Please excuse this interruption….

So I’m a slacker this week.  I’ve got a ton of posts lined up for you guys, all half-way done.  But the day job has been kicking my butt lately (thank you Cannes Film Festival), so I’m a little behind.

Until I can get my act together later this week, I wanted to remind you all to follow us on Twitter (where I do manage to post a few musings throughout the day), Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram!  And as I’d love to share my thoughts with readers beyond my mom, my best friends and Jefe, please share the love!

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In addition, I’m taking requests for room planning, mood boards, or even event planning!  The Sledge has a multitude of talents and would love to share them with you all.

And last but not least, I at least owe you guys a few more pieces of eye candy to tide you over until my next post!

Eye Candy 1

(Courtesy of Decor de Provence / Style At Home)

The wall color, the dark floors, the rustic meets traditional with a smidge of modern thrown in.  The wood under the benches, the FIREPLACE MANTLE.  I want to go to there.

Eye Candy 2

(Courtesy of Apartment Therapy)

I am LOVING all of this art in the kitchen. It takes a very small, tight space and gives it some panache!

Eye Candy 3

(Courtesy of Tobi Fairley)

I love this saying.  Having been a “creative” for my entire life, it’s a nice reminder that what we do takes guts.  I would love to find this in different colors to hang about my desk.  Pink isn’t really my jam…..

Mother’s Day

Let me start out with stating the obvious: I have the world’s best mom. She’s amazing, thoughtful, and still spoils me with care packages filled with Pennsylvania goodies like apple butter and homemade chocolates. She misses driving her mini-van and still carries snacks and baby wipes everywhere even though all of the kids have been out of the house for quite some time. She’s just one awesome lady who will forever affectionately be known to all of my friends as Momma Sny despite a name change years ago. So Mom, this post goes out to you. It’s been too long since I got to share this day with you and hope that won’t last forever.

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But Momma Sny isn’t the only awesome mother in our lives. Gloria, my Jefe’s mom, is pretty stellar too. So we decided to treat her and Jefe’s dad, Harry, to a little brunch at our place.

I was hoping to really pull out all the stops on the table setting to show you all some new ideas for setting your own, however, in the vein of keeping it real with you all, life got in the way. Specifically, Django, some ice cream, and a date on the couch with my Jefe on Saturday night.

But I did at least set the table and threw out a vase of my favorites: hydrangeas.

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For the observant bunch, you’ll also notice we hung some new (well, new in that it’s finally out of the moving box) art, and my little chalk board from Rejuvenation.

Jefe and I also made a happy discovery: in extending our table to make more space for brunch, we had to place the table parallel to our dresser and island. Low and behold, the bigger table actually makes the room feel bigger! Maybe it had to do with the chairs previously being on an angle (out of necessity to access our bedroom and dresser drawers). Or maybe the matching parallel lines just gives it a cleaner, less cluttered feel despite the use of MORE floor space. Whatever it is, Jefe and I have decided to keep the set up for the time being. A bonus – with the table extended, we can actually push all of the chairs in! More space for us. #winning

In other news, we purged our puppy fund yesterday. And no, we do not have a little fur ball of joy headed our way. Our mattress, which I payed a pretty penny for only 5 years ago, is officially a piece of crap. It’s amazing how down hill it’s gone just in the last few weeks. It’s gotten to the point that Jefe looks forward to his business trips just so he can sleep on a bed without the Grand Canyon running through the middle. So alas, our puppy fund went towards making our backs much happier and putting a kabosh on a dog for the time being.  Insert sad face.

But don’t think for one minute that I’ve stopped looking at pictures of cockapoos and dog beds ;-).

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Nothing but love

This weekend I jetted off to meet Jefe in NYC thanks to some frequent flyer miles.  I started writing today’s post on Monday about my top 10 favorite things about New York…. but it quickly became clear that I just didn’t feel like talking about New York anymore.

I, like, the rest of the world, was glued to the TV, Twitter and Facebook for updates of any kind.  My best friend lives in Boston.  I knew 3 people running the marathon.  It is by far one of my favorite places on earth and I just couldn’t believe what was going on in such an incredible place.

