Thursday, October 27, 2011

progress report, part I.

so, we've now lived in our house for six full months (as of friday), and even though i complain to john that we haven't done enough, while walking around at fuegerfest, i was reminded that some parts of this house have come a loooong way since closing day. i know i've promised to share the progress, but, like most blog promises i make, i haven't. but anyway, i'm on an adrenaline rush from finishing jack's thursday (aka, actual) birthday cake (yes, i believe birthdays should be celebrated all week, with different cakes each day!) and our halloween costumes, so here i am.

without further ado, i present our new and improved main floor bathroom.

here are some of the icky before's, from the day of our home inspection:

oh, lordy, where do we start?!? yes, all walls were painted a bright purple, as well as the ceiling. it was like a crazy cave. the wainscoting on the left wall had never been painted; it was just primed. the blind was one of those cheap and horribly dusty white ones. the woodwork was clashing with all the white wainscoting, and the fixtures were all mismatched, cheap faux-stainless steel.

so, we painted the ceiling white, and the walls a very soft green (olympic's milkweed). we primed and painted all the trim, wainscoting and doors, and changed all the fixtures to a brushed stainless steel.

i'm a simple gal, and one of my favorite things about our "new" bathroom are the hooks on the back of the door. seriously, these hooks improved my life exponentially. really.

ok, but now let's share two very interesting things about the bathroom makeover. (1) JOHN picked out the mirror. when we removed that cheap mirror that used to sit above the vanity, we discovered a large hole in the wall behind it, presumably from a former built-in medicine cabinet. while we will repair that situation at some point down the line, for the present time, we needed a large mirror to cover that hole. i was striking out everywhere (hobby lobby, pier one, kohl's, menard's...) i had picked out a white mirror from lowe's, but it looked cheap next to the vanity, and i was bound and determined to find a better solution than the original mirror. john picked out this mirror because he thought it might tie in with the bamboo shade... and HE WAS SO RIGHT. it looks really nice. maybe there is an interior decorator buried underneath all that "they all look the same" and "who cares if it matches" facade!

and now for the second thing: I INSTALLED THE NEW LIGHT FIXTURE. as in, i turned off the circuit breaker, hooked up the wires and messed with ELECTRICITY. just call me ben franklin!
the new one is a brushed stainless steel with seeded glass lightbulb covers. i really like it, and more importantly, I DIDN'T KILL ANYONE OR HARM MYSELF WHILE INSTALLING. (take that, guy from lowe's who suggested i wait until my husband got home to try installing... when john got home from his hunting trip to south dakota, he was very impressed!)

of course the room isn't completely finished. we need to add something to the blank space above the toilet... and eventually we'll rip the whole thing apart to add a shower in this bathroom, but for now, i can live with the new and improved version of our bathroom!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

thousands and thousands and thousands...

... of words. you know, they say a picture is worth a thousand words. or something like that. and if that's true, then i want the wall above the couch in my living room to share thousands and thousands of thousands of words. that's right, now that fuegerfest has come and gone, we can move on to tackling the other projects i have planned (albeit at a much slower pace). first up is creating an eclectic, hodge podge style gallery wall in the living room.

i have been not-so-mildly OBSESSED with this gallery wall since it appeared in my pottery barn catalog last fall.

so obsessed, in fact, that i actually planned to paint my living and dining room that blue color. i went to lowe's and grabbed some similar paint samples and slapped them on the wall, only to discover that while i absolutely ADORED the color, it was just too dark for my little house. adding interest with a modest sized gallery wall would be a better idea. so i am now trying to put together an interesting collection to showcase above the couch.

i love these images (from pinterest) that aren't too matchy matchy, but still look so cohesive and put-together:

anyway, john's a little burned out on my decorating schemes right now, so i need your help. i have an AMAZING old frame i found at an antique store when i lived in carbondale. it is an old white ornate frame that used to house a wedding picture above our bed. i want to add it to the wall, and i'd like to include a family picture from the fall photo shoot we just had. which would you blow up to a 16 x 20 size? let me know your preference! (my husband thanks you for your assistance; i think he might be a tad bit tired of my questions/concerns/decorating issues)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

smashing pumpkins.

