Restraining Order

Well, it's about time we spill the 'beans' about what's going on in our life...that thing that's causing me some serious self-restraint.  We're trying to sell our house.  With the buyer's market going on and a little financial blessing from the Lord Himself, we've found ourselves in a good position to buy a house in a neighborhood within walking distance of where Anthony works.  A year and a half ago, when we first moved here, we didn't even graze that area because of how over our price range it was.  But now we're trying to high-tail it on over there...only, with one problem.  Dun, dun, dun.  Yes, we have to sell our house first.  We were so spoiled with our first house - selling it within a couple weeks of putting it on the market - that now we're twiddling our thumbs and trying to sit patiently while it's future homeowner snatches it up.  Enter restraining order...I have no problem waiting around for it to sell but not being able to paint this, switch out this light fixture, make new valances for those killing me!  I NEED a project!  I already wrote about possible plans for the kitchen and now swirling in my head are plans to elegant-ize our master bath...both which need to be stomped on.  What's the point in putting more money into this house?  There isn't one...I have to tell myself that over, and over, and over.  
Well, now you know ahead of time why my 'look-what-project-i'm-taking-on' posts will be sparse (only to be up and running again once we find our new fixer-upper).  We're going for our biggest project in a house yet, now that we're ready again after exhausting ourselves with our first house.  1950's kitchens, wallpaper, and crumbling plaster, here we come!
We're super-excited to move!  Not only because then our insatiable appetite for demo and remodeling will be appeased but because of the budget benefits.  We'll save at least $50 a month in gas which will be incredible, not to mention that only having one car will become more of a cinch.  Anthony home for lunch will be a sweet change too!
Please say a prayer for us (especially asking for St. Joseph's intercession) that we may be able to sell this baby and say hello to a third nest!  I'll keep y'all updated!     

Kitchen Progression

While I was updating the blog the other day with new pictures of our kitchen, including our new appliances, I was thinking about what a change it's taken on since we moved in.  The cost of new appliances (minus the refrigerator since it'll go with us when we move someday) is all we've had to spend to make this transformation.  So, about $1300 considering we got a great deal buying from Goedekers (previously known as  (Read our review here.)  We weren't planning on forking out money for our new appliances so soon until we had a run in with our dishwasher, followed a few months later with our stove.  But, as usual with unexpected expenses, we bit the bullet, pulled money from savings, researched for days, and then got cookin' with our new stainless steel beauties.  We know we can't exactly call our kitchen "completely upgraded", but it's much better than what we started with.  Let's take a look:

Here's the kitchen right before we moved in:

This is after we painted the cabinets Valspar's Cabin Plank and the walls Valspar's Cream In My Coffee - both leftover from our first house...a.k.a. FREE!

And this, of course, is where it stands now, with our new appliances:

But wait, there's more.  We really love the chocolate brown, and it was great fun while it lasted, but since we have such a small, galley-style kitchen, we're leaning towards a lighter, brighter, and more updated space so...

This is what might be in it's future, courtesy of Photoshop:

Without paying the high price for new cabinets, we'd love to completely update this space with new paint (guilt-free since the last coat was free), new countertops, a new sink, new lighting - on the ceiling and over the sink, and some other aesthetic details - beadboard in a few places, shelving, new molding, and some other wood inserts.  The 'plan' isn't fully tweaked yet though.  For example, knocking out the hollow soffit above the cabinets, raising each cabinet to the ceiling, and then adding floating shelves underneath each cabinet is another idea.  When all is said and done, the first option will cost us around $600, and that's if we pay full price for all of the updates...which we just don't do.  :)  And, it can be done over a period of time, allowing us to continue using the kitchen, instead of all at once which is tougher on the pocket book.  But, for now it's a 'maybe'.  We're not sure yet if the investment will be worth it or if it will even make a difference to a potential buyer someday.  It sure is fun planning though, especially since that's always free.  :)

The Bird

This post isn't about that infamous 'bird' some use to communicate "I'm mad at you"...

nor is it about the hundreds of birds that decided to skip migration and land on our grandma's lawn over our Christmas vacation in New York...

but it is about the first ever, homemade artwork I created for our house!  Here's the whole story:

Right after we got hitched, we bought three identical frames from my favorite thrift store ever in Ohio for 25 cents each.  They weren't anything special except that they had ancient pictures in them of people who we had no idea about and they were orange.  Lacking pictures (because we're horrible at remembering to bring our camera when making memories), all we did was display the frames in our of strangers included.  I can't even begin to count how many times we've been asked who those people were and every time saying "I have no clue" and telling the frame story.  Later, I whipped out a can of brown spray paint we had on hand and gave them a coat.  Well, then we moved and the pictures moved with us. 
See them on the top shelf?
I found two pictures (on of my dad at his first birthday and one of me at my First Communion) that replaced two of the unknown persons, but one remained...until last Tuesday.  That was the day I decided to change them up.

First I decided to lighten them up a little.
 I decided to 'go green' with them using some paint leftover from our guest bathroom.  To go from dark brown to that light green though, I first spray painted them white.

