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!





Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers and father-figures…and especially to my dad! Thanks for all you do!

#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)!







Green with Envy

For at least six months, I have been wanting a camera bag that doubles as a purse. I love taking my camera with me places, but I’ve always disliked lugging around a camera bag along with my purse, or trying to stuff my personal stuff into a small compartment on the camera bag. I fell in love with a Jo Totes bag, but couldn’t afford it, until my birthday when I got some cash from John’s family! Finally!

I ordered my Rose bag in Moss and waited anxiously for the package to arrive. It did not disappoint!

The box arrived on a Saturday morning, so it was waiting on my front step when I got up, the box announcing there was a special delivery inside!

After carefully opening the box, I found my bag lovingly wrapped in another protective bag, declaring the goodness that awaited inside!

I finally had my first glimpse and my new tote (sidenote…I messed up the color on this image…the color in the next two photos is much more accurate)

And here it is, in all its glory!

And of course, we can’t forget the inside fabric! The bag game with 5 separate dividers – I tried to figure out how to use them all, but didn’t need more than 3, but it’s great knowing I have them if I do end up needing them someday when I have more gear.

So, there it is! I’ve used it once so far – but only to my parents’ house. It will be getting lots of use the rest of this month at several birthday parties and photo shoots, so be on the lookout for it to pop up in the future!

P.S. I wasn’t paid or otherwise compensated for this post. I’m just super excited about my new camera bag!










Birthday Recap

My birthday celebrations ended up being about 3 weeks long this year (not continuous)!

The celebrations started on May 14 with a visit from John’s dad and brother to celebrate both my birthday as well as his brother’s birthday (his was the 9th). We BBQ’d burgers and I made this yummy strawberry lemon cake with whipped cream frosting (the cakes were from a box…I made the whipped cream).

They gave me a generous monetary gift that I used, along with a gift from John’s grandma, toward the purchase of a Jo Totes bag I’ve been wanting for a while (more on that soon!). I also got a year-long subscription to Better Homes & Gardens from John’s grandma – and got the first magazine and notification in the mail!

The following day we had a great opportunity to visit the Happiest Place on Earth, courtesy of one of my friends who works there, to participate in an exclusive cast preview of the new Star Tours (amazing!). I was so excited when she invited us because with just 5 days until my birthday, I could count this as my annual birthday trip to Disneyland and collect another birthday pin (this is my fourth birthday pin!), even though this was the first year we haven’t had passes to go! Thanks Alyssa and Jeremy!

The next stop on the birthday celebration schedule was my actual birthday. John left me a beautiful bouquet of red and white roses he clipped from our backyard bushes before he left for work (which is really early in the morning). I was able to enjoy them all day until he got home and we could head out for birthday dinner.

He gave me a choice of going to either Chile’s or Chipotle. I chose Chile’s because I love their Cajun Shrimp Alfredo…or I used to. I must say, I was a bit disappointed. They seem to have changed their menu and some of their recipes. I left after dinner wishing I had chosen Chipotle instead!

When we arrived back home, it was time for presents (finally!). I was excited to open one of John’s gifts to me – Tangled! I loved this movie when we saw it in theaters and I’m working on completing my Disney Classics and Pixar collections, so this was the perfect gift. He also got me a new eye piece for my camera since I had lost the soft rubber party in San Francisco last October! He had put it on my camera and I hadn’t even noticed when I was taking pictures of our green wall in the kitchen!

The next day was a farewell party for my cousin and her family who moved to Utah for a job opportunity and since we didn’t have plans to celebrate my birthday with my family for another week, I asked my mom if she could bring my gift to this party since I already knew what I was getting and I wanted to start playing with it. She agreed and I was so excited to start using my f/1.8 lens! I can’t wait to use it on photo shoots and in indoor situations when my regular kit lens doesn’t allow enough light!

Here’s a few shots from the party that I took with this lens. I’m still getting used to the fact that it’s a fixed focal length (and I sometimes don’t have enough room to move back far enough!) and that when I have the aperture wide open, my depth of field is extremely narrow (as evidenced by this first photo of my cousin’s dog!).

The last part of my celebration was birthday dinner with my family on Memorial Day – my mom made my requested dinner of beef stroganoff, with something else for some of the others in my family since they don’t like it. My mom also made a pina colada cake (yum!), complete with 29 candles – yes, lots of candles!

