Little Touches

We have officially lived in our house for 9 months.


I can hardly believe it. Some moments it feels like 9 days; others like 9 years.

We love it. I pinch myself sometimes to think about how perfectly everything came together. This house literally had everything we were looking for (the only house that did) and we got such a good deal on it.

Are we totally settled in? Mostly. I say that because while all the rooms have the essentials in them – furniture and items to live on – there are still some finishing touches to be done.

At this point, I’m not pushing myself to have the house “Better Homes and Gardens” ready by any certain date. I find it goes better if I tackle a little bit here and there. Sometimes I need to have a moment of inspiration before I decide how to fill a space. Also, as I unpack boxes from the basement (yes, there are still quite a few) I find new homes for things (possibly different than where I had those same things in our old house).

All that to say, I’ve made some more progress in the last few weeks that I wanted to share.

Let’s start with the dining room. The last time we saw this tray, that I made using leftover fabric, it looked like this:


Since then, I’ve changed it up a bit by adding a vase of fresh flowers and a candle that my sister gave me for Mother’s Day (it’s actually yellow inside so sometimes I leave the lid off for an added punch of color and extra fragrance).


I like the grouping of 3 MUCH better and love the touch of organic and color added by having the flowers (also ties in nicely with the plant next to it).

Moving on to the kitchen….

So one of the things I found when digging through boxes was a bag full of magnets. See, we have a tradition that we buy a magnet from every new place we visit. However, our refrigerator is stainless steel so the front is not magnetized but the sides are. I decided to make a “wall of magnets” on the side with our travel ones.


I think it looks pretty cool and it’s a fun thing to see when you walk in from the garage! Isabella likes checking out all the different places and finding them on the map we have downstairs.

The kitchen in our old house was done in a coffee theme so I have a lot of wall hangings and decorations related to coffee. The new kitchen doesn’t have much room for that kind of stuff as we have a ton of cabinets and no real ‘free’ wall space.


I was able to find a sliver of wall wide enough for these little guys though.


They add that little extra something that the kitchen needed in that corner.

I also put some stuff up on top of the cabinets (pretend the counters are perfectly clean and that you don’t see the pile of dirty dishes).


Here’s the close-up.


I’d like to keep adding to the top of the cabinets as I think it provides additional interest and color without being too obvious, but I want to be careful not to overcrowd them.

While I was sorting through kitchen boxes, I came across my stack of cookbooks. I don’t use all of them (a couple I’ve never used), but they’re a natural item to display in the kitchen so I put them on the bottom of this accent table.


If you look back here, you’ll notice that originally I had some coffee trinkets on that bottom shelf. Those got put up on top of the cabinets to make room for the books!

Now let’s wander in to the living room, shall we?

So let’s start with my FABULOUS clearance find. I was shopping at Kohl’s and wandered over to the clearance bin in the home goods section. Nothing caught my eye until I glanced down at the bottom shelf and saw a beautiful orange/grey/tan/white rug. I noticed it because those are the colors in our living room, along with turquoise and the occasional splash of green. I picked it up and didn’t see any tags on it so I put it back and walked away. But I didn’t get far. I turned around and looked at it again, unsure. Do we really need a rug in there? What if it was a lot of money?

Then I remembered the Goodwill Incident of last week. See, I had spotted a really nice standalone full length mirror in one of the stores that would have been perfect in our bedroom. I didn’t get it because I didn’t feel like messing with hauling it to the car, blah blah. Well after a few days it was nagging at me so I went back and the mirror was gone.

Lesson learned: trust your gut!

So I took that rug up front and it was marked down 80% to $15!! Plus I had a 20% off coupon! Done and done!

And it looks awesome…


While we’re here, I’ll show you the rest of the living room, which is the one room in the house that is the most done.

By the way, those orange tub chairs were a garage sale find by CJ. He got both for $30. We had them in the basement of the old house, just to stage it, figuring we might get rid of them once we moved. The movers plopped them in the living room and we loved how it looked and ended up building the rest of the room around them!


I really like the unexpectedness of the round ottoman/coffee table. Ties in the curves of the tub chairs with the leather of the couch.


