Archive for March, 2012

It Ain’t Easy Being…Greige?

Paint color is a big deal. Okay, that’s a loaded statement.

Paint color is a big deal to me [Better]. It isn’t easy finding that perfect color that matches your furniture, soothes your senses, and makes you somehow look flattering in house party photographs (am I hoping for too much?).

When I moved into this house in the Fall last year, I immediately made a mental note that I wanted to change the paint color. While the previous home owner did a lovely job selecting the color since it matched all of their furniture perfectly, it isn’t quite me. It’s actually a pretty dark shade of tan/brown, and given that the house has an open floor plan it is EVERYWHERE. Seriously.

That’s the same color in the living room, kitchen, and dining room. Not pictured, it’s in the hall, and 3 bedrooms. That is a lot of brown.

But Kate! you say, What could you possibly want from a paint color? Well, funny you should ask. I’ve prepared some pictures!

Above is my old bedroom, as it looked before I moved. Gorgeous, right? I know. It was pretty gorgeous that one day I decided to put all my clothes away and actually make the bed. But I digress.

My favorite thing about this room color is that it is a neutral, it isn’t overwhelming, and it has a bit of color to it. My least favorite thing about it is that the color actually skews a little more baby-blue than I wanted (I didn’t like the feeling of living in a little boy’s nursery all the time). What I would say I’m ideally looking for in a paint color is a neutral “Greige”. Like beige, but grey. I’m a real wordsmith.

I stressed and fretted over the color of my old bedroom for weeks before finally taking the plunge, and even still I wasn’t completely impressed. I know, I’m impossible.

Added to my dilemma is the fact that there are probably 2 million shades of gray out there in the universe, and Jason was only going to put up with me getting paint samples of about 8 of them. Thanks for keeping me down to earth, babe.

So where to begin? First, I visited my good friend Google. He offered me a wealth of resources for finding the perfect “Greige.” In fact, Apartment Therapy had a lot of awesome articles on finding the perfect shade of grey. Check them out here and here. But just the fact that they had multiple posts on the subject indicates that they did some serious thinking on the subject as well.

I pinned greige rooms I liked on pinterest, grabbed paint swatches at Kelly Moore, Benjamin Moore, and Home Depot like some sort of paint-swatch hoarder, and creeped on just about anyone with a home blog with a beautiful greige. (Check out Young House Love’s latest home, they have a pretty gorgeous blue-greige throughout their home. It is possible!).

So finally, Jason helped me whittle it down to SIX (I know, incredible) possible contenders. They are as follows:

Benjamin Moore: [A] Balboa Mist, [B] Silver Satin, [C] Moonshine (this is the same color as YHL), [D] Paper White, [E] Horizon. Not pictured, I’m also considering Silver Sage by Restoration Hardware (shown here).

You can see that they’re actually all pretty light when compared to the current tone of beige that is on there. I think I have my two favorites picked, but I don’t want to spoil it. What are your picks? Do you have some other awesome color that will send me all the way back to the drawing board?

Kitchen Chalkboard: Part 1(Or, 2001: A Chalkboard Odyssey)

Last week I realized I needed to make my dream of having a chalkboard in my kitchen become a reality. Never one to sit around and let the world pass me by, that weekend visited the Home Depot and purchased some Rustoleum Chalkboard paint.

Rustoleum apparently makes a variety of tints you can mix into the chalkboard base, but deciding that my fiance probably wouldn’t be too stoked about a hot pink chalkboard in the kitchen, I played it safe and opted for their basic black.

When I got home, I cleaned off the surface with TSP and water (and made sure to wear plastic gloves, since TSP can really burn your skin). I was so glad I did. The previous owner of our home was a smoker, and even though we had cleaned the walls with TSP when we moved in, there still was some residual nicotine on the walls.

Gross.

Seriously friends, don’t smoke. I didn’t need a deterrent already (after making these bad boys with my best friend for Halloween two years ago...yes those are real cigarettes, and yes we had to burn them all down individually. Pro tip: Don’t buy menthols if you are hoping they smell like mint. They just smell like casino), this just solidified everything D.A.R.E. taught me in the 1990s.

After learning some 21 Jump Street style life lessons, I continued to prep the wall by carefully taping off the trim, floor, and ceiling.

Uhh, no I didn’t just stand on a chair and do this. That would be unsafe. So unsafe. Didn’t D.A.R.E. teach you to make better decisions than that? I’m sure they did.

