Tweaks in the dining room

Good morning!  How is 2014 treating you?  

I fall into the same pattern at the beginning of each new year: I get the overwhelming urge to organize and declutter and clean up my living spaces.  I kind of do this the entire year through, but it's particularly strong in January.  That is one of the main reasons I make my annual "home resolutions" post: it keeps me on task and also gives me the satisfaction of crossing things off.  Is there anything better than taking a big pen and crossing off a completed item on a to-do list? Oh, I think not.

A few weeks ago, I shared my 2014 home resolutions with you.  So far, I have tackled the first one and replaced the broken shower doors with a pretty shower curtain.  I can't officially cross that off my to-do list yet (there are rules, you know) because I have a few other things left to do.  That's happening soon!  But also on the list was to make some small changes in my dining room, including paint the table and add sconces that I bought last year (err ... 2012) next to my oversized prints.  I've started on this one! This space - right here:

First up: sconces.  I bought these Ness sconces at Crate & Barrel at a 2012 Black Friday event.  I think they were 20% off and had free shipping.  They were on backorder so they arrived right after Christmas (again in 2012) and they have sat in their box for over a year.  Bad!  Shameful!  Hanging them was a snap, it just took a little work to make sure they were even and level.  I don't have a chandelier in my dining room, so it will be nice to have a little candlelight behind those sconces if I have people over for dinner. 

Next, I took a good look at the prints in my frames and realized I am not crazy about them anymore. There's nothing wrong with them, but they don't really work in the space and they're not totally my style.  So out they went.  I found an artist on Etsy, Siiso, whose prints are just gorgeous.  I worked with her to create two prints for those frames and I absolutely love them.  The colors work with all the white and pops of blue, coral, pink and yellow in that really large living space.  

I went to Target (ha ha ha - captain obvious) to pick up some candles and saw they had those LED flameless candles.  They are made from actual wax and smell like candles, only they take two AA batteries and don't have real flames.  I snatched them up.  Having a fake flame on the wall seems a lot safer for all involved.  Here is everything all together.

OOh and here are the candles "lit"-  you can't see in the picture, but they actually flicker.  You'll have to take my word for it that they smell and look like real candles.  Tricksters!

I am trying to decide whether this long wall needs more hung up on it - I keep going back and forth.  So I'll live with it and see where I end up.  The big change will happen when I paint the table.  I am still (and will continue to) mulling over what color to paint it.  And I'm pretty sure I am going to try a chalk paint finish on it.  Home Depot has its own brand of chalk paint and I've read a bunch of really good reviews - the best part, aside from the cool colors and finish: no primer so no horrible odor!  

In the meantime, I'm happy with the little changes I've made in this space! 

See you swoon,

Gold and Cream Ottoman! I mean Gold and Tan Ottoman!

Breaking news.  Put down your coffee.  Be prepared to have your mind blown.  I replaced my ottoman/coffee table in my living room.  I know ... the excitement is just too much to bear.  Although, there was a bit of unexpected drama involving this purchase.  

My living area is pretty tight - there just isn't much room at all for a coffee table.  I like an upholstered table or bench so that I can use it as a footrest while on the couch.  I found this upholstered bench on Craigslist back in December 2012, which I reupholstered with this white fabric with grey coral and have used ever since:

I love this little thing and I recognized that I was totally playing with fire by having a white bench around two children.  Well, the fire came one day in the form of a nosebleed.  Big had a nosebleed and like a moth to the flame, he got it all over the white ottoman.  No biggie - these things happen. I tried to save it, but alas, the ottoman was stained.  Now, add to that, I while I loved it, it has felt a little too small.  So I kept my eyes open for a better solution.  And I found it!  The Target threshold cream and gold tufted bench. It is exactly what I wanted!  Upholstered, small footprint and a little touch of gold.  Cream! The price was good too, at $99. I used my Target Red Card, so it was actually 5% off and free shipping right to my door.  Yay.

The box arrived and the outside said "color: brown linen".  And I was all ... what?  Who ordered brown?  Not this girl.  This girl doesn't do brown.  I prayed it was a mistake.  But when I opened the box, I was expecting this from the Target website:

And instead, I got this:

Womp. Womp. Womp.  And rage.  This is not cream! Not even close!  Not on any cracked out alternate reality where cream equals tan!  I compared the SKU on my receipt with the SKU online in the hopes that somehow something had gone awry, but alas, this was the same ottoman (note: Target has since changed the description to read "buff beige" and not "cream").  Le sigh.  But as I looked closer, I realized that the color matched my couches perfectly.  So I put it in place and let it sit there for a few hours.  I would come back and check on it, and it kept growing on me.  I loved the size, the gold legs and the tufted top.  Plus, I rationalized, the color would be better with the kids.  So ... I kept it.  And I Scotchguarded the heck out of it.  Here it is again:

As for the little bench, fear not! I'm moving it to the TV area in the playroom.  I need to reupholster it but it will make a perfect coffee table/extra seat for that little space.  And that reminds me ... I need to get started on the big playroom transformation.  It's a doozie.  But I am up for the challenge.  You've seen the pictures in the background of some recent posts.  It is time to attack that job and get 'er done. 

