UPDATED: 2013 Goals

So I made the bold move to put my 2013 goals in writing, so now it’s time to face the music.  This could be really depressing, but let’s dive in . . .

  • Paint the fireplace.   STILL NOT DONE.  I need courage folks–tell me to do it.  Tell me it will look amazing.  I’ve been trying to muster my courage by scouring Pinterest for similar makeovers, but I haven’t found anything.  However, I did determine that it’s a lannon stone fireplace, which led me to this beautiful image (from here):

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So what do you think?  Any suggestions to somehow handle this beast?

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  • Hang new lights in the kitchen.  DONE.  You can just barely see the new ceiling light in the reflection below.

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  • Create better organization in our entryway.  DONE and detailed here and here.  Update: this has still been working out pretty great, especially with the cart as a catch-all.

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  • Hang artwork/pictures.  Partly done, but still a long way off.

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  • Get a vintage sideboard for the dining room.  NOT DONE, and I’ve changed my mind slightly.  I need a piece that’s less than 12″ deep so that it doesn’t crowd that side of our dining room table, so I’m thinking of having something custom made.  Need to get on that already.
  • Get new dining room chairs.  DONE.  Mini Bunches is a big fan, and so are we.  These aren’t as tip-prone as our old ones.  

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  • Style the family room built-ins.  DONE.  SORT OF.  I THINK.  MAYBE.  WHAT DO YOU THINK?

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  • Paint the master bathroom.  DONE. No pictures yet, but once I get some new lights, then I’ll share.  
  • Get window treatments for the master bath, guest bath, guest room, and Mr. B’s office.  Three out of four ain’t bad, right?
  • Finish painting all the trim in the house.  NOT DONE.  I don’t know if this will ever be done.  There’s just. so. much. trim.  But I made some progress.  So that’s something right.  Plus, I decided to paint all the doors in the house, and I’ve gotten through about 60% of them.  Now to just knock out the remaining 40%.  And then change all the hinges and doorknobs.  Oy vey.  Eventually, each door will look like this:

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  • Unpack our remaining boxes in the basement.  NOT DONE.  But progress has been made.  Once we have a garage sale this spring, I think we’ll be in better shape.
  • Paint our master bedroom.  NOT DONE.
  • Paint the upstairs hallway.  NOT DONE.
  • Paint the guest room.  Partially DONE.  I forgot to paint under the desk, and I’ve also decided that I need to paint the soffit.
  • Paint Mr. B’s office.   NOT DONE.
  • Paint the guest bath.  NOT DONE, but I did get all the trim painted in there, so that’s something, right? 
  • Take more pictures.  Especially ones with a little twist.  And get them edited/posted in a somewhat timely basis.  We all knew this was going to be a fail, right?  I had less than 15 posts in 2013.  But I had so much fun with Mini B, that I’m going to forgive myself.

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Well, the report card’s in, and I’m going to score it a C+.  And I’m going to refrain from doing a 2014 goals post I think, especially since there are so many 2013 goals that still need to be completed.  So I shall carry on, and maybe my 2013 goals will be finished sometime in this decade.  Fingers crossed!

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Pack it up Pachysandra!

Remember when our house looked like this?

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And then how it looked like this:

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Well, while all that sunken concrete and overgrown Pachysandra may do it for some of you, it didn’t really hit the mark for us.  So we finally hired us some landscapers and got our curb appeal on!

It was amazing how much they accomplished in only three days (we had a different contractor replace the limestone steps and take out the iron scrollwork a few weeks earlier–since that post is pressure-treated wood, we were told it has to stay uncovered for a season, but then we plan to paint it or vinyl wrap it) . . .

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And to really see the difference, here are some side-by-side comparisons:

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Of course, now that it’s been a few weeks and our grass has grown back in, things are really looking better.  I wanted a lot of color, and next spring we should be able to see it (we’ve got hydrangeas, lilies, peonies, dogwood, cherry trees, etc. so there should be lots of blooms).  It’s not perfect, but it’s at least a step in the right direction.

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Mini B gives it her stamp of approval.  What do you think?

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Entryway Solution? Maybe

Our entryway has been a bit of a mess ever since we moved in (the one from the garage to the kitchen; the main entrance doesn’t really get used, but this one gets lots of traffic).  So much so that I don’t even have any decent pictures of it.  You can catch a glimpse of it here:

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And then here’s a phone shot from a few weeks ago when we finally hung a mirror.

