This year, 2019, we picked Hotel Transylvania, a three (soon to be four) movie series from Sony featuring voice actors - Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Andy Samberg
Every Halloween since we've lived in our house (since 2016), we've picked a theme for the yard based off of a favorite children's Halloween movie. We had a huge list of candidates in August to pick from, but decided on Monsters Inc! Traditionally you wouldn't think of Monsters Inc. as a Halloween movie, but they do play it on "31 Days of Halloween" on the Freeform channel every year so we think it counts!
To add a little more of a Halloween element, we dressed Sully, Mike, and Boo up in Halloween costumes. Mike as a vampire, Sully as Frankenstein's Monster, and Boo in her purple monster costume from the Monsters Inc. movie. Needleman and Smitty (the two Monsters Inc. Company workers) we had looking out at the street as if all the children walking by on Halloween were scaring them. Its a big plot point in the movie that the monsters in Monster Inc. think that human kids are toxic and one touch could kill you! Our last character, Randall, is slinking around Boo's pink and flowered door in the background, blending into the door to sneak up and scare you! The orange and blue doors behind Needleman and Smitty are our actual bedroom closet doors. They were painted by our good friend, Vic, to create a background to the secondary characters. Andrew installed red reflectors with remote controlled, glowing lights behind them so it looked like the doors were "powered on" just like in the movie.
Andrew kicked butt this year creating the Roz and Celia shadows for the windows, the "Happy Halloween from all of us at Monsters Inc." sign, and Mike and Sully foot prints up the driveway to the front door. He also did all of the character/door installation so they remained standing all month, as well as back projecting the Monsters Inc. movie in the garage!
The scarecrow, who does not fit into the Monsters Inc. theme, is just there as fall decoration! His Robin Hood hat is a new addition from our craft room after he lost his original hat and hair in a wind/squirrel attack a few weeks back.
Two of our friends who attended the Halloween party were kind enough to share their short videos of our lawn set up - love it in motion especially with the trick-or-treaters in the background!
Inside the house we are a little more traditional with our fall/Halloween decorations. The Monsters Inc. theme stays outside and the cozy fall and cutesy Halloween stays inside. All-in-all, I think I only bought three new decorations this season - that's a miracle! Most of the decorations, especially the fall ones, are from our wedding two years ago. You'll notice in the fall wreath a special easter egg, our pumpkin bride and groom cake toppers!
What is a Halloween party without some fun food?! Andrew made some delicious slow-cook chili and quesadillas. Since we had people arriving at all different times throughout the evening, the chili was always warm in the crock pot and the quesadillas were able to be made on the spot. Now on the dessert front, we had a lot of fun. We made a few treats that were easy to handle when we were short on time. The vanilla chocolate covered Oreos were a simple red and yellow dye mixture in the vanilla frosting covering a double stuffed Oreo. The stems were an easy addition dying the vanilla green and piping fun shaped stems. Lastly adding the jack-o-lantern faces with black gel piping gives it that perfect Halloween feel. In honor of Monster's Inc., we did give a few of the pumpkins one eye.
I have been going bundt crazy ever since my sister-in-law gifted me a bundt pan for my birthday this year. Its just so easy to use and create beautiful cakes. No crumb layer frosting required! This Halloween themed bundt cake came out a little less spooky than anticipated. The inside colors were supposed to be orange, neon green, and purple, instead they turned out like an Easter pastel rainbow. No problem though, now I know what to make for Easter! We got extra fun with sprinkles this year as well. In a last minute decision we decided on adding fun sprinkles to both the inside and outside of the cake. We thought the inside sprinkles may make a funfetti type feel and the sprinkles on the outside added a nice texture. (The cookies to the screen left of the full bundt are store made - sorry! we can't make everything!)
Here's to a successful Halloween party from our friends to yours!
In case you don't get Andrew and my costume reference...
We always knew we wanted our first trip outside the US to be to Ireland. I have 45% Irish heritage and Andrew wanted our first oversees trip to be to an English-speaking county so when planning our honeymoon we immediately decided on Ireland. To get the nitty-gritty details we did a lot of research and asked a lot of friends about their experiences. The only place in Ireland we knew we had to visit was Castle Hackett in Galway. The name "Hackett" is a prominent name on my mother's side and my mother's parents visited it many times when they were alive. I couldn't wait to follow in their footsteps.
