5 Things I've Learned In One Year After the Cap & Gown

One year. Can it really have been a year since I donned that black cap and gown and walked single file with all of my classmates to accept a diploma that officially ushered me into adulthood? photo 428429_4046212924401_413770630_n_zps2ef906e7.jpg

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In one year, I have gotten married, gone on a honeymoon, moved into our first apartment, started my first "big girl job," and bought our first home. I have made new friends and kept old ones. We have learned to balance a budget, pay bills, and make wise purchases. I have had identity crises and questioned my purpose. I have had days where all seems right with the world.

I heard someone say that "the days feel long, but the years feel short." Never has this felt more true. In some ways I feel like I am still a college student on a long, arduous summer vacation. In other ways, my time at Belmont University feels like another lifetime.

To all of my friends graduating this month from your respective universities, the knowledge I have gained over a year is meager, yet the glimpses of wisdom God has given me seem to beg to be shared. I'm sure in fifty years, ten years, even one year from now, I will look back on this and laugh at how little I knew at 22--just like I do now when I read through the journals of my adolescence, but this is where God has me now, and I am thankful.

Dear one-year-ago Chandler,

Here are a few tips of the trade I've picked up in a year out in the world.

1. No one really knows exactly what they want to do when they graduate from college.

My English professors would have told me not to make a universal statement, but for the sake of impact, let's just say that it's true. We enter college wide eyed and fresh out of high school. We barely know how to make easy mac in the dorm room microwave without burning it--much less what our forever plan looks like. We spend four years honing our skills and narrowing down our interests, and then we expect to graduate with a clear image of our dream job and exactly what we want to accomplish with our lives.

I am beginning to realize that I only touched the surface of my journey to self discovery in college, and all I can do right now is serve the Lord with my current circumstances and allow His plan for my life to unfold. I also realize that it will probably be years before I truly know what my "dream job" looks like. If I did have my life planned out for the next 25 years, the plan would probably be shot in five years anyway.

I am in a job that I love with work that challenges me and people that care about things that matter. I am grateful, and I'm taking one step at a time.

2. Twenty-somethings are really diverse people.

After college graduation, everyone changes out of their matching cap and gown, packs up the car, and moves on to the next stage of life. Jack and Jill get married and settle down in a nice suburban neighborhood. Jane moves home to save money. Jim goes to graduate school. Jen gets a 9-5 job downtown, lives with a roommate, and invests in her first tailored suit. John picks up odd jobs, couch surfs, and parties while he's young. Joe takes a year off to backpack across Europe barefoot and gain life experience. As I have witnessed my friends' transitions into this next phase of life, I have watched in amazement at the way that God's plan differs for everyone. Maybe I'm wrong, but I feel that by the time people hit 30, the playing field begins to even. More people are married with kids, have purchased their first home, have found a job they plan on keeping for at least a few years, and have begun to establish stability. There are of course exceptions to every rule, and there is diversity among every age group, but for the young and the restless, there are so many paths to choose. It's okay to do your own thing.

3. I Still Have So Much To Learn

I make little mistakes and I don't understand things. I work so hard and try to do everything right, and then I find I left a trail of errors behind me. It is humbling and frustrating and embarrassing.

I spent 17 years of life actively learning. I listened to lectures, wrote papers, read books, and took tests to prove my knowledge. I scored well on my standardized tests and maintained a high GPA in college. I knew how to work the system.

Well the system changed, and now I am in kindergarten again at the school of life.

I am thankful that so many people are older and wiser than I am and can teach me what I need to know. I pray God gives me a teachable spirit and that I never think I am too old to learn a lesson.

4. Adult Friendships Take More Effort But Have Great Reward  photo 297524_10200173890340684_1281024255_n_zps36e6dedc.jpg

The flexibility of college schedules, frequency of social activities, and close proximity of living make for easy socializing in college. I have such good memories of late night study groups, spontaneous Waffle House runs at 2 a.m., lazy afternoons on the lawn in the quad, and deep theological discussions at the cafeteria. Socializing hardly took effort, and friends seemed to come naturally.

In the "real" world, friendships take cultivating. You must plan times to spend with friends and coordinate schedules. Intentionality is key. Especially for those of us that got married right out of the gate, relationships with people other than your spouse are easy to push by the wayside (and certainly ought to take second place).  photo 380602_10200256411123652_1400914135_n_zps16e17849.jpg

Despite the change, I have had some of my sweetest times with friends in this year. I have developed new relationships and started to realize who the deep friendships are that will last for years to come. As so many people I know navigate the uncharted waters of complete independence simultaneously, we find a common bond. Also, as I have moved into adulthood, the age gap between myself and those ten years older seems to have narrowed.

5. Growing up can be fun.

Peter Pan would certainly disagree, but I believe it. There are new responsibilities and stresses I have never experienced before, but I have loved the experiences I have had and the joys of figuring out what I believe and what life is going to look like. So, younger self, don't lose heart that your years of school are over. I believe the best is yet to come.

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Throwback Thursday: Our First DIY Project

I am just starting several painting projects that aren't ready to post yet, so I thought I would share a little throwback on the blog today to pass the time. In our first apartment, we were blessed to have been gifted quite a bit of our furniture, and I had to do very little DIY. I knew we weren't staying there long, and we had too much furniture for the little space already so I refrained for the most part. That was one of the reasons I was itching to get into a house where I could keep busy with projects.

The one furniture transformation we tackled at the old apartment happened within our first month of marriage, so I thought I would do a little throwback to the corner shelf that, unbeknownst to us, initiated what I believe will be many years of DIY love.

We were looking for a corner shelf to hold some of our glassware and random decor that we didn't have space for, and we found one from a little girl's room on craigslist. As per usual, I requested a lower price, got it, and then painted it.

Here was the before and after.  photo 547810_4362746917553_930737245_n_zps5946b48c.jpg

And another angle in our old apartment.  photo cornershelf_zps64d69d02.jpg

And here it is now in the basement guest bedroom. The interior color almost matches the walls exactly.  photo IMG_5532_zps8950186e.jpg

This little corner shelf started it all.

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Jeremy & Chandler Part 1: Getting Ready

Marriage is the best, and I am so happy to have such sweet memories of the day that it all began. Today marks 10 months of marriage, and I am celebrating with the beginning of our wedding day story. Part 1: Getting Ready. 

It was July 1, 2012, and I was mentally prepared for the Houston heat. Texas suffered a drought the summer before, so a rain storm was not really a concern initially. But God knew what he was doing, and he sent us a rainy weekend. Back at our home in Nashville, it was 108 degrees on our wedding day. In Jeremy's Atlanta hometown, it was 106. But in notoriously hot Houston, it was 85 and cloudy. Thank you, Jesus.

