Kitchen Progress II

Ahhh... the red paint has been covered with primer. Feels much bigger already!
*Special shout out to my dad who installed our beautiful backsplash! And thank you to my mom for helping him with all of the painting while I was at work today. You're the best helpers!

Here's a reminder of what the kitchen looked like when we bought the house:

This is how it looked yesterday.
And this is how it looks right this minute:

Hubs gets back tomorrow and I'm going to put him to work to finish this project! Can't wait to apply the walk color and see the cabinets with the doors and new knobs. As my mom said, the light blue/grey paint color on the cabinets looks "fresh." However, now the rest of our living areas aren't looking so fresh, and I feel compelled to paint every wall a lighter, brighter color. That yellow-y beige moulding and trim from the previous owner's paint scheme isn't looking too fresh, either.

Oh well, one thing at a time!
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Oh, 2010. You will always hold a special place in my heart.

You will always be the year I married my first love, my prince charming.
You will always be the year we bought our first home.
You will always be the year my husband started his first job.
You will always be the year we made a lot of new friends because of our new home and his new job.
You will always be the year we finally gave the nuggets their first backyard.
You will always be the year we hosted our first Thanksgiving and put up our first xmas tree.
You will always be the year we took our first trip abroad.
You will always be the year I started my first blog.

My dearest 2010, you have been the best year ever. I am forever grateful for the blessings God poured down on us this year and the lessons he taught us along the way.

We have lived in our first home for six months, and we have been working on it nonstop! Here are some of my favorite projects of 2010:

THE FENCE! This beauty, built entirely by my hard-working husband, enables our nuggets to have a safe place to run and play and sunbathe. It is priceless in our books.

THE SHUTTERS!  Super cute on the inside, our home had the charm of a cardboard box on the outside. A couple hours of labor and eight black shutters later, it was actually pretty cute!

New vanity, new faucet, new tile from top to bottom, new floating glass door, new shower head, new paint color, new ceiling vent/light, new toilet paper holder, new toilet seat... the list goes on and on. It looks about a million times better than it did before, and I love it! (Which is really important because it's MY bathroom- hubby is relegated to the guest bath, and he's a good sport about it). 

FLOOR. No more carpet that smells like our dogs, yippee! We love the nuggets, but we don't love the effect they have on carpet, that's for sure. 

OFFICE/STUDIO MAKEOVER: My special place, for all my special junk. :)

Manly Guest Room: Hubby's special place, for all of his special grey and yellow Nike shoes. 

MANTEL. I needed a place for Christmas stockings, and husband made it happen. Love it when he does that.

OUR FIRST CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS... I've always dreamed of having my own home to decorate for the holidays, and it was just as fun as I thought it would be.  

KITCHEN FACELIFT! Ok, so this is happening right now. We're making progress. I think we are 60% done, but I think I will include it as a 2010 project because it has been such an exciting project for me the past two days! UPDATE: Done (until next weekend)! Check it out!

I love you, 2010
You've got big shoes to fill, 2011! 

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Kitchen Progress

It's so exciting to watch the room transform. We have a long way to go, but we made a lot of progress since last night.

Please forgive the quality of these photos– the lighting isn't so great in our kitchen and I just snapped these really quickly with my phone.

Yes, everything is a mess. That's how we roll!

Check out the makeshift work bench where we are painting the cabinet fronts. It's made from three bar stools and some cedar planks left over from building the fence. It actually works really well.

So far we have taken off the cabinet doors, removed all hardware, sanded the cabinets, cleaned out the cabinets (so the kitchen is scattered all over the house), primed the cabinets and started installing the backsplash. When I say "we," I mean myself and my parents, who made the trip to help me out during their Christmas vacation. Hubby gets a hall pass for this project because he is out of town visiting his family, although I am dutifully keeping him updated with these phone photos.

I have to say that I love, love, love the backsplash! The kitchen looks so much fancier and more finished with the stone backsplash, and the colors really compliment the countertops. Yay!

We still have to paint the cabinets, install the new hardware, put the cabinets back together, finish the backsplash and paint the red wall in the kitchen. I can't wait to see the whole look come together, but just seeing the progress we have made so far is very encouraging.

I'll keep posting updates as we go along!
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Kitchen Teaser

UPDATE: View the finished kitchen (and cost breakdown) HERE.

The paint, backsplash and knobs have been purchased. We are ready to freshen up the kitchen!

Wall Color: Valspar Honeymilk (satin)
Cabinet Color: Azure Snow– the lightest grey/blue on the paint chip (semigloss)
Backsplash Tile: 2x4 travertine/mosaic
Knobs: Liberty Contempo Knob (bronze with copper highlights)

Here are some pictures that inspired my color scheme

Well, I'm off to apply the primer. What can I say- I'm a night owl!

