Saturday, February 27, 2010

Dream kitchen: Where art thou?


it's Saturday. I'm working. I'd rather be crafting a headboard...

But, work = money = headboard supplies = headboard. so.

yesterday I was pleasantly surprised to come home from work and find P.May and my future in-laws had come over to install our tile-like stratamax in the kitchen to cover these vinyl tiles which drove me crazy because aside from not being my style at all, they were crooked and sloppily laid...

It looks great but...of coarse there's a it makes me really want to spruce up my workable, but outdated kitchen.

Where do I start though? I have big plans for this little kitchen which include knocking down a wall or two, upgrading every appliance and getting new cabinets and counter top. That plan also includes a wait time of about 5 years...

It would be silly to get just new cabinets or just new counter tops now when we're planning a major redesign. So I need to perform a mini makeover. PROBLEM: I am having serious issues with my next step. I don't have a dream kitchen in mind, there are a lot of styles I like...

Before the purchase of this home I had fantasized about a Mediterranean style kitchen, like this:

Rich colors, dark wood, something that screamed: "people eat well here"

But, I also lean towards a more modern look as well, like this one from Young House Love:

I love LOVE the extreme tile work here and the punchy patterned towel that picks up the pace.

Then again, there is something ultra-cool and classic about this mostly-white beauty...

(Not to mention, I adore the french blue accents...)

Or, why not go with the flow and pick a fun, retro look, like this one from Amy's Blog:

Can you say, "sunny side up"?

The final contender is a more unique look. Something rarely seen outside the Internet, but definitely a growing trend:

So cool! These chalkboard painted walls are making a big splash, as far as I can tell, and I'm on board! How fun would it be to have an ever-changing wall!?!

They all look great, but somehow I think a "Modern-Mediterranean all-white retro kitchen with a chalkboard wall" doesn't translate into awesomness.

But that's down the road. Like, the Highway, or one of those long dirt roads that creep you out a little if you just watched "Texas Chainsaw Massacre". I don't have to worry about all that now, here are my current dilemmas:
1.) Paint the counter tops a'la DIY network BUT WHAT COLOR?!
2.) Find a temporary way to cover up that scenic tile back splash. Ideas include, but aren't limited to: Mounting a custom-cut-by-bria chalkboard painted wood board, cover it up with sticky tile or OTHER (help please)
3.) Counter tops...I don't mind the color really for now, but I'm open to repainting although that really doesn't sound fun...

So, if you read and split, lurk occasionally, or whatever...please give me your 2 cents NOW and help me formulate a fabulous PLAN B!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

things we all do

I've noticed a few trends among recent home buyers.

We always apologize. "Oh this is just such a mess" or "excuse the orange wall, we're repainting soon" or even apologizing for lack of furniture. HELLO! why do we do this? The whole planet knows that when you first move in, it takes time to go from zero to why so many sorry's?

We agonize over paint. I know I had up to 10 color swatches on our living room, all of varying shades of beige, for nearly a week before deciding. So I sympathized when I saw this at BRAD's house:

The wall is yellow. There are 3 yellow paint swatches pinned to it. It has been this way for 6 months...

We ignore our gut instincts and lament over the perfect shade. Or we (me) impulsively nab a $5 gallon of whoops paint and do this:

Which brings me to another observation. We ALL make mistakes. The above guest room color was one of mine. BRAD's was ripping out his weird bedroom carpet before realizing how crucial it would be come his first vermont winter.

We delight in the details. I can't tell you how happy this light fixture made me...

even though I KNOW nobody else would give it a second look.

Finally. we love. we love hard. I love every squeaky floorboard, every muddy backyard ditch, every crazily wallpapered closet of our little home.

Do you notice any typical home dweller behavior?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Did you know that "Vermont" translates to "Green Mountains" in in "Mont Verts"? I like it even more now...

But I could never live there. no way. Too much cold. and worse, too many people happy about blizzards and freezing temperatures. So while it is an oasis for many (my dear friend is a transformed man, i noticed about a 78% happiness increase) It is not for me in a permanent state.

