27th Year Challenge: Month 5

Okay, I am way behind in getting on my challenge list and year 28 is rounding the corner faster than I’d like to admit.  I’d like to say I have been busy working out, travelling, and doing things around the house, but let’s get real.  I was probably watching Arrested Development on Netflix in anticipation of the new season release and eating ice cream.  In fairness to myself, we were also busy with a lot of outside projects that sucked up what seemed like every weekend (more on those later).  But back to the challenge. 

At some point, we did manage to find some barstools for our kitchen.  I searched and searched.  I wanted something with a back so they would be comfortable to sit on and I thought I wanted something white to stand out against the dark wood and appliances. 

I loved these from West Elm but wasn’t sure how well the wood color would match to the somewhat reddish wood in our kitchen. 

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Then I liked these little fellas from Crate and Barrel but wasn’t so hot on the price.  Also, I wanted something with a back. 

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I thought I had found exactly what I wanted in these from CB2.  They had the higher back, were white, and had clean lines.  But I didn’t want to pay $300 for 2 chairs.

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So I held off.  I searched craigslist and every homegoods store I could think of.  Knowing I didn’t want to spend a bunch on the barstools, I focused almost exclusively on sale sections of websites like the ones I mentioned.  One day I was searching around on Restoration Hardware’s website.  I have never purchased anything from there because frankly, the prices seem crazy and often, the style just isn’t really mine.  But just when I least expected it, I found the perfect stools.  They were on final sale and were exactly what I had been looking for – The Hagen Stained Chair

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At $59.00 for the counter-height, I knew these were the ones.  I worried a bit about how the white stain would look but when they came in, they were perfect. They don’t look all grainy like they did in the picture.

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They add the perfect amount of white to the kitchen which is otherwise pretty dark in terms of tone.  They are incredibly comfortable and the legs are metal which, if you have a dog that likes to randomly chomp into furniture, is a huge plus.  And did I mention $59.00?  Seriously.  I couldn’t find anything I liked at Target for that price.  They came fully assembled which was extra awesome because I had read reviews on some from Target and people complained about assembly and the fact that the chairs were hard to level.  Don’t worry, Target, I still love you and will spend massive amounts of money on your products, but I wanted some sturdy chairs.  These fit the bill.  So I guess that means I have 5 out of 12 items on my challenge list complete.  I will take it!

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These chairs were SO worth the wait.  I have recently started following a new philosophy for decorating our house.  I don’t buy anything unless I absolutely love it.  I used to find myself doing things on Pinterest because they looked good, were cheap, and seemed easy enough.  But I almost always later wanted something different.  So I decided that even if it means that many of the rooms in our home remain unfinished, I’m okay with that.  I will wait, and search, and save until I find exactly what I love.  These barstools are perfect and I am so glad I waited until I found them!

New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year!  I wanted to publicly discuss my resolution for the new year in hopes that it might keep me accountable!

Find more balance.  Everyone says this right?  But seriously, with our jobs, balance is often gone as quickly as some soft baked cookies around our house.  Yes.I.Lack.All.Self-Control.  When we get home from work, all we want to do is lay on the couch, watch tv, and eat.  Lazy.  So this year, my goal is to still work hard at work but to get serious about finding time to workout (not just run) and to spend more time with our families and in our church/community.

For example, this last week or so, our family has been concerned with my brother’s health.  It turns out he is suffering from rare migraines but we were so concerned that it could be something much worse.  Times like that just remind me that you don’t have anything if you don’t have your health.  So I plan to spend more of my vacation/free time with my family, loving and enjoying and learning from them as much as possible while I still have time with them.  And I will workout more in an effort to keep myself around a bit longer for them to also enjoy!

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Me and my brother.

To kick off this resolution, Chase and I have agreed to cut out TV watching for a week.  I opted for longer but decided that every week, we will try to either cut something out of our routine or put something good in it.  Eliminating TV is hard (we are so addicted to the show Damages and are 2 episodes from the end!!) but so far the challenge has been great.  It gives me more time to workout, clean the house, and just spend time with Chase.  I will keep you posted on what we eliminate and add to our routines during the year!