We bought that rocker when Isabella was born, to use for nursing at night and such. Since we’re way past all that, it got placed in here for extra seating. That’s pretty much where you’ll find CJ any night of the week that we’re home.

And of course the fireplace.


By the way, that back wall with the black and white pics is where we want to put built-in shelves. I think it would look awesome to have white built-ins with a space in the middle for a TV and picture. We will hopefully get going on that project soon…


All in all, I love how the room has come together. It’s very eclectic and unique (you won’t really find anything in our house that’s too matchy-matchy).

Couple more little things to point out.

This tray was born out of necessity.


See, I was painting my nails one night and put a polish remover soaked cotton ball on the table without thinking….and it ate away at the finish. Oops. What’s a girl to do but cover it up?

I made this tray using a picture we got in Ireland and a frame with the stand torn off (and some felt ‘feet’ tacked to it so as not to scratch up the table). Works like a charm!

I found this tray at Goodwill for $3.


That little ottoman was getting stained up from CJ putting his drinks on it so now he has a tray to put them in!

Finally, some additions to the gallery wall.

Here’s the before:


And the after:


Can you spot the additoins?

Yep, this collage I did of all the photo booth pics we’ve taken over the years.


We sort of have a thing about photo booths. If we see one while out on a date or traveling or something, we stop and get some pics taken. What can I say, it’s cheap fun!

I also added these 2 little prints that I found in the basement. Both of them are original prints I did in college.



So that’s the latest on the house! I have a lot of fun digging up new stuff and finding “homes” for them all. More updates to come as we continue to progress!

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Finally. FINALLY!!

We have the curtains up in the master bedroom!


You may recall that they’ve been on backorder for 2 months! Well they arrived Friday and we hung them up on Monday!


I was worried at first that the dark color would be too much for the room. In our old house it would have made the bedroom look like a matchbox. But in this house, the room is big enough to handle it. And the cool pattern gives them some added interest.

Also, these are blackout curtains. Personally, light filtering into the room doesn’t bother me. But CJ is very sensitive to it and insisted we get light-blocking drapes. I actually bought 2 other sets and took them back before landing on these. The other ones were from Target and didn’t block the light at all. These are from JCPenney and do a great job.

Here’s what the room would look like at night if we didn’t have the curtains.


I kept the lamps on because otherwise I couldn’t get a good picture.

Here’s the room with the curtains closed.


I know from the photos they don’t look all that different, but trust me, they are.

We really love them both for how they finish off the room nicely and because they make sleeping that much easier. And really, anything that does that is a winner in my book!

In other news…

I mentioned a couple weeks ago about going on a flower potting expedition with some girls from work. I had left my pot at the garden center because the owner of the shop keeps them and fertilizes/waters/etc. to make sure the flowers get over the shock of being replanted.

Well I got it back yesterday and here it is!


I took a pretty little white strawberry pot and put Begonias around the side and a Batface Cuphea in the middle.

The Begonias are already starting to fill out and grow.


The Batface Cuphea is on its regeneration phase. In other words, most of the flowers fell off and a new batch is growing in!

They are called “batface” because some people think that the flowers look like little bat faces, with the top petals being the ears and the purple fuzzy inside being the face.


I put the pot outside near the back corner, so it can be seen from the back or side of the house. I put some hanging baskets next to it to create a pretty little grouping.


Ten bonus points if you can spot the sad faced Labrador who’s sick and tired of having to wear his leash every time he goes outside. Sorry buddy, 3 more weeks…


I think as the flowers grow and fill out, this will look really pretty.


I plan to do more planting this weekend, filling in the pots out front and adding some others to the back.

That’s all for now! Time to wrap it up for bed!

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April Showers Bring…

Happy May Day!

The start of a new month means it’s time to look back at the previous one and see how I’ve been doing with my New Year’s Resolutions.

Before we get to the specifics, let’s take a moment to look at how many I’ve crossed off completely – a whopping three (organize the front room, break Isabella of her “oobie” habit, and move Isabella to a toddler bed)! Doesn’t seem like a lot given that my original list had 15+ things on it but most of those items are ongoing, longer term habits, which is different than getting one thing forever done. 