So after the space was all prepped, I started painting. And whoa.

Queue the music from 2001: A Space Odyssey. This thing looks like a freaking monolith.

So the black was pretty harsh. Who’d have thought? Oh that’s right, most people.

Well, I started looking around on other Blogs for what other people’s opinions were, and a lot of people were very happy with their black chalkboards. Especially once you “Prime” them with chalk (grind some up and distribute it all over the surface, it turns the board more of a soft gray).

After taking in the monolith and contemplating its virtues in interior design, I decided it was still a bit too much for me. I looked back at my original inspiration, the chalkboard my mom got me as a gift.

I realized that one of the things I really love about this particular chalkboard is it’s soft slate gray coloring. So I fired up the internet and found a “slate gray” chalkboard paint on amazon. Booyah. I painted a swatch on, and am now waiting for it to cure so I can get an idea as to it’s true color.

For now, the Monolith awaits it’s next coat of paint. Or the next phase of man, not sure which will come first.

(Note: If you’re scratching your head about all the monolith references, sorry. I just assume that the majority of the population has [because you should] seen 2001: A Space Odyssey. If you haven’t, you need to do that the next time you have a spare 3 hours. Then come back here and re-read this post, you’ll laugh.)

Stamp it out!

I’ve always been a spaz about stamps. When my dad used to bring me to the office with him, he would sit me down at the reception table where I would “work” by diligently stamping every piece of paper with “URGENT” “RETURN TO SENDER”, and of course, that super cool library check-out date stamp (seriously, how cool was that stamp? I’m still not over it).

Stamps are awesome, because unlike Lisa Frank stickers or Garfield pencils, you can use them endlessly and don’t need to hoard them in a lunchbox until you’re 26 and realize you should have just used them already!

These aren't mine. But good for whoever collected them!

Ahem.

Since we just established I probably hold on to paper goods for too long, it shouldn’t surprise you that I always have a plethora of blank cards waiting to be mailed to someone. I don’t find myself composing letters often, so I mostly use these cards when I don’t have an appropriate Thank You note or Birthday card to send. I always feel like the blank card always seems to say “I tried…sort of.”

But what is a person supposed to do with an endless supply of blank cards? When would be an appropriate time to send them? Wouldn’t these blank cards suddenly seem so much more useful if they just had something special on the inside?

I had the idea to make a custom stamp (based off a thank you card I had already designed), and use it on the inside of other thank you notes. That way, it’s like my signature seal.

Lemon card + yellow envelope from Target. I designed the Thank You Heart card and stamp.

I got pretty pro with my stamping, and looked around the house for other things I could use besides the basic stamp pad. The gold ink above was from a metallic graffiti pen. It worked beautifully. I also tried some acrylic paint, which worked okay but I preferred the pen.

After I had a regular ole stampede I wondered,”Wow, now what else can I do with this? Can I make a card using only the stamp?”

You better believe I did.

Stamping Tips:

  • Thoroughly ink your stamp, either by making firm, even contact with a stamp pad, or covering your stamp completely with a marker.
  • Don’t push too hard when stamping. The stamp should lightly “kiss” the paper.
  • If your stamp gets stuck even for a moment, try to evenly peel it off in one direction. Think of it like you’re rolling it back towards you.

I can’t wait to make more stamps like this for birthdays, holidays, and graduations. I’ll keep you posted!

Do you have any super awesome stamping projects or ideas?

Chalkboard Inspiration

This post all starts with a simple gift. This:

No, not the super cool chicken. The awesome chalkboard! A few months back, my mom bought it for me as a housewarming present. I loved my little kitchen chalkboard so much my mind turned to how we could take it to the next level. So I started looking for inspiration online.

 

This might be a little too much chalkboard…but it’s very cool. Seriously, how else would strangers know where you keep your comprehensive collection of ashtrays?? 

Source: houzz.com via Kate on Pinterest

Still a lot of chalkboard, but I love the stark contrast with the white in this kitchen..

Source: refinery29.com via Kate on Pinterest

DING DING DING!! We have a winner!

Originally I considered painting a large, blank wall in my kitchen, as a chalkboard, but the wall is textured and would be way too much visual space. We considered building a faux frame on the wall and maybe painting it a fun, bright color (Teal is one of my all time faves), but it still seemed like it might be too much. Here’s the wall as it looks currently, with charming paint swatches (we’re painting in April).

Then it hit me:

Well lookee-loo what we have here!

