Friday, August 22, 2014

Our Fifth Wedding Anniversary

Five years ago today, Alex and I married one another.  Sadly, I wish I could say that (today) Alex and I were celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary together but due to the apocalypse of work travel, Alex is across the pond in Europe once again.  Wa-wa.

Perhaps because I am on my own and have had too much time to noodle on the meaning/thought/significance of this day but it made me think about my life before marriage and that after it, nothing at all has been the same- and I am very thankful for that.  I look back at Alex and I then and now... Knowing what our hopes and dreams were and now knowing where we ended up five years later and it's kind of surreal.

You say "I do" that day based on your love for one another, faith, and (hopefully) how you've envisioned/discussed the life you want to have together but still, you don't know how things will play out years after that day but today -five years later- I feel incredibly thankful for the adventure Alex and I have been on since joining our lives together.  It's complicated, fun, challenging, rewarding, fulfilling, etc.  Really it's everything... it's the greatest gift I feel I've ever been given in life. 
So forgive me for being cheesy, but since my groom is time zones away I wanted to post this little anniversary surprise and say- Happy Anniversary My Love!  Thank you for making everything in life more amazing because I'm sharing it with you.  Hope you can put up with me for a few more years :)


I know all the travels, birthdays, filming stuff, anniversaries, and all un-house/DIY stuff might have been making things dull for a while but I'm ready to get back into business!  I'll be posting pics of the sunroom this weekend and the fun piece of wall art I picked up in Hong Kong!  Fun house stuff ahead, hope to see you back soon!  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lights, Camera, Hammers and High Heels in Action!

I'm baaaaack! (FINALLY!)  Feels like I've been gone for a month- maybe because I've barely slept at all in the last two and a half weeks so it really feels like a whole month?! LOL :)  

Oddly enough, the day after I returned home from New York, China, Hong Kong, and Toledo  (can't leave out Toledo!), Alex and I had an amazing project scheduled that we couldn't pass up!  Despite the tricky timing, we/I got through the day and just as we expected, it was a pretty awesome experience...

Wanted to share a few pics, but can't share much about the details (for now?!).  I know, boo-hoo!

It was a ______ day for Alex and I (still can't pick a word for it, cool/ surreal/ awesome/ funny/ unordinary/ crazy/ etc.?) and I just wanted to write a little something about it here on the blog since it's the reason we got the opportunity- Well, the blog and really everyone out there that has been reading/experiencing our home DIY adventures with us.  You kept us going and made every project much more fun than going at it on our own :) Thank you.  Yes, it sounds kinda lame, maybe even empty as simple as it is typed out, but we truly mean it. Thank you! 

I know posts have been slow and a wee bit boring for a while but I'm still crazy thankful for everyone still reading.  Fingers crossed, this adventure will get more interesting from here, we'll see! 

Saturday, August 9, 2014


Can you believe it?!  I am THIRTY years old.... am I old or still considered young? Haha!  Guess it doesn't really matter, because it's happening (or happened) and just like on past birthdays since beginning Hammers and High Heels (click to see 27, 28, or 29), I am going to share my birthday list-  Not a to-do list, or a list of goals, or things that I want, this list is focused on the positives in life.  I know everyday life isn't completely perfect and I don't have everything figured out but... 

This is a list of the 30 things that I am happy about and thankful for in my life as it is right now- on this birthday.

At Thirty Years Old...

1.  I understand that I spent my 20’s figuring out and sort of setting up the kind of life I wanted to have.  I’m thankful for all of those experiences, everything I learned, and how hard I worked during those 10 years and in a way, I am very thankful to leave that time behind and move into my 30's with the knowledge I've gained.

2.  “Let’s see if Carla can fit in this”…. I’m still known for my hidden roadshow talent at work.  I suppose it’s always good to provide entertainment for coworkers.

3.  My dad set a record number of visits to Minneapolis, 3 visits already and more to come.  Glad to see him living more life and having more adventures throughout the year.

4.  Along with my dad, we've had just about everyone from our immediate family visit Minneapolis already this year.  Even with all the crazy prep for guests, I always love every second I get with our family, especially on our (new) home turf.

5.  I am named as an inventor for three patents filed with the US Patent Office.  I know many of my fellow co-workers have like 20 or 100 of these, but getting the news that these were filed felt pretty cool.  Maybe I'll have the real deal plaque on a future birthday list?!

