Mini Kitchen Mudroom

Good morning!  I hope you are having a great week.

Up today is a little solution I created for my kids' coats and jackets ... right in my kitchen.  

I like coats out of the way. I think it's important for kids to take care of their belongings, and this means hanging up their coats after school or play.  I have a coat closet in my entryway, but the kids cannot reach the hangers and there was no room for me to put another row of hooks in the closet.  I brainstormed and realized I could put some hooks in my kitchen on the far side of my tall wine cabinet.  It was unused space, totally hidden from view and right near the front door, which meant the kids could come in and take care of their coats instead of throwing them on.the.floor, which drives me batty (so batty, in fact, that it necessitates italics and bold.).

I bought two bars of hooks from Target (around $15 each) and hung them on top of each other.  

When it's time for me to move, I'll just remove the hooks and spackle over the holes.  Easy!

What about you? Have you ever had to think outside the box and create a custom solution for you or your family?  I'd love to hear. 

See you swoon,

Master Bathroom Redo: before & after

Hi all!  I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. You know what I am ever so thankful for? My master bathroom is done! And its 1980s wallpaper is history.  Yes, it is time to share the big reveal of my big master bathroom redo project.  Some projects are smooth sailing from start to finish. This one ... was not. Suffice it to say, as soon as I got started, I knew it was going to have to get really ugly before it got better.   Before I get into the nitty gritty details, here is a money shot right up front:

The plan was thus:  (1) remove the wallpaper, (2) make any necessary repairs and preparations to the walls, (3) paint, (4) accessorize, and (5) rejoice.  Steps 1 and 2 were a lot more difficult than I anticipated.  Using my parents' wallpaper steamer, I have removed wallpaper from about 5 rooms in the past and it has always gone well.  It's messy, but not difficult. Unfortunately, this room was different.  As soon as I started removing the paper, I knew I was in for it.  It appears that the people who put up the wallpaper did not use a coat of primer in between the drywall and the paper ... this makes removal of the paper extremely difficult.  I used the steamer to get alllllll that paper off the wall. Once all of the paper was off, I used a huge sponge and alternated between vinegar & water and commercial wallpaper glue remover to clean the walls. This part was *the worst* - such a mess.

Once the walls were clean, it was time to patch and repair.  There were several spots on the wall that needed attention.  Some spots were where the paper was stubborn and when I removed it, the putty knife went down to the drywall.  I used some thick spackle on these spots and a couple of wall repair patch kits (where the old towel bar used to be) and then sanded it down and cleaned off the dust.  Removing the wallpaper and glue and cleaning the walls took me about 10 hours over two days to complete.  But when it was done and once I cleaned up, the room looked like this:

So now the walls were all ready for paint!  A few weeks ago, I took advantage of a Sherwin Williams 40% off sale and picked up a gallon of one of my favorites, Super Paint, which has primer built in.  I already had 3/4 of a gallon of this paint left over from my powder room redo, but I worried I'd run out of paint mid-way through this project and there is *nothing* worse than having to stop painting half way through and go grab more paint. The color was Mindful Gray cut by 50%, and I have more plans for this color in other spaces in my house.  As it turns out, I used only half a gallon, so I didn't actually need to buy paint.  Ah well.

The room took just two coats of paint and about 2 hours to paint.  Bathrooms, while small, are so tricky because it is all cutting in and obstacles, like painting around and under the toilet or around the mirror or behind the sink.  But I got it done.

Finally, it was time to accessorize.  I added my white switch plate and outlet covers, new hooks on the back of the door, a cabinet over the toilet (etagere) (purchased at Lowes for $90) for more storage over the toilet and some art.  So without further ado,  here are the before and afters!

Before - this was the scene that greeted you when you walked in the bathroom.  Great fixtures and tile but horrible wallpaper that looked like someone went nuts with 1980s sponge paint in shades of grey, black and white.

After - Much better.  From crazy and cluttered to soft and soothing.

