Monday, November 19, 2012

50 Shades of Lamp

Oh, you naughty lamp. I hope you feel unloved because you're just so ugly. You need a make over! What do you do with your ugly lamps around your house? You know, those ugly lamps that your mother thought were just so cute and she made you buy them. I have them too, and for some reason my mother always asks where they are when she comes to visit. So instead of beating your lamps, even though they might need it, here is a way to make them work into your home. First, spot the ugly lamps in your home, capture them against their will if necessary. Check out the body of the lamp - look it up and down...the rest is up to your imagination. So, imagine what it could look if it was a different color.

I bought two of these lamps at the local Goodwill for $5.00 a piece. Gorgeous isn't it? Tip: When you're looking for lamps either around your home, or even at the thrift store, look at the shape of them. That's what mostly attracted me to these lamps.

After you have the lamp, select the color spray paint that works best for you. We decided that we were going to put our lamps in our daughter's nursery. We have a bright pink picture of Audry Hepburn above her crib, so we thought the lamp could be a great way to tie the pink into the room.

1. We took off the lamp shades, unscrewed the bulbs, and cleaned the lamp (in case there was any left over dirt or dust on them).
2. Spray the body of the lamp with the spray paint in short even motions.  Just like painting with a paint brush - you want even strokes so you don't have pooling, or the paint ending up looking unevenly spread. 

3. Allow time to dry.  Spray paint dries quickly but, you will want to let your lamp rest for about 15-20 minutes before you pick it up again.

4. Put the lamp back together and admire the finished project.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Zombie vs Wimpy Kid

After two months, 13 days, and 20 lbs. lighter, I finally got a job at a furniture store.  I was very excited that I would be working with people and selling furniture - which by now, if you have been reading, you should know how much I love furniture!  The idea that people would be coming to me for help to make their homes beautiful!  I love how furniture stores are laid out, with each alcove perfectly styled to give options on pillows, art, and lighting.  All the crystal chandeliers hang over rows and rows of dining room tables.  I love the smell of new leather couches and the feel of a silk velvet chair.  It makes you feel like you can be that creepy neighbor looking through windows to see the living room and it's OK!  The commandment "thou shall not covet" doesn't apply here, as long as you keep the commandment "thou shall not steal," which can be hard with a little pay check, and big ideas.

Oh, how I wished that was where I worked.  Truthfully, it was as far away from that as I could get, but by this point I didn't care - I needed a job.  Instead of crystal chandeliers hanging from above, we had exposed duct work.  The floor was not wood or carpet, but a lovely shade of gray concrete.  The building itself was a old warehouse.

I got a call a few days after Christmas (see the post Starving in the City) that I needed to show up at the store around 8:30am that following Monday.  Due to the fact that I didn't have a car, and the walk to work from my house was about 45 minutes, I took the bus.  While on the bus, I felt perhaps it was not the best time to have taken my Prada messenger bag with me.  I felt like I was being eyed by everyone on the bus.  You know that point in those zombie movies, where the character is surrounded by zombies and they're getting closer and closer to him, limping and drooling, about to bite him to make him part of there clan?  That's exactly what it felt like.

After about ten minutes of riding on the bus with my zombie looking friends, I was at my stop.  With a bunch of "excuse mes," and a little bit of pushing, I was free from their clutches.  I still had a ten minute walk to the Land of Misfit Furniture.  As I was walking, I noticed there was a man, very much larger than me, walking about 10 feet behind me.  He stood about 6'4" tall and then there was me, 5'9" small.  He seemed to be following me and I started to worry a little.  I gave him a few awkward glances and a little smile in hopes to find that he was quite normal, and not going to attack me.  Now, that morning was filled with 20 minutes of very awkward moments, both on the bus ride and the walk to work.  I was ready for whatever the day was willing to dish out.

