Sunday, October 20, 2013

Feeling the Blog-Blah

I obviously haven't been around much, lately.  I haven't felt like there is anything going on in my life that is really blog worthy - nothing that others would want to read.  SO, I've been taking a break and enjoying what's going on around me.  I've taken more pictures and had more fun in the weeks that I haven't been posting than when I felt like I needed to take pictures and have stories ready to post.

My race is over, we live in an apartment (so there's nothing fun going on in my world of decorating), I don't have much extra money lying around to DIY/craft with and unlike most of the bloggers I follow, I am NOT having a baby - so I've been feeling like I don't have much to share.

I'll come back to more regular posts, but I have some busy weekends ahead and I don't want to feel an obligation to have 3 posts a week ready before I pack, before I go out of town to enjoy my friends and family.

Stay tuned - I'll be back here and there, and I'll have some good stuff to share... once I find it.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Half Marathon Recap

I cannot believe that we are half way through this week already!!  I have no idea where the first two days of the week went, but I know they FLEW by!

WELL, I officially survived my half marathon and really, I more than survived - I think it did a great job!

Last week started with me staying home sick and let me tell you, when you are trying to hydrate, a stomach bug is the LAST thing you want.  After a lot of sleeping on Tuesday, I felt much better on Wednesday and worked hard to get hydrated.  I ended up only done 1 training run before the half, but it was a good one and I finished that on Wednesday feeling ready to go!  I decided on that day that my ultimate goal was to PR, but I was going to approach the run with the plan to try and run a 2:10:00 race, which is a 9:55 min/mile pace.

On Friday, we went and picked up my packet and talked to one of the pace group leaders and I got this really handy temporary tattoo.

We went out for an awesome dinner with my parents and a couple of aunts and uncles (my uncles were also running in the race) and had a nice evening with everyone!

We woke up early (I hate mornings) and I ate some breakfast and we headed downtown.  It was amazing how much smaller the races were than what I ran the first time.  I knew it would be, but it was still a shock to me when it was so comfortable and not crowded in the corrals before the race.  The race started at 8:00 am and as soon as the cannon sounded, we were OFF!

J and my parents had planned a walking route where they were able to see me 3 times in the race - around mile 3, 5 and 9 and then we planned where to meet after the race.  The first four miles were down the same street - one long straight shot, and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  Mile 1 really sneaked up on me, and before I knew it, I saw J and my parents!  I was actually feeling pretty good at 5K

I saw them again at 5 miles, and was still feeling really good.  When I saw them at 9, I felt like I was starting to fade and get tired.  Miles 9-13 were tough - there were some challenging hills and when I got to 9 and started to feel tired, I decided that I wanted to have a strong finish, but I was not going to try to kill myself to get to 2:10:00.

I finished in 2:13:55 - my first half was 2:18:18.  Cutting those (approx) four and a half minutes from my time equates to running each mile about 21 second faster than I did the first time!  I was really happy with the way I ran the race.  I finished, I didn't walk or stop, I felt strong and I met my goal.

My (rounded) splits for the miles were:
Mile 1 = 10:31
Mile 2 = 10:03
Mile 3 = 9:57
Mile 4 = 9:55
Mile 5 = 9:46
Mile 6 = 9:55
Mile 7 = 10:00
Mile 8 = 10:06
Mile 9 = 10:15
Mile 10 = 10:37
Mile 11 = 10:40
Mile 12 = 10:53
Mile 13 = 10:11
13.1 = 2:13:55 = 10:13 minutes/mile

One of my uncles ran the 10K and the other ran the half, and they stuck around and waited for me when they were done.  It was awesome to hear them cheer for me when I came into the baseball stadium (where the finish line was) and it kept me going for that last 0.1 mile!  Here we are after the race...

I've been sore for the past couple days, but mostly just when I'm going down stairs/a hill and when I stand up after sitting for a long period of time.  I'm pretty sure I'm not going to lose any toenails this time around (hooray) and the worst thing I encountered on this race were the blisters on my toes...

