Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A dollup of DIY

The story of an eat-in kitchen, aka a very small dining space.

We found our rental on the internet. The photos weren't very high quality, and didn't show every angle of every room. Not good for a slightly neurotic renter. Ahem. We never saw the place before signing the lease. Nerve-wracking anyone?

The realty agent described the floor plan over the phone. "...And an eat-in kitchen." My heart sunk. This meant no dining room and no grand dinner parties that I clearly needed in my life. While the "grand" part is always missing, I do love having people over for dinner and so I was concerned about the future of our social life.

When we drove into town that first night, my heart started beating faster and faster. What will this new place look like? Will it be similar to the pictures at all? What have I gotten myself into??

Thankfully, for the most part we are happy with the rental. It's old and nowhere near a "luxury" rental, but we are comfortable and we even have more space now. A second bedroom! And the eat-in kitchen? It actually has more space than we planned on. And we're making it work.

Which leads me to the pictures.

We found these 2 chairs at West End Architectural Salvage. A lady in another antique store told us this store was picked up for a tv show. We don't know many details but we're planning on being regulars there. We might have to work for those 15 minutes of fame but it's happening people!

They're old school chairs, complete with a few names carved into the wood. Thankfully no gum underneath. We started out by sanding them down.

Then Jason primed them. I stood by the window and waved. Jason has much steadier hand with a spray paint can. That's why I'm rooting for him to specialize in surgery. 

And finally.... we painted them a color. And oh what a color! We couldn't find any appropriate spray paint colors (unless we spent $8 on the can and $10 on the shipping) so we picked out a latex paint at Home Depot and had them mix it for us. It was only after I read a Young House Love article that I felt brave enough to go the paint brush route. After a few coats, they were done. We are thrilled at the bright color! We could have even gone darker, but I was nervous so went with the lighter option. Now I know for next time: try the darker, it's okay.

And before I reveal the complete kitchen, we must talk about the kitchen mat.

We have a blanket that possibly Jason's mom or maybe an aunt knitted for him in black and white stripes. I couldn't get it out of my head for our kitchen, so I embarked on finding a mat with similar black and white stripes. After not being able to find anything, I recalled seeing rug painting tutorials on pinterest. I found the perfect black rug at Walmart for $5 and starting taping on pieces of white card stock to act as stencils.

I already had white spray paint so I tried that first.

It was pretty unsuccessful. I knew I didn't have the patience to do 1500 coats.

Next I went to white acrylic paint. I got a large bottle of the craft type acrylic paint and it lasted for the whole rug. I didn't spend much so I wasn't expecting much and I'm pleasantly surprised with the results. The only downside of the paint is that the texture of the painted stripes is much crustier than the soft fabric rug. Since it's only a mat to catch incoming dirt, I don't mind it.

Here's how our little dining space looks at the moment. We love the mix of color and patterns! We found that table at a vintage store downtown. It's an old desk that had two open drawers that Jason took off with a screwdriver. I'm considering painting it, but I might be done with paint for a while...

Jason also kindly installed some shelves above the table since we lost some kitchen storage space when we moved. Thank you IKEA for making awesome canisters. Also, I miss you already. We used to be 5 miles apart, now it's 5 hours. Sigh.

Also, thanks to my mom for all the lace odds and ends she gives me after she finds them at thrift stores and yard sales. As a side note, we only got 2 chairs since we're cheap and poor but we plan on getting some folding chairs to keep in a closet for when guests come over.

Can you tell I had this pin in the back of my head as inspiration? We had no clue what direction to take our dining space when Jason mentioned colored chairs. This was the image I thought of, and once I thought of it, I checked back on it a few times during the process.
Picture originally from here

It's funny how we started grabbing furniture that we could afford, but were able to take it in a direction of something I had seen and loved.

And now our eat-in kitchen story has come to an end. Or at least a temporary resting spot.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Calling you to see

It happens every time you've been gone.

I hear my phone ring. I answer it even though I know what you're going to say.

"I'm coming home now!"

Sometimes you want to talk about what I've been doing in the oh, 72 minutes since you've been gone. Sometimes I feel irritated because I'd rather just talk about it when you get home in oh, 4 minutes.

But really, you deserve more than my irritation. You are just that excited to tell that me that you're on your way back to me.

Thank you for that. Thank you for always showing how much your care; your devotion is undeniable. 

Love you.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Exploring the city

The best thing about moving is getting to explore.We went yard saling this weekend and I was astonished by this house. Covered completely in ivy. I like to think we were in Europe during that moment we admired it.

We went downtown to the farmer's market. Did I mention that downtown is just minutes away? It's great. The courthouse oversees all of the hustle and bustle below.

