Wednesday, January 26, 2011

HomeGoods = Good Home

Y’all know I’m a sucker for a good deal. So when we had an opportunity to make a stop at the new giant HomeGoods store in El Segundo, CA last weekend I said, “yes please!” We had just left a lovely visit with my BFF mom-to-be (the one I threw this baby shower for) and decided to make a pit stop. Thanks to the convenience of the El Segundo Plaza we could accomplish four things with one trip:

1)     Scour the HomeGoods for great finds and super steals
2)     Pick up a few cleanse-related food items from Whole Foods (island brown rice with papaya and mango, anyone?)
3)     Get the 20 foot lead we need for dog obedience class from PetSmart (and ogle the cute pups up for adoption)
4)     Grab a roller back massager that the Mr. needed for his aching back from Dick’s Sporting Goods

We started in HomeGoods and found a few items I considered adding to the home. These great water jugs would be perfect for our summer cookouts on the deck, and are extra convenient since they come in this nice carrying basket:

Mr. R liked these white canisters with stainless steel lids for the kitchen, and they happened to be on clearance for $5 each. Seemed like they could be good for holding dog treats, tea bags, snacks for the kids and coffee.

I ADORED these Ralph Lauren bowls with the stitched rim and thought they would make a perfect addition to my white-filled hutch in the dining room.

Then, I’m sad to report, we got derailed in the pet aisle and ended up debating about which toys to get for the Rudog for 10 minutes. I didn’t realize it before but having a dog really is similar to having a child – so many cute toys to buy, then you give them to them and they play with the for five minutes before getting bored (or in Rudy’s case, before destroying the entire thing.) We let the kids each pick out one item for her and they went with a cute Valentine’s Day-inspired chew rope and knotted ball.

After that we were all hungry and ready for a snack, so we skipped out on the other items and moved on, but I’ve got my eye on you Home Goods El Segundo, and I’ll be back!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Rolling and Cutting 2: The Results Show

I realize that I owe you guys a few updates on some past posts, so I thought I would check back in with you on one of those today? First up? Remember when I picked up the special paint edger and paint roller for finishing my bedroom a couple of weeks ago? Here's a quick recap and review.

Shur-Line Paint Edger

The Pros: The cutting-in tool made going around the edge of my closet and the windows (areas that are not bordered by trim or moulding) a cinch - it created a nice and even border with no dripping. I would estimate it saved me a good 45-60 minutes on those areas.

The Cons: Despite my best efforts to not get any paint on the little wheels, I did, and that resulted in some smears of paint on the moulding and base board as I went around the top and bottom of the room, requiring some extra time to wipe down the smears with a paper towel. I would estimate this only cost me about 15 minutes of extra time since I probably would have had some smudges if I cut-in with a regular angled brush anyway. Also, there were some areas that were too small for the tool to fit in, so I had to use the angled brush on those anyway.

Final Verdict: I would definitely use this again for painting around windows and closet doors without trim, but would probably opt for a regular angled brush instead for any areas bordered by trim or moulding. Helpful, but not necessary. If you don't own one already I wouldn't specifically recommend buying one for your next painting project.    

Paint-N-Roll Plus

The Pros: Not having to constantly dip my roller into the paint tray was a nice reprieve, and I had almost no splattering, which usually happens once or twice if I overdip when I use a regular roller. 

The Cons: This roller required a lot of paint be added to the handle in order for it to paint a full and smooth stroke on the wall, so it took a while to get going and I had to refill the roller several times. Also, other than a sweet spot directly in front of me, getting enough pressure behind the strokes near the ceiling and floor was a challenge. I still ended up with sore arms and shoulders the next day. And at one point, the roller came apart from the handle, resulting in a bunch of paint splattering on the floor (of course this happened right when I was painting above a mass of cords and cables, but that's not the paint roller's fault.) Clean-up was also a pain, since instead of just tossing a paint tray and washing a roller (if I'm not inclined to just throw it out and replace) I had to wash the roller, the handle, the inside of the roller, and the lid that you attach to the paint can.

Final verdict: Although it was nice to not have to dip the roller every few strokes and avoid the splattering I usually get, I don't think this saved me any time or effort once I factored in the extra strength required to paint above and below me, the spill on the cords and the additional pieces to clean-up. I say stick with the regular roller (with a long arm) and paint tray and you'll get the same results on the walls in less time.

Disclaimer: I do realize that I only tried one of each type of product, and there may be others on the market that do the same thing, but better. This is just my opinion of these specific products that I tried.

In the end the room came out beautifully, and I'm happy to have it finished and checked off the list. Have you tried any painting contraptions or techniques that you'd like to share?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hanging Around

Remember last month when I talked about these great neighborhood posters from Ork? Well I decided to go ahead and buy one, and was initially planning to hide it away until Valentine’s Day as a little gift for my hubby, but since he was home when the package arrived and I was not, that surprise went out the window. Guess I’ll have to think of something else for February 14th, but for now I’m focused on framing this puppy and putting it up to admire.