See you swoon,

IMLP Training Recap: Week 10

Happy Monday.  ?  !  I don't even know which punctuation to use.  We've had a lot of snow around here lately - two snow days last week and then a little snow over the weekend.  Look, I am normally a fan of the snow.  But this year I need to train for an Ironman.  So the snow gets in the way of that.  And that makes me angry.  Very angry.  So angry that I speak in sentences that are a little staccato.  Oh also? My brand new crown (that covered my root canal) fell out over the weekend.  So I need to head back to the dentist this week to get it put back in.  Rah! Grr!  Meh.  Only grumpy cat can properly express my ire.

Getting down to it:  week 10:

Swam: 1:22:55 hours (4,125 yards)
Biked:  3:56:35 hours (all on trainer)
Ran:  3:12:12 hours (16.49 miles)


Monday - swim
Tuesday - tempo run
Wednesday - endurance bike* (*was supposed to be a brick but because of the snow (grrr) it was just a bike)
Thursday - bike
Friday - easy run
Saturday - long swim & brick
Sunday - bike and run

Aside from the snow, this week was pretty unremarkable.  I really liked my Tuesday run - I got it in before the snow started.  On that day.  The snow on that day.  There were many days of snow this week.  Snow.  More snow.  And again with the staccato.

I was at a conference for work on Thursday and Friday.  Friday morning I got up bright and early and ran on the treadmill (45 minute endurance run), which was fine.   I had a normal breakfast and then at lunch I became a ravenous beast.  They had a great buffet and amazing desserts, and I ate three of them.  They were mini tiramisu!  Three.  Three mini desserts.  The people at my table were intrigued, impressed and appalled.

I also liked my Saturday brick, which again I got in before the snow started.  The Saturday snowstorm.  Snow.  Again with the snow.   Take a look at my running gear all set out (hello high maintenance):

After I biked on the trainer for 45 minutes, I ran upstairs and put on all of this stuff so I would not freeze off any appendages on the 30 minute run. It was freezing (literally, actually colder .... like 7 degrees) when I headed out for my run.   It took forever to get everything on, but it was worth it.  I was comfortable on the run ... well, as comfortable as someone can be in 7 degrees.  

And then this happened:

Bad words were said.  Many bad words.  Threats were made (against the weather - as thought I could actually murder snow).  UGH.  On Sunday I could have run outside but I did the treadmill instead because I had to run early in the morning and I wasn't sure of the road conditions.

To wrap up, my colleague sent me the following picture with the suggestion for a license plate.  The answer is no.  The answer is also LOL. [Note: my colleague needs to clean his windshield ... if you can't read the license plate, it says "Iurnman"]

Happy week.  Here's hoping the groundhog predicts an early Spring in a few weeks.  If not, I may send grumpy cat his way.    

See you swoon,

Little's room: lots of lavender and pink

Hello hello! How are you this fine Winter morning?

I want to share more progress I made in Little's room.  I made a big push in the Fall in her space and it's been great and she loves it.  But I had a little more to do.  Always.  I always have more to do, and if I ever get to the point where I don't, then it is time to move. :)

It started with brining her mirror back into her room once I painted it lavender.

I love how the lavender ties into the rug, which I bought last year at my absolute favorite flash sale site, Joss and Main.  I have scored amazing deals at Joss and Main.  The key is to check out the sales every day and when they have what you want for a good price, do not hesitate: purchase immediately.  I know it's obvious, but I've been burned more than once when I waited too long only to find someone else bought what I wanted.  Booo-urns.  So when I saw this lavender and white (and 100% wool) Safavieh wool rug pop up for the price I wanted, I pounced.  It is a wee bit small for her room, but it's a rug on top of a carpet, so I think it is fine.  This rug is gorgeous and so well made.  It is the nicest rug in my house.  

I used some more of the Blue Wisteria (Martha Stewart) paint sample that I used on Little's mirror and painted the backs of her bookshelf.  I am a little worried about durability, given how often she uses the shelf.  But if it doesn't hold up, I can always use some foam board covered in fabric.  So far so good though.  I love it.

More lavender - over the holidays I was at Anthropologie and found this adorable lavender flower knob for Little's nightstand!  I love the little change. Oh and that little Hello Kitty? It holds her lipglosses.  I can't.  

