Sunday, September 15, 2013

week fifteen: the front door

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As promised, here is an updated photo of our living room with the front door painted a glossy black! I am really loving the way this looks in our home. It helps to pull together some of the different elements in our open living area and makes everything seem a little more polished.

After painting the door, I realized that I am not loving the silver door hardware, but I don't think replacing it with something that I love is not really an option right now due to our HOA. I'm going to look into it, but I'm not sure that it's possible to have one style of door knob/lock on the outside and another on the inside... I did do some research, though, and found this tutorial for spray painting door hardware. I'm going to give it a try, and you can be sure that I will let you know how it goes!

Friday, August 30, 2013

week fourteen: painting living room trim

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A couple of weeks ago I finally got around to painting the trim in our living room. It seems like such a little thing, and it really only took me about 20 minutes to paint all of the trim in the entire room, but freshly painted trim makes a room feel so much newer, brighter and cleaner. Before I painted all of the trim, I replaced that little piece of trim that had been removed during the kitchen remodel (yes...that was 3 years ago...). I don't even know whether anyone else ever noticed that it was missing, and I'm sure that no one will notice that it's fixed, but it makes a really big difference to me! 

 I am ready to get cracking on getting the rest of the house painted--walls, trim and all! I can't wait to share our next project with you--we painted the back of the front door black, and I am loving what a difference it makes in our home!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

ramos house cafe

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An old friend of mine from high school was in town a couple of months ago, and she introduced me to this sweet little spot in San Juan Capistrano. The Ramos House Cafe has easily become my favorite spot in Orange County for brunch--the perfect spot to say, take your oldest girlfriend for her birthday brunch! Which is exactly what happened this past weekend. Mind you, I'm not really that good of a friend as her birthday was in April...

Located in Old San Juan, this place has it all--a great traditional restaurant concept where "the wines are kept in the cellar, the herbs are grown in the garden and the is turned out back," an ever-changing seasonal menu, and last but certainly not least: great patio seating. While kind of a pricey brunch, it really is worth it. We enjoyed the apple cinnamon beignets, small basil cured salmon lox, organic heirloom summer squash hash with fried poached eggs, and the smoked bacon scramble with wilted rocket and apple fried potatoes. Everything was lovely. I highly recommend the heirloom summer squash hash with the fried poached eggs. It was perfect, so perfect that I am going to try to figure out how to make it at home.

If you're not hungry after all of that, I just don't know what to do with you.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

in season: tomato bruschetta

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Lately each one of our CSA boxes has contained lovely summer tomatoes. Since Justin doesn't care for tomatoes, I've been enjoying a lot of Caprese Salads, Greek salads and bruschetta in the process of using all of these beautiful tomatoes. I think I finally got my bruschetta recipe just right, so I thought I would share it! 

Tomato Bruschetta 
Makes 2-3 servings depending on the size of your tomato 

1 tomato, diced 
1-2 clove garlic, minced (depending on your mood and any date plans later in the day)
1.2 t. extra virgin olive oil + extra for grilling bread
1 t. balsamic vinegar
2 basil leaves, chopped or torn into small pieces
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
small baguette (I get the Organic Baby Baguettes from Trader Joe's)

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Heat grill to low heat. Brush baby baguette with olive oil and place face down on the grill. Grill a few minutes until just golden. Scoop your bruschetta onto your baguette and enjoy (preferably with a glass of wine and a sweet spot sitting outdoors). 

Do you have any favorite recipes for summer tomatoes?

Monday, July 29, 2013

week thirteen: patio lights

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I cannot believe how far behind I am on posting my home project a week for this year! I should be posting week 30 on Friday...Since that is obviously not going to happen, I promise that I have been doing projects, I just haven't been getting around to posting them. I will work on getting caught up as soon as possible because I have some fun things to share. 

I put these string lights up on our patio several weeks ago (they are just these lights from Target), and we have really been enjoying the soft light for dinners or just sitting and talking and/or enjoying the peaceful quiet that is typical for our little street. I have long been a lover of "twinkle lights" which I am sure stems from my mother's tendencies toward all things sparkly. String lights take an outdoor space from nice to ambient. They add some beautiful romance to everyday life.