And I'm serious when I say hustle and bustle. Pictures simply could not capture how busy it was. So many people everywhere! I didn't even know Des Moines had this many people! Makes me smile that a farmer's market could draw so many people. Shop local, my friends!

With that being said, if we do go again, we would really need to go earlier. The crowds made it so difficult to get around and shopping was rather difficult. It was the first time I went to a farmer's market with a shopping list, and it was kind of overwhelming. I didn't get everything on my list, but I was just trying to get what we could find.

Our lunch was from a Bulgarian food stand (I think??). I didn't understand much of what we ate, but it was good!

Say it with me now, put a bird on it.

We then drove down to the capital to get a few pictures. The capital is quite gaudy for the midwest, eh?

Des Moine's tallest building.

And finally, the view at the top of our street. Someday maybe I'll stop saying this: "So much green!"

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Arizona --> Iowa

And finally, a moving post.

We kissed Arizona goodbye a week ago today and began the long journey to Iowa. It's been a hard two weeks. So terribly hard to say goodbye to friends. I still cry when I think about it. While it makes my heart ache, I felt so much love in those last days in Arizona. People were so gracious, generous, and kind. The worst part was realizing just how many wonderful people we have in our life, and then to pick up and leave all of that.

Starting over is hard. I don't want to be ungrateful, because I really do have so much in my life. But this is all so new to me: this adjustment period. I've never had a change quite like this. But that's life, isn't it?

I also didn't realize how homesick I would be. Who knew I would miss Arizona so much? It makes sense though, since I've lived there all my life. I could talk all day about the things I miss. So many faces appear in my mind immediately. I miss the people the most. And as simple as it was, I miss my routine. The stores I went to, the roads I took (I could have a whole conversation on roads! the roads are so narrow and winding here. I miss my big, wide roads. And the grid! Oh the grid), the layout of the grocery store, the restaurants we frequented, the food arrangement in my kitchen, the AC in our apartment. I even miss the look of Arizona. All the new buildings in Phoenix! Nothing was older than 50-60 years. So much of Des Moines is old. Sure it has more character, but it's just different.

 I miss feeling settled. Feeling at home, comfortable, knowledgeable. Nearly everywhere we go, we have to look up an address first and rely on the gps. And then we still get lost, or the gps takes us on the strangest, nonsensical route.

That has been enough negativity for one post right? I have had good days and bad days, so I'm just praying for more and more good days. And I know it will come, because I have faith. Faith that God brought us here and faith that we will guide us during our stay.

Not all is bad. I do like a lot of things about Des Moines, I really do. I love the old houses. I could hug them all. So many old brick houses, and three story white houses with wrap-around porches. Every house is different and it is refreshing. And it's so green! One of my favorite parts of the city is the downtown area. We're just a few miles away, and it has a lot of cool places. I've been in a bit of shock so I haven't been taking my camera around but you will see pictures soon. The downtown is also so un-crowded. You don't have white knuckles from gripping the steering wheel when driving through it. And!! So many antiques and old stuff EVERYWHERE. And so much more affordable than Phoenix antiques. I'm in a good places my friends. Be on the lookout for some of our finds, coming soon!

Yesterday was one of the bad days. But at the end of the day, I got myself a happy cactus and promised to make the next day a better one. Now I have a reminder of what I miss but also the brighter outlook I want to have.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Split Pea Soup

It's been a long time since I've shared a recipe! I've been trying to clean out our refrigerator and cupboards, so soup is always a great solution for leftover vegetables.

Yes, temperatures have been as high as 113 recently, but I'm still eating soup. I really love it that much. And if you are one who normally eats "soup" out of a can, do yourself a favor and try making your own. I promise you won't be able to go back. 

Split Pea Soup
Adapted from AllRecipes 

2 cups dried split peas
1 quart cold water
1 quart chicken broth/stock
1 1/2 pounds ham bone (I substituted ham hock because I couldn't find ham bones. I'd never even heard of it and it's kind of terrifying to look at it, but it worked great and was really inexpensive!)
2 onions, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt (I recommend more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pinch dried marjoram
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 potato, diced

In a bowl, cover peas with water at least an inch high than the peas and soak overnight.
The next day, simmer water, broth, and ham bones/hock in stock pot for 1 hour.
Rinse off the peas in a colander and then add to a stock pot.  Add onion, salt, pepper and marjoram. Cover, bring to boil and then simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Remove bone/hocks; if any meat from bone, cut off meat, dice and return meat to soup. Add celery, carrots and potatoes. Cook slowly, uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

The next day, I realized I had some Turkey Kielbasa Sausage. I cut that up and put it in the soup as well, but you can also add this when you add the vegetables. A whole sausage would be just perfect.

