Friday, February 28, 2014

the friday happy list

This has been a pretty stellar week, and it's only going up from here! I got to eat at a bucket list restaurant, Jon made me a cake, everyone showed me more love than necessary on my birthday, and that's just to name a few. 

Baby Rocco
Remember the baby shower I hosted for my friend Melissa back in January? Fast forward about 7 weeks, and Baby Rocco has arrived! I was hoping he would make his appearance on February 25th so we could share a birthday, but once I heard Melissa went into labor on the evening of the 22nd, I thought holding out hope for the 25th was just too cruel.  

He is Peter George, but affectionately called "Rocco." Isn't that name just perfect? Don't go stealing it, though. I only have room for one Rocco in my life. I got a quick visit in last night, and was completely blown away by his preciousness. I'm usually pretty terrified of newborns (so small! so breakable!), but Rocco and I became fast friends. It also helped that he was milk drunk during our little meet and greet. 

Seeing your friends become parents is thee sweetest. I'm so happy for this family of three!

We leave TOMORROW MORNING for our desert adventure. This comparison between weather in Dubai and weather in D.C. pretty much sums up why this is so exciting. I'll probably be ignoring the blog next week so if you want to know what we're up to you in Dubai follow me on instagram @ ktlhardin.

New Workout Gear
This doesn't really compare to new babies and vacations, but it's still fun. Since I'm a big believer in workout gear that is both functional and cute, I was pumped to receive these new tops for my birthday (Thanks Mom & Dad!). This one & this one from Anthro's Pure + Good activewear line. I'm obsessed with the ruffle details and thumb holes. And I really love that this is all presentable enough to wear outside the gym. Win/win.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014

eight & twenty

Birthdays aren't nearly as much fun as they used to be, but they're still pretty fun. :)

One of my interns made me this lovely little tart. It was almost too pretty to eat, but I managed.

My co-workers gave me flowers, a card, and took my out to lunch. They're a swell bunch.

Jon made me an apple cake (under my supervision, but I didn't even have to help *that* much). He actually made it the night before my birthday, and I'm glad he did because I wouldn't have had any room after my birthday dinner. He did a great job, and I appreciated his effort because I know baking isn't his favorite. It tasted like a cross between a bread pudding and apple dumpling/cobbler. It was warm, spongy and pretty much perfect with a scoop of homemade vanilla on top.

Speaking of being full, Jon surprised me with a reservation at Komi for my birthday dinner! We've been talking about going there forever so my little foodie heart almost died once I realized where we were headed. The dinner was fantastic. I lost count of the number of courses, but my favorite was the olive oil and chocolate pudding. I know it doesn't sound like much, but it was, hands down, the best dessert I've ever had. Ever. I would trade my firstborn for another bite.

After dinner, we came home and I immediately changed into sweatpants with an elastic waistband. Jon was kind enough to bring the cards & presents upstairs for me to open because I just didn't think I could survive a trip back down the stairs. Have I mentioned how full I was?

i'm pretty spoiled. 
oops! we forgot to use these on the cake. we'll have to reprise our cake eating tonight. :)
best card of the night. 
slippers from megan. i almost wore them to work today.  
remember the pogs story? mom found some in a desk drawer and sent them to me. 
jon gave me the owl hat, which i had to wear immediately. i suppose this is my owl face.
mom gave me some navy striped towels for the kate spade bathroom.

It was a great day, but let's not do it again for a year. Deal? 
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

28 things for 28 years

0. Born at exactly 10:00 a.m. I've been punctual ever since.

1. Fell asleep to radio static. Survived Megan dragging me around with a jump rope.

2. Reached my cutest level ever. Have since regretted peaking too early.

3. Wet my pants on Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland. Scored a new Mickey Mouse outfit. [To clarify, I was potty trained, but the bathroom on the island was out of order and we had to wait for the little boat to shuttle us back to land.]
Wet my pants. Got a new outfit. Worth it.

4. Played an angel at Halloween & reprised my role in the school Christmas musical. The costume fooled no one.
Oh, Megan. 

