Sunday, June 29, 2008

Drawers & Decor

Today we got back to work on the house after our Chicago hiatus. We began priming and painting all of the drawers, shelves and some cabinet doors. We were able to restock all of the cabinets which cleared out our dining room. Here are some updated pictures - as you can see, our cabinets are very full! I cannot wait to get those doors on! At least our drawers are looking fantastic. Nate is excellent at installing drawer hardware.

Now that the dining room was cleared, we figured we could get to work on the fabric wall panels while we waited for paint to dry. If you recall, the fabric panels were our low-cost way to replace this lovely doorbell cover.

Taking off the cover resulted in a hole in the wall with the doorbell inside it:

Fabric panels are a GREAT project - they are cheap, easy and have a big impact. The total cost of the fabric wall panels was about $30 due to some excellent fabric finds at The Needle Shop and Jo-Ann Fabrics. I have to admit that I also like having these small projects to break up the monotony that is the kitchen project.

We went to Lowe's to get lumber to build the frames. As luck would have it, there is an employee at Lowe's who cuts wood for customers so he cut all the pieces for the frames for us on this SWEET sliding wall saw. I highly HIGHLY recommend taking advantage of this person at your local Lowe's! After some sanding of the edges, Nate got to work putting the frames together with some nails.

I ironed the fabric and cut it to size. We then stretched the fabric across the frame and stapled the fabric to the frame with our upholstery staple gun from Jo-Ann fabrics. Here is the result:

You can't really tell that the brown panels have a polka dot texture on them so here is a close up:

So...almost one year ago (our closing anniversary is approaching!) this is what the dining area looked like:

And currently it looks like this:

Saturday, June 28, 2008

"Chicago - a Pompous Milwaukee"

Ha ha ha. That quote by Leonard Louis Levinson made me laugh. We returned from our 3-day trip to Chicago yesterday afternoon. While Nate was at a conference during the days, I investigated my former city with a new gusto of someone who has a house and a new hobby that involves fabric, in between having lunches with friends. I headed over to The Needle Shop, a great shop for cool fabric that I highly recommend. They are about to move upstairs to a bigger space with more fabric, so that begs for another trip in the future to check it out! [If you live far from Chicago, or don't want to sit it traffic, they also have an Etsy shop.] The home decorating stores in the Armitage/Halsted area were fun too, although a bit out of our price range! So I settled for a Kiehls lip balm and a free sample instead.

Speaking of free samples, Nate scored a lot of SWAG at his conference. As Michael Scott from the Office said, "Swag! Stuff we all get. I basically decorated my condo for free with all of my swag." While I don't think we will be doing any home decorating with our swag, we will have some great stuff to give to our younger siblings! Here is all the stuff he got - keeping in mind that this was only a SAMPLE of everything. That huge Morningstar tote will be great for groceries!

I also was able to get in two morning runs along the Lakeshore path, including one with my old running group! What motivation! Top it off with some yummy meals in at Cafe Ba-ba-Reeba and Heaven on Seven, and some cocktails and good coffee, and it was a great getaway. It was nice to stay downtown, have valet parking, and have the El stop right outside our hotel door. Needless to say, I was quite tired upon returning to our house!

We did return to a delivery: Our pharmacy lamp had arrived! So see, this post has SOMETHING home related!

We have a wedding tonight but will return to the kitchen tomorrow! The vacation is over!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Free Digital Issue of Canadian House & Home

While reading PoppyTalk, I found out that Canadian House & Home has a free digital view of their new issue.

Check it out here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lining and Restocking Shelves

The kitchen is making itty-bitty progress. Last night, post speed workout and softball game, we lined some of the shelves. Nate really is a professional shelf liner! In doing this, we were able to restock some of the cabinets, clearing up some space in our dining room.

In addition to completely changing the look of our kitchen, this project has made us organize and get rid of stuff, which is something I'm not always great at. When we moved in last year, we each had our own stuff that went into the cabinets and then all those wedding presents joined them. The cabinets were a mess. Over the last three days, we really pared down and got rid of some of our old stuff, which freed up a lot more cabinet space (helpful when you are getting rid of 3 cabinets), and also gave our kitchen more organization. After living there for almost 9 months, we knew what we used and how often, which was helpful in deciding what things needed to go in the hard to reach spaces of the corner cabinets!

I will be taking a short break from posting as I am headed to Chicago to have some fun! (and escape the kitchen!)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Post #201: Celebrating the completion of the Third Coat!

Amidst the busy-ness of the weekend, I missed out on celebrating my 200th post! So today I am celebrating my 201st post. ;)

We finished all three coats on the cabinet frames last night. My back is still sore from contorting my body into all sorts of weird poses to get at all the different nooks and crannies. You should see my backbend to paint the bottoms of the uppers!

