Monday, February 28, 2011

New Casa: Now I Know Why They Call It a "Sweet"

Sorry for the play on sound in the title. I can't help it; I am an English teacher and get all giddy when being pun-ny. Even though our Master Sweet/Suite needs a serious face lift, we are loving having a bathroom right.there and tons of closet space.

Here's the view from the doorway. The bed is on the right, the dresser with the fun drawer liners in on the left, and the fireplace with 70's-tastic paneling is straight ahead.

Here's a closer pic of the mantle. It is pretty much an instant replay of our former master mantle with our bathroom art mixed in, but it is just a placeholder. Nothing is permanent at this point.

Here's the bed from the same vantage point as the above pic. I have big plans for that sea of brown bed linens. (In fact, I spent much of the weekend obsessively trying to find the perfect duvet or fabric for our new room. I will share findings and the front runner of the paint colors tomorrow.)

And below are the hub's double closets. He is thrilled to get to keep his clothes in the same room that he sleeps in. In our last house, the closet was only big enough to hold my clothes, so his were banished to the guest bedroom. (The only thing banished in this house is his hideous dresser, which is cleverly hidden on the left side of his closet so I can shut the doors when I tire of looking at it.)

To the left of the door (pictured above), is my closet and the master bathroom.

As you can see, my closet needs to go through yet another round of purging. All my clothes, shoes, and accessories fit, but just barely. I am realizing that I have a real problem.

And here's the bathroom.

We are hoping to widen it (by bumping out the wall on the right into the huge dining room), as well as replace the horrible vanity (which is super low for us tall folk) and the other hideous finishes. Oh, and I can't forget the best part:

Yep, right across from the commode is the only full length mirror in the house. I don't know what genius though this was a good idea, but no one needs to see what they look like using the loo. Something must be done to remedy this situation right away!

While all these changes might seem rather superficial, the shower does need some serious triaging.

Our lovely faux-tile shower insert (which we thought was real tile before we bought the house) is not attached to the wall at all! I know it's hard to tell from the photo above, but there is about a 1" gap for moisture to have a field day in between the shower insert and the bathroom wall. Yikes! Looks like someone will get getting out his caulking gun in the not-too-distant future. (Really guys, stop snickering and grow up already!)

But small changes, like bringing in our bath linens and shells from the old house, are already improving the space. As did removing this weird plastic thing.

Our best guess is that it's a holder for extra toilet paper, but my hairdryer seemed pretty comfy on it too, so who really knows?

Ahh, so much better with it gone!

I'll be back tomorrow with my nebulous visions of what the master bedroom might be. Stay tuned.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fashion Friday: Bridesmaid Blues Part II

 I need some serious input. Two of the J.Crew dresses that I wrote about here are now on sale - with an extra 30% off through Monday. The catch is that they are on FINAL sale, meaning I can't return them. While my size is consistent when it comes to J.Crew, I have concerns about the fit - at least for one of the dresses...

This is the dress that has me the most enchanted.

I adore the color, the sweetheart neckline, and the tiered ruffles. Oh, and did I mention it's $121 off its original price, which puts it within what I wanted to spend? So what's the problem?

Well, this side view has me a bit concerned that I might be swimming in layers of fabric.

You see, body skimming cuts tend to look better on me since I am more curvy on my bottom half than my top half. Ordering this dress would thus be a bit of a gamble, and I am not much for gambling.

The Erika dress is a much safer bet since I already own a J.Crew dress in a similar cut and I am sure that it will fit. It is about $45 less than the Soiree dress above, which is a definite bonus, but it's simplicity is looking more bland than classic by comparison. But on the flip side, that might mean that the dress will age better over the years than a trendier style...

As you can tell, I am rationalizing in circles here. It's time for an intervention. Should I go with the dress that has captured my fancy and run the risk that it may be too voluminous for my frame? Or should I go with the sure fit that's easier on the bank account? I have to make a decision by Monday, and I can't do it without you. Please help!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

More Head Trauma and Some Required Reading

The migraine bounced back today. Looks like we are going to have to postpone that tour of the master bedroom yet again. But I don't want to leave you high and dry, so here's a little eye candy for you to feast on, courtesy of a new e-zine, High Gloss.

I really enjoyed their feature on Jamie Meares' home. I particularly adore her bold use of color.

I am wishing I could just switch out our 70's fabulous rock fireplace for her painted brick one above. Maybe I am just missing having a mantle...

Her playful mix of patterns, textures, and objects also feels spot on to me.

I definitely need to inject some playfulness into this space, beyond just dressing up those naked walls with some color and art.

And did I mention that the color of this bedroom is exactly what I have been hoping to hit upon? It's a little more green than our old bedroom. I think I might have discovered a paint chip that perfectly captures this muddy green/blue/grey color. (More on that to come.) Unfortunately, this room's paint is the only color in her home not given in the mag. Drat!

Here's hoping the headache abates.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Coffee Toffee Cookies

I had planned on showing you around the master suite today, but unfortunately, a darn migraine thwarted my plans. (Migraine now averted, thankfully!)  So instead I thought I would share my recipe for Coffee Toffee Cookies. If you like Ben and Jerry's Coffee Heath Bar Crunch ice cream, then my friend, these cookies are for you.

Remember that empty cake stand from yesterday's post?

Well, the KitchenAid saw some action over the weekend and it is empty no longer! Here's the finished product:

And a close up...

Here's how to make them:

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon coffee
1-1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup toffee pieces

Cream butter and sugar. Add coffee, beating until well combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients about a third at a time until all the flour is just blended. Do not overmix.

