2.29.2012

{renovate} furnace woes

If you follow me on Twitter, you already know we've had a stressful week here at A Home in the Making. On Sunday afternoon, our furnace wouldn't come on. It sounded like it was working, it made all the right noises, but the blower - which blows the air out the ducts - wouldn't work, so the furnace would shut off. Tease. Chris knows a lot about this type of thing, so he started working on it, sadly to no avail. We were left with calling furnace companies at 6:00 sunday evening. We found a company that would actually come out and take a look - at a cost, of course. They diagnosed the problem, needed a part and would be back Monday. We did all this on Sunday because first thing Monday morning Chris flew to the east coast. For the week. Leaving me all alone to deal with the repair guy. Did I mention overnight lows were in the low 30's?


I - sort of irrationally - freaked. First, I fully believe that one of the biggest perks of marriage is that my husband takes care of this stuff. Second, I was completely weirded out by having some random guy we pulled off the internet in my home with only me, when my husband is 3,000 miles away. I watch the news way too much to think this was going to end well. Third, I don't know the first thing about furnaces and wouldn't know how to handle the situation if things went awry.

I gained a little perspective Monday after a good night's sleep. But, it got me thinking. I can't tell you how to fix your furnace (ha!), but - three days into a furnace repair issue - I can pass along some tips for dealing with what can be a pretty stressful situation.

Research. Before committing to working with a repair person, do your research. Our research was quickly don't over about 30 minutes, but it involved asking friends via text and via facebook, looking up online reviews, checking their licensed contractor number and looking them up on the Better Business Bureau.

Know Your House. Whether you have a repair person fixing your furnace, your refrigerator or your natural gas line, know the important details. When was it installed? When was the last service? Have there been any other issues lately? A good contractor will ask you questions and having knowledgeable answers will make their job much easier.

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. First, have them talk you through the issue. For me, this helps me feel like I'm more of a level playing field. Get in there and have them show you what's wrong and why. Talk to them about their plan for fixing the issue, how much money it will cost and how much time they think it will take. Make sure you talk about the bigger picture at your first meeting so that everyone's expectations are on the table.

Ask Questions. If at any point things don't make sense, you feel like the project is off task -- ask questions. Be nice, but be assertive and ask. It's important to nicely remain in control of the situation and know what exactly is being done in your home.

Be Safe. I'm not gonna lie. I'm a paranoid girl. Period. I lived alone for a few years and I am very careful in situations where I'm home alone. With that said, if there is a repairman in your house and you are not comfortable, make sure there is someone there with you. A very dear friend brought her kids over to play Monday afternoon so I wasn't alone. At the very least, let someone who is a quick phone call away know the situation.

If you own a home, the chances that you'll be in this sort of situation, at some point, are pretty high. I hope this helps you feel better prepared when that time comes! :)

2.27.2012

{create} ombre pillow

Happy Monday friends! Did you all have a lovely weekend? Our weekend was fantastic, until our furnace broke last night. On one of the coldest nights of the year so far. But, such is the life of a homeowner. It's being fixed today and it'll all be good :).

Last week I showed you our new living room pillows!

Today I put together a little tutorial for making your own ombre pillow.
I had a couple of white silk-ish pillow cases that I hadn't used in forever. So, I decided to experiment on one of those. I started with two colors of dye ... royal and navy blue. On the package, at least, they looked like they'd make a nice gradient-ombre effect :).

Make sure you read the directions on your dye packages. It tells you all sorts of good stuff like how to prepare the dye-bath, how to rinse and how to wash the fabric after, depending on what type of fabric it is. Good, helpful stuff.

I chose to dye my pillow over a pot on the stove. Once your dye-bath is prepared, put your fabric!




The amount of time your fabric is in the dye bath will determine the richness of the final color. So, I started by putting my fabric over half way in for just a few minutes. In the process, the color will *creep* up a little further, which creates a very cool watercolor-type effect. (Note: the color will creep on certain fabrics more than others. Silk doesn't creep as much as linen will. I think cotton will creep quite a bit too. If you're unsure, try different fabrics before you commit to which you'll use.) Then I pulled it a little out of the water and let it sit for 5-10 minutes (see photo above). Once I was happy with the saturation, I rinsed it while preparing the darker dye. Once prepared I let the very bottom of the pillow sit for another 5-10 minutes, then removed, rinsed and washed. Now, the top of the pillow looks light blue? Because it is :). It was supposed to be cream, but the dye bled a little in the wash and I actually like the light blue a little better. Nice!
 
