Monday, April 29, 2013

Subtle People Walls

I'm pretty sure that's the face my husband made when my text told him that our daughter wanted to paint her room the color people purple. We had a good laugh over that auto-correct fail, and now it has been an ongoing joke. I was seriously read to get my paint on in Claire's room, though, so I could finish unpacking her things and put away the multitude of boxes that are consuming the living room. I picked up a gallon of paint at our local Home Depot, and could not be happier with the result: subtle people purple walls.

Unfortunately my pictures do the color no justice. In person, it is simply divine. The color I chose is Behr's Lilac Champagne in their paint/primer duo formula with an eggshell finish. I had tried another color, Lovely Lavender (also by Behr), but luckily I only purchased a test pot of that color. It turned out to be MUCH brighter than I had anticipated.

Above you can see where I began to cut around the trim with the lilac and over the lavender. The lavender is a pretty shade, but just not the soft, subtle shade I was looking for.

Now that the walls have been painted, I'll be removing the dated aluminum blinds and painting the trim. I should tackle that this week once we have turned our keys over for the rental house in NY. I am also in the process of refinishing her bedroom furniture. I made the unfortunate mistake of choosing the wrong type of polyurethane when I painted her bed, night stand, shelf, and table/chair white a few years ago. The crisp white quickly yellowed and looked more like it had spent the last 30 years in a smoker's haven rather than a toddlers room. Yuck.

Sanding down the furniture turned out to be a lot more tedious than I anticipated, and here is what I wound up with after using three sanding discs:

I'm kind of loving the distressed look. Is that weird? Maybe I am just a tad feeling lazy, too. We'll see how it all comes together once I finish the rest of her furniture and assemble all of the pieces. I've also got a little work to do in her closet.

Your eyes do not deceive you. That is, indeed, a hang bar screwed into the window. An odd choice for placement (not to mention it's an odd place for a window), so I'll be moving it down below the window sill and installing a shelf above it to keep the sunlight from bleaching anything stored inside the closet. More things to throw at Bob. I'll be sharing more about it once I get the basic room together and can formulate a good design plan.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Epic Kitchen Renovation

Well, it might not necessarily be the most epic renovation ever, but it certainly is to us. We've never tackled anything like it before, and so like a good little blogger, I have begun to do my homework when it comes to renovating our kitchen. Before we break down the nitty gritty details of things that may or may not have been decided upon as of yet, I thought I would begin by giving you a quick tour, and then wrap up the post with Bob. Villa. I wish. (Read more about Bob-- no relation to Villa whatsoever-- here.)

Let's get this tour started, shall we? Below is the view of the kitchen as you enter the house from the back door. As you can see, it gets a lot of natural light thanks to the large picture window to the right.

The kitchen doesn't appear to be that large, and I think that is mostly due to the current layout. While it does have that holy appliance to sink trifecta going on, it doesn't leave much in the way of counter space. In fact, those corner cabinets are so deep and low that it is difficult to really even put anything under there. My Keurig is not impressed.

To the left, we have a nice little hole where our refrigerator is supposed to go. Since the old one that came with the house decided to die two days after we moved in, we quickly removed it from the kitchen to make way for its replacement. Unfortunately, the big, beautiful stainless Amana that I scored for cheap on Craigslist doesn't quite fit through the kitchen doorway. So it is sitting right behind this wall in the dining room.

You might be wondering how we are going to get the fridge into the kitchen in the future, and the answer is simple. We intend to remove this wall to open up the kitchen into the dining room. More about that later.

I'm not exactly sure what inspired the previous owners color palette for the kitchen. I wasn't born yet when the yellow and black tile with maroon 50's counter tops must have been all the rage. Despite the eyesore, can't you just envision a beautiful apron-front sink? Rather than install another wall of cabinetry, we're thinking about subway tile and open shelving that flank the window to keep things from looking too heavy.