5. Loved pink, polka dots, bows & all things girl. Still do.
Luckily I've learned how to properly apply lipstick.

6. Somehow earned the nickname Puddin' Head. Thanks, Dad.

7. All sass. Some things don't change.

Pretty sure I still make this face. Just ask Jon.

8. Broke my arm by falling off a hay bale, but apparently didn't cry enough to warrant a trip to the doctor until a day or two later.

9. Got my first perm. Sadly, it wasn't my last.

10. Contemplated careers as a waitress, used car salesman, or nurse. I would have been terrible at all of these.

11. Discovered my thumbs are too big to fit in a bowling ball that I can successfully bowl with.

12. First year Simon & Garfunkel's Greatest Hits album went on repeat.

13. Cemented my dislike of chocolate chip cookies.

14. Loved sports, but could play none of them. Became a cheerleader instead.

15. Impressions aren't my forte, but I mastered Gus Gus - the mouse from Cinderella.

16. Won my first fantasy football league. Attended my first Packers game.

17. Realized I am my mother's daughter, but I'm ok with that because my mom is pretty great.

18. Moved to Arkansas. Discovered that driveways are optional, shopping carts are buggies and hugs are an acceptable greeting between strangers.

19. Played a girl scout in a variety show.

20. Estimated I could eat nothing but macaroni and cheese for 75 days before growing tired of it.

21. Admitted I'm a big baby about wearing heels. Accepted a life of flats.

22. Wanted to be a lawyer (mistake). Married one instead (not a mistake).

23. Moved to D.C. Imagined myself to be a witty West Wing character.

24. Finally admitted that my favorite movies are You've Got Mail & Little Big League.

25. Visited my 48th state. The only two states I haven't been to are Alabama & New Jersey.

26. Went to my first opera & my first Bruce Springsteen concert. I'll let you guess which one I liked more.

27. For a seldom crier, I cried more tears this year than the previous 10 combined. The best things in life will challenge you.

Right after we closed on the house. Do I look nervous or excited?

28. I love surprises, but I'm really hard to surprise. Can't wait to see what will surprise me this year!

Friday, February 21, 2014

my ginger valentine

I know it's annoying to see Valentine's Day stuff invade stores right after Christmas. And I know pink & red hearts and flowers aren't for everyone, but I've never met an excuse to celebrate that I didn't like...even the silly holidays promulgated by greeting card companies. Not to mention that I do love pink, hearts, and flowers.

We like to keep Valentines low-key. Rather than fight the crowds at restaurants, we enjoy staying in and cooking something tasty at home. We usually make something fun that we normally wouldn't tackle on a typical weeknight - risotto has been a go-to in the past, but this year we grilled steaks & watched a few episodes of House of Cards. It was a very DC Valentine's Day.

Part of the fun of celebrations are the presents. I know it sounds shallow, but I really enjoy gifts. To me, they are a physical expression of love & appreciation. It really has nothing to do with the actual gift, but the thought behind it. Some of my favorite gifts cost nothing at all. I love shopping for & giving gifts even more than receiving them.

This year, my valentine really outdid himself (with a little help from my sister :). A while back I featured Rifle Paper Co. on my Friday happy list. I'm obsessed with their floral paper products, and I've been thinking of ways I could incorporate their pretty prints in our house. I've also been toying with the idea of using coral as an accent color to the minty green/blue we have in the master bedroom. After hanging the sunburst mirror & some wedding photos in the bedroom a few weeks ago, we had one blank spot left that was begging for something pretty. When I stumbled on this over-sized coral frame from Pottery Barn, it all just made sense. Rifle Paper Co. print + coral frame + blank minty blue wall = perfection.

I told Megan how much I loved this combination, and she took it from there. I was only a little surprised, but a lot thrilled when I opened this sweet gift last Friday:

Per usual, my pictures don't do it any favors, but it far exceeded my already high expectations! I'm so happy with how it all turned out.

As a true surprise, Jon produced this adorable salt & pepper shaker right before we sat down for dinner. It's taken up residence on our kitchen table as the perfect little red accent.

