Thursday, November 20, 2008

This Blows

Let's just face it...weddings (as we know it) are for girls. Most guys do not care about round tables vs square or veil lengths or grandmother's corsages. They do not care about flower centerpieces or aisle runners or something blue. And they definitely could care less if the color scheme was red/white or crimson/cream or firebrick/ivory. Here is what is important to the XY's when it comes to nuptials: food and gifts.

And so naturally Jeremy was excited at my 'generousity'. I said that he could use one of our wedding gift cards to purchase whatever he wanted. It really wasn't generous on my part. Afterall, I did get my twelve place settings of lenox. And it was his wedding too.

Here he is - scooping the peanuts out (cut thumb and all)...and what is inside?!?
A shmancy new blower! Jeremy has been talking about a gas powered blower for our entire marriage. If you saw our yard - you would understand. And curtesy of my great uncle Bill and a few supplemental bucks - this baby is all oursJeremy's.

I simply like the fact that it is red. and shiny. and new. It's almost like a motorcycle. That is how my boyfriend should think of it...except safer. and more productive.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Making an InDENtation

Let me introduce you to our den. I call it the den because it has our fireplace.

Here is my boyfriend making a move on this here wall. Jeremy was eager to rip a hole in it. Also, the den was previously walled with paneling...yup, good ole 70's paneling with one coat of antique white over it. The paint probably came off on his hand after he took this photo.
For you map people - here is a not-even-close-to-scale layout of our first floor. As you can see, the den was separated from our living room by 'the wall'. Jer's hole would open it up and create some flow in the first floor. Note that the dark line between the kitchen and the den was also a wall which made the already too-small kitchen feel closed and cramped. And the doors were everywhere -it was a confusing maze.

Not one to be shy with a sawzall - the hole was soon formed. And see those little wires running through the studs? Those get the credit for being the sole reason why Jeremy learned electrical work. A thousand million points goes to the wires.
While you are at it - please look through the hole to the other side - see the fireplace - yea, the bricks were crumbling, the mortar was cracked, the previous owners had done a shotty job of painting it white and the whole thing lacked a mantle. Jeremy complained about it constantly. Something had to be done.

So we ripped out the paneling and the insulation and replaced it with better/newer insulation and drywall. Also, my hubbie built around the crumbling brick with furring strips, drywall was installed and he scored our new mantle and surround at a custom wood mantle manufacturers for $50. I mudded and tiled the slate hearth and fireplace to finish up our project. Not bad, right? Well, it certainly looks better than broken bricks.
So the after snapshot includes a better fireplace, the kitchen wall was torn out (that's for another day though), the hole was formed, and a bunch of the doors were removed. WHEW!

Now on to the decor...I love some of the ideas in this picture - it is my inspiration of sorts. I love the fireplace flanking chairs, the large coffee table, the huge number of seating available, and the laidback feeling that flows. I am not big into rooms that I can't throw my feet up with a glass of sweet tea and just feel easy-breazy-covergirly.

and our room was a hodge-podge of different items and a bunch of clutter.
Jeremy bought these chairs for me at (this if for you Emily) IKEA! And they were a steal for leather chairs at only $200 a pop.
A little light rearranging gave me my fireplace flanking chairs. Plus I got some more sticks to balance out the other side of the fireplace.
Last week, I got this lovely octogonal coffee table for $10. I think if I add some feet to the little sucker - instant growth spurt - and some white paint - it can really add an open airy feeling to the room. What do you think?
And then last night - I bought me a big box....full of chair.
And here she is in the corner working her magic. What do you think? I think I love her. I also think if we paint the room an almond color, switch out the drapes (which are actually sheets right now...I know, the horror), hoist & paint the coffee table, and get some real side tables or console tables to flank the window (and provide storage), and maybe score an area rug...we should be good to go.
Next time I will try to clean up the clutter before the photo is actually taken...sorry folks. Oh - but if you have any suggestions for any of the delimmas that I have listed above - please help. Except if your tip is de-clutter...that one has been heard loud and clear. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

More Dining Room Updates

Progress was made in the dining room. I know...I seems like I have been working on this same room for eternity...don't worry though...I tend to decorate rooms only 85% of the way - so we should be coming to an end here soon.

Ok - here was the WAY before shot:

And the updated view:

Notice any changes from my last update? Yup - the curtains got the big swap. And the sconces are up.

