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Another year, another wishlist.

Another year, another wishlist.

I cannot believe I’m turning 31 this year (in a month). Somehow 31 might be more emotionally charged than 30, though I’m not sure I can really articulate why.

This summer, I’m turning my attention on my outdoor space to truly take advantage of the wonderful Seattle summers. Here are some things I’m coveting for an outdoor space, and just some things I’m coveting in general. Since my birthday is coming up, indulging in a little fantasy shopping seems like an appropriate thing to do.

A new iPad. I know it’s not “outdoors” but my iPad is old and is starting to slow down. I doubt it will last much longer and then what will I watch while I’m baking all the things? While we are at it, I could really use a new laptop (old laptop is terrible, hence the blogging hiatus, but so much money).

Outdoor string lights. I already bought two sets, but I’m pretty sure I could find use for a third or fourth.

Planters – large for outdoor use and smaller ones for indoor use. In chartreuse, teal, turquoise, and cobalt (white or off-white is good too). Here’s an example.

planter

I CANNOT EVEN. This zebra must be mine.

zebra planter

Actually, all the animal planters from Anthropologie are so so good.

critter planters

This unicorn lamp in white. Because it’s one of the greatest things I have ever seen and I will find a place for it if it’s the last thing I do.

unicorn lamp

These triangle planters – in both sizes for maximum effect. How cool would these look filled with spider plants (which I happen to be swimming in), cascading down the walls of my all-white bedroom? The answer: super cool.

triangle planters

A cooking class. Not sure what kind though – perhaps Moroccan or Indian? Maybe bread-making? I have made bread before, but I would love to branch out a little more and refine my technique.

A cordless weedwacker, because I am a nerd who is excited about keeping my home and garden in shape. Both weedwackers that came with the house appear to not work, alas. I figure this is the universe’s way of telling me that I should get a cordless weedwacker that doesn’t require me to pull that cable a million times to start nor me spilling gasoline in the car because that darned gas can keeps leaking…

weedwacker

Original art. A girl can dream. And lately this girl has been dreaming about filling her home with original art but the budget just does not allow it…

And while I’m at it, these outdoor chairs are intriguing but are out of the budget for the time being, though I actually think they are fairly reasonably priced. The more I think about it, the more smitten I become with these chairs. They look soooo comfy.

chairs

 

What do you want for your birthday? Do you want practical things like weed wackers or fun things like unicorn lamps? What’s your favorite thing to put on the barbecue?

Love,

Rachel

 

I’m turning 29 for the second time.

I’m turning 29 for the second time.

Yep, it’s almost my second 29th birthday.  I can hardly bring myself to type it.  On June 1, I will enter a new life decade and I would be lying if I said I was not freaking out a bit.

To make it more palatable, I am thinking about things that would make great gifts for, ahem, someone, ahem, who might be about to re-celebrate their 29th birthday. Or things that I want to purchase for myself once my birthday has come and passed with no gifts because my family doesn’t do gifts.

In line with my previous wish list, these are lovely things that are not exactly practical, making it unlikely I will purchase them for myself because I have to buy the un-fun things like a new toilet seat and energy-efficient windows. They are fanciful and lovely, like the previous wish list as well.

Without further ado, some things I currently covet:

This chandelier. Yes, it was on the previous list, but I want it so bad. I have made progress on my dining room and I’m dying to update the light fixture.

Chandelier

A marble mortar and pestle. This isn’t even that frivolous – I would use it a lot, but I definitely want a marble one because it’s pretty. Maybe not this exact one, but you get the idea. I would crush garlic and whole spices so hard.

french-kitchen-mortar-and-pestle

A lovely cake server. Can you believe I don’t own one already? Neither can I. How did that happen? I make SO many cakes and have to serve them with a knife like some heathen. A scratch-cake-baking heathen. Oh, the horror!

Cake Server

These pretty salad plates. Can’t you just imagine eating a jicama-avocado-grapefruit salad off of these while sitting in my solarium? Your mouth is watering now isn’t it? Mine is.

Animal salad plates world market

One (or eight) sheepskins.  I know I would get so much use of out of it, but every time I go to Ikea I am already spending $300 on things that I need* so I always put the sheepskin back at the last minute. I have some ghost chairs and dining chairs that are just begging for a nice sheepskin. (*Need is a subjective term. Duh.)

