The Nursery Before & After

Hello blog world…it’s been a while.

I feel like I am continuously making excuses for my long absences, but this time it was for a pretty amazing reason… I was growing { and birthing } a HUMAN. A pretty adorable human, if I do say so myself. Meet Miles…

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Miles was born on January 22nd at 12:48pm and weighed 8lbs even. At 21 inches long, I am pretty sure he’s the cutest little human on the planet…but I might be { a bit } biased.

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Miles is just over two weeks old and we are currently adjusting to life as a family of three…and surviving on very limited amounts of sleep. But we are loving it :).

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Although Miles isn’t actually using his nursery for much aside from getting his diaper changed, finishing it was one of the most fun things during my pregnancy. We had to strip this room to its studs, removing wallpaper, ugly carpet, popcorn ceilings…the works. Here’s what the room looked like when we moved in…

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On pinterest, I found an inspiration image that I fell in love with for the nursery.

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I loved the herringbone accent wall immediately when I laid eyes on it and I set out to replicate it. Dan did the measuring and I did the taping. It was SO time-consuming, but totally worth it in the end.

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Once all the taping was done, I painted my accent wall color on in two quick coats, being sure to remove the tape right away upon finishing before the paint had dried.

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For the floor, we opted to purchased { these tiles } from FLOR during a 25% off sale. It ended up costing around $400 to carpet the whole room and we are so pleased with the way it came out.

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The nursery furniture is from Pottery Barn Kids, the fur rug from Rugs USA, and the curtains and chandy from IKEA.

The Master Bedroom {Before & After}

Hi Blog Friends! I know I have been gone for oh…3-4 months or so. I promise that I have a really good excuse…we’ve been working on a {BIG} secret project. Would you like to see?

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It’s a {BABY}!!! See, I told you it was a good excuse ;). For the last 4 months, I have been utterly and completely exhausted. So exhausted that it was taking all that I had to make it to work and home and then to the couch before collapsing. House projects have been completely nonexistent until the past week or so now that I am FINALLY feeling back to normal and excited to complete a few more projects before our biggest project ever arrives at the end of January!

The Master Bedroom has been on our list of projects for a while. It was one of those spaces that we moved all of our furniture into on day one, hung too-short curtains, and hadn’t touched it and its hideous wallpaper since. Not to mention that we were slightly intimidated having heard horror stories about wallpaper removal before. Here’s what the Master looked like during our inspection walk-through before we closed on the house:

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Love that wallpaper huh?? The Master isn’t a huge room, thank god, so we were hoping that it wouldn’t take us too long to remove all the hideousness. The first step was to evacuate everything we could from the room and stack it in the room across the hall {the future  nursery}.

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Let’s take another look at that stunning {literally} wallpaper…

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It’s literally dizzying. We figured we aren’t going to get a whole lot of sleep once the baby comes so the more tranquil we could make this room for those precious moments of quiet, the better!

A couple weeks before this, Young House Love posted about removing their wallpaper from their hallway with a garment steamer. Lucky for us, we own a garment steamer and we put that guy to work ASAP.

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We got a little surprise when we removed the 70s whole-house intercom system to patch it up for good. TWO layers of wallpaper!

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…and the biggest shock is that the one underneath was EVEN UGLIER than the one on top. Who would thought that was possible? Not I.

The wallpaper actually came off pretty easily with the steamer, but our old drywall didn’t hold up so well. Many spots ripped clear through the drywall paper and left us with a lot of spackling to fix the walls. So we sanded and spackled and sanded some more and that brought the end of our first day of work which landed us sleeping in the guest bedroom until the next weekend….it’s like a mini-vacay, right?? Wrong. I missed my bed somethin’ fierce.

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Not only did the walls need to be painted, but the trim, the window, the sliding door, and the CEILINGS had to also be painted a nice crisp white first. Ceilings are my nemesis. Literally, there is no job I loathe more. I don’t know if it’s because I am only 5′ 2″, but it’s painful to the point of tears after a little while no matter the length extender I use. Does anyone actually like painting ceilings? I’ll hire you, we’ve got about 10 rooms left!

