Sunday, November 9, 2014

Update- Gallery Wall

The gallery wall is complete.

Here's where we started (you can read more about it in this post).

I mostly used prints and pictures that we had on hand but I did order the "Namaste" print off Etsy (can be found here). 

 I was able to incorporate the piece Greg's grandma made and while it's not my usual taste in artwork, it adds interest and a lot of sentimental value.

 Our two Heather Brown prints remind of us of an amazing trip to Hawaii with our best friends. I filled in with smaller frames using a couple favorite photographs. 

I'm really pleased with how it turned out. It was a relatively quick and easy project that has gone a long way to getting this room where I want it to be. In the next few months we would like to purchase new couches. Our current couches are from our apartment days and while they are functional, I think we are due for an upgrade. They are also very dark and too close in color to the floors. The size of this room actually makes it a bit challenging to arrange but as usual I have some ideas brewing. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Last month Greg and I decided to take a 'staycation'.  In years past we've been able to take some really amazing getaways but this year it made more sense for us to stay close to home and save some money. We planned a few activities in advance that we knew we wanted to do. We lucked out and had great late-summer/early-fall weather which enabled us to do everything on our list.
We jumped off the week with a trip to the wineries on the North Fork of Long Island.  Since it was just Greg and I we decided we would take the train and bring our bikes along with us. We didn't pack food figuring we could pick some items up when we got there. We got off at Mattituck and headed over to Love Lane (their tiny main street) to hit up the Village Cheese Shop. We filled our back pack with delectable cheeses, olives and crostini and set off for our first winery.

 At our second stop we ended up at a winery we had never been to before, Shinn Estate. We immediately fell in love. This place is off the beaten path and away from the party bus scene. Walking in you feel like you've arrived at someone's (awesomely decorated) back yard. The wines have names like "Coalescence" and "Wild Boar Doe" that somehow just make them more enjoyable to drink.

After all that wine we were starving for lunch. Newly opened Lombardi's Love Lane Market has a brick oven pizza bar in the back. We ordered a freshly made pie topped with fennel sausage, hot cherry peppers, broccoli rabe and fresh mozzarella. We ate every last delicious bite.

The following day we headed to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, planning the entire day around going to one of our favorite restaurants, Five Leaves. We strolled around the neighborhood and parks, had some drinks and a great meal. From there we headed to Citi Field to watch the Mets. We basically had the stadium to ourselves but managed to make our own fun.

Next on the agenda was a visit to the Bronx Zoo. It was a gorgeous day and we had a blast marveling at all the different animals to be seen. I have an affection for penguins so that was one of the highlights for me, but they kept hiding in their little caves so it was hard to capture a good shot.

Can you spot the half zebra/half horse hiding back there? Greg and I couldn't get over this thing. It didn't seem real. Why on earth does it have zebra legs?

These guys were fun.

The baby giraffe on the right. Stop it right now.

Running around the zoo all day wore us out but we woke up early the next day, packed a lunch and hit the road for a visit to Black Rock Forest. We were blessed with another dazzling day, perfect weather for hiking a mountain.

We were alone on the mountain and it was so calming and serene. There's something about spending the day with nature that really brings about a sense of peacefulness.

It was a much needed week away from work and time spent together. I love hopping a plane to somewhere warm and tropical but spending this time near home was just the reset we needed.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Before and After- The Dining Room

We can finally call our dining room done. (Although is a room every really done?) It has certainly come a long way and now that the chairs are finished I'm calling this room complete. It only took 6 years.

Here's a little before shot for ya going way back to when we first moved in 6 years ago.

I know what you must be thinking. Why on earth did we ever take that moonscape down?! 

Unfortunately I do not have a before picture of the chairs (it may be forever lost on my broken laptop), so it's hard to appreciate the full transformation they underwent. I'll just tell you they were a beat up dark wood veneer and the cushions had certainly seen better days with little padding left and a few layers of dingy fabrics. Gross. Greg was not too pleased with me when I asked if we could drive to Queens to pick up chairs I had found on Craigslist. (Mostly because this was right after we had painstakingly painted our original chairs blue- you can read about that here). The chairs looked like absolute crap and I thought Greg was going to just walk out on my dream chairs. Instead he talked the guy down and proceeded to finagle all 6 chairs into the Jeep. Now that they are rehabbed even he has to admit they are pretty awesome.
We debated what would be the best option to refinish them- whether we wanted to keep them wood or paint them a color. Because they had a veneer Greg said it would be difficult to sand down and restain so we settled on painting them. I mulled over the color for a while. After the debacle with painting the last set of chairs I wanted to make sure I got it right. I knew I wanted to do something neutral. The blue on the last chairs proved to be too garish so I wanted something more subdued. I decided to go with a grey just slightly darker than the walls. It goes with our current dining room table and will complement the distressed wood farm style table we plan to build in the future. 
I tackled recovering the seats fairly quickly, adding a cushy 2 inch padding underneath. After that the chairs remained stacked in our garage for over a year before we finally made moves to get them painted. Crazy how life gets in the way. We ultimately decided spraying them would be the best option because we didn't have desirable results with hand painting the previous chairs and we wanted them to have a nice smooth finish.  My uncle does automotive body work for a living so we recruited him for the job. He matched my paint color and had them sprayed in one day at his shop. They came out perfect. 