Both me and the huge rogue zombie walked into the store together.  OK, I thought, if I have to fight this man, at least I'm around other people who can call 911 when I die.
"Hey you both made it!" A loud voice said behind me.  I turned around to see my manager greeting me and the large man.  To my surprise, He was my new co-worker.
"Follow me." My manager told us. "For the first few hours we need you to unload this truck of couches."  I stared into the open trailer which was full to the brim with couches. 
Well, at least my new co-worker was a big guy, so this won't be too bad.  To my surprise, Big Guy walked over to the first couch, threw it on to his back, and walked off giving me a look like he expected me to follow suit.  I struggled to get one out about five feet off the trailer, when my manager came back and asked me where Big Guy was.  I told him he was taking the couches by himself.  When Big Guy came  back to the truck for another load, my manager asked to talk to him alone.  Puzzled, I went back to moving this overly sized sectional by myself.
"@$#^! You &%$! I never @^$%!" 
What the heck?!  I looked up and saw Big Guy yelling at my manager.  Bad form for the first day of work.  Then, Big Guy walked off, and with the slam of the door I never saw him again.  I came to find out, he lied on his application and he was an ex-convict.  No wonder he was so strong - he had those prison muscles!

Friday, November 16, 2012

I Hate the B word

Throughout our lives, and through the different people we meet, we have come to realize everyone has a different pet peeve.  Anything from chewing with your mouth open, to the toilet paper facing the right way (which is over, not under if you were wondering).  One of my pet peeves is something that has become more and more socially acceptable.  It's the use of the "B" word.  When I hear this word I feel like a filth box.  I hear the word used in stores, on the streets, and on TV.  In my personal life, I have heard my mother use this word, and even Emily!  Even I have been known to say this filthy word in the heat of an argument.  This word is hard for me to say, but the word is - "budget." I wish we could change the meaning of the word to be more like: 

Budget [buhj-it] noun, adjective, verb: an unrestrained acceptance that whatever the cost is, it will always be a need, not a want.  The fortunate person who finds the sought after item lives by the rule: finders keepers losers weepers, and never has to come up with excuses for the amount which was spent, because money truly dose grow on trees.

Too bad we don't live in the world of shinny new things and endless money.  Sometimes I feel like we set up budgets that never work; especially if you try to redecorate a room or even renovating a house.  A budget sometimes feels like.the ugly sweater your grandma gave you for your birthday.  She had good intentions, but it was all kinds of wrong.  I'm glad this curse word, budget, has been instilled in me.   I know what my spending limit is.  Having a $10,000 sofa is great, but that sofa better cook me dinner when I get home, and put the kids the bed every night.

Here are some ideas for coming up with a decorating budget:

1.  Look at you house hold budget.  If your don't have one - get one.  It's a good way for you to figure out that you really do make enough money, you just happen to spend it all on shoes.

2.  Figure out how much money you can spend each month on extras.  I would love to spend every pay check on my home, but it's unrealistic because, I would eventually loose our home and have to start decorating a cardboard box in the ally, and our new neighbor would become Osacr the Grouch.  When I was the poorest, I bought my little things.  I lived the $10 rule - if it was more expensive than that, I couldn't buy it.  The little things do start to add up, even if you can only afford $50 a month.

3.  Look to your room.  What needs to be done?  Do you need to accessorize it, or fill it?  Most of the time when I'm working with people on their homes, the problem they normally face is they don't know how to accessorize properly. They don't understand why their room feels unfinished.  Think about it like a suit: without the tie, shoes, belt, cuff links, watch, and pocket square, you look undone.  The small things make all the difference, and you and your home don't look sloppy.

4.  Make a plan.  Put together a floor plan for your room.  Draw out what you want your room to look like.  Make your floor plan complete with furniture, rugs, curtains, pillows, art, and lighting.  During this part it's not about specifics.  Combine your older pieces with new ideas of what you want to shop for.  What do you want the overall feel of the room to be?  What do you want the function of the room to be - a bedroom, a dining room?  This may sound ridiculous to some, but to help the less visual people - who can't just close their eyes and see their new room, make cardboard cut outs of the new pieces going into your room.  Measure them to the length you need your sofa to be, or art for the walls.  Doing this can avoid buying the art that looked just right at the store, and now looks too small on your wall.  Write down the measurements you're looking for so when you run into that great deal at a close out sofa store, you're prepared to know if it will fit not.

5.  Break up the cost.  Figure out your limit per room.  Then, take that a step further - how much are you willing to spend for the furniture, lighting, art, pillows, etc.  Stick to your budget plan.  Make your list and deduct when you have bought something for the room.

