Jag Älskar

Translation: I’m in love! (at least according the online translator I used…I apologize if this is not even close!)

I’ve been to Ikea once or twice before, but this was my first trip since having a place of my own that I can actually imagine what certain items would look like in my house.

I’ll leave out the details, but suffice it to say I ended up down in Orange County last week with nothing to do at 9:00 in the morning. I needed to make a trip to Ikea anyway to try to resolve the kitchen curtain issue (a suggestion from a friend and reader), so I thought, why not take my time going through the store and snap some photos for inspiration along the way!  Let’s just say I took a lot of photos.  My design style is modern, contemporary, clean lines, etc…just like many Ikea products…it’s no wonder we get along so well!

Love this “start shopping” sign…I think I may just take them up on their offer!

The parking lot was so big they had section of the lots labeled with letters…I felt like I was at Disneyland!

Because I had arrived so early, the store wasn’t actually open yet, but the restaurant was serving breakfast and how can you beat a $2 breakfast with eggs, bacon, hashbrowns and (I think) French toast?  The best thing was the potatoes. The eggs were very clearly powered eggs and not all that tasty, but hey, what can you expect when you pay just $2?

After breakfast, it was just after 10:00, so it was time to meander through the showroom and let my imagination just go! Here’s some of my most inspired finds or products that were just way cool!

This is a motion sensor light. When you open the drawer, it turns on. I want these in my future kitchen!

I love this large, deep kitchen sink. I know there’s a special name for this type of sink, but I’m drawing a blank right now. Love the clean lines!

I’m not a huge fan of the upper shelf, but I do like the low profile of the TV stand, though we would mount our TV on the wall.

I’ve been on the lookout for one of these behind-the-sofa tables for a while and I really like this one, especially because it’s white!

Someday we are going to put a closet organization system in our bedroom closet for better use of the space. I had never seen this pants rack before and like that it slides out of the closet for easy access.

Love the shape of this table, but I’d get it in white (I’m really loving white furniture right now…not only does it go with anything, but it brightens up a room).

This kitchen display was still in progress, but I fell in love with it right away. I love the color of the green walls (probably a better choice than what is currently in our kitchen) and the backsplash totally goes with our kitchen color scheme. I will have to go back again in a month or so when they’re done so I can find out what the paint color is (I love that they have signs in most of the display rooms letting you know the “finishes” in the room, including paint color and flooring materials).

These clocks remind me of the ones they have in schools, but that’s not why I like them. I like the set of three showing different times around the world. I can easily think of two times that would be important to us (California and Philadelphia, where hubby is from), but I’d need one more (at least). I guess I could do five clocks, depending on the space and just choose a few cities scattered across the globe for some variety (maybe Paris, Sydney and ???).

I’m not entirely sure what I would use these for…yet, but I love the idea! Might be good in the office, and it’s definitely a great idea for corralling kids crayons or other small items.

I’m torn between these two spice rack ideas. I do like the concept of displaying spices, plus they are easier to get to, but the jury is still out on which one I like better. It’s a good thing I have plenty of time to choose!

My current dining room set I’ve had for 6 years – and I purchased it used. It’s been a great sturdy set, and I could probably paint it and re-upholster the chairs, but the design is a bit too “traditional” for me. I love these white chairs (though I’d probably change out the fabric).

I’ve seen these types of cabinets before, but wanted to make sure I had a photo of it since I want to utilize my kitchen cabinet space the best I can once we redo the kitchen (way in the future).

My current desk came from Walmart seven years ago. It’s time for an upgrade. I will likely be getting a roll-top desk from my aunt that belonged to my grandparents, but I couldn’t help sneaking a peek at this beautiful desk, full of storage, but not feeling like the desk was closing in on you (like my current desk). P.S. I really need a new office chair.

The next stop was the lighting section and I absolutely love these two lamps. I like the first one for either the living room or side tables in the bedroom and I’m not sure where a good place would be for the second one, but I love the design!

I don’t really need any of these pots or plants, but the organizer in me loves this display wall!

