Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Home for the Holidays

It is beyond wonderful to have a home for the holidays. I work with so many people who find themselves homeless this season and though my house remains a serious work in progress, I'm so very glad to have one.

The to-do list for 119 is longer than you or I have time for, so I'll spare you a long list... just know I have a lot of hopes and dreams for this space.

Most recently we:

Updated light fixtures in the kitchen and dining room

Hung curtains in the dining room

Decorated for our first Christmas in our own house <3 

  • Got a new washing machine (fabulous Christmas gift)
  • Added a gorgeous tall table and chairs in the kitchen (thanks Gram!)
  • Hung shelves and artwork in the bathroom 
  • Painted the second floor hallway 
  • Shuffled furniture around to create a more open space

Most of the decor (if not 98%) has come from thrift stores and yard sales (right Lauren?) and even though we desperately need new furniture to decorate around- the house is feeling pretty cozy. Plus, it held up just fine for our first annual  GCity Christmas party and filled with good people- it was hard to notice all the things still left on the to-do list.

There is nothing like cuddling up in the living room next to the "fireplace", christmas lights shining with the sound of old records playing.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays indeed <3

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Fall is my favorite season. I seriously can't get enough of it. I realize now that my decorating style is heavily influenced by this autumn obsession. An orange-red on the walls of the dining room, a newly painted bright red door, rich wood tones, gold and brass odds and just makes me happy and I'm okay with that.
I still struggle with my decorating style and the historic charm of the house  (aka: annoying dark trim, plaster walls etc)...but I'm trying to just let go and see where it all takes me.

The last few months have been full...major job changes, the loss of my beloved aunt paddy, the joyous weddings of friends, birthdays and a few weekends away. 119 remained pretty much the same- save for some minor storm damage from Hurricane Irene. As we settle into the new season and our weekends become a little less full we hope to see some serious progress on the home front.
I'm most excited about the front yard/porch and its already in progress makeover. We aren't quite finished but I wanted to give a sneak peek...
The front yard BEFORE
Sneak Peek 

I am so incredibly over excited about the new house numbers that I can't just give a sneak peek. I have been collecting these floating house numbers for months and was actually able to score a few at Goodwill. I envisioned them floating but wasn't quite sure on what. I thought it over until I was able to find all three numbers and decided I wanted to place them on a really cool, stained piece of wood. I happened to find this example on pinterest and I was completely sold. I chose a red mahogany stain from Sherwin Williams (30% off sale) and took a little trip down the block to the local hardware store for the wood and hardware.

The board didn't quite fit in the car so Mike walked it home (luckily it was just a block  or two)
We (and by we I mean Mike since he did this entire project) cut the wood into the appropriately sized pieces, stained it (important to cut first so that you can sand and stain all the newly exposed edges at once) and attached the two boards with brackets on the back. The numbers were a bit tricky but came with templates which we taped to the board and drilled through in order to get the numbers even and straight (we may have failed once or twice and re-stained the off centered mistake holes). We still have yet to attach it to the porch wall with a picture hanging kit but for now it looks awfully pretty just sitting in the window. I love the grain of the wood and the way the red of the stain compliments the new red door and the brick wall. I think the silver, modern, floating numbers play off the wood so well... giving off a danish mod vibe. I'm always looking for ways to modernize this historic house without compromising its innate beauty...and the porch is really getting there.
We still have yet to:

  • Hang the new (antique) door knocker (which I am way too excited about...story to follow)
  • Frame out the door and window
  • Hang a glass storm door
  • Paint the window sills a bright white
  • Landscape 
  • Update the old (10$) porch light 

I can't tell you how incredibly inspired the new bright red door, classy house numbers and the changing leaves have made me...<3

ps- thank you  incredible husband for using your fall break to spruce up our neglected front yard. you've made me very happy (and probably the neighbors too).

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

buying a house and getting a dog ...

Yesterday marked 3 years of marriage for Mike and I....amazing.
He surprised me with reservations at IndeBlu- a local Indian restaurant I've had my eye on for months.

A bottle of Pinot, live jazz music and amazing vegan friendly meals made for a perfect, wonderful celebration. Over dinner I asked Mike what the high point of this past year had been and without hesitation he said, "buying the house and getting a dog."  It has been a wild year with lots of ups and lots of downs but we accomplished two goals that we've had for as long as we've known each other- we have a place to call home and a dog to love. These things among so many others make us extremely blessed.

