Saturday, December 29, 2012

Slow-Cooker Pot Roast

...or also known as "rump roast", I made this for the first time last night in the new crockpot we got for Christmas (yay!).

No recipe this time as it's naturally GF and you can find the recipe simply by clicking here.  It came out very nice and tender.  Improvements we want to go for next time would be keeping more of the juices in it (I browned the meat before putting it in the crockpot, but I'll brown it with a coating of flour next time), and upping the amount of herbs/spices we rub into the meat for more flavor.  Here's a pic of how it turned out!  :)


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Fluffy GF/DF Pancakes

You may remember when I made my first recipe for fluffy pancakes this past June.  Though it works, I wanted to have a mix that didn't even need a milk substitute (gets expensive) and still tasted great.  Being that Bisquix was part of what my family used for our pancakes while growing up, I decided to research the ingredient list of Bisquix, and found several ingredients to add and experiment with (including that one of their ingredients is powdered sugar - how did I not know this?)


After about 5 batches of experiments (and wolfing down...er...taste-testing), I think we have a winner!  Tapioca flour for fluffiness, sorghum for a bit of sweet, flax for fiber, and a dash of oil and honey for moisture, make these the healthiest and yummiest  morning indulgences you could have! These pancakes would be GREAT for xmas morning brunch (hint hint...).  I know that's what I'm doing!  (and sausage!)  ^_^

You'll Need:

- 3/4 cup tapioca flour
- 1/4 cup brown rice flour
- 1/4 cup sorghum flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- dash of cinnamon
- sprinkle of salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp flax seed meal (plus 3 tbsp warm water for flax to soak in - use separate bowl) - or 1 egg
- 2 tbsp honey
- 3/4 cup water

* yields approx 14 pancakes.

To Start:

- in a small separate bowl, add the flaxseed and warm water together and let is soak off to the side
- in a second bowl, combine all dry ingredients
- add the wet ingredients to the dry, except for the water. (olive oil, flaxseed mix, honey)
- gradually add the water while mixing.
- fire up your griddle and spoon out the pancakes (about 5 inches width).  once you see the pancake looking like a moon crater, flip it over (should be a golden brown on the opposite side).  pancakes should be done on the opposite side in approx another 30 secs.
- use all batter and serve.


Enjoy!  Merry Christmas!

LOTR (furniture-less) Party & "The Hobbit" Review

If you remember in this post, that is what our living room looks like.  Couch and chair-less.

2 weeks ago we proved that you don't need a finished living room, let alone furniture to have a party.  ;)  we hosted a Lord of the Rings movie trilogy that lasted 3 days, one day for each movie, as a precursor to the premiere of The Hobbit a week later.  We were hoping that our couch would arrive in time for the party, but alas, we found it wouldn't even be shipped until the 19th (which means it's on it's way as I type this!).

So I wrote this on the event page:

"...just to make things more interesting, we have learned that we will NOT have our couch arriving in time for the party (we're currently using lawn chairs in our living room). we have some dining chairs, but in case more people show up than we have chairs for, we can do a "BYOC" (bring your own chair) with a cloth travel chair if y'all are willing. it'll help give you a feeling of camping right along with the Fellowship, right? maybe we should get a fire pit going in the middle of the living room for the full effect? :-P "

Everyone was a super-good sport about it, some adding jokes.  We had a great time and made some good memories, even without a proper living room (go figure, right?  ;-P)

As of last week, we went to see The Hobbit with friends - here's us outside the theater after the movie:


What did we think of the movie?  (Spoiler alert ahead!)

General consensus was that we felt conflicted.  There were some good scenes and a great cast, but too many unnecessary things were added - having Galadriel appear at Rivendell, bringing back Azog/the white orc, etc.


The Good: 
It was a relief that we were given a sense throughout the movie that Bilbo was becoming less timid and finding his own source of courage and camaraderie with the dwarves, which is an important aspect of the book.

Whittling it down to scenes now, scenes we liked were all that took place at Bag End (both with Frodo & Bilbo before the party, as well as younger Bilbo being invaded by the dwarves and making the decision to join them), the history of the dwarves from the Lonely Mountain, and the encounter with the Trolls and the finding of Sting.  After that the film seemed to go downhill, slowing in pace and stumbling around a bit for a storyline until the "riddles in the dark" between Bilbo and Gollum.  It felt like they're really trying to stretch out the money-making ability of the story by having 3 films, versus 3 for the purpose of fulfilling the storytelling and fleshing out the characters of the book as they claimed, which is a big disappointment and makes me have less faith towards the next two movies.