Before - You can get a better feel for the wallpaper in this shot of the area above my tub.  Can you see why every time I looked in, went in or thought about that room I cringed?

After - my how pretty!  The Mindful Gray works perfectly with the room and makes you focus on the gorgeous tile work.  I just love this color.  In some lights it's a true grey.  In others, it's almost a silvery sage (note: the silvery sage color is only due to my having Sherwin Williams cut the color by 50% - if I had gone with the darker, original formula, it would be a perfectly true grey).  I hung art that I already had and I think it looks ok in here.  I don't like a lot of "stuff" in bathrooms, so the sweet simplicity of this picture suits me perfectly. It's a little too small, but I will replace it with something larger in scale at some point.  

Before - the area around the toilet did not make sense.  Taking aside how awful that floor to ceiling wallpaper looked, the towel bar above the toilet drove me crazy.  It was too low to be functional and not centered.  Out it came.  

After - I removed the towel bar, patched up the holes that were left and brought in an inexpensive wall cabinet for more storage.  It's functional and pretty.

Before - I took those ugly hooks off the door and replaced them with a nice brushed nickel towel bar.  I also replaced the ugly rusted switch plate cover and wallpapered outlet cover with basic white ones.

After - little details make a big impact, don't you think? By the way, I made do with what I could with the built in soap dish and toothbrush holder.

Ahhhhhhhhhhh.   That project is off my list.  I cannot believe how much bigger and more modern my bathroom feels.  I'm so pleased with the result, even if it was a bit of a total bear to get there.

I wanted to keep the cost around $100.  I went a little over budget due to the (ultimately unnecessary) paint.  Here is the breakdown:

* $90 - wall cabinet
* $30 - gallon of paint
* $17 - hooks for door
* $3 - switch plate and outlet covers
Total $140.00

All told, not bad for such a huge transformation, no?  So what about you?  Have you ever removed a room full of 1980s wallpaper and lived to tell the tale? I always forget how messy of a job it is to steam wallpaper until I'm knee-deep in it.  That is why there are no "in progress" shots from me on this project: I wanted it d-o-n-e and did not want to stop for a moment.

See you swoon,

Philadelphia Marathon 2012: goal attained?

Goal attained?  No.  Goal attained.  No.  Goal attained!!!!!!

On Sunday, I ran the Philadelphia Marathon in 4 hours.  And when I say 4 hours I mean precisely four hours:  my official final time was 4:00:00.  You may recall from my post last week that I wanted to run the race in under 4 hours.  Leave it to me to run that sucker in exactly 4 hours on the money.  Here is my race recap, with more information that you probably ever wanted to know.

Mile 20 and *very* excited to see my friend Robyn!
While there is an eency weency part of me that is bummed I don't see a "3" before my time, 99.99999% of me punched that eency weency part square in the jaw. I am so happy and proud of myself. I ended up running the first half in a new PR (personal record/personal best) of 1:55:12. My time at 30K (about 18 miles) was likewise great: I was still really strong and fast - projected finish around 3:55 or something crazy like that. Miles 18-19 and then 23-25 were the hardest. The final .2 miles were a blur. I was sprinting my bum off! That's the short of it.

The long of it:

The first and last marathon I ran was in 2004.  I loved the experience, but shied away from running another due to the time commitment it requires to train for one.  2012 has been tough, and I decided I was up for the challenge of another marathon.  I ran my first marathon in 4:39:00.  My goal this time was to run under 4 hours and have a great race.  I am much faster than I was back in 2004 (which just goes to show you only get better with age!), and my long runs and half marathon races were right on track for me to break that 4 hour mark.  I am so so proud that I managed to take off a minute and a half per mile from my pace in 2004. That is so huge.  I never thought I could run 9 minute miles at all ... let alone sustained over 26 miles.  

felt really good on race morning. The race gun goes off at 7 am, so I got up at 4, ate my standard pre-race breakfast (oatmeal with brown sugar, bagel with cream cheese and strawberry jam, coffee, glass of diluted gatorade) and got into Philadelphia around 6 am.  It was pretty brisk when I got down to Philly - probably around 38 degrees.  There was time for only one porta potty trip, but that was fine. I got in my corral and hung out for about 5 minutes until the gun went off.

