Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Do I look older to you?  Just asking because I am!

Today marks another birthday for me, thankfully an easier one than last year, LOL!  I decided to make another list on this birthday like I did on the last.  Again, not focused on to-do's, goals, or things that I want, this is a positive list!  Everyday in this life isn't perfect and I know I don't have everything figured out... but this is a list of the 28 things I am happy about and thankful for in my life as it is right now- on this birthday.

At Twenty-Eight Years Old...

1.  I know 28 isn't as scary as 27 was :) which made today easier.

2.  I joined a new team at work and the experience has been wonderful. I love all the new challenges and learning new things each day is very rewarding.

3.  Aside from being super handy, my hubby is also a model... no really!  Alex makes his modeling debut this summer in Civia's 2012 catalog.  He makes me want a new bike, LOL!

3.  Rocco and Sadie NO longer sleep in our bed!!!  That was a hard habit to break our pups of but so worth it!  Alex and I are sleeping much better and I don't have to worry about dog hair on our bed linens!

4. I no longer rely on Alex to hang a picture frame.  I do it on my own and I do it RIGHT with a tape measure and level instead of making lots of little holes in our walls... and crooked pictures.

5.  I am taking better care of my skin.  It's a bummer it took me so long to start but regardless I'm doing it!!!  Slather me with SPF and bring on the faux glow :)

6. I've seen the Taj Mahal, Effiel Tower, and Big Ben all in the past year.  Makes up for hardly travelling during the 27 other years of my life.

7.  For the first time since 3rd grade I have bangs.  I'm happy I tried something new and fun, but I'm pretty certain the no-bang look is better on me :)

8.  I am now a skilled Shih Tzu groomer!  After spending way too much money on Rocco's haircuts I decided to try it myself.  Sure, Rocco endured a lot of bad choppy haircuts while I was training but I've got the skills down now!  This is a DIY skill that is really paying off!

9.  A friend that I've spent dinners, birthdays, good days, and bad days with all came from carpooling :) oh and I can't forget dancing to 'Ray of Light' at Ikea, that was a highlight!

10.  My sister became a mom this year.  My little niece Brynnan reminds me that prayers are always answered, and miracles do happen.

11.  Related to #10, after almost two weeks at the hospital Brynnan can go home for the first time today!

12.  I am getting better at not being so hard on myself all the time.  I realize I am my worst critic after all.

13.  I have many inspiring and creative women in my life.

14.  My last birthday was the first of the five I've spent in Minnesota surrounded by friends I've made here.  I'll never forget how special that felt and I didn't miss home that day.

15.  I have kept a plant alive at our house for more than a year now.  This is amazing considering I usually kill everything.  Perhaps I can start a garden next spring?!?

16.  I sang bad American karaoke at a bar in Shanghai (yes this counts as an experience I am kind of proud of).

17.  A month from now I will be sitting on my favorite sandy beach along Lake Michigan.

18.  Even though I am not great at this, I am becoming a better listener.

19.  Just last week my nephew asked his mom for the first time, "Where's Auntie Carla?"  This confirms Henri thinks I am cool.  Getting him that ninja robe from Hong Kong might have helped :)

20.  I'm taking the time to tailor my clothes.  It's crazy, a good fit can make you like something even more than when you bought it!

21.  It's July and I have my Christmas decor scheme all planned out, ho, ho, ho!!!!

22. We have fantastic and fun neighbors!  I feel so thankful that there are great people right outside my door.  There are yearly parties we get to look forward to and who else can say they have neighbors that are generous (and nice) enough to share tickets to exciting events?!?
Alex and I got to attend the Brothers of the Sun concert (the first ever at Target Field) thanks to our neighbors.  It was so much fun!!!

23.  Our family member are in good health, which means I don't think about it a lot but I should be more thankful and never take it for granted.

24.  I got to catch up with an old childhood pal and meet her daughter during my last Michigan visit.  It was planned last minute and ended up being one of my favorite parts of the trip.

25. Although my husband turned one of our vehicles into something a superhero would drive, I've found it is quite amusing to drive it.  Halloween should be a hoot!

