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Sometimes It’s The Little Things…

17 Dec

 

Joe and I have owned our house for going on two years. Since it was a to-be built home we were lucky enough to get to pick and choose everything from the hardwood floors, carpet color, cabinets and granite to the color of the light fixtures that we liked. All the walls are still the same cream builder grade color they were when we first moved in back in March 2011.

We have yet to hang much on the walls. Mainly since I am scared to do it myself and also because I have no idea where to even start in most places. I have pinned plenty of ideas of gallery walls, art work, etc. on Pinterest and haven’t actually made any decisions about where it would go.

Sometimes starting with a blank slate can be overwhelming when it comes to decorating a room or a house. I have made an attempt to do a few small things here and there to make our house feel like a home and to prevent me from feeling overwhelmed in the process. Although sometimes becoming overwhelmed is inevitable…picking paint colors is overwhelming and then the thought of actually painting makes me want to run for the hills. I’m not very good at it, but lucky for me the hubby knows a thing or two.

I think the hardest part for me at first was how to start decorating since we have an open floor plan on our main level. At first I wasn’t sure if the kitchen and family room curtains should be the same fabric or different. I took the pictures below on the day we settled and got our keys.

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Standing in the eat-in kitchen looking into the family room

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Standing in the family room looking into the kitchen area and walk out to the deck

It took about a year of living here before I even decided on fabric for our family room curtains. And the actual process of picking out the fabric consisted of my sister and I in JoAnn Fabric for about two and a half hours…literally on the floor going back and forth between fabric choices. #Indecisivemuch Once I FINALLY decided on the fabric my sister came over and worked her sewing machine magic.

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I really love how the curtains turned out. I hung them using clip rings. To this day that part of our family room for the most part looks the same. Minus the step stool in the corner (it lives in a hidden spot in our kitchen). I still need to hang art work and make throw pillows for our couches. The ones that came with the sofas are hideous and I hate them. I always make sure the ugly patterned side faces the sofa. ūüôā¬†

About two months ago while I was at Lowe’s crossing some things off my “to-do” list (buying a new battery for my garage remote and a replacement water filter for the fridge) and as I was waiting for the sales man to come back with the right battery I took a walk through the curtain aisle. I had been looking for curtains for our kitchen window, but hadn’t had much luck. I wanted to find something that would be colorful, but would still go well and wouldn’t compete with the dark tones we already have in the kitchen.

Sometimes it can be something little and unexpected that gives you the inspiration to decorate a room. This time a pattern caught my attention and the colors in the pattern kept my attention! They were so pretty and bright! The pattern wasn’t over the top or too matronly looking and it was colorful. I checked the price and at $14.97 per panel I couldn’t resist! I bought two panels drove right home and started hanging them. This time a pattern caught my attention and the colors in the pattern kept my attention. These curtains were that little unexpected thing to give our kitchen a happier look and a jumping off point for me to put the rest of the room together.

I didn’t take a before picture and I couldn’t find a good before picture, so you will just have to imagine how terribly plain the window was before and how the curtains made the biggest and best addition to our little kitchen!

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For anyone interested in purchasing these panels they are Style Selections 84′ L Multicolor Bernard Curtain Panel.

About a month ago I decided to move a dresser that was residing in our master bedroom from our bedroom down to the kitchen and use it as a “buffet” of sorts. Not only did that free up wall space in our bedroom for me to re-arrange our room (it looks so much better now), but it also gave me some much needed extra storage space in the kitchen.

ImageAbove is the dresser once it was moved down into the kitchen. Pardon the light, it was dark outside when I got around to taking pictures.

On a recent shopping trip to Hobby Lobby I came across their decorative knobs. I found some really pretty blue knobs that I thought would be an easy and fabulous way to change up the once dresser and make it fit in better in it’s new home.