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The problem is that the piece of furniture we had there (an old server) just did nothing for us storage-wise.  And it also wasn’t really my style.  So I had been on the hunt for a solution, but wasn’t exactly sure what would work.  And with a growing Mini Bunches, I’m also not positive that whatever solution we find now will be something lasting for the future.  Which brings me to my point: I didn’t want to spend a lot of money.  Or time.  Especially if it’s something we might outgrow in a few years.  Enter thrift stores–the cheap solution to almost everything.

And so two weekends ago, when Mr. B was away for his annual Idiot Nation trip to Vegas, I hit up my favorite thrift store.  You know, the one where I found this blue beauty (I’m still regretting not scooping her up when I had the chance, but I digress) . . .

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Unlike my last visit to this particular Salvation Army, this time around it was slim pickings.  But just when I was about to leave, I spotted this:

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Admittedly, not much to look at, but I liked the mid-century lines, the size was right, and it was solidly built of wood (except for the yucky laminate top, but I dealt with that during my last furniture refinishing adventure, so no big deal there).  And the price?  Just right.  Actually, better than just right–just $15 kind of right.  SOLD.

Once I got it home and wrangled it in the house (it’s super heavy so some wrangling it did take), I got to work.  Since I only had nights and nap times to work my magic, I wasn’t planning an extensive refinishing; rather, I was just going to follow the steps John and Sherry took on their TV stand overhaul and hope for the best.  So here’s what it looked like once I got it home and completed the first step: CLEANING.

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I scrubbed the piece down with a Magic Eraser just like YHL did.  And I also wiped down the drawers with a vinegar-soaked rag.  My results?  Well, as you can see above and below, the Magic Eraser removed the finish in quite a few places.

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Again, since I only paid $15, I wasn’t too upset about that, but if you’re trying to fix a piece that you really care about, then maybe test out the Magic Eraser in an inconspicuous spot first to be safe.  But it did remove a lot of grime, so it wasn’t all bad.  As for the vinegar wipe-down of the drawers, that totally worked–it completely removed all the musty old smell.  So we were 1 for 2 at this point.

Up next?  A little conditioning treatment.  Using these (again, just like YHL):

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I first used the Howard Restor-A-Finish to wipe down everything.  It definitely brought some shine back and made the dried-out wood come back to life a bit.

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Much better, right?  It didn’t completely fix all the spots where the Magic Eraser had, er, erased, but it helped a lot.  I then used some leftover Minwax wood stain in walnut to rub in the really light spots, and when even that didn’t fix things, I used a Mr. Sketch Scented Marker in Brown.  That, my friends, worked WONDERS.  I just scribbled it on, and then wiped it away.  It was just about perfect at evening out any light patches.  So once all of that was done it wasn’t looking so bad . . .

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My last step was to give it a good ol’ rub down with some wax–the Howard Feed-n-Wax.  And just like Mr. Miyagi says: wax on, wax off.  That step took less than 30 minutes, and this thrift store find was complete!

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In addition to the desk, we also added a coat rack (from Crate & Barrel here) and a basket for shoes.

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I’ve also ordered a steel truck from Steele Canvas to put on the left-hand side of the desk.  That way we can just drop our bags into it and hopefully keep the area looking reasonably pulled together.

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So there you have it.  Our second attempt at wrangling some type of order in our entry way.  Here’s hoping it works!

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And a little bonus Mini Bunches just for making it all the way through this post . . .

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Love is in the Air

Happy Valentine’s Day!  May you especially appreciate all your loved ones today . . . for my part, I am sure this will be the best Valentine’s Day yet.  So thank you Mr. Bunches and Mini Bunches for being my sweetest Valentines.

Oh, and this Hallmark Holiday was just the right excuse to change out the chalkboard pantry.  So we are no longer Cherishing the Season . . .

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And instead appreciating all the love surrounding us . . .

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Of course, that didn’t seem quite good enough.  It needed something more personal . . . PICTURES!!

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Aaahhh, much better.  Now, Love is in the Air!

Cher is on the Sea

Huh?  Just look . . .

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Clear?  Okay, okay, I don’t actually know where Cher is (probably Vegas?), but it was either that or “Her son is on the sea” and that didn’t sound as catchy.  Still confused?  Well, don’t be–it’s just that I finally finished a home project that I’ve been wanting to do since we were in the midst of our kitchen renovation.  Of course, I didn’t get to finish it then because, well, I had a baby.  I know–weak excuse.  So through the magic of the Internet, let’s go back to the beginning . . .