Once the boring part was over, I trekked to Home Depot to visit my good buddy Ms. Stewart and her lovely paint colors and decided on Martha’s Blue Suede. It’s kind of a muted navy shade.

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You ready to see the final product? {This room gets a lot of morning sun and is super hard to photograph because of all the windows, so bear with me!}.

Welcome to our new Master Retreat…

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Here’s the best view of the color as it reads in real life:

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Isn’t it lovely and comforting with a romantic feel? I thought so.

I didn’t intend to get a patterned curtain initially, but I am SO glad I went with these bold shades. They make the whole room…in my opinion, that is.

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My favorite part about the curtains is their sheer-ish quality. Because one entire wall is glass sliding doors overlooking our backyard, we have the curtains closed a lot for privacy. These let light in (so we don’t feel like moles) but not enough that I am not afraid to change behind them.

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They are even Jack-approved.

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The best part of this whole project was the low cost.

Wallpaper Stripping: $0

Spackle: $0 (leftover from other projects)

Caulk: $0 (leftover from other projects)

Trim Paint: $0 (leftover from other projects)

Ceiling Paint: $25

Wall Paint: $25

6 curtain panels @ $15 each: $90

Total: $140

Sooooo…what do you think? Hope everyone’s been having a great Summer!

Homemade Granola

When Dan and I first met 7 years ago (time flies!) he was firmly in the “I don’t eat breakfast” camp. To which I promptly replied that this was unacceptable…breakfast is the most important meal of the day, duhhh! Even though we sometimes like to think so, the body cannot survive on coffee alone :).

After 7 years, I finally have gotten him addicted to eating a { Chobani } greek yogurt every morning. And no, this post is not in any way affiliated with Chobani, we just love them! Anyways, what better accompaniment to greek yogurt than homemade granola to mix in?

For this recipe, I must credit my Mom, who has been making delicious granola for years and who walked me through this batch! The greatest thing about granola is that it’s very hard to mess up. You literally can put anything in that you love and it will likely taste good. Here’s my first attempt:

1. Preheat your oven to 290-300 degrees depending on how warm your oven runs.

2. Find a very large bowl. I mean really large. Even though granola making is easy, it’s kind of a pain in the neck and freezes well, so large batches are recommended.

Into the bowl, you are going to put approximately 10 cups of oats (thank goodness for Costco), 2 cups of your choice of nuts (I used walnuts & almonds), 2 cups of seeds (I used sunflower & pumpkin), and 1 cup of flaxseed meal. I also recommend adding wheat germ for the health benefits, but I couldn’t find it at TJ’s.

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3. Mix all of these items together with a generous amount of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and 1 tsp. of salt.

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4. In a microwave-safe dish, pour 3/4 cup of oil (canola and coconut work well), 3/4 cup of real maple syrup, and 1/2 cup of honey.

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5. Heat the wet ingredients in the microwave for about 30-45 seconds until they just start to bubble and then pour over the dry ingredients, mixing until the wetness is distributed evenly.

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6. Separate 4 eggwhites and whip them up until frothy. Pour over oat mixture and again mix well until evenly distributed. The egg white step is very important as it helps your granola clump well instead of just being loose when done.

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7. Generously grease your sheet pans, and if you are like me and only have 1 sheet pan, grease all of your pyrex dishes…good thing I have a lot of those!

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8. Pack your granola into your vessels tightly in a thin layer. You don’t want to go too thick because you want it to get nice and crispy-crunchy.

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9. Next, put your pans in the oven for 30-45 minutes. Make sure to rotate them often from top to bottom and right to left, you want even browning. While you are still getting used to your oven, the best thing to do is to set the timer for 30 minutes and then check every 5-7 minutes or so. This is the trickiest part….you want to be sure they get just enough brown and toasty without going too far into burnt-land, which can happen quickly.

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10. When they are done in the oven, put them on your counter to cool and top with your choice of dried fruits. I chose raisins, dried cranberries, and dried cherries.

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11. Then…back away from the granola. Literally do not touch them until they are completely 1000% cooled. Touching them too early will result in soft/chewy granola.

