Thursday, January 16, 2014


Our living room has been through approximately 4 renditions since we moved in. I can't for the life of me find photos of #3 (in which we had a significantly less revolting couch than the slipcovered monstrosity you are about to see- that we eventually sold to Syndal!)

Let's take a walk down memory lane, shall we?
This is how she looked when we moved in.
We lived with the brown for about a year, I'd have to guess, before I realized just how much of our house was painted brown (the exterior, living room, hallway, bathroom, and one guest room) and the brown slowly started to feel like walls of poop closing in on me. 

We painted the walls gray, and for a while the living room looked like this: 

 It wasn't terribly offensive but it wasn't at its best yet. We putzed on other rooms, in the meantime.
(If you're noticing the presence of an additional doorway between photos 1 and 2, that's because there is one. We knocked out the wall/closed up the entryway to the basement in the kitchen to make the kitchen more usable).

We bought and sold a couch somewhere in there, and endured a brief stint with our second IKEA rug, before being handed down M's mom's old living room set- because you don't say no to nailhead trim... EVER. Only problem was I then hated the living room again. The furniture was a dark brown/green/grey color that didn't seem to match with anything.

Then came the wedding in which we were gifted an unholy amount of Target gift cards, and I took it as our opportunity to switch some items out for a little overhaul that made a huge impact. Ready for an after?

Nearly everything in this room is from Target.. and I don't even feel bad about it. Haha. Nate Berkus can do no wrong in my book, and Target has been ON POINT lately.

 (TJ just sat in the hallway as I climbed on things to take pictures with a very concerned 'wtf' face...)


Source list:
  • Bronze stamped side table 
  • Faux-wood veneer side table was also Target but isn't online anymore 
  • embroidered floral throw pillow 
  • sweater throw pillow
  • Other floral-y blue pillow was also Target
  • Est. 2013/M/K burlap pillows were an etsy wedding gift
  • Rug was also Target (but they only appear to have smaller sizes/runners left in this print)
  • Floral chairs were Target a few years ago but they always have similar styles
  • Tray/floral centerpiece on the coffee table was also Target, neither are online (same can be said for the magenta floral in the mercury glass on the side table).
  • Lamps were Target but I'm not seeing them online (similar more expensive, also pretty obsessed with these mercury glass ones).
  • The large black/linen frame, small slatted wood frame, washed out wood frame (far left), 2 stacked 4x4 (PERFECT for instagrams) frame, the 5x5 matted frame (for more dramatic IG's), and the faux-window-pane frame are all Target
  • Large canvas is from Agape Moments
  • Small canvas is from easy canvas prints
  • Small leaf sconce was from Target a few years ago, it was black and came in a 2 pack, I sprayed it out gold (and have yet to find a home for the second sconce.. maybe the master redo)
  • Silver mirrored frame on side table was a wedding gift- it's from kate spade
  • Entry way mirror was a hand-me-down from my grandma
  • Jane Austin print
  • Ampersand print
  • The rest of the room was pretty much DIY's..
I think that covers all of it!? If I missed something you have a question about let me know. This is easily my favorite room in the house, now...and it was downright magical during Christmas. My plan is to have the master give it a run for its money and I just ordered 2 of these for the bedroom:

Jazzed is an understatement. :-D

And in the spirit of keeping it real, a cat who had a vendetta against the duster...


 and the behind the scenes of where all the junk got moved to take these photos. :)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


I'm a huge, huge fan of a good gallery wall. 
I'm also what I would consider a bit of a gallery wall snob. 
One of my favorite ways to do a gallery wall is with mixed media: canvases, monograms, framed photos, etsy prints.. some subtle variety adds interest and looks beautiful. 

M and I used our $300 "store credit" that came with our photographer package to order a canvas through our photographer. We decided to get a larger size than our credit would afford, so we had to pay an additional $50 on top of our $300 credit. It is a 16x20 and turned out incredibly beautiful. 

SO, imagine my chagrin upon seeing the reviews for easy canvas prints circulating the blogs, and I realize that with their frequently offered discounts, a 16 x 20 through them would have only cost us about $70, total

All this happened shortly before the Christmas season, so when M told me that his sister wanted a photo of the entire family from the wedding as a Christmas gift, I suggested we take it up a notch, and pulled up easy canvas prints' website. (This was before receiving an offer from them to review an 8 x 10 canvas on my blog!) We ordered her an 11 x 14, and with a Christmas sale they had running, it only cost us around $25. We decided it was such an affordable and beautiful gift, that we bought one for both his dad and his mom as well. 