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ImageImageImageImageImageI am completely in L.O.V.E with how the curtains and the new blue knobs bring together the room. I am also happy to report that thanks to the curtains and knobs I have finally decided on a paint color! Wahoo! My goal is to tackle the painting very soon #wishmeluck! Once the painting is complete I will take care of all that empty wall space.#babysteps
Eventually down the road I would like to do something fun with the currently ORB (oil rubbed bronze) chandelier…maybe a little spray paint action to tie it in with the curtains and break up all the dark wood tones?!

Do you ever feel overwhelmed when decorating your house, apartment or condo? I feel like the more I do the more comfortable I get with it, but still feel overwhelmed at times. Remember to take it one step at a time and try to have fun with it. 

Have you completed any fun home projects recently?

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DIY Christmas Ornament

3 Dec

This past February Joe and I, Tara and Nathan and a group of friends took a trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. As you would probably expect we returned from that trip with our fair share of Mardi Gras beads.

Mardi Gras

As we were unpacking our suitcases when we returned from our trip we threw the beads into a box where they have been taking up space in our guest room ever since. What is one to do with Mardi Gras beads? I didn’t want to just throw them away since they are a fun keepsake from an awesome trip! However, I was tired of looking at them just sitting there taking up space.

Finally a couple of weeks ago it hit me! Light bulb! Usually when Joe and I take trips we will buy a new ornament to hang on our Christmas tree. Since we didn’t buy any while we were in NOLA I thought maybe I could make my own using the mardi gras beads.¬†¬†I thought it would be a creative and useful way to keep some of the beads we collected and five them more of a purpose.

While I was at Hobby Lobby a few weeks ago I picked up a box of glass ornament bulbs for $7.99. This was a really simple project and only took me about 3o minutes to complete. I picked out a few strands of beads in the colors I wanted. I also decided to use a few strands of purple, gold and green beads in two bulbs since they are the official colors of Mardi Gras, in order to remind us where the beads come from. ūüôā In order to get the beads into the bulbs I cut the strands and

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I started with a pile of beads and ended up with a bunch of really great bead filled ornaments. Since adding the beads into the glass bulbs made the bulbs a little too heavy to hang on the tree I placed them in a large vase.

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Irish Weekend in Wildwood

30 Oct

Last month, Nathan and I were in Wildwood, NJ with family and friends for Irish weekend. This is one of the biggest Irish festivals in the country and a quick weekend getaway if you are on the East Coast.  The festival has something for everyone from crafts, boxing matches, music, and of course great food and beverages.  Starting on Thursday night, the festival runs all weekend, and concludes on Sunday.

Nathan and I at the Wildwood Boardwalk

In Jersey we actually go to the shirt store to buy clothing with fun sayings pressed on them.

Our friend Leeihnae found a great place two blocks from the beach for us to rent for the weekend and since it is off-season everything is cheaper!¬† One of the wonderful things about the festival is the trolley that stops at multiple locations in town to pick you up and drop you off at the festivities.¬† Once we arrived in town, we parked the car and didn’t have to worry about driving all weekend.

Getting dressed up for Irish Weekend is a must! Leeihnae rocked her green wig all weekend.

Glow sticks are fun for any celebration. My brother, Phil, prefers them as shoe laces.

The streets are closed to traffic, making it an easy stroll to check out the craft vendors, food tents, and of course find your favorite Irish beverage.

So many food options, but my cousin Jen went with the roasted corn.

The establishments and streets are pretty crowded, but you might get lucky enough to snag a spot in the corner like Jen and I did.  We set up our area overlooking the street so everyone in our group would know where to go in case they were separated from us.

Jen and I were able to find a spot overlooking the streets

On our way back, Mother Nature decided to unleash a storm upon us, so we made a mad dash to all get on the same trolley.¬† Unfortunately, the trolley we rode back on did not have any windows.¬† As you can see from Nathan’s picture below, we were all freezing as the rain came in from the side.¬† Luckily, no one came home with pneumonia, just funny stories about the entire weekend.