I love these side tables for our bedroom. Now I just have to convince the hubby to get them!

About two hours after arriving at Ikea, I finally emerged from the store with just a handful of items (it’s a good thing we’re on a strict budget or I would have ended up with a carload of items). I got a green throw blanket for me, really really inexpensive wooden spoons/spatulas, two sets of curtains for the kitchen and two wire curtain hanging systems.

After showing my mom photos of my Ikea trip, she told my dad she wants to go (neither of them have ever been!) and I told them I’d gladly tag along. After all, I am in love!


And the award goes to…

Gallery walls are hugely popular right now and I have been drooling over a variety of gallery walls I have seen in the blogosphere recently. Now that I have a house with lots of large bare walls, I can’t wait to begin filling them with frames of all kinds of goodies, including lots of my own photography and the large number of ideas I’ve collected in my idea file and recently, Pinterest. But, with the lack of frames in the Julius household (Ikea’s frame section and I had a long rendezvous today…though nothing came home this time…more on the Ikea trip soon), I had to settle for practicing with some plaques and awards that I’ve gathered over my life that I couldn’t just part with yet (and some will never leave) on a small wall in my office.

I used the method John and Sherry shared on Young House Love to create my gallery wall…it’s virtually math free…no figuring out where the center is and how far apart each frame needs to be from the other. This creative mind loves this method!

I stared by laying out the plaques and frames on the floor. Because of the small space, I ended up with a stack that I couldn’t use (they’ll go back into the keepsake box in the garage until I decide if I want to part with them or not).

Don’t mind Sierra (the cat). She thinks she’s being helpful…

Then I cut out newspaper and mailer ads the same size as each of the plaques/frames and taped them onto the wall in the same configuration working from the center out (as suggested by John and Sherry). My little tip…non-crumpled newspaper works best.I then took the measurement of where the nail should go on the back of the frame, marked it on the paper on the wall, hammered a nail, tore off the paper, straightened and then repeated for each plaque/frame. Again, I worked from the center out to make sure it was as close as possible to what I had taped up on the wall.

And, with the exception of the first place soccer trophy which is waiting for a floating frame to call home on the left, I can now display some accomplishments that I’m proud to show off, instead of hiding them in a box for 30 years in the garage.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, the contents of this gallery wall are: (top row-left to right) postcard invitation for “In the Land of Giants” art show, postcard invitation for my senior art show “Everyday;” (second row) 1st place divisional soccer trophy (not pictured), Awana Citation Award, Most Worthy Argonaut Finalist plaque, Cinco de Mayo Half-Marathon finisher’s medal; (bottom row) Spring Select soccer team photo, Spring 1996 (I apologize for the glare), Varsity soccer “Best Offensive Player” award, and AYSO Region 112 “Referee of the Year” award, Fall 2005.

I was worried this was going to take a lot longer than it would and be a lot more difficult to get “perfect” (I am a perfectionist), but it was actually pretty easy and the longest part of the process was choosing what to hang and the configuration for it.

Have you created a gallery wall in your home? What method did you use? What advice would you give to anyone who is creating their own gallery wall?






Fighting a Curtain Battle

Since we moved into our house, I think we’ve purchased at least 50 different curtain panels. Round one was for the living room – only to discover that some of the curtains had a thicker lining, which gave the curtains a different appearance when it was light outside…and being a perfectionist, it bothered me and would continue to bother me if we didn’t fix it. So, I was on a mission to find panels that were the same (I realized the color on the packaging was slightly darker for the thicker curtains, so was able to sort through them in the store). We finally had 8 panels to cover the windows in the living room.

