Spending my Vacation in the Office

We'll be spending this day of my vacation in my office, where this fabulous new furniture purchased yesterday at World Market's annual furniture sale, will be my new day-time home starting next week.

We bought two matching desks, hutches, and file cabinets. The second set will go in S's office corner in the finished basement room - positioned with a clear sight line to our new second Directv DVR that I ordered for S's Slingbox Christmas gift.

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Frustration Station: the Bathroom Light

We have this cute, original light fixture in the bathroom:
But it's definitely seen better days.

We bought a new double-light fixture from Home Depot during our closet expedition. Yesterday, while I downloaded and installed the printer/scanner software on my new laptop S installed the new light fixture. Then uninstalled it when he discovered that the glass shades hung too low and the existing medicine cabinet would not open. Bummer.

We agreed to put the bathroom projects on hold until we choose a new mirror/medicine cabinet, except for the new toilet seat, which in my opinion (and my mom's) is a complete must whenever moving into a new house or apartment. Time to start a' fresh.

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Organizing Soft, Fluffy Towels

I love the look of fluffy towels folded to perfection. Perhaps that explains why last night's linen closet organizing session was my most satisfying project yet. No weird dimensions to deal with, no nagging sentimental attachment to crap thrown in the massive goodwill pile, and our baskets from FL fit the shelves well (well enough). So satisfying:
It's a bonus that S agreed to a folding lesson so the closet can always look like this. Ok, maybe I won't hold my breath.

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Oh! The Storage!

Oh the drama! Small houses have small closets, and while I can't complain about the size of our closets in comparison to some of the closets in the 100+ houses we looked at, ours are still small.

Storagegate started when I purchased a Pax Hemnes wardrobe from Ikea. My intention is to flank the guest room window with two of the floor-to-ceiling storage havens. Unfortunately the units are packaged in huge, heavy boxes. Soooo, I enlisted the help of my mom and her Jeep to purchase one of the two units. Enter the issue of getting the box up the stairs...my parents were gone, I was weak from the flu and couldn't lift my side of the box safely. S lift one end of the box and oh! the drama! All of a sudden we're reevaluating the entire supplemental storage plan. Oy! Stay tuned for the final decision.

With the wardrobe on the back-burner we quickly attacked the master bedroom closet, which would be for S's clothes, just as it had been in FL. He had a simple request for the layout: two rows of hanging, no shelves, no long hanging. Note that S wears a full-length flight suit 5 days a week. No long hanging? Realizing that S intended to hang his flight suits off the back of his closet door, a total dis-organization solution, I added 20" of long hanging to his closet, which also accommodates a much needed hanging sweater shelf. It's apparent to me now that S only thought of his favorite Brooks Bros. shirts when "designing" his closet.

My closet, the guest room closet, was significantly less straight-forward than S's. The space is nearly six feet wide, but only as deep as the width of a hanger and only has a single two foot wide door. While it seems like a large closet by old house standards, it's completely useless when full of clothing: you can only see the clothing directly in front of the door since everything to the right and left is blocked by the first hanging shirt/pants/dress. Tears. Lots of tears. Container Store to the rescue! Did you know they offer free design services for their elfa storage system? Neither did I. Did you know the elfa system is nearly identical to Rubbermaid Selectrack, which is available at Home Depot (where we had gift cards)? I do now!

I entered dimensions and storage requirements on the Container Store site, 24 hours later I received a call from a design rep and then 20 minutes later she emailed me a plan and a shopping list.
I made a few quick changes by swapping the drawers for shelves and added a second long shelf above the short shelves. With shopping and cutting list in hand we were off! Because we had Home Depot gift cards we decided to shop there instead of the Container Store, but we will check them out for the next closet. 

Within a couple of hours the economy was stimulated and we were back in the guest room. S had less than two hours before his uncle was scheduled to pick him up to go to a Red Skins game. Fortunately, the closet was assembled and ready for organizing despite the time crunch, and an unplanned quick run to the local hardware store for longer drywall screws (5 minutes round trip, including shopping time; I LOVE our new location!).

After S left for the game I installed some Ikea Dioder lighting:

lined the shelves:
and got to work figuring out how to get all of this:
into the still-small space.

