Monday, September 26, 2011

Home Ownership - Day One

On Saturday morning, Bob and I rose not-so-bright-and-early to head over to our new digs. After figuring out the key situation and lamenting over the idea of having to unlock a gate every time we want to access the dumpster area, we entered our condo.

As we assessed the number of dead light bulbs to prepare for our first of many Home Depot trips in this adventure called home ownership, the ceilings seemed to have increased in height. Counting 16 dead flood lights we got ready to pay up for bulbs, all the while telling ourselves that we wouldn't have to buy this many again for at least a couple years (hopefully).
A Lesson in Asking the Home Depot Staff for Help, or Open the Box of Light Bulbs You Are About to Buy 16 Of.
Scanning the aisles at the HD, we found ones that looked right, bought 8 2-packs and headed home. Opening the first box we quickly realized it was much larger than the ones currently utilized that fit into the track lighting. "But Lydia," you say, "you could have brought along a dead light bulb to check against." Oh, we did - we just didn't do the checking against part. D'oh.

The condo building has a 10 foot ladder which came in handy as Bob stretched as far as he could go to change out the majority. There is still a row on the highest section of the ceiling that cannot be reached. When we hire painters to take care of the super high up parts of the condo (I just don't feel comfortable standing 15 feet up and trying to paint) we'll kindly ask them to change out the bulbs for us :-)
With the light bulbs out of the way, we focused on paint swatches. After picking up Behr sample sizes of the Orange Spice, Ocean Cruise and Desert Cactus that we were aiming to add to the master bedroom, second bedroom and hallway respectively we quickly realized we were going too light. I should have noted this when the Home Depot guy handed me the samples and said, "here are your Carribean colors!" Not the goal at all. As we look to go darker, a second challenge is the open ceiling of the second bedroom and how much blue will hit against the green of the hallway. Hopefully won't look like a color explosion!
If You Must Put a Decal Up On Your Wall, Please Take it Down Before Moving Out.
The condo is almost purely unpainted, save for a random red piece of wall in the kitchen and the second bathroom. With 17 foot ceilings I would probably put off painting too if I didn't live for my home decor. However, in what I assume was a gift from someone, our previous owner did have a decal applied to the wall in the entryway. Although I believe some decals can look nice, this one was not my style: a rounded cityscape of some sort.
Picking at the corner with my finger, I saw it would come off very easily. The problem? This particular decal was made up of hundreds of seperate pieces that would not be peeling off in one clean swoop. Oi! Here we are after 5 minutes.
And again after 20 minutes and a long break to curse and run to Home Depot to get our lights and paint samples. I thought maybe the rough end of a sponge or a putty knift would help but they did not.
Finally, the wall was clear and we were just left with some sore fingernails. Have you experienced something tiny and pointy jamming into the space underneath your nail? I sure have!

A New Grilling Experience
One perk of our storage unit being across and down the street from our new place? We didn't have to load the grill onto a vehicle, just grabbed one end and pushed! Sure, it made an embarrasingly ear-piercing noise against the gravel it was dragged across, but whatever works!
Day One and Done! With no furniture or dishes yet, we ran to the grocery store for some disposable plates and cups to help us eat a celebratory dinner. For the first time since May we were able to grill out! I should mention that "grilling out" now means Bob heading down to the garage, opening our personal garage door, wheeling the grill out to the alley and setting up a camping chair to wait it out, but nevertheless. We popped open a bottle of bubbly our realtor gave us at the closing and said Cheers.
And the floors are being varnished as we speak!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Closing Time

Bob and I spent the morning becoming experts at our own signatures. And that must mean one thing:

We closed on our condo!

Yes, after three and a half months this not-so-short sale has come to a close. We have the keys in hand and after some mini-moving this weekend and some paint samples thrown up on walls, we will hand those keys over to a flooring guy who will sand and polyeurothane for us. That was a DIY project in my head until the concept of a belt sander scared me off. Painting we can do, operating heavy machinery that could ruin our floors before we even get settled I will leave to a professional.

Here's a shot from the sell sheet - not our furniture!
 The majority of our move will take place the following weekend and we are lucky to not have to be out of the place we are living by a certain date. This factor helped me come to terms with a decision not to pay for movers. If we can do it over the course of a few days I don't hate the idea of moving our own stuff nearly as much as the idea of a race against time!

So what does moving mean for this blog? Here's a sampling:
- More posts! I have been so lax in posting because I haven't had as many projects. Time to get back to at least 2-3 a week.
- DIY projects like a homemade shag rug, a craft table and paintings.
- Furniture buying excursions - the bed is already bought, but visions of dining room tables, chairs for the sitting area and buffets dance in my head.

- Renovations - this is a bit more long term, but with two outdated bathrooms and a kitchen that could use some work, I think we'll be socking some money away over the next few years to get the place up to snuff.
Sing it with me, "Upgrade, upgrade, lemme upgrade."