But it was one hell of a visit. I laughed, I cried, I shivered in 3 layers under a quilt. I ate well. well enough to gleefully pack my SB#2 pounds back on. The maple creamy alone was worth it...

BRAD would kill me if he knew I was posting pictures of his house in an unclean state on the Internet. That won't stop me. What will instead is that I left my camera at home...

So they will come tomorrow. His house is a steeped roof home on 2 acres that began its life as a 3 season cabin. And its cold. There is a big wood burning stove front and center that works pretty well wit the design of the house, but without your own personal Jeeves keeping this stove full and steaming, we woke up most mornings too cold to muster the courage to make a run for it. I'm told it has central heat, but runs on propane, of which they have none. Had I known that I would have happily filled my suitcase to the brim.

2 "big" things happened while in VT.
1.) (this is sort of un-big) I miraculously found the perfect master bath accessories
2.) I made myself do something I really REALLY didn't want to do. And loved myself for it.

I hurled myself face first down a snowy AND STEEP mountain on two skinny planks of wood.

I think the french call it...Le Ski.

For the first 2 hours I hated it. I yelled at Spencer and threw my sticks...I'm sorry, I mean "poles", at him. I sat and pouted. I steamed angrily over lunch that no one was willing to take me far away from this terrible mountain. The last 2 hours is where I proved that "I'm the man". I could sit and wait, or try again. I rationalized that trying again would make the time pass faster and give me more ammunition later when I was accusing Spencer of trying to kill me. So I went to the top and cried my way down. "blubbered" is more accurate. Once safe, I skied my way over to the lift (hate that thing too) and tried again. and again. and again. By the end of the day I was still blubbering, but this time it was while hurtling towards certain death on a BLUE trail. (for non skiers, BLUE is A.K.A- "medium" fear and suffering)

I'm alive. And I'm the man. I hated it for sure, which is why I'm surprised to find myself willing to try again. Maybe this time NOT 3,000 feet up the steepest mountain in Vermont.

I was sure tickled pink to be home though. My first trip away from my baby, my moulin blanc. My glorious bed. My central heat. My big, hot shower.

Hmmm, that last sentence sounds more "lusty' than "lovey".

It felt wonderful to accomplish something I was soooo SOOOOOO terrified of. Spencer was proud of me too. And that also makes me feel wonderful.

The moral of this story has 2 parts. First, ALWAYS bring flannel to vermont. Second, put your big girl panties on and hurl down the mountain, whatever your mountain is. I promise...if you'll be your biggest fan!

Friday, February 19, 2010

snow bound

Thankfully we experienced only minor damage from the past few snow storms to our lovely home. But the immobility really cramped my decorating spree. And as I vowed to back off Internet shopping for a while, I was left to think only and not act.

And you know what? I thought myself into a pit of over-caring. Snowbound, I searched the web (only looking!) for THE PERFECT bathroom set. I looked at so many, I finally gave up and haven't thought about it since.

It feels great. I was so obsessed with making our home instantly perfect I was missing out on how awesome it already is! The best part of all being that I get to share it with such a wonderful person.

My laptop is virus-free, but that doesn't mean you'll be hearing much from me this weekend. We're off on a mini-road trip to Chittenden, Vermont.

It will be the first time we'll visit the state and the occasion is to visit a dear old friend (and one of my best men). He and his partner just moved to Vermont and purchased their first home- A peaked roof log cabin surrounded by ferns.

When I get back I'll post about what another family is doing to transform their own personal paradise.

And I'll be trying to ski...or more accurately, trying to get out of skiing.

snow + bria = pout

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

where am i?

I'll tell you.

I havent had a carb in 8 days
I havent had sugar in 8 days
I have a nasty computer virus which has me driving to a friends house to check email/pay bills
I popped a tire on a screw in the bank parking lot...$300 later I find out much more is wrong with ole Rosie
I hate my job
Im *this close* to booking our Costa Rican Honeymoon
I bought an after party wedding dress that looks just like my Mom's
I'm getting a garbage disposal today
Lily has an ear infection
I leave for Vermont in 4 days
I've lost 5 pounds

I miss my computer. I miss my blogs. I miss aol news.

