Sunday, December 30, 2012

Apartment Tour

So, Frank and I spent the entire day, literally from 9 am until about 7:30 pm, cleaning, rearranging and organizing our apartment. Since we moved here in early November, we really haven't had a solid day just to clean and organize. We have made some minor changes, but there has been a perpetual wall of boxes since move-in day. I thought I'd give you a tour of part of the apartment as it is today. Disclaimer: we still have a lot of work to do.

For an apartment, we have a decent kitchen. The cabinets are not horrible and the appliances are fairly new. My biggest issue is the total lack of counter space. In an apartment though, you can't really change anything. We had to create more counter space.

Our solution was a great work station table we found at IKEA. I use it for my cutting boards, bowls and recipe books. We keep our microwave and Kitchen Aid on it, but when I need to cut things up for dinner or prep something, it creates another space I can use. It definitely came in handy for baking cookies this year.

Some of the things we'd like to work on: Possibly paint the walls, hang up some wall art to make it a bit more like home, and we'd love to get a small cart to create a a coffee station where we'd put a shelf for our mugs and a home for our Keurig and k-cups.

One of the things I love about our apartment is that we have a front door to the outside. It really makes it feel more like a home when you can hang a wreath outside the front door. Also, when you walk inside with the kitchen to the left, there's a hallway to the living room rather than most apartments that open up straight into a room. Right now we just have a shelf hung between the kitchen doorway and our pantry. It was given to us as a wedding gift from my cousin Cory and his girlfriend. We love it! Of course we filled it with pictures from our wedding.

Eventually we'd like to paint the hallway and one of the big projects I'd like to do soon is to organize our pantry. It's a great size, but I somehow still have boxes from our appliances stacked at the bottom and no real way to organize all our cans, beans, grains, and pasta sauce.

Dining/Living Room
Our living room and dining area is one big room. We've separated it and created a dining area that is somewhat separate from our sitting area and we tucked a desk in the back corner which we are working on making into our "office".

This is the table we got from Craig's list this past summer. As you'll notice, it needs some work. It has a gorgeous white pedestal base and is great quality. But, the chairs need a good paint job and Frank and I would love to completely re-do the table top.

We got this great little dresser from my grandmother's house and turned it into the beginnings of a "drop-station" for mail. (please excuse the excessive amount of mail in our filing basket).

We also got this gorgeous server from my grandmother. I just love how unique it is. We filled it with our serving trays, candlesticks and other fancier serving ware. I don't like the way it's decorated. I have no other place for my colored wine glasses (which is why I want to eventually install a shelf to hang them upside down like I mentioned here).

I've already shown you the coffee table and end table that Frank made over. We don't have another end table, so with inspiration from many Pinterest posts on using wooden crates, we bought these two crates from Michael's which we plan to stain. I just threw some items on the crates for now--I definitely need to work on this space more after we stain them.

Our "Office"
Our office area is very much in progress. We can't seem to figure out the best organizational strategy, but we've started with getting a filing cabinet from IKEA that we tucked underneath. Then, we bought 4 cork squares and a weekly calendar white board to help us get organized. We plan to put some pictures below the 1-week white board and hopefully we will work on organizing the rest of our filing soon.

Next we hope to work on our bedroom which unfortunately has become the drop zone for all that does not fit anywhere else right now.

This next year will be exciting! We have lots of organizing, decorating, and improvements to make and we can't wait to get started and to share our projects with you.

Enjoy the last day of 2012 tomorrow. We plan to keep it really low key. I'll make some simple appetizers including Frank's favorites: pigs in a blanket, shrimp cocktail, and guacamole. I can't wait to drink some wine, eat some treats, and relax in our pjs! That's how we'll be ringing in the new year. How about you?

Happy New Year everyone!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Ready for 2013

Well, 2012 is coming to a close very quickly. It's honestly hard to believe after all that has happened in 2012 that it's time to move forward. Frank and I have been through what seems like years of changes and it's hard to believe it all happened in 1 year!

We spent all spring getting prepared for our wedding...

I have been blessed with such amazing friends who took care of me spoiled me before our wedding.

