Saturday, January 30, 2010

from "dinner" to "dinner party"

Well, our casual little soiree went quite well, I must say. The chicken roasting went succesful, and as usual, I've learned from my mistake and it will be perfect next time! The skin wasn't as crispy as I would of see, I took the instructions: "Brush lightly with butter" to the extreme. I rationalized that rubbing and stuffing the bird with an ENTIRE stick of real better would surely yield fantastic and delicious results. While true, it left me with soggy skin. It was easy and only half as gross as I thought.

So, I wanted to just share a few of my favorite finishing touches that are guaranteed to make you look way cooler than you are (i mean, you're probably pretty awesome already, just sayin') and to take "having friends over to eat" to "hosting a dinner party" with little stress and cash.

1) You gotta set the mood! Light a few candles for instant thoughtfulness. Don't forget music! even the most interesting parties can feel flat without a little background noise. My go-to is Ms. Peggy Lee
2) Pick up some flowers when you're buying your groceries. I few blooms planted around the compound brighten up the place and make any hostess look tres chic. Even a $2 bunch of spunky-colored carnations can make a subtle, but lovely impact.
3) While your at the g-store, swing by the drink aisle and nab a bottle or two of sparkling or still water. Yesterday I picked up 2 bottles of San Pellegrino for $3. It's bubbly, fun and can double as a cheap and useful centerpiece for the table.
4) The cherry on top for me is to include a cute and personal touch that no one ever expects anymore. I'm talking about the lost tradition of placecards. Spencer's grandmother, Helen, always had placecards at her table for her guests-no matter how big or small the guest list (coincidentally she could never remember my name, so mine always said "Reba"). I just grab some pretty paper from my craft closet, snip a square and fold it over to make a tent. Voila! That works just perfect but you could also grab smooth stones from your yard, big seashells from your last vacation, or invest in an ultra-cool serious set like these or these ( or cheat and grab some ceramic tile from your closest home store!) Not only do they look great but they eliminate that awkward, "where do I sit?" moment.

Combine the above with tasty grub, some red wine (or Hawaiian punch) and good family and friends.

And I'm serious. go make some placecards!

Friday, January 29, 2010

It's the little things...

Moving into your first, roommate-free, place allows you to be more open with your silly decorating ideas. Besides hosting amazing parties and eventually having our home featured in national magazines, I have a slew of little things I was excited to try out...

*disclaimer* nothing ground breaking here! just 2 "projects' I was looking forward to for some odd reason or another!

See? I always wanted to dump some dried green peas into a glass jar for an instant and inexpensive centerpiece. No rockets being sent off to space here, dear. The glass was picked up from the thrift store for $2, and I used 3 $1 a pop bags of peas. 1 old candle and a weird wooden lei later...presto, dream satisfied.


I altered an idea found over at YHL and shadowboxed a few of my favorite pressed pennies from my many adventures. It still hasn't found a place on the wall yet...but I'm excited to show it off!

That's it for today! We're hosting a little *dinner party* tonight and I'll be attempting to roast my first chicken. I love cooking, but I have an unnatural fear of handling raw poultry. YUCK.

I might just make pizza.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Curtain Shuffle

I was anxious to get some curtains up in our main living space almost as soon as we moved in. It would give the appearance of being finished and "grown-up",I rationalized, even if it wasn't!

We inherited all the window trimmings from our homes previous owners. Here is a shot of our waaay BEFORE living room view...

Although we knew the hand-made, pull-cord curtains wouldn't make the cut, Spencer wanted to salvage the existing curtain rod if possible. I picked up these long, white satin panels at Super Linens for $12 a pop. It was too simple. The rod was also too big and made pulling the curtains open and shut with ease an impossibility. Plus, I couldn't help think that the tie back look was more "country living" than the "modern comfort" look I was hoping for...

So I moved those pearly whites into the master bedroom and hung 'em high and wide to make our corner windows look more...awesome.

So back to the drawing board. Erna had given me the heads up that Wal-mart had a nice and affordable curtain selection. After about 45minutes of going back and forth on my opinion, I settled on 2 french blue satin floor panels from Better Homes and Gardens and 4 beige textured sheer panels. I also nabbed up-not one, BUT TWO new curtain rods for the LR. One no-fuss, no-see for the sheer panels and another decorative rod for the Lined blue curtains. TK came over to help us install, and while relived to get them off the back off the couch...I was less than impressed.

The beige just seemed dirty, or washed out. I packed 'em up and trucked it back to WM the next day (gotta love a no questions return policy!) I bought the same sheers in a pure white. Third times a charm, because this combo certainly charmed me enough to pronounce this project DONE!