26. I got to go inside the mysterious house I have wanted to see ever since we moved into the neighborhood. And for those of you wondering about that story, fingers crossed there's much more to come than I had hoped for!

27. My husband supports every dream I have... no matter how crazy.  Alex has never told me "never".

28.  The possibilities for my future are endless.  Tomorrow, next month, next year, and the ten years after are whatever I dream them up to be.


Here's to starting 28 from where I am right now!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Patio Furniture Refresh & Outdoor Decor Shopping

My big goal over the weekend was to get going on our "deck-orating" project.

One of the to-do's I haven't mentioned before was to fix up our little Ikea patio furniture set.  Here is a photo of the set when it was brand new in the summer of 2010 (we talked about it the first time we fixed the deck shown here).   Don't you just love the color and wood finish???
We sure did and it was nice to enjoy that lovely new set that summer. 

Sadly, our set was ruined the following summer due to the May Tornado.  Not sure if the set blew off the deck or got knocked under the giant pine tree that fell in our yard.  Either way, it ended up under that giant knocked over pine tree.  We actually didn't even know we still had it until we started cleaning up the tree when Alex got to yell, "I found the patio set...under the tree!"
As you can imagine, it didn't look the same at all after that :(  That nice wood finish got all chipped and scuffed up after getting tossed around in 120 mph winds and dragged along the concrete under a big pine tree.
With all the other little deck updates, our patio set needed some attention too!  All it took was a little bit of sanding (thanks to nature for already roughing up most of it) then I used Rustoleum's Espresso spray paint to give it a fresh start.  I debated sanding more and then staining the wood but I am happy with the darker solid color of the furniture and it also won't clash or contrast with whatever color we stain the deck.
Aside from painting the furniture, I did a little outdoor decor shopping.  Most of the retailers I went to had their seasonal outdoor selections on clearance which sadly meant there wasn't much left to shop.  Thankfully, I was able to score two sets of the Solar Deck Lights I wanted from Target!  I wish I could have gotten more to put on our fence as well!  If anybody out there spots them in the Twin Cities area let me know :)
My other lucky find ended up being these outdoor pillows from Home Depot, just  $8.00 each.  I liked the stripe and color on these, but I am still bummed that Target no longer had the pillows I really wanted :(  I was trying to avoid going to the fabric store to make some of my own but I might just have to now?  Maybe I can at least make two more that coordinate with the HD pillows but in a larger size?
So, not as much gathered as I had hoped but at least we got to a bunch of much needed (not-so-fun) yardwork.  Alex also ended up fixing the stairs to the lower level when he began adding lattice on each side of the deck.
A couple more pillows and plants and I think things will be wrapped up here!

If anyone has a good online site for finding outdoor decor this time of year PLEASE let me know! 
I had no idea it would be so difficult, garsh!
Yep, garsh :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Head Over Heels Friday: July DIY Week 4! PB Inspired End Table Decor

It's the last July DIY Decorating & Gifting themed Head Over Heels Friday post!  What a mouthful- maybe I need to think of a shorter title?  Anyway, I hope you like this last one because it's a super simple and low cost version of some Pottery Barn inspired decor.  Let's get to it!

I was cruising a few Pottery Barn catalogs this week and a couple images caught my attention...
I liked how the handwritten paper book covers added a personalized touch to that big stack of books.  I figured that would be an easy little zero cost project!  I also loved the glass lamps filled with books and rolled pages.  They made me think of that open bottom glass lamp base I found at Target (and I had to stick on my head). 
I thought it was a fantastic idea and I have tons of torn book stacks and pages I could put to use! With my inspiration collected, it was DIY time!

 I grabbed the stack of scrapbooks and photo albums and cut up some grocery bags old school text book cover style.  After covering, I added cute titles to each bookend.
 Filling the glass lamp was a bit trickier since this one had an open bottom and the Pottery Barn version opened from the top with a closed bottom.  Gravity was not on my side :(  After a few tries I ended up with an arrangement of books, book pages, and rolled pages I was happy with.
So, here's how our living room end table looked before taking on this DIY decor project...

And here's how it ended up after putting the look together...
It was an easy, stress-free, low cost little DIY project!  I think it adds a unique touch to our living room that wasn't there before. 

