Sunday, February 28, 2010

an escape

This weekend, we packed up the car and drove to Duluth, MN.

Literally, it was packed.

With some of my favorite people in the world! My handsome Hubby, my two beautiful sisters Elsie and Morna, and Elsie's boyfriend Kyle.

We just needed to get out of the cities, up North, to the vast, frozen expanse of Lake Superior. Even the air up there smells better.

We walked around without our coats (it was 34 degrees- heat wave!).
We drank coffee and meandered through the streets.
We climbed across the rocks and some of us even ventured out on the ice (not me).

Warning: Smoking a pipe frequently can give you mouth cancer. These pictures do not, in any way, condone smoking a pipe.

We went to "Vintage Duluth," which is, in my opinion, one of the best vintage stores I have ever been to. Just look at this dress:

As we were leaving, I spotted this amazing brooch that was carved from bone. It actually says "Elsie." How perfect is that? She bought it, of course, along with a beautiful vintage scarf.

It was a day of easy conversation, adventuring, and basking in the sunshine.

It was an escape.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Couch Love

(image found here)

(image found here)

(image found here)

The great Couch Search of 2010 is now underway. As much as I love our chenille, tufted sofa, it is starting to sag and keeps threatening to swallow us whole. The poor thing is from the 1950s, and it was given to me for free a few years ago. It has definitely seen better days.

I posted pictures of couches I like- they all have sleek, modern lines, deeper seat cushions, and that great, timeless look. I think a couch like this could translate well into many different styles.

So far, I have been stalking Craigslist like a mad-woman, searching online, and praying that one will fall from the sky and land in my living room (without destroying our ceiling, of course!). We are also putting a little away each month towards the couch fund. We really don't have a whole lot of $$ to throw around, so trying to find one that fits out budget will be tough. But with things like Craigslist, you never know what you will come across. So, I will keep checking in hopes that something will turn up!

*Edit- sorry, I am having computer issues and can't seem to get the spacing to work. Can you tell I am not technically proficient???

**Edit again. OK, I fixed the spacing. It was driving me INSANE.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I know when to admit defeat

And that is what I did this weekend.

I stood, with borrowed nail-gun in my trembling hands, and stared at my nemesis with every intention of overthrowing it's green, faux-velvet reign. I made a careful plan of attack, taking into consideration all of the knowledge concerning upholstering that Wikipedia had bestowed upon me. And I faltered.

Yes, my decorating friends, I have failed.

The ugly green chair is even now smirking with satisfaction as it sits in a nearby Goodwill, waiting for the next hapless housewife to come along.

The truth is, it would have cost me scads of money to reupholster that beast. And taken most of my precious weekend, and possibly even challenged a perfectly good marriage. Besides, I don't really like the shape of it anyway. I want something with cleaner lines.

So, here's to knowing when to put down the nail-gun and walk away.

Although, as I was walking away I noticed the ugly brown table that we have sitting in a corner in the guest bedroom... I'm thinking maybe a future ottoman?

Monday, February 22, 2010

thrifty tips

A few people have been asking me about thrifting lately, so instead of just posting pictures of my latest items, I thought I would also share some things I've learned about thrifting along the way. I'm no expert, but I have found (through trial and error!) some good things to keep in mind when thrifting.

1. Don't have any expectations. Seriously, don't go to a thrift store expecting to find exactly what you want because you will leave empty-handed and depressed (been there, done that. Where is my mid-century heather-gray couch?).

2. Instead, keep an ongoing list of items you need/want, and just keep an eye out for them when you go thrifting. Sometimes I end up finding exactly what I want, just not right away.

3. Try to go to the same place, and go often. I go to GW about once a week. I divide my time between two stores, and I have mapped out a comprehensive browsing technique for both of them (I know, it sounds crazy. But sometimes you have to think like a Marine when you are thrifting).

4. One dirty little trick I learned? If I don't have a lot of time, I go straight to the clothes hanger outside the dressing room, which can contain some of the choicest garments. It's like letting everyone else do the work for you!

5. Try to think outside the box. If you are creative/crafty, you might just find something that is considered "trash" and turn it into treasure. This post from way long ago is something I found and refurbished.

