Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year in Review

I've always wondered when you name New Years Eve if you name if for the year that's ending, because technically the Eve is in the old year. Or do you name it for the new year because it's the eve of the next? Is this New Year's Eve 2013 or New Year's Eve 2014. Yes, I know our jumbo glasses and hats and kazoos will all say 2014, but it's still, if only for hours, 2013.

Either way, it's almost gone. 2013. It's been a crazy year.

365 days ago,  as we were bidding 2012 ado, I wasn't a homeowner. I worked for a different company. I wasn't a blogger. As was probably sitting in a one bedroom apartment, frustrated about something space related, daydreaming about life in the future.

Here's where we started the year:


Then in February, we made a leap of faith and contracted a house in an undeveloped part of town.

By October we were in and had mostly forgotten about all the hiccups along the way. Then we got to making it our own:

And before we knew it, it was Christmastime!


Along the way, we DIY'd a little.


Now that we're in our house and making progress on our to-do list, I resolve to be more in the moment for 2014. I used to spend so much time daydreaming about where we could be or stuff we could buy. Now, when I identify something I want to improve, I actually want to do it versus just dreaming about it.

My wish for all of you is that 2014 makes 2013 look like a chump. Happy New Years!

DIY State Key Holder

Feels like I've been on vacation around here, but really I've just been battling a really hectic schedule and a cold. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas last week. Ours was fantastic; we spent the day with my family and the night with Pat's, but no one warned me how much stress it is to host Christmas for the first time. So if any one is yet to host a family holiday, here's your warning: it's harder than it looks.

As tacky as it may seem, my family has a newish tradition of everyone creating an Amazon Wishlist to aid gift shopping. Throughout the year, we all add items we don't/can't/won't buy for ourselves. Then, right around Christmas, we clean it up removing anything we no longer want or need (honestly, I shop off my own wishlist all the time). This provides our family with a fool proof list of gifts at a variety of price points. Honestly, the hardest part is coordinating to make sure the same gift isn't given twice. It's made the holidays a lot easier for everyone.

I know, this seems soooo off topic for a post titled "DIY State Key Holder." The reason I share this tradition is because my Amazon list this year had a clear theme: monograms and the grand old state of North Carolina.

One of the items I had on my was a NC cutting board.

I had added it to the list last year, maybe the year before, so I didn't really expect it to get much traffic (yes, our lists roll over from year to year, but typically it's the new items that get the most play). But on Christmas morning, sure enough, included under the boat loads of presents was the NC Cutting Board.

I was obviously very excited. My husband however, was not. After all the excitement died down, my sweet hubby said something along the lines of "that's the most impractical cutting board ever."

I couldn't disagree with the logic; all those nooks and cranies along state lines would collect all kinds of leftovers we don't want. Luckily there was one other item on my list that I could use the cutting board to create. A state key holder.

Boy, that was the longest intro into a DIY post ever. I guess I shouldn't leave the blog idle for so long. Now down to business.

Basically, I decided where I wanted to place our hooks, drilled the holes (for hooks and to hang it from), and screwed in the hooks.

I chose to place one of the hooks over Boone and one over Charlotte. No mysteries there. I used a Sharpie to mark where the holes would go.

Then I used a teeny, tiny bit to drill my holes. 

Insider tip: I hardly ever know the actual size of the bit I use. No joke, I store my drill bits in a plastic bag. I just hold up the item I plan to place into the hole (in this case a hook) and see which bit is slightly larger than the core (not including the threads). 

That oughtta do it. My bit always looks slightly smaller than the screw including the threads. I know, I'm a real pro. My dad and brother are shaking their heads at me.

I also drilled two holes in the back so I can mount it on the wall.

I considered using the hole that leather cord is tied through, but I figure the western side of my state will be unevenly weigthed once you throw two sets of keys on it, so two holes was the minimum to keep mine level. Maybe you could get away with one if the cities you love are Asheville and Wilmington.

Then I just twisted the hooks in by hand.

Two nails in the wall later and we're done.

Ok, it was two screws complete with drywall anchors. Being thorough is a good thing. The total cost of this project was the cutting board ($20). If you need to buy hooks, there like $3 for a 20-pack at Target.

PS, I feel obligated to say that Bed, Bath, and Beyond has a cutting board for every state available on it's webpage.

PPS, check out that barrel distortion! Everyone, tell my husband it's time for a new camera.

PPPS, if any one wants a peek at the Amazon Wishlists to see if it will help your family, here's the link to mine. Also useful for buying you favorite blogger a birthday present come February.

Monday, December 23, 2013

2013 Christmas Card Reveal!

Since most of our family and close friends have now received their Christmas Cards, it's officially time to share the fun with the rest of the world. This year, we decided to send out two Christmas cards: a (more) serious one and a super silly one.

The first one is the slightly more mature version.

We're not really serious people around here at the Woodward place, so take the label "serious" with a grain of salt. Basically, this is the card we sent to most of our family or people we respect on some level.

If you look a little closer, you'll realize this card isn't as serious as we make it out to be.

Boone's face cracks me up every time.