And they just make me happy. No further justification needed, right? 

P.S. What do you think of our summer wreath? It was the easiest wreath I've ever put together, but I think it might be my favorite so far. Although this Christmas wreath would rank a very close second!

P.S.S. Do these pictures feel like Fall to anyone else?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

my baby brother's high school graduation

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A couple of weeks ago we piled into the car and drove up to Carson City for my brother's high school graduation. I am so proud of my little brother for finishing his senior year strong and making some good plans for his summer and school in the fall!

There seems to be some negativity out there in the world regarding the significance of graduating from high school, but what an exciting time of life! Graduating from childhood into adulthood. So many hopes and ambitions and dreams yet to be tainted by the world. My hope for my brother is that he dreams great dreams and imagines amazing things that he can accomplish in his life. I hope that he pursues those dreams without allowing himself to become jaded by the world. 

My brother is 10 years younger than me, so his graduation has led to a great deal of reflection as it has forced me to realize that I was in his position 10 years ago. I wish that my newly graduated self would have written a letter to my 10 years later self. At that time, my goal was to become a Pulitzer prize winning journalist, covering stories in war zones related dangerous beats. I was even looking into learning Farsi because the war had just started in the Middle East, and covering that was my dream job. I don't really remember thinking about whether I'd be married with children at this point in my life. I just remembered that I wanted adventure. I wanted to make a difference in the world. Life has taken some interesting and unpredictable turns over the last 10 years to get me to where I am at this moment. I'm looking forward to seeing where the next 10 years take me.

Sometimes I feel like I've spent a lot of time spinning my wheels. What am I doing with my life? I mean, I love my life right now, but am I making any sort of difference in the world? How timely that my Bible study group just started going through a book called She Did What She Could. Maybe my part in changing the world will be smaller than I imagined it would be ten years ago, but I can still make a difference.

I think I'll sit down and write a letter to my 10 years from now self...

 "Establishing goals is all right if you don't let them deprive you of interesting detours." (Doug Larson) 

 "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

week twelve: coffee table

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Last week my dad had a conference for work in San Diego, so I decided to take a couple of days off of work *gasp* and drive down south for some quality time with my parents. They then rode back up to Orange County with me to stay with us for a couple of days. 

While I was down in San Diego, my mom and I decided to do some thrift shopping with the goal of finding a coffee table for our little house. I had a very specific sort of coffee table in mind--a midcentury slat bench. Don't ask me how I got this idea into my head but it wouldn't leave and J had no problem with it, so I could settle for nothing else. We just happened to find two such benches on our excursion. The first one was the right price, but there was just something about it that was not quite right. Enter Vestige. We walked into the shop and we immediately knew that there was something special. I browsed casually, keeping my eyes peeled for anything slat bench-y. The owner asked me if I was looking for anything in particular to which I replied, "Why, actually, yes," and he led to me to the back room where the one sat in the middle of the room. 

The only problem was that I drove my little Honda Accord down to San Diego, and I had to fill it up with two more adults plus luggage for hour and a half drive home. So, we entered into a deal called If You Can Fit it in My Car, I Will Buy It. And would you believe it? He got my coffee table to fit into my car! And that is the story of your adoption, little coffee table.

This is such a cool piece because it expands to about twice it's size! And it still looks pretty while expanded. It is also a bench so you can sit on it. Talk about versatile. And in a small space, versatile furniture is a major plus. I just love this bench/coffee table. It just looks like it belongs in our living room. Now, I need to find some amazing coffee table books (I really want to find one on California!). I also feel like this table needs a small cactus garden. What do you think?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

week eleven: entry mirror

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Remember this mirror? I don't blame you--I had kind of forgotten about it myself. I had planned to hang it above our bed after I found or made a headboard (which obviously has not happened yet). But, then I started reading some feng shui article and learned about how bad it is to have two mirrors facing each other (we have a very large mirror attached to our dresser which is directly across from the wall where I intended to hang this mirror). Also, we are kind of thinking about hanging the painting that used to be in our living room above the bed.