In the spirit of honesty and transparency, I have to admit something. I removed 2 of my goals. Both were in the “Spiritual” category. One was to find a church that we would go to regularly and one was to pray every day. These are both very good goals to have and important for sure, but I just cannot seem to make them a priority. Does that make me a heathen of some sort? No, I don’t think so. We do pray and we talk about spiritual things to Isabella, and someday we’ll find a church that is “us” but just not today. 

Now, let’s get on to the rest of the list!

Family and Home:

1.  Do at least one family outing a month. We did all kinds of things this month! We went to a couple of new playgrounds (one of which Isabella fell off of…scary!),


out to dinner at a new restaurant, and wandered around the Gene Leahy Mall downtown (granted this was for family pictures but it totally counts). 

2.  Tackle the following home projects this year:

  • Buy and hang curtains on all the windows.  Still waiting for the back-ordered drapes for the MBR to come in. They are due in on 5/3 so hopefully I’ll have a post dedicated to that finished project soon. Also need something for the LR and kitchen. 
  • Unpack the remaining boxes in the basement.  Hurray! I’ve actually made progress on this one! I was mad at myself at the end of March for saying 3 months in a row that I didn’t have an update so I got off my lazy butt and started to do something about it. Basically, I told myself that every time I went to the basement to play with Isabella (she has a whole other toy room down there), I would go through at least one box and figure out what to do with the contents. I can happily report that 3 boxes are gone for good (with the stuff either donated or tossed) and several other boxes have been reduced and combined. In fact, it was this exercise that spurred me in to doing the gallery wall.

These 2 home accents also came about as a result of digging through boxes in the basement.

This is an antique end table that was gifted to CJ. I finally brought it up and put some stuff on it.


It’s sitting in the space between the kitchen and living room:



The flower print and wooden gazelle were both Goodwill finds. The rest I found while digging around in boxes.


This tray and these mugs were also dug up from the basement. The tray used to look like this:


I changed it by cutting some scrapbook paper to fit the bottom section and glued it down! An easy change that made a big difference.


I also brought up this plant stand that had been lurking downstairs and put it to good use!


The coffee décor were other basement finds.

I tucked this at the end of our kitchen island. I originally had a plant on the island itself but it was taking up valuable space.


Moving it off to this stand has really opened up the room and made a huge difference!


  • Create a sitting room within the master bedroom.  No progress on this one. I keep looking for just the right chair during my Goodwill and thrift store shopping adventures. Nothing has jumped out at me yet though. 
  • Add built in shelves to the living room by the end of the year.  I’m starting to get antsy about getting this one under way. Soon, my precious, soon. 

3.  Have Isabella potty trained by her 3rd birthday (September 30). No real progress here. I am feeling pressure like we should be doing more. Just not sure what. Ugh.  

4.  Research pre-schools and enroll Isabella in one to start in the fall of 2012. No progress on this one either. Need to start making appointments to visit them. 

Financial and career:

5. Attend one career professional event a month.  Done!

6.  Spend less money.  Doing  pretty well at this. Am figuring out more and more ways to save which is satisfying. Also got a good chunk of the credit card paid off but then we had to turn around and charge $1000 for Samson’s surgery. 1 step forward, 1 step back. 

Physical and health:

7. Adopt one new healthy habit each month:

  • March – Do some type of physical activity IN ADDITION to regular workouts
  • April – Drink at least 64 oz. each day (includes water, tea, or juice. Does NOT include pop or alcohol)
  • May – Make a daily gratitude list
  • June – Try to walk 10,000 steps every day
  • July – limit sweets to once a day 

I’ve made a mess of this list. I switched March and April because March was too chilly for outdoor activity. So April was supposed to be about doing more physical activity in addition to daily workouts. It didn’t exactly happen. There were a few days where I went for an extra walk in the afternoon, but those were rare. I really wanted May to be about limiting sweets to once a day (which is supposed to be July’s habit). 


I just can’t make up my  mind. What it comes down to is this: I really think that if I drink more water and eat fewer sweets, by body will follow with more energy, fewer zits, and fewer  pounds. So that’s what I’m doing for May – essentially taking a redo on one habit and adding in the other. It won’t be easy as those are both big weaknesses of mine, but it’s now or never.