Are you as excited as I am about having signed on the dotted line? Is it a scary thought that I'll soon be able to change focus to wedding planning?? (I just counted that I have come up with 28 DIY projects involved with the wedding so far. . .and we don't even have a date!)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pinterest Project - Spinning a Yarn

The Pinspiration continues! As we move into fall, my pinterest boards are filling up with vintage Halloween decor, cozy sweater-centric outfits, recipes for cooler evenings and a few more wedding ideas here and there. One DIY project caught my eye and I thought it could be a fun project to try out for a friend's forthcoming baby shower.
Too cute! I found a few tutorials via google search and before I knew it I was at Michaels for about the fifth time this month. After perusing the styrofoam section and only finding a wreath form that had hard edges and not rounded, I dug a little deeper and found a smaller size with a 12" diameter that had a flat back - knowing these would be up against a wall the flat back didn't bother me any. And saving a couple bucks is never a bad thing. I also like making something a little on the smaller side considering it would be up in a nursery and not on someone's front door.

The nursery color scheme, I was told, was peachy pinks with yellow, white and sage accents. I found yarn that was baby soft to the touch in white and yellow. I had originally wanted to learn how to make felt flowers but the color perfection of these Jolee's Boutique flowers had me at hello. Plus, I am fine with my DIY getting a little bit of help - must be the Semi-Homemade Sandra Lee in me.
This was also my opportunity to use my glue gun for the first time. Bob got it for me as a stocking stuffer last holiday season. A quick burst of glue to secure the end of the white yarn got us started.
 Then I basically spent the next twenty minutes wrapping the wreath form so it had thick, full coverage. Side note: as I made this wreath we watched the Clint Eastwood western Unforgiven. Does not seem like the movie to watch while making a yarn wreath for a baby's room.

The end of the white was hot glued in place and then to add a little color after the white yarn was applied, I took a corner and added some yellow. I can't say I am an expert yet at making the back look pretty but isn't that why we'll be putting this up against a wall??
A few more dabs of hot glue onto the already sticky backs of our flowers, a few accents added and voila! You may have noticed in the supplies photo that I had picked up a small needlepoint hoop to mimic the inspiration photo, but I did not have a chance to find any fabric that fit the wreath to a tee. So that little guy will be saved for the next wreath. . .
After only an hour I had a lovely little wreath to share with a friend. Color me obsessed - I may or may not have gone back to Michaels the next day to purchase a couple more wreath forms and shades of yarn for future projects. . . .

And speaking of the baby shower I made the wreath for, check out this adorable favor we all departed with. A shout out to Aunt Sylvia's carmel corn recipe featured on the blog a few months ago!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Bed that Beer and Opinions is Buying

One of my goals for the year was to find at least three ways to earn a little extra scratch. After all, with a new home on the horizon (fingers crossed to close on September 26!) and a wedding in the works, the budget to decorate and renovate is quickly shrinking. And, oh yeah, we shouldn't neglect that pesky thing called "saving for our future."

Since early August when Bob and I worked as tent money managers at Lollapalooza, a couple other opportunities have found their way to us including working a beer tent at a streetfest and a decent paying market research/focus group opportunity for me.

As we develop our budget for our soon-to-be-home, one of the largest items (both literally and money wise) is a king sized bed. I once read a quote that I liked that went something like "the closest something is to your skin, the more you should spend on it. This means expensive bedding and cheap drapes."

A long time ago Bob and I agreed that the bed was an item we wanted to splurge on. Up the thread count on those sheets and pump up the mattress quality, it is about time after a lifetime of twin beds on metal wheeled frames and 6 years of an IKEA Malm bed that we live in the lap of luxury. Now, don't get me wrong, I loved my little MALM, but the idea of having a bed I don't have to practially lay on the floor to get into is very appealing. 
But with these splurges, the budget could certainly take a hit. This is where an exhausting weekend of slinging Amstel Lights and pizza slices comes in. Our money making ventures coupled with a Labor Day online coupon for a furniture store we like and a well-timed YouSwoop for Back to Bed basically ensure that our new king-sized bed will be fully paid for without dipping into our total budget for move-in projects and products. Wowza!

Labor Day weekend we headed out to to a furniture store in the suburbs we had been to. I knew this weekend would bring mucho furniture store sales, so after sifting through a few websites I landed onto this one. We bought our dresser from this store and my sister has purchased a few items as well including a kitchen table and chairs and her rocker in the nursery. I remembered seeing some really high quality looking Amish made beds at the store and figured it would be worth checking out. The enticement of a trip to the suburbs grew after printing out a $200 off your purchase coupon for the weekend!

Here's a snap of our dresser:
After one lap in the store, our eyes fell upon it: The Amish Treasures Collection. In Cherry. With a headboard and footboard. The dark cherry wood helps make it look not so "countrified," as was the impression I got with the lighter woods.
Rather than be hasty, we mulled over the decision over lunch at Chili's (true suburban experience: eating at chain restaurants) and then headed back over. With our $200 coupon applied and after taxes (oh Cook County, you certainly aren't cheap), we are ending up paying just over $1,000. I choose to believe this is a good deal for such a well made King Sized bed. We probably could have gotten additional deals and discounts if we went in for more of the bedroom set, but we don't really want/need the nightstands or dresser to perfectly match.

