Category: Home

Trimming the Tree

The tree is trimmed! Here it is cheering up our living room in all its glow-y heart warming beauty!

Finished Tree

I mixed all of our old ornaments with a few boxes of new designs and I love the way it turned out. Here’s a closer look at the ornaments I used.

All Ornaments

Old Ornaments
Old Ornaments
New White Ornaments
New White Ornaments
New Bird Ornaments
New Bird Ornaments Leftover from Wreath Making
New Silver Ornaments
New Silver Ornaments

I started with the above silver ornaments that I picked up at Target this year to fill in such a big tree. This is the biggest Christmas tree we’ve ever had so I knew I needed some extra ornaments, but I didn’t want to break the bank. I got 12 large ornaments in this pack for $15 and they nicely filled in a few holes in the tree. I layered on the white ornaments next followed by the green and finally the red. Putting the entirety of each color on at time helps me evenly distribute them throughout the tree for a more balanced look. Last and most importantly I added our more ornate and meaningful ornaments like the angel that Mike’s grandmother gave him during their last Christmas together, and the lovey dovey snowman couple that we got for our first married Christmas – complete with our wedding date. Here’s the final product!

Tree Close Up

Red Reindeer

Bow Tree Topper

Christmas Tree

Tree & Stockings

Finished Tree

There it is! I love how it glows like this at night. I’ve become quite the Christmas sap since marrying Mike. He’s helped me see Christmas in a whole new way and appreciate little things like a cheerful tree much more than I used to. If you celebrate Christmas, do you have your tree up yet? What’s your favorite ornament?

 

 

Brightest House on the Block

Remember when I told you to just call us the Griswolds? I said that for good reason. We may have gone a bit overboard with the Christmas lights this year, and we’re just a little scared to get our electric bill come January. But hey, we’re festive!

I love the way we were able to mix in Mike’s beloved colored lights in the red and green Edison bulbs that we ran across the front roof line and the strands of colored lights we used to outline the fence and bushes in our back yard with warm white lights, wreaths and garland for a really warm look. I wish we could have lined the peak of the second story roof in red and green lights too, but there’s no way either of us were climbing up there to make that happen.

Overall I think our decorations do our expansive corner lot justice and hopefully make our neighbors feel like we take pride in our neighborhood. We decorated over a few days and there was definitely some editing and tweaking involved to land on this final look. This is our first year decorating for Christmas and we knew we’d have some kinks to work out, but our thorough planning this year should make next year a breeze!

In my conversations with friends and family so far this season it seems like men have a fondness for colored lights while women like the simpler look of warm white lights. I’m a white light fan myself, but I’m a sucker for how excited my sappy hubby gets over festive colored lights, so I’m glad we were able to compromise and incorporate them both. Are you on team colored lights or team white lights? How are you decorating the outside of your home for the holidays?

Stuffed, and I’m Not Talkin’ Turkey

Thanksgiving was late this year so we decided we would dedicate a lot of time during the holiday weekend to decorate our house for Christmas both inside and out. After spending a few days focused on our outdoor decorations, Sunday was finally my day to go crazy shopping for indoor decor to round out what we already had. I’m a pretty lucky girl with a husband who actually enjoys shopping (for at least a little while) so after a leisurely morning and a light breakfast we ventured out hoping for great deals and not-too-crazy crowds.

Scion Stuffed with the Christmas Tree

After a few hours of shopping it was time to drop off our spoils at the house and head out to get the Christmas tree. Mike knew of a local fire company that was selling trees about five minutes away from our house, so we decided to head over there in the hopes of supporting a community organization. Five minutes after we stepped foot on the lot I set foot on the beauty pictured above, and I knew that lush Douglas Fir had to come home with me. I don’t even think Mike got a second to check it out before the firemen were wrapping it with netting and carrying it to our car. He just said, “happy wife, happy life,” and off we went.

Well, it wasn’t quite that easy. You see, Mike and I have gotten a real Christmas tree each year since we moved into our first apartment nearly four years ago – and each tree has perfectly fit into the back of his trusty Scion xD. My knees were jammed in the dash and his torso was twisted every time to accomodate the tree’s trunk in the tiny car, but it fit nonetheless. Maybe it was my romantic ideals of the perfect first Christmas in our new home, the poorly lit fire company lot where all the trees were leaning or the haphazardly way trees of all sizes were packed in together that distorted my ability to tell what size our chosen tree actually was – but it wasn’t fitting. The Scion was stuffed to the gills and there was absolutely no way the hatch in the back was closing.