After cake, it was present time. At this point, I had just one gift left to open since John gave me his on my actual birthday, my parents had given me theirs the weekend before, and my sister had ordered my Food Network magazine renewal back in April to make sure I didn’t miss an issue (I still did…not sure why, but I was rather disappointed!). Though I had just one gift to open (from my brother and his girlfriend), it definitely didn’t disappoint!
“Your Baby in Pictures” by Me Ra Koh! My mom had sent me a link to this book a while ago and I’ve had it on my wish list ever since, so I was very excited to get it! It’s a great resource for how to photograph the first year of a child’s life – complete with tips and techniques at various stages in a baby’s development. And no, we don’t have babies and aren’t expecting…yet, but this book will be a huge help in my photo shoots with everyone else’s babies that I’m photographing as I build my KatieJ Photography business.

So, with that, my 29th birthday came to an end – though I’m already looking ahead to next year and the big party I’m going to throw when I turn 30, provided I’m not super pregnant or have a very young newborn!

Here’s to the last year of being a 20-something!

















I’m Joining the Applause

I read about this on a blog I regularly follow (A Soft Place to Land) and absolutely love the idea and had to share!

On Saturday, June 25, a world-wide event is set to take place – to applaud our Creator – for the incredible world He has created. As an artist and photographer whose love of photography started in nature, this really hit me. How often do we really give praise to the Creator for His Creation – I mean really applaud Him for what He made? You don’t even have to be on a beach or up in the mountains during a beautiful sunset – just look at the grass in your backyard or the tree across the street – or your own intricate body. Words cannot even express how creative our God is! It’s mind-boggling!

So, will you Join the Applause on June 25 at sunset and express your praise, thanks and utter awe by applauding The Creator?

Live Every Moment: Vibrant Colors

It’s been forever since I joined a photo challenge, but now that we’re a bit more settled with the house and everything, I want to get back into it again. Not only is it fun, but it forces me to use my camera more – which I need sometimes!

We’ll kick off my return to photo challenges with this gorgeous rose from our backyard for the LEM Photo Challenge.

To see more vibrant colors, check out other entries by clicking the button below.

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!

#6: Run a Half-Marathon

Well, I did it! I finished a half-marathon! I wish I could say that I actually RAN it, but in all honesty, I walked about half of it. Lots of factors working against me that day, including the unusually warm weather that early in the morning, the number of hills that I DIDN’T train for, and the fact the we had moved just one week prior so life was kind of upside down! But I finished (though there were some points I wasn’t sure I was going to make it)! I felt like I was going to throw up or pass out for a couple of house after I finished and walking to the car after the race was probably pretty funny to watch (the hubby drove and took photos for me…he’s great!).

The race I decided to run was the Cinco de Mayo Half-Marathon that was raising money for the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation. I raised a total of $215, which I thought was pretty good considering that I entered the race purely for running a half-marathon, so I didn’t really push the fundraising part of it!

We got there extra early to make sure I would have time to warm up before the race – and to make sure I was there for the 7:00 a.m. start time since it was a 30-45 minute drive from the new house.

The race started right on time and off we went. I waved to John as I headed out on the course – the last time I’d see him for over 3 hours!

I finally finished the race and collected my finishers medal – pretty proud of that sucker – and then promptly collapsed on the grass to stretch and try to prevent passing out. I was finally well enough to walk to the car and head home, though it took several hours to fully recover. Can’t you tell how I feel by how lovely I look? Ugg…not a fan of this photo!

So, I know you’re all wondering what my time was…well, not spectacular at all. Not at all what I had hoped. But I finished and I’m told that’s a big deal for a first half-marathon.  Okay, so my official time was 3:24:03, which is a 15:35 mile (yes, horrible and not at all what I was training at).

Would I do it again? If you asked me that at about 11:00 on May 1, I would have said, yeah right! But after having time to cover and reflect on the experience, yes I definitely want to do it again. I have a couple of races this fall in my sights and John might even run with me this time! Hopefully having a partner to train and run with will help make sure I’m keeping up with my training and for encouragement throughout the race course. My goal for my next race is to finish in under 3-hours, which I don’t think is unreasonable at all!

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?