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Updates for the Kitchen

I spent the majority of my winter vacation (which was about 2 months ago…) relaxing.  Easily 75% of the time I was emulating a sloth.  With that said, Joe and I did manage to get some stuff done around the apartment.  One of my favorite things was updating the kitchen!

When we moved in last year, we organized the space the best we could.  It wasn’t an ideal situation – after all, we were coming from a large kitchen with never-ending counter and storage space to a tiny and awkwardly laid out kitchen… but we made due.  Mostly because this was still larger than our first kitchen.  Heck –  the dining nook in our current apartment is bigger than our first kitchen.

This is what we were working with:


One of the things we added was the Signe Rug from IKEA.  I really didn’t like standing at the sink without something under my feet – and there was no way I was about to spend a ton of money on one of those GelPro Mats.  I hear wonderful things about them, but I’d rather put that money towards Joe’s tuition or buying more boxes of crumb cake mix from Trader Joe’s.


Side note: you should definitely grab a box of that crumb cake mix.  It is delicious and looks very impressive when you bring it somewhere or serve it to guests… but it only takes a few minutes to mix it all up  :)

We opted to get it in black and white, which I think is pretty brave since we’ve never decorated with that color combo.  Truth be told – between the yellow walls and the orangey cabinets, any other colors would have looked ridiculous.

Kitchen Updates | http://www.popcorn on the

The star of the kitchen is now our Omar Shelving Unit (also from IKEA).  Joe and I had been debating what we should do in this space for the entire time we’ve lived here.  We tried using what we had but nothing really fit.  Ultimately, we opted to get this shelving unit… and then a few months later, before 2014 started, we finally purchased it.  It was painfully easy to build and makes a great impact in the space.  It gives us a lot of storage space without being obtrusive.

Yes, we purchase this so we’d have a place to put our important stuff.  Turns out our important stuff is tea, coffee, and fruit.

Kitchen Updates | http://www.popcorn on the

This is still a work in progress and we’re still tweaking what makes the most sense for us.

Will we finally get a microwave after being without one for the last year?  Perhaps.

Will we calm down on our obvious tea addiction?  I highly doubt it.

Clearly, these are not Earth-shattering changes, but they’re a step in the right direction on making our kitchen functional.  It’s always tough when you rent because even though the apartment/house/whatever is where you live, it isn’t really yours.  It’s one thing to paint the walls but it’s another to paint cabinets and knock down walls (which is what I’d really like to do).

Now… if you’ll excuse me… I have to put out a new roll of paper towels…

Kitchen Updates | http://www.popcorn on the

Have you made any small updates in your kitchen lately?  Anything you’re dying to do (you know, if money were no issue)?  Any other tea addicts out there?

Posted in Home, Kitchen, Organizing | 4 Comments

Consider the Halls Decked

I can’t believe it’s taken me until the week before Christmas to share our apartment with you all!  This weekend, Joe and I were able to not only get our real Christmas tree but finally finish decorating the apartment.  Pretty successful, if you ask me.  Now we’re just working on soaking in all the Christmas cheer we can.

Out of all the apartments we’ve lived in, this has easily become my favorite.  Quite possibly because it does Christmas oh-so-well.

Christmas decor |

The first thing Joe did when we returned from Paris was add lights around the windows.  It wasn’t until this week that we added the candles (both the candles and candle holders are from IKEA).  We like the look of both the lights and the candle, but next year may just go with the candle.  Or maybe we’ll do both again because we just love Christmas lights.

PS – the red ribbon tying the curtains back was totally Joe’s idea.

Christmas decor |

There is now a strand of lights on our radiator.  Originally, I just hid the lights behind the radiator but, like I said, I like having Christmas lights. No point in hiding them.

I hope this starts a trend of people decorating their radiators.

Christmas decor |

Since we’re still mantle-less, our stockings are back up on our card catalogs.  It’s a nice pop of color in that corner of the room.