(His dad's canvas, still in the plastic (hence the ripple/shine) before we wrapped it).
The canvases turned out BEAUTIFULLY (M's sister may or may not have shed tears over it- she LOVED it), but that wasn't even the best part of this story. We ordered them dangerously close to Christmas and paid for the shipping that would get them here "by Christmas," only, we didn't account for the fact that it meant on Christmas Eve potentially, and that we'd be up north already by that point. M shot off an email to customer service at easy canvas prints once we realized this in the hopes they'd be able to help us, and within a day someone had gotten back to him and re-routed the 2 canvases for his dad and sister to be delivered to his dad's house (3.5 hours away from our house) by Christmas Eve. They showed up that morning in a blizzard, and were wrapped in time for Christmas morning! I was SO impressed by the warm email and fast response. You just don't see customer service like that anymore.

After all of this, I was contacted to do a review of my own... which meant: BONUS CANVAS for our house! We are in the process of revamping our wall above the couch, so this came at a perfect time. I was already confident in the product so I hopped on and set to work designing my canvas. 

It's seriously the easiest process ever, and was all of 3 screens:

First: select a single canvas or a gallery

 Second: select your size and wrap preference. (I like that they give you the little graphic on the right to give you a sense of how big the canvas is that you're ordering! I have questionable spacial reasoning skills, so, this is perfect for me :)).

Third: upload your photo (you can pull pictures from Facebook and Instagram!), and select your display option (hanging or standing) and border option. Then you can drag the photo around so it's where you want it.

and then, ta da! Canvas is done.
Here's a peek of it in action, I plan to post the rest of the living room this week :)
{my well laid plans to print photos for those remaining blank frames clearly didn't pan out. Alas, sometime soon. :)}

I know there are some of you who tune out reviews, and if you're anything like me, it's because a teensy tiny part of you is jealous and want free shtuff... well, easy canvas prints wants to offer you the next best thing to free:

50% off code for your own canvas! 

The 8 x 10 is a perfect sized canvas- makes a statement on a wall without being too overwhelming, and at 50% off, it would only be $22! You can't buy picture frames that cheap, folks. So take advantage of this.

Pssst: Easy canvas prints also has a couple affiliate sites for other types of customization, custom T-shirts, and custom signs.

Full living room tour coming atcha later this week :) 

[FTC disclosure: Easy Canvas Prints gave me a free 8 x 10 canvas, with free shipping, to review for this post. I was not otherwise compensated for this review, and the opinions expressed are my own.]

Sunday, January 12, 2014


This weekend was a good one. 
There was fantastic food involved, squishy babies, road trips with the mother-in-law (and that's not sarcasm, I really did enjoy it :)), antiques, and some general health and wellness. 

Friday night I hung the gallery wall in the living room finally. Wee! I'm hoping to get photos printed and put in by tomorrow or Tuesday, and then photograph it, but there's a good possibility you just get photos with the stock-frame-photos still in some of the frames. 

Saturday morning M and I picked up brunch and headed over to his friend Ben & Marie's to see their squishy new baby, Jane. I got some baby snuggles and overall we reaffirmed our decision to wait a few years before hoppin' into THAT. Mostly I knew we weren't ready when I told M to get 3-6 month clothes for the gift at Target and he texted me Friday night ask if the "M" next to "3M" on the tag meant month. O_O. That guy. 

After brunch I scooted home for a few minutes and then headed out to a coffee blate with some of my favs (Jess, Syndal, and Lo in case ya'll are too lazy to click the link. ;-)).  We caught up for a few hours over lattes. 

Saturday night I got home and successfully tricked M into coming back to the Sonora Grill for dinner. I was just there Thursday for a law-school-girls reunion, but it was SO GOOD and I knew he had to experience it, too. They had some fantastic sangria and the EMPANADAS may change your life. 

For those of you locals: They have a booth in Midtown Global Market and recently expanded to a storefront on Lake and 33rd in Longfellow. Weekend evenings are BUSY, as evidenced by Saturday, but if you stop by during the week around 6, you should get a table quickly! 

Sunday was busy, busy, but fun. We met M's mom and her husband for breakfast at Perkins before my MIL and I set out to an antique shop an hour north. They're only open one week a month or so, and the last time we attempted to go was right after my dad's heart attack, so that got delayed. We headed back today and I was so impressed- they had a ton of stuff but CUTE and very on point antiques (as in, the stuff that's making a comeback). I got a little mason-jar-esque jar, for q-tips for the bathroom. I also got a gold mirrored tray for perfumes/jewelry and a ladder that I'm repurposing in a unique way.. you'll have to stay tuned to see those when I get around to finishing up the new master bedroom. Sorry!

