The Perfect Rug…?

Gray walls. Dark gray sofa (planned). Black tv set. Light brown wooden flooring (planned).

What rug should we get?

Our color scheme for the living room is gray, teal, and gold as well as black and white.

What kind of rug should we get?



What stores sell great rugs?



Should it be gray?



Or one of our colors – gold or teal?



Should it be graphic and modern-cool or simple and classy?



How much should a rug cost? $200? $1,000?



When should we buy a rug? Before or after the coffee table, end tables, and other accessories?



Should we risk another shag rug? Our orange rug (purchased in 2007) hasn’t stopped shedding…



What if we love a rug on the internet? Should we risk and order or stick with what we can see with our own two eyes?



Will we ever find the perfect dark gray sofa? Oops, wrong post.



Will Nick ever get over his distaste of zebra rugs?



Will we ever get to the point when we’re done with everything else that we need to do in the living room and become ready to purchase such a risky and expensive accessory?

Our Current Dilemma

We have our gigantic tv set all assembled and ready and smiling.

But we have yet to mount our 42-inch tv.

a small piece of our tv set

a small piece of our tv set

We have the tv mount ready – just lacking the know-how and a trip to Lowe’s. I’m kind of scared to drill holes in the tv set but Nick is confident (I think he’s secretly scared, too).

All I know is that we need to go to Lowe’s soon. And overcome our crippling fear.

I’ve had enough having two tv sets in my living room. Yes, TWO! The big tv set is on the wall, practically empty, with our old LACK (ikeatalk) tv set in the front with the tv standing on it.

I would show you a picture, but I am confident that you are using the reading strategy of picturing so well that you are seeing in your head exactly what I’m looking at right now in my living room. Right?

(Yes, I teach reading strategies)

(Real reason of the lack of a picture – we don’t have the right USB thingy to transfer pictures from our camera to this laptop, true story, a trip to Best Buy is also in order)

The Arches

When we first saw a model house of our floorplan (which is called Triumph), we immediately fell in love with it.

Four bedrooms. Three full bathrooms. A game room. Two floors, which means a bigger backyard (we need all the inches we can get). Nice sized L-shaped kitchen. A open floor plan on the first floor.

But at first, we didn’t think it was that open. Because there’s three arches dividing the living room and the dining room. We liked the look, but felt that it might look better and more open without the arches. The arches don’t provide structural support, so we could remove it without worrying about the house falling down like the London Bridge. However, we gave it some thought and decided that the arches made our house unique and charming.

the arches

the arches (and half of nick)

When we painted our living room a blue-ish gray, we liked how the unpainted, white arches stood out from the gray walls. So, we decided to take a risk and paint the arches a DARK gray. We looked at the paint strip (swatch? you know the thin paper things with different colors on them, on a .. ugh my painting vocabulary needs to improve) with our living room gray color and went down the strip to the darker gray colors. There are five shades of gray on that paint strip, and our living room gray color is the second color on that strip. We went ahead and picked the fourth color (the fifth was so dark it was almost black) and painted a swatch on one arch.

I thought, “I’m so afraid. This might be too dark.” But Nick shook his head and stuck to his manly decision and said that the dark gray color was PERFECT.

So we went ahead.

And I love it.


the arches, take two (where's nick?)

They look a bit lighter in that picture than in real life. They are dark and dramatic and contrasts nicely with the white trim. I think we need a better camera to accurately show you what our paint colors look like…

You can see the bluish gray color on the wall on the right. The front arch looks like a light gray color due to the camera flash, but the left arch and the left wall is a better representation of the gray color.

As you can see, we also painted the dining room wall a gold color. More on that later, and our inspiration for that color… (Hint: Swedish meatballs)

One more picture of the arches… and yours truly.

my head looks a little less alienish here, whew

my head looks a little less alienish here, whew

Yeah, that wall on the left (the stairs is behind the wall) is unpainted. It is still unpainted as of now. That was supposed to be done yesterday (saturday). What did we do instead? I read half of a book and finished it. Nick watched college football. No regrets, it just means more work this week ūüôā

Living in Grayiness

The answer to the previous post:

We chose both the first two shades.

What the…?

The second shade, we picked for our living room — and saved the first shade for our bedroom! Looks good in the photo but in person, it looked a bit too dark but perfect for a moody, chill bedroom.

So we painted the living room. It turned out to be kind of a bluish gray. I can’t believe how a shade can look so different from a nice-sized swatch on the wall (and we painted that swatch on two different walls) to a FULL blown shade on ALL of the walls. It looked lighter, bluer, but we loved it and thus it stays – a bluish gray living room.

When I say “we” in the above sentence. I mean me and mom. Mom was here in Austin that week.¬† Nick was away at a softball tournament so it was just me and mom laboring away and inhaling all that paint VOCs.

the boring before

the boring before

all tarped up

all tarped up

Mom attacked the ceiling line with a TINY brush and slowly and carefully cut in without tape. Wow. I wish I had a picture of her doing that hard work. But instead I have this corny photo of me with an alien-shaped head.



Now I’m looking at this picture – the gray in that photo is much darker than what the color is on my walls right now.