So in about six more weeks we should hopefully be getting the call that our bed is in and we can figure out if we want to shell out $75 for delivery or if we will rent a UHaul van for the day. We have already been forewarned it will not fit in a Tahoe which is the vehicle we would have attempted to pick it up in.

And with the bed you need a mattress set!

For awhile we have been thinking of going the Sleep Number bed route, but I think we decided we do not need to invest that much at this point in time. A nice pillowtop number should do. Opening up my email on Sunday morning, I was shocked to see the exact type of deal that we were hoping to stumble upon: YouSwoop had $75 for $300 on a mattress set at Back to Bed. A second option was $50 for $200. After consulting Bob, I hit purchase on the $300 one. If we get the type we were already looking at, we'd be able to snag the mattress and foundation for under $1K! 

Now we just need to get out to a Back to Bed. . .

And of course with that mattress set will come down comforters, duvet covers, pillows (both functional and decorative) and those high thread count sheets I mentioned! I have already been perusing Overstock.com and the like for ideas. Our bedroom theme is going to be Moroccan-lite. Meaning warm colors and some patterns, but not to the point that we have lanterns hanging from the ceiling and tons of floor pillows.
I shall leave you with a sneak peek at the wall color we are eyeing for this master bedroom. Keep in mind three walls of the bedroom are brick and the fourth is the drywall that makes up one side of the closet. So there will really only be an accent wall painted.

Orange Spice by Behr. The swatch looks a bit darker than it is showing on my computer screen so hopefully you aren't seeing some peachy sherbet color right now like I am!
Any other paint ideas for me? What about bedding? Always looking for ideas!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Prove It - Part 1

So I wanted to wait to write about Bob's latest artistic endeavor until it was all completed and hanging up in our new place. Alas, as I start adding up the number of photos I already have of the process it would certainly make for the longest post ever. So instead you are getting this one in installments. Now, I have also shied away from getting too ahead of myself. in posting based on past experience Exhibit A: Our Console Table project that never made it past the planning stage. I feel guilty for those that stumble on the blog doing a google search for DIY Console Tables and get nowhere fast.

But I think we feel pretty good about this one reaching the finish line, especially at the stage he's already made it to.

Without further ado, here is the story of Bob's five foot tall painting:

Early in the summer, Bob was leafing through an X-Men comic book I own (why do I own this? Not really sure.) and found a cell that he thought would make a good painting. We like the pop art look and the graphic novel/comic book feel is right up our alley. This doesn't mean i want an obvious superhero shot up on our wall, but there are plenty of images in the books that don't scream "Wolverine."As we flipped through the comic further, I landed on an image that we were instantly attracted to.
Check out the Purple Haired Lady looking over her shoulder with a smirk and a simple word bubble saying "Prove It!" Even the color scheme sort of matches the ideas we have for our sitting area. Wouldn't this be a good fit for above the fireplace?? (If you are interested in the back story, I think she's running away from Sabretooth. There, that's my total knowledge of the comic book storyline for you.)

Looking at a scale of 2:3, we headed to Blick and picked out our canvas. The ceilings at the place we were aiming to get go as high as the eye can see, so we were all about an over-sized piece. A little overzealous of us to buy the canvas before we actually had the place? Maybe, but we figured we'd find somewhere for it no matter where we ended up.

So here's Bob with our 40"x60" blank slate! Now reason should state that we would wait for a ginormous canvas sale so we wouldn't break the bank. But when we want to start a project we aren't the smartest when it comes to sale prices. We did get a little discount from a regular sale and we also got a Blick Rewards card which saved us some dollars on this visit and future visits (giant canvas = a need for lots of paint)
Bob made a few copies of the cell, enlarging some at different levels to help with the details and also to help him plan out his grid to keep everything to scale. You can sort of see the lines in this photo he created.
Now to do the sketch. . . our cat Sonny gets some pointers. And hey, bonus shot of my holiday blocks that I had just finished that same weekend!
Carefully mixing his paints to try to get the exact coloring we wanted, over the next couple weeks Bob took care of the green background, pink shirt, purple hair and beige face.
With her outlines all done, the painting is really starting to come together. The most challenging part lies in front of us though. . .like a Roy Lichtenstein, the comic book cells are all made up of little dots. We have been trying to perfect the process to make evenly spaced and exact sized dots across each section of the canvas.

We're on our third iteration of a stencil and with each try it gets easier, but stay tuned for a next post to see what ends up working for the painting!

What do you think of "Prove It?" I am pretty jazzed about having some cool pop art in our new place and also not having to spend a life savings on a giant piece of art like we will be getting! 

Great job so far Bob!