Wednesday, October 29, 2014


So I left the blogging world for awhile. Needed a break. Not sure if I'm coming back regularly to the blog but I'll update it from time-to-time. In the meantime, you can follow my Pinterest boards if you'd like. I'm on there daily, pinning inspirations (not the same as perspiration). And because of my wacky work schedule so I can beat traffic (we move into a new building 10 miles closer in Feb), I have abandoned my blow dryer and flat iron and have finally embraced my naturally curly hair. Ta-da!

Let's see... when I last left off, we had a new rescue puppy. Well, she's all grown up and in college now. Pre-med. She weighs around A-FREAKING-LOT. My guess is around 25-30lbs. She's super hyper and whiny when she has to be crated, or in this case, a large pen situated in our dining room. But we love her so much. She is such a good girl and so lovey. She adores other dogs and tolerates cats. Putting cat heads in her mouth makes her feel pretty happy.


And that's my segue into our other rescue story. We had a very busy summer. My sister adopted a cat for my nephew and not wanting to be outdone by my baby sister, I asked the hubs if we could also get a cat. Not wanting to be outdone by his sister-in-law, he exclaimed, "Let's get 2!" So yes, we ended up adopting two cats from St. Francis Rescue in the Tampa Bay area.

I now present to you Mr. Nutmeg and Sir Fender (or Fen Fen, but not Phen Phen cause that was outlawed).

And here's what the little bastards have done to our beadboard wallpaper THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE HOUSE.

I'm slowly replacing every inch of it with the real stuff. I really need a nail gun and compressor to finish the walls.

And how are the home improvements coming, you may ask? Well I started tackling the kitchen again. I'm putting an industrial/shabby chic spin on it. I know it's not for everyone, but I really wanted open shelving so that everything is out in the open. Our round ceiling pot rack wasn't working. Unfortunately, we have low ceilings and I needed to find a solution that would work. So I tore out the upper cabinets on one side of our kitchen, filled in the holes in the drywall, spackled, sanded, painted, and hung our new stainless steel Ikea shelves.

I also started ripping off the yucky, greasy, decade old (or more) thermofoil on the base cabinet doors. I primed the doors and painted them in Benjamin Moore Simply White. Inside the cabinets, I added some pull out Rev-a-Shelf chrome inserts for spices and pot lids. I also added some Ikea dividers in one cabinet for baking pans.

We actually discovered a ceiling exhaust hole when I removed the upper cabinets over the stove and was elated for about a day cause I could finally have a European exhaust hood and call myself fancy pants. But because of a prior kitchen upgrade, the base cabinets were shifted so the hood would be off center. And to add more insult to my wounds, once again the ceilings are too low. So I dragged my arse to Lowe's and looked for a cover. Ended up getting an air conditioner return as I couldn't find any exhaust hood covers.

The butcher block will be going away. It was a cheap Ikea $10 block but is starting to warp. A 16x20 marble pastry slab is coming thanks to a major sale and free shipping at Sur la Table. And I'd like to replace the cutting board with one that is thicker and raised off the countertop.

I think one of the best things I did was relocate my office chalkboard down to one of the kitchen walls. We scribble grocery list items and then I take a pic of it with my phone right before I head to the store. No more little lost papers. Oh and side note, don't ever ask a young Staples kid where chalkboard erasers are unless you want this answer, "Chalkboard? I haven't used one of those since I was a kid." Whatever, just show grandma where to find it.

And yes, that vent is held on by tape. Those vent covers are $100!

And since we are now a family of six and I'm feeding the animals three different kinds of dry food, I headed to Tarjay for more Heritage glass jars and Etsy for distressed mini *gasp* chalkboards.

And lastly, we have updated 3 out of 4 of our appliances. New mini microwave on a shelf so that the European toaster oven can once again be used (it hadn't been used since moving from Connecticut), a new GE range, and a new Whirlpool dishwasher. I'll be doing more updates next year (after the holidays). I'm consulting with a cabinet maker for butcher block countertop installation and a new sink! Then we'll invest in a new fridge. At that point, I think I'll be done with this room.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Man Cave

Now that you've seen inside my woman cave, it's time I share my hubby's man cave with you. Too much? Too intimate? Oh come on, he's a cutie. I'll share!

Not a chance, ladies. He's mine. But I will share pictures of his very rock 'n roll room with you.

