RIP real tree

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Posted by Rebecca, December 14th, 2010

I may have stopped highlighting my hair, but there will be a new fake something to replace my ‘do.

Yes we did it.  We bought an impostor.  Never in a million years did I think I’d get a fake tree.  Just a few weeks ago I was complaining that everyone thinks that a candle will replace a real tree.  Mike and I really didn’t take this decision lightly, but our main motivator was that we wanted a tall tree.  We talked about the whole tradition aspect, the fun of going to pick out your own tree and we realized that well, the part we remember the most from our childhoods is waiting for the tree to ‘settle’ to put on the ornaments or waiting for our moms to first put on the lights before we could touch it.  So though we love the tradition of the real tree, we don’t necessarily feel that we will be robbing our children of the tree experience.  And really, what kid wouldn’t love a huge tree like the one we got? I think the size alone makes up for it.  If we didn’t want a tall tree, I’m pretty sure I’d still be a realist.

We went to 8 million stores tonight (when I should have been studying…) because no one has oversized trees left! We settled for a 9 footer, though I really wanted 10.  I even checked online and there were no affordable 10 foot trees. Home Depot had a single one left last night, but we went to 2 others and there were none.  Then we walked into Lowe’s and I spotted a very pretty 9 footer, which I actually thought was 10.  So I figured if I couldn’t tell the difference of that extra foot,  I’m sure no one else will.  Plus we will still have to add our topper!

Driving home, we reminisced about our real tree experiences.

Like how we used to cram our live trees into the trunk of my Cavalier..

That’s Cavy on her last day with me this past summer.  RIP buddy, I miss you.  How many people have a picture of their first car parked in front of their first house?  She served me well and when I traded her in, there were still pine needles in the trunk.

How we used to carry those trees up 3 very long flights of stairs…

I stole this off the MLS listings on Realtor.com, but that’s the outside of our old condo community.  It’s not our exact building, but we lived on the tippy top floor, opposite side of the door.  Hauling trees up there was not easy.  Even worse was carrying it down when it was half dead and dropping needles all over the shared foyer carpet.  Whoops.

The time Sunny got stuck in the tree net…

This sweet baby was the best behaved cat most of the time, but he was related to Macky.  So when we brought home our first tree and I was cutting the net off of it, he climbed in it and got stuck.  Where Macky would have panicked and ran all over the house, Sunny just gave up and collapsed on the floor, belly up, as I cut him free. Very scary at the time, but it’s one of our favorite Christmas memories.

The naked tree…

The first year we had a tree, I was cheap and I didn’t put ornaments on it until my favorite Target ones went on sale on the 26th.  We didn’t entertain for Christmas and at the time, we shared a street with Target.  So I ran there and stocked up at 75% off.  I still have those ornaments, topper and tree skirt and I am fully planning on using them this year.

The never ending kitten antics…

I hope our babies love the tree as much as they always have.  I just hope they sleep under it rather than stripping the branches of the needles, corn on the cob style.

Though I’m sure we can still expect loads of this…

From the staircase.  Macky will now have access to the entire tree and not just this little section.  We are doomed.

RIP Real Tree 1983-2010.

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which is better: real or fake?

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Posted by Rebecca, December 13th, 2010

One of the reasons why I started this gig is to clear my head of all of the ideas floating around up there.  Mike compares my thoughts to a hamster running on its little wheel… I just keep going and going.  I lay in bed and I’m thinking “weeeell what if we do printed curtains!” then I’m eating dinner and I’m randomly like “I’ll spray paint that frame!” Everyday I’m obsessed with something in the house, sometimes I have more than one obsession.  Today it was family room curtains and… Christmas trees.

Yes it is mid-December and we don’t have a tree.  I guess I didn’t realize that the blog world starts linking up their Christmas posts in November.  In my head, I penciled in this past weekend for decorating and tree getting.  Then it rained all day Sunday :(  I also have a final exam on Thursday which is like a giant elephant on my back.  Once that is over, it will feel like Christmas and like I can enjoy myself.

I am a real tree person.  It’s not even necessarily the smell, it’s just the cats love it and well, it’s all I’ve ever really known.  Cleaning up needles comes with Christmas and anything otherwise seems… unnatural.  But today, more than before, I felt compelled to get a fake tree.  Not just because of the time issues I have, but because of our entryway.

