Monday, January 27, 2014

likeable things

1_ I'm not sure if it's the wood grain lamp shade or the geometric cement base that I like more. Either way, if that lamp by We Make Stuff made it's way to my house I would be most pleased.

2_ Oh, that rug. I have been having rug lust lately.

3_ How cute are these leather coin purses by Jabelle? One in every color, please :)

4_ I'm not one to wear sneakers much but these are so simple and classic I find myself planning outfits around them. You should check out M Design Workshops other shoes. They are all handcrafted and the quality looks amazing.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Handy dandy bill-managing binder

If getting married thrust Keith and I into the "adult" category, buying a house locked us there.
We have a mortgage, people. It makes us feel very old. Very.... responsible?

After not one, but TWO, unnecessarily stressful tax filings a few years back I learned that there is a benefit to having all important papers filed in one location. NOT tucked into a random "safe place" here, there and everywhere. Thus was the beginning of my obsessive paper filing habit. And can I just say I am so glad I learned the importance of proper paper management when I did? It made both the marriage/name changing and the house-buying experiences so much easier.

Fast-forward to the present and we now have a steady inflow of important papers that must be managed. We call them Bills. For some absurd reason I thought that because they were coming and going rapidly I didn't need to have a system for filing them. That tossing them in the drawer was acceptable.
Umm, yeah. The Bill Drawer. That was quickly getting out of control. After only one month - one month - just opening that draw was an exercise in stress management.
Fortunately, I spend [excessive amounts of] time on Pinterest and am aware that there are clever people using clever systems for managing their money flow. I now click on those pins instead of scrolling past. It was through one of those clicks that I learned that a filing bills in a binder is a good way to start.
*duh, Shakti*

 Check out the chicken picture that is stuck in the cover. *Whaaaat?*

Binder it up I did. After embarking on an archaeological dig through the pile of college debris, I found a great big binder AND a few plastic dividers with pockets - which have proven to be super handy.

Currently, the system is that each bill gets it's own color-coded divider. The current bill is slipped in the divider pocket then once it has been paid, the remaining invoice is hole-punched and put on the binder rings. While I'm adding the invoice to the binder, I jot the date it was mailed and the amount sent because I've also learned that it can be very helpful to know when you did something.

So far, all seems well. In fact, last weekend, Keith and I sat down with our chicken binder and conquered the bills in the most orderly and UNstressful way. It probably would have been downright enjoyable if we weren't sending away large clumps of money.

So anyways, that is the current bill management system. I'm still doing quite a bit of reading about how to put together a practical budget - especially since our house was empty for so long that the utility companies couldn't give us a monthly estimate or put us on a budget plan.
I've heard a great deal of good about the Mint app for keeping track of spending so I think I will give that a go.  I'm definitely taking suggestions though. Any recommendations as to how Keith and I should maintain our new found level or responsibility? ;)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Let there be Order

It's funny how sometimes you just need to start. Even if it's a tiny start. Like diving into full scale room organization by starting with a sewing box. 

When I mentioned that the craft room looks like it's been looted and ransacked I wasn't kidding. It's so bad. So overwhelming. The plan is to dedicate a chunk of this weekend to applying some order and organization. And maybe some paint (!!!!) Keith has volunteered to help me work in there and I intend to take full advantage of his offer. Little does he know. He has not seen my to-do list for that room ;)

On a side note... Is anyone else so, so thrilled that it is the weekend? The past few days have been wonderfully full but also a bit intense. I am grateful for the change of pace the next few days will bring. Let's soak it in, shall we?

Monday, January 13, 2014

life lately


1_ Trying something new for our upcoming Open House invitations.

2_ Embarking on the Perfect Color Quest. My craft room needs a fresh, soothing color and a whole lot of organization. It's looking a bit like pirates looted the place.

3_ It is so nice to have furniture. We are really enjoying not sitting on the stairs.

Friday, January 10, 2014

De & Con Struction - part 2

Painting in Keith's office area
In De & Con part 1, we left off with the drywall up, the mudding done, and the room ready to be painted. At this point in the story my mom, whom I love dearly, volunteered her and the rest of my family to do the job. Nothing brings joy to my heart like turning my sisters into slaves. Kidding! Sorta.