The second Christmas card is just so much fun we knew right away it needed to be shared with the world. Something about it is very Kato-Pato.

If you didn't notice in the close up, notice here that Boone is wearing a scarf. Yay!

The litmus test for who could receive this card was whether they would scoff or laugh at the new picture hanging in our half bath:

If you laughed, you just earned yourself the second card.

And in case you needed a reminder...

... just two days until Christmas!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Pillows Worth Waiting For

They say patience is a virtue. Who "they" is, I don't know, but I wish I could shake their hands right now because I just had a major coup thanks to procrastination patience.

Because I've been putting off any Christmas-related activities, I hadn't tackled any Christmas shopping, presents or otherwise. That means I added very little by way of decorations, most of which I've already shared.

Finally, just a week before Christmas, I made things happen. In addition to numerous ornaments (our tree was feeling a bit sparse), I came home with three new pillows, just in time to spruce up the living room before all the holiday company arrives.

 Don't mind Boone's blanket. If I take it off even for the time it takes to snap a pic, he thinks it's a free-for-all.

Because I waited so late in the season, I practically stole these from my local Crate and Barrel. All three pillows were less than $20 a piece (the feather inserts are practically worth that) and brought a bit of much need color/Christmas cheer to the living room. The one I'm especially excited about is the hook pillow with reindeer on it. It was originally $99, but I got it at more than 80% off (sorry peeps, I got the last one).

Apparently, no one else wants to buy Christmas stuff now to only put it out for a few days, but I'm going to enjoy these for years. I don't mind one bit that we'll have to wait a while to spend more time together.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Amaryllis Update

Eight Days Until Christmas!

Am I the only one who the Christmas spirit hasn't struck yet? Not only have I barely started my Christmas shopping, December is flying by and I still think it's November. I hate that my best case scenario for the Christmas season is only enjoying it for a week. Hoping some Christmas lights and Christmas Vacation can change that...fast.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Boone's Getting a New Room!

For the first time in the history of homeownership our marriage history, Pat is 100% onboard with one of my home improvement ideas. This plan is still some ways away from coming to fruition due to some logistical issues, but when life permits Boone is getting a new room!

For all you non-doglurvers, Boone's "room" is the nice name for his kennel. But Boone's new room won't be another kennel; it will be an actual corner of our house. Allow me to introduce you to:

The Dog Room
This idea has been really popular on Pinterest lately, and while I've long dreamed of a dog room in our forever home (complete with built-in kennels and dog bath), I never thought this could be a reality for this home. Then, I started seeing people who did small areas under their stairs. "Even I've got stairs!"

Here's a couple pictures of other people who have successful executed smallish dog areas in their homes under the stairs.

 Image found on Pinterest, original source missing
We're planning on using our hall closet, a deep closet (slightly larger than Boo's current kennel) under the upper portion of our stairs.

Our Hall Closet

We've only lived here for a matter of weeks and this has already become the black hole of our home. About the only useful thing this closet does is house our coats, but there's about 1,000 other ways we could store coats without taking an entire closet. The closet's less useful purposes include holding "to be returned" items and hiding Boone's Chuck-It. Out of sight, out of mind, amen.

The real reason Boone gets a new room is not because I'm trying to repurpose a coat closet. It's because Boone's current room is taking over an actual room in our house. This is:

Our Sitting Area

Official purpose is "breakfast nook" but I'm a firm believer in not needing a formal dining room, a eat-in bar in the kitchen, and a breakfast nook. Our barstools at the kitchen counter more than fulfill the casual eating category. I don't know about y'all, but I'd much rather have more places to relax and less places to eat. Because in all honesty, I'm happy where ever food is involved.

The sitting area is currently home to all things Boone: his food dishes, toy box, bed, and kennel. And it takes up the whole flippin' room!

I have big plans for this area: two cozy chairs, a nice cluster of nesting tables, another jute rug. But there's not space for all that plus Boone's stuff. As much as I believe the animals live here too and need to be comfortable, I do not believe they need to be the sole user of vast amounts of valuable real estate.

The To Do List:
1. Create cover for water shut-off valve. Don't want the dog chewing on that.
2. Cover the CPI/Time Warner equipment in a visually pleasing manner.
3. Rehome coats. That includes bringing one of these bad boys into our lives.

4. Remove door and install baby gate in door frame.
5. Add some lighting.
6. Decorate!

What needs to happen first: more money. We'll need to purchase at least three large pieces of furniture to make this change worth while. The first is the hall tree to make the change possible. The second and third are the pieces to fill the sitting room in Boo's absence. I have no desire to move Boone into a small space to leave an area completely empty.

Unfortunately, there are a few other large purchase that out-rank Boone's room in importance:
1. Fence
2. Master Bedroom Furniture
3. Office Furniture
4. Entertainment Center, complete with larger TV

In the end, all this will be sooo worth it. Not only will it allow us to phase out Boone's kennel (big win aesthetically), it will allow us to transition him to spending more time out in the house...alone (it breaks my heart when he's in his kennel all day). It may also allow us to use this kennel while potty training our future puppy. But more than anything, I'm looking forward to petting his head, even when he's "in his room."