3.26.2013

Wishlist: Spring in My Step

We've had a cold snap in Dallas/Fort Worth these last five days or so, and it's had me craving spring more than ever! As Easter approaches this weekend, I'm dying to add some spring to my step with some bright colors, both in fashion and home decor. How about you?


Wishlist: Spring in My Step


Be gone, cold wind! Hello, happy colors!

* Cheers *
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3.24.2013

Easy DIY Easter Wreaths

It's fun to decorate for all of the holidays, but it's really only fun if it's simple and easy to do. Most people, myself included, don't want to spend hours and hours on DIY decorations that can only be used for a small part of the year. That's why these super simple wreath tweaks are awesome. I did both of these in an hour, and now our home is ready for Easter!

These wreaths celebrate the true reason for celebration– the resurrection of Jesus! What a beautiful holiday to celebrate, am I right?!

For the first one, I took the green berry wreath (from Hobby Lobby) that stays on our front door all year round and added a homemade wooden cross for this special holiday.


We had some wood scraps sitting in our garage, and they were the perfect size for this little cross. I didn't even have to cut anything! I stained it with red oak stain and used two screws (from the back) to attach the pieces together.


The next step was to wrap some hemp rope around the cross, adding a loop from the back to hang your cross from the wreath. SO easy! I think it looks awesome on our front door and is a nice way to mark the holiday in a subtle way.



We have a square boxwood wreath on one of our interior doors, so I thought I'd do some quick, easy and free addition to tweak it for Easter. I ended up using some white card stock and floral picks to add the words "He is risen" to the wreath. 


First I cut small squares of white card stock, and then I used a black marker to write "He is risen." 


 Then I hot-glued them to the floral picks, but you could also use toothpicks.


Since this wreath is floral foam, you simply stick them into the foam to spell out the words.


Piece of cake, right? Then once Easter is over, you pull them right out and your wreath is still good as new!


These projects cost me zero dollars and only one hour of my life. That's my kind of holiday decor!

I'm curious, do you decorate for Easter?

* Sweet, simple Sunday *

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3.22.2013

Randoms & Happy Weekend

It was one of those weeks that flew by and also seemed to take forever. Do you ever have those?

We've been doing a lot of house hunting this week. On Monday, we lost out on another house. Get this: The seller got so many offers the first day (above asking price) that he took his home off the market and put it back up the next day priced $15k higher! This is craziness.

After that debacle, we ventured outside our small town to the neighboring community where the husband works. It's very similar to our town, but it's a bigger city so it has more selection. You can get more for your money, and you won't be in a bidding war on every house. We found a really nice home and made an offer last night, so we'll see what happens! It's SO different from our current home so I'm really intrigued by having a different challenge. I'll keep you posted, of course.

***

Have you seen this newspaper clipping on Pinterest? Isn't it crazy how times have changed? We women would be so much more relaxed and grateful for our bodies if our mentality was still like this. Sigh.

via Pinterest




***

The house we're considering is red brick, which isn't my favorite type. I was looking for options when I stumbled upon this house in Southern Living that went from red brick to a soft, muted grey. Isn't it gorgeous? They did it with a lime wash.

via Southern Living



***
 I tried this quinoa recipe, but it was just so-so. I'm still looking for better options! Let me know if you know any good recipes...

***

Have you heard of Creating with the Stars? It's a blog contest pitting some of the most creative people around in a battle of ingenuity and resourcefulness. I was totally blown away by this DIY version of the West Elm wood tile dresser. How great does this look?! Go to the link above to see this and more amazing, inspiration DIY projects.

via East Coast Creative
***

Do you have fun plans this weekend? We're hosting some friends for a little cookout tonight and then relaxing on Saturday and Sunday. I'm hoping to squeeze in some little Easter crafts as I prepare to host some of my family members next weekend for the holiday.