A family at our church has the most picturesque private chapel that we had the privilege of using for our wedding, and adjacent to the chapel is a quaint cottage that looks like it was plucked right out of a Jane Austen novel where my bridesmaids and I got ready for the day. Two hairdressers met us there that morning, and we spent the day relaxing, laughing and primping. Each of my maids holds such a special place in my heart, and they were the perfect little team to keep me calm and lighten my spirits.  photo 070112_9899copy_zps38c78796.jpg

Looking back, it is like everything was moving in slow motion, and God delayed time so that I could absorb the details of my wedding morning. The cottage was locked upon our arrival, so I made a phone call for someone to let us in. One of my bridesmaids' amazing mothers brought breakfast, and we all nibbled on cinnamon crunch bagels and fruit and sipped our coffee and juice. I could barely eat because I was so excited, but I tried. I mean, have you ever had a cinnamon crunch bagel?  photo Gettingready_zps76d7b154.jpg As we took turns playing dress up with the hair stylists, a few of my maids and I took some time to walk around the property, greet the monkeys (yes, I said monkeys) and enjoy the morning. The humid Texas air reminded me of sweet childhood summers, and somehow the looming rain clouds did not phase me.

Rain poured down half way through our walk, and we made a mad dash for the cottage after covering my sister Raegan's already styled hair with a stray plastic bucket. Hilarity ensued and we giggled for the next half hour. My Dad called and was concerned that the rain would be a problem for guests as they entered the chapel. "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding" (Phil 4:7) guarded my heart; I was too happy to be bothered. I knew God had it under control.  photo 10-gettingready_zpsdefb3fa7.jpg The events started to pick up speed as the hours ticked by. I spent an hour getting my hair done, and it turned out exactly as I hoped. We all did our own makeup, and I felt like a little girl again as we shared eyeshadow and each girl helped the other look her best. I took a few minutes by myself in the bedroom upstairs to gather my thoughts before the photographers arrived and began snapping detail shots.  photo Hair_zps55d9645d.jpg I decided to get dressed with just my mom and sisters, and that time could not have been sweeter. The dress was perfect. My sisters and my mom are my best friends. The sun was beginning to shine. I was getting married. You could not have wiped the smile off my face if you tried.  photo 3-GettingReady_zps4486a8ea.jpg  photo Proofs1002_zpsccd58458.jpg  photo Proofs0980_zpsa94b2a76.jpg I walked down the little wooden steps to a room filled with my closest friends and twirled around to show off the dress that I said "Yes" to all those months prior. Sweetheart neckline, three dimensional lace detail, tiny sparkly crystals, satin waist band, fit and flare skirt.  photo bmaidreveal_zps663ab09b.jpg The girls were all dressed in navy, and we each took hold of a beautiful bouquet of coral peonies and white hydrangeas and headed outside to snap group shots.  photo 070112_9665copy_zps96361698.jpg  photo 070112_9860copy_zps3c716c1f.jpg

And the men looked pretty good too.  photo Proofs0928_zps5730e3f0.jpg Although Jeremy and I opted not to see each other before the wedding, we decided to pray together at a quaint spot where we could hold hands but not sneak any sort of peek. Well, I saw the back of his head. It looked like it always does. That can be our little secret.  photo firstprayer_zpse22115f8.jpg

I was so nervous as the photographers positioned us for the big prayer and exchange of letters. I wanted to cry as I read his letter, heard his voice, and let it sink in that I was about to marry this guy. My brain: "SHUT THE [GREEN] DOOR! THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING! HE'S SO AWESOME! LET'S DO THIS THING!"  photo 8-GettingReady_zpsac7ea6eb.jpg

Ahem. Excuse that interjection. As I was saying, that sweet prayer time was lovely--only to be overshadowed by the ceremony that was to follow.

To be continued...

**All the professional photos are courtesy of the amazing Yellow Skinny Photos. Photos from the early morning getting ready are from my various bridesmaids.

Housewarming Party

On Saturday, we hosted a housewarming party to allow friends to stop by and get a tour of the new digs. Due to some yucky weather outside and everyone's busy spring schedules, a lot of friends were not able to make it, so here is a little run down of the night. I knew it was going to be a rainy day, so I put together a menu of some of our favorite Jeremy & Chandler comfort foods.  photo IMG_5625_zps58a56ff3.jpg  photo IMG_5624_zpsfc50d99a.jpg  photo IMG_5634_zps1005371a.jpg  photo IMG_5627_zps9805ba43.jpg

I might be biased, but Jeremy makes the best homemade burgers I've ever tasted. Seriously. They are amazing. He tried his hand at sliders this time. They were a hit.

I also tried some Mac & Cheese bites and my standard favorite of Apple Berry Salsa with homemade cinnamon sugar chips.  photo IMG_5635_zps34971aeb.jpg

There we are. Me and my little burger chef.  photo IMG_5639_zpse911d674.jpg

We also let people put a little personal stamp on the house. We have plans to paint the office, so I asked people to "Write On Our Wall" with chalk and leave their favorite scripture or a note to us.  photo IMG_5636_zps76639d1e.jpg  photo IMG_5644_zps967c0a81.jpg  photo IMG_5643_zpsd156b772.jpg

Before & After: Mid Century Modern Teak Kitchen Chairs

You have seen the evolution of our banquette, so you've also seen our lovely rustic/industrial table from World Market. The only thing we needed to finish off the set were three chairs. In my dream world, I pictured tufted upholstered dining chairs, but you can barely find them for less than $150 a chair which translates to $450+ for just three chairs which is way out of the budget we set.

I have recently fallen in love with mid-century modern style furniture. The vintage feel, the clean lines, and the simplicity make me drool. I thought a mid-century teak dining chair set could be the perfect fit for our little nook.

Teak is an expensive wood, and I found prices ranging from $100-$400 per chair. This did not solve my problem.

Then the stars collided and the heavens opened up and shone a light on my little Craigslist app. A set of 4 Teak Mid-Century Style Dining Chairs AND small table on Craigslist for $75 TOTAL. I sent an email and asked if she would take $50 for the chairs and leave out the table. She said yes. SOLD.  photo IMG_5547_zps7ae2c466.jpg

That's right, my friends. $12.50 a pop for the exact style of chair I had been hoping to get. All they needed was a little TLC.  photo beforeafterkitchenchair_zpsd9ccea7b.jpg

Goals: - Stain the wood darker to match the table. - Recover the seat with a simple gray fabric and install new foam for the cushion.

1. Stain the Wood Darker to Match the Table

Wood conditioner makes a huge difference.

I wanted to darken the wood just a little bit, so I used a dark walnut stain over the existing color. After sanding with 100 grit to remove the varnish and then 220 grit to smooth it out, I applied the stain, and it fell into the crevices and looked pretty uneven. I like the rustic look but wanted to preserve the smoothness of the teak. On the remaining three chairs, I used wood conditioner before stain, and it made a huge difference.

The one on the left is with wood conditioner, the one on the right is without.  photo IMG_5606_zpsea98386c.jpg

The Dark Walnut stain added just the right amount of dark color to make the wood look more cohesive with the table.

Finally, I sealed everything with a gloss polyurethane, thought it was too shiny, and sanded everything down with 220 grit again before calling them finished.

2. Recover the seats

The original upholstery job was worse than I thought. I started with this rather tacky, very poorly upholstered blue vinyl fabric. I figured I would just remove it and move on.  photo IMG_5554_zpsecac67a5.jpg Then I found this.  photo IMG_5611_zpsc6041381.jpg Then I found this.  photo IMG_5560_zpsba02cec9.jpg Then I found this.  photo IMG_5612_zps17a9f55a.jpg It was like a really gross onion. (You know...layers. Shrek, anyone?)