Since this isn't my first rodeo
marathon, I knew what to expect both in terms of the course and the experience.  That back half of the race is mentally tough.  So, to combat that, I decided to dedicate certain miles of the second half of the race to friends and family. It helped! I just wrote the numbers and abbreviations for the particular dedication on the inside of my forearm with a thin Sharpie.  I joked that I looked like I was rocking an Angelina Jolie type tattoo.

The gun went off and within a few minutes, I crossed the start line, fired up my watch and it was go time!

The first few miles I was flying. I was going so fast I started to worry, but it felt really good and effortless. I was in a good groove and slowing down was just not gonna happen. My breathing was perfect, my body felt strong. Still, I worried about starting too fast and hitting the wall, which I kind of did unfortunately. But I had banked enough time that it was ok. Funny, as I look at my splits, I clearly got a little slower with each mile, except in a few instances where I had a second, third, fourth wind.

Mile 1: 8:25
Mile 2: 8:28
Mile 3: 8:31

Mile 4 was when I knew I'd see my good friend, Liz, who was cheering on her husband (who, incidentally, runs like 3:10 marathons - crazy inspiring). She was on the corner and I saw her and yelled her name. It was sooo nice to see a friendly face at that point in the race.

4: 8:35
5: 8:41

Miles 5 through 7 were through Center City. Tons of people around cheering with signs. It was great. I saw my favorite sign of the day around this point: "If marathons were easy, they'd be called Your Mom." HA!  Also a few: "Go faster! Don't Stop! (that's what she said)"; "Go Random Stranger, Go!"; "Worst Parade Ever"; "If you were Paul Ryan you'd have been here an hour ago"; "Those tights make your butt look fast"; and "These cats say don't poop your pants." with a picture of two cats. Honestly - the fans on this course are incredible.  Especially at the finish.  The last half mile of the race is literally lined with spectators all shouting your name and really pushing you to do it.  Thank you, Random Strangers.  

6: 8:50
7: 8:20* This was the stretch on Chestnut Street - a gradual downhill, lots and lots of spectators. Huge difference and my fastest mile.

Mile 8 is the first real hill. It's in West Philly and goes up for almost a mile. The incline isn't that bad, but it's long. I dug in and tried to keep my pace under 9.

8: 8:52

Mile 9 was a flat then downhill. I knew what was coming at mile 10. I conserved energy and let gravity help me.

9: 8:31

Mile 10. Ouch. It's a very steep climb up a hill. But thankfully it's pretty short. You get to the top and it's a flat area, then you run down a steep hill. Mile 11 is pretty flat.

10: 9:01
11: 8:35

Mile 12. What a mentally challenging mile. When I ran the marathon in 2004, it was only the full marathon, no half (and only 6300 people ... now the race is near 30,000!). Now the race has both a full and a half marathon.  The races run together for the first half.   At mile 12, you start seeing signs: marathon to the left; half marathon to the right. It takes a crazy amount of willpower to go left. I was honestly tempted to go right, get my PR (I knew I was running my fastest half ever) and call it a day. But I went left.

12: 8:56
13: 9:03

Miles 14-17 are out of center city toward the Manayunk section of Philly, which is the turnaround. These miles always tick off pretty quickly for me. I just zoned into my music and dug in my heels and tried to keep a steady pace around 9:00.

14: 8:53
15: 9:02
16: 9:04
17: 9:03

Miles 18-19 were tough. I was tired and took my first walk break. Just a few seconds. But as I later learned, literally every second counts. On the back end of the race, i also stopped at every water/gatorade station and walked, drank, walked and then ran. That helped a ton. Mile 19 was a pretty gradual, but noticeable, incline.

