Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Girl (and boy) Can Dream

Last week my husband and I took a little trip to Lows (our favorite big box store for home improvement) to see if we could live a dream.  We have a dream to add a whole wall of kitchen cabinets, counters, and a pantry into our little kitchen. 
I designed this kitchen to be open to the dining room.

Sorry about the mess, I'm working on that.
You see, we have a nice kitchen, and the cabinet space is ok, but one whole wall in the kitchen is totally underutilized. 
I like to ignore this side of the kitchen.

In fact, it is bare.  For practical purposes we put up some cheep shelving and an island I brought with me from my college days, but it is not pretty.

I really don't like having my messy food stuff on display and the island (in the corner) has become a dumping ground for random stuff-we-don't-know-where-to-put. 
Dried fruits, baking goods, and  Worcestershire sauce??? I have no organization.

I can't explain why I have so many open boxes of Triscuits. I like then ok?

Our solution?  More shelves, more cabinets, a pull out pantry and a little bookshelf for my cook books...all on that wall.

We made an apointment and we went into see Jessica.  I love Jessica by the way, she was the sweetest person I have ever tried to buy something from.  I didn't even feel bad when I left without buying anything (but I get ahead of myself).  We met Jessica, and spent two hours with her designing our new wall in the kitchen. 

It was not too hard to make the design because I knew what I wanted. 
1) Glass cabinets for my nice glasses and serving platters.
2) A rounded bookshelf on the end.  The bookshelf would be the bridge between the open dining room and the kitchen.
3) A large pull out pantry for all my messy food stuff (nicely hidden away).
4) An enclosed refrigerator (on the sides) with cabinets above.

In the end we had several designs. The differences between them are slight, but enough to make me wonder.
The cabinets on the left are glass.
The first design had everything I wanted, including four glass cabinets, and I could get the glass in a dimond stained glass look.  I really liked that one.  Jessica encouraged us to take this one, saying that there was nothing wrong with having your food showing behind the glass.  On this point I disagree. I like glass cabinets to be tidy.

We tried out a look with two glass doors and one small wood one on the side, but Jessica said it was impracticable to have a 9 inch (or 13 or whatever) cabinet because you can't really put anything in it.  I actually liked this design a lot, but the first design made a stronger statement.

Then after deciding we liked the glass and rejecting the three door option we found out how much it would cost us....$5,000 NOT including installation.  That was way over our price point.  (Needless to say I was a little bummed, but I understand money is tight)

That is when we tried plan three.  The Cheap Cabinets.
The Cheap Cabinet
No glass, no pull out pantry (just a big cabinet with shelves) and the refridgerator would stick out a bunch (more than you can see here).  I was not thrilled. 

In the end we realized that even though The Cheap Cabinets were half the price, we still could not afford them.  So we made a compromise.

...I have to add an aside here, my hubby is so sweet, he really wants to give me everything.  He felt bad we couldn't get them.  He's a sweetie...

We decided to save our money for the next 8-12 months and get the good cabinets then.  We will save a little money each month and by next winter maybe we can get them.

I'm going to have to live with my messy open shelving for another year but we will be working towards our dream.  One day it will be a reality.  At least we know it can be done.

Here is one last shot of the reality and the dream. 


P.S. Keep your eye out for an organization post on the shelves, I hope to at least make them a little neater.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Expedit Booksheves

Jen over at IHeart Organizing just made a post on Expedit book shelves so I thought I would write this quick post myself to show off my Expedit shelves. 
That's them on the right.
My husband and I have a very long but narrow living room and very little square footage in our house, so it made sense to us to divide the living room into two spaces, living room and office.  We used the black/dark brown large expedit bookshelves to do so.  We even got the desk that attaches to them for my husband's desk, while my desk is tucked in the corner of the "office."  (I'm not going to show you my office yet, because it is a disaster.  It is on my list of things to organize)

This is our shelf system.  I have an orange thing going on in the living room so I got a bunch of the orange cardbord boxes and magazine holders for the book shelf.  Looking back I might have prefered baskets, but the boxes were much cheaper at the time.  

I love this bookshelf as a room divider and the boxes provide lots of extra storage.  The built in label pockets are great too. 

I also like to play with light and sillouetts since the shelves are open on both sides.
See how the light comes through the vase?
Overall, this was a good fit for our needs. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Rug

I have not shown you pictures of all my rooms yet because the house is a work in progress, but I want to show you how my new rug looks. 

