Party Progress

I am exhausted!!

There’s nothing like carrying around an extra 30lbs to make previously only mildly tiring tasks completely backbreaking, like cleaning the house for example. After cleaning the inside of the house from top to bottom I felt like I had been run over by a bus! The advent of the third trimester this past sunday may be just the excuse I’ve been looking for to finally hire cleaning help.

As hard as I worked, Jeff worked twice as hard on the outdoors because it was the last weekend before his BBQ birthday party next weekend and so much to do..

Starting with finishing the fence. He made it shorter overall, shortened the posts  and of course painted it white and it looks so much better! Thanks for all of your suggestions about the post heights etc. Some pics:

New White Picket Fence! 

You’ll notice too that the cherry tree has been raining pink petals on us ALL weekend, which is rather a drag when it rains and you are trying to clean your house.. and there are mushed up pink petals EVERYWHERE.

Jeff also built a cute gate for the fence.  We painted it the same color as our deck (BM celtic blue, a light blue grey) but we quickly realized that color wasn’t working well:

Jeff insists it must be a color, not white, but a little photoshopping shows me it’s better in white:

Unfortunately, after seeing it right under the pictures above with no gate, I’m actually realizing I like it better without the gate. (Sorry babe!) It just looks so closed off with it there – I like being able to see the pathway up to the house.  Hmm, we’ll see how that one turns out, Jeff is pretty attached to his gate being that he built it from scratch ‘n all.

Jeff also stained the front porch and deck. As you may recall, the deck was looking fabulously shabby chic with it’s chippy color. Personally I liked it that way, but I your responses indicated I was in the minority. I didn’t take a picture of the deck after it was restained but you can see it in the following pictures of our next weekend accomplishment: the new patio set.

No exhausting weekend would be complete without a trip to Ikea now would it?

We originally went in search of the Applaro outdoor table that Nicole blogged about recently.  But somewhere along the mazelike path of the self serve section I found these hot pink and orange Greno chair pads that set me off into a whole different design direction that dictated that the set must be white!

In my defense it does go better with our existing wicker chairs.. see:

New Ikea Malaro outdoor table, bench and two folding chairs. Sommar lantern and Lavaro indoor/outdoor rug.   (Notice the newly stained deck..)

We also put out the new cushions for set under the pergola, just to see how everything would look:

Now we just have to figure out an umbrella shade situation given that an umbrella under the pergola is wierd, and our new little patio table doesn’t have a hole for an umbrella.

I thought we could buy one with a tilt and just place it to the side of the new set because it is quite small.. The christmas tree shop of all places has one that would match quite well, the pole is white plastic which I ordinarily would hate but would seem to go well with the white furniture. The fabric is an orangish red which would look nice with the cushions. It’s only $49, so can’t go too wrong!

For the pergola, I’d be best off finding an outdoor fabric and custom sewing something with grommets that we can hook onto the pergola… except I don’t really know where to find the fabric, remember how to sew or know how to put on a big grommet.

Some progress was made in the nursery and office, more on that later – I have to go take a nap!

Outdoor Cushions Have Arrived!

My new outdoor cushions from LL Bean arrived last night.. and guess what? I love them – not even a little bit of buyer’s remorse, which is highly unusual for me.

And.. they even fit the right way on, I don’t have to turn them sideways!

I love the combination of mango and aqua. Now I just need an umbrella.

So what do you all do with your outdoor cushions to keep them looking good? Do you put a cover on your whole set when you are not using them? Do you put the cushions indoors or in an outdoor storage bin or do you just leave them out all summer and take them in in the winter? I don’t want our new cushions succumbing to the fate of our old white ones. That wasn’t pretty!

Elsewhere around the outdoors…

The Lilacs are in Bloom

The deck and porch have been sanded and await a sunny weekend day to repaint/stain. Jeff also got most of the way through building (at long last) our picket fence. It still needs painting and a gate but here it is in progress:

picket fence in progress

I can’t put my finger on it, but there is something “off” about it. Obviously it will look better painted white and with a gate, but it seems to block too much of the rhoddies and greenery inside. Or maybe its just the proportions in general, but do you think its that it needs to be shorter? 