The Bad:
The subtitles seemed overused and were very distracting. For example, did we really need to have subtitles for the orcs? We could have gathered that they were calling for an attack without the subtitles. By the way, they spoke english in LOTR, so why the sudden use of their dialect versus the common tongue of the land??


The Ugly:
We had a big problem with the CGI: SO many characters were animated versus having real actors in costume/makeup (such as the orcs).  It took away from the textile "real" feel to the world of Middle Earth that LOTR had provided. In fact, we were commenting during the LOTR trilogy party about how even a decade later, the CGI stands up brilliantly. But in The Hobbit, a lot of the CGI felt unfinished or forced.

Oh...and the giant stone men who throw boulders at each other, and the poorly animated non-threatening necromancer.  Nuff said there. 

Frames per second: Jackson has been talking about the 48-fps technology in this film for awhile now, so as most, we were curious to see how it'd look.  After seeing it, I'd say the 48-fps worked better in the action sequences and should have only been used there, and used the 24-fps for the rest of the film.  The film, again, looked especially artificial in the non-action sequences.

Characters (or lack there-of):  I never got to know each of the dwarves, let alone by name - they all seem to melt into one massive blur.  There was no emotional attachment to any of them except the dwarf we did get to know, Thorin.  I went into the movie with the expectation that'd I'd walk out knowing each of the dwarves, but alas, they remain an unindividuated lot.  All I had to go on when referring to a dwarf after the movie was "the long white bearded one", "the two young good-looking ones", and the "monkish one". (plus, you shouldn't need a flow-chart to figure them out).  That makes me sad.  One of the great things about LOTR was that despite a party of nine in the Fellowship, you got to know each of them and their personalities, and then additional characters in the story besides.

...Overall, we were disappointed in the movie.  We wanted to like it, truly did, but we felt it could have been so much better, and that Jackson was wasting the talents of his cast in exchange for blow-your-mind CGI and 3D.  I'm glad he's taking this revolutionary approach to filmmaking, because it is amazing technology when used correctly, but it shouldn't have been used in The Hobbit.  We lose all tangibility of the world of Middle Earth, and lose out on a great cast's ability.  I give it a 6.5/10.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Treats: Russian Tea Cookies (GF/DF)


Sorry for being away awhile!  Karl and I were both stuck at home with bad colds all last week (boo).  Now that we're no longer carrying tissue boxes from room to room with us, I'll be catching up and sharing the many changes we've made around the house in the last 2 weeks, including the newly renovated bookshelves!  Buuut...Christmas cookies first!

This is the first cookie recipe I tried to convert into GF (and succeed!) about 2 years ago.  These yummies were one of the cookies I had grown up anticipating to appear each Christmas-time from my mom.  Therefore much to Karl's disappointment, I make these just at Christmastime as well.  :)  Now it's your turn to share in these morsels this Christmas!

These cookies are easy to make (no messing around with spritz pumps or cookie cutters), and they go fast! *peers suspiciously at Karl*

You'll Need:

- 3/4 cup olive oil (1 cup softened butter if you're not DF)
- 1/2 cup powder/confectioner sugar for cookies, then another 1 cup to roll the cookies in after baked
- 1 inch of a vanilla bean pod (or 1 tsp of almond or vanilla extract) - here's a "how to" extract a vanilla pod
- 1 & 1/4 cup sorghum flour (bob's red mill)- 1 cup brown rice flour (bob's red mill)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 finely chopped walnuts

*yields 4 dozen

To Start:
- heat oven to 400 F
- in bowl, mix oil (or butter) and powder sugar together
- mix in flour, salt, and walnuts until dough holds together (best mixed by spoon)
- shape into small bite-sized balls on cookie pan 
- bake 22-25 mins or until a slight golden color
- prepare a bowl or plate with approx 1 cup of confectioner's powdered sugar to roll the cookie in once out of the oven
- after removing pan from oven, let cool.  while cookies are still semi-warm from oven, roll balls in the powdered sugar and let them sit on a cookie rack.  after a few mins, roll them for a second coat of the powdered sugar.  
- let them cool completely before storing (if you don't eat them all before storing, that is)

Thanks vegetarianmama, glutenfreehomemmaker, wholeintentions, notjustahousewife, and simplysugarandglutenfree for the feature!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bookshelf Peak & Groupon Win

Making more progress on the bookshelves today!  Aiming to have them done by mid-week!