6.  Save up for a few months.  When we started to renovate our new home, we needed to save as much money as we could, which meant less shopping.  I'm sure that made a lot of my favorite stores sad to not see me for a while, but I did what I had to do.  This way you can buy those big ticket items that cost more than usual, and not be struggling for the rest of the month.

7.  Don't give in to temptation!  This is hard, and I'm not the best at it, but one of my friends told me once, "It's not a good deal if you don't have the money."  Words of wisdom to live by.

8.  Be creative.  Just like in the post "Marathon Man," when we were shopping for the kitchen island we found an antique buffet that was much cheaper and worked better for us.  Try to think outside the box.

Thanks to Kim in Wyoming for writing us a comment about budgets.  I hope this will help everyone a little bit on how to budget your make-overs.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Letters to Emily

Before emails, texting, Facebook, or blogs, sharing your information was not as easy as a simple Tweet.  Where as today, alerting your social media hub your every emotion is almost necessary for most people to have a normal day.  My personal favorites are the fights over status updates.  Here is an example of two of my friends sharing their love with the rest of the world:
I hope you enjoy being alone.  I'm happier too. 
Baby don't leave me.  I love you.
Thank you Nicholas Sparks for that Facebook quote from "The Notebook."  Oh, today's love letters. Not as wildly romantic as a wax stamped letter, carried by a solider on a white horse, but filled with just as much love

Before I moved to Virginia, I was working for a home improvement company in Sacramento, Ca.  I went door to door selling windows and paint.  I was very successful trying to explain to people how they could save up to $300 a months on there energy bill  by putting in $20,000 windows.  They pretty much pay for themselves!  "Oh, your about to loose your home...Oh, your bankrupt...But it would be an investment...So you're telling me the answer is no?"  Fun, huh?  Since I lived two hours away, I had a lot of time to my self in the car.  I remember one long drive home late at night, unhappy with my job and with my life in general, I prayed and asked God to help me be happy, to find a wife, and that I would be able to find her, and that we would help each other build our lives together. It seemed so far, this ideas of me being married.  I was far from being in an position of being someone's husband.

Truly forgetting what I had prayed for, I moved on with my life here in Virginia.  A few weeks after moving to Richmond, Emily left on her mission.  Since there was time and space between Emily and I during this period of our lives (Emily was across the county in Utah ), we were unable to call or see each other. The best way for us to communicate was through letters. I would love to say that our letters were poetic like Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, "I embrace you. My every waking thought is consumed with the idea of when we will next meet. Blah, blah, blah..."

Every week Emily and I wrote back and forth sharing our frustrations, and our triumphs.  I shared with her the amazing feat of being a 22 year old who was surviving without a microwave.  Before she had left on a mission were we just starting to really develop feelings for each other.  But, we decided that it was the best for both of us, if we remained just friends for the time being.

One very cold night in February, I was in my apartment writing Emily an email, praising her on the work she was doing.  All of a sudden it hit me!  I had a Godly smack across the face. "Hey stupid, remember what you prayed for?  That whole wife thing?  It's Emily."  Just then a montage of events flashed through my brain.  "I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for Emily.  Shut up!  Who knew?"  I erased the previous email I was writing.  I poured out my heart and said,  "Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, so here's my email.  I love you, maybe?"  OK, OK, maybe not.  I wish what I wrote was as catchy as a Carly Rae Jepsen song.  I really wrote:
I love you.  I don't know if this is going to freak you out or not, but here it is - I love you and I'm grateful for you.  I'll be here waiting for you.
Love, Chris.
Send...What was I doing?!  She's going to think that I'm crazy!  She's going to be gone for a year and a half, and I just proclaimed my love! I felt just as foolish and corny as an N'SYNC song.  I guess the disadvantages of emails are you can't stop them after you push Send.  At least in the days of Napoleon you could send a few of your soldiers to ambush the man carrying your crazy letter, expressing your love to a woman who may not love you in return.