I'm really happy with how it turned out. So much more interesting than the cream pillow I started with, right? 

So, have you guys ever dyed anything? I remember tye-dying when I was a Girl Scout. After having done this on my own, I can't even imagine the patience of our leaders. A bunch of girls with really messy dye?? I'm sure we were outside :).  Would you guys ever dye something, or is it just too messy??

Update: I am linking this post over at Beth's Tutorials and Tips linky party, and


 
Update 3/13: I'm also linking this up to the Pinterest Party, hosted by Young House Love, Bower Power, The Great Indoors and Hi Sugar.
I have a number of ombre projects on my Pinterest boards, but it was this No. Four Eleven pillow specifically: pinned here, that launched this project.

Come over and check out all the amazing projects!

2.24.2012

{inspired} a pillow update

Happy friday friends! It's a gorgeous day here in Portland and I'm so excited for the weekend! 

Remember when I asked you to vote on pillow options a couple weeks ago? It's time for a little update! The majority of you voted for ...

Group No. 3: h. elegantouch, i. gracious home, j. no. four eleven

Number 3! I agree with you and set out to make this happen. Here's where we're at so far:

I ordered the Celerie Kemble fabric pillows from elegantouch and LOVE them. Aren't they beautiful? The orange makes such a difference in the room.





And that blue guy on the end? I made him last weekend. I'll have a tutorial on Monday to show you how. So I just need to replace the light blue pillow with something a little more graphic and a little darker. I have an idea that is similar to the one you voted on, but just a little different. 

Yesterday Chris commented how weird it is that pillows can change the look of an entire room. I laughed. But it's true. They're so small enough that you wouldn't think it would matter, but they make such a huge difference! I've also made a couple other updates in the living room that I'm excited to share with you in the next couple weeks! 

I hope you all have a GREAT weekend! :)


2.23.2012

{inspired} woodland interiors

Today I'm excited to have Jessica, from Arcadian Lighting, joining us. She's talking about woodland interiors and has some seriously drool-worthy inspiration lined up for you! :) Enjoy!



Hi everyone! I'm Jessica, a writer for Arcadian Lighting, a blog and website where you'll find the latest in interior design trends and just the right light fixtures to go with them. I'm delighted to be guest posting for Jenn because I'm going to be sharing some lovely, charming interiors inspired by the natural beauty of the woodlands. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! 

Woodland Inspiration
A fun woodland inspired wall decal can instantly transform a room's atmosphere. I love bright yellow and orange colors, and the table lamp with petite feather details. 

Woodland Inspiration
This cozy rustic bedroom is full of such pretty, natural details. Just a few pinecones and raw branches add a rich color and texture that complements the overall neutral colors in the room. 

Woodland Inspiration
The floor-to-ceiling bare hardwood in this sitting room is perfectly gorgeous. The natural tones of the wood, complemented by matching colors throughout the room creates a soothing, cohesive atmosphere. Mini wall sconces also add to the rustic feeling of the space. 

Woodland Inspiration
A few crystal clear glasses and jars with various ferns and leaves makes wonderful decoration for almost anywhere in the house. The subtly colored glass has such a beautiful effect, as well. 

Woodland Inspiration
There's no doubt where this room gets its inspiration. Even if taxidermy is not your style, the heavy wooden furniture and leaf pattern wallpaper are lovely woodland details in this living room. 

Woodland Inspiration
This National Parks inspired boys' room is cool and rustic. I love these types of lamps, which are made out of a tree branch. The stuffed animals on the bed also give the space a natural feel.

Woodland Inspiration
I love all the charming woodland inspired decorations in this room. From the bird print rug to the leaf embroidered pillow, there's such a cozy, friendly feel to this living room. 

Woodland Inspiration
This relaxing screened-in porch features some very dynamic patterns. The botanical prints and mix of dark browns and greens with floral accents is a beautiful combination. 

Images 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 

What do you think of woodland inspired d├ęcor? Let us know in the comments! And be sure to stop by Arcadian Lighting for a wide variety of lighting fixtures to illuminate your cozy rooms!

2.20.2012

{inspired} president's day

Today is President's day! What does that mean for you? For me, it means a day off: reading in bed, working on a couple home projects and deep conditioning my hair. I love three day weekends :). 

