do-it-yourself: harlequin patterns and changing tables…

I’ve been working on the nursery and it’s definitely coming along now…s-l-o-w-l-y, very slowly, but we’re getting there.
I still have three months, but I know that with the holidays coming up three months is going to fly by and Braden will be here before we know it.

Fortunately for us, my parents have given us the two main pieces of furniture that we’re using in the nursery! One piece is a wardrobe that was used in my own nursery. I love the idea that my daughter will grow up with something that I also grew up around.

The second piece my parents gave us was an old chest they used in their room for years and years. Deriving inspiration from the items on Layla Grace, I decided to try my hand at converting the piece into a changing table by utilizing a do-it-yourself harlequin pattern in the colors I’m using in the nursery.

This is how it turned out….

braden's changing table

Here’s how I did it:

-Remove any hardware (drawer pulls, etc.).
-Paint the entire object one solid color. Let dry.
-Use painter’s tape and create a diamond pattern over the entire object by focusing on one surface at a time. For instance, lay out your tape on the top first, then each of the sides individually and finally, the front (over the drawers). You can measure the distance between each piece of tape or lay it out freehand (like I did). Press the the tape down as firmly as possible to avoid heavy bleeding, but realize that this is a nearly impossible task and you WILL experience some bleeds. That’s okay.
-Fill in each diamond shape with a secondary color. Let dry.
-Once dry, remove tape. The diamond pattern should be obvious. Keep in mind there will be imperfections.
-Using a crafter’s angled-edge sponge brush (choose your own size, I used a smaller size), brush on a third color over each of the diamond’s edges, covering up any bleeds or imperfections along the way.

The trick, I learned, was to accept the minor imperfections (over-correcting also causes problems) while trying my best to achieve the look I wanted.

Overall, while it’s not perfect, I am really pleased with the way it turned out.

“series of doors”

I haven’t posted much about our trip to Italy yet and it’s coming, I promise. However, instead of posting some huge blog about anything and everything we experienced (a giant task for me and probably quite boring to you), I’ve decided to post little bits here and there. Hopefully, it might be a little more interesting that way, all around.

To begin, is a “series of doors” that Michael shot.

Our first day in Rome found us wandering through the most historic parts of the city.

Anyone watching the two of us would have found me looking down – into a book. I was continually reading about every little rock and post we passed (sometimes out loud to Michael, whether he was interested or not). I was trying not to miss anything I might have when I first visited during 2004. However, they would have seen Michael – looking up. He was drinking it all in…and he was holding the camera.

When I finally did tear my eyes away from the book-to-the-rock-to-the-post-and-back-to-the-book sequence I had down, I noticed Michael staring at doors. He told me that his sister-in-law, Stephanie, used to have pictures of doors in her apartment. He liked the idea that doors had the ability to sum up an entire view, an entire feeling, an entire structure. And if you’ve been to Rome, you know…they have doors. So, using our little point-and-shoot he tried to capture what we were experiencing. I only wish we had a better camera so the quality was greater.

These are for you Stephanie πŸ™‚

an entrance into what was the former Vatican at San Giovanni

an alley near the Colosseo

a gated entrance into Palatine Hill

an ancient door in the Roman Forum

near the Roman Forum

the famous bronze doors from Constantine's day in the portico at St. Peter's Basilica

a door found in the wall along the ancient Appian Way into Rome

positano…

Amazing Zara spring 07 fashions aside, this stunning dustjacket attic blog is completely captivating with photos by Carter Smith. The next time I go to Italy, I wanna go here!

Positano was on my shortlist for honeymoon destinations, unfortunately we got married at the beginning of the economic decline (prior to any reduction in travel expense, in other words, money was low and prices were high) and weren’t able to go. We did just make up for it with a 9-day trip to Rome last month, but I’m really hoping my next trip to Italy will be southern, sunny and sandy πŸ™‚

family-style cooking…

Unfortunately, I tend to worry. I also tend to be a people pleaser. Don’t get me wrong, I can definitely stand up for myself and I have my own opinions, but I generally want others to be happy…and I sometimes see it as my job to help them get there.
This is a problem on vacations when I feel like I need to bring something home to show family that I was thinking of them while I was away. I can spend a good chunk of time worried over finding a meaningful gift for each person that is within budget…it’s a difficult task…especially when you’re in Europe dealing with the added problem of a weak dollar.
In Rome I focused on enjoying myself during the first part of the week, but as our return flight edged closer I began to scope out gifts and panicked when I realized that budget, meaning and luggage space were definitely going colide in a way that made it immpossible for me to accomplish finding anything.
And then my genius husband came to my rescue.

