Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dining Room Progress

I love me a good before-after post! This weekend Boyfriend and I went into overdrive getting the house ready for company on Thanksgiving (I'm cooking my first turkey, eek!) and we accomplished an impressive amount! The dining room went through the biggest transformation, so without further ado here's what it looked like on move-in day:


Dramatic reveal!


We painted it, furnished it, and hung some curtains high 'n' wide (it makes such a dramatic difference, like in my previous bedroom). Shortly after we moved in, we decided the yellow had to go and opted for a warm gray that I really like. It changes colors depending on the light and flatters everything in the room. The curtains from my previous bedroom happened to work nicely AND the curtain rod was the perfect length (lucky!).

We purchased our first dining set a few weeks back when a coworker listed this amazing ensemble from Design Within Reach for a TOTAL steal.  It was still expensive and I had many back-and-forth battles in my brain before Boyfriend convinced me it would be a good buy. Not that that was difficult; considering we got it for 1/3 the original price and could probably sell it for a profit if we wanted, I was easily swayed. Oh, and also I was IN LOVE with it. Seriously, head over heels. Look at these gorgeous curves:

So hot. Here are a few other details. Basket from EQ3, and yes, I'm trying to make those illustrious string balls (I'll post a tutorial once I perfect my technique)

Got this table on Craigslist for $50! I have plans for it, I'm just not sure what they are yet. 

We have a few more things on the to-do list for this room such as buying/making a new chandelier (maybe I'll make a string ball version), hanging some art, and maybe hanging some shelves. Until then, here's another shot.

Can't you just picture us around the table on Thursday stuffing our faces? mmmmm I can't wait!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Grown-up Dresser

After more than a month of dresser searching on Craigslist, we finally admitted that our perfect dresser with modern, clean lines was not to be found via thrifting. I also wasn't sure if I was willing to refinish/repaint a whole dresser...I can't even finish the nightstand I've been working on for 3 weeks now!
Our old dresser situation looked like this:

The most over-used IKEA shelving unit ever with some canvas bins from Target. It's not terrible or ugly or even actually looks pretty okay. But it's not what we want for our quickly-becoming-sophisticated bedroom. 

Thankfully we found this gorgeous piece on Overstock: the Bello Gloss White dresser! We measured the space (note the masking tape in the above photo) and decided it would be a perfect fit, so we took the plunge and ordered it. 

From the time we placed the order to the time it stood fully assembled was 15 days. FIFTEEN DAYS! Why? Well thanks to some shoddy handling, one of the three boxes it came in was torn open and the hardware and instructions has fallen out along the way. We waited another week for them to ship us the missing items only to discover that they had forgotten to include the drawer slides. That makes for TWO missing parts requests/deliveries! Thus, the dresser sat in pieces on our living room floor for 15 days until everyone got their shit together and I was finally able to assemble it. 

End rant. Here's the after :D

Soooo prettyyyyyy.  Oh, and we also hung this giant mirror that we bought from Craigslist for $40 when we first moved in. It's been waiting to be appreciated for two months now!

Love it! I'm learning that I have a soft spot for over-sized decor such as this mirror. Hopefully that doesn't bite me in the ass later. 

This mirror also gets the prize for being the first thing we've officially hung on the wall in our new place. It takes me a long time to hang things on the wall here in earthquake country simply because I'm paranoid and I want to do it right, especially with a 25 lb mirror. We used Quakhold brand hanging hooks that create a "maze" for the hanging wire to keep it from jumping off the hook during an earthquake. Like this:

Quakehold also recommends that you secure the bottom of the thing to keep it from swinging around, which I'll be doing with 3M Velcro strips (btw renters, this is an AWESOME product if you want to keep from damaging your walls!). Now to just cross my fingers that the "BIG ONE" won't happen any time soon or in my lifetime. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Nut-Stuffed Delicata Squash

Once again, Tracy at Shutterbean has inspired us with this vegetarian number!

This is the vegetarian version drizzled with roasted garlic OO with some radish/chard/green bean stir fry on the side

About a week after I saw this recipe, my weekly Riverdog Farms veggie box bestowed upon me a delicata squash and I knew just what to do with it!
On her site, Tracy claims that the combination of nuts and sage make the filling taste like sausage. I decided to put that claim to the test and actually add sausage to half of the stuffing. Boyfriend was the test subject and after trying both the veggie and meat versions, I was surprised to hear that he could barely taste the difference. They even looked the same! Super impressed.

Couple notes: The first time I made this I roughly chopped the nuts and didn't cook the squash until it was soft enough. The combination of these two made it a bit of a chore to eat. The second time around I lightly blended the nuts and cooked the squash to complete softness and it was much nicer!

Head on over to Shutterbean for the recipe!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011

Obligatory vomit pumpkin
Wart-ridden pumpkin

Loot! Kids loved the glow stick bracelets :)

My favorite thing were these jack o' lantern paper bags that we made. Boyfriend cut out stencil-faces and taped them to the bags (yes, I got him to do crafts!). I spray painted around the faces and lit them up like lumenarias. I LOVED them!