Also, this is full of vegetables but thanks to the ham flavoring, it tastes much richer than typical vegetable soup. It was my first time making it, but I'm sure it won't be my last.

P.S.! For another reason to skip the canned soup, check out this article!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The mechanic gene

When we were in Thatcher in June, Jason and his dad replaced the brake caliper in Jason's car. Since I have no business working with them (I don't even know what a caliper is), I took pictures instead.

Jason and his dad spent many hours together a few years ago when they completely replaced the engine in Jason's car. Their relationship had been a little rocky before this, and through the process, they were able to repair more than the engine.

It's been a blessing to have a father in-law mechanic who can teach my husband the ins and outs of car repair. We've certainly saved a lot of money thanks to these two men.

Jason's dad married Sharon around Christmas. We're so glad she's in the family now! She is a kind, kind woman who can still laugh at herself. Essentially, my favorite kind of person. Even better, she has made Jason's dad a very happy man. He lights up when she's in the room. They just laugh and laugh together while Jason and I roll our eyes together at the newlyweds.

While the boys worked on the car, Sharon and I sat under the big pecan tree. The same pecan tree Jason's grandma sat under when she moved to Safford nearly 40 years ago. Sharon and I talked about life as we snacked on pecans and enjoyed the shade of the trees weighty branches. Una the dog dutifully stayed by Sharon's side.

They are adorable. Enough said.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Friends becoming mothers

It was a complete delight when I discovered two of my bridesmaids were pregnant with their first babies, due within days of each other in May. What are the odds of that happening?

Molli was on bed rest, and her little one seemed to be wanting to make an early appearance. It was funny then when Amy delivered on her exact due date in April, and then Molli followed in May, a week overdue.

I've been able to see both friends now and they made some really beautiful babies. I'm so proud of them and the mothers they have become. Both little girls are utterly blessed to have such wonderful women as mothers. These women that I knew when I was still a child, now have children of their own. And they're both so natural with it! Can I please get those same instincts when it's my turn?

We just had a shower for Molli. Isn't Harper precious? Love, love those cheeks.

Molli's sister was nice enough to let me help decorate. It was so fun! (Megan was the brains behind that baby cantaloupe, and yes, her son was distressed to see the cantaloupe with his binky)

It's really so sad when your best friend lives in a different state, but the times together are treasured.

I just love these Larson girls. They are like family and some of the nicest people I know.

Last month, I got to go to Amy's shower in Thatcher and meet Abigail. She's an angel baby and a dream to hold.

Gahh! Kills me.

Amy and her family lives in Ohio, and we excited to move closer to them. Fingers crossed for a Chicago trip together!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ode to the green couch

Maybe this is part of growing up, but I really love furniture. Yard sales, estate sales, antique stores, craigslist postings... it's the furniture that really gets me excited. And many times, the older the better. And so, I have become a bit of a furniture collector because of it. It's a dangerous, dangerous hobby.

The green couch story begins one Saturday I took my friend Marisa estate saling. Yes, it's a verb, and yes, it's one of my favorite activities. It was a pretty disappointing run and the only thing we bought was a cloth measuring tape Marisa found. But we did sit on a couch. A big, green velvet couch. I admired its mid century modern lines.

When Marisa was buying the measuring tape, the ladies running the sale started teasing us about the couch. I don't think they even knew I liked it, but it was a good strategy. I had already pushed the couch out of my mind, but now I was thinking about it. We still left; no couch.

Later that day, I was still thinking about it. I figured an email wouldn't hurt, so I emailed through the craigslist post and asked it was still available. One excited response later, and I found myself on the phone talking the lady down to quite the steal of a price.

But my husband! He hadn't even seen it, nor did he sound very thrilled. And how would we transport it? And that green color. Did I really want a green couch?

Enter my friend Thomas. We bonded over our love of mid century modern furniture. He really is the very best person to take to an antique store because he gets excited about everything. I texted him about the "situation." I knew he would steer me right. He had many encouraging words, and when I told him I was concerned about the color he said: "I'm picturing a fairly green couch which you could add some fun pillows with like a grey and citron print and some plain pillows in like chartreuse and then you could have either a more chartreuse or citron as your main color you know?" Can you see why I love him so much?

Fast forward through a lot of back and forth between Jason, and I mean a lot. Finally, I bought the couch and a nice man named Ramon transported it for us. Yes, I also found him through craigslist.

This story ends well, because we both love the couch. And as a bonus, Lars loves it too. Him and allll of his white hair. The best moment was when the 3 of us (Lars included) all took a nap on it together. We haven't had a nap couch for a couple months so it was glorious.

Once we move, we hope to update the couch a bit with some taller legs. We're also considering removing that skirt, but that will be more complicated. Time will tell.