Friday, June 24, 2011

Change can be a good thing

Sometimes it's just nice to mix things up. I like having things for certain seasons and then changing them out for different things. Like bedding. It's inexpensive to have a couple different bedding sets - one for the Fall and Winter months and another for Spring and Summer. I have been itching for something more cheerful and bright in our bedroom for a while. We had a great paisley quilt in there already with deep grays and greens. But I felt something Springyer (?) would be nice for a change.

At Home Goods (I can never go to Home Goods and come out empty handed. Never.) I found a gorgeous new quilt that is *perfect* for our room! It brightens it up just enough but keeps it cozy - our bedroom is our haven (our escape from stressful kitchen redo's, for example) so warm and relaxing is important.

The quilt and shams are by Cynthia Rowley

Our existing tan shams we found at an estate sale actually 'work' with the new quilt; the 2 toss pillows in front are new, too.

A new Ralph Lauren sheet set, too - sateen, of course. So soft!

Close up of my pretty new champagne-colored sequin toss pillow.

We went into Home Goods just to browse ("Just 5 minutes", I told Kevin ... he scoffed, of course) and came out with all new bedding. I need to stop visiting Home Goods for a while. ;)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Celery for dinner? Yes, please!

Recently I have been trying out some really amazing celery salads. I never had a celery salad before this Spring but have come across a few interesting ones, tried them, and loved them. I found this particular recipe in one of my recent Martha Stewart Living issues and tore it out to add to my messy heap of scrawled recipes and web printouts. It's as easy as can be with just 4 main ingredients, dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and salt to taste. A perfect accompaniment to grilled chicken or fish ... or amazing by itself. Like tabouleh, I could eat bowl after bowl of this stuff easily. At about 240 calories per 2 (ish) cup serving, there isn't much guilt involved either.

- Start with fresh celery, washed and diced - I use the leaves as well - about 6 cups
- Add freshly rinsed and dried cilantro leaves, about 1 cup. No mincing necessary but a little chop with a mezzaluna helps keep the leaves more manageable
- Chop about 1/4 cup of golden raisins and add to the cilantro and celery
- Lightly toast about 1/4 cup of coarse-chopped almonds while doing the next step ...
- Toss in about 2-3 T each of olive oil and fresh lemon juice and kosher salt to taste. Then toss in the warm almonds and eat immediately. It's best when the almonds are still toasty-warm against the chewy raisins, crunchy celery and aromatic cilantro leaves and the zing of fresh-squeezed lemon juice. Absolutely divine.

Lucky spatula ;)
dinner and '30 Rock' tonight!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Burn Baby Burn!

I have to say I am proud of myself and Kevin: We have joined a gym. And actually gone. And sweat! Last weekend (I think) we went to a gym just up the street from our house called Planet Fitness; we have been flirting with a membership there for months but decided to finally 'Just Do It', as they say. Their memberships are insanely affordable; we opted for their $10/month option with includes group classes/tutorials, fitness trainers and unlimited gym access. It's a nice, clean gym with locker rooms and showers; they open early and close late (I think it's 5am to 11pm on weekdays) so you can go before work or after dinner and errands.

I have been watching my portions and the things that I'm eating. Lots more fruit, salads, good fiber and way less of everything; my calorie intake is probably about 2/3 what it was. I'm just proud that we're making an effort. Even if we don't see results *right now* (which is tempting to hope for) we are working at it - that's all you need to do. I feel so energized and so good about myself when I work out. That's enough (for now) to keep me coming back. Of course if I don't look better and fit into those old jeans after months of work, I'll feel more than a little discouraged's hoping that is not the case!

So yeah, most exciting post ever! Just thought I would share something I'm working on lately persuant to my resolution of treating myself better ... doing things that are healthier for my body.

Have you changed your habits for the better this year?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Kitchen Reno - Part II

And the saga continues.

Again with the whole iceberg thing: you see one project and feel confident it won't take too long to tackle. That project ends up being imperceptibly and indelibly connected to 8 other projects that you are then forced to tackle before any one of the projects can be satisfactorily completed. One of the rules of Home Renovation 101.

This month we started by ripping out ugly old linoleum and ended up pulling baseboards, painting walls, painting door knobs, ripping off 40 year old 'tile' and rock-hard adhesive from our back splash, removing a massive range hood ... I think that's all. Oh, and of course spending as much time at Lowe's as we have at home. Here are photos of the 'progress' if you could call it that ... more like chaos.

And I have a party to host on Saturday! Yikes!

After just one coat. So pretty and crisp against the freshly-painted door/trim.

The blue looks COMPLETELY different on this wall. Crazy, color-changing paint.

Awful adhesive! And the little tiles we had to chip off one by one.

Kevin pulling more tiles. They used to be vintage green. The ones behind the oven were never painted.

All the tiles are OFF. Now to get the adhesive off.

Most of the adhesive is off. Now to smooth the surface, patch holes and retexture.

The fruits of our labor? or ... whatever. ;)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Kitchen Reno - Part I

Last weekend we started ripping up our old linoleum on what must have been a subconcious whim borne of deep-rooted hatred for the heinous blue and what-used-to-be-white-but-then-turned-tan-ish linoleum that we've put up with for the past year. It must have been there since the '80's when a former owner 're-did' the kitchen in blue and white. Blue and white linoleum (so classy), blue and white wide-striped wall paper and sort-of-matching border along the top of the walls. Oh, and the blue 'granite' laminate desk-height shelf along one of the walls; I'm not sure of its original purpose - for us it was just a catch all and I really don't need more of those (I'm a 'stacker', according to Kevin).

So ... yeah; I'm not sure how it happened but before I really knew it I was dripping in sweat, tearing ravenously into the sticky tiles with a nail bar and pulling and ripping - something primal about it, almost, and very exhilerating. Weird how the renovation bug bites and doesn't let go until all you see on your debit card statement is Lowe's Home Improvement and all your weekends are consumed comparing trim or deciding between gloss or eggshell.

At this point I honestly don't know what direction our kitchen will go. I'm just going with the flow, whatever that is, and doing things that I think will work. We start working on one thing and then 3 other things are directly affected by it and if we don't fix them, too, then there is no point in even doing the first thing we set out to do. So we might as well get it all done now (either that or we don't do ANY of it) but that means it's turning into a bigger project than anticipated (moral of the story: always anticipate MORE work and MORe stress when you are updating your home). I feel like I'll be working on my kitchen for the rest of the year.

Also, we've had a few Boozy Susie moments (via) with the trim and the switch boxes for the electrical plugs (I know that is not their technical term). It looks like they put the dry wall up and then realized they had covered a switchbox and just hack-sawed the drywall away from the box. Also, the trim is, well trimmed, very haphazardly and uneven. We might as well just redo everything.

Here is what it looks like now. Crap, basically. (Actually we just threw a smattering of rugs all over - the patch of new concrete by the sink is very dusty and my cats like to roll around on it, so ... now it looks like we live in a tent)

Just getting started. The linoleum by the dishwasher (where the patch is) was obviously already pulled up so we started there.

 The ugly patch of concrete. Apparently we won't be able to match it to the rest of the concrete if we sanded and stained. That's what we wanted to do but with this patch, there will be a big discolored spot ...

Freshly spackled (but still ugly and discolored from the wallpaper), ready for Kilz (which nearly kilz'ed me, by the way - oil based paint is AWFUL and fumey!)

New color for the walls once all the Kilz is up; it's called 'Clear Horizon' by Valspar. It's actually lighter and less periwinkly than it looks in the photo.

Here's hoping we haven't opened an awful (read: expensive) can of worms.


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