Progress in the Nursery!

It was a busy weekend at becoming-home!

Before going on, I must post a picture of our Cherry tree that is now in full bloom because it takes my breath away every time I pull into the driveway:

Saturday was cold and rainy so we took the opportunity to make a trip to Ikea where we picked up the really long Hemnes dresser.  Thanks for all your opinions on the matter, it definitely helped me make up my mind, which is no easy thing. I only hope that we don’t realize once it’s set up that its mammoth proportions are just too much for our little nursery.. we’ll see!

We also finished painting the Nursery! I really like the color, Benjamin Moore “Crystal Blue” although I may have gone a tad darker in retrospect.. maybe halfway between this and the next color on the color strip “Robin’s Egg blue.”  Fortunately, or unfortunately (depending on how you look at) it we decided on using BM’s low VOC aura paint both for baby’s health and mine while painting. The paint is around $50 a gallon so painting over things is quite a bit more painful.

Here are a few pics just to show the color..

aqua blue nursery

That’s the glider I scored for $125 at a consignment sale and the crib sheets we plan on using. 

Opposite corner of room.
We removed the craigslist dresser from the room, but the vanity is staying until the crib comes because A) We have no idea what to do with it and B) I plan on using it as long as I can because it’s so useful to have a place to put my makeup on in the morning.

We hung these curtains I had left over from an Ikea trip last year. You can’t tell from the picture so much but they have cut outs of branches which goes nicely with the birds leaves and trees in the “orchard” bedding (which Jeff calls “the partridge family sheets.”)

What we really need is inner window treatments though, and once we get those these outer curtain panels may stay or more likely go..?

Here are the only two I can find that I’m considering, luckily both are really cheap (around $25 each) at pottery barn:

Drape shades from pottery barn.

They also have these on clearance (i.e. no returns):

ribbon shades

Ribbon shades from Pottery Barn.

The ribbon shades are nice because they add some much needed color to the window area.. but its the wrong shade of blue. Still, I think it would be easier to attach my own ribbon to these than the other shades. But if I get lazy and don’t want to do anything, the first all white shades are better. Plus, if I decide they don’t work in this room at all, I can use them in our dining room. Hmmm.

Either way, I’m waiting until our LLBean outdoor seat cushions arrive in case I hate them and need to order the pottery barn ones.  Nothing if not a procrastinator!

Hope you had a nice weekend too :)

Nursery Furniture

I usually post baby and nursery stuff over at becoming-mom, but you all are my go to peeps when it comes to design and decor decisions so indulge me for a sec..

We have decided on this mod looking crib and sheet set from Walmart of all places:

The room is really small, and we need to maximize space but also need storage space for baby Jasper’s clothes. So rather than get a separate changing table and dresser, I definitely want to get a dresser that we can put a changing pad on top of.

The changing table/dresser that goes with the crib is a lot narrower that we can fit, even though it is actually bigger in person than it looks:

They also make a matching higher dresser (that cannot be a changing table):

So my question is do you think it would look stupid to put these two next to eachother? Not ideal, but at least I’d have matching furniture and plenty of storage.

Or, instead of these two pieces I could get the Ikea Hemnes 8 Drawer dresser which is really wide and the perfect height to use as a changing station:

BTW, here is a pic of the changing table in someone else’s nursery (I WISH I had that scrumptiously chocolate colored glider chair!)

What to do?

Off topic, but I knew you all would appreciate these fabulous vintage wallpaper decals I posted about on becoming-mom today!

How are you going to spend your Tax Rebate?

Ok, technically its called Economic Stimulus Payment and for the record I’m totally against the whole principle of these but that doesn’t mean I can’t think of eight bazillion ways to spend it!

Here are a few we’re considering:

Visio flat screen TV, $749 from Costco.com

If you saw the configuration of our bed and the tv in our bedroom, you’d know why we NEED this as opposed to just WANT it. Ok, maybe need is a strong word, but you get the idea.