No matter how fabulous the bare solution looked, the limitations of the closet depth still posed a problem. Rather than organizing by sleeve length, then color, I organized by frequency worn, then sleeve length, then color. I also packed away all non-layering summer clothes and some sweaters not yet ready for goodwill, but not likely to be worn this winter. As a result my closet doesn't look like a perfect rainbow of stair-stepped sleeve length, but it's much more practical.
Unfortunately for storagegate the finished closets do not eliminate the need for more wardrobe storage: I have yet to tackle the shoes, yarn, scarves, or fabric.

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Katahdin, the Bear

As I blogged about over at engaged2009, S and I had a few encounters with baby bears during our hikingmoon at Mt. Katahdin. When we returned home from the wilderness we saw a baby bear foot stool at L.L.Bean that looked exactly like the bear we saw at the Roaring Brook campground. I begged S to let me use our wedding gift cards to buy the bear, but he refused...

...only to surprise me with Kathadin, the bear, under our Christmas tree.

He'll make his full debut as soon as I'm able to post photos of our house without shuddering at the sight of the mess. We're far from deer heads above the mantle kind of people (well, S's roommate did have a buck, who I affectionately named Bob, above the mantle at their apartment when we first met), but I think Katahdin the bear will work perfectly in front of a nice leather chair or two!

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The Storm: Paint, Delivery, Snow, Crash & the Flu

The Bee Hive still looks like it was hit by a small tornado, but we have made significant progress in the past week despite a few road blocks along the way.

After we finished painting the utility room section of the basement and assembling the Ikea Gorm storage shelves, we quickly moved on to our most lofty goal: kill the red and yellow before the movers arrived with our delivery on Friday. I would love to insert a photo of the red dining room or the BRIGHT yellow living room / hallway / stairwell / kitchen / guest room, but my hard drive crashed this week and I lost a week of photos. UPDATE: I recovered some photos of the bright, bold colors that covered the interior of our house during the first few days of ownership. 

Painting was a full family effort with my dad cutting in at the ceiling like a trained professional (my grandfather owned a professional painting company on Cape Cod):
while my mom and I alternated cutting in around woodwork and rolling out our soothing palette:
S's brother Michael and I taped off the red dining room before my parents arrived, but I quickly learned that the pros don't tape, they just have steady hands. As my dad said, "it's all in the breathing," and "we only get paid for paint on the walls." I've honed my steady hand skillz.

We chose Benjamin Moore Aura paint in Ice Cube Silver for the living room / stairwell / hall way and for the upper section of the dining room. We used Silver Half Dollar for the lower walls below the chair rail in the dining room and for the kitchen. In the guest room we used Mt. Rainer Gray. All of the colors are a bit more blue than gray and go very well with the creamy white trim. I could not be happier with the Aura paint. At the paint store's suggestion we did not use a primer; just the Aura. The bright colors were gone in one coat and fully covered without a trace with the second.

Just look at how BRIGHT these colors were!!!

The photo above shows how the yellow in the kitchen was paler in comparison to the other yellows in the house. But, wow, it was bright.
We were able to get the first coat in all the major rooms before our furniture delivery on Friday, when temperatures starting dipping and the air started to feel a bit like snow. All of the doors were open as the movers brought an anxiety-inducing number of boxes into the house. While I was shaking with nerves, Lexi was shivering on her bed until one of the movers located our space heater:

And then it started to snow. We got a record-setting nearly two feet of snow in 24 hours. It was beautiful and we had plenty of painting and unpacking to to do keep us busy for days - the only problem being that the paint store was not open when I ran out of paint for the guest room. I scraped the dregs out, but will likely need to do another coat to smooth out the finish sometime in the future.
Look at how much more soothing the living and dining areas are after a fresh coat of paint:
Making sure every last hint of yellow is out:
The snow just before bed on the second night of the storm:
The next morning:
Our road that was never plowed:

Unfortunately the snow also meant that trash and recycling pick-up was canceled for the week. But not before we schlepped all the boxes to the curb after reading that "trash and recycling pick-up will be as scheduled" on the county website.
We decided to risk getting a fine and left the boxes at the curb to soak up the wet snow (and now rain) for a week.

After my parents left on Tuesday I succumbed to a flu-like something-or-other for several days and only managed to eek out minimal box unpacking (more accurately, I directed box unpacking and slept). Not surprisingly day-after-Christmas sales found me feeling quite a bit better and in the car ready to search for organization solutions.

We hit Crate & Barrel for glass containers for dry goods, Bed Bath & Beyond for a bit of everything, and Home Depot for closet shelving. Our biggest find was a stainless steel Calphalon pot rack at BB&B something I've been longing for for an entire week now. Can that count as longing?