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Semi-Homemade Gift Idea

I normally try really hard to come up with super thoughtful gifts for my other half for Christmas, anniversaries, Valentine's Day and birthdays. The longer we have been together, the harder it gets. I feel like I have used up my good ideas already! I was really struggling to come up with a special gift this year, but this is what I ended up with.

This gift made him really happy, and I'm pleased to say that it was pretty easy to pull off. I wanted to share it with you in case you have a person in your life that would really love a gift along these lines. (I would have shared it before Christmas, but he reads the blog and I didn't want to ruin the surprise!)

Hubby finished his career one year ago, and this was the moment that he will always remember. His "defining moment," I guess you could call it. (That's him, the QB, bouncing off people and eventually landing in the endzone.) Luckily for me, the newspaper photographer captured that special play in a sequence of photos that was just begging to be framed. 

I had plans to have it custom framed by a local art shop, but the quotes were coming in from $200-$400. I didn't have that type of cash to spend on this gift, but I was hoping I could get the same effect with a pre-made frame. I had a hard time finding one because every frame looked a little too "family collage,"  not sporty and not masculine. I found this frame, with glass and both black and white mats, for $20 in the sale section at Home Goods. It ended up working out perfectly!

He was really excited and surprised by the gift, so my mission was accomplished. I think it will be great to put in his office one day when he is a big time football coach. He can be one of those old men that talks about the glory days and remembers that time they won in double overtime and he made ESPN, making his players roll their eyes. I can see it now!

We're planning to create a sports memorabilia wall in our guest room, so we wanted some stuff from his football career. We also grabbed a shadowbox from Hobby Lobby (during their 50% off sale) and mounted his jersey inside it, and we think these two will go well together. We also tried to have this professionally mounted and framed, but we didn't like the price for that option, either. This shadow box was hundreds of dollars less than having it mounted by a pro, so we went for it! 

Anyway, I think these photo collages are an easy project and a great gift for anyone in your life. You can take any important moment- a special sports play, a special trip, high school graduation, etc., and put the photos into a frame like this. It's a thoughtful gift that will remind them of one of their favorite moments, and who doesn't love a walk down memory lane? 

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*Home Sweet Home*

First of all, Merry Christmas!
Or as I like to say, Happy Birthday Jesus!
I know I'm a little late with those sentiments, but I finally have a computer again!

The husband and I just returned from a whirlwind week of travel, from Dallas to Jamaica to Dallas to Brownwood to San Marcos and back to Dallas. Phew!

Tiny Jamaica photo synopsis:

Jamaica was dreamy and gorgeous and exotic and beautiful, and yet all we could think about was home-sweet-home back in Texas. We were lounging on the beach with festive drinks, watching fellow vacationers try to wind surf, planning out what home improvements we wanted to finish as soon as we got home. We spent a good deal of time eating (not surprising if you have seen how much my husband's bottomless stomach can put away), and we would linger over the five courses, talking about bathroom tile, solutions for our storage needs and plans for our back patio. By the end of our honeymoon, we couldn't wait to come back and be under the roof of our precious first home.

We learned some things about ourselves– mainly that we are major homebodies and total nerds when we talk about our home. We can't even spend time in a tropical paradise without our thoughts drifting back to our home projects. And of course it sounds cliche, but there really is nothing like home.

That said, we came back from our trip and I squeezed in a visit to the Pottery Barn outlet in San Marcos with the only other person I know who loves the Pottery Barn outlet as much as I do- my mother. I'm pretty excited about our loot:

Bedford 3x3 Bookcase
It is retailing for $379 on Pottery Barn's website, but we came home with it for $70. We got it in white. Score!

We have a tendency to drop our backpacks and bags and keys and everything as soon as we come in the door, so I plan to put this right there as a drop-off zone in our makeshift entryway.

I also found some great king-sized striped pillowcases for only $5. Here is a picture of the pillowcase in another color– ours are white and a greyish-blue. I think they will add some pizazz to our bed (and hubby thinks I am crazy for buying more pillows for our bed).

Lastly, we snagged this neat West Elm desk with a roll out extension for $65 (in the chocolate color). 

We were pretty excited about our finds! If you have a Pottery Barn outlet within driving distance, you should swing by and see if they have any great deals. Our outlet had all home office furniture from both Pottery Barn and West Elm at an additional 50% off already discounted prices. They also had 50% off all Christmas decorations and all wall art, and 25% off occasional furniture and wall mirrors. I also saw some great deals on lighting. I'm not sure if the sales are the same at every outlet, but it's worth a try!