Now it is time to tackle all of those doors & drawers...ugh. If you can't tell, this project is getting tiresome. Compared to my husband, I am much more prone to whining about home improvement projects after a few hours, especially if they involve painting. However, even Nate claimed he was sick of this project last night! That's when you know you have been working too much!

Some other choice phrases that were uttered this weekend:

"I HATE HATE HATE painting. Next time we want to re-do a kitchen, I don't care how much it costs, I am buying new cabinets." -Amy

"I will never do this {paint cabinets} again. I don't care if someone asks us for help or if someone paid my a million dollars." -Amy

"Can you believe we kept our dishes in this dirty cabinet?!" -Nate

"Hi {neighbor}...sorry for the choice words coming from our open kitchen window. We are painting cabinets and my wife is not having fun." -Nate

"Now, don't laugh at me when you see me, but I really don't want to get more paint in my hair." -Amy to Nate after donning a large yellow shower cap to paint. Yeah, that picture did NOT get taken!

So I guess we DID have a few laughs this weekend :)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

And another coat...

We set the alarm to wake up today to do coat #2. It is looking good! No new pictures updates as they look the same (in pictures) as yesterday.

One more coat to go on the cabinets and then we are set to start refilling the cabinets while we get to work on the doors/drawers.

With that, we are off to the lake for a break to wakeboard. Any more painting and I will go insane.

Oh! I referred to Lusa Organics last night - love this stuff and it's made right here in WI. You can order it online if you can't make it to the Madison Saturday Farmer's Market. I recommend the lotion bars and the sugar scrub. I have heard the soap is also great, but have not personally tried it.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


What a day.

My day kicked off at 6:30 when I met PK for a nice 10 mile run. Thanks to her, I found a new running trail that was by our house this whole time and I didn't know it!

Then, I went to the dentist for my biannual cleaning only to find out that I had not 1 but TWO cavities! I can't remember the last time I had a cavity! I guess that Sonicare toothbrush is just not working. Luckily, they were able to fill them right away. Here's a tip for you: Do not try to continue drinking your post-workout water with a face half full of anesthesia. It ends up all over you.

I got back home around 10:30 and Nate and I decided to get busy with the kitchen. Given that we are now in the "heart" of the kitchen, it was a lot more disgusting to clean, and the initial steps took us a lot longer. A couple of "before" shots:

First we had to empty out the cabinets and find a place (aka the Dining Room) to put everything:

Here are all of the remaining hardware we took off - YUK.

Then we covered everything in sheets to prevent sawdust from getting everywhere:

Look at how much dirt came off on the sandpaper-Disgusting!

We were done sanding & cleaning by about 2:00. My mouth finally was not numb anymore and I was starving since I didn't have time to eat between running & the dentist. We took a break for lunch at Culvers, went to Lowe's to get more supplies and returned to prime.

Priming was not fun. And it took F-O-R-E-V-E-R.

I was able to squeeze in a conversation with CD and a little nap while the primer dried. After that, we applied Paint Coat #1. I was still very tired and sick of this project that I actually called a can of Miller Lite "Liquid Energy".
This is where we ended the day:

You can see that we left the upper cabinets (above the dishwasher) alone as those are the cabinets we are going to partially remove to open up the kitchen to the dining room.
Oh! and we finally put the hardware on the other section, which is officially DONE!

After all that, I finally showered around 8:30, removing all of the paint from my body with the Lusa Organics Lavendar scented sugar scrub. How I painted my armpit white is still a mystery!

Now I am off to eat the wonderful pad thai my hubby made me for dinner. Good Night!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Non Sequitur

Tonight we have Relay For Life! Thanks to everyone's donations, we GREATLY surpassed our goal of $100 and raised $335 online and another $300 in in-person donations! woohoo! Thank YOU!

Beforehand we are loading up with dinner at the Little Red Inn for a fish fry. This was the site of our rehearsal dinner last summer and I haven't been back since so I am pretty excited. LOVE me some fish fry!

I am now researching pharmacy floor lamp options for the space next to our chair in our bedroom. This one from pottery barn is nice:

I also like this one from LLBean:

There are not a lot of options for this type of floor lamp (that I can find online while at work) that come in the brushed nickel (or something like it) finish.
I wish I knew how to photoshop one into this picture to see what it would look like!

Come Monday, or even before, we hopefully will have more kitchen cabinets done as we can finally dedicate a weekend to this project in stead of evenings after work! woohoo!
Photo Sources: Non Sequiter Comic from, floor lamp photos from Pottery Barn & LLBean, Room photo is my own

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fun Upcoming Events in MKE

Here is a fun DIY event, happening this Saturday : The Swap-O-Rama. Attending this will probably just add to the list of things I want to make but never get around to making.