18: 9:34
19: 9:55

Once you hit mile 20, you are at the turnaround.  You stop seeing signs on the course that say "Marathon - Outbound" and start seeing signs that say "Marathon - Inbound". "Just a 10k to go!" is what a woman said to me in 2004 at that point. It sounds crazy, but even that little reassurance helps. "oh, I can do a 10K". Ha. Right at the turnaround, I saw my friend Robyn (who snapped the above picture) - I was so excited to see her. I just needed a little boost. And ... look at mile 20. Gradual downhill, energy restored momentarily from seeing a friendly face, and yeah, the end in sight.

20: 9:24
21: 9:34

Miles 22-24 were hard. Ouch. OMG. Ouch. I kept in the zone, tried to walk only at the water stops, and just kept pushing.
22: 9:53
23: 9:56

Mile 24 was my friend Maggie's mile.  Maggie was a dear friend of mine who I met in college and who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in 2007.  In the five years since she died, there have been so many times where, I believe, she sends me little messages through music (which is completely appropriate given her love of music and dancing).  Wouldn't you know it, during mile 24 - the hardest mile for me - there were three songs right in a row that Maggie loved:  two Michael Jackson songs and Madonna's Like a Prayer -- all were songs she loved and/or tied to memories of Maggie.  It gave me the push I needed.  I could feel her encouraging me to keep on going.

24: 10:00
25: 9:57

When I hit mile 25, I knew it was time to run. Hard. I had my running watch on so I knew my pace and my chip time. My sub 4 hour goal was still in reach, but I had to really run. So I did. I kicked my butt into gear and pushed.

26: 9:26

I saw the mile 26 mark and sprinted the final .2 miles. Sprinted!! I ran over the mat, hit my watch and saw: 4:00:01. I thought for sure I might have delayed by two hundredths of a second! Alas, only one.

.2 8:06

So, mission accomplished. This isn't my final marathon. I will break through the 4:00 mark yet. This race was a culmination of so much hard work and love:  love of running, but also love of self. One might think that forcing my body to run 26.2 miles in 4 hours isn't exactly loving, but to me, it sure is.  And now ... I can, and will
, eat anything I want on Thanksgiving.  

See you swoon,

PS:  I'll be back to home projects after the Thanksgiving holiday.  I am about half way through my major bathroom redo and am going to use the long weekend coming up to finish it.

PPSS: I am always interested in fellow runners' playlists.  I'll share mine here but trust that this is a No Judgment Zone.  I'll explain first and then post.  I need a variety of beats and songs.  I love fast music, but I also find that I need slower songs too.  Oddly enough, I run faster to slower songs!  My body seems to relax a little more.  I know for a fact that two slow songs came on during mile 7, which was my fastest mile of the race.  Anyway ... here are the tunes that helped me make my goal this weekend.  I shuffled them and was genuinely excited to hear every one come on.  A slow song came on during that last mile, and that was the only time I fast forwarded. I needed a pump me up song.  Thankfully, the song "Warrior" came on, which is the song that was playing as I finished the race.  perfect.

