Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Creativity Crash: Round 1

For those of you who know me well, know that I love marketing. I graduated with a degree in business marketing and landed my first job as an assistant to a Vice President of Marketing. My boss, Claudia, taught me that I need to keep immersing myself into the world to keep the creative spark alive.

In order to make sure we stayed keen with our surroundings, Claudia held a monthly "Creativity Crash" and each person on the team was asked to bring in items that made us stop and think, "Wow, now that's _____ ..." (we could fill in the adjective with whatever emotion the item evoked). More often than not, the items we brought in had nothing to do with work, but somehow by the end of the discussion we came up with several ideas for our projects. The items varied from the expected things, such as pictures, ads and stories to more far-fetched finds like toys and food wrappers.

As I started decorating my house, I noticed that the creative process behind decorating is very similar to the marketing process I experienced at work. I love getting to personalize each space to fit our needs and wants, while fueling my creative side with the d├ęcor. That being said, shopping for something like a coffee table for weeks and weeks can be exhausting and, dare I say, mind-numbing. I've noticed that in the middle of my online shopping marathons, I get sidetracked and start reading my favorite home decorating blogs or looking at the obscure items for sale on Craigslist. While some might call it procrastination, I see it as my personal version of a Creativity Crash. I can step out of the world I'm in and get a glimpse of other people's lives. And afterwards, I usually come back to shopping with new ideas and a fresh outlook.

Since I don't have a monthly Creativity Crash at work anymore, I thought it would fun to start my own on here by sharing some of my finds as I venture through the Internet. So with that, here is the first thing I found for Creativity Crash ... enjoy! :)

I recently discovered Catalog Living through the chain of blogs I read. While most of us look through catalogs and dream of the life where we can afford to purchase an $800 coffee table or 20 silver frames for a wall collage, the writer of this blog points out the exaggerations in these pictures and lays out the most hilarious scenarios. Here's a sampling of what she does (the first one is my favorite!).

Fun Fact: Actor and comedian, Molly Erdman, is the author of the blog. While the name might not ring a bell, the Sonic commercials she stars in probably do!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Painting Preview

I was getting ready to post pictures of the dining room and kitchen, now that we painted (and by we, I mean Marc), but I realized that unless you've been over here since we moved in you have no idea what type of transformation our house has gone through since we bought it. So, in order not to sabotage future post ideas and to keep a small element of suspense until I can detail our kitchen renovations, here is a sneak preview of what Marc accomplished at the end of last week.

(note the boring white walls and awesome container of fishies!)

(check out that smooth and creamy wall -- yum!)

And, while I'm giving sneak previews, guess what arrived today -- the lamps and pillow! Even though we are nowhere near being done with the living room, I'll give you a sneak peek of my new purchases. Marc should be coming over at the end of this week to paint the room, so I'm hoping to have everything done fairly soon.

New Lamps
Funny story about these, it turns out I forgot to look at the measurements online. Let's just say the taller one is shorter than I am. I think I have a solution, so stay tuned. However, if you have any grand ideas, let me know!

Pillow (in foxtail orange)

So far, I'm really happy with the way everything is turning out. I ordered the bamboo buckle pillows over the weekend, so hopefully they will get here before the 4th of July! :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sunday Dinner

Since I can remember, my family has done Sunday dinner. When I was young, my parents would pack us into the van and off to Grandmother's house we'd go (I know we're a bit older now, but the picture to the right is the 5 of us). My grandparents lived about 45 minutes away, but since we made the trek every Sunday, I knew each landmark along the way indicating that we were 30, 20, 10 and then only 1 minute away. My fondest meals were those prepared by my grandpa on the grill or in his chili pot, while my grandma would serve side-dishes that tasted as though they were prepared with all the love in the world, and they always were. On birthdays, my grandma would let us choose a favorite cake and she would make it just how we imagined. (Without fail, I always requested cheesecake with cherries on top ... mmmmmm!)

When my grandpa passed away, Sunday dinners were moved to my mom's house. My mom did her best to prepare the same meals that my grandpa cooked over the years, while incorporating some of her own recipes. My grandma still held her post as the queen of side-dishes and desserts. Don't get me wrong, my grandma could prepare a killer roast or stew, but for some reason her roasted potatoes, chopped salads, fresh-snapped green beans, and homemade custard are the dishes that stand out to me.

