March 31, 2014

Then and Now: Taste of the South

Taste of the South has been a DC staple for many years, and certainly for every year that Kern and I have lived here.  In fact, I thought a little flashback might be fun.

Here we are in 2009--probably a month after we started dating.


And here we are, in our apartment beforehand, 5 years later.


What a great half decade it's been!

March 28, 2014

Exciting News!


It all started in 2011.  I was feeling the need to exercise my creative muscles and get my hands dirty when I came upon a blog called Perfectly Imperfect.  The blog's author, Shaunna, was a southern girl from Alabama and I immediately identified with her writing style and thought process.  She also had some seriously stellar furniture projects on her blog.  She had even written an e-book! She has since been on television, featured in magazines, authored another book that is coming out soon and opened a brick and mortar store in Troy, Alabama (they have an online shop too!).

I immediately became a faithful reader and it was through Shaunna's excellent tutorials that I mustered up the courage to chalk paint my very first piece of furniture.  Once I had experienced the feeling of a paint brush in my hand and seen the transformation that was possible with an average piece of furniture, I was hooked.  There was no going back.  I painted just about every piece of furniture that I owned, and then some!

So...what's the big news?

Shaunna and her team contacted me this week and asked if I would like to be featured in their weekly newsletter!  I had tagged a few of my pieces on instagram with the hashtag #PIinspired, because, of course, all my painting was inspired by Shaunna.  She was kind enough to take notice and select me to be in the newsletter!

It's basically like the President of the United States of Chalk Paint just called to tell me she liked my work.  That's my political equivalent of this monumental experience for me, y'all.  

So...how can you get the newsletter?  That's easy!  Here's some info straight from Shaunna's blog on how to sign up:


Visit the homepage of her amazing blog here, scroll down to the bottom right, enter your email address and a confirmation email will be sent to your inbox.  Be sure to confirm that you want the newsletter!

The just sit back and wait to see yours truly in your inbox on Saturday!


March 27, 2014

Beyond the Bend



I recently indulged in a little television watching.  I'm a perpetual multi-tasker so I rarely just "watch TV"--I'm usually flipping through a magazine or checking Instagram at the same time.  This particular evening, I was wrapped in a cozy blanket and sat nibbling dark chocolate as I watched the main character exclaim with a sense of urgency, "I just want every day to be exciting and scary and a roller coaster of creative experience." I immediately ceased all other action and listened carefully to the rest of her rant as she explained what she believed "life" owed her.

I could not help but smile.  It was the equivalent of watching a toddler beg for more ice cream "because it tastes so good."

But I also smiled because I recognize and admit that I tend to view life through the same lens, even if I don't verbalize my wishes.  I want to wake up and be hit with the perfect wave of creativity...the next big idea...a new and unique project. 

I am starting to believe that the harder I try to be more creative or more unique, the more I will obsess about my lack of creativity and uniqueness.  There will be days where ideas and inspiration flow like a rushing river and days when my mind is completely blank.  And that is ok.  It really is.  

Rather than expecting every day to be an exciting amusement park full of creative roller coasters, I am learning to accept that my days will likely resemble an open, flat road--with room to coast at my own pace and a view on each side where I can glean inspiration when I see it.  

The great part is...you can never tell exactly what is beyond the bend.

March 26, 2014

The Hoff Apartment Tour!

Welcome to our apartment!  Come right on in and make yourself at home.

Our front windows face the south and Kern and I can see the Capitol dome--it's truly lovely at night when it is illuminated!


Our TV console used to be a dresser, but with a few minor adjustments a new coat of paint, it now holds our TV, DVD player and record player.  Remember that cane back chair? 



Our coffee table was an Ikea Hack, and it also came with this wonderful side table--which got the same treatment!


This orchid was my Valentine's Day flower--and it's been fun to watch it continue to blossom.


This is my reading nook.  On any given evening I can be found curled up here reading.
The lamp was a birthday gift from my in-laws and I love it more every day!


Here's a close up of the curtain valance.  I ordered neutral long panels but then found material that coordinated with the other fabrics in the room and had the valances custom-sewed.



These Wolfe bird love birds were a gift from Kern to me and featured on the top of our wedding cake!


The kitchen area and the living room area are basically one long room.  It makes it easy to talk and be a part of the action in the living room even if you're cooking!


