Monday, April 29, 2013

Project House Update: Coffee Accessories

There are big changes coming to our house! We finally bought, wait for it, actual furniture! The only piece of furniture Dan and I have purchased in the span of our marriage has been our entertainment center.

But for some reason, the idea of adding more seating to our living room got stuck in my brain. So, in a few weeks, when the rest of it arrives, there'll be a good long post about it

What has arrived, you ask?


Our gorgeous new coffee table. It's round with a glass top, metal supports on castors, and a bottom shelf. The bottom kind of looks slatted, but it's a solid piece.

From the dirtiness of the glass, you can see that the cats are really enjoying it. One will sit on top and one will sit on the bottom shelf and they'll try to fight. Sam doesn't understand why he can't hit Rusty through it. It's a good thing he's pretty...

Since I'm the queen of forgetting to take 'Before' pictures, here's the best shot I have of our old coffee table. There really wasn't anything wrong with it. It was a hand-me-down from my grandparents and it worked well for a coffee table, I suppose. But it just wasn't our style and really wouldn't fit with our new room layout.

I was hoping to upgrade to a table with some hidden storage, like a drawer, but it was not to be. It was nerve-wracking pulling the trigger on our new table because we only saw it in a catalog. They had the corresponding end table on display, but the first time I saw our table was when Dan unloaded it from his trailer after picking it up.

We got the coffee table as part of a package deal, so the $400+ table really only cost us roughly $200. It is more expensive than a coffee table from Ikea or Target, but you do really get what you pay for.

Doesn't it look great? Now just imagine how nice it will fit in the room once the floors are redone in hardwood and we have our new seating layout.

Step by step, we're turning our house into our home! And more to come soon!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Fan of Friday: Week of 4/26/2013

You know what I found recently that absolutely every other person on the planet has already found?

Image Source

Truth be told, I don't like the flavor of coffee. I don't. However, a couple of weeks ago, my cousin stayed with us for a few days. Being the good hostess I am, I bought instant coffee and creamer for her because she's kind of an addict.

Once she left, there was still some left over so I tried it. I found out that when you drown it in low-cal creamer, coffee isn't half bad.

The problem arises that I can't handle caffeine at all. And when I say at all, I mean, I really mean at all.

But I got so much done that first day. I was focused during every meeting, I raced around the building getting things done, I was on point and sharp all the time. I ran for three miles, no problem.

However, I was also racing all night long. No sleep for Carolyn after barely a cup of coffee 16 hours prior.

I got smart, though. I went to Target and bought a big tub of instant regular coffee and instant decaf. Depending on the day, I can ratio the amount of caffeine I need to get through it.

It makes me feel like a big girl when I walk into work with my cup of coffee to start the day.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Having a Handy Husband

This is what happens when you have a handy husband. He wakes up on a Saturday morning and thinks to himself, "I should build a workbench to store and use my big tools."

And then, BAM!

By Sunday afternoon, he had made a workbench. An eight foot long workbench. One with routed edges of a professional.

So proud of his skills. If I could only focus those skills on any of the other numerous things in the house that are actually on the list of stuff to get done...

Monday, April 22, 2013

Closet Orphans: An Update

For a while, I posted a lot about incorporating closet orphans into my everyday wardrobe. (In case you don't know what a 'closet orphan' is, it's an article of clothing that you love, but is really difficult to style. You had to have it, but it just sits in your closet, alone and sad.)

I haven't posted one in a while and I'm not sure why that is. It's not because I have fewer closet orphans, I probably have more. But somewhere along the way, I think I've finally started to get a grasp of my personal style. Things started to fall into place and my clothes are beginning to reflect who I am. That may not sound like much, but it really can be. Take it from the girl who everyone assumed was slutty in high school even though she really wasn't. It can be a huge pain when you don't have a grip on how to best represent yourself.

Anyway, I'm rambling. Here are five outfits where I've been able to incorporate five hard to style items in my closet.

