Friday, August 31, 2012

Don't Rain on My Parade...Err BBQ....

So we had big plans for this long weekend including several dinners out with friends (preferably al fresco) and a little BBQ on Sunday but this guy is getting in the way...

hurricane Isaac takes his sweet time through the midwest
It's expected to pretty much be here all weekend which is a total bummer.  BUT it gives me the opportunity to work on a few fun DIY projects that I've been putting off, mostly because they aren't on the massive to do list.  Instead they are on the "do this while watching a good movie with a glass of wine" list.  I'm excited though because with the rain coming in I won't feel any guilt when I don't pick up my paint brush (or paint gun for that matter) or pull any ivy (more on that highly unenjoyable project next week) and the end result should be some of those fun surprise details in a house that really make it feel like a home - yes I realize how corny that sounds.
via maybe some of this for the dining room, still TBD, white canvases at
BOGO this weekend at Michaels...
via maybe making one of these guys. i have several of these from ikea
via contemplating one of these for the kitchen - actually already hung one
 up to see what it would look like.  needs seriously zhushing
Hope your weekend is productive, full of friends and dry!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Kitch Sitch Part 2 - Afters

So last week we talked about the state of the kitchen when we moved in, as well as our paint gun plans.  Here's where the furniture hoarding comes in...A couple years ago I came across this huge buffet in a local antique store that I thought was crazy unique and that I'd kick myself if this $40 find didn't come home with me.
Fast forward and while I still think it was a deal - $40 really?! - it's no where NEAR "unique."  See what I stumbled upon was something similar to this:
how many of these ugly buffet/stereo cabinet/media console do you see in thrift stores/antique stores/craigs list, etc. fyi this is available on stl craigslist now for $70 (told you mine was cheap!)
So while not unique, it does have its benefits, it's super sturdy and holds a ton, and for these reasons I kept it even though we had no where to put it for literally years.  When we moved into this house, I knew we needed more storage and preferably another work space given the cramped counter by the sink.  The spot under our 5 foot window was the perfect location for the buffet!
While it my piece measured almost exactly 5 feet long, it was coming up pretty short at only 30 inches tall.  In order to bring this piece up to par my father in law actually added a board to the base to create an almost skirted look to the front while adding 5 inches.  I then contacted a local granite and marble company about acquiring a remnant piece of marble for the top.
While we have almost a tiger like granite pattern for the counter tops I wasn't looking to match it - in fact it would have been almost impossible given the large selection.  Instead I wanted the piece to totally "fit in" with the rest of the kitchen and so we went all white. 
unfortunately i couldn't find any before pics even though this guy lived in our 
basement for a LONG time
We went with a piece of Danby marble and I added new sea glass knobs from anthro and some ring pulls.  I'd post the source for those but I was seriously underwhelmed and will likely be replacing those soon.
here's the rug i smuggled from the texas ikea
I keep our knives and cutting boards in this so it's truly a work station as well as our paper plates and napkins so they're easily accessible by anyone who might need them.  I also have our dish towels and a few important entertaining things - appetizer plates, cheese plates, etc.
On to the rest of the transformation!  Here's these guys all painted up and our new microwave set up.


fuzzy iphone pic.  artwork is still in transition as of last night. 
I snagged these two little guys in the clearance section of anthro a while back. It'll be fun to switch out my aprons - yes I'm an old lady who wears aprons, even at our parties - you gotta protect your threads!
i'm confused as to why this one can look so much clearer.  also, clearly we need to paint the kitchen chair rail to match the new cabinets - eek.
We took down the old massive micro and added in this new stainless vent in it's place.  We'll still need to put in some sort of a back splash in the short term as this is already getting a bit gunky BUT it's a huge improvement, mostly because we can actually fit a spaghetti pot under there now.
speaking of spaghetti - that's what we had here!
And finally a new fridge!  Eventually I'd love a side by side as it's kind of a pain having to stack big things down low, but this is a leap in the right direction!
and our counters are never this clean, I just pushed everything aside...
So that's it!  For now...  Phase 3 of the Kitch Sitch is at best a year out, at worst 3 years depending on whether we're looking at remodeling in the existing space or blowing the whole thing out into that big ol' yard!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Weekend Recap: Local Haunts

Hello Lovelies!  Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!  D and I had a low key, semi-productive couple of days.

