Friday, February 26, 2010

The Paint Fairies Strike 2

I mentioned our goal to have our front living room/foyer/stair/hallway painted by the end of February in my 2010 Action Plans post, and after quickly knocking out a much smaller scale painting project in early January, Justin and I kept the momentum going and painted our massive 2-story space the weekend following our vacation in Hawaii. I tell ya, there's never a moment spared in our house!

To give you a taste of what we were facing, just take a look at these pictures.

(Justin demonstrating how he is going to reach the ceiling.)

Do you have a guess of how much paint we had to purchase? How does 10 gallons sound? Yes, it was a kick in the coin purse, but after receiving numerous professional painting quotes that surpassed $1000 I was quite relieved when the cashier at Home Depot told me the total was $360. On top of the savings we were already receiving by doing it ourselves, I bought the paint during the Behr $5 off per gallon rebate time so I knew I was going to get $50 back. Bonus!

Once again, as you can see (or maybe not), we sprung for Behr's Premium Plus paint ($33 per gallon). Seeing as that this is the first room our guests see when they enter our abode, we wanted to make sure that in two coats the color would be even and look like a professional did it. (Can you imagine painting this darn room three times?!)

After the big and drawn-out debate on how many colors we should use and what the colors should be, we decided on painting half of the room one color and the other half another. We really wanted the stairway to be a "wowsah" focal point, so we chose Behr's Melted Chocolate, which is a medium brown color. Melted Chocolate is a tad lighter than what I envisioned, but what made us choose this one over the other options was that at night, this one still looked brown and the others were tipping on the edge of black, not what we were going for. The lighter color we selected is actually Sherwin William's Mexican Sand but since Home Depot has the wonderful technology of color matching, we were able to get this color in the same paint as Melted Chocolate. Mexican Sand has a cooler undertone that I normally do not favor, but this room gets so much light during the day, the sun's rays warm it up.

Tip: Taping the paint chips on the wall and looking at them at different times throughout the day was very important during our selection process. If we hadn't done this, we would have ended up with a black stairway and a rosy-colored room.

Here is a mock-up of the paint colors we selected.

Before we could get down to business, we had to move all of our things out and into a safe spot. So, this is how our dining room looked--a little more crammed than it usually is.

In order to reach all the way up the walls, Justin borrowed some painting tools from his dad that squashed my skepticism and worked extremely well. He got an extension pole and ceiling and trim edger. He also bought an attachment for the pole that held a paint brush, which he used to do the corners of the walls.

Here he is, high flying painting

And now that I have completely bored you to death with the play-by-play, here are the photos you've been waiting for, our freshly painted living room/foyer/stair/hallway.

What do you think? Did we make the right color choices? Would you have chosen differently?

I've got a few more upcoming projects for this space up my sleeve (some that I'm even tackling this weekend) so make sure you come back and check often.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rethink Tulips

The Friday before Valentine's Day, I got home and found two bouquets of tulips from my loving husband. He beamed at me from the kitchen island and wished me an early Happy Valentine's Day and bragged about how he got a deal because the roses were way overpriced because of the holiday. He even bragged about being able to fill two vases with one bunch, which made me beam right back at him.

Arrangement 1

Arrangement 2

A few days later, when I saw two vibrant red flowers blooming, I flexed my creative muscle and created this stunner (my third arrangement).

I love the bloom's tropical and exotic look and think they look simply modern paired in this asymmetrical vase filled with black river rocks. It only took me a couple minutes and, best of all, was completely gratis thanks to my dashing hubby.

If you want to copy this trick, it's super simple. To invert a tulip bloom, all you do is hold both sides of one petal and gently push the middle out until it "pops".

The petals on a tulip naturally have two layers that barely overlap on the edges, so flip the petals that are on the outside layer first and then flip the inside layer.

Special note: Make sure you pop the petals gently otherwise the petal could rip or you could pull the petal off the bloom altogether.

Once you've flipped each petal, you'll have a completely reinvented tulip.

For those of you who have stealth eyes and noticed the freshly painted chocolate brown wall by our stairs, yes, that means the paint fairies struck again! So make sure you stay tuned! And anyone else who has a cool trick they do to their flowers to give them a inventive look please share, I'm always looking for new ways to spruce up my blooms.