I'm not a big political-type person, but I do believe that some of our former presidents were pretty darn smart. Today, I wanted to share my favorite Abe Lincoln quote with you all.


See, pretty smart, right? I think it's a wonderful reminder. I also love the poster's design. Mary Kate McDevitt has some other awesome art in her shop. Definitely worth checking out.

I hope you all have a wonderful day - whether you're at home or at work, or somewhere in between :).

2.16.2012

{creating} better photos

One of my two resolutions this year is to take better photos. I realize that getting better at photography takes practice and I've been dutifully toting my camera around town. But, I'm a book learner (aka: nerd) and so I started looking around for resources that could teach me a little more about my camera. And friends, I found the greatest book! I had to share with you.


This book is FANTASTIC. A couple of you also mentioned that you'd like to learn more about photography and I highly recommend this book. The example are perfect, and he explains the important camera features in ways that are so easy to understand. I actually checked it out from the library, but am thinking about buying it so I can carry it around with me when I'm practicing. 

Along this line, I've been looking for a camera bag. What's more motivating than having a cute new bag to carry around my camera? My current bag came with the camera and is hideous. And, I'm always so nervous stuffing my camera in my purse. 

 This is my favorite. It's a bag I would carry even when I didn't have my camera with me, which is a plus.
 
This, is a close second though.

And while I'm dreaming, this camera strap would obviously help me take better photos.

Okay, maybe not, but it'll make my camera look cute! :)

What are your favorite camera accessories? On a different note, are you working on your new year's resolutions?? :)

2.13.2012

{create} peppermint truffles

Happy Monday friends! Did you know that tomorrow is Valentine's Day? I just realized that this weekend. It somehow totally snuck up on me. Luckily, Chris and I don't really celebrate. We actually got engaged on February 1, so we decided early on that we'd celebrate our engagement, instead of V-day. It's a little more personal :). BUT, I did make Chris a yummy Valentine's Day treat this weekend that is so amazing I wanted to share it with you all.

These are so delish. Really. I made extra and brought them to a party on Saturday night and a couple people actually asked for the recipe/if they could PAY me for a couple dozen. 

Peppermint Patty Truffles
Adapted from Elana's Pantry

Ingredients:
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup coconut butter
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 ½ teaspoons peppermint oil
  • ½ to 1 cup dark chocolate - as dark as you like.

Directions:
  1. Soften or melt coconut oil and coconut butter and then combine in a small bowl with honey and peppermint oil. Freeze the mixture for a few minutes until it starts to harden. Remove from freezer and form little balls. Place back in the freezer to firm them up.
  2. When balls are frozen, melt chocolate. Let it cool a little to thicken up. Dip balls one at a time into melted chocolate.
  3. Use a fork to pull them out and shake excess chocolate off. 
  4. Line the chocolate-coated balls up on a parchment-lined baking sheet and put back in the freezer to harden up.
  5. Coat candies in a second coat of chocolate, if necessary. You can see in number 4 above, the candies weren't completely coated. After few minutes in the freezer I simple remelted the extra chocolate from step 2 and redipped the candies. Much better :).
  6. Store in the refrigerator.


These are a great, easy and totally irresistible treat for any one in your life!

So, tell me do you celebrate Valentine's Day? If so, what's your favorite Valentine's day gift/treat?







2.08.2012

{inspired} beadboard back splashes

I love it when Chris gives me a good challenge. There have been a couple design decisions I've made that have initially received an eye roll or outright *no*. To which, I have to prove him wrong. Obviously. Most notably was the decision to paint the fireplace white. He was so, so, so against it. Today, he admits it's one of the better  updates we've done on the house. At least he can admit when he's wrong, right? ;) 

We're thinking about updating our kitchen this year. So last weekend I had a wild and crazy idea. What about using beadboard as a backsplash in our kitchen, instead of tile? Using tile has been bothering me because the space we would be tiling is TINY. 