Day 1 - Malahide
After a LONG night of traveling and very little sleep, we arrived in Malahide around 8 AM local time. The first thing to get used to was driving on the left side of the road. Andrew didn't have too much trouble driving even with the lack of food and sleep, but we were truly thankful that we got a super small car to fit on the narrow roads of Ireland.
Our first stop was a bakery in downtown Malahide. Since the B&B was not open until after 12 noon, we decided going out to eat in our plane clothes would not be the most pleasant experience. So this little bakery down the way from the B&B was a perfect stop. Part grocery store, part bakery, it was our first glimpse into a typical Irish store. The space was small, but open so it didn't feel cramped. There was so much food stuffed onto every shelf so we didn't feel bad about buying multiple pastries. The scone was especially wonderful. Never before had I had a scone that I liked so much. I would go back to Ireland just for that scone.
With a few hours to kill before the B&B opened, we decided to go to Castle Malahide. Our first Irish castle! As we waited for the tour we walked around the lower level of the castle to view some exhibits about the furniture, a brief history of the castle, and some descriptions of people that lived (and died) inside the castle walls. We learned people were living in the castle up until 1979! This meant there were a lot of 70s-style furnishings which was a bit odd to see in a castle. Overall the experience was fine, but the lack of sleep was really hitting us hard so we decided it was time to try and get into the B&B.
At 12:15 we arrived at our first B&B, Beechwood House. Its so funny looking back and remembering booking these hotels. We had never been outside the US and it seems my imagination of Ireland was shaped by of a lot of movies and documentaries. I didn't expect our first B&B to feel so put together and spacious. Granted once you got to the rooms, the space was much smaller - one bedroom and a bathroom. Sleeping in someone's house is normally so intimate that this experience of sleeping in a strangers house was quite nerve wracking.
The owner was a great guy though and made us feel very welcome. With a few other family's staying in the house, we relaxed a bit and enjoyed the home-y feel. Every morning our host would make us a huge breakfast which I could never finish and we sat at two big tables with all the other guests like a family. We got to know a British family just visiting for the weekend. Their teenage son told us how much he wanted to visit America - especially L.A. and to go to NASCAR. I've been to LA once and neither of us know anything about NASCAR so we were probably disappointing American representatives in his eyes.
Day 2 - Dublin
Day 3 - Kilkenny/Dungarvan
The Medieval Mile Museum
Murphy's Ice Cream
Day 4 - Cork
West Cork Burger
Day 5 - Kenmare
Dinner at the B&B
Day 6 - Clare
Day 7 - Galway
Day 8 - Shannon
Merry Christmas, my friends!
What a wonderful Advent season we've been having so far - lots of cookie making, Christmas decorating and celebrating the season with family and friends. This month has been extra crazy as I've been assisting with stage managing a show at a local theatre and just finished up my ASL classes. The ASL classes were interesting. I've not had formal sign language classes before so learning proper grammar was a bit daunting. My advantage was learning sign language through immersion when acting with the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in college. The folks at the New York School for the Deaf were great though and I'm looking forward to taking the final level of classes in the spring. Too bad there aren't more levels in this program! Its so easily to lose reception skills when you aren't regularly signing.
By far what I've been spending most of my time outside of work doing is stage managing for the local theatre. The cast and crew are so wonderful and we're doing the most hilarious farce - Is He Dead? by Mark Twain - which will go up in January. Keep an eye out for the leg and eyeball props I made for the show, I'm pretty proud of them =)
Luckily Andrew and I were able to get in some solid cookie baking time a few weekends ago. When Andrew was a kid his family normally made 1200-1400 cookies over the course of one weekend - 15-20 varieties. That blows my mind! So of course Andrew has brought the cookie making tradition to our household as well. We did not make quite as many as Andrew's family growing up, but it still took us all day. In the end we made four varieties - Italian sesame seed, M&M, peanut butter blossom, and bones - around 400 in total! Maybe one day we'll build up to the cookie making machine legacy of 15-20 varieties!
