Friday, August 31, 2012

First anniversary

Not even a month ago Garry and I celebrated our one-year anniversary in our home and now we're celebrating yet another first - our first wedding anniversary!

It's hard to imagine that a year ago we were running around crazy for what was one of the biggest days of our lives (buying the house definitely is up there with our wedding). We had a LOT of chaos that weekend, I was printing out the table lists at the hotel the night before the ceremony. Of course there was all the running around with final fittings, making sure we had everything packed, someone to watch the kitties for us while we stayed in the hotel and, of course, getting the house spruced up for a LOT of company the day after.

Final fitting for my dress. 

It's funny because I actually found (and fell in love with) my wedding dress before I met Garry. I got it from a store called Unique Vintage located in California. I bought this dress without trying it on or anything - I just *knew* I would love this dress and that my seamstress could make it look awesome on me. Best part - I only paid $400 for this dress. I know, it's unheard of considering how much most dresses are in bridal boutiques. 

All of my bridesmaids stayed with me in the hotel the night before the wedding and we had an awesome time catching up. 

You know how there is a stigma that the day of the wedding is always really stressful? Not so much. We were really relaxed and it felt like we had all the time in the world to get ready. 

We also got to take a lot of photos outside. It was a nice day, but it was incredibly hot outside. Didn't plan for that one... 

It was nice arriving to the ceremony site early. Actually, we were there about 20 minutes early and had to wait on everyone else to be ready to start. It was kind of funny since the bride is usually the one running late. Apparently I'm just punctual like that. Of course, it helped that we didn't have the ceremony until 3pm. 

I had my mom and dad walk with me down the asile. Why? Just felt like it. The whole time I told both of them that they weren't allowed to cry. There will be none of this crying nonsense I think is what I told them, so we talked about random weird things in order to keep that from happening. Couldn't mess up my makeup afterall. 

My friend Pam took video of the procession and beginning of the wedding. 

This seemingly random box of stones and things was actually a big part of our ceremony. See, Garry and I are pagan. Our ceremony revolved around the Wheel of the Year, which comprises of 8 different Sabbats (or holidays) that are interspersed through the year. These Sabbats represent points in the year where change occurs, usually from one season to the next, or a significant spiritual holiday. 

We had 8 of our friends come up to the microphone and say a piece that "represented" each Sabbat and how that correlated with our marriage. For instance, Samhain is a time of great change. It is the final harvest of the season where all the crops have been reaped and you have to survive on what you have sown. It's a time of change and consequences. In relation to our marriage, we made vows to support each other during times of great change, and understand that change will indeed happen throughout our lives. 

Each item in the box was given to us by one of those friends as a physical reminder of our vows. Those items are saturated with the spirit and energy of that Sabbat and at the changing of each Sabbat we change the item on our home altar and talk about the vows we made for that particular Sabbat. It has been a great reminder of the committments we made to each other.

Sure, we could've made vows to love, respect and blah blah blah... but that was already implied since we were getting married in the first place. Our vows were practical, involved emotions and instances that are very real in a marriage and very often are overlooked. We wanted to acknowledge that these are potential obstacles in our path and make vows to be there for each other through those obstacles. It's promising to weather the storm, talk about our problems, and encourage each other to be the best we can be. I think we've done a good job of that during our first year of marriage. 

Our wedding bands were placed in the slot with this key. The story behind the key is that it was part of a keychain I had for a while and when Garry and I first started dating I took it off the keyring and gave it to him and said it was the "key to my heart." Funny enough, we broke up for a while shortly thereafter, but he held onto it. When we got back together he wore the key on a necklace every day until right before the wedding (we put it in the box with our bands) and he replaced it on his chain with Thor's hammer. 

Remember the expression "tying the knot?" Well, this is where it comes from. Way-back-when, people who married were very literally tied together at the wrist with a cord. This was called "handfasting." Our tradition still practices this ritual at weddings. Sometimes, this is used for purely spiritual unions (as in, the couple doesn't fill out a marriage license and registers it with the state) and we had a small ritual with this the year before our "formal" wedding. Handfastings are typically "recognized" for a year and a day. At that point, you can decide whether or not to do the ceremony again or go your separate ways. In our case, it was kind of like a test run at being married. 