Happy Birthday Mom

I hope you have a great day!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hawaii Part 2

I showed you some photos from day 1 of our trip to Hawaii and you better believe that the rest of our week was just as jam packed as day 1. We started day 2 with some beach and pool lounging in the morning and after lunch hit the road to go see the waterfalls that scatter the Hawaiian highway 19. But on our way cutting across the middle, we drove by some adorable hawaiian cows. Isn't he precious?

We were also warned of the speed humps, the hawaiian version of speed bumps, which had me giggling like I was 12 years old again.

Once we made it to the coast, highway 19 turned south and we (and other tourists alike) stopped every couple miles or so to walk back across the narrow bridge we just crossed, gripping the safety railing for dear life as cars flew by behind us on the highway, and oogle the gorges and waterfalls. On occasion, we ventured off the highway to check out a few parks and other waterfalls. The crashing waves were huge at Laupahoehoe Point Park and the water was so perfectly blue (pictured below).

In the way background of this photo you can see one of the waterfalls that we were able to see from the highway bridge. Nearly all the waterfalls are found in huge gorges like this and then they flow right into the ocean.

The water turns from a deep blue to medium blue to light blue once hitting the ocean shore.

One of the most popular waterfalls on The Big Island is Akaka Falls. After about a ten minute hike, you come to a fenced in ledge where the view is prime. It was absolutely breathtaking.

The morning of our third day was soaked up with a whale watching boat ride. This was my favorite part of our trip. Currently, it's mating season for Humpback whales and we watched male whales showing off for the ladies by blowing water, slapping their tails, and breaching, which is what this one is doing. At first I was really disappointed that I had the camera up too high, because this was the biggest and closest breach we saw all morning, but now I am in love with the shot and think the cropping is really artistic. (My art professor would call it a happy accident and I'll take it!)

Some of the other whales came right up to our boat, which was a tad scary since they are as big as buses, but the guide said that they are more agile than humans are.

And a mother and couple-week-old baby were also showing off for us. The marine biologist tour guide told us that the mom was probably trying to teach him how to breach and help him build up muscle for their swim back to Alaska at the end of the season. The dark grey hump to the left of the baby whale breaching is the mom, so you can see how little he is compared to how huge she is.

That night we went to Ho'Okena Beach for snorkeling and watched the sunset, keeping a close eye on out for the green flash. The green flash is the exact moment the sun dips below the horizon, supposedly when the light hits the water it flashes green, but unfortunately I didn't see it.

Not only was Ho'Okena Beach beautiful, small, and fun to snorkel at, but it provided some great photo opportunities. I couldn't pass up taking some of the moss on these rocks right at the shore line. Its vibrant green color mixed with the color of the sand, ocean, and sky created a serene color palette.

You can see the highlights from day 1 here and the rest of my photos from my trip here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mac Maladies

When I started this blog, I told myself that I did not want to feel obligated to write a post apologizing for not posting, but since it's been over a week (and numerous people have checked in on me to see if everything is ok), I am back and quickly recapping the last 10 days of my mac's maladies (for those who are/were concerned).

Let me begin by setting the stage, I purchased my Apple Powerbook G4 in August 2004, when notebook computers were still being called laptops. Needless to say, as a designer, my computer is my #1 tool and this one has been for the last 5+ years. Therefore, when I started noticing a decrease in performance in the last year or two, I was not taken by surprise.

I have replaced the charger three times ($80 a pop) throughout my mac's life because of normal wear and tear and in the last six months bought a new battery, replacing my old-45-minute-charge battery with a new, up-to-4.5-hours-charge battery. And I must say, that $130 purchase was well worth it.

It was all hunky-dory for a while and then things went downhill fast. My mac began freezing, and not your occasional I've-been-abusing-her-no-wonder-she-froze, but a full blown, need-to-let-her-rest-for-24-hours-freeze. The. Worst. Kind. I knew this wasn't normal so I made an appointment at my local Apple store's Genius Bar and the genius gentleman, told me it was going to take a little while to check her out and promised to call me once he diagnosed the sickness. Twenty-four hours and three phone calls later, he reported that one of the two 512 MB memory cards was bad and recommended I replace both of the cards since they were really old. Happy that the memory was the only thing, I quickly ordered two 1 GB memory cards for $120 total. It took a week for the memory to arrive, but once they did, I popped them in, turned my computer over, and hit the power button. The moment of truth: she started up just fine, but (I'm guessing) halfway through the startup she froze and all of my attempts to revive her failed miserably.