As soon as we got home I fed S some cookies to get his blood sugar up and his project-attitude right and we set to work finding joists in the ceiling.
After a few nails holes, weird calculations, and finger crossing moments, mission make-this-tiny-kitchen-fit-our-wedding-pots & pans was complete.

Then while S went upstairs to start his closet shelving, I finally "finished" the kitchen.
Finished minus the issue of that massive light, and the small detail that all of our wedding gifts are still in storage in Maine, of course.

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The Bee Hive Day One, or the Calm Before the Storm

Paul and I worked late into the night on my first night in the house. S emailed from Canada and said he hoped to be home by late Wednesday, as long as the repair made to his plane in Spain held up. Given that I arrived so late in the day on Tuesday, despite how much we accomplished that night, I consider Wednesday day one at the Bee Hive.

I woke around 5:30 after four hours of sleep and after brewing a pot of coffee in my one pot borrowed from S's parents, I slapped a coat of rustoleum on the legs of the basement utility sink.
S's dad, Paul, arrived just before eight to paint the floor while I went to the paint store to pick up several gallons of paint and to the commissary to stock-up for my parents' arrival. He had a meeting at noon and said he'd do as much as possible before having to leave around 11:30. When I returned with a overflowing trunk and an empty wallet, I was shocked to find the basement floor painted:
and the storage shelves assembled and ready to be moved into place:
After Paul left I started to prep for our adventures in painting while I waited for my parents' arrival.

No one has any idea what we did after my parents arrival Wednesday afternoon. I know we unpacked their chock-full jeep with the sherpack-go on top, we surveyed the projects, and started the Home Depot list. Lexi settled in on her bed under the tree.
Note the outrageous yellow paint on the walls: it's bright and almost as difficult to kill as the red paint in the living room. Oy.

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And I thought I Knew How to do a Project

It's today finally, today being move-in day! We've looked forward to this day for months, but unfortunately I was alone for our big day. S's plane "broke" overseas last week and his arrival home was delayed several days. While I'm sure he would rather be here, he is missing out on some serious work!

First there was the trip to Ikea where I had to pare down my selections because I could no longer steer the cart. A couple in the parking lot gave me the thumbs up and said they were impressed with my job packing my car. I said, "I just want to know, where the hell is my husband?!" and laughed. Dude said I didn't need him and I was doing a fine job. The Saab holds a lot of stuff!

However, having a half dozen sections of basement shelving in my car significantly minimized the amount of stuff I could take with me from the bay. Because I'm only working a half day on Friday and have the rest of the week off, I prioritized non-office items like Mr.Norman the fish, my pillow and all cords, laptops and other networky stuff. I also threw in just a bit of food.

I hit the road just before 3 and just in time for some city traffic.

It was a gray day on the bay and I was glad that I woke up yesterday to watch the sunrise since today's was just an eerie fog that stuck around all day.

When I finally arrived at the new bee hive I let myself in and walked around, impressed with the clean floors. I was horrified by the dirt on the mini blinds in the kitchen and stuck them in the dishwasher right away. They're still dirty and headed for the trash.

An hour or so after my arrival, after my car was empty, S's parents arrived with a few essentials and a crow bar. S's dad started to remove old shelving in the basement while his mom and I went to Home Depot for basement paint. Upon our return home we found all the shelves removed and clean-up well undeway. Score! I've never had help like this on a project before. S's dad knows how to tackle a project.

S's dad asked me my plan for the night. When I said I was going to paint, he offered to go home, change, and return to help. We scraped the loose concrete and paint on the walls then he left while I vacuumed. Just as I opened the can of paint he appeared once again, this time wearing painting clothes.

In no time the walls were painted and ready for a second coat. I cut in while S's dad rolled. I've always been a solo painter so this was very nice and so very fast.

After the first coat was up we started to scrub the floors with soapy water. I bought concrete cleaner at the Depot and its instructions said to apply while wearing rubber boots, etc. Pretty intense. S's dad offered to do the dirty work while I went upstairs and removed baby wall paper trim in the guest room and nails from all the walls.

Tomorrow S's parents will return in the am to paint the floor and assemble basement shelving units while I go pick up the Benjamin Moore paint that I pre-ordered today. I'm also making a major grocery run so the house is fully stocked when my parents and lexi arrive tomorrow.

And I can't forget to wrap gifts for our tree:

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Home Owners!