With the tree packed in as tightly as it could be and our hazard lights on we gingerly pulled out of the parking lot to start the quick five minute drive home. I had one arm holding onto a sturdy branch at the tree’s base (as if I could hulk out and keep it from sliding out of the car – yeah right) and the other was wrangling our vlog camera trying to capture some of the craziness. Mike’s No. 1 goal for me?

Christmas Tree in Trunk

“Just keep your eye on the rear view mirror to see if anything flies out of the back,” he said as the hatch completely flung open. “Sure, no problem,” I thought, praying that we wouldn’t hit a red light or a strange patch of Sunday night traffic. I’m a wonder woman multitasker. No sweat.

Luckily we made it home with no problems and Mikey manhandled the tree into the house. We attached the tree stand, cut off the netting and BAM! There it was. The most beautiful and enormous tree I’ve ever owned. Right in our living room. More than 1,000 lights later and this gorgeous tree made our hectic day worth every minute. I spent the rest of the night decorating our downstairs (post to come) and I was bursting with Christmas spirit by the time we rolled into bed in the wee hours of Monday morning. I’m a night owl and nothing makes me feel more accomplished than a late night spent getting things done. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Christmas Tree with Lights

I can’t wait to decorate it! I’m just waiting for a not-so-busy night when I can get really creative and inspired. There’s nothing worse than rushing to get something done when you’re not feeling creative, but I hope to get the tree decorated one night this week. Stay tuned.

How are you guys celebrating the holidays? Did you spend the weekend after Thanksgiving on shopping, decorating, or both?

Thankful

I had one of the nicest Thanksgiving holidays this year that I’ve had in a while. Mike and I have been together for five years now and we’ve been splitting holidays between our families ever since. I’m an only child (and an only grandchild on my dad’s side) so it’s tough to juggle holiday time among all the special people in our lives, so this year we decided we’d spend Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania with my family and Christmas at home in Jersey. Our agenda for Thanksgiving this year involved lunch at my Mommom and Poppop’s house with my Dad and dinner at my Nana’s house with my Mom. It was such a nice day!

Thanksgiving Table
Nana’s Thanksgiving Table

We started the day with lunch at my Mommom and Poppop’s house. Mommom knew Mike and I would be having a big turkey dinner later in the day, so she decided to make an untraditional PA dutch favorite – chicken pot pie. It was topped with my Great Grandmother Mary’s (her mother) pie crust and packed full of chicken, veggies and gravy. After lunch I helped her decorate the house for Christmas so she wouldn’t have to do it on her own. We’re a great team and we got the whole house (inside and outside) decorated in about two hours. We had a ball!

At around 5 PM we called my Uncle Brian who lives in South Korea to wish him a Happy Thanksgiving from America. It was already Friday morning there and he was getting ready to go to work since Korea doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. He’s coming home for Christmas, so we’re all really excited to see him and his wife Mee for a few days. They’re even staying with Mike and I for a night!

After we said goodbye to him we headed down the road to my Nana’s house. She and my mom are lucky to live right next door to each other, so Nana has been hosting holidays at her house for a while and they both pitch in to prepare the meal. You know dinner is almost ready when we start carrying things over from Mom’s oven to Nana’s table! How amazing does their turkey look? Mom brined it for a little more than a day and it turned out juicy and flavorful. Uncle Brad did an awesome job carving this baby up so we could dig in.

Turkey

Dinner included mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts, green bean casserole, cornbread, cole slaw, applesauce, and more. It was amazing! After we indulged in dinner it was time for dessert. That’s where my baking skills came into play. I was in charge of dessert this year, and I didn’t mess around.

French silk pie and pumpkin dream cake. Yes, that happened. And it was delicious. I used a recipe from The Pioneer Woman to make the pie and another from Lemon Sugar to make the cake (same recipe I used to make my pumpkin cake pops last month). Yum!