I had purchased this mirror to hang next to our front door, but when I got it home and started to hang it, I just hated it. This gold mirror has literally been sitting around my house for nearly 2 years (eek!), so I decided to just hang it up, and I love it here. It is perfect. Every front door should have a mirror next to it, right?

Looking at these photos, I am realizing how desperately our front door needs to be painted. We bought some glossy black paint for this door, so we'll see how that turns out--I'll try to get that done this weekend! I also need some new curtains for that slider door. Feel free to send me some fabric or curtain options! I am struggling with finding just the right thing (I kind of like this concept, but I'm not sure about the color ways available).

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

week ten: living room art

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I have been dying to get these pieces up on the wall for a few weeks now, but wanted to wait until we had been painted so that we could really enjoy them with that clean white background. I found both pieces at the same flea market in Irvine (months apart). 

I love a sort of gritty local color genre of American literature, and these paintings evoke that same sentiment in me. They tell stories and they make me want to know what the artist was feeling and thinking when they were working on these. Did/do they have a sentimental attachment to that place or those people? Did they imagine these things? Did they copy a photograph? I tried to search for information on both of the artists, but couldn't find anything. It makes me wonder whether they have any other works out there, and what path these pieces took to find themselves hanging on the wall in some little condo in Southern California next to each other...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

week nine: painting the living room

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And just in case you're thinking that it doesn't look different to you, here is a before shot:  photo IMG_4046_zps39822a0c.jpg

On Sunday, the hubs and I woke up a bit late and decided to get straight to work painting the living area because the old wall color just was not working with the new sofa. We also have some new art (and a mirror!) to hang on the walls, and I couldn't bring myself to do that until we painted the walls. 

I decided to go with white (Behr Snowy Pine to be exact). I realize that can be construed as boring, but as you can see here the majority of the rooms that in "pin" as inspiration for our living area have white walls. So, I decided to just go with it--you can't fight city hall. So far, I am loving my boring white walls. They are so clean and fresh and it makes the space feel more modern. 

Since taking these photos, we have re-hung all of our window treatments and replaced all but one of the light switch/outlet covers. I might add that I was nearly moved to tears the other night while trying to re-install all of the hardware for the curtains that cover the sliding door. I do believe that I managed to buy a very temperamental drill. Sometimes it works perfectly for me, and other times...

So, hopefully my next updates will be in regards to hanging things on the walls! And maybe a coffee table. A coffee table would be nice.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

week eight: new sofa!

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Guess what, you guys! I haven't fallen off the edge of the earth or anything. The mister and I have just been quite busy lately with work, life, projects around the casa and another exciting thing which I will share sometime in the near future (don't get too excited--it's not a baby). 

Remember this post from ummmm...last JuneWell, we finally pulled the trigger and bought a new sofaI kept going back and forth between getting a grey sofa or a green velvet sofa. My decision was made for me when Macy's had a huge sale on sofas with no options for green velvet. This is such a game changer for our living room, and now I can finally move forward with this space. T is weekend we are planning to paint, hang some new art, and look at a coffee table that I've been eyeing on  craigslist (fingers crossed that this is the one).

I will work on catching up with all of my home projects on here over the next couple of weeks...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

week seven: umbrella stand

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The patio is coming along nicely. Along with the kitchen, this is one of the most finished spaces in our home. I love our patio (I think it is technically a deck, but I've been calling it the patio since we moved in, and I think I'll just stick with it)--it is such a peaceful spot. And since we live in Southern California, it is a space that we can utilize pretty much year-round. 