The dining room was the very first room we tackled, mostly because we didn't want to feel like we were walking on the moon every time we came in the door. We painted it dark blue and I loved it. Until about 2 years ago when I decided I hated almost every color in the house. Everyone goes through that, right? 

Some more before, in between and lots of after shots- 

Check out our old faux stone in the kitchen above and the new view below. 


Again you can see a peek of the old kitchen and living room above and the new below. 

We have discussed taking out the wood burning stove and surrounding stone in the future. We actually use it often in the winter, and love that it saves us money on heating, but it takes up a large piece of real estate and could be dangerous for future kiddos. We'll see where we end up with that. For now I am quite content with how this room has come together. It takes time for a home to come together and often you don't get it right the first time, or even the second or third.

Friday, September 12, 2014

My Practice

The past couple weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind and I have found that I am losing my daily practice. Ever since I completed my 200 hour teacher training I have had a daily ritual of meditating for a few minutes (usually just 5) followed by 5 rounds of Sun Salutations.

Throughout our training our teachers conveyed the importance of a daily, personal practice. It seemed like a good idea in theory but I had a tough time starting out.  Sometimes at the start of a training session (after we did a 30 minute meditation followed by an hour + practice) we would have a “check-in”. These were some of my favorite times. We would be blissed out from our morning practice and one by one around the room we would share what was on our mind- whether it was how we felt in meditation that morning or what we had planned for the summer. During one of these discussions I mentioned that I couldn’t seem to find the time for a home practice. With getting up around 6:30am and finishing my day around 8:30pm there just didn’t seem to be time to fit it in. In my mind the best time to do it was at night before I went to bed so that I would be nice and relaxed. This never worked out as planned. I couldn’t seem to settle down at night to get it done.  My teacher recommended trying it the morning.  The idea of getting up even earlier to practice seemed out of the question but I agreed I would attempt it. I started with getting up just 10 minutes earlier. I mean what’s 10 minutes really?  In 10 minutes I was able to spend 3-5 minutes meditating and then 5 minutes with Sun Salutations. I made myself get up every morning even when 10 more minutes of sleep in my cozy bed seemed like such a better idea.  Eventually it became routine and I actually enjoyed it.  This ritual felt like such a nice way to start my day and I felt “off” on days when I chose to stay in bed instead.  

 image from here

Recently my schedule got thrown off with a flurry of appointments to attend to early in the morning. My daily practice quickly fell by the wayside and now I find myself really missing it. I feel the difference within myself, like I’ve lost my center and need to find my way back. At a time when I probably need it more than ever, I have strayed from spending this vital time with myself.  

This morning my alarm went off at 6:15. I debated with myself for a few minutes and made the first step by getting out of bed and not hitting snooze on my phone. I could see the sun just starting to rise and I felt encouraged.  I made my way downstairs, rolled out that mat and sat for 5 minutes. Then I did 5 Sun Salutations. And just like that I found my way back again. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Style: The Printed Blouse

One my favorite ways to feel "put together" whether at work or on the weekend is a great printed blouse. This blue and white chevron print is easy to dress up or down. I got this blouse from Stitch Fix but was able to find it on Amazon for anyone interested.  

Ready for work with a blazer and jeans...

Blazer- H&M
Jeans- Zara
Booties- Coach
Bag- Free People

Heading to a barbeque on the weekend...

Shorts- Express
Sandals- Aqua
Watch- Fossil
Bracelets- Alex and Ani
Sunnies- Marc by Marc Jacobs

Some others that I love...
Forever 21
Lucky Brand

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Painted Patio

Little by little we have been getting the backyard into shape. A couple weekends ago we cleaned up and de-weeded the overgrown patio area. Here it is before and after. 

We now have a basic idea of what we want to do with the backyard in the long run but most likely a new patio area is not in the cards until next year at the earliest. We will do the backyard in stages to help spread out the cost. In the Fall we will begin planting various shrubs, flowers and trees along the fence line. As I mentioned in this post I want a more natural, organic feel to the landscaping. First up will be planting in front of the gaping hole to our neighbor's yard. Hopefully this will provide some needed privacy.
In the meantime I have been brainstorming some ideas for the current patio area. Eventually this will all be ripped out but I thought it would be fun to do some cheap updates to make this area a little more inviting. Furniture wise I have to make do with what we have. I don't want to invest any money in new pieces right now because I don't fully know the direction our eventual new patio will take. All of our current outdoor furniture is second hand. The wood picnic table was from the previous owners and the lounge chairs were a Craigslist find when we first moved in. Everything has deteriorated over the years but is usable for now.
I was inspired by this post from one of my favorite bloggers. Adding some paint and pattern could help to spruce up this otherwise drab space. Here are some other images that have inspired me to go in this direction. 

 image from here

 source unknown

image from here

source unknown

 image from here

The summer seems to be flying by so I'll have to see if I can talk Greg into this idea and then find the time to actually do it. There are a few issues I came across in my quick Google search for how-to's on painting concrete but I need to do more research.  If anything I think we may be able to do a sporadic pattern or maybe just around the edges. I have some ideas in mind of what I want to do so let's see if I can actually pull it off.