Friday, February 22, 2013

Count Down to Portland, OR

via thelittlecanoe

Ever since Don took his first plane ride on our trip to San Francisco in 2010, he's been having the travel itch. I definitely have had the travel bug as well. We weren't able to go on a big vacation last year because of how crazy, hectic it was. We were able to escape for a weekend or two throughout the year to Williamsburg, VA, Pennsylvania, and a few other local places. But after our wedding, we agreed that we needed a vacation.

A few months ago, we were talking about our next vacation possibilities, Vermont? Maine? Ireland?? We've been wanting to visit Portland, Oregon for a few years now. For some reason, I have this weird fantasy that Portland is a magical place. Don laughs at me because every time I say "Portland" I wiggle my fingers in the air, to simulate sparkles. I don't really think that Portland is actually magical, but I like that Portland is an urban setting that isn't quite a busy as NYC or DC, it is quirky, and it is surrounded by wilderness. I think we'll fit right in. I quickly did a search on Priceline for plane tickets to Portland. I was shocked when I found round trip tickets from DC to Portland for $320! When I told Don the price, he got a huge smile on his face and we knew where we'd be heading for our next vacation!

We are heading out in the end of March for a week. I seriously can't wait! For Valentine's day, I bought Don a little 5x7 print of the "We Belong in Portland, Oregon" image above from The Little Canoe on Etsy. Don is a "we'll figure it out when we get there" or "we'll cross that bridge when we come to it" kind of guy. I'm not. I'm a planner. Not just a planner but a "Hello, my name is April and I'm a compulsive planner" kind of girl. (The first step is admitting you have a problem, right?) I began creating an excel spreadsheet of our trip as soon as we booked the tickets. I did one for our San Francisco trip too. I'm a lot like my dad in that way. Although his vacation timelines drove me CRAZY, (8:00am - wake up, 8:15am - showers, 8:30am - finish getting ready, 9:00am - leave hotel room, 9:05am - grab continental breakfast...) we always had the BEST vacations. He'd find the coolest things to do! So, like my dad, I've been doing some research, so far our list of things we want to do include:

  • Food Walking Tour - This is a must for every city that we visit from now on. We did one in San Francisco and are hooked. I found Forktown, and we are thinking about doing the N. Mississippi Ave. Tour. Anything involving food trucks and I'm in!
  • Underground Walking Tour - I read in a Portland guide that my sister and brother-in-law gave Don for Christmas, about these tunnels under the city. The tunnels were originally used for trade, but became the hub of crime, scandal, and controversy. Now they offer walking tours of the tunnels. 
  • Freaky But True Peculiarium - An awesome looking museum, but I think the title says it all. 
  • Rose Garden - We rented a little cottage across from the Rose Garden. We aren't in the heart of the city, but not far from it. And honestly... who can resist staying across from a rose garden?
  • Japanese Tea Gardens - I haven't done too much research on the Japanese Tea Garden but Tea + Japanese Theme + Garden = the best combination.
  • Alberta Street Festival - On the last Thursday of every month, there is a huge street festival on Alberta Street. We are flying in that day and I'm so glad we'll be able to make it! 
  • Farmer's Market - Could you really go to Portland and not experience the Farmer's Market? I know we wouldn't miss it!
  • Powell's City of Books - This book store always comes up in "what to do in Portland" searches. Everyone says it is one of the biggest book stores. Don and I have been trying to read more so maybe we'll have to drop in early and pick out a book to read in the evenings!
  • Hiking - Even if it is raining, I know Don and I want to get in some hiking. I need to do some research on which trails we want to tackle. But I know I want at least one that has waterfalls!
  • Awesome Eats - Don and I are foodies. Or maybe I'm a foodie and Don just humors me...? In any case, I can't wait to try the grub! I need to do more research, but I've already seen that I need to try VooDoo Donuts. Did I really need a push to find a reason to eat donuts? I don't think so! I read on another blog about how good the brunch is at Irving Street Kitchen. That's one of the things I love about the blogging world!
  • Mt. Saint Helens/The Coast - Don really wants to rent a car to drive to Mt. Saint Helens. It isn't very far, so why not? And while we have a car, why not take a drive along the coast? 
I'm still on the search for more and more to do. I have to fill in my excel spreadsheet! Although, I'm not as meticulous with the details as my Dad was (still is??). I just like to have at least one or two things planned for each day. If you have any suggestions, or know of anyone with suggestions, we'd love to hear!!

We can't wait!!!!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Snow Day!

It snowed this past weekend. I was actually glad to see the snow. I've been thinking lately that I either want snow or I am just ready for Spring to be here. It was the first time Don and I had to shovel the sidewalk in front our new house. We were actually kind of excited. I realize that it is not exciting, or even fun... but something about it being our walkway, our driveway, and the sidewalk in front of OUR house, made us smile.

The dogs on the other hand.... well they weren't too thrilled with the snow.
 Tater-Tot (above) didn't mind it so much... but Leo (below)... well, Leo tried to hide from the snow as best he could..
He was either hiding in the bushes or begging me to let him back inside. 