When I got done with my first half, I didn't feel like continuing to running - I was tired of it.  This time, I don't really feel like that... I think I'll still want to get out and run.  Not this week (I'm taking the week off), but maybe a couple times next week  :)  I'm also feeling good about being able to reach my 2:10:00 goal next time!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Goals for Race Week

The week is finally here - less than 5 days until my second Half Marathon.  There are a few things that I'm going to REALLY focus on this week with the hopes that it will make me as prepared as possible for Saturday.

Running Schedule
I have to get 2 runs in this week - a 4 mile and a 3 mile and I HAVE to get them done today and Wednesday.  I want two days off between my 3 mile run and the race.

Time to carbo load!!!  This is never a problem for me... I love pasta.  I'm also planning to have a night of sweet potato hash, and probably beans and rice YUMMMMMM!

I also need to make sure I'm getting in some good protein, which means I'm probably going to get up and have an egg each morning - not something I'd normally do, but hopefully it will do my muscles good.

I can't go without my one morning cup of coffee - I just can't, but I'm going to get to work each day and start my morning with this...

The bottle and tall cup are 24 ounces each.  The small cup is 16 ounces.  In case you can't do the math, that's 8 cups of water... aka the recommended amount of water someone should drink EVERY DAY.  For me, this is something I have to focus on - this is something that I will only accomplish if the water is sitting on my desk staring at me, and I'll probably set some alarms for myself on my phone and/or calender that remind me to drink water.  My goal is to drink this much water EVERY DAY.

I really have to commit to stretching, icing and rolling (on my foam roller) every night this week.  I also need to make sure I'm getting away from my desk while I'm at work so I don't get stuff from sitting.  I'm guessing the 64 ounces of water will help - I have to get up to go to the bathroom.

Early to Rise, Early to Bed???  I know - that's backward, but that's how I have to do it.  It takes me forever to get sleepy at night.  It is not uncommon for me to be more awake at midnight than I am at 3 pm, but I have to get up early on Saturday morning and get going, so I'm going to have to practice!  It's going to be hard - my cousin has a game tonight (Go LA Sparks!!) and it doesn't start until 10 pm.  We have game night with friends tomorrow, so I'll be out later than normal on a weeknight.  BUT I am going to force myself to get up by 6:30 am every day this week and hopefully by Wednesday or Thursday night, I'll be ready for bed early.  I know to a lot of people 6:30 am probably seems like sleeping in, but I am rarely up before 7:30 am and it's usually 8 am so that's a big change for me!!

I am probably going to pack on Wednesday night and make sure I have everything on Thursday.  I'm heading out a little early on Friday afternoon so I want to be able to just pick J up and head to Fort Wayne so I can get my race packet and go have a delicious dinner with family on Friday night.  I'm going to have to give myself options.  I know what sports bra, shorts, socks and shoes I'm wearing.  I'm going to have to give myself some top options that will let me layer and probably find a long sleeved shirt that I don't mind dumping on the side of the road along the way.

I think if I can focus on my prep throughout the week, it will help to keep me from getting nervous about Saturday - I guess we will have to wait and see!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Last Weekend at the Lake

Last weekend was our last weekend at the lake before the construction begins.  We arrived on Friday evening to a beautiful sunset on a cool evening and I spent a few minutes at the end of the dock to enjoy the calm water and the beautiful sky.

The property has been in our family for a long time.  It was originally owned by my dad's grandparents and somehow, it ended up being handed down to my dad and my Uncle.  In the early 1990s, there was a storm that blew a tree over, and right through the middle of the original cottage I remember.  We rebuilt the house, from a small fisherman's cottage to a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house.  

My grandmother spent a number of years living here before she passed away, and while she was there, central air was added and a garage was built that is large enough to hold a car and a boat, with storage underneath.

Next week, construction materials will be delivered.  The roof is being raised on the house, and it's turning from a story and a half, to a full two story house with a master suite on the front.  Once that's complete, my mom and dad are going to move there full time and they will sell their house in Fort Wayne.  It's going to become a 4 bed, 3 bath house that should have plenty of room for visitors in the summer, and I can't wait to see how it all turns out!

