Monday, April 29, 2013

Dreaming of Dining Rooms

Remember way back when I did those inspiration posts? See the homes one here. My very first self-lesson was that I swooned for navy dining rooms. So when we made an offer on our lovely little home, I immediately began having visions in blue. The house is over 100 years old, so I felt that a navy dining room would be sophisticated enough to do the amazing molding justice, but wouldn't be too stuffy. I want to actually use the room after all. Because it's right off the kitchen, I wanted fiance to be able to sit and do work there or hang out with me while I cook or bake. So elegant was on the menu, cold was not.

We started by picking up three test pots of navy paint at Lowes. We went with Valspar again because we had that handy Lowes gift card. This picture really isn't helpful, but the color on the right was too light. It didn't scream navy. The color on the left was too dark and had too much of an inky black hue. We went with the one in the middle. I think it was Indigo Strip, but I'll check and get back to you. Then on the bottom were samples of the two grays we selected. I didn't want to make a decision about the gray until the blue was up on the wall (although we ended up going with the darker one, London Coach, which is the same color as the kitchen).

Next, we painted the whole darn room navy. If I'm being really honest, it wasn't a fun process. Dark navy is NOT a forgiving color and we had some issues with flashing (when certain areas of your paint are shiny and others are matte). Long story short, it took like 3-4 coats and more than one trip to Lowes depending on the wall.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Green Be Gone!

I wasn't sure exactly what color I wanted to paint the kitchen, I just knew it had to be painted. The lime green might work for some, but it was so not for me (us really, fiance hated it too). Because the kitchen and dining room and living room are fairly open to each other, the colors needed to flow nicely. It's not exactly an open floor plan, but you can see through from one room to the other. I knew I wanted a navy dining room and then wanted a few shades of a warm grey. Not a cold, modern crazy. But a warm, elephant-like grey. the sort of grey that hints towards brown but isn't khaki. Makes tons of sense right?

So we picked up a ton of paint strips and then chose some samples to try out. There were a few debacles. The person at Lowes gave us the wrong colors and then one sample was just white. So we had to go back and get the right colors. But we finally settled on the Valspar color London Coach. We only needed to do one coat and the green monster was a memory, thank goodness. Despite the white cabinets, the room feels very cozy and peaceful. I will definitely bring in some accent colors once the movers deliver my stuff, but for now it's such a huge improvement.



Now all it needs is cabinets full of stuff, a few fun touches and some more flowers near the window! Not to mention a new light fixture on the ceiling (no boob lights welcome here!) and maybe a new fixture above the window down the road. But it's a huge step in the right direction!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Exciting Announcement

This post is so very very overdue. I meant to publish it last week, but between paint-induced exhaustion and missing camera cords (one of the perils of living out of several suitcases), it is late. But, better is late than never. Especially with exciting news. Fiance and I bought a house! We closed on Wednesday and could not be more excited. I'm done with my course work for my PhD program, so I will be working from Virginia. I'll still be returning to California to visit family and meet with colleagues, but we are done with long distance. Yippee doesn't do it justice. Anyway, our gorgeous home was built in 1910 and has tons of historical details that I love so much. It's in our favorite part of town and we got incredibly luck with the timing and the purchase. Want to see some pictures? Good, because I'm sharing them anyway.

Let's start the house tour from the front:

To the left of the front entry is the living room...

Monday, April 8, 2013

Closet Organization

I'm living in the middle of a tornado zone and I'm just about losing my mind. I'm not good at living like a gypsy in the best of circumstances. But when boxes and suitcases and piles are everywhere, my need for organization and stability is overpowering. Oh right, I forgot to say, I'm moving. More details to come. My move date is in the ten day forecast, so I laid out my outfits in order to finally tackle my closet. I was complaining to fiance about how stressful it is to pack my whole wardrobe and he suggested it would be less intense if I didn't have so many darn clothes. Which is true. But not really an option. I've already purged so much and given so many bags to Good Will. But I still have a pretty sizable wardrobe because well, I love clothes. A little too much. I acknowledge the problem and now I'm in problem-solving mode.

Sorry sweetie, I'm always going to have a lot of clothes. You knew that about me when you proposed. But I promise I'll try and have organized storage, because that's the best. Here are some ideas. What do you think? I'm thinking I can find some ways to create the same look without paying for a professional installation.

First and foremost, let's get some inspiration shall we?