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12. When it’s completely cooled, break it up with a spatula and put it into freezer-safe bags. I put a huge amount in the freezer where it will keep for months and then a bag in the fridge. As the fridge bag gets low, we will rotate more in from the freezer.

Not only is homemade granola a heck of a lot cheaper than store but, nothing you can buy in the store is as tasty as homemade granola.

Bon Apetit!

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The Next Big Thing

When Dan and I bought { this house } in March 2012, there were a lot of ugly spaces. It was like a time capsule that hadn’t been touched since 1974 when it was built. It was truly a toss-up as to which room won the *ugliest* room award. { The Den Project } that we just finished definitely rid our house of one of the largest spaces that needed complete gutting, but I am here to talk to you today about

600 square feet of hideousness

Where is this space? Let’s take a look…

{ hint: it’s in this picture }

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Stumped? Let’s get a little closer.

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I know you all visibly cringed at the sight of this deck. For those who haven’t been reading long…yes, that is a very rare, practically endangered species of astro turf deck. They used to run rampant in the 70s but have been dying out as we come into the 21st century. Top that astro turf base with that delicious lattice and you have yourself quite a beaut.

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The deck is a very odd shape, 60 x 10 and spans the whole length of the back of our house. Although we are in Massachusetts and only use outside spaces for a smaller portion of the year than our Southern friends, this astro turf is SO green and SO awful that all I see when I look out the window in the Winter is that terrible green staring back at me. We knew the deck had to be our number one project for 2013.

The arrival of a 1.5 ton dumpster last weekend spurred us to get started with the demo, beginning with the railings and lattice.

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It took about four hours to remove all of the railings and lattice and drag them to the dumpster. We then spent the remaining 4 hours of our day painfully removing the astro turf. Anyone else attempted this before? It is NOT. FUN. Astroturf is heavy and awkward and almost impossible to pry up where it had been nailed & glued onto the plywood below.

Even though it looks like it would be luscious and soft on your feet, it’s scratchy and rough and we pretty much looked like we had been through a war when we were done.

Before we began this project, we knew a couple things:

1. We had a deck covered in astro turf

2. The astro turf was nailed or somehow secured onto plywood, which was then secured on top of normal floor joists

3. We wanted to rip up the astro turf and plywood and lay down normal decking boards on top of the floor joists

Easy peasy, right?

Wrong.

Doesn’t every project’s scope change once you dive into it? Our problems began with these steps:

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The support beam at the top of the stairs was rotted, which we knew and planned to replace as it was causing the stairs to tilt to the left. When we went to replace that board, we found something very interesting (yes, let’s use the term *interesting*) about the poles that hold up the stairs that you can see in the below picture.

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Those posts, which we assumed were properly cemented into the ground with the 4ft. required for safety, just fell right over. They were attached to small 12″ concrete blocks that had just been buried about 18″ down. Nice….right? So obviously the stairs came down.

The next thing we discovered is that the deck was not secured to the house with lag bolts every 18″ like it should have been. In fact, there was not one lag bolt and the deck was just nailed onto the house. I’m truly amazed it’s still holding on after all these years.

The floor joists were also only secured with joist hangers on one side. Why do one and not the other? The saddest thing about all of this is that the prior owner was a builder. How does one in the industry do such a crappy job and then live knowing his family is unsafe?

Then, once we ripped up the astro turf, we found a rubber barrier that had been run on top of the plywood to keep it from rotting. Seems like a good idea in theory, right? Well, we began to rip it up and realized that it ran right up to the house and under the siding. With no proper flashing, this was causing the moisture to gather right in the pocket of the house and the siding. We quickly came to the realization that in order to get the rubber layer out and install proper flashing, we would have to rip down the siding from the entire back side of the house and replace it all. *Sigh*.

So, what we thought would be a simple project turned into a more major one. Here’s our current task list:

1. Tear down the railings & lattice

2. Rip up and dispose of the astro turf

3. Pry up the plywood and rubber layer

4. Demo all of the siding to remove the rubber layer completely

5. Install proper flashing

6. Properly secure the deck to the house

7. Re-side the back of the house & paint

8. Lay down decking boards

9. Build new railings

10. Relocate the stairs to the end of the deck (instead of in the middle) to open right to the pool

I hope you all aren’t tired of bloggers sharing outside spaces because this is going to take a while! Can’t wait to show you some of my inspiration photos next. A girl’s gotta have something to work towards, amiright?!

