Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Survey Says (drum roll please) ......

Note: For the sake of this post, we're going to pretend that I got 600 votes in my buffet survey instead of just 6. Now don't get me wrong, I'm actually really thrilled that I got as many comments as I did (even if I did have to harass a few people), and even more thrilled to see that a few fellow bloggers took the time to check me out! So here we go ....

Ok, I was really hoping for blow-out results. Like the type of results you see on People's Fashion Faceoff  when the answer is SO obvious:

Kate, don't you know the neutral rule? You need at least one pop of color.
(and the black tips on your shoes don't cut it)
Monica clearly takes the cake on this one - way to keep it classy!

Anyway, back to the subject at hand ... I was hoping for blow-out results so that I wouldn't have to make a decision. You see, I've been struggling to narrow down my options, and I keep going back and forth on my favorites.

It looks like your top contenders are the dark/white combination, antique white and antique color. Lucky for me, those were my top three choices to start with. It looks like I'm on the right track. Unlucky for me, this doesn't exactly help me narrow it down. I'm really leaning towards a dark/light combination, but I'm not sure if that combo will be white or another color ... decisions, decisions!

I still have a few weeks to decide, so I'll probably do a little more research to figure out which method will be the easiest. I might even do some more digging around the ole' internet to see if inspiration strikes. Here's a little inspiration that I found last night ...


I love how the wood on the table matches the wood top on the china cabinet, but they mixed it up by painting the chairs white and the cabinet gray. I really must be leaning towards the dark/light combo.

But before I can even start this project, I sort of need to acquire a sander. (That's right, I don't own any of the necessary tools to start this project.) I've asked a few friends, but so far I'm coming up empty-handed (literally!).  I do have one promising option, which is Drew's parents, but I'll have to wait and see if they have one.

If not, it's off to Home Depot I go, which means I have some research to do. Thank God for the Internet!


I glanced at HD's website and was pleasantly surprised to find out that I can get one for under $50. I figured I would have to invest a ton of money, but I can deal with $50. The one above is the first one I saw on their website, so it's not necessarily something I'm looking at. Does anyone have any recommendations?

Well I'm off to go watch Jesse play in his first soccer game since the ACL tear and repair - wish him luck! And wish my hair luck because it's raining out there!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Craigslist Find of the Year

Oh Craig, you are such a good friend. You're such a giving guy, never short of new adventures. I can spend hours with you, moving from topic-to-topic; anything from chairs to coffee tables and jobs to sporting events. And for the past year, we've been talking about one topic, in particular, an awful lot. For awhile there I thought you weren't listening to me. I would talk about my need for a solid wood buffet, with both drawers and cabinets to ensure I have enough space. I also talked to you about size, but all you wanted to offer were either small cabinets or oversized china cabinets. Until last week. Last week was a turning point in our friendship. Last week you gave me this. Craig, I think you just became my best friend (sorry Kelly!).

Alright, enough about Craig. Here's how everything went down.

Early last week I came across this buffet in my daily Craigslist scour. Solid wood? Check. Drawers and cabinets? Check. Less than 55" long? Check. And no significant damage? Check Again. Could it be that I finally found my buffet? After running through my mental checklist, I emailed the seller right away and told him that I was interested in buying this beauty. I didn't hear back for a few days, and quite frankly I figured it had already been swiped, so I kind of forgot about it. Then on Friday of last week, he emailed to tell me that I could call him over the weekend to arrange a time to go see it. I was running out of work when I saw his email and didn't pay much attention.

So Friday night came and went, and I went out shopping on Saturday without thinking about the email all day. Finally, on the way home from girl's day, Meredith and I were talking about how I still needed a buffet. I was explaining one that I had been eyeing at Pottery Barn, but knew I could never afford ...

... when it dawned on me that I never responded to the Craigslist email. How could I have forgotten!? I called the number from the ad right away. The guy gave me his address (which happened to be just down the street from me!) and said that I could come by that night to see it. This was sounding very promising!

Meredith dropped me off and I had an hour to kill before I could go see my buffet. I spent that time explaining to Jesse (and the other guys) that I was going to look at a buffet that I had every intention of buying. Either Jesse was distracted by all of the testosterone or he actually realized how long I've been looking and how badly I've wanted to find a buffet because he just sort of went with everything, without asking too many questions. I then asked Drew if I could borrow his Forerunner, in case I decided to buy it, and ran out the door.

