Saturday, January 30, 2010

Gosh, I Have A Lot of Stuff!

If you read through my January posts, you'll notice that I've been on a home decorating kick. I've been trying to fix up our main floor as inexpensively as I can using stuff I have around the house. Our main floor consists of our kitchen, dinning room, living room, bedroom and a full bathroom. Incredibly I've been able to decorating all five rooms and the hallway on a very limited budget.

For all five rooms, I purchased:
1. Three pictures
2. Drapes for four windows
3. One rug
4. Four toss pillows

I used a lot more than just those items listed above to finish each room. The rest of the items were found in the house. Some items such as a wall shelf and plates were being used in a different room. The rest of the items such a candles, more plates, vases, plants and a wine rack were found in closets or drawers. It was like going on a treasure hunt!

Ironically, I pride myself on our lack of clutter. I make frequent trips to the Goodwill or Salvation Army. So, I'm not sure if I should be embarrassed that I have so much stuff laying around, not used, or proud that I did all the decorating on such a limited budget.

Regardless, I truly thrilled at how homey our little house is becoming right in front of my own eyes!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A $100 Dinning Room.

Finally, our dinning room is starting to actually look like a dinning room and not just a room with a big table in it. I'm so excited, I thought I'd share.

So, what have we been up to? First, Hubby and I removed a wall. Turns out, that wasn't as fun as all you DIYers make it out to be. The walls were uneven and couldn't be patched evenly. Twelve layers of mudding and sanding later and we called it a day. We are still working on the flooring (that needed to be replaced since walls were removed), but that's another post. Oh, and we aren't done that yet.

Bye-bye wall!

After the wall was removed, and the dust cleaned, I was left with a pretty blank slate. The room was painted off-white, with off-white curtains and gross blinds. As for furniture, I had my grandmother's oak table and my Great Aunt's antique dresser. My challenge was to make this mess of stuff look like it belonged together. Oh, and as usual, the budget was tight.

The Plan:
1. Repaint the wall Antique White
2. Move Antique Dresser out of closet
3. Find new window treatments
4. Create a kid area
5. Hang some art and the wine rack
6. Accessorize

The After Shots

It's so hard to get a shot without a kid or dog in the picture. Anywho. Here it is, my dinning room.

Cost breakdown:
1. Paint: $20.00 (I had the brushes, trays and rollers)
2. Curtains: $40.00 (I reused the off-white voile ones and added brown voile)
3. Two new fruit pictures $32.00 (includes prints, mats and frames)
4. Rest of the accessories are from around the house. Yes, we have fresh flowers in our house most days. I just relocated them from our kitchen.

Grand Total: $92.00!

Now we can afford to stock the wine rack too!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Weekends Aren't for the Weak!

This Sunday marked the first day since January 1st that my husband and I both had a day off of work. Woo Hoo! Unfortunately, we didn't relax and hang out with the kids. We got to work on the loooong list of projects waiting to be done. The list looked something like this:

1. Remove toddler bed and set up bed in daughters room-DONE
2. Clean house (top to bottom)-DONE
3. Find a flooring option for entry (to cover holes made by removing walls)-DONE
4. Install floor- Floor installed-trim not
5. Purchase items to hang wall art and wine rack-Items purchased, but not installed
6. Go to the grocery store and purchase food for shelter-Bought all buy 2 items
7. List items on craigslist-DONE (if only they'd sell)
8. Paint hallway-Not even started
9. Check out Goodwill for curtains-DONE-nada
10. Check out Walmart if Goodwill produces nothing-DONE-nada

Did we accomplish all that? No. Did we get a great start? You betcha!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Five Years Later

Five years ago, on a surprisingly balmy January day, we moved into our little house. On that winter day, we paused to take a look at the house before we walked in for the first time as the new owners. The house wasn't winning any design awards, or even admiring glances. It's a 1966 raised ranch complete with original bathrooms, black and white tiles and 70s appliances. The exterior had not been updated. Worse yet, there wasn't a bush or tree to be found on the small, 1/4 acre lot. Heck, there was barely grass as it was January. But, it did have what we needed-a move-in ready, 4 bedroom house with an in-law suite potential in the a good location within our budget. We could have afforded a nicer home, but we'd have had to look further away from our work, family and friends. Besides, I am a product of HGTV and thought we were up for the challenge.