I love the olympics...even curling makes me cry

I got a High School Musical balloon for valentines day and it was awesome

So thats where I am. The virus has effected my posting, so for all 3 of you reading this....I'm sorry. Hopefully I'll be back in action before you can do a triple sow cow.

or whatever.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

20+ inches of snow, and I'm in South Beach

HA! I wish!!! The correct wording is, "I'm on South Beach", as in: I'm on a diet.

I am 101 days from getting married. I shallowly vowed to myself I would be the hottest version of moi on May 22, 2010. I'm not gi-normous, but I quickly accumulate belly blub, and while I'm generally pretty ok with my size, I have no choice.

You see, I'm an idiot. and a masochist. I dove head first into the South Beach diet around this time last year with great success, shedding nearly 15 pounds in 2 weeks. I felt great, looked good and was ready to try on some wedding dresses! They always say you go in looking for one thing and end up falling for something totally different, and that was true for me. I fell in love with this little number:

(That's soooo not me!!)

We ordered it in my size and waited till October to see her again. I slowly weened myself off the diet and by then I had put the pounds back on. So my dress doesn't fit. shit. The only option is to cut the carbs once again and focus.

It's gonna be a loooong 101 days....

So this is day 2 of SBD#2. I'm optimistic, but it's tough with all this snow on the ground! Being snowed in begs for a constant fueling of hot chocolate, mac'n'cheese and bottles of red wine. The 1st 2 weeks are the toughest but garner the fastest results. No grains of any sort, no booze, no sugar (that includes fruit!)It's easier than you might think, but requires A LOT of thought. Which is a good thing. SBD#1 forced me to really take a look at my eating habits and think about what I was putting into my body instead of just grabbing something fast and tasty. I did a ton of prep work this weekend: having onion chopped and ready to go for quick omelette's, making big batches of tuna salad and baked chicken tenders. I'm setting myself up for success and as a result, our fridge is the fullest it's been since we moved in!! I'm praying it has the same effect as it did last time and I can breath my gorg. gown.

I would recommend this diet to anyone, even the most diet-phobic. Yesterday I ate pretty well!
-spinach and feta omelet with turkey bacon
-some cottage cheese with TONS of salt and pepper
-a HUUUGE chef salad with bacon, cheese and chicken
-a bunch of pistachios as a snack
-lemon pepper halibut with oven roasted asparagus, broccoli and "surprise! south beach mashed potatoes" (which are mashed cauliflower with butter and good!)
-some almond mocha ricotta creme for desert

Ok, I had 2 bites of Spencer's ice cream...but it's no sugar added. so sue me!

Actually don't sue me, just wish me luck!

any diet success stories out there to share?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"giveaway" saves the day!

As mentioned before, I've begun the search for bedroom decor (well, except furniture...we'll save that for when we can afford a matching set like the grown-ups do).

After much online/store searching I decided on this brown/white comforter set...

It's a steal from overstock and falls in that cozy space between sleek modern lines and organic feeling design. I imagined a lighter shade but stuck with chocolate for 2reasons: First, We have a dog, our Lily, and while she hardly sheds, she does love to get wet and muddy and jump anywhere she pleases. (my white micro-suede couch pillows can explain this dillema best) Secondly, because Spencer suggested it. And he doesn't get too too much say, so I thought: what the heck. Chocolate brown it is. (Blue was out, because I didn't want to gamble not matching the wall the bed rests against)

So we'll have this new bed-look which should pick up the white in the curtains nicely, all resting in a 2 hue room of dusty blue and soft beige. hmm...this is starting to sound like the rest of the house. So, inspired by 2 beloved poppy prints I picked up in Florence years ago, I'm going to try and interject some fun red into the design.

First Step: Locate some delicious throw pillows in a modern red floral print.
I googled my heart out to no avail...what would I, glorious impatient Bria do?!?!