Our new home is less than a mile from Kirkwood high school and we have the pleasure of hearing some of the highlights from the local football games on Friday nights.  Growing up in Texas where high school football is a religion, I not so secretly love the sound of the announcer, the crowds, the band! - all of it!  This past Friday, I was pretty close to dawning a red shirt like some of my neighbors and heading over to the fields.  Alas, we settled on grilling some salmon and enjoying a glass of wine in the backyard with the game as the perfect ambient noise.

Saturday I went shopping with some girlfriends from work, one who has recently relocated to St. Louis, and I was so excited to share some local favorites!

We started off at this new-to-me AMAZING fabric warehouse in an industrial business park close to our old house.  Anatol's is INCREDIBLE with tons of designer fabrics at great prices.  I'm planning on coming back with my mom in a few weeks to stock up on fabrics for new pillows, curtains and cornices!

it's like they wanted me to take a pic - random website call out mid store?
We then headed to my FAVORITE store ever, that we've talked about before: Arhaus.  The ladies were just as excited as I was! I truly believe this store has something for everyone.  They even have a great sale going on right now so you should totally check it out, even just for inspiration.
i literally could just live inside of this store. no need to take it home.
After lots of lusting and a quick trip to Nordstrom Rack, we headed to three of my favs off Manchester.  First up is K. Hall Design.  Call me a devotee, all my hand soap, room spray, and 90% of my candles are from this wonderful shop.  I couldn't be more proud of them too, as they've recently gotten national distribution in Anthropologie.  Their products are natural, smell wonderful and are truly a lovely little indulgence, not to mention that their home decor section is simply charming - very nautical/french/vintage chic.
 crummy pic, from k. hall website - the best scent ever!
We then headed to what I think is a "sleeper" shop - the Gifted Gardener.  This little guy is so jam packed with so many cuties and a great deal of fun furniture.  We rounded it out with a trip to the White Rabbit.  This store actually does all the pinterest projects you pin but never get around to and turns trash into treasure on a daily basis. And the best part? They don't charge an arm and a leg for it! Most of their painted furniture runs between $150 and $400 for the biggies.  Their jewelry, hardware and accessories are also so fun - I get the BEST Christmas decorations here.
photo from White Rabbit's site.  every nook and cranny is filled with this awesomeness!
So after a lovely day of shopping, D and I regrouped to do a trial run for some delicious ribs that we're planning on having over Labor Day with some guests.  More on that recipe next week and some updates on the kitchen later this week. 
By the way, did I miss any secret stores in STL?  I always love hearing about new little shops!



Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Kitch Sitch: Before

So now that we've covered the basics - crown + floor + mild bookcase zhushing + organizing closets a la Container Store, I think we have yet to cover the kitchen: also known as the smallest amount of counter space you've ever seen.

The kitchen is pretty much what you'd expect from a 1960s house.  Paneled cabinets, no island, not a lot of cupboards, no pantry for our Sam's habit, and a small area for a kitchen table for a family of four.

Here we have the "bulk" of the kitchen. Updated you say? Oh no, that's just a BAR sink.