* Have a wonderful weekend! *




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3.18.2013

Home Staging

We've been doing some house hunting lately, so one of the things that's really been on my mind is how to make your home "shine." As I'm walking through these homes, I'm often thinking about how each home would be shown off better with just some easy, inexpensive tweaks. Here are some of the things I've seen so far and how I would change them if it were my home to sell!

I don't want to seem like a know-it-all here, so please take these as just my personal opinions. Everyone has different circumstances when selling their homes, but this is just what we would do if we owned these homes.

1. Lighten Up.
Many of the homes we've toured have felt dark on the inside. We aren't all blessed with floor-to-ceiling windows (especially in older homes), but we can do our best with what we have. Turn on all of your lights and open all of your windows! Most people want a home that feels light and bright, airy and expansive. If you have all of your lights on and it still feels dark, consider investing in light bulbs with higher wattage. For example, I just toured a master bathroom that had a ton of light fixtures, but they were all very low wattage. I think the goal was to add dim mood lighting for long soaks in the bathtub, but the recently renovated bathroom would have looked so much better with brighter lights!

Bright, airy kitchen (with lights on!) by Sarah Richardson. Photo via Canadian House & Home
2. Declutter
You know what we (buyers) think when we see a house that feels very cluttered? You must not have enough room for your stuff. That makes me think your home doesn't have a lot of storage or perhaps not enough closet space, which means we won't have enough room for our stuff if we bought your house. That's a negative right off the bat.
     Sometimes it's as simple as putting stuff away. We toured a home recently with a pretty fabulous laundry space, complete with a whole wall of cabinets, a built-in desk, etc. The only problem was you couldn't see any of the cabinets or the long counterspace because it was covered in a heaping pile of dirty laundry! That laundry room was a great selling feature, but they were completely covering it up.

A welcoming, organized laundry room via Better Homes & Gardens
3. Play up your home's best features.
I can think of two homes recently where I was completely shaking my head because they had failed to do this. In the first, the home had a big pool with a huge back patio. Major selling point, right? Buyers should have pictured themselves lounging on pool chairs with margaritas and then rushed to ask their realtors where to sign. However, this back patio and the area surrounding the pool was filled with mismatching, junky patio furniture and dead plants. Dead plants just don't help a space look its best! Putting just the slightest bit of love into that outdoor space probably would have sold it in a heartbeat. Sweep winter-y debris off the patio, get rid of any dead plants, think about removing the rusted BBQ grill that hasn't been used in ages. If possible, rent or buy a patio set that helps people envision the luxurious life they could live in your home. I know sometimes there isn't money for new furniture to stage a home, but the nice thing about investing in furniture before you sell is that you can usually take them with you when you go to your new home.
       Another home we toured had a really beautiful floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace. It was the showpiece of the home, for sure. However the couch was plopped right in front of it, with its back to the fireplace! The arrangement of the room completely blocked the view of the fireplace when you walked in because these homeowners had arranged the room to center around the TV, not the fireplace. I thought that was a big shame because the fireplace was my favorite part of the house and buyers ideally should be drawn to it as soon as they walk in.

Beautiful fireplace via Indulgy
4. Carpet isn't always your best friend.
Another trend I've seen in the homes we've toured is that several home owners put down brand new carpet before they put their homes on the market. I understand that carpet is one of the cheapest flooring options, but I feel like a lot of people don't want carpet anymore. My husband and I keep saying, "What a shame, we'd have to tear up all that brand new carpet right away." We have dogs, and the carpet would soak up the smell of our pets. Surely we can't be the only potential buyers who wouldn't choose carpet? I would rather have a flooring allowance to pick out our own floors once we bought the home.
     While on the subject of flooring, we have seen many homes with more than 5 different types of flooring in the house– and these aren't really big houses. Vinyl in the kitchen, laminate in the dining room, carpet in the living room, a different laminate in one bedroom, and so on and so on. It raises concerns in my head about trying to make the home feel cohesive once we bought it. Would we have to replace all of the floors? Will the flooring levels be uneven because they are all so different? What sort of headache are we signing up for here? There may be some buyers who overlook having different types of flooring, but I know it would be a bonus for us if we saw only a few different types of flooring in the home (for example, laminate or hardwood floors in the main living areas and carpet in the bedrooms).