Eye of the Tiger (Survivor)
Apache (The Sugarhill Gang)
Livin' On a Prayer (Bon Jovi)
Don't Stop Believin' (Journey)
Suspicious Minds (Elvis Presley)
Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough (Michael Jackson)
Come On Eileen (Dexy's Midnight Runner)
Could You Be Loved (Bob Marley)
Ants Marching  (Dave Matthews Band)
Go Your Own Way (Fleetwood Mac)
Southern Cross (Jimmy Buffett)
Back on the Chain Gang (The Pretenders)
Cecilia (Simon & Garfunkel)
The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) (Simon & Garfunkel)
Peace Train (10,000 Maniacs) 
I Want You Back (Jackson 5)
Dancing In the Moonlight (King Harvest)
Push It (Salt-n-Pepa)
It Takes Two ( Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock)
Ain't No Mountain High Enough (Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell )
Sloop John B (Beach Boys)
God Only Knows (Beach Boys)
Here Comes The Sun (George Harrison)
You Can Call Me Al (Paul Simon)
Dirty Glass  (Dropkick Murphys)
Down On the Corner (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
Ventura Highway (America)
One Week (Barenaked Ladies)
How Deep Is Your Love  (Bee Gees)
Crazy In Love (Beyoncé)
Love Will Keep Us Together (Captain & Tennille)
Tiny Dancer (Elton John)
Don't Go Breaking My Heart (Elton John & Kiki Dee)
Band of Gold (Freda Payne)
Alone (Heart)
Proud Mary (Ike & Tina Turner)
Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels) (Jim Croce)
Footloose  (Kenny Loggins)
Like a Prayer (Madonna)
I Will Wait (Mumford & Sons)
Spiderwebs (No Doubt)
Mo Money Mo Problems (The Notorious B.I.G., Mase & Puff Daddy)
Hey Ya! (OutKast)
Maggie May (Rod Stewart)
American Girl (Tom Petty)
Tennessee (Arrested Development)
Beat It (Michael Jackson)
Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' (Michael Jackson)
Rump Shaker (wreckx-n-effect)
You Can't Hurry Love (The Supremes)
If You Could Read My Mind (Ela Wardi/Stars on 54)
Take On Me (A-Ha)
Copacabana (Barry Manilow)
Everlasting Love (Carl Carlton)
Brandy (Looking Glass)
Land Downunder (Men At Work)
One Particular Harbour (Jimmy Buffett)
Does Your Mother Know (ABBA)
You're So Vain (Carly Simon)
Oh Very Young (Cat Stevens)
Islands In the Stream (Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers)
Take Me Home, Country Roads (John Denver)
The Gambler (Kenny Rogers)
Break My Stride (Matthew Wilder)
Blister In the Sun (Violent Femmes)
Faith (George Michael)
Flashdance...What a Feeling (Irene Cara )
The Warrior (Scandal)
Here I Go Again (Whitesnake)
You Shook Me All Night Long  (AC/DC)
Pour Some Sugar On Me (Def Leppard)
Walking On Sunshine (Katrina & The Waves)
All Night Long (All Night) (Lionel Richie)

Curro Ergo Sum

Or: I run; therefore, I am.

Wow.  Just two lines into my post and I've done a trifecta geek-out of using Latin, referencing Descartes' famous quote "Cogito Ergo Sum" (I think therefore I am), and then changing the quote to fit my own needs.  With my apologies and thanks to Mr. Descartes, I can begin this post.

Philadelphia Rock N' Roll Half Marathon 2012: 1:57:15 (new PR!)
I have written a bit here on the blog about my love of running -- here and here and here.  One thing I love about running is the goal is ever-changing.  You can always try to beat your fastest and best time.  You can never fully master the sport - there is always a new race, a new day, a new time to beat.  And it's always a race against yourself rather than a race against others.  I started my life as a runner when I was a college freshman, almost 20 years ago.  I came home from college and decided I would try running.  I started slowly: running a bit, walking a bit, running a bit, walking a bit and gradually increased the running intervals.  This was before the days of fancy GPS watches, so I would drive my route and figure out the mile marks.  I remember the day I ran a full mile.  Then two.  By the end of the summer, I was up to 4 mile runs and I could not imagine running any farther, even though I loved it.  I kept running from that point on, with the inevitable ebbs and flows in activity, until this day. Since that time, I have run countless races: 5Ks, 10Ks, 5 milers, half marathons and one full marathon.