We have a few more things to hang in the Living/Dining space (and thanks to TK, another turn of touch up painting-more on that later) before I'm ready to turn my focus on to the master bedroom and bathroom...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Scratch me, dent me, just please don't pay full price

If you are paying full retail price for something you are either
1.) Rich enough you just don't care (mafia)
2.) Lazy
3.) Unaware of the big, beautiful world of discounted goods in the world!

I pretty much never pay full price for anything. I scour thrift stores and flea markets. I walk straight back to the sale aisles in every store and I am not too good for some good ole, darn the little guy Wal-mart speed shopping.

The day we moved in we knew we were missing some things. Some we wanted ASAP (like a dining room table), others could wait(like guest bedroom furniture). After hours of back n forth moving we headed over to Gardiner's Furniture to look for some must-halves. Now, Gardiner's is in no way a discount store. They have high end furniture and accessories with an occasional "Buy 7 things at once and we'll throw in a magazine rack" sale now and then.

We walked in. Said hello politely in our paint covered rags and headed straight to the basement. Past the cushy sectionals and the clearance aisle. We didn't even look around us until we were in the chilly warehouse by the loading dock. Scratch and dent.

It's where furniture comes to die. Something beautiful and expensive got hurt on the way in. Or wobbles a little, or their matching nightstand brother got sent to Laos by accident. It is a GREAT place to scour deals. I'm not saying it's smart to spend ANY amount of money on something that is busted...but if you can live with a little can make out like a bandit. Plus, it takes the pressure off YOU being the first to tarnish it's beautiful and pricy exterior.

Our first and most exciting (for me) find was this coffee table. I was looking for a rectangular table with a glass top and shelf. I had found one at Ikea I liked but they had stopped making. Their new substitute was wrought iron, which I thought would be too cold feeling and outdoorsy. I laid eyes on this baby and immediately slapped it with a red "MINE" tag. Originally $650...marked down to $250...some haggle action with the manager and we paid....wait for it...$100!!! (what was wrong with it? it's matching side table was badly damaged. this baby was perfect!)

Next up was a dining room table. Our DR is a little small (about 10x9) so we needed something that could shrink and expand to accommodate our guest list.

This 2 tone chestnut/black wood oval piece fit the bill. It had a scratch on the surface (which Gardiner's buffed out for us) and a small piece of wood was missing from UNDER the table. Without chairs it was marked down from $875 to $300. We found SIX!!! well matching chairs (their matching table had gone missing during shipment) and negotiated a group sales price of $300. FREE STUFF!

Finally we needed a place to rest our little heads. We had a bed, but it was tight with the 2 or us and lumpy so we were looking for a reason to upgrade. We spotted a returned King mattress for $300. 2 box springs, one frame and some negotiating landed us the whole kitten caboodle for $300. And Damn. King sized beds are flippin' awesome. Just ask Lily. She hardly ever gets kicked out now.

So, get out there and hunt. Gardiner's gets new scratch n dent deliveries every Wednesday...I know we'll be back!

*nice long post for you Ms. LuAnn!


Am I back? I don't know and you don't care! It was hard to keep updating. First, we only just got internet access this past Saturday and secondly...nothing seems done! Everything is in a state of half-doneness.

See? Those blinds have been like that for a week! I'm too nervous to drill into the window frames by myself and Spencer...well, Spencer could care less if they're hung or lean or break out into a jazz dance solo.

Last week our friend TK came over to do a little this'n'that and and told us the last 15% took the longest to finish. I rolled my eyes, "maybe for you TK, but the finishing touches are what I love most!"

Well he's right. We have to shake ourselves out of this sweet new, house love long enough to get some work done!

It took 3 trips to 2 different wal-marts and a drive-by Lowes visit to finally decide on this curtain combo:

So. Things take time. Hang with me and give me some motivation!

Friday, January 15, 2010

In and Away

Well, there goes my vow to post everyday.

oh well. I'm allowed. I've been busy.

We are all moved in and almost entirely unpacked (one of the few joys of having very little to start with!)

And it doesn't just look like a house looks like OUR house. The main domain of Bria & Spencer (& Lily)It oozes awesomeness without even trying.

Naturally, I have no pictures to post. But I will. As soon as we get internet at our cozy adobe!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Into the closet

I mentioned this before, but our house came equipped with crazy closets. Pretty much every closet is lined with a different INSANE wallpaper. No muted colors, no subtle strips. Just wild, awesome, dated decadence.