So, back to the genius bar I went. This time, I was assigned to a different genius gentleman and after my 10 minute schpeel recapping the most recent events, he told me he thought it might be my hard drive hardware, but the only way to make sure was to wipe my current hard drive (completely erase everything: software, files, etc.) to see if that would clear up the problem. And that's the second time I left her with a stranger. Fortunately, it didn't take more than a couple hours before he called me back and told me that the wipe did not fix the problem, and instead I needed a new hard drive all together, another $150. Feeling like I had been painted into a corner, I called him back, told him to proceed, and waited for the final phone call telling me she was ready to be picked up.

Before Justin and I decided to have the hard drive replaced at the Apple store, we looked into various alternatives for the repair. We could have purchased a hard drive (about $90) and installed it ourselves, but after googling videos on that procedure we opted against it because we saw it would require removing 60+ screws and having to remember where they all went, no thank you. The second alternative we considered was having a third-party replace the drive; it would have cost about the same as at Apple, but they could not get it done in less than 5-7 business days. Therefore, we opted to fix it with Apple because we thought the charge was fair, they already had my computer on hand, and they said they could get it done in less than 24 hours.

Not even 18 hours later, I received the call that she was back together and better than ever. I rushed over to the store after work and was back in business on my train ride home. So, watch out for new posts this week!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

3.8 Rocks the House

I never thought that I would ever experience an earthquake, but this morning I did. A 3.8 on the richter scale jolted Justin and I awake at 4 a.m. on the dot this morning (3:39:34 a.m. to be exact). The cats jumped and scattered and we looked at each other through our sleepy dazes and asked each other what the heck was that?

The last couple days we have received a dumping of snow (not nearly as much as the east coast), so I thought, ah, it must be a plow coming by but never in my life has a snow plow going past shook the entire structure. Then I thought, did someone drive into our house? And I sent Justin downstairs to check it out. When he got back upstairs he reported that everything looked normal and we went back to sleep. It wasn't until I heard on the radio, on my way to the train, that we had experienced a quake. A rush of anxiety and excitement went through my body and I proceeded to call Justin (45 minutes before he normally gets up), my parents, and his parents to share the news. Justin's parents live about 20 miles northeast of us and his mom said they felt it too. And that's how my, and I'm sure many other people's, morning started today.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Shop CB2

CB2 is one of my go-to stores for gifts and unique decor items. Its first store opened in Chicago in 2000, as a modern destination of Crate and Barrel. I truly covet this store and several things in my house hail from it. Some of these are our family room area rug,

these stuffed felt trees,

and the shower curtain and rugs in our guest bathroom.

As you can see, CB2 is a bright, modern home store and I'll let you in on a little secret, it's super affordable too, thanks Crate and Barrel!

A few weeks ago, on a trip to find a gift for my best friend, I snapped some photos of my favorite things to share with y'all.

First are these recycled bicycle spoke mirrors. Multiples look best in odd quantities and these mirrors prove that point. What I like most about them is the sculptural quality that the spokes create and that they are eco-friendly since they are made from reclaimed bike wheels. The dark wall color truly complements the beautiful iron metal and makes these feel vintage.

Another set of mirrors that caught my wandering eye are these convex metal domes. Once again, the beautiful metal would be highlighted even more against a rich wall color.

The bright wall color of this display instantly drew my attention. I especially liked the simple display of these clear glass candlesticks. Because they are clear they have a light airy quality; it's funny that the shadows they cast are more prominent than they are.

Yet again, here's another coat tree. I noticed this one in a catalog I received a few months ago and thought to myself, that's the perfect green color. The $50 price tag isn't too bad either.

Next up was this display showing off some wine glasses. I don't find the wine glasses particularly striking, but I thought grouping them on this platter and filling them with colored sand was creative and deserved a plug. You could duplicate this or even group a variety of non-matching wine glasses and fill them with the same filler to create a unique, easy, and quick conversation piece.

Opposite these wine glasses was this intriguing wine rack. Besides being different, I like how the cylinders vary in length creating some visual variety. If I bought this, I would place it at the end of my sideboard in the dining room to show off it's galvanized metal curves.

I saved the best for last. According to CB2's description of this puppy, er, I mean hippo, he "weights papers, herds books, frees stress." I don't know about the freeing stress part, but I'd love to put one to work in my office.

That's a small look into what caught my eye at CB2. Anybody else crushing on something from this wonderful shop?
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