I was on a roll, so I framed some more Susy Jack calendar prints and hung them on Little's wall and moved her new snowglobe collection onto her shelf in her room.  I took some pink toile fabric I had in my stash and wrapped it around a cheap canvas I bought at Michaels and propped that on the shelf.

I found this LOVE print in my stash of art and thought she would love it in her room.  

The frame is from Target.  I painted the little wood strip around the mat pink (it was a wood color before).  

Here's how it looks on her dresser.  I like how the different prints in the LOVE print kind of tie into the different fabrics of her butterflies around the mirror.  

Little's room is looking good!  Jamie and I are hitting the Pottery Barn outlet this weekend OMG, so I'd love to see if there is another pack of those fabric butterflies.  I feel like I need a little bit more around the mirror.  Otherwise, the room is done for now.  

See you swoon,

What I Wore {post 33}

Hi!  Happy Hump Day. Happy home stretch of January (how did that happen?).  Up this morning are three outfits from the Loft After-Christmas sale.  I didn't go to the store, but instead hit the website and managed to score a ton of great deals.  I think everything was at least 40% off and free shipping. It was as though they were paying me -- begging me -- to shop.  So I happily obliged.

* Wine Peasant Blouse & Grey Mini *

I loved the color of this pintucked wine blouse.  I thought it would be pretty versatile under suits, with skirts and even with jeans.  It is on the sheer side, so I wore a cami underneath of it.  I wore it with my grey mini (from the Loft outlet a few years ago), gunmetal grey tights from Target and my brown riding boots.  

* Black Peplum Top & Emerald and Black Skirt *

I swore I would not wear a peplum top - that peplum was too young, too trendy, too whatever.  But this one from Loft sucked me in ... I liked the lines, I loved the neckline and I thought it might be a good fit with my really fitted pencil skirts.  So I went for it, and I ended up loving it. I wish I had taken a side shot of the outfit because you can't really see the peplum here. But it looked very good with my emerald and black striped pencil skirt from Forever 21.  I wore my black heels.  

* Blush Pink Lace Detail Top & Cream Pants *

I thought the lace detail on this Loft shirt was so pretty -- the shirt is cotton, but it's a very "fancy" cotton and can be dressed up.  I like the structure on the shoulder too.  I wore it with my cream pants from Banana Republic (they have a black grosgrain ribbon detail on the waist).  

Have a great day!

See you swoon,

IMLP Training Recap: Week 9

Hello and happy Tuesday.  I didn't post yesterday because it was a holiday.  What a nice treat the three-day weekend was!

So, week 9 of IMLP training was pretty good.  I had a couple of tough workouts in there, including a bike time trial (more in a second) that I did-not-enjoy.  At all.  But it was a necessary evil.  I was also thrilled that I only needed one run on the treadmill.  The weather was much more cooperative this week than the week before.  Here's a recap but first look who is back!  I am obsessed with grumpy cat and I'm sorry but he is going to be paying a lot of visits.

Grumpy Cat is also Truthful Cat. Preach, Grumpy Cat, preach. 

Week 9:

Swam: 1:28 hours (4,425 yards)
Biked:  3:37 hours (all on trainer so no clue what distance)
Ran:  2:14 hours (15.3 miles)


Monday - swim
Tuesday - bike time trial
Wednesday - easy run
Thursday - brick
Friday - run with tempo
Saturday - bike with tempo and long swim
Sunday - brick with tempo

This particular Monday swim workout that I had this week is my least favorite one I have to do, and I don't know why: it's 400 yards easy, then 6 x 50 yards hard, then 400 easy, then 6 x 50 hard, then 400 easy and then ends with a 6 x 50 yard drill.  I get irrationally annoyed at this swim workout.

Tuesday.  Tuesday was the time trial on the bike.  I knew it was coming and was dreading it with ever fiber of my being.  Basically, the time trial is used to set heart rate zones, and I knew from Amy and Bill (who had already done their time trials), knowing heart rate on the bike is incredibly useful because our coach could then give concrete heart-rate numbers to hit when doing the trainer.  Still ... the idea of going "all out" on the bike for a full 30 minutes made me want to cry. The time trial started with 15 minutes of easy pedaling and then it was 30 minutes as hard as I could go.  I survived but it was hard and many many bad words were thought and said.  I need to thank my hip hop playlist for getting me through the time trial.  I just pushed as hard as I could go, put my head down and tried to hang on.  I knew if I started to look at my timer (I use the timer on my iPhone) I would never stop looking at it, so I forced myself to not look at the timer until 7 songs had passed.  I would alternate my position between holding the aero bars for one song, then hitting the drops for another, then the hoods, and back and forth and back and forth.  It broke things up nicely.  And before I knew it, it was done.  I was sweating like a wild animal -- probably because I was, in fact, a wild animal.  See -- here I am right after.  Hot.  In every sense of the word.  