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The Nursery: Growing From Seed

No Mom, not that kind of nursery.

Those who have been following my blog for a few years know that one of my favorite things about Spring & Summer is gardening…basically the growing and harvesting of my own vegetables and herbs. In our first house, I coerced politely asked my hubs to build me some raised bed gardens { clicky link here }.

We started really small and purchased most of our plants from Home Depot, just your basic varities, and picked up a couple cool things like a Japanese Eggplant plant from our local farmer’s market.

In our current house, we moved in last year in mid-March and amidst the unpacking and settling, we scrambled to put together a couple raised beds to get a garden going for last year { clicky link here }. Warning, if you are in New England and images of green grass and warmth currently make you want to cry, do NOT click on this link.

Because we were behind in getting it going, we once again purchased all of our plants from Home Depot/Lowe’s with the exception of some black tomatoes that my step mother-in-law gave me as an Easter present. The seeds were from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company and the tomatoes were amazing. This post is in no way sponsored by Baker Creek, I am just legitimately obsessed with their heirloom seeds.

Why am I so obsessed with growing heirloom seeds? I am kind of a foodie…not sure if anyone noticed? ;) Lucky for me, I married a guy who is just as obsessed with food as I am. We both subscribe to the belief that the more naturally you eat, the better. We try to make as many things as possible from scratch and stay as far away from processed foods/ingredients as possible. Baker Creek sells only non-GMO seeds. A GMO product has been genetically altered for a variety of reasons that makes it easier for the farming mega-industry to produce as much as possible. Scientists genetically mutate seeds to put together specific traits such as A.) Ability to withstand pests/draught/diseases B.) stronger fruits/veggies that don’t bruise easily C.) *perfect* appearance/color D.) Ability to withstand traveling long distances by 18-wheeler, etc, etc. Pretty close to last on this list of ideal traits is taste. The first time I bit into an heirloom tomato, angels sung. Might be a slight exaggeration, but you get the picture ;).

This year, I knew I wanted to step up my gardening a notch. Now that we are settled and unpacked and not planning on moving anytime soon, I had the time and energy to do some planning for my garden entirely from seed. Heirloom seed. I spent hours browsing Baker Creek’s website and eventually settled on six tomato varieties (black, pink, green, cherry, striped, ones with 1-2lb size tomatoes, etc), basil, spanish eggplants, Roman zucchini, mixed greens, purple carrots, beets, peas, beans, and squash.

The first picture below is all seeds that can be sown directly into the ground, meaning that they have a very short maturation cycle and do not need to be started indoors. Some of the heartier varities (lettuce & peas) can be started in a few weeks, even before the danger of frost is over.

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The second picture below is everything that needs to be started indoors (at least in a New England Climate) 6-8 weeks prior to the last frost. Last frost where we live usually means right around mid-May to Memorial Day Weekend.

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While our house does have an entire wall of windows that are South-facing, which is what you want for growing indoors in natural light, we have these two annoying furry inhabitants that like to eat growing things (thus the reason my dining room table has cacti…try to chew on THAT, cats!).

So the next option was to set up an indoor “growing station” in our small upstairs bedroom. A quick trip to Home Depot yielded a Burpee growing kit and two $12 workshop lights (flourescent) for my light source. Most of the experts I have read recommend “watering from the bottom” which basically means that your trays of seed cells will have little holes in them. You will place the cell tray in another larger tray which is where you will pour the water. The soilless mixture will absorb the water from the tray, watering the seeds in a very gentle way. This stops the seeds from being overwatered or damaged by a heavy hand.

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Here’s my set-up in the office. We actually had the top of a child’s desk laying around, so we turned it on its side and rested the two shop lights across the sides. Because the seedlings need to be only 2-4 inches away from the light source, I stacked magazines underneath the tray to get them higher. The magazines also make it really easy to adjust the height as they start to grow. Removing a couple at a time has been super simple.

