Thursday, April 30, 2015

Making This Place Our Home: Living Room

I keep meaning to write posts about some of the fun things we've done to decorate our house, but then the house gets messy and I don't want to take pictures of a messy house and then I get busy with work or crafts or reading and I don't make time to blog. So I'm taking advantage of a slow afternoon to finally write another blog post.

We have a very large wall in our living room, and I knew from the moment we moved in that I wanted to create a collage wall. We did one with our wedding and engagement photos when we first moved in (sorry, no pictures). We just eyeballed the setup, and it was nice. But then we started realizing that our pictures were kind of old, especially since we had gotten updated professional family photos. So we decided it was time to update the pictures and set up a new collage.

I looked around online and found a pretty cool way of setting up a collage without ending up with a million nail holes in your wall. We got a couple rolls of cheap wrapping paper, then traced and cut out all the frames and the items we wanted to put up. We also made sure to mark where the nail would need to go. Then we taped the paper frames on the wall and could move them as often as we needed to.

Tracing and cutting out the paper was pretty annoying, but in the end, I think it was worth it. It was so much better than having to take down frames to move them over an inch. It also helped us visualize it better so we could tell just how many pictures we could get on the wall.

I really like what we ended up with. I love having some of our vacation photos up along with our professional photos. I also always love having Andrew's photography up. I think the picture of Diagon Alley is my favorite.

Sorry it's not the greatest picture; if there's no glare from the window, there's a glare from the lamp. I did my best.

Another project we did for the living room before we even moved in was the bookshelves. Andrew and I have two of the tall bookshelves from Walmart with the super flimsy nearly cardboard backing. We had each had our bookshelves for years, since before we got married, and they had been through multiple moves. And sadly, the backing just didn't survive the move to the house.

Instead of buying new bookshelves, we decided to try and fix them ourselves. We went to Home Depot and bought the big sheets of bead board. The nice thing about Home Depot is that they will cut the pieces down for you; we just had to make sure we had the correct measurements. If I'm remembering correctly, they didn't even charge us for all the cuts. And if they did, it usually runs about $.25 per cut after your first.

We then picked out a fun, sea green that we both liked and that we have since used throughout our house. (Such as on the letters on the collage wall.) We painted the bead board, let it dry, and then tacked the boards into place on the backs of the bookshelves. And I love the way it looks.

Not only does this spice up our bookshelves a bit, but the bead board also acts as a really good, sturdy frame for the shelves. They're no longer wobbly, and we don't have to worry about pushing a book too forcefully on the shelf and ripping the backing. Now our only issue is bowing shelves. We're planning on buying some new IKEA bookshelves in the near future (because they're wider and taller and would hold so much more stuff), and we like the look of these bookshelves so much that we're thinking of doing the same thing to our brand-new shelves and then just relocating our old ones instead of getting rid of them.

We have also added some fun items for display. I love all the typewriters and vintage cameras, and I especially love the roll-top desk that my Grandpa Newman made. I'm so happy that I ended up with it and that it fits so well.

There are still some things I want to add to the living room (mostly just a real piano instead of a digital—one day), but I love this cozy little room and how well things fit.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Books of 2014

For 2014, my goal was to read 50 books, and I ended up with 52, which was fun. I'm trying to up the amount of books I read every year; I used to feel really good about reading 30 books in a year, then I made friends who read over 100 books a year. Which makes me feel a bit like a disappointment. But I do enjoy most of the books I read, and sometimes I have other hobbies that take up more of my time, so I'm trying not to feel too bad about that.

I think my favorite new discovery this year was the Lunar Chronicles series. It's a sci-fi take on classic fairy tales, and it is incredibly well written. Not to mention that each new book in the series features a strong, intelligent female character whose life isn't all about finding the right man, which I love. This world needs more of that. The only downside from finding this series was that I didn't know it was a series when I picked up Cinder, and the final installment doesn't come out until November of 2015. It's heartbreaking, really.

I also did quite a bit of rereading, which is one quirk I have. I love rereading books, especially when a new book in the series is coming out and I don't remember all the details of the previous books. And sometimes I just want to reread a book or a series because I love it so much. I think 2015 might continue some of that trend; I have quite a few series that I haven't read in four or five years, and I'm started to get the itch to read them again.

