Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Outdoor Dining

For the past few weeks we've been collecting estimates from various masonry and decking contractors for our backyard summer project. It seems for the past two years that we've owned our home, we get some sort of bug each July and just have to get something major done to the house. Last year it was the hardwood floors (I'm still gushing over them) and this year, we've committed ourselves to making over our backyard. Jared and I both love being outside and since getting the dog, we find ourselves outside constantly. We sit in our plastic chairs, plopped in the middle of the grass, drinking our Coronas, watching Kasey dig holes and chase bugs... and we love it... but we need an upgrade.

Our backyard check list is as follows:

  • A level place to grill, eat, and sit outside.
  • Room for a few flower beds.
  • Just enough grass to give Kasey a place to mark her territory.

I should be recieving plans and an estimate from one contractor today. Another is visiting tomorrow morning to check out the terrain... and I have a few estimates in my inbox already. Hopefully we can make a decision in the next few days and 4-6 weeks from now have a backyard living up to it's potential! Until then, I'll experience outdoor dining through the pages of my favorite home furniture stores:

Pottery Barn
West Elm

Monday, June 29, 2009

Another Crown Molding Update

And so I have another crown molding update! I'm excited to report that progress has been made thanks to Christian and his Dad, who spent several hours working on my little brainchild yesterday. Please excuse the quality of the pictures -- I took them with my iPhone since my camera is still out of commission. All pictures are as of this morning.

This was the "easiest" (HA!) section since it's a straight cut end-to-end, so this was done first:

To see the "before", click

(Btw, Can you tell I am anxious to paint these orange-crush cabinets a much more pleasing white? I couldn't wait to take all the doors off, so I did it at 7:00 this morning)

Here is my drinkware cabinet, with "wings," just waiting for its front piece:

And this is my dinnerware cabinet -- molding is cut and ready to go:

Turns out one of the long 8' sections in the mix wasn't perfectly sized width-wise, so a few more sections have to be re-cut and nailed in to the cabinets today.

Darn you Big Box hardware retailer and your so-called "Quality Control!"

Will post an update this week!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Runners & Welcome Mats

Last weekend I made a trip to Ikea to pick up a specific list of items for the house. Two things that snuck their way into the shopping kart even though they weren't on the list are below:

I guess you'd consider this black & white stripe runner more of a floor mat than a rug. My friend Alysa tried (almost successfully) to persuade me to buy the green & white or orange & white version of this mat... but I just couldn't do it! I love black & white. It's actually a problem. I know I need to embrace color, but it's scary! This mat made a home in front of my washer and dryer. The laundry room in my house is unfinished and not pretty, but this striped diddy makes it at least a little bit interesting.

Before I could exit the rug section, Alysa spotted this outdoor mat and recognized it as an "Erica pattern." She was right, I had to have this lattice-y, bristled mat for my back door. Even Kasey loves it. Now she can clean of those little paws on her way in from the yard.

I think each of these were under $15 a piece and you just can't beat that.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Artichoke Love

Those of you who have read our blog for a bit know how much we love artichokes here at girl meets home. Recently I acquired two new artichoke items and I couldn't be more excited to share them with you!

First: Anthropologie's artichoke votive, which I bought in-store just in time because it's out of stock online (apparently).

So cute! It stands about 4" tall.

Second: I love grilling kabobs during the summer and had run out of bamboo skewers, so I decided to invest in a few of the stainless steel variety this season. As soon as I saw the sweet little artichoke "finials" on the Crate and Barrel Vegetable Skewers, I had to have them. Check out the link above...Sorry I can't take a picture right now...my camera is non-operational and I couldn't find a pic big enough elsewhere online to add.

I know that in addition to artichokes, people love all kinds of themes. Bees, cows, roosters, fleur-de-lis, etc.

So tell us: What do you love and collect?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Let's Play a Game: What's Wrong with this Room?

Good morning readers! Today is interactive Wednesday. We're going to play a little game called, "What's Wrong with this Room?"

Here's how it works:

  1. Look at the pictures below.
  2. Leave a comment with anything you think is wrong with the room.
  3. Better yet, make suggestions for how to improve the room.
  4. Be kind.