The entryway was a requirement on our house hunting list.  I’ve always wanted a beautiful staircase to wrap with garland.  I also thought it would be pretty awesome to put a ginormous tree here.

One of my concerns with a fake tree is, of course, the cats.  Macky is a terror and will more than likely eat/climb said tree.  We always used a big, solid tree base for our real tree, so that he couldn’t knock it over.  My dad actually took a standard tree stand and poured concrete around it for their cats.  True story.  So my family has pretty much cat-proofed the real tree.  But fake ones? I have no clue.  Mike had the brilliant suggestion that we could use thin twine to tie the tree to the spindles so if Macky at least attempted a jump, the tree would be anchored.  Pretty smart, if I do say so myself, since my suggestion was sticking sandbags on the bottom….

We shopped around a bit tonight and we just don’t know enough about them.  We know we want around a 10 foot tree and many of them are on sale already. What do we look for in a fake tree?  Which do you think is more environmentally friendly, chopping down a biodegradable tree each year or reusing a plastic tree? Humpf.

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my indoor wreath

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Posted by Rebecca, December 12th, 2010

You’ve already seen my outdoor wreath and since it didn’t satisfy my wreath craving, I decided to make an indoor one.  I love very simple wreaths made out of interesting elements, so when I saw that The Nester and Decor Chick! made wreaths out of coffee filters(!!) I just had to try!

The ingredients…

Wreath form, coffee filters, glue gun (mine’s a cheap-o $2 one)

The method…

Fold in half

Then in half again

Stick a dab of hot glue on the bottom corner

Then add it in!

Keep adding until it’s nice and full

I didn’t have much of a pattern going, except that I tried to keep most of the lines following the shape of the wreath form. I really just filled in until it was big and fluffy.

Now my new buddy needed a serious haircut.

So I kept him hanging to give him a trim, since it was a better view than laying him flat.

Um please excuse my hair in these pictures, I didn’t leave the house today….

Hair cut complete! Now I had to figure out how to hang this thing.  I decided to use a sash I had worn as a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding.  Thank you David’s Bridal for this pretty blue!

So I wrapped it around the wreath, marked off the length I needed with a rubberband, oh and I ironed it using my hair straightener…

I wanted to hang it on our dining room mirror, but I had no clue how to go about it.  Then I remembered we had some silver command hooks I bought for my side of the closet but hadn’t used yet.  So I stuck one to the mirror and hung my wreath on there.  Tada!

The finished product!

The best part of this? It is the cheapest thing you could ever make.  I used just under 100 coffee filters- I bought a pack of 200 just to be safe and paid about $2 for them.  The wreath form was a couple of bucks at Joann fabrics but I’ve seen people use cardboard cut into a circle or any other bendable foam.  So if you get your wreath form from something you have hanging around the house and your coffee filters at the dollar store, you could make one of these for a single dollar. Cheaper than a bag of chips in a vending machine these days!

I’m not going to lie, I love this thing.  It reminds me of hydrangeas.  Okay another confession, I made a tree with the remaining coffee filters, but I’m not sure if I like it or what I’m going to do to embellish it.  I ran out of glue sticks for the night :(

We’ll save that one for another day. I have to get ready for Dexter!

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have a seat

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Posted by Rebecca, December 9th, 2010

So just yesterday I posted about the lack of seating in our eat-in area.  I thought of a temporary solution a few weeks ago and this week I pulled the trigger.  We decided to get two stools to put in either corner of our sliding glass door.

We got one for where our recycling basket currently is, in front of the curtains, and one for the corner where the kittens’ food bowls are, in front of the other side of the curtains.  We generally move the cat bowls when we have company so they’re not intimidated to come downstairs and eat.  Not that Macky has any fear of anything/anyone!

The area by the recycling basket has the countertop and the area by the food bowls has the half wall overlooking the family room for people to stick a coaster or an appetizer plate on.

I went to my #1 chair source, Target.com.  Our dining room chairs are from there and they just have the best selection at reasonable prices.  I had an exact idea of what I wanted, a woven sort of chair ala Pottery Barn. Thanks to Target, I found exactly what I wanted.

