I get the other two in. I can't wait to see them. I'm also looking forward to our little painting project this weekend. Kyle and I are weighting our opinions with the votes to make a decision. Can't wait to see how it turns out!

I'll leave you with some photos of townhouse I'm totally in love with. Notice that shade of blue in the living room I happen to love in my own home? I love those little pink photos of blenders in the kitchen, and actually found a seller on Etsy who has something similar in blue. Hmm...may need those. I love the pink too, but don't think the Mr. would ever go for it. Anyway, the light airiness of this home with splashes of calm color here in there. I'm in love. The homeowner also owns a little boutique store, which is pretty much my ultimate dream. Katie Ukrop...can I have your house, and your store? Pretty please? You can see a full home tour here, or in the August 2008 issue of Domino magazine, if you happen to keep the old issues. I miss that magazine, and Blueprint, so much.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

sanding and primer and paint...oh my!

I have a few pieces here and there around the apartment needing a fresh coat of paint. Not necessarily because the paint is worn, more because I want a pop of color. For instance, we have a great mirror on the wall by our dining table. It's black. How great would it be to give it a punch of color? Also, I have a pair of all white lamps on our bedside tables. White base. White shade. I'm thinking the white base needs a makeover.

The only way I've really painted before is the whole process of sanding, then painting, which just seems to take f.o.r.e.v.e.r. And by before, I mean one time, and I don't even remember what I painted, I just remember I didn't like the sanding process.

So imagine my joy when I was reading over at Young House Love about the painting system they's sandless (spell check tells me this is not a word. I'm disagreeing for right now)! Here's what they say to do:
  • First, use one coat of an oil-based primer like Kilz
  • Then go over it with two coats of flat paint
  • Finally, do two thin coats of a clear, water-based polyurethane (oil-based will discolor your paint)
 So my project for the week...jazz things up with some paint. But...what color? I can be slightly indecisive, as you saw by the pillow options, so I'm calling for help once again!

Here are the mirror and lamp to help you visualize. And a bedside picture of my super cute hubby and me. He doesn't need painting, I just like to show him off.

The colors throughout the apartment are pretty much the blue and white in these pillows so I am thinking one of these four: (of course, i'm always open to other suggestions.) your votes (of course, write-ins are accepted.) I'll leave you with this picture to jump start your week. It's from a family reunion this weekend. Gotta love the randomness.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

i did it.

I did! I bought the pillows! I also talked my sweet hubby into helping me rearrange our living room, but more on that later.

So, which ones did I buy? Well, here they are in all their glory:

I bought all of them from different sellers on Etsy, and am seriously anxious for them to get here. I peruse Etsy all the time, but this is the first time I've actually purchased something, and I think I'm hooked now.

They are going to go beautifully with these Rocky River curtains I already have:

And now for details on the living room re-arrangement. For the last 3 months I've been annoyed by our arrangement. I just never loved it. The sofa was on a weird half-wall that only1/3 of it fit on. The chair was next to the TV, so anytime we had guests over, it was just awkward for people needing a place to sit. So during Monday night football, I stared into space and thought about a rearrangement (seriously. kyle had to ask if I was OK because I was staring off into home dream land.) At half-time, Kyle went to buy milk, and I worked my magic. By the time he was home, I had big ideas for him that involved de-mounting our TV, and getting rid of some super annoying cords.

I love the result. I even re-arranged some accessories throughout the apartment. Now, keep in mind, this is just an apartment, and I really should have done a before photo, but here's our cozy little abode:

Now that the pillows have been ordered, my next "to do" items involve an area rug, and either recovering our ottoman, or getting a new coffee table all together. I love how cozy it is, but am not super confident in my ability to recover it myself. I have zero sewing abilities, and I mean ZERO.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

time to get busy.

For the last three months I have been talking about how I need to finish decorating/coordinating our apartment. Lots and lots of talking. Not so much on the "doing" part. Well, today we spent the afternoon going to open houses with Kyle's parents just for the fun of it, and it made me oh so exited for the day to come when we will have a home of our own where I can paint the walls, and buy things to fill it. I guess apartment life has somehow made me not put myself into the decorating because I know we won't always  live in an apartment. But then, I was strolling through the blog world today, and came across this amazing blog. I literally fell in love with their BEAUTIFUL house transformation. And it made me, once again, lust a little bit for a beautifully put together home. So I decided. It's time to jump on the "doing" end of my talking.

