Monday, December 27, 2010

20th Project - December

So, as I mentioned in a previous post, we were going to be away on the 20th of December, and I wasn't sure how to approach this project... I ultimately decided just to take my photos upon our return from Israel (more on that later!), as opposed to "faking" a 20th post while abroad. To that end, after an odd night's sleep (thanks, jet lag), I awoke to a beautiful sunrise on our little snow-covered beach, and was pretty satisfied with my aforementioned decision. Evening was pretty, too. Here's our beach in the morning and at last light, on December 27 (Happy Birthday, Tia!), 2010:

Friday, December 17, 2010

Furniture Obsessing...

I remember at one of my bridal showers, I began weeping over a coffee maker or cheese board because I realized, very suddenly, that though we'd been very fortunate to have inherited furniture and other household items (for free!) from family and friends when we moved, we were finally going to have things that were ours, that we'd selected together, imagining them in our home. It was this moment of epiphany... like, WE exist... like, this unit of couple-dome we had thought ourselves to be in our relationship was, in a quick unwrapping of gifts, actualized.

Now that we've bought our first home, I'm finding that I'm allowing myself to take that realization to the next level, and have recently been quite literally, obsessing over furniture items that instead of simply satisfying our needs and filling up the space in our rooms, also represent us, and will give our home character - our character.

My parents have a rocking chair in the living room. I love it. I want one. Something like this:

(this one's courtesy of Pottery Barn, but is no longer available)
I can just picture myself drinking my coffee on a Sunday morning, and watching the water. Yum.

I also want to add another seating option in the living room... something like this, I think, from Ikea:

(but in dark brown... even though the white is so great... LANIE!)
I mentioned in another post earlier this week that I've been thinking about adding a console table on the small wall opposite our dining room. I guess I'm envisioning something along these lines:

(but maybe not so boring... (this one's from Target))
And speaking of dining tables... I'm really over ours. We need something more substantial... This week, I'm liking the idea of something like this one I found on Craigslist (if it's still available when we get back from Israel, I might pounce):

I like how substantive it is... wide, and more square, and chunky looking. Then again, two weeks ago, all I wanted was a long oval. So who knows, by the time we get back, I could have a totally different idea in my head...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

No Home Updates... So I Browse for Inspiration

The daunting kitchen makeover has taken a lot out of us in recent weeks. This past weekend, having completed the cabinets and pantry, we just agreed to do... nothing! The weather cooperated with this plan, inspiring hours spent under blankets staying warm and watching movies and sports (Go Pats!). And this coming Friday evening, we leave for Israel (!) for a much anticipated, much needed visit with my mom's family. Hooray! We will come back revived and refreshed to take on this house project once again! In the meantime, I have been browsing around for some design inspiration...

I'm really into birds lately (Mom, get out of my head!), and found some neat ideas that could lead to something:

Check out these bird silhouettes (thanks, Design*Sponge):

(for the full DIY, including some traceable images (not just birds!), click here)

And we really need to commit to organizing a little better (we are constantly struggling with the fact that our dining room table becomes our catch-all)... I like this (from Urban Outfitters), maybe on the wall above a side/console table:

We've also talked about how we'll develop our dining area. We've been hunting for a nice, big side board or buffet... one that could hold serving pieces and wine glasses, and maybe display wine bottles. And maybe over it, on the wall, we could have some neat artwork. I found this on Etsy:

Maybe we'll find some cool pieces on our trip... For now, I'll just keep browsing and imagining. And when we return, revived and ready to tackle our Home Sweet Schwab, I'll have some better updates to share.

In the meantime, Happy Holidays! Love, Us.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Banana Bread

I just had to show it off before going to bed. This banana bread has become my specialty, and now that my first baking of it in the new oven is complete, the house smells warm and delicious. Check out this baby:

And it's low fat, too!

  • 2-3 mashed bananas
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2-2/3 C. sugar (less if your bananas are really over-ripe, as they get sweeter as they brown)
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 C. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 C. plain, nonfat yogurt
  • 2 1/4 C. unbleached, all-purpose white flour
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • Optional: 1/4-1/2 C. chocolate chips (I don't know who'd opt out of chocolate chips)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F; spray a loaf pan (about 9 X 4) with nonstick spray
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the banana, egg whites, sugar, vanilla, oil, and yogurt. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir until well mixed, and then, beating at a low speed, add the dry ingredients to the banana batter. Stop beating when the batter is fully integrated and smooth. Mix in the chocolate chips, if you're smart enough to use them.
  3. Spread the batter into the loaf pan, and bake 50-60 minutes.

