Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Christmas in August

We had a surprise visit from Eric's mom Jody yesterday and boy did she shower us with goodies! Whenever Jody comes for a visit I feel like she is santa and her mini van is the sleigh, she always brings us such amazing stuff! This time around she brought us our much anticipated wedding present! Back at the time of our wedding Jody and Don (Eric's dad) told us that they had commissioned a custom made bookshelf for us as our wedding present. The bookshelf was going to be made by Jody's brother who makes the most beautiful custom cabinetry and furniture and is the owner of Arizona Wood, check out their website arizonawood.net to see some of his other amazing work. The bookshelf is replacing our old particle board one that held our kitchen stuff and cookbooks. Check out the pictures below:

Our beautiful custom bookshelf!

close up of the gorgeous mesquite wood

we put some of the spices (in their new jars) on top of the shelf until our corner pantry gets done.

Side view, gorgeous wood grain. 

It is awesome! We are so happy and thankful to have it, what a special gift! It's so exciting to have real furniture, it's like we're real grownups or something ;-P

The other exciting piece of furniture Jody brought us is an incredible family heirloom from Eric's grandpa Jim. It's a steamer trunk, the kind that people used to pack all their possessions in while they traveled by boat. I believe this particular one is from the depression era. Oh my gosh it's gorgeous. We are using it to store out of season clothing and blankets in the bedroom, what a welcome addition!

so beautiful! And huge!
  Last but not least, having heard about our spice storage issues Jody picked up some magnetic spice jars for us. What a great idea! It doesn't come close to housing all of our spices but it is a great start and having the spices we use most right next to the stove is awesome! Here are some pics.

Lots of great additions to home this week, we are so happy about them! Thanks Don and Jody!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

West Side Design District

This week I took a little trip back to my old neighborhood in West Midtown. I love that side of town so much! Going back there really makes me feel nostalgic, it is the first place that I lived when I moved back to Atlanta after college and the first place that Eric and I lived together after our wedding last year. I totally love where we live now and I wouldn't trade our house for anything but West Midtown will always hold a special place in my heart and it was the perfect place for me at the time when I lived there. I also think the West Side Design District has had a huge impact on my sense of style and interior design.  When it comes to rustic modern design, this area of town really has it going on. Just wandering through the multitude of furniture stores and trendy restaurants can really get you inspired.

I started my West side visit with a trip to one of my old haunts, West Egg Cafe. I used to eat at this place all the time and I even had a show of my paintings there once. They have moved locations in the recent past (just down the street) and their new digs are definitely leaning more toward a clean and modern look. There are a lot of things I love about the design of the new place but personally I miss the old location, it was a little more rustic and a little less sleek. I feel like they lost a bit of their magic when they moved however it will always be one of my favorite places to have breakfast.

I love that the water comes in these cool bottles and that the silverware and napkins come in numbered wooden trays
The interior definitely feels a bit colder than it did at it's old location.

LOVE this bar though :-)

My next stop was to the new-ish plant store Garden. This is the store that went in to West Egg's old location. It's a little pricey as plant stores go but they have some really cool stuff and I just so happened to have a scout mob for for Garden so I was able to walk away with two new succulents for the price of one!

Exterior shot of Garden

My new plants in their new home

Of course I had to finish my trip to the West side with a visit to the relatively new Anthropology store that has opened up there, talk about inspirational! There are a ton of other great places on that end of town that I didn't have time to go to on this particular day but I will absolutely be back in the near future. Next time you have a day off and are in need of some design inspiration I highly recommend hitting up this area of town, it will probably always be my favorite part of Atlanta.  

Two More Projects Completed (Kind Of)

It seems like ages since we put in our shiny and beautiful bamboo flooring, and yet it has taken me this long to get the baseboards up, sheesh! I finally had some free time this week and last week and got to work on these things. I still have to do the majority of the hall but the living room/dining room is finished! Yay progress! It's so nice not to have a half inch gap between the floor and the wall :-P
The finished baseboards, looks so much more polished!
the chaos of painting baseboards on the back deck, not fun.

The other project I had to work on was my little terraced garden I've been wanting to build. We have the area by our front walkway that no grass will grow in and I thought it would make sense to add some bricks to the edge of the area, fill it with dirt and plant some shade loving things in that area to see if they did any better than the grass.

This is the original area, see how no grass will grom in this rectangular strip? It's begging to be made in to a flower bed.
Retaining wall bricks stacked up and hostas planted. 

