No Christmas Tree, No Christmas Tree

in my house this year. And here’s the story about why.

Right about the time I was deciding if it was worth the effort to move the arm chair and haul home a tree during the “storm of the decade” and try to get it straight in a stand by myself and keep the dogs from peeing on it and decorate the whole thing for 3 weeks worth of enjoyment…

…I accidentally bought a sofa instead.

And instead of having 2 sofas and a Christmas tree to contend with this month I decided the $40 and 3 hours saved could just go to the sofa.

Since I know some people are impatient, here she is in all her glory:

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Now, let me tell you all about my self justifications for buying this on a whim.

Much of my furniture was dirt cheap. In the master bedroom I have a free bed frame and side chair, nightstands that were $25 and a dresser from the “as-is” clearance at Ikea. And the woven foot chest was a clearance find from Target.

The guest room has a mattress and headboard that was free (from my grandparents), a foot chest that was a gift from mom and dad, a desk (also from mom and dad), a free side chair and an Ikea bookshelf I bought 3 years ago.

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The office? Well, the desk and matching bookshelf came from my grandparents. I bought the Ikea bookshelf last year as well as the new chair and file cabinet on clearance at Staples (actually, I don’t think I’ve shown you those yet. It’s on the to do list.).

The living room had the sofa from my parents as well as a dresser they gave me to renovate, 2 arm chairs that were free and a $20 foot stool.

There are 3 Ikea bookshelves in the kitchen that I bought well over 8 years ago and got the kitchen table at a going out of business sale.

I don’t buy expensive furniture.

But I’ve known for awhile that I wanted a new couch – not just because the older one was purple.

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It was made by Ethan Allan so it’s incredibly well made, even if my Mom bought it sometime around 2000. It just wasn’t my style.

It wasn’t big enough.

It was just too low to easily get out of if you’re over 40.

I have an abnormal affection for the chaise.

And I draw the line at Ikea chairs. In my experience they’re just not comfortable and nice enough.

Enter Zulily.

Aka the website I need to block.

Because I was just browsing for gift ideas for my father when I saw it.

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It was longer, it had a chaise, it was microfiber (aka easy to clean) and it was deliverable before Christmas.

Did I mention it was $350? Delivered. As in $10 shipping is my favorite thing.

So I clicked buy before I could think too hard but after I measured and on Tuesday UPS delivered 2 GIANT boxes from Sofab on my front door step, while I was gone, in the pouring rain.

The good news is that only the box was damaged by the rain – so no box forts for me – and the sofa was relatively easy to put together.

I plan on reviewing the whole “assemble a couch yourself” process because I found it much harder than the videos would lead you to believe.

Plus I need to do a little bit of surgery. Details on that when we’re done.

But for now I’m loving it. I will be changing up the shelf behind the couch soon so it’s the right depth – that might be my January “I need to build something” project. But the wood won’t go to waste, I’ve already decided where it’s going to be installed. Hint: garage.

I’ll be back with more pictures soon, but first the couch needs to be scotch guarded.

Summer Recap 2014 : Part 4 the Master Bedroom

part 1 the kitchen herepart 2 the living room here & part 3 the guest room here.

It’s a little embarrassing how far past summer this post is happening but I contend that getting a room that you use nightly clean and dog free for photos is damn near impossible. Hence the delays.

2014 was the year of paint. It started with the ceiling in the living room, then the walls, dining room, hallway, kitchen, office, and guest room.

And, this summer I painted my master bedroom too, even thought I just finished it in 2012 in this post.

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When I remodeled this room back in the summer of 2012  it went from boring 2-toned beige to Red, Red Wine. I loved the contrast! I picked up more black frames for the gallery wall and turned a duvet cover into curtains for the closet.
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But… it wasn’t quite right with the new style I’m going for around the whole house so out came the primer. And the ladder. At least this time I didn’t have to worry about the ceiling and even got to paint over a few of the spots on the ceiling.

I didn’t even move the furniture out this time, just worked around the room moving furniture away from the wall and prepping as I went. The biggest time suck was scrubbing the mud spots off the walls thanks to the dogs.