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I know it’s hard to focus on just one atrocious part of the above pic, but let’s try–focus on the pantry doors in the hallway.  They become even more off-putting once the rest of the kitchen gets a face lift.

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See what I mean?  They were just awful.  The first step?  Painting the trim white and priming the doors as dark as possible.

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Already so much better, right?  Mr. Bunches was all, ‘Oh, we’re going to paint them grey?  That’s awesome–they look great.’  And then I had to be all, ‘No–that’s just the primer.  Puh-leeze.’  But, it did make me think that maybe we should paint the rest of the doors in our house–possibly in some darker shade of grey?  Just sayin’.

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The next step?  Chalkboard Paint!  We used Valspar Chalkboard Paint from Lowe’s.

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They look pretty slick, right?  Of course, they need new handles, but I was under a bit of a time crunch (this all took place prior to the holidays), so I figured the new handles could wait.

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And while you may think that they were ready to be all chalked up with some fun holiday greeting, well, you would be wrong.  See, first they had to be “conditioned” which basically means you have to cover the entire surface with chalk and then erase it.

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And in case you were wondering, yes, this process is messy and DUSTY with a capital D-U-S-T-Y.

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Once the conditioning was done (and the dust vacuumed), then it was time get my artsy on.

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Once I finished chalking the doors up with season’s greetings, I thought they still could use a little more cheer.  So I decided to move my Instagram pics out of Instagram and onto my doors:

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I left the bottom blank since we were expecting some wee visitors at the time and I figured they might like to get their own artsy on (they did).  All in all, I’m in love with the result and I can’t wait for Mini B to make masterpieces on those doors as she gets older.  But for now, we’re just cherishing the season :).

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2013 Goals

That’s right–I’m putting my home goals for 2013 in writing.  Will this make them happen?  I sure hope so.  Because apparently me sitting on the couch thinking about them hasn’t done much to put them into action, so let’s try something different, shall we?  Yes.  We shall.

  • Paint the fireplace.  I hate the fireplace.  I know some of you like it in all its stone, wood, and brass glory.  But I hate it.  Everyday.  I’m literally staring at it right now as I type this and it makes me cringe.
  • Hang new lights in the kitchen.  They’ve already been purchased (months ago) and I’m pretty sure it would take less than 15 minutes to hang them, but I just need to get on it already.
  • Create better organization in our entryway.  Not sure yet what to do here, but something must be done.  Hooks?  Cubbies?  Storage bench?  Hmm . . . 
  • Hang artwork/pictures.  With the exception of Mini B’s nursery, there is not a single piece of artwork hung in our house.  And for the most part, it’s all still in bubble wrap in our basement.  Need to get that stuff out of the basement and up on the walls.
  • Get a vintage sideboard for the dining room.
  • Get new dining room chairs.
  • Style the family room built-ins.  They currently look awful.  I’d post a picture, but I’m too embarrassed.
  • Paint the master bathroom.
  • Get window treatments for the master bath, guest bath, guest room, and Mr. B’s office.  That’s a lot of window treatments.  Yikes.
  • Finish painting all the trim in the house.  The holidays got me close on this goal, but I’m still not quite done.  For one thing, I still need to caulk all the trim before doing the final coat of paint.  Sigh.
  • Unpack our remaining boxes in the basement.  We’ve been here a year and a half and yes–we still have a LOT of unpacked boxes in the basement.  Mr. B would argue that means we can just get rid of everything in the basement, but I’m not sure I totally agree.  I do agree that a lot of it can probably go, though, so maybe 2013 will be the year of me selling our stuff on eBay and making donations of the rest.  Regardless, my goal is to unpack one box a week.  That seems doable, right?
  • Paint our master bedroom.
  • Paint the upstairs hallway.
  • Paint the guest room.
  • Paint Mr. B’s office. 
  • Paint the guest bath.  Seriously?!  So much painting–maybe some of these will have to get done in 2014 . . . 
  • Take more pictures.  Especially ones with a little twist.  And get them edited/posted in a somewhat timely basis.  Good luck, right?

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Of course, everything on the to-do list is secondary to our number one goal in 2013: enjoy every dang minute of Mini Bunches!  But maybe while she’s napping . . .

Sophistikat-ed Kids

Don’t worry–I know how to spell sophisticated.  I mean, c’mon.  I practically invented the word (har-har).  But seriously, we’re talking a different type of sophisticated today.  In this case, we’re talking Flor Sophistikat carpet tiles.  Yes, I know you’re shocked–I’m talking about carpet tiles again.  But before I get to the afters, let’s talk inspiration:

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I love that dining room by Emily Henderson.  So much so that those chairs may soon replace our dining room chairs.  But more on that another day.