This oak table was originally purchased by my mom in the 1980's and updated by me in 2011.  It bridges the gap between the kitchen and living room.  The Janie Davis original watercolor was a gift to me from my parents when I graduated from college.  It shows my best friends and me eating outside at our favorite college spot--Bottletree Bakery.  Just typing that makes me crave a blueberry muffin!


After we moved into the apartment, Kern left one afternoon and drove to Community Forklift in search of a piece of furniture to fit this odd alcove of space between the front door and the refrigerator.  We needed a "catch-all" area to serve as a storage place for keys, papers, cook books and other miscellaneous items.  He came back with this perfect shelf--complete with a cabinet at the bottom.


Our bedroom is adjacent to the living room.  The bedside tables are identical and very functional with three drawers.




I re-did this dresser in 2012 and it's still one of my favorite pieces to date.  The jewelry box was built by my grandfather as a gift for my 6th birthday and the watercolor painting is from a trip to Florence, Italy.


I found long drapes online and picked custom fabric for the valances in our bedroom.  It really adds personality and interest to an otherwise drab window.


Kern uses this dresser, which is one that I re-did before the move.



And last but not least, the bathroom.


These framed prints are very special to me because the original photos were taken by my great-grandmother when she visited Washington in 1913.


So that's it--all 700 square feet of fun.  The space feels very personal to me because so many of the pieces and artwork have meaning.  It has been such a joy to breathe new life into some of them, repurpose and pull it all together in one space.

Before we moved in, I wondered how we would co-exist in a small space, but it has honestly been perfect--space is plentiful thanks to my pre-moving yard sale last fall.  My favorite part about small-space-living is that it motivates me to fully consider every purchase I make and encourages me to continue going through closets to minimize our belongings.

Oh, and did I mention that we happen to live above a grocery store?  That is merely the icing on the cake!

March 25, 2014

The Most Amazing "Healthy" Biscuits

I've been on a quest to use every random ingredient in my pantry.  This journey has made for some interesting meals in the past, but when I got to a bag of brown rice flour, I turned to pinterest in hopes of finding a weekend treat I could make.  After reading through several recipes and reviews, I decided to give "My Favorite Gluten-free biscuits" from Domestifluff a try.  The only ingredient I lacked was buttermilk--a small investment for what promised to be an amazing turnout.

I was not disappointed.


And don't think I'm not a biscuit connoisseur.  In fact, my former favorite recipe was from the Pioneer Woman (sorry, Ree!) but it contained crisco and lottttts of butter.  This recipe calls for 4 TBS--not too bad.  But could they top PW?!


The dough is very sticky, so I decided to make small biscuits because it was easier to manage.  They came out perfectly.  I'm talking melt-in-your-mouth, fluffy and flaky.  Oh, and did I mention they are gluten free and freeze well too?  Bonus and motivation not to eat all 20 mini-biscuits at one sitting.



They took me about 20 minutes from start to finish, which was even faster than I expected.

Some of the reviews stated that they work just as well with almond milk instead of buttermilk.  I may give that a try next time!

So cheers to pantry shopping and delicious (healthier version of) treats! 

March 24, 2014

Seasons: in Weather and in Life


The calendar says that it is spring and I'm finally beginning to believe it.  As the season turns and new life is starting to show, I cannot help but also reflect on the ways that my life has changed since the last time snow was melting on the ground.

My personality likes to have a definite plan.  A to-do list.  Goals to tackle.  Projects to complete. Yet I find a new season beginning to break through--at least in my mind.  Busy lists begging to be replaced with simple living.  Cooking with real ingredients instead of jars and boxes.  Long, lingering conversations in small groups instead of handshakes with a crowd.

My thoughts are still "budding" as to what this will look like--played out in the context of daily life versus musings in the mind and on paper.   But it's there...the still small voice nudging me to look deeper instead of wider.

Happy spring, friends.  May you also reach deeper to find fulfillment.

March 21, 2014

Five Minute Friday: JOY


 I'm linking up again over at Lisa Jo Baker's Five Minute Friday party.

Today's word is JOY.  The only rule is that you spend 5 minutes writing (no editing) and post your thoughts on the prompt.  It's been a fun writing exercise for me.  So here goes!

__________

The word JOY elicits a wide variety of mental images—from daily little moments like savoring a steaming cup of coffee or playing with a pet to the monumental life events like getting married or landing a dream job.  I often equate joy with happiness.  But what about all the other moments that encompass life?  Traffic. Long lines. Unfulfilled dreams.  Longing for more.  Is it possible to feel joy even when you do not feel happiness?