(I'll abbreviate this next part) I went over there, fell in love, realized it was WAY too heavy to carry up the stairs without more help, called Jesse and Drew to be my sherpas, lugged it out of the house watched Jesse and Drew lug it out of the house (while the seller told me everything I need to know about staining and painting wood furniture). Then we drove it home and plopped it in our dining room basement.

And here it is in all it's glory ...

Wanna know my favorite part? Probably that full-length drawer. That or the curves on the bottom. But I also like those little doors! Ok, I love it all!

I really wanted to bring it right up to the dining room, but it weighed at least 150 lbs. and I couldn't imagine asking the guys to drag it all the way upstairs to drag it back down to my garage in a few weeks, which is where I'm planning to refinish it.

I've never really painted or stained furniture before, but I've been itching to refinish something of my own for awhile now. It will probably be a slow process, with lots of learning along the way, but I'm excited to take it on!

Since it'll be a few weeks before I can touch it (I'll be away the next two weekends), let me leave you with a few ideas that have been swirling around. Ooh, and if you are one of the few people that read the blog, will you do me a favor and vote on one? I'm pretty sure only about 4 or 5 people read on a regular basis, but I'd love to hear from you!!

A. Stained Wood


I played with the lighting of my original picture
to make my buffet a little less Cherry

B. Dark/Light Combination



C. Antique White


D. White Stenciling


E. Antique Color



Alright, help me prove that there are at least a few people reading this and place your vote! :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

As you know, Jesse's friends were staying with us this weekend, and they had plans to do boy things - play video games, watch sports, drink beer and eat pizza - not quite my idea of a fun weekend.

So I woke up early Saturday morning, met up with my co-worker Meredith, and we headed down to Potomac Mills for a day of shopping at Ikea and the outlets. It was such a great day and we bought so many cute things - now that's my idea of a fun weekend! :)

We started out at Wegman's for lunch. Nerd alert: I was so excited to show Mere Wegman's for the first time. We both got salads from the salad bar and then spent another 45 minutes walking around the store picking out a few goodies to take home. I bought a few greeting cards that I'm planning to frame and some new dishtowels. As we were walking through the store we heard "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and it was the perfect theme for our day! We left there energized and headed to Ikea, another new experience for Meredith.

As usual, I spent several hours ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the room sets. I was kind of hoping to find a buffet (I've now been looking for more than a year!), but no such luck. However, I bought a few small items and came home with all sorts of new ideas!

I want to do a photo wall like the one below over our bed or maybe in the dining room ...

And this chair is perfect for the empty corner in our bedroom. I'm kicking myself for not buying it!

I fell in love with this kitchen. Between the backsplash against the white cabinetry and the light fixture hanging over that island, there wasn't anything I didn't like about it!

After ogling over this kitchen for 15 minutes, I decided to buy the track lighting for my living room. I've wanted to replace our current track since we moved, so I'm thrilled that I finally found a new fixture!

In addition to the fixture, I picked up these other little goodies :)

greeting cards and dishtowels from Wegmans, guest room duvet,
gray and white tray for my dresser and dishtowels for my mom :)

After spending three hours at Ikea (and eating a cinnamon roll - we earned it!), we headed over to the outlets. The whole reason for the trip was so that I could help Meredith exchange a cardigan. She bought it from Ralph Lauren this fall, but one day at work she noticed that she somehow had snagged the elbow. I mentioned that she should try to bring it back, but she didn't think they would take it without a receipt. I offered to give it a try, because as strange as it is, I kind of like working the customer service angle.

So, we attempted to head there first, but my horrible sense of direction combined with the fact that I've only been to Potomac Mills once before, led us in the complete opposite direction. However, the good news is that we found J. Crew outlet. Meredith and I both found so many cute things, and each of us left with a few great new spring pieces!

