Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Belated Merry Christmas

Well it's a little late to be posting about Christmas decorations considering it's NYE, but at least it's still December, right? I went small scale on the decorations this year since we moved in so recently - it seemed a little mixed up to go crazy for Christmas when we don't have more important stuff in the house yet (like a real dining room table, for instance!).

The front door just got a simple fresh wreath (on my deer wreath hanger!) and fresh garland strung up around it. I also wrapped some faux garland and added a bow to the lamp post by the front walkway, but that was it for the exterior.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

{DIY} Crate Coffee Table

We're slowly starting to get more furniture to fill up the house, and I built my very first piece! This coffee table (that I spotted here ages ago and have planned to make ever since) was a great starter piece - considering I have absolutely no experience building anything beyond Ikea furniture, this was surprisingly easy!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

{Photo tour} Move-in day!

I posted a move-in day video tour already but also wanted to show you some photos from the day we moved in. 

Here's the outside, with our lovely straw and mud yard and lack of any landscaping! 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

{Video Tour} Move-in day!

Alright, guys. This is my first video tour. And it's, um, a little rough. Super shaky video + super awkward me didn't exactly equal an Oscar-worthy film, but for better or worse, here it is! (And if that introduction made you less than thrilled to watch, skip down to the unnarrated, shorter video or to Smokey's video - he seems to like the house!).

Full, narrated house tour...

Monday, December 2, 2013

We've moved!

After so much planning and so much waiting... and some more waiting... we're finally in the new house! We got the keys last Wednesday, spent our first night there on Thanksgiving, and have been slowly making progress with moving everything and unpacking over the last few days. We've got boatloads to do and still don't have internet access (ahhh!! So disconnected from the world!!), so I just wanted to do a quick post to announce the move and ask you to please bear with me as we try to get settled. I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend with family and friends and stuffed your face full of turkey and treats!!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Living Room Furniture

We are so, SO close to moving in! I know, I'm way overdue for a house update. Strangely enough, now that it's so close to being finished, I haven't been taking pictures. As it was being built, I felt like I had to document what it looked like at each stage since it was constantly evolving. Lately, I just haven't been worrying about it, since I know I can just get pics next time!

Living Room Furniture

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

{Getaway} Weekend in Asheville

A couple of weeks months ago (where did the fall go?!), I surprised Bryan with a getaway to Asheville, North Carolina for his 30th birthday. One of my best friends lives in Charlotte and has been telling me what a great little city Asheville is for years, but I always figured I'd just go whenever we end up planning a girls weekend down there. I hadn't thought about it as a possibility for this birthday getaway until I stumbled across the fact that Asheville is known for its breweries. Charming, laid back city + mountains + driving distance + dog friendly + BEER = perfect spot to take the hubs!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

{DIY} Etched Glass Dog Treat Jar

I just got a Silhouette Portrait. It's my new toy. I've been seeing discount packages offered on various blogs for a while now and have been tempted every time I see a new offer, so I finally pulled the trigger and got one. The deal this time was a glass etching bundle. The deal is over now, unfortunately, but if you're interested in getting one in the future, just keep your eyes open for the packages offered on a lot of craft/DIY blogs (not mine - I'm not an affiliate; I just think the discount blogger packages are the best deal!).

Monday, September 30, 2013

{DIY} Gold & Chalkboard Flower Pots

Back in May when we went to the UK, we had a cookout at our friends' flat. We used some fresh herbs they had growing out back, and I decided I finally needed to get around to planting my own. On my first shopping trip after we got home, I saw some herbs for sale in the grocery store and snatched up every single kind they had. The only problem: I didn't have confidence that I'd actually be able to keep them alive for more than, like, two weeks (plant serial killer - guilty!), so I bought the cheapest little terra cotta planters I could find. Shockingly, my herbs have actually lasted! Since it seems the herbs are here for the long term, I decided to give my basic pots an upgrade with chalkboard paint and gold Rub 'n Buff.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

{Recipe} Beignets

Phew, it's been one of those weeks! Since I haven't been posting lately, I thought I'd give you this quick recipe post. And by 'recipe' I mean link to someone else's recipe, along with a rather ugly photo I took since I hadn't originally planned on blogging about these. But even if the photo is ugly, these suckers are tasty!!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

{Recipe} White Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake (with Greek yogurt!)