Then, on June 8th, Frank and I got married. Best day of my life. ever.

courtesy of Kara Loomis Photography
Then, we enjoyed our honeymoon in Punta Cana. Such a beautiful place! (wish we didn't get sick, but that just means we'll have to plan another trip sometime soon).

We spent the first months of our marriage enjoying a gorgeous old house we took care of for my family and experienced the joys of living in a home, including huge spiders and mice.

Frank got his license to counsel and got a new job. Immediately after we signed the lease to our first apartment, survived Hurricane Sandy, and moved in the weekend after the storm.

We have been enjoying making our apartment into a home and celebrated our first Christmas together.

We are so excited for what the new year has in store for us. And we can't share to share it with you all! As usual, Frank and I are going to sit down together and talk about 3 new year's resolutions for 2013. But, this time, we are planning our goals with actual steps in order to achieve them. Do you plan new year's resolutions? Have you been able to stick with any that you have planned? What are your secrets to keeping your resolutions?

Stay tuned for some posts on our resolutions and plans for 2013. For now, it's time to relax and enjoy the gorgeous snow that is falling outside.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Our First Christmas

So I know this is kinda late, but I've had a few days off of work to catch up on posts and figured I should probably post about our 1st Christmas being married.

First of all, let me say that it has been so much fun decorating and celebrating Christmas together. The whole deciding who to see for what holiday has not been so fun. This year we made the mistake of trying to do it all...well folks, let me tell you--it's exhausting! I mean, it's so much fun seeing everyone, but I'm thoroughly pooped after traveling and constantly driving to see someone. In the end though it was so great to see our loved ones. 

First, on Saturday, we celebrated with the O'Neals. It was great to see all of my Dad's side of the family, especially my aunt and uncle and cousins we rarely see now that they moved to San Diego, CA (jealous). I was even more jealous that they came to Christmas dinner tanned and freckled. We ate, laughed, hugged and ate again. 

Then, Sunday, Frank and I had the opportunity to do something special. Our church has been purchasing backpacks and filling them with all sorts of things like: socks, gloves, toiletries, hats, and a New Testament with a thoughtful Christmas note in it. We ended up collecting over 150 backpacks! Frank and I along with a small group of others (about 12 of us) drove into Jersey city with a few vans full of backpacks and distributed them to some homeless people on the street. It was great to just love on them, bring them hot coffee and donuts, pray with them, and see them smile. It was heartbreaking watching them get excited about a bottle of listerine or a pair of socks. It really helped Frank and I to be extra grateful for the gifts were were blessed to both give and receive and it was truly a blessing to see the smiles on the faces of those precious people from Jersey City. I hope this is the beginning of a tradition for us. 

Then, Monday, Frank and I attended his grandmother's sister's home for the traditional Italian Seven-Fishes dinner. I'll tell you this, seven is not the correct number. It should be 14 fishes. Seriously. I prepped this time at least, from experience, and didn't eat all day so that I wouldn't get full too fast. But still, by the time we got to course number 10 or 11 I felt like I was going to explode. And somehow I managed to make room for some of Aunt Sandy's delicious cheesecake and homemade cookies! Here are some photos of the deliciousness we were able to enjoy. 

First we had shrimp cocktail, crab meat stuffed mushrooms, mussels, and clams casino. With Aunt Sandy's homemade wine of course. 

Next, we had both white and red pasta. To die for. 

Then we had calamari, garlic broccoli, fried cauliflower, baklava, crab stuffed jumbo shrimp, lobster tails, and tilapia. I seriously had trouble keeping up!

Needless to say, on Christmas morning I was still full! But, Frank and I made a point to make a delicious breakfast Christmas morning anyway. 
It's still dark in this picture because we couldn't even wait until 7am to open presents...
we were like kids this year!
Frank kinda snuck in this picture...not like our living room is clean by any means.
Then, we took Frank's mom up to see my parents and sister for a Christmas dinner where we exchanged gifts and had a nice, relaxed evening. We were truly blessed this year and I really hope you all had just as nice of a Christmas this year!