As a sweet reminder not just on Valentine's Day, but every day of the year: "We love because He first loved us." - 1 John 4:19. The love of others is a wonderful blessing in this life, but nothing compares to the eternal love of our Heavenly Father.
Monday, February 17, 2014

stripes, polka dots & presidents

I know I've been neglectful about showing before & after photos of the house. It's the perfectionist in me. I want the big reveal to be final, but after 5 months of living here (I can't believe it's been 5 months), not one room is complete. This bathroom isn't complete either, but it's pretty darn close, and I'm too excited about the progress we've made not to share it. 

We marked off President's Day weekend for project basement bathroom. It's a smaller guest bathroom that lacks sunlight and character. Here's what it looked like before:

Not terrible, but not great. The mustard-y paint color just didn't work in this sunless space. I also hated the hardware, wood toilet seat & switch plate. They all made the bathroom look more dated than it really is.

Phase one of this project was painting the bathroom a fresh coat of white (Oxford White by Benjamin Moore if you're curious). We hired a painter to do this a few months ago. Since then, it's sat bare, empty & sad. It was time to show this bathroom some love.

You'll notice we also ditched the wood toilet seat and switch plate. Better, and much brighter, but still pretty boring. When I chose to paint the bathroom white back in November, I had plans to add color eventually. Since then, I've gone back back and forth between polka dots and stripes. I finally settled on both. Always both. The colors were easier to pick. I wanted navy & gold. Navy because it's a great bathroom color, and I love the clean, crisp contrast of navy & white. Gold because it's fun, preppy & the perfect accent for navy & white. I wanted a nice blend of classic and playful.

So let's get to it. Phase 1 of this project took place on Saturday. It involved math, measuring and meticulousness. Jon and I don't excel at math, but we proved to be solid in the measuring department, and it's no secret that we're both pretty meticulous.

We lucked out because the walls were exactly 81" from ceiling to baseboard. That made for an easy calculation of nine 9" stripes. We wanted to do 5 navy stripes & 4 white stripes, but that complicated matters around the window well, and quite frankly, we didn't want to deal with taping off the ceiling & baseboard. So 5 white stripes & 4 navy stripes it was.

1. gather your supplies in the most haphazard way possible.
2. measure. and then measure again.
3. level, mark & tape
4. tape some more - we taped inside the lines we weren't painting.
 it seems obvious, but you'd be surprised how confusing it can get.
4. paint. painting over the tape with oxford white helped seal the tape & prevent the navy from bleeding through.
5. watch paint dry.
6. paint again. this time navy.
7. watch paint dry. again.
8. tear off tape (while holding your breath). admire your work. 
We have a few spots to touch up, but overall, we are pretty darn proud of ourselves. It's amazing how much impact you can make with 1 quart of paint (Benjamin Moore Hudson Bay 10% darker), and a little sweat equity. [Please excuse that untidiness below the window. We decided to ditch the piece of trim that was there, but we haven't had a chance to patch those holes yet.] Whew. Stripes down. Dots to go.

Today, we moved on to phase two. What better way to celebrate President's Day than with some gold polka dots? Gold seems very presidential. Polka dots, not so much. 

I ordered the 2" gold dots from Walls Need Love. They cost me less than $25, but they definitely make more than a $25 statement. This phase of the project also required the 3 Ms - math, measuring, meticulousness. 

The dots were a little more trial and error. We measured, leveled & marked the top center spot for each dot, but we still had to do a bit of eyeballing. Good thing I have 20/20 vision. ;)

1. throw some dots on your wall and hope they look ok. 
2. brandish the giant roll of dots while looking really excited about spending your day off adhering dots to a wall. 
3. add some more dots. 
4. keep adding dots.
5. when in doubt, eyeball it. 
6. add dots to the other wall. admire your work.
By the end of the weekend, our plain, boring bathroom was no longer plain or boring.

We still need to add new hardware and finish off the room with towels & accessories. We'd also like to eventually paint the vanity (navy) & trim (white) and replace the lighting. But, for now, I'm happy with the facelift. I'm affectionately calling it my Kate Spade bathroom. If you're familiar with that brand, of which I'm a big fan, you can probably tell why. :)