this was us on inspection day. we travel with crap everywhere we go.
 ugly picture and faux flowers not mine.
The above pic is also of this weird set of cabinets with a matching piece of granite on top that is accessible by cabinet doors on both sides.  I guess it was some sort of temporary island?  I have no clue.  Basically this area was the original eat in kitchen space, with the rest of "kitchen stuff" actually behind me in this picture.  Think of me standing in front of the oven, with my back to it, and taking this picture in front of me.  It's basically almost an L shaped kitchen with a tiny tiny, indent on the L part.
So in addition to getting a new refrigerator (does anyone else have trouble spelling that word?) we knew we needed more counter space since you basically get locked up in this kitchen when someone is washing anything in the tiny bar sink, and we needed some pantries - between Emma's gear, our food, and all the fun kitchen wedding gifts we received, space was seriously lacking.
Enter a multi-faceted, hair brained scheme to incorporate some "random" furniture I'd been hording in our old basement and my overwhelming desire to buy a paint gun.  Essentially I proposed that we purchase two tall, unfinished pantry cabinets that could flank the strange island piece, essentially creating a wall of storage in the old eat in area.
kitchen in transition. one unpainted pantry in, and random shelving under the window holding everything else together in the meantime.
By painting these guys white, I hoped to create somewhat of a built in look on this back wall.  We were able to save $250 by purchasing these cabinets unfinished, and purchased a Wagner paint gun for $100.  Fuzzy math you say?  I didn't count the purchase of the gun against the unfinished savings because we actually originally intended to use the gun to paint all of our interior doors to match the new crown - which we did.  I also didn't count it because $250 saved sounds better than $150.
All in all the paint gun was fairly easy to use and INCREDIBLY fast.  It also gives almost a powder coated enamel texture to the finished product without any of those obvious "i painted this myself" brush strokes.
we actually used these guys to hold up all the doors we painted first.
Tips for painting with a spray gun:
1) You don't have to thin the paint unless you would thin it to paint on a wall
2) Make sure you fill the container as to the top of the fill line - you'd be surprised how quick you go through it (to give you an idea, we were able to do only 2 full doors, front and back, on one "fill" of our paint jug)
3) Have some test scraps ready to spray each time you refill the jug, because as you refill you'll get air bubbles in the line, which causes the first few sprays to be spotty, which could ruin your finish
4) COVER EVERYTHING - its worth it but messy, be prepared
5) Clean it like crazy!  The first time I used this gun I spent more time cleaning it 35 minutes) than I did actually using it (20 minutes) but that's really what keeps the little $100 version running

iphone pic.  can you feel how horribly hot it was in this pic?
We actually hand painted out the trim of the doors so we didn't get tons of spray all in the cabinet - what a nightmare that would be.
So that was phase 1.  Phase 2 was the transformation of the massive old furniture I had, and some VERY mild reno in the microwave dept.  Back with more on that tomorrow.
Have a fabulous day!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Weekend Recap X 3

Hello all!  Sorry for the radio silence these past few weeks (eek, going on 17ish days!)  I've been in town for a whole 12 days - I think it's my longest continuous stretch this summer - and I've been savoring every minute of it.

To catch you up since we last chatted.  I headed to Texas for my BFF's Tex Mex themed bridal shower.  Somewhere between the homemade sour cream chicken enchiladas and brisket tacos I completely forgot to take pictures of all the cute details but here's the gist: E's mom, Miss. T is basically one of the BEST cooks I've ever known and she also happens to be Miss Martha.  We had homemade Tex Mex spices in baby mason jars as favors and a chocolate carmel flan cake with homemade ganache for dessert.  DELISH.  A few margaritas and lots of pool time may also have gotten in the way of my ability to capture the moment.....

chips and 4 kinds of homemade salsa.  legit. also not my pic.

 E and her fabulous parents. and not my pic.

this might have also happened.  a late night texas tradition.

After a weekend full of festivities and a quick jaunt to Ikea, I headed from Dallas to Seattle for work (cramming some new 108" Ikea white curtains into my carry on).  I work for a CPG company, and I work on our Amazon business which is experiencing such an exciting growth period.  In the time I've worked on their account, they've built six, fully owned buildings in downtown Seattle, complete with several bars and restaurants on campus.

Visiting Amazon is like visiting a diverse little country.  Everything is so compact and insular like its own little ecosystem, and yet its bursting at the seams with diversity (still haven't been in an elevator where everyone is speaking the same language) and youth (EVERYONE is under 35) It's exciting to feel the buzz in their buildings and get the tiniest glimpse of their culture.  Even though they are a multi billion dollar company, they still all have the door-desks (this is the best written story I could find) and a very minimalist aesthetic.

their new offices, very green. and no I did not take this particular creepy full on pic.  I found it on the internet. but i HAVE taken similar creepy pics but much more covertly. duh.