For the next 13 years, my mom and grandma worked side by side to create some of the most delectable Sunday dinners. When my grandma passed away in 2006, the absence of her caring heart and loving hugs were immediately missed, along with her decadent cakes and perfectly seasoned vegetable stew. While our family struggled with the loss of such an inspiring woman, we knew how to carry on her legacy -- Sunday dinners.

As our family keeps growing (we're up to 22), my mom continues to cook for the whole crew, and as the years go by she gets more and more creative. She's had to purchase a much larger grill, more substantial pans and -- something I can only dream of -- a double oven, to accommodate our ever-growing family. Most of her Sunday dinners consist of at least two entrees, three or four sides and a wonderful dessert. She's even kept the birthday tradition going with a special cake for each person's birthday.

I love being at my mom's on a Sunday afternoon, as she begins prepping, watching the front door as each family makes their way over. One of the little ones usually rings the doorbell before bursting through the entryway yelling "YAYA, we're here!" Everyone piles in and the fun begins, as we all socialize and chase children around for a whirlwind evening of laughter, storytelling and good food.

Now that I'm in DC, I only get to go to about four or five Sunday dinners a year and I miss being with my family as they come together for a few hours to enjoy each other's company and spend time together. Since it's just Jesse and me out here, it's a little hard for us to start our own tradition. However, after 3 years of living out here we finally figured it out - we started inviting our friend, Drew, over every Sunday to take part in our dinner.

It started back in March with Drew's birthday, ironically. It fell on a Sunday, so we celebrated as a group on Saturday night, meaning he didn't have any special plans on his actual birthday. We invited him over for a chili dinner and I made cookie sundaes for dessert. He brought over a movie for us to watch together after dinner, and a tradition began that night. Since then, he's been over just about every Sunday to take part in our very own Sunday dinner.

I spend the afternoon prepping and the evening cooking, Drew brings a movie and Jesse does the clean-up. It's a really heart-warming feeling to know that while my family is back in Kansas City enjoying their Sunday dinner, I'm out here enjoying my own version of the tradition.

I thought it would be fun to extend part of the tradition to everyone reading [all six of you :)], by sharing a dish every week. The plan is to post the recipe every Monday morning, so enjoy this week's recipe and more house stuff will be coming tomorrow. :)

Raspberry-Peach Crumble*
Serves: 6-8
Total Time: 45 minutes
  • 2 cups raspberries
  • 1 cup peaches, diced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 packed brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup oats (quick or old-fashioned)
  • Vanilla ice cream for serving
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Adjust oven rack to upper third. In a 9" pie plate, toss raspberries and peaches with sugar, lemon juice and 2 tsp. flour.

In medium bowl, mix remaining flour, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon and oats with fingers until crumbly. Sprinkle topping evenly over fruit mixture.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes until fruit is bubbly and top is browned. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

I found the original recipe online. It called for blackberries and blueberries, but I switched the fruit to save money. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can substitute the fruit however you like. Also, the original recipe says it only serves four, but you can definitely get 6-8 servings out of it, especially if you serve it with a little ice cream.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tables and curtains and trays, oh my!

So, I went shopping online last night. I didn't make any purchases yet, but I found a few things to consider. What do you guys think of this coffee table? I found it last night for a great price and I can't decide if I love it for its rustic look or because it's such a good deal. Any opinions? I am leaning more towards loving the rustic look, but figured I should ask around. Here it is dropped into the mood board to give you a better idea of how it would look in the room. I also dropped the end table in there for good measure. Normally, I would go for unique pieces because I'm not a fan of being overly matchy-matchy, but I also don't want to create chaos in the room, so I think the matching set might keep the room grounded. As you can see, I made a few other changes to the board too, including the curtains and shelf that I found at West Elm. I also found these cool vintage keys at Pottery Barn for under $20! And last, but not least, I found this bird tray, which pulls in more of the burnt orange and blue. I thought it would look good on the bottom shelf of the coffee table or hung up on the wall somehow. Alright, I'm dying to know what you guys think? Does everything look fairly cohesive? Is there anything that you really dislike? Don't be scared to give your opinion. I don't want to buy something I'll regret. :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

If these walls could speak, they would say borrrring!

