Friday, August 27, 2010

Family Staycation

I feel like I haven't posted in ages! I have a very good reason though. My Mom and Dad are vising from Arizona, and we have been enjoying a lot of summer family time. I am taking a bit of a hiatus, but don't fear, I have not forgotten you! I have been taking lots of photos. Above is a group shot of us when my Uncle Bob from Phoenix also came to visit (minus my working husband). It can be a bit of a challenge to get a good group photo. This one turned out pretty good, considering the number of takes. I got everyone to smile, except for my soon-to-be-high-school-freshman nephew. Apparently this is the "cool pose."

We ate lunch at one of our favorite burger places, Bill Grays. I really like this photo of my sister and my niece.

But the rest of the photo tells a different story.

This is a funny example of the "challenge" of getting a group photo with everyone looking at the camera AND smiling. Look at the camera Dad. Smile. For real. 

Try again. Ok, no bunny ears. Look at the camera.

I give up.

I did get some good ones though. Someone had a very drippy ice cream cone...

My Mom and her granddaughter Emma.

Emma and her big brother Elijah. I got them both smiling and not fighting!

It was such a beautiful day, as we walked along the bay.

I spotted a butterfly that stopped to rest. Thanks to Alex's Canon (I am loving this thing), I was able to capture it from a few feet away. 

My Mom and Dad have been married for 43 years! This picture makes me smile.

We also got together for dinner with some very dear friends. Now this is a great group photo! So many of the people that I love and hold dear to my heart.

My Mom and Dad.

My sweetie and I.

One of my best friends since childhood, Jen, her husband Jason and their little girl Jennalyn. They are soon to be a family of four. I can't wait to meet their new little one!

Dinner was followed by the most amazing spread of desserts. I know some extraordinary bakers!

We are having a great time.

More to come.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Before & After Home: Entry & Kitchen

Welcome to our home. This is where I decorate, cook, clean, organize, craft and enjoy what I am very blessed to call our first house. This is a new series I call, "Before & After Home." Who doesn't love good before and after pics? It could be a hair makeover, a restored piece of furniture, a newly painted room, or a re-purposed thrift store find. I love to see something boring, outdated, or in need of serious TLC, come to life and shine like new.

If you've been wondering what my casa looks like, now's your chance to take a virtual tour. I'm taking a look back at our house, room by room, as it was when we first moved in, and how we've transformed it into our own, over the past three years. First stop, the main entry which leads into our kitchen.

Take a look at the (purple) BEFORE (with the previous owners stuff):

The cabinets were in beautiful condition, they just needed new hardware.

I didn't mind the chair rail but the purple absolutely had to go. This was the first room we painted.

Now a look at AFTER:

Our coat closet, with a sign above that says "Delighted you came."

To the right, you see through to the rest of the house.

I always wanted a red kitchen. Red is not the easiest color to paint. Luckily, purple was a perfect "primer." My husband did an expert job, as usual.

This is our eat-in area with table and chairs handed down to us by family and refinished by my father-in-law. This room was actually added on at some point after the house was built. French doors lead out to the deck.

These three floating shelves used to be in our apartment. I decided to stack them here to display china and other decorative items.

This little side table nook is one of my favorite spots. The table was actually going to be thrown away by a neighbor (can you believe it?!) It adds so much character and holds some milk glass and  cookbooks.

This window looks out into our big back yard. I installed new cabinet hardware and changed the window valance. We really liked the black appliances that came with the house. If you're wondering, that is a kitty door that leads to the basement.

On the other side, more cabinets, counter space and small appliances. I found some fun coffee themed canvas art for above our coffee station. As you can see, it is a walk through kitchen with entrances on both sides. We really like the openness of the floor plan.

That's a look at the "heart" of our home, where guests arrive and meals are prepared and enjoyed. I have not regretted my color choice. It completely warmed up the room. I am surprised at how much I enjoy spending time in the kitchen, cooking and baking. And eating of course.

