Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Master Bedroom Update ... Take 2

If at first you don't succeed ...
The very first room I painted before we even moved into the Capers was the master bedroom. I wanted to get it painted before we had carpet installed, which we also wanted done before we moved the furniture in. So painting this cape-cod style bedroom was one of my first real attempts at home decorating.

And well, first attempts don't always go well. So I just recently decided to give this room another shot. And I even learned a couple things during this little re-makeover, which I'm going to share with you in this post.

I decided to start with a nice, fresh, clean palette of flat white on the walls and ceiling. Tip#1: I learned from painting our upstairs hallway and half bath that when ceilings are an issue (too low, bad plaster job, etc), it's best to keep them the same color as the walls so you don't draw attention to them.

Don't mind the mess at the foot of the bed. We haven't found a new home for one of the old nightstands yet, so it's currently serving as an impromptu laundry table.

But the paint color is definitely better than the half blue, half white thing we had going on before:

You'll also notice that I switched out the brown sheer curtains that came with the house for some sleek white roman shades from Lowes. Much better!

Also, the mismatched tv tray nightstands have been replaced by actually matching nightstands, painted in "Free Spirit" by Pittsburgh Paints. My mom scooped these up at a St. Vincent DePaul's in Michigan, and then gave them the gorgeous paint job you see. She put white ceramic knobs on them before giving them to me, but I decided to add my own touch with some knobs I picked up from Target.

Sick girls shouldn't tackle DIY projects
I have a funny/pathetic story about changing out the knobs on these nightstands. I was pretty sick last week and was taking a lot of naps up in our bedroom. One afternoon, I woke up and was just staring at the knobs. When I had taken off the white ceramic knobs, a little bit of the paint had come off at the base of each knob, and the new knobs had a narrower base. So I had a couple spots where you could see the wood underneath. Tip #2: Wait three days after painting before installing hardware if you ever think you'll change it.

Luckily, my mom was sweet enough to send me a little jar of the paint so I could touch them up. And it had just been sitting there, so I figured, what the heck? It was an easy, quick little fix that wouldn't be too difficult for a girl with Coxsackievirus (that's what we think I had).

Well, whatever I was sick with, it definitely seemed to be hindering my ability to think. No joke. All week I was in a daze and forgetting things and had terrible coordination. I hit my head and elbows and stubbed my toes more times than I could count (if I had been able to remember what number I was on). So I'm blaming the virus for my stupidity with this next part:

I unscrewed all the knobs. Then I realized I hadn't pulled any of the drawers out. And without knobs, I had no way of getting them open. Uh-oh. (Tip #3: Don't do that.) At this point I stared blankly at the nightstands for five or ten minutes, trying to get my sick little brain to devise a solution.

Here's how it played out: I was lucky that the screws all stayed in the holes. This was a huge help. For most of the drawers, I was able to very carefully thread the knobs onto the screws, just enough so I could pull the drawer out and then put my finger on the screw head to tighten the knob the rest of the way.

But for the very last drawer, when I attempted to do this, the screw got pushed back into the hole so I couldn't even pull it out. Stumped. Sat and stared for awhile. Idea. I ran downstairs and grabbed a magnet from the fridge. Ran back up and used the magnet to pull the screw out so I could try to thread the knob on again. Same thing happened. I tried a few times, but it was obvious this wasn't going to work.

Next, I ran downstairs and grabbed a flat screwdriver. Back upstairs. I tried to wedge it in the gab and pry the drawer open, but this did little more than ding up the paint job. More staring. Tried the magnet and knob a few more times.

Another idea. I ran downstairs again (yeah, this is exactly what someone who left work early so she could rest should be doing) and grabbed a set of pliers. Ran upstairs and crossed my fingers that I wasn't about to strip the screw and ruin everything.

I used the magnet to get the screw to stick out of the hole, then grabbed the screw with the pliers. I tried not to squeeze it to hard so I didn't damage the threads, and just pulled gently. Voila. Drawer open. Thinking about it now, I feel like this was the most obvious solution and probably everyone else would have started with this idea. Am I right?

Anyway, back to the bedroom
The cool thing about these nightstands is that we're pretty sure they used to be a single vanity, maybe made in the 1920s, that someone split apart to make two separate nightstands. You can see the marks on the back and along one side on each where it looks like they were cut and then sanded down.

I also purchased some new matching lamps. I know, I know, another matching set! So unlike me. But I gotta admit, I'm digging the symmetry. I picked up the lamps for $30 a piece at Christmas Tree Shops.

Oh! See that shadow box on the wall in the picture above? I made that for Chris as a Christmas present using his old track and field medals from high school! I used needle-nose pliers to remove some of the extra ribbon bands, then just used a little hot glue on each medal and it was good to go.

I also repainted this mirror that I bought years ago at a Salvation Army for $6 I think. I used Valspar's "Tranquility." You can kind of see that it has a bit more green in it than the nightstands, but I kind of like the mix of tones. Not too matchy matchy. (Phew! A little relief from my matching nightstands and matching lamps!)

