Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chef Fraz

Since he's always here with me and often wants to be in the big middle of whatever I'm doing in the kitchen anyway, it seemed only logical that I buy him an apron, train him in the culinary arts and utilize him as a sous chef. He's proven to be not only extremely proficient, but also absolutely adorable at it. Double whammy. I think I'll keep him on.
In all sincerity, he's actually kind of helpful and I find myself sometimes *gasp* waiting until after naptime to cook. Just so he can help me. Once you've cooked with Frazier- I'm just not sure there's any going back. All culinary ventures thereafter seem markedly tedious and dull.We did a lot of cooking together on Friday (hence all the pictures)- and he was a real trooper- "sous chef-ing" through two different kinds of muffins and a king cake (which we waited and iced the next morning).The two-handed icing technique:He's also handy in the taste-testing department. :) Love this little chef.
Bon Appetit!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Josh and I before our Valentine's Day date on the night before our 11th Valentine's Day together:Frazier and I made valentines a couple of weeks ago. He was very excited about using glitter. He got the process of glue then glitter then shaking off the excess...right down to closing the glitter after each use before he shook the paper! I found the perfect Valentine for Frazier this year. I actually saw it in a magazine when- I kid you not- he was an infant. And I knew I had to get one. For Frazier, of course. I ordered it back when I ordered some other things for his birthday back in July to save on shipping and it's been in my gift closet for 7 months! It's from my favorite line of toys, Smart Snacks by Learning Resources. We had the sorting cupcakes, rainbow cones, and counting cookies already. Now we also have the hide and peek chocolates! (That link takes you to the Learning Resources website, but they're usually cheaper from amazon)I had just enough of that cute valentine's day wrapping paper to wrap it (I bought part of a roll of it at a Goodwill a couple of years ago for a quarter and had been saving it for a special Valentine's Day gift). (Oh- and those beautiful flowers are from my sweet Dad...because he's awesome like that.)How cute are these chocolates?! They were a big hit...Frazier likes stuff like that. Shape sorting and things you can take apart and put back together, I mean- not so much the fake food part. That's my fetish. :)

This is Frazier "smiling" for the camera. Why do all kids make this cheesy face?We also made a great batch of Frazier's first pink for Valentine's Day (and because red is next to impossible to achieve). I love the smell of homemade playdough.And this was Frazier's Valentine to me. While I was unloading the dishwasher this morning, he climbed on the desk, got the glitter off the shelf above it...and glittered my sofa. Super surreptitiously. Fortunately he skipped the glue step. That's what I get for letting the kid use glitter ONE TIME.

Hope yours was happy!



Saturday, February 12, 2011

These Days

Last weekend, we got more snow! (On Friday I went running in the snow...then on Sunday I went running in the sun wearing a sleeveless shirt!) Crazy Texas weather. Despite the snowy weather, the sun still came out and the snow was so pretty in it's light. It looked like the yard had been covered with white glitter. See? Close up of snow:
These days I feel like I could be snapping pictures every couple of minutes and not capture all the amusing things Frazier does. I love it. Never. A. Dull. Moment. Frazier (and his rice cake) stuck between the mattress and the foot board of our bed. Not the last time that happened, I'm afraid.Talking to Grammie:Frazier put on his own boots yesterday! He came out of his room with them on (the wrong feet). And then he slept in them. :)
Where's Frazier?
There he is! That's the wire basket I keep all his plastic fruit in. On his head. Where does he come up with this stuff?

This weekend I ran my first 5K! Since I'd been jogging 2 to 5 miles a day six days a week, I was definitely prepared and though I felt like I could certainly have kept going when it was over, it still took me 31:43 with which I was slightly disappointed. I was hoping to finish in half an hour. So close. Today turned out to be a beautiful day and it's in the 60s now, but it was still in the 30s during our run which started at 8am...pretty cold and there were a couple of icy patches on our route. At least the sun was out and it was perfectly clear blue skies!

