Our journey to a new patio

It’s been 3 weeks since we have been able to use our backyard.  3 VERY long weeks. 

One of our major projects for this year is having a new stamped concrete patio poured.  It sounded like it was going to be so easy- get estimates, sign contract, old patio is removed, new patio is framed out, poured and stamped.  Not so much.  Removal and framing were done in 2 days, then came the rain.  The rain went away and then came the wind.  The patio was finally poured last Friday and then came the German Shorthair.  Our beloved (I’m using that term losely right now) dog got into the backyard trying to dig up a baby bunny nest and ran across the patio less than 2 hours after it was poured.  Not just once.  Twice.  When Ike decides to do something, like ruin something expensive, he likes to do it right.  Now we have rain again and until it clears up we can’t have everything corrected and sealed so we’re in limbo again. 

Stamped concrete is way cool, it comes in dozens of patterns and colors. 



Cobble stone

Concrete counters

One of my favorites, wood floors! 


As if having all of the cool patterns wasn’t enough it can be practically any color.  We visted the Butterfield Color showroom in Aurora, IL to pick out our shades and were blown away by the options. This is just 1 of the 3 displays with all of the dye and release colors. 

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

I can’t wait to finally have some after photos, and for our first patio cocktail party!

I can’t believe I am saying this.

I went to Aldi. This was the third time I’ve ever been there in my life. The first time was with Will-A-Rama, she was looking for vinyl floor tile. That left a really bad taste in my mouth. I shouldn’t be buying food from the same place that is selling asbestos linoleum remants from the 60’s. Fine, maybe they were asbestos free, but still.

If there is ever a family gathering where Aldi isn’t brought up in a positive light by my Grandmother that means she has gone to greener pastures. Easter, Christmas, Lincoln’s birthday, she can’t help herself. I guess Aldi is to her what Costco is to me. I had to give it another shot, I just couldn’t hear her talk about it one more time. According to her I live by a “nice Aldi”, apparently even Aldi isn’t immune to the class system. I have to say, I was kind of impressed. Did I just type that? Impressed by Aldi? I’m not about to throw it into my bi weekly store rotation by any means but when I just need one or two produce items I’ll be considering it. (Kelly, I know you are reading this, restrain yourself from calling my Grandmother and having an “I told Brooke so” converstation.

I went in for tomatoes, I heard they had organic, the rumors were true! For $5.60 I walked out with:


Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App


Overall I really can’t complain, the strawberries started to take a turn for the worst in about 2 days but for 99 cents a carton what did I expect?

Benjamin Moore Top Selling Paint Colors

I am OBSESSED with many things, anyone who knows me can vouch for the fact that I probably suffer from mild OCD on a few different levels.  I’m definitely obsessed with paint.  I loved going to Menards or Home Depot as a child because it was the perfect opportunity to grab more paint swatches.  As a 12 year old I couldn’t do much more than appreciate the way the colors looked on paper (my parents certainly weren’t about to let me do anything to the walls in their house and rightfully so) but that never stoped me from taking samples every single time.

I recently spent days combing through the vast majority of samples in my collection trying to pick the perfect shades for a few rooms at the farm.  Lacking inspiration (hey, it’s hard to pick stuff out when your’re 300 some odd miles from the place!) I searched for the best selling shades at Benjamin Moore for the rooms I was looking to redo and liked the following list from Breslow.  Quality wise I think the Benjamin Moore paint is good but I think their colors are great, I especially love anything in the Historical Collection (anything with a color name that begins with HC).

Top Color Bedroom Paint Colors

Rank Color Number Color Name
1 2071-60 Benjamin Moore Lily Lavender
2 2143-40 Benjamin Moore Camouflage
3 HC-45 Benjamin Moore Shaker Beige
4 2022-60 Benjamin Moore Light Yellow
5 HC-26 Benjamin Moore Monroe Bisque
6 2067-70 Benjamin Moore White Satin
7 HC-114 Benjamin Moore Saybrook Sage
8 HC-35 Benjamin Moore Powell Buff
9 2071-70 Benjamin Moore Misty Lilac
10 HC-156 Benjamin Moore Van Deusen Blue
11 HC-39 Benjamin Moore Putnam Ivory
12 HC-4 Benjamin Moore Hawthorne Yellow
13 HC-81 Benjamin Moore Manchester Tan

  Top Selling Foyer Paint Colors

Rank Color Number Color Name
1 HC-39 Benjamin Moore Putnam Ivory
2 HC-26 Benjamin Moore Monroe Bisque
3 1039 Benjamin Moore Stone House
4 1066 Benjamin Moore Barely Beige
5 2153-60 Benjamin Moore Rich Cream
6 1068 Benjamin Moore Squire Hill Buff
7 2143-40 Benjamin Moore Camouflage
8 HC-28 Benjamin Moore Shelburne Buff
9 HC-9 Benjamin Moore Chestertown Buff
10 HC-98 Benjamin Moore Providence Olive

Top Selling Hallway Paint Colors

Rank Color Number Color Name
1 HC-26 Monroe Bisque
2 HC-35 Powell Buff
3 HC-39 Putnam Ivory
4 HC-44 Lenox Tan
5 AC-4 Yosemite Sand
6 HC-45 Shaker Beige
7 HC-30 Philadelphia Cream
8 1039 Stone House
9 HC-81 Manchester Tan
10 1066 Barely Beige
11 2153-60 Rich Cream

Top Selling Guest Room Paint Colors

Rank Color Number Color Name
1 1066 Barely Beige
2 HC-120 Van Alen Green
3 HC-29 Dunmore Cream
4 HC-45 Shaker Beige
5 2153-50 Desert Tan
6 2155-60 Cream Yellow
7 HC-139 Salisbury Green
8 HC-159 Philipsburg Blue
9 HC-33 Montgomery White
10 HC-5 Weston Flax
11 HC-6 Windham Cream

Turning something ugly into something pretty

AKA a before and after of the new nightstand for our bedroom at the farm.  Recently John and I made the trip to the farm to kick off a major makeover.  We had a new floor installed in the kitchen, one bedroom painted and the upstairs hallway painted all within 24 hours.  Needless to say we were exhausted but sleep deprivation didn’t stop me from freaking out over how ugly our “nightstand” is up there.  It may even be file drawers.  So I put a request in with Will-A-Rama.  I sent her a few photos of ones I liked at PB teen (one of my new favorite websites) setting a budget of $45.