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My wonderful hubs hooked my shop lights up to a breaker timer which we have set to automatically turn on at 6:30AM and to shut off at 8:30PM. This makes it so much easier so that we don’t have to remember to do it at these times, wake up early on the weekends, or not do any traveling for months. The timer cost around $10 and it’s definitely been money well spent.

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Those who follow me on Instagram may have remembered how excited I was a couple weeks to post a picture of the first little shoots of life coming up. It’s a little nerve-wracking because germination can take 7-10 days so for 7-10 days you are staring at dirt, willing the plants to actually germinate and break through the surface.

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After a couple weeks of growth, my babies are almost ready to be transferred to larger (4 inch) containers that they will stay in until mid to late May when I transplant them into the ground.

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All plants also germinate/grow at different speeds. You can see my tomatoes (the larger ones) are far outpacing the basil and the eggplants which recently broke ground. Those will stay in the tiny cells for a couple more weeks before getting moved into larger ones.

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In all, I spent the following:

Seeds: $35

2 Shop Lamps: $24

4 flourescent light bulbs: $30

Seed Starter Kit: $20

Total: $109

The initial investment wasn’t what I would call cheap, but in past years when buying small plants, I would spend at least $6-$8 on each tomato plant, for usually a total of $60-$70 each year. Next year, because I have all the initial investment taken care of, I will really only have to purchase new soilless mixture (under $10), and possibly new bulbs if I burn them out ($30). I have plenty of seeds left in my packets to do a whole new year’s worth of produce and if you keep them in a refrigerator (or other cool, dark place) they will be ready to go!

Can’t wait to get all these little guys in the ground…I’m such a proud Mama.

Happy Gardening!

The Den Finale: Before & After

When we first moved into our house one year ago last week (time truly flies…) we knew that the downstairs Den would be a place where we would spend a LOT of our time. We’re both homebodies who enjoy nothing more than coming home after work, cooking a nice dinner together, and retreating to our Den to hang out and watch our favorite shows/movies. The Den is 500 square feet…it’s a big room that was an intimidating project in our minds. We knew that this room would have to be a combination of both of us…form and function. We wanted all the components of a “theatre/media” room without compromising style. Dan’s must-haves included a large television front and center, surround sound, front speakers, and a sub-woofer. My must-have’s were simple…all that boy stuff needed to look pretty and we needed to spend as little money as possible.

We kicked off the first step of this room in April with the re-do of some Klipsch speakers that Dan got for a steal on craigslist. Here’s the before of them:

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We put our head’s together to figure out what we could do to make these functional but pretty too. Ironically, our { before and after reveal } was my most-viewed and commented post of all time on this blog.

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Refinishing these speakers kicked off the start of various aspects of this room, a major one of which was the many steps to getting our fireplace the way we imagined it. Here’s the link to that { before & after }.

The month of July was all about wiring. Running wires to outdoor speakers on the patio right off of the den, running wires for in-ceiling speakers for surround sound, running wires through the ceiling to relocate the television to the fireplace…

 { Read about our wiring adventures here }

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October was when we actually began the whole room re-do in full force and it’s taken us a full FIVE months to feel like we can actually say we are DONE…or at least 99% done.

Let’s step back in time to March 2012 and recall how the room and hallway looked when we walked through with our home inspection before our closing…

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Trust me, you are not mistaken…I did say March 2012, NOT March 1975. The whole house was like a time capsule that hadn’t been touched since it’s build date and the Den was definitely right up there as one of the most offensive rooms. The paneling…the green countertops, the mirrored backsplash..it’s enough to make you cringe.

If you haven’t been following along with our progress on the room, before you scroll through the afters, take a look at our progress to get to how we look today:

{ The Beginning } { Paneling Galore } { Tackling the Bar } { Hallway Mini-Reveal } { Bar Mini-Reveal } { Adding Art }

Welcome to our Den (and downstairs hallway) reveal…

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The runners are 8 feet long and a steal from { Joss & Main } at $35 each. The apothecary chest is a TV stand that we had in our old house from { World Market }. The wall color in the hallway and the Den is Valspar’s Rocky Bluffs which is almost identical to Martha Stewart’s Bedford Grey.