This weekend also features the Lakefront Festival of the Arts, which we are hoping to go to since we do not have a wedding to attend this weekend!

Tonight I am off to my first Jazz in the Park of the season. Woohoo!

[Clearly we have not done a lot of work on the kitchen in the past 2 days, thus the reason for the filler.]

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Some pretty pictures of pretty rooms

I saw these on Desire to Inspire today and loved them (and not just because the kitchen is white and the framed wallpaper/fabric is sort of what we want to do in our dining room).

Beef...It's What's For (an easy) Dinner

We had these for dinner the other night and they were very good. Also make good leftovers for your lunch. We had it with couscous, not carrots.

Hearty Pita Pockets
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 10-ounce package sliced mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup brandy
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated Parmesan
4 pitas (white or whole wheat), warmed
1/4 cup mayonnaise (optional)
3 medium carrots, cut into sticks

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Add the beef and cook until no trace of pink remains, 5 to 6 minutes. Spoon off and discard any fat. Add the brandy and cook, stirring, until almost evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook until heated through, about 1 1/2 minutes. Season with the remaining salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan.

Cut a 2-inch strip off the side of each pita and pull open. Spread the inside with the mayonnaise (if using). Fill each pita with the beef and mushroom mixture. Serve with the carrots.

Yield: Makes 4 servings
Photo & Recipe Source: Real Simple Magazine

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Last Night's Trifecta

Last night we got a lot of little things done which I will summarize in one LONG post.

1. Nate mowed the lawn while I planted my Amy Elizabeth hosta and some annuals I won at BB's wedding shower.

Here's another shot of the rosebush just because I love it.

2. We hung up the cabinet doors in the kitchen. We still have to do one more paint coat on the inside before we can put the handles on, but we are getting closer!

The only casualty of this process has been my bruce springsteen photo hanging on the fridge - he got a little crunched. :)
Here is a picture of Nate's Hinge Painting Contraption - each end is hanging on a nail in our garage. I'm pretty sure I've never seen THIS on HGTV!

3. We are toying with the idea of new curtains in the dining room. I know - we have not even been living there for a year and I'm already changing curtains. Before we just had a maroon valance:

Here are the new curtains. I made the tie things with leftover material from the table runner:

We are a little concerned that things in this room are a little too matchy match between the curtains, the table runner and our S monogram:

We thought about maybe painting the wall with the window an actual color, but are going to wait until the fabric panels are done for the adjacent wall to see if that makes a difference.
And that about sums up our work from 2 hours of last night!

Monday, June 16, 2008

NEXT: Fabric Wall Art

The reason home improvement/remodeling sucks one in so quickly is because for every one thing you check off your to-do list, ten more appear. It seems that every time we make an improvement in one area of our house, it makes something else in that area look even worse.

For example, we replaced the light fixture in our dining area, and immediately the doorbell cover looked about 1000 times worse. At least with our old chandelier, they sort of matched each other and each complimented the other's hideous-ness. You can see the doorbell cover on the wall from this picture from move-in day:

Of course we can remove the chintzy fake chimes doorbell cover, but it serves to cover up the indentation from the original doorbell, which the previous owners simply put the new doorbell in.

Our solution will be to create some fabric covered wall canvases. Originally I wanted to do sort of a family tree photo collage in this space, and the fabric covered canvas arrangement in our library. Given that we really do not want to rewire a doorbell and re-drywall this wall, we are going to flip flop the ideas.

Here are some examples of the fabric wall art:

Thankfully, I have also found DIY instructions at How About Orange and Bella Dia. I'll let you know how they turn out!

Photo Source: Bella Dia and Modernarteveryday's Etsy Shop (originally found by me at One Room Living's Blog.)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Swingin' from the NEW Chandelier!

Yet another busy weekend...consisting of our third wedding of the summer. Congrats to Tom & Kelly!

We had time to pick up our new chandelier for the dining room and install it tonight!!!!!!!!!!!

This has been a LONG time coming. Here are some pictures of the old one, circa 1978 (our best guess).

I was so excited to get that thing down that i was acting all sorts of crazy with it.

After some huffing and puffing, we installed the new one and it works, which is always a plus when you're dealing with electrical wiring!

Nate also devised a new & improved system for lining the shelves of the cabinets that does NOT follow the directions. Here he is in action (also a sneak peak at the drawers with their new handles!):

No creases in that paper!

We have one more coat of paint to put on the doors and the finished cabinet wall will be revealed!