Monday, July 28, 2014

Patio Makeover: In Progress


Two things:
  1. This patio makeover is taking FOREVER. The hubs and I thought this would be a two weekend job - three at the most. Um, no. We just gave it our fifth weekend. Although we haven't given it full weekends every weekend if that makes sense. 
  2. This patio makeover is almost DONE. Which is fantastic because I have more cuts, bruises, and bug bites on various limbs than I care to admit or contain. 


This past weekend the hubs and I banged out the last remaining pieces of the patio 
- finished the natural stone trim;
- finished removing the previous deck's anchor to the house;
- replaced the vinyl siding under our patio door and where the previous deck was attached to the house;
- re-drained our sub-pump. Oh that was a fun find. That was one of those things we couldn't figure out about our house, but never went looking for the answer, "where does our sub-pump drain?" Turns out the drain was under our old deck and it was badly designed and clogged. Awesome. We just had the sub-pump motor replaced a few months ago and we'd like to keep this new one around for a bit so this was pretty important. Thankfully the hubs is licensed to design drainage systems so this worked out nicely for us. We went above and beyond what was needed, but the drainage field is now the basis for a rock garden. 
- made a last minute decision to add formal edging to our patio. Definitely turned out to be one of the better decisions we've made thus far. 
- power washed our house and our uncovered concrete steps. The steps need another round with the power washer and then the hubs is going to fix a cracked step.

All we have left is to add locking stand and fix a few loose pavers. We just need mother nature to cooperate and give us a few days of clear skies so we can get this done after work. Of course I say what we need to do and make the assumption it's going to be easy, but if this process has told us anything is that it will be tedious, time consuming, and back breaking. 



Friday, July 25, 2014

American Made Jewelry at J.Crew


Hello, my name is Heidi, and I'm a former J.Crew addict. Chances are if you wanted to know where I bought something I was wearing in college the answer was J.Crew. I used to leave room in my suitcase and money in my wallet just to stop at the Hagerstown Outlets on my way to and from school. That was back when the outlets weren't the Factory stores and actually had last season's "real" J.Crew pieces. Yes, I'm that old. 

My grandmother, aunt, and even the hubs further helped fuel this addiction. J.Crew became my defacto brand to pick up dresses for sorority teas and weddings. Then, I suggested my bridesmaids wear J.Crew for my wedding and they were happy to oblige. Of course the groomsmen needed new ties and J.Crew happened to be the only store visited for that purchase.

The final straw cementing my addiction was when I talked my own beloved sister out of pink bridesmaid dresses and into black cocktail dresses from you guessed it - J. Crew. "We can add pink sashes to them!"

Yes, I've gone to J.Crew at midnight to shop Black Friday Sales. Been there done that.

However, when I started to buy only American made clothes I had to give up my J.Crew addiction because as much as I loved them, the little "made in China" tags on everything including my cashmere sweaters was really started to wear on me. J.Crew and I were done professionally.

Last week one of my favorite stores, Catbird, sent out an email blast that they were doing a collaboration with J.Crew. Of course I had to check that out. Sure enough, while perusing the J.Crew website I found a few other gorgeous gems from other American made designers - Maya Brenner, Miansai, Jennifer Fisher, Mociun, BRVTVS, Lulu Frost (not every piece is made in America, check the description).

Thanks J.Crew for bringing me back to you. Now, please add a MADE IN THE USA section to your women's collection and we'll be good to go.

Which jewelry piece is your favorite? Those Catbird Diamond Elfin studs just might make me an everyday earring wearing type person because they're that good!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Summer Survival



Made in USA: Tshirt: Everlane // Skirt: old Anthropologie // Pumps: Julie Bee's // Necklace: Loren Hope (similar) // Clutch: Lauren Merkin (similar)

Yes, it's mid-July and I'm dying in the summer heat. I may or may not have just looked at a vacation trip to Iceland because that sounds refreshing right now (yes, I know Iceland is really green and Greenland is really icy. Thanks for the confusion Vikings!) 

I think my biggest struggle with summer heat is not necessarily the heat itself, rather it's the back and forth shock to my system that comes from being outside in the heat, then entering sub-arctic temperatures in every building, and then back to the heat once outside again. It could also be that I run in the morning before work when the humidity is at its highest point and my core temperature takes forever, or at least an XL iced coffee, to cool down. 

Things that are funny: I posted about this skirt almost one year ago! It's a summer necessity. 

How do you cool down in this summer heat?


More summer American made favorites:

Friday, July 18, 2014

American Made at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale




It's here! The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale kicked off this morning and runs through August 4th. The timing is always perfect every year because the sale runs through a few family birthdays and ends right before our wedding anniversary. It's the perfect time to buy gifts for family and be a tad bit selfish and pick up something for myself for the upcoming fall. After this latest run of heat and humidity I'm already looking forward to autumn and cooler temperatures. Except for that bathing suit, that needs to happen ASAP!

