Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Front Door

Right now our front door is blah white. We had it painted when we moved in a few years ago and it's really starting to look bad. The previous owners had a mail slot cut out of the door and that was one of the first things I wanted changed. Excuse me if I don't want random people to be able open a little slot and peek right into my house! I never quite understood that. Anyway, it's totally cracking around that seam where it was filled and it's just all-around dingy.

I found this street view picture of the house on google maps (the weather has been pretty stormy here so I haven't been able to go out and get a recent shot) - you can definitely see it's dated since it was taken before the big tree and bush massacre, new roof and storm door replacement. I guess it's gotta be at least a year old.

I was thinking of painting the door black since we have a lot of black/ORB "trimmings" in the front - light fixture, mail box, iron work around the porch, light post, railing, etc. I've seen so many gorgeous black doors floating around the web, but after doing a little photoshopping, I realized that was not the way to go. I need to go much bolder to make it stand out.

I tried a few other colors. This is Behr's Windjammer:

Behr's Bright Star:

And then I got to thinking of the classic red front door. Two amazing bloggers (Sherry and Katie) had success with that so I figured I'd give it a photoshop try.

This is Valspar's Fabulous Red that Sherry used:

And Valspar's Front Door Red that Katie used:

It's funny that these two colors are right next to each other on Valspar's palette (great bloggers think alike!). Although the color of my bricks is definitely closer to Sherry's, I'm thinking of going with Front Door Red.  Here's an enhanced picture with the new roof color, new storm door "installed," and pretty window boxes. I'm also kinda liking the shutters. One day... What do you think?

Of course I'm going to get swatches so I can compare them in person (rather than the computer screen) and may just get some others while I'm at it.

Please let me know what color you like best and if you have any different color suggestions, do share!!  What color is your front door?

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Oreo Balls

The Jewish holiday of Shavuot is coming up and it is traditional to eat dairy foods over the festival. My sister found this great recipe and asked me to make it when she hosts the family for one of the meals.  I modified it a little, based on the reviews, and it was SO easy and came out great (shhh, don't tell her I tasted some one)! With only three ingredients, you can't go wrong.

1 package Oreo cookies
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

1. Put cookies in a bag and crush them into crumbs. It doesn't need to be as fine as flour, but there shouldn't be any big chunks.

2. Empty contents into a medium size bowl and add cream cheese.

3. Use an electric mixer to combine the cookie crumbs and cream cheese until it is evenly mixed.

4. Put the mixture in the fridge for an hour or so. (The original recipe said to put it in the freezer, but I found that it got too hard and I had to wait a while for it to soften up enough for me to work with.)

5. Put confectioner's sugar in a shallow bowl. Roll cookie mixture into one inch balls and roll it in the sugar. Place on a piece of parchment paper to harden.

6. Keep refrigerated. (Can be prepared in advance and then frozen.)

7. Try not to eat too many at once! If you make them, let me know how they come out.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

The Garden is Growing!

I know I've been talking a lot about the landscaping and outside of our house (getting our trees cut down, landscaping touch ups, garden planting, etc.), but I guess it's just that time of year that all this type of work gets done! Things are slowly starting to look up around here.

The grass is finally starting to grow in where we formerly had tree stumps.


Now: (not sure why that big patch is a totally different color than the rest of the grass...)

I've been doing TONS of weeding. And finally got some more mulch to pretty up the front flower bed.



OK, so the azaleas are no longer blooming, but that mulch definitely improved the look of it. I also took some spare bricks we had lying around to edge the right side of the bed, giving it more of a finishing touch.

And look at how nicely the garden is growing.



You can see real plants and not just tiny little sprouts! I don't know what went wrong with our cucumber seeds, but only a few actually sprouted. The snap peas and carrots look great, and we've got about three zucchini plants that took. To be honest, since this is our first year, I wasn't sure if anything was going to grow so just seeing what we've got is so exciting. I must say that if you have young children, growing a vegetable garden is such an amazing project to create with them. There are so many benefits, not to mention the exercise and healthy foods they'll be eating from it, but the joy of seeing the fruits of their labor (pun intended!) is priceless.

Since I dragged my daughter to Home Depot with me to get the mulch, I told her she could pick out a flower for us to plant and this is what she wanted:

(It had just rained when I took these pictures so that's why everything looks wet.) After laying all the mulch, my back was quite sore and I didn't feel like digging around, so we just put the whole planter in the little indentation in the ground where the random daffodils used to live. She's happy so I'm happy!