Trying to keep warm on the trolley in our Jameson hats

If you have the opportunity to go next year, I suggest you go for a fun weekend at the shore before the winter months hit.  Irish Festival

Cheers, T

Cookie Covered Brownie Recipe

29 Oct

A couple of weeks ago Nathan and I were at his Uncle Mark’s house for family dinner.¬† I have been dying to try a recipe that my co-worker, Ed, shared with me.¬† This dessert was one of the easiest recipes to make and everyone loved it.¬† You can’t go wrong with two kinds of cookies covered with brownie, it is amazing!

Ingredients you will need: brownie mix, chocolate chip cookie mix, and Oreos (you can see I went with the generic brand and it worked just fine).  I think next time I will use double-stuffed:)

To start, grease a 9×11 pan and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Evenly line the bottom of the pan with chocolate chip cookie dough.  You can make the dough yourself but I choose to buy the pre-made stuff and it worked well.

Cover the cookie dough with a layer of Oreos.

Top your Oreo layer with brownie batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  Of course ovens vary, so to be sure it is done stick a tooth pick in the center.  If it comes out clean, your dessert is ready to be taken out.

Top with ice cream, cool whip, or strawberries and enjoy!

Cheers, T

Wine and Wreath Party Food Edition

10 Oct

As we posted yesterday, this past weekend we threw a Wine and Wreaths party at Elise’s house. We invited our girlfriends over to stop pinning, and start crafting.¬† We also asked everyone to make a fall inspired dish, which is what this post is all about.

While we had quite the spread of food, from chips/guacamole to fruit  and veggie trays.  We picked the most fall festive recipes to share with you:

Apple Chips:

Tricia sliced apples and placed them on parchment paper before baking them¬†at 225 degrees.¬† Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and voila-a healthy snack that even Tricia’s almost 2 year old enjoyed!

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake:

Pumpkin and cheesecake in the same bite=heaven!

Katie opted for the mini shells at the grocery store to make these mini cheesecakes. 2 packages of 8oz cream cheese, 1 package of instant pudding, 1 can of pumpkin.

Mulled Cider Wine:

This warm beverage was finished before the crafts were.

Kristen combined a bottle of cranberry juice, a bottle of Merlot, and a box of mulled spices.  She brought to a simmer, and let the pot sit on the stove so we could help ourselves.

Pumpkin Dip:

Very simple recipe for those that love pumpkin.

Combine an 8oz container of cool whip, 15 oz can of pumpkin, 1 package of instant vanilla pudding, and 1/2 tsp of nutmeg.  Mix together and serve cold.  We served with gingersnaps, but think graham crackers or marshmallows are just as delicious.

Make any festive fall recipes lately? What is your favorite fall snack?

Cheers!

E & T

Birthday Dinner!

26 Sep

A couple of weeks ago my handsome hubby turned thirty-two and I decided to surprise him with a delicious birthday dinner to start off his birthday weekend! I ended up making filet mignon, pan-seared scallops with bacon and spinach, twice baked potatoes and asparagus.

I had never attempted to make filet mignon before and was pretty nervous about screwing it up, so I followed this¬†recipe. I used the pan-searing technique and ¬†a meat thermometer to make sure that my filets were cooked to the perfect medium rare.¬†I even attempted to make the Cabernet wine sauce. The sauce didn’t turn out that great…womp.womp.womp. I think I may have accidentally let the wine cook down to much. oops.

Sorry for the terrible cell phone pictures.

I found the recipe for scallops via a friend on Pinterest. It was actually a pretty easy and very tasty recipe. I followed it directly for the most part. I did use turkey bacon since that was what I already had. The scallops were really good, but this was my second oops because they were a little bit undercooked. They weren’t raw by any means, but they could have used another minute or so in the skillet.

I didn’t use recipes for the twice baked¬†potatoes¬†or asparagus. I just made them how I usually do. I actually started the¬†potatoes¬†first. I rinsed each of them off, poked a couple of holes in the tops of each with a fork and baked them in the oven on 375 degrees until they were soft to the touch. Depending on the size of the potato it could be anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour or more. I believe mine took about an hour. Once I took them out ¬†of the oven I sat them on the counter to cool while I prepped and cooked the rest of the meal.