Social and cultural:

8. Attend at least 4 cultural events this year (e.g. Broadway shows, concerts, museum exhibitions).  I don’t think there were any this month. Though we did buy tickets to see Red Hot Chili Peppers when they come in October! 

9. Regularly participate in events put on by the social clubs I belong to (speakers events, parties, happy hours, etc).  I participated in a happy hour for work and in another social outing to plant flowers (wherein I bought this guy). 

10.  Go on a date night with CJ once a month. Ya know, I don’t think we had a date night in April. Epic fail!

All in all, I think I’m doing well. Could be better but could also be worse, so I’ll take it. Still plodding along and getting things done! 

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The Gallery

Ever since we moved in to our house, I’ve wanted to create a “gallery wall” along the stairs to showcase family photos and fun prints.


It only took me 7 months to get it done!

Part of the reason it’s taken so long is because I wasn’t sure what images I wanted to use. We have so much more wall space in the new house that I’ve had to slowly get a feel for a room before deciding what to hang in it. What worked on say the living room wall in the old house doesn’t quite fit in the new one.

That and my perfectionism. I mean, what if I hang up a picture and it looks bad? Eeh gads! The world might end!


At any rate, on Sunday I was playing in the basement with Isabella and started going through boxes to see what was in them. I came across a framed piece of art that we had in the kitchen of the old house, and which I had not been able to find since moving. I immediately knew it would be perfect as part of the gallery wall and suddenly I was inspired.

I started pulling together family photos and other small pieces of art that would work with it.

My 2 rules:

  1. Each piece had to have either a black or white frame. This would keep the wall unified despite the images themselves being different, and
  2. Nothing larger than an 11 x 14” frame because I wanted each piece to be medium to small size so they’d be more of a collection.

I also didn’t want TOO many pics – I didn’t want to cover the wall completely.

OK so that’s 3 rules.

Once I had the pics, I had to determine the best way to lay them all out together. You can’t just randomly start hanging them up; you have to put a little thought in to it first. What I did was trace each picture frame on a piece of white paper and wrote on it what the picture was and what color of frame it had. Then I laid out all the pieces of paper on the floor and moved them around until I had an arrangement I liked. From there, I used a small piece of tape to put them up on the wall to see if the arrangement translated vertically.


I left the paper up on the wall for half the day in order to “live with it” for a bit. Seeing them from different angles and walking by them several times helped cement the arrangement.


I used this “break” to bake up some Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies.


OMG. These are so good. Even CJ, who normally doesn’t like peanut butter in desserts, raved about them.


But I digress.

Also during my “picture hanging marinating period” I had to run to the store and buy a couple replacement frames as some of the ones I had were a little beaten up or not made for hanging on the wall. Turned out Target had all their frames on sale, plus I had a coupon for buy 2 frames get one free (I needed 5 frames) AND I had a gift card. So the frames were practically free! Ok maybe not but still darn cheap none-the-less ($28 for all 5 frames).

Now it was time to hang!

This would normally be the part of a DIY blog where a person talks about some really cool tool they used to mark holes on the walls so that everything was nice and even and aligned. And how they used a level to get it all straight.

That person would not be me.

I pretty much just eye-balled it. If I were doing a gallery wall where all the frames were the same size and I wanted them squared off and even, I would have taken more time. But since I had some variance and the point was to be purposely misaligned, I just went for it.


And it turned out pretty darn good.


I had to get CJ to help me with the picture in the upper left-hand corner because it was too high for me to reach (and needed a screw and a drill), but otherwise it was all me.

The Chrysler Building print was a Goodwill find for $2.99. I like it because it represents my previous life in NYC (I lived there on and off for about a year) and it’s an architectural type drawing (CJ and I are architecture geeks).


The white “You Make Me Smile” print was also a Goodwill find for $2.99. I liked the simplicity of it and the message. I kept it down low so that when Isabella can read, she’ll see it every day and know I was thinking of her when I bought it.


The “Don’t Be Afraid of Tomorrow, God is Already There” piece was the one from our old kitchen that got this whole project kicked off. It was a gift from a friend many moons ago.