I am basking in blue-grayiness right now as I’m typing this. Full photo of the blue-grayiness coming soon.

And to tide you over till then,  here are some plans for the living room:

Not everything will be purchased, but you get a general idea of where I want to go… (but the gray-black-purple-teal color scheme has been replaced with gray-black-GOLD-teal)


Everything Ain’t Black or White

Gray. Gray. Gray. Grey. Gray.

Before we even moved into our house, we knew that we would have gray in our house.

Especially the living room.

We thought it was classic, simple, elegant. With black furniture. And white accessories, with one pop color.

And we did it!

But before we could go crazy with our paintbrushes, we had to decide on a shade of gray…

Let me tell you, there’s around 738 shades of gray (and 894 shades of white, which is DUMB and CRAZY and WHAT).

So we (blindly) chose three shades of gray from our paint swatches… We wanted a cool shade of gray, not a warm shade of gray (which reminded us of taupe… not our style).

there'e three shades here. yes, three. look closely.

there'e three shades here. yes, three. look closely.

And then we gave it a week to look at it and decide on which color we liked the best. We painted these samples on different walls in the living room so we could see it under different lights (you can buy paint samples these days, which is much cheaper than buying a gallon of paint you don’t like. It cost us $5 per sample at Sherwin Williams).

Then we made a decision!

Which shade do you think we chose?

(and I know I use parentheses way too much… I bet I talk like this in real life… I feel bad for my students) (and my friends) (and my husband) (and my cats)

(in case you didn’t realize, I made up the total numbers of the paint shades… but I’m sure my guesses are close)

Our Office is Teal (Jacksonville-Jaguars-Teal)

When my summer vacation begin, I was foaming at the mouth at the idea of painting ALL the rooms in our house and have everything decorated and furnished and beautiful and ready and awesome and wow and etc by the end of the summer. And then Nick said, ENOUGH ELISA ENOUGH WITH THE CRAZINESS.

And he’s right… so we’ve decided to focus on a room until it is finished and then move on to the next room, and so on.

Last spring, we painted our office TEAL. We tried out four different paint colors before finding this perfect shade.

Why teal?

We were inspired by this photo from CB2:

still looking for the perfect yellow chair...

still looking for the perfect yellow chair...

We finally found the perfect shade (Sherwin Williams’ Intense Teal) and painted the whole office with it.

And then bought some window flat panel curtains from IKEA and got all excited.

And then left the room alone for a long while. (sigh)

We got back to it, but then we ultimately decided to focus on the living/dining rooms for now because it’s the first thing people see. It’s definitely next on our list…

It’s SO important to finish that room. All of our books are still in boxes, taking over our game room upstairs, and all of our important papers are just in stupid piles.

Since it was the first real home project we took on, we wanted to show you that before moving on to our dining/living room’s progress.


ignore the spots - mr. camera's fault


white looks good with teal

What we’ve done in that room thus far:

– took off the closet door and painted our closet teal; the closet will become our bookcase

– put up two black magnet boards and a dry erase board

– bought a few yellow accessories

– got a cute light fixture and installed it

– grumbled about office chair prices

Since this room is put on hold, that’s all I’ll show you of that office for a while now. We plan to put up two black shelves and two black cabinets and THEN add black shelving to our closet/bookcase.

We like black for wooden furniture instead of the usual brown. But it’s hard to find black furniture! If you have any ideas where we can find great black furniture other than IKEA, throw them our way!

Just typing this makes me want to run up to the office and smile and bask in all the teal-ness. GO JAGUARS! (please don’t suck so much this year, please please pretty please)

The Grass is Greener… On Our Side!

Okay, it seems like my last post wasn’t THAT clear! Let me clarify… and elaborate!

The photo in the previous post is NOT of white feet (yes… a dear reader thought this to be true… she also thought these legs were of my husband’s… which isn’t good for my self-esteem. These legs, sadly, are mine.)

It is a photo of my weary feet after hours and hours hard at work on our backyard.. I took off my shoes and couldn’t believe how dirty my toes and ankle looked while the rest of my socks looked pearly white!

Let’s start all over again and I’ll tell you how our now-green backyard came to be…

February 2009:

  • We were planning for our wedding, just moved in our house, we wanted to put down sod for the backyard immediately¬†and my mom was in town and she volunteered to do it (sweet mommies) but we said don’t worry, we will wait until after the wedding…

March 1, 2009:

  • We are WED!

March 2, 2009:

  • We are DEAD TIRED!

March 15, 2009:

  • Still tired.

April 2009:

  • Still tired.

May 2009:

  • Still tired.

June 2009:

  • We seriously buckle down and start researching on grasses, how to prepare the soil for sod, make calls to various places for pricing, dig up rocks from our backyard when we feel like it, postpone taking the rocks to construction sites all around our house and dumping them. Found a place that would sell sod to us for around $500 (before taxes and delivery costs).

July 2009:

  • Let’s do it.