What do you think?  Head Over Heels for this DIY decor too?

Before I end July's DIY Decor & Gifting theme I have to jump back to Week 1 which covered my sister's "Shower" themed Baby Shower.  I'm pretty sure none of us guessed that this month would end with the best little gift...
My sister Holly and her husband Brian welcomed Brynnan Marie on July 18th at 10:20pm.  She was six weeks early weighing 4 pounds 6 ounces.  I got the news Holly's water broke when I arrived in Hong Kong. (naturally, I was bummed to be so stinkin' far away). My sister did a good job answering her cell phone during all the action :) We are all thankful that Holly and Brynnan are doing well and I am so excited to have a new niece!

Have a great weekend everybody!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Our Entryway Update Photos!

Ready for some fabulous 'before' and 'after' action of Alex's latest project?!?  Let's check it out!

I know we mentioned how we wanted to freshen up the appearance of our back entryway a while back.  After thinking about different options (along with Alex's experience installing beadboard and wainscoting) we thought the casual charm of beadboard would fit perfectly.  Here's how it turned out....

I know it looks like a subtle change in the photos, but up close it sure makes a world of difference for the space!

The photo below kind of illustrates what I'm talking about....  
If you look closely at the wall & paint above where the baseboard cap was you can see  bumps, cracks, and ripples... Not to mention once the baseboard cap was removed you could see how many layers of paint that have been on the walls!
Basically, the walls looked just plain junky but only toward the bottom of each wall.  Maybe it was from the combination of thick layers of paint and exposure to moisture/ outdoor elements when people went in & out over the past 80 years?  Who knows!  But I think the fresh layer of beadboard trim really helped to clean up the look and give a fresh start!

I know Alex covered a lot of the process in his last post, but here they are in a flash!  First up, removing the baseboard caps.
Then he took measurements for the top rail & beadboard panels and started cutting.  Once the panels and top rail were ready to go, he used finishing nails and Loctite Power Grab to attach to each wall.
He then used 1"x3" select pine to frame in the corners in order to make a smooth transition from the beadboard to the bare wall.
Lastly, Alex finished up the project by adding a fresh coat of paint (Behr's Polar Bear White).
Here's a few more 'afters'.
I'm loving the updated look!  But as things seem to go with any update, I'm now thinking about sprucing up the decor.  You might have guessed that was coming?  I think I need a new rug that will add a little color/ pattern along with something new for the walls?  Hmmm.... the gears are turning. 

I'd love to hear storage and decor ideas!  Please let me know if you think of any!  Speaking of decor ideas, I still need to work on our deck decor.  That to-do list task kind of got shoved aside since I was prepping/packing for my work trip.  Ugh, don't you hate being behind on your to-do lists?!?  Oh well, back to the questions....

What do you think of the update?
What should I add or change in the space?
What other ways can we add storage to this entryway?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Trip Recovery Time

Was I just in China?  That whole week felt like a blur but thankfully I am back at home! 

I arrived back Sunday evening and have to admit, recharging from this trip has been a lot harder than the last one :(  Sure this one was shorter, but I think we crammed the same amount of work in half the time?  I just looked at my pictures and thought this one captured what it all felt like....  I look like I should be in the late night line at a Taco Bell if ya know what I mean, HA!!!  Are my eyes crossed?!?!
Thank goodness there are Pringles in China, pretty sure those fueled my days in the office.

 One thing is for sure, Hong Kong and Shenzhen are STOOPID (yes stoopid, it's worse than just plain stupid) HOT in the summer.  I think part of being exhausted was from the heat and humidity, both of which make the big crowds of people all the more intense!
I got fog during my last visit, I didn't anticipate 'heat haze' as an issue for my photos across Kowloon Bay.

Anyway, part of the fun getting home is checking out what Mr. Hammers and High Heels worked on while I was away....
I can't wait to show you the 'afters'!  Didn't Alex do an awesome job blogging too?  I loved his posts! I still can't believe he even threw in a themed Head Over Heels post, what a guy!!!

I'm hoping for a more normal night of sleep tonight, wish me luck!  I have to get this late night Taco Bell look to go away, yuck!