Another part of our wedding included mead (honey wine). We figured, "hey, it's our ceremony - let's have wine!" During our handfasting a year prior, a big part of the ritual was actually making the wine. At this point, it was all yummy and delicious and we served it to everyone that wanted some and did a toast. Coordinating this part was kind of... tedious, and at one point Garry reached over for a bottle and pulled the cork out with his teeth (which is why I'm laughing hysterically in this photo). We were pretty chill during the ceremony, sometimes we said random stuff, it was pretty funny. 

Our friend Darin officiated the ceremony. He's doing the toast and we're laughing about something. The ceramic bowl is actually a chalice that my maid of honor, Amanda made me. 

The last part of the ceremony was for us to "jump" over the besom (a broom) which seals the marriage and makes it "valid." Our friends Lise and Clay made the besom for us before our handfasting and it has carvings,  stones and other objects embedded and on it of spiritual significance based on both mine and Garry's birth information. Currently, we have it hung on the wall above our alter in our living room. 

We're kind of dorky...

This is probably one of my favorite photos of us. I had this one printed and it's hanging in our weird little "hallway" in a really pretty frame. Hopefully soon I'll add more framed photos to that area as part of a collage.

My favorite photo of Garry hands down. Our photographer (and close friend) Judy said to just do something with it and we have a whole series of photos as he was putting it in his mouth. We were laughing so hard that Judy almost couldn't get the photos.

Our wedding party at the reception site.

Our friend Kory rode his motorcycle to the wedding and let us take a few photos on it. 

Video of our introduction.

We were very excited to be inside in the air conditioning - and that we would get to eat soon. Well, Garry got to. I was laced so tightly into my dress that food wasn't going to happen so we boxed it up and had it sent to our room so I could stuff my face later on when I got out of my dress and into a pair of my favorite sweatpants.

Video of our best man and maid of honor speeches. 

When we did the blessing before the meal, Garry and I did what is called in our tradition "the Great Rite." While I don't remember the exact wording off of the top of my head (and am too lazy to look it up at the moment) the basic premise is that you have a chalice (the bowl I'm holding) and an athame (that Garry is holding) and you join them together as a symbol of divine union. The wording includes the phrase "no man is greater than any woman, and no woman is greater than any man." This wording means that we are equal to each other - which is a good thing to have in a marriage!

Our cake was really yummy. I'm really looking forward to eating it on Monday. I mean really looking forward to it. It was so tasty! We had dark chocolate cake with peanut butter mousse filling. I know. The only way it could've been any better was if there was bacon involved. 

Like I said, we're big dorks. We had to have a cake topper that wasn't traditional. I found this topper on Etsy (it was custom made for us) and my brother and sister-in-law bought it for us for Yule. The topper sits on our alter with our cord wrapped around it, keeping that binding energy there. 

Yeah, that cake was so good we didn't want to waste any of it by smashing it on each other's faces. That and it took a LONG time to do my makeup and Garry is... well... furry. 

My next favorite photo of Garry and I. I love this picture.

For the father/daughter dance, I told my dad again that there would be none of that crying nonsense, so we talked about college football. That's how we roll. We danced to "Just the Way You Are" by Billy Joel.

For the mother/son dance I have no idea what Garry and his mom talked about. Probably random things. They danced to "20 Years Late" by Aaron Lines. 

Garry and I didn't talk really about anything - we just had fun! Our first dance was to "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz. Why? Because the song is kind of silly, but really sweet - just like us. 

After our first dance, we decided to get everyone up and moving by doing what's known in our tradition as a "spiral dance." Basically, it's a train. All the tables and chairs made it kind of hard, but we managed and thankfully I didn't rip my dress to shreds. We played the song "Haste to the Wedding" by The Corrs - a very pretty Celtic fiddle tune. 

I have no idea what we were laughing so hard about - probably my grandparents dancing to Lady Gaga. 

Yep, most women have to sit on a chair for the garter recovery mission, but no, oh no... two of Garry's friends decided it would be WAY more fun to hoist me up in the air instead. 

I was very thrilled I didn't hit the ceiling when I threw my bouquet. Yay! You can see a small group of women who were like "not it!" and shying away from it... (I'm looking at you Raine...)

I also thought it would be very fun to make everyone do the Time Warp. Why? Because I said so. I'd like to think I asked very precious little of my guests during the wedding (I mean they got wine during the ceremony - how awesome was that?) so doing the Time Warp was a small price to pay. Watching my family really loosen up and actually dance was... in short... hysterical. 

Another thing that I thought would be fun is for everyone to stand together and sing "American Pie." This was at the end of the night when we were all, for lack of a better phrase, "feeling pretty good." I think we had an awesome time with that. 

