The Surznick Common Room

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Surznick Ranch: Year One

The Surznick Ranch is one! It's hard to believe that we closed on our house a year ago already. We are both still absolutely in love with our home and being homeowners. We haven't had any significant issues *knock on wood* and our first year in our house has truly been a dream come true.

Since we've been living here for a year, we wanted to document the house as it is now and reflect on all the changes that have taken place in the last 12 months. When we moved into our house, we made a big list of all the changes that we wanted to make so that we don't forget about them as we live in the house and get used to it. I can already tell that making this list was SUCH a good idea, because there's already so many things I don't even notice anymore that, at one time, I wanted to modify.

At the same time, having this list sometimes makes me feel like we've barely done anything because there's a ton more to do, so hopefully this post is a reflection of how far things have actually come! If you feel so inclined, feel free to watch the videos in this post or this post for a trip down memory lane and see where things started last June.

Note: These photos were quickly snapped before we headed out of town. The house isn't super organized or styled and, of course, these rooms aren't DONE done. But hey, this is what it is (for now!)

The Living Room/Dining Room

The living room/dining room area is my favorite transformation so far. It's not fully complete, but a lot has been done. The biggest changes were adding built-in bookshelves to the living area and painting the pattern accent wall in the dining area. We were so fortunate to work with Home Depot on the dining area and are in love with this space. Our pink front door is such a fun pop of color and makes me happy every time I come home.

Posts about these rooms:
IKEA Built-in Billy Bookcases
How to Get Inexpensive, Large-Scale Art
Copper Pipe Magazine Rack
Hairpin Leg Coffee Table
Before & After: Dining Room Makeover
Modern Dining Area Makeover (Home Depot Blog)

Living Room Light
Round Mirror
Plant Shelf
Pink Rug
Dining table
Eames chairs
Door paint
Pineapple door knocker
Round jute doormat
Patterned Accent Wall paint
Cordless window shade
Floating shelves
Fiddle leaf fig (Smaller size here)

Nick's Music Room

Nick's music room was the first full room makeover we completed. He's in this room every day teaching lessons, writing and recording songs, planning school lessons, etc. I'm so glad we completed this space for him as soon as we moved in. For a little while I was worried about the navy being too dark, but this room gets beautiful light during the day and makes the blue look so pretty, especially against the piano and white trim.

Posts about this room:
The Surznick Ranch: Progress Report
Before & After: Nick's Music Room
Wooden Map Hanger
Orange Chair Makeovers
Hanging Wooden Planters

Paint - Behr Starless Night and Behr untinted white
Curtains & Rod
Harry Potter Prints
Gold Task Lamp
Chalkboard Globe - similar
Shelves & Brackets
Ceiling Light

Basement and Backyard

Painting the basement white made a huge difference in making the room feel fresh and clean. We worked with Home Depot to swap out the drop ceiling tiles, which was also a game changer. The basement is far from perfect, but the little changes we made really help this space feel nice when we're relaxing and watching tv. Outside our basement is our backyard, where Nick has been working to cut down all of the huge hedges that surround our house. It's a big task, but making a huge difference. We even cleared out enough space to plant a garden!

Posts about this room:
Basement Drop Ceiling Makeover with Home Depot
DIY Drop Ceiling Replacement (Home Depot Blog)
Geometric Patterned Planters

Thanks for spending the past few years with us - on our journey to home ownership and our first year in The Surznick Ranch. We really do love it here. We have house plans for this upcoming year, but are taking it day by day as we also have a wedding to plan and know we can't do it all. Regardless, we can't wait to see what the next year holds!

Sarah & Nick

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Surznick Reads: May 2017

Hi there! We hope you all had a wonderful May. Ours was busy, but great - we just had a Memorial Day visit from my mom, Nick's sister and brother-in-law, and our sweet niece Cece! We had some time to get a bit of reading done this month, so we're excited to share our May books with you below.

Also, just to clear the air - we're still kind of in blog limbo. Projects have been pretty nonexistent around here, so we're lacking inspiration and things to share with you guys. Is there anything you want us to see from us this summer? Outfit posts? Recipes? More house stuff? Shoot us an email or leave a comment below. Knowing your thoughts will definitely help us figure out the future of the Common Room!

Anyway... Sarah's Reads!

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
From "Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now..."

Like seemingly everyone, I recently read The Handmaid's Tale, wanting to have the book under my belt before I dove into the new Hulu original series. I've never read anything by Margaret Atwood, and her writing style was definitely different and took a bit to get acclimated to. Once I did though, I was hooked. This story is fantastic, though terrifyingly realistic, and I've been thinking about it constantly since finishing the book. I will say though, I'm now 6 episodes into the show and I love it even more than the book. Offred is a relatable 21st century badass and I'm thoroughly enjoying how much the characters and the plot are being developed. There's more context, the story is modernized, and I'm obsessed. While I highly recommend you read the book (we're actually reading this for our June book club at our house), I highly, highly recommend the show.

My Rating: 5 Stars

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
From "At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State - and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her."

