Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Subject: A Quick Project & Party Progress


So, two very exciting things to tell you about. First, I have the party invitations for Suz's birthday! I thought they would take me waaaay longer to do, but now they're done and I feel so relieved to mark that off my list. I utilized Kinko's again and, once more, they further cemented their awesomeness in my life. I created the invitation in Microsoft Word and arranged the page in "landscape" format. Then I created two invitations side-by-side, so I only had to order 9 copies, even though I needed 18 invitations. The total was $11 and some change. See? Awesome! Then I used my own paper cutter to cut the pages in half. I did have to make a special trip to Office Depot for the envelopes, but that was quick and painless and I was in and out in less than five minutes. So, here is the finished product:

Do you loooove? I'm kind of obsessed. I purposely left the space at the top because I knew I wanted to do some kind of banner decoration. I cut out little triangles (using some of the same paper used to make monthly picture banners) and then used double-sided tape to affix them. The line the triangles are "hanging" on was just made using the edge of a Tupperware bowl and a thin Sharpie marker. I love the overall effect. Of course, once I had most of them done I realized I didn't love the wording. It reads: "You are cordially invited to join us for a tea party honoring Suz's 1st birthday." Honoring? I should have put "celebrating," but I would seriously be nuts to order new invitations and go through the process of drawing the lines and taping on the triangles. So, I'll let it stand, although the English major in me is finding that tough!

The second thing to tell you about is that I painted my powder room and laundry area yesterday. You remember my laundry room from here, and here is the powder room before:

It is a tiny room, with space for a door to enter and a toilet immediately on your left and a sink immediately on your right. Originally the sink was a giant vanity thing built into the wall, but in our first year of living here we ripped it out and put in the pedestal sink and I found that mirror at an antique store and painted it black. The pictures above the toilet are actually pieces of fabric with coral embroidered on linen that I framed. This room was one of the first to be totally "done" in our house and I was kind of surprised when I suddenly got the itch to paint it.

But I started thinking about my new "mature" walls in the kitchen (pictures coming soon, I promise!), and wondered if I needed an update in the bathroom too. Then, for some reason, this image from Better Homes & Gardens* popped into my head, and I suddenly had a craving for something sea glass-ish in the powder room:

So nice, right? I decided I loved the color in the big circle on the right. It's called Copper Patina by Benjamin Moore. In the description of the color it reads, "Pair with white wainscoting and touches of apricot orange in a dining room." Well, I have wainscoting on the ceiling because the previous owner painted the powder room this blood red color (it was awful and totally 1992 with the gold trim faucet), but I guess she wasn't good at painting or didn't know how to cut in because there were all these reddish-pink streaks on the ceiling. We installed this panel trim on the ceiling to cover and then trimmed it out with crown. Here is a closer look (the light fixture is casting the weird shadow so it looks like it's under water!):

I got a quart mixed up over the weekend and got to work yesterday painting. I was able to get one coat on during each nap, so by the end of the day I was re-hanging pictures and moving my detergent back into the laundry area. Here is the after:

It's not the best quality of picture, but you get the idea. It's definitely darker, but I feel like it's also more mature and dramatic too. I think it looks really crisp against the white ceiling and pedestal sink and the prints look great, too, as promised by the color description in BHG. I think I want to find something to hang on the wall opposite the towel ring - maybe some cute plates or something. I didn't take a picture of the laundry's piled high with laundry and a car seat, so you'll just have to use your imagination.

The rest of this week I am going to be brainstorming some more about the birthday party. I'll check back in with you next week to let you know what else I have come up with. I can't believe it's only Wednesday, but already I'm thinking about the weekend!


*You may realize this is the second time BHG has inspired a paint color choice for me. I love that section of the magazine and always rip them out and save them. I have quite a little collection of them now and love to leaf through them when I am in need of some color inspiration.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Subject: It's Time to Plan a Party


So don't ask me where the last year has gone, but it's time to start planning little Suz's first birthday party. Um, what? I am kind of in shock to tell you the truth and I don't know if I have waited so long to start planning because I am in disbelief that it has almost been 365 days since her birth, or because I don't want to recognize the fact that time goes by faster when you are watching someone else grow up and it's a little sad and bittersweet, so by not acknowledging it then maybe I am fooling myself into believing it's not actually happening? Or maybe a little bit of both? Whew, that was heavy! On to lighter party themes, decorations and food.