6. Along that line- a lot of the items of clothing I have found (about 40% of my wardrobe is from GW) have been too big/too short/just needed TLC. With a few quick stitches you can fix a lot of those problems, so don't overlook the items that aren't your exact size or in perfect condition.

7. Don't be afraid to go home empty-handed. I am a weirdo and I just love thrifting for the experience, but it can be a little disheartening to leave without finding any treasures. I try to be really honest with myself when I buy anything. Will I really use it/wear it? If not, then I just don't buy it. My bank account and my hubby are thankful for that.

8. Remember, you will get dirty. Thrift stores are notorious for being gross. Just bring your hand sanitizer and a kleenex (in case it's dusty!), and dig in!

How about you? Do you have any great tips for thrifting that you would like to share?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

words that aren't my own

Isaiah 42:5-7

This is what God the Lord says-
He who created the heavens and
stretched them out,
who spread the earth and all that
comes out of it,
who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it;
I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the gentiles,
to open the eyes that are blind,
to free the captive from prison,
and to release from the dungeon
those who sit in darkness.

Friday, February 19, 2010

blame it on the weather...

This month has been a time of reflection for me.

I am pondering what to do with the rest of my life (but that's nothing new!). I am thinking about what home project I want to tackle next. I am contemplating folding the load of laundry that's been in my dryer for 3 days (really, I'm not joking). There's lots of thinking going on here... very little doing.

On that non-committal note, this weekend I am (maybe possibly) going to try something I have never done before. We have a really hideous green chair that we've been trying to get rid of on Craigslist, but no one wants it. I was about to bring it to GW last week, when I remembered that I've always wanted to try my hand at upholstery.

So, why not give it a try?

I will either end up with a nice "new" chair, or we can have a big bonfire! It's a win-win situation! Plus, it will get me off my bum and help me to start actually doing something again.

So, I am doing my homework and researching, and I already have a plan to get Josh on board. I just have to say, "NEW TOOLS!" and I'm sure he will jump at the opportunity to shell out money for another decorating fiasco.

Have any of you upholstered anything yourself? Any tips for a newbie?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Some good finds

A few years ago, I found this bowl at GW. The unique pattern caught my eye right away. I wasn't sure where I would put it, what I would do with it, but I took it home anyway.

My other new favorite GW find are these candle-holders.


They are originally from Target, but were found at GW for a fraction of the price. I got the pair for $6. It's amazing how little things like this can add so much visual interest!

I am still thinking of ways to improve what I now affectionately refer to as the "armpit" of my living room. I'm thinking maybe a chair for another reading nook? I also have seen a few home-made entertainment centers that looked really nice. Maybe it's time to replace the faux-finish hand-me-down from Grandma.

Does anyone else enjoy thrifting? Where are your favorite places to go?

Also, do you know where I can find a cute chair for like 20 bucks?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Love in the Time of PMS

I've noticed quite a few bloggers have posted titles with a twist on the "love in the time of cholera" theme, and I just thought I would add my own.

It has been an interesting weekend, friends. I had high hopes of getting so much done, until mother nature reared her ugly head. So, here is a quick run-down of this weekends events:

I have cried 3 times. Twice for no good reason, and once while watching "Father of the Bride II."

I have eaten enough carbs to make even my comfiest pants feel like Spanx.

I nearly got run-over in the parking lot of Panera Bread.

I had a wonderful decorating idea that I was so excited to blog about, until I realized that it was a fire hazard. Let's just say, candles and dried moss do NOT go together well (don't worry, no one was hurt!). (On that note, for a funny example of taking Scripture out of context, click here.)

I planned on a day filled with fun, excitement, and cleaning, and ended up with this:

(This photo was actually taken last Fall during a particularly nasty bout with the flu, but you get the picture.)

So, needless to say, my plans were changed a bit. Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband who makes me tea and graciously soothes my rampant emotions. I was also reminded of how God's plans are often so different from my own.

Proverbs 16:9 says, "In his heart a man plans his course,
but the LORD determines his steps."

So many times, we make plans only to have them rearranged, or completely changed by unforeseen events. I don't think that means that we should never plan anything, but rather that we should remain open to other possibilities. For me, that means a day of rest when I hoped to accomplish more. But maybe I needed this day, these moments of peace and quiet.