I also did a little art substitution. My fab frame before was feelin the love with scrapbook paper but it seemed a little too monochromatic.

So I did a little pah-rusin' of my Pottery Barn catalog and loved the black-n-white sketches of the tower-de-eiffel. I can sketch...I hope. So I whipped up a little art of my own in the theme of DINING! Add a little scribble of a signature (doesn't matter if it is actually your name) to validate your own masterpiece.

After authenticating my own art, the beautiful boyfriend hung the wine glass racks on the the bottom of the wine bottle racks. He moves very fast :)

Now all I need is a few bottles of bubbly cause our stash is kinda merlow :)

I decided to tackle the task of scraping the paint from the window panes. I neglected them earlier when I was painting the trim and just hid it behind the blinds. Outta sight, outta mind. That is until I walked outside. YIKES!

And because Bower Power is a place of laughs, love and learning, I thought this might be a good time to share with you how I minimize the work of window pane paint


1. Do Not Avoid Painting the Pane

When painting your sashes, the window and the sill, make sure you have a good smooth stroke with plenty of paint. Do NOT (and I repeat - NEVER) avoid painting the cracks between the pane and the wood. Do NOT clean the paint off the pane immediately. Actually this paint can help seal up your windows and help provide an ounce of insulation around the drafty glass. So remember - crack kills (your gas bill) so paint em good. It will be panefull not to!

2. Cut The Edges With Your Weapon of Choice

I like to use a joint compound knife. Since I am clumsy and tend to induce injuries upon myself (particularly my digits), razor blades are out. You wouldn't put another puppy in the path of Paris Hilton, would you? Well, same applies here - neglect and stupidity equals one less little sucker. Make sure when you cut the edges, you run the edge of your weapon along the edge until you see the darkness of the glass beneath the paint.

3. Scrape Like You Have Never Scraped Before

This is why I like the muddin' knife - its wider tip allows for greater scraping space and the possibility of scratching the window is minimal. Also, because it is longer than your typical razor blade, the leverage you have to get under the paint drips is better.

4. Clean Up The Crumbs

Personally I pull out the vacuum. But you may have another solution - do I hear bucket of soapy suds? After a quick suck - then comes the windex....easy peasy pumpkin squeesy!

And there you have it - the slacker's solution to scrapin' paint. Don't they look so sparkly and clean?!?

To Do:
Buy and hang white curtains
Scrape paint off window panes (oops!)
Buy and possibly paint small side table for drink station
Sand and gel stain buffet to match table
Switch out buffet hardware
Buy bar height chairs for beside buffet
Hang sconces
Paint curio cabinet

Bower Power Giveaway Winners

(Sorry this took so long to announce)

My sweet little nephew Cole drew the names for the Snapfish photo book giveaway. And I am here to share the results.

Your comments were printed off, folded several times, and thrown into my 'Katie's Cantina' coozie...where the motto is 'being bad...feeling good' :)
Cole had just woken from his he took this very seriously.
And the first winner is....MOM XXOO...please note...this was hilarious and we rolled on the floor as we laughed because my mom NEVER wins anything. Plus, she had to figure out how to leave a comment just for a chance to win and that was a huge deal for her because she has a computer IQ that is somewhere in the negatives. And for all you that think this was rigged - you really shouldn't accuse a four year old of's not his fault his Nana is a winner :) So congrats mom - send me your email that has a Snapfish account associated with it (get dad to help you).
Our second winner is NORNIE GAL! Congrats girl - send me your email address and we can get your photo book credited to your account!
And the third and final winner is LAUREL MACD! I hope that your photo book of your little baby turns out fabulously - send me your email address via and I can get your book credited to your account!
And to all you lucky winners - please remember to send me pics of your photo book results so that I can revel in your good fortune and your fab Snapfish product.

Isn't he so cute?!?! Oh and thanks to everyone who participated and remember that Snapfish is my favorite when documenting all things photo!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Yard Sale Tips

The economy is in the pooper...your 401K is gone...employers are shutting their doors....Lipstick Jungle is getting the boot...but do not fret my pet! I know what can keep your hard-earned green in your bank accounts - YARDSALES to the rescue!

