Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Old Furniture, New Purpose

We bought these shelves for our old house in Virginia at Ikea.  They are one of the best purchases we've made from there.  First of all, they don't really scream Ikea which makes me happy.  And because the piece connects across the top with another shelf, they almost have the feel of a built in.  It was the perfect piece to house my husband's need for a ginormous television and I was able to style things around it that I liked to look at.  Also, when you do something simple like change out the hardware, people truly don't believe that you got the thing at Ikea.

SHELVES BEFORE:


I almost didn't bother moving them to the new house because I wasn't sure where I was going to put them.  You see, the layout of our living room is a little hard to work with.  There is no foyer so you walk directly into the living room and the front door is over to the side of the room.  The only wall without windows is the wall beside the front door and so it would be really weird to put the tv on that wall because when you walked in the door, you'd be in the middle of the seating/tv area.  And the tv is just too big to put in front of the windows because a) I wouldn't want to block all the great natural light; b) um, major eyesore and c) the glare would be so bad it'd be hard to watch tv.  That left us with one option...mount the tv over the fireplace.  And that, my friends, is a saga for another day.  Suffice to say, our marriage was a little rocky for a while until we got that crazy ass situation sorted out.

So, because we mounted the tv over the fireplace, and situated the seating accordingly, we were left with this big long empty wall over by the front door which posed two problems.  First, the wall is so big that it required something SUBSTANTIAL.  A dinky piece of furniture would look dwarfed and out of place.  Second, remember how I said there is no foyer in our new house?  That means no hall coat closet either.  That in and of itself is annoying for adults but try having two little kids who constantly need coats, hats, gloves, etc.  So I got creative.

I decided that the height of the lower shelf would be just about right for a bench seat and that I could utilize the interior blank wall space as a spot for hooks to hang jackets, scarves, bags, etc.  Plus, I still got to have a place for my pretties to jazz it up a little so that it still looked nice in our living room.  The fabric I chose for the bench seat is upholstery grade and I chose neutral colored ikat that gave enough texture to make it interesting but was neutral enough that I wouldn't tire of it.  I had the bench cushion made with 3 inch foam and it ran me a couple hundred bucks for the fabric and labor.  I found the antler hooks at Anthropologie.  Originally I wanted to have one of each of these but they were sold out of the duck ones I two wouldn't have been enough hooks or looked right on that big of a space.  In the end I think the fact that they were sold out of them turned out in my favor because I think having the hooks match ultimately looks better than it would have to have three different kinds.

SHELVES AFTER:


So, there you have it.  For around $300 I have a new entryway piece that is pretty to look at and serves an important purpose in our new house.

Monday, January 30, 2017

My New Go To Rug Resource

Our new house has gorgeous hardwoods.  I absolutely love them but with two small kids, we have to have rugs.  Plus, I think it really warms up the space - both literally and visually - to have some great rugs.  Problem is, rugs ain't cheap.  I have purchased several rugs from RugsUSA for the new house and couldn't be happier.  The quality is excellent and the selections are great.  Best of all?  It won't break the bank.

I got this rug for our playroom:


And this rug for my daughter's room:


The pictures don't actually do either of these rugs justice.  The colors are so much more vibrant in real life!  You wouldn't believe the compliments I've gotten.  And I paid less than $300 each!

A couple of tips when shopping for rugs at RugsUSA:

1. If you see a rug that the pattern interests you, make sure you click on it to see what other colors are available.  Sometimes they have a great rug but it is featured in a not so great color - or a color that won't work for your space.  For example, this rug is pictured in a citrine color and is not my cup of tea but the pattern and textures are great:


The very same rug in a dark pink or orange hues looks great:



2. Shopping for a rug on the site can be overwhelming because there are so many options.  Narrow down your search by your style.  My two go-to style searches on the site are contemporary and traditional (funny that those styles seem so opposite but both have options right up my alley).  You'd be amazed at how many of their rugs could easily fall into both of those categories.  Take the one I selected for my daughter's room.  It is pretty traditional but the bold colors and print can certainly seem very contemporary as well and mixed with the right furniture it is!

3. If you want a thick rug for a bedroom that is comfy underfoot, my preference is 100% wool and read the reviews as buyers will give you a hint about the quality and thickness most of the time.  The downside to a wool rug?  You'll pay more.  Plus, you have to put up with shedding for a few weeks but after several vacuums, it gets considerably less with time.  In my opinion, both of the downsides are well worth it for the quality of the rug you get.

4. For high traffic areas, an indoor/outdoor rug can work great and be very forgiving.  Obviously with the durability of one of those rugs, you are sacrificing softness underfoot which may not matter for a living room or dining room.

5. If you're not in a hurry and can take your time searching for a rug, RugsUSA has great sales.  Just sign up for their email updates and they'll keep you posted when one of their fairly regular sales occurs.  Frequently you can get good discounts and free shipping if you keep your eyes out.

