Kitchen Ketchup

I would say forgive me for that pun in the title, but let’s be honest, I love puns. Even bad ones.

It’s safe to say the biggest project we’ve tackled in the house so far – and the most we’ve blogged about – is the kitchen. I realized that there were a few things in the kitchen that changed during the time I dropped the ball on blogging, so I figured I would play a little ketchup (alright, last one) and share the progress.

If you remember, the kitchen looked like this when we moved in:

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We lived with the kitchen this way until we were able to rip everything out and start from scratch. You can read more about that here, here, here, here, here, and here. (I told you we basically only blogged about the kitchen…)

And so we were left with this beautiful – albeit empty – kitchen:

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And are you ready to see where we’re at today?

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There are a few areas where we’ve added some new stuff – quite a few new counter-top appliances – and there are still a few more things we need to take care of, but it has definitely come a long way!

First, Matt and his brother added some white subway tile. We toyed around with the idea of adding some color in the tile, but ultimately I was afraid anything like that would become dated sooner, and really I just love the look of a clean, white kitchen (when it manages to stay clean that is…). We choose gray grout for a little contrast.

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The tile helps add a finished look to the kitchen – where before we just had white walls – and it’s much easier to keep clean than the plain walls were.

The other most noticeable step we’ve taken in the kitchen is to add the pegboard. We tossed a few ideas around for the blank wall, including open shelving, artwork, or painting it some color, but we settled on hanging up some pegboard to serve as both functional storage and an interesting visual.

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I chose a soft, buttery yellow color for the pegboard because I thought it went nicely with the blue on the other wall, was subtle enough to not completely overshadow the room, light enough to help keep the room bright and airy feeling, and sort of goes along with the vintage look I’d like to incorporate more of into the room. For now, we’ve added our most colorful or interesting looking items to the pegboard (Except for the pots and pans up top, that was pure function) and we’ve even added our spice rack. We were really excited about that since we wouldn’t have to drill more holes in the wall to mount it again. (We took it down when the tile went up and really didn’t want to drill through the tile to hang it up in the same place where it used to be.)

Finally, one smaller project I added to the kitchen was a DIY paint chip calendar. I’m pretty certain saw this on Pinterest (where else?). I got the paint chips from Home Depot and picked up a cheap frame from Michaels. This was actually a mistake – the frame came with a flimsy plastic insert instead of real glass, so dry-erase marker was really difficult to erase at the end of the month. Eventually I got a replacement piece of glass, also from Michaels, to swap out and it has since been much easier to write on and erase.

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I choose yellows, greens and greenish-blues for the colors I would use. I cut the paint chips into small squares, about 2″ x 2″, I believe, and then simply mounted them on the back of the paper that came in the frame using scotch tape. You could probably use some poster board or something else to mount the chips on, but it didn’t seem necessary. I left myself a little more room at the top than on the side and bottom so I would have room to write the month.

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Overall it was a pretty simple project that has proven to be really functional and beneficial.

So, that’s about where we are with the kitchen. We still have a blank spot above the calendar we’d like to fill, we need to choose a pendant light to hang above the sink and the door to the screen room will have to be repainted eventually, but we’re pretty happy with the way things are looking these days!

I also promise that we have made some other changes and upgrades outside of the kitchen – stay tuned.

Memory Jar, 2012 Edition

Happy New Year, readers! This year instead of coming up with any resolutions and looking forward, Matt and I took a little time on New Year’s Eve to look back. We did this with the help of a little DIY project I started over a year ago – a simple memory jar. I originally took this idea from YoungHouseLove, where I believe they do this during the month of November to keep track of what they are thankful for, but I modified the project a little and lengthened the time period to a full year.

The jar we used was a large mason jar that I spray painted white. It’s not perfect, and I had intended to paint some words on there, maybe with some chalkboard paint, but of course I never got around to it. In the end, the jar served it’s purpose anyway.

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So, for the past year Matt and I have been saving little mementos – ticket stubs, receipts, a score card from mini golf – or just jotting down random memories on scraps of paper and leaving them in the jar, which we placed out on our console table by the front door so it would always be within our view. Then, on New Year’s Eve came the best part – it was time to empty the jar and read through the last year.

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It doesn’t look like a lot here, but there was a good amount to read through.

Sifting through the memory jar was more fun than we both expected it to be. There were plenty of things we remembered clearly, and would have remembered without the memory jar, like watching our friend Irene run her first half marathon:

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Or the time we visited our friend Dustin for a weekend:

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But there were also some smaller things we may have forgotten if we hadn’t written them down and left them in the jar:

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Part of the fun was that each time we sifted through another item, we wanted to text someone and remind them of the memory too, as evidenced below.

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We’ve already decided to keep the jar out again this year and fill it with all the great things we’re hoping 2013 will bring, but as far saving this year’s items we decided to scrapbook them. I picked up a Smash Journal from Michael’s for half off and as soon as we choose some pictures from the past year, we’ll get those printed out and add them to the items from the jar. So far the memory jar has to be one of the easiest, cheapest, and still rewarding, projects we’ve done, and will hopefully continue to do.

What about you guys – any New Year’s traditions out there that go beyond the typical resolutions? Or are you super serious about resolutions and are among the few people who are able to work on them and keep them all year? (Although after looking through that memory jar I’m starting to think maybe I should make a resolution to improve my handwriting…)

Every time a bell rings…

Besides reviving this blog, I’d also like to reboot it a little. The first time around, I thought I had to keep this blog strictly home-related. I didn’t really have any fun or personal posts. I’m gonna give those personal posts a go this time around and see how it goes.