Also this weekend we scored a great pair of chairs for $89 ($94 w/ tax, free s/h) on Groupon.  I've been looking for a pair of these to go as the head chairs in the dining room, and most upholstered dining chairs I've seen run in the range of $100-$200 each.  So as you can imagine, I snatched these babies up when the deal was on!  The leather is not what I was looking for, but they'll do as I'm thinking I can reupholster them down the road (hoping the leather wears out fast, hehe).  I may even use them in the living room for now too.  We'll see.  Either way, yay for some chairs!  (they may arrive before our sofa does, hah)


Speaking of the sofa, we may just barely get our sofa in time for xmas.  It'll be close!  I spoke with our sales clerk this weekend, and she said the sofa is scheduled to be shipped Dec 19th, so we're crossing fingers!  :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

No Knead Bread (GF/DF)

I'm baaaaaack.  Last week was the usual craziness-before-a-holiday that we can expect, and then I got sick with a fever and headcold on T-giving Day (what we all wish for, right?).  So, blogging took a back burner.

However, I was feeling a bit better by this past Saturday, though I must have still been a bit foggy-brained from my headcold, because I actually believed I could take the plunge and make my first attempt at baking GF bread.

How did it go?  All I can say is I wish I would have tried this sooner!

like my cat-eared bread?  shows i have room for improvement, and that yours doesn't have to be perfect either the first time  ;)

I'll admit that the very idea of making bread has had me wary for years, let alone attempting to make it GF.  I've NEVER made bread before, and it always looked to me like something you have to master.  All I had were visions of me trying to knead a glop of uncooperative "dough" (my pie crusts have been utter failures when it comes time to roll them out), the yeast having gluten, the dough not rising, or the bread coming out like a brick, or...you get the picture.  (anyone else share in this "fear" of bread-making?)

What gave me the kick in the seat to give it a try?

It was two things really:

One, when I read that GF bread dough doesn't even get kneaded - in fact you skip that step completely!

You just:

1. mix the batter (don't even have to let the yeast soak either)
2. put it in the loaf pan and let it rise
3. throw it in the oven!

That's it!  Getting to skip steps makes ya kind of happy about GF bread versus gluten-filled, right?

Two, that there seems to be a very safe yeast by Red Star.  After some research, this article by GlutenFreeGirl is what thoroughly convinced me to try it.  This company goes beyond being just a producer of quality yeast and is really reaching out to GF consumers.

Need more convincing?  Well, once you taste this bread, you won't feel like you're missing out on gluten-filled bread either.  How about that?  ;)

I used this recipe from Karina's Kitchen for my back-bone (I've referred to her blog to inspire and help me for years now!), but I changed several ingredients, and also changed the process a bit as I don't have a bread machine.  Here goes!

You'll Need:

Dry:
- 1 & 1/2 cup sorghum flour
- 1 cup tapioca flour/starch
- 1/2 cup brown rice flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 packet (or 2 & 1/4 tsp) rapid/instant dry yeast (I recommend Red Star yeast)

Wet:
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice (freshly squeezed ftw!)
- 2 eggs, beaten (or 2 tbsp flaxseed meal + 6 tbsp warm water. combine in separate dish and let soak a few mins)

- 1 & 1/4 cup warm (110-115 degrees F) water

*Note: All ingredients should be room temperature before starting so that the yeast will rise.  Also, humidity and temperature affect dough - bread will rise higher on a hot day.

* This recipe makes 1 loaf

To Start:

- Combine wet (except the water) and dry ingredients in separate bowls.
- Using a hand beater or a mixer on a slow setting, add the dry mix into the wet in intervals.
- Still using the mixer, pour water into dough and mix on med-high setting until batter is a nice and semi-thick consistency.
- Pour dough into the bread loaf pan, then cover pan with plastic wrap and set in a dark corner to let the yeast rise for 45 mins to 1 hr.
- After dough has risen, heat oven to 350 F, remove plastic from pan, and bake in oven for 1 hour.
- A good test to know if the bread is baked thoroughly is sticking a baking thermometer into the bread - it should read 208 F when done.