I thought I would share them today, as I'm feeling a little less than inspired and stressed that we plan to officially move this Wednesday. Even though I don't think we're ready. Walls still need painting, the bathroom is a mess and we haven't packed anything but books and nicknack's.

here's the tour...

The patriotic eagle that protects our spare bedroom...

Pretty blue flowers that grow in the office...

That 70's Show in the master...

Wild Western Store Front in the coat closet...


Erna suggested we wallpaper over them with something neutral, but I think it's sort of a nice "SURPRISE! remember me? I'm an old house!" hello every time you reach to grab a coat or glue gun. We asked Mrs. O'Kramer about it during our settlement and she informed us her husband had painted the closets so terribly she wallpapered over all of it. How exactly do you mess up painting a closet...the world will never know...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Parties, as in, I want to plan some

I am at work. A little bored because NO ONE comes in when a Ravens game is on. I never even know when they are playing until I see people in purple pajamas at the grocery store. I suck I know, but I'm an O's gal all the way.

So here is a list of fun parties I want to have at my house ASAP:
-small gathering of nbc-groupies for the new Office on 1/21. Spencer says its not worth it as the show isn't as funny anymore. I disagree. I laughed the whole way through "Murder" all 3 times I watched it. We can serve jello, small tuna salad sandwiches and Oscar's pate

-Mad Men open house. I'm not letting go of this one. Our house has/had such retro charm (and I love a theme party)so I want to see some skinny ties and serve some deviled eggs to anyone and everyone that wants to come see the new hiz.

-game night. I got "guesstures" and the new moon board game for christmas. Lets pop some popcorn and get silly!

-"slumber party" I have a cousin-in-law who is extremely pregnant and sells sex toys. I just think it would be really funny to see her talk about vibrators.

That's it. Nothing news breaking. Just sitting here thinking about nothing/everything/anything.

Do you like to host or attend parties?

Haven't we met before?

I love being cheap. It's one of my most favorite things to do, and I'm really good at it.

Having said that, it should be of no surprise that yesterday, while shopping at HD for Glidden's Celery Sticks green, I was overjoyed when I saw a gallon of green on the "opps" shelf ($5!) I studied it for a long time. It wasn't the exact shade I was searching for, but hey, it was close enough to save me 25 bones!

Something was familiar about it.

It is the EXACT shade of green as the tiles we just stupidly removed from the bathroom. exactly. like, I painted the toilet on a small corner and when it dried I couldn't find where I had painted. that exact.

Since I was alone, and can't make a good desicion about hardly anything, I naturally called my mom for help. She drove over. I made her get in the car and sweat through traffic just to tell me what I already knew. I heart her.

So, I slapped the paint up on the small bedrooms walls (well, I cut-in and did one wall. It's hard to paint a room solo!) and decided to "go in a different direction" for the 3rd bedroom/bathroom. Spencer and I stopped by after our movie date and he didn't hate it like I thought. He was cool. I was relieved. I'm hoping he continues in his coolness and paints the rest himself while I'm at work tomorrow...

Tomorrow He also meets with the contractor to discuss our homes major repairs. This will have a big say in when we can officially trek our goods over and finally stay the night/forever. This wednesday would be the best...fingers crossed!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Spencer's Suggestion

The other day Spencer, covered in dust, looked at me and told me he had a post suggestion:

"If you have ugly old bathroom tile, just try to live with it."

And I agree. Our bathroom came full of greenish fixtures-some are easy fixes. New toilet: check. A shower curtain that hangs past the tub: instantly hidden. Slap some stratamax on the floor: goodbye jolly green giant style checkers. But the tile? Well we had reserved ourselves to just live with it...

But we got cocky. Maybe it was because the swing doors had come off so easily, or because the wallpaper had so wonderfully flaked away. Erna said it would be no problem at all (why we listened to her, I have no idea...she's never removed 50 year-old tile!) So we watched a few online tutorial, asked the experts at Lowes and armed ourselves with a grout saw and hammer.

The tile came off easily enough...the problem is SO DID THE DRYWALL.

So I repeat on behalf of my beau:

If you have old weird tile. Live with it. As long as you can.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

So Hard to do the Right Thing


It was settled. We would paint the entire top floor of our new split-level and leave the downstairs unfinished. The logical was: "We'll wait to paint until we know what to do with it" The lazy was: "I don't want to paint the whole house yet!" But now I know we must...because it's the right thing to do. why?