Now it was on to the bedroom. We started with some navy blue curtains, but I wasn’t a big fan of how dark they were and I saw this bright turquoise ones and ended up buying 3 of those – since it was all they had in the store (we needed 4). Within in the next few days, I was at another store and found that they had the same color panels, but with grommets (we liked the grommets since they moved much easier along the curtain rod), so I got 4 of those, returning the original navy and the non-grommet turquoise. But, once we hung the new curtains, they weren’t all exactly the same length. Two were the same, and the other two were the same, but about 1″ to 1.5″ shorter and since they were right next to each other, that wasn’t going to work. I tried buying an additional panel, but that one was also short, so our solution was to purposely by the shorter panels (the 63″ instead of 84″) since it was a shorter window anyway. Finally done with the bedroom.

The offices weren’t so much drama. We originally had purchased (boring) brown non-grommet curtains and at the same time I found the turquoise grommet curtains, I found lime green ones for my office and navy ones for John’s office (he wanted a reprieve from all of the bright colors throughout the rest of the house. My curtains have been up for a while, but John’s are still waiting to be hung.

The last room left was the kitchen. I’ve been putting it off because I haven’t been able to find curtains I like. We have two big windows plus the sliding glass door that leads to the backyard. Everything I had found for the two windows was very…um…country or lacey/frilly – not my style. Since the walls are bright green, I knew we had to go with a white curtain. I finally found a valance and tier set that I liked online (grommets again) and when went to hang them last week. I had some issues hanging with the regular curtain rods…we won’t go there…and realized that I really wanted tension rods so the curtain would be inside the window (and for the window above the sink, it was pretty much necessary), but the windows are 58″ across and tension rods then to bend/bow at that distance, so I was stuck with cafe rods.

I finally hung one window’s tier curtains and was pretty much devastated with the results (see for yourself):

The curtains aren’t quite wide enough (it might be a little hard to see from this angle). The package said they were 58″ across, so I figured it would be close, but that they would cover…not so much. There’s a good 4-5 inches total that are not covered and I think it looks pretty ridiculous. But not quite as bad as when they’re open.

The rod across the middle of the window just doesn’t look right and the proportion of the curtains looks off. And yes, the cafe rod is actually bowed (not from the curtains hanging on it either). I’m so frustrated with curtains and rods and windows right now!

My solution at this point is to try to find curtains that are at least 48″ long and 40″ wide (each panel). I’ll mount them just from one regular curtain rod across the top of the window so we don’t have the rod across the middle of the window looking funky. Now I jut have to find white curtains…if you have any tips on where to find white curtains at a reasonable price, please share!

I’m off to the cyber world to see what I can find this time around…hopefully to end this curtain battle once and for all!




#54: Host a Housewarming Party

As I’ve mentioned several times before, we had our housewarming party on June 5 with over 40 of our family and friends stopping by during our open house. And with that, I get to check off one more party/get-together on my 101 list. I guess I could technically count Mother’s Day since we hosted my side of the family that day and the birthday dinner with John’s family, but I had a bigger invite list in mind when making that one of the 101 tasks…what can I say, I love entertaining!

Anyway…on to the party!

At first, I wasn’t sure where to go with the theme for the party. I knew I didn’t want to do anything too over the top since it was the house we were showcasing, not the decorations. After a couple of weeks trying to choose something subtle, it finally came to me – a tropical theme! We live on a street named after  a tropical tree, so it seemed like a natural fit. I used subtle tropical colors in the invitations as well as the signs I made for the party. Remember the invite?

We had a sign greeting our guests at the door since we knew we wouldn’t be able to be at the door the entire party since we had guests to entertain, so we wanted to let them know they could just let themselves in and we usually caught them as they entered the kitchen.

We also had matching signs at the entrance to every room so our guests could give themselves a self-guided tour of our new place. Several people were pretty excited about the dual offices (future nurseries…in at least a year).

In the kitchen was the best part of the party – the food, of course! Sticking with the tropical theme, we served pulled pork sandwiches on Hawaiian rolls, jerk chicken wings, rice with bacon, green beans and soy sauce (not sure the title of that dish…recipe came from my cousin), grilled corn and a fruit salad. For dessert, we had chewy chocolate chip cookies (a favorite of my co-homeowner – yes, my hubby), key lime bars and pineapple coconut mini  cupcakes with whipped cream frosting. I was worried we wouldn’t have enough food, but we had just the right amount! We had a few leftovers, but nothing we didn’t eat in the next day or two!