I had a fabulous meeting with Marc last night! Being my former co-worker, I wasn't sure if he was going to come in all buddy-buddy or try to be strictly business-like, but it turns out he was both. We sat around for a while chatting about work and summer plans, but once we switched over to paint, things got down to business. Who knew painting a house would be so serious?! We spent about an hour talking everything out and choosing colors for each room. Before I tell you the plan, let me give you a little preview of what we are starting with:

{Back Story of our House}
If you have ever been in a townhouse, you know that the rooms are long and narrow. Ours is no exception. You walk into the living room, which is the length of two rooms (because it's intended to be a living room and dining room), then into the eat-in kitchen, which we made into our formal dining space and kitchen. We were lucky enough to find a townhouse with a bump out, so behind our dining room is a sizable sunroom. When we moved in, the entire main level was painted with contractor grade white paint, so it gets really dirty really easily and it just looks so bleh. So, the plan is to paint the entire main level to warm everything up and make our house feel more like a home.

{Before Pictures}
Disclaimer: I cannot be held responsible for the pain you are about to experience, due to the heinous furniture and horrid artwork put in place by the previous owner.


Living Room: Shot 1

Living Room: Shot 2 (That's our realtor)

Dining Room and Kitchen (looking into the sunroom)

Kitchen (hello, huge pot rack blocking all the natural light. In case you're wondering, that came down right away!)


Ok, so back to what I was saying before the back story and slide show. After putting about 15 samples up to the walls in each room, Marc and I decided that we would start in the middle of the house (dining room and kitchen) and work our way out from there. Marc was the one that recommended it, because then we can decide if we want the other rooms to be brighter, lighter, darker or completely different. I decided on the same color that my sister (Jen) used on her walls - Jicama - because it's a very neutral, creamy yellow and it picks up the gold tones that we have throughout the house. The more I look at it, the more I think I want to use it in the living room too. But, the plan is to paint the dining room and kitchen first to see what we think.

For the sunroom, I found a gorgeous grayish-blue color, Wedgewood Gray, that will really pop and make a statement in my otherwise beige, green and navy room. I'm a little nervous because it will definitely stand out against our green curtains (pictures of those to come later), but if all goes well, it will look amazing. I actually picked the color out last summer, but since I had absolutely no furniture yet, I decided I should wait to throw something drastic on the walls. Turns out, I still want to use it. Sometimes you should trust your gut.

Marc is coming over on Thursday and Friday to paint the kitchen area, so I will post some pictures over the weekend. I can't wait to add some life to these walls! :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Getting Started ...

Who knew that starting a blog would be such a challenge? I created this blog about 3 months ago, but I've been procrastinating the actual start of it ever since. I've done so much to our house since we bought it last summer, and I keep thinking to myself, this is the perfect time to start a blog. I've drafted several posts in my head, but I never seem to get around to the blogging part. So, today is the day to start!

Of course, I didn't do any ground-breaking projects this weekend, but I did start a few things in my head. My main accomplishment was finalizing a mood board for our living room. I know, it sounds like something I would create for Jesse, so he can figure out my moods (which is a pretty good idea ...), but it's actually a board that helps when designing/planning a room. I've been reading a ton of home-design blogs lately and I've noticed that several people create them to guide the design process.

To get started, I found pictures of everything we already own and put them in a document. Then, for the fun part, I started shopping online to see what would look good in our room. It's really helpful when trying to decide if a certain piece of furniture or artwork will work in the room. I could easily insert a coffee table into the document, then quickly decide if it matches the look of the room or not. So without further ado, here is my first mood board:

Starting at the top left: Room Colors - Behr Paint: Sensible Hue 330E-3 (potential wall color), Fire Island 190B-7 (accent color) and Sparkling Spring 730E-2(accent color) | Bamboo Buckle Pillows in Fresca Blue | Sweater-Knit Pillow (already own) | Embroidered Pillow (already own) | Painting of Annapolis (wedding present) | Button Pillow in Foxtail Orange | Artesia Floor Lamp | Pearce 3-Piece Sectional (already own) | Ikea Entertainment Center (already own) | Hako Coffee Table | Shantou End Table

It took several hours of playing around and shopping (talk about hard work!), but I finally found several pieces that I was happy with. After laying everything out, I purchased the lamp and accent pillows (you can never have enough pillows), but I waited on the coffee table and end table. The more I look at the board, the less I like the tables, so I will have to keep my eye out for something that fits the look of our room a little more.

As for the walls, my former colleague, Marc, is coming over to discuss everything tonight. He is a really talented painter, so I'm hopeful that he'll be able to help us out. Once I get my pillows and lamps I'll take a picture of the room to show the progress.

Who knows, by this time next week we might even have a little paint on the walls. :)