On my way home from work I stopped at Goodwill hoping to find a cheesy little gift but instead found the exact frame I had dreamed up (here) for the artwork in the kitchen.

It looked old but the tag on back from HomeGoods said otherwise. It is a bit worn but has the funky character I was looking for.

Instead of the HomeGoods $40 price tag I spent $15 and passed it off as an anniversary gift.
After removing a ton of staples I replaced the print and now I have this beauty...

It is going to be hung on the wall between the kitchen and the dining room- the deep red flowers match perfectly with the Saffron walls in the dining room and help connect the two rooms. I might paint the frame- but I'm not sure yet...the gold might just be perfect.

A little decorating, an amazing dinner and another year together=fabulous.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Too perfect for words...

This weekend has been so perfect I'm almost afraid to put it into words.

Yesterday I traveled to my college hometown on the beautiful Main Line and spent hours with my dearest friends Jess and Kait. It was so good to be back- to drink dreamy chai from the Gryphon, enjoy an almost too good to be true veggie burger from Christophers, browse the eclectic (pricey) boutiques and catch up with such amazing souls. I seriously forgot that it was my first unpaid furlough day from work (knowing that I landed my dream job and will be escaping at least part of the budget cut also helped a bit).

Mike suggested we go on a Saturday adventure- starting with brunch at Andy's Diner home of the  97.5 The Fanatic broadcast. The all you can eat breakfast buffet did not disappoint- sauteed onions in the homefries=amazing. Since we were new to the area we googled "thrift stores," hit up a local Goodwill and walked away with handmade turquoise earrings, a curtain rod, bandanna for the dog and a budgeting notebook all for about $6!

Groupon happened to send me a deal for a fabric store in Philadelphia so we headed back into Philly and searched Fabric Row for upholstery fabric for our master bedroom headboard project.

This particular store had a very particular odor and isles and isles of fabric that weren't so easy to navigate...

The amount and variety of fabric was amazing- and the eclectic owners were quite entertaining, however we couldn't find a fabric that stole our hearts more than this $50 a yard (ouch!) fabric from JoAnns:

It's neutral enough to be able to change with our style over the years but still so boho chic!  
We continued our adventure back over the bridge at our local Habitat Restore where we ran into some friends and where we purchased a fabulous mirror (for our future bathroom remodel) and a few frames. We were hoping to find a few items to do a quick porch update but couldn't find the light fixtures or mailbox we were looking for. Then I made Mike go to a rug store I had my eye on- it was filled to the brim with exotic Persian/Turkish/Iranian rugs that made me drool. The owner was amazing and explained all of the textures, patterns and designs to us and I quickly learned how expensive my taste is. The good news is I found my dream rug- the bad costs $2,700.

We ended our adventure back at home where I spruced up the garden, harvested a few tomatoes

(Thanks Dad- some of these are from your garden too!)

and made the most delicious, homemade red wine tomato sauce...

It has been a seriously amazingly sweet weekend- and I hope you've had the same. <3

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Graceful Grey

The living room is painted! I can't even believe it myself.
I'm not sure that I LOVE the color but it was cheap (Sherwin sale!) and I think it will look really good once the floors are re-done. Of course its in the grey family... didn't you know grey is the new beige(<--- my favorite saying).
After several test swatches on the walls I finally settled on "Graceful Grey" but it was a Home Depot color so I took it to Sherwin to be color matched. As I handed the paint mixing man my color swatch he immediately recognized me from my last paint fiasco and asked "hey how did that blue work out for you?" Embarrassing. It took quite a few tries and we couldn't quite crack the Home Depot paint code so the paint we ended up with was pretty different from "Graceful" but it worked.

Naya the "graceful grey" helping me paint.

Painting and enjoying a little Real Housewives of NY...
The section with the paint swatches on it pops out from the wall a bit- in the attached twin it is exposed brick. I'd love to open this up but we aren't quite brave enough so we are going to paint it a darker color and do something like this:

Or this great faux fireplace/bookshelf:

This house really messes with me- I have no idea how to decorate with such dark trim but I can't bring myself to paint it. Any suggestions on how to work with dark trim- please send them my way!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Kitchen Progress!