(Yes, that’s a peek at our very green kitchen…which got mixed reviews…some people loved it, some people…ahem, Mom…weren’t fans)

Unfortunately, that’s all of the pictures I took…and they were all post-party! (I know, I know, not good for scrapbook and blogging purposes, but I was just so busy with all the food that I completely forgot about the camera until everyone had left!).

I know that we enjoyed sharing our home with everyone who was able to stop by and we look forward to hosting many more parties and get-togethers in our new home (I have at least 4 more to go for my 101 task)!







The Much Anticipated House Tour

As promised (albeit a bit late), here is a tour of our new house!

I’ll start with a floor plan of the house so you can get idea of how everything is laid out when looking at the photos. I hope it all makes sense – I worked hard on creating this floor plan!

So, now that you can see the layout, time for pictures! And what better place to start than the front and entry!

Immediately upon entering the front door is the living room with fireplace (we have plans in the future to get rid of those awful huge bricks and make a stone fireplace that only goes up half the wall as well as ripping out the carpet and replacing it with hard wood floors).

Next stop is the kitchen/dining area. I love this room. There may not look like there’s a lot of storage in the kitchen, but the space actually went pretty far and the pantry is not entirely full, though it’s got really deep shelves, so it’s kinda hard to put stuff in the back and be able to get to it easily.  Someday we are going to redo the entire kitchen/dining area and add a ton of extra cabinet space and there will definitely be lots of drawers instead of shelves. I also love how huge this entire space is. We have our large dining room table set up with both of the leaves in it and there’s still plenty of space to walk around it to get outside through the sliding door (more out outside later in the tour).

So now we’re headed down the “hall” which isn’t really much of a hall as it is a “room” created by the entry to all the other rooms in the house. On the left is the main bathroom – a full bathroom with an awesome mirrored sliding door (note the sarcasm). We aren’t doing much with this room right now, but will eventually gut it and completely redo it, keeping the tub (this will be the future kiddos’ bathroom).

Coming out of the main bathroom, straight ahead is the door to the first of two bedrooms. These bedrooms are almost identical. The only difference is the size of the closet. In this first bedroom, the closet is only half the size because of the linen closet in the hall area. Right now this room is my office, but will be a future kids room (we’re undecided which bedroom will be the first nursery, but we’ve got some time to decide that since I’m not even pregnant yet). Both of these rooms have one huge window that looks out into the backyard (I love how many windows are in this house, though we’re going to need to replace them in the not-too-distant future to energy-efficient ones).

Right next to the first bedroom is the second bedroom with the full size closet and this is John’s office right now. Again, it will be a future nursery/kids room.

Now it’s into the master suite. While we didn’t have a walk-in closet, we do have a very large closet and have plenty of room for both my and John’s clothes. We do want to redo the closet (well, I do at least) with those “closet solutions” that have a drawers, shelves, and varying rod heights to best utilize the space. The bathroom is incorporated into the room, with the sink outside of the actual bathroom (someday we may add a second sink, though we are loving the counter space), and the toilet and 3/4 shower – it’s a full size shower, but no tub. We will be redoing this part of the room eventually with new cabinets and a tub with tiled shower. We would like to also increase the size of the actual bathroom because you have to practically climb in the toilet or in the shower to close the door to the bathroom. We’re not sure that’s going to be possible because both walls are exterior walls so it will be expensive to add-on for just a bathroom, but we’ll see.

That’s all for the interior of our house, so let’s head outside to the backyard. The only way to access the backyard is from the garage and through the sliding door in the dining room. We love our backyard because it’s not too big and not too small and has a little bit of everything – grass, basketball court, cement for toddler-sized bikes, garden space, patio, etc. We plan to tear out the two walkways through the middle of the yard and put grass in. We also plan to plant a vegetable and herb garden and some fruit trees, along with adding more bushes (we’re thinking hibiscus) along the brick wall and more roses on the south fence.