We completed this room a couple of weeks ago but with the addition of our new family member, things have been off routine. We have two doggies that don't see eye-to-eye yet. But we're working with them. Day-by-day it gets a little bit better. However, it has been hard because we have all this puppy energy we're dealing with that is making hubby and I quite tired. I'm in bed by 9 or 10 each night. The good news is that Cookie is sleeping about an hour later but her most hyper time is early morning. "Play with me. Someone look at me. Toss my ball. I'm gonna bring it to you. Nope. Psych! Let me bite you. Your ear is a tasty treat. Squirrel!"

So the last thing that hubby has requested for this room is that I do the beadboard wallpaper. Since most of the downstairs has it, I'm also going to carry it into the dining room, too.

Although hubby's wishlist included a pool table, it just wasn't possible with the poker table and bar. Plus the room isn't really wide enough. But how about the awesome bar and poker table? That was hubby's $800 Craigslist find. $800! and the people delivered it, too! This set is close to $7K new. And it had only been slightly used. He's a good bargain hunter!

So let's take a look at the second living room before. Ugh. That smelly carpet. This is on inspection day.

And now...Rock on, dude.




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Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Tell the truth, you saw the title of this post and thought - BABY!? Well, sort of. A new fur baby came into our lives three weeks ago when my lovely mom sent me this picture in an email:

I quickly resnapped the picture on my phone and sent my husband a text message. While hubby and I have been talking for the last year about getting a new dog, we were also hesitant because Woozie is now 12 and it's been awhile since she's been socialized. She's become a sweet natured doggie who is content with hubby and I. We were also talking about specific breeds and private adoption through a breeder. But that face! How can you resist that face?

So we asked about this little pup and learned that there was another interested party. We learned that this pup was abandoned and wandering alone for three days before someone called about her. She was brought in by the SPCA and has been with her foster mom the entire time. The foster mom used to work with my mom and the other interested party. Over the last three weeks, it's been a roller coaster as to "will she, won't she" confirm she really wants this puppy. And in a very, very small way, I got a taste of what it's like to go through a real adoption (human baby). Again, very very small way as I know it takes months and years to adopt children and can be very heart wrenching.

The foster mom wasn't convinced the other party was the right fit so she brought the pup to see me a couple of times so that we could get to know one another. It was an instant bond. I loved her from the moment I saw and held her. She's a sweetheart and very affectionate.

We had to wait until yesterday to adopt her because she wasn't quite 8 weeks and hadn't been spayed (a SPCA requirement). The surgery date kept changing based on availability and vacation schedules but she was finally spayed yesterday and ready to go by 2pm.  The other party backed out a week ago. Still it was nerve wracking because of SPCA's policy of "first come, first serve." Basically if a dog is put on the floor, whoever grabs the paperwork first gets the dog. I don't agree with that policy in the slightest. We were also interested in another puppy on the east coast and I completed a very thorough questionnaire. The SPCA has a 1/2 page adoption info page. But as my hubby and mom said, they probably see a lot of dogs and cats come through and adopting them out is better than the alternative.

We left the house at 1pm yesterday (I took yesterday and today off of work) and were at the SPCA by 2pm. The pup remained in the Clinic while we completed the adoption process and paid for her ($125) so that no one could see and fall in love with her. The process went smooth and we were done and on the road by 3pm. She's been a very good puppy so far and is almost potty trained. We have a vet visit at 5pm today and plan to enroll her in puppy training as soon as she is cleared to go.

She was originally listed as a "Pit mix," which concerned us at first - until I met her and realized how sweet her disposition was. Yesterday we learned that she is actually a Labrador mix. They didn't list "Pit" on her paperwork. However her paws look like "Pit." I think she's a Labrabull. Whatever, she is, we are smitten.

So enough chatter. I introduce you to our newest family member - COOKIE!