It turned out to be a not totally productive, very stressful week/end.
However- the kitchen is finally almost 100% painted (there is a spot above the refrigerator that we just can't figure out how to reach- anyone with super long arms?)!
The kitchen has always been one of my favorite rooms- whenever we'd tour the house we would end up spending most of our time chatting in there. It has a ton of space, custom cherry cabinetry (from the 70's but I love it) and lots of windows. The fellow who "renovated" the place before we bought it added cherry paneling all throughout the bottom half of the room- I appreciated the thought but it made the room feel dark and just too cherry. I'm glad I followed my intuition and painted the excess cherry paneling- it looks amazing. I wish I had a functioning camera (other than my phone to show you the real transformation).

BEFORE- so much cherry and drab beige walls...

AFTER- much much brighter and cleaner!
 (The grey is Palisade by Sherwin Williams and the white is Snowbound also by Sherwin) 
I seriously wish I had a better camera so that you could see what a difference the paint makes!

The frames are the first things ever to be hung on the walls of this house (since we've owned it anyway) and it makes me feel so accomplished. I was struggling to think of what pictures would look good in the kitchen...Mike suggested we hang large paintings of vegetables because they always look so good in Subway (haha he was kidding) so instead of committing to a photo or a veggie I went to Michaels and found these great scrapbooking pages:

I wanted to compliment the "Saffron" color of the dining room as well as yellow Fiestaware I was gifted and the green pyrex I've been collecting.

The Ikea frames make the paper look like art- for 10$ I think its totally worth it.
I also found this print at Michaels on clearance for 5$ and I'm hoping to find a really funky antique frame to go with it:

Eventually I'd like to replace the cheap white blinds with these beachy blinds...
Even after spending the entire day in the kitchen we still have much to do:
-Hang shelves
-Plant herbs to place on shelves
-Buy and hang grass shades
-Paint the random spot above the fridge
-Bring in a bistro table and two tall chairs
-Update light fixture with something large and modern
-Find a large indoor/outdoor neutral rug
-Eventually replace all black appliances with stainless steel
-Eventually replace the ugly linoleum floor

I'm super thrilled with the progress we've made- it feels and looks amazing.

And I leave you with a picture that warms my heart and reminds me how blessed I am to have a place where family and friends can come share this life with us...
Father and Son guitar time <3

Monday, July 11, 2011

Beach + Food = Summer so far

I haven't posted in a while because we've done a whole lot of nothing on 119 in the last month...unless you count starting at paint samples on the walls because I've done a lot of that. It's overwhelming the amount of things I want to do to this place and frustrating that there just isn't the money for it.  We went to Crate & Barrel this weekend for inspiration and decided that when we are rich we will just fully furnish our house from their showroom. We didn't buy anything but we got a whole lot of free inspiration like this amazing reclaimed barn wood table:

 Which reminded me a lot of this DIY reclaimed wood table I found HERE the other day:
 Now I'm stalking Craigslist to find old barn wood to make shelves or possibly a dining room table.

When I'm not daydreaming about house projects I've been busy enjoying my summer. I realized recently that I had accumulated plenty of vacation time and needed to use it or lose it so I took 2 weeks off from work. It has been amazing and I'm pretty sure someone is going to have to drag me back to the office next week. Here are a few photo highlights of the last month:

We just discovered that the beaches at Atlantic City are free and not totally disgusting like we had imagined. I've been three times in the last few weeks and I love that its clean, life guarded, has calmer waves and if you are smart you can find free 3 hour parking!

I also discovered that my bread machine has a pizza dough option and with just a few simple ingredients I can make the most amazing pizza this side of Mangias/Kate &Als. We've had this delicious tofu sausage, onions and peppers pizza twice now and this weekend experimented with a BBQ chicken and carmalized onion pie (using soy chicken nuggets)...amazing!

On my first day of vacation my Dad and I went kayaking- it was so wonderful to be out on the water again- away from people and cell phones, work and distractions. told my dad I felt like I was literally drinking in nature and it seriously felt like the first drink of water I'd had in ages.

Then we traveled back to the Jersey Shore again for the 4th of July weekend. Seaside and its wild ways never dissapoint! It was a great get away with friends, dogs, boardwalk food and gorgeous clear water. The only downside was the infestation of fish eggs which felt really awkward to pick out of our hair and bathing suits... the fish tacos however were perfection. Oh surf taco- it was so beautiful to see you again (I might have eaten 6 containers of salsa...maybe).  *the lovely photo of Island Beach State Park was taken by Vikki Bell <3

Seriously- could this post be any more about food? We stumbled upon this gas station gem after a morning of yardsales and we couldn't resist their claim to fame 4$ giant 12inch hoagies. We took a risk and we were not disappointed by Grandpa Dar's hospitality and our delicious 4$ lunch. Check them out if you are in South Jersey.