That following day I received a letter in the mail from an Emily Stoner, This was it.  I felt like I didn't need to open the letter at all because I knew what it already said: 
Dear Chris,
I think you're great, and you're like a best friend.  I think we should just keep it that way.
Sincerely, It's never going to happen.
I opened the letter to confirm my theory. I read:
I having been think about you a lot. I think I love you.  I hope that this doesn't scare you, but I love you.
Love, Emily
Wait...she feels the same?  As I actually thought about it, I realized, there was no way she got my email and sent a letter that quick.

She loves me.

To the relief of us both, we both got a Godly smack, and we sent our love letters at the same time, putting our selves our there, hoping that the other felt the same.  Even though our love letters were not as poetic, and there were no white horses involved, I still feel like I should end this post with the famous last words...And they lived happily ever after.  THE END.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Marathon Man

For some reason every year around this time, when the leaves change, people start to think that it may be a good idea so run 26.2 miles.  Yes.  A marathon.  One can't just decide just to run a marathon and go out and do it the next day.  It takes many months of training.  The runner must first start SLOW, taking their time, and running just a few miles a day - or I my case, just one.  Then, week by week you build up your stamina to run with all the big wigs.  But if your don't properly train, it can be a disaster!  To all the readers out there with two legs, listen to me: training is necessary!  For me, the idea of running a marathon is just as crazy and an illegal alien working for the border patrol.  It's just wrong, and it will never happen.   MY marathon is a little different from the 26 mile grueling run, and to to some, it would be just as gruesome.  MY marathon is the marathon of shopping.  Personally, shopping is my cardio.

Preparing for the big day - marathon day!

All the new comers listen to the advice of the more experienced and seasoned runners. They give silly little tips such as rolling out your muscles with a rolling pin, taping up your nipples to reduce chaffing, eating hard boiled eggs and bananas for breakfast is a must, and be sure to fill up on carbs the night before for extra energy.  Now, you may not have to go through such extreme lengths to prepare for a marathon of shopping.  Let's face it, how many of you have needed to tape your nipples in order to shop? Except for my favorite holiday - BLACK FRIDAY!  Isn't it funny that your mother and grandmother who rarely exercises, can go hours of shopping with very few water brakes?  They pass through every store like a mile marker, not even braking a sweat, with the speed and precision of the cheetah on the hunt. How is this possible? Why do they feel the need to shop so long? I'm sure plenty of sons and husbands have asked these questions once or twice. To make matters worse, half the time they didn't even buy anything - or she comes home with a pair of socks and a hat. Why do they do this?? Is she just trying to punish us? This could be considered cruel and unusual punishment. But, I have the secret...

Us shoppers know that the "wasted" shopping trip really isn't wasted at all. I previously mentioned in the post Confessions of a Shopaholic, I was ever on the hunt - ever looking, ever hunting. Just because I didn't buy it doesn't mean it was a waste. In the marathon of shopping, these trips are the practice miles. Instead of building up stamina and endurance, I'm watching prices drop, doing my research, trying to find the best deal, and preparing to find the right price on the big ticket items. While on these shopping trips, it feels like I'm visiting an old friend, and checking in to see how they are doing, or if they had found a new home. The only bad thing with this waiting game is that some times you can finish last and miss the deal.

I had been looking for a old bird cage for what seemed to be years, and I finally found one in one of my favorite stores, Second Debut in Carytown (a boutique shopping area in Richmond).  It was the Taj Mahal of bird cages!  This beauty stood five feet tall and the price was only $25! I had found it!!! Most of the ones I found before, were anywhere from $200- $500.  Just then, the sensible side of me kicked in to reminded me that rent was due, and it was not a need.  It was a want.  Unfortunately, I had no way to justify buying this beautiful prison for birds.  Truthfully, I didn't have a bird nor was I planning on getting one.   I walked away strong and poised. 

Five minutes later, I was walking back to the store.  I had to get it!  Who was I kidding - it would be an investment!  To my horror, when I walked back through the front doors I saw a woman had my bird cage with her!  I witnessed the most painful swipe of her card and the flash of the word approved. This next part I'm not too proud of.  As soon as I saw she bought my bird cage, I yelled - yes yelled out - "NO!!!!"   Of course everyone in the store looked at me thinking the worst, but the worst had truly happened.  It was gone!  I walked over to the now very startled woman and explained that I was on my way back to buy her bird cage.  She apologized, but in this case she had won.  I said to her, and I quote, "At least I met the family that is taking it home."  