I finally got bit by the fall bug last weekend. I usually get really excited about each new season, but I'm a summer girl at heart, and as September rolled around this year, I was feeling kind of bummed that I didn't make the most of my summer. No beach trips. Only a handful of days at the pool. A lack of tanned skin and sun-kissed hair. I kind of wanted to rewind to July. But last weekend as the weather started feeling cooler, I finally accepted the inevitable, and suddenly felt like I desperately needed pumpkins and mums on the patio and some sort of pumpkin baked goods in the oven. A few hours after that feeling initially stuck, and I was chowing down (at an embarrassing rate) on this cheesecake. Although the quantity I ate was a bit excessive, the use of Greek yogurt in this recipe helps to make it a healthier dessert (at least compared to regular cheesecake!).

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

FMS Photo-A-Day Summer Wrap-up

Guess who hasn't done a monthly photo-a-day wrap-up since May?!? Oops.  In an effort to get fully caught up and avoid doing several of these in a row, today I'm presenting you with this post that is chock full o' photo vomit. 92 pictures, 3 lists of prompts. A jumble of far more photos that anyone could wish to process.  But I like having these as a record and it keeps me accountable - and believe me, I need it, since I'm not staying on top of this so well!!
June photo-a-day pictures (in order from #1-30)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

{Recipe} Evil Jungle Prince: A Thai Coconut Curry

I love Thai food. And I love Hawaii. This is a Thai dish that brings back memories of Hawaii, so it's a pretty perfect combination in my eyes. Plus, who can resist a name like Evil Jungle Prince?

Friday, August 30, 2013

{Fashion} Stitch Fix #1

Guys - there's a new love in my life. And his name is Stitch. Or Stitch Fix, if you're feeling formal. Have you heard about it yet? I think I may have been slow on the uptake here, since I just learned about it in the last couple of weeks but it seems to be all over the place.

If it's new to you too, the concept is this: you create a style profile - your preferred style, your sizes, your preferred mix of business/casual/dressy, even a link to your Pinterest style board... anything that helps indicate what you like to wear. You pay a $20 styling fee, then your 'stylist' (doesn't that make you feel fancy?) sends you a box of five hand-picked items. Keep what you like, send back what you don't in the pre-paid envelope. If you keep anything, the $20 fee goes toward your items, and if you keep all 5 things, you get 25% off everything.

Here's what I got in my first Fix, courtesy of my stylist, Miranda...

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Visible Backyard

One of the most exciting things about moving to a house from a condo is that we'll have a yard. Although I'm excited to have a space for outdoor entertaining and that kind of thing, my immediate focus is on having a yard for Smokey to run around in. We take him out for walks several times a day and on various "adventures" (he knows that word - don't say it around him unless you want to activate the puppy cyclone!), but it's so rare that he actually just gets to chill outside. On his lazier walks, the poor little guy always tries to plop down in the grass to sunbathe and avoid coming back in, but I'm always in a rush get back to work or whatever I'm doing. No question, he's going to LOVE having a yard and not being so leash-dependent.

But before we can Smokey let loose on his own, we need a fence. And before we can get a fence, we need to make way for the fence. You might remember that our backyard was previously in jungle status - as in, not possible to see more than a few feet into it. This past weekend, we started trying to fix that (which you may have known already if you follow me on facebook or Instagram).

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Homepolish Interior Design {10% off coupon code!}

Have you ever used an Interior Designer? I haven't. They're so expensive, right? And if you can find a good deal, well, there might be a reason for it. I've seen interior design consultations on deal sites before - but the portfolios of the ones I've seen are always SO traditional (like maybe I'd use them if I was designing a country club? I'm guessing design school may have been a few decades back?). But now there's a site that puts those problems to rest.

