Happy 4th of July!

We're getting ready for a fun night with our neighborhood block party - over 175 people are coming!  We opened the party up to our entire civic association doubling the size of our party.  

Have a safe and happy 4th of July with friends and family!!

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Betwixt and Between {Rugs}

Which would you choose? Not telling you the intended space... just which do you like?



These RugsUsa.com sales kill me!  Great deals on beautiful rugs.  Usually I can't find one that I like and now I have found 3!  Argh...

Jim - This is what happens when you don't want to watch an episode of Breaking Bad.  Rug shopping.


Alex's 5th Birthday {Ninja Turtle Nature Center Birthday}

My 5 year old is obsessed with Ninja Turtles (and Star Wars, Cars, and ninjas - ALL ninjas).  So no surprise that his suggested birthday party theme was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (or TMNT as the cool kids say).  Of course all of the Pinterest ideas revolved around costumes and amazing TMNT themed games and crafts.  For once, I came to my senses and decided to take the easy route… I called a local nature center and booked the first date they had in May or June.  Alex's birthday was May 15th and the first date they had available was June 9th.  Lots of time to build excitement!

We are lucky to have several local nature centers, all of which are awesome.  We chose the bigger one because they have a nice party room and it's still less than $200 including the nature program and access to the exhibits.  Such a great deal!  Bonus - no 5 year old boys tearing up my house!

To bring in the TMNT theme, I bought some supplies on Oriental Trading Company and also some turtle themed crafts that I knew the girls would really like but the boys would totally ignore (I was right!).  I used a green table cloth I already had and added some of Alex's beloved TNMT action figures.

 Here's a "happy" customer...

The cupcakes were a bit of a splurge - super tasty and adorable!  Everyone loved them - especially the nature center volunteers (we gave them the leftovers).  They were made by Amanda at Esquire Confections in McLean in case you are looking.

Fun fact - I keep the candles for each year and try to use them for both kids.  The only exception was the first birthday candle (Elizabeth's was pink with flowers; No idea what Alex's was but not pink with flowers).

We started with a 30 minute nature program geared to silly 5 year olds - turtles and snakes.  All big hits.

Then we served some mini pizza bagels which were really popular and everyone ate some (including the adults)!  Then we ate those luscious cupcakes.

Alex and one of his many girlfriends...

Dang - they are cute together!

For the first time, we told guests not to bring gifts.  It was AWESOME.  Everybody was happy not to bring a gift although a few felt guilty.  My kids don't need a single thing and neither could think of things they wanted for their birthdays.  Elizabeth had kids bring family DVDs to her party to donate to a local battered women's shelter that takes in displace women with their kids.  

Each kid went home with a Magic Ink TNMT activity book - perfect for summer travels, pool breaks, or rainy afternoons!

All in all, this was one of the simplest, inexpensive parties I have ever had for either of my kids.  Everyone had fun, especially Alex which is the most important thing - of course!

I'm now addicted to having parties at fun locations.  A little more work at the front end makes the party so much more enjoyable.  I didn't do a post about Elizabeth's rock climbing birthday but if you have a sporty 8-year old girl - take her rock climbing.  She'll LOVE it!


Art for the Walls {Hall Bath}

It's finished! Well… mostly.  I still need to do a little touch-up paint on the trim.  It's a can of worms though because there are LOTS of places in my house that need trim touch-ups so once I start I might need an entire day to complete it all.  Still… done enough for a long overdue post!

The final piece of the puzzle was the art.  I struggled to no end with this.  I wanted something meaningful yet inexpensive and able to stand up to the abuse offered up by an ancient bathroom with poor ventilation.

I took a bunch of pictures last time we were visiting my parents in Siesta Key at a favorite breakfast location called the New Pass Grill.  The charm is in the trash-to-treasure decor and the man pelicans and other birds walking around the place like they own it.  

These three made the final cut. I amped up the color using Picasa so they were much more brilliant and artsy than originally.  I love them!  I am going to blow them up on big canvases for my imaginary beach condo.  

The other details included the shower curtain purchased on clearance from West Elm in January.  

And a before and after photo...

Definitely more calming yet still cheerful and youthful enough for my kids.  Some people may still be holding a candle for the wallpaper.  To them I say - get over it.  It was peeling and only looked good from afar.

Here's a really rough budget breakdown:

Vanity - $600
Paint - $50
Rug - $20
Shower Curtain - $15
Ring pulls - $25
Art frames - $45
Faucet - $90
Light fixture - $100
Plantation shutter - $150

Total - $1095

Not bad considering I was really hankering to rip the whole thing apart and start fresh. I now feel I can live with it for another 5 years… maybe 3 years before I start planning the next remodel.

Click here to see other posts about this reno.


A Modern Vanity {Hall Bath}

We have made lots of poorly documented progress on our bathroom.  Today I'm going to show off the new vanity area which is pretty awesome all around…

We previously had a pedestal sink which was installed by the previous owners.  No storage, didn't cover the pipes, very small sink.

Such an odd choice because there is plenty of space for something much larger. Pedestal sinks are not my favorite but they serve a purpose in a minute powder room.  No bathroom used by children should have a pedestal sink.  Just my opinion.

And now here's where we are...

The function is worlds apart from where we were with the pedestal sink.  We previously had a separate cabinet under the window to keep all of the stuff that bathrooms require - toilet paper, extra toothpaste, q-tips, etc.  Now the cabinet portion holds extra toilet paper and toothpaste. The drawers hold a hair dryer, hair ties, floss, and other smaller stuff.  I'll show you those another day but the long term goal is that each kid could have their own drawer.

The vanity was purchased here.  I searched long and hard for the perfect vanity - overall size, integrated sink, and two drawers in a  dark finish.  Not too easy to find but this was as good as it got for this price point.  It was $579 when I purchased it in December. Unfortunately it arrived with a cracked top but we didn't know it until we opened it in March.  Handy Hubby called Wayfair and they agreed to ship a new one without question.  Great customer service.  They didn't want the old one back, so we sold it on Craigslist for $150, even with the cracked top.  It was a good deal for someone, especially since new tops can be purchased at Lowes for about $100.

Handy Hubby installed this Kohler faucet.  The handles barely fit under the old soap and toothbrush holders.  Phew.

Of course, though I couldn't leave well-enough alone with the vanity.  The handles looked too small and they were a brushed nickel which seemed to clash with the faucet and other fittings.  So, I bought some of these pulls.

And started to install them.  Instantly better...

The mirror was a HomeGoods find from last fall when I first started dreaming of this project.  The light fixture is from Amazon.  It is not the highest quality and one of the glass shades didn't fit properly.  Handy Hubby was able to make it work but it's not perfect.  It's a pretty light and has the interesting twist of modern and traditional that I am always looking for in our house. Towels are from HomeGoods.

A few more details, particularly art, to finish up before the full reveal.  It's kind of hard to believe it's the same bathroom even thought we didn't touch the tile.