Cannon Digital Rebel Xsi (the NEW model) $889.99 from amazon.com

Not that you would EVER guess it from looking at the pics on this here blog, but I used to be a fairly decent photographer back in the pre-digital days when I had a manual SLR. The digital revolution and my adopting a digital point and shoot as my primary camera cured me of any previously displayed talent rather quickly. I’ve been dreaming of the best of both worlds (digital & SLR!) for quite some time now, and the impending arrival of becoming-baby is just the excuse I’ve needed to take the plunge. He’s only going to be a baby once and damned if I’m going to take crappy pictures of that special time. Oh yeah, the house pics will look a whole lot better too (no more blurry low light pics because I refuse to use the flash!)

bugaboo chameleon

Bugaboo Chameleon 2007 model stroller, on sale for $719 at bugaboostrollers.com (not in that color)

I must say that when I first heard all the fuss about the bugaboo I rolled my eyes and thought how could anyone spend that much on a stroller? But after trying out all the knock offs in an effort just to avoid the original I finally broke down and it was LOVE. Not so much for the looks, because there are tons of cool looking euro strollers out there, but because it weighs almost 10lbs less than all those other ones. I didn’t think of weight as a major factor until I actually tried lifting those 30+ lb monstrosities in person, and now its on the top of my list of features.

And lastly, French doors to replace the crappy old sliding glass doors that lead from our dining room to the patio.

Existing craptastic sliding glass doors that don’t lock properly and are really drafty.

Paned french patio doors would go so much better with the french doors that go from the living room to the dining room don’t you think? Or is it better to get the unpaned kind so better to see the back yard? I’m thinking paned, but you know how I am about decisions.

So how are you thinking of spending your government check? Or are you planning on being a bad consumer and (gasp!) paying off debt or saving it?

PS, you can use this link to figure out how much you are going to get http://www.irs.gov/app/espc/ 

And this chart to figure out when you are going to get it:

If you sign up for direct deposit on your tax return, find the last two digits of your Social Security number to determine when the tax rebate will be deposited into your account:
00 – 20, May 2
21 – 75, May 9
76 – 99, May 16

If you didn’t sign up for direct deposit, expect a paper check in the mail during these dates, according to the last two digits of your Social Security number:
00 – 09, May 16
10 – 18, May 23
19 – 25, May 30
26 – 38, June 6
39 – 51, June 13
52 – 63, June 20
64 – 75, June 27
76 – 87, July 4
88 – 99, July 11

Wow, that was quick!

So those of you that have been reading for a while know that I have a hard time making decisions. And that may just be the understatement of the century!

But I must say, I’m quite proud of myself because I just ordered cushions for our outdoor seating set. Yes, already!!  I suppose it has something to do with the fact that we have a party coming up in 3 weeks, otherwise I may have hemmed and hawed a good ‘nother month at least.

After much surfing, I finally settled on cushions from LLBean of all places in this fabric:

Cheerful no?

I have to say that these chair pads from pottery barn came in a very close second, as they were so reasonably priced and had cute patterns and prints:

But with the exception of 4 ho hum colors, these aren’t made with sunbrella fabric, just some poly that is supposedly mildew and fade resistant. After the walmart seat cushion disaster I wasn’t taking any chances!

Speaking of which, I found a photo of my walmart seat cushions before they became bird toilet paper and almost cried, they look so pristine and spa-like:

Ah, white cushions RIP.

My only concern is that the cushions I ordered have ties and I have to use them sideways in our chairs to fit them properly…but I can just cut off the chair ties right? The walmart ones didn’t even have ties.  Also, I hope the striped pattern isn’t TOO cheerful. I’ll keep you posted!

Spring is in the Air..Crap, Another Party

The blooming of the Cherry tree in our front yard:

Cherry tree in bloom

and other sundry signs of spring:

inspired us in a moment of weakness to declare that we needed to have an “In bloom” house party in the next few weeks. This time frame also coincides with Jeff’s birthday, so it seemed like a good idea at the time…

Until this morning I awoke with flashbacks to our Housewarming party. In case you don’t remember, it invovled last minute sink installations, a very drunk husband, and me running around trying unsuccessfully to keep everything together. And that was the non-pregnant-30lb-lighter-more-agile-nimble-version of me!