So now back to the carpet tiles.  Here they are originally from Flor’s site:

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I say originally because they’re no longer available from Flor.  However, a certain someone I know, ahem-Mr. Bunches-ahem, was able to get a LOT of these discontinued tiles . . . so if you want any, let us know :).

Anyways, you can put the tiles into a variety of patterns.  And luckily (well, for Mr. Bunches at least), I found this site that showed 3 ways to lay out the tiles here:

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And yes–the tiles are supposed to not match up exactly.  It’s part of their charm.  So, after much thought, I decided to go with . . . STRIPES!  Huzzah.  And that’s when Mr. B got to work . . .

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It took a while.  Especially considering we had to move out the big brown couch and then lay out the tiles first before attaching them together with the Flor dots (to make sure that the pattern wasn’t too far off).

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Thank goodness he’s so patient.  And after a couple hours, we were left with this (oh, and I have to apologize for the sort-of not-so-great after picture, but with a wee one, it’s kind of hard to get everything just so; so no–that white chair is not staying there.  Because that would be weird.):

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Pretty fun, right?  I looked long and hard for a rug that I liked (and that wasn’t outrageously out of our budget), but in the end I’m glad I waited.  The carpet tiles are completely customizable to our space and we ended up laying out a lot since Mini B may just decide to start crawling any day now, and now she has some room to move . . .

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What do you think?  Hate it?  Love it?  I must say–Mr. B and I are smitten.  Happy Wednesday!

Update: Mr. Bunches has finally launched his discount carpet tile website, DavidPaulFlooring.com, and there are still a lot of the Sophistikat Flor carpet tiles available (as well as lots of other great options).  Check it out here.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Remember how we redid our half bath?  If not, you can check it all out here.  If you’ll recall, when we last updated you, we were mirror-less in the half bath.  Womp, womp.

Well, I’m happy to report that the situation has been remedied.  I decided that I could no longer make decisions.  Well, I guess I made that one decision to no longer decide.  Confused yet?  Anyways, I also figured that we should start using what we already owned instead of going out and buying new stuff.  So I went on a mirror hunt in the basement, and I came up with this:

It was the old mirror from our dining room back in Boston (and apparently it was from Bed Bath & Beyond, although I have a hard time believing I spent that much money on it, but whatever).

Anyways, I wasn’t crazy about the black frame.  But the shape and size were good, so I figured I’d try my hand at spray-painting it.  And just to keep everything neutral, I decided to go with silver.  Titanium Silver to be precise.

I then proceeded to tape off the mirror with blue painter’s tape . . .

I used a bunch of smaller pieces so that I could tuck them in along the curves.

Then, I added newspaper to cover the entire mirror so that I wouldn’t end up with paint everywhere.

Then the operation moved outside.  I set the mirror up on a large broken-down box and got my spray on.

Oh, and I also decided I’d spray some old frames while I was at it.  Here it is after one coat . . .

After two coats (I started finding frames everywhere and kept adding them in) . . .

And finally after three coats (I had to actually stop and buy another can of spray paint–I really don’t understand how people cover stuff in only two coats using one can?  Am I over-doing it or something?  What am I missing?) . . .

Pretty good, right?  And little ol’ naive me then just figured I had to let it all dry, remove the tape, and I’d be good to go, right?  So I put it all in the garage to dry for a few days so that it was good and cured.  And then I removed the tape.

And I guess from a distance it looked okay, but that dang spray paint got everywhere!  Including underneath my newspapers.  Grrr.

So out came the handy-dandy razor . . .

And the spray paint scraped right off.  Voila!

All that was left was hanging it.  Now, in retrospect, I think I hung it too high.  That seems a common problem in our house–I think it has something to do with being tall.  Oh well, at least it’s up, right?

What do you think?  It’s an improvement, at least, right?

Now our guests won’t be freaking out wondering whether they’ve got boogers hanging out of their noses.  You’re welcome guests.  You’re welcome.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering who’s the fairest of them all, well, it’s this girl.  Duh.

Stool Problems

Don’t worry–this post is not about Mini B’s dirty diapers (although it does seem that my life is currently full of little else).  Nope, this post is a call for help: design help.

See, we need stools in our kitchen.  Specifically, we need them here:

That counter overhang is a little over seven feet long, so I think three stools would be just about perfect.

Sorry for the wonky coloring in these pics–my white balance must have been way off.

