You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth

Last night, a dream of mine was realized. 
Well, I don't know if I'd call it a "dream" so much as a "Hey it'd be pretty cool if I could see this live and in person at some point in my life." 

I saw Marvin Lee Aday perform some of his most classic songs outdoors in my very own city. In case you didn't know, Marvin Lee Aday is more widely known as this man:

If you're still scratching your head, that's Meat Loaf, the "Bat Out of Hell" himself.

Except now, he looks a little more like this:

Now, all lumbering across the stage while wearing a sparkly smock aside, the show rocked it pretty hard. As hard as a 63-year-old man who had just completed a stint on "The Apprentice" can.

First of all, I was totally thrown back by the band not opening with "Bat Out of Hell," which is the most outright form of blasphemy one can commit when either playing a Meat Loaf set, or when actually being Meat Loaf. He kicked it off with "Bless My Soul" from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which is a fine, fun song, but isn't the choice opener. I blame "Glee" and its Rocky Horror episode for knocking "Bat Out of Hell" from of its rightful spot at the top of the set. Mostly just because I believe "Glee" needs to be blamed for something, anything.

After that, he had the audacity to play what he called "the trifecta" of new songs from his latest album. I didn't listen to his latest album, mainly because it is not Bat Out of Hell, and there's really not much else you need. But the songs weren't terrible, and I had a good time watching the lead guitarist shred on his Flying V.

I can honestly say it was one of the most diverse crowds I've been a part of. From Harley dudes in leather jackets to sweet Aunt Sue feeling just uninhibited enough to tap her Keds along to the beat, the audience ran the gamut of the live-music enthusiasts. I mean, one of the most enthusiastic characters there was this fella standing a row ahead of me:
Dude could not stop air guitaring and/or drumming.

Of course, what (mostly) everyone was there to see was everyone's favorite (except the DJ) karaoke song "Paradise by the Dashboard Light." (Also, I dare any of you to do a rendition better than my friend Kelly and I... especially in our heyday circa 2006). Meat Loaf, himself, even threw on a flamboyant red jacket just for the number.

Then all hell broke lose when, for reasons unbeknownst to me, he brought out a phallic-shaped t-shirt gun and shot promotional shirts out to the crowd. (I still maintain this idea was probably one straight from the brain of The Donald, who believes everyone needs a gimmick.) That part was totally unnecessary and really schticky. (TWSS)

However, I sang along and danced and had a grand old time. It was totally fun to see Meat Loaf in person, even if not in his heyday. I truly love Bat Out of Hell, and would probably put it up there in my Top 10 Albums of All Time. He knocked out almost every song from the album and really looked like he was having a great time singing them all for the 4,000th time.

Right before Meat Loaf went on stage, we were treated to some totally kick-ass fireworks that were some of the best I've ever seen. I am still 10 years old and shout "French fry!!!", "Squirmy!!!", "Big Mac!!!" to describe all the fireworks going off. This is something I always did as a child and something I will continue to do as a slightly older child.

Pictures don't do them justice, but here are some anyway:

Have you seen any supposedly "past their prime"  musicians or bands live? Did they live up to your expectations? We saw Judas Priest at Summerfest last year and GOOD GRIEF can Rob Halford still let out some of the greatest screams of all time.


Our Kitchen: Before & After

And now, for something I promised last week, but was forced to this week: The before and after of our kitchen! The kitchen is really the first room in our house that I consider "done" (even though we've got future plans for a backsplash, new counters and appliances... those will come in time). It was also the room I was most unsure about when we moved in. It's not a large kitchen, it doesn't have an open floor plan to the rest of the house. Frankly, I wasn't ecstatic about the kitchen when we moved in, and I wondered if it was big enough so that Eric and I could both work in there at the same time and not maim each other. 

Here's what it looked like the day we closed on the house:

There's not a ton of cabinet space in the kitchen, so I'm assuming the previous owners built this floor cabinet on their own to add storage. It wasn't necessarily in the most pristine condition.

The wife who lived here before us left that cup of flowers on the counter when we moved in - I thought it was such a nice thought!

A few things I didn't love about the kitchen in its original state were the look of the wood cabinets, the lack of space and that beat-up floor cabinet. I would have preferred stainless-steel appliances, but all the appliances in the kitchen are in fantastic condition and are definitely about 10 steps up from the appliances we had in our apartment. One thing I did love about the kitchen was its color - it was painted this adorable light robin's-egg blue that I definitely did not want to change. I knew it would look great with the red kitchen accents I already had.