- The Ruffled Blouse: I love this flesh-toned ruffle front blouse, but because it's got tiny, thin straps (this image is not the exact top), 1) It's not exactly work appropriate and 2) It's hard to wear a bra. However, with this great cardigan from Target and some skinny pants, it's suddenly safe for work!

Ruffled Top

- The Argyle Sweater. I love the colors in this sweater, but it always looked odd when paired with jeans. However, it really works with gray corduroy pants. I don't know why it makes all the difference, but it really does.


- The Easter Dress. While I love my Easter dress, I was having a hard time finding other excuses to wear it. Thankfully, my Stitch Fix blazer makes it almost professional. Because the blazer is so much more professional than just a cardigan, I can get away with wearing this to work.

Polka Dots and Blazer

- The Red Pants and the Amber Necklace. This outfit is a two for one. Do you know how hard it is to try and style red pants? I wish I'd given it more thought before I bought these ones. You can't see it in this picture, but the pants actually are covered in tiny orange polka dots. Fortunately, the polka dots are the exact color of the amber in my amber necklace, a closet orphan on its own. Keeping everything else very simple lets these two pieces work together.

Amber and Red

- The Orange Top and the Blue Earrings. These two closet orphans combine to make two casual pieces a little more fancy for the weekend. Warm weather appropriate, yet still pretty cute. Perfect for about half dozen trips to Home Depot.

Summer Weekend

Monday, April 15, 2013

Stitch Fix Review

Have you heard of this new website called Stitch Fix? I guess websites like this are very trendy now.

Anyway, what you do is fill out a profile, full of questions about your personal style. Then, one of the Stitch Fix stylists picks out five pieces they think you would like. They pack them up, ship them to you, and you get to try on everything in the comfort of your own home. Whatever you don't want to keep, you put it in a shipping envelop, which is included and prepaid, and return it.

It's pretty cheap, too. The service only costs $20, but the money goes toward your purchase if you decide to keep something. If you keep everything, it's 25% off.

I'd read a bunch of reviews from other bloggers and it seemed like they had had good experiences. Since I'm in a bit of a style rut lately (the only labels in my closet are from Target or Old Navy), I decided to give it a whirl.

The profile process is long, but thorough. There's a place to link your Pinterest boards and other social media to better represent yourself. The part I found most helpful was the comment box at the end where you can explain things that aren't detailed in the other portions, like that I'm high waisted and work with my hands in a dirty lab most days. I was slightly concerned that the stylist would only send me big, chunky necklaces because my profile may have eliminated everything else.

I scheduled my first delivery and it showed up last Thursday. Isn't the packaging pretty?

In case the process gets confusing, it's literally written all over everything.

When I unwrapped the tissue paper, I actually squealed. My favorite (and the one I kept) was on top and I was instantly in love, but I'll describe that one last. My box consisted of four tops and a bracelet. Yay, no chunky necklaces!

The first piece was a black and white chevron blouse with 3/4 length sleeves. Since it was sheer, I never would have tried it on in a store. But once I tried it on, I really liked it. I still wasn't a fan of the big pearl buttons pinning up the sleeves, but if the bottom of the blouse were about an inch wider, I would have kept it. The material had no stretch to it and was stubborn over my hips. 

UPDATE (6/4/2013): This top is available at modcloth for $39.99.


The second blouse was a gorgeous turquoise color. The material felt so fancy as it was actual silk. However, that's all that could really be said about this blouse. It was low cut enough that it would have to be layered.

And I suppose it could have been helpful in hiding a pregnancy?

The third blouse was a sheer, long-sleeved high contrast black and white top. Again, something I would have never tried on in a store (1. I don't like to be forced to layer things. 2. This would have been a magnet for broken machine dirt) In spite of that, I may have considered keeping it if it had fit me in the arms. It ended up being about two inches short of my armpits.

The only non-top was a gold chunky hinged bangle. It. was. gorgeous. I really loved it. The problem? It was $40. That's probably not bad if you wear bracelets all the time and have a job where you aren't using your hands all the time. I just couldn't justify keeping it, but it did remind me to break out my $2 Forever 21 bangles more often.