Yep, I even got a foot massage. That rocked. 

Yeah, other people were still dancing. My feet were really hurting at that point, but the champagne counter-acted it enough that I didn't really care. 

When Garry and I finally made it back to our room, this is what we were surprised with. :) Aww. My bridesmaids went up and decorated the room with rose petals and our besom. It was an awesome day! 

I have to say, our wedding was so much fun. We never really felt stressed (okay, I didn't feel really stressed) despite one of our Sabbat people didn't show up (someone had to fill in last-minute) and it was surface-of-the-sun hot outside. Everyone seemed to have a really good time and of course the best part - I married someone that I truly love more than words can say. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bedroom paint and tattoos

I've been thinking more and more about repainting our master bedroom - the deep blue is starting to "get" to me and even though I love bright colors and am fairly inspired by them, I'm just not "feeling it" in our bedroom.

I know the "popular" color right now is grey - or varying shades of it - but I've been feeling the grey color since we moved into our apartment over 2 years ago. The only reason I haven't painted my bedroom a grey color was because I live in upstate New York where for a good chunk of the year it's "grey" outside and I was worried that grey inside would just be too... blah.

I think I'm past that now, and I'm leaning toward a few really gorgeous soft grey colors. But, I can't have it be that simple right? Of course not. No, I need to make it more complicated than it needs to be.

Folks, this is what I want to accomplish:

Photo from

I saw this photo a while ago and realized that I was an idiot and didn't save the link in my favorites so I spent a while looking for it. I REALLY love this design. I mean really love it. Sooo... much love. You can find her how-to on this project here:

Also, I have a 50 lb. bucket of joint compound in my attic... so yeah all I need are the panels, nails and some glue. 

So, do that, but with light, soft grey walls. Yeah, i think that will be stunning. Not so sure how Garry will feel about it, but I may send him to a friend's house while I do it. Surprise honey! I completely redid our bedroom while you were gone!

I can only imagine the look on his face. 

Of course, this totally goes against the notion I have of installing paneling in my house. Then again, I installed it in the living room and I love it. I still don't quite understand how I got where I am now with actually liking paneling, but either way I'm hoping it will help our bedroom look a little more "something." 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Console table inspiration

I've been thinking a lot about the living room lately. Well, that's an understatement, I've been thinking a lot about every room lately, so that's not a big surprise. It's getting close to fall - nearing that time of introspection - and of course, spending a lot of time indoors, inside my house and dealing with it.

But back to the living room.

Our current tv stand leaves much to be desired. I mean, it's not a bad little tv stand, but it's really not where I want to go with the room.

It's just not... "enough" for me. Also, I'd really like something with doors so when our 2-year-old god daughter or our myraid of friends that have small children come over we can just shut (and band) the doors so the wee-ones can't get into trouble.

My other goal is to have something that makes that space feel more organized. I don't know about you, but I loathe clutter with every fiber of my being. This area is so prone to it that it kind of drives me crazy.

We're planning on moving that large tv into the basement to make it part of our rec room and move our smaller tv in that space. This is good, because it means we don't have to make/buy an enourmous piece. Yay!

So here are a few ideas of some items we can make:
Apothecary console - photo from
This is a great idea (I love apothecary-style furniture) and like any of the pieces, we can make it to fit the space we have. The open cubbies still pose a problem though because wee-ones can still poke around.

It would especially look awesome with this finish. 

I was really attracted to this piece because of the handles: 
Photo from
GAH! I mean that's gorgeous! I would probably pick a different color stain and possibly do glass doors in front, but those handles... they are the thing of dreams.

I love the paint style in this piece and think that could be something really fun to do in an afternoon. I also like that there are carved-out parts of the doors (I can imagine that would make it easier to use a remote or something instead of having to have glass doors, but rather difficult to do without the right tools) I don't know if I'd use colors that bold or if I'd go with something more subdued to "go" with the rest of the room. 

I actually really love this piece. I love the embossed squares of tin and how it's all distressed. It has very simple lines (which I like) and looks good and "grungy" like it's been around for a while. 

This cabinet I saw at our Olum's scratch n' dent warehouse for like $200. I don't know if I'd like the dark brown, or if I'd repaint it a lighter color, but there is something really unique (and a little bizarre, but I kind of like bizarre) about this chest that kind of "does it" for me. The only problem is anything that requires a receiver (like a remote) would have to sit on top.

