Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Flat Iron Steak

Yum! I've been making this recipe for a couple months. It's my current favorite meal.

Take a flat iron (or flank) steak and marinate it in 3 tablespoons of canola oil, 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, a knob of ginger peeled and sliced and 1.5 teaspoons of minced garlic. Marinate it for about an hour in a plastic bag, turning it every now and then. I cook it over medium heat in a cast iron pan for about 7-10 minutes each side, depending on how thick the steak is. I like my meat as rare as safe to eat (I joke I like my cow with a sunburn).

The soy sauce with the ginger and garlic is just delicious! It doesn't mask the taste of the steak, just enhances it.  No additional seasoning is required. I usually eat it with broccoli but was out so today I had cheesy rice.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Kitchen Paint Colors

I've moved from my dining room where I've been stuck updating to my kitchen. Maybe this room will be easier.

The room is currently a milk chocolate color. I have 3 paints to chose from, a light gray, a dark gray and an aqua color. I first thought I'd paint the kitchen an aqua and keep my current green accents. My son dislikes that idea - strongly - and has pushed hard for gray.  He thinks I should keep it all neutrals with black and stainless appliances, dark cherry cabinets and a warm tan-ish floor. I removed all other colors from them room and lived with it for over a week. I wasn't a big fan. I really missed having color in there.

So I'm sticking to my original plan of aqua walls with green accents. I really like bright colors and am learning to embrace them without the space being chaotic. I think I finally have it worked out. But more on that another day. With the aqua paint swatch on the wall it really brightens up the space (even though in the pictures it looks move white than aqua). The room is small and dark so brighter is a good thing.

Yes, I spelled garbage incorrectly on my white board. Oops.

Here's the plan:
  • Paint the ceiling white (currently its the same chocolate as on the walls which doesn't help the room being dark)
  • Install a new, non-halogen light fixture (the kitchen gets so warm in the summer with the halogen lights on)
  • Update a yellowed electrical outlet and cover
  • Paint the walls and radiator aqua
  •  Bring back the green accents
  • Make a faux roman blind
  • Add a little zebra and pom-pom fringe (it looks great in my mind - I swear!)
  • Make some artwork for over the knives
  • Update the rug
  • Paint the dog and cat food containers so they blend in better
  • Organize all my recipes
  • Add a mirror to the back of the door (my primary entrance to the condo)
My budget is under $300. This is what I'll be working on for the next couple of weeks. I have Thursday - Monday off this week so I hope to make some progress! Nothing is difficult except for the painting. I'm not looking forward to taping and cutting in around the cabinets and counter top. I'm not the best painter in the world and have never used tape - just free handed everything. But since I absolutely don't want any paint on the cabinets I think tape will be my best friend. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

China Cabinet

I did a little update to the china cabinet. I put paper on the back of the shelves. I've been wanting to do this for a while. Inside the cabinet it is dark and all my pretty things were hard to see. I even went so far as to purchase wrapping paper (twice!) for it. I just never liked the way it looked when I did a test shelf. The paper was too thin and you could see all the wrinkles and where the tape was. Also for as crafty as I like to think of myself, I stink at measuring and cutting straight lines, so I've been dreading this project.

But the other day I found some paper in the Target dollar spot that was pretty. It's a neutral light brown background (paper bag colored) with a black design. The paper is narrow, only 18" so it was easier to handle. I decided to give it a go. I cheated a little. I tore the paper on the edge of the cabinet (no cutting) and folded the top/bottom and sides in to fit it to size. A little rolled up tape on the edges and voila! I think it took me 30 minutes for all 6 shelves. I wasn't sure how much paper I would need so I purchased 6 rolls of it but only used 1.5. So this is a $2 update!

 I swear that the wrinkle in the bottom right of the cabinet isn't noticeable without the camera flash. I tried and tried to straighten that piece out after I saw it in the pictures with no luck.You might also notice on the top right that the paper is shorter than the top left. It's noticeable if you stare at the cabinet but not in passing. Right now it doesn't bother me so it stays. I have enough paper left over to remeasure and try again if it does end up bothering me down the road. Today I'm just happy to have it done. Perfection is not necessary. One little thing off my to-do list!

Friday, February 8, 2013

I won!!

I won a giveaway from Little Green Notebook for a pair of shoes from Shoe Mint. I was so excited!
I was familiar with Shoe Mint but had never purchased anything. It was so fun picking out a new pair of shoes. They are all so pretty. I loved all the high heels but the reality is that I never wear heels. I went with a cute pair of flats (the Meredith) for spring/summer. (Yes, its the middle of winter with snow and ice in Chicago and I'm dreaming of green trees, soft breezes and playing in Lake Michigan).
While there shopping I also spotted a cute purse that was on sale. It's vegan and made with neoprene instead of leather. I don't have a problem wearing leather but I love that the neoprene is kind of quirky.  They also have it in a white/ivory colorway that would be wonderful for spring. I might have to order it! What a fun surprise to win.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Dining Room

I haven't been happy with the newish pink drapes in the dining room. The plan was to paint the lamp a different color and replace the abstract art with a gallery wall of family photos so it would all work.  But I never did that. I really liked that abstract painting and it wouldn't fit anywhere else in the condo.

Sebastian always wants to be in the pictures!

I've scoured Etsy and eBay looking for a vintage pair of drapes with either blue or green flowers on a white background. I found this pair and got into a bidding war on eBay and way over paid for them. But I really liked the way they looked and they were the right size. When I got them they smelled of cigarette smoke. I mean really smelled. It was overwhelming. I washed them and hung them up and they still smelled. So I washed them a second time and used a vinegar rinse. Much better.

I think the blue drapes makes the abstract art make sense in the green room. And I like how the blues are repeated from the open living room curtains. The room is so hard to photograph. The green is really a pretty mix between an avocado and leaf green. It looks like a puke mustard in the pictures but it really isn't!

PS: I wrote this post a couple days ago. In the meantime I think I've made a decision to paint the green walls the same turquoise as the living room. I still love my color but I think I'm going to try to tone things down a little to make everything flow better and be a bit less chaotic. Although I don't know if going from leaf green walls to turquoise walls is really toning things down. But it will have a lot more continuity. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013


I'm really frustrated. I want to be done with my home. I've lived here 5 years! I'm just constantly tweaking spaces - changing things up. My problem is that I find something I like and purchase it without having a master plan. And then I'm frustrated when all these things don't fit together. I think part of the problem is that when I moved here I totally changed my decorating style. I went from English Country House (traditional with a bit of chinoiserie) to strictly Mid Century Modern (which felt like a museum) now moving to more of  a Hollywood Regency look (colorful and feminine).

The only furniture that I kept when I moved was the couple of mid century pieces I had in my basement den. I didn't consider them part of my style. They were just inexpensive vintage pieces to fill the space. Some of it was because I thought I wanted a fresh start. And some of it was because the pieces I did keep (like a couch, chair, bed) didn't fit up my crazy short/narrow stairs.

I've never been comfortable here and I'm tired of it. I can't move. I can't totally redo rooms as I have an incredibly tight budget. Decorating my old house was so easy. Everything fit together. Decisions were easy. A color scheme came together quickly and wasn't changed all the time. I bought pieces that I loved and they just worked.

Truthfully I lack a cohesive vision for this house. At least a vision that isn't changing as quickly as the weather. It's like I don't know myself any more. I don't know how to fix it and I'm tired.