Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dining Room Daydreams

While I've been working on the foyer/stair/upstairs hallway painting project that I mentioned here, I've had a lot of time to think about the other rooms in the house that will need my attention once the painting project is complete (which hopefully will be this weekend - fingers crossed!).

Although I'd love to start tackling the upstairs rooms, I've also been thinking a lot about the dining room.  Our dear old dining room has had many transformations over the past few months, from getting a new rug here, to being the destination of our Thanksgiving feast here, and bunking up with our Christmas tree here.  It's been very convenient to have a versatile room that can be changed around to meet our current need whether it is opening up some space for a casual party for friends or setting up some tables for a formal sit-down dinner with our family.  However, with the holiday season behind us, the dining room has become a virtually empty, unused space.  Over the past week or so I've thought a lot about how I want to furnish the room in order to promote as much use as possible.  Since we don't have a "bonus" room, the living room, dining room, and kitchen comprise the total common space in our house.  Because of that, I really want the dining room to function not only as a dining space but also as an additional living space.  Figuring out how to get a combination of both has been a challenge.

I started thinking about some restaurants that I really enjoy as a source of inspiration and direction for this project.  Right now I'm just in the planning stage but I want to make sure that I'm certain of the plan before making any major commitments.  One restaurant that immediately came to mind was the Wild Horse in Beverly.  My friends and I have been going to the Wild Horse since we were in college, and I believe what keeps us coming back there time and time again (aside from the delicious martinis and unbelievable nachos) is the cozy ambiance that the Wild Horse achieves through dimmed lighting and very comfortable seating.  The Wild Horse has arranged an eclectic collection of oversized chairs and couches with small cafe-sized tables to crate a cozy atmosphere for its patrons.  As soon as you sit down, you feel instantly relaxed.  I want to achieve the same feeling in my dining room.

Once I had a clear picture in my head of what I want to try in the dining room, I went on Pinterest so see if I could find a few pictures that combined cozy, comfortable seating with a dining table.  Here are some of my favorite pictures.
The picture below doesn't have the cozy seating at the table, but I liked how they added some living space to the room with the comfortable chair in the foreground.  I also like the combination of the rustic benches with the modern table.
I'm pretty much 100% sold on the idea of using at least one sofa/settee in combination with a bench or chairs for the seating at the table.  These pictures confirmed that it can be done while keeping the overall look very clean and cohesive.  I like how the sofa/settee creates a surprise element but is also very inviting.  Today I found a settee online that I might plan to purchase as a starting point.  I ran it by Ryan and he approved (hooray!).  Now I'll have a lot to think about while I finish painting over the weekend!

Photos: here, here, here, here and here

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Life Lessons while Spackling

Last weekend I set out to paint the stairway area, a continuation from the foyer paint project which I talk about here.  Saturday was spent unpacking from my trips, doing laundry, spending time with Ryan, and embarking on an overall house clean up.  So when Sunday arrived, I was fully prepared to get down to painting business.

I don't know if it was the way the sun was hitting the walls, or if I was just in an overly obsessive mood, but as I stood at the bottom of the stairs on Sunday morning, paint brush in hand, I instantly noticed all the little dings and scratches and uneven places on the stairway walls.  It's not that the walls are in terrible shape (as much as the photo above might lead you to believe) it's just that they are old and needed some TLC before I even thought about painting.  It was the very last thing on Earth that I wanted to do, but it had to be done.  I sighed, put my brush down, and went down to the basement to find me some spackle paste.

The photo above shows the stairway walls (from the top of the stairs) in all their spackle glory.  Let's be honest here, the walls look like they have a serious case of the Chicken Pox and have been given a heavy treatment of Calamine Lotion.  Trust me, I would know.  I had the Chicken Pox when I was 12 years old (thanks Carrie and Andrew).  Worst of all, I had them at Christmas, so instead of being excited to open presents, I asked to spend the day soaking in the bathtub.  There are pictures, but I'm definitely NOT posting those on the blog.  But I digress...