Last night I went over flooring options with Erna, my soon-to-be sister-in-law and current carpet diva. The plan is to install stratamax over the current icky kitchen vinyl:

and over the color-confused main bath:

Now, I knew when we first saw our house, before it was our house, that the downstairs flooring would need to be redone in order for it to ever become our home. The floor was a shoddy combo of commercial grade, stained office carpet and ancient blue-green vinyl sticky tile (which I'm not against...but these where ugly and everywhere...see

So now I have a new logical, which I'm not happy about: Paint the whole darn thing. Because I know for a FACT how awful I am at keeping paint off the floor. I'm good at painting, but I do it with an air of perpetual poutyness. I hate second coats. I hate taping and cutting in and all that boring stuff. Poor me right? (there's sarcasm there-I'm infinitely blessed to have a home to call my own that I love so dearly. But I can still bitch about it) So it's settled. The whole downstairs gets it, pre-carpet install. But it doesn't stop there.

For about 100 bucks more we can rip out the matching commercial grade berber that currently resides in the soon-to-be guest bedroom. Ok, lets do it, it's yucky for sure! But that means that room must now be painted first (it's current hue is primer-over-teal). Ok. But what about the last room. The Lilac Room:

Her walls are purple, her carpet is emerald and her curtains are stuffed with tissue paper...

She would be a pretty pastel purple pimple on our otherwise smooth and beachy color palate. So she'll get it sooner than expected too.

Bah Humbug! I'm off to conjure up some volunteers...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Here we are!

Here is my little family in our new home (don't mind the slightly exhausted looks on our faces-we're slightly exhausted) Me, Spence-didily-ence and sweet Lily. We borrowed some "furniture" from the ivy room to sit and admire our freshly painted digs.

Over the past weekend of endless cutting-in and double coats, I realized- we're a good team. Which is great news. Since we're getting married and all. When I wanted to tape, Spencer was up for some rolling. When his hand cramped, he passed the trim brush to me and I happily accepted. We even took turns using the cordless drill. Sure, there were times where we disagreed and my voice crept slowly to a pitch only dogs can hear, but at the end of it we truly compromised. Well, I'm still lobbying for a pretty framed mirror to sub as a bathroom vanity in lieu of the standard medicine cabinet (really, who needs cabinets in all three of their bathrooms?!) but besides that. compromise. teamwork. respect. These are the lessons we are learning in building not only a home, but a future together as husband and wife.

On one of my few and favorite blogs I read this today: "Choose a color and soul that you want to have linger for years, and then LIVE there" She was talking about wedding planning, but I'm adopting it as a house mantra. Cliff notes: Surround myself with what I really want in life. Soak in it occasionally. Let your heart live in your home and vice verse.

So instead of fretting over a color theme that makes the kitchen connect with the guest room, I'll focus more on filling our house and our lives with what I really want: love. compromise. teamwork. respect.

and sweet Lily...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Bria LeeAnn: Accidental Anthropologist

That's right. I'm dissecting the history of a culture that lived in the exact general area of my new home for the past half decade. And its been fun. And confusing.

Right off the bat we got a glimpse into the personality of our Home's previous owners. "Ralph and Dawn O'Kramer" (that's a code name!) She: Loves flowers, whether or not they match anything...

Flowers were found on each and every curtain pattern (save one, which instead had faux blue blooms pinned to them) And I know for a fact there was a floral border in the dining room they removed to sell the house (thank you, Dawn). Oddly enough they did not like the physical time needed to keep real blooms, as every single one of their flower beds are filled with pebbles.

He: was very handy in his spare time. His garage sports a well-organized work cabinet. There are also 2 built in cabinets (one in the family room, one on the sun porch) That look eerily alike and hand-made. Lastly, He boasted TWO, count 'em TWO, sheds. One for tools and another equipped with shoddy electricity that doubled as a workroom. (That's TK showing off some cabinets with me our first night in. We're there to party.)

She: was hardworking. This is evident by the complete and total lack of a dishwasher. 50 years and ZERO one-button cleaning capability. She is a stronger woman than I. There are also probably a combined total of 12 clotheslines in and out of the house. I, on the other hand use the dryer for everything, even when it says I shouldn't.

He: was a state-farm insurance agent. Thanks to the boxes of office supplies left behind embossed with his name.

