What the Heck Google?

I'm sure you've noticed that something is amiss over here.  I recently noticed that all my older photos look like this:

The only thing I can think of is that I was prompted to update to Google+, I did, didn't like it, converted back, and when they asked me am I really super sure that I want to go back even though they were going to delete everything associated with my Google+ account I was confident nothing would happen since I didn't do anything within the Google+ account.  I think it converted all my picasso pictures over to the + and then when I switched back, poof, they were all gone.

I tell myself that it's not my fault.

I really have no idea if I even have the old photos anymore.  I'm still working through all that.  So, use my tale as a cautionary one.  Don't go to the dark side unless you're sure you want to stay there.

I'm working behind the scenes on some major changes over here, on top of just getting it back to normal, ugh.  And, I owe you all a bunch of posts, including some wedding related stuff, a lot of small projects, a room reveal, and an update on a major room that we've recently started working on.  Let's say it's caused us to make a lot more microwave meals, and rhymes with Fitchen Femodel.

And, because I can't have that damn triangle be the only photo in this post, here's a sneak peak at what a typical evening looks like nowadays:

Thanks for sticking with us!!

Fauxdenza Bandwagon

Sorry for the hiatus, after the wedding we relaxed for oh, about an hour then spent the last few weeks finishing all the little projects that we've had outstanding here at the house, some that we're sitting around for months.  I constantly used the phrase, "after the wedding we can do it".  Well Mike was keeping track, and it was time to pay up.  We went so crazy doing them, that my motto was complete now, take pictures and write posts later. 

One of the first projects we finished was the ever popular "fauxdenza".  Basically a floating credenza made from Ikea cabinets and topped with wood.  I saw it first over at House*Tweaking, which used Chris Loves Julia as an inspiration, who linked to Brick House, who referenced the original genious Door Sixteen!  You get the idea, I did not make this up, people way cooler than me did it first and it was the perfect solution to the ugly entry corner we had going on in the living room.

I bought the Ikea cabinets months before the wedding, and much to Mike's chagrin, they sat in their flat-packed glory in a pile in the dining room.  We finally got to it a couple weekends ago and hung them on the wall.  It really was that simple:  assemble cabinets, install suspension rail, hang cabinets, add soft-close hinges and knobs, add wood to top and sides.

I bought the 24" high cabinets and we hung it right about the vent.  It landed a little higher than the previous table, but it feels normal now.

For years, we felt lucky that the old console table Mike made for our townhouse fit this little piece of wall.

Except I never really felt like it was our style anymore, and while we had storage in the ottoman, it wasn't really useful for the things that we needed to put in there, (i.e. board games, cards, and wii components).  It's getting closer to what I want for this room.

Even though the actual steps for this piece were really simple, it wasn't without some headaches and officially our first big fight of our marriage.  Yes, I'd say most of our arguments are about building things, furniture and decor more than anything else!  I bought the 24" cabinet knowing that I wanted to cut a hole in the back to fit over the outlet to have all our charging electronics hidden away.  Our outlets tend to be really high due to the high baseboard trim so I didn't see the problem.  Fast forward to installation day and Mike refuses.  He says it's shoddy work and he would negatively judge someone who did that, and would therefore never do it himself.  To add insult to injury, I didn't really measure and the outlet was really half above the vent and half below, meaning that I would only get the top plug inside the cabinet.  Mike almost had a stroke.  This is an almost exact recollection of what was said:

Me: "No one will ever see it because the cabinet sits so low." 
Mike: "I'll know it's there.  I' won't be able to sleep at night knowing it's there"

Really, hunny? 

In the end we came to a sensible solution, he would do it the way I wanted and if he hated it, he'd rip it out and I'd have to live with wasting the money and the old table.  Obviously I'm writing this post so he was fine with it afterwards.  He even said, "It doesn't bother me as much as I thought".  And that folks is a win in my book!

He did ask me if I wanted any mitered edges for the top, and I said it was fine just to lay the top on the side pieces.  We used birch cabinet-grade plywood, birch veneer edging, Minwax Dark Walnut stain (2 coats), and some polyurethane, (3 coats).

The most technical we got was when Mike scrolled the back edge to match perfectly with the old wavy plaster walls.  Anyone with a house 85+ years old will appreciate this small feat.

Now that it's hung I'm working on finding the right artwork and some actual styling more than the bowl of random objects and antlers we've got going on now.