I used my tried and true method of small flat head screwdriver + needle nosed pliers (see my first upholstery job here) to remove the staples and original fabrics. Then I pulled up the original stained, gross foam. I had to use a knife to scrape some of it off the wood of the seat.  photo IMG_5559_zps5359c580.jpg

I purchased 2 yards of 1" foam from Joann Fabrics during their 50% off foam sale and cut it to fit each seat.  photo IMG_5609_zpsfd6d6a51.jpg

Then I covered it in this lovely, sturdy, textured gray fabric. I was sure to mark where the screw holes were with a sharpie and then I cut the fabric around them once I was finished stapling.  photo IMG_5566_zps8bf9293e.jpg

VOILA!  photo IMG_5620_zps5b2cf84a.jpg

Put everything back together and presto--the perfect, small scale chairs that add character without taking away from the statement of the banquette and industrial table. The mid century style also helps to add a touch of modern to our space.  photo IMG_5622_zpsfaa928ed.jpg

Here is a rough price breakdown: 4 Chairs on Craigslist: $50 1.5 yards of fabric from The Fabric House: $17 2 yards of 1" foam from Joann Fabrics (50% off): $16 Miniwax Polyurethane: already owned Miniwax Dark Walnut Stain: already owned Sandpaper: $4 Wood Conditioner: $13 Foam brushes: $3

Grand Total: $103 ($25.75 per chair)

My budget for 3 chairs was $100. I got 4 out of the deal (one is going to be a desk chair in the office).

Just to make myself feel better, here is a set of 4 Vintage Danish Mid-Century Chairs on Etsy for $1,650. I'm not sure that mine are actually vintage, but I think a $1,547 savings is pretty good.  photo etsyvsmychair_zps9a2dd15f.jpg

And just one more picture for grins.  photo c4d35bf7-71a8-430f-83e9-5b7c88e1886f_zps5ef3b5eb.jpg

Dinner party, anyone?

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One Month of Home Ownership

We signed the contract and picked up our keys one month ago today. What a whirlwind it has been! 1. We painted two bedrooms in one night.  photo IMG_1421_zpsc1f36e95.jpg  photo IMG_1420_zpsfbf9f998.jpg

2. We moved all of our stuff with the help of good friends.  photo IMG_1431_zpsd87fccac.jpg

3. We built and painted a banquette.  photo IMG_5589_zpsb7fcd7ce.jpg

4. We enjoyed a lovely Easter with family and ate our first meal at our new table.  photo easterlunch_zps7a4e7d57.jpg 5. We got the basement "guest ready"  photo IMG_5531_zpsb5b3077e.jpg 6. We painted my childhood bed.  photo IMG_1435_zpsf24b6ffa.jpg 7. We refinished a TV stand  photo IMG_5481_zps16cc0404.jpg 8. We invested in lawn tools, and Jeremy mowed our yard for the first time.  photo E390FBBF-C1CF-45EA-9368-FF5877EB176A-3959-0000022F4CC0DD4F_zps38997c37.jpg 9. We painted the living room and kitchen gray.  photo IMG_5471_zps718cae8b.jpg 10. We inherited and invested in new furniture pieces  photo IMG_5462_zpsaba834ca.jpg We actually did a lot more that I have yet to post about. Here is a sneak preview of some of our other projects that we have been working on!  photo 49aaa134-a5ae-4f1d-9d0d-3cfcfa9c6cf5_zpsa4f2451c.jpg

Y'all come back now, ya hear?

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The Kitchen Nook Pt. 2

We have been busy little bees at the house, but I have failed to post many updates because most of our projects are in the middle stages and not ready to be revealed.  Also, the house is just too messy to take pictures because we are still partially living out of boxes. Oops. In the next few weeks, expect a deluge of reveal posts.

One thing that is ready for an update post is our adorable little kitchen nook that has stolen my heart and many of my evenings. We left off here with a completed but not-yet-painted bench. And here is what it looks like now.

 photo IMG_5589_zpsb7fcd7ce.jpg

I won't feel like it is truly complete until I clean up the edges a bit and make a cushion, but this is where we have landed until I can save enough pennies to buy 3" foam.

I used some wood putty to fill in the cracks by the wall and the nail holes. This took me much longer than I anticipated.  photo 3D60E19B-1987-4F86-B2ED-CA09AB23F628-3515-000001F78FBE9648_zpsd1af5135.jpg I taped everything off with painter's tape.  photo FD360992-C742-4926-8DB4-00F89A436325-3515-000001F785DE0F8B_zps585dfa2a.jpg I sanded everything down with 220 grit sandpaper.

I primed. Twice.  photo FED3A9B3-1208-4DB9-ABF0-F0AB57551458-3515-000001F781DAF16B_zps09980e59.jpg

I sanded again using our handy-dandy sander (which has stolen the title of favorite tool from my staple gun).  photo IMG_5552_zps72607e28.jpg I painted two coats of semi-gloss white paint.  photo IMG_5551_zps6bd6391d.jpg I ripped off the painter's tape which accidentally removed some paint, said "uh oh," and corrected my mistake. I didn't take pictures of that because I am embarrassed.

I breathed a sigh of relief.

I realized that the edges look a little rough and I need to find a way to correct that.

But that is for another time.

So here is how it looks now! The white is crisp and clean and a great backdrop! Most of the pillows are just forms; I will be sewing pillow covers soon.  photo IMG_5595_zpsdfc6bf5c.jpg To give you your bearings and a little bit more perspective, here is a comparison shot from the day we moved in.  photo banquetteprogress_zpsfb692d9d.jpg

And a little sneak peek at what it will look like with the chairs I am currently refinishing and reupholstering. More details to come!  photo IMG_5598_zps22d252b9.jpg

What You, Me, and Thrift Shops Have In Common

When I was a kid, my mom took me to a lot of secondhand stores. She is the master of all things thrifty, and she would spend hours looking through racks and digging through sale bins to find something with potential while I pouted in the middle of one of those round clothing racks. Remember those? They were the perfect hideout for a grumpy child. Undoubtedly, I whined and told her I was hungry and tired. Then she would hold some cute, barely used dress up to my shoulders and ask if I liked it, and I would say, "Mom. I don't want to wear something from a resale shop. Can we go to Limited Too?" (Apparently I thought the purple glitter jeans I was eying at the mall would be a better investment in the long run.) Case in point that my fashion choices weren't as good as I thought.  photo crazyoutfit_zpsa0924906.jpg

I have since wised up, and I now know that I can stretch my pennies the farthest and score the best finds at bargain shops, thrift stores, dumpsters, and classifieds. I am proud to say I am becoming more like my mother every day. She's incredible, so I hope that continues.

I have recently been pondering what it is about secondhand purchases that freak some people out, and why I love them so much. I came to one conclusion: potential. I love seeing the potential in something that is scratched up or just plain ugly. I can picture what it would look like with a coat of paint, and I love taking the time to make old things new. But sometimes it's hard to see potential in something, and we would rather spend a few extra bucks to buy something that already looks like it was plucked out of a magazine.