So why I am spending all this time telling you a boring story about spackling and now you are picturing me sitting in a bathtub with chicken pox covering my entire body?  Well, I learned something on Sunday while I spackled, sanded, and spackled again.  I learned that working on house projects is a process.  If I set out to do something, particularly if I set out to do something the right way, I should plan for it to be a process.  Sure there are shortcuts and even steps that I could omit that no one would even notice, but to fully appreciate the final product, I need to be prepared for projects to take longer, be more tedious, and consist of many unexpected steps along the way. 

Life is a lot like that, don't you think?  I know for myself, sometimes my drive to succeed inhibits me to stop and smell the roses and enjoy the process along the way.  I recently came across a quote that said, "Enjoy yourself. These are the good old days you're going to miss in the years ahead."  I'm not a big quote person but this one really stuck with me.  As much as I'd love to be posting pictures of my newly painted stairway, it's equally as important for me to share all the annoying and not-so-pleasurable steps along the way.  If you are embarking on a project either at home or in life, embrace the process, because you might find that you miss the "getting there" when you arrive at your destination.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Southern Hospitality: Part 2

Yesterday I posted Part 1 of my trip to Charleston with Erica, Carrie and Alissa.  Today I'm back on the blog to share the rest of our story, with lots of pictures of course!

After our afternoon of sight-seeing via carriage ride and a walk through the City Market, Erica, Carrie, Alissa and I found a beautiful spot to stop and take some sister pictures. 
Then we went back to the hotel to get ready for another dinner out with Alissa's boyfriend Mazi and his friends where we had Firefly Sweet Tea drinks and Carrie tried crabcakes!

It was so much fun to find ourselves surrounded by people who were so excited to spend time with us and make our trip as memorable as possible.  We couldn't have been more thankful to have our own group of tour guides telling us where to go and what to do (and what not to do!).  It really made the trip all the more memorable.

On our last day in Charleston, Erica, Carrie, Allissa and I decided to walk through the Historic District and the Charleston Battery to see some more of the old mansions and churches. Then we did some shopping on King Street, said our goodbyes, and headed back to Columbia to watch the Golden Globes.

From start to finish this trip was exactly what I needed to kick off the new year.  We had the perfect mix of activities and relaxation.  I was so happy to spend time with Carrie, Erica, and Alissa, to meet some new friends, and to have another place on the map that I can't wait to return to as soon as possible.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Southern Hospitality: Part 1

I've never experienced what people call, "Southern Hospitality" until I went to Charleston, SC last weekend with Erica and my sister Carrie to visit Erica's sister Alissa.  Alissa lives in Columbia, SC and Erica mentioned a few months ago that she might like to go see her after the holidays.  Of course I was more than excited when Erica asked me if I wanted to come (or I might have invited myself since I was so excited) and we both thought it would be fun to ask Carrie to come too so we could have a little sister getaway.

We flew into Charlotte, NC where Alissa picked us up and drove us to her boyfriend Mazi's house so we could have some lunch before the drive to Charleston.  As soon as we walked into his house, which he shares with his friend Michael and another roommate, we were greeted with mimosas and a variety of lunch options.  That's when I realized that this was going to be a great trip.  In my opinion, mimosas get everything off on the right foot.
Once we got to Charleston, we checked into the Marriott on the Waterfront which was a little out of town but we loved the view and the peace and quiet.  Here is a picture at sunset from the outside deck.  This was the first of many times that I wished my photography skills were a bit more sharpened!  I'm enjoying the learning process, though, and was very inspired to take a lot of pictures.
After we checked in we hung out at the hotel and watched some TV before getting ready for dinner.  Mazi and his friends planned to meet up for drinks followed by a dinner at Basil, an amazing Thai restaurant on Charleston's popular King Street.