We'll be up to the lake one more time in October to take the dock out, but we won't be able to stay there, so this was my last weekend at the lake house where my cousins and I grew up - where we had people sleeping all over the floor in the summer, and where I got to spend time with just my Grandma when I was in grad school in Indiana while my parents were still in Texas.

I'm excited for the next chapter of this house - the chapter that will eventually include my kids and my commitment to always have a place where my cousins and I can continue to gather!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wedding Wednesday - I Couldn't Resist

I know it's been a long time since I've done a Wedding Wednesday post, but I just could not resist when I saw this on Pinterest!  It took J and I a long time to come up with groomsmen gifts, and I know that if I'd seen this while we were planning, it would have been a STRONG contender!

Personalized Corkscrew and Multi-Tool - Groomsmen Gifts - Wedding Party Gifts - Wine Opener on Etsy, $12.00
As are so many amazing things, this is an Etsy product!  The seller (MyPersonalMemories) has a lot of great stuff on her site, but these are definitely my favorite!  I loved that it's something that's personalized, but more importantly USEFUL!  Don't get me wrong, the pocket watches we gave to our groomsmen were great, and I liked the idea, but I'm guessing they aren't carrying around in their pockets all that often.

You can check out this and all my pins on my Wedding Wednesday Pinterest Board!
Happy Hump Day!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

America the Embarrassing

I didn't watch the Miss America pageant last night - it's not something that I really care that much about, but when I saw on Twitter that this year's Miss America is has an Indian heritage, I thought it was great that the Melting Pot that is America was highlighted!

THEN, I saw some of the comments that were being made and I was totally embarrassed by the fact that people in this country are (a) so completely ignorant, (b) so incredibly mean and (c) so quick to share their stupidity from behind their Twitter handle.

Miss New York - now Miss America, is beautiful - and that's what it is... a beauty pageant.

Nina Davuluri, Miss New York 2013
No, her parents were not born in this country, but she was, or she wouldn't be eligible for the pageant.  She grew up here, she went to school here and she has been a citizen of this country from the time she was born.  Had her parents emigrated from Italy, would this conversation be happening?... probably not.  It is so disappointing and totally embarrassing to know that Americans are still so racist, still so ignorant and so closed minded to understand that the color of her skin, her kids skin, her grandkids skin and so on will likely never be "white".  There are a number of Americans with a different color of skin who are generationally more American than I am.  My grandfather wasn't born here - he was born in Greece, but he immigrated here, established himself as an American and proudly bought in to what American stood for.  There are people in this country whose skin is darker than mine, but whose families have been here longer - does that make me less American than them?

My hope is that the children of those people making negative and racist comments about our new Miss America can rise above the hate that their parents were taught and become better people than their ancestors, which is ultimately what we should all do - work to be the most accepting and united America that there has ever been.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Ready to Run

It's finally Friday and it has been a SUPER busy week for me! Luckily it was a good busy, one where a glass of wine on Friday evening is a perk instead of a necessity. 

Tomorrow is my last long run before my half marathon and lucky for me, my new running accessory came just in time for me to give it a try before the big day. 

My calves and ankles have really bothered me during training this time around, and compression socks have seemed the help. These are made for running and don't feel as tight as the ones I have been using so we will see how I feel tomorrow. 

On another note, I was excited to wake up this morning and put on jeans and a sweatshirt - it was in the 90s earlier this week and now we have a lovely 60 degree day!!! Hopefully this means that Fall is finally here!!!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11 - Always Remembering

It doesn't matter that it's 12 years later - every year on 9/11 I wake up and think about the day that I experienced on 9/11/01.  I woke up this morning and showered and as I got out of the shower, I looked at the clock - it was about 7:50 am, which is just about the time that my college roommate and I were awoken by her dad calling to let us know he was ok.

Her dad was a pilot for Northwest at the time, and when he called and woke us up, we had no idea what was going on.  We turned on the TV to see this site...