I went Blog-hunting and a new Fav saved the day!!
Sarah, from Dream in Domestic, is a college student writing a blog about all the things budding domestic goddesses "oooo" and "ahhhh" over. From recipe revamps to thrift store do-overs, I love checking in to be inspired and reminded how awesome daydreaming is!

Well, Sarah just happens to be posting her first giveaway for modern pillows from I'm in! Whether I'm the lucky winner or not, this giveaway has directed me towards my perfect pillow...

The contest ends next Wednesday...I'm not sure if I can hold off until then, but I'll just have to! Go check out her blog NOW! and wish me luck!!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

PARIS: too much of a good thing?

We've stumbled on a sort of "travel theme" here at "Moulin Blanc". Haha-a working name based on the white windmill crankin' outside, and a nod to our engagement night.

We have some Key West prints scattered in the hallway, some New York themed stuff going on in the bathroom, our favorite, sappy, travel pics hanging in our bedroom...and Paris...ah Paris.

Spencer and I punctuated our 6 week Parisian study abroad experience with a perfect engagement. We feel in love with the city (how could you not?!) and the life altering proposal makes this City of Lights even more endearing to us. So we have a penchant for things that take us back to that happy time in both our lives. Also, when you say you've been or are going to Paris, people take that as a cue to gift buying. You know, like, when you decide to start a small collection of snowmen, and then everybody you know starts sending a snow-community your way for every gift-giving holiday. you know. Nothing wrong with it, just a fact.

So most of our Parisian decor has found its way into our living/dining room. But it has me it too much? Does it say: "Oh look at us, aren't we sooo cool? we've been to Paris, can't you tell?!" ??? YOU TELL ME
This baby hangs in the dining room, but you see it from the couches. It's a spot-in-Paris-not-the Eiffel-tower poster, so that's cool. And the blue matches our curtains perfectly, really joining the 2 rooms together.

This sweetie hangs above the TV. The frame is from Michael's and the pictures are different views of the Eiffel Tower taken by Spencer and I during our trip
(6 weeks, 6 shots)

And then some little touches. A pillow gifted from my mom and a leather photo book from little brother Shane that rests under the glass top coffee table...

So. In writing this I've answered my own question. You can never have enough of a good thing. Especially when it makes you happy. I look at this stuff and get transported back to that blissfully and wildly in love, full of hope and promises. It reminds me to bring that feeling to our everyday life. Hmphf. Home decor for happiness. Now that's a good excuse to go shopping...

could it be? D-O-N-E ?!?!

Oh my goodness, not the whole house! certainly not! We still have loads of empty space and some iffy paint choices to review...

But I had set out to decorate in stages, i.e.-take on one room at a time as not to overwhelm my brain or pocketbook. So #1 for me (for US, whatever...) was making our main living space-the living and dining room-look DONE. For the most part...I suspect I'll be adding little odds and ends as time passes.

So for now I'm pronouncing these rooms....blissfully done-ish...
Our Living room...BEFORE

and AFTER...

Our dining room BEFORE


Full shot BEFORE

You know what's next...

We decided to hang the giant mirror we scored at scratch n dent above the couch after much discussion. I had scoured for *the perfect* piece of giant artwork to no avail. I considered making my own art. I was iffy about the mirror because it would be reflecting our gigantor TV...ew. But then I realized it would also reflect our gigantor 96" window. And we already had it. I'm still on the fence about the brick wall decor. I grabbed the 2 N. Wyatt framed prints at Ross for an awesome $17 a pop (saw them on for over $100 bucks each!!) I like them there, but I'm on the hunt for a tall, wide (but skinny!) table with a drawer to go under and then I'll probably hang 'em a little higher...we shall see.

So, long story done, I'm on to the next room(s). 1) finish the main bathroom and then work on the master bed/bath combo. After that...who knows? But I've got at least 3-5 business days (until my comfy new discounted comforter comes in) to sit and relax in my cozy living room!