The following day Alissa ran a half-marathon (yes, she's a champ like that) then Mazi took us to Poogan's Porch, a popular restaurant near the historic district, for brunch.  I had the most amazing french toast (I am a french toast connoisseur) and we were served fresh biscuits and honey butter while we waited for our food to arrive.  I'm pretty sure that if I lived in Charleston, I'd make a weekly visit to this amazing piece of heaven and get so happily fat on biscuits and honey butter.
Erica, Alissa, Carrie and I spent the rest of the afternoon sight-seeing.  We took a carriage ride through the historic district and walked through the City Market where many local vendors set up tables to sell their goods.  The four of us agreed the carriage ride was the highlight of the day (aside from the french toast) as we heard about Charleston's history and saw some of the beautiful old houses throughout the historic neighborhood.  Here are a few pictures that I took along the way...
One thing that we learned on the carriage tour was that many of the older historic homes were built only one room wide facing the street and several rooms deep facing the ocean. The "front doors" that are seen along the street actually open to the ground floor deck, known as a piazza.  Half-way down the piazza is the true front door which leads into the central staircase.  The homes were built this way to take advantage of the strong cross-winds off the ocean to promote maximum ventilation in the entire home.  So smart!

The first three pictures below show the doors facing the street and the two pictures after show the grand piazzas facing toward the ocean.
And here we are at the end of the carriage ride!
And here's our trusty steed, Carson.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Editor's Correction

The editor would like to apologize for offending all the Star Trek and Star Wars fans out there by referring to the LEGO photo in the previous post as a "Star Wars Lego" when it is, in fact, a Star Trek LEGO collection.  This is an unacceptable mistake and if anyone was making any money off this website or there was more than one author/editor/photographer/etc., they would be fired.  Instead, please accept our deepest apologies for the error and thank you to the kind (and brave) person who brought this to our attention.

Who's Down with NYC? (yeah you know me!)

Ahhh, yes, it's that kind of day.  Since I came back from my little vacay, I've been very busy catching up with my regular job, unpacking, and de-Christmatizing our house.  Funny story about that....Ryan and I finally decided to get the ole' tree out of the house last night knowing that trash day was today.  We didn't want to deal with a needle mess so we carefully wrapped the tree in an old plastic tarp that I use for my spray painting projects, lugged the tree out the back door and onto the sidewalk...only to realize that due to the holiday, trash day is tomorrow, not today.  Alas, at least it is done and we had a whole bag of Charleston praline pecans to motivate us to do it (the rule was we could only eat them after the tree was safely out of the house and needles were swept up, of course after having two pecans each as pre-motivation).  

Aaaaaaaaanyways, I went through my NYC pictures to put together a little pictorial for you, and as I was going through my final choices, I realized that basically all I did in NYC was take pictures of things that I love.  I call it, "My NYC love collage."  Here we go....

Jamba Juice: I've had Jamba Juice three times in my life.  They were all memorable experiences.  I love me some Jamba.
 Chocolate: The solution to everything.
Sushi: Few things make me happier. NYC has the best sushi names, like "Sushi Palace" where I imagine myself sitting at a throne and being fed sushi all day long.
And "Sushiden" which makes me think of sexy sushi...like people sitting in dark corners whispering to each other while eating sushi.  No, that doesn't make you think of that?  Hmm...
 LEGOS: Endless fun.
 Star Wars LEGOS: Endless fun while making Chewbacca noises = endless fun with a soundtrack
30 Rock: One of the best shows on TV (queue opening sequence for pictures below):
 30 Rock Atlas: I was pretty proud of myself with this picture
30 Rock Atlas AS a LEGO: Reminding me that some people have fun for a living
30 Rock Perseus: Can't leave him out!  (Can you spy Ryan?)
Forever 21 ON 5th Avenue: Fancy meets frugal (my kind of shopping)
FAO Schwarz:  Edible fun (caption of this picture: "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawkwarrrrrrrd")
Hello Kitty and Barbie foosball: Need I say more?
Runts:  Best candy on earth second only to Reese's PB Cups
Anthropologie:  What my heaven will look like
 Me and Ryan Live!
Yes, Live!  I had way too much fun with this...
And lastly, Darren Criss:  We got discount tickets to see How to Succeed...and it was AMAZING!  I love me some Darren Criss.  He's the only reason why I tolerate Glee.  And even then sometimes I just want to mute it until he comes on...
So, that about sums it up!  Everything I love in one pictorial explosion.  Too bad we didn't take any pictures of us at happy hour...that might have been too much fun for one post.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Gone Fishin'

I didn't expect to take a two-week break from the blog, but I did, and I figured a nice segue to blogging about what I did during my time off would be to blog about why I didn't blog.  My mind is a strange thing.  I'm embracing it.

