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Getting My Rearrange On

Sometimes days end differently than you expect them to, and I had one of those days on Sunday. I went to sleep in a totally different place than where I woke up; it was crazy. And obviously, this means I rearranged our bedroom.

Here are a couple of pictures of our bedroom from March 2011:

It hadn’t changed much at all since then, except we swapped out the floor lamp for a different one.

Hadn’t changed much… until Sunday, that is. We hadn’t been thinking about rearranging things in there at all, but I was standing in our bedroom, trying for the 17th time to come up with a solution for our one minuscule closet so that my clothes could move back in with Andrew’s. While we were in Boston last weekend, Bailey mentioned that one of her friends had used some Ikea wardrobes, which ended up looking really nice. So I was thinking about where in the bedroom we could put a wardrobe, and every placement seemed oh-so-wrong.

This floorplanner.com layout may help you visualize it:

I wouldn’t want to put a wardrobe in front of either window, of course, and I felt that swapping one in for the dressers would make it seem like there was a hulking nightclub bouncer crowding us as soon as we walked through the bedroom door. Didn’t seem that relaxing. Looking at this image, I guess it seems like we could put a wardrobe where our bench was and put the bench at the foot of the bed, but for some reason this floorplan LOOKS a lot more spacious than it FEELS, even though I double-checked my measurements. That is to say, the bench at the foot of the bed made that thoroughfare way too cramped. I know because I tried it once.

At this point, I was still standing in the bedroom, getting more frustrated about this whole clothing-storage dilemma, when I realized that we hadn’t ever really entertained the idea of the bed on a different wall. We had dismissed that idea on move-in day and never looked back.

Et voila.

The new floorplan:

I was even inspired to hang this mirror that I’ve had for at least a year:

Another angle:

When Andrew came in from doing leaves, he said it seemed like “it should have always been this way,” which of course, delighted me, but I think Widget is the biggest fan of the new furniture arrangement, because now he can hop on and off the bed at will, using the bench as a step-stool.

So the wardrobe, if and when we have one, would take the place of the Malm dresser that has the capiz mirror above it. I’m liking this idea; gotta cram more storage into this room somehow. Speaking of storage, did I mention that the bench is a STORAGE bench? It’s our teeny-tiny linen closet, where I keep the extra set of sheets for our bed. It’s from JCPenney. Oh, what the heck, here’s a whole source list to round out the post:

  • duvet cover and pillow shams: Restoration Hardware
  • duvet: Overstock.com
  • sheets and pillowcases: Macy’s (Lauren Ralph Lauren)
  • euro pillows: Macy’s (Martha Stewart)
  • bedskirt: Ralph Lauren outlet
  • bench: JCPenney
  • rug, dressers, nightstands, curtains, set of three flower pictures, black frame: Ikea
  • curtain hardware: Bed Bath & Beyond (I think!)
  • bedside lamps: Macy’s
  • capiz mirror: Homegoods
  • piggy bank: Target
  • ampersand: Restoration Hardware
  • silver flower pot and peace lily: gifts from neighbors
  • small silver jar with lid, floor lamp: gifts from my mom (found secondhand)
  • capiz frame: Marshall’s
  • decorative silver bowl: Macy’s (Michael Aram)
  • oil-rubbed bronze door hardware: Lowe’s

ONE more thing. I can’t resist sharing a vintage shot of this bedroom, from when we first moved in (aw).

Oh, Malm dressers. You’ve been with us through so much.

The Brass is Always Greener

May I just go on the record and say that I love the selection of home accessories currently at Target? Lots of gray and white, and lots of brass accents. The gray and the white completely fit in with pretty much every room in our house; the brass… not so much. At some point, with no real discussion, Andrew and I reached the consensus that we preferred silver-toned finishes over gold-toned. I was cool with it. I haven’t touched base with Andrew on this recently, but I’m pretty sure he’s cool with it (-slash doesn’t give it a second thought). We’re pale people, and silver is a better complement to our skin tone. But sometimes I see some brass accessories that are seriously the bomb (entryway light fixture not being one of them). Brass reminds me of Emily Henderson. Love her!

Oh, brass horse. You complete me.