And I am here to share with you some yardsaler tips that most of you probably already know. But for those virgin tag salers, this is your day - cause tomorrow could be your chance to take the plunge into the world of cheap finds and quality goods at knock-out prices.


This unopened puzzle was right up my alley - $1 was the price asked. After some hemming and hawing and some price talking, I opened my purse and pulled out two quarters - "Would you take fifty cents?" SOLD. The key to getting a discounted price is to express a whole lotta interest, then ask the price. After they tell you the price...get a tortured look on your you really, really want the item but it would mean the difference between eating and buying this puzzle. But you really, really want it. You are so torn. Make sure they see your pain. Then go for the jugular.

Provide a offer that is accompanied by the exact dollar amount. Once the seller sees the money available - it is hard to turn down. Plus, if you pull out a whole dollar and asked for change, the seller would probably want the whole dollar cause it is in their hand. Greedy seller :) Case in point - bring lots of change cause there are a lot of items that only cost a nickel, a dime or under a buck. And always ALWAYS ask for a price reduction - dude, you are doing them a favor by cleaning out their old junk - and like the good book says "ask and you shall receive".


So the seller has a wide variety of chotchkeys, or childrens clothing, or jewelry? Great! This translates into a better deal for you! What is the price of one item? Look at the whole lot and pick out your favs. Ask directly if the host of your tag sale will give you a deal if you buy more than one - maybe two for the price of one, maybe three for the price of one. Most times, the seller just wants to get rid of the bounty. Recently, I put this in action when buying some clip-on earrings for my Grandma - three for the price of two...sure, a buck a piece wouldn't have been bad in the first place but every greenback counts! I even checked out how much they would be via ebay to ensure I got a decent deal. SCORE! Now I hope she likes them...eeek!

I also played this tip at a yardsale in order to snag some drywall. Drywall you say? Yup - the dude let me have it at $1 a piece because I bought thirty pieces. If I buy it at Home Depot it's $11 a sheet. That is a savings of $300! Sure, I had to beg my boyfriend to come haul it into his truck and I am sure that the backrub I gave him in gratitude was priceless (aren't they always honey?!?), but it was well worth the effort when it came time to drywall our basement!

So remember multiple items means multiple savings.


When my brothers and sister and I were little and my mom would take us clothing shopping, she would ask "Do you love it? Would you wear it everyday? Do you LOVE it?" It now is a running family joke. But the point she was making was this: Let's not buy it unless you will actually USE it. And the same applies to garage sales.

If you like it - great. Dream outloud. But if you can actually see a valid, useful application of the item in your house - that is when you can consider loosening your pursestrings.

This great little cedar chest was calling our names as we stepped outta the car. How much? Twenty bones. Well worth it. I implemented tip #1 and it was now $15. Loaded it up and knew exactly what I would do with it.

A light sanding and a coat in white made the little beauty perfect for housing my flipflops and kicks. Plus now I have a place to perch while shoeing my feetsies. Sure, it might change colors or change positions in this room or even change jobs later down the line - but this is one piece that I know I could honestly answer -




A thousand points to mom for teaching me that quality cheapness does exist and how to score it...

So I hope these few little tips help remind you that a whole slew of items are awaiting you at your local yard/tag/garage sale and that a tortured look can take you far. Do you have any priceless tidbit of yardsalers insider info that you wanna share? Do tell me cause more than likely, I will LOVE your tips and I will use it every weekend!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Who's the corniest blogger of all?!

Ok, leave the corn alone Katie, leave it alone. The corn is not your friend.

Back to the mirror. Remember the dining room?

Yeah, after part one, I made a trip to Ikea to pick up the drapes and the wine glass racks...unfortunately, it was a no-go on the later (outta stock again!). I might need to rethink this whole driving-to-Ikea thing and just order them online...hmm, would shipping cost a lot you think?
Back to the point - I decided to pick up these drapes (which Jeremy hates and will be returned this week) and some lamp shades to replace the red beaded ones that currently reside as dust-collectors buffet lamps.

Here is the close-up photo before the lamp shades were switched out...

Yes - they are adorable - and a pain in my back-end to dust.
And here is the simple and plain after shades.

Sure they may look blah-zay but maybe that is just what every room needs...not everything can be uber-jiggy with would be too competitive. And personally, I like to be the best looking thing in the room...not taking 2nd place to the lampshades :)

Koodos to the shade for being so closely mimic-y of my Pottery Barn chandelier shades...way to go linen/cotton blend! Moving on...

