Monday, April 30, 2012

Apartment Therapy

Jim and I have been looking for a house for the last few months, and the search seems to be drawing to a close. Although it's really exciting, we both been in our current apartment for almost 3 years, so we've obviously developed some attachment to it. Even though we're outgrowing it, it's going to be bittersweet to leave it behind.

So, to help balance out all of the great memories we've made there, I thought I'd make a list of everything we won't miss so I can check my emotional baggage at the door. Plus it'll be fun to look back on all of these things down the road — and laugh.

We bid adieu to:

- The kitchen cabinet that pops open whenever it wants, or anytime you shut another cabinet

- No air conditioning. The apartment feels like a brick pizza oven in the summer.

- Jumping out of the shower stream whenever anyone in the building flushes the toilet

- Hearing our neighbors above and below us

- Parking in the street! If I get home anytime after 6 there are zero spots.

- Having my workspace in the dining room...and not really having a "dining room"

- Needing quarters to do laundry

- Watching a crazy neighbor yell at cars going by while we sit on our balcony

- No closet space. Really, none.

- Keeping our music down, our TV down, our voices's hard not to be loud!

- Wishing our fireplace really worked

- Walking up three flights of stairs everyday – and being afraid to fall down them when it rains

- One lonely bedroom

I could go on...but I don't want to sound like a big whiner. I just know this will come in handy when we're packing up everything we've acquired over the last three years, and getting a little sad. So here's to heading onward and upward...and to a whole new set of problems ;)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

DIY: Chevron Tray Makeover

All winter I was poking around the apartment looking for a project, and now that the weather is conducive for spray painting, it was perfect timing for this old brown tray to find its way to me. A coworker was giving it away and I snatched it up, I knew right away what I wanted to do with it. I saw this dresser DIY over on Design*Sponge and wanted to take a stab at doing an alternating chevron pattern - something a little different than just a zig-zag (are we kind of over chevrons already?) So this seemed like something I wouldn't get sick of as the trend fades away.

So here's a how-to in case you'd like to try your hand at this. The taping was the hardest part, but if you have steady hands and good eyes, you can get away with little measuring. 

To start, sand the tray. This one had a brown paint/factory finish, so we tried to get most of it buffed down so the paint would stick. 

Wipe the dust and debris off with a clean, dry cloth. Then, spray paint the tray - we did white, and it probably took about 4 coats. In retrospect, we probably could have primed it and done less coats - but it wasn't a big deal. *However, before you do the last coat - gently sand the tray with very fine sandpaper. This will give your last coat an even finish that will able to handle the tape.

Now for the hard part ;) I bought one-inch painter's tape, but wanted two-inch stripes, so had to double up the strips. The easiest way to do this is measure the halfway point of the tray (where the points meet in the middle) and draw a faint pencil line to guide you. 

Then lay the tape strips down, starting at the edges and working toward the center. I used a ruler and x-acto to trim the tape, using that center line as a guide. In the left photo, you can see me peeling away the tape I trimmed, to reveal a clean edge. 

A trick to getting the lines parallel: measure the white space (the non-taped areas) at multiple points - they should measure about the same as the width of the taped areas. So everything should be two inches in width. 

Then, tape newspaper over the edges so that the spray paint won't make its way to other parts of the tray. Spray two coats of a contrasting color - I chose a bold metallic gold - then peel the tape off (wait 24 hours to make sure it's dry)!

Tah-dah! An old tray becomes new and beautiful. We will probably finish it with a clear coat to protect the paint job. Have you taken on any challenging tape jobs? How did they come out?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Recipe: Baked Fontina

How was everyone's Easter? Mine was great - long, relaxing weekend with family and friends who came into town for a visit. I got tons of candy and ate probably a *little* too much. I don't know about you, but I am all sugar-ed out! I have been craving something savory instead, so here's one of my favorite comfort recipes that you can enjoy before it gets too warm outside.

Baked Fontina: Serves 4-6; recipe from Barefoot Contessa

I N G R E D I E N T S :

1 1/2 pounds Italian Fontina cheese, rind removed and 1-inch cubed
1/4 cup good olive oil
6 garlic cloves thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 crusty French baguette

D I R E C T I O N S : 

1) Preheat the broiler and position the oven rack 5 inches from the heat.

2) Distribute the cubes of Fontina evenly in a 12-inch cast-iron pan (or oven-safe, I didn't have a cast iron). Drizzle on the olive oil. Combine the garlic, thyme, and rosemary and sprinkle it over the cheese and olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.

3) Place the pan under the broiler for 6 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling and starts to brown. Mine took a bit longer - about 8 minutes.

4) Serve family-style - right out of the oven with crusty chunks of bread for everyone to dip.

This was seriously the most awesome, mouth-watering cheese-tastic thing I've ever tasted. So give it a try - it goes great with a bottle of wine and some bad TV ;)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Announcing: WMC Fest 2012

I am so {insert descriptive expletives} excited and honored to be a speaker at this year's Weapons of Mass Creation Fest, right here in Cleveland! The site just launched yesterday and I can finally blab to the whole world about it. 

I attended last year and it was the most phenomenal creative weekend I've ever experienced (here is my wrap-up post and also a video about last year's event). I saw so many fantastic speakers and was able to catch a few bands over at the Happy Dog in between, not to mention all of the friends I got to see and reconnect with.

This year will prove to be no different, so if you're local (or not!) be sure to check it out. Weekend passes are only $50 and that includes ALL speakers and bands. Follow along or ask questions at @wmcfest. Hope to see you there!