French Silk Pie

Pumpkin Dream Cake

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving if you celebrate it, and if not – thanks for sharing mine with me. I’m so thankful that you stopped by. Get an even closer look at our Thanksgiving celebration in our vlog below. Happy Thanksgiving!

DIY Christmas Wreath

Sunday was another Christmas craft day for me as Mike and I were prepping for our upcoming Christmas decorating bonanza. Thanksgiving is a week later this year so we laid some groundwork for our outdoor decorating by laying out the grid of extension cords across the yard, wrapping the trees with lights (without turning them on) and hanging command strips that we’ll hang the garland from. I showed you the stuff I got to make my own wreaths in this post, and I finally had time last weekend to put the wreath decorations to good use.

DIY Christmas Wreath

I started with a blank slate – this $15 unadorned wreath. About an hour before I started decorating the wreath I took my decorations outside and sprayed them with a weather protectant spray so the wreaths would be weather resistent. I’m hoping to use these wreaths for years to come so I wanted to do all I can to protect them from the elements. Weather proofing the decorations added an extra step to this process, but I’m hoping it will do a lot to protect my investment in these wreaths.

Plain Wreath

 I laid out all of the decorations on the wreath until I came up with an arrangement I liked before attaching them. That way I could rearrange before my design was set in stone.

Test Wreath

When I had the design finalized, it was time to start attaching each decoration with hot glue. I set up my hot glue gun on a plate to protect my table/dining room from any dripping hot glue.

Hot Glue Gun

I started by attaching the bow at the top of the wreath so it’d be centered. Then I strung my letter “G” on some twine that I bought when we got the rest of the decorations and tied it right beneath the bow.

Bow

With those two key elements attached it was time to start placing the rest of the decorations. I started at the bottom and worked my way around the wreath hot gluing all the ornaments, pine cones and sprays until everything was securely in place.

Gluing

Here’s the final product!

Finished Wreath

Then it was time to put it up out front. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have a few wreaths up before Thanksgiving, but we’re saving the rest of our decorating until later. Here’s what it looks like outside – keep in mind we’ll have more stuff out here in a few days.

Arbor Vitaes

Front Wreath

With the first wreath done, I had one more to decorate for the side of the house. Our house is a corner unit so we wanted to be sure we weren’t ignoring our side yard/window. I started with the same decorations that I used for the front wreath – minus the “G.” This is what I came up with for the second wreath.

Side Wreath

And this is what it looks like on the window outside!

Side Wreath Outside

Have you done any crafts to get ready for the holidays? Are there any holiday decorations you’re planning to DIY?

House Tour Part Two

I took you on a tour of the first floor of our townhouse in this post a week or so ago, and it’s time to take a tour of the upstairs. Our home has three bedrooms and two baths upstairs, as well as a laundry closet in the hallway – hooray for not having to climb stairs to do wash! Without further adieu, let’s start the second part of this tour, shall we?

The stairs to the second floor are across from our dining room sort of in the middle of our home. I love having a split staircase with an oversized window to brighten up the upstairs hallway. Isn’t it a pretty window? It’s one of the things I loved about this house when we first looked at it.

StairsWhen you reach the top of the stairs our master bedroom is directly on your right, the office is on the left, and the laundry closet, guest bedroom and guest bathroom are straight ahead down the hall. The washer and dryer are hidden behind bi-fold doors. I think the laundry closet has a lot more potential to be super functional and even kind of cute, so that’s a project I want to tackle this winter. I’m thinking some fun paint could really make this small space pop.

Hall and Laundry Closet

Just before the laundry closet at the top of the stairs is our master bedroom. A walk-in closet and a master bath round out our master suite. It’s a really great space for us and we think it’s pretty large for a townhouse.

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom 2

Bed Pillows

Night Stand
My night stand.

Vanity

The door to our master bathroom is just beyond the TV across from my vanity.

Master Bathroom

Master Bathroom 2

Across the hall from our master bedroom is our office. This space sort of doubles as Mike’s ‘man cave,’ too. We have some of his favorite knick knacks, bobble heads and awards/plaques as well as our college degrees on display in here. Mike uses the big desktop Mac to edit his vlogs and I hang out on the wingback chair when I’m working on the blog. There’s a huge window in this room so it’s really bright in there during the day. We love it!