What are your resolutions?  Happy new year to you all.  May God bless you with health and happiness throughout the next year.  With love, the Hallers.

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Let it pour

Sorry for my absence!  Work was crazy and holidays were busy.  But with a few days off before next year, I hope to catch up on some posts I have been wanting to write.  Happy holidays!

As I stated here, we recently had our patio all formed up and ready to go.  We had hoped to pour it the weekend after we formed it but the weather was less than cooperative.  So during the week a month or so ago, my dad came up to pour the concrete.  I apologize for the lack of pictures (I was at work and had to leave Chase with the camera duties).

My dad arrived early in the morning and started to check the grade to make sure there was a proper slope, etc.  He then added back the luan we had removed to finish the form.  Once the concrete arrived, he and some other guys started wheeling concrete from the front to the back of our house.  Honestly, I can’t tell you what they were doing at that point.  I wasn’t there and I know relatively nothing about concrete work.  I think they used a tool called a bull float and smoothed out the concrete.  Then they used textured rollers to give the patio a textured, stone-like surface.  After that, my dad threw a lot of charcoal release onto the wet concrete.  This stuff is the finest powder ever so he tried to cover parts of our house with plastic.  We didn’t have the right stuff so he only covered the door but you would ideally want to cover the whole back of the house.

Once the release was on, you have to leave it for 24 hours.  After that, you can remove the forms and start to spray the release off and then use a mild dish detergent like Ivory or Dove with a push broom to start washing it off even more.  The more you scrub, the lighter the color will get.  We wanted the concrete to be pretty dark and black so we didn’t have to scrub too much.

Once we were satisfied with the color, we let the concrete dry completely.  Then I used a roller with a long extension to apply a coat of sealer.  The sealer needs to dry for at least an hour and a half.  I had to go to work and then it started raining so I had to wait longer than I had hoped to apply a second coat.  With the second coat, you have to roll over it several times until the first layer of sealer starts to create sort of spider webs indicating that it is bonding with the first coat.  The most important thing about sealing is that your patio is clean.  You want to make sure you have clean shoes (I actually wore clean socks) and be sure to spray off any dirt.  Anything not cleaned off will permanently be sealed in once that sealer goes on.

After the second coat, we made sure to keep things off the patio for about a week until the color had really set.  Now we have moved everything back on the patio and are so in love.  We can’t wait to get some more furniture, etc, but are just enjoying what we have so far (although today it is covered in a foot of snow!).

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Now you see me – Now you don’t.

We have this window in our bedroom shaped like an octogon.  Why that shape?  I don’t know.  It lets in the morning light and is impossible to cover in any sort of decent way with a curtain or blinds.  The previous owners cut out a piece of styrofoam to fit in it and cover the whole window.  They took it with them when they moved.  Maybe they had a window in the exact same shape at their new house.  Either way, we needed to do something about it.

When walking in the bedroom and looking out the window, you only saw the roof above our garage.  From the other direction, you would have to stand against the wall where our bed is to see out and then you see empty lots and a pond.  Either way, we were self-conscious that people could see in at night.  We wanted to create a bit more privacy while still being able to see outside and let light in (the lighting is terrible because there is only one light in the middle of a giant room).

When I found this post on 7th House on the Left, I knew it was perfect.  I ran it by Chase who approved and off I set to tackle this one evening.  It was so simple.  I printed out a template on 7th House’s blog and then traced a bunch of them out on contact paper.  Once I had enough, I started applying them to the window.  I started in the middle and just slowly pulled the paper back and pushed the contact paper down.  I wasn’t crazy precise about it.  I just eyed it and it turned out pretty great!

When I got to the edges, I followed the same process but then used a razor to cut the edges.