Back to my stool problem (wait–that just sounds way wrong).  Anyways, I think it would be fun to add some color since most of the kitchen is white and gray, except for my new pop of yellow via the microwave cart (see more on that here) . . .

But part of me wonders if I should just stick to something neutral?  Anyways, I don’t want to spend a fortune (what else is new, right), so I think I’ve narrowed down my choices.  Why these?  Well, I definitely want something with a back and I want something sturdy (so four legs is a must–versus those stools that are just perched on a pedestal) and easy to keep clean.  Here are the options:

The limeade metal counter stools from Overstock for $179.99 for a set of two (online reviews say the actual color of these is chartreuse):

The red metal counter stools from Overstock for $163.99 for a set of two (online reviews say these are sort of an orangey-red in real life):

Those exact same stools also come in white for $195.99, black for $166.59, and silver (I can’t find the silver ones at the moment, but I know I’ve seen them).

There’s also this option, which seems to be the same color as above, but a different style (obviously).  These red leather stools are also on Overstock and cost $167.99 for two:

And as if that wasn’t enough, there are these blue beauties from CB2 for $139 each:

And of course now that I’m googling for counter stools, there are even more fun options coming up, like these Valencia leather stools for $248 each (probably a bit too high, but I don’t know–they are pretty rad):

Now do you see why no decision has been made?  I’m just too overwhelmed by the options.  And there’s yet another option–buy some cheap-o stools from craigslist and just spray paint them whatever color I want . . .

So clearly I’m incapable of making a decision, which is why, yes I’m going to say it again–I have stool problems.  And this is where you all come in–help me decide.  Leave me a comment with your opinion (and I’m talking to you my most faithful commenters and fellow design lovers: Doodles, Punks, Erin, Carrie, Nancy, Deenie; so don’t be shy.  Because I need stools!  Now.).

Oh, and not to complicate matters any more, but I’m also thinking of replacing all my dining room chairs–ever since I fell out of one when I was pregnant (arguably NOT my best moment) and since watching some kids try to climb in and out of them, I’ve decided they aren’t the safest.  Sooooo, think on that too.  Maybe something like this . . .

I kind of love how those chairs look with a rustic table . . .  

Photos are from the DIY Blog Cabin.

But I’m not sure how they’d go with our steel and glass beauty . . .

So think about that too.  Okay, have I given you enough to do?  Somehow I feel so much better now that I’ve put these decisions on to someone else.  Sigh.  Now back to my real stool problems (you fellow parents know which stools I’m talking about, don’t you?) . . .

Cart-astic!

Even though our lives have been pretty much consumed with diapers, burp cloths, and baby talk, that doesn’t mean that we’ve given up tweaking our house.  Nope–in between feedings and nap times, I’ve managed to make a few changes.  I figure now’s my chance seeing as how I’m home all day and pretty soon I’ll have to go back to work :( So what’s been the most recent change?  In case you can’t figure it out from the post title (in which case I’m seriously concerned about your skills of deduction), it’s related to a cart.

That’s right, I finally pulled the trigger and got a microwave cart for our kitchen.  See, in our kitchen reveal post, I didn’t reveal much about this side of the kitchen because, well, it looks like this:

I still have plans to redo the pantry doors on the right, and we still plan to replace the old intercom system with a new one (that’s the super old boxy-looking thing on the right wall), but for a while now I’ve wanted to change out the microwave stand.  That dresser there is from my childhood bedroom, and while I do have a special fondness for it, I just wasn’t crazy about it being in the kitchen.  Instead, I wanted something with some color and shelves so that I could display all my cookbooks (and, quite frankly, so they would be more readily accessible than tucked away in the pantry).  So out with the old . . .

and in with the new!

What do you think?  Colorful enough for ya’?  It’s actually one of those school computer carts (I bought it here for $115), so it’s super sturdy and strong.

And it even has the old school built-in power strip.

It came in a whole range of colors, but lately I’ve been full on digging yellow, and since we already have some yellow accents on the other side of the room, I thought it would be perfect . . .

It also ties in nicely with the curtains I made for the dining room and living room . . . (I was going to write a post about these, but let’s face it–some things are just never going to happen.)

I also love that it holds all my cookbooks and fits the microwave perfectly.  I couldn’t be happier with it . . . plus, I was able to put it together and load it up all during one of Mini B’s extra long naps.  Bonus!

So there it is, one quick change in our home that makes me smile every time I walk by.

What did Mini B think of the change?  She was absolutely thrilled!  I had her take a break from her daily yoga to tell you all about it . . .

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