Now, here is the humbling part. Lately, my small group has been studying a book called The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges. Last week we talked about sanctification, and the fact that we are all works in progress.

Brace yourself, it's about to get real up in here.

I am like the spiritual version of something God picked up at a thrift store. I am a hot mess with chipping paint, weird dated hippie wallpaper on one side, and an unstable foundation. I need a lot of work. I try to convince myself that I have arrived. That I am already at the "after" stage of a design show, but then I fall on my face and am reminded that I need God's help more than ever.

Sometimes I am in the middle of a renovation, and it's hard, and nothing seems to be working, and I can't see the end result. Sometimes I want to give up on this whole sanctification process and say, "I'll never be like Jesus anyway. Why even try?" And it's true; I will never be perfect, but Jesus has a design in mind, and if I let Him do the work, I know there is a beautiful ending on the other side.

Isn't that why we all love "Before & After" photos? Why we enjoy shows like The Biggest Loser and What Not To Wear? We love seeing something or someone go from rags to riches, from average to spectacular, but how many of us actually want to put in the work to get there?

I have been on a bit of a spiritual plateau lately--discouraged by a lack of growth and unable to see God's end result. As I work almost daily to bring new life to furniture and rooms in our little home, my prayer is that I work even harder to allow God to bring new life to my sad, little junk store self.

Am I willing to let God transform me into something He designed, or am I still like the little 10-year-old Chandler sitting in the clothing rack pouting because I couldn't see the potential? What about you?

Trust me, you don't want the glitter jeans.

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The First Week of Paleo: Recipe Ideas

We still have a lot to learn about eating Paleo, but I thought I would still share some links to the recipes that we tried last week. Eating healthy takes more time, but taking the time to plan and prepare meals makes them even more enjoyable. Dinners

Monday - Enchilada Chicken Stew with Avocado  photo enchilada-stew2-610x300_zps44f48f0f.jpg

Tuesday - Trader Joe's Pre-Seasoned Pork Tenderloin (This was delicious and so easy! Highly recommend it!) Oven Grilled Asparagus Mashed Cauliflower  photo mashedcauliflower_zpsef3fc0d0.jpg

Wednesday - Jeremy's Special Seasoned Burgers Without Buns (Secret Recipe. For now :-)) Cubed sweet potato with olive oil & seasonings Fresh Watermelon  photo 0B3CF586-2E67-4DF4-BE97-5724006759F7-2477-000002B0E2D89379_zps6cb189b6.jpg

Thursday - Spaghetti Squash & Italian Sausage Meatballs with Spaghetti Sauce Cubed sweet potato  photo spaghettisquash_zps7022db1a.jpg

Friday - Leftovers

Saturday - Burgers, sweet potatoes, and watermelon again. It was just so yummy the first time.

Sunday - Leftovers again.

Lunches -

For lunches, we mostly ate leftovers from our dinners and salads. I also boiled a few chicken breasts and we packed them with bbq sauce.

Breakfasts -

Most mornings, we enjoyed eggs and chicken sausage, and I made a smoothie with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Delicious AND nutritious. I also drank coffee with almond milk.  photo 2380F45A-D7DD-4460-8D0C-1CFE359DAB4C-2477-000002B0F18FFA91_zps7941802d.jpg

Snacks and other treats -

We satiated our desire for something sweet with bits of all natural dark chocolate and Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk. We switched from cow's milk to almond milk months ago, and this dark chocolate version was the perfect way to satisfy our sweet teeth after dinner.

An easy and delicious salty snack to munch throughout the day is Vegetable Root Chips. We love the Trader Joe's version. It is a combination of vegetables like sweet potatoes, parsnips, taros, and batatas.  photo CAA05C20-FA52-42E2-B1F7-3755170FECB0-2477-000002B0DF1F09DD_zpsed5da4a8.jpg

We also tried a recipe for Sweet Potato Chai Paleo "Muffins." They were worth the try, and not half bad, but also, when you are used to regular muffins, these don't make you want to jump up and down or anything. But they almost made me feel like I was eating carbs. And that says something.  photo sweetpotatochai_zpsb827240c.jpg

Thanks to all of the other bloggers who have experimented with Paleo recipes and made our week easier. I hope this helps someone who wants to go on the journey as well!

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The One Week Paleo Challenge: It's Only The Beginning

 photo 43E39E32-6C70-4387-9E66-D8191A70BC77-1320-00000212E9564BFA_zps2eceaac7.jpgWe made it for a week, and we don't want to stop! The week of Paleo was a success! Some of you warned me that I would love it, and that I would want to keep going, and you were right! Jeremy and I are going to be a little less strict from now on. We have weddings coming up, and you better believe we are going to have some wedding cake. I will probably even eat grains several times a week, put cheese back on my salads, and order a pizza every now and then, but I really have discovered that I enjoy Paleo, and I want to continue cooking Paleo meals, cutting way back on grains and dairy, and focusing our diet around veggies, fruits, meats, and nuts. Our goal is to eat (mostly) Paleo at home but be flexible when we are with friends and eating out. Today, I wanted to recap the effects we have felt from the diet, and I will be back later this week to share a few of the recipes we enjoyed so far.

A few of my revelations:

1. The first few days were rough. Our bodies were detoxing from carbs, and that translated to cravings, feelings of hunger, and a few short tempered spats. We were also learning what to eat on the diet. I used to be fine with just a fruit and veggie VitaMix smoothie in the morning until lunch, but since I wasn't snacking on carbs to "fill me up" between meals anymore, I realized that eggs and chicken sausage in the morning made a big difference in feeling satisfied throughout the day. I still made my smoothie and put it in the fridge at work as a snack in between meals.

2. Cooking Paleo at home is easier than it sounds. Every dinner consisted of just a good meat and two or three vegetables. We packed leftovers for lunches. It's amazing how much I didn't miss carbs in our dinners. Mind you, when I saw a billboard for cheese dip or smelled the fresh bread at the grocery store, that was a different story. But since all we had at home was things we were allowed to eat, winning was easy.

3. I discovered that some people eat dark chocolate on Paleo, and we indulged in a little bit every day. It kept us sane. Commence the judging :-)

4. Things I would miss the most if I ate strictly Paleo for the rest of my life: cheese, dinner rolls, cereal, rice for Asian food (Sushi and Hibachi especially), black beans, and peanut butter.

Things Jeremy would miss the most if he ate strictly Paleo for the rest of his life: sugary drinks like sweet tea and lemonade (good 'ol Georgia boy right there), ketchup, bread, cheese, pizza.

5. Shopping Paleo ain't cheap. Meat and produce are some of the most expensive things at the supermarket. I believe eating healthy is worth it, but it is something to consider.

6. We ended our week of Paleo with a date night to Cheesecake Factory and celebrated our success by breaking all the rules (bread, rice, cheese, and tortilla chips all included). I could automatically tell a difference in the way I felt after one splurge meal. Was it worth it for delicious food and a fun date with the hubby? I think so. Does it make me want to go back to eating that way all the time? No way, Jose.