Office

Keepsake Collage

Wingback Chair

Book Shelf

Book Shelf Close Up

Our guest bedroom is just down the hall from the office. We’re excited to finally have a place for guests to come and stay the night, and it’s already gotten quite a bit of use! I think it’s a pretty cozy space if I do say so myself.

Guest Bedroom

Dresser Top

Bureau

The last room in our upstairs is the guest bathroom. This is one of the only rooms in the house with colorful walls – they’re mint green. I paired the soft mint green walls with tangerine to help make the white tile and grey tub and toilet pop. We used the art in our bedroom in the old apartment and it happened to work perfectly in here. Score!

Guest Bathroom

Guest Shower

There you have it – our upstairs! We have a lot left to do up here, like upgrading the bathrooms and finishing some painting projects, and I’ll be sure to capture any upgrades on the blog as we go.

Just Call Us the Griswolds

Can you tell by the theme of my posts this week that I’m in full holiday prep mode? If you follow me on Instagram, you probably already know we may have gone overboard in our recent shopping trips for outdoor Christmas decorations for the new house…

Christmas Haul

We have enough lights, garland, ornaments and bows to decorate the entire block. Okay, well, maybe not. But we did go a little crazy. Mike and I both love the holiday season and we’re having a blast buying decorations for the new house. It’s a thrill to finally have a home to decorate! Our motto is, “divide the cost by all the years we’ll be putting these to good use.” Yeah, we’ll go with that.

Let’s take a closer look at what we bought to (hopefully) achieve the look we have planned for the outside of our house. I did a ton of searching (both online and in stores) for the perfect wreath to adorn both the front and side of our house. Our home is on a corner lot and exposed on three sides, so we’re planning to decorate more than just the front view. None of the wreaths that fit my budget were quite right, so I decided to buy unadorned, non-lit wreaths and style them myself (hello, future blog post). I can’t wait to get these babies put together to share the final product with you! Here’s the base wreaths that I purchased for around $15 a piece.

Wreaths

And after some more search and planning, these are the decorations I went with to decorate them.

Wreath Decorations

Notice the ‘G’ from my post last week? I told you I wanted to sneak it into my holiday decor! I played around with these decorations after we got home from shopping last night to give you an idea of what I’m envisioning.

Test Wreath

Like I said, the wreath above is no where near final, I just wanted to lay everything out to see if I liked how the pieces were all coming together. I’m hoping to hang the wreaths in the window with a spotlight shining on each one. I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

We also purchased a ton of lights and garland to adorn the outside of our home. One of my favorite things that Mike found were these red and green Edison bulb light strands. I’m obsessed with the festive, vintage feel these have and I can’t wait to see them go up. Mike really wanted some sort of colored bulbs out front and I was struggling to figure out a way to pull everything together – especially since traditional colored light strands include non-traditional colors like purple, yellow and orange. I think these lights will add color without looking too visually overwhelming. What a great find!

Edison Bulb Light Strand

Mike also wanted to wrap the three trees in our front/side yard with lights, so we picked up three 300-bulb packs of mini lights to wrap the trunks and we’ll hang these oversized red and green ornaments from the branches for an extra special touch.

Oversized Ornaments

Finally, we’ll give the look a finishing touch by putting these candles in the front and side windows of our home to give it a soft glow. We decided not to line the house in lights for safety reasons (neither of us are interested in climbing on a high ladder or a roof) so I think these candles will add some sparkle instead.

Window Candles

There you have it! A sneak peek of all the stuff we got in our two-night marathon of shopping trips in preparation for the big Christmas decoration bonanza that’ll be happening at our house during the weekend after Thanksgiving (if we can hold out that long). How are you guys planning for the upcoming holiday season? Any outdoor decorating tips to share before we get started?

DIY Christmas Tree Garland

Happy Monday! I had a pretty leisurely weekend catching up with friends and family, so I wanted to squeeze in some time to do a Christmas craft in preparation for our holiday decorating bonanza that will be happening over the next few weekends. I made a cute paper bunting as a decoration for our housewarming party, and I loved the look of it so much I left it up until a few weeks ago – well past the date of the party. I wanted to bring back the look of the bunting but give it a holiday flair, so I used the same technique to make this Christmas tree garland.