I'll start by pointing out the obvious (save you the trouble) and by explaining some of the elements of the room that must stay:

  • Replace chairs and ottoman with furniture that is better suited for a small room. Smaller scale chairs.
  • Play around with furniture placement; are there any other arrangements that would work in the space?
  • Put something on the walls, try hanging prints or photos on either side of the TV.
Must Stays (Elements of the room that we can't live without)
  • Window treatments: We live in a townhouse and the blinds are a must! While we enjoy natural light, we have to be able to close the blinds at night so we don't feel like fish in a bowl!
  • The windows on the far right of the second photo are actually french doors. Only one of them opens but we do use it constantly to let the dog outside and to grill in the backyard. This makes a huge impact on where we place the furniture.
  • TV and console are brand spankin' new... we won't move them!
Alright that's all I've got... please, please, please... if you never comment on anything you read at Girl Meets Home, comment today! I live with this room so I need a fresh set of eyes to make suggestions on anything from colors to decor. I'd really love to hear your opinion!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Crown Molding Update

Well, let's just say the crown molding project didn't exactly go as planned this weekend...who knew a mitre saw could be so darn frustrating! I'm going to spend a good chunk of next weekend with my awesomely knowledgeable in-laws who have generously volunteered to help me complete this project. (Christian's sitting this one out because he's hard at work studying for a Cisco certification -- CCIE Lab for the fellow geeks out there. We love geeks at girl meets home!)

Since I don't want to leave you empty-handed, here's a little kitchen eye candy above and below. Enjoy!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hotel Goodies

Now that vacation season is upon us (summer officially arrived yesterday!) I'm sure some of you will be spending at least a night or two in the comforts of a hotel or better yet, resort. I just wanted to remind you of one important thing to do before you check out: Stock up on hotel goodies!

You know those mini shampoo and conditioner bottles, tiny soap bars, and boxed shower caps? You might never use them in the hotel because you packed your toiletries in a zip lock bag... but bring them home with you. Next time you have company, set them on the bathroom counter to make your guests feel like they're on vacation.

Last week I picked up a rectangular white tray for $4 at Home Goods. Now my guests know just where to look when they realize they forgot lotion. Simple to do and looks nice on the bathroom counter top.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Project outline: Crown molding on cabinets

At long last, this weekend I'm undertaking phase 1 of my kitchen cabinet makeover: Install crown molding above to the tops of the kitchen cabinets.

There is about a foot of space between the tops of our cabinets and the ceiling (much like the picture above). Rather than undertaking the much larger, more intensive task of rehanging the cabinets up higher on the wall, I think a strip of crown molding along the top of the cabinets will not only take up some of the space up there, but also add a more finished, refined look than the plain shoe molding that's currently up there.

After doing some research and initial measuring, I've found and purchased exactly what I need:

Mitre saw -- for cutting proper angles needed to wrap cabinets with molding

20' of 9/16" x 2 5/8" Crown molding

Finishing nails

Liquid Nails

Keep your fingers crossed that this project works! Will post "before & after" pictures next week ...hopefully Monday if all goes well!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Ikea Shopping List

I'm heading to Ikea on Saturday afternoon and since it's easy to get lost in that big blue box, I've come up with a shopping list so I can stay on track. (Or at least in the right "neighborhood.")

As you can see I'm looking for shelves, window coverings, picture frames, and pots. And it just so happens that everything on my list is white.

LACK Wall Mount Shelves: I'd like to pick up two of these to mount on the walls in our home office that doubles as a guest room. We've taken to stashing books under the day bed in this room and it's about time we gave them a proper home.

MERETE, OFELIA, and AINA Window Panels: I'm looking for a set of off-white curtains for our sun room and I'd like to compare each of these and walk out with one lucky winner.

LUMMIG & DAMPA Curtain Rods: Along with the curtains I'm looking for rods to hang them on, duh.

RIBBA Frames: I have a ton of empty walls and I want to create a gallery to display black & white photos from our wedding and such. I'm going to stock up on 8-12 of these frames in white.

KARDEMUMMA Pots: Last weekend we picked up 5 indoor plants to bring some green living into our home. I'd like to transfer them into something other than the plastic containers they're in now. Can't go wrong with white!

I'm also going to look for a small runner to put in front of the washer and dryer in the basement. I didn't see exactly what I was looking for online, so I'll have to scope something out in the store. Another thing on my mental list is pillar and votive candles. And possibly an outdoor citronella candle to keep bugs at bay. Hopefully I'll have a car full of loot come Saturday afternoon!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Need New Rug...

Back in January I bought a new rug for our sun room from Crate & Barrel. It was after the holidays so everything was on sale and for under $200 I got a large brown looped wool rug. As far as rugs go... I liked it... served it's purpose and looked nice. Then in March we got the puppy. She cost more than the rug (but worth every penny). She also decided that she liked the rug... so she started digging. Or at least trying to dig... now the rug looks not so nice. Once we figure out a way to break Kasey of the digging habit, I'm going to order one of these:

Oh the joys of puppies! Good thing they're cute.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Before & After: Bathroom Cabinets

A few months ago Erin updated her bathroom cabinets with a fresh coat of dark brown paint. Ever since I've been pea green with envy. So this past weekend I decided that it was time to give my cabinets the same TLC.