So, this week's project/new addition is the umbrella base. Riveting, isn't it? We bought our patio furniture last year from Target, but we missed out on the umbrella base. I bought a base at a local hardware store, but it didn't fit with the table structure. After Target rolled out their Spring seasonal outdoor merchandise, you cannot understand how excited I was to see that they had brought back our patio furniture. This meant that they had also brought back the umbrella base! I obviously purchased it immediately (it was even on sale--clearly the stars had aligned), brought it home and set it up. Now I just need a gate, some twinkle lights and a bin for the hose, and I think that our patio will be "finished." For now, anyway.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

week six: cozy little reading corner

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This little reading corner is one of the things that I have most been looking forward to in pulling the office together. I bought this chair at a garage sale before I moved into my very first apartment. I know that this it's not the chicest chair out there, but it is so comfortable. I don't know whether La-Z Boy makes/made a smaller recliner for women, but this chair is the perfect size for me. This is going to be the perfect spot for lazy Saturday mornings and the occasional bout of insomnia. I'll add a throw pillow to the chair when "the  one" crosses my path...

Can we talk about that lamp for a minute? Forty dollars from Target. Yes. I have passionately hated floor lamps until I found this one, and now there are two of these lamps in our home (the other is in the living room).

I'll have another project update for you tomorrow, then I think I'll be all caught up! What projects have you been working on?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

week five: office book case

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[ sorted according to genre ]
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[ progress ]
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[ i love this guy -- he's only slightly smaller than Chloe ]
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[ obviously Nina claimed prime real estate on the shelf ]
The book case is up in the office! The book arrangement/shelf styling is not final--I definitely have some tweaking to do here and there. But, it is [finally] up! And all of our books are in the house (there were three big crates full of books down in the garage) and on proper shelves. Our books have a home. This also made me realize that I own quite a few books that I haven't read yet. Must get on that.

What is going on with those bottom shelves? My plan for the very bottom row is to get magazine storage for my problem collection of Vogue, Martha Stewart Living, Whole Living, Elle Decor, and yes, every single issue of Blueprint. Just the magazines that I like to look through every now and then for inspiration. There will also be at least one cube filled with binders for my filing system. And, of course, any remaining space will be filled with more books!

There is still so much to do in this room. But, we are getting there, one little (or rather large) piece at a time.

Monday, February 18, 2013

week four: office shoe molding

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See that little gap between the floor board and the floors?
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Gap be gone.

Well, hello there! I promise that I have been keeping up with my project per week, I just haven't been getting around to posting the projects...This is probably the most boring post I've ever done, but it is a mini-update on the office.

I finally finished installing the shoe molding! I thought that this was going to be such a cheap and easy project that would just take one little Saturday. I was so wrong. It was just one thing after another--I bought the wrong shoe molding, then went back to Home Depot to buy the right shoe molding, but the guy who could cut it for me was off in about 4 minutes. So, I went back to Home Depot the following weekend and found out that they didn't even carry the shoe molding that I needed. The guy referred me to a local lumber store that definitely carried what I needed. When I got to the lumber store, they had been closed for an hour and a half. So, I finally made it to the lumber store while they were opened, purchased and painted the correct shoe molding, then started to install it and realized that I wasn't going to be able to do it without a drill. So, J and I drove over to Home Depot on a Sunday night to purchase a drill. We bought a nice little cordless drill, got it home and found out that it had to charge for 12 hours before it could be used.

Now that I know exactly what I need and have all of the tools, installing the shoe molding in the rest of the house will be a very simple little project...Shoe molding is such a little thing (and so inexpensive--the molding for this room came to a grand total of $12.61!), but it has such a big impact. The room looks so much more finished. I can't wait to get this done throughout the house!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

week three: kitchen sink cabinet

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Before: how does this happen?
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After: bins set this space up for keeping this cupboard organized long-term
Here's a little organization project for Week 3 of Operation: Make This House a Home (I'll get the page up and running this weekend). The cabinet below our kitchen sink had been taken over by paper and plastic shopping bags (even though I use our reusable shopping bags everywhere!). The really exciting part of this project is that it cost me $7.99 and 15 minutes of my time. That 15 minutes included taking everything out, a trip down to the recycle bin, wiping down the entire cupboard, taking photos, and putting everything back. 15 minutes??? Yeah--there are just no more excuses for getting things done.

That 15 minutes was followed by 60 minutes in Home Depot gathering supplies for next week's project!

What projects have you been working on this week?