So, I’m going to make the first non-house post about something I’m really excited about and a little proud of. I ran a 5K! If you know me at all, you know I’ve never been a runner. I half-heartedly played a few sports for most of my adolescent life, but even then I never would have considered myself as an athlete. And I would dread the days in gym class when we had to run the mile. Throughout college and the past few years I would sort of start a gym routine, or try out yoga or zumba, but they would never stick.

Then, after watching my best friend – who is amazing by the way – run a half marathon and seeing how awesome that was, I decided I wanted to try to stick to something for once.

I had also heard really good things about the C25K app. Now, after using this app for 9 weeks to work my way up to a 5k, I only have good things to say about it as well.

The app starts you out with a walk/run routine, so in the beginning you’re only running for a little bit and then walking to recover pretty frequently. As the weeks progress, you’re running more and walking less but you’ve eased into it. I never thought that within roughly two months time I would go from huffing and puffing after a few minutes to running a solid half hour without stopping. (Granted, I’m not very fast, but I’m pretty happy with the progress I’ve made so far.) In fact, the first day I ran 20 minutes straight without stopping (which may have been a first for me) I immediately went home and registered for a 5K.

And I am so glad I did.

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I did the It’s A Wonderful Run 5K in Seneca Falls. For anyone unaware, Seneca Falls is believed by some to be the town Bedford Falls (of It’s a Wonderful Life) was based on . So, each year the town holds a festival with events and shows and people dressed as characters from the movie walking around town. It’s basically the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit.

The run starts on the bridge in town – or the bridge George Bailey visits in the movie – heads through the some residential streets, and takes you right down main street right before you cross the finish line. Oh, and the run begins at dusk, so you can fully enjoy all the Christmas lights around town.

And BONUS! Irene and I whipped up some DIY race shirts to commemorate our first (hopefully not last!) race together.

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Originally we thought about making a shirt that would look like the rugby shirt George Bailey wears in the movie, but during a trip to Michaels to scope out what supplies we would need, we found these instead:

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We got our wings! These were simple iron-on decals that cost i think less than $5 each. The t-shirts were also pretty cheap, and the rest of the supplies were things I already had, so these shirts cost us less than $10 each. The absolute best part about that, though, was the fact that more than one person approached us to ask us where we had bought our shirts and to compliment them. To make them we just ironed the decals on the back and drew in the phrase “Every time a bell rings” on the front using stencils and sharpie markers.

The race itself was fantastic. I was nothing but nerves the day before and the day of the race, and probably stayed that way right up until the start. Definitely experienced some adrenaline though once I started running. I had never run with people before and suddenly I was surrounded by ~3,000 other runners, including tons of people dressed in costumes or other festive decorations. I’m pretty sure the adrenaline also helped my time because I crossed the finish line with a time of 28:50, which was a full minute faster than what I had been doing in the practice runs leading up to the race.

And I love the shirt the runners got too! Basically, everything about this race was awesome and I was on a high for the rest of the weekend.

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Overall, I can’t say enough positive things about this experience. If you’re thinking of running but don’t know where to start, use C25K! I seriously cannot recommend it enough. If you think this run sounded like fun, sign up for next year! I already can’t wait to do it again.

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Anyone else out there doing any runs lately? Any races out there you know of that are a must?

Awreatha Franklin

Yes, I named my Christmas wreath. Why? Because it’s an awesome name. Moving on.

Pinterest struck once again. And various blogs I follow. And basically everywhere else I looked online. I kept seeing adorable little homemade wreaths and decided it seemed like a simple enough project to tackle. Plus, it’s Christmas and our front door did need something added to it to make it a little more festive.

On a recent trip to Michaels I picked up a wreath… form? frame? I’m not even sure what it’s called, but I got one. I also grabbed a roll of red yarn and a sheet of green felt. Overall, with some coupons, I think all of this was less than $10.

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I started off by simply tying the yarn around the wreath form and gluing it into place a little bit so it wouldn’t slide around while I was working.

Then, I just started looping the yarn around the form. And around and around and around. I would suggest watching some TV or a movie while doing this part. I put on Love Actually to help get into the Christmas spirit.

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I stopped every once in a while to adjust the yarn and make sure it was coming out even. It was bunching a little in spots on the inside since there was less surface area to cover, but I like the way it looked so I didn’t fuss too much.

When I got to the end, I secured the yarn by tying it to the end I started with and gluing a little bit again for good measure.

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I really liked the plain red look, but I thought it was a little too plain, so I added some white yarn I found around the house. For this, I just very loosely looped it around the wreath diagonally, and then came back around the other way. I secured these the same way – a little bit of knotting, a little bit of glue.
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After that, I simply cut some holly leaves from the green felt, made some berries from some of the leftover red yarn (I did this by first knotting a piece, then just wrapping the yarn around itself and gluing the back the secure it). I didn’t have a wreath hook and didn’t feel like going out to buy one, so the Awreatha is support by a simple plastic 3M hook and some gift wrap ribbon. It’s not the prettiest solution, but it works.
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Overall, it’s a very simple wreath. And maybe a little amateur, but I like it. I like her, and that’s why I named her Awreatha Franklin. (Just wanted to say it again.)

And that little stencil is another cute, recent addition to the front door. That wasn’t a DIY in any way, Matt just found the stencil on Etsy and slapped it up in under 5 minutes. Probably the easiest and one of our favorites additions to the house.

Are you guys getting into the holiday spirit yet?! Any other holiday crafts out there?