When I was a child, we used to sing a song with these lyrics:
I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy
Down in my heart,
Down in my heart,
Down in my heart,
I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy
Down in my heart,
Down in my heart to stay.

One of the lesser known verses to this joyful chorus says:

I’ve got the peace that passes understanding
Down in my heart,
Down in my heart,
Down in my heart,
I’ve got the peace that passes understanding
Down in my heart,
Down in my heart to stay.

Perhaps it is better to equate true joy with the peace that comes from knowing Jesus deep down in the corners of our heart—the corners that tend to be neglected in attempt to remain “happy” on the surface. 

I would prefer to feel authentic joy deep down even in the moments of spilled coffee and traffic jams—even when it hurts—than to walk through life never knowing true joy even in the happiest of moments.


Five Minute Friday

March 20, 2014

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint French Linen Side Tables

A very important qualification of a bedside table (in my humble opinion) is a drawer.  I need a place to stash my glasses, Bible, lip balm and hand lotion.  I knew that Kern and I would be short on storage space in our new apartment and so a bedside table with a drawer became a requirement.  

And what's better than one drawer?  How about three?

At first glance, this pine table wasn't flashy or exciting.  It came with wooden knobs, natural pine imperfections and screws that were visible from the side.

But: it had three drawers (think book storage! computer and iPad storage!), was solid pine and a steal of a price.


Prior to this purchase, I mistakenly thought that I was through painting for the time being.  Smile.


The side tables ended up being a perfect fit in our bedroom: ample storage and a masculine balance to the several feminine touches that were already in the room.


I used my favorite Annie Sloan color, French Linen, and waxed with mostly clear wax and a touch of dark wax to add a little depth and character.


New drawer pulls were ordered, elevating the look from a simple all-wood piece.  I also used wood filler to conceal the visible screw lines (see second photo from top) which gave the sides a perfectly smooth finish.




If I were truly brave, I would show you the inside of the drawers.  Just trust me, there is no wasted space...

March 19, 2014

Do you ever feel...?

Do you ever have "those days" where you feel frustrated but you can't exactly pinpoint it?  Or maybe you can identify multiple areas of life that are causing you angst.  For me, it's easier when I do know exactly what it is--I know where to channel my fixing superpowers.  Because that's often my first reaction: identify problem, complete steps 1-3, move on!

What if these bumps in the road were meant to serve a higher purpose?  What if we didn't write off our feelings as a funk, but instead let them remind us that the only filler for emptiness is the One who made us.

I would argue that that realization is a game changer.

As Easter approaches, I am reminded that not only did Jesus die for me, but he also became human--a person who had feelings just like I do, even in 2014.  He doesn't just reside in Heaven, gazing down in pity on my funks or bad days or indecisiveness--he identifies with me.  It's the difference between viewing him as a distant being and viewing him as a dear friend who has experienced similar struggles.  If you could call one or the other, which would you choose?  Certainly a friend who understands your struggles--you and I crave camaraderie when life gets unpredictable.

Jesus gave up everything to become human and take on our feelings, temptations and struggles firsthand.  God gave up his Son.  Romans 8:32 reminds us, "He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?"  It may not always be on our timetable and there may be moments of cloudiness, but the best news is that we have a Saviour who understands our feelings firsthand--and continues to love us.

March 18, 2014

Ikea Hack: Gold Coffee Table

When it was time to start thinking about a coffee table for the apartment, a few thoughts came to mind that helped me decide what I wanted.  One, I knew that we would be fitting a lot of furniture into a small space (couch, TV console, chair) and I wanted to steer away from another heavy wooden peice.  Two, I knew we were not going to have room for a book case and I have so many lovely books that I have collected over the years that I couldn't bear the idea of packing them away.  Three, I was tired of obsessing over using coasters on a wooden coffee table to ensure that no rings would be made.

After perusing Pinterest and combing through a fair share of decor magazines I knew the look I wanted: glass top with a brass finish and a bottom shelf to display books.  Perfect--problem solved.

Except that every table I found that met that criteria was at least $500.

Cue Ikea.  I don't have many items from there, but I love visiting and walking around.  I saw this pair of nesting tables: a coffee table and a side table (which we also needed!) and immediately arranged for Kern to drive me to Silver Spring, Maryland pronto to pick them up.

The only catch: it was an icky gunmetal finish.
Luckily I'm not one who shies away from a piece that needs a little paint.