Christmas decor |

On top of the card catalog is the beginning of a little Christmas village.  Both of our families have little villages so it’s something we hoped to have.  Unfortunately, these villages are never cheap – unless you go to Michael’s about 1.5 weeks before Christmas!  These were all 70% off so we only paid $1.49 each.  I haven’t decided if I want to paint them for next year or keep them white so for now, they’ll stay as-is.  I’ll also need to figure out some faux snow for displaying these (sadly, some left over fabric had to do the job).

Christmas decor |

Since we now use our Expedit bookshelf as a TV stand, there was less room to play with this year.  I opted not to rearrange the shelves because 1) I like the books organized by color and 2) you can’t really see the lower shelves from the couch, making it a waste of ornaments.

Christmas decor |

We still have our penguins on one side (with our snow owl and some fun red flowers) but the other side is definitely busier.  The lamp (as well as the lamp on the card catalog) has been filled with holly.  In front of that is my beloved nutcracker and the snowmen an old friend made for me.  There are also two pups kissing (and they are too cute not to display).

Christmas decor |

The bookshelves on the right of the expedit are fully decorated as well.  We’ve got Santa climbing the ladder with his elves, the blind mice kind of exploring the shelves, and a slew of other Christmas (like red flowers or an apothecary jar filled with ‘snow’ and berries).

Christmas decor |

Our second bookcase was moved to storage and replaced with our real Christmas tree! It’s a whopping 4 feet tall and we couldn’t love it more.  After getting a series of very large trees (and the last one almost killing me via allergies), Joe and I decided to get a much smaller tree.  After all, it would have been incredibly difficult to carry a tree taller than this up the stairs since we’re on the second floor.

Christmas decor |

This little fella is definitely our favorite tree yet… and I’m not just saying that because I say that about every tree… or because it’s got a penguin theme.  This is the first tree that we really have up front and center instead of the corner behind us.  It’s also a very plush tree so we didn’t have to over load it with ornaments.

Christmas decor |

Other small touches around the apartment include the pillow cases I made last year.  We’ve got them showing the gingerbread men, but we can always flip them to the stripes if the mood strikes us.

Christmas decor |

I also added two hurricanes and a white runner to our dining table.  The first hurricane has a ton of cinnamon-scented pine cones while the second is filled with epsom salt and silver ornaments.

Christmas decor |

To accommodate for having two trees, Joe and I needed to do some furniture rearranging.  This of course happened late Saturday afternoon – early evening, as is our usual style.  We finally took the desk out of the closet and brought it into the dining nook.  I guess I can start referring to it as a study or office now, huh?

I’m actually really excited about this space now because it’s got a direction.  When we had the dining table in here, it was incredibly crowded – even with just one person at the table.  It’s kind of the perfect size for an office.  Now I want to go and buy a bunch of bookshelves for the other wall.  If we owned this place, I would be going for built ins (or, more realistically, I would’ve knocked down the wall between the kitchen and dining nook).

Christmas decor |

Our elf on the shelf is back and having fun all over the apartment.  Right now he’s on our 2nd tree, but who knows where he’ll be tomorrow!  Joe still thinks he’s creepy while I still love having him around.  I almost want to get a second, but that seems silly.

Christmas decor |

Our second tree (the faux one) is where we put up all of our sentimental ornaments.  These include the ones we’ve bought for each other, the ones we’ve picked up on vacations (like the Eiffel Tower) and the ones from our childhoods.

Christmas decor |

So, it took a little while to get there, but that’s what our apartment looks like right now.  I love it (the minute I get home from work, I plug the Christmas lights in) and wish we could keep the decor like this all year.  Don’t worry – we won’t be doing that… but I am already thinking about how much I can keep out for Winter :)

Christmas decor |

Did you just finish decorating like us?  Or have you been basking in the holiday cheer for all of December?