The main thing that really needs attention is our living room. I have an ottoman I bought for an apartment while I was in college, pillows from my last apartment, curtains I bought for this apartment (a blue-gray color I'm pretty in love with), and a couch and chair that are just a very neutral beige. Oh, and a console table I scored for $40 off Craigslist. I need to pull it all together, so let the attempt begin. What I would really love is to be able to rearrange the furniture, but unfortunately we have a rather large TV, which takes up the best-case wall for the sofa, and no other cable outlet to move the TV to. Dilemma, yes.

I love the blue color of our curtains, and our bedroom and kitchen have that color too (see Martha Stewart @ Macys. Love.), so I love it being the focal color, with some light colors thrown in with it. While I like the comfort of our ottoman, I am starting to lean towards thinking it needs to be replaced by a less large coffee table.

My problem when browsing the internet for pillows and accessories is picking something and sticking with it. It's kind of like when I go to a buffet. It all looks so good, so I just load up, and end up having a plate of completely mismatched food. I have to reel it in somehow, and decide if I am going with soft, light accent pillows, or bold, eye-catching ones.

In the end, this is our home now, and as the lady of the house, I feel like I need to really make it feel like home. I want to love our home, and I need to make that happen. So here is the quest to some fabulous finds.

And here is my board of pillows I found today I liked-decided to buy pillows first to help set the mood. See my issue with picking a decor route? Yeah, I need major help.

And here is the really good news. After all that, I have NARROWED IT DOWN! Wait, what. I actually started a process of elimination? We are really getting somewhere here, folks. Here are my favs:

As you can see, I have numbered them. Know what that means? I need your help. (pretty please!) Which ones do you like? And I know the blue on #3 doesn't really match, but I can get the cute little bird in ANY color! I want to buy 3-4 pillows for the living room. 2-3 for the couch, and one for the chair.

I'm making pillow purchases THIS week. Talk about making things happen. Oh so excited! 1-9...which ones will they be?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

stocking the pantry

Remember when I said I needed a grocery fairy to tell me what I need for my pantry? Well guess what I found? Right here in my new favorite cook book (or, um, first favorite cookbook)? "Pantry Must Haves!" So here they are in all their glory. Let's see how much, or little, of these I have. ("x" means I have it.)

[x] Flour
[x] Baking Powder
[x] Baking Soda
[ ] Cornstarch
[x] Brown Sugar
[x] Granulated Sugar
[x] Canned Beans (ok, I have black beans. what others should I add to my pantry?)
[ ] Dry Beans (what kind?)
[x] Garlic (bulb or bottled)
[x] Nonstick Spray Coating
[x] Herbs and Spices (thanks to a nice spice set we got as a wedding gift, but there are still a lot of spices in recipes I have read that I don't have.)
[x] Vanilla (love me some vanilla)
[ ] Olives
[x] Broth
[x] White or Brown rice
[x] Pasta
[x] Salsa
[x] Olive Oil
[x] Vegetable Oil
[ ] Sesame Oil
[x] Vinegar (balsamic, cider, white, red wine, rice) (I actually only have white vinegar. Are the others used much?)
[ ] Canned tomato sauce and tomato paste
[ ] Worcestershire Sause
[ ] Soy Sauce
[ ] Lemon and Lime Juice

OK, so not TOO bad. I don't think stocking these things is going to solve all my cooking problems, and I still need to plan meals so I don't have to make a trip to the store for every dinner, but having these things stocked would at least help out a little! Now all I need is a remodel fairy to make my miniature apartment pantry, oh, three times bigger. ----> Like this photo. Ah-maz-ing.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Budget Bride

Who's that Budget Bride under my teepee?
It's me! It's me!