Oh, and a few favorite parents got us a Keurig! Couldn't be any more excited! And Frank got us a gym membership (I guess that's a hint?) and lots of gym equipment I've both needed and wanted for a while. We are excited to get back into shape! Last night was our first night at the gym and I did 2 miles! Getting a head start on one of our resolutions...I'll be posting more about that later. 

I hope you all had an excellent holiday! I can't believe 2012 is coming to a close already! But, I'm super excited to start a fresh, new year. Happy Friday everyone! Enjoy the weekend. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

End Table Make-over

So, does everyone remember the coffee table we found at my grandmother's that Frank very successfully sanded down (with some of my help) and painted and stained?

Well, see that end table to the left of the couch? We found that too. We thought it looked interesting and it was that same very dark brown stain. After having success with the coffee table, Frank decided he would use the leftover paint and stain on that pretty ugly end table.

We used the same stain we used on the Coffee Table after sanding down both the upper and lower surfaces of the table. This was much easier to sand down!

(Keep in mind, it's winter. Frank did all of this in our apartment between sanding on our porch and painting with all the windows and back door can redo furniture pretty much anywhere I guess!)

After the stain, Frank painted the legs the same white paint we got at Lowe's from the Coffee Table.

This makeover took much less time. Partly because it was a lot smaller and easier to sand down, but mostly because Frank was so happy with how the coffee table came out he wanted to do it again! I think I successfully married a man who loves working on furniture which obviously makes me happy!

Anyway, without any further delay, I bring to you our "new" end table.

Next...we need to work on our kitchen table. We got it for a steal from Craig's List over the summer. I absolutely love pedestal tables, but this one has a pretty rough top made of composite.

It's fine for now, but since the chairs and the pedestal are all solid wood, it would be nice to make a new table top for it and re-paint the chairs. Frank is itching to get started, but that's one make-over we definitely cannot do in an apartment...We will have to wait until Spring for that one.

I'd love to hear if you've done any furniture projects lately.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wednesday Wish List

I feel sort of guilty posting a wish list the day after Christmas, but this one kind of goes with the idea of New Year's resolutions. Since we moved into the apartment Frank has completed 2 furniture make-overs, we made a make-shift entertainment center by putting two large white bookshelves around our TV, and we got a really handy kitchen prep-station to help with our very little counter space. Some of our resolutions are to continue to make our apartment more cozy by decorating, organizing and adding little personal touches.

Here are some things I am wishing for to help us make our apartment more cozy!

1. Wine rack/wine glass rack
For our wedding Frank and I got the most gorgeous wine glasses. I absolutely love them! But...they don't fit in our cabinets. It's really quite depressing. For now I have them displayed on our server, but I've seen pictures of racks that hold glasses upside down which I love! Frank is determined to make a wine rack...but these look perfect to me.

2. Our desk area needs some serious help. We have it tucked in the back of our living room area, but we are really struggling with having enough storage space for all of our filing and paperwork. We got a nice filing cabinet from Ikea a while back which we use to put our printer on...but I would really love some shelving and some kind of corkboard to get a bit more organized. It would be even better if we could move the desk closer to the entryway so it could double as a "drop zone/ command center".

3. We have a walk-in closet in our bedroom, and a great sized linen closet next to our washer/dryer in the bathroom, but both need some serious organization help. Now that I'm thinking about it, so does our coat closet! I would love to have some closet organizers and wire storage baskets to make it look put together and so that we are not running all over in the morning rummaging through piles of things to find our favorite scarf or a belt that matches.

4. If you didn't notice in the Christmas Post, we don't have any curtains up. It's great for the amount of light that comes in, but it would look so much more put together if we had curtains. Unfortunately curtains cost a fortune. So, I found some ideas on Pinterest on how to use table clothes or shower curtains which are generally cheaper to make curtains. Maybe I'll be able to find a good deal on some pretty shower curtains and make something that looks like this for our bedroom & living room.

5. This is silly, but I really want a basket like this to put beside our couch to hold cozy throw blankets. And maybe the super comfy heated blanket Frank bought me for Christmas :)

I hope in the coming months we can slowly work on making our home more homey. I guess I should jot this down on my 2013 resolution list...

Happy Wednesday!