*Note: At the point, the dough will look more crumbly than other cookies you may have made because there are no eggs to bind the dough. Don't worry! It will all, literally, come together.

Add the toffee pieces until just combined.

Turn the dough out onto some plastic wrap and form into a log. (Here's where the dough should come together.) Wrap dough log - mmm, sounds appetizing huh? - in plastic wrap and freeze for 45 mins to refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours.

Cut into 3/8 inch thick rounds...

And bake at 325 degrees for 13 mins. (They will look a tad undone in the middle. That's okay, as they will continue to cook when you take them out of the oven, and you don't want them to flatten too much.)

Let them cool for about 5 mins and enjoy! Happy eating!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Casa: The Kitchen

Yesterday I offered a quick tour of our whole home, but today and for the next week or so, I want to zoom in on various rooms throughout our home and explain the changes that we are dreaming up for each space.

Let's begin with the kitchen since that is the first room we fully unpacked and, for us especially, it's the center of our home.

Here's the kitchen as seen from the dining room.

To the right of the entry are the double ovens, a small counter space where we have set up our caffeine station, and the stove.

To the left of the stove is where I keep the utensils, knives, the canisters that house dry baking ingredients (flour and sugars), my beloved KitchenAid standing mixer, and the cookbooks I use the most often. So far this arrangement has been working out and helping me whip up cookies, cakes, and dinners.

What wasn't working was the paper towel holder that was attached to the underside of the cabinet, right above the knives and canisters. It was the first thing I removed in the new house; I did it pretty much the moment we moved in, and I was so eager to remove it that I forgot to snap a picture of the before and after. You have to trust me on this one. It was an eyesore.

The kitchen has a double sink with a garbage disposal, and the sink on the right is super deep, which is lovely. But it's baby diarrhea color is not. Perhaps that's why I didn't snap a pic...

To the left of the sink is a weird, dark little corner where I am trying to hide our dish rack, the microwave, and our water filter. Thankfully, the huge fridge - a Craigslist score for $300, no less - does a pretty good job of camouflaging this unsightly stuff.

To the left of the fridge is the door to the garage, and just beyond that is the counter that separates the kitchen from the dining room.

We currently have our fruit basket lounging on the counter, as well as the tin for dog treats, a cup for pens and scissors, and a cake stand that I hope will encourage me to bake. (It has. The story on that one later in the week.)

We hope to get some stools for the dining room side of the counter. But more than that, we want to refinish the cabinets, replace the yellowy-green tile countertops, and swap out the tile floor with hardwood.

Of course, we can't agree on what to do with the cabinets. Eventually we want to replace them, but the layout of the kitchen works for us, and while we are saving up, we thought we could just refinish/repaint them. The hubs likes stained wood, while I want to cover everything in paint. (Those who know us know we rarely agree on anything.) But I think we have found a middle ground: grey stained cabinetry.

Something like this...

Or maybe even something lighter like this, just without so much distressing.

We can't really decide if we like lighter or darker stains.

Or even something that tends towards a little more brown, but with grey undertones.

 But then I look at a graphite stain, and that looks pretty sweet too...

Thankfully, this project is not going down until summer at the earliest. (We have been warned that stripping cabinetry is not fun and takes But our plan as it stands right now is to strip the backside of a cabinet and try out various stains to find the one we like. Until then, what are your thoughts? 

(P.S. I forgot to jot down where the above pics came from, so if one of them is yours or you know who to credit, please let me know so I can give people their proper due.)

Monday, February 21, 2011

New Casa: The Tour

I am back! The last week has been a tad trying: we had no internet for 6 days (!), and of course mountains of boxes to shelp to the new casa and then unpack and organize - all while still trying to hold down our 9-5 jobs. If only you could put life on pause for big life events like moving! A girl can dream, right?

Now that we have internet and are getting settled in, I thought I would share what the house looks like with some furniture in it. The entry, the kitchen, and the master are fully unpacked, so let's start there before we head into the chaos of the other rooms.

Here's the view from the front door:

On the left is the master bedroom. Let's take in a peek in there, shall we?

Back out into the entry and to the right is our open kitchen/dining/living room. You land first in the dining room, which looks a little something like this right now:

Here's the sideboard with a make-shift bar on the wall opposite the dining room table:

(You can see that some of the china and stemware is unpacked, but most of it is still in boxes. Don't worry, we have a plan!)

To the right of the dining room is the kitchen, which is fully functional these days and a joy to cook in. (Recipes to come soon!)

Here you can really get a sense of where the kitchen is in relation to the dining room.

And on the opposite side of the dining room is the living room... which is looking halfway decent these days. 

Here's the decent half. 

And here's the less put together half.

As you may have guessed from the boxes trying to make a cameo appearance in some of the above photos, there is still much to unpack. Here's the tour of our home's seedy underbelly.

Notice the boxes lurking around the counter in the dining room.

And here's the smaller of the two back bedrooms, which I plan on using as an office.

And perhaps the worst of all is the guest bedroom/the mister's office, which is literally functioning as a dumping ground. 

So there you have it! That's what our place looks like so far, a mere 10 days in. You can see we have lots of work ahead of us, but we are taking it box-by-box and day-by-day. 

The pups have taken a much more relaxed attitude towards the whole thing. After an initial three days of confusion, they have been doing a whole lot of this:

Ah, life is good. Back tomorrow and the rest of this week with more detailed tours of each room.