After about an hour at J. Crew, we made our way over to Ralph Lauren (which involved me getting us turned around again!) where I successfully exchanged her black cardigan for an adorable white one, which is actually perfect since she recently got rid of her white one. Looks like we'll have to go back another weekend to find a black cardigan. :)

After eight hours of shopping, we both decided we should get home to our boys to see if they were still alive. I came home to five boys hanging out in the living room, drinking beer and watching basketball. It's nice having a sectional, but there wasn't enough space for everyone. We decided to relocate the love seat from the sofa into the center of the living room, so for the rest of the evening my house looked about like this:

They played FIFA for at least 4 hours!

The sun room looks so sad without the love seat

they consumed a lot of this!

The best part of coming home is that Ross made dinner. I'm pretty sure that this is the first time we've had house guests where I wasn't in the kitchen for every meal. Thanks Ross! While they spent the rest of the night doing guy stuff, I spent it reading blogs, shopping online and playing with my new purchases.

It had a great day with Meredith and Jesse had a great weekend with his friends, but it's not quite over yet. Drew's birthday is tomorrow, so tonight is his birthday dinner. I'm making coconut shrimp for dinner and in ice cream cake for dessert!

Oh, and I'll be back soon to tell you more about my most recent Craigslist find! :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

If Susan Cleans the House

Our friends Ross and Zodda are arriving this afternoon for a weekend visit, which meant last night's plan was to prep the house for their arrival. We have house guests fairly often so I've sort of developed a system to work my way around the house cleaning and organizing, as necessary. That was the plan. Plans change. Mine did last night.

I started upstairs by pulling the sheets off our bed, grabbing the towels from both our bathroom and the guest bathroom and then pulled the sheets off the guest bed. I set them all in a pile by the stairs so I could take them down to the washer when I went downstairs. From there, I cleaned our bathroom and the guest bathroom - I was on a roll! I then went into the guest bedroom to straighten it up. I was getting ready to move downstairs to throw the laundry in the washer, pick up Rooney's toys and dust all of the furniture when I realized that I hadn't remade our bed. This is where my night took it's turn from cleaning. All because I wanted to make my bed. It makes me think of the story If you Give a Mouse a Cookie.

My sister, Jen, once pointed out how much she and I are like that mouse. And here's how my version went last night ...

If Susan Cleans the House

If Susan cleans the house, she's going to want to make the bed.
When she makes the bed she realizes that she hasn't washed her duvet in a long time. 
When she takes her duvet off the comforter there's dark gray lint (the color of our duvet) in every crease.

When she sees the lint, she's going to want to get it out.
She gets an idea to throw it in the dryer, which reminds her she still needs to take the original pile of sheets to the washer.
She goes down to the basement, puts everything in the machines and then realizes it's time for dinner.
When she goes upstairs to start dinner, she sees her used-to-be-nice-but-is-now-torn-to-shreds-by-Rooney West Elm chair in the sunroom, and decides it's finally time to fix it.

Before Rooney

She gets the scissors out, sits down and starts trimming when the garage door opens (hubby's home from the gym!) and once again she remembers she's supposed to be making dinner.
She runs into the kitchen, throws a bag of Spanish rice on the counter to make it look like she's getting ready to cook, and then sits back down to her chair project.
When hubby gets out of the shower she scrambles back into the kitchen and throws a TJ's burrito (argh, not getting much better at making real dinners!) into the microwave and sweetly asks him to finish everything up while she finishes the chair.

My work paid off - good as new!

They eat dinner with the NCAA tournament games playing in the background and of course she gets very distracted by the close games.
After dinner she sits down to watch the end of the games and grabs the laptop to see how her bracket is holding up.
When she opens the laptop she remembers that she still has blogs to catch up on so she opens Google Reader and gets started.
Once UConn beats SDSU (victory!), she remembers that she was checking her bracket and looks at the standings waaaay too long (because in the end she knows she won't win).
Hubby switches to HGTV for a second and lil Suzy remembers she was reading all her fave home design blogs.
She goes back to the blogs and then decides she wants to write something on her own.
To start her post, she'll need to upload pictures from her phone, so she starts doing that when she hears the dryer buzzer (oh yeah, laundry!).
She runs downstairs to check the comforter, but there's still lint everywhere - time for Plan B.
She starts picking out the lint one section at a time and realizes that it will take her until at least 5am using this method, and quickly comes up with an idea - Plan C.
She goes to get the vacuum from Rooney's bathroom/storage space and steps on a piece of litter, which will make her want to vacuum the bathroom.
She'll vacuum that room, then move to the main room of the basement and vacuum that entire space.
At that point, the comforter catches her eye and she moves back to that.
She lays it out on the ground and vacuums every crevice of the comforter using the hand tool.