We're also planning on mounting the tv to the wall (hopefully) so we have some more "space" on top of the console since that space is narrow to begin with, and we can use the top of the console for photos or some decorative things (that can easily be put in the cabinet if wee-ones come over). I don't think Garry will be too thrilled since that will involve drilling (more) holes into the wall to run the cables without seeing them. That's me, having to make things more difficult than they need to be. :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

One year

It truly is amazing what you can accomplish in just one year. As of August 6, Garry and I have been living in our house for a whole year. Considering that I moved from apartment to apartment every year (I've moved over 10 times since graduating from college 8 years ago) being in one space with no thought of going anywhere else was a bit... odd, but liberating at the same time.

I've decided to try and re-take photos we took of our house when we were first looking at it last year to show what we have accomplished and what we still have yet to do. Bear in mind - some of these photos are going to be of messy, chaotic rooms that haven't been really touched, rooms still in progress, and rooms that are almost there. Some of the photos haven't been taken yet (as there is much cleaning that needs to be done in our house before I can take those photos) so please check back for more updates!

By no means are we "done" with any space or project in our house. We've learned that's it's an evolving process and as we go along, we learn more about ourselves and what fits "us." We've also learned how to create a space that is comfortable for others and not just ourselves. That has been a wild ride to say the least, but at the end of the day, it makes us value our home even more.

So let's start with outside...
Progress. We had the large pine tree cut down and took out a few shrubs in front of the picture window.

More progress. After all the shrubs are taken out and new plants are planted, you can definitely see more of the house. While the plants are still relatively small, they will mature and make the front area look a lot fuller. We made the front planting area even with the stone retaining wall/planter to the right. You can still see a bit where the old pine tree was in the middle of our yard, we're still working on getting the front lawn looking how we want it to.


Despite needing a trim, we took out the shrubs that were dying and planted some rose of sharon on either side of the shrubs and extended the planting area. The rose of sharon will eventually grow to close to the gutters. We'll have to keep a vigilant eye on it starting next season, as you can see the one pictured above is slowly creeping taller than the shrubs.

Pretty flowers...


We opened up this area by taking out the iron divider, and added the blue wicker bench and potted mums. Once we put new plants in the front planter it will act as a short, natural "wall" between the sitting area and the garden.

Going inside - here's the living room and entryway:


Bonus! :) We decided we needed something to sort our mail, hang our keys, dog leash and work ID bages. Also, I had three photos from our wedding printed and hung to give us something to smile about on our way out and in.


Progress. We purchased our sectional couch and ottoman the day we closed on our house and wanted to paint before it arrived. We also hung the shelves and put a few special items on it (a photo of the two of us, a green owl-shaped lantern and our gold ampresand) to make that corner a little more personal. The window coverings and pillows were all made within a month of moving in (before our wedding). We added a simple, cheap green rug to go with the green in the curtains and pillows.

More progress. Finally we had an overhead light installed (through the grant program we participated in), a new coat of paint (the blue was too bright and a little girlie for us), large prints were made of the carousel I took photos of, and a few more personal items added to the shelves (a white ceramic flying pig, a paper apple and a wire tree sculpture that was a wedding gift from a friend of ours) to give it depth.

Much closer. More throw pillows added to the couch, the beginning of a sculpture under the shelves to add texture to that corner of the wall and a catch-all bowl and serving tray sit on top of  the ottoman. We also purchased a shag area rug to add more texture to the space. Now we just need some more "solid" curtains crown molding, and to finish the sculpture. This is probably the most "complete" space in the house.

Before - Crazy wall-o-mirrors.

Progress...? Those things needed to come down. I know some folks are really on the mirrored wall thing, but honestly, an ENTIRE wall of them?! NO freaking way! It basically meant an entire wall of not being able to put anything on, which bugged me. That and it made the room feel "sharp," which I didn't like. 

Progress??????? After a few failed attempts (no photos included out of sheer embarrassment) at fixing the mirror wall, we finally begrudgingly decided to install wall panelling on the accent wall. A few of Garry's friends helped with the install.

Progress. You know, I really wasn't too excited about the idea of wood panelling. I even bought paint so I could just "paint over it" because I thought it would be horrid. However, once it was up, I really liked it. The color of the panelling went well with the room and it meant that I was D-O-N-E with that part of the project.