So, yeah. Time to loosen the no-brass-allowed rule. But how? HOW? Some people are really good at mixing metals, but that’s way too advanced for me. Life is so difficult! (#firstworldproblems)

Here’s the compromise I came up with: instead of completely scrapping all the chrome-y/silver-y/brushed-nickel-y accents in our house, and instead of swearing off all brass no matter how bangin’, I’ve designated the office/guest room as our brass-and-gold-toned-metallics mecca. That room is pretty much a clean slate, decor-wise, so it can go any direction. The solution is so simple, but when I came up with it, I felt liberated.

Back to Target. I was there on Monday, and I stumbled across this mirror:

You know I loved it if I was inspired enough to take a picture with my phone. I didn’t buy it though. I’m practicing restraint, which is a gamble with Target goods – I still get wistful over these plastic tumblers I saw there in June. When I went back to buy them, they were gone. Sniffle. Moment of silence for what could have been…

Anyway. Restraint. I wanted Andrew’s opinion on the mirror, and I wanted to make room in our budget (we’re talking $40-plus-tax, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but we’re watching our funds closely around here… it’s called “operation: pay off the car early”). Andrew was all “of course you can buy that,” which I knew he would be, and Tuesday was our wedding anniversary, so after a celebratory dinner out, we stopped by Target to grab my mirror (it was still there – phew!).  Oh, we grabbed a few other things while we were there. I’ll have to share those soon, too.

In the meantime, I can’t wait to hang the mirror in the office/guest room. If you can’t make it out in the photo, the finish is more of an “antiqued” brass, not shiny-shiny. This mirror might even jump-start the office/guest room makeover, which has been a looooong time coming. Also, looking at that brass horse, I feel like I could DIY something really similar. Did anyone else have Breyer horses? I have about a million of them at my parents’ house – add some gold paint and attach a base, and boom! Instant Emily-Henderson-inspired style.

Friends and Farms

Hi hi. I promised an update on our new Friends and Farms service. We’ve gotten three baskets of food, and I can happily report that I love it!  Our first week’s basket included:

  • milk,
  • cheddar cheese (from NY… I was actually a little disappointed by that fact, but the cheese was tasty anyway),
  • corn,
  • tomatoes,
  • onions,
  • plums,
  • green beans,
  • green peppers,
  • a cubanelle pepper (?? I think that’s what it was),
  • “sandwich steaks” (thin cuts… we cooked them in a pan and had cheesesteaks),
  • chicken breasts
  • a loaf of bread
  • a watermelon
  • two humongous carrots

It all comes in two reusable shopping bags and one insulated bag packed into a big, plastic crate. Here’s the bounty, out of the bags and about to go in the fridge:

As mentioned, we used the beef for cheesesteaks, followed up by cold sandwiches for lunch the next day. We chopped up some of the tomatoes and onions for bruschetta (whipped up by Paula while she was here), and used the chicken for piccata (I like this simple recipe) and a quick stir-fry using more onion and the green peppers (served with a side of rice). I cooked the green beans in butter and olive oil with a shallot, two cloves of garlic and some chicken broth (similar to the recipe found here) – DELICIOUS.

I muddled some fresh mint and watermelon with a packet of Splenda and added ice and Leblon Cachaca (a liquor similar to rum) and called it a watermelon mojito. Totally amazing. I ripped off the idea from Ina Garten. If you wanted a less hardcore version, you could add some soda water. Or maybe lemon-lime soda? That might be good too.

Here’s the second basket:

There’s a whole chicken in there. With giblets – ew! I was intimidated, but I’ve cooked a whole turkey before, so it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. Plus, a great feature of the F&F website is that they provide recipes using some of the ingredients each week. I followed their “garlic chicken in a pot” recipe, and it turned out really well. And garlicky. It calls for four heads of garlic. Heads! Not cloves! I smelled like garlic for days.

In addition to the chicken, the basket included:

  • milk,
  • a loaf of bread,
  • beef short ribs (I braised them, recipe here but I didn’t use any pancetta),
  • grape tomatoes,
  • jalapenos (tomatoes plus jalapenos equals fresh salsa in this house),
  • peaches,
  • lettuce,
  • cucumbers,
  • zucchini,
  • yellow squash,
  • potatoes,
  • a honeydew melon,
  • a dozen eggs
  • breakfast sausage.

By this Friday’s basket, I figured out that we can see the items better if I put them on the counter. Duh.

This week’s haul is:

  • milk,
  • a loaf of bread,
  • chicken pieces,
  • pepper & onion sausage (I plan to use it in F&F’s risotto recipe),
  • grape tomatoes,
  • apples,
  • mustard greens,
  • corn,
  • green beans,
  • whole milk yogurt (REALLY good – like melty ice cream),
  • cantaloupe,
  • the biggest eggplant I’ve ever seen.

