Archive for May, 2011

Outdoor Kitchen Plans

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Posted by Rebecca, May 19th, 2011

We’ve mentioned on here a few times about how we are planning to do an outdoor kitchen. We knew we’d like one someday, but we didn’t really think too much about it until we had our patio first drawn out and I saw this curved area.

Immediately I envisioned a caddy cornered grill here. Mike and I started looking around and found some ideas of what we were thinking of doing.

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Oh and here’s another thing I forgot to mention.. we want to build this ourselves. My brother and my sister-in-law built their own U shaped outdoor kitchen, so we have their help if we need it. I know it seems ambitious, but we’re up for the challenge. We’re not insistent DIYers or anything, but if it’s something we’d think would be fun to do, we do it. If we have no interest in doing it, we hire someone. Simple as that! This house stuff is supposed to be fun, right? So we try not to torture ourselves if we don’t want to do something.

We couldn’t find anything exactly like we had in mind through Google, so we picked up this book at Lowe’s.

I love these books, we have a basement one as well. It has TONS of information about appliance types, finishes and even some general patio advice. It also has great pictures that were different from our Google searches.

(please excuse the iPhone pictures)

We don’t want anything crazy, we’re not about to appear on an episode of cribs or anything. We want a grill, mini-fridge, some storage and Mike would like a burner. I talked to my sister-in-law and found out where they ordered their kit. A kit is basically a pre-sized steel frame that you assemble, add concrete board to, stone and insert appliances. This DIY Network page has the basic instructions, but the kit also comes with instructions and a DVD I believe.

My sister-in-law told me that they ordered their kit from a slightly shady looking website called BBQ Coach Outdoor Kitchen Supplies. I immediately spotted the New Yorker island and it looked just right!

Yes, they only have that tiny image. But! They also give the measurements.

This was wonderful because we could plan out the size of the curved portion of our patio. It was already spray painted, but when they came to pour the concrete 2 weeks ago, we had these measurements in hand and had already marked on our own about how much larger we wanted it. We ended up extending that curved area out an additional 3 feet or so, incase we ever want to put bar stools back there. Here’s an aerial, in-progress picture of the larger area.

You can also see where Mike put the conduit he blogged about under the patio to eventually run some electric to our island.

The kits allow you to choose how many appliance openings you want and also allows for some variation in the plan. They recommend that if you’re using a concrete or granite countertop to provide additional support. I think I’d like poured concrete, but we’ll have to cross that bridge when we get there. We know we definitely want to cover our grill in stone similar to the stone on the front of our house, with grays and browns to blend well with our yard, patio and new furniture. It will still be pretty pricey, since the kit is around $900, but it’s still a fraction of the price it would be to hire someone to install one. Our concrete guy even told us it would be better for us to do something like this than to have him do it. Not that we asked, but he offered and when we showed him our plans and what we wanted to do, he realized we had it pretty figured out.

To give you (and me) an idea of what it would look like on our patio, I worked a little Photoshop magic.

Pretty cool huh? And since it took me all of 2 seconds to insert just the grill and I enjoy torturing myself, I decided to add some “mulch” and some of the stone we hope to add to our landscaping. Along the walkway is river rock and where the patio becomes elevated (because of the 8 inches our yard slopes from the house to the end of the patio), we think we are going to add a few inches of retaining stone to make everything look a little more level. We started to investigate all of this on Saturday, more details to come when we figure it all out.

We hope to start our grill project this summer, but who knows when it will be! After our Pottery Barn purchase, we know we’re going to take a little break and focus on doing some landscaping on our own the next few weeks (weather dependent, ugh.)

Back to the Indoors

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Posted by Rebecca, May 18th, 2011

We’ve accepted the fact that it’s going to rain until Sunday and we STILL have yet to set foot on our patio. It was sealed last Tuesday and needed a week to dry, but it’s been raining since this past Saturday. We also hoped to get some gardening done early in May to avoid the heat of summer, but with the weather forecast for this weekend, it seems like it’s inevitable.