Enter Homepolish: offering accessible, affordable, quality interior designers - starting at only $50 for an initial one-hour, in-home consultation. Check out some of their gorgeous work, and scroll to the bottom for a coupon code!

Homepolish Interior Design Decorating Portfolio | HomePolish_painting_ny_summit-road74017976
In L-O-V-E with this light fixture

Sunday, August 18, 2013

{House update} Feeling like a real house

Wow, I'm behind on the house updates! I left off here - in late June, when drywall had just been installed.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Budget Laundry Room Renovation

Our condo's laundry room (or more accurately, tiny laundry closet) has been in sad shape for quite a while. We had a giant hole in the wall from when someone came to investigate a leak. We never bothered to fix it since it's so tucked away (you have to walk through my closet in order to get to the door to the laundry closet). Before moving, we just planned to fix the hole and slap on a fresh coat of paint. Turns out, it needed a full-blown renovation, but we were able to complete it for about $50 and minimal time, so it worked out for the best!
Not a true before, but just imagine a giant hole in the wall and (rotted) baseboards in place

Friday, August 16, 2013

30-day Fitness Challenge

I just started a new fitness challenge involving a combination of running & hot yoga. It was totally unplanned, and it's not an actual structured challenge...but somehow I found myself jumping into a hardcore (at least for me) fitness commitment. Does that ever happen to you? You're busy with life, not doing a good job of working out or eating healthy or whatever, then - boom! - without even thinking much about it, your life suddenly seems to be revolving around a whole new routine?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

{Drip, drip} New bathroom faucet

The bathroom faucet in our condo has been leaking for a while. We figured out a special on/off trick to make it leak less, but that only made it go from a continuous stream to a steady drip. So, "fix leaky faucet" was high on our pre-move to-do list. After doing a little research, we discovered that we needed a replacement cartridge that is nearly impossible to find, while replacing the entire faucet would be a 15-minute, $30 project, so we decided to replace rather than fix. 
See all that water pouring out? The faucet was off!

Friday, July 26, 2013

I think the microwave's possessed

Hi there! Yes, it's me, I'm alive...just missing from the blog world for most of July. Oops. Work's been crazy busy, and then we've gone into full-on 'gotta fix up the condo' mode to get it ready to rent out when we move. I really didn't think we had that much to do... but somehow the list keeps multiplying, and although I've started like 10 different projects, barely anything has actually gotten checked off yet.

Today I thought I'd just do a quick post on something we weren't originally planning to update before moving - the microwave. All of our kitchen appliances were brand new when we moved in 7 years ago. They're boring, basic black appliances, but they all work fine and still look new(ish), so we hadn't planned on messing with them...until the microwave started turning on by itself. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Three Ridges Hike

Like many Americans this year, we decided to take off July 5th so we could turn the 4th of July into a nice, long weekend. Like not so many Americans (or Virginians, at least), we decided to go hiking and camping - I say that because the route we took is supposed to be one of Virginia's most popular backpacking circuits and we barely saw anyone. At the campsite (which apparently gets pretty packed), I was shocked to find that we were the only tent! (Although it might've been the weather...)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Wannabe landscape designer

One of the drawbacks of new construction is that there's zero landscaping to start with - no patio, no deck, no gardens... just a whole lot of empty, ugly space. In our case, we've got trees in the backyard (which, as I've mentioned, is currently in 'jungle' status), and the remainder of the yard is bare dirt. It's a little overwhelming, and I've definitely been having trouble visualizing ideas for what we might want to do. Because the first floor is just a few feet above the ground, we knew we just wanted a patio rather than a deck in the back, but I couldn't picture at all what that patio might look like. And the front yard is massive (at least by DC area standards), so I had no idea what to do with that either.

But this weekend, I found a new time waster (not that I have to search too hard to find those...). I downloaded the free trial version of Realtime Landscaping Pro 2013. The full version is $100, and there is a 'Plus' version (instead of Pro) that is $80, but I found the free version suited my needs perfectly... this version was awesome for designing a general landscaping and hardscaping layout - to help me plan where we'd want a patio, walkways, mulch, etc. and to help me visualize what that layout might look like. If you've already got your basic layout and just want to plan more specific details like what kinds of plants you want, then this free version is not for you - the options for specific plants and materials are pretty limited in the trial.