Sheep Skin

Some snail place card holders. Or some other equally charming woodland creature in a gold finish place card holders. For labeling cheeses and the like at dinner parties. Nate Berkus for the win. For like the hundredth thousandth time.

Snail Placecard holdersNow, I am can feel my father rolling his eyes, saying that we don’t do gifts and who needs more “crap,” but oh well. It’s my second 29th birthday and I’ll desire lovely and slightly impractical things if I want to. (It kills me to end a sentence with a preposition, but that’s what you get when you quote Leslie Gore.)

Love,

Rachel

Otomi Fabric

Otomi Fabric

I had a very brief trip to Mexico City for work. I really wanted some Otomi fabric, hand-embroidered fabrics. I was inspired by photos like this:

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Here is what I bought:

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This small piece of Otomi in the photo above will get framed. I just love to burro.

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The piece above is about 7 feet long, maybe 18 inches wide? I got it for about $30, which was a great price, I think. I had originally intended to use it as a table runner, but my mom told me that Otomi doesn’t wash well. Apparently the colors from the thread run and get all over the white fabric. So instead, I will also use it as a wall hanging. The colors are just incredible.

IMG_1871Finally, I bought this serape blanket for about $20 (probably overpaid, since I bought it at the airport with my remaining pesos). It’s really soft and the colors are also just great. I think I will use it in the yellow-floored attic guest room.

I think Mexico is my spirit country – Mexican food is my favorite food in the world and the folk arts and colors just speak to my soul. I really hope I get to spend more time in Mexico City in the future. I was really impressed.

Besos y Abrazos,

Rachel

 

Music Studio and Guest Bedroom

Music Studio and Guest Bedroom

One might wonder where has all the red shag carpet in the world gone? Let me tell you, it has gone into our attic. Yep – here it is in all its red shaggy glory!

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Oh, and in case you were wondering where all the wood paneling went, that also resides in our attic. Lots and lots of red carpet and wood panelling made this attic feel creepy, smell funny, and basically made this space feel uninhabitable.  It was not pleasant to be up there.

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You can see I have taped off the radiators here in preparation for what’s to come.

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The attic space is divided into two smaller spaces – in the photo above, on the right side of the picture, you can see part of the thin wall that divides the two spaces. Eventually the whole attic will be turned into the master suite and that wall will be taken out, perhaps with a small den.

Anyway, I wanted to surprise Victor for Valentine’s Day by making him a music studio for all his many instruments, and also creating a calming place for him to meditate (the Hindu word for it is “puja”).
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So I primed and painted all the wood panelling white (Behr Ultra White – same as the rest of the house). It needed primer first because the wood was dark and in some places bled through.

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Then, I ripped out all the shag carpet, and painted the tiles beneath the carpet a lovely yellow (Citrus – Behr). I was channeling Scandinavian brightness.

To prep the floor I used deglosser. I didn’t want to sand it because I thought the tiles might be asbestos. Then I painted on a coat of Bin Zinzer shellac primer, which is a great primer – it’s a pain to clean, but it’s good because you can paint with latex paint over the shellac (something you cannot do with oil-based paint).

For the yellow, I used Behr Porch and Floor paint – the guy at Home Depot didn’t really want to tint the floor paint this yellow shade for me, because he wasn’t sure it would come out the right color (the floor paints come in grays, browns, blues, mostly). But he did it anyway. And it worked out just fine.

You really need to give the paint a full 72 hours (96 hours if you can wait that long) before you start putting furniture on it. But the finish seems to be very strong and is holding up well to everything that we are putting on the floor.

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Victor has a full drum kit, but I was incapable of putting the whole thing together (I didn’t want to break anything). So I just put together enough of the drum kit so that Victor would get the idea – he got it.IMG_1813

I already had all the art, Victor had bought the couch when we lived in DC and my parents gave me the rug, so with the exception of paint and caulk, this makeover costs almost nothing. I think in total I spent less than $300 completely transforming this space. I’m looking forward to the future when I will vault the ceilings up the rafters, but for now, I’m very happy with how it turned out.IMG_1814 IMG_1815

This puja is on the “bedroom” side of the space (pictured below). The Indian doors are something my parents and I picked out years ago when we took a family trip to India to visit my brother. They are exquisite and really heavy. I’m pleasantly surprised by how nice they look with the yellow floor. The doors serve as a nice back drop for the puja. And the poof  I got from Homegoods for $50, I think. It is the perfect height for Victor’s meditation needs, plus I just think it’s super cute.