I’d be interested to price out a similar list of groceries at our Safeway to see how it compares; I’m thinking it would probably be cheaper than the $51/week we’re spending, but shopping at the Safeway would take away two of the main benefits. For one, we’re eating way more fresh produce now, even though we always had access to it. And secondly, we have a jumping-off point for meals. So instead of wandering aimlessly through the grocery store, we have to come up with ways to use the ingredients in the baskets (it makes us eat more varied meals, too).

Oh, also, the tomatoes are SO GOOD. Those food people are absolutely right when they complain about the tomatoes from the grocery store tasting like “nothing.” Our F&F tomatoes have been notably sweet and tomato-y.

I would whole-heartedly recommend F&F to others, but I don’t think it’s for everyone. It’s best for people who eat most of their meals at home, enjoy cooking and are willing to experiment with new foods. I, for one, have never cooked with mustard greens. I don’t know what they taste like. I never would have put them in my shopping cart at Safeway. I’m guessing they taste like mustard? Guess we’re about to find out.

Second Move-in-iversary

It’s unbelievable how quickly this came up, but yesterday marked two years of us living in this house. I feel like we should celebrate the special occasion somehow, but until we figure that out, here’s a picture of our new outdoor string lights:

You guys don’t even know. I’ve wanted string lights forEVER. Or at least two years.

Corralling the Clutter

STUFF. Blech. Stuff stresses me out. In my perfect world, our house would look like this:

Monochromatic and uncluttered to the extreme. Unfortunately, it’s not really a realistic ideal since Andrew and I sometimes like to do things like watch TV or read or surf the Internet. And we have a dog that requires stuff. And life in general just takes stuff.

I’m not exactly Type A, so organization is a constant struggle. Luckily, I was recently in the land of stuff: my parents’ house, where stuff goes to die. Normally, all that stuff just makes me anxious, but a stack of six baskets – abandoned by my sister – struck me as a possible solution for an empty… hole?… in our TV stand.

I put a few books and a decorative bowl in the bottom left quadrant, but the fourth and final one sat empty for the past two months. I wanted something white or light-colored to put in there, to lessen the black-hole qualities of the unit. And then those white baskets winked at me, and here we are today:

Light and bright? Yes. Clutter control? Oh heck yes. Widget’s toys have a new home.

And of course, that basket had friends.

These couldn’t be a better fit; I think this is what they call “fate.” There’s good stuff in these two baskets. Junk food for Widget:

Junk food for my brain:

How about those Twilight kids, eh? So scandalous.

So that’s three of the six. The other three moved into the multi-purpose closet in our living room. It’s our coat closet/pantry/catch-all storage space.

Those doors need a makeover, and that trim needs painting. At least the inside has begun it’s transformation from a jumbled mess to a semi-sensical…mess.

Reusable shopping bags shoved in there, then that pink bag is full of cleaning rags and there’s some other cleaning supplies shoved back there. Next shelf up is for games and my yoga mat and light weights. Here’s where one of the baskets came in handy to wrangle cards and Catch Phrase.

The other shelves are taken by our toaster oven and random foods, spices and oils.

Then I used the remaining two baskets to corral our hats and gloves: one’s for Andrew, and one’s for me. At some point, I’ll get around to making little labels or something for them so it’s easy to grab the right one.

While we’re talking about contained storage, check out this little box I picked up from Marshall’s for about three bucks

It’s kind of Hermes-esque, right? Ha! I wish. I use it to store my hair ties.

There you have it; that’s how we’re trying to deal with all the stuff life necessitates. As mentioned, organization is ever a work-in-progress for me, so any tips are more than welcome! Send ’em my way. Oh, and Stephanie – if you’re reading this, can I have these baskets? Thanks! Love you!

Summer’s Last Gasp

Back-to-school happens around here next week, then Labor Day, and then summer is unofficially over. Boo-hoo. I love fall, but where did the time go? Since time slips by so quickly, I’m already looking forward to next spring. I told Andrew I want to have a vegetable garden in 2013, and he’s on board, so we’ve got time to plan ahead.

In the meantime, here’s a little update on the plants around here.

First of all, remember how I didn’t know this plant’s name?

It’s “Mandevilla.”

Check out my cheery little tomato:

I’ve had two dreams about eating this tomato. Isn’t that weird? I keep trying to pick the fruit, but it’s still holding onto its stem pretty firmly.

