Friday, October 22, 2010

'Tis the season

Good morning blogosphere!

The three of us are up bright and early this morning, excited that Ben is working a half day from home today. This afternoon we'll be making some decisions on paint and closet shelving for our little back room and hopefully by next week, paint will be on the walls. This weekend is going to be a busy one. Saturday while Ben finds some house project to keep him busy, I'm taking on online Photoshop class and then Sunday I fly to Pittsburgh way too early to then turn around and drive the 8+ hours back to Charlotte with my mom. It will be worth all those miles though to get some help and motivation to tackle the attic of doom!

As I type this my handsome husband is out at the Harris Teeter picking up the last of the ingredients necessary for a morning coffee treat. Yesterday I found myself going a little nutso over all the autumn goodie selection at Trader Joes. I came home with a bagful of canned pumpkin, pumpkin cream cheese, pumpkin pie mix, spiced cider, cinnamon rolls, cranberry apple butter, pumpkin creamer, cranberry sauce, orange iced sugar cookies & I even ate a mini pumpkin pie blizzard on the way! Pretty much everything one could find that screams of fall.......except real pumpkins of course (which we're skipping this year due to the fact that we are living in an undecorated construction zone)!

Ok, are you ready? I guarantee you're going to want some of this.

It the revival of last year's Pumpkin Spice Latte!

Pumpkin Spice Latte

makes 2 servings

2 cups milk
2 tablespoons canned pumpkin OR 1 teaspoon of Torani Pumpkin Spice Syrup (your choice)
2 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute - you can halve this amount
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1-2 shots espresso (about 1/4 cup of espresso or 1/2 cup of strong brewed coffee if you don't have an espresso machine.)

In a saucepan combine milk, pumpkin and sugar and cook on medium heat, stirring, until steaming. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and spice, transfer to a blender and process for 15 seconds until foamy. If you don't have a blender, don't worry about it - just whisk the mixture really well with a wire whisk.

Pour into a large mug or two mugs. Add the espresso on top.

Optional: Top with whipped cream and sprinkle pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, or cinnamon on top.

I poured ours into this nifty tupperware shake thing that I almost never use, and I'm going to refrigerate the rest for tomorrow, since I don't have have a cute red-headed officemate to share the rest with anymore. (Miss you Abby!)

And since I'm going all out - the whipped cream is not optional. Not today!

It's so easy and so so good. You should give it a try and Just Say NO to Starbucks today!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Let's talk inspiration

As in I need some.

Progress is slow on the house hence my lack of home renovation posts, but hopefully things will pick up next week for two reasons. (1) We're working on obtaining the names and numbers of some trusted contractors, painters, framers, etc. and (2) more excitingly my mom is coming to town! Since she's is now in full retirement mode, I figured she must be bored out of her mind (haha!) and would LOVE to come help me sort through and organize all of our crap boxes on the second floor. (In order to have room to breath downstairs we hauled them all upstairs to a smaller, less orderly space). She may even get to paint and sew if she is lucky!

the current state of our 2nd floor
(sorry for the poor quality, there isn't any lighting in this part)

Since we've been scraping and fixing things rather than decorating and accessorizing, I steal away every now and again for some inspiration via my friend the internet. We'd like to keep with the traditional bungalow/cottage architecture of the house, with a contemporary twist on colors and textures. Think lots of white with wainscoting & built-ins and neutral walls with pops of color in the fabrics, wood, and accessories. Of course we realize this this isn't our forever dream home rather our starter dream home, so my dream inspiration rooms won't look exactly as pictured but they certainly channel the overall feeling we are aiming for. I'm mostly inspired by color palettes, so look there rather than to the actual objects in the room.

We've also recently decided to do something bold with the windows to showcase the architecture and tone down the white - we're going black. Let me explain. Below is a photo of what all of our windows currently look like. Tall with huge molding. The top half of all of the windows has 4 panes of glass. It's called 4 over 1. Genius, huh?

So once the dirty white faux wood blinds go (a must) and something else comes in on the lower half hopefully (to be determined), we'll still get lots of light plus be able to see the nice details. We think that we'll probably just paint the sash of the window black and leave the white molding and sill, but we'd like to discuss it with a painter. Here's the idea - sort of.

That brings us to the interior doors. They are awesome. Huge and solid wood with nice molding, but seriously in need of a paint job. We're going to stick with white to match the rest of the trim in the house, but I may decide to play with interior the front door and/or the french doors leading into the dining room. I honestly haven't given it much thought yet. I suppose the color schemes in the adjacent rooms will decide that for me.

So on with the inspiration. Remember just look at the colors.

Something where masculine meets feminine for the office.
Army green walls, white custom corner desk, cowhide rug, aqua accents.

