Friday, February 25, 2011

Zip it!

Recently my husband discovered a new tool. It's one that does a really dirty job. A job that I cannot bear to bring myself to do. Cleaning the hair out of the drain. Barf!

Meet the Zip-it.

There a only really a couple of things that give me the heebie jeebies. Wet, random hairs are one of them. Wet, clumpy, random hairs are worse. I'm fully aware that most of them in the drain are mine, but it still freaks me out that they could be from someone the people that lived here before us (whom I know and were clean, nice people). It's not rational, I know, but it's not something that I will ever be able to overcome. This I know.

So now the job is easier....for him. No breaking out the screwdriver. No snaking the drain. Just shove this little guy down your tubes and voila. Out comes the hair. Barf. again.

Check out this video I found on how it works.

(I'm really sorry I made you see that. BARF!)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Go Big Blue!

That's right, you heard me. Go Big Blue! And no, I'm not cheering on our beloved Nittany Lions. I'm talking about the other Big Blue, as in the one that has the rivalry with Big Orange. Still don't catch my drift? Let me help you out.


I don't care how much you say you shop at both of these big box stores, deep down in your heart you're either Blue or Orange when it comes to home improvement stores. We here at the Pecan Street Lengacher house are most definitely Team Blue. We truly believe they have more quality products and much better customer service. We're not judging if you don't agree - it's just our personal preference. To each their own.

The other day I did make a stop in at
the other place and after the experience I had, it only made our loyalty to Big Blue grow stronger. I don't normally do so, but it was on my route and I just needed to pick up a few generic items like screws and wood filler. Of course my favorite 4-legged companion was with me - she always gets to come along on our home improvement field trips. We had been to this particular store several times before, right after we moved to Charlotte (and hadn't located our local Lowe's yet). We even purchased our new front-loading washer and dryer from this very store. With each and every shopping trip, our little helper has been with us all the while. Now apparently the pet policy it up to each individual store so I always ask before we take her in, which I also did again this time. Several greeters told me it was no problemo, and off we went to pick up our necessary items and do a little price comparison in the appliance department (not for our house, but for the rental unit in PA).

During the 15 or so minutes we had wandered around the store, several dog loving employees had stopped us to give the girl a bit of attention (which she so lovingly accepted). It wasn't until I got to the paint aisle that things started to go downhill. I was eyed up by a crabby looking female employee and asked the "Can I help you with something?" question in a rather rude way. I responded with "No thanks. I think I know what I need." She went on her way, but about 10 seconds later she approached me again and scolded me for bringing Mia into the store. I responded that I had asked if it was okay at the front door and had done some before, but she kept at me saying that they would allow me to stay, but next time my 4 -legged friend was not welcome. Biting my tongue big time, I replied that I understood and moved along my way.

In the next aisle over, another female employee (who must have been listening)
approached me to "apologize" for her co-workers behavior. I simply tried to clarify with her exactly what the store policy was, but she wouldn't directly answer my question, instead she just kept going on and on about how she (and certain other employees) didn't personally care, but others did. Again I tried to clarify exactly what the store policy is, as it became apparent to me that she didn't even know. I explained to her that I was happy to oblige whatever the store policy was, but that I was confused because several other employees had permitted me to enter with the dog. And furthermore, she was very well behaved. The part that I didn't appreciate was the way I was approached and scolded. Very unprofessional. (Remember that poor customer service I referred to?) After that I had intended to continue with my shopping but I was so hot and bothered that I handed my shopping basket to "the apologizer" and promptly left the store, but not without informing her that this one the very reason we preferred Lowe's to Home Depot and that we would never, ever return to this particular Home Depot again. (Take that!)

I mean seriously, who wouldn't love this face?

And it's not like she acts up or anything. Geesh!

Still worked up out in my car, I decided that I didn't care if our favorite Lowe's was 7 miles away, I was going to go there now! Of course I called Ben on my way to fill him in on what had just happened. He encouraged me to share my experience with the manager on duty at Lowe's (they all know and recognize us) because they are in direct competition with HD and anything they can do better will only help them in the long run.