Sometimes we win the marathon, and sometimes we loose.  Still, this is truly the secret to finding my deals.  For example, here is a case where I won. We had a huge spot that needed filling in our kitchen we were mulling over the ideas of either putting in an island or a kitchen table. The first stop was to Lowe's to see how much it would actually cost to put an island in our kitchen. The cost was a whopping $750 for the custom island that we wanted. Far too much for my taste - so the shopping marathon began. It was time to get creative. What else could I do? I started to look for things that had the same feeling and shape as the overly priced kitchen island. I found a large dresser for $300, and a antique solid cherry buffet for $375. Now, I know what you are thinking; that is way too much money!  Normally I would have thought so as well, but on my previous shopping trips, I found similar buffets that were not as great of quality and had higher price tags. It was love at first sight!  I had found the missing piece to our kitchen.  This solid cherry wood buffet was just what we needed.  It was exactly the right length, width, and height. 

I'm grateful I listened to my mother who taught me how to properly prepare for the marathon so I can cross the finish line with money still in my pocket.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Starving in the City

What would you do for a dollar? After I moved up to Richmond I would have done almost anything.  I would have been a stripper like "Magic Mike" but I didn't have the abs!  Here is a little life tip: HAVE A JOB BEFORE YOU MOVE! Especially if you like to eat. This was the second time I had moved in less than 6 months. For the first few weeks I happily skipped to different stores and restaurants in the 6 mile radius of downtown applying for jobs as I went. I was sure I would find a job since I had a sparkling personality, was dressed to impress, and had my witty interviewing skills under my belt. I was sure I would get a call...any day... it would happen...seriously any time now...come on...

Six weeks later, my skip turned into a slow grudging trudge. OK, it was officially time to freak out! I was as broke as a joke and it wasn't funny. I was out of work for 2 months when my aunt (the one in Charlottesville), who lived in Texas at the time, offered me a one way plane ticket back to California. What to do? I could stay in Richmond and possibly starve, or go back to California.   Looking on the bright side, I wasn't eating much, I was walking everyday to find a job so I was losing weight, and I was in the best shape of my life. I was on the Top Ramen One-a-Day diet (consult your doctor before trying - women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not try this diet). Naturally, of course I declined the ticket.   I don't know if this is a good thing about me or not, but even though I was starving and my electricity was about to be turned off, and I was about to loose my first apartment 2 months in, I was some how happy?  I was living on my own which is something not everyone gets to do. I had no roommates; it was just me. Even though I wasn't at my peak, I was still drinking my tap water out of goblets, and I truly believe that Ramen tastes better served in china and eaten with chop sticks! 

As the weather grew colder I felt more than just a chill in the air. I really started to feel that this could be the end and I had failed. I remember praying on Christmas Eve, "Well this is it.  Either give me a job, or send me back home." I had applied to many places - hopefully someone would hire me.  I was also planning on sending Christmas alone that year.  Emily had left on a mission, and all of my friends were in Newport News (which was a good hour and a half away).  As I was praying and thinking of all these things, I heard, "Knock! Knock! Knock!" Oh no. I thought, they're coming to evict me.  I answered the door to find one of my friends, Alyssa Jensen, from Newport News. She came to pick me up and bring me to her house for Christmas. Thank goodness I didn't have to spend Christmas alone! I was beginning to feel like one of those cat ladies who spends Christmas by herself, dressing up her cats in Santa hats just to have a good time. Good thing I kept the receipt for the Santa sweater I had bought for Lila!  That year all I got for Christmas a tube of Bert's Bees Chap Stick, and a call from a furniture store offering me a job. It was the happiest Christmas I had evehad.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Disadvantages of Being a Wall Flower

Sometimes it can seem as far as the eye can see, or even as long as the Great Wall of China.  You know what I'm talking about!  Your hallway.  This long skinny part of your house is like a forgotten love child you just don't talk about or try to avoid being around.  All you do is dart past, hoping they won't notice you.  There is a new movie coming out called "The Perks of Being a Wall Flower."  Well, in this post, I'd like to talk about the disadvantages.  A lot of times when it comes to decorating your hallway it seems like you have the one lonely wall flower picture.  Just sitting there, a little socially awkward, and you just kind of ignore it because you don't know how to deal with it.  Here's how: Bring it some friends and add a grouping of pictures to make it feel more welcome and it can become a party.  The hallway has become one of my favorite parts of our home.  It's my excuse to show off our art collection and pretend that we're in an art gallery.  So, we have decided that part of our house is now called The Gallery formerly know as the hallway.