After making several local Italian friends who schooled him on different areas of his native culture, he purchased three jars of a sauce called “Nduja” (it comes from the region his family originates in Italy) to share with his family at a big dinner some night upon our return. And then he called it a day. Ah, to be so uncomplicated.
I, on the other hand, still looked and worried and looked and worried over what I should get my family.Β Finally, he convinced me that I should do something similar with my family and we ended up purchasing a bottle of wine, a block of cheese and some chocolates.
This Sunday, I will be cooking an Italian family-style meal for my family and sharing all the goodies we brought home for them in a way that also allows us to share some stories and quality time.
Genius.

I have been looking over recipes trying to find the perfect Italian recipe to share…I think I’m going with homemade pesto pasta, since it was a favorite of mine over there.


Wish me luck…I’ve never made pesto before, but I believe I’m up to the challenge. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Here’s the recipe I’m thinking about using, in case anyone feels like trying it for themselves:

Ingredients
2 cups basil leaves
2 cups arugula leaves
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
3 tablespoons walnuts
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled
3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/3 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 cups hot cooked linguine (about 1 pound uncooked pasta)

Preparation
Place first 6 ingredients in a food processor; pulse 7 or 8 times or until mixture forms a smooth paste. Add cheese, broth, salt, and pepper; pulse until combined. Combine pesto and pasta in a large bowl, tossing to coat.

Oh, and by the way, the Naniamo bars were excellent!!

home improvement…

Some of you know that my brother and his family moved in with us last year. We had the extra space for them, we just needed to do a little bit of renovation for us.

Somehow, I don’t think that need for renovation will ever end… πŸ˜‰

To accomodate them, we gave them the two bedrooms and Jack/Jill bathrooms upstairs, as well as the finished basement space. But that meant Michael (and his dad and brothers) had to get to work on our own master bedroom/bathroom, which we had been using as storage space previously.

The master in this house was hardly “master.” It consisted of a strange hallway space that could be closed off, a small bedroom and a weirdly shaped, very dark, bathroom that is hard to explain unless you saw it. Additionally, there was no half-bath/”powder room” anywhere in the house.

We’re still not completely done…we need a few little touch ups here and there (ie. doorknobs, switch plates, drawer pull, ect.) But it’s light years away from where we started….see for yourself…

Oh, and stupidly I didn’t take pictures before the work started…I remembered to take pictures only once the entire space had been gutted. Here they are:

was the toilet and stall shower room...soon to become the half-bath

the "almost" finished product...we still need to touch up the ceiling and add crown molding

facing the bathroom then

facing the bathroom now

what will be my vanity and the toilet room...

my vanity now

the toilet room now

Michael hard at work building our new bathroom...he and his dad did everything from plumbing to electrical and tile...amazing!

the gorgeous shower (this is where Michael was standing in the previous picture)

from the bathroom looking out to where the bedroom will be

and now...

then...

and now...

we've improvised using cool old leather chairs as side tables until we get a new bedroom set one of these days...

the subfloor....

and finally the new tile...Michael's pride and glory...

v-day gift ideas…

Valentine’s Day is a made up holiday, as my husband likes to remind me….still…I love it.

I know, I know…we shouldn’t need a specifically sanctioned day to show our loved one that we do indeed love them, but isn’t it nice to get that chance? To say, “I love you everyday, but today I want to make sure I express that in a way that is not usual.”

After all, I don’t know about the rest of you, but daily living gets tedious and neither myself, nor Michael, always remembers to consistently surprise the other with a note or special meal or flowers or whatever it may be that’s out of the ordinary.

So, that’s why I love Valentine’s Day…it’s the day I get to do that. πŸ™‚

We’ll be in Italy for Valentine’s Day this year (have I mentioned that? πŸ˜‰ ), so I’m working on Michael’s present now…a photo-centric gift from snapfish.com. Not that I’m worried he’ll read this, but just in case I won’t say exactly what it is….

I wanted to share this with you, because right now snapfish.com is running a deal: free shipping on orders over $20 until Feb. 6.

I love good deals and that’s a pretty good one, as far as gift ideas go in my opinion. We’ll see if Michael agrees when I give it to him in Rome! πŸ™‚

Christy Parry is amazing!

Hello to everyone out in blog land…even though my consistent readership marks only about three πŸ˜‰

After watching “Julie & Julia” the other night, I was inspired to dive into this blog with new abandon…however, I don’t have any seemingly original thoughts with which to jazz up the page right now. But, you’ll be the first to know if/when inspiration strikes!

For now, I realized that I hadn’t put any photos up from our Christy Parry photoshoot in December…She really is so talented and I love how we get awesome pictures when all we’re really doing is walking around and hanging out with each other. I have some up on facebook already, but here are a few that I haven’t published thus far….