DIY Christmas Tree Garland

My first step was to search for a simple Christmas tree image to print out and use as a template. After a quick search I found this sweet, rounded Christmas tree that was meant to be a coloring page for kids. The simplicity was exactly what I was looking for, so I printed it and cut it out to get started. Though I loved the star on top, it just wasn’t practical for this craft so I had to cut it off.

Template

Next up was choosing the scrapbook paper to make the garland out of. I bought a book of Christmas-themed paper a few years ago so I just thumbed through it until I found the look I wanted. I chose four coordinating patterns to give the garland a little variety while keeping it easy on the eyes. It’s visually interesting without being too busy.

Scrapbook Paper With the paper chosen it was time to trace my template onto the back of each page. I traced three Christmas trees on each page for a total of twelve trees. The finished garland came out to be about two feet long, so keep this in mind when you’re choosing how many trees to cut out.

Tracing

When all your trees are cut out it’s time to punch a small hole in the top where you’ll thread the twine through. I recommend punching a few test holes into the template tree first so you don’t ruin one of your hard-earned trees with a poorly placed hole punch.

Hole Punch

One of the added benefits of a craft project like this is the confetti that results from punching holes into cute craft paper. Check it out! I’m saving this as I go because I can definitely see this looking adorable in a confetti balloon or strewn across a table at a party. This is about three projects worth of confetti so it will be a while before I have enough to use for a party – but you could always make your own by punching wholes throughout a few pieces of scrapbook paper. I don’t think it’d take you very long, either.

Confetti

Anyway, back to the garland. We’re almost done! Now it’s time to string the trees onto your twine. I recommend threading the twin trough the back of the whole twice so the twin wraps around each side of the hole giving it more stability. If you only thread it through once your tree will turn more to one side and your garland won’t look very good from straight on. This is a pretty tedious step too, but once you have your twine threading down pat it moves more quickly.

Twine

The beauty of this project is that the twine holds the Christmas trees in place so you don’t have to go through the extra step and added cost of adhering them (though you can if you want). To hang the garland, I simply wrap the ends of the twine around a thumb tack and push it into the wall. I’m eventually planning to hang this over my mirror in the dining room so you won’t be able to see the thumb tacks at all, but it doesn’t photograph well so I pinned it up on the half wall leading into my kitchen to give you an idea of what it looks like hanging.

There you have it! DIY Christmas tree garland that’s as easy to make as it is on your budget. I actually had all these materials on hand, so this custom garland project only cost me $0. I’m hoping to do some more Christmas crafts on the blog leading up to the holiday. What about you? Have you gotten crafty with your holiday preparations? Do you have a traditional holiday craft that you make every year?

I’m Thankful for a Warm Home

It’s been very chilly around here this week. And I’m not just talking about the 30 degree temperatures outside. I’m talking about getting home early on Tuesday night (which if you know anything about my daily commute, you know that’s a miracle) and finding out that our gas had been turned off. Night = ruined. No bueno.

Let me back up. As I explained in my post yesterday, Mike and I bought our house as a short sale back in March. Short sales are a great investment, but they’re also a lot of work. After we made an offer we had to RUSH to get our inspections done quickly. But there was one huge hurdle in our way – the utilities were turned off. Yes, we toured the cold, dark house with no electricity or gas.

This was taken during our first walk through. The only light in the room was from my phone's flash.
This was taken during our first walk through. The only light in the room was from my phone’s flash.

In order to protect our investment and ensure we weren’t buying a total money pit the utilities had to be reinstated for a proper inspection. I must be addicted to being crazy busy all the time, because we had a vacation to Florida planned for the exact same week we were doing inspections and finalizing the contract. I totally remember calling the utility companies from the airport making arrangements to get them turned back on. Talk about hectic.

Fast forward to Tuesday night. When I walked up to my door and saw the note from South Jersey Gas stuffed in it, my heart dropped. I immediately knew I had made a huge mistake. In that moment I realized we never received a gas bill – since March. Mike takes care of most of our bills, so I had always assumed he had it on auto pay like all the others. He thought I was taking care of it. Panic ensued, and it was cold in my house. The temperature had already dropped to 60. Crap.

I immediately dialed the number on the letter to right the situation. I figured I could just call, explain the mistake, and they could flip a switch and the gas would be flowing again. Oh, the naiveness of a new homeowner.