For the last four months I've been banging out an average of four posts per week which has been both gratifying and exhausting.  November and December were my busiest blogging months so far since I posted all about our holiday happenings and maintained the 30 Days of Thanks project in November along with a 25 Days of Christmas project in December.  All the while, I was churning out projects left and right, going to my regular 40-hour-a-week job, decorating, socializing, and somehow blogging in my infrequent spare moments (although I'm sure my posts are riddled with typos - the horror!).  I planned to go into this month full-force and really get down to some serious projects.  However, I was given the rare opportunity to take some time off from work last week to spend time with Ryan before he started his new job (which was today!).  We both knew that unless we planned to do something, we'd end up (OK, I'd end up) making us paint, organize, and clean the house.  As soon as we came to that realization, we quickly jumped on the Internets (I like to pluralize it) to plan a little mini-getaway.  I already planned to go on a trip with Carrie, Erica and her sister Alissa later in the week, so Ryan and I turned our focus from Mexico (yes, we considered jet-setting to Mexico for five days) to planning a trip somewhere a little more local.  We chose NYC and I could not have been happier with the choice.  I'll be putting up all the details this week so be sure to stay tuned!

We left for NYC last Tuesday morning and came back Thursday night.  Less than 12 hours later, I was on my way with Carrie and Erica to Charlotte, NC and just returned late last night.  Both trips were vastly different but equally incredible.  Again, more deets coming this week.

One of my top New Year's resolutions is to travel more this year and to be more open to new opportunities that might present themselves.  I didn't get a chance to do a lot of traveling last year since we were planning the wedding and I was finishing school.  Our honeymoon ended up being our "big trip" for the year which was amazing, but I'd like to do a lot more of it this year.   Even though NYC isn't terribly far away, getting out of town for a while and just doing something different for a few nights was exactly what I needed after a hectic holiday season.  I'd hate to look back on this precious time before we start a family and only remember doing projects and being too serious about getting things done.  Initially it was hard for me to give up the idea of getting things done around the house with my new, and unexpected, free time.  But it was totally worth leaving the projects and blogging behind to have some good quality time with my husband followed by a much needed girls trip.  I might not always be able to take off for a few days, but the time away from blogging and project-ing helped me to appreciate the refreshing value of checking out for a little while and fully embracing the moment.
Photo: here

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A New Year = A New Name

The short story:  I have a new name and my own url!  Hooray!  The old blog name will still redirect you to the new site, but you can also find me at http://www.daydreamhome.com/.

The long story:  I have been toying with the idea of creating a new name for the blog along with my own url.  The problem was finding a name that I liked with a url that was available.  When I started the blog I wanted to name it "Sweet Nothings" but "sweetnothings.blogspot.com," was already taken so I had to go with "sayingsweetnothings.blogspot.com."  For anyone wondering, that is 30 letters long. Esh.

It still amazes me to this day that anyone was ever able to find the blog, much less return to it after the hassle of typing in all those letters.  Most of my page views are generated through the links I post on Facebook so for a while I figured that was good enough.  It wasn't until I got a call from my mother one day who was so excited to show her friend the pictures of the window boxes, that I realized "sayingsweetnothings.blogspot.com" had to go.  It took me about 15 minutes to walk her through the process of pulling up the webpage over the phone, only to give up and email her the link so she could pull it up that way.

After that situation, I started obsessing about finding a new name.  I would walk around saying words that I liked out loud, trying to match words together. When something vaguely clicked, I'd run to my computer to see if the url was available.  Most of the time, nothing even remotely close to what I was thinking was available.  I gave myself until December 31 to find a name or else I was just going to choose JoannaHewitt.com which totally depressed me.  I wanted something catchy, meaningful, memorable, and easy.  I wanted something fun and snappy.  Suddenly it was already December 30 and I still had nothing.