Running has been a constant in my life.  Through translating Latin in college, law school, my first years as an attorney, a trial where I lived in a hotel two hours from home for six months, two children, several houses, running has been there for me.  And as I go through this current major change in my life, it is here for me now.  Running is not something that I do -- running is who I am.  Running reminds me that I am strong, that I am safe and that I am going to be OK.  Running is a tangible reminder that I can do anything, and it will all be OK.  Even after a horrible run where nothing goes right, there is always tomorrow: a new chance for a new day, a new run.

This year has been a tough one, to say the least.  Three things have been instrumental in my not losing it: (1) my children; (2) the love and support of my friends and family; and (3) running.  Running has, quite literally, saved my life.  I started doing triathlons this year too - it started with a sprint triathlon in May (350 meter swim, 13 mile bike, 3.1 mile run).  I loved it so much, I did another.  And then I pushed myself to train all summer for an Olympic-distance triathlon in September (1/2 mile swim, 40 mile bike, 6.2 mile run).  I registered for, and completed, more races and triathlons this year to count.  I think some of my friends think I may have lost my mind a little, but frankly, I cannot agree.  Races, unlike just heading out for a casual run or swim or bike ride, give a rush that is simply unequaled.  To be around other athletes of all abilities and know that we are all doing the same thing with totally different goals ... it's inspiring.  I can feed off of that positive, euphoric energy for days.  It is infectious -- even after a race where I do not perform as I hoped, I am always happy and feel accomplished when I cross that finish line.

All of the above is my love letter to running.  There are moments when I hate it -- like when I am about 7 miles into a 16 mile run and I am tired.  Or when the air is humid and I can't breathe right, which affects everything and not in a good way.  Or when it is blazing hot or pouring rain or dark and the last thing I want to do is run ... I still run.  And I still love it.

I am running the Philly marathon on Sunday.  I have a time goal (of course I do!) of running it under 4 hours.  But the true goal of the race for me is to have fun, stay in it mile-by-mile and let my body lead the way.  I will be sure to post a recap of the race next week.  One thing that I am doing is dedicating certain miles of the run to particular people in my life.  I am hopeful that doing so will give me the push in those rough miles at the end, because by personalizing the fight, I might be more inspired to keep going and keep running and stay strong.

Along those lines, there was a moment recently when I was running strong - my body and breathing were totally in sync and I was really moving fast.  It was a gorgeous Fall morning: not too warm, not too cool, not too dark. I thought to myself, "thank you legs and thank you lungs.  You are so strong.  Heart, you will follow."  It will - maybe not today or tomorrow, but it will.  And in the meantime, I will keep on running.

See you swoon,

A little entryway closet organization {part 1}

Oooh ... you know from the title of this post, with the mention of "part 1", that there will be a sequel.  I figured I would build the anticipation right away.

When I first moved into my place it was mid-Spring and the weather was lovely and warm.  I basically just threw coats, jackets, mittens, gloves and other "stuff" into the entryway closet and figured I would deal with organizing it later.  Well, now that it is Fall and I'm seeing Christmas all over, "later" is here.

You can see the closet is a nice large size.  It is also the only real storage closet that I have in the house, so it needs to be really functional.

Now for reality.  What's behind those doors? Oh ... only this.

Yikes.  The first thing I did was to make a plan.  I knew that I needed to divide the closet into three sections:  (1) the coat section; (2) the cleaning supplies section (vacuum, mops, brooms, etc.); and (3) the storage section.  I also had to address the kids' coats and figure out where they will hang them, since they cannot reach the hangers.  

I got out out my notebook and sketched the closet, along with the dimensions, and made a list of what I needed.  Here is the plan and the current status of the closet.

Coat Section

I made the right side of the closet for coats.  It is a little easier to get in and out of.  I moved the boot tray (from Christmas Tree shops last year) to the floor, which is where we will keep out winter footwear.  My coats hang here, and there are plenty of extra hangars for guests.

I also decided to take the kids' coats out of the closet and will move them to the kitchen, next to my tall wine cabinet.  It is hidden from view and they will be able to reach their jackets each morning/night.  Once I add the hooks, it will be a mini mud room just for them.