Posted in Christmas, Decor, Holidays, Home, Living Room, Seasonal | 7 Comments

Yard Sale Goodies

This Sunday, Joe came home from his weekly study-time at Starbucks to tell me about an awesome yard sale down the street.  I quickly changed into acceptable clothes and we headed out the door.  There was plenty to choose from – items covered the front lawn, driveway, and backyard.  Even better, no one was there yet because it was overcast and a little drizzly (I hate feeling pressured when at a yard sale).  In all honesty, there were a lot of items I wanted to bring home with us but ultimately, Joe and I decided on two things.

The winning items: a rocking chair (something we’ve wanted for a long time now) and a nice framed oil painting.

Popcorn on the Stove | Yard Sale Finds

The painting is of a small bunch of pansies.  They, along with sunflowers, are my favorite flowers so as soon as I was immediately drawn to it.  I forgot to snap a photo before the sun set so it’s you’ll have to trust me when I say the colors are vibrant.

Joe and I keep talking about how we want to start buying art instead of getting reproductions and this was a great start – especially since the painting and frame were only $15.  The frame needs some serious TLC (or at least a serious scrubbing) but it’s so well made that I know it’ll last for a long time.  The man who was selling this told us that this painting was purchased at an art show from Snug Harbor back in the 1940′s.  I haven’t been able to find any information on this particular artist, but I’m going to keep searching for more information on her.

Popcorn on the Stove | Yard Sale Finds

As much as I loved the painting, I was a little hesitant to buy it.  There wasn’t really a good reason to leave it behind except that I was afraid it didn’t fit ‘our style’.  Joe was right when he said that we don’t really have a style yet.  Since we still rent, we’re often trying to fit our things in spaces that we can only change so much.  I imagine that once we have a house – or at least a place that own – our style will really start to become clearer.

If I’ve learned anything from Nate Berkus’ The Things That Matter (which is a great book and totally worth reading if you haven’t yet), it’s that you should fill your home with things that make you happy.  I’m so glad that we brought this painting home because every time I pass it, I can’t help but smile.  I love the ties to Staten Island and Snug Harbor, too.

Popcorn on the Stove | Yard Sale Finds

Up next is our new rocking chair – which Joe and I are both in love with.  We’ll probably have to get a second chair because I get the sense that we’ll be fighting over it.  I have plans to crochet it in (because, you know, I’m 261) and Joe plans to study in it.  The rocker was only $20 so I feel like this was a great buy.

Sadly, I don’t know much about this rocking chair.  I think it’s a Windsor style but even that I’m not 100% sure of.  It was made by Nichols & Stone (this I know because of the logo underneath the chair) and is at least 50 years old (according to the man we bought the chair from).  I’ll have to check the bottom again to see where it was made so I can get a better idea of the chair’s age.

Popcorn on the Stove | Yard Sale Finds

So, while I may not know much about this chair yet, I do know that the details are phenomenal (case in point, the arm rests).  There are a few scratches but nothing structurally wrong with the chair.  It’s definitely a classic piece that can work anywhere in our apartment or future home.  Right now, it’s in the dining nook but I think we’re going to bring it back out to the living room once we figure out how to rearrange our furniture.

Popcorn on the Stove | Yard Sale Finds

Did you stumble across any great finds this weekend??

Posted in Decor, Details, Home, Living Room, Treasure Hunt | 4 Comments

Getting Spooky

I was quick to decorate for Fall (and by that, I mean I started on September 1st), but somehow lost speed when it came to Halloween.  Don’t worry – I got my butt in gear and finally got our apartment ready for Halloween!  After all, this is the first Halloween where we’ll actually be able to host trick or treaters (in 2011 we were on a plane headed to the UK and 2012 we were displaced by Hurricane Sandy).  Of course, there are still some small touches I’d love to add but they may be saved for next year.

Popcorn on the Stove | Halloween Decor

The first Halloween-friendly piece that came out of hiding was this jack-o-lantern we were given last year for an anniversary gift from one of Joe’s aunts.  He’s pretty cute and just hanging out on top of our card catalogs.  I imagine he enjoys being able to see the entire apartment from up there.  Or maybe he likes looking out the window.

