Tuesday, November 24, 2015

savory and sweet

Hey guys! Getting ready for the season of drinking and eating until you have to un-notch your belt? Well, lots of charcuterie plates have been popping up in my Pinterest feed, so I finally decided to take the plunge and try it. But first I needed a platter suitable for such a savory spread. I picked this one up from Target. It's no longer available online, but I managed to find a few still in stores. I've also seen a plethora of "tree slice" platters at Home Goods, but any beautiful wooden board would do. :)

Round Rough Edge Serve Platter

So far I've managed to experiment twice with a few different combinations, but this one came out the best.

From the left going clockwise:

  • Red grapes
  • Green pitted olives (with pimentos)
  • Prosciutto
  • Toasted slices of bread with olive oil and spices (picked up as a bag for $2 at the Kroger bakery)
  • Ritz crackers
  • Sliced gourmet pepperoni
  • Extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • Goat cheese infused with cranberries (this sweet cheese was great with the savory bread slices)
  • Garlic and herb Laughing Cow cheese wedges (which were wonderful with the Ritz crackers)

Brandon and I actually had this for dinner last night and struggled to finish the whole thing. I must admit, it's nice to do something like this without the pressure of entertaining. Who wouldn't want to treat themselves  with a big glass of wine and a plate of goodies in front of the tv! Also this is a great practice run for when we actually have guests.

Since making this charcuterie plate was so easy (slice things up, arrange them on a pretty platter) I'm thinking it could be a great addition to Christmas afternoon when we're not quite ready for dinner, but need a filling snack. I could also do it when friends come over for an enticing game of Cards Against Humanity. In the future I'll probably add some mixed nuts and maybe some greenery (like fresh rosemary) to fill in the negative space. All in all, it was short, savory, sweet and I didn't actually have to cook dinner. Win!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

fireplace stylings

Call me a rebel, but I was completely determined NOT to mount our tv over our fireplace. Why, do you ask? Well imagine having to tilt your neck up every time you wanted to watch tv. Who am I kidding? Lots of people reading this post are like, "I do that every day". Sorry guys. It's just an ergonomic and cord management nightmare waiting to happen. Are your tv cords swagging off the side of the mantel, and your television components sitting on the floor, or hanging three inches off said mantle? Fix that immediately. Like now. No, really. 

All joking aside, the tv over the fireplace debate is the toilet paper roll over or under debate of the residential design industry. Different strokes for different folks, am I right? Our place actually came designed with an outlet and cord channel behind the drywall (you can see the exit plate on the bottom left-hand corner) but I just...couldn't...do it. I even bought a tv mount from work with intentions of trying it (shakes head). Therefore our tv ended up on an IKEA PS tv stand adjacent to the fireplace (against the staircase) and my favorite artwork and accessories ended up on the fireplace mantel - just like God intended. Here's a closeup of a few of the things that call this focal point home.  

Above is my $1 Pothos from Kroger in a hot pink summer snack container from Target.

This gentlemanly pen and ink drawing came from Goodwill. On the left are Missoni by Target candles (that I also found at Goodwill, almost never used) and a Target candle votive from the one spot.

If you follow me on Instagram you'll remember my TJ Maxx skully vase/votive and of course the candle sticks came from Goodwill (as a set of three, but only two are shown here).

Here's another snapshot a few weeks later after I changed out my skully and candle sticks. Notice that the Pothos has gotten longer. :) If you recall, the large abstract painting used to hang over our sofa in our last place

EVERYTHING in this photo came from Goodwill. The painting is my fav. The color combination is funky, but that's what I love about it. I used to think it was an abstract painting until Brandon pointed out the guy with a teal hat, pink hair, and a periwinkle shirt. Now that's all I can see. Can you see it? Yes? Oh, sorry. These candlesticks really are a set of two, and I discovered recently that the little green vase has a hairline crack in it, so sadly no more plants are it's future, but nonetheless it's still quite beautiful.