Enter the before:

Notice the honey oak cabinet doors... they don't match the rest of the color scheme in the bathroom which consists of browns and blues. On Saturday morning I stopped at the neighborhood Home Depot to pick up a quart of the new Behr Ultra Paint+Primer in One. I went with Espresso Beans... or was it French Roast? Eh, either way it was dark brown to me.

Before painting I cleaned the surfaces and then used Liquid De-Glosser to remove the poly finish on the doors and frames. This was much faster and less of a mess than sanding and I highly recommend it if you have any projects in the near future that would otherwise involve sanding.

Next I taped to avoid any mishaps... then painted and primed, in one!

Enter the after:

What a difference a coat of paint makes. I also picked up 4 simple knobs to further enhance the makeover. The entire process took a few hours between Saturday and Sunday (just had to give the paint time to dry) and it even inspired my husband to start thinking about the last project we've been talking about for the bathroom... tiling the floor. He is planning to do it the weekend before July 4th!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Early Summer Sale at Ballard Designs

Hooray! Ballard Designs is offering 15% off all merchandise through midnight tonight (June 16)!

Like many of you, now that summer is here (well..almost officially here), Erica and I have had the great outdoors on our minds.

Here are some of my favorite outdoor items at one of my favorite retailers:

Outdoor chair cushion
Christian and I have a hand-me-down metal patio set from Christian's parents, which I plan to refinish in black! I'm loving blues and greens right now, so I'm trying to decide between one of the following patterns...

Indigo Batik (I must admit that right this second I am leaning toward this pattern)

Capri Stripe

Phoebe Green

And finally, who am I kidding, I also still love black and white damask, despite the fact that it is completely over-saturated in the market.

9' Auto-Tilt umbrella
Of course, I would need a matching umbrella for my new set :-)

Extra large Grecian Urn
Love this in all three colors. A girl needs something to contain all of her gorgeous flowers! For example, check out the pink dahlias I scored at a local nursery a few weeks ago. There are no fewer than 12 beautiful blooms on each plant right now -- they are thriving!

Bamboo Place Mats
Aren't these fun? Not only are they perfect for summer, they come in antique white and are on sale for $14.99. Only trouble is, I can't quite tell how many is in a set (1, 2, 4?).
What are you planning to buy at Ballard Designs during this sale??

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bootcamp: Workout Fashion

Last weekend Erin and I started a boot camp program that meets every Saturday morning on the tennis courts in my neighborhood. The program lasts for 10 weeks and is pretty intense. It's actually called, Get What you Came for Boot Camp, because the instructor usually yells, "get what you came for" at the top of her lungs at least 3 times in any given workout. (I know this because I take her aerobic weight training class at the gym during the week.)

Prior to classes starting we were told to write down our fitness goals and at the end of 10 weeks we are going to reassess our progress. Of course we came up with a few personal challenges, but when Erin and I have an event on the calendar... one of our first goals is always finding something to wear! So we both put together a list of our top workout basics...

Erica's Picks:

1. I personally love the C9 by Champion collection of tops from Target for their price and style. I have several of these tanks including this green mesh tank with thin straps, crucial for those outdoor summer sweat sessions. Layer it with a sports bra that has thin straps for even less tan-line threat.

2. There's nothing worse than doing an overhead press and having your shirt ride up just enough to expose those unsightly love handles to the world. (Ok, maybe there are a few things that are worse but not by much.) For that reason I favor the Everyday Long Bra Top by Nike.

3. I can't get through a workout without a dependable headband to keep fly-aways from sticking to my face. Goody makes these headbands with rubber stiches that ensure your headband stays put, even during jump-jacks.

4-6. Shorts! Summer = time to show off those legs you've been hiding all winter. Find a pair you like and you might even find that you actually enjoy squats and lunges. My favorite running shorts are the Nike Tempo Track shorts and the Under Armour HeatGear Quick Step 3" inseam shorts. And yes, I am that girl who wears tight, short, spandex to workouts.

7. Polar F11 Women's Heart Rate Monitor Watch. Once you have one, you'll never go back. I love to see how many calories I just burned after a workout... usually I see a number and equate it to food. For example; 700 calories = 1 margarita + chips and salsa (guilt free no less!)

8. Shoes are so important to a workout. I'm still looking for a cross-trainer but something like these Nike Zoom Quick Sister shoes would probably work. Be sure to get shoes that are specifically designed for the type of exercises you're doing. Running? Buy running shoes. Indoor aerobics class? Studio shoes. Walking? You get the point.

