Friday, August 24, 2012

Math + Working for My Goals

Hello! I'm trying to get back into the swing of blogging again- we'll see how it goes!

This week I have been rooted at my desk reviewing one of my least favorite subjects- math- in preparation for the GRE. Today that seems to be particularly hard, as it is both the last day I have to study and the very last weekday of summer before I go back to work teaching at the high school. When I woke up at 8 AM this morning, part of me was aching to stay in bed for a few more hours and then go grab a bagel and head to the beach for a long, long walk and workout. I would love to enjoy myself doing whatever I want to today before the crazy hectic reality of teaching another year sets in, but the reality is that the GRE, this very daunting, anxiety causing test that determines if I can get into graduate school or not, is ever closer. As an art teacher, my life is relatively free of math beyond basic arithmetic for budgeting and the last time I really delved into the subject was senior year calculus in high school (2006!!).  I'm due for a refresher if I want a good score and studying for it today (and the work I've put into studying this past week as well) will pay off majorly for the long run tomorrow.

One of the goals that I set for myself last year when I began teaching full time was that I would complete my master's degree before turning 30.  Since I plan to work full time and go to school part time during the school year, to make that goal happen, I need to get myself in gear ASAP.  I have so many hopes and dreams for myself and my family, but those will never happen if I don't think towards the future and make a plan of action to reach those goals!

On that note, I'll leave you and get back to work with my pencil and calculator.  I promise to be back with a fun post about homes, decor, and projects soon!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Thoughts on Living Small #1


This is what my day has looked like today:

I have spent most of today going through things, deciding what I no longer need, and taking it to my favorite thrift store's donation bins.

We live in a fairly small apartment and while occasionally some friends comment that we should look at larger apartments and "upgrade", I have found myself really resistant to this idea.  As of right now, I feel like we have no real  reason to move into a larger space (although I do sometimes think wistfully about having a larger closet).  We don't have children and don't plan on having any in the near future.  We have a one bedroom, not a studio, so we don't have to be extremely creative with our organization.  Most importantly, we save quite a bit of money by staying in a smaller unit.

I really enjoy living small, and I attribute this to where I grew up, which was in one of the wealthier suburbs of Chicago.  Every year, there was always someone in our neighborhood adding onto their home or tearing down two homes to build a large McMansion on the land.  Our neighbors had some really amazing homes, but the excess of it bothered me a lot as a child and teenager.  There is no reason for a family of four to live in an eight bedroom home and the average American does not need batting cages in their backyard.  Also, I really feel that if you give yourself more space and walls, you are further separating yourself from those in your home.

I have found that my thoughts on this are not uncommon in this era of greater financial responsibility and efficiency, and with that in mind, I've decided to write a regular series on living small.  For today, I'd like to focus on donating and regularly editing your home.  When I first moved into this apartment about two years ago, I brought with me literally everything I had picked up during college.  Moving across that country was a daunting task and I wanted to bring absolutely everything that I could with me as if it was all a giant security blanket.  Not all of this stuff fit into my new apartment and when my husband began to move his things in as well, not to mention our wedding gifts, our excess of things became a serious issue.

I don't tackle problems very well all at once; I do much better when I break tasks down into smaller pieces.  Several months ago, I started taking a weekly trip to the thrift store with donations.  Initially this was hard to do, especially with some clothes that I had had for ages for purely sentimental reasons.  However, over time it has become the most important thing that I do each week for my home.  My overall goal for my home is that it will eventually become a beautifully curated jewel of an apartment.  Going through and editing weekly guarantees that this will happen.  I am constantly having to reevaluate items- do they really serve a purpose?  Do I like them as much as I thought I would?  Do I wear it regularly?  Do I use it regularly?  If no, then it goes to someone who needs or wants it more than I do.  This practice has taught me to value what I need and to be able to part with things much more easily.  They are just things, after all!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Before and After: Campaign Dresser


I have never, ever been more excited to talk about a DIY furniture makeover.  Ever.

Like many other girls who are obsessively reading shelter blogs and magazines, I have fallen in love with campaign dressers.  So much so that I think everyone knows exactly what they are and is as nuts for them as I am.  Case in point:  This week is spring break for the school district where I teach and when I was talking with two of my colleagues in the art department about upcoming plans, I began to gush about how excited I was to finally refinish my campaign dresser.  I expected both women to perk up and all I got were two blank stares and the question, "Do you have a picture of that?".  My other colleague followed with, "Yeah, I have no idea what you are talking about."

Sigh.  Sometimes it is good to come back to the real world and remember that not everyone has an inspiration folder on their desktop, an uncountable number of boards on Pinterest, and two gallons of Zinnser primer in their coat closet "just in case".

But I digress.  The point of this is that I am obsessed with campaign dressers.  I found a lovely large reproduction of one on Craigslist several months ago for a mere $40.  The woman I bought it from had clearly refinished it at one point herself- she was nice enough to even pass on the paint sample she had used in case I needed it for touch ups.  It was an absolutely lovely "before" starting point.

However, the original color scheme, a buttercup yellow with black hardware, went with very little in my apartment and I began to think about my options.  I began to search for inspiration online.  Has everyone seen this?

Original image in Lonny

I assume so, but as I stated before, I get a little fixated on certain items and surely it's best for me not to assume like that.  The kelly green campaign dresser is everywhere.  And fresh and beautiful.  But again, not right for my bedroom, which is full of soft, textured neutrals and one fabulous light blue and jade Grandma-ish damask chair that I refuse to dishonor with new upholstery.  My thoughts turned to light blue and jade green, naturally, but after a few weeks of living with paint samples on the dresser, I decided that on such a large item it could look a bit nursery like.  Sophisticated nursery, absolutely.  But nursery nonetheless.  Eventually, it hit me that somewhere between peacock and navy blue would be ideal.