When I got home we went grocery shopping, and we also went to check out Lifetime. 

Yes, Lifetime. I have officially sold my soul and I cannot be happier. I'm quitting L.A. Fitness this week (which has been suspended since, oh, APRIL of last year) and really excited to start working out more consistently. I was not happy at LA- from the gym itself that I went to, to what they offered, I'm really excited for this change. In fact I'm so serious about doing this, and doing it right (and going enough to get my $20 health insurance reimbursement so this thing doesn't totally bankrupt us. [JOKES]) that immediately after signing up I drove to DSW and bought some new Brooks running shoes. After there I drove to Target and got some running shorts, a new sports bra, and some athletic socks. It's a little bit of "walk the walk" definitely but it's got me browsing their website for 6:00 a.m. spin classes so it must be working! 

Good weekend overall! 

I have some ideas for posts so I hope to be back here more regularly, I just need to photograph some things for you guys. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


**Edited to add: I'm going to come back here and cross things off as I complete them, hence the strike throughs. :) **

I've seen other bloggers post life-lists, year, lists, 30 before 30 lists.. (well, you get it)--on their blogs all the time. They usually flustered and overwhelmed me because I couldn't imagine sitting down and writing those things out- mostly because when I'm asked to recall them I blank out. In the spirit of a new year, I want to write some things down that I'd like to do. These are travel things, "Minnesota" things, ME things.. just, things. I won't accomplish all of these in one year, or maybe even 5 years, but at least I'll have a place to go to remind myself of all the things I want to do. Maybe someday when M and I are sitting around bored, trying to think of something, I can pull up this list and we can cross something off.

So, here is my List:

Me things:
  • Work out more (ugh, I know... but when your dad has a heart attack and you're told it's genetic.. these things become more important)
  • Be more consistent meal planning (okay, so both of these are "2014" things.. actually they're EVERY year things, but I need to get into a routine I enjoy.
  • Speak ill of others less.. I should devote an entire post to this, but it's a bad habit of mine. If I think something negative, or something I don't agree with, about someone.. I'm quick to find someone to validate my feelings. If you want to armchair-psychologize that statement, yes, it stems from a virtual lifetime of feelings of inadequacy, of not fitting in, so I get a high when I'm validated as being "right" in my sentiments. I just need to, NOT. anymore.
  • Be more organized (on a consistent basis)- mostly this means my laundry and my bedroom. M and I are transitioning into the main floor guest room soon (as in.. Saturday). This room has been my "getting ready" room, and home to my closet. M takes up the entire closet in the master. It's easier to ignore the mess when I don't have to sleep in it, and it's easier to ignore our current master bedroom mess because it's not MY stuff. The whole point of this room swap/room transformation is because I want to create a space I ENJOY being in. A calm, inviting, adult space.
  • Take more pictures: there is irony in this one. I have a DSLR, but I have this weird hang up about using it. I am always so annoyed by "that person" at get togethers, who is always shouting "GINA, come here. ANDREW get in the photo. LOOK AT me. Okay everyone, ready!?!" I just want to club them. I never want to BE that person, but I love taking and looking at nice photos. I also have a hang-up that because I have a DSLR - I feel stupid bringing it to "smaller" events. It feels like such a formal camera. I know that sounds insane. I'm hoping once I get the camera bag insert and it's easier to tote around, I will.