I was inspired by this pin as well as the Pinterest Challenge by Young House Love/Katie Bower :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Beet Cake

I get this weekly veggie box with an assortment of new fruits and vegetables that I normally don't buy myself. This week it had beets, to which I said: WTF do I do with beets?  Thankfully I found this Beet Cake recipe. The recipe says "don't knock it 'till you try it". So I tried it. And it rocked.

The batter was an awesome pink color, which got me totally excited for the end result...

Sadly I guess the pink color cooked out and I was left with ordinary-looking cake.

Ordinary but DELICIOUS. Tastes like a cousin to carrot cake and I bet it would be amazing with cream cheese frosting.

Try it!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Yucky Closet Makeover

WARNING: On a scale from 1-10, the interest level of this makeover is about a 3. That's only slightly more interesting than sitting on the couch watching "Everybody Loves Raymond" and not doing the makeover at all. Scroll down at your own risk.

There's a reason it's been almost four weeks since we moved and several of our rooms still look like this:

I blame Hallway Closet.

Doesn't look too bad with those bright flashes, but that's some seriously scratched up 1950s lead paint in there!

And don't even get me started on that floor. I don't think it's been cleaned since they removed the original carpeting (I found a thread of it stuck to the inside corner. It was maroon).

Oh yeah, here are the shelves we took out. Sagging particle board with peeling contact paper, yum.

And now the after (let me just warn you that I could not properly white-balance these photos to save my life):

We bought some pine boards for the shelves (which we had cut at the store) and used the leftover sample paint from Sherwin Williams to paint the walls a nice light gray. The shelves were painted with SW's trim and door paint in a nice clean white (apparently it has enamel in it which makes it super durable). 

This one is more color-correct thanks to *twitch* camera flash.

Here's the floor. I was on my hands and needs scrubbing that shit with a sponge and it's still slightly darker than the rest of the wood floor in the house. Whatever.

Time for a budget breakdown!
Paint: $6 for sample paint; already had white paint
Shelves: $27
...Yep, only $33.
And then I messed it all up by going to IKEA and spending, like, $100 on closet organization accessories. Damn you, IKEA, and your cute but deceptively-affordable storage solutions!

P.S. Holy crap, I almost forgot to point out the gray walls in the hallway! We painted all that ugly yellow this weekend and it looks AMAZING. You can see the unpainted baseboard there that was the original color. More pics to come.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Peach Cobbler Bars

Did you buy a giant box of peaches from Costco that are fast-approaching mushiness?
I did...I never learn. They always smell so good.
Solution: I made these YUMMY things at the suggestion of a fellow Pinterester. They were especially delicious after adding a bit of tequila to the peach mixture and the glaze ;)

Find the recipe (and much prettier photos) here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New House Tour!

As promised, here are some photos of the interior that I took hours before all our junk arrived. Appologies for the not-so-glamorous photos; these were intended as "documentation" photos for our move-in inspection (always always document EVERYTHING. CYA, cover your ass!).

So the house was built in the 40's, which I guess is when people really hated windows and natural light. Keep that in mind on our tour, since a lot of this is pretty poorly-lit

Here we go!
The living room and biggest window in the house. It's very yellow so that will be changing. Those dark curtains have already come down and I'm hoping to remove/replace/paint those dark blinds white to reflect more light.

I've got some cool plans for this wall! I'll be painting the backs of the built-in bookcases some bright color and (if they let me) those bricks.

View of the dining room. More yellow! Sconces will probably come down and the hanging light replaced with something awesome. Hey, check out those fantastic ceiling beams!

The kitchen was a big selling point. It looks very swank, but we've discovered that the dark wood cabinets are light killers! We'll be installing under-cabinet lighting so we can actually see what we're doing when we cook. We've already nabbed an EPIC kitchen island this last weekend which I will be showing you very soon!

Another view of the kitchen. Dark blinds = already gone. That door leads out to the laundry "room". You'll see what I mean.

Woahhhh laundry "room" indeed! For all it's ghetto-fabness, I actually really like this space. It's really bright and it acts as a semi-outdoor storage area so I don't feel bad about putting things like recycling, trash or Teako's pee pad out here. On the tour, the owners said something to the effe
ct of "you should've seen it before we did this!".....yikes.

Speaking of yikes, check out our bathroom! Is that pink? Yes, yes it is. Lots of pink. This is the original tile from the 40s. I guess I can appreciate that the previous owners embraced it by painting the walls to match, but at the very least, we'll be saying "bye-bye" to the pink paint. We'd like to do a whole reno with new tile, but old house = lead paint. We're not sure that's something we want to tackle in a rental. You wouldn't know it from the picture, but this room is tiny too. Basically it's my least favorite room in the house because I'm supposed to spend a lot of time in here, but later you'll see how I plan to fix that.

This is the 2nd smallest room in the house: the 3rd bedroom slash office. We're using it as an office. Correction: boyfriend is using it as a little mancave office. Not sure how we feel about the green paint, but we don't hate it. Let's just say there are no decoration plans whatsoever at the moment. Except to get rid of those curtains. 