Next came the house decorating - inside and out! It was a slow process decorating our house inside. We surprisingly little Christmas decorations compared to all the fall ones. We bought a few new pieces - the wreath above the fireplace and the wooden star on the picture window.
We did get a new ornament - "First Christmas in Our New Home" which I love. Its porcelain which makes me nervous if it drops, but so far so good. It helps not having pets that run around the house and ram into the tree.
And then it began to snow for the first time EVER (in the new house)! We, of course, ran outside and took a million picture of our house in the snow. I'm sure our neighbors were shaking their heads at us. Well if they didn't think we were crazy for decorating our house's outside the day after Thanksgiving, then taking a ton of picture in the snow shouldn't surprise anyone.
And, of course, I had to get a few pictures of Andrew shoveling the driveway for the first snow of the season!
Wishing you a wonderful advent season and a wonderful Christmas. We'll share some Christmas Day photos with you soon!
Meghan and Andrew
Happy Fall y'all! A new season brings a new backyard scene! That is probably the most exciting thing about a new house is seeing the yard transform each season. This fall we've already seen a couple of plants turn a bright shade of pink/red. I can't wait for late fall - will we get any oranges, yellow and deep reds??
A new season brings new decorations of course! We were inspired by all of the beautiful reds, yellows and oranges so we went with a warmer color palette. Last year for our November 5th wedding we bought a ton of fall decorations and it was so nice to be able to spread them out all over the house this year. The only new fall decorations we bought was the wreath over the fireplace and the Snoopy in a pumpkin costume on the rocking chair.
Click on the images below to view them fullscreen!
Stay tuned for our Halloween decorations!
xo The Bonas
We've been busy here on Robin Hood Road, especially in the living room! After the paint job (shout out to all the help from Andrew's parents), we slowly started getting furniture, pillows, curtains and decor to fit the room. There are still a few temporary items, like the octopus lamps and folding tables, but overall, we've very happy with the progress!
First thing when approaching the living room, decor-wise, was deciding the color scheme. Andrew and I have never been particularly good at picking decor in a timely fashion. I'e noticed one of two things happens, either we'll wait until we're about six months from moving out of the space to start decorating or we'll be too picky never decide on buying anything. For example, we had a small decor piece over the couch in our apartment. It took us weeks to pick out every piece and put them all together in a cohesive fashion. I love that we are so particular about every piece of decor, but it does make the process longer and more drawn out. So after buying the house in February but not moving in until April, it gave us time to really work through what we wanted the rooms to look like. Navy, gray and yellow seemed to be the winning color scheme for the living room and so we started planning furniture and decor around that.
We had been watching a lot of HGTV, in particular Fixer Upper, and were leaning towards a modern rustic style. So we looked at a navy McKinley Sofa and loveseat from Raymour and Flanigan and Sanora Gray Area Rug from Wayfair to fit our Navy, gray and yellow color palette. We weren't set on the end tables and coffee tables, but I liked white bottom and the wide plank tops.
Once we got into the house however, we started looking around at all of that living room space and feeling like we needed an accent chair as well. So when we went to Raymour and Flanigan to buy the navy McKinley sofa and loveseat on labor day weekend, we also looked around for an accent chair. Ideally we were looking for something yellow, but we also knew that not a lot of stores sold yellow accent chairs, so we were also taking a look at gray as well. We ended up bringing home the gray and white patterned beauty you see below. It was a floor sample so its no longer available, but here is something similar from Raymour and Flanigan that we also considered.
Now with our furniture on its way within a few days, we realized we needed to nix the idea of the Sanora Gray Area Rug. The pattern of the accent chair and the pattern of the rug would clash in my opinion. So I went to the ole Photoshop again and did some mock ups using pictures of the couches and accent chair we had bought. At first sight, I wasn't sure about this Bleecker Grey/Dark Grey Area Rug from Wayfair. I liked the gray and yellow accents but it looked too modern for the vibe we were trying to create. We were up against the clock with a Wayfair sale running out at midnight. We decided to bite the bullet and just pray that it looked okay when it got into the space.