6.  I really love my role as auntie to these kiddos.  Despite the long distance, I think they like their auntie too :)

7.  After a 7 year strong hold against it, my husband finally joined the social network know as Facebook. 

8.  Thirty feels like a  kick-in-the-pants sort of, and I mean that in a good way, for me at least.  I've had this feeling about it that "well, no more excuses, you aren't in your 20's, time to REALLY get moving on all the things you've wanted to accomplish in life before you are too old to enjoy it."  I realize that some of you will think this statement sounds nuts since yes, I've got plenty of life left and I'm only at 30, but I hope you understand what I mean.  It's a different feeling than when you turn 20, 20 doesn't really kick-you-in-the-pants.

9.  As you get older, it's easier to laugh at yourself and heck, you get more comfortable being a weirdo in public... especially if it makes a friend laugh
How I entertain myself when I can't find any cute shoes.
10.  Alex started a new role at work that allows him to travel quite a bit.  Although I miss him when he is gone, I understand how exciting it can be when typically work becomes an adventure in some ways.  I am incredibly proud of my husband.

11.  I worked through the most challenging year in my career.  I learned a lot and also realized that in good times and tough times, one of my greatest strengths is to never give up- No matter the stress or struggle, I'm the kinda gal that wants to see things through to the end.

12.  I learned that #11 means I have "Grit"- a trait showing "passion for a particular long term goal or end state coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective."  Never knew that before, but damn right I do.

13.  Rocco and Sadie.  Sure, they drive me crazy and are often a source of guilt when Alex and I are crazy busy, but I love these two pups so incredibly much.  They are my family and I can't imagine life without them.

14.  My latest business trip marks my 6th visit to China.  Funny to look back  at my 27 birthday list to see that was when the first one happened.  Always thankful for the experience travelling abroad for work and hope I continue to get these opportunities. 

15.  During my Michigan Spring Break visit earlier this year, I saw my (ex/old?) step-sister for the first time in over five years (our parents divorced, ex/old might have sounded confusing, you get it right?).  The 1 year old little girl I met 18 or so years ago is a beautiful young lady that is beginning her sophomore year in college.  It was amazing to see her and I hope to see her again and again.

16.  A Dammit Doll comes in handy when a project goes awry.

17.  I picked out my own car for the very first time.  Might sound strange, but the couple before were either from my parents or jointly decided on between Alex and I.   I've always wanted to pick out my own car and finally got to do it!

18.  Now that I am four years into doing this birthday list tradition, I think it's the first time I'm seeing how fun it can be to look back at what I was thankful for at each age.  Sure, twenty-seven wasn't that long ago but looking back today I think some of what I said then was kind of silly :) I suppose that will keep happening year after year, but it shows you've learned more and you keep evolving.  I'm thankful that I'll keep seeing that.   (click the links if you are interested in reading previous birthday lists-  Twenty-Seven, Twenty-Eight, or Twenty-Nine).  

19.  My husband lived one of his dreams and got to see the Tour de France grand finale in Paris.  It is an amazing feeling when you get to see someone you love experience something they've always dreamed of doing.

20.  I finally realize that I shouldn’t always worry or think worst case scenario because if something bad does happen, you still won’t be prepared for it.

21.  With #20, I’m beginning to see the power of more positivity or keeping a positive outlook in all thinks in life.  If you envision things that way, they will be.  I'm going with that theory for this decade.

22.  Tombstone pizzas are still as good as they were when I was a kid.  No matter how many times I burn the roof of my mouth eating them, they are always delicious.  I repeat DELICIOUS.

23.  I have mastered the art of making the perfect dirty martini.

24.  Thanks to a gal named Marjorie finding Hammers and High Heels, we have a fun project that’s been in the works for a while now and we hope it will come to fruition during my 30th year. 

25.  I cut my hair for the first time in 5 years.  This was funny to me when I went back to read my 27 birthday list because I talk about how bad my hair looked when it was short...  still think I like the long look better but hey, change is always good and when's a better time than when you're turning THIRTY :)

26.  Alex and I moved away from Michigan and all of our family 7 years ago.  For the first time in 7 years, we now have family in Minneapolis.  My cousin Kerry and her husband Nick just moved here from California and it's been refreshingly wonderful to remember what it is like when you could just call/text family to randomly hang out.  I hope the Minnesota winter doesn't scare them away!