Oh, and here's the Peace Lily that I've grown to love despite the fact that my MIL forced it off on us as we were leaving her house one day. I remember thinking, "What in the world am I going to do with this?" These things aren't even that pretty... or trendy. No, it's not a Fiddle Leaf Fig, but she's ours, and managed to thrive for many years, so now she's an integral part of the family. Also, Lily is quite pretty when it blooms. When we moved in, it took a while for her to get adjusted to change in light. She's finally feeling comfortable now, so I'm definitely relieved. Lily is sitting on a upside down IKEA Tidig bowl in case you were wondering. I'm hoping to re-pot her as soon as I fall in love with an appropriate vessel. So what do you think about the fireplace styling? Cooler than a television mounted eight feet in the air and a neck adjustment from the Chiropractor? I think so too. :)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

thrifty thursdays

Hey Folks! In keeping with my promise to post more often, I figured I would go ahead and try out a few series posts to keep the momentum going. My lovely friend, Sarah, suggested that I needed to start blogging and Instagramming (Firefox, don't underline my verb! What do you mean that's not a word?) about these cool, quirky, and incredibly inexpensive deals that I happen to come across on my trips to Goodwill and beyond. Sarah, consider your challenge excepted (hugs)! I've decided to call this series, you guessed it, Thrifty Thursdays! This particular post also has a theme because it's all about drink ware. What can I say? This girl likes a good cocktail... in a beautiful glass.  

First, I'll share an oldie but goodie... in honor of Throwback Thursday, if you will. Sarah, remember the time I found a that beautiful lot of decanters just chilling on the rack a Goodwill for $21.67? I made up my mind right then and there that I was done collecting them. I now have roughly 30 and I'm somewhat disgusted with myself. How does one display 30 decanters? Who NEEDS 30 decanters? I told myself that after this find I would pare down and keep my absolute favorites. Ask me how that's going...

Last week I took a trip to Goodwill and came home with more drink glasses than I should have. The ones below were cool and oh-so-manly. The set was under $4 so I basically had to buy them. My thought was that eventually Brandon could keep them in his man cave next to a bottle of scotch. Gotta get that cave together though! 

We don't have many stemless wine glasses, so I thought these would be perfect! They were sweet and bubbly (pun intended), and quite beautiful - especially when filled with red wine because the gold spots become extra vibrant. And at under $3, they were a no-brainer. 

These green glasses were a replacement for green glasses we owned but broke during our move. They are significantly thicker than the ones we had, and at under 3$, why not? I love that they look like they're being heated from the bottom. So fancy!

I picked these owl glasses up, then I sat them down. Then I walked by again and examined them. Then I put them down. Then I went over one more time, and when I realized that they were still there, I gave in and placed them gently into my cart. At less than $4 they were the last set I picked up, and I really struggled internally about them. I was like,"Really, Rae? Do you really need another set of drink glasses? You already have 3 sets in your cart!" Of course I needed them. And just for kicks and giggles, I looked up the marking on them and learned that these "Couroc owl glasses" are selling for more than I would ever pay for a set of glasses on Ebay, Charish, Amazon, and the like. I may have hit the jackpot with these, but I mostly just think that gold on glasses is beautiful, and simply belong at home with me and all of the other stuff I like to hoard. 

I picked up this single Maker's Mark glass because I couldn't pass up the wax drippings. I also thought my husband would love it. It was under $2. Update: This is currently his favorite drink glass... for anything with alcohol. AND it is totally Halloween appropriate.

So the last set I'll share with you is a set of 6 that I picked up at... The Dollar Tree!!! Ladies and Gentlemen, DO NOT sleep on The Dollar Tree! Every now and then that come out with something that is so adorable and I simply can not pass it up. These glasses are also great for fall, but not limited to use in October of course. I can't wait to pair them with black and white striped straws for Halloween! 

Anyhoo, I love a good deal, so this series will definitely become one of my favorites, Thanks Sarah! Plus I have so much more to share! What about you? Have you found any good drink or bar ware lately? Drop me a link or tag me on Instagram @rajaune! Also, it's our 5 year anniversary today, so plans permitting Brandon and I will most definitely be raising some of these glasses to the occasion. Cheers! :)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

staying put

The worst part about living in a brand-spanking new place is that you, and you alone, will be the one responsible for wearing things in. Every bump, scratch, nick, scrape, and hole in the wall will be because YOU did it. For some, that fact is quite exciting. For me, it is simply terrifying! I don't want to ruin a thing! I want to preserve every aspect of this place not just for re-sale value, but for my sanity. So naturally I did what any new homeowner / interior designer would do. I became anal about it. The thing I'm most anal about you ask? Our hardwood flooring! I've never lived in a home with new engineered hardwood floors, and I am super concerned about keeping them pristine condition.

One of the first purchases Brandon and I made for our new home was a brand new rug under our dining room table. Actually you can see it in the back seat of this post. We were both completely in love with it, and the price was very much a steal. The rug we purchased is a beautiful multi-colored Chindi rug which goes amazingly well with our our decor, but also came accompanied with a warning that the colors could possibly bleed and transfer to the floors underneath. Ouch! So two things here, one -  I didn't want any color transferring to our NEW hardwood flooring, and two - we had this little crumb snatcher running around.

