Scary Basement Rehab

Hey! I hope all of your holiday seasons are going great! This year has flown by so fast and the month of December is no exception. I feel (just like everyone else) that Christmas came super quick after Thanksgiving this year. It took us to about now, but we finally have the house decorated (inside & out) Christmas presents purchased, holiday cards sent and now we can actually relax for the week that is left before the season ends. Oy! I use the term “relax” rather loosely though as we will be taking our house rehab efforts down to the basement over the time off. Right now it’s a space that we hardly use. It has a few of Ollie’s toys down there but generally we stay on the main level as there is nowhere to sit and it’s not an inviting area of the house. I don’t even think Ollie cares to be down there much. Ultimately we had been waiting till the end of the year to replace all the carpet upstairs, but Chris has convinced me that the money would be better spent on making the basement an area we can all hang out. I have to agree seeing as how it’s December in Minnesota and we still have many more months of entertaining ourselves inside. We need all the livable square feet we can get. Here’s a few pictures (of the right and left side), again from the MLS. It looks like this currently, minus all the furniture.

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It’s a pretty nice sized space and the carpet is in great condition. I wish we could demo the soffits on the ceiling but we really can’t since they are framing the duct work/HVAC system. All we really need to do is paint, swap out all the door knobs and replace the track lighting with recessed lighting, which is what we will be doing over the next two weeks. I haven’t picked a color yet but I’m thinking it will be something light and airy, since it’s a basement, I don’t want it to feel too dark. While it’s one large space there is definite sides (a  left side and a right side). Our plan is to make one side more of a media type space using our current living room set, maybe some built-ins we do ourselves or something purchased. Other than the photo below I haven’t seen too many images that get me inspired. While the picture below has dark colored walls, I do like the play on vintage sports décor. I’d like to either purchase some snow shoes like pictured or maybe some canoe paddles to place on the wall. I also love the vintage framed posters and pillows.



I’ve been more focused on Oliver’s play area and have found much more exciting inspiration on that front. Chris is going to build him a small table that he can choose to play with his cars on or do art, but there are definite bookshelf plans and just a general space to “house” all of his toys, books, etc. Right now most of everything lives in his room or our living room in baskets. We want him to have a larger “play” area and so half the basement will definitely be his!

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(Images 1 | 2 | 3| 4| 5)

So the overall goal is to make it a fun, functional family space where all of us like to hang out, Oliver can have play dates and the family has more room within the house to keep us from getting cabin fever! One of my goals in 2015 is to get around to taking the pictures of Oliver’s finished room as well as the progress on the dining room. It is not lost on me that I keep leaving you hanging with projects!


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My Favorite Cookbooks

cookbooktitle In the digital age that we live in now it’s easy to conjure up a recipe on your tablet or even mobile phone, but I feel a certain nostalgia for cookbooks. For one, I don’t feel as bad smudging the pages with messy fingers as much as I loathe trying to scroll down on my ipad with my elbow. But also they add a lived in and colorful ensemble, provide visually stunning food photography and remind me of the days when I use to watch my mother cook from some of the very editions I have in my kitchen today. Below is a list of some of my recent favorites!
producebible 1. The Produce Bible: Celebrating the explosion of interest in locally grown and hand-picked produce, this comprehensive volume features 200 recipes that bring out the special qualities of each ingredient, from tender spring peas to earthy autumnal tubers. In addition, the book is filled with practical advice on how to choose, store, and prepare fresh produce, as well as basic cooking techniques, nutritional information, and suggestions for companion foods.
Aroundthetable 2. Around the Table: Dozens of stunning color photos invite readers into Martina’s home and around her table all through the year. With this delightful entertaining cookbook, fans everywhere can join in the fun, whether it’s a Red, White, and Blue Backyard Cookout, a Retro Valentine’s Day Supper Club or a night of Mistletoe and Martinis. Chock full of personal anecdotes and memories, this delightful keepsake is infused with Martina’s girl-next-door spirit and irresistible charm.
tupelo 3. Tupelo Honey Cafe: Heralding in its own unique style of cuisine representative of the New South, the Tupelo Honey Cafe salutes the love of Southern traditions at the table, but like the people of Asheville, marches to its own drum. The result is a cookbook collection of more than 125 innovative riffs on Southern favorites, illustrated with four-color photographs of the food, restaurant, locals, farmers’ markets, and farms, in addition to black-and-white archival photography of Asheville.
JOY 4. Joy of Cooking: This 75th edition restores the personality of the cookbook, reinstating popular elements such as the grab-bag Brunch, Lunch, and Supper chapter and chapters on frozen desserts, cocktails, beer and wine, canning, salting, smoking, jellies and preserves, pickles and relishes, and freezing foods. Fruit recipes bring these favorite ingredients into all courses of the meal, and there is a new grains chart. There are even recipes kids will enjoy making and eating, such as Chocolate Dipped Bananas, Dyed Easter Eggs, and the ever-popular Pizza.
bdaycakes 5. Birthday Cakes for Kids: Annie Rigg shows you how to make various cake mixes in different quantities, as well as frostings and decorations for fabulous but effortless cakes. She then takes you through some Simple cakes such as Princess Cupcakes, a Meringue Mountain, and a just Fantastic Chocolate Cake to end all chocolate cakes! Chapters on Animals, Transport, Fantasy, and Wildlife offer all sorts of cake ideas for novice and confident bakers alike.