As a back story (because why be brief?), when Suz was first born and I was living in a strange world of never really knowing what time it was because it didn't really matter and everything just passing by in a slow-motion blur, I started to formulate a theme for her first birthday. So when she was approximately one week old, I took a trip all by myself to Joann's to get some scrapbook paper and begin to implement this theme. (Incidentally, this was my first time driving postpartum and it was very exciting but also a little terrifying because I had not slept in so long and I was giddy to be out of the house. I totally ran a red light, but thankfully no one was hurt!) It involved taking pictures of her each month to document her growth. A sampling:

(How are these even the same baby???)

The theme I came up with for the party was, "It's a Banner Day!" and the bunting for each month echoes that perfectly. Ever since then, I have been thinking through decorations for this theme and putting together a plan for this party. I'm going to do a family-only affair (which is still about 15 people) and have it in the afternoon, so I don't have to serve a full-blown meal. As such, I'm referring to it as a "tea party" which I think is perfect for this little baby, especially with all the tea pots and tea sets referenced in her room.

For food, I was thinking of doing some little cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off, Ina's Parmesan & Thyme Crackers (because I've always wanted to make them), and then a few other little snack-y type things. Maybe some Spinach Artichoke Dip to go with the crackers (mostly because I love it) and I also thought about strawberries dipped in chocolate, because I think they would look pretty on a plate and seem special and celebratory.

For the party-goers, I think I will make cupcakes so everyone can help themselves. But how do you make tea party-themed cupcakes? Well, I think I am going to do a yellow batter for the actual cupcake and then do a lemon butter cream frosting and dye it pale pink...tah dah! Pink Lemonade Cupcakes!

I guess I should also have tea at this party too. Hopefully it will be warm and I will just serve iced tea and maybe I can come up with a few options and have a little station where I will have just plain tea and then people can mix in raspberry syrup, mint leaves or sugared lemons and create their own unique drinks. I could have lemonade there too, and people could mix up Arnold Palmers as well. Maybe I'll make punch, too, just because it seems very tea party-esque.

For decorations, I love the idea of making a few of these flag banner sculptures and having them along the driveway. And then having bunting hanging from the door between the living room and kitchen. I think I will put all the food on our dining room table, so maybe make these fringey streamer things (and maybe a hat too while I'm at it) to drape on the chandelier. I think the colors will be pink (duh), orange, yellow and green. And maybe on the table having little pennants made of either paper or fabric in vases. I wish I could have my new dining room table by then (thanks for picking it up!!), but if not then I could just put a table cloth on the existing one. My MIL has a pink one that I have borrowed a few times.

I don't know what you do for entertainment at a first birthday party. Obviously, the Birthday Girl will dig into her own cake at some point, and I even had the idea of having a running loop of video we have taken over her first year playing on the TV. Maybe have it muted and then people can just pop in and watch...although I have a feeling most of the women will just watch it the whole time!

What are your thoughts? My biggest question at this point is how to display the monthly pictures that inspired this whole party? Hang them on a wall? Have them in an album? I love the idea of having them displayed somewhere so people can see her growth each month. But where...and how?

I'm starting to get excited about this party, even though it means I won't have a little baby anymore! Plus, there is nothing to distract you from the bittersweet realities of motherhood like a good party!

I'm sorry the antique show was somewhat of a disappointment. I hate it when I build something up in my head and get my hopes up about all the fabulous things I will find, and then none of it pans out once I get there. It can seriously be depressing. But way to go on Flip Burger! I had the Po Boyger the one time I went there. Amazing!

Can't wait to hear back from you!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Subject: A Tale of Two Chairs

What is the difference between these two chairs?