Meet Chips, the newest addition to our family, and the sweetest, cutest Whippet / Boston Terrier blend you'll ever meet. She's a two-year-old rescue, and though she was fully grown at 18.2 pounds when we brought her home, one thing she was not was house trained. And by chance, do you know what dogs love to use the bathroom on when they're not yet house broken? Rugs. Yes, any rug you have really, but usually the most beautiful one you own. So between Chips running back and forth flipping up the corners of the rug, and occasionally relieving herself on it, we had to get a rug pad... and fast. It was basically a non-negotiable.

Thankfully I was contacted by the amazing folks at Rug pads USA who wanted me to try out one of their premium rug pads because let's face it, rug pads are an absolute necessity. Designers rarely talk about them, but they really are the unsung heroes. Because function-wise who wants their rug sliding all over, or even worse... transferring onto your beautiful floors???

Yes, rug pads are an investment, but so are your rugs and your floors! So it's best to keep them both looking great for as long as you possibly can. Do NOT skimp here! Poorly-made rug pads are often composed of chemicals that cause damage to your flooring. And let's not forget about the off-gassing. It's crazy bad, and most times unbearable. Who wants toxic air in their home? I don't, and I know you don't either. Also, stay away from rug pads that "stick" to your floors (PVC pads) instead of "gripping" your floors (like quality rubber pads) because the former can often leave a nice unwanted residue behind. There is a big difference in performance and durability if you choose appropriately the first time around, and you should purchase the best one your budget can afford. In summary, just treat yourself to a nice rug pad already! (Ok, I'll get off my soap box now).

The best choice for our Chindi rug and our engineered floors was an Eco-Solid pad. It's made from renewable materials and 100% plant-based oils which makes me feel great because the rug and carpet industry isn't one that is known for being particularly kind to the environment. It's also nice to see that someone out there is trying to create a better, more environmentally-sound product. 

This pad smelled surprisingly great coming out of the package, and at an 1/8" thick, it's incredibly cushy underfoot. I was most impressed by the fact that the pad fits my rug perfectly!

Rug Pads USA has every pad cut fresh for the size rug you specify, or you can even have it custom cut for no extra charge. Notice how mine is cut slightly smaller than the rug on each side to prevent it from peeking out and revealing all my business! :) Just believe me when I say that cutting rug pads on your own is not the jam (I've cut my share at work and it's not easy, nor especially fun).

The best part is when our little puppy scurries about, I don't have to worry about the rug flipping up and causing a tripping hazard for the humans in the house. Also, should another accident occur, I feel a little bit better about catching it before the rug dye (and other fluids) end up on the floor. If you're curious, or want to learn more about the best pad for you and your floors, click here.

Now that I have our dining space looking somewhat livable, I can't wait to start having some folks over. So much in fact that I may already be putting some things together. Next up is some art, possibly some open shelving, new window treatments, and a fabulous light fixture (you may be surprised to learn that the lighting that I have in mind is pretty atypical. Come back and visit me for more details! :)

*Thanks to Rug Pads USA for providing our new rug pad. All thoughts and opinions are my own*

Thursday, September 10, 2015

whose house? our house!

Yep! You read that right! At the end of March, Brandon and I took the plunge and finally bought our very first home! Thanks to God's good grace we are now proud owners of a brand-new 3 bedroom,3- 1/2 bath 3-level townhome! I guess good things come in threes? Needless to say, that's why I've been MIA for a while. Forgive me?

I began writing this post in May (we closed in late March) but I guess a late post is better than no post at all. Between packing, unpacking, working a full-time job, cooking dinner, spending time with my hubby, spending time with our friends, and gathering ideas for our new place, to say that I've been a tad bit overwhelmed it a bit of an understatement.

A selfie on closing day

To be truthful, I really didn't know if buying a place was in the cards for us any time soon. It seems like just yesterday that we were living the life in our 6th floor apartment in the city... you know, living the dream. But when the beginning of the year rolled around, we finally decided that we needed to stop wasting our money and just take the plunge.

We began looking frantically in the West Midtown area, and ended up finding what seemed like the perfect townhome. Long story short, thanks to the shady listing agent and the events that followed, we didn't end up getting it. We were truly heart broken. It was incredibly frustrating, especially because we had to provide our apartment complex with a 60 day notice by the end on the month. Discouraged, we dusted ourselves off and continued the search. Our faith was shaken, but we knew that God would provide us with a home that was truly ours, and it would be one that we didn't have to fight tooth and nail for.