So we decided to focus on our entryway project again. Remember that one? The one we were obsessed with until school forced me to stop working on it? Well we last left off with some priming and we actually purchased a mirror for over the desk weeks ago. I’ve been itching to hang it and tonight we finally did!

I wanted something round to offset the straight lines of the picture frame molding we will be adding underneath the chair rail we installed. I found the perfect round, chunky, espresso mirror in Lowe’s but it was too large. I wanted something just like it, but smaller than the 32 inches round it was. Thankfully, the universe aligned for me for once and made my search easy by dropping a 26 inch round mirror in a Target store one Sunday afternoon. It was exactly what we needed.

The rain makes for awful picture taking conditions, so I apologize for the poor quality of these.

We still have to put some white semi-gloss on the bottom half of the wall, add additional molding and replace the lamp shade with a white one. Then I’ll be able to get a better idea of this area and what else I can add to it. I also couldn’t resist the larger Lowe’s mirror, so we picked that up to hang elsewhere 🙂

Oh and I think I’m going to start a photo hunt game to find Macky in my pictures. He is such a champion photo bomber. Yep the black blob on the landing you can hardly see in the picture above…

…is our project supervisor, barking (meowing?) orders from the stairs.

At least he’s happy we’ve moved our projects indoors! 🙂

ps- I changed the feed to this site to use Feedburner, so please re-subscribe if necessary and I hope this helps those of you who have had problems with our feed! Thanks for letting me know 🙂

The Macky Pillow

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Posted by Rebecca, May 17th, 2011

My baby is famous. And it’s home decor related.

A couple of years ago, I entered a picture of Macky in Pillow Pillow Pillow’s pet casting call. I saw it linked from People.com and figured I’d give it a shot. So I entered this

Doesn’t he look so young and cute? Apparently someone agreed with me, because I nearly fell over when I saw that Macky had been given his own pillow out of thousands of entries. Because his cute little face would be sold nationwide, the kind people at Pillow Pillow Pillow sent us one of the hot-off-the-press Macky pillows.

Stunt Macky normally hangs out on our entertainment center these days, since he is a part of the “litter” series and his pillow is too kitten-sized to sit on the couch. Plus we like to minimize wear and tear on this once in a lifetime, commemorative piece 🙂

Quite possibly the best part of this (as if it could get any better for a pet momma), is the tag.

The inside reads…

I didn’t write that, the people at Pillow Pillow Pillow did, but isn’t it the cutest and most accurate description ever?? All I submitted was the caption above and they added the Princeton tiger blurb. The online description takes the story even further…

Macky the tabby cat lives in East Windsor, NJ. He is strong and beautiful and fierce, with bright orange eyes and striking black stripes running across his silky grey fur. Even though he’s a little kitten, Macky fancies himself a tiger. Literally. Maybe his parents read him too many story books, or maybe he wandered off one too many times to Princeton University (it’s just down the road), where the school colors are orange and black and the mascot is the tiger. Whatever the reason, the fact is, Macky believes from the top of his head to the tip of his paws that he a ferocious beast. Humor him, and you’ll get along famously. (But remember – even though he loves it when people cower in fear, Macky doesn’t bite!)

We love our little pillow, but this thing is teeny tiny and expensive. We originally wanted to buy them to give them out for Christmas a few years ago (and support Macky’s college fund), but we decided that $41 was too much for a tiny pillow.

Seriously, it’s $41. How disappointing. But we’re very happy to have received one, though we wish some of the profits from the sale of the Macky pillow went to help other abandoned kittens or something. We didn’t really think he’d win and didn’t think through the pricing or anything. But we’re proud parents, nonetheless 🙂

Also, more recently Macky was made into some vinyl wall art

See him in there? Isn’t he the cutest? 🙂

Pillow Pillow Pillow also came out with some organic totes, but the litter series wasn’t released 🙁 I was looking forward to going to the grocery store with Macky’s mug on my bag. Maybe someday.