Upon entering the store, we were of course greeted with smiles and doggie love. Word must have gotten around that Mia was in the house, because a few minutes later the manager on duty found us. ( A little background. One of the managers, Charley, absolutely loves Mia. Mia knows this and seeks her out each time we are in the store. We can't leave until we get a belly rub from her, completely with moaning from Mia, which she only does for a very elite few!) I spilled my guts to Charley about the experience I had just had at the competitor, apologized for going there in the first place, and pledged our loyalty to Lowe's from then on out. Our blood truly does bleed blue.

So long story short - Whatever, Home Depot. We live in a forever long project house and purchase supplies at least once a week. You're the ones who are losing out. Go ahead and keep your crap - and your bad attitudes too. We'll go spend our money where we're appreciated.....all three of us!

Go Big Blue!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Girl crush

Ever since my very first trip to Mexico, I'd had a thing for Frida Kahlo. Do you know her? The artist with the uni-brow that was married to the famous Mexican painter Diego Rivera? The one that was in a traumatic bus accident as a teenager and became bedridden for much of her life? If you don't know her, you can read more here.

Back in 2002, Salma Hayek portrayed her in a movie about her life. It's really good. You should see it. It's probably the way I came to first love her.

She's a classic Mexican icon. Aside from Guadelupe herself, Frida is probably the most well know female in Mexico. Her face is everywhere. I couldn't get enough of it.

The icing on my cake though had to be when we visited Frida & Diego's homes. That's right, homes - plural. But it's not what you are thinking. The each lived in their own home, side by side in Mexico City's elite San Angel neighborhood.

The big red & white one is Diego's and the smaller blue is Frida's

So where am I going with all this Frida madness? Well after sharing our first floor bathroom inspiration the other day, I became inspired to search for some new affordable art. When I stumbled onto this piece on Etsy, I knew it had to be mine.

Not only does it have the perfect accent colors for our teal walls, it conjures some great memories. And the quote is great too. "Feet, why do I need them if I have wings to fly?". Love it.

And just for fun, here are a few of my other favorite Frida quotes from the movie.

Frida Kahlo: At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.

Frida Kahlo: They say never trust a limping dog or the tears of a woman.

Frida Kahlo: What do you think matters most for a good marriage?
Guillermo Kahlo: A short memory.
Frida Kahlo: Why did you get married?
Guillermo Kahlo: I can't remember.

And I saved the best for last.....

Frida Kahlo: I love a man with melones that are bigger than mine.
Diego Rivera: And I love a woman with cojones.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Eat your heart out

A few weeks ago Ben randomly asked me if I knew what season it was. Um, Duh. Winter. No, he said. It's mango season!

We absolutely love mangos. You can slice, dice or squeeze 'em up any way you want and we'll go bananas for them! There are like a hundred different types of mangos, but we both have an especially sweet spot in our hearts for the little green ones that are so commonly found in Guatemala. They're not the kind you can peel and slice very easily. Instead you squish them up with the peel still on being careful not to spring a leak, bite a tiny hole in the top and squeeze the juice right out into your mouth. So delicious!

We even had our mango lady (who set up shop right next to our pineapple guy) in the Antigua open market. In high season, we could come home with a bagful for about a dollar. Oh, those were the days......... Unfortunately although we do live in the south now, we are no where near the tropics and therefore there are no mangos here. Honestly, I can't even remember seeing mangos in the grocery store even when it was warm. I guess I'll have to do some investigating come summer.

So the other day during a regular shopping trip to Trader Joe's, something caught my eye though. I know what you're thinking, but wasn't in the produce department - rather it was hiding in the back of the store near the granola.

Holy cannoli! Who knew there even was such a thing? Of course I had to get them, regardless of their pricey little tag.

So fast forward a week or so, to Valentine's Day. We don't really celebrate the silly holiday, but I still like to do a little something special for Ben. This year it was a fun gourmet food bag, and you guessed it! The mangos are what started it all off. I also added in some of his favorite sweets, like a huge bar of Toblerone, gummy fruit slices, dark chocolate peanut butter cups and a mint chocolate truffle bar. Of course it was a hit! And of course, I was super anxious for him to rip open that green mango bag so we could try them. Score! They are delicious and quite possibly the best thing that has happened since we came to Charlotte. Seriously.