She found this at one of her favorite stores for $45 and they agreed to sell it for $35.  The size and shape was exactly what I wanted (Pottery Barn Knock Off ish).  The finish clearly was not.


Refinishing it was as easy as watching John sand the piece and then spray paint it:).  He added a clear coat at the end to give it a smooth somewhat water resistant finish.


I had my eye on the knobs for a few days, then low and behold the day I planned to run to Anthropologie to pick them up they went on sale from $8.00 each to $2.95.   They’re not just cute, they’re cheap, you can’t go wrong with that combination.


I am counting down the weeks until I’m back up there to put it in our bedroom and build an awesome stairway gallery wall I’ve been working on the past few weeks.

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you…

happy birthday dear Stella, happy birthday to you!

Since today is Stella’s 4th birthday I had to do a post about her Will-A-Rama/DIY cat bed.  Remember this post about my issue with ugly dog bowls?  I have the same gripe about cat beds.  Just because I own a cat doesn’t mean I don’t have taste.  Don’t even get me started on the cat trees that are meant to look like trees, you aren’t fooling anyone, it does not look like an indoor tree, it looks like carpet and cardboard in your living room.  End rant.

Back to the bed.  My mother in law, Willa, picked up a few dresser drawers at a Good Will and was inspired to make a cat bed that would make both Stella and I happy. This is no small feat since as she will tell you, I can be kind of um, particular.  She decide she wanted to raise the cat bed off the ground and came across an old couch that was curbside and unscrewed the legs from it.  Next up was a trip to Hobby Lobby for crystals (I LOVE sparkle) and knobs.  She painted the legs white, and bolted them into the drawer the she painted Ralph Lauren Tundric Pewter.  She even included a pillow with a dark sage and copper damask but Stella, like me, is particular and prefers to sleep on cardboard.

A beautiful cat like a Seal Mitted Ragdoll needs a beautiful bed.  I present to you, one of the worlds only attractive cat beds, heck it’s furniture really and it was less than $25 to make!

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

The best part is that it’s pretty, the second best part is that she actually uses it.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Happy Birthday Stella!!!

Brooke v. the Backyard

It’s the battle I’ve been fighting since the day we moved in 3 1/2 years ago.  I’m determined to win.   The last two summers we landscaped our asses off, now it’s finally patio time and I already have the before and after post in my head.

Hello.  I’m back after a brief hiatus, this really annoying thing called work distracted me from blogging for the past week or so:).

The latest at our house is that we’ve officially signed a contract for stamped concrete.  2 years ago I got estimates for pavers and after a lot of going back and forth we decided to go with the stamped.  Cost was surprisingly similar between the two.  Concrete cracks and pavers settle and stuff grows between them, nothing is perfect (except for me of course).  I’ve been pinning patio pictures for the past month looking for inspiration on furniture color, pillows, decor, etc.  I don’t know if it’s the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having in Chicago or the fact that I miss summer clothes and shoes so, so much that has gotten me so excited about this project, but I am!  I have plans for lots of cocktails outside in our soon to be new space all summer long.  Of course I’d need to move to pull off a few of the spaces below but a girl can dream, right?









I hate running but I love Nike +

Let’s get something straight here, running, I don’t like you either.  You are however an excellent reason for me to expand my Lululemon collection so you do have a few enduring qualities.

Last summer John and I tried the couch to 5K program but for us it was more like from Sauvignon Blanc to 6K.  I don’t spend a lot of time on the couch but I do spend a lot of time with wine.  I want to love cardio the way I love yoga, I’ve tried and it’s not happening.  Seeing as how I’m only practicing monogamy in my marriage and not my exercise routine I need to put more effort into an affair.

 Enter Nike +.

Since I find my iPhone too heavy/annoying to do cardio with my husband bought me a new Nano touch.  One of the best things about this version of the iPod is you don’t need Nike +, it’s already on the iPod.

I skipped the calibration set up for my first run because they recommend doing it on a track or in an area where you are certain of the exact distance.  I also skipped this because I felt lazy (yet I had enough energy to run, go figure).

My favorite part of my run was the instant feedback.  I have OCD when counting and measuring so this is huge for me.  Double clicking the down volume button resulted in a woman reciting “Time running, 16 minutes, 60 seconds. Distance traveled, 2 miles.  Average mile “8 minutes 30 seconds”.  It didn’t sound like a female version of R2D2 either which made me even happier.  I also love how the music fades out and then resumes after the feedback.  The power song option is pretty awesome too.

The only thing I don’t really get is the calories burned information. It has no idea how much I weigh so I can’t imagine it’s very accurate. But I’m okay with that.

I definitely slowed my pace down on the way home, resulting in my mile time increasing (okay fine, I may have also walked every 7 minutes for 1 minute, cut me some slack, I hadn’t been out since October).  I love the workout recap in the end and I’m definitely hooked on the idea of competing with myself.  I’m planning another 4.4 after work today!

The final stats screen.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App