The Mr. and I got married just about 2 and a half months ago, and on Wednesday we were the feature wedding on "The Budget Savvy Bride's" blog! Jessica, Mrs. Budget Savvy herself, did a great little post about our wedding, and my favorite part is reading the comments from other people who liked things about our wedding.
When we got engaged last December, I quickly realized I was going to have to be super creative to take, what most would consider a teeny-tiny budget, very far. And now that it's all said and done, I have to say, I am very proud with what we accomplished. Our wedding day was the absolute best day of my life, and I wouldn't have changed a thing. I got to sleep in (definite perk to an evening wedding) and spend my day with all my favorite girls-my mom, two sisters and best friend. And then after I was all ready, I got to spend a few moments alone with Kyle before I took my dad's arm and walked down the aisle. To me, it was perfect. And what I am most proud of is the fact I didn't go crazy budget-wise. I spent what I knew I could afford. Here's a short little rant: I think it's very sad girls nowadays think they have to spend an arm and a leg...actually two arms and two have a wedding. THAT'S NOT WHAT IT'S ABOUT! Right? I mean, to me, it was about getting to stand before my closest friends and family to say to Kyle, "You are it, forever and always, and before God and all these people I make that unbreakable promise."
But all that to say, if you want to see the post about our wedding, here it is! The Budget Savvy Wedding of the Week

The hubby and I are heading out of town for the weekend (yay!) so it's time to start packing. xoxo!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Being Honest

OK, so let's all be honest here. As much as I love the beautiful table settings in Real Simple, adorned with beautiful dishes, food that I look at and can't imagine I'd be able to accomplish, and napkins folded into...I don't know...a duck or something, the truth is, that is not the typical dinner. Not in my house anyway.

Sure, when I was growing up, my mom always managed to make our dinners look picture perfect, but as I was making dinner last night, I realized the reality is most of our dinners are served on every day dishes (you're lucky if I don't make you serve yourself from the stove) where everyone gets their own drinks (eskimo joe's cups are our favorites), and paper napkins (folded into a triangle if I'm feeling especially fancy.) And you know what? I think that's just fine. Because after dinner is over, it takes me 10 minutes to clean up instead of 30, and I love those extra 20 minutes snuggling on the couch with my hubby.

I'm still on a quest to learn to cook great meals, and to be all domestic and such, but you will have to bear with me if I post a dinner looking anything less than if Martha Stewart set my table.

With that said, dinner last night is one of the Mr.'s favorites. He is feeling a little sickly :( so I let him pick dinner. The recipe sounds a little weird, it's a pasta, where the sauce is a combination of yogurt, ranch and milk, but trust me when I tell you, it is delicious! (and super easy, which (hello!) i love.) And after all the food was ready, the Mr. filled his Eskimo Joe cup up with apple juice, and put his triangle folded, paper napkin in his lap. And it was perfect.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

beginning the learning process

OK, so I decided it is time to buckle down and do what I actually set out to do...learn to cook, and other domestic duties. Tonight the hubby was working a little bit late, which was perfect, because I was able to have dinner completely ready when he walked in the door. I'm such a good wife. haha.
I started out by going through a cookbook I got from a good friend as a wedding present. It's awesome. I would tell you the exact name, except it's on the kitchen counter, and I'm on the couch 10 feet away, and don't really want to get up (sorry! i promise to tell you next time). Anyway, I found a recipe for chicken kiev, which sounded awesome, super sweet hubby made a breakfast burrito this morning, and we were out of eggs (which the recipe tells me it needs). So, back-up plan, Cheese-Stuffed Chicken with twice-baked potatoes and corn on the cob. Is your mouth melting yet?
This dinner was surprisingly easy, and the timing was perfect. Everything finished at pretty much the same time. I started with the chicken, put all that together and in the oven. Then got the potatoes going, and the corn last. Got the table all set with the food and wine (first red wine we have tried we actually liked.) Everything really tasted pretty good, except I need to master cooking chicken without it turning out dry. Tips, anyone???? (pretty please!)
I must say I was pretty proud of myself for pulling this off. Now I'm not so scared to try new things, although just by reading through some of the recipes, I realized I am lacking a lot of kitchen staples. You know what we need? Someone to put together a list of "here is what you need to buy at the grocery store." I guess I need a grocery fairy...probably doesn't exist, huh? I guess the next best thing is actually planning my meals in advance. Maybe someday. For now just cooking a meal without catching my oven on fire (yes, that actually happened about two weeks ago. Hubby to the rescue!) is quite an accomplishment.