So that’s the story of how Macky became famous a few years ago. I always knew he had some star power in that little body of his, so I’m so proud that someone else out there saw it too.

ps- If anyone is interested in buying a Macky pillow, you can do so at the Pillow Pillow Pillow online shop or at the fine retailers listed here. Macky was not paid or perked for this post. He doesn’t really receive money towards his college fund and will be taking out loans like the rest of us. When I asked him for permission to use his celebrity status on my blog he said “who care!” and proceeded to lay belly up in his bed. He said there will be no autographs or press conferences given at this time, but sends his love to his fans.

The End of an Era

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Posted by Rebecca, May 16th, 2011

First, thanks to all of you who gave me the heads up about the Pottery Barn coupon that was making the email rounds today.

Second, I did get one, but the coupon was too late 🙂

On Friday after work, Mike and I hustled our rears to Pottery Barn and bought the Chesapeake dining set. Yes after months and months of searching (which you can read about herehere and here if you’re bored), we finally took the plunge. And what a completely random plunge it was, considering my entire dining room is furnished with things from Ikea and Target.

I’m not mad about the coupon, because we weighed our options before we decided to go buy it in person. I priced out purchasing online and realized that with the high shipping costs (even with the current promotion), it was best to order it in store. We know it was expensive and kinda blew our budget. I say kinda because technically we stayed in budget, we just got half of the furniture we planned 🙂 So we don’t get a loungey area this year, but that’s okay since we’re completely in love with the set we ended up with.

The floral cushions on the stock images are killing me, so I gave you the plain ol’ view.

So what made us find this set on a Wednesday and buy it on Friday when I’ve been agonizing for weeks/months? Well here’s a list! Some of which are listed in my previous post, but hey, I like justifying expensive purchases 🙂

1. We love it, which we could only say about the uber expensive Ventura set from Crate and Barrel before this guy came around.

2. It is still a fraction of the cost of the astronomically priced (have I mentioned that before?) Ventura set, and we actually like this set more.

3. It is solid wood and can be sanded and refinished rather than having a cheap set get crummy or go out of style in several years.

4. The table extends to 104 inches long and the extensions are stored underneath the table. Plus the chairs stack for storage. We realize that even with just either of our immediate families, we need more than 6 seats. Why buy a nice table if we always have to stick a folding table at the end?

5. We can add to this over time and mix and match other pieces of differing styles. I was having a hard time thinking of what I could add to the wicker sets I was previously eyeing. Plus doing this makes it a little more budget friendly.

6. I think this style better suits the patio, but I had to see the patio done first to realize this one.

7. I just finished 2 graduate classes with 101 average in one and a 99.6 in the other. Work hard, play harder 🙂

8. My twitter friends said I should buy it.

9. We want to sit on the patio this summer, and we’re not getting any younger here.

10. I nearly died this past week, please refer to number 7.

We also picked up a bench to use when the table is extended, rather than picking up extra chairs. We figure we can also use the bench as extra loungey seating, plus I’ve always wanted a table with a bench!

The only “extra” we purchased was 2 of these throw pillows which were 20% off.

I’ve wanted wide striped pillows for ages and I figured I’d make my own, but for around $20 for these pretty large pillows I figured I couldn’t do much cheaper. Oh and I haven’t used my sewing machine yet, so actually making them may not have happened this summer.  I plan on sticking these on some plastic adirondack chairs we already have to make them look a little nicer until we can do better. We didn’t pick up any of the chair cushions that went with the table or anything because a) I don’t know if we want them and b) I can get them cheaper elsewhere. We started with the bare minimum for now.

We opened a Pottery Barn credit card to receive 10% back in reward points. With the money we’ll be getting back, we’re thinking of buying a fresca blue square umbrella.

It’s amazing, I thought I wanted such a bright and fun backyard but once it started to come together, it just wasn’t screaming bright fiesta. I guess sometimes you can’t plan these things out no matter how much you think you have your mind set!