So between a new coat of paint (Behr Velvet Skies in Semi-Gloss, if you are interested) and literally an entire tube of Rub N Buff (my favorite tool in my toolbox), I wound up with this bit of heaven.

I am elated about this makeover.  Really, I think it is the best one I have ever done.  That may be because of my campaign fixation, I won't lie.  And while the styling in that photograph is not yet perfect (I desperately need a larger mirror to balance out the vintage cabinet.  And I need to settle on what to paint the vintage cabinet.  And a tray would really be lovely on the dresser... This list will never stop, by the way.), every time I look over at that piece of furniture I smile.  It is that damn good.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Things I Love About My Home #1

When I first found my apartment, I was dating my now-husband.  At the time, I was twenty-two and simultaneously excited and nervous to move halfway across the country to be closer to my boyfriend.  Southern Virginia seemed completely foreign from Kansas.  I knew very little about Norfolk and was taking neighborhood recommendations from my father's intern, who had gone to school in Norfolk.  The weekend I took a Friday off from my classes at KU and flew in for the weekend to look at apartments.

Really, what made my decision about which apartment to choose was that is was by an indie theater and it had a breakfast nook, which totally eliminated my need to buy a table, chairs, or storage for dishes.  That's it.  It was my first place that I was renting just for myself and that was what mattered at the time.

Now that I've lived here for two years and my husband has fully moved in, there are so many other things about my home that are important to me.  The indie theater?  As cool s I do try to be, I have not seen a film there.  The breakfast nook?  It is awesome.

One of the things I love most, I have realized, is that in addition to being close to the indie theater, I am close to nearly everything I need.  Today, while cleaning up from dinner, we ran out of dish detergent.  I hopped on my bike (a fabulous 1960s mint green rusty Huffy ladies cruiser, to be exact) and headed over to the market, about a mile or so away, to pick up some more.  On the ride there, in the constantly warm southeastern weather, I passed by old Victorians, synagogues, churches, coffee shops, and cafes.    I love having all these things within a few minutes reach.  I love that I can ask John to walk to the convenience store when we realize, halfway through making a batch of pancakes, that we have no milk or that if I am really feeling too lazy to make some coffee, I can walk a block down the street to get a mocha from Fairgrounds Coffee.  Being in the middle of a bustling neighborhood in a small city is truly the perfect spot for us.

Goodbye Rainbow Lady!


This is something I have put off for so very long, but it is finally time.  I have had the most wonderful Duncan Phyfe style couch for the past few years.  It is beautiful, classic, and an antique.  It also has all the problems of antique- fabric that is hard to work with, rapidly sinking springs, old, dilapidated cushions... I could go on.  I bought it from a cute hippie couple when I was in college and it was a great Craigslist find. For the past year, I had been thinking about reupholstering and restoring it to its original 1920s glory, but recently decided against it.  My husband and I were running the numbers for what a full restoration would cost, even if we did the labor ourselves, and couldn't rationalize spending that money on something that would always be a precious antique when what we really need is something durable.  We need a couch that can serve as seating for big groups when we entertain, a place for both of us to crash with takeout after long days,and could handle future rowdy family members be they dogs or children.

We finally found a gorgeous daybed at West Elm and spent a while thinking about it, but this weekend we had friends over for Easter brunch and saw our couch cushions sinking dangerously close to the floor when three friends were sitting on it.  That was just the push we needed to put it up for sale on Craigslist (back from whence it came!) and order the new daybed for a rush delivery.  Soon this bit of heaven will be in my living room (in white wood rather than dark brown):

I'm so excited for it to arrive!  It will really tie things together in that room and will be stable, which is the most important thing.  It's also the first big purchase we've made with furniture together, which is exciting as well.  

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Bookcase Styling

I love when I pick a project that can actually be accomplished in a few hours.  This rarely happens for me, as I love to do major overhauls on furniture and more often that not overestimate my abilities and available time.  However, when I work on something short term, in this case, styling the bookcases in our bedroom, I always feel so accomplished and pleased with myself.

We have three Target five shelf bookcases in our bedroom.  Two of these were mine from my college apartment and one Jon, my husband, bought when we moved in together last winter.  They're basic and nothing special, but we both have sizable book collections and I obsessively file interesting art education-related article I come across,  so they do serve a very real purpose in our home.  When space is as limited as it is in our little one bedroom apartment, the more I can put up vertically, the better.

Unfortunately, that doesn't always mean that the space is organized.  Last Sunday, I decided to tackle the shelves.  Please see this horrible photo of the disaster that they were if you desire documentation.

Really, they were a total hodge podge.  Nothing cute.  I spent some time on Pinterest looking for inspiration and realized that a lot of the styled bookcases I like had a few sets of common things.  When I pulled everything we had out, I grouped together books in similar colors and also pulled small bowls from all around our house.  I've collected antique bowls from thrift stores and have some of my own that I made in college and for classroom demonstrations.  Putting these two sets of things together seemed to unify the space well.  I also added in a few little antique decor items and photographs to break up the space.

The final result is so much nicer and more orderly.  It's not as perfectly styled as I would like.  I've seen  some great bookcases with photos and mirrors added on over the shelves, which is something I'm interested in adding on.  For now, though, it is a vast improvement and was something I could put together in just a few hours!

Let's Try Blogging Again...


I first started Boy Meets Girl Meets Home last summer, attempting to chronicle my attempts at homemaking.  I really enjoyed blogging, but when I began my first grown up job this fall as a high school art teacher, I found that I needed to throw all of my energy into my work and had little time to run the blog as intensely as I did.  This spring, I've decided to try to write a blog again, as I really enjoyed it as a way to share the projects that I made.  I hope you enjoy what I write about here!