Popcorn on the Stove | Halloween Decor

Here’s the ever lovely view of our television area.  There is so much Fall going on here, mostly because this is exactly where your eye is drawn when you sit down on the couch.

I cleaned the top of the bookcase up so that it didn’t look too cluttered.  A few things have been rearranged, some added, some removed.  The orange candles have been relocated to the dining table.  New to the set up are the orange votives – which I got at Michaels while they were on crazy sale – and my zombie virus/vampire blood vials (you can download the logos for free here).

Popcorn on the Stove | Halloween Decor

The left side of the TV seems like the more moderate side, but it’s still pretty fun.  That witch photo on the top shelf is actually an old advertisement for those Halloween Oreos (and a pretty genius one at that!).  I loved the ad so much that I clipped it out and have been holding onto it for year… and I also put it out about two weeks into September.

The shelf below features a piece of art I made with gold arrowheads I had found in a corn maze Joe and I tackled probably four years ago.  It’s a simple piece that I whipped up with some construction paper and glue but I think it’s a fun touch for Halloween.  Next to that is an image of a hen we snagged from a thrift store (which is sadly, not really festive for Halloween but it sort of works for Fall).  There’s also our glass pumpkin, filled with excess faux leaves, and a funky glass vase filled with corks.

Popcorn on the Stove | Halloween Decor

Not to be overlooked, on the left side of the bookcase, I created a fun little spider web with some excess yarn.  I’ve had this yarn since my freshman year of college (2004 – yikes!) but it’s been too scratchy to use for scarves.  Turns out, it’s perfect for spiderwebs – as you’ll see many times throughout this post!

Popcorn on the Stove | Halloween Decor

On top of the lamp, we have a fun little raven just hanging out.  I’m thinking of keeping him up for all of football season…

Popcorn on the Stove | Halloween Decor

On the other side of the tv, we’ve got a few more Fall touches.  The bottom shelf also includes another raven (I not-so-secretly want to buy 100 more and fill the apartment with them).  The shelf above that holds our apothecary jar, filled with putka pods and faux purple dahlias, and two of the disc-o balls to add a little sparkle.  There is also a giant spider web with one of Joe’s model planes stuck in it.

Popcorn on the Stove | Halloween Decor

The shelf above is my favorite, possibly because it’s so simple.  It’s basically a white IKEA planter with red, yellow, and orange dahlias, a black and white photo of Max (because a black cat is the perfect Halloween accessory), and a glittery, black pumpkin.

Like I said: simple.

Popcorn on the Stove | Halloween Decor

Our dining table is also feeling festive for Halloween.  Our orange candles and silver candlesticks have found a new home here.  I also added an orange pashmina to keep the table from feeling too bare.

Popcorn on the Stove | Halloween Decor

There are two more spiderwebs in the apartment.  The first is in the doorway between the living room and butler’s pantry. The spider who made this was probably distracted by Clueless (which I can totally understand because I, too, have to watch it whenever it comes on my TV).  Turns out that I actually really like that this web isn’t like the others.

Popcorn on the Stove | Halloween Decor

The second spiderweb is in one of our windows.  The little poof-ball doesn’t look like a spider here, but it does from the street.  It also helps keep that line of the web straight as I couldn’t secure it to the bottom of the pane (we love to keep our windows open so it would constantly need to be fixed every time we opened or closed it).

Popcorn on the Stove | Halloween Decor

Our little mice (which are the Martha Stewart Crafts Mice Silhouettes) made an appearance in our stairwell!  I opted to put them on the wall instead of the stairs because, contrary to how it looks in the photos, the stairwell is actually pretty dark.  Regardless, they are a fun touch.

Have you decorated for Halloween?  What’s your favorite thing to decorate with?  Are you expecting lots of trick or treaters?