We also have “sideyards” on both the north and south side of the house. On the north side, they call it “RV” parking (apparently that’s a big selling point for a house because it was advertised a lot when we were looking at homes). We’ll probably add a shed over on this side of the house because we have no plans to ever own an RV.

The south side yard is just cement right now. We would like to rip up this concrete and build a pergola, planting some running plants (my mom suggested grapes…yum!) that will create its own shade. I want to put a bench and some chairs along with a bunch of plants, to make a nice shaded oasis in the backyard.

The final stop on our tour is the garage, accessible from the north side yard, the driveway (obviously), and from just inside the front door of the house (the front door opens to block the door to the garage). There’s nothing super exciting about the garage. It does have our washer/dryer hook-ups and we did put in storage shelves to hold all of our stuff, but still have some additional organizational stuff to do in there eventually, including a cabinet area by the laundry.

So, that’s our house! We’ve been busy since we moved in painting and getting everything unpacked and ready for our housewarming party on June 5. Along with invitations to our housewarming party, we went out “we’ve moved” postcards to let everyone know of our new address. I got the inspiration for our “we’ve moved” cards from one of the blogs I follow, E, Myself and I when they purchased their home.

Once we have the painting done and everything full unpacked, I’ll give you another tour so we can see what we’ve done with the place so far! And I’ll be sure to share photos from our first official party in our new home in a couple of weeks!

Our Green Monster

Ever since we started looking at houses, I knew I wanted to paint my kitchen green. I must have picked up about 50 different green paint swatches in search of the right colors. I finally found what I was looking for at Dunn-Edwards and headed to Home Depot to get my sample paint to make sure it really was what I wanted. I ended up going a little light on the original choices, so I went with the 2nd and 4th colors on the swatch (instead of 1st and 3rd). I settled on the darker shade of Clipped Grass and the lighter shade of Lime Sorbet.

So, we ordered our paint – we went with the most inexpensive paint – we have to be very cost conscious with my current state of unemployment – color matching to the Dunn-Edwards swatches and paint samples. Well, something went horribly wrong in the color match! Unfortunately, I didn’t totally realize until I had painted across the entire wall…as you can see in this photo below.

You can see in this photo how horribly off the color is…the four color samples are labeled, along with the two bad green colors.

I headed back to Home Depot with these colors hoping they’d at least be able to do something with the paint I had purchased to get semi-close to the correct colors. I was pleasantly surprised when they offered to not only allow me to return the three gallons of ugly paint, but also give me Glidden paint at the same price as the cheaper brand – a savings of $11.00 per gallon!  I was pretty excited leaving Home Depot that day and couldn’t wait to get home and paint the wall!

John was on roller duty while I had edging responsibilities (we’re pretty good at this by now…we’ve since tackled the bedroom and soon the hallway). We knew it would take more than one coat, but were a little concerned it wouldn’t full hide the awful hideousness that was under it after painting that first coat.

So, we did one more coat before heading to bed, hoping that we would like what we saw in the morning and would be done…with that wall. (The other three walls will be the lighter green – Lime Sorbet).

We woke up to a very green wall…but still needed one more coat to finish it off.

That third coat was just perfect – our green monster was done! John’s still not sold on it. It’s definitely a bold color choice and I’m hoping I won’t regret it down the road. I guess we can always paint over it, especially since we plan to redo the entire kitchen/dining room down the road.

For now, this is what our wall looks like. I love it, but now I’m struggling with what to put ON the wall! We have so much wall space in this house and there are so many options! Anyone have some awesome suggestions for this big green wall?

First Popcorn, Now Bamboo

I knew that even though we were buying a “turn-key” home, we would have some work to do to make it OUR house, but I had no idea how much work that would really take – and all the fun things we’d find along the way to add to our to do list – which keeps growing faster than we can get stuff checked off!