So we justified, planned what to get and purchased it. Shockingly, the store had every single piece in stock. We have an SUV now, so no problem, right? Wrong. The table box was ginormous. So on Friday, we left with only 3 chairs and a bench.

We asked my parents to come down yesterday with my dad’s pickup and we were able to get the table and remaining 3 chairs. Thank goodness they followed us to Pottery Barn because only the table and 2 chairs fit in his pickup (he has a hard top on it) and we were able to take the final chair. I meant to take a picture of the boxy chaos, but I forgot.

I wish I had a set up after picture to show, but sadly, it rained all weekend and this is what the weather is looking like for the rest of the week.

Whooomp whoomp. Sunday is supposed to be clear so hopefully we can put our furniture together then. Supposedly we “just have to put the legs on” (Pottery Barn Employee, 2011). I hope you get what you pay for in the assembly department and we’re not battling an Ikea-esque purchase. Though I must say, Ikea has gotten way better the past 2-3 years. Anywho, the minute this thing is together I will be snapping pictures!

ps- I’m still recovering from this semester (see #7 and #10 above), so I know I’m way behind in housekeeping around here. I owe everyone an updated blog feed, I wasn’t getting email notifications when I received comments so I’ve been awful at responding to those, and I have 8 million projects left unfinished. I’m slowly easing my way back into blog loving, so bear with me 🙂

A Deja Vu Post

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Posted by Rebecca, May 11th, 2011

Are you sick of the patio yet? You might want to put on some ear muffs…

I told you yesterday that the Target outdoor furniture I was eyeing up was out of stock, with no signs of being around anytime soon. So I started my search from scratch and was getting very frustrated. I decided to check Pottery Barn, which I hadn’t thought much about because of their, well, expensiveness. Then I spotted this…

 

It’s the Chesapeake dining set. I sent it to Mike to explain how I’m leaning more classic/rustic than modern now that I’ve seen our lovely little concrete. He was all like ORDER IT NOW.

I think he kinda loved it.

A lot of the furniture I was previously eyeing was a black/brown color, which I really didn’t want. Now that I’ve seen the subtleness of our patio, I know most of them would be too stark. I started to focus my search more on teak looking furniture.

I’m especially drawn to the Pottery Barn furniture for quite a few reasons….

1. The chairs are stackable for easy storage during bad weather/the winter

2. It’s solid wood and we can sand it down/re-stain it if necessary. Pottery Barn even gives directions and tells you the Benjamin Moore stain color it is!

3. The table extends. You read that right. It extends to be as large as our dining room table to fit extra guests.

4. It is a classic style. We’re planning on picking up cheap cushions and we can easily change accessories around trends, while this style of table is timeless.

What we don’t like about this table…

1. It’s expensive

2. It’s expensive

3. It’s expensive.

I didn’t even consider this set a possibly at first because I thought it would be too much. But when we think of all of the pros, we realize this might be a smart investment that we have for years and years. If we bought this, we would skip our fancy conversation set for this year and maybe mix and match some inexpensive lounge furniture in at the end of the season/next year. I actually like this idea, because I didn’t want to get too matchy matchy with buying an entire Target collection. We know we can also mix in some inexpensive wicker ottomans for storage and side tables to add some extra texture in.

We checked it out in store tonight and it is even more awesome in person. We decided to think about it for a bit and maybe try to scope out some coupon codes or something. I’m hoping I’ll get an email with a 15% off coupon code soon, like the promotion West Elm is currently running. A girl can wish, right?

A salesperson did inform us that if we opened a Pottery Barn credit card, we’d get 10% back in a gift card. We’re thinking of putting that towards a pretty blue umbrella.

I know, I wanted white and navy. But with the soft colors the backyard is sporting now, I think I want to stick with that. But who knows, I’ll probably change my mind tomorrow. Thanks for coming along for the ride 🙂

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