Our virtual front yard

Saturday, June 22, 2013

{House update} Sheetrocking 'n rolling

As I explained in my last post, the brick took a while to finish, but by mid-June, it was finally done! Another new update was the drywall - during this visit on the 19th, most of it was up, but there were still a few spots that needed it, and the family room was taken over by scaffolding. Also, we found a frog in our basement that day (the tiny pic in the bottom left)! I love all the little signs of wildlife...although hopefully we won't have many frogs hopping around inside the house when it's done!

Friday, June 21, 2013

{House update} Webs, tubs, bricks, puffiness, jungle, & a skull

My last house update was of our first time checking out the 2nd floor, after the stairs had been installed - that was basically the status of the house in early May, just before we left for vacation. When we returned, we found that they had been busy - plumbing, electrical, duct work, bathtubs... all that fun stuff had been installed. The intricate webs/spiders that go on behind the walls are pretty crazy looking (all the black ducts that connect in the center of the attic looked like a giant spider to me)! We also found that the brick had been delivered...

FMS Photo-A-Day May Wrap-up

Well I came very, very close to giving up on this challenge in May. I stopped just before we left for our 10 day vacation, then when we got home, I wasn't feeling very motivated to catch up. But once I got back in my usual groove I started to miss it, so I did finally get back up to speed (and now I'm very glad I did!). Here are my May photos with the prompt list below.

Learn more about the challenge here, and follow me on Instagram @jdeares!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

{Recipe} Caprese Panini

We've been on a major caprese panini kick lately - we've had these a couple times a week for the past several weeks. I could totally go for one right now...

Saturday, June 1, 2013

UK 2013, Part 4: Northumberland, York & London

After Edinburgh, we headed back to England for the final portion of the trip - this time traveling down the eastern portion of the country and stopping in Northumberland and York before returning to London for our last couple of nights.

Northumberland, York & London

Friday, May 31, 2013

UK 2013, Part 3: Edinburgh

On Wednesday morning, we had yet another big tasty meal with our hosts in the Lake District before making the two-hour drive to Edinburgh.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Thursday, May 30, 2013

UK 2013, Part 2: London & the Lake District

I already talked about our Iceland layover, but I guess I should back up a little and mention what we were doing on this trip in the first place. One of my friends from high school recently moved in with her boyfriend in London, so another high school friend, my husband, and I decided to go visit them and do a road trip around the country. We had such an amazing time! Once we met up with them, the first part of the trip included some sightseeing in London followed by a visit to the Lake District in northern England.

London & the Lake District

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

UK 2013, Part 1: Iceland Layover

Well I've been totally MIA lately. We got back from our vacation a week ago, and since then, I've been in a major post-travel funk where I just don't want to get back to normal life (blogging included). Does that ever happen to you?
Reykjavik, Iceland
I figured I'd ease myself back into the blogging arena with a multi-part series of posts on our trip. The first part of our UK trip didn't even happen in the UK. We had a layover in Reykjavik, Iceland from about 6am to 4pm on Sunday - not a ton of time, but enough to see a little of the city.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Five Friday Favorites #6

Happy Friday! I hope you're having a great week! Here are a few recent favorites...

Favorite closet: Now that I've actually seen the layout of my closet, I've been thinking about how to organize it. I definitely want to add some shelving for shoes....not that it will be anything nearly this impressive, but hey, a girl can dream!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Got stairs?

So even though our framing has been completed for a little while, we didn't have any stairs. Which meant we couldn't see the whole 2nd floor, even though it was right there above us. Such a tease!

Well we finally got our stairs the week of April 28! Here are some terrible, low light phone pictures from the 2nd floor (when will I ever learn?!).

View of the family room from the upstairs hall

Friday, May 10, 2013

Five Friday Favorites #5

Happy Friday! Can you believe I actually prepared this post ahead of time, and that I could schedule it to go live Friday morning? Shocking! Anyway, here are a few of the things I'm loving this week...