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Dining room progress & pitfalls

Hey, hey! Thanksgiving is around the corner and I’m not sure we are going to be able to consider our dining room “done” before the big turkey day. As frustrating as it is to miss deadlines, I’m trying to remind myself that while targets are nice to have, we also don’t want to rush something that isn’t working. Right now, in it’s current state, the space isn’t working. I’m trying to be better about documenting the “process” and so here it goes-our dining room progress (I’ll discuss the “pitfalls” momentarily)…

IMG_8857 OK, so what’s happened…I did purchase the West Elm, Eclipse Chandelier and I do love it. It wasn’t easy to get at all. Our local store didn’t have it in stock, it’s being discontinued so they won’t be getting any more and online had it back ordered till after November. I ended up finding one at a Chicago location and ultimately they let me purchase it just as if I was ordering it from their website. Also, we purchased a rug! I flip flopped between the one you see here and the West Elm Herringbone rug, but ultimately there was a 75% off sale at RugsUSA which I couldn’t pass up and I did fall in love with it after seeing it on this blog. Plus, the West Elm rug was an 8 x 10 which really would have probably been a little too big, the one we got fits nicely at 7′ 6″ x 9′ 6″ and it was a steal, let’s be honest.
IMG_8789 IMG_8788 So now…the pitfalls…for one, the chandelier needs to be dropped down significantly. That’s an easy fix, thankfully it can adjust from 30-66″ so we just need to drop it more at eye level, right now it’s just sitting too high.

IMG_8792 Next problem…those blank walls, specifically the back wall. I can’t make up my mind with what to do with it. I’m leaning towards three or four long picture ledges with leaning frames in various sizes. We may still attempt this before Thanksgiving, but I’m not holding my breath that we can pull it off. Even if we do, there is still the annoying wall to the right that competes with the back wall (see below). Ultimately I’m assuming we’ll either put a simple buffet or maybe a large scale piece of art. Either way, the wall real estate in this room is not doing me any favors. IMG_8808 IMG_8802 So there you have it, my headache. I’m hoping that either genius will strike or my parents will just enjoy the low lit magical lighting thanks to the chandelier and once we get the linens, tableware, etc pulled together it will make the room look less stark. We’ll see…as usual, a work in progress. It’s easy to get discouraged but I still think the room as a whole has come a long way….see the original photos here.




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Bring it On!

Anyone else listening to the Love Actually soundtrack while at work?! No?….Just me?

I am PUMPED about the holidays this year, and maybe listening to Christmas music in early November is jumping the gun a little, but to me Thanksgiving and Christmas are always kinda rolled up in one giant awesome timeframe.