We sat there, still half asleep, but completely in shock and watched as the second plane hit the other tower.  From that point forward, we were glued to the TV - we sat there all day and watched... went downstairs and got food and brought it back to our room to watch more.  We watched the attack on the Pentago and sat both terribly sad yet extremely moved by the actions of the passengers on the plane that was diverted from its intended target and downed in Pennsylvania.  We were so lucky - her dad was not on any of the flights that day.

My mom worked at a high school in Texas where a number of the kids had parents who were either pilots or flight attendants.  They had a number of tense hours of trying to get a hold of parents and parents trying to get a hold of their kids.  They were lucky - no one was on any of the flights.

4 years later, as troops were still deployed, a friend of mine who was a Marine reserve was informed that he may be called overseas.  We were so hopeful that it wouldn't happen, but it did.  He was sent to Afghanistan to work with a very specialized unit, and not a day went by that I didn't think about him and pray for him.  We were lucky - he returned home safely. 

There were so many that were not so lucky - so many who were lost and whose friends and family are so greatly affected by that day.  So many families return to the site of the attacks each year to celebrate and remember the lives of the ones they lost.

I never understood what my parents felt when they talked about knowing exactly where they were when Kennedy was shot, until I experienced this day 12 years ago and I remember this day more vividly than I do most... I remember what we ate, what we talked about and how I felt as we watched and watched and watched.  I know I am lucky - that my memories, no matter how vivid, are memories of relief.  So, as I remember what my 9/11 was like 12 years ago, I pray for those whose days did not end in relief.

Monday, September 09, 2013

YUMMMM - Night out in Ann Arbor

This was the first weekend that we've been in Ann Arbor and I didn't have a lot going on at work.  We decided to stick around instead of going to the lake, and had a really great weekend with friends!

On Friday night, we went to a Club Rugby game (Michigan won - GO BLUE) and then decided we would head downtown.  Because it was Notre Dame football weekend, it was extra busy here and the couple of bars that we were talking about going to were extra busy.  We decided we were all hungry, so we decided to go for high quality food, and we went to Frita Batidos.  It's "Cuban Inspired Street Food" and it definitely did not disappoint!

We all had Fritas, which are basically hamburgers, BUT BETTER!  I had a Chorizo Frita, which the guy who took our order said is the original and the best.  I was also the only one who was brave enough to get it "Loco" - which means I got all the toppings on mine... Muenster Cheese, a Sunny Side Up Egg, Cilantro-Lime Salsa, Tropical Slaw and Avocado Spread.  All of the Fritas also come with shoestring fries on top and are served on a really delicious flaky egg bun.

And here it is...

That dish of stuff to the right is called "The Best Snack Ever" - coconut ginger rice, refried black beans, melted muenster and cilantro lime salsa.  I ended up taking it home with me.  It was good, but not as good as their Garlic Cilantro Fries that my friends got!!

It was definitely not cheap, but it was totally worth it and I'll definitely go back!!!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Guest Post -

Fall in Love With These Thrifty Seasonal Decorating Ideas

By Jennifer Osieczanek,

We've flipped the calendar to September, and while the heat isn't subsiding, pumpkin spice lattes are back, so let’s just pretend it’s fall, OK?

When the seasons shift outside, I like to bring a little of that magic inside. Here are a few tips to incorporate the essence of fall into your home without breaking the bank.

DIY decor. A simple project to bring fall into your home – quite literally -- is to frame four patterned sheets of paper with the letters FALL printed on them.

If you’re like me, you've somehow amassed a collection of picture frames not being used or are ready to part ways with a few of the pics you have on display around the house. Simply gather up four frames -- they don’t have to be the exact same size or style -- but make sure they are all one color. Black would be best and spray paint is your friend.
At a craft store, pick out four sheets of patterned paper in fall prints. Think oranges, deep reds and yellows or browns. Keep the patterns simple and delicate for a polished feel.
Cut the sheets of paper down to fit your frames.

The next step depends on whether you love your handwriting or have access to other crafting tools. I've got a Cricut, so I’d use that (find it at craft stores or Walmart) to cut the letters to spell “FALL” out of black construction paper.