Here are some tips to help your hallways feel like a part of your home:

Strength in Numbers:
We are always stronger in numbers, and so is your art.  Try putting your artwork into clusters to take up more visual space on your walls.   Before you put them on the wall, put your pictures on the floor and play around with different groupings until you find what looks the best.  When you hang them on the wall start in the middle at eye level so you don't start too high or too low.  Another idea is to create a sort of mosaic effect.  Pick one picture and blow it up.  Cut it into fours and place each section into a different frame.  Hang on the wall about 2-4" apart.  You now have a larger piece of art with a small price.

Big Ego:
I love big pieces of art!  The bigger the better!  I feel even in small spaces, big pieces of art can make the space look larger.  Some great places I have found good, cheap art are Ross and Ikea.  Most are anywhere from $25- $150.  When you buy bigger art, you don't need as many pieces.  Maybe 3 big guys will be all you need; plus, most of the time their egos can't handle too much competition. Here are some of my favorites:

Charlie Chaplin, Ikea - $39.99
Crescendo of Light, Ikea - $149.99
Flatiron Building, Ikea - $149.99

Light Them Up:
If you want to make any of your art look more expensive, light them up.  If you can, invest in art sconces.  You can find them almost anywhere like the Home Depot or Lowes.  When you light up the art, the colors feel richer, and even the art you daughter finger painted for you looks like a Picasso.

Child Labor Laws:
Work those children if you need art!  To all the parents out there - this is a great way to make your kids feel special, and also get those annoying pictures off your fridge.  Invest in a few frames with matt boards and once a month, or so, have your child help pick out a new piece of art they have done to put into the gallery.  Have them save their artwork in a special spot, like a folder or a drawer in their bedroom.  That way, it's always a surprise which piece of art they pick!

TP!  Totally Paper It:
Wall paper!  I know what your don't want your home to look like Grandma's house.  But, if you put up a bold printed wall paper, your wall becomes more of the art - so you actually need less art pieces to hang up!


Furniture, Really?
This all depends on the width of your hallway.  If it's wide enough, put in a small console table.  In our gallery we have an old desk I found abandoned on the street that I took home and refinished.  If your hall is too small, your can always use a floating shelf or two.   Mount it to the wall at the height of your belly button.  This is great especially if your hallway is part of your entry way.  Put a tin or a hook on the shelf as a place to put your keys or mail.

For any other art ideas, check out my previous post - Insta-Art

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Refugee in Richmond

Tick...tick...tick...tick...tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-BOOM!!  I have started to see a trend in my lfe, that whenever I'm content and happy something always come up. I had been living in Newport News for about four and half months when a bomb was dropped on me.  Our land lord was kicking us out and moving in with his new wife.  That basicaly means, "Sorry, you need to find a new home in 30 days."  Jerk!  So, I lost my new home that I had worked so hard to make nice.  I didn't have enough money to find a place on my own in Newport News.  I didn't have a car.  My roommates left me all by myself.  What the heck?!  I had two options: one, move and figure something out, or two, put my head between my knees and kiss my townhouse goodbye!

Moving to the city that sleeps in...

The things I love about the city: the sky line, the architecture, the night life, and of course, shopping! Growing up near San Fransisco, I knew all about these things.  My expectations might have been a little too high when I moved to the sleepy little city of Richmond.  Since then, I have fallen into a deep love for my city, but it wasn't love at first sight.  Since I couldn't stay in Newport News, I found a  studio basement appartment which I described in the post "Mirror Mirror,"  on one of the most charming streets in Richmond,  Monument Avenue.  To the surprise of my friends, I had enough stuff to fill a small moving truck.  Not too bad for only four and a half months!  I had everything I needed except the keys.