Onto the pictures.  Here's the six strangers that had been.  Anyone recognize them?  We'd love to know their stories.  :)
For now they're being stowed away somewhere in case we need them someday or someone claims them.  :)

Still lacking pictures that would fit into the frames, I decided to morph into an artist for an hour and create my own personal pictures.  I've always wanted to draw/paint some kind of picture that continued through three frames...let me explain.
First I cut three 5 x 7 pieces of card stock out using the covers of some construction paper books we had.  Then, for drawing purposes, I tape them together so that I could get a cohesive picture that could be separated later but still be cohesive in three different frames...make sense?  I decided on a 'bird and branches' theme so first I drew out the main branches and the bird.

Using leftover brown paint from the previous owner, I painted the branches and then went on to paint some leaves.
Using leftover blue paint from our master bedroom (y'all know I'm all about using what you have), I painted our pretty little bird.
After it was dry and my 'masterpiece' was complete, I carefully removed the tape joining the three and put them in their respective frames.
Introducing our new, FREE, artwork made with lots of love and leftovers by me, Bean.

Back into the hutch they go for now but later in life I'm thinking they might grace the walls of a future little girl's room or sun room...we'll see!  Big change though, right?  Anyone else break out their inner artist and create something with leftover paint recently?  My friends Lauren and Jenn did, creating some great modern paintings to flank a fireplace with two large pieces of canvas and leftover master bedroom paint!  It's very therapeutic, costs little to nothing, and looks great!  Anyone else?!  Any other ideas?  I'd love to see them!  Of course now that I've started, you can be sure to see more in the future too!

Another Year, Another Budget

2011 it is and a new budget The Bean Team is planning...only because our health insurance premiums went up $40 a month (boo).  There goes my grand plan of possibly upgrading to a smart phone, which would cost us $40 more a month.  Oh well, life is full of giving and taking, right? 
Then there's the glorious tax return.  Since Anthony is still in school, we usually get most of what we put in back..even though every year the entire check goes directly from our hands (what a great two seconds) to our student loan lender.  It's bittersweet but shoving any and all extra money towards those cotton pickin' loans will pay off in the future.  After they're paid and closed, I'm not sure what we'll do with the extra money.  I guess we'll just start shoving money towards our retirement fund?  Go out to eat at least once a week?  Skip the clearance section?  Can you go from being frugal for so long to being un-frugal?  Probably not.  :)  Although maybe that day I'll splurge and buy something from Pottery Barn.  I love that store (I've been inside it once) but right now it's only a distant dream.
New Year's Resolutions?  I've never been one to make them.  My thought is, why wait to make changes or better yourself for a new year?  Why not start today!  When I was 10, I remember making a personal resolution that on my 11th birthday I would start doing everything 100%.  My room would always be immaculate, I would get an A+ on every assignment and test, I would listen to my parents all the time, I would never get angry at anyone...yes, I know, a little ridiculous.  I remember making this two months before my birthday...probably the laziest, most hypocritical two months of my short life!  :)
Anyways, back to the budget.  We're excited to start a new Excel document for our 2011 budget...we're nerds, we know.  In case you want to be budget-conscious with us, you can start here.  
As much of a downer "being on a budget" can sometimes be, we really do love it.  It's taught us how to be smart with money - make smart purchases, pay off credit cards balances every month (if in order to buy it, you have to use credit, don't buy it), wait until that thing on our 'wish list' goes on sale, price-shop...the list goes on and on.  It's also taught us how to be creative and get great quality on little moolah.  Budgets bring blessing.  :)   

Happy New Year to you all!  Tag along with us this new year and watch as we tackle tons more budget-friendly home projects (we've got lots of big ideas) and just keep working on ourselves so that when blogging and the world as we know it falls away, we'll find ourselves in heaven.  
Peace out!     

O Rosemary, O Rosemary

Your leaves are so unchanging.  Well, they're sorta dead now but it was good while it lasted!  In case you're wondering what I'm talking about, it's our 'Christmas tree'.  Since we went home for two weeks this year, we thought it'd be a waste of time to get our tree out of the attic, put 'er together, fluff her up, stick some lights on her (I like tons of lights which equals lots of work), and put on the ornaments.  So, instead I had this great idea of using the pine-look-alike rosemary branches from the bush we have in our backyard.  Anthony was just telling me a month ago that that bush was getting a little overgrown.  So, of course I though, "why not kill two birds with one stone?"  You with me?  Here's what I did:
 Unfortunately I didn't take pictures of our 2010 'Christmas tree' until after we got home, hence why it's lookin' a little shabby...okay, dead.  But you get the point.  A few rosemary branches, a vase, and some ornaments is all there was to our 'tree' this year.  Lucky for us, our family in New York waited to put up their real tree until everyone was there to help so we did get to cross that tradition off our lists this year anyway.

Besides serving as our Christmas tree, it also made a great centerpiece for our table.  I love decorations that serve double-duty!  Anyone else have a non-traditional Christmas tree?

Happy New Year to you all!  Thank God for the past year, it's joys and trials!  I hope everyone has a great 2011!  I'm excited to see what God has planned!