In our last house we had a small oriental rug.  The colors were all wrong, the rug had big moth holes in it, and it was too small for the space.  That rug is now in storage.

My search for rugs started on the internet where I looked at every major rug cite to find a good one.  I imediatly fell in love with this one from West Elm. 
Then I realized that it was a very tight weave and would not be comfertable to lie on.  I imagined my future children playing on the living room rug, and this tough rug was not going to cut it.
So I turned to a rug from Pottery Barn.  I think I was leaning toward a simple off white one with a slightly darker trim. 
Alas, my hubby and I decided that it was too light and would show every stain and dribble of tea or, horrors, red wine.  I was not going to give up drinking red wine in my living room for a rug, and said small future children  probably would not be much happier either (not because of the no red wine rule, but no juice or whatever they drink).

So for the first couple of month living in my new home our living room looked like this:
No rug at all.
In comes my wonderful step-mother, Susan.  She has a kind heart and wanted to get Jeff and I a little gift for the house.  Guess what she got us?  A rug (big suprise right?)  I took a little trip down to the big city (New York City) and went shopping with Susan.  I love shopping with her, we have so much fun!!!

We went to both West Elm and Pottery Barn and saw rugs that were nice, but when we saw this rug at ABC Carpets we fell in love. Susan has a friend who is an interior designer and recomended ABC Carpets, otherwise I would not have known about it at all.

Because I was not looking for an oriental rug, it was still difficult to find a rug even at ABC Carpets, where they had at least two floors of carpets.  However, after looking and talking to the salesman, we found the one
I really like this rug.  It is super soft, and comfy to lie on, and I love the color.  I think it coordinates well with the more bold colors in the room.  I wanted something that would tie the room together without competing with the other, I admit, very bold accents and furniture.  Susan and I also liked that it looked different from different angles.  Depending on how the light hits the rug the pattern is more or less visible. 
The pattern is quite defined on the left in this shot.

See how it almost disappears here?
But before I end this post I have to tell you about my crafty step-mom who got a really good deal.  After we had picked out the rug and decided we liked it we were debating the cost of shipping and how it will get back to my house which is two and a half hours away.  I don't remember all the details (I got the rug two month ago) but I can just say we started off with a good deal.  Then Susan found out that the store owner had friends who lived on the same road as her house up here.  Susan proceeded to chat him up, and get the cost cut even more.  I have never seen someone get such a discount.  She was amazing.  We walked out of there saving at least a couple hundred dollars.  If there is a lesson to learn it is that you should never be afraid to ask for a discount, especially if you can chat up the store owner (wink, wink).  Go Susan! 
Now I have a great rug, and we saved some money as well. 

But I'm not done.  After living in the room for a while there are still some things I want to change.  You may have noticed that I added an orange cover to the chair?
I have also done some little things like add a place for the remotes and redesigned the book shelves. 

But now I think the room needs more light.  I'm thinking of adding some white accents.  I love the white vases that are all over the blog-o-sphere and might paint my lamp white too.  Decorating is a fluid exercise.  I keep changing my mind. 
Sorry this photo is so dark, I'll have to get a better shot in the day time.

I don't want the room to be more crowded, but I need to lighten it up.  What do you think?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Paper Crafts

Over the last couple of months I have been very busy, but I did find time for two paper crafts that I think turned out really well.

The first was a project I made for my husband.  Jeff and I always have a joke that different things are in our vows.  Such as "It is your job to shovel the is in our vows."  Now we both know that is not really the case.  But it got me will we remember what was in our vows twenty years from now.  We worked so hard to write them, we should have some record of them somewhere.  So I made this:

We wrote our vows together, and both said them to each other.  This made my project easier because I could just write one version.  I don't have any fancy cutters (like the Silhouette I hope to win) or anything, but I did go out and buy a Martha edge cutter for the project.  I also found this free invitation printout for the actual writing.  In all, it was not two difficult to make.  I enjoyed making something for my man, and it was something truly meaningful.

I also bought a Pottery Barn frame to finish it off, but it was on sale so I didn't break the bank.

The best part about making this project was how touched Jeff was when I gave it to him.  It actually made him feel bad for not buying me something more romantic (hint: jewelry).

The second paper project was something I made in an evening.  I was going over to my step-mother's house to celebrate a combined birthday and Christmas so I had a bunch of gifts, but I realized I forgot to get her a card.  Now my step-mother loves cards.  They are almost more important than the gift at all.  I thought: you know, a hand made card is better than a store bought one anyway.  Not to mention I actually forgot to call her on her actual birthday so I was in trouble as it was.