Favorite cleaning tool: This is probably the most random favorite I've posted yet: it's a crumb brush. I don't like crumbs, and I certainly don't like to clean them... but I love this little hedgehog brush from Crate & Barrel. Isn't he cute?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

FMS Photo-A-Day April Wrap-up

What happened in April? Didn't it just start, like, a week ago? We did the Cherry Blossom 10-miler/5K (you can guess who did which race...), Bryan did the Tough Mudder, I went to the Maryland SPCA March for the Animals, Bryan had a couple of business trips (Minnesota/Michigan & Vegas), I moved to a new office at work, we had some 30th birthday parties to attend (lots of those this year!), and all of the framing for our house went up! I also managed (barely) to keep up with the Fat Mum Slim photo a day challenge...

Friday, May 3, 2013

Five Friday Favorites #4

Happy Friday! I hope you had a great week. Personally, I'm just feeling slightly freaked out that it's May already. How did that happen?!

Favorite recipe: It's almost cinco de mayo! Last year we went to a cinco de mayo party and brought creamy baked chicken taquitos. I really enjoyed them and intended to make them again, then totally forgot about them (until now!). Definitely turned out better than my sangria that day (note: too much ice can turn into very watery sangria...)
Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos

Friday, April 26, 2013

Five Friday Favorites #3

It's been a weird week for me, at least in terms of my work life. I worked from home Tuesday because of a leak in the bathroom, had to leave early on Wednesday because of the leak, had to leave early on Thursday to meet at our home site, and I spent a good chunk of the day on Friday packing up my office so I can move down the hall. Definitely didn't get enough time for actual work squeezed in there. But I'm still happy today is Friday, since really, how can you not be happy on a Friday?? Here are some things I'm loving this week...

Favorite DIY planters: How easy and adorable are these little brick succulent planters?  Grab some construction bricks with holes in them and plunk in a succulent and a candle. Done!

{House Update} Wraps and windows and doors, oh my!

The house is speeding along so fast lately, I can't believe it. We stop by every couple of days, and each time we go, we see so much progress! Here's what she's looking like now...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

{Recipe} Baked Plantain Chips

When we were at the Outer Banks last summer, one of our friends fried some delicious plantain chips. I loved them and made them several times at home after that. When I noticed plantains were on sale at the grocery store recently, I decided to try a baked version and was pleasantly surprised with this healthy, simple snack.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Earth Day!

I wasn't planning on doing an Earth Day post (which, coincidentally, might explain why I'm posting this after 9 EDT...but hey it's still Earth Day for a few more hours!), but then I figured I'd share a few simple ways to celebrate...

Friday, April 19, 2013

Five Friday Favorites #2

Happy Friday, all! Here are five things I'm loving this week...

Favorite eat-in kitchen: I first saw this breakfast nook a while ago, but I can't seem to get it out of my head. I would love to re-create something similar in my kitchen.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

{House update} The first floor takes shape

Our visit to the site last weekend was by far the most exciting yet. With the exception of the back wall of the family room, the first floor had been all framed out. We could walk around the first floor and see how big each of the rooms are and start to imagine ourselves living there. We'll walk in through the garage, and throw our stuff in the laundry room. Here's the window above the sink that I'll be staring through when I wash dishes. Wow, this pantry is huge; will we ever have that much food in the house? And although the basement has been done for a little while now, this is the first chance we had to actually walk through it since the outside stairs had been added.

View from the sidewalk

Friday, April 12, 2013

Five Friday Favorites {Numero Uno}

Let's face it: I'm not exactly a model blogger. When am I going to post? What am I going to post? It's anyone's guess (and yours is as good as mine, honestly!). My content's all over the place, and while I do enjoy being a bit random, it would nice to at least occasionally post home-related stuff (which has been hard, since we're still impatiently waiting for that pesky house of ours to hurry up and get built already!).