Target Abstract Print Slipper Chair

Slipper Chair Indigo Ikat
It's not a trick question.  I mean they do look pretty similar, right?  Although I've been eying the Urban chair, I found a picture of John's Journal blogger Maria's chairs posted online.  I thought they were the Urban chairs, but she told me they were from Target.

via Made By Girl
So, I went ahead and ordered one.  The Target one that is.  It was on sale and free shipping, so I figure if it's not good I always have the Urban chair as a backup.  Now all I need it the perfect finishing touch...
Jonathan Adler Lemon Pillow

Friday, February 18, 2011

Re: Re: LOVE

I have to tell you, I LOVE the Valentine's Day present you made for Jonathan!  SOOO Clever!!  I only wish A and M were closer together in the alphabet!!  I also think your Kate Spade case is pretty adorable.

Now on to where I went last weekend....

No need to waste an entire e-mail/post on the AMAZING place I went to.  For as much as everyone raves about Scott Antique Market, including fellow bloggers - here's one example - I think I was just hoping for something different.  Something more like $100 dressers that need to be refinished.  Also, I am in the mindset that I have a specific list of things I am looking for on the furniture front and I really don't want to buy anything more.  This place was full of gorgeous things, you know, like a $1600 floor mirror!  I'm glad I went though, plus my mom, MIL and I decided to go to Flip Burger afterwards.  Nothing makes me feel better than a Nutella and Burnt Marshmallow Shake!   

Well, here's the list of what I'm looking for furniture-wise in case you ever stumble across anything:
1.  Dresser for guest room
2.  Matching nightstands for the Master Bedroom
3.  Dining Room Table (Which I think we will end up with this one)
4.  Family Room Side Table

That's it for now.  I need to go make some dinner.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Re: Inherited Furniture

Melissa -

I love your new piece and I love inherited furniture. I feel like when we first got married, literally every piece of furniture in our apartment was inherited. Little by little we have been replacing the inherited stuff with items of our choice or re-making the inherited pieces into something new that we prefer. I love all the different uses for your etagere as well. You're right - the details are so sweet and whimsical. I love the idea of using it in a little girl's room to hold dolls or even vintage-looking books and boxes. It would also work really well if you had a big enough bathroom and you could roll towels up and store them in there and keep all your extra toiletries in pretty baskets.

This topic of inherited furniture is so timely because I too came into an inherited piece this weekend! As you know, my mother-in-law got a new dresser that I re-finished for her (and I will send 'after' pictures of that project just as soon as she picks out knobs and puts them on!), which meant she got rid of the dresser thing she was currently using. It was a piece that was in her old house and was used in the dining room to hold linens and she was using it as a dresser so she wouldn't have to buy another new piece of furniture at the time she was moving into her current house.

Anywaaaaay, long story short: she sent me the dimensions and photos on Saturday for me to load the dresser thing onto Craigslist when Mr. Lass got the idea that we should get it from her and use it as a television stand and sell our television armoire on Craigslist. At first I was against this idea for many reasons, but first a picture of our living room as it has been since we moved in:

We inherited the television cabinet from my in-laws and it was formerly used as a computer cabinet and we used it to hold our TV and other media devices. I had dreams of when we one day moved to a new house and painting it to be really cute and using it as a place to store my sewing machine and fabric scraps and I was going to paint the inside doors with chalkboard paint and it was going to be so awesome. So of course Hubby's suggestion we get rid of the armoire now dashed all of those ideas. Plus, we both agreed that our current TV would look stupid sitting on the piece of furniture, which I guess I should go ahead and show you:

Meaning we would need to get a new TV. So, free piece of furniture but buying a new TV, but we could then sell our old TV and armoire on Craiglist. It was like a crazy math problem! With some encouragement, Hubby finally convinced me. At first I was against his idea because I thought I did not even like the new piece. But then, after doing some research, I found that they are actually really nice pieces and really expensive to buy. Even on Overstock the starting price was $400. Yikes! Definitely not something we would be buying anytime soon ourselves. (It's called a Bombay or Bombe Chest, for those of you at home who want to Google it.) And my MIL wasn't really that concerned with making money off the piece. She would just as soon give it to Goodwill (gasp!) and only agreed to sell it because I told her she had to. All that to say - she was more than happy to let us have it. So, once I realized that it was actually a really nice, expensive piece* and got past the fact that I didn't consider it "my taste," I started to like the idea of something new. It actually is a really pretty piece that has similar lines to this Pottery Barn chest (only $599!):