We LOVE it.  Chase said he wants it on all the windows.  The pattern is great and allows us to still see out but mostly blocks any ability to see inside.  And the best part: it isn’t permanent.  I can just take it off if we ever decide we don’t like it.  For now, we love it!  Check out 7th House’s blog for full instructions and for lots of other great inspiration!

It’s Hammer Time!

Ah yes!  We are making progress on the porch and are so exhausted!  I thought we could all use an 80s-90s flashback to M.C. Hammer because we got crazy with a sledgehammer this week!  Chase tore out half and then I, yes I, sledged out the other half!

So before starting this step of the project, my dad was sure to warn us to cover our patio doors with cardboard in order to prevent any stray concrete chunks from crashing through the doors.  So we used some cardboard we had stored failed to throw away and taped it to the house using Frog Tape.  We didn’t want to use duck tape (although we all love duck tape) because in the heat, duck tape can get sticky and that sticky can transfer onto the side of the house.  No thank you.

So after protecting the doors, Chase got to work with a giant sledgehammer my dad loaned us.  It is affectionately called the Bubba sledge by my dad and brother.  I think it started its life by belonging to my brother…who is 6’4″ and weighs probably at least 50 pounds more than Chase … who is 5’10”.  My husband and I may not be as big as my brother but we managed just fine with that sledge.

Chase started with the corner Maggie had already dug under. (Sorry for the less than great photos.  These were taken with Chase’s phone which is five or so years old.)

And then he just kept making his way along.

I don’t have pictures of it all sledged out, but I will share the progress pictures of what we have done since this.

Great right?  Okay, maybe it isn’t pretty to you, but it looks great to me!  I think I like the house better without a patio at all than I do with the one we had.  I will keep you updated as we progress through the project so stay tuned!

Do you approve?

As I posted back here, we recently submitted plans for a new patio.  And it had been several weeks and we had received no response (the HOA covenants, etc. state that we should get a response in 30 days).  There is some tension in the neighborhood between the homeowners and the developers/builders who control the HOA so we weren’t really sure if we would get a response at all (some of our neighbors haven’t gotten responses after a year even).

But the other day, we got an email that had one, and only one, word: “Approved.”  YAY!  We are so excited!  We can’t wait to tear that eye-sore out of the ground! 

So next weekend, we will probably be forming up the patio, with the expert help of my dad.  That means this weekend and next week, we have to tear out the existing patio (without sending concrete chips flying into the glass patio doors), till up the grass where we want the porch, and get rid of concrete.  Lots to do, but oh so excited, and I just wanted to share!  I guess this means we are well on our way to completing another task on my 27th Year Challenge!

Happy Thursday!

And if you know of anyone looking for some fill concrete in the Indy area, let me know!

I love lamp!

Our house is fairly new so one might think we have good lighting.  That person would be wrong.  I can’t tell you what I would do for some recessed lighting!  We have a large living room and the only light in the room is a ceiling fan.  Thus, I was in need of some lamps.  We had these little guys from IKEA from our days in the apartment.

They were really inexpensive but didn’t give enough light and were certainly too small for the size of the room.

So I have been on the lookout for some new lights, and two weekends ago, on a trip to Target, I found what I had been looking for.  I found these clear lamps that can be filled with items during the different seasons.

And then I found these shades.

I love me some quatrefoil and I knew the yellow would look fabulous against our gray walls.  So I picked them up, took them home, and turned them on.  Let me say, I think they turned me on!  I LOVE them.  And every time I say that, Chase says, “I love lamp.”  (Name that movie!)

And what do these lamps really show me?  Well, we definitely need to get some curtains in that room (like a year ago), and we need some more fun patterns and colors.  I guess I need to start shopping for rugs and pillows.  Darn!

Oh, and check out these amber lamps by mom bought for her living room.  They are more clear than they look here and they aren’t cloudy at all.  She has a gorgeous shade of blue on her walls and these will look so great!  I almost wanted them for myself!

So how about you?  Bought any lamps lately?  Anyone else wonder why it isn’t illegal for builders to build homes without proper lighting?  Someone should do something about that!