You'll also notice I added a few pillows to the mock up that I found online to really bring the navy, gray and yellow color scheme to life. We didn't end up purchasing any of the pillows online, instead it was a slow and deliberate search for the pillows one color at a time. 😊
We were so relieved when the rug and furniture arrived and looked just perfect together! I like how the patterns are different but still don't clash. The pillows, as I mentioned above, were a labor of love. I spent lots of lunch hours running out to places like HomeGoods, Pier 1, and Marshalls looking for just the right shade of yellow and gray. After some trial and error, we ended up the the assortment of pillows you see above. Not only are they different patterns and shades, but they're also different textures which I love. All of the variety makes the room feel fun but not random.
Our next task was to find curtains and curtain rods to fit the room. We decided we wanted a pattern, but nothing too bold. After much deliberation, we bought the Regent Court 2-pack Fret Embroidery Curtains in white from Kohls. They're light and flowy and just add a breath of fresh air to the space.
The curtain rods however were not so simple. At this point, we had decided we would try our hand at building some basic end tables. Andrew found some great plans on Ana-White.com and we wanted the curtain rods to match the tea stain of the end tables. So we bought some rods, dowels, heavy-duty glue, corbels, steel wool, tea and sealer from Home Depot with an awesome "new home owner" coupon we got in the mail when we moved in.
The whole process took place over a few weeks after work partially because the wood needed time to dry and partially because we were working through some late nights in the office. We followed Andrea's instructions to "Weathering Wood with Steel Wool & Vinegar" and were just over the moon with how the color turned out. Drilling holes into the end of the poles and hammering in the dowels proved to much stress for the rods, so we used heavy duty glue to combine multiple rods to the specified lengths. We have a pretty large picture window which would require three rods to be fastened together end to end. We had decided we'd also use three corbels to support the rod - right, center, and left. Three coats of sealer later, we finally had rods and rod holders we were super proud of!
The problem was when we brought the pieces into the living room to screw into the wall, we hated how they looked with the curtains. The rods looked so bulky and dark while the curtain were so light and flowy. They were polar opposites and did not work together at all. As much as it pained us, we scrapped the homemade curtain rods and bought Cambria® Premier Complete Double Drapery Rods in oil rubbed bronze.
Everything else just came together piece by piece. The white Accent Table (below, right) we found at The Elephant Trunk Flea Market in CT one weekend. (Excuse the messy wiring!) The mini ladder with pictures is possibly from HomeGoods - I can't quite remember!
Temporarily, the side tables are Mainstays 5-Piece Tray Table, Walnut from Walmart. We're actually really digging this color and may end up using a walnut stain for the final side tables we build ourselves.
Our next challenge is to figure out what to do with the other half of the living room. Its an open concept living room and pretty long from end to end. For now, we've added a rocking chair we found at a yard sale and perhaps in the future we'll reupholster the cushions with more fitting fabric. You'll also see a bunch of kids toys and games courtesy of my mother. We had our niece and nephew up from Buffalo last month and just haven't had the heart to put the toys back into the basement. And honestly, they help fill up the space! The water hyacinth bin is from Marshalls a few years ago and holds all of our cozy blankets.
The Forsythia wreath hanging above the fireplace has been my favorite (and quickest!) project. I started with an Ashland® Wispy Grapevine Wreath and Ashland® Floral Essentials Forsythia branches from Michaels Craft Store. I simply plucked the fake Forsythia flowers off of the branches and hot glued them onto the wreath in no particular pattern. After all of the pieces were bought, the project probably took 30-40 minutes.
On the hearth you'll see a bunch of birthday cards from wonderful friends and family. I saw Andrew's parents keep cards up around the fireplace until the next birthday, Christmas or anniversary and then replace the old with the new. I love this idea because its a constant reminder of all the love and support in our lives and it gives us another reminder to be grateful.
While I still think we have a little way to go with our living room (aka building the end tables, buying better floor lamps and possibly hanging some wall decorations), I feel a lot of pride and joy. I love having people over the house just to see that room. Now if only we can get every room meet this high caliber, it would be easy living!
Welcome back to our paintover journey! Just a reminder of the room colors before we dive into the new paint colors we picked...