I mean, it doesn't have those legs, but just the curves on the side. It is also hand-painted on the fronts of the drawers and on the top. A closer look:

So, then I embraced the idea of getting it, but what about a new television? Hubby assured me he could find us a deal, and loe and behold - he did! He found a great price on a television through Craigslist, which he picked up Sunday, so by Sunday evening the armoire was out and our new television and chest were in place. I listed the old TV and armoire on Craigslist and a buyer came and paid our full asking price for the armoire on Monday night! The TV has yet to sell, but it's only been posted since Monday, so fingers crossed!

Here is a look at our living room now:

Such an improvement, I think, but still so much more work needs to be done to get it just right. (Also, ignore the fact that my dining chairs are in there. I haven't moved them back into the kitchen after staining the grout because I know I will mop again at the end of this week when I'd have to move them out again...I just didn't have the strength to move them twice just for this picture!)

This post is getting kind of long-ish, so I am going to keep you in suspense until another day and tell you how we think we're going to make this piece work and really, what my overall vision is for this room. (Have I told you I'm only concentrating on decorating the downstairs of my house for the first six months of this year? It's really been so nice to not have to divide my attention between the two floors. I think we have already made so much progress on this first floor, but there is so much still to do, so I need your feedback still!)

'Til next time,
*This is the second time that I have been indifferent to a piece of my MIL's furniture until I realized it was actually a nice, expensive piece. Does that make me shallow? I mean, I don't know that I would have picked out the dresser if given the option, but given that it was free and led to a nice, new television and an excuse to buy new furniture and a kick-in-the-pants to get curtains can't beat it!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Subject: Kitchen Table


Okay, so you know I have been doing a ton in my kitchen, right? I promise I'm not trying to delay an "after" picture, but I feel like little projects keep coming up so I want to make sure I have as much done as possible when I finally do the big reveal. Today I need your thoughts on my kitchen/dining table. As a refresher, here is the "before":

Now it is the color of my living room (Benjamin Moore's Dunmore Cream) with stripes on the wall behind the table a la:

My chairs are still black, but I re-painted them so they are shiny and lacquered-looking. I am going to put this fabric on them:

At first I was nervous about doing black and white fabric with black and white floors, but I really think it will look nice and neutral and I won't be tied to any one color when it comes to my table linens. At some point I may decide to put a jute rug under the table, but that is a low priority at this point. This is also an indoor/outdoor fabric which I think will hold up really well and the dark color with hide spills and stains.

So, now that you are all caught up, what should I do with my table? The table there now belongs to one of my aunts who is letting us borrow it indefinitely (it's been about 2.5 years so far) because she wasn't using it and we needed something. For awhile now we have been talking to my dad about building us a farmhouse-looking table using these plans. My grandmother has all this old wood in her garage that is weathered-looking and would make for a really interesting table. Then we talked about doing it a dark-ish stain and making it about the same size as our current table.

But now that the walls are light and the whole room has a lighter, brighter feel, I wonder if I want a table that is lighter and brighter too? So now I am daydreaming about a pedestal table painted white. When we first moved into this house I was in love with the idea of a white pedestal table because of a picture I saw in Crate & Barrel of a white table under a white chandelier, and that is why I painted my bright brass chandelier white. But then I got away from that idea and fell in love with the farmhouse style. And now I am back to the white pedestal.

I have been doing some major Craigslist stalking the past few weeks to find something cheap that I could paint and make my own. And finally I struck gold! Of course, it's not in my state but it is right down the street from you, so could you be a dear and fetch it for me and then store until I make it up there again? Thanks. Here it is:

Not much to look at, I know. I talked to the seller today and apparently I am the only one interested...score! So now I just have to make up my mind. In the picture it is round, but it comes with a leaf, which would make it oval. With the leaf it measures 4 feet wide by 5 feet long. My current table is 58" long and 40" wide, so the new table would be slightly bigger than my current table. But my current table isn't great for seating six - the pairs of chairs on either side are kind of squished, plus the table legs get in the way when scooting in and out. I also like the idea of a round table because when we have more than six people over to eat and need to pull up extra chairs, it is easier to scoot in more chairs because there are no table legs to negotiate.