Once I was ready to come back to the potatoes I cut them in half (long ways) and scooped the insides out and placed them in my¬†kitchen-aid¬†bowl. Make sure to keep as many of the potato skins in tact as possible, so you have enough to scoop the potato mixture back into. I added a little milk, butter, salt and pepper to the¬†potato mixture and blended until smooth. Once everything was mixed I filled each of the potato skins and placed them on a baking sheet. I placed them back in the oven to heat up for about 20-25 minutes on 350 degrees. The last five or so minutes is when you can add cheese, to the top if you choose. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the process since I was trying to make sure everything was done close to or right when Joe got home. Who wants to eat a cold birthday dinner?

I drizzled the asparagus with EVOO, pepper and a little salt and placed on a baking sheet in the already heated oven for 10-12 minutes. Joe and I like our asparagus crunchy and not soggy. ūüôā

Before Joe got home I had a few minutes to decorate a little bit. I wrapped streamers in his favorite colors around the banisters and hung a Happy Birthday banner over the sofa. He was definitely surprised when he walked in!

All in all dinner turned out delicious and Joe really liked it, which made me very happy. Not to mention I had a blast cooking for him. He even commented about how perfectly medium rare the filet was. yey! I think Chef Ramsey would have been proud! lol.

We ended up just eating dinner, drinking a little wine and lounging on the couch. We watched a few episodes of American Picker and fell asleep early. I think it was the perfect way to spend the night before his birthday, especially since we had a jam-packed full day ahead of us on Saturday!

 

I still have more to post from Joe’s birthday weekend and from our anniversary this past weekend, so please be patient with me while I get caught up. Here’s¬†to celebrating many, many, many more birthdays together with my handsome man!¬†)

Try your hand at any difficult recipes lately? Surprise your significant other on their birthday?

 

Cheers! E

 

Vacationing in Mexico

23 Sep

Finally!!  Yes, I know I said I would do this post a few weeks ago but life happens and as my Mom always says-better late than never!  So, here are the pictures from our anniversary trip to the Riviera Maya, Mexico.  Enjoy!

Our home for a week….

Happy Anniversary to US!

Welcome!

Beautiful Room

Swim up suite

Our own hammock and loungers

During the day we lounged on the beach, laid at the pool, and toured the resort:

Paradise!

Shooting Range

Champagne every day? Yes please!

We vacationed at the Excellence Adults-Only, All-Inclusive Resort.¬† In case you didn’t know, all-inclusive resorts include room service AND in case you didn’t know-Nathan LOVES ordering room service.¬† He¬†would order at least¬†4 meals at a time, and sometimes that was before we went to dinner:)

His favorite part of the day-ordering many meals

Look how happy he is!

At night, we enjoyed the shows after dinner or playing chess on the largest chess board we have ever seen.

Michael Jackson Show

The only time I have ever taken more than 5 of Nate’s chess pieces!

Elvis Show

One of the days, we ventured off the resort to visit the ancient Mayan city of Tulum.  As you will see from the pictures, this city is amazing and it is hard to believe this was built before modern technology.

Tulum

Giant lizards were everywhere

On our actual anniversary, we celebrated by going to the spa for the day.¬† Of course, this¬†was my¬†FAVORITE DAY…..¬†hydrotherapy circuit, couples massages, followed by champagne and chocolate covered¬†strawberries! HECK YES:)

That evening we dined at the French restaurant and of course I was thrilled to see that they decorated our table with rose petals:)

Overall we had a wonderful vacation and cannot wait to plan our next trip!  We have plenty more pics of us, but you know what we look like so I will leave you with the ones above:)

As our emcee in Mexico would say every night:

That’s all for now. Ciao-Ciao, Bye-Bye.

Cheers, T

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