Saturday, October 31, 2015

Virtual Home Tour: The Kitchen (Before & After)

I've been lagging on these posts, but it's time to get it done. I'll do a series of posts that show the before and after pictures of certain rooms in the Henry Home Condo. I've slacked off on virtual house tours on this blog since we've already had a house warming party and many of you have already seen it first hand. But for the sake of me wanting to look back on this in the future, and for the sake of being consistent, here's Part II of the Virtual Home Tour.


Here's a picture I took of our kitchen on the day we got our keys.

The kitchen was simple and basic when we got the condo. Everything worked. Actually, we haven't changed too much on it appliance-wise. There's still a lot we plan to do with it but that won't probably be until later next year. But! I don't want to undermine all the work we did on the kitchen. I think this room took the longest to spiff up.

We began the kitchen journey by painting the walls white. There's not much wall to see but it was previously a peach color (see first picture).

Then, we bought a fridge. This was a tiring search. The fridge also broke down three times in the first month we got it. Lots of our food went bad and there was a lot of eating out, but eventually the third time was the charm and the repairman fixed the refrigerator. Thank goodness for warranties!

The previous owner screwed in a paper towel holder into the cabinet itself. I was unable to unscrew it, and it took the effort of both my dad and Russell to unscrew the white paper towel holder from the wooden cabinets. The previous owners had used gigantic and super long screws to attach the towel holder. It was little things like this that made the kitchen frustrating.

We then added this cute little caddy holder we bought from IKEA (IKEA ftw!).

Also note our non-cabinet-attached paper towel holder.

While the inside of the cabinets were white (because I insisted we painted them), I wanted to give it a bit of a pop. I knew I would be spending a lot of time in the kitchen, so I wanted to be able to open a cabinet and feel happy instead of bored about dishes. So, I lined the back of my cabinets with colorful gift wrap! (See below picture)

Stripes & polka dots!
This was a process of measuring, cutting, and taping the wrapping paper to the back of the cabinets. It didn't help that on the day that I did this, it was very humid and the double-stick tape wouldn't hold as well. However, the end result made me happy. I also added liners to the bottom. They're not pictured here but you'll be able to see them in the final end result photos.

Then came the part I had been anticipating. Since way before house searching, I had always fantasized about having a white kitchen. We didn't have the money to reinstall completely new cabinets so we decided to just paint them. We waited to paint the kitchen cabinets until we were all done painting our entire condo (seriously, we painted every wall of our condo).

Russell unscrewed all the cabinets and sanded down the wood surfaces. We did it in two parts: the upper cabinets first, then later the bottom cabinets.
Kitchen in progress photo
While the top cabinets dried, we laid out a mat in the guest room where I painted the cabinet doors during the day.

This was a painstakingly slow task. Mostly because I didn't realize how many layers it took to get the cabinet doors painted. Not only that, but sometimes we would have to re-sand in between painting the layers to get the paint even on all sides. Even thinking back to this task has made me exhausted. It took forever.

But you guys, once we finished painting all the cabinets and put the doors back up, it was beautiful. We bought simple black knobs from IKEA. I noticed that since the last owners didn't have knobs, there was a lot of wear-and-tear as well as grime around the places their hands touched most. I didn't want to take the chance on making our clean, newly painted cabinets dirty so we installed knobs. Plus, the black knobs add a touch of class.

I love how our kitchen looks like now. There's still a lot that I want done to it. For example, I have a frustrating relationship with the white countertops. I don't even know what material it is but it stains so easily and I find myself having to bleach it weekly. The sink is not stainless steel nor is it a deep sink. We also still need to change out the microwave and add a tile backsplash. However, despite all that, I am content at its current state. Also, the kitchen is such a big project that we are content taking time off from doing any renovations on it.

Without further ado, here is the current state of our kitchen!
Kitchen caddy with a plant
Fun kitchen mats
Cabinets with bottom liners and (fun) background decorations
Kitchen counter stools
Story: We bought these stools from Craigslist for $5. Russ spray-painted them white and my mom-in-law helped us reupholster them with this fun fabric.
Kitchen plant. And our clipboard key hook

This concludes The Kitchen part of the Virtual Home Tour!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Plants, Travel, and Writing

My soul feels so full lately. I don’t know how else to describe it. I’ve been in my most happy and healthy state. And not like I all of a sudden peaked at my happiness, but instead that it’s plateaued in a good way. The kind where you can hit the cruise control button on life and take it all in. Which is why I write this now.

I don’t even know where to begin.