Our stove is such a small, basic appliance. It works, though, so we can't complain. The venthood overhead, however does not. Well, it would if we used the extension cord that it is wired to to plug it in, but something tells me that an electrical cord hanging over a hot stove is a bad idea. So we've opted to pretend that it doesn't work instead. You know, for the sake of safety and all.

Here, I imagine a lovely gas cook top with a large, rustic venthood. To the right, a double wall oven. The baker in me demands it. I can't tell you how many times I have wished we had an extra oven, or have run next door to a neighbor's house to use theirs.

In order for our wall ovens to fit, however, I think that the large picture window will have to be cut in half. While this will take away some of the lovely natural light that we love so much in this space, we'll be getting two additional windows from the dining room that will reflect into the open space. I think I can live with that.

As for flooring, we haven't really decided on what we want-- mostly because we don't quite know what lurks beneath the linoleum. I have toyed with the idea of just painting the floors to help keep the budget down. I think a large-scale black and white checkerboard painted onto the floor could look quite nice. We'll have to see how easily it will be to cover the transition from kitchen to dining room where the wall used to be as well.

This picture brings us full circle to where we started: the rear door. The wall on the upper right side of this picture is where our fridge will find it's new home. With the counter to the left gone, it should fit quite nicely there and still give plenty of pathway to the back door. This will likely be where the first phase of our renovation begins: removing the cabinetry, counter top, and tile to make way for the fridge.

Lastly, here is a view into the kitchen from the dining room at the front of the house. Here you can see our lovely new stainless steel fridge in its temporary home. This is the wall we intend to remove, and you can see just how much it will open up our floorplan for the kitchen. While I will be losing wall space, I will be gaining so much more with an island here. The storage I lost will be retained with the island, and I will have added SO much more workspace for cooking, baking, or coupon clipping.

We had a small conversation about removing this wall with our home inspector (who also happened to be a contractor). While this wall is a load-bearing wall, it does not mean that we cannot remove it. Obviously we will have to find a way to provide support by using a beam to run the length of where the wall used to be. Wouldn't a salvaged barn beam look beautiful there?

To wrap up this post, let's talk about Bob (our list, not the handy-dandy former This Old House guy).

1. Remove cabinets, counter, and tile from the nook next to the basement door, and prep for fridge.
2. Knock out the wall that separates the kitchen from the dining room.
3. New lower cabinets and floating shelves that flank the window above kitchen sink.
4. Apron front kitchen sink
5. Pick a counter top material.
6. Subway tile backsplash.
7. Gas cooktop and vent hood.
8. Close in half of the picture window and install double wall ovens.
9. Flooring: to paint or not to paint?
10. Island
11. Lighting.
12. Planked ceiling and exposed "barn beam" support.
13. Upgrading the electrical wiring before we drywall/tile.

I am sure there are a million little bullet points that could be listed beneath each number, but in general these are the things we are going to be focusing on as we forge ahead with our kitchen renovation. Now that we know the basics of what we want, we can begin to go down each point, make a decision, and begin a budget. A lot of the beginning work will be the demolition (read: fun part), and most of our budget will likely be eaten up by the cabinetry and counter tops. I've been virtually stalking so many kitchen renovations that have been done through my pinterest board, and so I am determined to do this within a reasonable budget. I have seen other people with fabulous kitchens on a low budget, so I know it can be done!

Are you all as excited as I am? Have I left anything important out of my list? If you've undergone a kitchen renovation, please clue me in on where the best place to start is! Right now we are still in the concept stage, but I am itching to get my hands dirty! :)

Monday, April 22, 2013


My name is Jessica, and I am a list maker.

I don't know what it is about a nice, organized list that helps me feel like I am accomplishing something, but it is a guilty pleasure. There are a lot in the blogosphere that like to organize their projects by list, and I am no exception. One of my favorite blogs, Young House Love, even named theirs. "What a great idea!" I thought. So I decided to name mine. Naturally, I decided on Bob. He's simple, to the point, and expresses just how I feel when I review my list: "Boy, oh boy!" (or bunch of bull, whichever you prefer...).