We're homeowners and we have the for sale sign trashing photos to prove it!

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Corn Chowder for the Rainy Day

Yesterday it was cold, rainy, gray, and dark on the Bay, which means it was the perfect day to finally use the frozen corn that we carried all the way from FL to MD. When I say that we carried it from FL, I really mean that we used it as ice packs to keep our frozen and cold foods cool. After the day and a half trip north, it really wasn't in any condition to be consumed in anything other than soup.

After a quick search online for corn chowder recipes I found three that looked tasty and easy to modify. End result? Deeeeeelicious!

Bee Hive Corn Chowder
1 turkey kielbasa chopped into little pieces
3 large onions chopped
1/4 cup flour
2 t. kosher salt (or less to taste)
1 t. fresh ground pepper
1/2 t. ground turmeric (or more to taste)
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 pounds (32oz. bag) frozen corn
2 cans creamed-style corn
1 cup milk

In a large stockpot cook the kielbasa and onions in 1 T olive oil with the cover on until the onions are translucent, stirring frequently. Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and turmeric and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth and potatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Add the frozen corn, creamed corn and milk. Cook for 10-15 more minutes, until heated through and potatoes are flavorful. Season to taste with additional salt, pepper, and turmeric. Serve hot with a garnish of shredded cheddar cheese.

I feel like I should update this post so I can express just. how. good. this. chowder. really. is. We ate this on Thursday for dinner, for lunch & dinner on Friday, for lunch on Saturday (with a thick slice of honey oatmeal bread I made Saturday morning) and S ate again for lunch today. And I must mention that we weren't eating our way out of the 'fridge; we were actually choosing this soup over all the other delicious offerings in our freezer. It's just that good.

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Perfectly Timed Announcement

We were married in September, which means that we were the recipients of many lovely gifts. Since the wedding we've been asked for our mailing address from several of our wedding guests. We also know that many of our friends and family would love to see more photos of the big day. Well, we're not sure of that last one since I've been facebooking links to our photographer's Web site ad nauseam.

To date I've forwarded our friends S's parents' address. S's mom has been happy to stack packages next to the 12 piece china setting gift that's waiting for us in their family room.
But now our new bee hive is just waiting us to claim her as our own in just a tad more than a month, so I've decided it's time to begin working on the big announcement.

Under ordinary circumstances I would sieze the opportunity to send a separate new home/new address announcement. However, with our closing date set for early December it seems most logical to send a holiday card/new house/wedding announcement all in one. I throw wedding announcement in there because S thinks we should include a lovely photo from our wedding...as long as we get the CD of our wedding photos in time.

So last night while the winds were howling and the waves were crashing on the rocks outside our glorious homeless home, I tackled our announcement design, which of course, for privacy reasons, I will not be sharing here. I will share with you, however, this edited version featuring a photo from Lexi's latest photoshoot. Glorious pup.
I'll have it printed on eco-stock postcards from UPrinting and will be mailed in a seasonally appropriate envelope from Paper-Source.

I am beyond excited for the new house, super excited for our first holiday card together, and so happy that we have a new address to announce to our family and friends. Have you started working on your holiday cards yet?

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Wasting More Time

It's hard to believe that just a couple of months ago I was willing time to stop passing so quickly; I needed more days for all our wedding projects. What a difference a home-under-contract makes. December 15 can not get here soon enough.

To distract myself from the fact that we're still forever from moving in and that S is away for another week, I took a trip to Ikea this weekend to explore storage options. As I've been reminded a thousand times, the closets are small. It was a very productive way to pass the time, minus the two hour traffic jam on the way to Ikea. Silly me for thinking there wouldn't be any traffic at noon on a Saturday.

When I finally arrived at the yellow and blue mecca I put my walkin' shoes on and hit the ground running. I moved through the store at a snail's pace as I looked over all the great stuff. My mental calculator was on overdrive. Fortunately there's no way we can fit much more stuff in our house. We each had a house the size of our new house, so Goodwill will be our best friend. Goodwill, and Ikea's awesome storage solutions!

First up, Gorm. Ikea's bare-bones expandable storage system.
We are going to have a totally pimped-out basement.

For my clothing, I think I'm going to buy the much-loved Pax closet system with the Hemnes doors that match our dressers.
It's unfortunate that this is the best photo I can find. It looks so much better in person, and with door pulls.