Minnesota things:
  • Go to the landscape arboretum
  • Go to the sculpture garden (if for no other reason than I can have a picture with that damn spoon and cherry)
  • State Parks
    • Afton
    • Banning
  • Visit more wineries/explore the area, specifically:
    • Woodland Hills Winery, Delano, MN
    • Buffalo Rock Winery, Buffalo, MN
    • Alexis Bailley Vineyards, Hastings, MN
    • Cannon River Winery, Cannon Falls, MN
    • Winehaven Winery & Vineyard, Chisago, MN
    • Chankaska Wines, Kasota, MN 
  • EATS- whenever M and I are hungry or planning a date night, we tend to revert to old favorites. The MSP area is SUCH a wealth of FABULOUS foodie places, it makes me sad that we do this. Of course when you're hungry you go with fast. SO hopefully having a list of "must try" places will prompt us to recall them, and then eat at them! (the trouble with this list is I add too it as much as I cross things off- THIS IS NOT A REAL PROBLEM but zomg, so many noms). 
    • Wiseacre (EDITED** CONFIRMED- brunch is out of this world)
    • The Rabbit Hole
    • Travail
    • The Pig Ate My Pizza
    • Victory 44
    • La Grolla
    • Broders
    • Porcheteria
    • Sanctuary
    • Heartland
    • The Butcher and the Boar
    • Bradstreet Neighborhood Crafthouse
    • World Street Kitchen
    • Rincon 38  (Every meal should involve 20 small meals. Tapas #FTW)
    • Rookery
    • Brasserie Zentral
    • Coup d'Etat
    • La Belle Vie
    • The Salt Cellar
    • Porter and Frye
    • Spoon and Stable
    • Pig & Fiddle
    • Northeast Social
    • The Sample Room
    • Heyday
    • Marche
    • Lago Taco
    • Rival House
    • Hello Pizza
    • Hola Arepa
    • Lola's
    • Mattie's on Main
    • Sea Salt Eatery
    • Corner Table (Brunch AND Dinner)
    • Masa (brunch, have had their dinner.. NOM)
      • [That's a good start. :)]
  • Spend a weekend on the North Shore (Two Harbors, Gooseberry, etc), JUST us- The thing about going to college in northern MN is, every time we've been up there previously, it'd been to visit with other people. There's nothing wrong with that, but I'd like to take M to northern MN and just have it be us.
  • Spend a weekend in Duluth, JUST us (see above).
  • Kayak on a river- M LOVES doing this, and I think I'd enjoy it, too. Preferably a quiet-ish river, or even a creek- one that doesn't hold the high potential for killing me (a la the Mississippi).
  • Camp- I've only been camping once, but it was a lot of fun. I'd love to do it again with M. If you have the right gear and plan ahead it can be a really cool experience.
  • I'm drawing a blank on other Minnesota-y things but want to get this post published, so as I recall things I'll definitely come back and add here.
Travel (United States)
I have to say something about my travel desires: If you offer me Rome or Naples, I'll take Naples every time. Call me uncouth, but I'm way more drawn to natural pneomenon over man made. What I mean by that is, I'd rather explore a lesser known, lesser "historically significant" coastal town of a country (if they're on the coast) than a mainland megalith. I'd rather wander down smaller streets, with less tourists, and get more of a local flavor than wander around the city center with a headset tour guide telling me how old this church is. I'm not saying this to be pretentious, and I do find some of that stuff interesting (I did it in Malta and enjoyed it) but I am just drawn to the lesser discovered places. For example: summer after my 1L year of law school (for you newbies around here) I participated in study abroad. We could've chosen London, Prague, Istanbul, Galway, Chile, or Malta (that were "sponsored" through our school). I chose Malta. The common response I got when telling people I was going to Malta, was, ".. wait.. where?" I knew I could, and probably would, travel to some of those other countries in my lifetime. If I had never been offered Malta as a study abroad though? I never would have gone. It is, in my opinion, one of the coolest and most beautiful little countries that nobody has ever heard of.
That being said, there are obviously a few cities on these lists that are well known. But, I'd argue they're also naturally beautiful. Hence, the draw. :)
  • Maine (anywhere on the coast)
  • Boston, MA
  • Vermont (in the fall)
  • Charlston, SC
  • Savannah, GA (with a stop to Tybee Island)
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Napa, CA
  • San Diego, CA
  • Lake Tahoe, CA
  • Seattle, WA
  • Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • Banff, AB, Canada
  • Italy
    • Cinque Terra
    • Naples I have it on good authority from people who are from Italy, and 95% of the internet, that Naples, Italy is actually a trash dump. Womp. 
    • Rome
    • Florence
    • Venice
    • Lake Como
    • Bari (where my family is from)
  • Greece (specifically the islands/coast- Thessaloniki to be precise).
  • Rijeka, Croatia
  • Geneva, Switzerland
  • Thailand
  • Australia
  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Portugal
  • Belize
  • Costa Rica
I think it's easy to get stuck in a functional rut. We've been going to Florida for a few years because it's convenient and we stay cheaply, but I know when I get to be 40 and have kids and can't travel as easily I'm not going to be saying "gee I'm glad we went to Florida 15 times and I never got to see Hawaii!) I want to start picking random places and going just BECAUSE. Not because we have family there, not for work, just because it sounds cool. Hopefully M and I can knock off one of the international spots for a 1-year anniversary trip.