Health benefits we noticed this week: 1. No more 3:30 slump. I used to get so tired in the afternoon at work, but I noticed more energy throughout the day. I didn't get tired until the evening when it was time for bed, but I would be ready to get up and go in the morning earlier than usual. It's like my body knew when to sleep and was on the correct schedule for the first time in a while.

2. I wanted to work out. The energy translated to a renewed interest in overall fitness.

3. Toward the end of the week, I started craving things that were good for me rather than things that would harm my body. I was running late and unable to make a smoothie before work on Friday, and all I could think about during the day was that spinach, grape, and pineapple smoothie that would be waiting for me at home, and that  is all that I wanted for dinner.

4. Even when I got full, I didn't feel a heavy fullness that carbs give, I simply felt extra satisfied.

5. Jeremy noticed an overall peace of mind and confidence knowing that he was putting good food into his body. I agree.

Thanks for following our little newlywed journey. Love you guys!

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Going Gray

Gray is the new tan. Haven't you heard? Gray is the "it" home neutral right now, and I am 100% on board with that. I love the versatility and modern edge that gray brings, but choosing a gray is no easy task. It seems like there are endless gray paint options out there, and it can be overwhelming to begin to choose the right shade. Grays can have blue, green, or purple undertones, and every room wears those undertones differently.

We painted our bedroom Stonington Gray by Benjamin Moore color matched to HGTV paint from Sherwin Williams (see our House Tour for an overview picture). It is the perfect gray for that room. It has slight blue undertones and is a wonderful calming bedroom color. (  photo IMG_1427_zpsbe561b74.jpg Update: Master Bedroom Reveal - All Precious & Pleasant Blog

But picking the right living room color was trickier. I took advantage of sample pots of paint and tried five colors on the walls. I painted swatches in several places around the room and watched them in different lights at different times of day over the course of several days.  photo goinggray_zps7f6c54ec.jpg The colors are all by Benjamin Moore (from the top): Stonington Gray Gray Owl Covington Gray Revere Pewter Smoke Embers

There seemed to be a pretty clear winner for us from the beginning. Covington Gray and Smoke Embers were too dark. Stonington Gray was too blue. Gray Owl was too green. That left us with a color I have been eying on Pinterest for months: Revere Pewter. It is a very warm gray that almost looks taupe at certain times of day. It's a beautiful transitional color and makes a great background. It looks beautiful with our new entertainment center, chairs, and tan couch. It also works well in the kitchen.  photo IMG_5471_zps718cae8b.jpg Here it is on empty walls after we took the plunge. We had it color matched at Lowes to Olympic One paint in Eggshell. If you've never color matched before, Lowes has most colors from all different paint brands programmed into their system, and you can just tell them what you want and they can mix any brand color into their paint! That works great for newlyweds like us who want Benjamin Moore colors but don't want to pay the prices of Benjamin Moore paint.

Side note: We chose Olympic brand paint because we love John & Sherry at Young House Love, and they used Olympic in most of their house.  Also, we experimented with Sherwin Williams in one bedroom and Olympic in the other bedroom, and we actually liked the consistency, coverage, and outcome of Olympic even better than Sherwin. And the price is great. Winning.  photo IMG_5472_zps030eab85.jpg

I love the way it pops against the white trim. I just have a few small things to tweak before I will post some progress updates on the living room!

In the mean time, here are a few of my favorite Pinterest photos of the color.

reverepewter1 reverepewter2

P.S. Lots of progress has been made in the living room! Here is an overview of the space so you can see what the color looks like on the walls on a larger scale! For more photos, visit our House Tour living room tour  photo Signature_zps48867f61.jpg

Basement Updates

One of our motivations for getting a house was to be able to host people and bring friends and family into our home. We have started things off right with Jeremy's family coming in town the week after we moved, and a bachelor party at our pad two weeks after (I escaped for that one). The basement is nowhere near finished, (It's only been two and a half weeks; give me a break!) but I thought I would post some updates of where we are currently. Basement Main Space

Before  photo 11-Basement_zpsdb68cb55.jpg Progress  photo IMG_5543_zps8d4837ce.jpg  photo IMG_5544_zps115df002.jpg  photo IMG_5545_zps80d2fe13.jpg Things we've done: - Move our furniture into the space - Purchase a plush shag rug to warm up the tile - Create two distinct areas in the long space. One for the table and one for seating.

Things we want to accomplish over time (Rome wasn't built in a day): - Purchase a TV for the "man cave" - Add some more colorful accents and accessories - Maybe do a board and batten wall along the back? - Purchase an electric fireplace to act as a space heater in the winter and make it feel more cozy. - Investigate and fix the low hanging ceiling in the middle of the room - Find a smaller scale end table for next to the recliner and some sort of coffee table - Add some wall art above the couch (I'm thinking something with maps). - Make a "coffee bar" and refreshment station for guests on the wall between the recliner and the bathroom.

Basement Bedroom

Before  photo 12-Basementbedroom_zps4c35060f.jpg Progress  photo IMG_5531_zpsb5b3077e.jpg  photo IMG_5528_zps9fbe5bc1.jpg  photo IMG_5532_zps1bb0c9d1.jpg This room still has a long way to go. I wish we had a good picture after the sellers moved their furniture and we were left with only the terrible overhead lighting that makes the room feel like an asylum. You would have loved it. Maybe some people go for that lifeless, lackluster, "I would rather sleep outside with the squirrels than in this room" look, but it just wasn't my style.

Things we've done: - Painted the walls a warm color: Natural Linen by Benjamin Moore (color matched to Olympic One in Eggshell) - Spray painted my childhood bed frame black - Warmed up the space with coral and blue. (Curtains & Coverlet: TJ Maxx. Lamp: $3.50 from a thrift store. Sheets: hand me down from my sister's childhood Indian bedroom. I opted not to take the teepee and dream catchers although they would have added an ethnic vibe) - Temporarily accessorized the corner shelf that we brought from our apartment. - Warmed up the floor with a craigslisted Ikea rug

Things that we still need to do: - Hem the curtains so they don't drag the floor - Hang some wall art - Paint the nightstand - Install a door on the bedroom (tiny detail) - Add some pillow shams & decorative pillows. I'm thinking some nice neutrals to balance out the bright coral and blue.

The bathroom still looks the same. I have visions of a moody paint color and board and batten halfway up the wall with rustic accents, but that room is pretty low on our priority list so get back to me next year!

For all of our out of town friends and family, we are making a place for you! You are welcome any time!

Lots of love,  photo Signature_zps48867f61.jpg

The Kitchen Nook Pt. 1

You may remember from this post that I really wanted a kitchen banquette. Well, the in-laws came in town for Easter weekend, and my father-in-law is a handyman extraordinaire, so he and Jeremy spent 15 hours Saturday building the nook. We are not wasting any time on this house! I have yet to paint the seating, but I thought I would go ahead and post some updates on our really cozy, unique bench seating in the kitchen. This is the perfect space saver for any kitchen with limited dining space. I love rooms that have an eclectic feel, but that can also be terrifying because it is hard to know how to be eclectic without looking like a mess or like an unintentional collection of whatever you had on hand. Lord help me; our kitchen nook is going to be eclectic. I am loving the industrial look that is popping up all over the place, and we purchased the Jackson Dining Table from World Market. I bought some mid-century style chairs to refinish and recover. And pillows and a bench cushion will make everything feel pulled together.