While browsing their site I noticed that Ork has a great section with tips and ideas for displaying their posters, like:

  • Ork's personal favorite: hang with binder clips and pushpins or small nails...put 2 clips on top and 2 clips on the bottom, near the corners, use nails or pushpins through the arms of the clips to hang. Target has some slick, small silver binder clips that work well (in the office supply section).
  • Mount the poster on matte board or foamcore and set it on an art shelf or small nails. This method is also handy if you like to cycle the art that you have on display.
  • Poster 'rails': These are aluminum bars that snap on to the top and bottom of the poster and hang with 2 nails or hooks. They are often used for displays, but create a unique look in the home.

I do like these ideas and am inclined to try them out at some point, but my goal was to hang this in our “formal” living room so I think a traditional frame and mat would be more appropriate this time around, especially since the poster itself leans towards the fun side. I don’t want to spend a fortune on custom framing though, so I’ve been looking at some inexpensive, but still attractive options. 

The poster we got measures 20’ X 30’ and is black with gold metallic ink. The Ikea Ribba frame (my go-to frame of choice) comes in a 28 ¼ by 40 ¼ size that fits a 19 ¼ by 27 ¼ picture within the borders of its mat, and since it appears that there is at least an inch and a quarter above and below the printing on the poster, that could work. If I can put my impatience aside though, it would also be cool to get a vintage, ornate frame from a flea market or thrift store and spray paint it in a black lacquer...guess I have to think on this for a minute. Oooh, I love a good cliffhanger! I’ll report back in with what we decided to do, since I know you're all dying with anticipation.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cleansing our Palates

After all the gluttony of the holidays – and I made the holidays last from Halloween all the way to last week’s Disneyland trip – I need to refresh. It started with a full emptying, cleaning and restocking of my closet (two bags to Goodwill – hooray!) followed by the joyous welcoming of our new housekeeper who erased all evidence of the cobwebs of 2010. Now the refresh has made its way to me.

On Monday the hubby and I started a 21-day elimination diet that I read about on Goop. Yes, I’m a fan. This cleanse calls for cutting out all caffeine, alcohol, dairy, soy, wheat and sugar, along with some other specific items like ketchup, bananas, peanuts, and a number of other things.

My goal with this cleanse is really to jump start healthy habits for me and the family. In general we eat pretty well, but I want to do better than pretty well. I also wouldn’t mind losing the five pounds I gained since moving in to the house (I blame it on too much “new house” celebrating with friends and family) which I discovered when I went to the doctor for bronchitis last month and had to step on the scale.

So last week I picked up a bag of decaf coffee and started adding it to our regular daily brew to try to wean us down. I stocked up on lots of brown rice, free range organic chicken, rice milk, almond milk, walnuts, apples and more. 48 hours in I’m feeling fine (aside from a little caffeine withdrawal headache on Monday afternoon) and looking forward to challenging myself to make it through the next 2.5 weeks. We’ve discussed continuing to keep out wheat, sugar and dairy after that, but I guess we’ll see what the next 18 days bring before making that decision. After all, March begins the big birthday bonanza (first the Mr., then me, then my little one, then the big kid) that lasts right through mid-April, and I don’t know of a sugar-free, wheat-free, dairy-free cake that I’d like to eat, do you?! 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Clean House

 Sorry for the radio silence for much of last week - we spent a fantastic two days at Disneyland with some visiting family, and by the time we made it home I was just too exhausted to report in. But thanks to an exciting new development in our house I'm feeling well rested...after much debate over the last six months, we finally hired a housekeeper. The final straw? I noticed cobwebs in our dining room chandelier last week.

Despite my best efforts since moving in to our new home, I've just been unable to keep up with everything as much as I would like to. Between my day job, the kids, my projects and now the dog, I've only been able to scratch the surface - literally - of the grime. So on Saturday morning at 8:30 Maria (my new BFF) arrived at our house and spent the next eight hours (yes, eight) cleaning it from top to bottom...well, I guess it's more like East to West, since it's only one story. She spent over two hours in the kitchen alone, going so far as to clean out the utensil drawer and scrub the front of the cabinets. By the time she was done everything sparkled and I was able to spend the beautiful 80 degree January day at the park with my family. It was well worth the expense and I'm already counting the days (12 to be exact) until she returns.

Do you guys have people clean your homes? How often? 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I was so happy with the way that our holiday card came out that I found myself sneaking peaks of the tiny printout version I made when we initially planned to do printed cards vs. an ecard. So when I saw that Aaron Brothers was having their One Cent Sale, I decided to make a larger version of our silhouette family that I could hang up and look at whenever I wanted to (and without having to squint.)

