Friday, November 26, 2010

What I'm thankful for

I will admit, Thanksgiving has always been more about food for me, and I don't often really stop and think about what I'm thankful for (besides sweet potato pie!). But this year, I had a lot to be thankful for: a great man who went from fiance to husband and a great house to call our own. The moment in time we used to talk about -- the days when we'd be married and homeowners, starting our adult lives for real -- is finally here. It seems like we've been waiting for this forever, and I feel really lucky for everyone and everything I have in my life.

I've always been grateful to be so close to my parents, both geographically and emotionally, but this Thanksgiving I felt an especially strong gratitude for them. They let us live with them for nine whole months, giving up their privacy, space and some money, I'm sure, and never once complained (at least to us!). Without their help and generosity, it would have taken us many more months, maybe years, to save up enough money for a down payment on our house and start our grown-up lives. Whenever I look around our home, I am reminded of what they were willing to do for us, and I am moved and humbled. It means more to me than if they had simply given us money for a down payment. In many ways, it's easier to open up your checkbook and write a check than open up your home for nearly a year. I hope someday the Hubs and I can be those kinds of parents -- the ones willing to sacrifice to bring our children closer to a happy future. We plan to pay them back someday for everything they've done for us.

And while I'm on the subject of giving thanks, I'm so happy I married into another loving and tight-knit family. People always complain about their in-laws, and I really lucked out. Mine are sweet and supportive, and I'm very thankful for that. Plus, my mother-in-law makes up one half of my devoted fan following (the other half being, of course, my mom). Now that's unconditional love.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Our kitchen goes green(ish)

The hubs and I tackled our second painting project over the weekend: the kitchen and hallway. I think it went better than the first time around, though it was a lot more work getting around the cabinets and doing all the cutting in around the door frames. We also figured out our strong suits when it comes to painting: he's the taping/cutting-in master, and I'm the rolling champ. We complement each other so well!

I did most of the taping little-by-little during the week and did about half the first round of cutting in before the weekend as well. But the job still took us all day Sunday to finish, with two coats of cutting in and two coats of paint. My back was pretty sore for the next couple days, because I spent practically half the day crouched on the countertop, painting under and over the cabinets. It was a long day, but the end result was worth it! I was so happy to see that baby blue disappear.

Here's a shot of painting in progress -- what a disaster.

So, here's the kitchen eat-in area before, in all its blue glory:

And here it is in lovely Ocean Foam by Behr:

The kitchen before:

And after:

Not the same angle, but you get the idea. Doesn't it look so much more sophisticated and inviting? I love how calming it is; it makes me think of the ocean. And the color changes depending on the lighting. Sometimes it looks green, sometimes it looks gray, and sometimes a color in between. Here's the eat-in area in cloudy daylight:

Looks gray, right? It also coordinates well with the gray-toned slate floor in the entryway (in the door on the left of the above photo), and with the other decor in the house that I like to think of as subtle beachy.

It's a good thing we like the color, because we both decided it was such a pain painting the kitchen that we're never doing it again! Now it's time to figure out what to hang on the wall.

Next up in our painting adventures is the living room. It's a nice subtle yellow-beige color, but a hole-patching mishap means we'll have to paint it sooner rather than later. The old owner left all the leftover paint for us, but when we painted over the patched holes with what was labeled as the living room, it turned out it was the wrong now our living room is speckled with lighter yellow spots. We're still stumped on what color to paint it, though. Guess it's time for another agonizing hour or two in front of The Home Depot paint swatches...

On a sentimental note, today marks four years that the hubs and I have been "official." It's such a cute story, too. We'd been dating for about two months, and I asked him if it was OK if I kept a couple things at his place (contact lens solution and case, I think), and he said yes, only if he could call me his girlfriend. Awww...

Monday, November 15, 2010

The destination: homeownership

It's official. We're homeowners! It's only been a little more than two weeks, but it already feels like home, despite the remaining unpacked boxes and a few interesting paint color choices left over from the previous owners.

It might feel like we've been here a while because of all the projects we've already undertaken. Since we closed on Oct. 29, we have:

  • Painted the master bedroom
  • Installed a railing on the stairs leading to the storage over the garage*
  • Installed new locks and deadbolts on the four (yes, four!) outside doors*
  • Installed curved shower curtain rods in both bathrooms, and a double towel rack in the upstairs bathroom*
  • Patched some holes in the dining room and living room*
  • Started prep work to paint the kitchen and adjoining areas
  • Powerwashed the deck and cleaned up some tree debris from the yard*
  • Replaced some ceiling fan blades from multicolored pastel to neutral white

*I can't take the credit. The Hubs and FIL (father in law) tackled these.

So, what have I been doing, then, if I didn't do a lot of these DIY projects? I've done a lot of unpacking, cleaning, organizing and general home-making.

Oh, and of course I've done some shopping! I have to share an incredible find. We're fortunate to live close to the L.L.Bean flagship store and, even better, its outlet store. I popped in the other day to see what deals I could find, and was thrilled to find this little gem:

A couch cover, originally priced at a whopping $169, on sale for $19.95! We have lots of hand-me-down furniture, including a lovely (sarcasm) plaid small sleeper sofa. We bought a brown couch cover for it from Bed Bath and Beyond a couple years ago but, made of relatively lightweight material, it didn't hold up well, and had started to fade and wear. I wanted to replace it, but with plans of upgrading our furniture someday soon, the Hubs talked me out of spending the money on a new cover, since they cost at least $70, even at Target.

But a mere $20 for something of better quality? Score! I also grabbed a soft, blue "picnic throw" for $6.99 (that I later discovered was definitely not worth more, since it's pretty much useless in keeping you warm...).

I put the new cover on as soon as I got home. Here's the BEFORE before, with the plaid fabric (yes, that's an egg crate stuffed under the cushions, to keep the sagging couch somewhat comfortable):

The before, with the old cover:

And the after, with new cover and throw:

Not much of a change, since it's still dark brown (only color they had for a small couch), but it still makes me happy. Now, if only I could train the Hubs to tuck everything back in after he's done laying on it...

Once we pick a color for the living room walls, I'll be doing more accessorizing -- replacing the pillows, maybe getting another throw (one that actually keeps you warm) and hanging something up on the walls. I'm already excited to decorate for Christmas! I know, we haven't even seen Thanksgiving, but I make no apologies.