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The art work is from the very talented Nate, husband of Michelle at { Decor & the Dog }. I purchased their Farm Life print collection for $20 and had them printed on canvases from { CVS.com }. We displayed them on these awesome shelves from { IKEA }. Two can be fitted together to form the 8 foot long shelf you see below for $40.

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The couch is a hand-me-down from dear family friends. The rug here is also from { Joss & Main } for $400 for 9×12, which is huge and was needed to anchor the room.

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The chair is also from { Joss & Main }..surprise, surprise :). The curtains are re-used from our old house as well, and are old no-sew finds from { IKEA }. Which is also the source for the new blinds and curtain rods. You just can’t beat IKEA for these types of things. The curtain rods extend 150 inches to span across these super wide windows that we have and the blinds were $20/each which is unheard of in the world of blinds. Blinds were super important to Dan so that all light could be blocked out for optimum movie watching on his plasma.

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The green chest is also a hand-me-down from my parents and the chair was my grandfather’s.

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The cabinets were sanded down and painted in ultra white semi-gloss. The green countertops were re-finished for $20 with { Rustoleum’s Countertop Paint }. All of the frames were found around our house and from the gallery wall in our first house. Not all of them have art added yet, we’re still working on that!

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Eventually, we would love to rip out that brass fireplace surround, but for now we are loving the transformation from what it once was. The holes in the wall for the electrical panel and the generator panel are still in progress. Dan is building doors and I have some awesome art work en route that will fit right over them. Details when it arrives!

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We added a $10 strip of crown moulding to the top of the fireplace to give it a little more finesse. This was our first experience with crown moulding and all I can say is…buy more than you need, it takes a little practice! Fitting corners exactly around a fireplace that is not level, against a ceiling and walls that are not level is no walk in the park. The transformation is completely worth it though, don’t you think?

Hope you enjoyed the tour…now excuse me while I scoot off to enjoy the Real Housewives on the big screen ;).

The Den Project: 500 Square Feet of Deliciousness (Almost)

October 22nd, 2012…that’s the day that our Den Project officially began with this post.

I think we were hoping to finish before the holidays…and I did not mean Easter or St. Patrick’s Day. Here we are, almost five months later and we are still plugging along but the end is finally in sight. The ironic part is that the reason we chose this room to begin working on was because the winter was fast approaching. Before we moved last March, we lived below in the Barnstable County area…otherwise known as Cape Cod to New Englanders.

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The beauty of living surrounded by water is that you could laugh at the rest of the state during the winter when they would get pounded time and time again with snowstorm after power outage after snowstorm while we got a half inch here, a rainstorm there. Pretty much a month after we moved to the “snow belt” area of Massachusetts, Dan started talking about buying a generator that we would hardwire to the electrical box with a generator panel.

The purchase of the panel prompted the whole Den re-do simply because we had to cut into the wall anyways to install the panel. Dan did all the electrical work and installation, as well as the framing around the new panel. Ironically, winter is almost over (*knock on wood*) and we didn’t have to use it this year, but we are all prepared for the 2013-2014 snow season!

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This small section of the wall was the last of the drywalling and mudding and the primer is now drying and ready for a shade of grey :).

Once the wall is painted, Dan will be building doors for the two boxes and I will be either purchasing or building a large scale piece of art to cover the doors…or at least that’s my plan right now.

Let’s take a look at the other items I included in my first post:

  • get a larger rug that fits the space (can’t wait to finally put it in the room!)
  • change the curtain hardware from the gold fixtures left by the prior owners (purchased at IKEA this weekend along with blinds for optimum movie watching)
  • find a new larger and not matchy-matchy ottoman
  • paint the ceiling, trim, and baseboard heating white (still procrastinating on some parts of the ceiling)
  • paint the walls a soft grey
  • rip down the mirrors above the wet bar, refinish the countertop and cabinets
  • take down the paneling
  • put down wood floors (this is going to be long-term)
  • hang artwork

The last item on the list is my newest cross-out. Has everyone checked out Michelle’s Photography Shop? Her talented husband, Nate, takes amazing photographs which her lovely readers can purchase…of which I was first in line for their Farm Life collection. I recently had 4 of Nate’s images printed through CVS’s new canvas print options. The quality came out AMAZING, and CVS has a 25% off code right now– take advantage!