I also bought new sheets that are a similar-ish color to the nightstands and the mirror. I kind of dig it with the gray comforter and throw pillows.

I also love this detail. The nightstands are on casters, and you can see where the former owner had slopped some paint on them when the nightstands were painted red. Love the history and not-too-perfect details. Tip #4: Don't fix the little mistakes.; enjoy them.

All in all, I'm thrilled with the changes. It looks so cozy in our room at night now. I love using the table lamps when we climb into bed, and the white walls just glow so nicely from the light through the linen shades. And who wouldn't love those adorable nightstands?

I've actually found myself going up to our room to watch a tv show on the laptop, rather than downstairs in the living room, just because I love the room so much. Well, that, and it's a pretty nice place to get in a nap when you're sick ... But I am all better now, though! Brain is even functioning normally, and I haven't hit my head or ran into any walls in days. What an achievement ...
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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Decorating with Vacation Memories

Let's be honest. Getting home from a vacation sort of blows. That first day of work after you spend a week in Disney World? Painful.

But rather than whine and complain (ok, I do that too), I try to focus on turning a vacation memory into something tangible that will remind me of how lucky I am to get to go on super awesome vacations with my husband.

For our honeymoon, Chris and I went to Playa del Carmen, Mexico. So this is what I have on my refrigerator now as an awesome daily reminder of our trip (and our trips to Hawaii and NYC).

See that postcard that says MEXICO, spelled out in pictures? I made that! Here's how:

How to Make Your Own Vacation Postcard
1. Pick out the same number of pictures as the letters in your vacation city or country. I recommend using the shortest word you can so your pictures will be larger. You can also break the word in half, so for example, I could have put MEX on the top of the card and ICO below it.
2. Next, I used my Paint program to create the white space around each picture, forming it into a single letter. Try to pick pictures that go with the letter shape, so you aren't cutting off heads or anything.
3. After you create each letter, same them as a separate file and then create a new file for the next letter.
4. Once you've got all your letters, create a blank page in Paint that's the right dimensions for the postcard and add in each letter, adjusting them to be as big as you can get them in the space you have.
5. Saved the file with all the letters together. Then just upload the jpeg to Vistaprint or some other printing company that has standard postcard templates. I picked an oversized postcard template so my pictures would be bigger and easier to see.

So easy. And I think when I ordered my postcards, Vistaprint was having a sale, so I had 50 postcards printed (that's the minimum quantity) for pretty cheap. And, as a bonus, since we took our trip to Mexico in January, we ended up using these postcards for our Christmas thank you notes, which our family and friends loved.

Hawaii Memories
Our most recent big trip was 10 days in Hawaii back in April. Returning to the mainland was a sad day indeed. But, check out how I turned some of my vacation photos into d├ęcor for our living room.

Note: I had a hard time photographing the photos in the frames because of the huge window directly across from them. Also, I went with cheap frames from Target, which have plastic "glass". So the photos aren't held completely taut in the frames.

Here are the pictures we had printed in 20" x 30" size with Clarkcolor.com. They were having a buy 1, get 1 free sale, so we had 4 posters printed for the price of 2!

The fourth poster is of a pink pineapple, but I haven't figured out where to hang that one yet.

I plan to one day upgrade the posters frames with chunkier wood frames (maybe something salvaged and rustic looking?) and real glass with a thick backing. But for now, they definitely do the trick of reminding Chris and I of our vacation.

I also love buying postcards on vacation, so I try to display them around the house as well. Here you can see the Mexico postcard I made and another Hawaii postcard on our wall of frames.

Hope this gives you guys some inspiration on how to keep your vacation memories alive around the house. No crabby readers out there lamenting the end of their vacations! (Ok, you can be a little crabby. It's hard getting back to real life.)

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Long Weekend in NYC

So once again I've fallen into a big lull of not posting. But when my friend Kristen alerted me today that it looked like my blog had been taken down (Google blocked it because of suspicious activity, so I had to change my password and answer lots of security questions), I realized:

1. Someone actually was checking in on my blog to read my posts (Yay Kristen! Love you!)
2. I hadn't posted anything since my parent's visit, which was quite a while ago.
3. I had no idea how long the blog had been down, so that seems like a problem.

Thus, I need to remedy this situation. Since it appears I actually have readers. Well, reader. lol

New York City Randomness
First up, our trip to New York City. We decided to go spend a long weekend in the city and visit some friends, see a Broadway play, and just enjoy the little town where Chris and I first met. (The play was Avenue Q, btw. Super hilarious and wonderful!)

On Thursday night, Chris's stepsister Michelle invited us to $30 pizza night. When she first said it like that, we thought it sounded like a terrible deal. Then we discovered it was more than pizza and that this tradition was started by friends of her father's. They used to meet up at this pizza joint and one time they realized they never got a bill. They had really feasted and drank a lot, so everyone just chipped in $30. Thus $30 pizza night was born.