For Friday's long run, I wore one of my new favorite running shirts: a long sleeve bright neon number from the Under Armor outlet.  First, yes, it is neon.  You may have noticed that I really love neon, and while it is partly true that I wear neon on my runs so that cars will see me and not hit me, it is also very true that I just love neon and bright colors.  Especially pink.   Here I am after my run with all my gear.  Note the headlamp [Bill: calling you out in front of the entire internet - WEAR A HEADLAMP] and safety patrol reflector vest.  Just a note from a vanity standpoint: I am wearing a long tank bra and a long sleeved shirt under that yellow neon top ... so that accounts for a lot most all of the lumps under my shirt.  Just a word of caution that Under Armor fits snugly and, in my experience, on the small side. 

But more to the point: this Under Armor top is really cool.  It's like the MacGuyver of running tops.  It's really long, so it covers my hips and it is that nice wicking material so it keeps me warm but not hot. 

OK here comes the MacGuyver part.  Prepare to have your mind blown.  The neck has a sort of turtleneck that you can pull up over your face, like a built in balaclava.  It has a mesh panel in front for easy breathing.  It is great.  And when you get warm, you can just pull it down and it keeps your neck warm.  The sleeves are equally genius: they fold over to create little mittens.  And then you can pull them back when your hands get warm.  This is exactly what I did.  Now, if it is a really really cold day, this won't cut it and you'll need actual gloves.  But on a regular cold day, this kind of sleeve is perfect.  Sorry this shot is blurry.  And I promise I'm not giving an obscene gesture. 

My swim on Saturday was the longest swim I've done in IMLP training to date: 2300 yards (which is about 1.75 miles).  It felt really good and was a tough workout.  I also really liked that I shared the lane with two different guys: older man was in the lane when I got there and I really liked that he kicked a ton of water when we passed each other.  I always welcome that kind of thing because it's what I face in races.  At one point older man got out and younger man came in.  Younger man was faster than me, so I would try to keep up with him and/or draft off of him.  I came out of the pool feeling really good and I knew I could have kept on going, which is a good thing because at Placid, I'll still have about 3/4 of a mile more to go.

I also liked the brick on Sunday - this was the first one where my coach had me running a tempo (i.e., fast but not sprinting) pace.  Usually the bricks have been an endurance pace run (which means comfortable). But Sunday's run had me starting out at 8:10/8:20 pace for two miles and then dropping back to endurance pace for 10 minutes to end the run.  My first two miles were 8:04 and 7:55 pace.  It felt so good to run so fast.   

That's all for this week!  I am really looking forward to Spring this year - I cannot wait to swim and bike outside.  I bet Grumpy Cat hates Springtime.

See you swoon,

Painted in a Weekend: Two-Tone IKEA Rast Nightstand

Happy Friday!

Here is another painting project I recently tackled along with the mirrors:  Big's new nightstand, which is the ubiquitous Ikea RAST chest.  I used to have it in my bedroom, but it was a little too small for what I needed.  Big needs a little more storage in his room, and the RAST is the perfect size for a nightstand.  Plus, I love that it is actual, real wood and is cheap - around $30.  So this was (and has been for a looooong time) on my list to transform for him.  Here it is before, back when it lived in my room:

For Big, I wanted to do a two-tone paint treatment: stain the outside a dark ebony color and paint the drawers white.  His dresser is a dark wood tone, so I thought it would look really good together:

Before I painted, I removed the wood knobs and puttied the holes. I wanted to replace the knobs with these pulls that I bought (again: a looooooong time ago) at Home Depot.  They kind of mimic the pulls on his dresser above.  

This was pretty easy.  I stained first, figuring it would be easier to paint over the stain than stain over white paint.  Here's how it looked after a few coats of Minwax stain in "Jacobean".

Then I painted the wood drawers.  I used a coat of oil based primer and then three coats of Sherwin Williams Dover White and topped it all off with some Polycrilic. Here it is after the paint:

Just look at that beauty! Last it was time for hardware. I have a little hardware drilling guide, which I bought at Home Depot ages ago.

This little thing is money!  It takes all of the guesswork out.  It has paid for itself about a thousand times over.  I used it as a template for where to drill and ... voila.  My helper took this picture of me in the act of adding the hardware.  The mess in the playroom is an abomination.  And now that I look at it, I think she was taking a picture of her new playhouse and I happened to be in the shot.  

And here is the new nightstand in place.  He quickly filled it with his treasures.

Here are some before and afters to round out the post.  Who doesn't like those?

Before: unfinished chest

ho hum
After: Two-Tone Paint/Stain and New Hardware

helloooo lovah!
Before: old nightstand

After: new nightstand

What do you think? Well, besides falling over in your chair that I actually stained wood instead of painted it.  :) 

See you swoon,