Next up is the kitchen:


Progress. We redid the entire countertop and backsplash of the kitchen, replaced the sink and faucet, and had a dishwasher installed. Unfortunately, Garry wouldn't let me paint the cabinets. :( 

Progress. Painting the walls a lighter color seemed to allow more light to bounce around the room. We also took down the curtains (and are in the process of making new ones). This area is still very much "in progress" as we still have to sort out some storage solutions, pretty-up the window area, and possibly create some open shelving to lighten the room. I'm also toying with the idea of repainting the room and possibly finding a way to refinish the cabinets in a lighter color (that doesn't involve paint because apparently that is not allowed). We also need to install some track lighting.



Progress. New tile backsplash, counter top, sink and faucet really helped out this area. Oh, and coffee... coffee always helps.

Bonus! :) We had a very long wall that had nothing on it, so we used an old, odd-sized frame we had, painted it white, spray-painted some left-over chalkboard paint I had (from another project a while ago) and created a menu chalkboard for our kitchen (and yes, we still eat Ramen noodles).

From the kitchen, we make our way into the backyard: 

Before. Most of the backyard was left to it's own deisgns... meaning lots of very invasive ivy growing into the foundation.

Progress. Garry being a manly-man and ripping out the ivy and other shrubbery. The Japanese maple seedling was moved to the front yard.

Progress. YAY! No more ivy! Eventually, this may end up becoming a garden bed of some sort, or a play-area for kids.





Bonus project: We added a small firepit in the middle of the yard. We're also planning on chopping up the wood along the fence line and stacking it somewhere out of the way. The metal clothes line pole will come down this season too. We have big plans to make a little garden area in that back corner where the fence is.

Something like this would be really lovely (found on google images) but with an all blue/white garden.

Okay, back inside... now here's the master bedroom:


 Progress? We moved the curtains from the living room into the master bedroom when we repainted the living room. We picked a mid-tone bright blue that, in all honesty, is a bit "much" for us. Plans are to repaint the room.

 Progress. I found a few copper-colored metal stars at Jo-Ann's that I love on our wall behind the tall dresser. I'm planning on refinishing the dressers at some point this year.

Progress. Plans are to refinish this dresser, add a new mirror and find some artwork for this wall. Plans also include possibly building a new jewelry holder out of "found" items and moving Auron's crate (to somewhere it makes sense). My husband also found a type-setter's drawer for me that we're going to install somewhere in this room.

We haven't done much with the closet except take out the lower bar to make room for some of our longer items. Eventually, the plan is to create a more organized closet.

Here's the incredibly girlie guest room:


As of right now, we haven't done much to the room other than paint it a slate blue color and put up shelves. Since friends of ours are living in the room now, we didn't photograph it for the sake of their privacy.

The very-much-a-selling-point sunroom (right off of the guest room):
The only difference to this room is the installation of 2 sconce lights on the wall shared with the spare bedroom. Again, since our friends are using this room currently, we didn't photograph it for the sake of their privacy.

First floor bath (okay, the only bathroom in the house... as of now):



Progress. Well, more like "done" as there really isn't much else left to do. The diverter from the faucet to the showerhead was corroded beyond all belief and we ended up having to replace the hardware in the tub. In the process, we had to retile the bottom part of the tub. Instead of trying to find tile to match (which this tile was kind of old and a specific color) we went with something that "went" and are planning on playing off that color scheme.

The attic (or soon-to-be guest room or master suite):



Progress. Right now we're in the process of installing the electric boxes in the walls. Once they are installed and inspected (can't be too safe!) we will begin the sheetrock adventure. After sheetrock comes new windows, some paint, flooring, trim and (finally) decorating. I think it's going to take quite some time to get this project done.

Realistically, this is the closest to our room design that I've found on the interwebs (from I really love the idea of bookshelves around the landing - but otherwise our room will be a little more colorful.

I really like something like this (taken from Pottery Barn website). There is texture, color (even though it's still fairly muted) and I can find a lot of the accoutrements for fairly cheap. The space will ultimately be a guest room, so it has to be "comfortable" for a variety of guests. In otherwords, it shouldn't be "too" crazy that it doesn't allow someone a good night sleep.

Overall, we've done a lot of work getting this house from where it was when we purchased it, to where we want it to be in a few years. Sometimes, something has to look a whole lot worse before it can start looking a whole lot better and that is certainly the case with a lot of these rooms. We understand that these kind of things take time and it can take 5 years or more to really feel "settled" into a house. 

Even though we haven't been able to finish all of our started projects or even get to some of them, our house still very much feels like a home. While paint colors, fabric, tile and all of those things are wonderful and can have a huge affect on you and your home, what makes a house a home is the love you put into it.