The last piece, as I mentioned before, was squeal-worthy. It's a deep indigo, 3/4 length jersey blazer. Reasons why I love it: 1. The color goes with almost everything in my closet allowing me to add it just about any outfit. 2. It's classy enough that I could wear it over a dress to a fancy party, but the material is casual enough that I could wear it to just about anything, especially work where I hate to be overdressed. 3. The 3/4 length sleeves keep them from getting dirty at work if it's a fix machines type of day. 4. It's washer and dryer safe (The biggest complaint I read online of Stitch Fix was sending moms "Dry Clean Only" stuff. Who has time for dry clean only?)

I love it and it's the one thing I kept from my box. Inspired by the bangle, I paired it with a bunch of my cheap bangles and a gold necklace and wore it to trivia that night (btw, we led the whole night and just missed first by one point after the last round. Shucks)

Image Source
Overall, I'd call the experience a win. I actually even signed up for another one next month. Here are some of my other random thoughts on it:
  • I signed up to have mine delivered on a Friday, but they showed up on a Thursday. Next time, I'll do it early in the week because the three-day return limit scared the bejesus out of me. If you don't have it in the mail by the third day, they will charge you for everything. Since it was delivered at the end of the week, my third day was Sunday, when there is no mail. Scary for procrastinators like myself.
  • It's a little unnerving when you have a box full of really nice clothes that you know you have to return and the cats just NEED to smell everything. Trying to keep two little cats out a cardboard box is just like torture to them.

  • I feel like this service would be best when you have a special occasion coming up, like a vacation or a wedding. You can designate that when you schedule your shipment. At least for me, these pieces were fancy enough that I don't know how often I'd feel comfortable wearing some of them.
  • That being said, I like that it forced my wardrobe to be fancier. You can specify how much you want to spend per piece, but from the reviews I've read, most pieces are between $50-$100, no matter what you designate. The blazer I kept was $78, which is a lot more than I would normally spend, but the $20 stylist fee reduced it to $58. However, the quality is definitely there. I've tried on similar pieces from Target and it's just no comparison. I need to be reminded that sometimes you get what you pay for. 
Hopefully, I won't need any sort of update in the near future about how I screwed everything up and ended up accidentally purchasing a $200 box of stuff  that doesn't fit. Overall, though, I was very happy with Stitch Fix.

UPDATE: Here's a more critical review of my second box...

*This post was not sponsored by Stitch Fix. I just wanted to share my experience. However, if they do want to sponsor another post, I wouldn't say no...*

Monday, April 8, 2013

One of the Greatest Days Ever!

In case you've been living under a rock, there are two things you should know:
  1. I really love "Jurassic Park". Have you not noticed that one of my blogs labels is so titled?
  2. Jurassic Park was just re-released in 3D!
In order to truly appreciate it, we drove up to Phoenix to watch it IMAX 3D.

Yes, I wore my Jurassic Park shirt and a pair of dinosaur socks.

I don't care how many times you've seen it (and for me, that's nearly a million times), it is incredible in that format. Even though I knew exactly what was going to happen, it was still suspensful and awesome. Just awesome. I highly recommend it.

We'll see how many times I see it in theaters. Hopefully once a weekend. Don't tell Dan...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Project House Update: Fireplace Thoughts

We've learned the hard way that things can go sideways quickly if you don't spend enough time sleeping and thinking on an idea. Maybe it's because we're lazy, but the ideas we've loved the most have been the ones that we've waited weeks or months to act on.

That being said, the front room fireplace needs to be tackled quickly. I'm just tired of looking at it. In hopes of minimizing the amount of time we just sit around, letting the ideas sink in, we got all kinds of engineering and nerdy on it.

I guess I should start at the beginning. Long before we painted the room, we knew what we wanted on the front of the fireplace. We fell in love with these dark blue gray tiny stones that formed this easy-to-bend tiles.