I stopped over at the store and found this nice frame in white, so I grabbed it in 8X10.Then I printed the image on matte photo paper on our color printer, popped it in and Voila!

I'm still deciding where this will live, but I'm leaning towards the hallway by our master bathroom. Oh, and I got the same frame for my one cent option, since we tend to lean towards white frames throughout the house. Not sure what will go into the second one, but I love having an extra frame ready to go.  

Monday, January 10, 2011

Rolling and Cutting

 I learned two things when I painted the kids room (all by myself) last weekend:

1) Painting without an extendable roller leads to extremely sore shoulders and legs (from climbing up and down a chair) and general grumpiness

2) Cutting in is an ENORMOUS and time consuming pain in the ass
So even though Christmas just passed, I bought myself two gifts this weekend:

When I stopped in to Osh to remedy issue #1 (normally I wouldn't think to shop there for paint-related home improvement items, but it was next door to the roller skating rink birthday party we went to on Sunday so I thought I would give it a try) I was thrilled to find a solution to issue # 2 as well.
Not only does the paint roller extend so I won't have to stand on a chair to reach the top of the wall, it holds paint in the handle so you don't have to refill the roller repeatedly while you are painting. And the Shur-Line is supposed to allow you to cut in (that's the term for painting a straight line at the edge of your baseboard/window/closet/moulding/trim) without worrying about mistakes, saving you the huge time commitment of taping off each of these areas.

I plan to try both of these out this week when I paint our bedroom, so I'll report back soon!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Un-mending Fences

Remember this excited post about our future fence? And this great glamour shot of the slatted wood walls that would soon be surrounding our yard?

Well, here are the slatted wood walls now:

What happened? Well, for starters, three fence companies came out to give us a quote for building a fence with these gifted slat walls (“we’ll save a TON of money!” we said) but those three fence companies told us that they would not use our wood. The problem we discovered, is that we have soft pine, which would not stand up to rain, wind and sun and would end up needing to be replaced in a few years time. To pressure treat the wood would cost as much as using new materials.

Looks like our best efforts to be frugal and environmentally sound were all for not. I was bummed, not only because that meant shelling out more cash, but also because my poor husband had spent an entire day renting a U-haul and lugging these things to our house, and they were HEAVY. Once in place in the backyard, leaned up against our house, there they sat for months while we tried to decide what to do. Use them for firewood, build a tree house, and make a headboard were all ideas that I floated around, but still they sat, untouched. And then the rain started. After almost a week of downpours the wood looked terrible.

Then on Christmas Eve, the Mr. took action, busted out his work gloves and began dissecting them until we had a wood graveyard behind our house. Habitat for Humanity will be here Monday to take it to the local Restore.

So it looks like the decision was sort of made for us, and we'll be shopping around this weekend for the right hedges to line our front yard. We'll all be happier when we have a little more privacy, security and a safely confined space for everyone to play.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Bottled Up

If you have kids, you know there are gifts that you are happy for them to receive, and gifts that make you cringe. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but honestly, if it’s “the thought that counts,” sometimes I wonder “what they were thinking!!” Every parent has their own criteria for bad gifts – for some it’s noisy or messy toys, for others with space constraints it’s oversized items, and don’t forget about the politically-fueled toy gun or Barbie doll to get people going.

That’s why I was thrilled when one of my dearest friends picked just the right gift for my kids this year. Not that I should be surprised – she somehow always picks great gifts for us and the kids (and she’s not even a mom yet, for another few weeks at least!) It was practical, useful, fun and creative….it was Crayola’s Create Your Own Water Bottle. 

Amidst a pile of Zhu Zhu pets and Wii games, my kids begged to work on these first. The kits came with everything you need to make personalized aluminum water bottles – especially helpful since they are ALWAYS losing theirs or leaving them at school.

We laid out some newspaper and got to it!

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year, New Room

Happy New Year!

I couldn't let 2010 end without accomplishing one of the things that has been on my to-do list for months: finishing the kids bedroom!

With close to two weeks off from my day job I finally had time to paint and add the last few touches (for now) that have turned the room into a warm and comfortable space that the kids and I both love.

Just to refresh, here are some before's and mid-way points.

Since that time I've added these Urban Outfitter-inspired, semi-homemade pillowcases with an iron-on transfer, bought this rug (which I found in the as-is section of Ikea for $9 and had professionally cleaned for $45, saving me over $100), gave this side table a bright new look, and purchased these pillowcases from West Elm.

I also hung the silhouettes I created for the kids last year, as well as the Smokey the Bear poster I found at the thrift store (see more about that adventure here.)

Finally I chose a light, warm gray for the walls, Benjamin Moore's Gray Owl.

So, without further ado, here it is! I hope you like it.