Make sandwiches, dip your bread in your chicken soup, have jam & bread with tea....oh the delight of something so simple.  :)  I made this tuna melt sandwich the day after I made the bread - it's dairy free but has a lot of the same "texture" as a tuna melt.  Hmmm, I may have to do a recipe...

Thanks, all!  Enjoy!!

Thanks to Cindy from vegetarianmama, and simplysugarandglutenfree for the feature!  :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Design Dilemma - Bathroom (& a couch!)

Bathroom decor in a minute, but first, we have a sofa winner!  Our dozen-store quest for a sofa that Karl and I both liked and was within our budget ended as of this past Monday night! *happy dance*.

It came down to two couches: Raymour & Flannigan's "Lily" sofa in smoke gray, and the Klaussner "Serafina" that we found with a small furniture business.



Hmm, not doing it for me.  We need to make this more epic.  It is a couch battle after all!


That's more like it.  Fight...!

If you remember in this entry, this was the mood board created for the living room to mesh our two rather different preferences/styles for furniture:


Both of the sofas we were considering had features shared by the furniture in this board:

Lily - the tufted cushions, exposed feet, nice straight modern lines, and we were kind of digging the smoke gray color (and it came in microfiber, which we liked).
Seraphina - neutral cream color, exposed feet, straight modern lines and armrest detail, and a free microfiber upgrade courtesy of the sales lady, Darlene.

They also were both the same size and shared the same price, and we were able to haggle negotiate a lower price with the salesperson for each so that the discounted price was only a $4 difference between the two.  One major factor though was that we could have the Lily delivered in 3 days or less, where as the Seraphina would arrive in about 4 weeks.  Hmmm.

So what did it come down to for the deciding factor?

The cushions.

Yup.  The cushions.  (that one was all Karl, hehe).  He liked that there were three cushions on the Seraphina so that a person sitting in the middle didn't have to sit on a sloping crack, but their own cushion.  Good point, right?  I personally wanted to stick to the neutral color (even though the gray was nice), so I was very happy to go with the Seraphina. (I'm already wondering if I could add metal nailheads to the armrests for some extra "oomf" when it comes...).

As for the 4 week wait, as Karl also said, we've been fine using lawn chairs for 4 weeks, so we can deal with it another 4.  True dat yo.  :)

On to the bathroom!

First can I just say, it's AMAZING to have a real floor in the bathroom!  In our previous apartment our bathroom was in the basement boiler room with a cement floor.  It was hard to clean and was always super cold.

Totally inviting place to offer your friends who came to visit ^.  The oil and water tanks were behind that curtain.  Note all the mats in the attempt to keep our feet from direct contact with the floor - it was like playing the "lava" game in there.  :-P

Now we have a nice linoleum floor in a bathroom that is on the main level of the house.  *blissful sigh*


As you can see in the above pic, we only had the shower lining curtain at first (which was an improvement on the towel we had the first day).

I wanted to use the shower curtain as the starting point to help inspire me on how to decorate the rest of the bathroom, so I looked through a bunch of curtains online from Kohl's, Target, etc.until my eyes landed on this from BedBathBeyond.


Me likey.

Karl came over to inspect it and gave the "all clear" signal, so we used our BBB 20% off coupon and got it.  You wouldn't believe how excited I was about getting a simple shower curtain - I added it to the shower rod as soon as we got home from the store.  :-P

Halfway on!

Quite remarkable how such a simple thing immediately changed the room.



As I stood in the bathroom admiring the new look, I realized I had a framed photo of a tree (all of our framed art is still sitting around) that would be great for the bathroom, so I grabbed it and hung it opposite of the shower:

$3 Goodwill find ftw!
...and thus started the tree theme that I've been on a kick with.  Mwhahahaaa....

With the shower curtain tree springboard, I've jumped to decor that will feel rustic and "outdoorsey" for the bathroom.  I also am going to continue to run with the dining room's plum theme and have splashes of plum here and there.  I don't have a mood board for the bathroom, but here's some items to give an idea:




I've also bought the curtain material ($3!) that I intend to make as a roman shade.

plum and golden brown stripes ^_^

It's fun as everything is starting to take shape, and not only in the bathroom.  Since ordering our sofa, I've been spending time in our garage painting the "lovely" bookcases that you see sitting to the right in the pic below:


Now in the garage here:


I've been hankering to get these guys painted for the past year, but had no proper place to do so.  Now with the garage and some man-help getting them to there (thanks, Barry!), I've got 2 coats of paint finished, and will be doing some other tweaks to them.  I'll be sharing the before and after of these babies soon! (can't wait!)  :-D

[Edit: see the finished bookcases here]

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Big Bang

Oh yeah.  I'm not feeling the least blue but fantastic baby, because tonight, this girl will be partying with these one of a kind bad boys as they sing love songs.  It is all lies when people say music doesn't break down the language barrier.