The men worked hard to create the perfect space. They cut wood in the carport.  photo B3553357-8365-4031-907C-E41E41C0D79E-13466-000003A80DEA55A5_zpsc9246caf.jpg  photo 31E7F9AE-CD1C-46FA-9321-D0F045C40D9B-13466-000003A7EB3DDBFE_zps257fc9c7.jpg Installed the bench inside.  photo B2D7E9C0-3CE3-4F6A-8B50-551673CB176F-13466-000003A7D9E164BD_zps264ca6b2.jpg Cut the base molding to create a seamless look with the wall.  photo 79736EC7-B666-4691-9B7B-8895C833E1B8-13466-000003A71D254A6A_zps14825a58.jpg Moved a wall outlet to the side of the bench for added functionality.  photo 2F03AD8D-C31B-4244-85F7-7D7979DB79B6-13466-000003A761F63142_zps0124c746.jpg Redirected air flow from the floor to the outside of the bench with a vent.  photo 39574538-8FC8-4A10-BC49-AA9EE1413375-13466-000003A78C08400B_zps97c61362.jpg  photo B543E3BC-98D8-46C3-A82F-F5BD9BD89CF2-13466-000003A714D04AF4_zps6dd467fb.jpg Installed a hinge top for loads of storage.  photo A97DAEC8-A6E7-4606-831F-ED7A01573B2E-13466-000003A6F0D551C0_zps4a9dc68d.jpg And rested after a good day's work.  photo 915F0F89-2EFA-419F-B2FA-D6B0658FD939-13466-000003A70DA8E18A_zps8069fcd5.jpg Doesn't it look beautiful? It is comfortable too. Come have dinner with us!  photo IMG_5524_zps77bbdcd5.jpg  photo IMG_5522_zps6e3e94ae.jpg I can't wait to paint it and add pillows. I will be back with another post after more progress!

Check out our progress: Painted white With mid-century modern chairs

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The One Week Paleo Challenge

I feel a little wimpy. I know a lot of people take the "lifetime Paleo challenge." A big fist bump and a thumbs up to you. You are a stronger person than I. And perhaps I will get to that point, but for now, Jeremy & I are cleaning out our systems with a week of Paleo eating. Moving and a hectic schedule has added up to a few too many restaurant meals, frozen pizzas, and a carb heavy diet. My system is tired, and it's time to get back on track.

Next week, I will document the recipes I tried over the course of our strict one week of Paleo.

We are a pretty healthy couple. I don't buy many processed foods, we eat lots of fruits and veggies, lean meats, free range eggs, organic foods, whole grains and very little dessert as a general rule. I try to keep our home pretty free of foods that are toxic for our bodies. We are not totally strict, and I have been known to indulge from time-to-time. I believe in moderation and not letting your diet (healthy or otherwise) run your life.

But, this week, we decided to be extreme and go Paleo or go home. For those of you who don't know what a Paleo diet consists of, here is a Paleo food pyramid which I found here.

paleo food pyramid

Paleo comes from the word Paleolithic. Think of it as a cave man diet. The overall concept is to eat foods that we were created to eat; things that we could farm or raise. No grains of any kind. Nothing processed. No dairy. Basically we will be eating fruits and veggies, meats, nuts, and spices.

Last night we feasted on the leftovers and foods that we can't eat next week.  Then I created a meal list and went to the grocery store.

I am hoping a week of eating like this will rub off on us, and we will be able to continue incorporating this kind of diet into our life with a little more flexibility. Be back next week with a recap of our adventures--and hopefully some recipes!

Mood Board Mondays: The Master Bedroom

Since I have become a regular reader in the home decor blogosphere, I have become well acquainted with mood boards. I love the idea of planning what a room will be like and testing out colors and patterns on the computer before beginning to play around with real life. I thought the easiest room to start with would be our master bedroom because I already have most of the basics. In our humble 1959 ranch, there isn't anything particularly "Master" about the bedroom where we will sleep. It is just a really small cozy 12x12 box with one reach in closet. This is a design challenge of sorts, and I am up for it.

Stylistically, I  love it when feminine meets masculine. Soft meets bold. Classic meets eclectic. This reminds me an awful lot of when Chandler met Jeremy. Perfect.

Here is my mood board.  photo MasterBedroomNumbered_zps83906ae4.jpg 1. Wall color: Stonington Gray by Sherwin Williams; 2. Bedspread: Navy Rosette bedding from Anthropologie (I got it on clearance several years ago) 3. Curtains: West Elm (there is no way I can afford these; they just inspire me to find something similar); 4. Gold lamps: I have a couple of lamps I plan on giving a face lift, and I love the gold accent; 5. Dresser: ours is similar to this one and was a gift; 6. Pillows: West Elm (love the pillows; hate the price. I can be much thriftier) ; 7. Nightstands: I am not sure what I am going to do with our night stands, but I really like this two-tone night stand from The Hunted Interior, this silver leaf nightstand I found on Pinterest, and campaign style nightstands. 8. Jute Rug:

So there you have it. A little dream board.

 

Closing Day House Tour

We moved into the house today thanks to the help of great friends, and the place is already changing. These photos are examples of what it looks like untouched by us! Eventually, I will put a house tour on the "Our Home" section of the blog, but I will wait until we have a few progress pictures to show you. For now, here is a little photo house tour (for my friends and family who have been asking) with pictures from move in day and the house listing.

To better understand this tour, be sure to check out the floorplan I created.

Front View  photo 1-Frontofhouse1_zps78a61466.jpg Living Room (angle from the front door and angle standing in the kitchen)  photo livingroom_zpseb76f193.jpg Kitchen  photo 4-Kitchen4_zps002558e0.jpg Master Bedroom  photo master_zps0add3a24.jpg Upstairs Bathroom  photo 7-upstairsbath7_zps9773b811.jpg Second Bedroom  photo spare_zpsa3d8dfce.jpg Office Room  photo office_zps84ecec77.jpg Basement main space  photo 11-Basement_zpsdb68cb55.jpg Basement bedroom  photo 12-Basementbedroom_zps4c35060f.jpg Basement bathroom  photo 13-Basementbath_zps6cf98d33.jpg Back of house/Backyard.  photo 14-backofhouse_zps82bc0557.jpg  photo 15-Backyard_zps56a474f5.jpg

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We Are Homeowners!

Today was a monumental day. I have been counting down for two months, and I am just over the top excited. Today we closed on our house. Jeremy and I are such novices when it comes to home buying, and I have heard horror stories, so I was holding my breath until we signed all of the documents because I was anticipating a loan issue disguised as a bandit to jump around every corner. But he never did. We feel so blessed, and we know this is where God wants us right now. That is a really reassuring feeling.

Warning: there are lots of really big, cheesy smiles in these photos.