The gas company didn’t answer the phone. Yes, you read that right. No answer. Even more panic ensued. How could they not answer? How could their automated customer service line just hang up? I kept calling back and each time a robot woman said, “We apologize but we’re experiencing higher than average call volumes. Press 1 if you’d like us to call you back. Otherwise, try again later. Goodbye.”

I called back, pressed 1, and robot woman said, “To schedule a call back this evening, press 1.”

I pressed 1.

Robot woman said, “A call back this evening isn’t an option. To schedule a call back on Friday, November 15, press 1.”

FRIDAY?! It was Tuesday. “I can’t go without heat or hot water until FRIDAY,” I thought.

I kept calling.

You can image the level of panic in my house at this point. If you know my husband, you know he’s got a flair for the dramatic in a tense situation. The guy who has the air conditioning on when it’s 75 degrees was suddenly shivering in our 60 degree house. I was digging out my Uggs from the back of the closet and furiously robo-dialing the gas company. Chopping onions to make my veggie quiche all the while with my bluetooth in my ear. I wasn’t going to let my dinner get screwed up, too.

I finally got through to a customer service representative who told me it’d be two days until we got our gas back on. I didn’t believe her. The Taurus in me started coming out. I’m usually pretty good with these customer service reps. My PR job helps me be firm yet nice on the road to getting my way. I worked as a telemarketer in college so I always feel bad for people in customer service. It’s not their fault. But after making 10 calls and waiting on hold for more than 20 minutes before getting a live person on the phone, my patience was wearing very thin.

“It looks like someone else’s name is linked to your property’s account and they’ve been getting your bills,” she said. “You need to fax us your settlement sheet and photo ID. Then we can set you up with a new account and you can pay your past due balance in cash. And then we can turn your service back on.”

Fine. I was ready and willing to pay the balance and get this over with. But I knew it’d be a chilly night because it was already 7:30 and their customer service department closed at 8, and I don’t have a fax machine. Double crap.

Wednesday morning I rushed to FedEx Kinkos before work and faxed the proof of residence. The woman assured me if I faxed the documents first thing I’d be able to get my service restored in the same day, I just had to call back and let them know I had sent the fax. Easy as pie.

I knew I shouldn’t have trusted her. 12 calls. I’m not exaggerating here. 12 calls and a 20 minute wait later and I finally had someone live to tell them about my fax. She had this bitchy, “It’s not my fault you’re the idiot that didn’t realize you weren’t getting a gas bill” attitude that made me feel 2 inches tall. I knew it was going to be a shitty day. If only I could just get the gas back on, it’d be worth it. I left the house with the dog wearing his winter coat. It was 58 when I left. Poor Cody.

We went through the usual rigamarole and I held on five more times before she told me I’d have to go to one of their payment centers in person by 2 PM to pay the past due balance in cash for any chance of having my service restored that day. I felt like I was a part of some sort of extortion ring. Thank god Mike’s office is only 10 minutes away from the nearest payment center. We could comply to their crazy demands – 30+ calls later.

So many calls.
So many calls.

The paperwork was faxed. The bill was paid. Heat had to be just around the corner, right? We were thinking of ‘Plan B’ just in case. Mike would shower at the gym and I would go old school and heat up water on the stove to pour in my bath tub to take a bath. Yeah, great ideas. But I was still holding out hope that we’d get the heat back on. Time to make another round of calls to the gas company. I finally got through, and got the news I was hoping not to hear. No one would be coming out to turn on the gas until Thursday. Nooooo…

At this point I was so down trodden that I just accepted it. Plan B it was. “How many pots of hot water would I need to fill the tub,” I thought. I shuddered just thinking about it. But Mike wasn’t taking no for an answer. He took to the company’s Facebook with a lengthy complaint about his shivering pup Cody and his worry that our pipes were going to freeze if we had to go another night without heat (I told you – flair for the dramatic). I was sure a company that couldn’t get their automated answering service right would ignore a complaint on Facebook, but it worked! Within a few minutes Mike got a call saying our house was put on the list to have service restored today. HUZZAH! He did it! I couldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t have to make a pit stop for space heaters on the way home.