We set the delivery date (for four pallets of sod) to be delivered to our house on a Saturday morning. We planned to spend the whole Friday the day before digging up all remaining rocks and mixing the soil with peat moss (to make the soil “better” – we bought it from Lowe’s). But we didn’t have time to do it on Friday (translation: didn’t feel like it), so we decided to get up EARLY saturday morning to do all these before the sod arrived.

We woke up 7:00 AM and the sod arrived 7:30 AM, just when we were finally going downstairs… Oh, hi, grass.

Since sod shouldn’t be sitting out in the sun for too long, we knew we had to WORK and work FAST. And this is Texas… in the summer of 2009. In the middle of a drought. Average temperature: 100 degrees.

We attacked the backyard furiously, digging up rocks, leftover weeds, mixing the peat moss with the soil… and suddenly it was 10:00 AM already.

And it was time for Nick to go off to his softball game.

No problem, you know? I exercise. I eat very healthly. I’m young(ish).

After around two hours of backbreaking work, my progress looked like this:


yeah that's all. one strip.

In my defense, I had to lug a piece of sod from the driveway to the backyard and set it down, positioning it just right and cutting it if needed, and then walk back to the driveway to pick another piece up, back to the backyard…etc etc etc etc.

I also did one strip on the other side. And then I almost died.

I was SO tired, all dirty, sweaty…


that's my arm, not my leg

I needed FOOD. A quick avocado salad, to be exact. Slice an avocado in half, mash it, add salt, feta, cherry tomatoes, perfect quick snack/meal.

First, I had to slice it in half.

With a not-so-sharp knife.

With a so-very-tired arm.

I didn’t slice open the avocado. I sliced open my THUMB.

Blood sprayed all over… I looked at my thumb, thinking, “It doesn’t hurt at all. But that’s a lot of blood. A little too much. I’m glad I don’t faint at the sight of too much blood, like my mom…”

And then I thought, “This is TOO much blood.”

And I felt my body going into SHOCK. After pitifully self-taping a band-aid to my thumb, I hobbled to a chair, sat down, tired to blink away the emerging white spots that floated all around my head and teased me by fading away just a little bit before coming back bigger and stronger…

“Calm down, calm down, calm down,” I told myself. I paged Nick, knowing all the while that he wouldn’t check his pager because his pager is schizo.

I moved myself to the sofa and sat there, breathing in and out…

And my husband came into the house! Hallejuah. The first thing I said to him? “I almost died.”

Then he made me an avocado salad and I felt better!

We went back to work.



After a while, we looked great.

that tank top... ruined forever.

that tank top... ruined forever.



We worked and worked until we couldn’t remember what our skins looked like when clean. We called it quits for the day and hoped that our sod that was still sitting on the driveway would survive until the next day. We weren’t even halfway done.

are we done yet?

are we done yet?

We went out for some STEAK. With mushrooms and onions. And slept.

And woke up with SORE muscles. Mom, five more minutes… I mean, five more days.

But we still went back to work…

taking a picture break while shirtless nick grunts

taking a picture break while shirtless nick grunts

And ruined more articles of clothing… And walked around the house in trash bags…

keeping the house clean-ish

keeping the house clean-ish

And took breaks with this:

i understand construction workers and their habits better

i understand construction workers and their habits better

Until the sun was saying, “Quit already. I’m tired and I’m bored of watching Elisa whine.”

seconds before a long, long shower...

seconds before a long, long shower...

We gave all of our leftover sod to a neighbor and then looked at our garage. Tomorrow, we said, and the day ended. I honestly don’t remember what we did after the picture above. Showered, of course (I hope), but I don’t remember what else. We were mentally and physically and spiritually and tearfully EXHAUSTED.

For the next two weeks, we sprayed the backyard with WATER…

the magic of water

the magic of water

and after two weeks of that, our backyard’s “sod-lines” disappeared completely and the grass was as green as emerald. Literally (I wish we had a picture to show you). We loved it so much that we didn’t mow it until a few days ago.

Good excuse, right?

If you have any questions about laying sod, shoot us an email or comment below. After two days of hell, we will gladly give you any advice you might need if you want to experience this.

Reasons why we did this instead of asking our builder (centex) to do it before we moved in? Money. It would have cost us around 2k to pay them, and around $500 to do it ourselves.

I would do it again just because of the money we saved. But, give me 10 years before I can even begin to think about doing it again. Please.

Austin is Rocky

Most memories are great.

But this one, I’d rather forget.


So I would be willing to do it again if we move to a new house later with no grass in the backyard.

Let me explain.

We moved into our house during the month of February 2009 and barely used our backyard, because it was full of rocks, weeds, and ugly nothingness.


Well, the backyard in the picture doesn’t look that rocky or weedy. That’s after a full day of weeding and digging out of rocks. Oh, that trash can? Filled with rocks. To the brim.


Just looking at these pictures makes me want to run outside and lay on the grass (spoiler!) and laugh and play with all the crickets outside.

But no. I’m calling it a night and promising you a blog (coming tomorrow!) about that two long days.

(Oh, my hubby just said, “What about my haircut?” I guess I can’t sleep yet…)

Why I Haven’t Blogged in So Long




yeah i like to blame others.

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