There weren't a lot of changes to be made, but we knew we wanted to lighten up the space with white cabinets, update the hardware and add some much needed storage space. So, we spent a week painting, drilling and assembling, and here's what we ended up with:

To tell you the truth, I was a little nervous about the white cabinets when we attached the doors back on. I wondered if it was all too much white. But after painstakingly deciding on the hardware, and then installing them, I loved the look. It's clean, bright, fun and the white actually makes the space feel so much larger.

The addition of IKEA's VARDE "drawer unit" was a life saver. It added an incredible amount of storage, not to mention additional workspace it provides on top. And best of all, it doesn't swallow up the entire room - it leaves plenty of floor space so a few people can be in the kitchen at the same time.

This is a "working" kitchen - there will always be things on the counters, there will always be dish towels and oven mitts on display. We're humans who enjoying cooking, and I think our kitchen should reflect that. It should also reflect that we don't take ourselves too seriously. Eric came home with that wooden pig wall hanging one day and I thought it was perfect for our kitchen - if not only to honor all the fallen swine that we enjoy in the form of bacon, pulled-pork sandwiches and pork tenderloin. Thanks for the awesome flavortastes, fellas.

The chalkboard used to live in the bathroom of our apartment. We wanted to create a "bathroom graffiti" area, so we sprayed some thick cardboard with chalkboard paint, framed it and put it in the bathroom. In our house, I thought it'd fit perfect in our kitchen for writing down grocery needs or just displaying a simple message.

If you recognize that wooden cutout of Wisconsin displayed on the red shelf, that's because I raved about it earlier this year. I simply couldn't bring myself to use it for its original purpose - a cutting board - but love it proudly displayed on our kitchen shelf. It's hard to tell from the photo, but there's a little heart over Milwaukee.

So... There you have it. Our first Before & After. As I mentioned before, we're planning on adding a backsplash and new counters in the future, but for now, I'm happy. Our kitchen is not only functional, but it just feels so friendly. It's an adorable space that I think not only tips its hat to the era in which the house was built (the 1950s) but also holds some modern flair. All in all, I would estimate this simple transformation cost us no more than $500 and about 7-8 hours (spread over about a week) of our time.

It just goes to show you what a few quick fixes can do to change a space.

So, what are your thoughts? Do you have any burning questions I haven't addressed above? Or do you just want to make fun of me because I forgot to remove the blue dishtowel on the counter before snapping photos?


Your Weekly Pins

I'm a bad blogger. I'm a real bad blogger, gang. I promised you something earlier this week that I just can't deliver... not yet. I'd been meaning to photograph our kitchen's "after" all week, but as luck would have it it's been incredibly gray and dreary for the past, oh.... seemingly 37 days.... and the very low light just wasn't making for good photos. So I'm going to wait until the sun makes its triumphant (promised) return this weekend to ensure there's enough light to capture my kitchen at its best. And you only deserve the best, my readers! (All seven of you!)

In the meantime, I'm going to introduce a post I hope to keep running each week: Your Weekly Pins. Actually, I should call it MY Weekly Pins, because it's really just a few of my favorite things (excluding brown paper packages tied up with string) I've "pinned" for the week on my favorite time-sucker, Pinterest. If you follow me on Pinterest, chances are you've already seen these things. But if you don't, well are you ever in luck, buddy. Here are some thing's I've been loving this week:


[The famed brownie recipe from Baked NYC. I really, really have to make these sometime. Really.]

[Reese's Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars. I think I gained 7 pounds just by looking at these. Seven delicious pounds.]

[Prosciutto-wrapped, grilled nectarines. A whole new take on sweet and salty.]

[Absolutely in love with this floor. I wish I had the balls/space to recreate it.]

[Yes, I love the bunting (and even if bunting is waaaaaaay overdone right now, I don't care. I STILL. LOVE. IT), but I'm definitely going to recreate that lovely fabric-behind-old-window thing somewhere in my house. So fun.]

[This statue thing is right up my alley: Fun, quirky and totally weird, but totally awesome. I WANT.]

[And sometimes, even after puking, keep going.]

[This is ALWAYS true. No matter what.]

[Best door entry sign ever.]

[Yes. Yes, you do.]

[Try not to die of the cuteness, here.]

[I cannot stop thinking about these wooden-framed sunglasses. I think I hate this term, but they are so eco-chic.]

[I've also been obsessed with these Bensimon sneakers. They'd be so cute with shorts or a casual dress for summer. I really love the khaki-colored ones.]

So, what have you pinned this week? 


Bear With Me

Before my big reveal of our "before & after" kitchen project, I wanted to bring up something that made me both laugh and feel a little sad at the same time from last weekend.

Eric and I were leaving the house on our way to play tennis when a man walking by took a look at our front yard and said "You got rid of the bear? That thing was a landmark around here!"