Luckily everyone I knew was safe.  But I couldn’t stop thinking about those that weren’t and can’t shake this feeling of helplessness as I watch from 3000 miles away.  But as Mr. Rogers once said “find the helpers.”  And there were plenty.

So today I want to spread the love for a city that I would love to some day call home.  Amidst the chaos that’s still going on, the questioning of who did this and why, and the constant news cycle speculation, I wanted to offer a little glimpse in to why I think this city ROCKS and I know will pick itself up and get right back on it’s own two feet.  And then run another marathon.

Here are my top 10 reasons why I love this great city:

  1. The people.  They can be rough around the edges but they all have hearts of gold.  They are a unique breed and unlike anyone I’ve ever met before.  They can go from swearing like a trucker in a snow-storm to swaying arm in arm during “Sweet Caroline” in 5 seconds flat.  Those Boston rebels were the one’s that dumped the snotty English’s tea in the harbor.  And high-fived each other afterwards.
  2. The Sox.  Baseball fan or not, there is something magical about attending a game in Fenway Park.  It truly is breathtaking.  You step foot in that stadium and you can just feel the incredible history seep in to your bones.  I wasn’t even a fan in 2004 and I still get choked up watching anything about that year’s World Series; it’s impossible not to knowing the history a team that toiled for so long.  From “Sweet Caroline” to the teeny tiny seats to the Green Monster, there’s no place like it.

    Jefe & I Fenway

    Jefe & I at Fenway for my first Red Sox game

  3. The history.  Follow the red brick road and the Freedom trail will take you all over the city for the nation’s greatest history lesson.

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    Paul Revere looking badass on his horse

  4. The architecture.  Red brick everywhere.  They embrace the old and only integrate the new when necessary.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Old South
  5. Cambridge.  The home of Julia Child, Harvard, and my first Hong Kong scorpion bowl.  And my bestie who is just as important.

    Courtesy of Out and About in Paris

    Julia Child’s home (Courtesy of Out and About in Paris)

  6. The T.  Any city with such smoothly operating public transit is a-ok with me.  They just need to extend the running time to last call and they’d really be on to something.
  7. The food.  Clam chowder.  Lobster.  Cannoli’s from Mike’s.  I’ve eaten my way through this city more than once. Boston Pastries
  8. The accent.  I will pahk my cah in the yahd any day of the week if asked by a Walhberg, Damon or Affleck. good-will-hunting-oral-history-1
  9. The attitude.  This is similar to #1 but there’s just something about the unapologetic yet openly welcoming attitude that the city just exudes and invites you in.
  10. Fall.  You’ve never seen foliage until you’ve walked along the Charles during autumn.

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    Courtesy of Virtual Tourist

Boston, you’ve had my heart for years and always will.

Boston B Strong

Ryobi, a love letter

I’ve mentioned a few times that I love me some power tools. This Tim Taylor kind of love didn’t come from my dad, step-dad, or my grandfather, all of whom are particularly handy. No, my friends, it came from my sorority sisters during the 4 amazing years I spent in college at Carnegie Mellon.

Every year, alumni return to campus not for fall Homecoming like most colleges but for our Spring Carnival during which most sororities, fraternities and other large campus organizations each build a structure on a 10 foot by 10 foot plot set to the theme of their choosing.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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At the start of the booth construction season, the older sisters would teach the newbies how to find their way around a miter and jigsaw, a staple gun and my favorite, the cordless drill. We had a smattering of tools of varying quality, all of which had been donated over the years. The DeWalts were everyone’s favorites and always chose those over other brands.

Well my friends, I’m here to tell you I am repenting for my old DeWalt-loving ways. I bring to you, my Christmas-in-March (yes, I’m a few weeks behind) gift to myself, my new Ryobi cordless drill.

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Jefe and I have been in need of a new one for quite some time, and figured the day I was supposed to drill holes in to a brand new piece of furniture was as good a time as any. So we headed to the local Home Depot and found the nearest tool expert/employee, Dave (aka – my new best friend), for his opinion. Per Dave, the Ryobi is above and away the best bang for your buck. It’s much cheaper than the fancier brands like DeWalt and as he put it “you won’t be totally heartbroken if it’s stolen off the job site” after he explained it was popular with both the DIYers and professional construction workers.