A Beeautiful Bridal Shower

Before we did this, I had a bridal shower back in July.  Because I'm insane, I decided to plan and make all the decorations myself.  I also didn't want to burden any of my bridesmaids with the hassle.  My sister hadn't yet got her teaching job, and a couple of the girls are in 3 different weddings this summer!  I picked a modern bee themed shower and went from there.  Since I was doing the decorations, my family and bridesmaids brought the food, helped set up everything, and one even rented the shelter.

It was blazing hot that day, but it was perfect, and everything turned out the way I imagined.  It was also good practice for our DIY wedding!

I chose a brunch, because who doesn't love brunch food, and 11am seems like a good time to hang out with friends, but also to get home with enough time to get stuff done.  We rented a shelter in our local metro parks and it was very cute nestled back in the woods.

It started with the invites which I designed myself and I'm super proud of.  I love bee themes, but didn't want it to be all black and yellow.  I wanted color!  I found a lot of inspiration on Pinterest, but in the end I just added things that I liked.  A couple people suggested selling the design on Etsy, and with all the things that I made throughout the wedding process I'm seriously considering it.

I pinned a lot of ideas on Pinterest, so if you want to check out my Shower board and see how I modified things, go for it.  Otherwise I'll jump right in.

The shelter door had 2 doors, but the first went right into the kitchen, so I wanted to let everyone know that they needed to head to the other side.  I used 2 of the those giant balloons with tissue paper tassels and a chalkboard sign that I made to let them know.

Here's where I should mention that I have only iPhone photos.  I was too engrossed in everything else, that I didn't take any photos, but my lovely bridesmaid, Anna, made sure to grab a bunch of detail shots.

The chalkboard says: 40 days til she's hitched (Please use other door) with an arrow.

Then around the building there was another chalkboard sign with another balloon (funny story - I only ordered 2, since they truly are massive, but they forgot to add that extra additive to make them float longer to one of them so they gave 3.  They might have thought they were doing me a favor, but it was a bitch getting these in the car!).

"Old, new, borrowed & blue Mallory is ready to say "I do!" 
Welcome to Mallory's Shower 7.14.13"

As you walked in, the first table had a little sign-in of sorts.  I found this really cute idea sold on Etsy, but they no longer offered it, so I made my own using my Silhouette machine.  It's called Dirty Laundry and the guests "air out your dirty laundry" by writing a funny story, memory, or just a hello on the cutout paper clothes.  It was great reading them all when I got home, and just as I thought, some were funny, and others made me cry.

The tables were covered with white table cloths, decorated with tissue paper flowers, (great cheap way to bring in color!) and black and white stripped runners that I made from stripped fabric.  The letter "M" was made by cutting the face off of a paper mache letter and filling with the little tissue paper flowers.

The tables each had a place setting with a pink napkin and a game sheet of "He Said, She Said" that I designed using the background from the invite.  It also had a stripped runner, and some tissue paper flowers. 

The favors at the settings were little honey jars that I added fabric tops to and a little tag.

The banner in the backgound above was made using coffee filters folded and then dipped in food coloring.  I also made a banner with the Silhouette.

Between the words I cut little bees.

I knew there would be a fireplace and so this was where Mike and I set up and opened presents, it was also a cute backdrop for the photos.

"He Said, She Said" was the only game we played and the guests read the questions, then guessed how many Mike and I would agree on.  We did horribly, something like 5 out of 12.  But it was funny listening to us guess wrong.  My sister videotaped Mikes answers and he was so cute and sappy and I looked like the schmuck because I thought for sure his answers would less thoughtful!  The winner was our neighbor and she won a pint of of honey from our hive, (which coincidentally we extracted after I bought honey for all of those little favors), and a bottle of our favorite mead. 

The food was amazing, and I take no credit it for it.  I gave each of the bridesmaids some ideas/recipes, but they did all the hard work.  You really can't go wrong with a spread that includes blueberry muffins, donuts, croissant sandwiches, fresh fruit, and sausage and cream cheese bites, to name only a few.

My mom's friend had a dozen or so cake stands she let me borrow and it made everything look so much fancier!

At the end we had a Kuerig station with a couple Kuerigs set up and coffees, teas, and hot chocolates available.  We don't drink coffee in our house, so I figured this would be a good way to cater to everyone.  I loved the chai latte!  Not pictured, but equally amazing was the flavored water.  My sister's boyfriend, Keith, always makes flavored water with fruits so I borrowed some large drink dispensers and he made a couple different kinds.  I want to say he had a lemon and orange, and a berry and mint, but I was running around too much to remember!