well, another fuegerfest has come and gone, and regardless of the amount of clean-up that remains, i can say with assurance, we have the most wonderful family and friends imaginable and this party gets bigger and better every year. all of the preparations, lack of sleep and last minute trips to the grocery store were worth every minute.

we added some new recipes, some new drinks and most importantly some new guests... (ahem, that little man in the middle above, for example) and we had a great time. i maintain that last year's fuegerfest induced labor (jack was born 3 days later), and this year, we celebrated another year of memories, love and friendship with our almost-one-year-old.

part of celebrating a first birthday involves the very important tradition of smashing the cake. and so, in the middle of fuegerfest prepping, i took the time to make a little cake so jack could enjoy this age old tradition.

behold: the before.

and next, after smashing pumpkins:

thanks so much to all who came and celebrated with us yesterday. it was a great time, and we appreciate the opportunity to spend a little time thanking you for all of your love, support, friendship, baby cuddling, painting skills, and moving assistance throughout the past year. for the next MONTH, i vow to relax, get to bed before 3 a.m. and check the rest of the adventures off our fall bucket list. up next: celebrating jack's actual birthday. can you believe that sweet baby is almost O-N-E?!? i cannot....

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

sister, sister (wives).

are you noticing a theme here? that i'm sort of reality-tv obsessed? damn you, DVR and the ease with which i can fit all these shows into my late night gotta-get-5-million-projects-done-commencing-the-moment-after-jack-shuts-his-eyes routine. we are t-minus 4 days from our big party, and i am pleasantly surprised at how close to being on track i am. last night when i got home from work, i started talking excitedly to my mom (john's out of town til wednesday) about everything i was going to accomplish that night. she became concerned and remarked that i seemed like i had drank too much coffee and not slept nearly enough. both of which are true. but anyway, mom, i totally did get it all finished. while i caught up on my sunday night recordings.

first up, the real housewives of new jersey reunion special, part 1, while i sewed custom length linen and burlap table covers. (i adore this layered look,

and i became a fiend for anything burlap once the weather dropped below 90. first image is from pottery barn, and the next is from etsy.)

ok, first of all, what the hell happened between teresa and everyone??? no one has elaborated on the incident that occurred during the recent filming of season 4 (except to say that that's why jaqueline was not present), but i am literally DYING to know. for the real, yo. some other observations: i do not know what was up with caroline manzo's hair. the shade of red was off for me, and even though i thought she looked much cuter this season, girlfriend was not looking so hot. speaking of looking "hot," while i never noticed this before it was pointed out during the reunion, teresa does have a weirdly small forehead. nothing that shocking was really revealed, except that teresa has totally pissed everyone off and her position is that any slightly good thing that has happened to any of them was the result of teresa and/or joe juwwww-diiiice. this is sort of like the chickens coming home to roost for me because i have NEVER liked teresa, have always thought of her as a self-centered b****, and now, dear friends, i am vindicated by andy cohen & co.

after finishing my table runners, i moved on to making some chalkboard frames (like this one from here)