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Pioneer Woman Cookoff

On Cinco de Mayo, my coworkers and I participated in a Pioneer Woman cookoff. I came up with the idea after a introducing my coworker to Ree's (aka Pioneer Woman) Marlboro Man sandwich. We absolutely love this sandwich, which is primarily meat and butter. Uh, I see no problem.
We've both tried different types of rolls and while I prefer seeded hoagie rolls, my coworker likes Hawaiian Sweet Rolls. We both agree that my Ciabatta just did not work for this sandwich. It was just too heavy and dense.
I don't work in a big office, although we are growing rapidly and will be moving to a new space in October (most likely in Tampa but staying in Pinellas County is still a possibility). We had about 10 people participate in the cookoff and here were the rules:
We’re having a potluck on May 5th. Not just any potluck, a Pioneer Woman potluck! What?! You don’t know about the Pioneer Woman?! Let me introduce you to Ree Drummond who lives on a ranch in Oklahoma with her Marlboro-steak-and-potatoes-eating man, four kids, and lots ‘o animals.
Ree is a bestselling author and has a show on Food Network. She breaks down her recipes into easy-to-follow steps (with copious pictures!) on her blog:
Here's the catch - You can ONLY use Pioneer Woman recipes (breakfast, lunch, dinner, your choice)!
We had an amazing amount of food and to make it fun, prizes were given to two winners. We had three judges that tried all the food and decided on a winner for overall food and one for desserts.
The winners? Ribs! I mean who can resist ribs, right? Well I guess a vegetarian or vegan (I caved a couple months ago and am back on the meat wagon). And I thought I made some tasty fall-off-the bone ribs, but these were spectacular! The Itty Bitty Nutella Cakes won best dessert. I'm a little picky on desserts and most of the desserts consisted of peanut butter. I've been Picky Niki most of my life and I don't like peanut butter and chocolate together. Yeah, I know. I'm weird. Just ketchup and cheese on my hamburgers. No lettuce anywhere except in a bowl with dressing. Just meat and cheese on a sub. I hate tomatoes. I hate fruit. That's just me. Okay so off on a tangent there - let's get back to some yummy food pics.

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Living Room Reveal

It's been a long time coming (9 months) but we have finally finished our fireplace living room. We have a few more finishing touches (lanterns for the fireplace, custom blinds are on order, jute rugs for the sliders, and adding pics to the back wall. Of course I'll show you that when we have it completely accessorized. And the man cave, where we were formally camping out until this room was done, is taking shape too. In fact, at least once a week, hubby and I become barflies at his massive wooden bar where we eat sushi, cheese, crackers, and other apps. It's our little downtime where we enjoy wine, eat a lighter meal, and just sit and talk.

We spent quite a pretty penny in this room starting with the floors. We upgraded to Armstrong laminate high gloss (yep, we knew full well it was going to show every spec of dirt and dust and it has lived up to this expectation), we replaced the entire ceiling and hired a guy to come in and finish the mud, tape, and sand. We also got rid of 3 feet of curved 1980s tile. That was my husband's idea (as well as upgrading to the nicer floor) and I love his decorating decision.  He wasn't on board at first when I wanted to paint the fireplace white. But he did it anyway while I was in San Diego. We both agreed to leave the brick alone as it adds a nice contrast. We had Lowe's install the floor in this room, the other living room, and my husband's office, as well as remove the tile. They did an excellent job! It took them two days and it cost $4K for the three rooms. The ceiling was a bargain - less than $300 to finish it.

If you notice the one wall with the black framed pics - those are the pics I took in San Diego. We had the Ikea frames. The prints were $40 from mpix. We chose an easy-to-clean rug for doggie purposes. The starfish was $13 from TJ Maxx and the whale wood wall d├ęcor was $20 (I think from Wayfair or one of those flash sites). The mantel pieces were from TJ Maxx, Target, and a flash site. The oars are Pottery Barn and were a bit spendy at just over $100 for the two. My husband was going to hang them horizontally but I suggested he cross them and I'm so glad I did. The pillow covers are from Etsy and West Elm. The ceiling fan and light kit are from Lowe's ($200), not Harley Davidson.

So, the downstairs is pretty much set. I do want to do the kitchen counters and new appliances before we tackle the floors upstairs. But I think we're going to take it easy for a bit. We have some other plans in the works that don't involve house renovations. I'm hoping mid-May I can actually write about it and show you. If you are a Facebook friend, you know what I'm talking about.

So let's take a look at what we started with before the ceiling caved in during our first weekend of cleaning from my upstairs bathroom. Remember that? Water was pouring in for 24 hours after we closed in August. This room was concrete and studs for as long as we've lived here. And it is so nice to actually be able to use it.

And now...

TDC Before and After
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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

San Diego, Part II

Thought I would share some more pics of my trip to San Diego. I actually had two of these pics blown up to 16x20s and printed as black and white images. I reached out to our wedding photographer who suggested I get the prints done by What an awesome suggestion. The prints turned out wonderful and were on my doorstep two days after I ordered them. I then had another friend tell me that she's tried seven different print companies and mpix is her jam! She's also a professional photographer. I'm not being compensated to say any of this (c'mon, I've never been compensated for anything on this blog - I think I'd fall over and die if that were ever the case). I just think the quality is so much better than trusting your pics to any other online print service. I'll show you the black and white photos when I do the living room post (coming soon!).



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