The seller said the table is solid oak and in great shape. He said there is one gouge on the pedestal that is about an inch long. When I mentioned painting it and filling the gouge with wood putt, he offered to do it for me! What a guy! He is asking $100, which seems like a good deal for the size and quality.

So, here is what I have to decide: oval vs. rectangle? Corners vs. rounded edge? What are your thoughts?

Patiently waiting,



Congrats on your roses. That's how I love for Valentine's Day to be: old school. When people roll their eyes at Valentine's Day and say they don't need a day to tell someone they love them, I feel like they are missing out on an excuse to do something sweet for the person they love. We don't do anything too big around here, but I love to do small, thoughtful gifts that are sweet and sentimental but nothing over-the-top. For instance, here is my gift from Mr. Lass:

I confess, I picked it out myself and sent him the link last week. But he surprised me by buying it for me. I am all about a surprise, but I also love getting exactly what I want :) I love the pizza idea. Did you see this picture over the weekend?

DIY Crafty Food

I can't remember the original blog I first saw it on, but I think this is the actual source. This might be fun to do one day - kids love shapes, right?

For Valentine's I like to make a fun meal that I might not normally make that's perhaps more labor-intensive and feels "fancy" and special. This year I decided on short ribs. I'm kind of obsessed with short ribs these days and this was actually the second new short ribs recipe I've tried in the last two weeks! Tonight I used Paula Deen's Michael's Coffee Braised Short Ribs. Yum-o! They were so good. You really cannot mess up short ribs. Basically you sear them first and then let them cook in some kind of liquid at low heat for hours until they fall off the bone and cut with a fork. They are so tender and flavorful. I've cooked them in ale before (yessss!) and then in red wine too (also delish). But this recipe paired two unlikely ingredients: white wine and coffee. And it was delicious. One thing I really liked about this Paula Deen recipe was that you first braise the ribs on the stove but then you transfer them to a slow cooker to finish cooking. The other times I have made them I've let them cook on the stove top, but this method was great because I didn't have to check in on it and could leave the house while it cooked, which was really convenient.

I served them with couscous and for me, sauteed spinach and for Mr. Lass, a salad (zzzzz). We normally just do meat with a vegetable on the side (I shared with you my recipe issues here), but whenever there is a yummy sauce I like to have something to help sop it up. I buy the boxed Near East couscous and it literally takes about 7 minutes to make. The spinach takes about four minutes to prepare and the salad takes no time at all to assemble. So, after hours of cooking away, when it's ready you can throw together some sides and it's done! For dessert I picked up four chocolate-covered strawberries from Publix. They were light and good and perfect after such a heavy meal and seemed very Valentines-esque.

For my gift I made Mr. Lass this:

I have always loved that his name begins with a "J" and mine with a "K" and that they are neighbors in the alphabet. At the bottom it reads "Even the alphabet put us together." I made the whole thing in Microsoft Word. Then I uploaded it to Kinko's site and said I wanted it printed on cardstock. This is not a paid advertisement - promise - but are you familiar with the Kinko's site? All you have to do is upload whatever you want printed and then go pick it up. Maybe I'm waaaay behind in learning about this, but this could be life-changing for me. And it only cost $1.24. That's it! The quality is excellent and the colors are way better than anything I could do at home. Plus, my printer isn't even connected so I could not have done it anyway.

I got the frame from Target today and after picking it out, I was leaving the frame aisle when I saw this:

Um, what? It was one of those instances where you wonder if you are seeing right. I took a picture a) to show you (of course) and b) to show my husband, just in the event he was like, "Cool. The alphabet." when I presented him with my gift. Can you believe that? I felt so...validated. But he loved the gift and then was even more impressed when I showed him the picture.