9. Just for fun I'd like to start swimming laps a few nights a week. I saw this TYR bikini on MTV's The Duel and had to have one. In fact, I just ordered it from Zappos this morning. It's the sexiest looking sporty bikini I've ever seen.

Erin's Picks:

A few quick notes on Erin's picks; as you can see, she outfitted herself in the most stylish and flirty workout tank possible. Pair that with the Ultimate Shorts from Nike, and she is ready to hit the ground running, squatting, lunging, etc. Since we were told to the only things we needed to bring to Bootcamp were weights, water, and a mat, Erin scouted out each of these items and included them in her picks. I think she'd agree that one thing she would have incorporated had she discovered them sooner are Love Bottles. These glass bottles are perfect for anyone who is aware of the dangers associated with specific types of plastics.
I'm pleased to report that we've survived two weekends of Bootcamp and are feeling more fit and shapely already! Looking good while working hard too!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

We'll be back soon!

Hi guys, It's been a busy couple of weeks for Erica and I.

Between work, traveling, weddings, an anniversary, and birthdays, we are wiped out!

We'll be back with new posts by this weekend. Thanks for your patience!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bridal Registry Top 12

With the 2009 wedding season underway, so many of us are sifting through friends' wedding registries, hoping to buy something that our favorite couples will love and, most importantly, use often.

Both Erica and I married our husbands in 2008 and over the course of the year have found ourselves using a few more items than others (though all gifts are loved and much appreciated!).

From everyday cooking and dining to weekend entertaining, we've compiled a Top 12 list of registry items we've used most often over the last year.

Clockwise from top left:

1. Everyday dinnerware: Who doesn't need everyday dinnerware? Whiteware, like the one above, is offered at any major department store and boutique retailer like Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma. Not only is it affordable but you are guaranteed it will be used absolutely everyday. Erica favored Williams-Sonoma's Everyday Restaurant Dinnerware; I picked Pottery Barn's PB White. We love them both!

2. All-Clad stainless steel measuring cups and spoons: I use these every time I cook. Not only are they pretty and functional, but they are also dishwasher-safe and have a lifetime warranty from All-Clad.

3. Platter or tray with handles: We love our platters and trays with handles! They are great for Friday evening cocktails at home, appetizers, and weekend meals. Check out some of our favorites at Williams-Sonoma here. Pottery Barn also has some great items.

4. Cuisinart Food processor: I probably pull out my food processor once a week, whether to make my favorite Italian-style hummus, homemade pesto, or to attempt another pie crust. Highly recommend this kitchen appliance.

5. Serving bowl: While I don't have this particular bowl (yet!), I do have a couple of plain white serving bowls and could not more highly recommend them. Whiteware is great because you can mix and match it with any solid or pattern. A serving bowl like this makes family-style meals a cinch. And, you can use it in a centerpiece when not entertaining.

6. Hotel napkins: Love this set from Williams-Sonoma, and at 12 for $32, the price is tough to beat. The great thing about these napkins is that they are solid white, so you can easily bleach any food stains right out them. I pull these out every time I entertain. Love them.

7. Calphalon Multipot: Oh my. I use this at least twice a week because we love pasta and steamed veggies in my house. Not only does this multipot come with a large pasta basket, but it also comes with a smaller basket that is perfect for steaming vegetables. And, it's dishwasher-safe!

8. Cheese knives and board: A must for every entertainer or entertainer-in-training. What's easier than slicing a baguette and displaying a great cheese as an appetizer?

9. Wine glasses: A nice everyday set of wine glasses -- that are dishwasher-safe -- will be imperative for those rough days at work or weekend entertaining. This Pottery Barn Caterer's Set is only $49 for a box of 12!

10. Table linens: This is one thing I wish I had registered for -- a nice set of hemstitched linens. Placemats are great for everyday, but a quality tablecloth will serve you well for years. Check out Williams-Sonoma hemstitched table linens, they are beautiful.

11. Santoku knife: This is my favorite knife, hands-down. It's so versatile, you can use it to slice and dice your way to domestic goddess status. Be sure to hand wash it: While a good knife is technically dishwasher-safe, your knife will dull more quickly than your brain at the new Terminator movie (no offense, Christian and Jared).

12. Apron: Who doesn't need an apron? Keep your clothes splatter safe and look super cute all at the same time. Erica has had quite a bit of success at Anthropologie, which has some adorable full and half aprons.

There you have it -- our Registry Top 12. What items would you also include?

Hope you find these selections helpful as you shop for your favorite bride, or as you create your own registry!