Cleaning Supplies Section

I bought a broom and mop holder at Target and hung it, and a separate hook for the dustpan and brush, on the wall.  This keeps my cleaning supplies out of the way but within reach.  I have the vacuum on this side, as well as big shopping bags, which I use for recycling.  I brought in a small shelf, and in it, I plan to get baskets for the kids' hats and gloves ... though I may ditch that idea and have them store their hats and gloves near their coats in the kitchen.  I had bought hooks at IKEA recently and hung them in this side of the closet, so I can hang my scarves.


The top shelf is the perfect spot for storage.  Right now, as you can see, I have things stacked up there.  I want to get some baskets or bins so that I can hide, and neatly store, the items from view.  I think I will keep my hats, car cleaning products/cleaning products, the DVD player for the car and other miscellaneous things up there.  I've measured the total width and depth of this shelf, so I can be sure I will get baskets of the correct size.

That is all for now!  I am excited to finish up this space before Winter hits.  Stay tuned. 

See you swoon,

Some Sweet Kitchen Touches

I have a few special finds for your kitchen to share with you today.  My style in decorating is decidedly cottage.  I love white and soft neutrals, dark wood floors and vintage touches.  One place I love to bring in little vintage, cottagey items is my kitchen.  Here is a round up of some of my favorite things.

Anthropologie Chalk Board Spice Jar

I happen to live about 10 minutes from a great Anthropologie store.  Danger!  Danger.  I try to limit my trips there, lest I go broke, but over the Summer I popped in during their big clearance sale.  I found some clothes for a steal, but also could not resist picking up this little chalk board spice jar for only $10.  I'm sure it is very easy to DIY, but I loved it and decided to treat myself.  I keep kosher salt in it and leave it right by the stove for cooking.  

courtesy of anthropologie

Wal-Mart White Utensil Holder

You can see it right above -- I found this utensil holder at Wal-Mart for about $4 tops.  I have seen similar ones at Target for closer to $20 and other higher end stores like Crate & Barrel and Williams-Sonoma for even more.  This looks sleek, chic and sweet. And hello - $4.  

Magnetic Kitchen Timer

I found this adorable robin's egg blue magnetic kitchen timer at Anthropologie as well, but I cannot find it on their website. I think it was about $15.  I love how vintage it looks and it's super easy to use, plus out of the way.  The blue makes me smile.  I'm pretty sure there were other colors as well.  

IKEA Droppar Jar with Lid

I needed storage for my sugar and flour, and I really love to keep them on the counter.  I found these glass jars at IKEA for $10 each.  The lids have a vacuum seal, so the contents stay nice and fresh.  And because sugar and flour are white, it all works.  

courtesy of  ikea
Crate & Barrel Cookie Jar

Finally, I found this cookie jar at Crate and Barrel for $25.  I love it!  Like the IKEA jars above, this cookie jar's lid has a vacuum seal.  I just love this! And mmmmm ... cookies.  Homemade or not, I need them in my kitchen at all times.

courtesy of  Crate & Barrel
There you have it! A little round-up of some inexpensive items for a kitchen.  What about you?  What are some of your favorite kitchen things?  I'd love to hear.

See you swoon,

Note:  None of the above companies or products sponsored, paid for or otherwise comped this blog post! 

Seeing [nantucket] Red

Well happy Tuesday all! As you can see, I am trying to get back to a regular posting schedule.  How were your weekends?  I worked on my 1980s bathroom! I've got wallpaper down and walls patched in places.  There is still a lot of work to do, but it is well underway.  