I ran with my friend Rebecca who finished just two people behind me. We stayed pretty close together the whole way. We were pretty proud of ourselves (as were our husbands and kids) so we all went out to breakfast afterwards. :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Home Improvement

I decided about a week into 2011 that I wanted to change something about our house. Or a few things, perhaps. So I began thinking about it and once I started, I couldn't stop. I determined that the biggest change and the one I wanted most, would be painting the living room. This is something I've always wanted to do as not only was every wall in our house the EXACT same color (and I do mean every. single. wall.), but that color also happened to be the exact same color as our sofa and the curtains (in the living room at least). Though all the other things in the room offered some colorful contrast, the monotone was just too much. So I got Josh on board and we started looking at paint samples.

Once we'd decided on one (Behr-New Chestnut), I had the idea of using it to first paint the guest bathroom. It's long since been one of my least favorite rooms in my house and since it's a small room it wouldn't take much paint and would be a good way to see the color on a larger scale before we painted the entire living room. Since the weekend after we chose the paint color was a weekend Josh was spending away for a guys' camping weekend, I decided that in his absence I would tackle the bathroom on my own.
So- utilising every minute of naptime and as many hours past bedtime as I could, I finished the bathroom before Josh got home on Sunday! Here's a picture of the bathroom before:And after!Not only did I paint the walls, but also painted the cabinets white, replaced the hardware on them with new glass knobs... ...that matched the glass hangers I got (on sale at Target) for the new shower curtain (which came from Bed Bath and Beyond) I hung some cute little metal shelves courtesy of a Goodwill under the marbled window I made ages ago, repainted and antiqued some frames from another thrift store and framed in them some pages from an old hymnal, and I got new towels in a pretty citrus-y green (from Big Lots) that perfectly matched my new shower curtain.
Then, with all that done, I was happy. Except that everytime I went in there I liked everything except the old light fixture. I'd always thought it was a little too small for the big mirror and now it definitely didn't fit with the decor. So Frazier and I made a trip to the Habitat Re-store and found a perfect new (old) one! I say perfect, but what I mean was perfectable. It was pretty tacky all brass with these dated tulip glass covers, but the wiring was good and the price was reasonable, and the girl working at the Re-store that day let me change out the covers for free to something we both agreed looked vintage enough. I brought it home, repainted and antiqued it, put new bulbs in and hung it up. Worked like a charm and perfectly rounded out the bathroom redo!

There was no stopping me now. I moved on to the rest of the house and over the course of a couple of weeks...I did at least something to almost every room!

Prepare comes the rundown.

I'll begin with the dining room because while I was at the Re-store looking for my bathroom light, this chandelier caught my eye. It was brass again, but had great potential. I left without it, but thought about it all the next day and finally went back out to get a price on it and check the wiring. Satisfied with both, I brought it home and set to work repainting it. I began with a coat of spray paint (Krylon flat Ivy) then I finished it with two coats of the paint color I had since decided to use for two accent walls- my foyer wall and the wall just outside my master bedroom. It is Martha Stewart from Home Depot in Dried Camomile (it was very close to the towel color in my new guest bathroom so I also used it to paint the wicker Kleenex holder in there.) I had to add a little length of chain since the one this light fixture came with was too short for my tall dining room ceiling, but that was no big deal. I'm still in search of some bobeches for it, but I like it as is well enough.

Here's the dining room before with the old light fixture:...and after with the new!Since I was all in painting mode, and since I've always wished there was something below that chair rail in the dining room...I painted it too! I taped it off and did white stripes with a white wash between them and finished the whole thing with a wood stain. I also got a new little cabinet that you can sort of see in the corner of the top picture. I'd originally bought it (at Ross Dress For Less) to go in the foyer but decided to use something else in there so it got moved in here and has cookbooks and tablecloths in it. I changed the hardware on it to a glass drawer pull and glass knob. I also took EVERYTHING off those white shelves and rearranged them and got rid of things I don't use and bought a couple of new things for them...but probably no one would notice that but me. :)

And now on to the kitchen. On a whim last Wednesday...I decided to paint it red. Just seemed like a good idea. So I went to Lowe's and picked out a color (Valspar- Red Ochre) which is a very nice tomato-y red that went with most of the red stuff in my kitchen and in particular the rick rack on my favorite curtain above the sink. *And just FYI, most paint companies now offer samples for $1-3 to save you from spending the money on a quart or gallon of a color that doesn't look good in your house. Valspar, Olympic, Behr and Martha Stewart (that I know of) all offer a 7 oz one which is actually quite a bit of paint. 2/3 of one was more than enough to paint this one wall of my master bath (Martha Stewart- Rainwater):(Also got some new his and hers hooks from Hobby Lobby-1/2 off-for the closet doors in there.)It took 2 and a half of the sample containers to paint the two walls in my kitchen I painted, but even buying three of them was cheaper than buying one quart. So there's an idea for painting on the cheap as long as you aren't painting a whole lot.