Seriously, how do you describe this? I know part of the cabinetry for the kitchen (it charmingly hides the refrigerator, which otherwise would totally be visible from the living room), but it just feels so random.

It is as if this cabinetry has been sitting here, waiting its whole life for a purpose. And that purpose, is to become a chalkboard for me to write sassy messages on.

Any other great ideas for chalkboard paint? Have you ever tried using chalkboard paint anywhere in your house?

Veggie Lunch Wraps

I’ve been in a bit of a lunchtime food funk lately. Maybe because it’s winter, or because I’ve recently divorced my work-husband Mr. Goodbar, but these past few months I haven’t been inspired by any recipes. Until today. I was on the Kitchn and saw this awesome post about Lunches to eat on the run.

The Apple-Arugula salad wrap was strikingly similar to my standby lunch at work, (I frequently make an apple, arugula and cheddar salad in my office’s kitchen. This is no easy feat, considering the kitchen is about the size of one that would be in an RV).  I also stumbled upon this Vietnamese sandwich recipe. Have you ever had Vietnamese sandwiches? They are possibly the world’s most perfect food.

While I happily would eat an entire baguette for lunch, I decided to opt for the lower-carb option. I wanted to make my own veggie wrap, but one that also had some of the same flavors of a heavenly Vietnamese Sandwich. So here’s how it went down:

I actually had almost all of these ingredients in my fridge (who doesn’t like tofu and cabbage?), but I picked up some fresh Dill, carrots, and some whole wheat lavash (not pictured). I diced the tofu, and threw it in a hot skillet with oil, 1/4 teaspoon of cumin and 1/8 teaspoon of chili powder.

While the tofu was cooking, I mixed together the cabbage, radish, carrot, and added some seasoned rice wine vinegar and olive oil (2:1 ratio). I wanted it to be tart, but not overwhelming. If you’re feeling crazy, you could throw some peanut sauce or Sriracha in there.

Then you just assemble the wrap! I put some parchment paper underneath, so I could actually “wrap” it up and take it with me for lunch. You could also totally do this with tinfoil, brown paper, whatever else you have around.

And there you have it! I’m bringing this with me to work tomorrow for lunch, even though it’s pizza day. Yep, even free pizza can’t beat the deliciousness of this bad boy.

Any suggestions for other easy-peasy lunch recipes?

First Challenge: Pink Ombre + Chocolate Birthday Cake

Pink Ombre & Chocolate Birthday Cake

For my very first challenge on Read > Make > Do, I decided to take on Eddie Ross’s beautiful Pink Ombre cake, and combine it with this Chocolate Buttermilk Coconut cake recipe (slightly altered) that is legendary in my house.

It was my roommate and longtime friend Laura’s birthday, and she wanted a pink cake, but she also wanted it to be chocolate. I decided to make my buttermilk chocolate cake recipe (instead of using 1/4th a cup of strongly brewed coffee, I use Kahlua liqueur), and Miette’s Yellow Cake Recipe, which is also buttermilk based. Hey, if you’re buying buttermilk, might as well use all of it!

The first step was to make the chocolate cake–this was the easy part. A few tricks for making the chocolate cake, I sift together all of the dry ingredients to make sure they are really fluffy, and I don’t over-mix the batter. I also flour my pans really well, and carefully melt the chocolate in a double boiler on the stove, since using a microwave can burn it if you aren’t careful.

Next up came the birthday cake layers (which will become our pink ombre). We used a yellow cake recipe, which is great because it really gives the cake a classic flavor, but it also made it difficult when we added the food coloring. Next time, I might try a white cake (and secretly might opt for Eddie Ross’s suggestion of just getting boxed cake), but the yellow was delicious.

After I baked the cake and let it cool for about two hours, I started assembling the cake. I cut the tops off the chocolate layers to make them sit evenly, but the pink layers weren’t quite large enough to cut so I just added TONS of frosting in between those layers to pad them out. Everybody wins!

After I (very liberally) frosted the entire cake, I added coconut to the outside as a festive garnish, snapped a few photos, and put it out on the table for Laura’s birthday party guests. Laura’s brother Chris was seriously eyeballing the cake from the moment he arrived. When we finally gave it to the birthday girl and had the big reveal, there were a lot of ooh’s and aahh’s, and then a lot of mmmmmm’s. One person exclaimed “It’s a Neapolitan cake!” (even though there were no strawberries, but that might be something to try for next time!).

Happy Birthday Laura, now please eat the leftover cake in the kitchen!