 The 'afters' are coming next, hope you are excited!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Head Over Heels: July DIY Decorating and Gifting...Kinda

It's week three of the newly formatted Head Over Heels series and with Carla out of town I am going to try to stay on theme but, I'm certain I will stray a bit. Now that you've been warned....

Carla may have mentioned in the past that I am an avid cyclist and this Sunday will see the conclusion of the 99th Tour de France. For me this is like the Super Bowl. Given that I'm not a huge football fan, Carla typically only has to deal with me controlling the tv for 3 full weeks in July. The heritage, grandeur, fans, athletic triumphs and scenery are more than enough to suck me in for 2 hours of viewing each day :-)

Sometimes I Like To Imagine The Small Hill By My House Is More Like This...

 Now then, because I am so excited about the Tour de France, I thought it would be reasonable to show a few great ways to DIY Decorate with repurposed bikes and bike parts. Hey, we've all seen the old rusty bike for sale at flea markets and garage sales, why not give it a new life.

First, take a look at this rotating pot holder that would be super easy to DIY.

Bicycle Wheel Pot Rack from Apartment Therapy
Simply painting that old garage sale find white and moving it outdoors would make a very nice garden ornament and certain conversation piece.
I Found This One at Pictures of Arlington

Sticking to that outdoor theme, I think I found a great DIY bike that even Carla might approve of :-) Simply adding baskets and flowers to the old steed adds a pop of color and charm to your landscape

A Nice Summery Idea from Coronado Daily Photo
Saving what I consider to be the best for last, we head back indoors. I seriously wish I had room for this option!

Why Do My Bathrooms Have To Be So Small?! Great Idea From Refreshed Designs!

That's my Tour de France edition of Head Over Heels! Thanks for coming along on this close to themed ride with me !

Which use was your favorite? Does anyone out there have a repurposed bike? Maybe you have a bike that you're now thinking about giving a new life?

I hope you're all having a great kick off to the weekend. Just an FYI, the little project I am taking on is coming along nicely and the fresh paint should go up tomorrow! I'm looking forward to showing you all the before and afters along with the issue that I have been "House Blind" to for far too long!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mr. H&HH Tackles A Small Project or Two

With Carla off traveling the world again for work, I have decided to get to work on one or two smaller projects that have been chappin' my backside for quite some time. Now then, the last time Carla was out of the country, I had incredibly lofty goals for what I might DIY/DO...and alright, I came up a little short (but I did finish the Wainscoting and later finished up the DIY Vintage Door Headboard). Knowing that she's out of town about half the amount of time that she was last time, I've decided to be a bit more modest with my goals.  
You may recall from earlier posts that we have been wanting to liven up our back entry...it just needs a little attention, and I think I have just what it needs!

A Little Demo and Re-Build is In Store!

Given that I have a bit of experience with Bead Board and Wainscoting, I imagine I can spruce up this little space rather quickly and for a relatively low cost because I have a lot of left overs.

With my plan of attack in mind I went after removing the base board cap so that the eventual installation of the bead board would go a bit more smoothly. 

Wow...I'm Glad This Mess Will be Covered Soon!

With the cap removed I took measurements for the top rail and headed out to the garage to do some cutting (sorry, I know I should have a gratuitous action shot). After the cutting was done I armed myself with some finishing nails and my trusty Loctite PowerGrab....

It's the Clear Choice AND Provides Flawless Results :-)

With the evening winding down I decided to call it quits but, I have a pretty good start going and know that I will be able to get this project done soon! Below is a little sneak peek.

A Little Work for What I Hope Will be a Big Change!

What do you think? Will this be a good update for a space that seems to have gone overlooked for so long?

I know one thing...There's a sweet little girl that hopes I finish soon so we can play :-)

When I finish this smaller project there's something else I need to work on that I fear we have become "house blind" to. More to come on that later...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Greetings From Hong Kong!