A Beautiful Kitchen

As I alluded to in my previous post, Lanie at two pounds of brown sugar (and some of the plastic bag it came in) this past Saturday. As a result, she spent several hours between the afternoon and late night at the pet ER, and Dave and I spent that same time frame distracting ourselves with busy work at home.

First, we put the doors on the cabinets:
(It's like a new kitchen!)
and knobs on the drawers:
(I know... after all that deliberating, I went with standard brushed silver knobs. I thought they'd look good with the appliances)
You'll notice in that first shot that we also added a new base cabinet in the space beside the oven. Originally we were planning on getting a rolling cart with a butcher block on top to slide under there, but ultimately we thought this was a good option for a couple of reasons. One: we lost three-ish cabinets in the demolition; Two: it provides great supplemental support for the counter top. So while it clearly has a different face than the other cabinets, when it's painted to match, we think it'll look great and help us out space-wise. Thoughts?

(don't worry, I have extra knobs)
AND THEN... we lined and filled the pantry:

(it will soon be better organized, but it's so great to just have everything put away!)
So all that's really left is painting the walls. We have a few minor touch-ups on the cabinets, and of course the new cabinet will get a fresh coat, but after that, we're done... until the next big project... FLOORS.

For now, though, we're so satisfied with our beautiful and functioning kitchen - that we did ourselves! Tonight we ate a delicious dinner of wild rice with yellow curry, chicken, peas and carrots, and my family's yum-tastic spinach croquettes (which turned out great, Mom), and I have a banana bread in the oven as I type this. It feels good.

P.S., I have to give a shout-out to my dear friend Erin who's finally revived her side-business and blog, Hugs & Cookies. These cookies are outstanding and beautiful and come highly recommended, trust me. And I'm excited to have her updates again, so please don't hesitate to order them (they travel well.)!

Snowy Beach

Sorry for the delayed posting again... a combination of drying cabinet doors, a dog who consumed two pounds of brown sugar Saturday, and our Internet inexplicably dying for the past 36 hours has kept me from the keyboard. But here I am! Back! And with lots of exciting news to share. First... it is winter in Chicago. Yes, this has been something I could easily deny was upon us for quite some time now, thanks to the unseasonably mild fall we had, but here's proof:

The pretty scenery made me almost forget the frigid windy bitterness that would greet me when I went out with Lanie... and until then, and as long as I'm indoors, even in winter this place has a great view! I love it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hanukkah/Chanukah/Chakakhan, a Pot Rack, and a Cabinet Update

It's the second night of the first Hanukkah/Chanukah/Chakakhan in our first home!

(our beautiful chanukiah! with beautiful candles! thank you to Aunt Juice and T-Huesos!)

Because the cabinet painting process is going on in the computer room, I have to wait each time I want to post until there's a good way to move the cabinet doors around so I can get to the computer without messing them up. I've spent the past two days and then some prepping the backs of the doors (yes, I said the past TWO days (and then some) prepping...)... but more on that later.

First, check out our new pot rack:
(I want to find some sort of organizing tool to line the covers up on the shelf nice and neatly)
Sort of wish we'd painted the wall first, but we *had* to see it up! Hmm...

Anyway, so, like I said, I've been prepping the backs of the doors for more than two days now. Tomorrow I can do the first coat, so by Sunday we should have freshly painted doors on our cabinets -- finally! The reason it's taken more than two days of prep work is that as you can see in the photo that follows, when I flipped them over, I realized that some of the paint from the front side had pooled over the edges -- but not in a nice clean painted-on way -- in a goopy, bubbly, messy and bumpy way. Good times. Night One of prep involved getting this off and smoothing edges. Last night I spent at least an hour sweeping up all that crap (granted, Top Chef: All Stars was on at the same time, so I had to work in commercials, but STILL!). Tonight I finally was able to sand the backs of the doors, so we're ready to go. I apologize for the delay (I've gotten at least two emails, a phone call, and a G-chat message about seeing the cabinets with the doors ON), but we're almost there.

See what I mean:

So... that's all for now. Happy Hanukkah/Chanukah/Chakakhan (that's mostly for Adi and Dad), go eat something fried!

Love, Us.