Right now the idea is to have a pair of these flanking one of the windows in the guest room with my red mini dresser that I used as a TV stand in my old house under the window. Maybe I'll make a cushion and create a little dressing area. The extra closets will hold my shoes and all the overflow from my little built-in closet. I was impressed with the quality and the warranty. Love, love, love the Hemnes line.

Overall it was a productive weekend of wasting time. I definitely think these two solutions will put my storage anxieties at ease. I love organizing!

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Paint paint everywhere

After a rather frustrating trip to Home Depot and Ace - 3 hours to drive 3 miles?!?! - I had a whole pile of paint chips to sort through. After much deliberation I think I've made my final choices, subject to S's approval. I think I managed to choose color combos and schemes to maximize the use of paint gallons and minimize expenses.

I can't wait to actually get this paint up on the walls now....

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BIG little News

So this is BIG news...we're under contract on a new little bee hive!! Not, not the casa, but a real colonial bee hive that exceeds all my expectations for our first (ok first with my name on the deed too) house. It's so fabulous!
It's in North Arlington, Virginia in a nice neighborhood full of the cutest colonials. I'm in love.... I didn't actually see the house until two weeks after we went under contract, so S is quite relieved that I LOVE the house.

The sellers have only owned the house for a year, but did a ton of work in that short time. They replaced the roof and porch decking and added beautiful new landscaping outside. Inside they replaced the heating system with a fabulously efficient system, removed all the asbestos tiles from the basement and sun room, updated the bathroom vanity, and the list goes on!

Perhaps most important, however, is that they renovated the KITCHEN!! And it's exactly what I would have chosen. They knocked out a wall, used beautiful gray granite, stainless appliances, and white cabinets.
The fridge even has a drawer freezer - my favorite!
Even though the sellers did a ton of work there are still plenty of projects for our creative eyes - or for our blinded eyes. The colors are so freaking bright!! Look at this living room. Holy sunshine!
And the dining room? Yowsers!
I'm sure that in 10 years I'll be totally in love with red and yellow, but not today. The yellow is EVERYWHERE. It's total insanity.

So last night I looked at chips and searched around and found some inspiration photos online.

Here's a crummy photo of our bathroom with its cute original black and white tiles
and here's a photo of a bathroom over at Young House Love where they used Glidden's Sand White on the walls.

I love the contrast between the white and sand color. Perhaps even better is that the towels we received for our wedding will go nicely in here. A white curtain makes the room look clean and less crowded and if we want a splash of color for a change, we can throw up one of the brightly colored curtains in my collection. Our vanity cabinets are a chocolate color, in contrast to their white, but I think the sand will look nice.

Next up, in the kitchen I would love to paint over the pale yellow with a muted bluish greenish like Glidden's Gentle Tide, also from Young House Love.
Look how nicely it goes with these appliances, cabinets, and counters that are so similar to ours! I love the pendant light above the sink too. We'll have to tackle the giant florescent light in the center of our kitchen at some point in the very near future.

And for the shocking yellow sunshine running through the living room and up the stairs? I love, love, love Benjamin Moore's Smokey Taupe, shown here:
and close up here next to some funky cool wall paper:
It will go perfectly with S's carpets. Damn carpets. No more freaking carpets!!! ;) (I can't remember where I found this photos for my inspiration file, please let me know if they are yours.)

For the dining room I like something like Glidden's Quiet Light, which is shown in a mudroom here (also from my inspiration file and from an unknown blog, but one that I know I follow. Again, please let me know if they are yours and I will credit you right away!):
It would offer a subtle transition from the blue with greenish tints in the kitchen to the gray blue of the living room. I also like Glidden's Pewter, which is a bit more gray with less green.

Eventually we think we'll finish off the sun room to create an office space. By eventually, I mean soon, I hope. Its south-facing windows would be perfect for a cheery color like Glidden's Wishes used in YHL's sunny room:
And colors aside, Ikea closets flanking the guest room bed like in the master bedroom of the Young House Love home would add a lot of much needed storage:
Speaking of storage, as unglamorous as it is, our basement will be the first room we tackle, with a preventative coat of Drylock, some reconfigured shelving, and a fabulous little washing/ironing/folding nook. Don't worry, I'm not fooling myself into thinking S will fold anything anywhere but in front of the TV...after I dump the full basket on top of him....

So, there she is. If all goes well, we'll be setting up shop for Christmas.
Most photos are from our own files unless from sources credited in text. We try very hard to keep track of where we find our inspiration photos. Please let us know if you see any errors or omissions and we will correct the errors immediately.

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