I wish I would have ate more, but like a wedding, the honoree never gets to eat too much.  Everyone said it was amazing though!

Since I had a bridesmaid gift that would be needed to be given before the rehearsal dinner I chose to give them their gifts at the shower.

I found a little make-up bag from Target that I added their initial with vinyl, and the earrings that they would wear for the wedding that I made, a gold bow ring, and a nail file.  I gifted each girl a shellac manicure for the wedding since I do it myself at home, and the nail file was the only way I could think of to present this.  I made all the tags and cards with my Silhouette.  The earrings holder has an M&M, the ring card says, "Thank You for helping me tie the knot!" and the nail file says, "Wedding Shellac Manicure".

Mike surprised me with yellow roses when he came to help me open presents, and I cried.  He's given me flowers exactly once in our 5 1/2 years together and it was weeks into dating and they were yellow roses because I made fun of him on one of our first dates for being very specific and describing something as "canary yellow".  Sometimes he's super sweet.  Only when he wants to be!

Overall I had a great time.  My hair was frizzy from the heat and my feet were bleeding from wearing bad shoes, but it was still perfect.  I had so much fun with all the details and it was fun planning something that I could make as girly as possible!

All my bridesmaids are amazing women and I was so happy to have them all there with me.  Not to mention look how pretty are they all!

I think the real star of the show was Mike though, not only did he not bother me during my marathon crafting nights, or laugh at me when I came home with three 36" balloons stuffed into the back of my car, he also helped set up, clean-up, open presents with me, and even ran home to make a quick sign after a couple people had trouble finding the drive!  Obviously, I said yes, so I knew what a great guy he was, but it made me even more excited to marry him!

We're Married!

So, over the weekend this happened:

Photo by Studio SPC

I have a lot to share about our big day, and all the parties and DIY that led up to it, but for right now we're getting our lives back in order. 

Thanks for sticking with us in the mean time!

Bee Bearding is the New Cat Bearding

It's been hot here the last couple of days.  During the week I don't really notice it that much because my office is a chilly 60 degrees during the summer.  Seriously, most of the girls in there have heaters under their desks because it gets that cold.  I have to dress in jeans and sweaters and only notice the heat when I drive home. 

The bees, however, definitely notice the heat.  When I came home over the weekend, Mike told me to grab my camera because they were bearding.  After I asked what the hell that meant, I did as I was told and headed behind the garage with my camera ready to check it out.  For those that don't know, "bearding" is when the hive gets really hot and some of the older bees gather on the outside to keep the hive from getting too hot, and to let the worker bees have space to do their thing.  Here's a quick article I found to explain it a little better.

Mike first took off the board that covers the back entrance to provide more ventilation.  He put it on top of the fire pit because it was covered in bees.  They hang out for awhile, but then realize they're not in the hive and eventually fly back home.

The hive is behind the garage which is shaded by our neighbors tree, so it's a little cooler, but it was in the high 80's over the weekend.

At first, I was a little in shock at all the bees at the entrance, (so much so I forgot to change any settings on the camera).

I'm not sure what's going on with the buckets holding the roof down, but if Mike did it, he had some sort of reason to.  Also, now you can see why I've been begging for a new fire pit.  I think the plan is to scrap that one eventually.

The hive's entrance is usually busy with bees coming and going, but it looks more like this on normal days.  The top white bar is removable and has a couple different size holes which allow the bees to better protect the hive. During the really active months we remove it altogether and it allows more bees to come and go, not to mention better ventilation.

It didn't take long for me to get closer.  I'm not one to get skittish around them, I mean I did bring them home like this in the back of my car back in the day:

It's so crazy to me that they all just hang out like this and meanwhile the worker bees are still flying in and out, continuing to collect pollen and/or water.

Some of the bees close to the opening will regulate the hive's temperature by clinging to the board and flapping their wings to bring in cooler air.  It's hard to photograph, but really neat to watch.

People always ask if I'm afraid of the bees.  While I don't do a lot of the hive maintenance that requires actually opening it up like Mike does, (I'm usually making the bee food if needed, while he opens it up to put it in), I do like to go back here to check it out. 