 I started this post with a bit of frustration about the lack of change around here but my Project Manager (aka: husband) just came home with a ton of ideas and a plan of action for this week so hopefully by next  Monday we will have at least painted over all of the paint swatches covering the walls.

Enjoy the sun! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bohemian Chic...

It's been a while...too long in fact. Sorry about the pause.
It's been a wild month- parties, medical emergencies, painting, pay cuts and a puppy.
While looking through my favorite blogs today I found this one  which perfectly describes my decorating style and it inspired me to post.
As a college student I lived on the Main Line (a gorgeous, well-to-do section of PA) and spent quite a bit of time as a nanny for a beyond fabulous family (if you are reading this- you know who you are and I love you!). This particular family had a sense of style that left an indelible mark upon me...the way they casually decorated with fine items from exciting vacations or exotically worn family heirlooms created a sense of comfort and story. I am constantly drawn to things that remind of this style- worn Persian style rugs, hand carved knick-knacks, vintage silver candlesticks, oil paintings, aged get the idea. Apartment Therapy finally gave me a name for this learned style of mine: Bohemian chic...
"an eclectic decorating style that is hard to define. A little bit hippie and a little bit hipster. A little bit retro and a little bit romantic. Boho chic may look haphazard and random but don't be deceived. Eclectic styles are sometimes the most difficult to pull off. When done right, the effect is magnificent. Bohemian rooms have a dynamic, evolving movement to them; the design aesthetic does not feel overly engineered and planned. Comfortable and inviting, these are rooms to be experienced, not merely admired." 
 You can't easily buy this style- you can find it in an isle at Target- it takes time, yardsales, exotic vacations and a collection of experiences which is why my house looks so completely unfinished (this is a valid excuse right?).

I finally have a boho chic vision for the master bedroom and one day when money stops disappearing so quickly it will be accomplished- for now we at least have color on the walls.

The Vision 
I cut this out of a magazine years ago- I love the richness of the room; the way it feels comfortable but exotic. It took me 10 paint samples, one gallon of comfort grey that I hated and the final gallon of "Wrought Iron" by Martha Stewart to get paint on the walls. 

This was the comfort grey that I spent 5 hours painting only to realize I couldn't live with it.

"Wrought Iron"

The first "I Love You" was my attempt at being cute...the second "I Really Love You" was my attempt at keeping my husband from running away after I made him take our Martha Stewart paint sample to Sherwin Williams (because we like their paint better) and bug the paint man to tweak it three times to get the right color, only to get home and hate the fact that it was a tiny shade wrong and have a breakdown while he went back to the store and bugged the paint man to tweak the color 5 additional times just to make me happy. I REALLY love my husband and the dark dark blue on our walls. 

For the time being this project is at a standstill but in the future we hope to:
  • Make and upholster a gorgeous headboard (in a goldish yellow fabric)
  • Install hardwood floors 
  • Paint the beat up trim 
  • Score some vintage dressers 
  • Decorate our (my) boho chic heart/s out 
After all- this gorgeous girl deserves a gorgeous room to sleep in. 
Introducing our beautiful new family member- Naya (a retired/rescued greyhound). 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Good Morning?

Its 8:30am and its already been a busy day here at 119...a little too busy.
The AC folks finally showed up to fix the central air (we've been waiting 13 days)- they tested for leaks and didn't find any so they filled us up with freon and went on their way. With the dangerous heat headed our way- its nice to feel chilly in my house again.

I also have PSEG here doing a home audit- which is a really great program where they test your home for leaks (gas/air etc) and they fill any they find (for free!) then they make recommendations about what units you should change out in your home (AC/water heater) and give you 20-80% off of new units. Well, Joe and Dwight are here and while wandering the home they found asbestos in the basement walls and two gas leaks. Sweet!

Dwight told me that the asbestos isn't an issue unless we touch it or do major renovations but he suggested that we might want to have it sealed just to be safe. He fixed the gas leak on the heater but couldn't fix the leak on the water heater (pipes are too old). So the water heater is shut off for now and I'm waiting until 4pm for the plumber from my home warranty company to come and fix the pipe/leak. While we are waiting Joe filled in the spaces around the wall AC unit, weatherproofed the doors, caulked the windows and replaced old bulbs with CF bulbs...for free!