27.  Kerry and Nick have two dogs- Walter and Uno.  Needless to say, Rocco and Sadie are also excited about their cousins moving to Minneapolis too!  The pup-playdates are pretty b-a-n-a-n-a-s.

28.  I spent my big 3-0 with my husband in NYC.  A big scary birthday couldn't have felt more perfect and special.  Thankful my husband made that day so special for me.

29.  With #28, I still love blogging but I've allowed myself to enjoy being in the moment more and not pressuring myself to keep up with blogging when I real life fun is happening.  Hence posting this more than a week after my actual birthday :) 

30. I received this text from my dad on my birthday…  “Being 30 isn’t bad so enjoy it because you have a great life and there’s nothing you can do about getting older.”

Simple advice on a big birthday.  Wise words dad, thank you!
Sort of fuzzy, but a couple pics from my actual birthday while out with Alex in NYC
Here's to starting 30 from where I am right now, cheers!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

When Travel Schedules Collide

You may have noticed things have been quieter than normal so I figured it was time to give you the REAL deal going on around here.  Alex has been in Germany & France for work and little ol' me has been at home with the doggies for two weeks. Thankfully he's finally home! 
Alex at the Berlin Gate in Germany, riding his bike around Paris, and posing with his bike in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral
You'd think I'd be feeling refreshed after all the "me time" right?  Unfortunately it's been feeling quite the opposite because a travel schedule apocalypse of sorts is upon us!   *dun-DUN-dun*

I only get a few days with Alex and then I will be heading out to New York City followed by Hong Kong, China (Shenzhen), with a last stop in the most exotic of all travel locations- Toledo, Ohio- I hear it's splendid this time of the year (sarcasm font) nothing against Toledo it's just a random part of our business trip :)
Glad my Hello Kitty plane visual came in handy again :)
BUT WAIT, there's more!  Shortly after I return home, Alex will be heading out on another business trip to Europe.   The planning of all this has felt like a huge crazy fiery meteor is about it hit us.... or maybe just me?  KABOOM.

Alex said I was over thinking it all and sent me this visual.  Pretty accurate I suppose, my head does feel like it's about to explode.  Clever boy.

Amidst all this, somewhere in there I also have a BIG birthday on the horizon, maybe tomorrow's horizon already?  Crap.  Well, if you'd like to send an early birthday gift, I'd love to know...

How do you avoid feeling stressed/overwhelmed and keep everything balanced?
Are you an "over thinker" too? How do you deal with extra stress?

Hope you'll stop back for my birthday post (click to see Twenty-Seven, Twenty-Eight, and Twenty-Nine birthday "thankful" lists)!  That is if my head doesn't explode before that :)  Things might be wacky around here for a while!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A DIY Look That Feels Right At Last!

Phew! what a week! Things have been a little crazy around here but I was finally able to make a trip to SR Harris yesterday to get some upholstery fabric for my chair seats!  I had been going back and forth on what I wanted to do with them, but finally made a commitment!  Also, I gotta tell ya- I think I need to stay away from any chair redo/ reupholstery projects in the future because this all feels like déjà vu!  (see past example here) I always get stuck on the fabric selection part and then a simple project takes weeks, so silly! 

Anyway...  They are DONE!!!!  Check out the before & after action! 
I  was inspired by the accent chairs that my friend Katie had in her house along with a few chairs I found at West Elm that had a brown/black thing going on so I settled on doing a dark walnut color for the wood and distressed black faux leather for the seat.  