Girly, but not overstated for the adjoining "project room", aka. my space.
Love those neutral gray walls and contrast of the green & teal accents.
Light and bright, but still fun.

Traditional with a twist in the downstairs bathroom.
I love the idea of navy instead of black. I might even be changing my plans for the clawfoot tub, painting the outside gray or navy instead of black I had planned.

It's a long ways off, but total serenity in the Master Suite.
And you know who, will look perfect at the foot of the bed!

It's a much smaller space, but I love the built-ins around the window for our upstairs den.
But I'm thinking more in a palette like this one.

And carrara marble in the bathroom.
But no pedestal sink.

The main living and dining area downstairs is where I get much more confused. I have specific elements that I like, but the colors haven't come to me yet. Since we'd one day love to knock down the wall between the dining room and kitchen making it all one open space, I feel the need to plan around that. I know exactly what kitchen look I want, but the rest is still fuzzy.

My dream kitchen...
with dark walls like this.
But remember the kitchen is a looooong way off.

A classic yet playful dining space with tall wainscoting...
definitely imperial trellis (in the form of wallpaper or drapes like these)...
A painted sideboard like this... (but not red. probably blue.)

& remember with this table....
and these chairs.

It's the living room that pains me the most of all.
I've got inspiration - just no cohesion!

I love this blue, black, green & white combo.

But I also love this blue & gray look.
There is something calming and comfy about this room, but I'd prefer more color.
Built-ins flanking the fireplace. Not exactly like this, but I like the glass.Our room layout is similar to this. I love those ottomans in front of the fire.

So what do you think? An I jumping the gun a bit? I personally believe it's never too early to have a vision, but it must remain flexible. By the time I'm actually at the point of rolling on paint and hanging the window treatments this whole dream could be long gone, replaced with something new. I'd love to hear your thoughts, especially if you love interior decor as much as me!

PS: Most of these images have been hanging out in my hard drive for ages, so I don't have most of the sources, although I believe many have been seen on DecorPad. I listed the sources when known.

Friday, October 15, 2010

3 Men & a Volcano

Remember a while back when I said I was going to back blog about some of the happenings from Guatemala that didn't get posted? Remember how after that bold statement I only made it this far? Well browsing through my archives, I came across this oldie but goodie. Since we're missing friendships a lot lately, I thought I'd post about this adventure that Ben went on with one of his best Guatemalan friends, Otto. First a little history.

Otto was Ben's co-workers at Aguas de Unidad. Basically Ben was his "boss" as he was head of the maintenance & technology department, but if you ask Ben about it he'll be the first to tell you that Otto was definitely the brains when it came to the maintenance on the water systems. Not only did Ben quickly learn to value Otto's experience, he also quickly began to value his friendship too. Day after day these two drove around Guatemala City from system to system, strengthening the bond of their friendship. Otto helped Ben with his "street" Spanish and Ben gave Otto mini English lessons & translated American music for him!

El Gringo y El Pengüino
(The gringo & the penguin...because Otto is always cold!)
Mejores amigos.

Honestly I often felt a bit jealous of Ben and his best manfriend. Their friendship was the kind that I wanted to have (and I did, just not with a Guatemalan). Talk about loyalty though, Otto was always there to help us out, even if it had nothing to do with work, like the time he accompanied Ben to the Honduran border to renew our car permit for Dewey. So when Ben put it out there that he really wanted to hike Volcan Agua, an inactive volcano right outside of Antigua, Otto was there in a heartbeat - and so was his son Cristofer (the awesome soccer player, remember?) Believe it or now, Otto had never done it either and it was also on his bucket list, so one Sunday morning while I was hard at work with a Common Hope team off they went.

They began in the village of Santa Maria de Jesus, the furthest drivable point up the volcano

And they hiked and hiked for hours up the dusty volcano path

Until finally they reached the top!
Hanging out high above the crater

Cristofer's 1st volcano!
Ben in his element.
By the time they got back to our place around 5 that afternoon they were covered from head to toe in dust & huunnnngry, so I treated them all to a giant burger, Cocolimonada, & delicious brownie at La Peña de Sol Latino, one of our favorite places to listen to live music and get a great bite to eat!