At first I would only go back with the full jacket and hood, and long pants.  But, now I'm more confident and head back wearing whatever I want.  I've never been stung by any of our honey bees, (and probably never in my past either, since people who think they've been stung by a bee usually get stung by wasps, not honey bees, since honey bees usually only bother you if you're pissing them off).  I've learned how to approach the hive, and when's the best time to check them out.  The bees have a path that they use to fly in and out of the hive.  It's actually around the hive in the opposite direction of the photo above, (something I'm very aware of when on the off-chance I'm mowing the yard).  And, they are active during the day, but are very calm at night and early morning.

To prove what a bad-ass I am I took a picture of what I was wearing when I took these photos. 

I think my status of a bad-ass is greatly reduced when I wear Mike's crocs, but I still feel pretty confident around all our little bees.

And, if that wasn't enough bee knowledge for one day, I noticed something in the first photo while I was writing this post.  The big-butted black bee, (that sounds bad), in the middle of the board on the left is a drone. 

There are 3 types of bees in a hive, the Queen bee, the worker bees, and drones.  Drones are the males.  They don't have a stinger.  Pretty much their only job is to mate with the queen.  Actually, come winter time they get kicked out of the hive to die.  Rough life, but it's kinda cool how the hive is is so woman-centric. 

Drones and bearding.  Hope you learned something new!  I know I'm constantly learning new things even about my own pets!

Ding Dong, the Rug is Dead

Last time I shared that I had bought a new rug for the living room.  Well confession time, I had actually listed our old rug on Craigslist before I had officially told Mike I wanted to buy a new one.  I figured if I got money for the old one it wouldn't be so bad buying a new one.  As is Craigslist, it could have sat for weeks with nothing, or, as luck would have it, someone would buy it right away!

I listed it last Tuesday, and Sunday night we got a call to come check it out.  I asked $100 and ended up taking $80 for it.  I always ask a little more than I'm willing to take it for, knowing that Craigslist is all about the negotiation.

The room's looking a little bare nowadays:

File this under "real life", also "I'm too lazy to get the real camera so my iPhone is good enough".  The rug pads are sitting on the chair and I'm in a pillow transition at the moment, so I've piled all the old ones in the basket in the corner.

The floor still looks amazing and was actually really clean under the rug, but I hope to clear out the room and deep clean everything before we put it down.  (I'm not one of those good housekeepers who regularly rotates and cleans under full size rugs very often).

My new rug just shipped yesterday, so it's not here yet, but I'm glad the old one is out to make it easier when it arrives.  And, with $80 for the old one, (which we bought new for $200), and the new one costing only $180, it's like I'm getting a new rug for only $100!  It's this logic that I use on Mike all the time to get new things.  His response is usually, "but we could not spend any money and live with the perfectly fine (insert random house object here)".  Where's the fun in that?

New Changes in the Living Room

After my surgery we thought we'd jump right back into house related projects, but then we remembered we had a not-so-little event happening at the end of August.  Oh right, just our wedding.

So, while it may seem that we're not doing very much over here, I've been a busy bee working on all the projects we are making for the wedding.  A lot like our home, we've decided to do a lot of it ourselves, and while some people think I'm crazy for not delegating, I live for this stuff.  Seriously, the contract negotiations of the real vendors stressed me out, but creating 125 custom favors and handmade centerpieces, this is my idea of fun.

Since I've decided not to share wedding details here on the blog, (a lot of my readers are friends and family that are invited and I didn't want to ruin any surprises), it might be a little slow for the summer. That being said, I can't completely neglect the house, (even though more and more space is being taken over with wedding paraphernalia everyday - the dining room is pretty much more boxes than usable space at this point).

I've written about my dislike for our living room, (evidence here, here, and here), and the biggest offender is the rug, (which I mentioned while shopping for the rug in the basement here).  I have a bad habit of having to complete a room all at once, instead of letting it grow over time, and the large rug was definitely a purchase strictly to get a neutral-ish rug that would fit the space, all within our budget, which at the time that we moved in was pennies.  So the $200 Ikea Persby seemed like a good idea at the time.

It's giant, 10' x 12', and is a great size for anchoring the seating area and creating a foyer area next to the front door.

But those swirls, ugh!  And the color was starting to annoy me.  It's a little more yellow than I wanted.  Moral of the story, I've wanted it gone, for years now.

So, I've had my eye out for a direction that I want to take this room and I'm really drawn to the styles of Dana from House*Tweaking's new home and Chris Loves Julia.  They both have a more masculine feel to their styles and in my opinion incorporate textures really well.  So, I looked at the type of rugs that they have, and immediately fell in love with the textured jute rug that Chris and Julia have in their front room.  It was as if my living room finally found it's purpose!