We started with a good coat of white primer.


I smushed all the screws into a piece of cardboard so they could be easily spray painted.


And...this is where the photos stop.

Spray paint is fairly simple to use, provided that the wind doesn't decide to blow relentlessly wherever and whenever you attempt to paint.

Kern and I tried various locations (his patio, friends' backyards, a random alley behind his house) and could not find a spot where we weren't constantly thwarted by the wind.

At this point, we were nearly in single digits until the move, so Kern took over the project and diligently did one or two pieces (both tables were unassembled) a night for about a week.  Then he put both tables together.  The result?


I love that my precious books are easily accessible.


No need for coasters!  This glass top wipes off easily.



This table is proof that a little imagination and elbow grease can help you achieve the look you want for a price within your budget!

March 17, 2014

Be our Guest


Yep, more snow in DC!  Four days before the first day of spring and instead of enjoying the great outdoors...we are huddled up inside yet again.

As cold as it is today, I can't help but think about the sticky July weather that will be a reality in a few short months.  So for now, I will be content with the weather we have--because I have no other option!

Happy SnowPatricksDay!

March 14, 2014

Five Minute Friday: CROWD



Today I'm linking up to write for five minutes with the prompt: CROWD.  Join me?


If you asked me point blank if I liked living in a big city, my answer would be a resounding yes.  I love the amenities of world class museums, excellent restaurants and manicured parks.  I enjoy using public transportation, walking and riding my bike. I am fascinated by observing and getting to know people who are very different from me and see the world through another lens.

When I really stop and think though, I am often attempting to find solace in the middle of a crowded world.  I listen to music while walking to and from errands and activities. I make it a point to visit my favorite museum by myself.  My favorite meals are often prepared in the comfort of my own home.  I love the self-checkout at the grocery store because it means I can go at my own pace and not be forced to interact with an outsider.

Sometimes I feel guilty when I think about how I spend time inside my own head—shouldn’t I always strive to reach out to others?  Go the extra mile to connect?  The truth is, I already do that often—and sometimes, I just need to be me in a crowd, just doing my own thing.  I strive to maintain my inner voice; lest it be drowned out.

_______________________________

I'm linking up today on Lisa Jo Baker's page.  If you're interested in participating in Five Minute Friday, you can find out more about it here.

March 13, 2014

Sweet Justice




I was raised in the Presbyterian church, so Lent was not an integral part of my early life.  At 28 years old, I've never given up chocolate or diet coke on the 40 days leading up to Easter.  However, I appreciate hearing others' stories involving self sacrifice and it certainly reminds me to take the time to ponder this special time of year.  After all, we spend at least 30 days preparing for and celebrating the Christmas season.  For Christians, Easter is an even more exciting time--the resurrection signifies not only the forgiveness of sins, but also the infinite power of God--death could not hold Him.

I want to spend this season gathering truths that remind me of the grace that is showered so freely on me.  To paraphrase my pastor this past Sunday, forgiveness is now a matter of justice because of what Jesus did on the cross. Let those words percolate your mind and heart.  In those moments where it seems like our sin is too much to be forgiven, may we be reminded that because of Jesus' sacrifice it would be unjust of God not to forgive us.  And being unjust is not in God's nature.  And for that sweet justice, I am thankful.


I want to know: do you give up anything for Lent?  
Do you have any special traditions during this season of the year?

March 12, 2014

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint French Linen Dresser

A sister piece to the dresser-turned-TV-console, this high dresser had similar problems of her own: lots of water stains, scuffed legs and missing hardware.

Old pieces of furniture energize me.  My thoughts begin racing with the possibilities and and endless options.  It's even more fun when the piece is meaningful.  It exudes a special invitation: "Re-make me into something special but never forget where I came from."




I gave her a good clean...removed the drawers and layers of dust that had built up throughout the years.


Since some of the hardware was already missing and the remaining pieces weren't in great condition, I removed all the pieces and filled the holes with wood filler and sanded them for a smooth finish.


At one point, there were 10 drawers being painted at once in the living room/kitchen of my old apartment.  I know my roommates were counting the days until I moved out!


Kern uses this  dresser in our apartment.

It is painted Annie Sloan's French Linen with a rim of Old White.

It is waxed with a mixture of Annie's clear and dark wax.



Kern drilled holes for the new pulls and installed them.  I'm so pleased how well they mesh with the overall look.