We have so many great memories like this volcano hike and there are times that we really wish we had never left Guatemala, so that we could continue to make even more memories. Honestly, most of the time we wish we never left, who am I kidding? Leaving was one of the most difficult decisions we ever had to make - much more difficult than deciding to go, but as we all know, good things can't last forever. And since sometimes you have to let something go earlier than you'd like to have it one day return to you for good, this is why we chose to end this Guatemala chapter of our lives. Albeit short, it was he most amazing experience of our lives to date, but there was something that didn't allow us to feel like it could be permanent - not yet. So now here we are struggling to find our place in this new chapter, looking forward to the day when everything feels easy so we can shake it up once again. We don't know when it will be, but we have faith that this opportunity will come back to us when the time is right and we'll have our Guatemala back for good, and God willing our friendships will still be there waiting.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fixin' and Field Trippin'

Progress is slow here on the home front. Over the weekend we ambitiously began our first major project. We started in the smallest room in the house - the back bedroom, which will eventually become my project room (Yay, a permanent place for my sewing machine!). We decided to strip down & sand the paint on the doors and window frames before repainting everything since there were lots of drip marks and sloppiness leftover from previous owners.

At least the weather has been nice!

After several days now of stripping, sanding & repairing we admit that we bit off more than we want to chew.......especially considering the rest of the first floor has 16 more doors and countless windows. So now the plan is to finish up this room and hire out the rest! Well, we'll probably continue to sand the doors and window frames ourselves (or at least most of them) before repainting, but the stripping is for the birds and will only be done when necessary. It's nice that someone, way back when, framed out the windows, but it would have been nicer if they actually did a quality work. Now there a lots of rough corners and gaps to fix.....c'est la vie.....we knew what we were getting into when we bought the place, right?

Someone isn't thrilled with not being the center of attention.

The current state of the little room.
One day we'll have a window again.

For now we'll enjoy the only complete feeling room in the house.... and the one the I'm dying to change the most, but is last on the list. : (

Needing to escape the work zone, I stole away for a little field trip the other day. Before moving here I heard so much about this amazing fabric store called Mary Jo's right outside of Charlotte. Even though we're no where near the decorating phase of the venture, I was feeling the need for some inspiration to help with choosing the paint colors. I have way too many ideas and need to streamline, but how can I do it without having an image of the overall decor?

One thing is certain though. The office will be some shade of olive/army green......but which one is the dilemma!

So off to Mary Jo's went Krista Jo.

My oh my, there were a lot of choices.
Inspiration was certainly found.....and so was confusion!

Love the idea of the crisp whiteness on the windows in my project room.

Perfect reupholstery fabric for an ottoman or wingback.

Mmm, mmm, mmm. Love this color with the navy.

Ikat for sure.

Still dreaming of this one.
(it's much more brown in person)
Definite front runner for the living room.

One day I'll be allowed to have my kind of fun........
But for now we're slaves to our windows and doors!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

ALF Returns

No, I'm not talking about this guy.

I'm talking about ALF. As in Autumn Leaf Festival. As in the pride and joy of Clarion County. As in my hometown in Pennsylvania, where I snuck away to for the weekend! It has been several years since I've been home for ALF. In fact my 10 year class reunion was around this time last year, but I had to miss it since we were in Guatemala. I'd been looking forward to a bit of the chaos and a lot of the delicious treats, so Friday morning my mom and I hit the streets for the annual Farmers & Crafters day.

Despite all of Main Street being lined with tents, we pretty much left empty handed - it was a little too country kitchy crafty for us. If you're from a small town, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. But even with our hands empty, we still had a good time and I even ran into a couple of my old high school friends with their babies (Yikes! Yes, babies (plural)

Of course the visit entailed a lot of playing with this little one.

Don't be fooled. She may look like a little teddy bear angel, but she's really quite the little devil - cute little devil (sorry mom)! Most of the week these 2 were attached at the hip - or maybe I should say mouth!

Even though Mia is twice as big as Sadie, she plays so gentle, always letting Sadie have her way with her!

And it made Mia so happy to have a friend to play with. She's been pretty lonely in Charlotte.

Oh and while I was home, I got myself some furniture too! Let me explain. My grandma & grandpa (Ma & Pa) have had a whole house full of the rare mid-century modern, blond Heywood-Wakefield furniture for as long as I can remember. I never really thought twice about it until I got a little older and my love for design began to develop, but now I realize how classic it really is. Well when my grandma passed away 8 years ago, Pa decided it was time to start clearing out the house and tried to sell all his Heywood-Wakefield. Unfortunately this kind of beauty is not appreciated in small town Clarion County and he wasn't able to get rid of anything. So for years now in the back of my mind I've been mulling over the idea of maybe using when I finally have a dining room one day. The style is definitely different than my norm, but there's just something about sitting around a memory filled table in the years to come that I can't seem to get over (even though it was the grown-up table and I preferred the kid's table!). My mom mentioned my idea to Pa one day and ever since the dining room furniture has been promised to me! Yipee!

Please excuse the piles!
Pa is a collector.

Now comes the task of figuring out how I'm going to work this mid-century modern style into my classic american bungalow home.....hmmmm. I've already got my wheels turning & it starts with reupholstery!

Thanks Pa! I love you!