I'm upset that things keep happening/breaking/leaking but I'm glad that so far everything has been fixable and that we have a home warranty that covers most of it (for a fee of $95 per visit).

I suppose this is what I get for buying a 100 year old house.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The perfect summer dish

Before I met Surf Taco the thought of a "fish taco" made me sick. I imagined something really fishy/salty and was I wrong!

Oh Surf you have changed my life and hooked me on your amazing coastal cuisine! Unfortunately ST only exists down the shore (1.5 hours away) and even though I sometimes schedule work meetings there (just to enjoy a taco or two) its just never enough!

Lucky for me a few nights ago I re-discovered a recipe for fish tacos in a favorite/retired magazine- Domino (remember this glorious publication?)! It was a messy meal to make but it was so so very worth it. Mike and I pretended we were at our favorite beachy Surf Taco as we sat out on the porch and enjoyed this...

As I was taking this picture he was already a few bites in and told me that I needed to seriously put the camera down and take a bite...quickly! He was right- it was so stinkin good. The slight saltiness of the grilled fish, the crunch of the cabbage, the richness of the avocado and the refreshing blast of cilantro/salsa made for the perfect summer meal.

It was so fresh and delicious I think you should make it for dinner wont be disappointed.

Fish- We used cod but you can use any kind of thick, white fish. Cover both sides of the fish in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill 5-8 min both sides.
Fresh Salsa- Chop 4-5 plum tomatoes, 1 red onion, jalapeƱo pepper and fresh cilantro in a food processor- add in a splash of olive oil, fresh squeezed lime juice and salt to taste.
Avocado Drizzle- Blend 2 ripe avocados with 1/2 cup of sour cream and salt to taste.
Red Cabbage Crunch- Shred 1/2 of a red cabbage and season with 2 tsp. of white vinegar and salt.
Tortillas- Let the tortillas heat up a bit on the grill (just a minute or two).

Mmmmm....I think I might substitute shrimp for cod tonight just so I can have this again.
Other than this amazing meal...what is your perfect summer dish?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

My favorite Saturdays...

As a kid my favorite Saturdays were spent with my grandparents driving around in the pick up and scouring yard sales for hidden treasures. The thrill of finding a new toy or a set of Nancy Drew novels was addicting and time with my grandparents always filled my heart- ending each Saturday morning with a diner breakfast didn't hurt either (I still order my eggs just like Grandpa). I wish I hadn't gotten so busy as a teenager and let these precious Saturdays go. By the time I started going to yard sales again in college I had forgotten all the tricks of the to spot a good deal, how to negotiate a better price etc. In fact, I got really self conscious about it all and shied away from the haggling and the awkward small talk with sellers. Thankfully, in the last few years I've regained my grandparent given confidence and have a lot of great treasures to show for it. I have four tricks I like to attribute my success to...

  1. Map it out- My grandpa always knew where the next big yard sale would be...having a map really keeps things efficient! Hitting up town wide yard sales is really your best bet because the sales just keep coming. 
  2. Wear sunglasses- I know its silly but wearing sunglasses makes me feel more I can hide my not so poker faced excitement and play hard to get when negotiating a price.
  3. Say "Thank you"- I know I'm easily guilt-ed but I really do feel bad when I don't buy something from someone's yardsale...especially after we've made small talk or there is no one else at the sale. Instead of making a pity purchase I've learned to just say "thank you" and "have a nice day" and go on my way. 
  4. Never offer a price or accept the first price they give you.  Often I'm tempted to offer a lump sum for a grouping of objects only to find that the price the seller offers is way less than what I would have suggested. Also, when the seller gives you a price always ask, "will you take {insert cheaper amount here}?" 
All that being said...I think I had one of my greatest yard sale adventures this past weekend at the C-Wood town wide yard sale. There were over 100 sales in this adorable town and a really great selection of treasures. Mike had to force me to go home because I seriously couldn't stop. Check out my haul: 

I decided to be a total nerd and I looked up each item and found a comparable one with a price tag (either in store or on e-bay) and if we had purchased this lot any other way we would have spent.... $410.00! Instead thanks to one Saturday morning adventure, my stealth sunglasses, my handsome husband and some birthday money I saved $360.00! 

We also scored a large dog crate (not pictured) for $5 (regularly $80) for the dog we hope to add to our 119 family soon <3.  

What is your best yard sale find?