After an hour long flight from Minneapolis to Chicago, a four hour lay over, and sitting on a plane for TWENTY HOURS, I've finally checked into my hotel here in Hong Kong!  Man it feels good to be standing upright :)  And in case you are wondering, a standard Chicago to Hong Kong flight should take about fifteen hours... thank you United Airlines for the two hour departure delay once we were boarded and then the surprise two hour and forty minute pit stop in Bejing to refuel.  I've always wanted to see the Great Wall (just not from my plane window). 
 Alright, I am done complaining. Just happy to finally be here!
I know the trip seems random since I never mentioned it on the blog until now, but I couldn't really find a good spot to fit it in.  I am travelling for work once again (which I am very thankful for) and got added into the trip sort of last minute. Thankfully this trip is only nine days, not seventeen like the last one- it was hard being away from Alex and the pups for that long.  But I am so excited to see Hong Kong and Shenzhen once again!  Hopefully Victoria Harbor won't be as foggy this time! 

As I mentioned before, you will likely hear from Alex (aka Mr. Hammers and High Heels) this week since Blogger and Facebook are blocked in China (once we move into Shenzhen tomorrow).  I will be 'off the grid' LOL!  He finished the deck during my last little trip, I wonder what he will be up to this time?!?!  Hmmmm.....

Be sure to send Alex some comments if he posts, he really gets a kick out of them!  Especially if he gets more than I typically do... he likes to brag... and it is kind of cute :)  See you next weekend!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Head Over Heels Friday: July DIY Decorating & Gifting Week 2

It's week two for the newly themed Head Over Heels Friday (click here to read up on the changes).  Since I've had deck-orating on my mind this week, I thought I'd share some of the fun ideas I've found that fit the realm of July's DIY Decorating theme!  I even tried out one of these DIY's, but it left me a bit heart broken (you'll see what I mean toward the end).

First up, a few fun ways to repurpose a wood pallet. 
Alex and I have had a pallet hanging out in our garage since last summer (I think our new roofing shingles were delivered on it)?  I insisted that we keep the wood pallet because we could do something cool with it.  Sadly, it has been sitting there for a year because I haven't felt particularly inspired by any DIY pallet projects.... until now!  Check out these DIY wood pallet vertical planters!

For some reason I am crazy about the vertical planter idea.  I would love to make one of our own, either large as shown below or breaking it up into smaller ones as shown above.  If we did, I'd love to paint it with black chalkboard paint so we could label the plants (and it would match my awning/cabana style stripe decor).  Has anyone out there made their own vertical planter?  I am intrigued by the look and challenge of making our own... although I imagine I'd be covered in dirt/soil during the process :)
DIY wood pallet vertical garden via Life on the Balcony

If we don't try the vertical planter idea, I'm loving this little garden fence made out of a pallet.  With a coat of paint and shaping the top edges, it looks just like a cute picket fence!
Garden Pallet Fence via Camelot Art Creations

My second outdoor DIY find are these distressed terra cotta pots.  I love the look of aged/ distressed terra cotta pots, either in the white washed look or maybe a darker green/ mossy look.
DIY Distressed Terra Cotta Pots via Carolyn's Homework

Lastly, I found this DIY Cut Glass Lantern that looked really cute and really easy to do.  It got my brain churning right away once I realized....
DIY Cut Glass Lantern via A Subtle Revery

That I already had a glass drill bit (from a holiday craft night shown here) and an old vase/ hurricane glass I could turn into a lantern!  How hard could that be?  I drilled into glass before with success so I taped the glass and started drilling.
 Well, it didn't turn out well.  If you look back at the craft night post, I mentioned it was scary once you started getting close to drilling through the glass and the worst thing that can happen when you are drilling into glass happened.  After drilling for 15 minutes, I was about to finish the hole and the whole glass shattered!  I thought my heart stopped for a minute when I saw broken glass all over me and the floor.  So, my fear got the best of me and I didn't feel like making attempt #2 at the DIY glass lantern.
Hmmm, can you blame me?  Anyway, it was a bummer and my DIY dreams were dashed.

At least I have a few other (safer) DIY ideas to try!

Which DIY Outdoor Decor idea was your favorite?
Anybody out there have a vertical planter or have made one?  Do you like it?

It's a busy weekend and week ahead for Alex and I!
I hope to update you with a post in a couple days and you'll likely be hearing from Mr. Hammers and High Heels pretty soon!  Have a great weekend!