Seriously??? I'm still in shock.

More tomorrow. I need your feedback on a kitchen table quandry. Plus I need to hear about your big adventure!


Monday, February 14, 2011

Subject: LOVE

My crazy, busy work day was interrupted by a delivery to the front door.

I love getting flowers any day of the week.  A permanent smile is always left on my face and I love how hubby went with classic roses to celebrate Valentine's Day 2011!!

Are you doing anything special tonight?  We always get a pizza on V-Day.  No one has to cook, it doesn't break the bank and when we finally decide to have kids we figured it will be fun to share the pizza with them, too. 

Here's to love!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Subject: Inherited Furniture

Hi Kara - TGIF!  

When I met Hubby a few years ago there was a piece of furniture in his parent's house in Florida that I LOVED.  I am not quite sure if we are engaged at the time, but I remember telling them that if they were ever considering getting rid of the piece, I would love to have it.

Well, about two months ago, they said they were hiring a mover to bring some of their South Florida furniture to their Georgia house and ask if I wanted the piece that I loved.  

So, today the étagère was delivered!

Aren't the details so whimsical?  I think it has a little bit of the Anthropologie vibe to it.  And I'm so glad that I don't have to paint the piece!!!!  I just need to wipe it down and figure out what I am going to display.  Any suggestions??  For now it's in the living room, but my mom suggested that it may be sweet in a little girls room one day with all of my Madame Alexander dolls on display.

Do you have any furniture in your house that is inherited?  

Can't wait for my next post.  Tomorrow I'm headed to someplace that's supposedly really cool.   Full report very soon!

Subject: One Year as a Mrs.

Were you curious what that picture was from yesterday??  When I first saw it, I thought it had to be in Europe.  However, the Grove Park Inn is about four hours north of us in Asheville, NC.  Here are a few pictures:

That last picture is part of the spa.  Pretty amazing, right??

Hubby has actually vacationed there with his family when he was younger, and thought it would be the perfect place for our first year anniversary trip.  We still have some time until Memorial Day weekend, but just looking at the pictures is getting me excited.  I need this vacation!!

I thought you would get a kick out of some of the history of the hotel.  It opened in 1913 and has hosted guests including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Harry Houdini, Will Rogers, George Gershwin, Thomas Edison, Eleanor Roosevelt and Henry Ford.  The list of presidents who have stayed at the Inn include William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon, George H. W. Bush, William J. Clinton and Barack H. Obama.

I also learned from my research that there is a ghost in the hotel, known as the Pink Lady.  In the 1920's a young girl in a pink chiffon dress was said to have fallen or been pushed from one of the balconies.  They claim she is friendly though!

I'll let you know once we are officially booked.  And I've already purchased Hubby's anniversary gift.  Something paper of course.  I like the idea of following tradition!!  Will share what I ended up with AFTER the anniversary. 

Have a wonderful weekend!!  I am going to the COOLEST place tomorrow.  Can't wait to tell you all about it.  Hopefully it is as cool as it's supposed to be otherwise this will just be an exaggeration!


Update:  The trip has been booked.  Grove Park Inn here we come.  (In May)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Subject: Kara Ketchup

Well, hello!  Figured this was an opportune time to play catch up on all your posts from last week.  Hope you are not still down in the trenches!!  I actually know exactly how it feels to be sitting on the floor with toothbrush in one hand and grout stain in the other.  Definitely not what I would call a fun project.  However, once it's done, it's ALL worth it.  I have to admit though, I never sealed my grout.  Shame on me, I know.  I have only restained two small areas in my house though.  Maybe this weekend I will seal them??

I cannot wait for the reveal of your kitchen.  The one glimpse you texted me was AMAZING!!  A big, "Ha! Ha!" to the readers who have no idea what I am talking about.  (I mean that in the nicest way though.)  Just wait for Kara's reveal, it will be worth it!

So, there are a few things I didn't write you back on:

1.  Your dinner list.  I'm definitely going to be stealing some of those during the week ideas.  You do a lot of chicken for me though.  I really wished I liked it more, but most of the time it totally grosses me out.  I am dying to try the crab cakes.