At this point in my pregnancy the idea of cleaning the house, or shopping for all those groceries etc seems massively unappealing.  

Oh well, the evite is already out of the bag so to speak.. I’ll just have to play the pregnancy card shamelessly and often (Oh, sorry, we’re out of beer? I’m pregnant! What, the bathroom is filthy? I’m pregnant you ingrate!!)

So needless to say, there are may preparations in order, many of which are not so small. Such as sanding and staining the deck for instance.  Another optional project is insalling the french doors in place of the crappy sliding glass doors that we’ve been wanting to do for some time now.

Did I mention we also have a half painted nursery and upstairs bathroom?

Perhaps the most urgent task of all however, is finding new outdoor seat cushions. You may recall that in a moment of pure hubris, I ordered these WHITE (yes I said white) cushions from walmart last year to match your outdoor set. Yeah, shocker of all shockers they didn’t last the season. So now I have to find replacement cushions for this rather unstandard sizes:

Chairs: 3″D x 19″W x 20″L

Bench: 3″D x 18.5″W x 43.5″L

Anyone seen any in that size? Bonus if they are the gorgeous aqua blue like the ones in this set from Walmart!

Granite Backsplash After!

As you may have guessed by my lack of posting, the granite backsplash didn’t get done the weekend before last as it was supposed to. I guess the standard height of a granite backsplash is 4″ but we only had about 3.25″ under the window casings behind the sink. Jeff didn’t tell the granite guy because he figured we could cut the casings more.

Mind you I didn’t discover any of this until the granite guy was already at our house with the granite, which was unfortunate because had I been asked I would have said I wanted the backsplash as LOW as possible, whereas 4″ was higher than the previous laminate backsplash that was there, so it was taking some difficult mental adjustments (and an angry outburst or two) to get used to the idea of more backsplash.

Luckily for me, the granite guy didn’t think it would be easy to trim the window casing behind the sink because it was too close to the faucet. He said he would recut the pieces and come back the next weekend no problem.

PHEW! I really didn’t want that 4″ backsplash.

He came as promised this weekend and the second he layed in the pieces I was in love. It is now in the category of things that I can’t believe we didn’t do sooner.

I had to run out and I had left my camera card at work so I wasn’t able to get after pictures before Jeff put back all of our appliance clutter, but I did take a few seconds to record this video.

First, the before picture again:

and now, after video (sorry its a little dark)!

What do you all think?

Dinner at the Castle

If you have to have an extravagant dinner at a castle, I highly recommend finding one where you can eat in front of a roaring fireplace with an amazing jazz ensemble playing in the background and a flourless chocolate cake with warm gooey insides for dessert.

One word: Heaven!

In other (house) news, we are finally, at long last going to get the 4″ granite backsplash installed in the kitchen tomorrow! It’s only been what, 6 months now since I originally posted about this issue?

In the picture below, you can see both the temporary solution we have rigged (which is actually just a scrap piece of granite our granite guy left us!) and also the gap above it just behind the faucet in the window casing:

The final impetus to get off our butts and DO it was that thanks to the holes left in the window casings by the previous kitchen counter that are now exposed there is kritter access from the inside of the house to the kitchen. Let’s just leave it at that.

In this picture, you can kind of see where the backsplash will extend to beyond the sink, it will basically go where you see the whiter/lighter band of color right above the counter top, so from the sink wrapped around to the stove:

Most of that ugliness is currently hidden by our toaster, coffee maker and other sundry appliances but I know its there.. plus, once it’s installed, we also have no excuse not to put up the subway tile in that corner that we’d been planning on doing all along.

BTW, I LOVE our granite guy.. you know what he’s charging us for this? $225. Can’t beat that with a stick.

After pictures on Monday, have a good weekend!

Happy Two Year Anniversary Jeff!

Two years ago today our closest friends and family joined us in celebrating the best day of our lives.. and it was everything we could have ever asked for. The love and joy that was showered on us that day was the perfect magical beginning to our marriage, and a blessing that we will carry with us the rest of our lives…

To two years and many more, I love you more than words can say!