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This particular model, the Ryobi 12-Volt Lithium-Ion 3/8 in. Cordless Drill Kit, came with two 12 volt lithium batteries, a charger, and a fancy carrying case all of which were in a great bright green. It’s got a magnetic base for a stray screw or nail as well as the standard features like a keyless chuck, forward and reverse settings and offered some serious power. It is also MUCH lighter than the competitors which is a serious perk for those lacking in upper body strength (now where is that gym membership…..). I also had to buy a set of drill bits so this was not a problem for me, but my one gripe is that it did not actually come with a drill bit (unless it’s some how magically still in the box that I emptied).

Overall, it did a great job while Jefe and I assembled the furniture for his parents’ office. After I measured not 1, 2, or 3 but FOUR times, it also drilled perfect holes in to the drawer fronts of the Besta we got for extra office storage. It was a purchase well worth the $79.99. Here’s a parting shot of my new baby:

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Paneled Walls Aren’t A Death Sentence


Paneled walls.  I’m not sure there’s anyone who would willingly put these up in their home in the 21st century.  And any time I come across them, my first instinct is to RIP.  THEM.  DOWN.  But I’ve watched enough HGTV to know: you never know what’s behind those walls.  And without a Mike Holmes on my side to clean up any reno job gone wrong, this DIYer has to find an alternative.

Such was the case when Jefe proposed the idea of redoing the guest room and office at his parents place.  He got the idea after we painted an accent wall in our own office at our last apartment.  We had a bucket of blue paint left over, his parents place needed some sprucing, so why not use what you’ve got?  Well it turned out we and his parents loved the idea of redoing their 2 rooms, but thanks to our very hasty move last August, we no longer had the blue paint.  And after having some time to reflect on it, that particular shade of blue was definitely a little too bright for our of our liking.

Here’s what we had to work with:

(The office, aka - Jefe's old room)

(The office, aka – Jefe’s old room)

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(The guest room – aka Jefe’s brother’s room)

So a few weeks ago, after we all ventured to Ikea to check out the furniture I had picked out for their new office, Jefe and I took his parents to Home Depot to pick out the new paint colors.  His parents were having a few of the rooms repainted so I thought that with each room having a single paneled wall that they would be best turned in to accent walls with some color and the rest of the room done in Behr’s Decorator White.  For the office, we chose a similar but slightly more muted shade of blue as our own former office.  We chose a similar color for the guest room, but in the minty green family.

Martha Stewart Salt Water

Martha Stewart Salt Water

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Martha Stewart Lemon Grass

But here was the challenge – like most professional designers – you have to cater to your clients.  In this case, Jefe’s mom Gloria.  She had a few items that she wanted to integrate in to the design of the guest bedroom, namely a traditional woven rug from her native Ecuador.  The rug was tan with shades of cream, burnt orange and gray.  Needless to say, my minty green paint swatch was quickly pitched in the garbage.

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As an alternative, we choose a light tan with grey undertones (Martha Stewart’s Potters Clay) that coordinated nicely with the rug that will hang on the accent wall and will act as a neutral for the rest of the room.  And I have to admit that as much as I loved that green, it would not have gone with their current bedroom furniture (at least the stuff that we’re keeping).

Martha Stewart's Potters Clay

Martha Stewart Potters Clay

But now the trick is going to be finding those pops of color to really bring the room to life and give it some excitement.  I’m hoping to have a full design board for this room for all of you soon!

So after Gloria & Harry headed east for a trip to visit Jefe’s brother and family, we headed to their house for a weekend of painting.  Step 1, the prep work, was probably the hardest.  Those paneled walls had seen better days.

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So for the next 3 hours I sanded, patched holes, pulled down ancient pieces of Scotch tape and sanded again (Jefe was clearly a fan of taping up his Red Sox posters).  I also gave the walls a good wipe down more than once particularly after noticing patches of crayon in the grooves of the paneling….  Here is the finished patched but pre-painted version of the guest room:

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But back to the painting.  After years of reading the blogs of fellow DIYers, I knew the paneling was going to present some challenges.  As paneling is not like drywall which sucks up paint like a sponge, it can be slick.  And most paneled walls, particularly if it’s real wood, have stain, and/or some sort of protective coating over it.  Both of which make it even slicker and hard for paint to adhere to.  Both can also bleed through primer and paint, leaving weird stain marks like a napkin after a dinner of greasy NY pizza.