I have a quick fashion post this morning.  Back in this post from the Summer, I posted a recap of different looks for Nantucket Reds - the pinkish faded red pants, shorts and skirts that are a Nantucket and Summer staple.  One really hot day this Summer, I saw a woman walking to the bus and loved her outfit.  She was wearing a Nantucket Red skirt, light chambray top and brown leather belt and wedges.  If I were not driving, I would have complimented her.  I knew I wanted to recreate that outfit, and I finally did!  Here is my version of it.  (note: it's hard to take a picture of myself)

So here are the details.  I found the skirt at Murray's Toggery Shop online.  At $65 it was a splurge, but I could not find a suitable substitute and figured I should love what I bought.  And I do!  I bought a couple of less expensive red skirts but the color was not right.  I thought about trying to distress them in the wash but then realized I was being pennywise: for the extra $30 or so, why not buy the exact thing I wanted and be thrilled.  The top is a light blue chambray shirt from Old Navy, which was only about $20.  I do not see it on the website anymore, unfortunately.  I rolled up the sleeves to make it casual and light. The belt was a total steal from the NY & Co. outlet in Limerick PA, which I found when I was shopping with my friend Heather.  Finally, the shoes are from Famous Footwear - they're cork wedges but with a bit more polish with the gold buckle and brown leather.  And they are super comfortable to boot!

What do you think?  I'm going to try to wear the skirt again before the weather gets too cold.  Hopefully I can pull it off ... if I do, I'll post here!

See you swoon,

It's time for a radical transformation

... of a 1980s bathroom variety.  I am talking about my master bathroom.  Do you want the full tour with what I'm planning to do?  Like, totally.  Here we go.

As you can see, the permanent fixtures in this space are pretty good.  The shower is great, the sink and vanity are updated, the subway tile and floor are really lovely.  But my goodness ... the wallpaper.  Honestly, it is an affront to the senses.  

It is even peeling away in that little strip in between the shower and the mirror.

Something that cracks me up every time I see it: they wallpapered the outlet cover.  I usually appreciate great attention to detail but this?  This is some devotion to wallpaper.  I am going to replace this with a basic white one.

Next up: the tub area.  It is so nice to have a separate tub and shower.  I am going to paint the room Mindful Grey (Sherwin Williams) cut by 50%.  I already have a gallon of this and am crossing my fingers that it's enough to cover the room.  I think I will add a large picture on the long wall over the tub.

Once I steam off the wallpaper, I am going to remove this oddly placed towel bar over the toilet.  It is off center (which you know drives me batty) and too low.  It's essentially useless.   I am going to replace it with a white wall cabinet for more storage.  I have seen a few of these that are pretty inexpensive at Home Depot, Lowes and Bed Bath and Beyond.  I can't wait to add more functionality. Plus, I think it will look a lot nicer.

Next up: the door.  Right now there are two plastic hooks - black and clear - on the back of the door.  I hate them and they scream 1980s.  I am going to replace them with a bar of silver hooks.  Oh, see the switch plate cover? That is metal and rusted, so I am swapping it with a white one. 

I have already made one little update: the bar light over the sink.  It is one of those "hollywood" style bar lights and I really don't like them, but since I am renting, I think I need to work with it.  I have learned that electrical can be tricky and I did not want to remove it, only to find a mess behind.  The only problem?  Just like the tin roof in "Love Shack" -- RUSTED! (admittedly, it is hard to see the rust in these pictures)

So I took out the bulbs, got a large cardboard box and placed it under the area that I was painting and used some brushed nickel spray paint to spray over the rust.  A few light coats and the light went from this ...

to this!

Yes, I got spray paint on the wallpaper, but I am going to steam it off anyway, so no one will ever be the wiser. 

So, that's the plan.  I hope to be able to tackle this entire project the weekend after Thanksgiving.  I imagine it will take a full day to steam the paper off and prepare the walls, then another day to paint and a final few hours to hang the cabinet and art and accessorize. I can't wait to get started.

My goal is to spend no more than $100 on this space.  The big expense will be the wall cabinet, but I think I can spend around $75 on that.  I already have all of the tools, paint and accessories on hand.  I may need to get a large frame for the art, but I think I can snag one at Ikea for a great price.

What about you? Have you updated a space on little cash? Please share! 

See you swoon,