Did anyone else hit the post-Christmas sales? 

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Jamaica, Mon!

(grabbed these pics from our resort's website)

We're leaving for our honeymoon in Jamaica (!!!), so no blogging for me until we return. I hope everyone is getting their shopping done and really feeling the Christmas spirit! 

I'll definitely drink some rum punch on your behalf! :) 
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I Won! I Won! I WON!

I'm so excited... and I just can't hide it...

Lowe's is having its Facebook Last Minute Gift-a-Thon this weekend (now through Sunday), and I was one of 200 lucky people who got the 90% off coupon for the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer!

Thousands of people were trying for it–which quickly crashed the server– but I got one before the server went down. I'm so pumped! This awesome mixer has already been purchased online and is waiting for me at my local Lowe's store. The total with tax came out to $15.67!

Do you want to join the mayhem? (Seriously, it's definitely chaotic. The site crashed and I've never seen so much anger on a Facebook wall in my life. Lots of Grinches out there... must be the holidays!)

 This gift-a-thon is going on all weekend, and they are also giving 90% off coupons for a Dyson animal, a food processor, a Dremel and more. Here is the preview.

To join the party, you have to "like" Lowe's on Facebook and click to attend the party under "Events."

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Home Tour: New Jersey Cottage

*WARNING: This is a long post (but it's mostly pictures)!*

This is not just any cottage– this is my mom and dad's awesomely cute cottage in Pennington, NJ. They bought it as a fixer upper and sold it as a stylish retreat (on the first day on the market)! Yup, this is their old house that they sold over a year ago, but they did so many great updates that I wanted to share them with you.

My mom has a knack for decorating with beautiful style on a tight budget, and my dad is the hardest working person around. Together they make a great renovation team and have successfully updated each house they lived in (and made a tidy profit on each one). The last two homes have both sold on the first day on the market– I would say that's pretty impressive.

They taught me (and now Scott) everything we know about decorating and renovating. They are amazing bargain hunters who trained me to be the same way. Now we call each other every time we score an amazing deal just to brag and compete over which bargain is better. That's our idea of a good time!

Now, onto the house:
Exterior Views

This was during my Christmas visit, and there was a tiny bit of snow left. Some of these pictures are taken during different times of year, and you'll be able to tell that my mom does a lot of redecorating and rearranging whenever she gets bored.

My dad built the deck himself, and those doors didn't exist before... and how cute is that little staircase he built to the doggy door so their cocker spaniel could reach it?

They also built this patio one weekend, and it changed with my mom's moods. So cute! And my hard-working father built that whole fence, almost an acre, by himself.

They built out this little side entry since it was the door they used all the time.

Interior Views

(Not Christmas)

This living room is a complete add-on to get more livable square footage. My dad and his friend worked on it by themselves. You can hardly see the ceiling, but they did an awesome peaked ceiling with wainscotting using pine planks. It added a ton of charm to the addition. 

They did the fireplace stone themselves, and I was totally in love with it.

(In the upper left corner of those shelves is the notorious purse my mom had made with my picture on it. She used to bring it to my college volleyball games and show it off to my teammates– just to embarrass me, I think.) 

Dining Room (Informal)

(Once again, different looks for different times of year.)

Formal Dining Room


Entry Hall

(I am now the proud owner of this antler lamp- yay for hand-me-downs!)

Master Bedroom & Bath

Originally this bathroom was pink and black and was a shared bathroom between the two upstairs bedrooms, opening into the hallway. They closed the opening, made it only available to the master bedroom and completely renovated it (yup, all by themselves). Suddenly it was a true master suite.

Upstairs Guest Bedroom & Bath

This bathroom didn't exist– it was a weird nook with a closet. They created everything from scratch in here. In total, they either added or completely renovated three bathrooms in this house, one of each bedroom. As a frequent guest, I can attest to the luxury of having one bathroom per room! Here's the other new bathroom:

Downstairs guest bathroom

This home is full of amazing bargains on flooring, patio pavers, bathroom vanities, tile, furniture, etc. My parents would spend their weeknights and weekends hunting at Lowe's, Home Depot and their local Pottery Barn outlet for grossly low prices. Sometimes their finds made me sick! Now I use all their methods and find my own amazing deals

They sold this home over a year ago and joined us back in Texas, and now they are working their magic on their new home. I'm going down for Christmas and will snap some pictures so I can share them here. 

If you have any questions about their house or where they found any of the stuff in it, just leave me a comment and I'll find out for you. 
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