They: May have been color blind. Seriously. When we purchased the house, the sellers agent told us she had wisely advised them to do some "Designed-to-sell" quick fixes before listing (hence the floral border gone south). So when we first walked through we were hit with a lot of WHITE, bright, stark, probably-primer white. Upon closer inspection it was revealed that this was masking a strange blue-green-teal paint that covered the walls. All of the walls. Bedroom, kitchen, dining, living, guest room, porch...even the avocado bathroom. That color, combined with the mix'n'match wood finishes, brick, and left behind curtains tells me that was either their "signature family hue" or they just really couldn't see how crazy it all looked together. But hey, thanks for the primer coat at least...but you coulda taped and protected that lovely wood floor a little better!

And lastly, They obviously loved their home. They took amazing care of it - even if they skipped a few steps in remodeling here and there. The house has an easy going and loving feel to it. A happy family lived there, surrounded by teal-blue-green, and I'm happy to get my chance to share the love.

XOXO 'till next time, I'm uncovering new discoveries EVERY DAY!

House Tour 2

Finally a few more pics! It seems silly to post these now because I feel it looks so different already! But we will get to those changes later, first we must review the Home in its initial splendor...(please forgive the dates...I'll have to remove those since they are both ugly and incorrect)

Here is a good view from the corner of the living room into the dining and kitchen areas. You can spot that hip avocado oven, (I had thought it olive green, but my Mom corrected me) the love-it-or-hate-it-not-sure-yet fake brick wall and the stately and dark ceiling fan hanging in the dining "cubby"

We have since painted all of the walls and trim in these rooms.

Here are the swing doors we just didn't know what to do with. They now rest peacefully in our garage, along with that lamp pinned to the wall. Turns out it was a real safety hazard!

Now, take a peak at our color-themed bathrooms. One is avocado green, the other is naturally pink. A bathroom like ole greenie here really makes you wonder..."what were they thinking in 1964?" Could they possibly have thought this could be timeless? Really?

Ahh! Even though we accomplished a lot this weekend (with a little help from our friends...) There is still much to do before we move our things in. And it just keeps piling up. Now Spencer and I are seriously considering to attempt removing said avocado tiles from the bathroom. We had thought we would live with it for a while...but we have the urge to purge and we're on a roll!

watch out for my expose on closeted wallpaper and our pretty in beige after pics once all the trim is painted!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

who needs rules anyway!?

Well, I this is my first 2010 post and I have to say, its not too exciting. It's difficult to work full-time, party on NYE, buy and paint a house and still find time to write about it...especially when no one's really listening at the moment ;)

Plus my technological handicap is starting to show. I admit it. I am maybe the worlds only college grad who has problems uploading photos from her camera. Forgive me?

With the help of my Mom and our wonderful friend KT, Spencer and I accomplished A LOT yesterday. It went pretty well, except for a dead hammer and a sadly patched hallway hole (we're working on it!) Here is what we managed to get done in just one day...

-We painted! Coats went up on the bedroom, the living and dining rooms, the hallway and the kitchen.
-We removed the *gorgeous golden bath doors* and cleaned up the mess
-Spencer's Dad removed some random hall light fixture and we patched up the hole it left (ruining our new paint job in the process)
-We removed the fancy wooden coral swing doors that separated the hall from the rest of the house (this is where we lost our hammer head)

Removing the light and the doors from the hallway really updated the look of the space almost instantly! We had been on the fence about removing the doors just yet (they are tacky, but so funny!) Without them, the hall feels open and extra-large.

We had a tough time picking paint. One half of our brains said "go for it! get crazy and splash up some wild color on the wall!" while the other half reminded us to keep cool and neutral-and let the things we bring into the space make it interesting. Although it felt boring to repeat 2 sort of blah colors on most of the walls we were going for a cohesive look. We picked Valspar's "Swoosh" for the living room, hallway and half of our bedroom. "Whirlwind" went up in the kitchen, dining room and eventually the foyer (tall walls yikes!). We reused the old blue we had left from our current bedroom to paint 2 accent walls in our new bedroom. Score! It cost us ZERO dollars and we already know we like it!

I'll get into these projects more when I can post pictures.Valspar brand paint was a little pricey, but great because it includes a primer in the paint and cuts down on we scored 2 gallons at the "oops!" paint price of $6! "Swoosh" is a sort of coffee and cream color (can't you tell that from the name?) and "Whirlwind" is a lovely warm lacy white. What a difference the right white makes! I forget the name of our room blue, but It's made by Behr and it reminds me of a stormy ocean blue...

We have loads to do today. Spencer, Erna and PattyMayo our on the case today while I'm at work. I left them a nice long list of projects to complete so they would stay on track. I'll return to help them after, when we'll discuss flooring options and paint for the bathroom and other bedrooms. I said I would wait to paint the spares until a later date, but that lavender just isn't working with our new low key color who knows!