Anyways, let's talk paint and primer for a wee second, shall we?
In the way of primer, I prefer Kilz. On a couple of occasions, one here at the house, one at church, I've used Zinsser primers. Both times I've been severely unimpressed. As in I will not buy it again. I will drive to the other side of town to get Kilz.  It took multiple coats of Zinsser to get passable coverage whereas Kilz - we used Premium Stain Block because it's low VOC on the walls - covers all in one coat. It covered paint, plaster, drywall, and wood with no problems.
My opinion on paint is a this:  Anything but Valspar. That stuff is not good. Not rolled from the tray, not sprayed from the can. Stay away from Valspar. On the other hand, I had heard very good things about paint/primer combos because of their one coat coverage abilities. So, will this tiny bit of knowledge and a Dutch Boy paint chip, we landed on Pittsburgh Ultra Interior paint and primer combo. It is nice paint. It goes on smoothly, with virtually no splatter or dripage and covers in one coat. Well done, Pittsburgh.  The only bad thing, which is really just more of an annoyance, is that it separates quickly and needed to be stirred nearly every time I refilled the paint tray.


Since my family was coming over and I was going to have all this FREE labor I decided we would also paint Keith's den/office. Everything was then pulled away from the walls and the curtain tossed on the heap. Right around this time, when our house seemed like it couldn't quite get any messier, our two loveseats - which weren't supposed to be in till mid January - arrived. So there was even more shuffling of construction paraphernalia and furniture. It was kinda crazy. But we pressed on and the paint went up and the room was one step closer to looking fantastic.

Once the painting was completed, all that was left was to put the trim back in place and add the little shelf.  Keith set about hanging the top board first and then chopping the vertical boards to size (remember how I said we were dropping the board and batten height so that it was level with the top of the hutch?). We quickly learned that every vertical board had to be cut to a different length. This sort of delay I call "Old House Joy". We love our old house and all its wonky-ness.
So while Keith was tackling the vertical board height differential (dad, Kali, did I use that word correctly?), I set about staining the new, shelf boards and sanding yesteryear's paint smears off the old boards.

As anyone who's ever tried matching stain knows: it's kinda challenging. The trim in our house is fairly dark so first we tried Dark Walnut by Rust-oleum, certain that we had beaten the odds and picked the perfect color match on the first try. Quickly we realized that we were color matching failures and would need to make another trip to Lowes for something with a red tinge.  Bombay Mahogany by Minwax was the chosen one as it looked very dark with a subtle red tint. It was crazy red and not really what we were looking for either BUT when we layered the two together, Dark Walnut followed by Bombay Mahogany, perfection was had. Of course, this perfection was not without its cost - double the dry time. Because we were layering differing brands I thought it would be prudent if the first coat of stain was given time to dry thoroughly lest there be a weird reaction and we have to start anew. Fortunately, the stains became fast friends and all appeared well enough to hang the shelf boards. "Hanging" might not be quite the right term as the shelf boards were really just mounted on top of the trim. Because it was resting on the top of the board and batten, which was holding most of the weight, we used a combination of wood glue and finishing nails to strap everything together.

Now lets take a moment to remember....


See how the hutch and the board and batten align now? *sigh* So. Much. Better.
I would also like to note that the top and bottom ARE painted different colors. Sometimes they do this magic trick where they look the same

So that wraps up our first excursion into wall renovating. Now about that chandelier.... 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

It be freezing

Actually, more than freezing. Indiana has become the tundra.
So. Much. Snow. And cold.
My hat goes off to you, my Canadian friend, because these double-digit negative temperatures are crippling.


We did venture outside Sunday afternoon long enough to unbury the vehicles so as to move them into the garage. Since you are now wondering why they weren't in there to begin with, let me tell you. A previous owner of the house put a pole in the middle of the garage, an intrusive loft stairway on the side, and lost the remote to the garage door opener. The opener may or may not even work since they also forgot to run power it and we therefore have no way to test it. This concoction of inconveniences causes us not to use the garage. Except when we are really desperate. Like when the Tundra blows down.

You can clearly see how prepared we are by that ridiculously tiny scraper ;) It was quickly abandoned in favor of the almighty Shovel.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Candy Cane Express

Remember when I shared a train ticket invitation I created?
Well, I would now like to show off the decor for the Candy Cane Express: Breakfast with Santa event because the decorating team did a fantastic job.


So cute it hurt, right?
The awesome thing is that most of the decor was created using pretty basic, on-hand materials. The train was constructed of painted cardboard boxes and the peppermint candies are painted paper plates. genius!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

3 things I've re-learned


The above picture has nothing to do with this post. 
It's simply a shot from the last trip we took to Florida.