Here is us in front of OUR house this morning.  photo 532842F2-4267-4DAF-8199-D8AB47DB06D3-2728-0000026185EE176D_zpsddb5eeaa.jpg And me squealing in the car.  photo 18330144-B6CD-470D-8B7D-D2485BE36F7F-2974-00000279CDD1F542_zps9e0b23b9.jpg  photo 0B7E5312-9280-41CE-9981-8A8C96853C50-3214-0000029519E701FB_zps652901b7.jpg And prepping to sign a million documents in the realty office.  photo 0AECC079-C326-4703-8061-084B60C86ABC-2974-00000279CE227E12_zpsdbea8fa7.jpg And Jeremy dangling the keys and then using them like mistletoe over my head.  photo C61AF0A5-A2FF-4908-88DC-D7A653FC7456-2974-00000279CF53AF06_zps8769e7bc.jpg  photo 1E70BD2B-3B00-4584-ADB1-74F31988D658-2974-00000279D2E04992_zps1dc33da5.jpg

We didn't get a picture of us actually signing the documents. But I promise it happened.

Now, excuse me while I go paint a few rooms. I will be back tomorrow with some photos of the new digs.  photo Signature_zps48867f61.jpg

P.S. Big shout out to our amazing realtor Allen Perry and the whole team at Nashville On The Move. I recommend them to anyone interested in buying a house. They made every step of the process a breeze and a blast. We could not have been in better hands! They also gave us this adorable housewarming gift.  photo C3A14687-6076-4BBE-A12E-E790449493B0-2974-0000027A8408D63E_zpsd9a74313.jpg

A First Time For Everything: Chevron Living Room Chair Redo

I am determined to be handy, creative, frugal and a go-getter when it comes to decorating. My first attempt came in the form of two stained, bruised, and outdated chairs that I picked up at a favorite thrift store and gave a new life. They will find a home in our living room, and I am so thrilled with the way that they turned out. Get ready: this was a long process, and this is a long post. photo beforeafter_zps85bf51d6.jpgThere is a first time for everything.This was my first time to disassemble any furniture, reupholster, shop for fabric, use stain, polyurethane and a staple gun, and strip wood. I guess you could say I'm a newbie. But now I feel like I have at least moved up to amateur status--maybe even intermediate level.

Here is a collection of my tools of the trade. I don't recommend this stapler. See later where I bought a new one. I ended up with different stain too.   photo IMG_5260_zps087ef172.jpg

I break down the process into four major steps:

Step 1:Dis-assembly

Take a good look at the situation. Every chair is assembled differently, so you will have to figure out what it takes to remove the upholstery from the chair. Lucky for me, both the seat and the back were completely removable in my case. For the seat, I simply flipped the chair over, removed a few screws, and removed the seat.  photo IMG_5256_zps7f60d24d.jpg

For the back, I was completely stumped by how to get around the furniture plugs that covered up the screws I needed to remove. I had no idea how to get them out without breaking them. Tip: You have to break plugs to remove them. This is probably common sense, but I was completely unaware. I nailed into them, broke them, and used a flat head screwdriver and pliers to take the pieces out of the 1/2" holes. You can buy a new pack of furniture plugs at Home Depot or Lowe's for about $3.00 and stain them to match (more on that later).   photo furnitureplugs_zps27a239fe.jpg

During the process I came across some gum stuck underneath the seat and arm. What a lovely treat, right? I dampened it and it was old enough that it just scraped right off. Yum.  photo IMG_5248_zps1059687d.jpg

Here comes the part I hated the most: removing the staples from the upholstery in order to remove the original fabric. This really was a case of trial and error. I wound up using a really skinny flat head screwdriver and needle nose pliers. I believe you can buy upholstery staple removing tools at sewing stores, but I didn't want to spend any more money than necessary.  photo IMG_5266_zps2c19741c.jpg Once I figured out the best angle to pry the staples up and invested in a pair of work gloves to save my hands from blisters, the process went much more quickly. Removing all the staples from both chairs still took me at least 5 hours (while watching Jane Austen movies of course). Tip: Save the original fabric. The end result was highly satisfying, and I was pleased to discover that the original padding was in good enough shape that I wouldn't have to replace anything.

Step 2: Reupholstery

I laid the original fabric down (see why I told you to save it) on top of the bolt of upholstery fabric and cut out around it like a pattern. Tip: Be sure to leave a couple of extra inches on each side so you have some wiggle room when you are covering the cushions. Because my chevron pattern has linear zig zags, I cut it right side up to be sure I was cutting straight.  photo IMG_5290_zps4b676062.jpg I used 5/8" staples and a staple gun on the new upholstery. I bought a staple gun that doubles as a brad nailer so that it will hopefully come in handy for future home improvement projects. I started out with a Stanley gun, and it didn't have enough power to go into the plywood and almost every staple went in crooked or not at all, so I returned it and got this Dewalt gun. I highly recommend it. It packs a powerful punch.  photo reupholstery_zps7287ca53.jpg

Be sure to pull the fabric tight and turn the seat around every once in a while to check that it is flat and even. On the seat, staple close to the edge, and cut excess fabric once everything is nice and taut. For the back cushion, I was careful to fold the fabric so that it looked nice since the bottom of the cushion is visible if you are looking up at it from the floor. The back cushion took a little more experimentation to get the folds to turn out correct and the fabric to lay the way that I wanted.  photo IMG_5293_zps080ba80e.jpg

Once I finished this, I set the cushions aside and moved on to the wood frame.

Step 3: Wood Refinishing 

This part totally depends on the state of your chairs. For 85% of the chair, a light sanding to remove the varnish and a few coats of stain was perfect, but the arms gave me grief. In my case, I made two big mistakes: I didn't sand down far enough on the parts that were really beaten up and I bought the wrong color stain to begin with.

I discovered that unless you are going to completely sand down/strip your piece or it is in good shape to begin with, you should really buy the same color stain as the original color. I bought a darker color thinking that when it mixed with the existing red mahogany, the color would be just what I wanted, but the problem came when the Dark Walnut stain hit the gashes in the arms that I didn't properly smooth out, it turned them black, and I was left with black gashes all up and down the arms. I did the only logical thing. I PANICKED!  photo IMG_5306_zpsa87c7035.jpg

I talked to the nice man at Lowe's who gave me confidence and looked at my sad pictures of the chair arms, and then I invested in some heavy duty sandpaper (36 grit). I completely stripped the arms, smoothed them out with fine grit sandpaper, and started fresh. This photo was in the middle of that sanding process. I had to keep going to get rid of some more of those black marks.  photo IMG_5305_zps54863b1f.jpg

Then when I used the dark walnut stain on the stripped wood, it turned completely the wrong color. I PANICKED AGAIN! Then I calmed down and bought red mahogany stain to match the original color, realized I should have done that to begin with, and I finally got to the right color a couple of coats later. I actually love the way that stripping the wood brought out the grain and gave it a little more of a distressed look. It certainly isn't perfect, but people pay lots of money for things that look a little distressed these days. In hindsight, some wood conditioner and stripper could have been helpful.  photo IMG_5315_zps90d98f63.jpg

Mmm. I actually love how warm the wood turned out and the way that you can see the grain on the arms.