Just a few more pretty rugs that I've been eyeing from their site for either dining room or living room possibilities:










Saturday, January 28, 2017

Bacon, Gruyere and Butternut Squash Risotto



When we lived in DC we subscribed to this food delivery service called ScratchDC.  It was like a Blue Apron but the food was local, pre-chopped and you could order one meal at a time.  They'd leave it in a cooler outside your door.  And the food was DELISH.  They closed down business recently in pursuit of their Test Kitchen endeavor and we were so disappointed.  I kind of took it as a sign that moving to NC was the right decision for us given that Scratch was leaving us high and dry.  Kind of not kidding.

But, before they closed up shop, they created a cookbook of their top recipes (although, guys, if you are reading this - really?  You left out Banh Mi Tacos?!?!).  Anyway, this risotto dish was one of our faves (although I'll have to share our number one Scratch risotto recipe with you at a later date).   We always tweak things a little so here's our take on their recipe.  Also, this recipe serves two people (although if you weren't piggies like us you may be able to stretch it to three) so double if you invite friends to join you (and you'll want to - it's that good).

What You Need:
3-4 slices of bacon
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup gruyere cheese, shredded
1 small onion, diced
2 cups butternut squash (diced)*
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup white wine
1 box vegetable stock (or get fancy and make yo own)

What You Do:
Cook bacon and remove from pan.  In the same pan (soak up that bacon grease!), add 2 Tbsp of olive oil, butternut squash, thyme and cinnamon and cook until browned and tender.  Meanwhile, heat up the vegetable stock in a separate pot so that when you add the liquid, it'll be warm.  Chop up your bacon.

Remove the squash mixture from pan and put into a bowl for later.  To the same pot, add butter and onion and cook until translucent.  Add the rice and toast it with the onion for about a minute.  Once toasted, add white wine and cook until absorbed.  Once the rice has absorbed the wine, add the stock, about 1/2 a cup at a time until the rice is cooked.  Add the cooked squash, bacon and cheese and season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.



Thursday, January 19, 2017

A New Year...A New Start

It's been so long since I've logged in that I barely remember how to use Blogger!  A LOT has changed with me since the last time I posted here on my trusty blog (can you believe it has been since December 2014?!).  The highlights: After nearly 15 years, we relocated from the Washington, DC area to Raleigh, North Carolina in October, my husband started a new job, and I am now officially a stay at home mom (for the minute anyway) of TWO little ones.  Yep, our little guy Forrest is now two and a half and our daughter Margaret "Gray" was born in June.

My little munchkins earlier this month in their playroom

Moving to Raleigh was a major decision for us.  I am originally from Raleigh but have been living in DC for most of my adult life, met my husband there, had a job I loved and had my two precious babies there.  Not to mention some seriously great friends.  But, cost of living was killing us.  Traffic was driving us nuts (my husband's commute was 45 minutes each way on a GOOD day).  Our house was just too small for our growing family, childcare for two kids in DC exorbitantly expensive and ultimately we decided that being closer to family was extremely important to us in raising our kids. My husband was offered a job at a company he's wanted to work for for years and they covered our relocation to NC.  So, we packed up and headed down South.  Yep, it was just that easy.  Not.  As if an out of state house hunt/move with a toddler, a newborn, a sleep deprived and hormonal mother and a father who was on the road travelling and trying to start a new job.  Oh, and did I mention I was working remotely as well?  I was a wreck.

My aunt came to help for a week which was a godsend.  I seriously don't know what I would have done without her.  Slowly we are getting settled in and more adjusted to life in Raleigh.  One of the best parts about relocating from DC was being able to afford a little bigger house.  It is nothing fancy but it feels like a mansion compared to our little townhouse in DC.  Gray and I aren't sharing a room anymore - everybody gets their own!! THANK GOODNESS.  Gray and I can be friends again now that everyone is (almost) sleeping through the night.

The new house has motivated me and inspired me in so many ways.  It was built in the 20's and has great character (original hardwoods, built-ins, extremely high ceilings, and loads of windows) but has an updated kitchen and all new electrical and plumbing because it was actually moved from down the street to its current location in the 90's.  Coming from a small two bedroom house has meant I have gotten to shop lots more than usual for furniture, decor, etc.  It's still very much a work in progress but I have lots of ideas that I hope to share with you as often as I get some time to blog.

Our new house in Raleigh in the January snow (please ignore the vast array of toddler paraphernalia on the porch)

The house is on a busier street and so one of the first things we did was to install the fence in the front yard.  A white picket fence, how perfect right?!  It's great because it wraps all the way up onto the front porch so I'm picturing myself rocking or swinging on the front porch when the weather is nice, sipping lemonade (or something stronger depending on how the kids are behaving), and watching the kiddos run free.  The yard needs an overhaul next.  We just had several large trees and bushes taken down and are planning to put in a walkway from the front gate to the porch.  Hopefully I'll have new pictures to show the progress on that front soon.

Okay, I'm signing off for today.  Hope to make it back here again soon.  Happy New Year to all!
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