I still have to fill the rest of the flower bed with dirt and plant more things but I'm excited to have a start anyway. It feels good getting some things accomplished around the house :-)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Rustic Modern Birthday Treat

Tuesday is my Mom's Birthday and since it's on a week day this year we celebrated with the family today. Now, I don't mean to brag, but in my opinion my mom is pretty much the most fabulous lady alive :-) She has been my best friend for many many years and I wanted to do something really special for her since she is usually the one making things special for other people. One of the things she loves most is salted caramel. Something about that sweet/salty combo is just killer, no one can resist it. I came across this recipe for salted caramel shortbread bars with chocolate several months ago and knew I wanted to make it for Mom on her special day. The recipe calls for the use of a microwave which I don't have but I thought I could probably get the same results on the stovetop. I was right and they actually turned out awesome but it was pretty hot and frantic work to be stirring the caramel quickly enough that it wouldn't burn. I was so nervous about this because I'd never made caramel or shortbread before but it turned out so yummy and everyone loved it, the sea salt on top was really an extra special touch that gave this desert it's wow factor. Happy Birthday Mom! Love you!

The one and only picture I got of the salted caramel shortbread bars with chocolate before we gobbled it all up

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bathroom Mirror Redo

Having three days off in the middle of the week has really given me some time and energy to work on some house projects. Unfortunately there are so many things I want to do that I hardly know where to start. This means that I am in the middle of about 5 projects and not really finishing anything, oops ;-)

One project that was able to finish this week was a quick bathroom mirror update. This is something I've been wanting to try for while now. See my inspiration source here, this link will walk you through adding a simple tile border to your bathroom mirror for an easy and cheap update. In the wake of finally finishing the painting in the master bathroom I wanted to do a little jazz up to the mirror. A huge part of the rustic modern design sensibility is using natural materials such and wood, stone, bamboo and metal. This gave me an opportunity to add a little stone in to our cool gray bathroom, I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.  There's still more that I want to do in the master bathroom but this definitely gave the space a quick facelift that left me feeling pretty satisfied. Here are some pictures of the process:

In progress, sticking up the tile border with liquid nails. I had to tape a few to keep them in place while they dried.
the finished product

close up pf the stone tiles
In all it only took me a about an hour to complete this project (minus drying time). I think it turned out pretty cool. The next step for this bathroom is to add some rustic wood shelves in the empty space over the toilet. I think the warm wood will go really well with those rough stone tiles. Maybe some time soon I will be able to add those in but I may have to save up for them. The ones I have my eye on don't come cheap. Who knows though, maybe Eric will be able to score me some awesome yard sale deal if I wait long enough ;-)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Speaking Of Good Deals...

I had my first day off in 8 days today and I woke up refreshed and full of energy! I finally had a day to take care of errands that I had been putting off for way too long. There were the not so fun ones like getting my oil changed, and the fun ones like doing some shopping with my Mom. I even ended up with a little time this afternoon to work on some projects that I will be blogging about in the near future :-)

In the course of my shopping day I was able to score some seriously good deals. It's amazing to me how much better I am at watching what I spend now. I used to buy things like groceries for full price and never think twice but now I almost never buy things unless they are on sale. I find getting good deals tremendously satisfying, I'm sure I'm not alone in this. So anyway, I was stopping by Home Depot today to pick up some things and I was amazed by some of the deals in the garden center. Seriously, if you haven't been lately, you should go. They had some plants that were crazy on sale and I walked out with 6 good sized plants for about $17. Below is a picture of the goodies...

Perennials were on sale 2 for $7 

Got a nice palm tree for the living room for $2.50

and the crowning glory is the hibiscus tree for $1.89, crazy!

The hostas were not technically on sale but they are a bit cheaper this time of year (or so I'm told). Besides, I really needed them for a terraced shade garden I'm planning to make in the near future.
 After clearing out the Home Depot garden center we hit up our local Borders which as you probably know is going out of business (as are all of the Borders book stores). It is pretty sad to see them go, I have spent so much time browsing in Borders through the years. That being said I wasn't above taking advantage of their store closing sale. Of course I went straight to the cook book section, I love love love cook books! I almost always end up cooking from online recipes but for some reason I love to buy cook books, lol. Oh well, at least they were on sale and this makes me resolve to cook from my cook book collection more often :-)

It seems like there are lots of amazing deals everywhere I go lately. I think it's an end of Summer thing, they are clearing things out to get ready for a new season. I advise you all to go out there and get some of these deals while the gettings good :-)

Monday, August 15, 2011

More Bargain Hunting

Acquiring all the things you want for your house takes time, and if you want to save a bunch of money on these things then it also takes a lot of patience. You can spend weeks or months cruising yard sales and thrift stores before finding just what you want. After months of looking the perfect wine rack to fit in the space on top of our refrigerator Eric finally found the perfect thing at a thrift store. I'm pretty happy about it, it's great to have a place for our wine and frequently used liqueur bottles and it fits snuggly in the previously unused space on top of the fridge but below the cabinets.