But they totally pamper these guys. The restaurant just kept bringing us out more wine and meatballs and calzones and pizza. We were completely stuffed and kinda drunk by the end. And you know what? $30 seemed like a damn good deal. haha

This is Chris's friend Jacob, who we also visited while we were in the city. He decided to tag along to pizza night.

And here's the whole gang. You can see that our group pretty much took up the whole restaurant. But apparently there was another room in back, because we saw Scott Adsit disappear back there. Our one celebrity sighting of the trip. haha

But anyway, speaking of Chris's friend Jacob, this is where he works:
The New York Stock Exchange

And speaking of places where people work, this is the Google NYC office, where Jacob's friend works.

Jacob's friend invited Jacob, Chris and I to come have lunch with him at the Google office. And it was bananas. Google gives all their employees (and up to 3 guests at a time) free breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And the food was awesome. They bring in real chefs from around NYC to guest cook. And you can go eat out on the balcony and see this glorious view:

Hotel Indigo in Brooklyn
Chris and I decided to bunk in a chic little boutique hotel in Brooklyn. Did you notice how I said little? That was an overstatement. What I meant to say was the world's smallest hotel room. haha

Surprisingly, these pictures make the room look way bigger than it is. There was literally about one foot of space all the way around the bed, and maybe three feet at the foot of the bed. Then this tiny deak and a tiny bathroom. That's all she wrote, folks.

On the plus side, (figuratively), the room was well decorated. I loved this mirror above the desk, as well as the floor-to-ceiling grey curtains. I kinda want to go find an old ornate picture frame from the thrift shop and spray paint it white now ...
The view when you walk in.
The bed nice. Loved the tall white leather headboard and the simple, chic grey and white bed linens. On the wall opposite the bed, there was a mounted flat screen tv.

The bathroom definitely had some space issues, but the finishings were pretty nice. The inside of the shower was gorgeous with little grey rough-cut tiles.

And it went all the way up the wall and arched onto the ceiling and back down the other wall. How adorable is that?? Totally keeping this in mind if our next house ever needs a bathroom renovation.

The faucet about the sink came right out of the mirror, which was kind of neat. A bit modern for my taste, but still nice.

A Trek Among the Stars
Remember how I said we only had one celebrity sighting? Well, that's only kind of true.

Ok, so we didn't actually meet Patrick Stewart, and the Hulk didn't try to kill Chris. We visited Madame Tussauds, which was kind of neat. It's pretty amazing what they can do with wax and a billion hours staring at a celebrity. Well, some of the time. The Matt Lauer wax figure was none too convincing. Hulk was more believable as a real person, actually.

But we did have fun with a few of these wax replicas.
Just me and Salvador Dali, hanging out

Dinner with Mad Scientists
One night, we went over to Jekyll and Hydes for dinner. It's got this mad scientist theme going on, and there are little skits and lots of animatronics. Basically the closest you can get to Disney World in NYC. My favorite part was the restrooms. You walk into this huge fireplace, twist some secret lever and the stone wall falls back and you walk into this long hallway totally lined with books. Mmm, books. Do huge shelves of books make anyone else drool? Just me?

So you just kind of scoot along the wall until you find the section that is actually a secret door and then hope you found the right restroom for your gender. Haha Love it. The hallway was actually much darker than the picture above, but without the flash it was too blurry.

A Whirlwind Tour of Parks
So of course we go to this huge city and spend a huge chunk of our time in the parks, where we can pretend we're not in a huge city. Makes sense, right?

Bryant Park

Battery Park
We spent some time in the new Highline Park. This used to be elevated railroad tracks, but recently, they've been converting the elevated sections into a park, so you can walk along above the streets and under buildings. It's basically a big pier with no ocean. But there are vendors so you can buy goodies and look at art for sale and stuff.
Highline Park
Why yes, that is a red velvet cake ice cream sandwich in my hand. Nice of you to notice.
I thought this section in particular was creative. It's a viewing area so you can watch the cars drive under the park.

So then, we went to Central Park and an epic squirt gun fight broke out among hundreds of people. It was crazy.

We're Not Tourists, I Swear
Ok, maybe a little. I blame Chris.
Times Square

Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge

Buying a mango on the Brooklyn Bridge

Grinning like a fool when the vendor carves your mango to look like a flower
Saw this sign while wandering around. Loved it.

The new World Trade Center
Statue of Liberty and a pirate ship, I guess

Live Like Locals
We also took some time to enjoy the things we would probably do if we actually lived in NYC, like getting a drink with friends after work...

... and waiting an hour in a cramped lobby for our number to be called so we could feast on some super authentic dim sum.

Who sees beef balls? I see beef balls.

There ya have it. A nice long weekend in our favorite city. And hopefully there will be another post or two to come soon. ;-)