So getting the right paint and particularly the right primer was key.  Enter ZINSSER stage left.

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I knew if fellow bloggers had used it to success when painting veneered furniture and it was a similar type to what Young House Love used on their own paneled walls, I had faith this would do the trick.  Well, 3 coats later, I was still skeptical.  The guest room’s paneling was older and more like a real wood.  And much much lighter in color so that appeared to be fine.  But the office, however, was a slick veneer with VERY dark stain in the grooves.  After 3 coats of primer, the stain, although much lighter, was still seeping through and yellowing the pristine white we just spent hours getting on the walls.

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So with a hope and a prayer (and less and less daylight), Jefe and I cracked open the paint cans.  Because I’m a paranoid DIYer and have had strokes of bad luck my whole life (my name literally means ill-0mened, I kid you not), I decided I couldn’t be cautious enough.  It cost about $10 per gallon more, but I chose to go with Behr’s Premium Plus Interior Stain-Blocker Paint & Primer.  I figured that if the Zinsser and the stain-blocking paint with primer couldn’t do the job, nothing could (short of ripping down the paneling entirely which you now know was not really an option, particularly for a two day weekend-ony project).  So we slapped the first coat of color on both walls and called it a night.

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(Gotta love a man with a baseball hat and jeans on with a paint roller in his hand…)

I also discovered that it was best for me to go over ALL the grooves first to really get the paint in there as the foam roller didn’t quite cover it:

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We came back the next day and much to our surprise, our hard work of the day before had clearly paid off.  Not only did the paint stick to the walls like a champ, but they looked as smooth as a baby’s bottom thanks to my extensive prep work and the stain had NOT leaked through.  I was ecstatic.

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(Ignore Jefe touching up the corner and the tissue box.  Painting with a sinus infection is NO fun)

So we put another coat on and called it a night as Jefe had a plane to catch the next morning at 6am.  The paint was still VERY wet and it was so late we decided to forgo pulling the painters tape from the edges.  I came back later in the week to do that.  This is where my excitement was dulled by peeling paint…

The walls’ edges for the most part looked really good.  I took my time pulling it down, using an Exacto knife to get it straight where it needed to be.  And I had always heard that you should pull the tape when the paint is wet, but I was just so afraid of messing it up, as I have been every other time I have painted.

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Well, needless to say, the trim under the painters tape had seen better days once I pulled it off.  Gloria & Harry just had the rest of the rooms, including the trim on our accent walls, redone.  Now I knew the white paint was probably not fully cured when we put the tape down; the trim had only been done a week before so I had anticipated that there would be some peeling.  While I was prepared to touch up what was needed, we also discovered that the guy on the painter’s crew who did the trim had only done one coat, not two.  To top it off, he had also mistakenly used the satin wall paint, not the semi-gloss they used for the rest of the trim in the room.

So I busted out my sanding block, smoothed it down, and then broke out the Zinsser again.  I was afraid that  the areas missing larger chunks of paint would be visible under 2 coats of semi-gloss.  So I primed the heck out of those puppies.  One thick coat of primer and one coat of semi-gloss later and we had ourselves some beautiful baseboards.

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And this time, I decided to suck it and try to pull the painters tape while it was still wet.  OMG WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG TO TRY THIS?!  My lines were perfect!  No need for an Exacto knife, no worries about pulling off thick chunks of paint creating an uneven edge.

It was like a light bulb had finally been turned on.  I, Mallory, will never again wait for paint to dry to pull up the tape.  It truly does make a world of difference.  I guess I just had to see it for myself.

So there you have it: two fully painted rooms.  The combination of the Behr Decorator White along with the colored accent walls is a vast improvement.  The rooms automatically feel fresh and clean.  They are small spaces and the white really brightens things up.

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Later this week I’ll post the first update with some furniture!  Jefe and I ventured to Ikea this weekend to finally purchase what we are using for the office.  And can I just say: Jefe and I are Ikea masters.  We can put together a Besta with optional leg extensions in under 30 minutes.  Team Sledge/Jefe for the win (someone help me find a better combo name.  We’re no Brangelina, but we owe it to ourselves to have a better team name….)