New wine rack, it's simple but the perfect shape and the metal and wood suits us nicely

Another great way to score bargains other than yard sales and thrift stores is taking advantage of coupons. I don't know if this is true of everyone who buys a house but for us one of the perks of home ownership has been the amazing coupons that started showing up in our mailbox. I pretty regularly get all kinds of crazy deals for food or car maintenance and even occasionally for clothes and home goods. I've been getting "Kohls cash" about once a month since I moved in here in the amount of $10. The best part is that there is no minimum purchase so if you buy something for under $10 it's just free! I'm still totally amazed by that.. So I have been wanting a little chip and dip platter for a while now and have been keeping my eyes open for one. When I got my Kohls cash this month I headed up to my local Kohls and bummed around their clearance section. Lo and behold there was the perfect chip and dip bowl. It was regular $38, on clearance for $7. Know how much it cost me? That's right, zip :-) I left the store feeling pretty savvy and proud of myself.

Chips and dips in the same serving vessel, brilliant!

So while it may take a long time to get some of the things we want for our kitchen or our house in general it is totally worth the wait to find these kinds of deals. Besides, if you think of bargain hunting as a game it's pretty fun. Life would be pretty boring if we got everything we wanted right away anyway, the search for great finds is the exciting part.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Planting In Unconventional Containers

This is a trend I've been dying to try, I've seen a lot of people planting things in old tins lately and I totally love it! For example, see this image from pinterest:

I have an old oatmeal tin that I have been saving to try this with so this weekend broke off a few cuttings from some of my succulent plants and repotted them in the tin. I think it looks lovely! Now I just have to find some more old tins I can use for this purpose (assume this works and they actually live).

My version of the tin planting trend. 

I'm sure there are all kinds of containers that would be awesome for planting that I have never even thought of. Maybe it's time for me to scour the garage and see what I can come up with.

In other planting news my red bell peppers are finally getting ripe. I've already been able to harvest and use some of my Thai Hot Peppers and my Jalepeno Peppers and use them in my cooking. I have been waiting patiently all Summer for the red bell peppers to be ready and now they are almost there.

It's pretty tiny but I'm still proud of it :-)

A Free Weekend At Last

It seems like ages since I have had a weekend at home with no plans to speak of. The past two weekends I have been working at my new job (in addition to working my old job during the week) and haven't exactly felt like diving in to any projects after I get home from work. This weekend was gloriously plan free. Yesterday I was able to hang the art show that I curated with my brother and spend some time with the family. Today I actually had time around the house to get things done. Most of my time was spent on things like sweeping and yard work, just maintenance things that needed to be done. I did however finally get around to painting the bathroom! Well ok, it's not totally done but almost :-) I still need to go back and touch up a few more areas with a second coat. Still, it's looking lots better than it's previous state where it looked like someone attacked with a paintbrush but lost interest halfway through the job (which is exactly what happened). I'm still incredibly sick of room painting but I powered through, here are some pictures.

Like I said, I am super bored of painting. I have to do something to entertain myself :-)

More painting procrastination, I took a break to photograph myself in the mirror. I am also brilliantly painting in my new dress, amazingly enough I didn't get any paint on it.

That's looking more like it, mostly done with painting

I really went around and around about what color wall would go best with the warm green tile. Working with funky original tile colors is always a challenge, I like the gray/green combo though.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Food Food Food

Things have been super crazy in my life lately. Juggling two jobs, one of which is brand new too me, has been stressful to say the least. I don't know what I would do without my wonderful husband by my side and my amazing family who are always there to support me. Having a team of support is such an amazing gift to have. Eric has been working really hard since his promotion as well and has had to take on a lot more responsibility at his job. So basically we have both been stressed and grumpy lately and have had zero time to work on stuff around the house. The one thing that has not gone by the wayside throughout this time of stress is the food. Food is very important in our house, it's one of the ways we show love, it's a way to bond and way to enjoy life. So since I have no new house updates to share, here's what we've been eating to make life sweeter :-)

Thai Steak Salad, see recipe here. I can't tell you how delicious and easy for a weeknight this recipe is. It's also great for these hot summer nights. You all know I adore a steak salad :-)

Sesame coated tuna steaks with lettuce and homemade salsa made of onion, garlic, cilantro, and tomato.   

Teppanyaki, this was my first time making this but it was really delicious! I grilled mine in a cast iron skillet and served it with a home made ginger soy dipping sauce.
These are just a few of the yummy dishes that have been coming out of our kitchen lately. I love to cook and being able to make great food even when we are going through stressful times is super important to me. On that note, I'm off to make dinner :-)