so i could organize and label food on the table for the party. and for this project, i decided to catch up with kyle, kim, camille & the gang. truth be told, i don't know if it was the oil based primer fumes, lisa's over-the-top wedding planner or sheer exhaustion, but i just couldn't really get into this episode. can we please stop talking about the peepee at the party incident? if you don't know what i'm referring to, please note: brandi's son whipped out his goods at a barbeque and went pee in the yard. is it really that big of a deal?!? maybe as the mother of a little boy, i have a different perspective (though jack is not yet whipping out his goods in public, thank you very much), but my brothers used to pee outside and i know our friends' kids use the yard as their own personal restroom in the summer, and to me, this just seems to be another perk of being a guy (besides the envious metabolism, of course). but yes, i agree, there is a time and a place for peeing in the great outdoors, and probably at the park or at a barbeque are not ideal locations. and i agree, maybe a tactful convo with the wee one about his weewee would be in order. but to crucify this mom, as if her kid was doing crystal meth in the bathroom and she was turning a blind eye, sort of ridiculous, don't you think? and speaking of crystal meth in the bathroom, thank you, brandi, for making the accusation that i've been screaming at my tv set for months. SOMETHING is up with kim richards, and if she's not doing crystal meth, then she's doing something else. watching her is like watching the first 20 minutes of intervention. a total train wreck.

and finally, i rounded out the crafting with sunday's sister wives. i'm sorry, but this show intrigues the heck out of me. what with kody's "i think i'm fabio with my luscious locks," the tension and jealousy between the wives so thick it's like another character on the show, and the weird ass children's names (madison, aspyn, savannah - what, polygamists are against using baby name books and prefer, instead, to consult thy holy atlas?), i just can't look away. in this episode kody & his harem trek back to wyoming to meet with some high school friends and finally introduce himself (publicly) as a "polyg." highlights of the show included kody's hs bff telling him (to his face) that, essentially, he was going to burn in hell for having multiple wives. kody's hs acquaintances revealed that they had always assumed kody was gay. finally, kody and robyn prepare for the 17th brown child, who will be named solomon. you have to hand it to kody. even after having two complete hockey teams (and then some) worth of kids, he's still able to act eager and excited for the latest one. and that, my friends, takes talent. talent and time, which surely are limited since kody has to spend so much time raking his fingers through his sadly thinning blonde locks. to be honest, though, i could use myself some sister wives this week. one could finish the second coat of paint in the dining room, one could re-cover the two remaining chairs in the dining room set and one could totally get to cleaning and organizing all the junk that's "landed" in the spare bedroom. maybe these polygs have the right idea. who wouldn't love a few more women to gang up on your husband and convince him just how wrong he is? i mean, damn! think of the odds. i'd never lose an argument with some sister wife backing!

ok, consensus: i watch too much tv, i love burlap too much and i'm stretched a wee bit too thin. come saturday, it will all be worth it, however!

xo, steph

Friday, October 14, 2011

here's what.

you know that segment on bravo's "watch what happens live" with andy cohen where andy recounts his observations on three things from the week? well, two can play that game.

here's what:

(1) "that's my jam" has to be one of the most annoying pop-culture phrases ever invented. not just because it makes me feel like my dad must've felt when we used to say "dude" or whatever it was that we used to say. one should only say "that's my jam" when someone else has first queried, "who owns this jar of jelly?"

(2) after you've been in a relationship for awhile, you might get a ring. apparently after you work with a law firm for awhile, you get an expensive button down and a swanky golf tee monogrammed with the firm's logo. these two shirts cost probably more than any of the suits i own, but they make my bosses happy, so i can rock them on fridays.

(3) in true "here's what" fashion, my final observation does relate to a bravo tv show, the real housewives of beverly hills (tied with HOTlanta for my favorite of all the housewives franchises). what is the deal with kim richards? seriously, is she on crystal meth? an alcoholic? an idiot? someone cracking under the pressure of public scrutiny and financial pressures? i don't know, but someone needs to clarify this for me right quick. in similar vein, could someone enlighten me with a little "what's the dealio" with the mother of teen mom's amber? what's with her constant mumbling (she's so inaudible her lines are sub-titled on the screen)? what's your vote: (a) stupid; (b) alcoholic; (c) drug-user or the ever-popular, oft-chosen (d) all of the above?