Here’s my basil plant:

He’ll be yummy with that one tomato when the time is right.

The wave petunias kept out of rabbit-harm’s way:

This one’s going crazy:

And this morning, I woke up to our first gladiola blooms! Amidst this thicket of weeds and yard debris, we’ve got a pink bloom and a yellow bloom.

So those are our plants. I’m glad we managed not to kill everything this year, haha. It makes me excited for homegrown vegetables next year.

Speaking of produce, Andrew thinks I’ve gone hippie because I signed us up for this local service called Friends & Farms. I have looked into joining a farm co-op or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) a few times over the past year; these are organizations where you pay upfront for a share of a farm’s crop, and you pick up your produce each week. If it’s a bumper-crop year, you get a lot of food in your basket each week, but you share the risk with the farm, so if it’s a bad year, you don’t get as much.

All of the local CSAs I’ve found have been pretty pricey, and I’m not sure Andrew and I would be able to eat tons of corns or beans or lettuce by ourselves each week of the season. There are some “premium” CSAs, which might offer meats, eggs, cheese, bread, flowers, honey, or herbs in addition to produce each week, but these are REALLY expensive.

Enter Friends & Farms, which just started service in June. They are similar to a CSA, but they have a full roster of farm providers, so they offer a greater variety of products in each week’s basket, including bread, cheese, protein, eggs, and milk. It’s $51 per week, which I think is completely reasonable for such a variety of food staples, produce, and protein that are sustainably grown. F&F also lets you semi-customize your basket; for instance, Andrew and I opted out of receiving any seafood because we hardly ever prepare seafood at home, and we chose 2% milk over whole or skim.

Our F&F basket won’t replace all of our weekly grocery shopping, but I’m looking forward to having some built-in variety (I don’t know about everyone else, but we end up buying the same things week after week). I’ll let you guys know how it goes. I pick up our first basket on Friday!

Playing Catch-Up

I know, I know. It’s been awhile since we’ve posted, but we haven’t done much lately on the home front. Instead we’ve been relaxing some, cooking and grilling some, entertaining some, reading some, chillaxing in general.

Get this – I did get some iron-on hem tape for the living room curtains, so that’s a work-in-progress. One panel down, three to go!

Also, my little tomato plant has a fruit:

I tweaked our dining room arrangement a tad, and Andrew painted THE REST OF THE TRIM in there. Woot! The amount of untouched trim in this house is dwindling.

Little tweaks in here aside from the trim-painting include: hanging the blue painting of the couple in the field (a homemade gift from Tricia circa 2004), moving the bar cabinet over, and pulling two of the six chairs away from the table to make it feel less squanched (that’s a made-up word, btw). Oh, and putting into use some bottle stoppers we’ve had sitting in a drawer for the past two years.

I had about a week there were I went through some cleaning-out-junk-drawer insanity, and these stoppers either had to earn their keep or git. So that’s the story of how we became fancy people who use bottle stoppers.

Still to come in this room: gotta paint the walls (we are going to use the spare gallon of paint we already have, which matches the color in our bedroom and my “dressing room”) and gotta hang an actual curtain rod. Holy moly. It’s been almost two years. We really need to do that.

Sorry for the lighting in the photo above. I’m playing around with the settings on my camera; maybe one day photos on this blog will be of a consistent quality.

Aside from the two immediate (and by “immediate” I mean “at top of the list… whenever we happen to get to the list”) projects concerning paint and curtain hardware, I want to reupholster the chair seats and paint the hutch. We also are considering rotating the table 90 degrees (an idea my mom had), but don’t think that orientation will work until after we run hardwoods all the way into the adjoining kitchen.

Wow, I was looking for a picture to demonstrate the transition from hardwood to linoleum between the dining room and kitchen, and I came across this never-before-seen beaut:

So many things wrong with this picture! Hardwoods not yet refinished, permanent doormat mark along with the huge grate in the floor (um, neither of these issues have been addressed yet…), lacy curtains still on the door, yellow trim along the floor, black (broken) dishwasher not yet replaced, eagle-adorned switchplate over the counter… This is the type of picture I post that embarrasses Andrew.

Another recent development around here is that I have a self-imposed glow-box (TV, computer, iPad, cell phone) shut off time of 9:30, and I’m 15 minutes late for that, so I really gotta go now. The curfew doesn’t apply to talking on the phone though. Call me.