2.  The Williams-Sonoma soup looks to die for.  Did I tell you I was going to try to make it on Sunday for the Super Bowl, just as you suggested??  Well, you can't buy alchohol in GA on Sundays and then Hubby offered to grill, so basically my plan went downhill.  I'm thinking it could be a delicious option for this Sunday night though.

3.  The mirror and dresser you picked up while thrifting...WOW!!  Can't wait to see how they turn out.  And I am totally jealous because I never feel like I find anything that cool.

I have SO much to share with you, but I need to get back to work.  I will leave you with this gorgeous image, which I will share more information on tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Subject: In the Trenches

Helloooooo friend!

I am coming to you from the trenches found between two tiles. Yes, the grout. As you'll remember from the pictures of my kitchen (which is painted, by the way!), my floor is black and white tile, which I have a love/hate relationship with. I've noticed for a long time how dirty and gross the grout is, but thought I just had to keep scrubbing to get it clean. Um, no. That would be impossible. Instead, I've leared of a technique that involves staining the grout. It's a three-step process that involves letting the grout sit with water on it for one hour to start things off. It is seriously the most time-consuming, labor-intensive, meticulous project I have ever done. Nice, right?

But, behold! The results:

Seriously. You cannot even believe how much better it looks! So I think I might fall in love (for the first time) with my tile once the grout is no longer dis-gust-ing. There is a lot of grout, though, so I'm hopeful that I'll be done by this time next year :) But the 'after' is a motivation of its own and I know that I cannot leave one small area with nasty grout when all the rest is sparkling white. Basically, this is a project where you go all or nothing! As I'm staining a section I go back after it has had 24 hours to dry and seal it. And then seal it again. I can't decide if I'm going to seal it two or three times - I don't want to have to do this again! Seriously, people: SEAL YOUR GROUT! It will save you so many headaches later on!

I was not a Gilmore Girls watcher, but I love the picture of those chairs! Is it bad that I was indifferent to the office chair before realizing it was a 'real' style? I don't love them in black - that green is awesome, and I really liked the blue of my MIL's too. I think with the black it's harder to see the bamboo-ish details on the chair. I did not spray paint but instead used a craft brush to apply the paint. Another plus of the craft brush: no brush strokes! It took three coats plus one touch-up coat. I didn't spray because my MIL wanted a specific color of blue, plus the cushion wouldn't come off, so that would have been tricky to spray (not impossible, just tricky). Plus it's super-cold here still so I wouldn't have been able to spray it for awhile.

I just realized I never responded back about your couch ordeal! So annoying, but I'm so glad that it worked out. Way to go hubby! And yes, a bomber jacket is the perfect way to describe the leather. It makes me think of this:

Ahh, the good old days. So glad you are enjoying it now!

Well, that is all for now. My correspondence may be patchy this week...the Internet connection isn't great in the trenches :) Can't wait to send you pictures of the kitchen once it's put back together again - hopefully next week!

Staining away,

Image courtesy of Obsessed with Film.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Re: Project Progress & Painting

I have no idea why I am up.  But since I am, I've been dying to write to you in regards to your MIL's Chinese Chippendale office chair.  While I didn't know the technical name before, I am no stranger to that chair.  It happens to be a prop in one of my all-time favorite shows - Gilmore Girls!!  Not sure if you are a Lorelai Gilmore fan or not, but the Dragonfly Inn, which she owned with best friend Suki, had a dining room full of these chairs.

The Evidence:

Too bad MIL didn't want to just hand over the chair!!  In any event, you did a great job.  Did you spray paint or hand paint the chair?  I'm still debating with myself which technique is better.  Also, suggestions for online fabric stores?  I need something to cover the seats of my kitchen chairs.  I will be done painting them this week.  (Hopefully!)  I think I'm on coat 977.  OY VEY!

Well, hope you are sleeping!  I'm heading to bed now.  Night!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Subject: Are you ready for some football??

Hey K - I've totally been MIA.  The reason is one!  Promise to write back with all my thoughts on your great e-mails/blog posts from last week, but couldn't resist sending you a quick note on this Super Bowl Sunday.