5. The garage matters.
At least, it does to my husband. Want a man to fall in love with a house? Show him a well-kept garage with great storage. He'll start picturing his toys in your garage, his car parked in that space, his tools lined up neatly in your workshop. Women fall for the kitchen; men fall for the garage. If you're blessed with a big garage with built-in shelving, a workshop, anything along those lines– play it up! Put bright lights in there so we can see it. Organize your tools neatly to show off the great storage options. It's a great selling feature for many men out there (and women, too).

via The Container Store

What do you guys think? Would these things matter to you? What have you noticed when you've bought or sold a home? I'd love to hear your thoughts...

* Happy Home Shopping*

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3.15.2013

Randoms & Happy Weekend

Good morning!

Let's start the randomness off with a little update on our house hunt:

We are on offer #3 right now. I told you about the first offer we made and how we got nervous that it was too expensive for us. We're terrified of being house poor!

Since then, the selection of homes in our price range has completely depleted to almost nothing. Literally, there is only one home on the market in our range right now! Because the selection is so small and so many people want to buy a house in our area (great school district, central location in DFW), every home that has come on the market since has immediately gone into a bidding war.

We put a full price offer on a nice home in a great neighborhood earlier this week, and then the seller's agent got back to us with a long list of requirements for us to make on our "best offer." I'm sorry buddy, that was our best offer. Don't you know we don't pay full price for anything?! It's a miracle we offered you full asking price!

Anyway, we withdrew our offer from that home and moved on. The next day, a really adorable and more affordable home came on the market that we really thought would be a good fit for us. Once again, we made a full price offer. Apparently the seller is "overwhelmed by the response," which means we must have been joined by several other offers (of course). We are hoping to find out by tonight whether or not our offer has been accepted, which is not looking promising at this point.

The worst part about this crazy housing market is that we can't really get excited about a home because we know the odds aren't good that our offer will be the one that's accepted. It's a self protection mechanism to restrain your enthusiasm, you know? The competition is fierce, and we aren't willing to overpay. The fortunate part is that we have a lovely home anyway and we aren't desperate, so we keep trying to remind ourselves of that reality. It's easy to get swept up in the competitive spirit and throw down a bunch of money, but that would be a bad decision.

So, that's where we are right now. As always, I will keep you posted! So far it's been an exercise in patience and restraint. We're getting good practice in trusting our instincts and waiting for God to open the right door (and not getting mad when a door closes).

***

These are some of my favorite Instagram photos of late (@jordang106):

Rolling through the Texas countryside 


Backseat road trip warriors


Peekaboo doughnut/You are what you eat


***

The husband has been working on random projects during his spring break this week. I already showed you his adorable doggy fence windows, which have been a huge hit with the nuggets so far. He also pressure-washed the fence, planted a pear tree transported from our friend's yard, reupholstered the center console in his Chevy Silverado (random, I know), and rewired his vintage fan from the flea market. I can't wait to see what he does next! Haha.

***

Am I the last person on earth to discover quinoa? I finally made some this week and actually liked it! I can't say the same for the husband– he basically hated it. Oh well. I have a big batch of plain quinoa in the fridge– what should I do with it? Please let me know if you have any good recipes!

***

Do you have fun plans this weekend? We are making a day trip to east Texas tomorrow to visit some of our best friends who just had a baby. The rest of the weekend will [hopefully] be calm and uneventful. Who knows, maybe we'll have a new house by the next time we talk!

* Have a Great Weekend*

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3.12.2013

DIY Fence Windows for Dogs: Tutorial

If you've followed this blog for a while, you know we have two destructive adorable dogs. "Nuggets," we like to call them. And if you've liked the blog on Instagram, you may have seen this photo on Monday:

DIY Fence Window for Dogs

You see, these two nuggets take protecting our backyard very seriously. So seriously that they have destroyed parts of the fence to have a clear view of who's walking by.