To {slightly} help with those issues, I thought it would fun to start posting a series I decided to call Five Friday Favorites. For one thing, it gives me a regular post to stick to each week. Just one, and it's an easy one...I think I can handle that. For another, I can incorporate some home decor topics here. Not just home decor... that would be much too consistent for me... but definitely some favorite looks for around the house, and whatever else I might be fancying lately - DIY, food, fashion, travel, pet stuff, whatever. I had a lot of fun picking out my first set, and it was hard to limit it to just five things, so I'm definitely excited about continuing this in the future!

So here goes, five favorites for this fabulous Friday...

Favorite bold decor move: Black paint. I love the rich feel that black paint brings to a room. I don't know if I'd be brave enough to put it in a large living space, but I think I may go for it in our new powder room.

Friday, April 5, 2013

FMS Photo-A-Day March Wrap-up

Three months down in the Fat Mum Slim photo a day challenge for 2013! March was a great month - our highlights included two little getaways (our WV ski trip and my girls weekend in Austin) and the foundation for our house being poured - yay! My favorite (only?) project of the month was our new return air grille - I'm still loving how it looks! Anyway, like the last couple of months (Jan and Feb), I wanted to do a quick wrap-up of my daily pics along with the list of prompts - here they are!

Girls Weekend in Austin

This past weekend, I had a pretty awesome girls weekend in Austin with two of my favorite ladies. We had very little planned ahead of time, but everything came together for the makings of a fantastic trip. Here's how our itinerary turned out for our weekend getaway in Austin...

Monday, March 25, 2013

DIY Return Air Grille {That's actually pretty!}

I've been pinning away on my home decor projects board. The problem is, for about 99% of them, I want to do the projects in our new house, so there's not a lot I can start on yet. But one pin I came across was perfect for our condo - this one. Our return air grille was all mangled, and most likely original to our mid-1980s building. It always looked ugly but I managed to ignore it... until we got our HVAC unit replaced. Now our air filters go directly behind the grille, so we have to unscrew the stupid/ugly/nasty thing every few months, then awkwardly try to replace it in the busted up drywall. Not fun. So, I decided to make a new one that would a) look a million times better, and b) be much more simple to remove and replace.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

{House update} Visual Progress!

With all the delays we've been experiencing, I never would have guessed that our house would be moving faster than I'd post. I'm way overdue for this one! And not only have I not been keeping up, I've also been taking terrible phone pics of all the progress so far. Bad, bad blogger!

So the last news was that we got our building permit right around the beginning of February. Shortly afterward, we went over to the lot to check that the all the flagging around the trees marked for clearing was still up, and saw the first big sign of progress. Which was, literally, a sign.

First sign of progress - the builder's sign!

Monday, March 11, 2013

{Recipe} Healthy Crepes with Oats & Yogurt

I've always loved having special breakfasts on the weekend, ever since I was a kid. My mom and I would often make homemade waffles or pancakes or muffins. Now Bryan and I are generally most likely to go pick up bagels, but I've also been making crepes pretty often. I wasn't planning on having any crepes during my DietBet, but decided to experiment with a healthy version. These crepes are low cal, low fat, and high in protein.

Sorry for this sad excuse for food photography. I really just wanted to eat my breakfast.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

{Mini-Getaway} West Virginia Ski Trip

Earlier in the winter I snatched up a Travelzoo deal for a night of lodging plus two lift tickets for $89 at Canaan Valley, West Virginia (yep, lodging and two lift tickets for $89 total - score!!), and we finally made use of it last weekend. It's definitely a small ski resort, but we had a great time checking out somewhere new to ski (for Bryan) and snowboard (for me). The snow conditions were amazing - so much fluffy powder to play in (something we're not used to on the east coast!), no crowds at all, and the lodge was pet friendly, so we got to bring Smokey along with us. Plus I was so excited to be on a snowboard again, since I hadn't been since we were in the Alps two years ago! Here are a few pics from the trip (please excuse the iPhone photo quality!).

Saturday, March 2, 2013

{Recipe} Bread Love: The Naan Edition

Happy Saturday, all! I am oh-so-very excited for the weekend, and I hope you are too! If you have a little free time this weekend and are in the mood for some tasty bread, you might want to give making your own naan a try.