What did you work on over the weekend?

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Target Shopping

One of (the many) things that my hubby has done good for me is getting me to join his gym right after we got married. (Un)fortunately, there is a Target located directly across the street so sometimes I take a detour over there after my workout. I actually need a few items the other day so I ran in while I was out there and I was wowed by some of the things I saw. (Pardon the cell phone pictures.)

Take this gray and white striped duvet: on sale for $25 (even 5% less with your redcard) which is strikingly similar to West Elm's duvet for $69.

And how about this comforter which is a great knock off of West Elm's pintuck duvet? Target's is $99.99 and West Elm's is $139 - not quite as drastic of a price difference as the striped duvet, but still much cheaper.

I then strolled down the furniture aisles and these ottomans caught my eye. The over-sized nail head trim on the bottom and the linen texture is beautiful and as an added bonus, you get storage inside! I also like the x-frame of the one below, but I already have too much brown in the house so it didn't make it to my wish list.

I swung around to the back to check out their seasonal section and drooled over their outdoor pillow selection. These are just two different pillows, but I'll take the loveseat, too! We don't hang around outside too much at night because the whole family is one big mosquito magnet, but there were so many different style lanterns that are perfect for al fresco dining.

I also noticed lots of mustard/ochre decor items. Am I last to know that it's the new "it" color? Check out these themed place mats, napkins, and table runner. So cute!!

And these lamps and shades, yes, please! I wish I had some place in the house that I could put them. I might just have to make a spot!

Regretfully, none of these came home with me. Just the few items that I actually came in for (a miracle in and of itself!).

What have you been eyeing at Target (or any other store) lately? Did you actually get to take anything home?

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

No-Sew Blackout Shades

Ever since sunrise has been getting earlier and earlier, the kids have been getting up earlier and earlier. Not good for someone who doesn't like to get out of bed even a minute before she has to! My hubby is up anyway so he's there to take care of them, but they get tired at night much earlier than usual and are sometimes yawning at the dinner table. I knew the problem was that the mini-blinds on their windows didn't do a whole lot in blocking out the sun.

I finally went off to JoAnn in search of blackout fabric. I found some that was on sale (score!) and spent only $8.73 on the liner itself. Now for some pictorial foreshadowing...

More on that later...

The first step was measuring and cutting the fabric. I measured my windows and added 4 inches to each dimension. For example, one window was 34"x45" so I cut my fabric to 38"x49". One inch on each side would be to overlap a little onto the moulding around the window so there would be more light coverage and the other extra inch was for the hem on each side.

You can see the the fabric is different on each side and I wanted the white part to face towards the room (not that it really matters because you can't see it through the blinds.)

I then used the Heat n Bond to hem each side. Make sure that you put the fabric with the wrong side face up. I found it easier to first iron the fold without the tape to it would stay flatter while I was ironing with the tape.

For some reason, there is literally no space for an inside mount of a curtain rod or anything of the sort, and since we already had the blinds, an outside mount was out of the question. I had to get my MacGyver on and figure out a way to get this fabric hung. That's where (I thought) the elastic and mini-command hooks would come in. (By the way, don't you love that they are now making clear hooks??)

I had in my head that I could just put four of those hooks in the corners of the window, fashion a little loop made out of the elastic and then hang them from the command hooks.

Like so:

Clearly, those hooks were not made to support any significant amount of weight so this idea became one big FAIL! Luckily I had only sewn the elastic loops onto one piece of fabric! On to plan B. I looked through my craft area trying to figure out what I could use and then it dawned on me - velcro! (Excuse the trim that needs some major touch up paint - those marks are from the blinds and some kids (who will remain nameless) banging into the moulding.)

See, I wanted the fabric to be removable in the winter time when sunrise is much later, otherwise it would be so dark that I'd never be able to get the kids out of bed. That's why I was looking for a way to hang it that would be easily removable.

Here's how one of them looks all hung up. When the blinds are down, you can't see that anything is behind them.

But when you turn the lights off,  it makes a world of a difference. I don't mind the slits of light coming through because I don't want it to be pitch black in there ever.

 From the outside it looks totally normal, too. The hems are covered by the moulding so they aren't visible from the outside.

And just because we all love a good before and after, here you go. The lights in the room are off for both of these pictures.

So far I'm happy to report that it's working! Yay for an extra hour of sleep (or not being awoken an hour early)!! What tips do you have for keeping your kids in bed later?

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