Bob is ever-changing, especially now that we have purchased our very first home. And once we get settled in our new home, I will be breaking down Bob for you all as we tour the house. One Bob isn't enough, though. I've got several. Long-term Bob's and short term ones. Ones that are more specific, and some that are less so. Does that make me weird?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Dairy Free PBJ Breakfast Smoothie

I know what you're thinking... peanut butter and jelly for breakfast?!

TRUST me when I tell you that this recipe is so delicious! I stumbled upon it when cleaning out our freezer to prepare for our move. I had a couple bags of frozen strawberries to use, and thought it would be best to make a smoothie since I also had some almond milk left over from making ice cream. Originally I had been just blending a simple strawberry and banana smoothie, but after I had left the jar of peanut butter sitting on the counter, curiosity hit me. I wonder how my smoothie would taste with a spoonful of peanut butter...

Heaven. That's what it tasted like. Pure, unadulterated awesome. Since I gave up wheat, I hadn't had a PBJ sandwich in a LONG time. They're one of my absolute favorite treats. And this smoothie tastes JUST like one. It was amazing! Another great thing is that it is dairy free! One of my favorite things was to wash down my gooey PBJ sandwich with a nice, tall glass of milk, but when I gave up bread, I also gave up most dairy.

If you're a PBJ die-hard like myself, you have GOT to try this smoothie! It's incredibly fast simple to make. Here's what you'll need:


1 Banana
4-6 Frozen Strawberries
1 Tablespoon Peanut Butter
1 Cup Almond Milk

Now, you don't have to be exactly precise in your measurements, and you can make this smoothie to fit whatever consistency you prefer. A lot will depend on the size of banana or strawberries you use, so if you like a thicker shake, add more strawberries. If you like something less thick, don't add as many strawberries (or you can add a splash of more almond milk).

Toss your ingredients in the blender, puree till smooth, and voila! You've got a healthy, tasty PBJ smoothie that is dairy free. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I just wanted to take a minute to share my condolences and pay respect to those affected by the horrific acts of terror in Boston yesterday. May you find peace and comfort with those who love you in your time of tragedy. It breaks my heart to hear about these precious lives lost due to hatred and bitterness. Xo.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Over Estimate

Always overestimate. Always. We learned a hard lesson this weekend as we had to leave half of our things in NY because they didn’t fit onto the moving truck. Apparently a 17’ truck does NOT move a 2 bedroom house as the website claims. More like just 2 bedrooms. The rest of the rooms in your house are screwed. Lesson learned: always get the bigger truck! 

We were short for time in moving as it was, and the added stress of not being able to get everything really got me down.  I feel like the biggest idiot ever. So we’ll be making another trip (or two) for the other boxes that we had to leave behind, and in the meantime I will be unpacking what we were able to bring with us.

And of course it’s par for the course that the basic things we would need (such as silverware, etc) would still be in boxes at the other house, so we have been “making do” with finger foods. Ones that don’t require refrigeration. Because apparently our fridge stopped working some time early this morning as well. And all of the groceries I had bought last night were beginning to spoil. No use in crying over curdled milk, right?

So if I were to gain some positivity to our situation, at least we will be moving forward with our kitchen makeover much faster than we had anticipated. I went fridge shopping, and nearly had a heart attack when I saw the prices of stainless steel appliances. Holy moly! Stainless, none the less, is definitely the look I want in our kitchen. So I immediately went home to see what kind of deals were to be had from Sir Craig and his List. 

There was some difficulty when it came to shopping online for a used appliance. First, I was hesitant to fork over a large amount of cash for a product that has no guarantee. I didn't want to pay someone so I could haul away their trash. Second, I would need it to be delivered to me since we do not own a truck, nor was I able to find someone else to help me move it. 