Next up we have the master bedroom. Very roomy, but very dark. We're hoping to get a king bed to put in here as well as some awesome chandelier right plop in the center. For now, it's storing all of our unpacked boxes. I plan to have a "beautification station" in this room and the guest bedroom where people can primp and preen to their heart's content without having to occupy the tiny bathroom.

The guest bedroom is where we currently sleep since that's where the bed was going to end up once we got a king for the master. It's a cozy little room with nice windows (good bye, dark blinds) and a closet with a built-in shoe rack. We'll be painting it something a little brighter to reflect more light. 

The owners left these paper lanterns behind, and we kinda like them.

Now for the big selling points. The yards!
We love sitting out in the backyard and just chillin'. There's a lot of potential here as far as landscaping and gardening are concerned. I don't have a picture of it, but the view from the upper terrace looks over the house and on to the gorgeous hills.

The owners left us their BBQ grill and we definitely plan to put it through its paces for our housewarming party. 

The front yard is actually larger than the back yard by at least 3-4 times. We just added that fence this last weekend and will be finishing it up soon. Why a fence? Look at all that grass/fetch turf! Totally unusable without a fence since Teako would probably run out into the street in a blink. Once we get the fence secured, not only can we chill out here and play fetch with her, but we can also invite her friends over for play dates in our mini "dog park" :)

That concludes the house tour! We love having more space, a yard, friendly neighbors, sunlight and--perhaps most of all--peace and quiet! Stay tuned because we've got a lot of projects planned for this little abode.

COMING SOON: fence-building, epic islands and DIY composters.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


That's right. We traded the train-plagued Berkeley apartment for a great house in Oakland. It's an old home from the 40s with some serious renovation-potential, so get ready for some hard-core blog posts!

I don't have very good photos just yet since we're still in the process of unpacking, but here's a sneak peak at the living room/dining area. And yes, that is TOTALLY a backyard!


Friday, August 12, 2011

Felt Lampshade DIY

I bought this beautiful wrought iron lamp from a coworker several weeks ago because I loved the design of the base. At $10 it was a steal, and after reading this blog post from BossyColorBlog (If you see a table lamp you like, BUY IT), I didn't really hesitate. In fact, I think it only took me less than 2 minutes to reply to her email once it hit my inbox. 

Though the base was beautiful, the lamp shade was um....underwhelming. First of all, I prefer barrel shades to conical ones. Second, it was crudely painted and you could see the paint streaks when the light was on. Makeover time!

Young House Love posted a call-to-action asking their readers to complete a project they had found online (and specifically had pinned on Pinterest). Not too long ago, I had found these great lamp DIYs on Design Sponge that covered a lamp shade with circles of felt to create a very cool textured pattern.

A reader's successful attempt

I also found this lamp shade originally sold at Anthropologie that I loved even more (the colors in particular).

So with these two in mind, I went shopping to see what I could find. I searched Target and the interwebs for a barrel lampshade with the proper frame attachment (it's the kind that doesn't sit below the light bulb, but rather above it). I couldn't find ANYTHING that was plain and cheap enough with the right frame and barrel shape.

When we were out apartment hunting, I saw a sign for a yard sale and on a whim asked Boyfriend to stop. Wouldn't you believe it, they had the perfect lampshade for $1? What are the chances?? Okay, it wasn't completely perfect, but for $1 you can't really care too much. The shade was a bit too long, so all I did was trim it and glue the lower ring back on with some hot glue.

The ring was slightly too large for the trimmed edge, so I simply put a thick bead of hot glue around the edge and let it dry to add thickness. 

On to the decorating! I originally wanted to use ribbon and make the Anthropologie version, but I failed to find the right kind. So instead I went for a mashup between the felt and the ribbon. I bought felt in three different gray colors and used a jar as a stencil to create circles. Then I cut them out. Lots and lots of cutting. Hours actually. I even splurged for some really sharp fabric scissors to make it easier on my sore hands. So much cutting.....

I ended up needing about five times this amount of circles
And then came the gluing. Let's just say that I SEVERELY underestimated the amount of time it would take to glue hundreds of little felt circles onto a lamp shade.

This probably took 1-2 hours. I lost track.
Many episodes of The Office were watched.

Over the course of the week, my lampshade slowly took shape. There was much TV watching (Battlestar Galactica, Camelot, The Office, random comedians). With the circle-cutting and gluing together, this project probably took me over 10 hours to complete.

BUT without further ado:

Here it is in a room! (I'm still working on that painting. Don't look)

Project budget breakdown: 
Lamp base: $10
Shade: $1
Felt: $15 (I bought 3 yards total and used about 1.5)
Glue and gun: already owned
TOTAL: $26, score!

There you have it! I love how it turned out and I think it compliments the base very nicely. However, I will most certainly NOT be doing this again. I think my OCD made this project take WAY longer than it should. Thank goodness the lamp base is one-of-a-kind!