I’d also vary the fonts for a fun look. If you don’t have a tool to cut out letters, you could simply draw your letters by hand with a black marker. Then you just glue them to the printed paper.

The final step is to frame your letters and display. This would be perfect for a mantel or entry table.

The great pumpkin. Another way to make your home festive for fall is with pumpkins. Instead of buying actual pumpkins, which can get quite pricey, pick up a couple fake ones at a craft store or online ( has lots of coupons for Hobby Lobby). By purchasing foam pumpkins, you’ll save in the long run because you can use them year after year. Create a centerpiece with small to medium pumpkins and add some candles. Simple, easy and classic.

If pumpkin orange doesn't fit with your current decor, you can find white and black options, too. Or, get really creative and paint them to up the style-factor. Think white with black polka dots or a black-and-white checkerboard pattern. Your imagination -- and steady painting hand -- are the only limits.

Not the crafty type? No worries. I found this super-cute owl online at

Yes, he’s more than $46, but by using coupons via, you get free shipping and an extra 2 percent Cash Back (in addition to the 5 percent you already get with a RED card).

I’d mull painting him bronze to make him a little more fall-like, but he’s also good-to-go as-is, depending on your personal style.

Now, if only it would feel like fall outside.

Jennifer Osieczanek writes for

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

WELCOME - Shop at Home

I was contacted by Shop at Home with a request to be one of their featured bloggers! There are going to be "visiting" on Thursday with some really great ideas for home decor on a budget. I haven't had a chance to use their site yet, mostly because I haven't been purchasing anything lately, but it's a one-stop-shop for all of your money saving needs.  When they approached me, they said: 

From travel discounts, beauty deals, apparel, and more ShopAtHome scours the web for the best deals out there so you don't have to. Through its partnership with thousands of online retailers, catalogs and magazines, fulfills its mission of offering the latest products, up-to-the-minute deals and Cash Back for consumers who shop online.

You can find my blogger profile here or you can click on the link in my left side-bar to check out the site.  Another great feature they offer is referral credit - tell a friend and you BOTH get $5.  I hope you'll take some time to check out the rest of their site to see if any of your favorite stores are on there (I bet they are)!

I'll continue to share great deals and give-aways from the site as they come up - and I'm looking forward to sharing their post at the end of the week!

Hope you have a great (short) week!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Half Marathon - Quickly Approaching!!!

I have one month until I run my second half marathon.  I can't believe that it's coming up so quickly and when I look at my calendar, I am going to be so busy with the start of school that it's probably going to really sneak up on me!

Fort 4 Fitness
I'm running the Fort for Fitness Half Marathon in Fort Wayne.  I chose this race for a few reasons...

  • My parents live there and I have a free place to stay!!
  • The course is fairly flat
  • You finish in the minor league baseball stadium downtown - I love sport facilities!!!
It's been a little over 2 years since my first half and I have 2 main goals for my second

Improve my race time - a little over a year ago (May 2012), I ran the Indy Mini Marathon, and I ran it in 2:18:18 (that's 10:34 pace) and I'm really hoping to do better this time around.  I am not setting a specific goal for myself beyond that, but I'm thinking about running with the 9:55 pace group, which would mean I'd finish in 2:10:00 and that would be a pretty awesome improvement!!

Keep running when I'm done - after my last half, I told myself I was going to take a couple of weeks off.  WELLLL, that turned in to about 11 months off and it took me signing up for this race and having J create a training plan for me that got me started again.  I don't know if it's going to take me running more races or just having a "training plan" that includes running and lifting days to keep me organized and on top of things, but I really hope I can take a couple weeks off after the half and then keep running/training.

I only have 12 training runs left before the half... I only run 3 times a week for the sake of my joints and muscles, and here's what I have left...

I got myself some new shoes a few weeks ago and I'm loving them...

Mizuno Women's Wave Inspire 9 Running Shoe - Dick's Sporting Goods

And because my calves and ankles have been my problem areas lately, I'm planning to order these before the race - hopefully it's cool enough out on September 28 to wear them without being miserable..