Image from Chris Loves Julia

So, I pinned the link to the rug from Rugs USA a couple months ago and have been stalking it ever since.  At the time I pinned it, it was 50% off and free shipping and I was working up the nerve to sweet talk Mike into letting me buy a new rug, when in his mind there's nothing wrong with the perfectly good one we have now.  Usually when this scenario happens I wait too long and it's no longer on sale.  This time something crazy happened and my procrastination actually worked in my favor, because the price dropped even further to 65% off.  For the 8.5' x 11.5' one that I thought would work it was originally $536, and at 65% off would come to $187.60.  Seriously, I had to use all my persuasive skills because I.had.to.have.this.rug.  The under $200 price tag made it that much easier to persuade Mike.

I finally got up the nerve to ask Mike and although he isn't completely sold on the new rug yet, he relented that I could buy a new one.  (Disclaimer - I technically don't need his permission to buy purchases, he's not a crazy dictator or anything, but as this is just as much his house as it is mine, although technically it could be argued it's more Benelli's than either of ours, I like to have his support when I make big purchases or change a room dramatically.)

So, last night a pulled the cord and bought it.  I've listed the old one on Craigslist, but we'll see if we get any bites.  Even with all the excitement and focus on wedding projects I can still get excited about finally moving this living room in the right direction.

Backyard Fire Pit

What does $20 plus a couple hours on a Sunday night equal?  A permanent fire pit!

Now that I'm feeling better, and the weather's finally nice out, Mike and I got antsy to do some outdoor projects over the weekend.  Mike and I spent Sunday inside and out working on projects all day and around 4:00 pm I mentioned it would be nice to build the fire pit today.  Weird thing was, Mike admitted he was thinking the same thing!

We bought one of those store-bought fire pits for the crawfish boil last year and, after one season it was already rusty and beat up.

Here's what it looked like new.

Not only was it looking crappy, when we set it up for the party, we forgot to put anything underneath it and it killed the grass.  We tried to fill it in with some grass seed, but we've been living with this bald spot ever since. 

We have fires pretty regular, and when the store bought one didn't cut it, we figured we would build a permanent one.  Before we landscaped we had been using a metal ring that we found in the yard when we moved in.  After all our grass came in, we hauled it to a friend's piece of land to be used later.  (After deciding to start the project last night, we drove the 45 minutes to go pick it up). We kept this in mind for the base of our design.

A week or so ago, Mike was given a bunch of bags of pea gravel from his job.  Sometimes for contractors it's not worth saving materials, so they just throw it away instead of reloading and storing it somewhere.  Obviously, Mike is the opposite, and gladly hauled away the bags.  We figured we could use it somewhere.

Since we had a metal ring and some gravel we decided we go simple and surround the metal ring with the stone.  On the way back from picking up the ring, we stopped at Lowe's and picked up some fiberglass edging, (the only cost for the project, since we had everything else).

Since the ring was 3' in diameter, we decided on 1.5' of stone around, so we started by marking out the outer edge by pounding a stake in the middle and using a string 3', (1.5' for the radius of the ring + 1.5' of stone).  Mike used some spray paint to mark it.

Then he grabbed the edger and cut around the circle.  He tied the string around the edger, just to keep it from getting wonky.

Once the edge was cut we worked together to clean it out.  Mike scrapped everything, then I loaded it into the wheelbarrow.

We were then left with a big bare circle.

In the middle of the oh-so-fun task of digging everything up, we came across an old friend, the clean-out for the downspout drains that go back to the dry well we built.  (You can see it here during the garage project.)

Mike was not very happy to have this on the corner of the fire pit, but at least we now know for sure where it is!

We placed the metal ring in the center of the pit.

Then added a layer of stone.  Maybe an inch or two.  We wanted to build it up to add the edging, since it's shorter than the center ring.  It also allowed for better tweaking of the edging since it's more giving than the dirt.

After the edging was installed, we filled it completely with stone.

We backfilled around the edging with some of the topsoil we dug up, and will put some grass seed down.  The stone is smaller than we would have chosen for this project, but it was free and you can't beat that.  We're going to live with it and see how it works during fires and for mowing around.  We talked about removing an inch or so of small gravel and getting a bag or two of bigger stone if needed.

Overall, I love it!  I always knew we would add a permanent fire pit in the yard, and I'm happy that we were able to do it in one evening for less than $20.

We already have plans with my sister and her boyfriend tonight, so maybe I'll pick up some marshmallows to break it in!