I think this is the first year that I have not attended some kind of Super Bowl party.  It was my mom's birthday last night (Happy Birthday, Mommy!), so my entire family had dinner together last night.  Which for some reason led to everyone just doing their own thing tonight.  

While you know I love to spend hours in the kitchen, this "holiday" for some reason lends itself to all things greasy and gross.  Hubby and I had a mix of both.  We started off with chips and queso, straight from the jar, and ended with a main dish that I am sure has now become a House of Peach staple!  

Here's the night in pictures...
Hubby at our new BBQ

French Bread + An AMAZING Homemade Tartar Sauce
Add some grilled Tilapia

What you're left with is Paula Deen's Grilled Tilapia Po' Boy!!  YUMMY!
Here's our spread.  My laziness is evident based on the Publix macaroni and potato salad being served out of the original containers!
Hubby did serve the Friday's Potato Skins on our Limoges "R" dish though!
Hope your Super Bowl Sunday dinner was filled with as much delicious and unhealthy food as mine was!  With one quarter left, I think I am going to go shower and wait for Glee to come on.

Have a good night!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Subject: Two New Recipes!

Dear Melissa,

So, Project Recipe 2011 is steaming right along! Since 2011 began, I have tried one new recipe a week and a few I have made more than once, so they might make it into my permanent repertoire. My family came into town on Saturday just for the day and then my two uncles and wife/girlfriend came too, so we had nine adults to feed. Of course the whole reason my family was in town was to see Suz, and since she is such a lover of naps, she's not awake that much. I thought instead of wasting her wake-time driving to a restaurant, I decided to make food and have lunch at our house. Plus, my grandmother came over and she is elderly and doesn't get around easily, so I thought staying in might be easier on her. But what to make?

Since there were nine adults, I decided to make a big batch of something. Since it's been so cold, I decided on a soup recipe I'd torn out of Williams-Sonoma over the holidays and then remembered another recipe I'd seen recently when I was organizing my recipes. They were perfect! Of course this weekend the high was in the 60s - not exactly Soup Weather - but it was still fine and everyone loved it. My mom made a salad so it felt like a well-balanced meal. So, without further ado...

Recipe 1: Cheddar-Ale Soup

This seriously tasted like eating a bowl full of fondue. Yum! When I first told Mr. Lass we were having soup, he turned his nose up. (He likes manly-er food.) But when the soup was served, I practically had to tackle him to keep from eating all of it! This recipe makes enough for 6, so I increased the quantities of a few of the ingredients and it was plenty for 9 adults. For example, I did three cups of stock and milk and used a 14-oz. bottle of pale ale. Then we used about 1.5 pounds of cheese instead of 1.25 pounds. Seriously, this was so, so good. We served it with bacon as a garnish but no croutons, since there was so much bread in the other recipe.

Recipe 2: Venetian Rolled Pizza

All I can say is: OMG. I rate a recipe based on the difficulty level and taste. I don't mind a higher difficulty level if the taste rewards me for my hard work. So any time I can find a recipe that is easy and rewards me with amazing taste, I am on board! This is that kind of recipe. Everyone was so impressed and all I could think was, It really wasn't that hard... I give a recipe bonus points if it seems hard but I know it wasn't, so I would rate this recipe 14 out of 10 stars for that reason alone! I made two modifications for this recipe: I added chopped basil to the spinach for extra flavor and I lowered the cooking temperature and the amount of time I baked it. I think I baked it at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, but my oven runs hot so I am always adjusting recipes. Some of the reviews recommend adding other ingredients to the middle - mushrooms, onions, peppers, olives, etc. It's basically like a calzone! I can't wait to try this again with some different fillings. This was served with some jarred tomato sauce on the side for dipping. So easy and good!

Hope you are able to enjoy these recipes too. Wouldn't they be so great for Super Bowl party? Oh my gosh - how fun would it be to have a 'Souper Bowl' party with lots of different bowls of soup? Has that been done before? I just thought of it...maybe next year!
Images from Williams-Sonoma and Food Network, respectively.