After we exhausted our search in West Midtown, our search slowly, yet somewhat pessimistically, moved out into Smryna. Just when were were about to have a conversation about a extending our lease, we found a community with bigger townhomes (for less money than the one that we originally wanted) AND they were brand-spankin' new! Initially we looked at 2 level properties, and to be honest guys, I really wasn't feeling it. Then I had what I would like to refer to as "a come to Jesus moment" where I took a leap of faith and agreed with my husband that we could in fact live there, and that I could make ANYTHING look good despite my personal hangups with the floor plan. After we agreed, and began talks with the sales agent about building a townhome from the ground up, we realized that it was better to purchase a unit that was closer to being completed. Doing this would help us avoid an inevitable price increase before the new lots to build upon were released.

We had already looked at a 3-level end unit that I really liked, but Brandon wasn't completely sold on it because of the price. Now that an increase in price was possibly in our future regardless, Brandon decided that we should stop by to take one more look with his parents. When I saw it for the second time, I had that feeling in my heart, the one that other buyers often talk about... the feeling of being home! Brandon agreed and so we signed!

And let me just say that God has blessed us incredibly, and to own something that is really ours is simply amazing. Finding our first home was actually pretty stressful at times, but guys, but it was so worth it! And by no means is our place perfect, but it's perfect for us! Brandon and I make a great team, and I am so happy to own a home with him. Now without further adieu, here are a few pics of our place!

Yes, that's an Eagle in the window... until we get a flag! Whose house? Our house!!!!! If you went to Southern then you'd understand! Also here's the floor plan (our place is a mirror image).

A few things I wanted to point out:

1. The entry is very generous! I'm still trying to decide on how I would like to address this space (since we enter the house through the garage). Also, not shown on the floor plan is a little nook that I'm hoping to make into a swanky, little bar to hold all of our decanters.  

2. Our kitchen has a nice, large layout and a real pantry which I was totally pumped about! Though larger there are less cabinets, so I've had to seriously purge. I'm still thinking about where entertaining pieces (trays, napkins, pitchers, etc.) will live.

3. I LOVE the open kitchen, dining, and living area. "Open concept" really is as awesome as the Property Brothers say it is. :)

4. Notice that the fireplace is at an angle (which I was NOT crazy about) but nonetheless I made it work. Of course new homes are wired for the television over the fireplace, but the old school designer in me just can't do it. Mostly because ergonomically it doesn't make any sense and because I can hear my Professor Mrs. Walton saying, "Don't even think about it!" I decided to place art over my mantle instead and I think it turned out quite nice (photos to come)!

5. We have a HUGE deck, which I must say is currently empty. I'm in love with the idea of getting an outdoor sectional so that we can have glasses of wine out there and put our feet up!

1. It's very nice to have a larger bedroom than the one we had in our apartment. It's not huge, but we can finally get our Mongstad mirror back in the bedroom (it used to live in our hallway) so I'm a very happy girl!

2. The walk-in closet in the master is significantly smaller than the one in our apartment. On one hand it's a good thing because it forced me to purge a lot of clothing that I knew no longer had a place in my life. On the other hand it's more of a step-in closet so the name is very deceitful. I would love to replace the swinging door with a pocket door to gain more space. Unfortunately the light switch is on one side of the opening, and the other side is not an option due to the plumbing, so I'll have to involve an electrician to make this door fantasy a reality.  

3. The third bedroom is small but I'm sure it can be made into a compact guest room. :) Also, Brandon has his teeny closet in there. (Gosh that man sure does love me!)

4. I am currently writing this post from the third bedroom which will be my awesome studio once I get all of my studio belongings together and out of their boxes.

1. Also I must say that it is soooo nice to have a private garage where my parking space is always waiting for me! 
2. The bonus room is Brandon's "man cave" simply because every suburban man requires one. The perimeter of it is still lined in boxes though, so there's that. 
3. Our place actually has the "optional bath" which is nice. The tub may or may not still be filled with boxes. smh

Below are a few photos of the main floor right after the hardwood flooring was installed and covered up.

And here's Brandon chillaxing the day after we moved in (I had to throw some things together quickly so that we would have a place to watch tv. Needless to say that about 85% of this living room has changed! Can't wait to show you how!

In the mean time, I hope you enjoyed your visit today. Yes we've been super busy doing grown-up things, but I'm definitely committing to writing more often, so check back soon!