After getting rid of the popcorn ceilings, re-texturing it with a less pronounced texture, and painting, we moved in and began work on the inside of the house by choosing paint colors for the walls in the living room and hallway (tan/brown), the master bedroom (gray) and the kitchen (two shades of green).  So far we’ve painted the living room and hung the curtains on 3 of the 4 windows.  It’s so good to have the room coming together – to a point where it’s actually almost “done for now!”

Outside, we hadn’t planned to do much right away. Someday, we’d like to tear out some of the concrete and put in grass and/or create a patio garden, add some fruit trees, move around some of the bushes, add some rose bushes, add a few other types of plants, etc.  But nothing urgent – until we discovered the BAMBOO!

I used to think bamboo was pretty cool, but didn’t really want it in my backyard. It was kind of sporadic throughout one particular area and there were a few shoots that appeared along our north fence in the planter. The shoots weren’t there when we bought the place, but within just a week or two, they were taller than the fence!

They had to go, so I set out to find out how to get rid of bamboo. After reading just a few websites about getting rid of it, I realized this was going to be a HUGE task – and according to several of the sites – a two- or three-year battle. Awesome.

We hadn’t really touched the bamboo except when John bought an edger earlier this week and decided to wee-whack the shorter, thinner stalks. Unfortunately, that doesn’t really do a whole lot to get rid of the root system, which means it only comes back again.

The best suggestion I found to get rid of this stuff is to cut the stalks about 4-6 inches from the ground (for the new shoots that weren’t that tall, I just cut them where I could), then immediately saturate the remaining stalk with herbicide. Apparently, the plant will draw the sap back into the root system after the stalk is cut, so if you spray it right away, it takes the chemicals with it and starts to poison the roots.  Unfortunately, this usually has to be done several times, and if you don’t dig up the roots and rhizomes, there’s a chance they can come back again.

So, that’s what I started doing this morning – digging up the root system.  Wait till you see what I discovered!

This is where we plan to plant a vegetable garden – hopefully sometime in the next year or so. It’s also where we’ve seen a lot of the bamboo shoots coming up in the two and a half weeks we’ve lived here. Fortunately, that haven’t gotten super tall like the other area, but the root system is basically running throughout this entire area of the yard.  You can see the areas where I started digging it up with a plastic spade (which ended up breaking – the reason I called it quits for the day). We’re going to have to get a real shovel and dig about 6-8 inches down to try to find all the major roots.

The pile of roots I pulled out of the (fairly) small area today. I was shocked when I discovered the first “log” buried in the ground. I realized this, what I thought would be semi-reasonable task, was going to be very time-consuming and a great workout!

The largest root I pulled up today was 2.5″ in diameter! It’s basically a HUGE version of the vertical shoots that come up – only it runs horizontal under the ground.

Some of the roots I just couldn’t get up. They weren’t like the other ones. They seemed to be more like a “claw” with the fingers going deep into the ground. From what I read online, it seems these are clumping bamboo vs. the running bamboo I had found throughout the rest of the yard. I’ve outlined the visible root in the photo above. This is about 6-8 inches under the ground. It’s going to take some major elbow grease and shovel to get that sucker out. So far, I’ve found two like this. I’m sure there are others.

Now, if you have bamboo too, I did read one website that said if you are successful at killing the roots and you don’t plan to plan anything in that area, you can actually leave these roots in the ground. Eventually, they’ll just rot away (yes, conflicting information from different sites). Since we plan to use this space for a vegetable garden, these roots have to go. Fortunately, I also read that as long as you get these huge roots up, the smaller roots won’t regenerate on their own, so you don’t have to get every single little tiny root (these are the roots that actually look more like the roots of normal weeds or plants).

Oh, one more photo…

These are the tall shoots I cut down today (different area of the yard). I didn’t even attempt to dig up these roots yet. I’m kind of afraid – they’re a lot taller  – about 6-7 feet! – and thicker than the shoots coming from the roots I dug up today. I’m kind of worried these roots are going to be like 6 inches or something crazy like that! Hopefully I’m wrong. Only time will tell!

I’ll keep you updated on our bamboo saga – and promise a tour of the house very soon!