Wild got wildly popular a few years ago with the release of the Reese Witherspoon-starring movie, but I was never much interested until recently. Actually, I think it was the Gilmore Girls revival that convinced me I should pick up the book when I saw it. So finally, I did find it at a Goodwill or book sale and gave it a go. It took me a little while to get into, but overall I really enjoyed it. There's a lot of flashbacks to childhood and her previous marriage, which I found less interesting than her time on the trail. The chapters about the hike, however, were completely captivating to me. I haven't seen the movie yet, but hope to watch it soon.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Surznick's Reads!

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
From "'Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.' So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another."

So we both read this book for our monthly book club and liked it a lot. For any of your interested in reading it, please read about the book first. Take ten seconds to figure out what this book is about: family. I read nearly 75% of this book waiting for "something to happen" or waiting for a reveal about the murder. The first line of the book, "Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet," is quite misleading. If you're expecting a mystery/murder story, look somewhere else. Once you realize this is a truly beautiful portrait of a family growing together and apart, you can allow yourself to enjoy this book. Really a great read, give it a try! -N

Sarah's Rating:  4 Stars
Nick's Rating: 3 Stars

Sarah & Nick

Friday, April 28, 2017

Lately... (X)

Hi there, it's us! It's been eerily quiet around here, huh? Apologies for the radio silence. We've just been... living, I guess. Our weeks have been filled with work and our weekends with chores, fun, and relaxing when we can (I've been watching a lot of Fixer Upper.) None of it has felt very "blog worthy" (except this bacon shiplap screenshot below.)

I'm not really sure what changed, but ever since returning from our trip in February, I've felt less attached to social media. I scroll through Instagram maybe every other day and post even less. It's kind of freeing, but at the same time I feel like I'm missing out sometimes.

Anyway, we do miss sharing here and wanted to pop in to give a little update on our lives. We're still trying to figure out how we want to move forward with posting content regularly but not working ourselves to the bone just to have something to say here. We hope you stick with us while we figure it out.

Killer sunrise taken after a morning run this week
Wedding Things
If you missed our last post on #MeetTheMeowburg wedding plans, check it out here. Not much has changed since then, but we did 100% confirm our venue! It's beautiful and totally us and we're stoked to get married there.

My mom is coming to visit us soon and while she's here we are going to make my bouquet. I'll share a tutorial on that once it's done! The flowers I purchased are faux, but so beautiful. I can't wait to see how it turns out.

This weekend we're going to try and get the guest list ready so we can send out save the dates. And we're hoping to nail down a photographer soon!

Concerts and Other Fun Things
In early April we drove to Cleveland to see New Found Glory on their 20 year anniversary tour. IT WAS AWESOME. I saw NFG for the first time in 8th grade on their Sticks and Stones tour and saw them several more times in the years following. I will never grow tired or ashamed of the music I loved as a teen and getting to see NFG perform Sticks and Stones and their self-titled album in their entirety in one night was a DREAM.

Popped into East End on a sunny Saturday afternoon
Speaking of music I loved in 8th grade... tonight we'll be heading to emo karaoke at Mr. Smalls. This is easily becoming our favorite monthly tradition. Live band karaoke with only songs you know and love? It's the best.

This month we also went to Howl at the Moon (a piano bar) for our friend Jess's birthday, babysat our cute little niece Cece, spent a day brewing beer with our friends Sarah and Sam for their upcoming wedding, attended a vegan dinner with some of our favorite PGH blogging friends, and window-shopped at the Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer.

As the weather gets nicer, pretty much all I want to do is walk around neighborhoods and do fun city things. Any recommendations for cool things coming up in PGH?

Home Projects
We finished the dining room! If you have not yet checked out our post about it, or our post on the Home Depot blog, please do! I love seeing that pretty patterned wall every morning.

Now that the dining room is done, it's on to the master bedroom. We shared our plans for this awhile back but haven't gotten further than that yet. We just ordered our ceiling light fixture (that we also used in Nick's music room.) As soon as it arrives we'll have our electrician come in to swap out the massive ceiling fan for the new light and add some new outlets (all of our outlets are poorly placed.) Can't wait to see it all come together.

A few weeks ago Nick and our friend Geoff started a garden in our backyard. It started as mostly Geoff's project, as he needed space for his plants, but now it's everyone's little baby and we're excited to see how everything does. They planted tomatoes, green peppers, Brussels sprouts, spinach, broccoli, wineberry, and strawberries. There are also a few prickly pear cacti in there that I hope to one day transfer to the front of our house. The only downfall so far is the deer. For living in the city, we have an insane amount of deer in our neighborhood and they eat everything. For now we've placed Irish Spring soap in cheesecloth bags all around the garden to deter them. It's semi-effective, but we're open to other recommendations. Send them our way!

We also started composting! It's going surprisingly well and we both feel awesome that our food scraps are not going right into the trash. We've also been very meticulously meal planning each week, so luckily we have less scraps/waste than we used to anyway. We'll share a post about how we started composting soon in case you're interested to try!

I think that's pretty much it? My best friend will be visiting from Alaska soon and I can't wait to see her! And in a couple weeks we'll be heading to Baltimore to see My Favorite Murder live. What have you been up to lately?

Sarah & Nick