November 1, 2009 was move in day. Emily, Lila (my new sidekick - a one year old Jack Russell Terrior), and I arived at the realestate office around 4:30 pm to pick up the key. I was so excited to finally have the key to my first place! Thinking about where I had come from only months earlier, I was feeling pretty good all the way to my new appartment. I had already drawn out my floor plan, and aranged all the furniture in my mind. We met my friends who were helping me move in at the new apartment and all went to the door together. This was it! I put in the key into the lock and,...What the $@*&!!!! (excuse my puncuation). The key didn't work! "Let me try." said Emily. Nothing happened. We continue to pass the key around and everyone gave it a try. Nothing happened again and again. By this time, all of my stuff was already unloaded off the truck and on the side walk, and it was getting darker. By the way, the office closed at 5:00 and no one would be back because it was the weekend. I had no way of getting in! Alas! There is an EMERGENCY number! I thought to myself. Surely, this is must be worthy of the title, EMERGENCY. Don't you love when you call emergency hotlines, they're almost always answering machines? How comforting. It makes me feel like they really care, you know what I mean? 
Four hours later, my friends were still there, and still no call back from the hotline.  By this time I'm sure they were glad to be getting rid of me.  One positive point was all the looks we got from people walking down the sidewalk.  Since we had no other choice but to wait, I figured why not set up places for my friends to sit.  So there we sat in our side walk living room equipped with a couch, two french style blue chairs, and a coffee table, eating a drive through dinner.  We looked like the most stylish bunch of homeless people you had ever seen.  With no call in sight, I had to call a lock smith.  When that man arrived, I have never been so happy!  I felt like I was touch by an angel.  My angel was a short greasy looking man, but non the less he was my salvation.  In about two minutes I was

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Mirror, Mirror

"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the smartest of them all?"  Take a good look when it comes to mirrors, you may be able to see from a different angle.  If anyone has been to our house, you know that we are obsessed with mirrors.  We have 13 hanging up in our home at the moment.  We love mirrors - especially gold ones!  I don't know what causes this craving I have for mirrors, but as soon as I find one I feel like a crack head.  I kind of made an unofficial rule in my mind for decorating our home - when in doubt, put up a mirror.  I'm sure the Wicked Queen in "Snow White" knows what I mean.  I haven't been able to find one that talks back to me, but if it did, it might say something like, "Buy me!"  Why are mirrors so handy and why do we love them?  The answer is simple.  I think that any size mirror can add a little glamour to any space.  It seems they add square footage,  they pretend to be a window, and just add a magical touch - like living art in your house. Mirrors always remind me of the pictures in "Harry Potter."  Always changing with new people popping up in the frame just to say "Hi."

All the mirrors in our home are different shapes and sizes, and were all different prices.  Not to mention, mirrors can have multiple personalities.  The same mirror surface can look completely different with a different frame.  They are all accessorized differently in our home.

Here are a few different types of mirrors:

Gold leaf/Traditional
The sunburst mirror
Black Beauty
Beveled edge (no frame)

One of my first apartments was in a basement on Monument Avenue in Richmond, VA.  It wasn't ideal with its 7 foot dropped ceiling, absolutely no windows, and concrete floors.  It was about as good looking as a two car garage.  The biggest problem I had with this space was the fact it had no windows.  It was also tiny with no walls.  I used to lovingly call it "The Dungeon."  Mirrors were the antidote for my problem.  Before I knew it, the dungeon felt bigger, less cramped, and all the light was bouncing around from mirror to mirror, making it lighter and friendlier.  If you don't know what kind of art you like, a mirror can fix that.  Put one above your bed, mantle, dinning room table, or even in your kitchen.  Tip: make sure when you put the mirror up, the reflection you will be looking at is one that you want to see.

We've done some research for you and have found some great deals on mirrors:

Bronze Vintage Mirror, Target, Sale - $15.99
Silver Beaded Mirror, Target, Sale - $39.99
Black Oval Bathroom Mirror, Ikea - $39.99
Mirrored Sconce, Bed Bath & Beyond - $14.99
Fleur-De-Lis Mirror, Hobby Lobby - $29.99

Don't forget to check out your local thrift and antique stores as well!!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Vote for Brockman

In the spirit of the election season, we are starting to get a little political here at the House of Brockman. We are watching the polls, doing our research, and trying to find which choice is best for us. We want to poll you as the readers of this blog, to see what you are wanting to hear about at the House of Brockman. We want to know about any questions you have for us about home decor, or delemas, party ideas, or just anything really!