Posted in Autumn, Holidays, Living Room, Seasonal | 3 Comments

Fall Organizing

Joe and I have spent a decent amount of time cleaning the apartment – sort of like a Fall cleaning purging.  When we moved in, we somehow crammed nearly two bedrooms worth of stuff into a one bedroom apartment.  Sure, we donated or passed along a lot of stuff, but we still brought more than we should have.  I think it’s that mentality of not wanting to toss something, only to buy another after you move.

Regardless, a lot of stuff has not found appropriate homes.  After being here for nearly seven months, the de-cluttering process was long overdue.


We had actually started purging when we moved in, filling up two medium-sized boxes with miscellaneous home items (one of them is hiding under those lamp shades in the photo above).  I’m embarrassed to say that these boxes sat in our apartment until Labor Day.  Since Joe was going to drop them off that weekend, we decided to start tackling other areas of the apartment.

Last month, I  began taking a serious look at my closet.  It’s never empty, but I always feel like I have nothing to wear – or I end up just wearing the same stuff over and over.  Rather than surround myself with the wrong clothing, I decided to start purging.  Joe decided to do the same.  When it came to cleaning the closets out, we basically yanked everything that:

  1. Didn’t fit or flatter us
  2. We hadn’t worn in quite some time
  3. Was kind of rough looking (holes, stains, etc)

Once I start cleaning, I really start cleaning (it takes a lot for be to get sentimental when I’m on a cleaning spree).  I immediately started pulling clothes off hangers based on the above criteria.  If I’m being conservative, I’d say I pulled at least 50% of the items hanging.  Anything I thought my mom and sister might like was put aside but everything else got tossed into a spare hamper where it hung out for a month.  This gave us (ok, fine – just me) time to decide if I actually was okay with letting these things go.  Turns out, I was able to donate or toss almost everything I threw in there.  The only items I held onto were a shirt I want to use for a pattern and a skirt that has a matching jacket – which I’ll grab from my parents’ before donating the set.  Everything in that hamper was neatly folded and put in a bag for donation… along with the hamper (how we had three of those I’ll never know).

My closet almost looks empty now, but that might be because I’m hoping to build it back up soon.


After tackling our bedroom, we started on reorganizing the closet/office in the living room.  The above photo is a ‘before’, but it’s fair to describe it as a disaster.  It was meant to be a hidden office, but the shelves above it were completely disorganized and crammed with crap.  Basically, it didn’t motivate us to be productive at all.

Side note: I would love it if my closet in the bedroom was this size.

Popcorn on the Stove | Closet Organization

To remedy, we purged.

There were a lot of random items like unfinished craft projects, old IKEA chair covers, and extra bed sheets.  Those are all gone now.  What remains is our old comforter (since those are expensive, I wasn’t ready to part with this yet), Joe’s tool box (it’s empty since all of the tools are in his card catalog), and a SALMA storage box from IKEA for all of Joe’s electronics.  Eventually, we’d love to go back and grab the smaller boxes to hold computer wires and acrylic paints (they were sold out on our last trip), but for now, this does the trick.

At the moment, there’s a ton of open space on that shelf.  My first instinct is of course “What else can I store up there?!” but I’m doing my best to control myself.  After all, filling it up would just lead to another de-cluttering post.

Popcorn on the Stove | Closet Organization

One great thing about this closet is it’s height.  There’s a second shelf – which you can’t see unless you walk into the closet – and primarily use for holiday stuff.  It’s great because it’s out of the way but totally accessible when we need it.  Case in point, while we were cleaning out the closet, Joe took down the box of Fall decor – which resulted in me immediately unloading and then decorating the apartment (which I shared last week).

The box is back up there, though a little lighter.

Granted, there are still closets to go through, and we’re still debating selling some furniture that just doesn’t fit here, but I think we’re in a good place right now.  It’s nice when your home is organized.

Has the cool weather encouraged you to do some cleaning/purging at your home?  What’s your favorite organization system your closets?

Posted in Home, Organizing, Storage | 9 Comments
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