Because the fireplace is curved, these tiny stones would easily flex over the surface without too much work on our behalf. No grout, no problem.

We also agreed on covering the mantle with wood. We never agree on anything, let alone two things in a row! With those details, I mocked up the worst picture in the history. Seriously, you click that link at your own risk.

Dan got the modeling bug in him and decided to make one that was not only a little more accurate, but a little prettier, too (how is that even possible?) It's hard to match the colors and textures, but project the tiny tiles in the picture above onto his rendering below.

His model allowed us to play around with how we would build the mantle. It's easier said than done when you're designing for a curved mantle. Originally, Dan just wanted to cover the top and front of the mantle with thin sheets of wood. However, with the model, I was able to convince him that we should also wrap under the mantle. It would allow for more mounting points for the complicated wrapping of the front of the mantle. Also, Dan pointed out, it could be used to create some subtle detail, as if it were molding, to class up the fireplace a bit more.

The only real thing left to determine? The base of the fireplace. We really didn't want to use the tiny tiles as the flat surface because who would want to sit or step on those bumpy things? Two things we needed to determine: 1) The color of the base and 2) The way we would cover it.

From the original terrible mocked up image, you can see we were thinking of matching the color to the color of the tiny tiles. However, upon further review, we were afraid it would be much too dark of a fireplace. To break up the darkness of the bands of tile (on the fireplace and wrapping around the base of the hearth), we agreed a light white stone would work well in the room. Perhaps with some veins in the same color as the tiny tiles.

We went to Home Depot on a fact-finding mission. Dan really wanted to get a piece of stone counter top for one solid piece. We found a color we really liked called "Ripe Cotton" and then we started to do the math. The problem of the curved surface reared its head again. Because they would probably charge us for the rectangular piece that we would need to then cut to fit, it would be over $700 just for the one piece of stone.

Yeah, so we went over to tile instead. At under $10 a square foot, compared to $50 for the counter top, we could easily do tile for under $200. It was a pretty quick decision to switch to tile. This, however, lead to another decision: 3) how to lay out the tile. With small subway tile, large subway tile, and square tiles in a similar marble tile to the counter top, there were a lot of options.

We purchased samples of the squares and the small subway tiles and went home to try some stuff out. There was much debating over it. We even took a break, went to dinner at Village Inn, and continued to sketch ideas over breakfast for dinner.

After some deliberation, we agreed that a traditional subway tile pattern worked well because it mimics the same pattern of the tiny tile on the curved front surface. With the size of the fireplace and the tiles, it would look something like this:

Dan was convinced that an edge border was necessary to make it look finished, so he mocked that up, too.

And he was right. It does look much better with a border. By the end of the weekend, we've made some tough decisions: light white marble subway tile with a border for the base with a detailed wood mantle. We ordered the tiny tiles and they have come in, so once we pull the trigger on the subway tile (and buy a tile saw), we can get down to business!

{Sidenote: Part of the reason I'm going into soooo much detail on our decision making for our fireplace is because we couldn't find any details on designing for a cylindrical corner fireplace. If this helps someone else trying to style a similar curved fireplace, I'll call it a win.}

Monday, April 1, 2013

Happy Easter!

This is what happens when your parents don't have any grand kids yet. You get to be 26 years old and still have Easter egg hunts. Yes, with grocery bags, except for my sister. Favoritism...

Not that I'm complaining, but it does make it hard to feel like an adult. Let's be real, though, when do I ever really feel like an adult?

It was a lovely Easter. My mom cooked a roast and invited my grandparents over. Mashed potatoes and a roll for me. And once they left, the family tradition of bloody video games.

I was sitting on the couch, writing my post for tomorrow, and my grandma asked me what I was doing. Since she's not very technologically literate, I told her I was basically writing in my journal on the computer.

She said, "Write down that your old, beautiful grandma came over. Don't leave out the beautiful part."

And she is. Hilarious and beautiful.