Maybe it’s that it will be our first holiday season in our home, or that Halloween was an accidental tradition in the making, with friends from the neighborhood enjoying pizza with their kiddos before setting out for the candy raid. Either way, I woke up the day after Halloween more excited than I can remember about family time, crackling fires, amazing soundtracks and movies I’ve seen a million times on TV.

Bring on the Holidays. BRING IT ON. But I guess before we do, I have to share our little Christopher Robin, if for no other reason than to document it here for us. Probably one of the easier costumes, thankfully, I was pretty happy with my honey pot that I made him, that lasted all but two minutes before cracking on the cement. I don’t know what I was thinking using a ceramic pot.

There has been some dining room progress so can’t wait to share all that good stuff with you next week!

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Anthro 1 | 2| 3| 4| 5| 6| 7| 8| 9

Happy Friday folks! While it may very well be payday for some of you, I thought I would culminate a few of my favorite pieces from Anthropologie that I have been coveting. I’ve been cataloging these fall favorites (no thanks to Pinterest) over the last few weeks and my conclusion is that the retail brand giant is killing it this season!

I’m looking forward to a long overdue haircut this weekend, getting together with a fun group of ladies for my birthday dinner, hopefully some fall cooking and continuing on my forage of Breaking Bad.

Hope you all have great weekends!


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Operation Thanksgiving!

dingingroommoodboard_final It is exactly one month till my parents fly in from California to visit us for Thanksgiving and while this is not our very first time hosting Thanksgiving (it’s our second) it IS our first time in our new home with an actual dining room. It’s pretty much the hosting equivalent to the Olympics, let’s be honest. With that said, we’ve had our minds on getting the dining room as finalized as possible before the big event and above is the mood board I’ve been working off of (it always helps me to visualize everything at once.)

But let’s step back and take a look at where we are in the process. Here are a few before pictures with the previous owners decor, thanks to the original MLS listing.

9 10 11 What we have done so far is painted the walls and trim, swapped out the door knobs, Chris built our beautiful dining room table and we recently pulled the trigger (after many sleepless nights) and decided on some beautiful dining chairs from World Market.
Untitled-1 So what’s left on the docket?! Here is our 30-day run down list of things we need to get accomplished in the next month:

1.)    Replace the chandelier. While in excellent condition and probably moderately priced is just not our style. I have my eye on this guy over at West Elm, and thanks to a 15% off birthday coupon from them this month, I’m hoping to secure it.

2.) Purchase table décor, i.e. runner, chargers, napkins, etc.

3.)   I have been lusting after these drapes from Martha & Ash, and while I still would love to buy a pair of panels from them, I don’t think we will be able to do it over the next thirty days. I think reproducing some “place holder” curtains that look similar may be an easy DIY project one weekend, fingers crossed I’m not underestimating.

4.)   Purchase a rug, it will immediately warm up the space and tie everything together. A rug is like paint, it can do SO much for a room. It will all depend on how much I can get my act together on this one. We have a few household and baby things we’ve been meaning to put on Craigslist. Maybe this rug will be the final push I need to get these things listed!

5.)    Get something on those walls! They are looking extremely bare right now. Right now we are gravitating towards a black and white frame collage along the backwall.

Bonus Item!

*I really haven’t seen a buffet or sidebar table that has struck me as the “right” piece as of yet. So some research is needed on this front. I almost wonder if once the entire room is done it will then be easier to pick out. It would be nice if we could build something or purchase something before Thanksgiving but we already have a pretty tall order for the next month-so we’ll see…







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Friday Faves

Fridaylinks copy Happy Friday! We’ve made it through another week. Ours has been a busy one and included a sick baby, so I’m really looking forward to a relaxing weekend. Between work, family responsibilities and fun girl dinners out, I’ve managed to compile four links for you of stuff that caught my attention this week, hope you enjoy!

Closet-This jacket is a steal at $49.99 and encompasses both my love of faux sheep skin and (probably) faux leather. All wrapped up in one moto goodness, effortless look. I feel like F21 has stepped up their game lately…

Palette-I recently made this pumpkin risotto for a dinner club I’m in and here is my two cents-great dish, lack luster without the bacon and Parmesan. Serve immediately, doesn’t stay warm and to it’s consistency long, probably a terrible dish to try and reheat. I would make this again and I do think it would be a great Thanksgiving holiday contribution.