I tested out 3 paint samples in true Goldilocks fashion. First one was too white, second too yellow and third was just right. I was working to find a hue to tie in with this fabric I bought and shared a few months back on Instagram:

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I got it a few months back at a thrift store for $2.50 and it was just enough to make a few pillows. But since I liked the pattern so much I was able to find it at Jo-Ann’s online and get 2 yards when it went on sale for 50% off. It still wasn’t cheap but I am very happy with it.

More fabric was needed because I wanted to create a really cool canopy like this one:

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canopy inspiration here

and getting 5-6 yards of the better fabric would be cost prohibitive. Instead I looked for a coordinating fabric and found it in a pair of sheets! I found these on Amazon for $21 shipped:

sheetsThe sheets are King sized which gave me enough clearance for the seams. The 2 pillow cases included stayed intact for the bed.

Once I had the canopy sewn (tutorial coming soon) and the paint selected, Raffia Cream, I started on the room in earnest.

It took about a week working nights and a few hours when the light was good to finish, but eventually the walls were done and dry.

I re-hung a few pictures, the mirror and the canopy, which was an adventure, and raised up the light that I kept hitting my head on.

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You might notice the headboard is gone and that wasn’t planned. However, the electrical piece stopped working and it was taking up too much space if it wasn’t useful. I may look for a replacement or make something but that’s a project for next year.

The slipcovered leather chair is still on the left and I added a power strip with chargers for my iPhone and iPad.

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To the right of the bed is a chest with bags and backpacks.

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The nightstands got painted black a few weeks back and hold a bunch of random little things.

The dresser is in roughly the same spot and is temporarily holding the new TV which should be mounted on the wall sometime… soonish.

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Spinning round to the closet you’ll notice I replaced the curtains, this time with a queen sized sheet that I hemmed. It was all of $2.50 from a thrift store so I don’t feel so bad about cutting it up (although it was really nice!).

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And I’ve added another bracket for the wire curtain set up from Ikea to keep it from sagging in the middle so badly.

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Overall I’m loving the room and the increased space at the foot of the bed. The closet got a mini makeover too but I’ll share that in another post once I finish clearing out some clothes.

Now that this room is “done” in this incarnation but I make no promises.

p.s. the dogs were none too happy I’d banned them while photographing for this post. They took it out on each other by wrestling all over the bed. 

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Revolving Door House Decor

Do you ever feel like your home is never “done”? I’m not talking about doing and re-doing a project just to have blog content, but continually making adjustments to elements around the house.

Here’s a few of the projects I’ve been working on lately:

New Foot Stool Fabric

While I really liked the navy chevron fabric, it got dirty pretty quickly and a few small tears were just making it look sloppy. I resisted changing the fabric because I still had nightmares about all those staples.

Finally I got the courage to tackle it and replaced the fabric with an outdoor teal and white striped print I picked up during an end of summer sale.

The padding was still insufficient (even after using a twin sized egg crate, bag of poly fill and batting) so I picked up another bag of thicker batting and used it along the edges.

It looks much cleaner now:

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and I know that Wilson likes the extra padding:

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More canvas prints

Jo-Anns had a great half price sale on canvases so I bought 3 more for the 4″ square Instagram prints that I ordered. I got the new canvases finished so I’ll have a tutorial on that soon. Trying to get the collage in the dining room looking nice is another challenge entirely.

Swapping out pictures in the living room

I set up these prints when I finished the living room but have been looking for two replacement photos. After my trip to the Atlanta Aquarium, I selected two of my favorites to frame.

Here they are now:

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While I love the one on the right with the orange, I’d like to move the one on the let to the bathroom. So I’m looking for a new frame and print. See? Always changing!

And in the hallway

I’ve been moving around pics, framing a few more and am always on the lookout for more prints to frame.

Here’s the view from the living room:

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and the far end:

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A bath robe hook

I’m really beginning to hate towel rods for drying bath towels so I decided to try out these hooks from Home Depot. I took a spare piece of 8″ common that I used when making the living room shelf and stained it walnut to match the shelves. Then I added 3 hooks and screwed it into the wall (after painting the bathroom walls – more on that soon!).