3_ It might sound delicious but store-bought chocolate milk does not good creamer make.
Just stick to plain milk + sugar when the tasty creamer is gone.

2_ If you don't know if you like it then you... DON'T
Don't get it just because it's cheap.

1_ Save early. Save often.
Just do it.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

De & Con Struction

Not too long ago our dining room was red and brownish with a cracking, water damaged plaster wall.
You might remember it from this little peek. It was not what we called nice. Certainly not what we call pretty.

I am pleased to announce that the walls have been given a lift and that room is looking rather perky. Mega better and more us. However, before I go showing it off, let's rewind a bit and look at the process.

Here is the water damaged wall that started it all. From the picture it's hard to tell just how warped and cracked the plaster in the corner above the door really was but you can also note the condition of the wood floor in the corner. Water does really terrible things inside houses and that wall was not looking so good. Fortunately, the water problem had been solved and the aftermath is all that we had to deal with. Since we have yet to get furniture for that room we figured now was the time to fix it.

Because Keith's dad filled our heads with plastering horror stories about the difficulties of getting a smooth, even finish we decided that drywall was our best bet. Right or wrong that is the road we took.  Basically, we chose not to cut out the old, damaged plaster and work a patch in but to replace the entire wall with drywall.  Maybe it was more work but it was the only way we could guarantee ourselves a good looking end result. Therefore, the board and batten (which is actually just trim boards, no large, flat panels here) had to come off for the demo.

Pulling off the board and batten on this wall then triggered another thought. An added "fix". One that had me asking Keith, "How hard would it be to pull off all the board and batten to drop it down so it lines up with the top of the hutch?" You see, my grid-loving, graphic designer eye just could not handle that the top shelf of the built in hutch did not align with the board and batten. Seriously, I know most people didn't notice the misalignment, but it was like a knife in my eye. I might have done a happy jig when Keith said it wouldn't be hard. Then I thought, "If we are going to be changing up the trim, let's add a handy dandy little picture shelf to the top. Then we shall not have to put nails in the remaining plaster walls. Girl, you are a genius!"

This "genius" is what lead to our living room looking like this:

Nothing like a good ol' pile of rug and boards to make a room look cozy.

But getting back to our wall fix...
Once the woodwork was removed, the doorway tarped off, the drop cloth laid, then the plaster was demolished.  Surprisingly, the lath boards underneath the plaster were still in great condition. We were expecting, dreading,  serious warping or even mold. Since there was none of that we left it and hung the drywall on top of the lath.

Then came the taping and mudding. Believe it or not, 100 years of paint had built the walls up enough that when we removed the top board and batten trim there was a bit of a trench. Not only did the new drywall need mud, but so did the entire perimeter of the room.

And that is the beginnings of wall revival in our house.
While I've crammed it all together in this post, do not be deceived about the timeline. This took place over the course of a week, not a day. We are total newbs to drywall and were working on this in the evenings after work and dinner.  It was kinda slow going. BUT SO WORTH IT. It looks so good now that it's finished!

To be continued...

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Let's go deep, 2014

As is typical to this time of year, I've been thinking about New Year's resolutions. Pondering. Realizing that I've heard the word resolution so many times I'm not precisely sure what it means any more.

So I looked it up in Merriam-Webster and Free Dictionary.
: the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc. : the act of resolving something
: an answer or solution to something
: The state or quality of being resolute; firm determination.
: A course of action determined or decided on.

So with that bit of information I started trying to prioritize what life problems I wanted to slay. To charge after with firm determination.
But then I thought, "What real problems do I have? I've been so blessed."

My husband. He is awesome and so much more than I deserve. And my family. Oh, I love my fam.
We have a house that is more than we even thought to pray for.
I have further developed 2 passions: event branding and hand lettering.
We went to Florida twice.
I won a design contest.
I finished my second degree and GOT A JOB.
This year has been fantastic. Not without it's share of frustration, tears, and hard lessons learned but still so good.

So on the idea of goodness I came up with one over-arching Goal for 2014:
Live deeper.
To hone in on my passions and the people I care about and to quit feeling guilty that I can't do and be all.  To live a fuller, richer life.

Not to give a false impression that life is without its issues and inconveniences. Yes. Obviously, there are problems and issues in the day-to-day that need dealing with.  My life is good but I don't live in some charm bubble. We still have student loans to pay and the list of house fixes is so long and expensive it makes me queasy BUT hopefully being purposeful about going deeper will slay problems and keep goodness rolling simultaneously.