Three months later…

Yes, I realize that my poor little blog has been neglected for three months and is in need of a much overdue update (I have pretty good reasons, though…just keep reading)!

I’ll save most of the smaller updates for later posts, but get the big news out there!

I guess I will start with the big news first…John and I are expecting!!!  We shared the good news with immediate family right away when we found out in July and just broke the news to extended family and friends and pretty much the entire Facebook world with this cute little video.  We are due March 15, 2012 and get to find out if we’re having a boy or girl in just three weeks – on October 7.   We’re having a gender reveal party the following Saturday, so you will have to come back after that to find out if Baby Julius will be sporting pink or blue!

Another huge answer to prayer happened right around the same time we found out we were expecting – I got a full-time job offer (and accepted, of course)!  I’m working at a private Christian university as an Administrative Assistant and most of my time has been spent planning and coordinating a retreat for the faculty of the department I work in.  It’s a definite change in environment from my previous position, but I have really enjoyed getting to know everyone that I work with and throughout the University.

We’ve also done some work on the house, including new furniture, converting my office to a guest room (and soon to a nursery) and some landscaping, as well as marking a few more items off on my 101 list and just plain relaxing (growing a baby is a lot of work!).

Stay tuned for more on these other updates as well as Baby Julius’ progress over the next 6 months (and beyond)!

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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!

The Busy Birthday Month

I don’t know any statistics on the most popular month for births, but with our friends and family, it was the month of June, especially in 2010, which translated to a slew of first birthday parties this month.  We had a total of four parties to attend this month (and there were still others who had small family parties or were too far to travel).  Because of the large number of June babies, we had to find an economical gift for everyone. It’s so easy to spend a lot on cool toys or trendy clothes (but neither were in our budget), so I decided to make the gifts.

Since I’m a photographer and had taken photos of many of the babies (or was going to be soon), I thought photo frames with the child’s name would be a perfect gift. I got the wooden frames at Michael’s and a package of letters from Wal-Mart. I painted the frame white and then chose colors based on the parents and the birthday baby and loved the results!

They were a huge hit with the recipients and almost all of them put the frame up to their face when they opened it! And I’m sure they will have plenty of photos to fill the frame for many years! I’m definitely keeping this economical personalized gift in mind for the future!

 

 

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?

 

 

 

 

 

#13: Plant an herb garden

This is actually round two of planting an herb garden. I planted some seeds at the end of October last year (yes, I know, not the best time to plant) and with our unusually wet winter here in Southern California, the small planter I used got completely flooded and killed the little that had grown.  After that, I decided I would wait until we moved  into our house to attempt an herb garden again.

This time I went with medium pots from Wal-Mart – all identical (because I’m a perfectionist like that). We still had plenty of potting soil left over from the last round, so I filled up the pots, sprinkled in the seeds and labeled everything…and have been watering and waiting to see the first sign of herbs – which I finally saw today (I planted them on June 10, so took ten days). I’m so excited (though we’ve got a few more weeks before there will actually be anything usable!)

Here’s some photos of the finished pots (the day I planted).

Here’s the list of everything I planted: Chives (onion), Oregano, Dill, Basil, Oregano, Sage, Thyme, and Cilantro (which I only recently discovered is the same plant that produces Coriander…interesting!). A few days after I finished planting all of these, we added one more herb to the bunch, at John’s request (it’s not pictured): Spearmint. We actually bought a small plant to start that one because they didn’t have any seeds at the Home Depot we went to, though I later bought some at Wal-Mart and planted them with the small plant.

In the next few weeks, I’ll show you how my herbs are doing (since the 101 task is actually to plant and MAINTAIN an herb garden!). I can’t wait to start using these herbs instead of always having to buy them from the store and/or substituting dried for fresh (just isn’t the same!). I’m also excited to start our vegetable garden soon (I hope!) since our raised bed will be delivered by my dad when my parents come to visit next weekend!

 

 

 

 

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!