This is our first view of the house. Yes, that is the front of the house. No, I didn't love it either. But I could see the potential. My husband may have hated it on sight. I may or may not have begged to put in an offer and my husband agreed. The offer was accepted the next day. Ah, 2004/2005 boasted a quick moving real estate market!

I loved this house for so many reasons:

*It was very structurally sound. The original owners (also the contractor) sold it to us and kept the house in good shape.

*I liked that it was so symmetrical.

*It has two, yes two kitchens (one for beer making and for food making)!

* It had enough room for our hopefully expanding family.

* The house was less than 10 minutes from our jobs, family and friends.

* The house was in a good school district.

Fast forward 5 years and we've seen a lot of changes in both our family and in our home. Our daughter joined our family in 2007. My husband has seen two tours in the Middle East. My mother and sister have moved in and then moved out. We've seen my son start school, learn new sports and developing his personality. We've all grown older and, dare I say, happier. Life has been good.

We love our home more and more every year. Each passing day, new memories are made. Because we enjoy our home, we are trying to slowly update it and make it more homey. Since we plan to live here until retirement (30ish years), we are making it a house we love, not a house that will sell. And that is so much fun!

By 2007, We'd already changed out the exterior by adding siding, brickwork, and landscaping. You can really see the brickwork and vinyl siding in this picture. What you can't really see is the 8 bushes/trees we planted. We couldn't afford mature/larger plants, so we bought the smaller ones. Well, 5 years later, each of these bushes are 3-6 feet tall each. We've also added rose bushes and an apple tree to the front yard, and extensive gardens to the back and side yards. Gardening is something we do as a family. I love looking at the pictures and seeing how our leland cypress's have grown almost a foot a year!

We still have so much to do both in side and outside the house. Again, it'll be done slowly. We're in this house for the long hull, so what's the hurry?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Leftover Soup-Mock Maryland Crab Soup

While cleaning out the fridge, I managed to come up with another great soup recipe! So, I thought I'd share it with you all.

Mock Maryland Crab Soup
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Small onion, chopped
2 cups chopped, cooked white meat (I used a combination of leftover pork and chicken)
1 10.5 oz. can tomatoes with chilies
1.5 cups mixed frozen veggies
1 10.5 oz. can of beans (black or kidney) OR black eye peas
4 cups of chicken broth (or 4 cups of water and 2 bullion cubes)
2 tsp Mrs. Dash Original Seasoning Blend
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a soup pot, brown onions in olive oil. Add white meat and can of tomatoes w/chilies, frozen veggies, beans and chicken broth. Simmer 5-10 minutes and add Mrs. Dash Seasoning, Salt and Pepper. Simmer another 5 minutes and Viola! Mock Maryland Crab Soup. This was great with a garden salad and corn bread.

Oh, I just have to warn you that this is a little spicy due to the chilies. If you don't like spicy food, just use a plain can of tomatoes.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

My Decorating Method

I have a confession. I love to read decorating and home improvement blogs. Love them! I can read them all day. In fact, I often do. All the DIY and decorating posts are inspiring. Unfortunately, our budget doesn't allow for me to acheive the beautifully decorating homes these talented DIYers display. Well, at least not quickly.

My "method" if one could call it a "method" is to slowly, and I do mean slowly, decorate/update our home using found treasures. I search through craigslist, local thrift stores, discount stores and even our own home to find just the right accessory to add to each room in our home.

Take my living pictured to the left. We've lived in our house 5 years and it took that long to even get to this transitional point. Everything on the mantel was found from inside our home just this week, the picture was orinally in our family room, but I loved it so much I decided to use it in a more prominent place in the house. The clock is an antique handed down by family members and everything in the curio was purchased on one of our travel adventures. We have souvenirs from Mexico, Ukraine, Korea, Iraq, Kuwait, Italy, France and a few other
places! The rug was a recent purchase from a local discount chain. I love this room. It's super comfortable.
Another view of our living room shows old wicker chairs we bought about 8 years ago, a cool drum our neighbor gave the kids (and I thought we were friends!), and kid art on the wall.

Is the room "finished"? Not by a long shot! I don't think it'll ever be done. Like my family, this room will evolve. I'll change pictures, add more layers, replace broken items or just replace items that need replacing. For now, I'll enjoy the fun of making this room us-until we and it changes.