Pass the Pamprin, please.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A serious intervention

A few days ago, I came home from work craving coffee. Usually I only have 1 cup a day, but that day was different. I needed the warmth, the boost of energy, the hug-in-a-cup that only coffee can bring. And I needed it ASAP.

I think I may have been a little shaky as I was getting the coffee out. Is that a bad sign?

Is it time for an intervention?

(And there was even more on the floor...)

Well, we can discuss that type of intervention later (but really, I mean never, because coffee and me are like Jekyll and Hyde. Seriously).

I am talking about the intervention that my living room needs. One side is all loveliness and comfort, and the other side looks like this:

(cue the horror music!)

So my question for all you lovely ladies is, what should I do?

Should I get a chair for this corner, or try to move the telly (I did try to put it where the end table is now, but the cords were all willy-nilly and it was rather obnoxious), or just tear down this wall?

I would love to hear your thoughts, because I am really at a loss right now. Also- below is a picture of the cabinet that is next to the end table, for a better idea of the space.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Whispers of Spring

I don't write a lot about work on here, but I just have to share that I worked 10 hours today. 10 hours! I don't know about you, but that's a little much for me. However, most of the day was spent learning about Franklin Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People." It's pretty amazing stuff, I must say. I think I will be uber-effective by the time this week is over, so effective that people will pay me just for being alive. What do you think?

I had a Highly Effective day last Saturday when my hubby and I cleaned out our guest room. What I didn't share then was that I was in a ridiculous mood and also cleaned the bathroom, made cookies, designed a new vignette for the dining room table, and made some curtains for our china cabinet. Whew!

You can see a picture of how the cabinet used to look here. I just felt it was getting to busy and cluttered, the curtains help to pull everything together.

I'm trying to add little touches of Spring here and there, even though it is still the Bleak Midwinter.

Thank you to the lovely ladies who shared their stories about Love (the Mushy Kind). I always love hearing about how people met their spouses. It amazes me to no end how creative our God is! The Mcklinky will stay open until 11pm on V-Day, so feel free to check back and link up your own story if you haven't already!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A (Closet) Makeover

I like to be organized, when it's convenient for me.

I organize things, and then somehow they revert back to a state of disarray, and I live with it for a while until I get bit by the organizing bug again. Then, I remember how wonderful it feels to live in a neat, orderly home, and I wonder why I ever let it get out of control.

Case in point: our 2nd bedroom. We affectionately call it the craft room, but it really had turned into the crap room.

Just take a look at this closet here:

Sorry to SCARE you like that. I know you must be thinking, "How did they manage to fill every square inch of space in that closet?"

To give you and idea of the rest of the room, we have a desk, my sewing machine, a big ol' bookshelf, and a cozy chair.

When I put the chair in there, I imagined sitting there with a cup a' tea and reading a book once in a while. But really, the room was so cluttered that all we really did was shut the door when company came over. Except for a recent incident when my wonderful hubby FORGOT to SHUT the closet door and gave our guests a bit of a shock (you know who you are! Sorry again!).

Well, after a glorious day spent organizing, throwing things away, moving furniture and getting rid of an ugly bookshelf, we now have a brand new space to enjoy.

(The piano is where the bookshelf used to be- so much better!)

And Voila. The cost of this makeover=

New White Boxes: $12.00
Hours of Hard Labor: 6
Cups of Coffee: 4

Being able to leave the door open when people come over:
Priceless (I couldn't resist)

Hey- don't forget to link up your Valentines story to the previous post! I am leaving the Mcklinky open until 11pm on Valentines day, so you have PLENTY of time!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Love (the mushy kind), a Story and an Invitation

(all pictures by Andrea)

In honor of Valentines Day, which is swiftly approaching (these holidays always sneak up on me), I thought it would be fun to share a little bit of Josh and I's story.

I went to a Christian college, where my parents, my aunt and uncle, and my grandparents all met and fell in love. Needless to say, I had me some expectations. And not just the "degree" expectations.

I heard the phrases, "Ring by Spring or your money back."