If you have even the slightest love for mangos in your heart, you need to try them. Run - don't walk to your nearest Trader Joe's!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Change is good

Oops I did it again. I changed my mind. Big surprise!

Remember that lovely white/metallic wallpaper that we had settled on for the bathroom?

Well, I hate to tell you this, but it's been flushed.

We actually decided quite awhile ago that it just wasn't the look we were going for and down it went. Neither of us could figure out exactly what we didn't like about it, but we just knew it didn't feel right. If I had to say why, I'd probably say it is too contemporary for us. I hate that word - contemporary. It makes me think of hotel decor. Or the art they sell at TJMaxx and Homegoods that's usually oversized, too often 3D and always a great price. To me it looks like it belongs on the wall of a chain hotel. That was harsh. Sorry - especially if you own this type of contemporary art. I have seen it worked nicely into decor, but not often. Usually it goes all too well with contemporary pillows and a graphic contemporary rug just like in a hotel lobby, a doctor's office or a model home. Ewe! Model home decor is scary. Like in a plastic people live here kind of way.
Anyway, from the very beginning I had a gut feeling. So not only did I order the white/metallic sample, I also ordered this one.

The runner -up. Hicks Hexagon.

As soon as I taped it to the wall next to the metallic sample, it was a shoo in. I researched prices, measured and remeasured the room and got ready to order, but there it was again. The gut feeling. Why? We both loved this wallpaper. And we had already decided this was one instance in which we weren't going to worry about what the next homeowners would think. We knew know that they'll love it, in that "I'd never choose it for myself, but I really like it." kind of way. For me I kept coming back to the floor. Was it just going to be too busy with tile like this?
Ben was convinced no and eventually I came around, but really just felt in my heart of hearts that this colorway of Hicks Hexagon was made to go with gray carrara marble. And there was no way to work it in. For a brief second I considered returning the black and white mini hex tile and hunting down some good priced carrara, but that black and white just works so well with the rest of the house. It was an internal battle that haunted me for weeks. How could I make both us and the house happy? So back to the drawing board I went and that meant another search for inspiration photos. Here's what I was drawn to.

Subway tile, carrara, deep color, great contrast....
but we already had the wainscoting & were going for a more traditional base.

Moving on......

Classic, bead board, neutral with a punch.......
Loved it, but maybe not in a bathroom.

And then it appeared.......

Bright white, deep color, fun accents......
Traditional with a punch (& surely will look great with the tile)!

Thank you Lonny Magazine, you always give just the right amount of Bohemian that I'm striving for! Even better, that shade of dark teal/turquoise is one of my favorites. The exact color in the photo is Benjamin Moore Calypso Blue, but we're also sampling Naples Blue which is just a bit bolder.

Now on the the accessories. We'll keep it simple with a white shower curtain and towels and stay true to the era with chrome fixtures. We're planning to refinish the clawfoot tub with a black exterior and I'm mulling over the idea of silver leafing the feet. The gallery art in the inspiration image could be a great way for us to work in some random art that we already own and don't really have any other place to display. And maybe I'll throw in that punch of red with the frames.......
Ahhhh, yes. Finally I can rest.....for a moment.

But just you wait one minute. I'm not done yet. We're you wondering how we could ever abandon ship on that amazing wallpaper? It took weeks, but now we've also settled on a design idea for our master bath. It looks a little something like this.......

Hip hip horray!
Hicks Hexagon is here to stay!

It won't be exactly like the photo, but we are thinking a mix a carrara marble, white subways, the same Hicks Hexagon from our 1st floor bathroom that almost was, and maybe a deep navy/charcoal paint. I'm so excited I could almost pee.........and one day I will in not one but two pretty bathrooms! Now, here's to hoping all goes as planned!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Get your shop on

It's no lie. I live love to shop. Of course I get a kick out of outfitting my home (& myself) with unique styles, but it's the thrill of the hunt & scoring a great deal that gets me even more excited. Now that we live with a major budget, shopping hasn't felt quite so fun to me until I started playing the online "club" shopping game. Ok, so mostly I just look, but I have taken a few plunges recently!