Half Marathon lower leg savers...

I just can't decide which color I like better... suggestions welcomed!!!

30 more days & 12 more runs before (hopefully) my most recent goal is achieved.  I found this and it pretty much sums up...
Just keep swimming

Monday, August 26, 2013

ONE WEEK until the start of school!!!

Schools in Michgan don't start until after Labor Day, which is awesome for me as I see all of my friends already heading back to school and being immersed into Welcome Week events and I have one more week to try and create some sort of organization in my life!

I have one more week to get this ready...

By the time this week is over, this calendar will be full of the fall semester events that my students have going on.  For the first time in a couple years, I'm feeling more excitement than dread for the start of the school year.  I haven't felt dread because the students were returning - I just dreaded the first few weeks of school and all of the crappy repetitive stuff that came with it.  My new job is a lot different and it's going to be an exciting opportunity to get to know the students I'll be working with all year.

For those of you who have already started the world of Fall semester - hope it's started off with a bang!!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Selling a House - What We Wish We Would Have Known

We OFFICIALLY closed on our house yesterday (HOORAY!!!), and we have had a lot of really important insights that we wish we would have known as a first time home seller, so I thought I'd share them and hope they help someone else!
Do your research ahead of time
  • Know what the market is like in your are
  • Look for comparable houses - see what's available in your house size as well as in the same schools (these can be separate - if you are the only 4 bedroom house in your school district, that's a big deal)
  • Look at the finishings in those houses to see how yours compares - if your house is more move in ready and needs less updating, that's a reason it should be listed for more
  • Know what you think your house should be listed at and see if your realtors' market value is similar - this should be a factor when deciding which realtor you want to work with
Interview multiple realtors
Just because you like the first realtor you meet doesn't mean you should stop there.  Talk to a couple of others and if you still love the first, it should just confirm to you that they are your best choice!  Once you have chosen, be ready to give reasons to the others that you did not select - they will ask and it's nice if you can give them something meaningful.

Ask who you'll REALLY be working with
When you are interviewing realtors, you are going to get to know the person whose face will be representing your house - that doesn't mean that you'll have much access to them, or that they will actually be doing most of the work.  Ask them who schedules their appointments, who draws up their paperwork, and who answers the phones.

After the interview, our realtor was the person who contacted us about 10% of the time - the others in the office were the ones we had contact with 90% of them time, and we didn't get to meet them ahead of time.

Don't accept contingencies
Unless of course you have all the time in the world!

We were supposed to close on July 26 because that's when our buyers were supposed to close on their house.  It's now almost a month later and their house buyer's loan has still not been signed off on by the USDA - don't even get me started on the USDA writing home loans.

Next time, we will not accept a closing contingent on another closing - we will set a date and after that date, there will be a charge for every additional day that goes by that we haven't closed.

Know how offers and counter offers work
If you get an offer on your house, and you want to counter, you have to be sure EVERYTHING written down - if you are removing something from your counter, you have to put it in writing - an example:

$100,000 purchase price
$3,000 in Closing Costs
$500 for a home warranty

If you want to counter at a price of $105,000 and you don't want to pay closing costs, you can't just counter with this...

Purchase price $105,000

You also have to say Seller will not pay closing costs.  If you don't wan to make any changes to the home warranty, then you don't have to mention that.

We had a situation like this, and we didn't know that our realtor's office had screwed up our counter, but they did and we were FURIOUS - as first time sellers, we didn't know how that worked and we almost got screwed by it (we also almost fired our realtor because that's their job and you should be able to trust that they are doing it right)

Don't show your hand
Your realtor doesn't need to know what your bottom line is, so don't share it with them.  Yes - you should know in advance what you'd like to make on your house and where you're willing to give, but that doesn't mean you need to share that information.  Realtors want to make a sale because they want their commission - that's their job - so giving that information to them could make them push you to make a deal that you don't really want to make because they are trying to seal the deal.

Selling a house is stressful - most people are on a timeline when doing so, so be prepared when choosing your realtor, listing your house and going through the process.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Back Yard

This is what our deck looked like before Jason took a weekend and redid it...