Kiddo-Right now our house efforts have turned to the dining room, but I think once winter hits we will move things downstairs to our basement. Right now it’s just being used as Oliver’s play area but we have big plans for it. A section of the basement will still be reserved for Ollie and I really liked the image above for inspiration. Check out the link to see how this couple transformed their basement!

Space-We have a large, blank wall space above our couch in the living room. I’m thinking we will remedy this hopefully this weekend with a grid of black and white pictures. I’ve been hording the frames for a while not feeling like doing the grunt work of the actual hanging-but this photo looked so on-point, that the time may have come to get up off my lazy butt and just do it. Stay tuned!


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Super Easy, Decadent, Apple Crisp

apple crisp copy The fam and I visited Apple Jack Orchards over the weekend and we all had one thing in mind (or Chris and I did anyway) and that was buy apples, bring apples home and make apple crisp. Oliver was in stimulus heaven between picking out pumpkins, mechanical cow rides and one totally underestimated corn maze. At the end of the day we came home with our apples, and bellies full of apple cider doughnuts and kettle corn to boot! I whipped up this seriously easy apple crisp in about twenty minutes and let the aroma fill our house. I promptly ate it once it was out of the oven around 4 o’clock, pre-dinner. Sometimes you just gotta break the rules.

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October, I love you.

IMG_8585 October is one of my favorite months! Besides it being the birthday month of yours truly, it’s just always a nice month to help you creep into colder weather. The leaves in Minnesota are amazing right now and even I (the un-caffeinated weirdo) find myself wanting to indulge in a little Pumpkin latte every now and again. Football is in full-force, crock pot recipes are flooding Pinterest and it just feels fresh and crisp…(did someone say apple crisp?) I’ve never been much a “seasonal” decorator but I plan to step up our game now that we are in the house. Since I like seasonal decor to be understated and we really don’t have much stock built up anyway, we’ve started simply with a few touches here and there. This of course will be an abolished principle once Christmas rolls around…

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How annoying is it that I’m not consistent? I mean really…you can be honest.

Recently I was forced to remember that I can’t count all my blessings on two hands or sets of toes, and that’s not me bragging, that is me being grateful. It’s so easy to get caught up in the daily grind, to disregard the simplest moments and to take your loved ones for granted.

Life is hectic, but it’s also fleeting and from what I can tell the point is to love and be loved.

On that note I’ve got nothing for ya this week-nada. I’m only going to halfway blame this on my Photoshop issues I’m having, but the other half is just us being busy. September is oddly jam packed with stuff. Some good, some great, some just obligatory. I will say that I’ve got good material in the pipeline for you, like posts that are actually worthy of you even visiting. But bare with me as I touch base casually in between these so-called revolutionary blog posts.

So in an effort to give you folks some reading material, I have tracked down a few things that have kept me going (inspiration-wise) this week!

Have you guys heard of Chatbooks? It’s a pretty great way to get your Instagram photos off your device and into your hands and honest to God it’s $6 for 60 pages and free shipping. I’ve been playing around with trying to make some seasonal ones (spring, summer, fall, winter)-how would you organize yours?

This children’s book makes me giggle-you should get a copy.

This kitchen has given me a new appreciation for oak. Which is helpful seeing as how we live in the Midwest and all…

Need a photographer? Carpet installation? Kitchen counter tops? Plumber? Thumbtack is a neat website that allows vendors to come to you with their quotes, based off your job. It’s a great way to source pricing of projects, and they are all local to your area. It makes it so much easier for hunting down quotes. We’ve used it numerous times since buying our house.

One of the better hair tutorials I’ve seen to get great, natural and effortless waves with your curling iron. I even bought the Garnier Fructis De-Contructed texture tease. #Dontjudge 

The recipe to the pie that I made last week, which I highly recommend! I need more practice with the graham cracker crust and overall presentation but the taste was beyond amaze.




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