Do you belong to any of these sites? I definitely recommend checking them out. It does require providing an email address and they do email daily (you can also opt out), but I don't find it that bothersome. I just look at the name teasers and if there isn't anything that interests me, I delete the email. I'm not so into the clothing and accessories only sites, but I'm loving the home goodies!

My newest discovery is
The Foundary. I lucked out when I saw that Dwell Studio had a sale going on and I just so happened to be eyeing up a couple of items over there lately, like this gorg duvet and this popular stripe rug. Unfortunately the duvet wasn't part of the sale and the rug was sold out, but after further thought, I decided a different colorway will work better in our first floor anyway. A couple of clicks later and this brown & cream striped baby is coming home to live in our hallway.

Wanna hear the most exciting part? It was 40% off! And if it ends up not working out, we've got 30 days to return it. You can join The Foundary here.

Another site I'm diggin' is Eziba.

They offer everything from gourmet food to furniture. Today's sale even includes Guatemalan loop laptop cases. Random, but they had me at "Guatemalan." I'm not planning to purchase one, but you should! You can join Eziba here.

And quite possibly saving the best for last, check out One Kings Lane.

From what I've seen, they seem to offer some of the best in higher end furniture and decor items. Today when I looked, they had cashmere throws, wallpaper and one of a kind furniture. You just never know what it's going to be, but if you are diligent and pass by everyday you'll surely find something you like! It won't take long. Join One Kings Lane here.


Recently we've begun to touch base with the various subcontractors that we'll be needing in order to get our second floor in a livable condition. There is so much behind the scenes work to be done before we even get to the "wow, things look different in here" part. We've talked to countless electricians, HVAC guys, plumbers, carpenters, etc.....You name it & we've got a guy who recommends a guy, who knows another guy. Basically, business is slow and we're like the meat dangling on a stick to these fellas. Ok, that's a bit of a stretch, but we've made contact with plenty of subcontractors, so now all we have to do is make our final selections. In meeting with these guys, we've realized that we also have some work to do. Namely, making some major design decisions for the master bathroom which currently looks like this.

Not so bathroom like.

It's kind of fun when it's not stressful (remember we suck at making decisions). We get to start completely from scratch, so theoretically everything can be exactly what we want......within reason. We know it's not going to be our "dream" bathroom, but it is going to be a great starter dream bathroom. We obviously have a budget to keep in mind, but we also want to make it a place that reflects our style. We're thinking very classic in style and materials, but more contemporary in color & texture. We love the classic simplicity of white subway tiles & carrara marble, so most likely we'll work out something along those lines.

Anyway, we had to do a bit of homework when it came to the type of fixtures we'd like in the walk in shower & the style of vanity we're envisioning. The fixture part was fairly easy. No major style decisions were made, but we did decide on a thermostatic shower & hand shower combo. Then we went off to a recommended custom cabinet store for some basic education on custom vanities (the big box stores don't appear to offer what we want). Well it turns out that a simple 60" custom vanity with open bottom (similar to the one from Pottery Barn) is going to cost us upwards of $2500. Shocker. Well, let me rephrase that. Shocker to Ben. I was suspecting it, but hoping for the best. Either way, it's not really in the budget, so we're back to the drawing board.


So the other day I decided to do a bit more shopping around. Before I went to work I stopped by Restoration Hardware. I know full well that their vanities are totally out of our price range, but I wanted some ideas. As I rounded the final corner before slipping out the door, this shiny little number caught my eye.


I have always loved this look, but feared it's lack of storage. I did check into the style for fun a while back and learned that these simplistic babies are big buckeroos, so I had already eliminated it from our options. But then I nearly choked when I saw that their floor model was for nearly 1/3 of the original price. Immediately my mind was flooded with ideas. I got the dimensions and chatted with an associate about the details and ran off to work, my mind designing the entire time. During a slow moment behind the cash wrap I was browsing through the PB catalog and realized, "Hey, we make one of these too!".......and I get a discount (well, soon I will).