We decided to tackle a project we've been discussing for awhile. I love my little dogs. I've had them for quite some time. I always tell people that they are old men in puppy disguise. Believe it or not, Tater-Tot and Leo are 14 years old. They've been with me a long time, through my teen angst, college, when I moved out on my own for the first time, and now as Don and start our new family. But because they are getting older, they are slowing down and having trouble hearing. I have also noticed that neither of them can jump on the bed anymore. (I'm pretty sure Leo can still do it, but when he sees Tater-Tot get picked up all the time, he thinks he should be too.) 

Tater-Tot was also recently diagnosed with Cushing's Disease. We have him on medicines and he's been doing really well. But it causes him to drink, eat, and pee a lot. He also likes to jump off the bed in the middle of the night at least 100 times to do those things. He makes sure to wake us up to pick him up and put him back on the bed. Leo, has followed suit. We also noticed that when Tater-Tot jumped off the bed, he would limp. We were concerned for his safety (and to be honest, we were getting tired of the countless times we had to wake up to lift both dogs back into bed). We tried two different kind of pet stairs, and they just wouldn't use them. So I decided it was time to build a ramp.

I told Don what I wanted, he designed it, and we built it together.
First we built the base/landing that would connect with the bed. Don designed it with so much support that even he could stand on it. I think it is safe to say that it will support both of our 10 pound dogs.
We wanted the base/landing a little longer than the actual ramp so that it would be easy for them to reach it from the bed, while allowing our comforter to still fall next to the ramp.
 We didn't have exact measurements, but since its a dog ramp, I was mildly okay with it being imperfect. We also knew we'd cover it with carpet for traction.
 And Voila! Our dog ramp! I want to paint it, or stain it... I can't decide. Something to make it a little prettier. I also want to add some drawers under it for storage eventually. But this is what we currently have: 
 Don put both of them, one at a time, near the bottom of the ramp and I called to them to come up. They weren't 100% sold.

 Especially when we called them over to go back down it. They are thinking, "You want us to do WHAT?!"
 But after a few days of training, Tater-Tot has really gotten the hang of it. I've even caught him in our bed earlier in the evenings, now that he can get on it himself. (Note that he has 1 dog bed in our bedroom, 2 dog beds in the living room, and 1 dog bed in the basement... but I guess our bed is the best. Unless its summer time, then his favorite place to be is on the AC vent.)

I like to think in this picture he is saying "Thanks, Mom!"

Thursday, January 24, 2013


I've decided to by pass the usual "exercise more" and "eat healthier" resolutions. I will or will not do them regardless of making them "official resolutions." *BUT... I would like to add that Don and I have been going to the gym/working out at home at least two times a week usually three, for a few months now and we always have significantly cut down our wheat and processed foods intake. Woo!

Okay, back to our resolution. We thought awhile about what we really wanted to accomplish this year. With all of the craziness from last year, I decided we needed to get better organized.

So our resolution is to organize every room in our house throughout the year. We decided that in order to keep our sanity, that we would only overhaul one room a month. I've been stalking Pinterest and organizing blogs for the past few months. It has really inspired me! It has also shown me that organization can be pretty and stylish.

I am loving this organized spice drawer featured on a blog I follow, called IHeartOrganizing

And this organized office storage is from one of my favorite blogs, 7th House on the Left, featured on IHeartOrganizing
I secretly think Ashley from 7th House on the Left and I are destined to be friends...
We haven't really started on a room for January... we have done an overall clean sweep of the house. Does that count? We cleaned our room, donated some clothes we don't wear, cleaned out some left over moving boxes, and I did attach some chalkboard labels to my flour containers in the kitchen. Now I know exactly which flour to reach for!

That's a start right?

What are your resolutions?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Home Renovations

We moved in on July 30th. I already had big plans for our new home. Here is a picture of our house! I took all of the pictures of how our house used to look from the listing:

Here is our pool :) We haven't done much with the back yard yet... but I wanted to show you this anyways :)

When we first looked at our house, Don said I made a face as soon as we walked in. I quickly pointed out the wallpaper that was already starting to peel at the seems. When the Realtor wasn't looking, I ran over to the wall and started to tug on it a little. "How hard would this be to remove??" 

You can't see it in this picture, but the wall paper was coming apart at the seems all down the staircase. This is what our living room looked like:
The first thing we did was have all of the windows replaced. We couldn't open any of the windows downstairs and the ones upstairs all had cranks that would get stuck when fully opened. 

We also decided to take down the valance. I kept thinking that maybe if I reupholstered it with a funky pattern I would like it more. But when we took it down, we realized how much bigger and brighter the room looked. It was already a huge improvement.

The second thing we did was tackle the wall paper. It HAD to go. We called a painting company and the next week they pulled it all down.  

We received many wonderful gifts from our wedding. They really helped make our house feel like home. We decided to use the money we received towards new curtains, a new rug, and a new TV stand. I fell in love with these curtains from Pottery Barn.