we are 8 days from fuegerfest, and i swear we've accomplished more projects and checked more off the 'ole to-do list in the past three weeks than in the previous 5 months. nothing like a little pressure to speed up progress! maybe once the dust settles, i'll share some hot mess before's and the new and improved after's on here. let's just say that previous owners of our home took a fair number of shortcuts. we've been working to remedy that flaw, as well as some of their other flaws (bad judgment in regards to dark, saturated paint and very public arguments in front of the entire neighborhood). i do have to hand it to my dear husband who, in a total "hail mary" i-can't-believe-he-actually-did-this picked out the perfect new mirror for our bathroom re-do. it was NOT something i would have considered whatsoever, but i am in love with the look... and it's all thanks to a guy's decorating perspective. who wouldda thunk it??? have a happy weekend, ya'all. i'm hoping for at least 48 straight hours of increased productivity. looking forward to celebrating with you all next saturday!

xo, steph

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

trade offs.

getting oil based primer in my hair and under my fingernails was totally worth it for the money shot, don't you agree?

photo credit to marie fry

... still can't believe he's going to be one in a couple weeks...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

bucket list.

i'm in charge of jack's bedtime routine at our house, which i absolutely love. i use the term "routine" relatively loosely because except for the jack-sleeping part, it sort of varies depending on the day. somedays it includes a long bath full of splashing water all over the walls and trying to coerce the pups to join him in the tub. other nights he opens the bottom drawer of his dresser and pulls out all the pajamas and laughs, while looking at me with his best "what are you gonna do it about it, mom?" look. some nights he is fixated on the paper lanterns hung above his crib, crawling from spot to spot to peer at them slowly moving in the breeze from his fan. no matter the day, however, the theme is usually the same: jack is a-moving. john calls this "the zoomies," and jack usually gets a pretty severe case right before bed. and i've been missing him all day, so i don't mind what he's doing... i'm just soaking it all up and having fun watching him cause trouble, make messes and have fun.

for about the last week, though, we've been settling into a new routine. jack curls up on my lap and lays his head on my chest while i sing to him. i know that this might not seem like earth-shattering news, but ever since jack learned to crawl, he's been OFF TO THE RACES. he will not stop, pause or sit still for longer than 32 seconds. he has to see everything, discover everything and destroy anything and everything within his reach. i can't really fault him for this because i don't sit down either, so i'm sure he's just imitating what he sees. the past week, though, as i said, has been quite a change. he just lays in my lap, staring up at me while i sing him off-key tunes. and, can i just say, i LOVE the change in pace.

i love it so much that i started crying the other day while singing him all i could remember of edelweiss from my time as a von trapp in my high school's production of the sound of music freshman year. he looked up at me confused, touching my face where the tears were. he patted my cheeks as if to reassure me that he wasn't growing up too fast. but the box full of clothes he's outgrown in the past month sitting on the floor of his closet tell another story. my sweet baby boy is growing, changing, getting older so very, very fast. how can it be that in 17 days he will turn one year old? how can i be the mother of a little boy who can scale the stairs, yell "dadda" at the top of his lungs and enjoy lasagna like it's sunday dinner on jersey shore?

so in the spirit of treasuring every moment, i resolved to create seasonal bucket lists to encourage us to spend time doing fun things together, to focus on the stuff that's important and to let go of the rest. after making this resolution, i started about the list and promptly realized i don't know the first thing about making a bucket list. it started off promising enough with "family trip to the pumpkin patch" and "make a big batch of butternut squash soup," but quickly turned into a to-do list: "paint the trim in the dining room/living room" and "hang picture collage about couch" and "organize entryway closet." and that, my friends, is exactly why i am in DIRE need of seasonal bucket lists. because i would spend all my time frantically trying to accomplish the million projects i have planned in my head. i absolutely NEED a seasonal bucket list to keep my crazy project ADD at bay.

and so after some tweaking, i came up with a fueger family fall bucket list for 2011. and this weekend we crossed a few things off that little list.

jack, at the pumpkin patch

picking out the perfect pumpkin!