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p.s. ignore the trim, I’m still working on painting and touch ups around the room!

Doggie bed switch

Jackson and the boys also got a new bed when I found this one for just $20. After I found Wilson standing on the kitchen counters one morning, I moved the wingback chair away from the countertop and put the dog bed in place.

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The large round bed is now tucked into the office closet and the dogs take turns napping while I work and the smaller square bed (which is ages old) is in the garage for Jackson to use when I have company.

Fall Decor

Finally, I added a few things to the living room mantle to celebrate fall. I swapped out the flowers for new ones, picked up some white pumpkins and a couple of candles and then pulled out the pumpkins from my craft stash.

Thanksgiving decor

They look really good lit up at night but I’m too lazy to light them up just for blog pictures:

Thanksgiving 2And all that Fall decor is now down since Christmas is on the horizon and I finally got some Christmas spirit. I might do a holiday post later but for now I’m find just enjoying it myself.

I didn’t mention a few other big changes in the living room but I’ll have more on that soon!

 

Under the Sea

It’s a little known fact that every time I get on the moving walkway at the airport I hum the Jetsons theme song quietly as I ride.

I should also mention that I wanted to belt out “Under the Sea” the entire time I spent at the Atlanta Aquarium in Georgia last week.

It all started so innocently, with an event sponsorship in the city that I had just visited last year. While I arrived very late the night before we started, I booked a flight one day after the end of the conference so I’d have time to play. Top of the list? The Botanical Gardens which I missed seeing last year and have heard rave reviews about since.

The Botanical Gardens are closed on Mondays. Womp womp.

So I went to Plan B and started looking at the Aquarium, which was just a short MARTA ride away. Also MARTA? Just like BART but more expensive for a single trip.

Anyway, I bought my ticket online early Monday morning, picked it up at Will-Call after tramping happily through Centennial Park and went right into the Aquarium as it opened.

Did I mention yet how hard it is to narrow down 514 photos to my favorite dozen? No? Well: impossible. I’ve already edited, cropped and sent my favorites for printing so I’ll have another update soon with those on the walls. Until then, here’s a little sample of what you’ll see under the sea at the aquarium:

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This was the first little guy I met. Turns out these jellyfish don’t swim as much as they float with the current which is why the tank is rounded, per the attendant, “or they’d get trapped in the corners.” Adorable.

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See, these two are not so much engaged in a very slow game of chase as they are on an inevitable collision course with the glass. Hilarity.

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While it may be hard to tell, these guys were HUGE. They dwarfed the little baby jellyfish in the first tank and had 8 or 10 in the same space. Which resulted in several tentacle tangles (say that 5 times fast) that I’m sure they’re still sorting out.

Ethereal no? I want this in glow in the dark paint for my bathroom stat.

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The tropical fish were as bright and fun as I remembered from snorkeling, just smaller. The aquarium has these small vignettes, to steal a design term, with specific species and settings. But then they had these giant tanks:

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In the early morning there were actually divers in the tank cleaning, something that happened in a few other tanks as well.

It was much harder to get good pictures in these areas so I mostly stuck to the animals I like most.

Like the belugas.

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This is Maris, an adult female beluga whale. She’s fat because she’s pregnant and in 4 months there will be a baby beluga! The male who knocked her up, Beethoven, was sent away “to do the same thing” in Chicago. There were two adolescent belugas in the tank as well but they were hiding off to the side.

While somewhat hard to photograph, Maris would swim in wide sweeping passes right up to the glass. An adorable little kid asked the attendant, “is it your pet? how did you catch her? do you take her home?” while I stood by snickering.

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This exhibit also had the worst sponsor tie ins I’ve seen. Such as “belugas eat this type of fish, but not on these plastic plates!” Right… so forgettable I don’t remember the sponsor except I think I saw that plastic plate in the “recycle don’t trash our ocean” box across the aquarium.