Remember this? Yea - five dollar beveled mirrors that got some help from my friend named Satin White. Hanging in the dining room above the buffet in a grid like fashion:

I for one, really love the newspaper look. And the blue painters tape just works. SIKE! Most things look better naked - and this is no exception. A little windex later, these beauties look sparkly and fab! Not only do they reflect the light from the chandelier, but they make the space look larger, they bring out the crown molding in the room with their own framed edges, and they create a sense of refinement to my previously barren wall.

I got the inspiration for the 'mirror over the buffet' look from here and here and here.

And while I was hanging the mirror wall, I thought it would be a superb time to hang my new frame from West Elm.

Only one minor problem - the mat matched my wall color. perfectly. It looked like a simple mat covered with linen, so I thought let's take this sucker apart and bring my friend Satin White in again to lighten things up just a shade.

Insert some cute lovey-dovey scrapbook paper (it's cheap art peeps)...
And that corner of the room no longer misses the boy with the gun girl with the broom painting.
To Do:
Buy and hang white curtains
Scrape paint off window panes (oops!)
Buy and possibly paint small side table for drink station
Sand and gel stain buffet to match table
Switch out buffet hardware
Buy bar height chairs for beside buffet
Hang sconces
Paint curio cabinet

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I heart NY

Did my clothes shrink or something?

Did my belly button always show when I wore this sweater?

Were these supposed to be capris? Cause I thought the tag said long?

How come my buttons keep popping off?

I have this conversation in my head every morning. Do you ever wonder what happened to all of your clothes? Each new moon I seem to be getting larger (not just gaining weight, but getting longer everywhere). It is very discouraging to walk into a dressing room where nothing fits correctly...and the few items that do fit look like they are from the early 90's. Ok - they probably are. But that is neither here nor there.

So this past week when Jeremy was off playing golf and winning some fab prizes (way to go honey!)...I took this as the perfect opportunity to meet up with my friend Jules and go shopping at twilight. Little did I know that I was soon to have an affair. It snuck up on me quite I was Bella headed to Forks...when all of a sudden I saw my Edward - beautiful and attractive. I was in the dressing room at New York & Co. and I literally had to remind myself to breathe. Breathe in...breathe in NOW! My skin was electric. Dizziness washed over me like a blanket. What the mirror was showing couldn't possibly be real.

This shirt - hanging on my body like it was tailored to fit my every curve. It knew where to touch and where to give me space. It knew how to hang and how to subtley bring out the very best in me. About three things I was absolutely positive: First, NY&Co had a perfect shirt. Second, there was a part of it -and I didn't know to what extent that part might be - that would shrivel and shrink at the sight of my laundry machine. And third - that I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with it.

I bought it in two colors. I have worn them four outta the last five days. I heart NY&Co. It was a love affair made in retail underworlds...forbidden and painful (cause let's face it, I am cheap)...but in the same breath, excruciatingly satisfying. It was a total eclipse of the heart. My love accepts me for who I am - poochy tummy and all - and I swore to wear it until death did us part, which includes the great possibility that my washer might eat it whole. Either case, we are bonded together with the cords of love...beyond the breaking of dawn or the day of the midnight sun. I was also able to purchase a few other items from my newly favorite store to hold me till my other clothes decide to grow up...what do you think?
Jeremy was quite surprised when I brought back a big bag of my newly purchased items. Clothes shopping doesn't happen very often. I even held up my love for him - to which he shruggingly said 'oh'. I didn't assume he would be initially aware of how the relationship between me and the shirt had developed into I decided to spill the beans...right there in the kitchen. First I made him close his eyes. I slipped it on with vampire like speed. I whispered 'ok open them'...and when his baby blues adjusted to the light his only reaction was spoken in a calm and knowing manner "I didn't just didn't think it would be like that". He knew. He knew then and there that my life would never be the same.
I even decided to wear my new shirt to the movie on the 21st...don't know what movie I am talking about? Well, then you probably didn't get half of the jokes in this post either...
Do you have a love? A forbidden fruit? That one item that you will never trade, donate, or pack away no matter how tattered and torn? Do tell...I need to know that this kinda true love exists beyond the realm of the cold ones.