Before vacuuming
After vacuuming

Once she's done, she comes back upstairs to get back to blogging and decides to blog about how she cleans when guests come to visit.
When she writes the part about cleaning the main level, she realizes she never got that far because she started making the bed. That of course makes her realize she STILL needs to finish making her bed.
At that point, she quits writing to go upstairs and make her bed, right before unmaking it to crawl in and go to sleep!

The End ... sort of

The last part didn't really go down that quickly. I went up to make the bed and Rooney started playing under the covers. I started taking pictures.

Jesse came upstairs with a screwdriver and starting trying to fix our door so Rooney can't push his way in at night. 


I washed up. Took more pictures of Rooney.

Jesse continued to work on the door. 

I uploaded all of my new pictures to Flickr. And we finally went to bed at 1:15!

P.S. I never cleaned the main level - they're boys. I'm sure they won't notice!

P.P.S. I obviously didn't finish posting last night, so I'm scrambling to get this posted before I start working today. I spent way too much time working on this not to post it!

Rock Chalk Jayhawk and Happy Friday! :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Won't you be my neighbor?

When we bought our house back in 2009, I quickly identified my favorite home stores to start furnishing our home. Among my favorites are Home Depot, World Market, Target, Pottery Barn, Home Goods, TJ Maxx and Bed Bath & Beyond. Lucky for me, five of those stores are located within four miles of my house, along with a Habitat for Humanity Restore, Marshalls and two different Wal-Marts. The unfortunate part is that the three missing stores are my top favorites - Pottery Barn (PB), World Market and Home Goods (HG). While I can easily shop PB and World Market online, HG is a hit-or-miss store with no online shopping opportunities.

I've dreamed about getting an HG close by ever since we moved here, but figured we didn't stand a chance with all of the other popular home stores nearby. And it doesn't help that there's an HG in Kingstowne - which is only 20 minutes away. But to my defense that shopping center is always packed, making it impossible to find anything good, much less a parking space!

Hmmmm, I bet you're wondering why I'm showing you a picture of an empty store front aren't you? Aren't you?! Well if you guessed that it's the future home of a Home Goods, then you'd be right! All of my wishing, hoping and dreaming is finally paying off and HG is getting ready to park their happy-little-home-decor-selling-bum right down the street from me. I'm talking less than a mile away! I can literally see it from the parking lot of my gym. Do I see more motivation to workout? Maybe I should start my own rewards program - every five times I go to the gym, I get to buy one item from HG. I should probably go talk to the husband about this program ASAP!

And here's the sign that drew my eye to the store front:

Now they just need to tell me what they mean by soon? Next week, April, two months from now??? I can hardly take it! Oh Home Goods, you'll be such a good neighbor. Please come next week soon!

P.S. See how I edited my pictures here, and then go follow me - lilsuzy - on Instagram! :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Protein Packed Dinner Omelet (and my best attempt at running ...)

Spring is definitely springing around here, and the weather couldn't be more appropriate. I woke up this morning to pouring rain and by the time I got off the metro in Crystal City the rain subsided and the temperature was up to the low 60s. From there the weather stayed nice all day, so I enjoyed an outside walk back to the metro after work. Jesse and I worked a little late tonight, so by the time we got home I had missed my Monday night dance class and was NOT looking forward to going to the gym. I begrudgingly put on my gym clothes, knowing that I really needed to workout after such an indulgent weekend (more on that later this week). I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do - treadmill: bleh, weights: bleh, eliptical: no thanks - when Jesse said that he was going to run outside. Perfect, why didn't I think of that?! I'm not exactly a runner (not exactly = not at all), but getting outside sounded like the perfect answer to my gym blues.