A.K.A.: Going to see YG's Big Bang tonight!!!  Taeyang, Daesung, GD, Top, and Seungri.  So blessed to get to see them, and 2NE1 earlier this summer, all in the same year.  Fandom at its geekiest is sure to follow with the next post to share all about it, as I'll be too hoarse from screaming to vocalize it!  ;)



#kpop

Design Dilemma - Dining Room

Lavender.  Lavender, lavender, lavender....

How do you decorate around lavender colored walls...?

This was my dilemma when I was mulling over how to decorate the dining room in our new place (already one month since we moved!).  We rent, so it's not as easy to paint the walls a different color.  However, I wanted to test my creativity, and this color definitely challenged it.   Here's a pic of the wall color:


Buuut....I got a lucky break when I found a bolt of fabric at my workplace that inspired me with a color scheme I could use in the dining room, and the ideas ran forth from there.  Fabric here:

See the lavender with the moss green, mustard yellow, etc?  Looove those colors already on their own
(p.s. - I'll be making a table runner from this fabric)
There's also some gray in the room from the upholstered dining chairs that came with the place that I've decided to run with (I love gray, and it would tie-in the grays from the adjoining living room).




I've also concluded I did not want to make the dining room too stuffy/formal, so no heavy drapes or oriental rugs or such.  So, I went on a pinterest journey and found some examples of the "relaxed sophistication" I'm going for:





I especially love this last dining room.  The rustic table, grays, the hanging pendant light, simple but interesting wall hangings... I look at this pic and my eyes glaze over a bit.

Alrighty.  So put that all together, and what do we get?  This mood board:



1) Painting: I'm on a tree kick and I like the colors. 2) Plants centerpiece: Greenery - natural.  Maybe have it be a selection of herbs?  3) Curtains: I went back and forth for awhile about what color to get, let alone if they should have a design on them.  In the end I decided to keep them classic and in a thin white material to let in light and keep the room brighter, as the wall color keeps it dark enough in there.  4) Head Chairs: I wanted two head chairs to round out this table.  I decided I liked the gray striped chair better in this room rather than the living room.  The vertical stripes would really draw your eye from the front door as you come in.  I'll have to find another accent chair now for the living room, but that's ok.  :)  5) Apothecary Jar: Need I explain myself for why I like it?  :-P  6) Sideboard/Buffet: I'm not sure where I found this green guy - I think I was just doing a google image search.  I really like the weathered look, and the moss green color is perfecto.
7) Rug: I wanted a gray rug to "ground" (hah) the room, and I like that there's a bit of white in this one.  The pattern is nice as well - not too busy.


I've already gotten the curtain material for the dining room.  I really love the stripe detailing, and the material lets in lots of light.

One day I'll be a real curtain!  Or so she tells me...

I still have to transform the material into curtains, but...ready for this?  The material cost me...... $6.  That includes both panels.  Boo.  Yah.

In the first pic of this blog post you also saw the patiently-awaiting-to-be-'one'-with-the-wall curtain rod I got for $7.99 (Christmas Tree Shop).  Poor curtain rod and his current plight...


Total dining room window treatment = $14.

I will post as progress is made!  ^_^  Also, living room update: we've literally been to a dozen furniture stores now.  Still no sofa.  Good news though - we have found a couch we like as of this past weekend (yay!).  However, we decided to wait an extra week in hopes that there will be a sale for Veteran's Day this coming weekend.  Here's hoping.

Next up for mood boarding - bathroom!  (and I've gotten a head-start with the bathroom - remember I mentioned I'm on a tree kick?  well, here's where it all started...).  Still have the bedroom, office, kitchen, laundry room....I'm presently trying to figure out the bedroom.  I'm thinking blues or greens...something that is soothing.  I need to do some pinterest searching again...any suggestions for the bedroom??