And since the husband spent so much time slaving over building this fence, the puppy damage was particularly painful for him. As soon as he went on spring break this week, he made it project #1 to install custom puppy windows in our fence to [hopefully] prevent further fence carnage.

Now our fence features three custom dog windows, aka "doggy peepholes," so the nuggets can perform their guard dog duties without digging more holes and destroying more fence!


The husband told me exactly how he did it, so let's walk through the steps. Here's what you need: 

• jig saw
• miter saw
• power drill
• galvanized wood screws (must be galvanized or they will rust and discolor your fence)
• cedar picket (or whatever wood you used for your fence)
• galvanized steel wire mesh
• wire cutters (or strong scissors)

First, you need to decide where you want to put your windows. We chose to put ours at eye level for our dogs (except for the first one, which had to go where they had already torn a big hole). It's a good idea to put your windows between fence runners so that you only have to cut through the fence planks. 

Use the jig saw to cut the hole in the fence to whatever size you want. The nuggets really enjoyed this part. "Look mom, it's just like riding in the car and sticking our heads out the window!"


Using the miter saw (which makes it much easier to make angled cuts), cut the extra picket to the length you need for your window with 45 degree angle cuts on each end. This will help you make the beveled frame for your window.


Captain obvious instruction of the day: you'll need four angled cuts to make a window frame. 
*MIND: BLOWN*


Use the wire cutters to cut the wire mesh to slightly smaller than your wooden frame.


For extra stability, the husband placed the wire mesh between the planks and the fence runners, which are on the inside of our fence.  You could also just place the wire mesh over the hole in your fence and begin applying the frame if you want to simplify and eliminate some steps.


Once the mesh is in place, use your power drill to screw the frame onto the fence.



Once the frame was finished on the outside of the fence, the husband also added a frame to inside to make that side look polished and finished. He only needed three sides for this frame because the fence runner was used for the bottom. 

DIY Fence Window for Dogs

We were super pleased with how the doggy windows turned out! The dogs love being able to see the street without contorting their body or eating through the fence. 

DIY Fence Window for Dogs

See how dirty our fence is from the recent storms? Yuck. Today the husband also rented a pressure washer to strip off the dirt ($20 for two hours from Ace Hardware). It made a big difference, and now the fence is ready to be resealed. He plans to do that tomorrow. No one is as productive on vacation as my husband! (Thank goodness– it takes away the envy for me, since I don't get spring break in my line of work.)

So, do you think your dogs need some fence windows? It's a pretty easy project if you have the right tools. Special thanks to our neighbor, Charley, who let us borrow his miter saw. (The husband is now obsessed and has been looking for his own miter saw on Craigslist all day– imagine that!)

* Window to the Sidewalk World*

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3.11.2013

Small House, Big Rug! + more

Rugs were 40% off at the Pottery Barn outlet this weekend, so you can probably guess how this story is going to go...

I made the husband pull out and unroll several huge rugs (no small task– muscles definitely necessary) and we eventually found a [big] beautiful rug we both loved. WIN!

Here's the winner: Ikat Links rug from West Elm! We got a great deal, paying only $288 for the 9x12 size, which is selling for $850 on the West Elm site.

Ikat Links rug, West Elm

We loaded it into our truck (along with all of our other purchases) and started the three hour drive home. That's when the situation got a little hairy. We were just cruising along the Texas countryside when the sky opened up and released its fury on us. We couldn't even see the road in front of us when we were driving, that's how hard the rain was coming down.

We white-knuckled it through the storm safely, and we rushed the rug out of the truck as soon as we got to my parents' house. This was the scene in the eat-in kitchen on Saturday night:


The good news is, the rug didn't get nearly as wet as we feared. We let it air out overnight and it was good as new, with no extra odor. Phew!