Are you picking up anything during the Nordstrom sale? Don't forget to try to pick up something made in the USA - there are plenty of gorgeous pieces!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer Heat & Humidity Uniform


Made in USA: Top: Tucker (similar on sale) // Skirt: Eva Franco (next purchase!) // Watch: La Mer Collections // Nails: Essie 'Blanc' 
Imported: Shoes: old Delman  (similar on sale

I don't know about where you live, but it's been brutally hot and humid these past few weeks where I live. There will be a day or two where the humidity breaks, usually after a torrential downpour, but otherwise it's been hot. Welcome to July I guess. All this heat and humidity makes me miss winter's frosty temperatures even more. 

I'm in summer heat survival mode and that means loads of silk blouses, plenty of skirts, and easy breezy fabrics. The worst part of this heat has been working on the patio after work. Thankfully it poured the other night so that meant I could take a night off from that fun project. As you can see in the first photo - we've got quite a ways to go! 

More silk tops all made in the USA below. I want all of them, but I'd have to get rid of all of my heavy winter sweaters to make room for them and I just don't see that happening anytime soon. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Patio Makeover: Demolition


When house hunting back in 2011 one of the things at the top of our list was a decent sized fenced in yard for the dogs. There's nothing better than letting the dogs run around in the morning while still in your PJs rather than have to fumble with a leash and walk the dogs in the morning. Especially when they can operate on different schedules if you know what I mean. 

Our yard was one of the things that sold us on our house. We're just a smidge under a third of an acre and while that sounds tiny it was the biggest yard we saw. It has a lovely 6 foot high fence and even more trees to provide a greater sense of privacy. 

However, when we closed on our house the back looked like this: 

Not pretty and even more importantly not safe. The hubs was convinced that our low deck wasn't "up to code" or structurally sound. The joys of buying a "as-is foreclosed home." We actually realized that there weren't any concrete footers for our deck and while our sandy backyard might have provided a soft landing in case the deck collapsed we weren't thrilled at that prospect. 

Finally, now that the kitchen is done we can start to tackle a few other projects around the house. Our first target was the back patio: out goes the unsafe deck and in goes a new 15' by 45' stone patio. No concrete footers needed.  

Operation Demolition was a go! 
We actually salvaged the brick landing area to the side of our deck (we think there used to be a hot tub there) and most of the deck surface wood. We're re-using the brick as trim pieces in the new patio and we're hoping to make outdoor furniture and a bar out of our old cedar deck. But sometimes a piece couldn't be salvaged and that's when the ax came in handy. 

One of the reasons we decided to go with a patio rather than rebuild the deck is because there were existing concrete steps leading down from our patio door that were previously covered up by the deck. The stairs appear to be in good order and the hubs is going to pretty them up good as new. 


We actually found that there was a 2"by 4" running the length of our deck, plus six feet or so in each direction acting as a footer. The wood was just buried in the sand and that was the structural support for our deck. Not awesome.  Would you want your deck support to be rotted like this guy? I don't think so. 

Here's our final outline of the new patio area. We're keeping the patio area on half of the house and extending it much further. The reason for this is the other side of our house has a steeper slope and we don't really want to deal with that level of grading at this point in time. We could easily add onto the patio and relocate our AC unit when that gets replaced down the road. We'll take on those issues as they arise. 



We finished the demo in one weekend (thanks to our brothers!) and the new patio is going in slowly. Mainly because:
- there are 147 concrete pavers to place and they weigh nearly 40lbs each. That's in addition to all the natural blue stone we purchased and the bricks. We purchased 5 tons of stones and that's a lot to move around. 
- it's been ridiculously hot out
- the World Cup has eaten up a bit of our "free time." 

Hopefully we'll be done with the main parts of the renovation this weekend and then we can get onto my favorite part - building the bar! 



Thursday, July 10, 2014

Scenes from OBX


You know you have a relaxing vacation when you come and you have practically zero pictures of the trip between two DSLRs. I don't think I took either one of my cameras out of its case until the third day of the trip and I'm okay with that because I have the memories to rest on.

I'm trying to take a page from my hubs and just enjoy the moment, rather than worry about trying to take a photo of it. Clearly, it's a work in progress, but it's not a completely bad idea. I think it was easier to adopt that philosophy on this trip for two reasons:
- we've been to the Outer Banks before and honestly how many pictures of the ocean does one person need
- I avoid using my camera while drinking and guess what I did plenty of that on the trip!

What's your take on vacation photos? The more the merrier? Or just enjoy the moment?