Thankfully, for a few extra beans, I was able to get a great deal on a 3 year old stainless steel side by side Amana fridge, and it was delivered right to my door. The gentleman even helped move it inside. I handed him my wad of cash, and did a small happy dance as I started to feel the cold air blow through the vents. My happy dance was short-lived, though, because my dining room now has a fridge permanently parked in it since it would not fit through the kitchen opening. Womp, womp. 

Since we are moving forward with our renovation plans a little earlier, I am looking forward to giving you a better tour of our kitchen and help you visualize the changes we intend to make. We’ll likely be moving forward in stages as we are able to budget certain things, and I’ll break that down for you in a future post.
Until then, I am going to have to work on my MS Paint skills (since I lack the convenience of a Photoshop program) to give a better visualization of what we would like to do. Sometimes our ideas look better in our head, so being able to see it for ourselves will help us be sure that we are making decisions that we will like.

Anyone else agree with the notion that when it rains, it pours? Thankfully we've found the rainbow on the other side of the storm. Hope you all have a great week!

Friday, April 12, 2013

I Like to Move It, Move It!

Polka-dot, polka-dot, afro circus!

Yes, things have been "cray-cray" around here, and I am losing my mind. Today is the big day. Our mission: Operation Move Stuff has a 36 hour deadline. That means 36 hours to load the truck and trailer, a 6 hour drive to the new casa, unload the truck and trailer, and return the rentals before my dear husband has to return to NY.

I am sure that after all of this we will be both deliriously tired, but we will (for the most part) be nearly finished with our move. All that will remain is to unpack our things and get the old house cleaned up for turnover to the landlord by the end of the month-- all of which I will be handling in the next couple of weeks.

I am armed with my coffee and ready to go. Thankfully we have some great friends who are helping us load and unload. I don't think we would be able to get it all done without them! I'll be back online starting Monday when internet is installed. I have tons of things to keep me busy until then, thankfully. Wish us luck! :)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Party Planning: Birthday Bashes

I think I can speak for just about everyone in saying that parties are awesome. Especially birthday parties. And, boy, do I love to throw a party! Each year we throw together a fun little birthday bash for our daughter, Claire, and I take particular pleasure in making the birthday cake myself. It's been fun to see how much our "party style" has evolved over the last few years.

For Claire's first birthday, we had a "butterfly garden" theme complete with a edible butterfly carrot cake. Instead of gifts, we asked our guests to donate $5 to the I-live green foundation in support of a reforestation project they were holding, and in return our guests received an awesome personalized certificate of participation.

For her second birthday, we decided to do an "Under the Sea" theme since she was very much into fish. I made a 2-tier peanut butter and jelly cake covered in fondant and sugar seashells. We also served toddler appropriate snacks like Goldfish crackers, blue jello, and Swedish fish. Our guests received a little "fish bait" gummy worm snack mix and some stickers in a pink Chinese takeout container.

As Claire approached her third birthday, she was more involved with what kind of party she wanted to have. At the time, she was very into Ni Hao! Kai Lan, and so we ran with it. I made a fun little rainbow cake, chocolate dipped fortune cookies with a custom birthday message inside, and fresh spring rolls. I made Kai Lan hair flower clips for the little girls attending the party (or little boys who wanted to look fabulous), and provided Chinese take-out containers so they could take some fortune cookies to go.

Claire's fourth birthday party was even more lavish than her third. She had picked a Gnomeo and Juliet theme for this year, and I was ready to try my hand at a few new recipes. I served a simple two tier cake: a gluten free chocolate coconut for the bottom layer, and a 1-2-3-4 for the top tier. I used a simple homemade butter cream frosting in a ruffle pattern. I also made macaroons, sugar cookies, meringues, dirt pudding, and fruit skewers. I think that this party was, by far, my most favorite to date.

Each guest received their very own gnome hat and beard, and a little watering can with bubbles, play-doh, Elton John glasses and flower seeds.