Believe in Your Home

Under the Virginian Sun

In the romantic comedy, "Under the Tuscan Sun" a writer from California named Francis, goes through a transformation. The movie starts when she gets a terrible divorce.  In this grueling process she finds out that the love of her life was cheating on her.  She is forced to sell her house and plunges into a deep depression.  Her friend, Patty, gives her a speech about how there are people that you meet in life and think to yourself, "What the hell happened to them?" Patty told Francis that they are faced with a crossroads. and that when they get there it's not the time for them to be scared.  In hopes to get Francis out of her depression, Patty gives her a ticket to Tuscany.  As Francis was wallowing in self pitty, she finally got the courage to take the ticket.  While in Italy, she decides she can't go back to California, and by fate, finds herself at an old villa for sale.  She buys the old house and renovates not just her home, but her life as well. 

My story is not as glamorous, and of course - does not take place in Italy.  But Virginia is not too bad.  I found myself at my crossroads with a ticket to take me across the country (which my friend had given me).  I had the idea of finding a new life, and who knew I would start to write!  I had previously posted about the condition the townhouse was in when I first got to Virginia. I knew that there was no way I could continue to live like that - as much as I like lawn chairs.  If I had to live in the dining room, it would be the best room in the house! I didn't have much money, but I did find a job very quickly after moving there.  The paint colors in the house were the first thing that needed to go.  We had a Nickelodeon Orange room, a blue that I call "Dodge Neon circa 1996 Blue" in another room, and a Burnt Mint Green color in the third bedroom. It was terrible to say the least!  From the look of it, you might guess that the paint was bought in the "Oops" section of the paint store.  We decided on two colors of paint: a neutral beige (Dusty Lane) and a sage green (Green Tea).  We continued to renovate the house, much like Francis in the movie. While Francis is renovating her own home she states, "Take one room and make it yours.  Go slowly through the house.  Be Polite.  Introduce yourself."  Slowly, our townhouse became a home and changes started to happen.  The TV was mounted to the wall, we had a couch, chairs, art, curtains, floating shelves, etc. 

One day my roommates finally made a 360, and I was so proud of them!  I remember very vividly - the house was clean and I had made my taco soup for dinner.  All four of my roommates were sitting on the couch eating dinner together, and watching "Under the Tuscan Sun."  The best part was, they were actually enjoying it!  Oh, how my influence was growing stronger. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

To Veg, or Not to Veg?

Carrots, and snap peas, and tomatoes - oh my! The veggie tray - why is it, this old party staple continues to rear its ugly head? Don't get me wrong, I love veggies, but it's all about how they perform. I think that veggies always can play a leading role when it comes to your party's buffet table, but placing them on a tray just seems a little flat. Here are some ideas to make your veggies more Carrie Underwood than William Hung.

Display Those Stocks:

Instead of having all the carrots, celery, and cucumbers in a pile on a tray with dip in the middle, try this! Cut them the full length of the vegetable and put them in fun vases! Turn the veggie filled vases into part of your center pieces. Vegetables have lots of natural color that will bring bright pops of color to your table. Make sure that you have one vegetable per vase.

The Solo Act:

This is a fun idea that is ideal for smaller parties - but of course could be used in a more crowded setting as well. Fill the bottom of as many shot glasses you need with Ranch Dressing, or any other dressing you like. Take snap peas, carrots (either regular size cut into long sticks, or the cute small ones with the green still on the top), celery, cucumbers, peppers, etc. and cut them into long sticks. The length depends on how deep your shot glasses are. You want an inch or two of veggies to be above the rim of the glass. You can cut them as thick as you want but we have found the thickness of about a pencil to be a great size!

The Answer Is Crystal Clear:
I truly believe that even the lamest party snack always looks better in crystal (not saying veggies are lame). I have many crystal bowls and candy dishes that truly make a statement when plating up dishes; whether it be the most expensive hors dourves or simple potato chips.

So - to veg, or not to veg isn't really the question. Now the question is - How to veg, or how not to veg.