I made her this card:
Inside said: "but I hope spring comes early!"
I also have to mention that I have In a Pretty Pickle to thank for the idea of making a card at all.  Lena really inspired me to try my hand at a handmade (ha) card.  I may not have all the fancy stuff, but I can still make a nice little card.

That is my paper crafts.  It's not a lot, but considering I was in India for six weeks, this is not too bad.  I can't wait to make more. Handmade Valentines anyone?


Friday, January 21, 2011

New Tub...Almost

When I moved into this house there were a couple of things that needed to be done right away.  This tub was one of them.

As you can see it was less than perfect, and this was after the guy started to patch the holes.  The tub was just bad.  It was worn down to the cast iron in some spots and had so many holes that the man I hired to fix it said he should be charging me a fortune.  Apparently his father-in-law charges two dollars a hole, and I had little pock marks all over the place.

Scrapping the whole tub was not an option because the tile work in there was all new.  I actually picked out the tiles (about ten years ago, I inherited the house).  So although my taste has changed I can't justify paying for a whole new bathroom.

BUT we could justify the 500 bucks it cost to refinish the tub.  And it was well worth the money.

Here is my tub today.

Nice and white now right?  I'm so happy to take a bath in this baby.

This is the whole bathroom.  There are many things I would change (see my inspiration post here).  Overall, it is not too bad.
That's my husband's hanger (he gave up ironing)
What do you think?  The bathroom is not perfect and the pink marble coupled with blue tiles are a little much, but overall it is not too bad right?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I'm such an optimist!

I'm always entering contests online.  I am that person who perpetually thinks they will win something, but never actually does. 

Actually that is not true, I won 20 moving announcements this summer  from Our Humble A{Bowe}d.
This is her work, but not the moving announcement as I didn't want to give out my address.

Before I left for India I was entering myself to win all kinds of things, and just ended up with a crowded inbox. 

So here I go again.

I just entered to win a Silhouette Cutter! @houseofsmiths 

This what I win (I think):

In the box

The Silhouette machine ships with the following important items:
  • Silhouette machine
  • Software for Windows XP/Vista/7 and Mac OS X 10.5.8 and higher
  • Power cable, USB cable
  • 2 Cutting mats (one for thick media, one for thin media)
  • Cutting blade
  • $10 gift card to the Silhouette Online Store
Silhouette SD

 And, I can make things like this... (and a whole lot more)
It is a pretty cool machine.  Basically it cuts out designs from your computer.  I have dreams of making stencils and cards and such.  It is not something I would buy for myself, because I don't do that stuff enough, but if I won it...that would be nice. 

Feel free to hop on over the House of Smiths for your own chance to win.  Hey, you never know. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Is it spring yet?

I know I just got back from five weeks in the tropics, but I miss spring.  Spring is my favorite season, and I anticipate it from fall onward.  So to speed up the process a little, at least in my house, I decided to force some bulbs.

Generally bulbs are forced in October, so you can have flowers in December.  I was very busy in October, and I was not going to be around in December so I decided to wait to force my bulbs until now.  If my calculations are correct I should have bulbs in time for Easter.  I'm hoping to give flowering tulips as Easter gifts.

Here is what I did:

Step 1: Gather supplies.
Potting soil (the websites I consulted recomended using a mix of potting soil, sand and garden loam.  I didn't have anything but potting soil, and one site said I could use just that, so I am trying pure potting soil this year)
Pots- I used cheap plastic ones, but in a nice white color.  I plan to tie a ribbon around them in the end. 
Watering can

Step 2: Fill pots 3/4 full of soil.
Again, if I had all the supplies I would have put some pebbles in the bottom of the pots for better drainage, but alas, there is snow covering the ground so no pebbles were to be found.

Step 3: Place bulbs in pots.
The recommendations I read from various websites gave different advice about how many bulbs to put in each pot.  Because my bulbs were a little on the small side, I decided to just fill up the pots with bulbs.  I put about five to six bulbs in each six inch pot.  The key is not to let the bulbs touch.  Another good tip I got was to put the flat side of the bulbs on the outside.  This is where the large leaves will form, so it is more pleasing to have them on the outside.  I will have to wait to see if this is true, but I figured it would not hurt.

Step 4: Partially cover bulbs with soil.
Some of my bulbs already started to sprout, so I think the time in the refrigerator will be shorter.
I covered the bulbs with soil, allowing the tips of the bulbs to sick up.  I did not pack down the soil as leaving the bulbs loosely in the soil was suggested. 