I am so pleased with how it looks in our living room! It really ties the space together and makes it feel complete. 


The rug is almost too big for our tiny space, which is a nice problem to have! I never thought we'd be able to afford a 9x12 for this space, so it feels like such a luxury. You have to love outlet prices!

So what else did we buy?

Well, I think I mentioned a few weeks ago that we've been searching for a filing cabinet. We came home with FIVE filing cabinets! That's right, the husband went crazy at the Pottery Barn outlet, buying up all the file cabinets. We just couldn't resist, since each one was marked down to only $5! 

What's the catch? Well, none of the cabinets have tops. They are each pedestals meant to be part of custom desks, so the top is open like this one:

Printer's 3-Drawer File Pedestal, Pottery Barn
These cabinets retail for $339, so paying only $5 (a whopping 98.5% off!) was just too good to pass up. I mean, the hardware is worth more than $5! Now we have five of these cabinets, and all are different colors, styles, hardware, etc. The husband plans to craft tops for each one out of different materials and either give them to our friends or sell them on Craigslist. Can you believe he bought about $1,700 worth of cabinets for $25? Not too shabby! (I'm happy to report they were not damaged by the rain storm we encountered on the way home.)

My best friend asked me to look for photo ledges for her bedroom, and I found her two white 5" Holman Ledges for $5 each (normal price: $55). Another great find!


One of my favorite sections of the Pottery Barn outlet is the kid/teen section. I guess I'm still young at heart? I can always find good deals in that part of the store. This time I found another capiz chandelier. (Last time I went to this Pottery Barn outlet, I bought 3 capiz chandeliers and a capiz baby mobile, including the West Elm capiz chandelier in our dining room.)

If we end up moving and renting this house out, we want to take that West Elm chandelier with us. Yes, I absolutely love it that much– I can't bear to part with it. I thought this Classic Capiz Chandelier from Pottery Barn Teen would be a nice replacement. I'm not sure how much it used to sell for since it's not available anymore, but we paid $60. I figured that's a pretty good price for a dining room chandelier. This similar (but not as pretty, in my opinion) fixture is $780 at Shades of Light.

Classic Capiz Chandelier, PB Teen
Also found in the PB Teen section, a lap desk with a built in iPhone dock and speakers! This is such a great find for me because between my real job and my blogging hobby, I spend a lot of time with my laptop. It always gets hot and heats up my legs as I'm working, so this is an awesome solution. I got the sheepskin one, which is very soft and neutral (and doesn't scream teenager). Original price: $189. I paid $15. Score. And the speakers work great!

Speaker Lap Desk, PB Teen
And that's not even all we bought! Yes, we spent hours in that store. Our last purchase was this cool industrial shelf– Kendall Wall-Mount Shelf– for $40 (original price $112). It's going to be perfect below the pencil art in my studio and ties in perfectly with the industrial magazine rack I already have hanging in that room. 

Kendall Wall Mount Shelf, Pottery Barn
All in all, it was a very successful shopping day. My parents found some great stuff too, so everyone went home happy. My mom bought the $399 Hudson Media Console from West Elm for only $40! 

Of course you never know what type of deals you'll get at an outlet mall, but we always hope to find great bargains that make the 3-hour drive worth our time. This time we definitely did!

I'll be back with another post soon with an update on the [increasingly frustrating] house hunt.  
PS. I finally updated the Home Tour! It was quite a bit outdated– I'm sorry about that!

* Rug Love *
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3.08.2013

Randoms & Happy Weekend

This weekend we are jetting off to one of my favorite discount shopping destinations, the San Marcos outlet mall! We're going to go visit my parents, who are the ultimate bargain shoppers. They make for excellent shopping companions, and we never leave the Pottery Barn Outlet empty handed!

In honor of my shopping trip this weekend, I decided to rank my top three bargain finds from the Pottery Barn outlet! Drumroll, please...