On Friday afternoon, I was perusing through my Pinterest boards when I came across a picture I had pinned of two hot air balloons floating in the sky.  I've been working on a little gallery wall project (more to come soon) and thought the picture would be a perfect addition.  I clicked on the image which led me to Susannah Tucker's Etsy site here.  I have no idea Susannah Tucker is, but I absolutely love her whimsical vintage-washed photos.  She has a hot air balloon photo collection that is wonderfully nostalgic but happy at the same time.  I was looking through the hot air balloon collection when I came across the photo below. And that was it.  I had my name.
Photo is here.

"Daydream Home" would be my new name.  I love to daydream especially about my home.  Sometimes Ryan will catch me sitting in the car staring off into space and he will ask, "Dreaming up a new project for the home?" to which I will slowly come back to reality and tell him all about it.  I also like the word association with dream home.  My home, while far from perfect, is my dream home in my head.  I will look at a room and see the final result, the what could be is what keeps me up at all hours of the night, pouring through magazines or just lying in darkness with my thoughts. 

Of course my chest was pounding when I did the url search knowing that it was highly unlikely that the url would be available.  To my absolute amazement, it was available.  I even checked four or five times thinking that I was spelling something wrong (which I've done in the past).  I bought the url for $10 without giving it a second thought and did a little "I just bought my own url!" dance immediately after.  I'll be editing the whole look of the blog (website?), over the next month so bear with me as fonts miraculously change and backgrounds appear, disappear, only to reappear again.

Before I wrap up I want to give a huge shout out and "THANK YOU" to my friend Jamie who has patiently been my sounding board through all of this.  He is one of my biggest blog supporters and always has good things to say about my progress.  His encouragement has given me the inspiration to try new ideas, writing styles, and share some personal information for all to read.  He's also very honest which has kept me from talking myself into a few names that weren't "the one" just so I could be done with the whole process.  He told me that when I found the right name there would be no hesitation.  He was completely right and I have to thank him a million times over for not wavering in his honesty.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What I learned in 2011

Photo from here.

I know it sounds crazy but one of the things I love most in life is change, especially change in the form of new beginnings.  That's why I get down right giddy this time of year because I welcome the chance to wipe the slate clean and start with a fresh new year, a year full of of new opportunities, adventures, and limitless possibilities.  I loved 2011.  It was arguably my favorite year yet.  I should also interject that it was also the craziest.  I finished grad school, Ryan and I got married, we went on an amazing honeymoon, and spent the first year together in our new home.  In the middle of that, my dad also received a complete liver transplant.  It's no wonder why I shrunk down to less than my high school weight and my face flared up in some kind of allergic hives for the entire month of September.  Thankfully a weekly dose of Dairy Queen Blizzards over the summer and a follow up treatment of the holidays took care of the first issue.  Time took care of the second.

In addition, 2011 was my "relationship year" where my relationship with many of my friends, family members, and even myself, went to a deeper, more meaningful place.  I worked hard to maintain my friendships especially during the craziness of school and wedding planning.  When free time becomes the rarest commodity in a person's life, it is very revealing to see how that time is spent, and who that time is spent with.  It made me appreciate the relationships I have and the people who supported me, and I mean that both literally and figuratively, through it all.

Amidst all the happiness and celebration, 2011 also taught me that life is uncertain and at times disappointing and heartbreaking.  I am not immune to this.  The past month has tested my ability to stay hopeful and trusting amidst uncertainty.  And because I did not let fear get the best of me, I am certain now more than ever that there is a greater plan unfolding for my life and for my husband's life than we ever thought was possible.  With all that said, today I'm closing the 2011 chapter (a few days late), thankful for the memories created and the lessons learned.  In doing so, I'm opening the 2012 chapter and all the memories waiting to be written and the lessons waiting to be learned.  It's going to be a good year.  Not just for me, but to anyone who chooses to embrace it as such.  Cheers!