And the rest are pics of family. For now I’m happy with these 9 pieces. Obviously there’s room to expand if we decide to add more but I also don’t want to take over the whole wall either.

Not yet anyway.

Oh and Isabella was a big help in taking this project over the finish line…


After doing all this work, CJ and Isabella decided some yoga was in order, to stretch out their muscles.

Plow anyone?


And don’t forget downward dog!


And it all made her so tired, that she slept part of the night half in and half out of her bed.


So there you have it! The start of the gallery wall. I see this as a fluid space that will change and grow over time. For now, it makes me really happy. Every time I walk by the stairs and see it, I smile.


With each project that gets completed, the house feels more and more like ours.

Have a great evening! I’m off to scarf down a PB truffle brownie!

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Stormy Saturday

Today’s the day a giant catastrophic storm is supposed to roar through our area. Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel is even here.

That’s not good.

However, so far the storms have been fairly mild. Some rain here. A few thunder claps there. Nothing that would suggest the end of the world. But you never know with Nebraska, it could change in an instant.


I used the inside time today to be both productive and relax. Isabella and I ran to the store for supplies (like water) and then we lazed around watching TV. We also took a nice long nap. That felt good. There’s nothing better than napping on a stormy day.

Before the nap I got the hall closet organized.


I forgot to take a before picture (oops!) but imagine it was something like this, only inside the closet:


I culled through our towels and sheets, getting rid of ones that were old or mismatched. I kept enough for each of us to have 3 towels each, and 3 sets of sheets (for me and CJ – Isabella’s bedding is stored in her room). I also went through all the toiletries, medicine, and other paraphernalia and organized it.



Putting frequently used meds on the turntable works great. It’s handy because everything can be “up front” with a quick turn.

I also corralled all the bulk stuff (big bin on the left) so that I know what I have and what I don’t.


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run out and bought deodorant or something only to realize later I had an extra one on the floor of the closet. Hate that!

You can see that all my mani/pedi supplies were consolidated as well. Now I can just grab that whole bin and take it with me when I want to paint my nail, instead of searching for everything I need.

Feels good to check that project off the list.

Changing subjects….

Now to some random odds and ends from the week that I have been meaning to blog about but never got around to.

I love fresh flowers. I used to think they were an occasional treat but now I try and have them around the house all the time. Nothing brightens up a room better.

I bought a bouquet on sale for $5 the other day and split it up. This vase is sitting in our dining room.


And these little beauties went up in to Isabella’s room!


Funny how something so simple can make a big difference.

Remember how I told you about our puzzles at work?

Well we finished another one!


As you can see this was a 3-D one. I found it at a used toy store for $3 and thought, what the heck?


To be honest, I only put like 5 of the pieces together. I was too busy to help much this time around but the other gals did a bang up job!


We’ve already taken this one down and started puzzle #3. It’s a landscape scene with lots of water and sky. We’re about halfway done so far. I’ll share when we finish completely.

And now for a story about the Dog “Whisperer”

Samson was taken to the vet last week to have his leg looked at. He’d been limping around for a month or so. They x-rayed and found a sprained knee and really bad arthritis in both hips. He had never limped or shown any signs of the hip pain before. Doc said it’s because he’s so athletic and strong, that he was able to transfer the weight off his hips to his knees. But unfortunately, that’s how his knee got sprained. Anyway, he’s doing fine, just has to be on pain meds for a while. But we’re also supposed to keep him from running or playing too hard.

You tell me how we’re supposed to keep a lab from running?

Anyway, the other day, Samson started feeling his oats and grabbed one of Isabella’s stuffed toys and ran around the playroom with it. I yelled at him to stop and drop it and he ignored me. I yelled again and he just stood there with it in his mouth.

I was obviously having no effect on him.

Isabella calmly walked over to Samson, stood about a foot in front of his face and screamed, “DROP IT!!!!” at the top of her lungs.

Samson promptly opened his jaws and released his prisoner.

Isabella picked it up and brought it to me saying, “Here you go mommy. I got it back for you.”


Here’s hoping the big storm goes around us! Stay safe!

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