It’s the Andres Stool in Espresso.  I waited a while and stalked it on Black Friday, then Cyber Monday and no deals!  We wanted them in time for Christmas and fortunately, my stalking paid off and they went on sale this week.  I ordered two on Sunday (they qualified for free shipping yay!) and they arrived today.  Mike put one together while I was at school and texted me a picture of the completed chair.

When I got home, there she was…

Okay here is where I am honest.  I was a little disappointed.  Mike warned me before I got home that the legs were super dark, which I honestly didn’t even look at while ordering.  I’m not a matchy-matchy wood tone person and I learned with our dining room chairs that you hardly notice such things.  So I wasn’t disappointed in the near-black legs, but the yellowish tone of the woven part.  I was hoping it would be more like our recycling basket.

I also think that if it wasn’t directly behind our cherry colored table and chairs, it would look perfectly fine.

But as I took these pictures, it grew on me.  The woven part looks good with the curtains and the counters. It also adds the texture I was originally aiming for. Plus when I sat on it, I was pleasantly surprised…that badboy is firm! I imagined it would have a lot of creaky give to it, but none at all.  So I think I’ll keep them since they were affordable and we plan on tucking them away when it is just Mike and I.  They add an extra two seats for people to hang out in the kitchen and who knows, maybe someday I’ll go for this Pottery Barn look I’ve loved for so long.

Once we get the second stool together, I’ll snap a picture of our whole new make-shift area!

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planning ahead

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Posted by Rebecca, December 8th, 2010

We still have 2 bedrooms with zero furniture in them and an empty formal living room, but we can’t help thinking of ways to improve on our house.  One of the ideas floating around our heads for a future renovation is an overhaul of our eat-in kitchen space.

When we bought our house, the model had already been sold.  We walked through it about a year before, but we were in so many models that we hardly remember the details.  One of those details was whether or not there would be room at our island for some stools.  The saleswoman assured us there would be, but when we moved in  we realized she was wrong.

We hoped to change the countertop on our island to a contrasting color (I imagined a dark butcher block) with about a 12 inch overhang for two stools.  Hence the two pendant lights over the island.  Though I was sad that I couldn’t sit at the island as Mike cooked and tell him about my day, we were okay with it.  We always planned to use our condo dining set since I wanted a much more casual dining feel than a formal dining room has (and we paid only $199 for it in ’07- table AND chairs AND glass top!)

(sidenote- it was dinner time when I took these pictures, how cute are they??)

Now that we actually live here, we’ve realized that the kitchen really is the heart of the home.  Whenever we have people over, everyone stands around the island.  We try to tell people to move into the family room or dining room, but they won’t budge.  So we started to think of solutions and I was reminded of a model we walked through about almost 3 years ago now.  It had a similar kitchen floor plan as ours, but the builder offered an optional sunroom.  I remembered that the builder was Ryan Homes and I recently scoured their website for pictures.  Unfortunately, the development we visited was sold out, but I was in luck that I have a disgusting memory and figured out that the model was the Yorkshire.  I managed to find floor plans and pictures on the Ryan Homes website.

Here is the basic layout of our kitchen, as displayed on their website…

And here are the additions we’d like to make, also via the Ryan Homes interactive floorplan tool…

Our builder did offer an add-on to the back of our house, but it was more vertical than horizontal and we didn’t think it would be very functional.  We liked that this was more of a room than a bump-out and didn’t extend very far into the backyard.  We also have high hopes for the backyard area someday, but that’s for another post.

I also found some still images of a Ryan model home that was upgraded with the exact changes we would like…

There is also a virtual tour of this house here!

Ideally, we would love to do something like this, opening up our kitchen, extending our island, adding an area for stools at the island, making a bar area on the opposite side of our sink with additional seating.  We would open up the area from the window through the sliding glass door. We would lose the upper cabinets to the left, but honestly there’s nothing really in those.  And we’d gain the space in the new base cabinets in the island.

We just think we can add some special touches (Wine fridge anyone?? Bookcase area in the island??) that will make our kitchen look more custom and less builder grade.  Plus adding a nice large sunroom will give us a ton of options to work with.  And of course, the cats would love all of those additional windows! :)

Maybe in 10 years.  But we can dream, right?

ps- I started a Facebook fan page for this place, come here to join!

pss- Please join, don’t feel creepy, I need friends :)

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