So there's my list. Not a NY Resolution, not a 30 before 30, just a really aspirational "to do" list with no deadline. :)

What are some things you're dying to do? Any "Minnesota" things I clearly left off here?

Sunday, January 5, 2014


I was emailing myself some photos to compile this post and I realized in this one weekend, I was every blogger ever.

I gave the "fashion blogger" a pathetic attempt, I was the foodie blogger, I was the DIY blogger. In other words I was uncharacteristically productive.

I realize I never addressed NYE here, but M and I went to a friend of ours' house, with one other couple (so, 6 of us in total) for apps, drinks, and ended the night at a local bar with a much older, and thus calmer, crowd, watching a band that's played at a few of our groups' weddings. Naturally within 5 minutes of showing up Pete was on stage singing Piano Man with the band.

Friday night was spent in preparation to help Dana move out of our basement and into her new place. She'd been staying here the last week until she could get into her new place, so we moved all her stuff from storage in the basement to the living room, so people wouldn't be trekking all over our house.

Precursor to the following story: M and I bought a new mattress on New Years Day, and it was set to be delivered Saturday morning.
SO, Saturday morning I was lounging alone with TJ- Dana was picking up the U-Haul and her new couch, and M was at crossfit. I see the Slumberland truck roll up to the house, a casual 30 minutes early. I'm in stretchy pants, smelling and looking like warmed over death, with a living room that looks like an episode of hoarders. The poor guys had to traipse through the side of our house, which was NOT shoveled, and up the back deck to get the mattress in. You would never have guessed that the mattress was heavy though since ONE guy carried it in by himself while the other set up the frame. I'm not sure I mentioned this- but M and I moved our bedroom from our 2nd floor to the first floor. It was inevitable, since I was NOT doing stairs pregnant or with a baby (NO I am not, presently) aannndddd due to the teeny tiny staircase, we could never have anything larger than a full upstairs (or in the basement). So, our only shot at a bigger, nicer mattress was the first floor guest room. They had the mattress set up in 20 minutes and it was HEAVEN to sleep on. I love EVERYTHING about the first floor. It's both amazing and pathetic that something as simple as a change of bedroom scenery could bust this mild funk I feel like I've been in lately.

After that, we helped Dana move, and then Saturday night the new mattress- room makeover bug hit, and I attacked my closet in there.

There are no "before" photos because it was just too gross. Picture a cluttered, nasty, builders-grade-cream, which is to say -- looks like vomit -- beige in the closet. It was chipped, dinged, dirty, and just gross. So, I accomplished the most thankless paint job ever Saturday night: the interior of the closet. I have to say though, it makes me 1,000 times happier. It just feels CLEAN and organized.

We picked up the white organizer from Target on sale, as well as the cloth bins, which replaced a green 3 shelf plastic organizer I'd had since college. I moved my necklace tree into the closet, which had remained upstairs since I moved in. The guest room (our new room) had always been my closet, while our actual former bedroom closet was M's. I'm hoping by having some of my older jewelry out, I'll wear it more. I also hung up my statement necklaces on some extra hooks.

I'm still working on how I want to finish the rest of the room, but I have some ideas, so I'll do a formal tour with a nice camera if that ever gets done. :) I also promised the living room, which I'll do after I get my last piece for my gallery wall in a few days here.

Sunday was lounging, and a grocery trip. I wore skinny jeans, a plaid flannel from Old Navy, and a chunky cream scarf, red lips, and my black hipster glasses. I didn't take a photo, so I guess that doesn't TOTALLY count, but I felt very bloggery. We don't have a juicer, because they're expensive, so I sort of jumped on the healthy blogger bandwagon at the grocery store and bought ingredients to try a green smoothie. I used THIS recipe.


The "health kick" slowly devolved after that, however. We made bacon, leek and goat cheese pizza on Naan bread. One of my favorite meals. (pro tip, saute the leeks in the bacon grease- ZOMG). 

I randomly got a baking bug up my bum (alliteration FTW) and decided to buy a cupcake mix to use my stand mixer for the first time. Yes, it's shameful, but I've had a Kitchenaid for 3 years and never used it once. I'm just not a baker. Even now, as I wait for these cupcakes to cool, I don't really want to eat many. Maybe I should stick to muffins or breads.
(They're spiced chai cupcakes with vanilla bean frosting. NOM). 

So that's what we've been up to. :)
I have a New Years-Life List post drafted, but want to add some more things to it, so stay tuned for that.