Step 4: Water the bulbs.
I was not sure how much water the bulbs needed, but I know they need to be kept moist for the duration of the cold period.  I lightly watered them, using my hand to sprinkle the water over the bulbs.

Step 5: Put bulbs in a cold place.

I used the little flower labels to keep track of which bulbs were in which pot.
I have an extra refridgerator in my basement.  This was the perfect place to chill my bulbs.  I will  have to check them periodically and water them, but they are now in a cold dark place.

Step 6: Wait. 

The bulbs are to be kept in the dark for 13 weeks.  Because my bulbs were kept in the basement for the past couple of month I'm not sure if this rule still applies.  I have thirteen weeks until Easter, so I'm alright.  From my research I just have to keep them chilled until I see the shoots are about 2-3 inches high and the roots are sticking out the bottom.  I will let you know if this happens faster than the 13 weeks allotted.  

My tulips are in the works, and in 13 weeks or less I should have orange, pink and white tulips in my house.  The only problem? By the time I have my flowers it will be practically spring.  Oh well, maybe winter will run a little longer this year (I can't believe I just suggested that!).  Anyway who would complain about fresh flowers, no matter the season?

I still have some daffodils and paper-white bulbs to be planted, and they don't need any chill time.  As soon as I have some more soil and pebbles they will be in my windowsills. Spring may still come to the Designed by Chance home early.  

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Own Paradise

I spent the past five weeks in Anjuna, Goa, India.  This little beach village has a special place in my heart because I was born there (actually in a hospital nearby, but that is another story).  Anjuna is a very well known little village if you are in the right circles.  Basically it is the center of the hippie enclave in India for the last 30-40 years (I realize that is a massive generalization, so don't take it too literally).  Some people might say that Baga (just over the hill) is, but I was raised in Anjuna so I'm biased toward this side of the hill. 

Thirty years ago it had not roads, no electricity, and no rules.  Now, things have changed, but there is still only one road, and no rules. 
This is the little steeple on the hill.
My trip to Anjuna was two-fold. One, I wanted to visit my sister, brother, and friends in Goa.  Two, I needed to do my research for my Master's thesis which is an oral history of the expatriates in Goa.  I got both my goals done.  Eighteen people sat with me and told me about their experiences living in Goa, and my big sister and little brother were great friends.

There is something very special about Anjuna.  At this time of year the weather is perfect.  It is sunny and warm, and the ocean gets warmer every day.

Life is slower and more relaxed in Anjuna.  For example, a perfect day in Anjuna started with an early swim and tanning session on the beach.  If you get to the beach before eleven you will find only locals.  I loved to sit and watch the local expat kids swim, play racket ball, and generally have a wonderful time on the beach.
This is the chai shop where I usually had a chair on the beach.
By one o'clock it is time for a little lunch at Joe's.  Joe Banana's is the best lunch and breakfast place in South Anjuna.  It is also the center of the social scene.  I always see people I know.  They have the restaurant set up with several big tables, so every one can sit and talk. 
Outside Joe's.
These days a veg thali is the best option.  Lots of veggies, rice and my favorite, chapaties (flat wheat rounds).
Veg Thali
It is very common and totally acceptable to just stop in to your friends house for a visit.  This is one part of Goa I love.  You don't have to make plans and schedules, you just walk over and visit a friend.  As things do, this is changing a little.  With cell phones, people tend to call ahead, but overall, things are still pretty relaxed.
I love the little walking (or motorbike) paths all over the village.
The other nice aspect of visiting friends is that you don't have to actually go on any road to do this.  You can just walk down the little coconut tree lined paths.  Everything in South Anjuna is walking distance.  There is nothing better than walking to the beach let me tell you.
Path to the beach.
Path to visit a friend.
Sunset is another moment to return to the beach.  I have tons of pictures of the sunsets because I watched them every day.  As the winter progresses, the sunsets get clearer.  Again, I often run into friends and acquaintances, and can enjoy and good chai before dinner. 

So for a quiet person like me, this was my life.  There are many options if you are more of a party goer or like to drink at night, but I preferred to be home by sunset and only went out to the raves when my brother was playing.  He is a great DJ. 

I'm not sure if I described Anjuna well, but in many ways it is a difficult place to describe.  I will leave you with this: Anjuna has it's own special magic.  As a woman, Mariposa, put it to me in an interview, "Goa is a different paradise for each person."
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