"The bear" he was referring to is this:

Immediately after closing, when we went to "our" house for the first time, I'd noticed the previous owners had left this bear behind. It sat right in the front of the house, directly to the right of the front door, welcoming everyone with its non-threatening smile. I laughed and snarked, "Oh good... they left the bear." It's not that I hate the bear, it's just that it's not really my style, and I didn't really want it to be the first thing people saw when walking up to our house (you know, besides the two gigantic pine trees in the front yard.... but that's a whole separate post in itself).

We both agreed we shouldn't throw out the bear, but Eric did remove it and resituated it in the backyard, where it is currently enjoying spending its days gazing at some beautiful hot-pink peonies (and not scaring bunnies out of the garden).

So, about the man who made the landmark comment: He was smiling as he made the remark, so obviously he wasn't sincerely aghast that we had moved the bear. But he'd cared enough to make note of it, and maybe, over time, he sincerely enjoyed seeing its reassuring smile as he walked to the corner market. "It's going to be OK," the bear let him know. "There's going to be a sale on apples."

Anyway, back to the question at hand: Should we have kept the bear outside? Maybe the previous owners (the husband was - and probably still is - Native American and, one would gather by the sticker describing his sect on a window in our kitchen, a member of the "Bear Clan" of the Menominee) knew how much the neighbors enjoyed the friendly bear out front, so they passed it on to us. Have Eric and I messed with tradition? Have we unintentionally thrown off the natural ebb and flow of our neighborhood? Has the removal of this bear from our front yard stamped us as the official pariahs of Bay View? 

Or maybe the guy was just making a joke.

What would you have done? Would you have taken down the bear or left it up, beaming proudly?


A Fond Farewell

I've always loved magazines. It was this love that drove me to major in magazine journalism in college, and it's the love that has caused me to hold subscriptions to at least six different magazines at the current time. One of those magazines is ReadyMade, a bimonthly focusing on DIY projects around the home. This magazine has been a constant source of inspiration for me, and it's one of those "keepers" that lives in a big basket in my living room - I just can't throw it away when I'm done reading.

It's a difficult time in print publishing these days, and because of such it was announced this week that ReadyMade production is being ceased. It was sad to hear this news, as when I discovered this magazine, I felt like it was made just for me. From its easy-to-follow, low-cost ideas for home design to its amazingly tasty-looking recipes, ReadyMade never produced an issue that I didn't read cover-to-cover immediately upon its arrival to the mailbox. They'll continue to update their web site and blog, but there's just something about paging through the magazine itself that I'm going to miss terribly.
[The most recent issue, currently sitting on my coffee table.]
I always gets sad when hearing news of any publication folding, but this one just hits close to home. So let's all pour a little out in honor of another fallen mag, and please, go visit the ReadyMade web site - if you enjoy any of the projects I post on this blog, you're going to love every idea you see.


A Better Fit

Within our house, we're trying to blend modern with thrifted/shabby chic (for lack of a better term), for a balanced look that's definitely not cookie cutter. My two favorite sources for furniture on a limited budget are thrift stores and IKEA. Thrift stores bring in the eclectic, and IKEA is the source for sleek, modern pieces on a budget. In our apartment, we had a very linear, minimalistic console table in our living room that worked for that space, but when we moved it to our house, it didn't quite "fit" what we were going for. It sits below a mirror in the entryway by our living room.

It's not a horrible table by any means, but just doesn't fit with the room. Plus, I kind of hate the way it seems to "frame" the unattractive air vent below it.

Yesterday, Eric texted me a photo of a dresser he'd seen at a magical thrift store by his office that always seemed stocked with great finds. I couldn't really tell by the photo if I liked it or not, but I waited too long to respond and he ended up buying it anyway. For $20, he was going to take the chance. I was nervous that, when I got home to see it in person, I'd hate it. "If you don't like this, then I don't know you at all," Eric said. "It's completely you."

Well, I would be the judge of that. So I sat on pins and needles all afternoon, waiting to see this piece of furniture he was so sure I would fall in love with. And, what do you know, I guess the fella knows me pretty well - I loved it! It's old, has character and just ornate enough - and it looks a hundred times better by the living room than the IKEA console. And what's more, it's got deep and wide drawers that will be perfect for storing gloves and scarves and hats come wintertime. Form and function? It's a win-win!

It also happens to hold a couple other treasures we've found at the same thrift store. First, this (non functioning) white ceramic clock. I saw this at the store and just loved the vintage nature of it. I thought it would look perfect atop a stack of old books. 