The space I'm referring to here is between the window and bottom of cabinets and the counter. At it's largest, it's no more than 12-inches. I feel like tile, while gorgeous, will just draw attention to the space's weird and disproportionate size. But beadboard, I think, would look effortless and amazing. Chris? Does not share this opinion. I didn't have a specific kitchen in mind when I had this idea, but I was bound to find gorgeous kitchens that use beadboard instead of tile.
Of course I had no problem finding examples. Friends, I present to you, gorgeous kitchen with beadboard back splashes:


bhg via emily


Kitchen Makeover traditional kitchen

Gast Architects: Projects traditional kitchen
houzz

Lovely, right? A tiny bit cottag-y, but I think with the right paint and surrounding decor it doesn't have to lean that way. Lest you think we're anywhere near a kitchen remodel, let me assure you that we're just in the beginning thinking and debating stages. But, you know I'll keep you in the loop each step of the way. Including what we end up deciding on this little issue! :)

So what do you guys think of beadboard back splashes? Would you ever do it, or are you strictly tile lovers?

2.06.2012

{inspired} by nature

As I've talked about before, one of the things both Chris and I are working on this year is our health. For us this means slowing down a little and making sure we do things that are important to us. In other words, we're choosing how to spend our days - and especially our weekends - very carefully. 

This weekend was GORGEOUS in Portland. 55 degrees. Sunny. Absolutely {and very teasingly} spring-like. We took the opportunity to ditch the boring things we "should have" been doing and headed straight for the trails. 

I feel very lucky to live where we do. Less than 5 minutes from my house is a huge forested park, aptly named Forest Park. It's actually the biggest urban park in the U.S. and has miles and miles of trails that are so fun to explore. It's also really easy for us to drive to in a moments notice. We spent Saturday afternoon roaming a new-to-us trail and it was absolutely delightful. Below are more some of the photos I took, but it made me wonder about you guys. How do you unplug and unwind? What do you do for *me time*?






Have a great Monday friends! :)

ps. THANK YOU for all your commenting on my pillow intervention friday! Your comments and opinions are incredibly appreciated and I look forward to showing you what I've decided! :)

2.03.2012

{inspire} a pillow intervention

This is what happens when I get really busy and stressed: I start obsessing. About little tiny ridiculous details. For instance, my living room. As I shared last month, it's taking a little breather after the craziness that is the holiday season. So I thought it would be fun to get a couple new throw pillows to liven things up. So what's the problem? I can't decide what pillows to buy. Yes, there are an astounding number of amazing pillows out there. Just check out my Pinterest pillow board. But, it's not like I'm making a decision about whether to install tile or beadboard in our bathroom, or whether or not to buy a new house. It's pillows! They're completely interchangeable!

Here's the problem friends. All but one of my pillows {my favorite!} I've had for at least three years. I think the thought that I might actually keep these new pillows for awhile is stressing me out like crazy. Yes, I need to get out more.


And, I need an intervention. And, that's where you come in. Please help! Below the pillows are grouped as per what I think would look nice in our living room. The brown is our sofa color.

Group No. 1: a. westelm, b.shoot, I lost the link for this, which isn't helping things. If you know where this is from, let me know! :), c. moxie mandie
Group No. 3: h. elegantouch, i. gracious home, j. no. four eleven

I need opinions friends! Which grouping/pillows do you like the best? At this point, I need perspective so I can buy a pillow or two and MOVE ON. I'm leaning towards No. 3, but which group do you like best?

And, of course, HAPPY FRIDAY! :)

2.01.2012

{inspired} by my blog friends

Friends. My job opened its enormous jaws and swallowed me whole. Last Thursday. It finally spit me out late yesterday afternoon, but I'm still feeling a little dazed. The past five days (weekend included) have been a doozy. One of the things that got me through was sneaking peeks at YOUR BLOGS here and there when I needed a quick break.

While I'm pulling my wits back about me, I thought I'd share some of my favorite posts from the last week. You all are so creative, and I just LOVE visiting each of your blogs.

The living room board Holly put together for a friend is gorgeous. Love the pops of varying blues and a little yellow. So comfy. Visit: west pear avenue


This winter tablescape that Kirsten put together is to light and bright. You can never fail with hydrangeas. Visit: restored style

I'm always so inspired by vertical gardens, but seeing this one, and the step-by-step instructions, makes me think even I could build one! Visit: old house, new home

These photos of Switzerland inspire me to be a better photographer AND go back to Switzerland. Just gorgeous. Visit: kristatomic via nubby twiglet

Kat's new kitchen light has me drooling. So much industrial goodness. Actually, her whole kitchen has me drooling. You're gonna want to check it out. Visit: maple leaves, sycamore trees

Thanks for all the inspiration and for getting me through my really tough week. I hope you've found at least one new blog on the list to explore and be inspired by :).