Back to my kitchen. These are kind of sad before pictures because they're some I took right after we moved in (like, 5 years ago), but it gives you an idea. Obviously, the paint color hadn't changed:And here it is now...I made a new hanger for my aprons out of a piece of wood and some great little colored glass knobs from Hobby Lobby. Unfortunately, with the aprons hanging on them you can't really see the knobs. I also finally found a place to hang this little white spice rack I'd found at a thrift store a long time ago. It fits perfectly on the end of this cabinet under my strawberry sign and is the perfect spot for some of my little souvenirs and stuff. I made the curtain for my laundry room door by sewing together some of my favorite tea towels and this random strawberry cafe curtain I thrifted a long time ago for 25 cents. It's been in my extra fabric box forever waiting for an application. This worked out great because it was just the right width and already had a seam for the curtain rod so that was one less thing I had to sew! I just loosely basted the tea towels to it so I can easily use them as towels again if I ever want to and I finished the bottom (since there were a few inches left between the last towel and the floor) with some of my favorite kitchen-y fabric scraps.I think one of my favorite kitchen projects was the refrigerator. It came with the house and while all the other appliances were was white. Which made it my least favorite appliance and incidentally, just about the only one we haven't had to replace since we moved in. I covered it with chalkboard contact paper. So it's not only black, but you can write on it too! Super easy change...and very cheap, too. The stuff is $6 a roll and this took far less than two rolls. The best part? If I want it white again...I just peel it off.The breakfast room/office (that area at the end of the kitchen with the bay windows) is now an office/playroom. That was actually a project of mine back in the late summer-early fall.It used to look something like this:

And now looks something like this:The light fixture and rug in there came from Ikea.
This is the office area of that space. I added that extra small white wall cabinet this past week. I found it at Ross Dress for Less the day I found the cabinet for my dining room. It was pretty cheap to begin with, but because it had a little dent in the back corner I got it even cheaper. :)
And finally, last weekend we painted the living room. What was originally slated to be our only home improvement project ended up being our last of many! It is, however, one of my favorites. Here's a before picture (again, it's several years old...but none of the colors had changed in that time.)New Chestnut proved to be a much warmer, cozier cocoa color just as we'd hoped.I also replaced all the throw pillows.And here's the foyer wall we accented with the Martha Stewart Dried Chamomile (same color as the light fixture in the dining room, the kleenex holder in the bathroom and the background of those two big framed pieces hanging above my couch...I also gave the metal gate above my mantel a dry brush of this color). The new foyer table I found at T J Maxx:Here's the other accent wall in the little hallway outside our bedroom. Same color- Dried Camomile...might be my new favorite color.And just because I came across this little shelf at a thrift store and it was only $2 and it looked just right for books...I bought it, painted it white, and hung it under one of the trees in Frazier's room. Made an adorable little reading nook, no?! It was like it was meant to go there. I also got some pretty new tassle tie-backs for the curtains in our bedroom. The old ones were too flimsy and never held the curtains back so I felt like it always looked messy. This is a significant improvement. I repurposed the others and they are now jointly holding back a curtain on a window on the opposing wall.

"It is the main earthly business of man to make his home, and the immediate surroundings of his home, as symbolic and significant to his own imagination as he can." - G. K. Chesterton The Coloured Lands

So there you have it...our home improvement as of late! That's what I've been up to! And while I'm quite pleased with the results, it isn't really about the house and what it looks's about what happens inside it. That's the part that matters. So, these are the two best things about my house:

...them and the fact that they were playing and singing "What A Friend We Have In Jesus" and "The Crawdad Song". That makes this house my home.

"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." -Joshua 24:15