"Are you going for your MRS. degree?"

and my personal favorite,

"Domestic Science" (totally my dream career).

Well, I guess you could say I flunked that class. I graduated with a degree in vocal performance and a naked ring finger, and moved on to bigger and better things. Like working full-time.

I started working for the government a few months after graduating. Homeland Security, baby. I felt totally unprepared for the real world, but my student loans were not very understanding. The first week I started working there (in November of 2007), I noticed a tall, rather good-looking boy that sat a few cubes away from me.

When it came to men, I was far from outgoing. But something about this boy seemed different. Maybe it was his cute glasses, maybe it was the way he blushed every time I walked by, maybe it was his amazing smile that caught my attention. I learned that his name was Josh, and I decided that we needed to be friends. Among my group of girl-friends at work, I affectionately called him my "Work Boyfriend."

One day, while I was still rather new, I was trying to find one of the fax machines. I wandered from my cubicle, papers in hand, and ran straight into Work Boyfriend. "Oh," I said, "Do you know where the fax machine is?"

Work Boyfriend gave me a strange look, and said nothing.

Realization dawned. "It's right behind me, isn't it?" And in fact it was, in all it's plastic glory, exactly two feet behind from where I was standing. How incredibly awkward.

I thought, He must think I am a total idiot. But he just thought I was the cute Russian girl who sat a few cubes away. (I'm not really Russian, he just thought I was because apparently my first name looked Russian to him).

Two years ago, around this time, our office was celebrating Valentine's Day. I decided that it was time to get to know this shy boy. Question my motives all you want, but in my mind I really just wanted to befriend him. (And maybe see where that friendship went...).

So, on Valentines day 2008, I made a move. I left two pieces of Godiva chocolate on his desk (brilliant, I know). Then, I talked my friend Emily into inviting Josh to a concert with us. Consequently, the office was sponsoring Flower Valentines (where you pay $1 to give someone a pretty carnation with a little Valentine attached). Josh got a carnation that was from "Anonymous." Naturally, he assumed it was from me (it wasn't, that would have been WAY too forward of me).

Emily succeeded in inviting Josh to the concert. If all went as planned, it would be the first "official" time that we would meet. Sure enough, on Friday, February 15th 2008, Josh showed up at Emily's house and rang the doorbell.

I said, "Emily, someone's here," suddenly overwhelmed by a fit of shyness.

Emily yelled back, "You know it's Josh, go get the door."

So, I swallowed my fear and went to the door. "Oh hey, you must be Josh? I'm Mikalah." And so it began.

This supposedly shy boy started talking to me, and then didn't leave my side the whole night. He sat by me in the car, he sat by me in the restaurant, he sat by me at the concert. He tried to talk to me over the loud music, and I barely heard a word that he said. But, I nodded and smiled anyway. I was in heaven. He was cute, single, wearing a (tasteful) leather jacket, and he was totally into me. All of our friends noticed it too, the whole night people kept coming up to me and asking, "What's going on with you and Josh?"

Towards the end of the concert, I noticed that his arm was around the back of my chair. I thought, Gee, that's a little odd. But when I asked him about it later, he just said, "I didn't want anyone else to mess with you." (Awwww). I may have made the first move by asking Emily to invite him to the concert, but he was happy to take it from there. He had asked for my number by the end of the night, and called me two days later.

Two years ago, on February 17th 2008, Josh and I went on our first date to Caribou Coffee. And then one year ago, February 22nd 2009, Josh asked me to be his wife. The time in between was filled with countless cups of tea, new jobs for both of us, many nights spent watching "Jeeves and Wooster," thousands of prayers, a few misunderstandings, two months of being apart, and many, many trips to the Tea Garden.

Little did I know back then, that was just the beginning.

So that was the story, and now here is the invitation. How about you? I think, in honor of February and the Love-Fest of Valentines Day, it would be fun to hear some more stories. How did you meet your spouse, or your significant other? Or, how did your parents or grandparents meet? For those of you who want to, write a blog post (you can even use an old post if you want) and leave a link below so we can see your story. (This is my first time using Mcklinky, I am crossing my fingers and hoping it works!).

I'm excited to read the results!


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