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pumpkin Cake (GF/DF)

First recipe from the new home!  :)

I make this cake quite often, even when pumpkins aren't in season, as I love the taste and the moisture the pumpkin lends to the texture of this cake.  Mmmm mmm.  ;)

Like most of my recipes, this cake is quick and easy to make, and oh my, how it makes the home smell so good!  But of course, you're here to taste it, not simply think about how wonderful it must smell, so here goes!


You'll Need:

- 1 15-oz can pumpkin (for GF, make sure the only ingredient listed is "pumpkin")
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 eggs (or 9 tbsp of water with 3 tbsp of flaxseed)
- 1 cup sorghum flour
- 1 cup brown rice flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp cinnamon

Note: Though I don't do this because it's sweet enough for me without it (and I'm not very into frosting), you can also make this cake with a maple cream cheese icing:

Icing:

- 8-oz softened vegan cream cheese
- 3-4 tbsp honey or pure maple syrup
- 3-4 tbsp softened vegan margarine
- 1 & 1/2 tsp vanilla (try it straight from the pod - so much better!)
- 3 cups powdered sugar (more if needed)

Beat cream cheese and margarine until fluffy.  Add the honey/maple syrup and vanilla.  Pour the powdered sugar one cup at a time while mixing.  Mix until smooth.

To Start:

* Heat oven to 350 F

- beat the eggs in a bowl (or mix the water and flaxseed in a smaller separate bowl and set aside as you let it thicken a few mins)
- mix in the brown sugar and flatten it until you no longer have lumps in the brown sugar
- add the pumpkin, olive oil, and cinnamon (and if you're doing flaxseed, add it at this point)
- slowly mix in the sorghum and brown rice flours, along with the baking soda and baking powder
- when done mixing, pour into 10x8 baking pan
- place in oven for 20-25 mins - check on it and do the toothpick test at this point, then turn down the heat to 300 and let it bake another 10-15 mins (stay vigilant with toothpick-testing this cake if this is your first time making it, especially in the last 10-15 mins of baking, as it can quickly lose its moisture if you let it go too long)

* If you're adding the icing, frost once the cake has cooled.

Enjoy!  :)

Thanks for the feature!  simplysugarandglutenfreeturningtheclockback, glutenfreehomemaker, vegetarianmama, wholeintentions, onecreativemommy

Monday, October 22, 2012

Design Dilemma - Living Room

Ah, learning to settle into a new place.  It involves things like spending 40 minutes to find a pair of boots you could have sworn were in THAT box.  Or my talent for still turning around and crashing into walls that I am not used to being there....in broad daylight nonetheless. 

It also brings forth new creative juices as you eye-up a new room and swim with ideas on how to arrange the furniture, colors, decorations, and so on.  The one that has me staring at it in deep thought the most has been our living room.  I suppose the fact that we don't have a lick of furniture in it (save a coffee table, bookcase, and two lawn chairs) leads me to trying to form a plan for this room more than any of our other rooms.  Not to mention if we want to have friends/family over, it'd be nice to have a place to hang out with them.  I'm glad and excited by our present lack of furniture, as it allows me the unhindered benefit of starting the room with a clean slate. 

If you remember [this post] from a few days ago, this is how our living room looked after making some unpacking progress:


p.s. - those boxes are gone now!
We've made strides clearing out all remaining clutter since these pix, but we still have a design dilemma of how we want to fill this empty space (we're ready for the hollow acoustics when we speak in this room to be gone).

Why is it a dilemma?  Well, let me be clear.  For the first time ever, we're faced with having to buy furniture (our 1st place/apartment was mostly furnished).  Seriously, as far as furniture goes, we've only bought our mattress in the five years we've been married- no headboard for it yet either, lol. Our coffee table was something Karl was given when he lived his bachelor life in his own apartment, and the bookcases were given to us for free, and we took them because, well, who turns down bookcases?  :-P 

So, we now have to do decide on what style furniture we'll be living with (yay, finally!).  Karl and I are lucky in that we share a lot of the same taste for design.  We both like earthy colors and natural materials, historical/world travel/antique decorative pieces, and a dash of steampunk/industrial when we can sneak it in.  We also tend to mix modern and traditional.