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Obviously I still need to buy new bed linens, get some night stands and hang art, but overall, I’m so happy with how this space turned out. The best part is that the house now feels so much larger because this previously unusable space is now bright, cheery and fun to be in.

Love,

Rachel

Big News, People. House-sized News.

Big News, People. House-sized News.

You. guys. It’s. Finally. Happening.

It needs a new paint job, obviously, but how cute is this?

It needs a new paint job, obviously, but how cute is this?

That’s right. We bought a house! Like an actual, honest-to-goodness house with walls and basement and attic and a front door and windows and a garage.

It’s in Seattle and it’s almost 100 years old and has coved ceilings and so much charm! So so much charm that I can hardly write a normal sentence.  The ceilings are tall – like 9 or 10 feet. Can we say big chandeliers, anyone? (Well, not huge, but you know, relatively big.)

The living room and fireplace. Windows on the left face the street.

The living room and fireplace. Windows on the left face the street.

The dining room has a great window!

The dining room has a great window!

I’m supposed to get the keys either tomorrow or Wednesday, just in time to answer the doors for trick-or-treaters. I already bought the Halloween candy and will lug it around in my truck until I can get into the house.

From kitchen towards back of the house. The cabinets are from the 50s but are in incredible shape.

From kitchen towards back of the house. The cabinets are from the 50s but are in incredible shape.

From the kitchen into the dining room. I need some new appliances.

From the kitchen into the dining room. I need some new appliances.

So stay tuned because there is some big stuff a-brewing here on Suits and Aprons with all the good home repair things I have in store for this gorgeous, old, charming, craftsman-ish house. I say craftsman-ish because it’s not entirely craftsman style on the outside, but the inside has arched doorways and coved ceilings which are just awesome.

This is the front bedroom. it's small, but charming.

This is the front bedroom. it’s small, but charming.

The back bedroom - looks right out onto the solarium.

The back bedroom – looks right out onto the solarium.

Here are the pictures from the MLS listing. As I get into the house, I will start posting more before and after pics.

Upstairs attic will become the master bedroom.

Upstairs attic will become the master bedroom.

Other side of the upstairs closet.

Other side of the upstairs attic.

This is the bathroom in the basement. It needs a lot of work, but it has potential and it has a WINDOW. And it's there.

This is the bathroom in the basement. It needs a lot of work, but it has potential and it has a WINDOW. And it’s there.

Upstairs bathroom - check out my sweet turquoise tub and toilet. In great shape.

Upstairs bathroom – check out my sweet turquoise tub and toilet. In great shape.

Oh, and check out the sweet solarium it has in the back. In Seattle, you really need a solarium – a place to absorb the limited sun that we get.

THE SOLARIUM! That's right, a solarium. Because that's what fancy people have.

THE SOLARIUM! That’s right, a solarium. Because that’s what fancy people have.

As you can tell, it needs some love, but I. Am. So. Freaking. Excited. That. My. Face. Hurts. From. Smiling. AHHH!

So that’s what’s happening here, dear readers. Soon I will walk you through all my remodelling and updating plans.

Here is a brief list of things I want to do:

1. Paint house so it’s no longer mustard brown. Maybe dark gray with white trim?

2. Paint kitchen cabinets white. Maybe black/charcoal lower cabinets? Brass hardware. Paint counters to look like marble. New lighting.

3. Paint almost everything flat white.

4. Polish/seal floors. They are in surprisingly good shape but need either Restore-A-Finish or Danish Oil to come back to life after 50 years under carpet.

5. Do the Apartment Therapy Style Cure in the dining room. SAY WHAT?! That post is coming up soon.

6. Paint fire place surround black, I think?

7. Do something awesome with solarium. I have no idea about this room, but it’s exciting. I want to fill it with plants and a cozy place to drink coffee in the morning. Not sure quite how to get there.

8. Attic: Rip out carpet, get rid of low-ceiling tiles to vault the ceiling. Add third bathroom. Obvi, the attic will take some time. And money that we don’t yet have, but we will. Eventually I also want to make it bigger by adding two dormer windows. Again, this will depend on finances. May be a few years…

9. Fix the turquoise bathroom. Needs new floors. I cannot afford to replace the tub and toilet, so I’m going to celebrate the vintage turquoise fixtures and do some fancy design tricks that maybe make the turquoise look intentional. Because it totally was intentional. I wanted a house with turquoise fixtures from the beginning.