Yesterday, I had my weekly hang out session with two of my girl friends. I look forward to this time every week because I believe in girl power so much. There’s a special healing and joy brought out when girls get together to encourage each other, to laugh together, to tell secrets to one another--all for friendship. I really believe in this. Anyways, one of my friends mentioned that there was a study on plants that found talking positively to plants actually helps them grow. This brought so much joy to my heart because Russ and I love our plants and they’ve been flourishing. I like to think that it’s because our home has been filled with so much love from visitors and from our marriage that our plants have responded to it by sprouting new leaves. I can’t help but think that when God said to do everything in love, even His creation responds to His will being fulfilled.

There was a recent 3 day air-sale on domestic flights this past week. I quickly asked my brother and sis-in-law to travel to Chicago with us since it was only $80 for a roundtrip ticket ($80!!). They responded so fast by requesting the days off and by the next day, my older brother was texting me “TRINN!!! BOOK THE CHICAGO TICKETS! WE GOT THE DAYS OFF!!” and I was not at home but with my friends that I got carsick rapidly texting Russell to book the tickets before the sale ended. We got the tickets and we’ll be traveling to Chicago for 5 days this December where we can freeze our Southern Californian butts off. But I am so excited. This is my first time traveling with my older brother where we’re all mature and married now.

There has been so much going on. Russ and I both come home bursting with stories and we take turns listening to each other’s days. I feel like a little kid as we rapidly talk and spill about every little thing that happened. Like when Russ got ice cream at work after their HR person took them outside and told them to scream for ice cream. And about how I drank a rose latte for the first time. And bigger things. Like about having kids. About our dreams. About how much this marriage has helped and supported us through so many events. When we first got married, I told Russ about how much I value good conversation. That we shouldn’t ask throw-away questions like “How are you?” because then you only get throw away answers. Instead we say, “Name one thing at work that brought you joy today.” or “What’s one thing that made you laugh out loud today?” And you guys, we have so many quality conversations this way that my heart just bursts. Did I mention how many new leaves our plants are spurting?

When I hung out with my girl friends this week, we were bursting with ideas and stories. These two girls are creative types (What is it with me gravitating towards all things creative lately?). They dedicate specific amount of times each week to paint, create, illustrate, etc. I’ve asked if I can bring my laptop next week to work on my story while they watercolor paint. We found one of the cutest coffee shops, and we decided to tackle our creative pursuits there next week. But while we were talking, we thought of so many amazing ideas together. So next week folks, I will be attempting to write my first screenplay with two of the most creative, funny girls I’ve met. I took just one playwright class in college that I figured, why not give it a go? There’s a high chance this will just end up in another scribble on a page but one thing I’ve learned from these girls is that it doesn’t hurt to try.

I’ve never been so encouraged. All my friends are doing amazing things. Even unemployed, full time, or part time, I have friends in all places doing great big things in everyday life that I can’t helped but feel inspired.

I’ve written a long post. But my soul is dancing and I am so loved in a home that I love. I wanted to share because how can I hoard this in?

Wishing you an inspiring and insightful weekend!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Something Beautiful

After spending the last few months making our condo a home, Russell and I have been doing some hardcore chilling. It's very nice. This past weekend, we made ourselves as useless as possible and we had so much fun doing nothing. Poor Lewis.

We also booked tickets to Florida in November. This means that I will be visiting Harry Potter land and I am SO EXCITED. Russell is going through all the Harry Potter books and should be done by the time we go to Florida, which means we will get to experience the excitement of Harry Potter together! This is romance, folks.

Other beautiful things have been happening. I think the more that we're married, and the more seasons we experience--metaphorically and literally--the more I see our marriage strengthen. In addition to that, we have good people in our lives who speak wisdom and truth to us in times of need. And for that, I am so thankful.

Here are some pictures I have on my iPhone camera roll. I like to scroll through my pictures once in awhile to be reminded of all the wonderful, small things I get to experience.

For example:
Is this how falling leaves smells like?
Since it's been hot, we had to recreate our own version of "Autumn" in the Henry home. This involved lots of Fall-colored flowers and Fall-scented candles.

Baking nights:
Tell me this is beautiful
I need to work on my frosting applying skills, but this cake here was so yummy. It's Earl Grey cake with Lavender Chocolate frosting. Russell and I love plants, but it doesn't end there. We also love food that tastes like plants.


On Monday, I looked through my work email and realized I didn't have much work to do that day so I decided to spend the day at my parents' house. I hung out with my dad a bit in his garden, chatted with my mom, then took the puppy to the park across the street. It was a beautiful day. It made my heart full and made me thankful for the wonderful childhood I spent in that home and the many days I spent in this park.

While at my parent's house...

I caught Tiki the turtle pulling out some pretty impressive stunts that explained to me how he has managed to escape twice (Once, we found him under the banana tree. The second time, he made it as far as the guava tree). He got down from climbing the fence after I waved some lettuce at him.

Little things:

I got a new planner and have started to write things in it already!

And, of course, books:

Russ and I made a trip to the library and rented some books. Nothing says beauty like curling up on the couch with a pile of books and having lots of time.