What do you think? Like the color? Is it a good before and after?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I Have Seen the Light...Fixture

While I was on a home cleaning frenzy, I realized there was one light fixture, yet to be updated. When we moved in three years ago, the previous owners had updated many of the fixtures, and coincidentally, they were in the style I like. I can't get enough brushed nickel and frosted white swirly glass. Who's with me?

When we were remodeling the bathroom, I decided that the hall light, leading to the bathroom needed a new light fixture to match. As is the case with many home projects, one things leads to another. On my 74th trip to Lowes (or was it Home Depot? I forget) I found a two-pack of light fixtures for $19.99. Not one, but TWO for the price of one. Done. Especially since we had two outdated fixtures, one at the top and bottom of the stairs.

The old ones looked like this. In all their gold, glassy, octagon-iness. Yikes. Thank you for these 1991.

I got out my screwdriver and went to work switching the last one out. I have added professional light fixture installer to my resume by the way. I don't even bother to turn the power off. Each time I wonder if maybe this will be the time I get electrocuted. Nope, not yet.

Doesn't that look better?

I think changing a light fixture is one of the easiest, yet noticeable home improvements you can do on your own. No more octagon-y cast light. Just elegant silver and white.

What do you guys think? Updated any lighting in your home recently? What style do you like? Maybe it's time to see the light.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Remembering Teddy

My heart is heavy. Today we lost a beloved furry friend. Eight years ago, my parents brought Teddy home as a puppy. A skinny little poodle with floppy curly-haired ears. My mind can still feel the texture of his tight wiry curls. For that, I nick-named him "Puffy Combs". I got him a tiny blue turtle-neck sweater, which he hated, and quickly outgrew. He loved food. Probably as much as he loved people. He used to steal my socks every time there was one laying around. He also chewed a certain black high heel. You couldn't stay mad at him for long though. He just liked to follow you around and be wherever the action was.

Teddy (also known as Theodore) wasn't a perfect dog, but he sure was a good one. He had bad breath and crazy teeth. Mom always teased that he needed braces. He was practically glued to my Dad's side. A faithful greeter of anyone who entered the house. He moved across the country with my parents to Arizona, and became a desert dog. He was such a good companion. We never imagined he would get so sick and so suddenly be gone.

It's amazing how a pet can become part of a family. It's hard for me to write this, through tears and sniffles. You were a good dog Teddy. Thank you for bringing joy to our lives.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Family Vacation in Hazleton, Pennsylvania

We got to enjoy another relaxing beach and time with our family, in Hazleton, PA (near the Pocono's). Sun? Check. Sand? Check. Lake? Check. Great memories and lots of fun? Check!

We stayed once again in the Vandegrift house, a great location with accommodations that make you feel right at home.

One of the best parts was spending time with our nieces who live in Ohio (who are growing up far too fast).

We didn't waste any time, and headed to the beach as much as possible.

There were sand castles to build...


Water to cool off in.

Sun to soak up.

Doesn't my beautiful sister-in-law look like a celebrity? I especially like the reflection of the beach in her shades.

My brother-in-law, the best board game instructor and score keeper. Who wants to play RAGE?


My amazing (ridiculously young-looking) in-laws.

My mother-in-law swam across the lake and back! That's right.

Andrew and I, working on our tans. With Wegmans brand sunscreen of course.

No day at the beach would be complete without some accessories. 

We also had the company of some ducks.

And deer in the backyard. Also known as "horsey" to Morgan.

The woods were beautiful and serene. We enjoyed taking walks in the evening.

One walk, however, was not so enjoyable. This photo cracks me up! A sister kidnapping...

I couldn't get enough of these smiles.

Look at those eyes. I used some Photoshop actions to really bring out the green. Got milk?

There he is. The one I love. With his cute weekend scruffiness.

The gangs (not) all here. But, still a favorite family shot. I'll have to Photoshop in the missing later.

David and his girlfriend Alex (the ones who are missing) were kind enough to let us borrow their professional-grade cameras. That's why my photos are kicked up a notch. I fell in love with Alex's Cannon. I don't know the exact model, but I do know it has a serious zoom lens.

Zoom lens + amateur-photo-taking-lover = happiness. You may not get this back.

So thankful for family and times like these.