I am terrible when it comes to picking colors, and since Don is color blind, we had a tough time picking the new colors for our living room. Since our couch is pretty neutral, I decided to base the colors on our new curtains. I wanted to have a couple of accent walls but to keep most of the walls a pretty neutral color. We normally buy Behr paint, but I found myself gravitating towards the Martha Steward color palettes. When we learned that the Martha Stewart line is just colors and could be mixed with any paint we wanted, it was a win win! I thought that the Brown Alpaca would be a great neutral color; it was slightly darker than the cream of the curtain and slightly darker than the beige of our couches. I was a little nervous about how dark it was, but decided to stick with my gut feeling. Plus with the ultra white that would be used on the ceiling, crown molding, and trim, would really make it pop. I instantly loved Martha Stewart's Teal color for the accent wall, but kept picking up the Bougainvillea red color. Red is a little bold for me, but I loved how it looked with the curtain. Also, for those of you that know the Martha Stewart line, she has a symbol to group like palettes together. The Brown Alpaca, Pure White, and Bougainvillea were all in the flower family, while the Teal was in the star. For some reason, I kept thinking Martha would be so disappointed in me for mixing symbols. After Don reassured me that the world would not end if I mixed palettes, we decided to get both the Bougainvillea and Teal. 

I also picked up Butter Cookie for the kitchen and Gnome Green for the dinning room. I'm pretty sure I only purchased Gnome Green because I liked the name. 

We didn't have much time to decide on colors or where we wanted the colors to go because I wanted this all done in time for my sister's baby shower that I was hosting in a week. I was honestly changing the wall color placement up to the last minute. We finally decided to put the red color on the wall behind our TV and the teal color on the wall with our front door, up the stairs, and for a pop of color, at the end of the hall behind the mirror. I didn't want the red and the blue be on adjacent walls; I was afraid it would look to "circus theme." I'm pretty happy with how it came out!

We noticed 2 things, that my blue checkered cushion on the bench didn't match now and that we needed some light in our living room. I thought of a quick remedy for the cushion: I grabbed a table cloth I had in storage and safety pinned it onto the cushion. Super easy and super cheap! 

Now, Don really wanted a ceiling fan in the living room to help move the air around. Although I love ceiling fans, I don't really love the look of them. So I did a ton of research and found a great compromise. This Allen + Roth fixture is a ceiling fan, without looking so obviously like a ceiling fan. 
As soon as it came in, I helped Don install it. I drilled the hole, he did the electrical. (You can see the new bench cover in these pics too!)

What do you think?

I'm really happy with how it came out. It doesn't give a ton of light, but we only really need it in the evenings, and sometimes its nice to have soft light at night. 

So here is the before and after comparison

Now I was a little nervous about painting the dinning room green so close to a red wall. "What if it looks like Christmas???" But we decided to go ahead with our plan anyways. We thought maybe limiting the green to only two walls would help cut down on the "Christmas" theme. We painted two walls Gnome Green and two walls Brown Alpaca. It looked bad, really bad. My friend Karoline came over and suggested just doing the entire room in the Gnome Green. Don and I had a reservation in Williamsburg for a fun getaway that weekend. Karoline gratiously offered to paint our dinning room (and kitchen!) for us while we were gone! What a wonderful friend! I love how the green looks! What do you think?

We still need a new window treatment and we need to paint the ceiling. But I'm pretty happy with this change! Oh, Don and his Dad also installed a dog door for the pups. It took some getting used to, but they love having the freedom to go outside when they need to!

We really want to redo the kitchen. Maybe remove some walls or make a pass through. We haven't decided exactly what we want to do yet. But we'll probably start planning it out after taxes in 2013. Painting and adding some shelving have definitely helped a lot! I don't have a lot of pictures of the kitchen, I'll try to be better about before and afters when the major changes come. 

The first thing we got for the kitchen was a shelving unit from IKEA (similar to this one). The previous owners had a corner booth table in this space. We hardly use our dinning room table, let alone another one in the kitchen. We decided we'd rather have more counter space. This was a perfect fit!

I also decided to create a little coffee station in the corner. I saw another blogger do this and thought it was a cute idea!

Don and I had bought some crates for wedding decor. Because they were too "new looking" we used coffee grounds, tea, vinegar, and steel wool to stain them, giving them a more antique/rustic feel. I couldn't believe how well it worked!

I wanted to reuse as much wedding decor as possible, so we decided to use these crates as shelving units. we had 5 half crates and 4 full crates. The half crates were perfect to display fun kitchen decor and the full crates were perfect for my baking supplies and flours. I love how it turned out. 

Our newest addition to our home is a beautiful Mora clock from the best little Swedish antique shop, Klaradal, in Olney, MD.  I have worked there off and on for a few years. I'm so happy to finally have a clock of my own.

 I promise my next blog post wont be this long! I just wanted to get you all up to speed! 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New Beginnings

Don and I were married on October 19th of this year. It only seemed natural that we create a new blog for our new life together. Don said he wanted to be more involved with this blog as well, so hopefully a few posts will be from him. I think with this blog will focus on our home renovations, striving to be more organized,  improving our personal finances, and our lives in general. Hopefully you follow along and enjoy! 

Hiking at Sugarloaf Mountain