9 o’clock rolled around and there was no sign of the gas company worker. We thought we had been punked. That it was all a big joke and the gas company was going to call us and say, “SIKE, SUCKAS! NO HEAT FOR YOU!” I decided to make one last call to the gas company to check in. It was after hours so I assumed no one would answer, but someone did – and he said, “Actually, I think our guy is outside right now.” It couldn’t be! There he was in our driveway. VICTORY! Within a few minutes our gas was back on and the heat was flowing. What a sweet sound – the unusually-loud buzzing from our old heater coming from the utility closet. WE MADE IT THROUGH.

...and that doggy in the window
…and that doggy in the window

Needless to say, we’re having our 20+ year old heater serviced to make sure it will get us through the winter. In the end, I think this was a very important lesson for us both to learn. Both for our marriage and our life in general. We learned how much better life is when we work as a team, and we learned how easy it is to take something as simple as heat for granted. Mike and I live a pretty blessed life, and it’s important for us to remember that always. This year when we’re sitting at the Thanksgiving table I know we’ll both be thanking our lucky stars for this beautiful life we’ve built together. I’m thankful that we have a home to heat, and I’m thankful that I have a husband who cares for our household so well that I assumed he was taking care of the bill without being asked. Sometimes life throws us these curveballs to say, “Hey, WAKE UP and appreciate what you have!” I’m listening, life, and I hear you loud and clear.

House Tour Part One

My husband Mike and I purchased our first home in March 2013, and we’ve been making it our own ever since. The house was a short sale and it definitely needed some TLC. We’ve painted nearly every square inch of wall, ceiling, trim and door in the place in addition to replacing the carpeting upstairs and ripping out dingy carpeting in the downstairs living room in favor of more dog-friendly laminate. We also took down a glitter-tastic popcorn ceiling that spanned the entire downstairs. I’m very proud of the updates we’ve made to our abode and I plan to blog from time to time about home decor (it’s a passion of mine) so I figured I’d give you a lay of the land. The first phase of our virtual home tour covers the downstairs floor of our two-story townhouse. Here we go!

Welcome to Casa Genovese (fondly known by many of our friends as ‘The G-Spot’ thanks to my husband’s wicked sense of humor). Here’s the view as soon as you walk in the front door. The kitchen is at the front of the house (to the left) with a door to a half bath and another to our pantry/garage to the right. You can see straight through to the living room from here.

EntryThis is our kitchen. It’s the most colorful room in the house. I chose to paint it a vibrant red/coral color that plays really well with the cabinets. The bright color works in here because of the floor length windows that bathe the room in sunlight. Eventually we’d like to install a backsplash to kick it up a notch, but this kitchen has come a long way from what it looked like when we bought it. Two words: wallpaper border. Ugh! Thank goodness it’s gone.

Bay Windows

Fridge

Cabinets

SinkA downstairs half bath is one of three bathrooms in our house. I chose to amp up the small space with a fun striped wall. We installed the new vanity a few months ago, and I handled the plumbing!

New Vanity

Hall Bath

Striped Wall

 

Just past the kitchen and bathroom is the dining room. One of our most impactful updates in the dining room was replacing the old ‘boob light’ fixture with this new chandelier. The dining set is very special to us, too. The table was Mike’s grandmom’s that was used for years and years to make big batches of gnocchi for family holidays, and the chairs were handed down to me from my Nana (who has a flair for decorating).

Dining Room

View to Living Room

Our living room is a wide room that spans the entire width of the house. We replaced old carpeting with this new laminate to match the existing hardwood in the dining room and entry. Eventually, we’d like to give the windows a more custom, high-end look by installing built-in bookcases and a window seat. How awesome would that be?!

CouchEntertainment Unit

Finally, our living room opens onto a patio in our back yard. The back yard is one of the reasons we loved this townhouse because it gives our dog Cody a place run free. We haven’t done much out here other than purchasing a grill (which we use ALL the time) and a chimnea to give the patio a little ambience. We’re hoping to purchase some new patio furniture and build out a deck over the old, cracked concrete patio in the spring. The fence will be getting a fresh coat of paint, too!

Patio

 

I can’t wait to show you the second story in a post next week, and I’ll be sure to share any DIY projects as we continue to update our place. Are you working on any renovations right now? What DIY projects got your home looking like new?

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