trying to eat his pumpkin

another one on the ole list was taking fall family pictures. done and done. we had a great shoot with our friend, marie on sunday. (beautiful weather, good times, lots of laughs and even a little cooperation from the wee one. you can check out some of those 300+ moments she captured on her site.)

and since i envisioned using one of my four goodwill chair purchases at the shoot, i suppose you could say that my bucket list inspired me to get cracking on my lengthy "to-do" list. without further ado: goodwill chair specimen numero dos:

i don't know how often i'll use this bad boy, but for $5, i couldn't resist (even if it's only ever a photo prop, how could i say no at that price???) i painted it benjamin moore's tangelo, courtesy of a free coupon in my pottery barn catalog. they were running some kind of promotion where you could take said coupon to any retailer carrying benjamin moore paint and receive two free pint samples. well, the two places in dbq that sell the paint weren't honoring the coupons, so i called corporate and sweet-talked a nice man named george who agreed to give me 1 quart of semigloss vs. 2 pints of satin. badda bing, badda boom! done and done. thank you, george, for helping me give this sad old highchair a happy new life.

and speaking of happy life, go check something off your fall bucket list. it's good for the soul.

Friday, October 7, 2011

long time coming.

what were you doing two years ago??? seems like such a long time ago, no? were you single, and are now married? were you unemployed and now kicking ass in your career? have you since won the lottery? bought a house?

well, approximately two years ago, i became obsessed with banners and fabric garland. i excitedly grabbed my 50% off joann coupons and booked it to the store to gather supplies. with visions of adorable finished projects spinning in my head...

i set to work.

and then i got busy at work. and then i got lazy. and then i got pregnant. and then i had a baby. and then we bought a house. and then we moved. and then baby got mobile. and then we started project after project at that house. and then one day, it dawned on me that my baby boy was about to turn ONE year old, and i had a half-finished birthday banner tucked away in a rubbermaid tub just waiting to emerge victoriously and in celebration of the wee one's first year.

so i teamed up with my brother (not my brother by blood, my brother sewing machine, in fact) and set about finishing the fabric birthday banner i started so very long ago. and i am here to announce... it is finished.

pretty happy with the way it turned out, and isn't it funny that two years ago, i didn't even know that i'd end up having a little baby boy with a fall birthday, making the color scheme of the garland practically perfect!

anyway, get down with your brother (sewing machine, not your sibling!) or singer or what-have-you and make your own fabric banner! if i didn't think it'd take me another two years to complete, i'd be all over a "merry christmas" or "happy holidays" version.

and speaking of projects that took way longer to complete than necessary, i'm proud to announce that i am FINALLY finished sewing jack's curtains. and yes, i did buy the fabric many months ago. and yes, i did start sewing them way back then. and yes, they did sit in my spare bedroom, neglected and wrinkled on the floor, just waiting for me to finish them all that time. (and it wasn't even like it was a difficult project, people. all i did was hem all four sides of each panel. my lack of follow-through and project ADD is pretty remarkable, i have to say.)

anyway, THIS was my inspiration:

i LOVED the simplicity of the curtains with the two colors for added interest. with the sloping walls in the room, i figured anything too busy would be overwhelming. anyway, ta da! one less thing living on the floor of the spare bedroom!

and if you're wondering about the fleece tie-blanket looking dealio on the sides of jack's crib, that's my $3 solution to my woodchuck problem from here. a few months ago, i discovered jack, poised to destroy his crib with his newly cut teeth. the bars of his crib are wider than most, so traditional clear guards wouldn't work, and this was a cheaper option that took me approximately 10 minutes to complete. how much wood can a woodchuck chuck? i didn't want to find out!

so, anyway, back to my regularly scheduled programming. i'm knee deep in projects i started months ago (perhaps some painting in the kitchen, some backsplash installation, some bathroom re-decorating, a mini art collage for that blank space above jack's glider, and on... and on...) around here. here's to actually finishing some this weekend! hope you are all well... and checking lots of tasks off your own to-do lists!