Windy City First Timers

Here is a non-house update on what M and I have been up to when we get a few minutes away from work and chores.
It's wordy, and not very picture-y.

Mi familia came for a visit (I'm learning Spanish!).
My daddio and step-mama came out here and pulled a trailer full of childhood memories behind them, to explore Chicago with M and me.
I mean the trailer thing literally. They packed up my old bedroom and brought it to me.

They got in late, so when we got moving in the morning we grabbed a quick bite to eat, unloaded the trailer, and worked out some weekend plans.

Eventually we wandered off to the local winery.
Everyone gets 3 free sample tastes, and 4 more is only $5.
It was soooooo...oooo tasty.
We left with 3 bottles (and 0 pictures) - a port wine, a sweet wine, and a spice wine.

When M got off work, we had a home-cooked meal. It's something I had been looking forward to for a long, long time.
Between our crazy work schedules, not being settled in one house, and non-stop work on our new place, we really haven't had time to have anything but takeout or quick, easy meals here and there.

It had been so long since I had even gone grocery shopping, when went to the store, I handed over my loyalty card, and the cashier kind of smirked and said they stopped accepting those quite a while ago. Oops.

I stocked up on all the necessities - grape leaf-making supplies, more meat, and breakfast food.
One of my Dad's favorite foods is his Mom's grape leaf recipe. She was ill the last several years of her life and wasn't able to cook. I took over, but don't make them nearly as well as she did.
She would always say, "Oh, honey, that's too much for one leaf" or "take more of the stem off the leaf".
She always knew exactly when they were done, so that the rice was never crunchy or mushy.
I try to listen to the advice she used to give me, but I still haven't mastered the art that is grape leaf making.
The rolling is time consuming, the leaves are delicate, I never have the right meat-to-leaf ratio, and frankly, I'm usually disappointed that they're not just like my Grandma's used to be.
I rarely make them for myself anymore, but I try to make them for my Dad for get-togethers.

Anywho, Dad devoured some "ok" grape leaves, and the rest of us had delicious, juicy, marinated burgers.

We played one of my favorite games - Dicecapades. If you haven't played, I'm afraid you're missing out!
I hadn't laughed that hard in a while. I'm sure the bottle of wine my step-mom and I split didn't help the cause.

The next morning we got downtown bright and early.
Our first mission was to see the Skydeck at the 103rd floor of the Sears Willis Tower.

Those are my feet, with nothing but a sheet of glass keeping me from dropping 103 floors to the ants cars below.
I'll be honest, it was a little scary at first, but once my wobbly legs got it together, it seemed normal to walk around on the glass.

Next we hit up the iconic bean.
Then we took a leisurely (ok, slow for Chicagoans) stroll up Michigan Ave.
We stopped at Jake Melnick's for lunch and Hershey's Chocolate World for dessert.

I'm so glad my little tourists stepped out of farm country and let me give them a tour of the Windy City.
Here are the "scenic pictures" I promised I'd share with my gracious guests...

(ps- next time I'll take a different lens. sun + inexperience + new lens = not awesome pictures. Sorry about the people OR buildings shots :( I guess that means we'll have to do it all again)

 I think the smiles in the above picture have something to do with the previous nights Dicecapades...


Kitchen & Family Room

One thing I never thought I could get M to go for is white trim.
It took some convincing and a little Pinspiration, but he finally gave me the go-ahead.
I went to town, not leaving a trace of natural wood behind... except for the stair rails. I'm not sure what we're going to do with those yet.

We started with a blank, boring, natural slate.

If this picture doesn't scream "apartment", I don't know what does. After living in apartments for several years, the LAST thing we wanted was to feel like we were just temporarily in another rental.
Our first goal was to get color on the walls.
I wanted gray.
M wanted brown.
At the last second, we compromised on Dapper Brown, which is mostly brown, but slightly olive green.
I was devastated after the first coat. It looked like a blotchy mess. It was also VERY dark.
it made the natural wood look very orange, which is what I think actually sealed the deal for me getting white trim!

We let it dry and started on the other walls.
We went with Lighter Tan, which adds just a touch of warmth to the room.

After a full weekend of painting walls, it took nearly two weeks to paint every inch of trim on the first floor (foyer, living room, family room, dining room, bathroom, kitchen, and two hallways).
One coat of primer and two coats of paint later, I'm in love!
I hate to admit it, but M was right. Brown was the way to go for the accent wall.
So here you have it, our kitchen and family room before and after shots...

The curtains hanging in the family room are from Ikea- the last place on Earth I thought I'd find something of quality, that would fit our enormous windows, and come in a color I liked.
Not only does Ikea have tons of fabric to make your own curtains, they have unfinished curtains.
I bought these puppies at 98" in length, hung them at the height I wanted, and hemmed their unfinished edges so they just scraped the floor.
The unfinished curtains they sell actually come with Stitch Witchery. If you have ever hemmed anything, and don't know what that is, you are seriously making your life harder.

We have lots of work to do in the decorating department, but these two rooms are coming together.
Eventually we'd like to update the cabinets and countertops, refinish the wood floors and expand them throughout the carpeted rooms, replace the tile on the fireplace, figure out something to do with the stair rails, find a little eat-in-kitchen table, and purchase a nice entertainment center/DVD organizer.
We're also still looking for the right window treatments for all the naked windows.

We definitely have our work cut out for us!


The Outside

We've been working or working on our house every waking hour for the last 4 weeks.
Our hard work (and some from the neighbors) is finally paying off!
I didn't want to post any pictures until I had some before & after shots to show how far this house has come.
Paint the shutters
Paint the front door
Paint the trim around all the windows & top part of front door.
Garden (15-20% done).
Remove ugly bushes and crabapple tree.
Plant grass in bare areas.

This is what we started with.

We stripped off the shutters, painted them with a thick, black paint for vinyl.
After they dried, we searched everywhere for fasteners to put them back up.
As our luck would have it, everywhere was sold out.
We had a naked house for 2 weeks.

While we waited for the fasteners to come in, we gave our front door a couple coats of "Positive Red".

We are so excited to finish two huge things on our "Outside" list and continue with everything inside. More updates to come!