I suggested a sign “does this glass make me look fat?” with info about the pregnancy because it seemed none of the visitors knew why Maris was rubbing her head on the floor breaking up the rocks in her habitat. I guess it’s the beluga version of nesting.

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Also in this section of the aquarium were the penguins which were alternatively sitting behind water splashed glass, diving too fast for the camera or hiding in a nesting hole. You could crawl through a tunnel that had little “pop up stations” along the habitat but I’m an adult. With bad knees. And dignity.

On to the big tank.

While the aquarium has over 10 million gallons of water, the lion’s share is in this amazing exhibit complete with a walk thru tunnel (no crawling required) and whale sharks.

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Notice how you can’t even see the back of the tank where people were standing? That’s how deep this sucker was. And I loved this manta ray, he would swim lazily and then do flips in the water. Amazing.

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Doesn’t he look so happy to be swimming?

Before I do a quick recap of the exhibits, I want to circle back to my favorites. The jellies.

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On my second pass through, they had just fed these guys, it’s all the specks you see in the water. The jellyfish was capturing the food with all those tentacles as the current carried them here and there.

They really were huge but I love this image even more because you can see the dramatic colors on the crown:

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Now that’s going on my wall. Somewhere. To be determined.

Okay, recap time. If you’re planning a visit check out the Aquarium website here. It’s… okay but could really stand for a remodel and some editing.

Here are the exhibits they feature:

Cold-Water Quest – amazing. Here you’ll find the belugas, penguins, otters, sea horses, octopus, starfish, crabs and a baby beluga in March.

Tropical Diver – my favorite. Corals, reef fish, JELLYFISH, need I say more?

Ocean Voyager – the giant tank, must see. Get there early so you can get up close. Manta rays, whale sharks, lots of tiny fish, sharks, and a cool moving walkway. Jetsons theme song optional.

River Scout – eh, kinda boring. It was also late in the day with a ton of people so hard to see the exhibit around all the ankle biters children. Very cool small turtle exhibit and an albino alligator (who was camera shy).

Georgia Explorer – was closed. Boo. The giant sea turtles were beautiful on the website though so next time turtles, next time.

Dolphin Tales – this is a free show but you have to get a ticket. As soon as you walk in make a sharp left and pick one up at the help desk. The show was fun, if totally cheesy, and think it of more like a short opera with dolphins than an “about dolphins” exhibit. Seriously, guy with a light up cape singing the whole show. But the dolphins are wonderful, the trainers are in the tank for many of the tricks and they are fun to watch. The first 5-6 rows really do get wet and you might spend more time in line for a good seat than the show will last. Good for kids according to the ones around me who were wide eyed and they play several cute videos before the show to keep the natives from getting restless.

Also, there’s no photography during the show at ALL (ahem, woman in front of me who didn’t care about the rules) so take pictures of the dolphins in the tank before/after the show if you have time.

Upstairs there’s also a 4-D show which I ignored completely and another exhibit (which isn’t even on the website…) which was basically fossils and dead fish. Interesting if you’re a biologist but otherwise completely deserted and totally boring.

So there you have it, my Under the Sea voyage and photographic documentation. I did a lot of research on taking good pictures at the aquarium so if you’re going make sure you have the right equipment and settings to get the pictures you want.

Back to the Hill

It’s a tradition every fall to make the trek up to Apple Hill. This November the trees were especially gorgeous, even if the drought had a big impact in the area.

I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the trip. It was amazing.

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all of these items are copyrighted.

Enough

One night I read a book. Which isn’t all that unusual. But it happened to be the same night I was in the midst of writing a long, drawn out post about all the things I needed to do.

The book is Enough by Kate Conner, a friend who I first met during our college years at LU and who I’ve kept in touch with via her blog for years.

I’ll be honest, I bought the book because a) it was on sale on Amazon for Kindle and b) I like to support the endeavors of friends. Designed for teenage girls and their moms, I really didn’t have an immediate need but since I love Kate’s writing and story telling this particular night I opened it up on my iPad to read.

Wow.