We found these books at a rummage sale a few weeks ago that was filled with more bow-hunting equipment I've ever seen before in one place. The guy running the sale was a real piece of work, and assured us all the books we picked out were fantastic pieces of literature. We just liked the look of their covers, and were especially interested in the titles Danger! and the completely un-PC Escape from Red China. (Side note: Skimming through a couple pages of Danger!, I've determined it's about bears and scalping. But possibly not scalping bears.)

Last week, Eric texted me telling me he found something he really liked at the thrift store, but he just couldn't explain what it was. I sat there all afternoon wondering what would be so amazing that it couldn't be described in human words. When I got home, it was this gilded giraffe, seemingly leaping for joy whilst being impaled down the middle with a large stick. Though I'm pretty sure giraffes cannot leap by any means, especially not with poles sticking through their tummies.

Whatever the case, it's just quirky and weird enough that it's really grown on me. I love that stupid giraffe.

The other two pieces on the table (the small vase - with wilting flowers! - and the lamp) both happen to be from IKEA. So, you see, it's all about balancing the old with the new, the unique with the mass-produced.

Though I would like to replace that lamp sometime.


Trapped in the Closet

If it feels like it's been a long time since I last checked in with a project, well... it's because it's been a long time since I checked in with a project. Last weekend was non-stop busy and, believe it or not, absolutely zero home-related things were accomplished. The kitchen cabinets are FINALLY assembled, but the final results will just have to wait until next week (i.e. Whenever the new knobs and pulls arrive in the mail). 

While I thought home projects would be winding down for a little while, last night Eric and I went around, room by room, and listed every project we'd like to complete by the end of the year. There were 42 projects in all. 


So, in the mean time, I'm all about knocking out tiny projects when I get the chance, and last night's project was quick and simple, but added a necessary (and cute!) touch to our master bedroom.

You see, our bedroom takes up the entire second floor of our little Cape Cod, and right off the stairway up to the bedroom is our walk-in closet. Oh yes, a walk-in closet. It's so nice to have, and the previous owner even lined it with cedar planks to keep it moth proof, which also gives it a cozy, Northwoods cabin look. Here's how it looked when we first moved in:

I must say, it was a little difficult to give in to sharing part of the closet with Eric, but I guess he owns some clothing, too. Really, the thing he was concerned most with was having a couple of the hooks you see above, so he "could hang his pants up after work."

Boys are weird.

Anyway, the closet is very nice to have, but whoever added it forgot to include a door, a door to hide all the disorganized, cluttered clothing and shoes away. I'm going to be very brave, now, and show you just how the closet looks today, one month after moving in:

(See the pants hanging to the right in these photos? Yes, Eric was granted his "after-work pants hooks.")

Without the door, you're easily able to peek right into the closet to see all clutter.

It's quite unsightly, no? I never claimed to be a neat freak.

But, because I am now a curtain-making master, I decided the fix was easy: throw together another curtain and hang it from a spring-loaded rod in the door way. Simple! Foolproof!

So I ordered more adorable fabric. And, yet again, I came up short. If I were to use only the fabric I ordered, you'd barely clear the curtain rod on your way into the closet. I told you before: I am not so good at the math and the measuring.

But never fear! Weeks ago, I picked out some totally-awesome red houndstooth fabric that was part of a remnant pile at a local thrift store. I think I took home about 1.5 yards for only a dollar. It would go perfect with my new, too-short panel! So I measured and cut this houndstooth fabric to the width of my main fabric, and planned to sew the two together to add height and a fun mix of patterns.

That's right, I sewed. Stitch Witchery couldn't save me now - I'd have to actually thread a needle and plug in the machine. It really tested my laziness.

First, I pinned the two pieces of fabric together, right sides facing. 

Then, allowed for about a half-inch seam from the two edges of the fabric pinned together.

And, BAM! 95 seconds later, the fabric was sewn together. Sewing is not hard, especially when all you're doing is sewing in one straight line. I need to remind myself of this. But, soon after, laziness kicked in once again, and I decided the edges would be hemmed the old, trusted way.

Perhaps you've seen a photo like this one somewhere on this blog before?

I ironed down the seam between the two fabrics, then went along making the iron-on hem.

Easy peasy.

There happened to be a few clip-on curtain hooks that were left over from all the other curtains I'd made, so I used those and hung up the finished product.



Ahhhh... so much nicer. And it adds a pop of color and a fun pattern into a bedroom that is seriously lacking any spunk at all at the moment. There are some design issues going on in that bedroom, and I'm going to need some serious inspiration to make it fabulous anytime soon.

But for now, I'm happy with my simple little closet curtain. It hides the fact that I am not a neat freak by any means and adds some personality, as well.

If only the kitchen cabinets could have been so easy....



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