This picture is a great example of a narrow space. Would work great behind double doors.

If I could get my hanging items to look this cleanly organized, it would be a miracle.

This space is amazing, but doesn't utilize the space that well. They could certainly go higher up the wall and while the shoe cabinet is amazing, it isn't super efficient. Clearly they have a massive room for a closet. Color me green with jealousy.

This space might be one of my favorites. It's so fun and colorful. Super practical. Perhaps not. But so pretty.

And of course for my hubby-to-be...

To help recreate this look, some shelves like these would help. It seems like you could stack them as well, so maybe have two on top of each other on one side of the closet for shirts, sweaters, pants, purses, shoes, etc.

Next, no one like's sloppy shelves. In order to combat those toppling sweater stacks, wobbly purses and unruly jeans, I'm thinking a few of these bad boys are necessary. Maybe more than a few.

Something plush for my tushy would be nice. But floor space is at a premium, so I'm thinking a fun tuft or bench.

This choice would be super whimsical and comfy, but I have a feeling if I was sitting on it trying to buckle a heel, I'd topple right over. Not exactly the graceful look I would be going for.

This choice would be super practical, because I could store mittens and gloves in it during the summer.

I like this choice because it combines visual interest and practicality. The price is pretty steep for an ottoman from Target ($100), but I bet I can find something pretty great from Home Goods or Marshalls.

And of course, a little sparkle completes the necessary closet equation.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


My parents are throwing my sister-in-law to-be a bridal shower in May. To help, I'm responsible for the desserts. Basically, it's an opportunity to contribute, but really it's just an excuse to bake way too much and not be responsible for it. Win win. Anyway, I've been working with my mom and the caterer responsible for the rest of the meal to come up with a menu. I came up with some great options and I decided it was necessary to test the recipes. Since the last two weeks of April are going to be tough, I wanted to get a head start. One of the desserts I wanted to try was a recipe for salted caramel topped shortbread. Sounds amazing right? Brings me to drool just thinking about it.

Except it was a massive fail. Epic. Scraping-caramel-off-the-counter-fail. First of all, the caramel was too salt heavy. I LOVE salt and even I thought it was too salty. Everyone else probably would need a jug of water just to swallow.

Then to add insult to injury, the caramel didn't solidify as it should have. Allow me to demonstrate...

I'm not going to bother sharing this recipe because of the mess that ensued, but if you have a death wish, let me know and I'll send it to you. I started off by making the shortbread. I melted the butter and mixed it with the egg and sugar.
I added the flour mixture and mixed with a spoon until the dough formed. Then I pressed it into the pan.
I baked it according to the directions and was beginning to get really high hopes.
Next, I melted together the butter, heavy cream, corn syrup, sugar and brown sugar. So far so good.
I brought the mixture to a boil and then 230 degrees per instructions. then I let it cool for a few minutes.
I poured the mixture over the top of the shortbread and immediately began to feel uneasy. The parchment should have been one large piece that came up all four sides. The caramel mixture seeped down and into the sides and made it nearly impossible to pull the entire thing out.
I refrigerated the mixture for about an hour until slightly solid and then added the rock salt. Then I returned the pan to the fridge for the rest of the night.

The next morning, I managed to pull/pry the entire thing out of the pan. It wasn't easy. I walked out of the kitchen for a few minutes and returned to this debacle. The caramel immediately began to spread and didn't stop. I thought it was hilarious/devastating and went to get fiance to see it and by the time I returned, the caramel was on to the counter. Womp womp. So disappointing. I felt like this recipe had so much potential.

So now I'm thinking I will use a butterscotch brownie recipe which is tried and true and try some new chocolate recipes. I feel like chocolate is much more forgiving and much harder to screw up. I'll be sure to keep you updated on my adventures (both failures and successes!).

Monday, April 1, 2013

Happy April

Here is my newest calendar post. April is much better than March. Sheep over fish any day. I can't see sheep! (If anyone can name that show reference, you will be my favorite person of the day). April promises to be the most hectic month I'e seen in a long time. Here are two hints as to why.

Yes, that is the view I woke up to this morning. I still can't tell you my big news, but these photos should give you a pretty decent idea. Anyway, because of the mayhem, my normal posts might be a bit hard to come by. It's challenging to cook or craft when your tools are packed away. So I might have to be a bit creative. I hope you all will stick around and wait for the calm after the storm. And no, this isn't an April Fools post.