I'm not as in love with the skinnier legs of the PB model, but it is a bit shorter, measuring in at 61.5" verses RH's 67". With my discount the PB version is about the same price as RH's too. So what do you think? Do we sacrifice storage for the amazing look of one of these babies? The bathroom is planned to have a decent sized, barely walk in linen closet and a vertical recessed cubby area, not to mention space for some smallish shelving. And I could put some cute baskets under those skinny metal legs............

The other option would be to go with something similar to the first photo of PB's wooden vanity. I'd like to customize it with paint and hardware to make it feel a little more special. I'd been thinking about a dark green/gray to go with the carrara so of course when Bryn posted this image the other day, I was very encouraged. It's Benjamin Moore's Millstone Gray. If you look at the photo closely too, you can see that the backsplash is a carrara hexagon mosaic. And if you've been around this blog for a bit, you know I love me some hexagon mosaics!


I think we better go back to Lowe's and check things out again so we know if they even have anything worthwhile before we make a decision, but that floor model is going to go fast! My heart tells me to do it, but my head thinks I need to rule out all possibly cheaper options first. I hate making these stressful decisions! What should we do???

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Thrify Plea

I love the thrill of a hunt for classic furniture especially when it's a good deal, so of course when I can, I turn to thrifting as the answer to my prayers. These days I've been holding vigil for a very much coveted piece of Campaign furniture - a dresser more specifically. I want to use it in our back extra bedroom that we are converting into sort of an extra guest bedroom/sitting room/creative space for sewing and such. I'm having difficulty with everything we want for the space and I could really use something as my jumping off point. When I began my search, I was not in a hurry and had much patience, waiting for just the right piece, but lately I'm feeling beaten up and broken down, as it seems that I am never going to find it!

I shouldn't say never, since I did score this piece at the ReStore....
I have intentions to paint it a crisp clean white. But I fear the laminate surface won't turn out the way I'd like. Really it's my back up plan, just in case I never find what I really want.

I'm not picky as to the condition of the piece that I'm look for and am ready and able to give it some elbow grease, as long as it is of the dresser type.

Long and lean like this one would be perfect.....

... but short and squat would also do.

I do prefer natural wood to painted, but am open to considering all options as long as the hardware is brass (but not necessarily in pristine condition...remember the elbow grease!).

I'm a slave to Craigslist. Everyday I loyally sift through other people's junk, hoping that someone's old bedroom furniture will answer my thrifting prayers, but I'm beginning to become disheartened, having only one possibility in the past three months....and someone beat me to it!

My patience is growing thin I fear, so I've decided on another approach. Obviously I'm getting desperate, but please be with me loyal blog readers while I pray to the almighty Thrift Gods above! Keep your fingers crossed for me please!

A Thrifty Prayer

So here I am dear Thrift Gods,
succumbing to your ways;
Please make my hopeless Campaign search,

be limited in days.

I have given you kind Thrift Gods,
every little piece of my heart;
For you are mine in used furniture,
till death us do part.

Pretty please my loving Thrift Gods,
show me the light;
Present to me my dream dresser,
and end my long, hard fight!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


The best word to describe our long weekend back in PA is peaceful. Along with us, a light snow storm rolled in and blanketed everything in a sparkly powdery white dust. We didn't mind one bit since we had absolutely no agenda for our visit except to relax and celebrate Pa's life, which we did as a family on Thursday evening and again on Friday afternoon. It was a simple and quiet celebration, but many beautiful words were shared. I think it was just how he would have wanted things.

When we weren't sharing our favorite Pa memories, we did a lot of relaxing and eating well! I think both Ben and I both napped - twice - something we never do these days at our "work house." It was great! We did venture out into the snow a couple of times too. It was so pretty, and not too cold and our four legged girl was beside herself with excitement. If it weren't for those darn ice balls that form on her legs and belly after a long romp in the white stuff, I'd almost say that she may love snow play even more than swimming!

I took more photos in the snow, but they all turned out blurry from my lack of a flash.