Jesse took off running and I started out with a nice fast-paced walk, while listening to Adele on Pandora. After a few minutes of taking in the fresh air I decided to give jogging a try. I switched the station to B.o.B. and set out. Like I said, I'm not a runner so I didn't want to push myself too hard, but rather keep a steady pace for as long as I could. I turned on RunKeeper, my favorite pacing/tracking app for running, and after five minutes the automated voice came over my iPod announcing my running stats. I honestly didn't listen to what they were because I was just happy that I made it five minutes without feeling tired. Five more minutes went by and then another five and I was feeling strong. I started to think that I might be able to go 25 minutes without stopping! That's when it started. Drop ....... drop .... drop ... it started out slow and then out of nowhere it was POURING! I was so bummed because the cool raindrops actually felt really good, but I knew I had to get home. I took the house key with me when we left because I was just planning to go for a brisk walk around the block and planned to get home well before Jesse. On top of that, I didn't want the rain to ruin my phone! All in all, my 15 minute jog was the perfect energizer to get me going tonight and even though it got cut short, I'm much more motivated to get out running again this spring. Maybe running isn't so bad ...

Rushing back to save Jesse :)

I'd have to say that the best thing that came from my jog was an idea for dinner. After getting back in town late yesterday afternoon, I never made it to the grocery store. With Drew and Jesse's input, I came up with a surprisingly good Sunday dinner last night - pasta bake and homemade garlic bread (a post for later this week), but I really had nothing planned past that. Usually when I run, all I think about is how much further I have to go before I can walk again, but the combination of the beautiful weather and keeping a slow pace helped my brain to wander. And leave it to me to think about food while I'm working out!

For tonight's dinner I was able to use several of my leftover ingredients from last week to create a power dinner omelet. It was spot on!

Power Dinner Omelet
Serves: 2
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

4 large eggs
2 tbsp. water
dash of parsley
sliver of butter
1/4 cup mushrooms, roughly chopped
3 Tbsp. scallions, sliced thin
1/4 cup cooked chicken breast, diced
1/4 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup cheddar cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Start by chopping the mushrooms and sautéing them in the omelet pan with a sliver of butter over medium heat. Drain and rinse the black beans, and dice up the scallions and chicken. When the mushrooms are browned, remove the pan from the heat.

Crack four eggs into a bowl and add the water and parsley. Beat until thoroughly mixed.

Return the omelet pan to medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Once heated, pour the egg mixture into the pan. Swirl the eggs around the pan to partially coat the sides of the pan.

As the eggs cook, continue to swirl the pan. After about three or four minutes, tilt the pan while using a fork to gently pull the omelet away from the edges, allowing the uncooked egg to get underneath the cooked portion.

When the eggs are mostly cooked, add half of the cheese to one side of the omelet. 

Continue by adding the chicken, mushrooms, scallions and black beans on top of the cheese, and then finish with the remaining cheese. Using a fork and spatula, close the omelet and turn the heat to low. Cover with a lid for an additional 2-5 minutes to allow the cheese to melt.

Divide the omelet down the middle and serve with toast (or leftover garlic bread!).

It was such a filling dinner and the perfect protein-packed meal after a good workout! But the best part of the meal was walking away from this mess to let Jesse clean it all up ...

... while I made split personality Banana Bread - half chocolate chip, half plain!

I'll post the recipe another day because it's time to go enjoy a slice of this yummy goodness! :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Funday Friday: Rooney Style

It's Friday, I took the day off and I feel free! Jesse is still sleeping, so I've been downstairs doing laundry, browsing blogs and writing. It's nice to have that little bit of me time before starting my day. Now if I only I was a morning person ... I would love to have an extra hour or two everyday to cross a few things off my "this isn't that important, but I love doing it" list all before making breakfast! 

On that note, here are a few pictures I took of Rooney this week. He's such a quirky kitten and I love trying to catch some of those moments on camera. This week I caught him sleeping in the funniest positions! The lighting is pretty awful in the pictures, but I knew if I got up to turn the light on he would wake up. I played with Instagram to jazz them up a bit so I hope it helps.

Oh so tired!


Raise the roof!

Isn't he ridiculous?! I just love it! 

I'm getting ready to start the corned beef hash now, so I'll try to share some pictures before the weekend is over. We're going to be driving up to Philly this afternoon my SIL's baby shower, but I should have a little downtime after the party tomorrow. I hope everyone has a great weekend! :)