So now that we are approaching the month of May again, it is time to start preparing for Claire's 5th birthday party. I asked her what kind of party she wanted, and this year she has decided that she would like a Hello Kitty theme. Her new favorite color is purple, too, so it looks like I will have a fun time thinking of how to put it together on a budget. Normally I start planning months in advance, but with our move everything was pretty uncertain until now. Once we get things settled and unpacked, I'll be able to hop into party planning gear. And you can bet that I'll be pinning up a storm on Pinterest!

Anyone else love the thrill that a children's birthday party can bring? What is your favorite part? I have to say that, aside from mingling with our guests, my favorite is always the cake! Have any budget tips or suggestions for throwing a kids party? Please share your ideas!

Monday, April 8, 2013

We did it!

It's official! We are homeowners as of Friday, April 5th, at 5 pm! Did you all get your dancey-dance on like we did?

I have to admit there were times where I didn't think we were going to make it. The lender we chose to facilitate our Va-approved loan waited until the last minute to settle a few paperwork blunders, and it was nothing short of a miracle that we were able to close on time. No pain, no gain, I guess! And we are so very  happy to have gained a place that we can call our own.

Now comes our next hurdle: moving. We have a very limited schedule on when we are able to move our things with my husband's upcoming work schedule. In fact, we have about a 36 hour window to load the truck, drive down to Pa, unload the truck, and turn it back in before my husband will have to head back to NY. That means it is even more critical than ever that we are prepared ahead of time to ensure everything goes smoothly. In fact, I better get my checklist started!

I'll be back again again next week once our internet has been established at the new casa! Until then, wish us luck as we scramble to "get-'er-dun"!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Dancey-Dance Time!

Hey everyone! It's Dancey-dance time!

That's right! As of 2 pm this afternoon, we will be starting to sign the closing settlement papers, and will officially be the owners of our first home! SO excited! :)

Once we are able to get everything moved in and settled, we'll be ready to divulge our DIY plans on how we intend to make our new house our home! I am SO ready to get my paint on!

Until then, bear with us as we get our things sorted. Posts may be few and far between for the next couple of weeks while we move, unpack, and get our rental house prepared for turnover. We've got a lot going on, so thank you all so much for heading down this journey with us! At least now you'll have plenty of time to get your dancey-dance on! Come on! Try it-- you'll like it! Anyone else find the Yo-Gabba-Gabba songs annoyingly catchy?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Moving Update

So much to do, and so little time.

I can hardly believe that in just a few days we will be finalizing the settlement on our new house. I am beyond excited, but I am also incredibly stressed out! You'd think that since I started packing in December, when we first decided that we would be moving, that I would have everything together. The sad truth is that I do not. Since I've been the only person packing (the compromise I struck with the hubs as he does the heavy lifting), in addition to organizing the loan paperwork for our house and maintaining our every day schedule, there is still a lot left to be done. I haven't even touched the garage yet. Mostly because it's been cold and snowy, but also because I've needed to whittle down our mountain of packing paper to uncover some of the things that hide beneath that mess. Thankfully, after a rather busy weekend of packing, I have a majority of the house finished. That means by this weekend I've got to get our 1955 Desoto that we've been storing in our garage prepped for moving in addition to all of the other miscellaneous garagey type things that will be hauled to the new home.

Then there is the last minute documents requested by the underwriter for our loan. This whole process has been an emotional roller coaster, and I cannot wait until it is over. I don't know if I could have kept my sanity if it weren't for our amazing realtor. He has been a rock this entire time, and has worked hard to get us into our new house as quickly as possible. He's even tackled some of the challenges we've been facing regarding our loan, and has put a few back up plans in place should something go awry. I wish I could buy a second home just to hire him all over again. Seriously, if you are in the market for a home in the state of Pennsylvania, I have the right man for the job!

I'd like to thank our realtor for all of his hard work in this process and give him a token of our appreciation, but am unsure how to do that. Looks like something to search for on Pinterest this evening! If you have any ideas or suggestions, please let me know!