10. Eventually rip out door between dining and kitchen and replace it with an arch that matches the arch between the dining and living room.

11. A million other things that I want to happen.

Who wants to come visit and stay in my guest room?

House-sized hugs!

Rachel

Latest Ikea Winners

Latest Ikea Winners

Wowza! Those designers at Ikea are knocking it out of the park lately. Maybe it’s because I haven’t poked around Ikea in a while, but some of their newer stuff (and some of their older things) are just so spot on – both in terms of design and price.

Here are a few things that recently jumped out at me on the Ikea website, and I just wanted to share:

RANARP Wall Lamp: The white, the gold, the flexibility! I just love it. A pair of these bad boys flanking my bed just has to happen. It HAS to.  In the words of Tracy Jordan, I love it so much I want to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant. And then it would give birth to more baby white and gold lamps = AMAZING.

Ikea ranarp-clamp-spotlight__0210363_PE363794_S4

RANARP Floor Lamp: Just like its smaller, wall-hanging brother, this lamp has stolen my heart, without stealing my money. I cannot wait till we get to Seattle and I can snatch this (and possibly a pair of its brothers) right up!

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BAROMETER Floor Lamp: Another great floor lamp, slightly more traditional than the RANARP. The nickel-plated finish looks expensive and the counterweight arm is very elegant. I can just imagine myself adjusting that light next to a cozy arm chair, a cup of tea nearby, Dickens in hand. (BTW, All Dickens books can be found for free on Kindle, so I’ve read many of them. If you are looking for a good book, David Copperfield is one of my faves.)

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GUNNERN Pedestal Table: I’m a sucker for anything robin’s egg blue, and this diminutive table, with its lovely legs and round shape just hits all the right buttons.  Would be great in an empty corner with a picture frame and a pretty vase, or next to some occasional seating as a place to put some nibbles.  The website says its not designed for outdoor use, but I suspect a covered porch or patio would also make a nice home for this sweet table.

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PS 2014 Green House: Charming and useful, with this adorable windowsill greenhouse, maybe I could make my black thumb a little greener.  (Editor’s note: I have kept alive both a mint and a basil plant for over two months now, so that’s something!)

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PS 2014 Plant Stand:  This minimalist little plant stand could hold so many plants right near a good light source, also reducing the chance that I will kill them.  Maybe I should invest in some fake plants? (Ooh, I also just remembered that my spider plant is thriving, and even has a baby offshoot going. So plant stand full of spider plants and bamboo it is.)

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SOLRUN Fabric: The water-colored effect in those vibrant colors make this an incredible floral. How great would this fabric be as cushion covers for a built-in dinette, in an otherwise mostly white kitchen?

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Now to get all the details of our big move to Seattle finalized, so I can hit up the Ikea!

Love,

Rachel

Updating Thrift Store or Garage Sale Art

Updating Thrift Store or Garage Sale Art

Sometimes you find some cheap art at a thrift store or a garage sale. It’s alright, but it’s not awesome. Here is what a little bit of paint and a few glasses of wine can do. I got this weird old duck painting at a garage sale for $4. My boyfriend thought I overpaid. . .

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You can take a cute, but ho-hum duck and make it into a bright statement piece.

I painted the frame black with some paint that I had on hand. And I went in with the bright blue and some other vibrant colors to liven it up.  I just used acrylic paints.

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It’s not a masterpiece, but it does help fill in my gallery wall.  And I think the duck is cute. You likely remember that I have a seriously love of bird art. (Here and here.)

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Also, I’ve decided to just accept the fact that my photography skills aren’t great and post the pictures of my projects, as is. If I keep waiting until I get good at photography or have the time to stage perfect photos, I will never post on the blog. (After sitting in front of a computer for 10 or 11 hours a day at work, I can hardly bring myself to open my laptop on the weekends, let alone during the week; so I find I do all these DIY projects but cannot bring myself to share them since it requires sitting at the computer.)

Anyway, I hope you still like my abbreviated posts and real life quick phone photography.

Go find some cheap art and make it awesome.

Love,
Rachel