It was surprisingly easy to find exactly what I wanted in their giant warehouse o' fabric.  There it was right at the top of the stack!  I looked for real leather but it would have been really pricey and let's be real, I change my mind all the time and I'm sure someday I'll be messing with these again :)    The normal price for the fabric was $19.99/yd but with the typical 50% off you get on everything at SR Harris it was just $9.99/yd!  I purchased one and a half yards to cover both seat cushions so only had to spend $14.99, awesome deal right?!
Once I got home I jumped right into action!   I started by tearing off the old fabric from the seat cushions using some pliers to remove the old staples under the seat.  Needle nose pliers would have been better to use for this part but someone used them and I was unable to locate them (ahem, Alex).
After that I grabbed the faux leather fabric & cut out a piece for each cushion.  With the full 1.5 yards of fabric laid out, I placed the cushions in opposite corners of the fabric and cut around them leaving about 4 or 5 inches excess to wrap around to the underside of each seat cushion and staple in place.
Then it was time to grab the staple gun and finish these up!  That's when the unthinkable happened- no staples...
Ugh!  It was Friday night and I knew I had company joining me for dinner so I called it quits for the night and headed to Home Depot this morning to get more staples.  

With my gun reloaded and ready, I wrapped the fabric around the edges and to the back of the seat cushions to staple on place.  Here you sort of have to fold & fuss with it to get the fabric to wrap cleanly around the edges of the seat.
My last step was adding some nickel finish nailhead trim.  It is kind of tedious because you have to add them one by one with a hammer... Boy my fingers and knuckles hurt! 

Once that part was complete I placed each seat back on the chairs, wala! 
Heavens! They look way better right?!  I still don't know what the heck I was thinking with the blue/purple look.  At least now I think I've right my DIY done wrong :)  Next up is just some finishing touches in the sunroom then I'll share the rest of the look! 

What do you think of the new look on the chairs?

Have a wonderful weekend everybody! 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Time to Right a DIY Done Wrong

I'm still making decisions when it comes to my sunroom project but one thing I do know for sure is that the DIY redo I put these chairs through was a REAL bad idea because there's no way I can use them in the room as is...

Yep I admit it, I made these poor chairs look pretty fugly with that purple fabric and I should have just left the wood as is.  So stupid, ugh! 

I guess I can't say it was a total mistake though- The one good thing that came out of it was that I learned how to tuft a seat cushion, something I've never done before!  So it's kind of a bummer that I have to tear it all apart but in the end this look just ain't gonna fly anywhere in this house! Time to get to work! 

****   How would YOU redo these chairs DIY style?   ****

What color or wood stain for the chair frame? 
What type of fabric & color for the seat cushion?

More to come on these AND 
the sunroom soon!  See you then! 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Darker Side of the Sunroom?!

Time for the last (current) project on my to-do list, the sunroom!  This was one of the three projects I mentioned taking on all at the same time a couple weeks ago.  Now that we have the tree taken care of and the patio set finished, I can focus on wrapping up a new look for our sunroom!

We've changed up the look of this room a couple times already, but I felt like it needed a BIGGER change overall- that change being the paint color.
I started growing really tired of that dusty muted gray/blue color.  I know we loved it when we picked it out about five years ago, but I just felt like I couldn't change much of the decor in that room because of that color.... or maybe I just couldn't decorate with it because I didn't want to?!

Whatever the case, I was ready for something new.... now.  Like, right now.  So, I made the spontaneous decision while Alex was traveling for work to JUST DO IT and used the gallon of leftover navy paint in our basement (same color we used for our kitchen update).  You can really tell it was super spontaneous because of my lack of paint prep :)
Ummmm, yeah.  Never paint a room with your window treatments, rugs, and other random textiles in the room... I consider myself a pro when it comes to painting though so our home goods survived my lack of paint prep at least and I did remove everything for the second coat which I don't have picks of yet :(

I know you might be thinking I'm going too crazy with the whole black/white combo, but I really love the simple, clean, neutral look.  Our sunroom also doesn't really have a lot of wall space, so the use of the dark color is pretty minimal in the end.  I still hope it doesn't end up looking too dark, but here's some of the inspiration I gathered up before whipping out my paint brush...

I'm thinking I need to change up some of the window treatments and get a new rug in there too, but it's a really tricky space when it comes to decorating since there are hallway arches/entryways on two of the walls, large windows and a radiator cover on the third wall, and then the big glass sliding doors covering most of the fourth wall.  Really doesn't leave much space for furniture and it's pretty limiting for wall decor too in those thin spaces.  All that leads me to YOU for some suggestions!

What types of window treatments would you use for the windows and glass doors?

What pieces of accent furniture would you use in those small corners?

Most of all- What would you put on the radiator cover? A way to give it purpose?!

That last one has always been tricky for me but if you have any ideas or suggestions I'd love to know!