Here’s the hallway leading from the Den to the main hallway when you walk in the front door:

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The left side of the wall was looking a little naked and boring, especially with the jutted out portion of the foundation. I knew I wanted to display my canvases on a shelf versus hanging them so that the look was a little more three dimensional.

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IKEA to the rescue! This weekend, we found a beautiful 8 foot long shelf for $40 which is magic to my wallet.

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How amazing is Nate’s work? Michelle, if you are ever in the area, maybe Nate can come and sign these??

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Do you see my new friend in the background? I’ll go into details later, but I can’t resist posting just one more picture of my favorite new acquisition…

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Hope everyone’s week is off to a good start!

PS- read more about our Den project with Part One, Part Two, Part Three, The Mess in the Middle, Part Four, and Part Five!

Hey Girl… Valentine’s Day Edition

I am sure you have all seen the Ryan Gosling Hey Girl memes circulating on the interwebs. My blog pal Michelle and a couple other fabulous ladies took it upon themselves to torture honor our husbands/significant others by turning them into their own Hey Girl memes.

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I thought that I had missed all the fun while in Hawaii but much to my surprise and delight (and Dan’s chagrin), Michelle has extended the party and I am getting in on the action!

Without further adieu…may I present my wonderful husband this Valentine’s Day:

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Hey Girl 2

Hey Girl 1

Love you honey, xoxo!

Hawaii…you stole my heart.

Would we come? Of course we would! We wouldn’t have missed their wedding for the world. Plus, who says no to Hawaii? Believe it or not though, we were apprehensive. The hubs and I are far from bronze gods, in fact we’re as close to the opposite as you can get. We’re also not huge lay on the beach people and aren’t too fond of really hot weather. This would be our first “tropical” vacation EVER.

Then we stepped off the plane, drove to Lahaina on Maui, and fell deeply in love.

I don’t know if it was my toes in the sand in January while home was in the teens for temperatures…

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Or our first mesmerizing sunset over the beach with the soft crash of waves in the background…

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But soon I began to think…is this real life? Can I stay in this island time forever…in this state of ultimate relaxation where the stresses of work seem so far away?

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My type-A-never-sits-still personality suddenly transformed into a type C (is that even a thing?) personality. I am not sure if it was the 3AM wake-up call and drive up Halakalea Crater to watch the moon set…

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and the sunrise…

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whilst giggling like school children at the *freezing* temperatures of the mid-30s at 10,000 ft elevation like we hadn’t just been living in 6 degree temperatures two days prior.

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Somewhere amongst eating outdoors for almost every meal,

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Hiking through bamboo forests,

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and experiencing the neck-craning awe of a 200-ft waterfall…

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…all life’s little problems seem silly. Like when I dropped my iPhone into a tide pool and it was submerged amongst the sea urchins.

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Did I freak out? Nope…and then magically, because Hawaii is full of magic, it came back to life like nothing had happened.

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On the last day of our trip, we set sail on a catamaran for a snorkeling adventure and whale watch all in one.

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The snorkeling was the most amazing thing I have ever experienced. I used to be obsessed with ocean creatures as a child and seeing a real reef in person was something to behold. There are no words to describe how it feels to turn around and suddenly realize that you are in a school of 100 colorful fish.

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Or face-to-face with a sea turtle.

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As we sat on the deck of the boat surrounded by surfacing whales, I wondered

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why DO I have a job that requires me to wear shoes?

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Can’t I run around on this boat in a bathing suit all day long, tattoo a whale on my ribs, and be as happy and suntanned as these people?

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I mean, these mai tais are reason alone to stay…I could get used to this.

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Alas…here I am, back in Massachusetts experiencing the wrath of Nemo. And now, I have the post-Hawaii blues…and feeling unmotivated to get back in the project swing of things.

See, I told you it was a good excuse :)