The wood was warped and had not been taken care of and it was dangerous because people would trip over the warped wood.  There was a weird trellis that had the vines from HELL growing on it and I hated both of them!  Jason and I love entertaining and we had a great outdoor space, so we knew we wanted to make it more entertaining friendly...

First step - a fire pit.  Jason took one afternoon to put this in and it got TONS of use!  We loved having people over to sit around a fire at night - BYOB and a snack to share and it was a party!

The other thing Jason put a lot of hard work in to was the deck.  We had some great friends who came over and helped and a majority of the deck was done in one day.  As you can tell, the footings of the deck were still usable, as was the underneath structure - so we really just needed to replace the boards on the top and the railing.  We had 2 sets of stairs and the second set was not really necessary, so we closed one off and created a great space for the grill.

Again, we didn't have time to really enjoy the deck and we didn't ever really get outdoor furniture, but it was so great to walk outside and see the work Jason did - he did a great job!

Monday, August 19, 2013


I talked previously about the plans for our kitchen renovation - well, we were able to do everything we wanted and we put a lot of time and money into the kitchen that we really didn't get to enjoy for long, unfortunately.  I am confident, though, that it really set our house apart once we put it on the market.

This is what the house looked like when we bought the house:

I didn't like the yellow, the peel and stick tiles were coming up because the didn't have any blinds on the back door, the appliances didn't match (and when I opened the dishwasher, the smell made me gag) and there was a big space at the end of the wall of cabinets that was not really functional for anything.

SO, as soon as we moved in, we painted the walls green and when we went to Best Buy to purchase a microwave and to just look at dishwashers, we ended up walking out with a whole kitchen of stainless steel appliances - by far my favorite home improvement that we did!!

After that, we started planning and trying to decide what else we wanted to do in the kitchen.  We knew the floor was a need.  We considered the counters and a solution for the open space at the end of the cabinets to be a want, and the cabinets to be a dream - a dream that we decided wasn't worth the work.

We did do a lot of work on the other aspects, though, and I think it turned out great!
New floor and counter top & stainless appliances
Solid surface counters with sink built in
Large pantry on left pushed down to fill gap at the end of
the cabinets.  Wine cabinet and recipe book cabinet added above;
double cabinet added below
Pull out trash added to bottom cabinet
Allen + Roth Antiquity Counter Tops from Lowe's

Tanned Brown Ceramic Floor Tiles
I would have loved to change the cabinet color - I love white/off white cabinets and being able to make that change would have made me REALLY love my kitchen - I guess it also would have made it much harder to leave it behind  :)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Master Bedroom & Bathroom

When we bought our house, we had our choices down to two great houses.  One of the things that really sold us on the one we chose was the master bedroom and closet.  It was a huge room that had great closet space and ended up being a great room with a little work...

You can't really tell from this photo how large the room is - its dimensions are 16 x 13 so we had plenty of space for furniture without it feeling at all cramped.  They had two sets of blinds on the window because it was really wide - it made the window look like a mess.  They also had their TV in the corner by the closet so there were wires running over the closet door - I hate when you can see wires.

Since the master is upstairs, it got new carpet like all the other rooms.  It also got new paint... I loved the paint color in our room - it was relaxing and really pulled everything in the room together.  

Excuse the mess - we were on our way out of town, but wanted
to show J's family pictures of the new house  :)

One thing I didn't love about our house was the master bathroom.  It was nice to have the en suite, but it was a really small bathroom with only one sink.  It was adequate, though, and we never really had problems begin in each others way.  

  • This room also got painted - the same color as the twin room.  
  • Jason replaced the light fixture and framed the mirror - we actually tried to replace the mirror, but it was huge and couldn't find anything we liked that would fill the space properly.  
  • It grossed me out to have a towel bar over the toilet (wet towel + toilet = GERMS) so we took that down and got over the door hooks instead.
  • Right before we put the house on the market, we put the same vinyl tile in here that we put in the guest bath and it made a HUGE difference!  