#3 Vanity Desk ($115, marked down from $500)


I got this desk long before I had this blog. I think I've had it about five years now, and I still love it! The best part is that when you open up the vanity on the top, it's painted a bright kelly green. So unexpected!

#2 West Elm Capiz Chandelier ($50, marked down from $300)


I'm in love with this chandelier. It completely changed our dining room when we hung it up above our table. Hellooo, stylish!

And now, my favorite Pottery Barn bargain ever...

 *drumroll*
#1 Montego Straight Leg Dining Table ($215, marked down from $1,600)

This table was QUITE a bargain. In fact, it was such a bargain that we actually made money by buying this table! That's right, I sold it on Craigslist a few weeks ago when we found our thrift store dining table, and I made a $285 profit! Now that's a good purchase.

I hope to find more steals this weekend!

***

Since we've started house hunting, I've had remodeling fever. In every home we see online, I picture how much better it would look with new flooring and a coat of paint on the cabinets. I call my realtor to talk about its potential, and I find out it already sold! I guess the home market is busy everywhere right now with people like us trying to take advantage of low interest rates.

Anyway, I've been pinning some beautiful spaces as inspiration.

Beautiful entry via Pinterest
Griege kitchen with brass hardware, via Pinterest
***

I know I've been talking about this story for weeks now in my Friday Randoms column, but it just keeps getting better. Watch this clip of a player from my brother's basketball team on the Ellen show. His name is Jonathan, and he's the one who passed the ball to Mitchell (a player from the other team with special needs) so he could score a basket. I get really teary watching how emotional Mitchell is when he's on stage. So awesome.


The NCAA is sponsoring both teams to come to Dallas to watch the Sweet 16 and Elite 8, so I get to see my brother! I'm really excited about that. This act of sportsmanship has just been the gift that keeps on giving, and I know it's something my brother and the players involved will remember all of their lives. It has made my brother's first season as head coach even more memorable and is a reminder of how great sports can be.

***

On of my favorite bloggers, Erin from House of Earnest, has started a series called "Budget Blooms" that gives details about flower arrangements. I love the simple way she explains things and the beautiful images that accompany her posts. She has an amazing eye. Check it out!

***

That's all I've got for today! Have a wonderful weekend.

* Friday Fun Day *
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3.06.2013

Instincts

Just an update on the house we offered on last Sunday:

We were in the middle of sending the seller another counter offer when we had a change of heart.

I'm a girl who likes to trust her instincts. And despite the fact that the lenders said the home was well within our means, my instincts started gnawing at me on Monday.  

pinterest

What if the price is stretching us too thin? I don't want us to get into a rough financial situation because we decided we could afford a house beyond our comfort zone. And what if we have kids in the near future? How much does that cost? How can we plan for those elements and know we'll be financially secure?

Later that night, I confided to the husband that I was slightly worried about the finances. He admitted that he had been wrestling with the same issues. We've had a very reasonable house payment for the past three years that has allowed us to travel, renovate and basically have a lot of fun without constant financial stress. We didn't want to curb our lifestyle just to be able to pay our mortgage each month, and we don't know what the future will bring when we try to start a family. Money stress is really hard in marriage, and we didn't think it was a good idea to knowingly bring it upon ourselves.

As sad as we were to watch the awesome house slip out of our grasp, we decided the wise thing to do was to withdraw our offer on the home.

I like to think this situation was a gentle reminder from God that we are to be wise stewards of the blessings He has bestowed upon us, and I believe God was nudging my heart to have that talk with my husband before it was too late. 

Anyway, the hunt is still on. We still want to move, and we still want to keep our home as a rental property. We have just lowered our price range to something we feel is much more comfortable for us.

The down side? This affluent suburb has only 4 properties for sale right now in that price range, and we don't like any of them enough on paper to go tour the inside.

We'll just stay patient and keep watching the market. We're hopeful that more homes will come on the market after spring break next week. We'll see!

* Thanks for listening *
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