If you’re a mom of young girls then you need to read (this one) and pick up the companion for your teen (this one). In fact, I think by the time girls reach those precious teen years the foundation should already be in place.

Enough

But as I’m not a mother, the book had a different effect on me.

It got me thinking about what’s enough. For me.

There’s the obvious societal pressures that say you’re never thin, tanned, exfoliated, smooth, smart or rich enough for the world. Advertisers tell us our eyelashes could always be longer, lips fuller and hair shinier.

And while I’m incredibly proud of Kate for her books, publishing 2 before she turned 30 lit that flicker of doubt for myself – how much accomplishment is enough? Let’s not talk about the multitude of books I’ve started during NaNoWriMo and never finished.

I also consider accomplishments related to my work.

My business is going well, but is it making enough of an impact? Enough money? Enough media? I know some of this is the pressure from coaches who want you to feel as if you’re never doing enough and need their assistance to “grow your impact” or “uplevel your mindset.”

I also thought about the personal stuff that’s harder to categorize.

Like this blog, which got a new theme but I don’t know nearly enough to code by hand. There are plenty of projects I haven’t shared and the fast and furious nature of blogging makes you believe you’re not posting enough or somehow you fail at transparency.

And I bought a house at 24 with the help of my parents but it’s pretty modest. I read about people who pay off their mortgage in 5 years and don’t feel very accomplished. Of course I see all the flaws too. The yard isn’t big enough. I can’t keep plants alive long enough… you can see clearly how the these thoughts spiral out of control.

Whether or not you’re taking the lessons from Enough to your children, it’s a valuable question to resolve within yourself.

Take some time to reflect “is my life a result of the things I love to do, my passions and priorities or is it a result of feeling of inadequacy?” Anyone can discover what is enough in their own life and make adjustments accordingly.

 

 

Summer Recap 2014 : Part 3 the Guest Room

The kitchen wasn’t the only room to get a new paint job this summer. After painting the office a nice custom light turquoise, the guest room stood out like a sore thumb.

This is where we started:

DSC_0174 copyFirst I emptied the closet and painted it with the leftover ceiling paint. This was the second 2-gallon bucket of ceiling paint I’ve used up on this house and there’s more in my future.

The closet shelves needed a lot of TLC. Caulking. Scrubbing. Touch ups.

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Trying to paint the ceiling of a small space pretty much guarantees I’ll get paint in my hair at some point. I consider it a glimpse into my future with gray hair.

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Once the closet was dry I began to fill up the shelves with books and photos – some of my most bulky collections that I need to store for awhile. And the rest of the closet has Banker’s Boxes, craft stuff and my spare tables.

Then I worked my way around the room, painting over the smurf blue walls and covering it up with some Kilz primer. Then I painted the walls Frosted Jade in a flat finish from Behr. It’s just a few shades lighter than the custom color I used in the office and I really love how cool it makes the room feel.

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After moving out the bookshelves, I took out the mattresses and then rotated the bed frame back to its original position.

Before:

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Now:

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While I did like the bed frame rotated 90 degrees, the head board completely blocked the window which kept out all the natural light.

The curtains, quilt, mirror and pictures came down as the rest of the paint went up.

Here’s the view from the door now:

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Including just one of the Ikea bookshelves that came out of the office (the other 3 were sold):

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The red leather chair covered with a canvas drop cloth made its way in:

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The pillow case and twin-sheet-turned-curtain were $4 at a tag sale and coordinate nicely with the new paint color.

And this old footchest stores sheets and pillow cases as well as a handy seat for guests. The pictures around are my family frames.

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I added a custom curtain rod and new curtains. It’s simply a 1/2″ copper pipe spray painted ORB and matching 1″ plastic electrical brackets. I screwed them right into the ceiling so it would hang evenly.

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And under the window is a new to me desk that I talked about sanding and have left natural for now. It might get stained or waxed later on but for now it’s looking good.

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I set up the spare computer and sewing machine here and will be getting the matching bench for the desk soon.

So that’s the guest room makeover!

psssst! if you missed it part 1 of the summer recap is here, and part 2 here.