And now, on to my list!
  1. The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel
  2. Champion (Legend #3) by Marie Lue
  3. Austenland by Shannon Hale
  4. Steelheart (Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson
  5. Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale
  6. The Pianist by Wladyslaw Szpilman
  7. Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer
  8. Allegiant (Divergent #3) by Veronica Roth
  9. Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer
  10. Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer
  11. The House of the Scorpion (Matteo Alacran #1) by Nancy Farmer
  12. The Lord of Opium (Matteo Alacran #2) by Nancy Farmer
  13. The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football by Jeff Benedict
  14. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  15. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
  16. The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner #2) by James Dashner
  17. The Death Cure (Maze Runner #3) by James Dashner
  18. Partials (Partials Sequence #1) by Dan Wells
  19. Fragments (Partials Sequence #2) by Dan Wells
  20. Ruins (Partials Sequence #3) by Dan Wells
  21. The Wide, Wide Sea (Chaos Walking #2.5) by Patrick Ness
  22. Snowscape (Chaos Walking #3.5) by Patrick Ness
  23. George's Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl
  24. Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
  25. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  26. Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl
  27. Matilda by Roald Dahl
  28. The BFG by Roald Dahl
  29. The Thief (The Queen's Thief #1) by Megan Whalen Turner
  30. The Queen of Attolia (The Queen's Thief #2) by Megan Whalen Turner
  31. The King of Attolia (The Queen's Thief #3) by Megan Whalen Turner
  32. A Conspiracy of Kings (The Queen's Thief #4) by Megan Whalen Turner
  33. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  34. Vodnik by Bryce Moore
  35. The Water and the Blood by Nancy E. Turner
  36. This House Is Haunted by John Boyne
  37. The Kill Order (Maze Runner #0.5) by James Dashner
  38. Blackout (Blackout #1) by Robison Wells
  39. The Rent Collector by Camron Wright
  40. Dangerous by Shannon Hale
  41. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  42. Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1) by Maggie Stiefvater
  43. Linger (Wolves of Mercy Falls #2) by Maggie Stiefvater
  44. Forever (Wolves of Mercy Falls #3) by Maggie Stiefvater
  45. Sinner (Wolves of Mercy Falls #4) by Maggie Stiefvater
  46. The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1) by Suzanne Collins
  47. Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins
  48. Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins
  49. Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3) by Maggie Stiefvater
  50. The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan
  51. The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #2) by Rick Riordan
  52. The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #3) by Rick Riordan

Rejoining the World of Blogging

It has been a very long time since I have blogged, which is a shame because this past year has been quite the eventful one. I'm not even sure where to start to catch up on things. There have been a lot of ups and a few downs, but things have been good, for the most part.

So here's a brief catch-up on the goings-on of the Conelly household over the past nine months or so:

  • We bought a house, obviously, and have spent a good amount of time decorating and doing minor DIY projects, mostly in the kitchen and dining room. Our current project is updating our framed photos (since our current ones are all engagement/wedding photos) and redoing the collage wall in the living room. I'm hoping to do a post with pictures of some of the little things we've done that I think look really nice.
  • Andrew lost his job. Which was a very stressful time for a little while. But we have been blessed with how good my job is, and we have been fine financially. That means that once Andrew finds a new job, we'll be able to save most of his income, which will hopefully get us to our goals faster. 
  • We went to Disneyland. This may seem a little frivolous after losing one income, but it had been half paid for before Andrew lost his job, and we had cash and gift cards we had been saving for the trip. The only thing we had to pay for out of pocket was the hotel, which made it feel like a very inexpensive vacation. And it was so much fun to be in Disneyland for Christmas. It's just so pretty. We had such a good time. 
  • We adopted a kitty! Andrew and I had no idea we could be crazy cat people, but Bagheera has transformed us. This adorable little fuzzball has completely stolen our hearts and we love her to death. Bagheera is a really fun and rather affectionate cat, and she is spoiled rotten. But I think she deserves it after living in a shelter for six months and being burdened with the name Pink. But we saved her from both, and now she answers to Bagheera just fine. Well, when she wants to, anyway. We're even half considering getting an actual kitten at some point in the future so Bagheera has someone to keep her company, but we'll see.
  • We celebrated a fun, quiet Christmas with just the two of us, and it was so relaxing and nice. We didn't have anything big under the tree, but that didn't matter; it was nice to be home together. New Year's was also low-key; I don't even think I made it to midnight. I'm pretty sure I fell asleep on the couch.
  • I got a pretty awesome raise at work, which is such a blessing, especially considering it came completely out of the blue. I'm so incredibly grateful for my job and for the company I work for. My bosses care about me and want me to stay and be happy here, and the executives are all so careful in making sure their employees are taken care of. I am incredibly fortunate that I have followed my career opportunities to be where I am today.
  • Andrew and I celebrated our second anniversary in the glorious Wizarding World of Harry Potter! We had been talking about this since last year, but when Andrew lost his job, we didn't think we would be able to make it work. But when we looked at our finances, the money was available, so we just went. And it was amazing. Seriously. The expansion with Diagon Alley and the Hogwarts Express is pretty incredible, and I loved every second of being there and feeling like witches and wizards really do exist. I geeked out hardcore and enjoyed myself thoroughly. This trip was only a couple of weeks ago, so I'm hoping to write up a more detailed post once Andrew edits the pictures he took.

And that brings us to the present, which isn't terribly exciting at the moment. Andrew has a couple of solid leads on jobs, so we're hoping and praying that one of them comes through for us. And if it doesn't, he'll keep trekking and keep looking, and we know that he'll find something eventually. We don't have any fun trips planned, so there isn't much to look forward to in that respect. But that's okay. I'm sure we will find fun things to do, and hopefully I will be able to stay up on blogging in the future.