Finally, I sprayed three good coats of Miniwax Clear Satin Fast-Drying Polyurethane in a well-ventilated area, let them sit for several days (24 hours would have been fine, but I was waiting for some husband help), and moved on to step 4.

Step 4: Re-assembly

This is pretty self-explanitory. Put it back together the way that you took it apart. Here is my handsome husband lending a hand. He is better with power tools.

 photo photo_zpsd896e0eb.jpg Tip: Make note of where the original screw holes were if you cover them with fabric. This would have saved me some struggle. Once I found them, I got these little wood plugs and stained them and hammered them into place to replace the plugs I broke earlier in the project.  photo photo-3_zps4bc0876f.jpg

Voila! My finished chairs! DIY is great because not only do you save money, you make memories and create something you are truly proud to display.  photo photo-5_zps81f5d8d6.jpg

Bring it on, little house. I'm ready for you and all of your DIY glory.

Budget breakdown (rounded to the nearest dollar):

Two chairs at Our Thrift Store in Franklin, TN: $30 Two yards of upholstery grade fabric from The Fabric House: $24 Stain: $12 (I had to buy two different colors...and I bought too much.) Polyurethane Spray: $8 Wooden Furniture Plugs: $3 Sandpaper: $12 

Total: $89 ($44.50 per chair) 

I'd say that's pretty good! To be fair, I also spent money on a staple/brad nailer for the upholstery and work gloves--both of which I will use for many future projects so I didn't include the cost. I also bought way too much fabric (much to my dismay), but I will be using it for other projects down the line and didn't include that cost here just to be fair to those of you who want to tackle a similar project but will be wiser about the amount of fabric you need. Tip: When your husband says there's no way you will use six yards, even though the chart on Pinterest says you will, trust him. Sorry, Jeremy.

I can't wait to get these little chairs into place in the new house! Stay tuned for pictures!

update: See the chairs in place in our living room.

livingroom1

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From Free to Fabulous: The Dreaming Phase

I have a daydreaming problem, and the latest object of my daydreaming affection is this FREE dresser that I found on craigslist as a curb alert. I drove to pick it up on my lunch break, opened my trunk, and stared at it for a bit as I tried to figure out how in the world I would get it into my car. Thankfully, a nice man came and helped me lift it. I came home with this:  photo 2013-02-25_12-20-34_42_zps8f0f0335.jpg

It's a laminate veneer, but I think I can dress it up a little bit and make quite a lovely little TV stand for our living room. I'm thinking something like this: 

 photo dresser-with-dark-wood-top_zps6dc8555f.jpg

I love the white distressed bottom with the dark wood top, but we'll see when I start putting the pieces of our living room together. For now, I'll keep daydreaming.

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My Top Ten To-do List

Since we haven't closed on the house yet (one month from today!), I can't actually begin making changes to our future little abode, but that doesn't stop me from making plans. Almost every day, I come up with another idea of something I want to do to personalize the space, and I'm sure that list will continue to grow as long as we live there. I know once we move in, I will change my mind, and I will only be able to move as quickly as time and budget allows, but here is my current top ten to-do list. 1. Reupholster these chairs. In this photo they look like they belong in a hospital waiting room...complete with old gum under the arm. Not exactly the look I'm going for, so I am giving them a facelift. Right now they are in about six pieces in the apartment, but soon they will look lovely. Before/After photos and a tutorial post to come!

 photo IMG_5243_zpsca1e247a.jpg

2. Banquette in the kitchen. JQ is going to put his handyman skills to work and build corner bench seating in the kitchen to go with the rustic, industrial table that we recently saved our pennies and purchased. I am so excited about this one! Doesn't this banquette just make you want to cozy up on a rainy saturday morning and enjoy a delicious breakfast and a cup of coffee with someone you love? Me too. And I have just the person in mind.

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3. Paint the walls. The whole main floor of the house is currently a pleasant, natural beige color. I am thankful we aren't dealing with any splatter painted teen rooms or floral wall paper, but I do want to paint a few of the rooms so that they conform with our style and make more of an impact. The basement is white, and the basement bedroom is windowless and a little hospital-esque, so I plan on putting a fresh coat of something welcoming on the walls before we move the furniture. I am going to take my time on the main floor, but I already have some ideas. Here are some of my favorite colors.   photo FavoriteBMcolors_zps08b40a11.jpg 4. Get organized. I can be a bit cluttered. I am sentimental to a fault and I hang onto things that don't matter. Since we will be doubling in space from our current apartment to our house, I'm hoping it will make it easier to be less cluttered. But here are some Pinterest inspirations for getting more organized in the future. Jeremy always tells me "I don't want there to be too many things everywhere." I think that is his way of asking me not to be cluttered.  photo organize_zpsd9f4bc90.jpg

5. Fix the basement ceiling. When the basement was finished in 2009, a large portion of the ceiling was made to hang down really low (it is only 6 ft high in one spot). We don't really know the reason or what lurks above the ceiling dip, but my handyman intends to cut a hole and find out. And we want to get that fixed so the basement feels more open!  photo 11-Basement_zps1671e295.jpg

6. Make a cozy study space. Jeremy is a grad student, so he has requested that the room we turn into an office space be a great place for him to study. I have dreams of putting in an antique mantel, creating a wall of books, and getting a really comfortable study chair. This photo below just makes me want to learn.  photo office_zpsc2372e48.jpg

7. Curtains in the guest bedroom. The aforementioned basement bedroom is windowless and will need some love to make it feel warm and welcoming to our guests. I love the idea of hanging floor-to-ceiling curtains on both sides of the bed to make the ceilings appear higher, add some texture, and make it look like there might be windows behind those curtains.  photo bedcurtains_zps1237c4ba.jpg

8. Refinish a dresser. I am turning one of the bedrooms into my "getting ready room." We are hoping to put a daybed in it along with a beautiful wingback chair I recently snagged. I plan on using the room to get dressed, read, write songs, and do other such solitary things. But for the getting dressed part, I could really use a dresser. I want to be as frugal as possible, so I will try to find one that needs some love and bring it back to life.

How pretty is this blue painted dresser?  photo dresser2_zpsd084a3b9.jpg 9. Dress up the living room. Things we are bringing with us for the living room: couch and coffee table. That is a short list. Now that I am reupholstering the chairs above, they will finish out our seating, but I have so many dreams for dressing up the first room you see when you enter the house.  photo livingroom_zps6f0006ac.jpg

1. Bamboo blinds and airy curtains.  I love the pairing of the textured blinds with the simple white curtains. With all the patterns I plan on using in the room, I think this will be the perfect neutral backdrop. 2. a cool piece of furniture as a TV stand. We will be on the hunt for something used to up-cycle. Obviously this Neiman Marcus beauty is about as close to our budget as Tennessee is to Hong Kong (as in nowhere close). 3. patterned navy rug. I just love this trellis rug! 4. Tufted ottoman. I plan to DIY one of these.

10. Paint the basement stairs. I saw another blogger do this, and I was inspired. How cute are these numbered, painted steps?  photo basementstairs_zps58690507.jpg

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