This is actually a really good place to see what we did to the door knobs in the house, too - Jason spray painted all of them with oil rubbed bronze spray paint.  I just LOVE how it turned out and it held up really well - I found the idea on Pinterest  :)

Had we stayed longer, I probably would have made some additional changes to the bathroom, but overall, it was a great little space and it was a great "first master" for us!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Guest Rooms

We had a 4 bedroom house - not because we needed the space, but because we originally we thought it would be a great chance to grow in to the house.  One of the rooms was over the garage, and ultimately it was a bonus room - which ultimately left us with two guest rooms.

This is what those rooms looked like when we moved in... again - sorry for the poor quality.

The first two things we did when we got into the house is replace all the carpet upstairs and paint just about every wall in the house.  I use the term "we" loosely because it was really Jason who did 98% of the work.  We also painted all the trim in the house white to really make the colors pop.

In the room that was the office, we created what we thought would eventually be a nursery, so although it was slightly larger than the other guest room, we put a twin bed in there.  

We purchased blinds for all the windows and put up some white heat reducing curtains, because the window faced south and got afternoon sun.  There were some other things that I wanted to do with this room, but never got around to it.  

One of those things would have been to make a really awesome, long shelf like this one:
EASY DIY Entryway Shelf with Hooks from

The shelf would have gone on the long wall that's to the left of the dresser.  Overall, the room was cute and comfortable and it had a handful of visitors who stayed there!

Our other guest room ended up being much more finished - it was also the room that most of our guests stayed in.  For only being there for 2 years, I'd say we had a good number of guests come visit - mostly family, but we hosted some great holidays at this house!

The wall on the left in this picture is the same color as the twin room.  I wanted an accent wall in this room and I was not disappointed by how it turned out.  I loved the colors of this room and it felt warm and comfortable.  One thing you cannot see in this photo is the great armoire that we got from my aunt.  It is a beautiful dark wood piece that is about 4' tall and was originally a TV cabinet.  It was a great place to store all the bed linens!

I love creating spaces the guests walk in to and feel at home - I can't wait to have a place for visitors again!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Dining Room

We are only a few days away from officially closing on our house - it's been kind of a long road, but overall I'd say we have been pretty lucky with the quick process that we've been through.  Before I officially say goodbye to the house, I want to share some of the improvements/changes we made to the house during the two years that we owned it... starting with the dining room:

I'd say my decorating style lends to clean lines and timeless furniture and fixtures, but things that also make a space feel like home.  For some reason, I am not a fan of yellow - I don't mind gold accents, but it's always been my preference to avoid yellow as a main color in my apartments/houses.  This is what our dining room looked like originally (this is with the previous owners' furniture and sorry for the poor pictures... I didn't anticipate needing better ones):

The dining room was one of the first rooms completed - some minor updates made a huge difference:
  • Remove the border and new paint (a light green with grey undertones)
  • Remove the curtains and get 3" faux wood blinds
  • Change the fixture - purchased from Lowe's

Issue: there was a large passthrough between the livingroom and the dining room, but the wind was not centered on that passthrough - this creates problems for me, who likes symetry, and makes the chandelier and the table look weird. 

Solution: NONE - gotta live with it  :)

My aunt gave us the dining room table and the hutch that you can barely see on the left side of the photo.  The chairs are from Steinmart and I am pretty sure we got them for around $60 a piece, which is way less than I found dining chairs for anywhere else!  The chairs are similar to this (with dark legs)...

Dining Chair Oak Legs by GJC Furniture Newstead Stoke on Trent. Dark Brown Faux leather covers. Stylish & modern would suit any dining room with great design and quality feel.

I love the light fixture and I considered taking it with us when we left, but it was not expensive enough for the worry of taking it down and having to put something else up.  Here's a better shot of the chandelier.

Bel Air Lighting 8-Light Modern Meets Traditional Oil-Rubbed Bronze Chandelier

The changes to this room were minor, but it felt like it made a large impact and we hosted Thanksgiving, 2 Easters and a bunch of other random get togethers that this room created a great setting for - fun, family and great conversations!!