However, we do have different tastes when it comes to furniture.  For myself, I dislike bulky, ornate, or plush furniture like this or this.  I'm drawn towards clean lines that don't hinder your sight lines, and an airy/open and bright feel to rooms.  An example that makes me happy:

(image courtesy of Pottery Barn)  I'm oogling that airplane plank art and the bright yet cozy feeling this room gives off.  If the legs on the coffee table would not have that curve to them, then this room would be perfect.
Karl likes dark colors, dark stained wood pieces, and ornate victorian plush furniture.  An example that makes Karl happy:


We definitely are opposites when it comes to how ornate the furniture is.  But I believe I've found some good pieces that combines our two tastes and gets both of our approval (sheesh, feel like this is a room design tv show yet?).

Ready for the plan?

First, let's revisit our old living room:

 
Done shuddering?  Good.  Now here's our pre-move-in living room:


To envision our living room, I first needed to figure out what would fit into the room.  After several versions, I created this layout seen below that I feel will work beautifully for the living room (13ft across the fireplace wall, 16ft across the back wall opposite the windows): 

(Above: living room. Dining room is in the back - that design will come a bit later)

Now that we knew what pieces we needed to find to fit the room, I set to scavenging online to find furniture that combined our tastes and that we both approved of.  After a lot of hunting around and getting Karl to constantly come over to my desk as I worked on this for his approval, here's a mood board to show what we've come up with! (drum roll please!):


1.  Leather armchair (by the fireplace): I like leather furniture, but in moderation, thus compromising on a chair versus a leather couch.  The tufted chair was something that appealed to us both, and Karl was salivating over this piece, so I knew it was a green light to keep going.  ;)  We also added the leather footrest so one can stretch out and relax in front of the fire. 
2.
  Sofa: The main seating area is a light cream color, similar to what we had before in our former apartment in an effort to have pieces that are a timeless color.  We liked the mix of the tufted back cushion with the modern clean lines.  Same story for the armchair.... 3.  Cream armchair - tufted, clean lines, a little ornate action in the legs, and nail head trim that matches the leather armchair. (we're on a roll!)  4.  Lamp: An antique pewter finish on the lamps for the end-tables to help tie the gray pieces into the room.  5.  Jute Rug: The stripes in this rug were what first caught my eye.  The lack of design/neutral color also guarantees that this rug would not go as quickly "out of fashion"; rugs, like furniture, are expensive, and we'd like to invest in a piece we can decorate around for years to come.  Lastly we liked the woven earthy feel it lends.  Winning!  6.  Art/Accessories: this is mostly what I came up with to get a general idea of colors for wall art and pillows that we both liked.  (love the ship pillow!).  We're sticking again to earthy colors in dark blues, greens, yellows, and classy gray.  The picture with the wall full of art was also inspirational for what we could do in the entrance-way.  7. Curtains: Neutral but textured curtains.  Not much else to explain... 8. Armless Chair (the green chair in the layout pic) : I really wanted another chair by the fireplace to fill the corner opposite of the leather armchair, and when I stumbled across this baby, I was sold.  When I showed it to Karl, I was happy when he said he really liked it as well.  Stripes can be both masculine and feminine, and we both liked the gray that helps fill the circle of gray hints in the room.  Oh, and stripes are pretty enduring through home decorating trends.  :)

What do y'all think?  (Edit: we revisited and revised the mood board for the living room here)

Also thinking of doing a project for a pallet coffee table (still have to run that idea by Karl, so we'll see how that plays out, heh) :

Image via NatesHobby on Etsy
...and something along these lines for a tv stand - we can go scouting for a great old dresser and give it either a rustic finish like the one below, or a fun color...or paint a white stencil design over it...hmmm:

Image via Pottery Barn - item here
Decent start, right?  It definitely helps us to picture the room and serves as a good guideline when we go out hunting for pieces.  Now we just need to go out there and find and/or make this stuff on a very limited budget, hehe.  This living room will definitely not happen all at once, but will likely evolve over time as we find and bring in pieces from discount retailers, craigslist, and antique and thrift stores.  I'm excited at this new "quest" to find our living room and slowly but surely make this place a home.

[Edit: click here for our "living room mood board 2.0" which throws in more color]

Next up: Dining Room design ideas!  [Edit: Click here to see the first dining room plan, and here for the 2nd version mood board]

[To see our 2014 home tour, click here]

p.s. - We will be buying the couch new, and possibly the armchairs depending on the price.  If you have suggestions for great discount furniture businesses, especially for sofas/armchairs (brick & mortar and online), please share!

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