As you can see in the before pictures, the dining room is a light yellow and the living room a darker peach. The sun rises on the front side of our house so we don't get as much light through the picture window as we'd like. The darker peach sort of swallows up the room in our opinion so we decided some light grays were the way to go! We went through about five options. We wanted a light gray around most of the living room and a dark gray on the fireplace wall as an accent. In the dining room we would use those same living room grays - light gray above the chair rail and dark gray below. This way we'd have continuity with our open floor plan.
We decided to go with Valspar paint because of their "love your color guarantee" which entails "complimentary replacement color to anyone who does not absolutely love their first color choice". We thought that sounded like a pretty good guarantee, plus we liked that we could explore the colors online here. At first started off looking at their grays at Lowes and found two we really liked! We bought a sample of each and using Lowe's sample paint kit, we painted the removable decals and moved them around the room to get a feel for how the light would affect the color in each area. Boy am I glad we did that because it turns out the two grays we had picked were way too blue in certain lights. Below are pictures of the exact same painted decals in different lighting. Scary right?
After doing more research into gray paint, I learned about the different undertones - blue, red, purple and yellow. It was obvious to me then that even though Andrew and I had naturally gravitated towards the blue-gray, what we really needed was a yellow-gray. That may sound a little odd but it mostly just looks like a beige-gray which creates a stunning neutral.
Helpful resources on gray paint:
After some quick decision making, we grabbed a few samples of yellow-gray two days before we were set to paint and finally decided on Tempered Gray and Soulful Grey. I was surprised and nervous that these two were not suggested palette mates on the Valspar color explore website, but we decided to push on in hopes that these two would ultimately work together.
Low and behold the two colors work together perfectly! The contrast with the white ceiling and the white trim is what really makes it.
We are so in love with our new living room and dining room. Can't wait to buy a new couch, rug and curtains this memorial day and start tying all of our colors together!
The best part about buying a house in the winter is the genuine surprise of what spring brings when you move in. The first day we saw our patio and backyard without snow was the day we moved in and that was just the beginning. Within a week, we saw all of these beautiful flowers sprouting up all over the yard. Stunning pinks, reds and purples.
So what do we think - pull it all out and groom it or leave it as a natural paradise?
Click on pictures below to see them larger!
Today we were elated to finally get into our house on Robin Hood Road!
You search for weeks, months and for some people, years, to find the right home and then when it comes along you have to make a snappy decision - to buy or not to buy. Really the question is - should I put in an offer? how much should we offer? did someone offer more? did someone offer before me? Within just a few hours of learning the house is on the market, you need to decide if you love it and can see yourself in it for 30 years. Its a huge undertaking. That is why a few months ago when our house first came on the market on a Thursday night, we got an appointment to see the house next afternoon and put in an offer on that night. I won't say this is our dream house, because it's not, but it has the potential to be. There's an open concept living room in which I have no idea how to position the furniture, a great backyard completely overgrown with weeds and flowers, two retro bathrooms complete with a pink tub, sink and toilet and a deck off the master that is awkwardly visible from the street. Our house is not perfect, but man does it feel like home.
We can't wait to start unpacking, painting, buying furniture, weeding, renovating those bathrooms and decorating. No Dad we won't do it all at once, but we sure are excited to get started.
With the spring weather upon us Andrew and I have found ourselves at the nearby park everyday after dinner. It's been a full week since starting our daily walks and has quickly become my favorite part of the day. When we arrive there's always just about a half an hour of light left, but lately we've been staying past when the lamp lights come on. Weekdays are a little calmer but on the weekends there is always plenty of activity - families having picnics, kids kicking soccer balls into the water, dogs getting tangled in each others leashes and without fail there is always a photo shoot of a wedding, engagement, quinceañera or baby announcement. As crowded as it gets, its always peaceful walking along the edge of the water soaking up the sun and good vibes.
We found this park three years ago when we first moved into town and now that we're moving out of our apartment, this park will be much farther away and I don't think we'll be able to keep up our daily walks here. Maybe that's why we're going everyday, because we know we soon won't have the opportunity. By this time next week we'll be in a different neighborhood with different parks and different people. I am definitely going to miss our park, lets make this week last longer.