Last note on Amazon, and probably the most important: every time I go there I see new kinds of dogs.  You can bring your dogs to work as long as they are well behaved and given the hours these people put it, it seems like its the only humane way of having a dog and still working there. BUT my point is I've never seen so many crazy cute pups and because people come from all over the world to work there, you see some crazy dogs that are not usually found in the US.  Case in point? This guy.

so obviously this is a glamour shot of a Pharaoh dog and not as seen in real life at Amazon,
but you get the point.

So since my Dallas/Seattle six day trip, I've been back in the Lou catching up on boring life chores (see laundry, buying dog food, dusting) and doing a lot of tinkering.  What's tinkering you ask?  It's moving things around and busying yourself without actually doing much of anything productive. 

Examples of tinkering include staring at your furniture and saying "this doesn't look quite right." and asking/begging your husband to help you move things around.  You complete this cycle at least three times.  Tinkering can also be taking items from one area of the house to another area, thereby filling one "hole" and creating another.  i.e. "we need another light in the office." and now there is no light in the family room, way to go.

We have zhushed the living room a bit more with two lamp additions, so me and D can see each other's faces and the whole world can now see inside our living room (Shutters are still a work in progress...)  Evidence below.

promise to take some real pics of this room not instagramed up soon. 
must purchase real blooms first.

So now you can add tinkering to the words I've taught ya'll. Go forth and spread this rediculousness.  I'll be back later this week with more of it - promise!


Friday, August 3, 2012

Heading Home

When I was 17, a junior in high school, my father's job got transferred to the corporate office in Topeka, Kansas.  This meant that we'd have to leave the place we'd lived longest, Colleyville, Texas.  I was fortunate enough to have parents who not only supported me but enabled me, and my sisters, to stay in Texas to finish my senior year.

My dad traveled from our home in Colleyville to a temporary apartment in Topeka Monday mornings at 5am and returned back to our house on Glen Dale by 6 on Fridays.  It was hard going through the motions senior year knowing that after graduation that while I'd be leaving for college, I'd also not be coming back "home," but I'm sooo grateful I got to finish out my high school years with some of my best friends in a town that I still LOVE.

My parents have since moved twice, and have a second home in Toronto now with a similar situation to the above, but every time I get the chance to go back to Colleyville it's still a homecoming of sorts.  I know the roads, the stores, the RESTAURANTS - yum - like the back of my hand, and although some things have changed - hello strip mall across from high school - lots has stayed the same.

This weekend I'm headed to Colleyville, and actually Glen Dale Drive, for my best friend's wedding shower.  E moved into the house 5 houses down from mine in sixth grade.  We met when I tried to sell her family some wrapping paper for a Choir fundraiser.  I think they took pity and ordered a few rolls and quickly accepted me as one of their own. 

Over the years the Booths have been my second parents and siblings.  E and I would sit on top of our brick mailboxes and yell at each other as the other one walked home.  We played kick ball in the cul-de-sac with her four brothers and sisters and my two sisters. We held not so secret parties, went on silly car rides to Sonic and high school football games (it literally is a way of life in TX) and ate LOTS of fajitas.

I still miss Texas and E but she has also moved out with her now-fiance and we both have our own grown up lives that I'm pretty sure neither of us ever imagined during our awkward middle school years.  I'm excited to see a few old friends this weekend and enjoy all that Texas has to offer.  Here are a few things that remind me of "home"

need one of these. just need to figure out where to put it.

the 6 flags that flew over texas. duh.  i explain this to people all the time. 4 years of tx history baby!

so confused why this deliciousness still hasn't made it north of the mason dixon line

scary how true this is.

pretty sure i thought southbound 35 was written for me during the whole
Topeka/Colleyville show down

this was COMPLETELY baffling to me when i went to college.  my first car was a suburban, duh.

I'll be sure to take some pics of the shower! Have a fab weekend!