Monday, December 12, 2016

Basement Drop Ceiling Makeover with Home Depot

Last month Nick and I took on the task of redoing our basement drop ceiling with the help of our friends at Home Depot. Our basement had your standard drop ceiling - old, yellowed, crumbling tiles hung from a brown frame. It wasn't doing our basement any favors, and after giving the walls a fresh coat of white paint, the drop ceiling stuck out like a sore thumb.

A full basement renovation isn't in our house budget for a few years, but we knew we could make the ceiling look better in the mean time with a white frame and some crisp new tiles. We're so thankful that we got to work with Home Depot on this project to make our basement look 1000x better. Click over to their blog today to read about the full makeover and see more photos of our new and improved drop ceiling!

Sarah & Nick

Friday, December 9, 2016

5 Weekend Trips We're Dying to Take

It's hard to believe we're nearly a third of the way through December (!!!) January is going to be here SO quickly, but we're also kind of excited because we'll be heading to Nashville for a long weekend! We can't wait for a few days away to explore a new city, try some new food, and spend time together sans work.

We've talked about it before, but a quick weekend trip is one of our favorite ways to travel. While it's nice to spend a week or more away, it's often more practical for us to travel for the weekend (i.e. it's cheaper and we don't have to take time off work!) We've started taking a quick trip every January (over MLK Day Weekend) - last year was Chicago and this year is Nashville (hopefully we'll find warmer weather there.)

We have quite a few destinations that we'd love to travel to, even if it's only for a couple of days. These are our top 5 weekend trips we're dying to take, a) because these cities seem awesome and b) they're inexpensive/easy for us to get to from PGH! By the way... our favorite way to find great flight prices is through You NEED to use it.

1. Toronto, ON, Canada
Toronto is actually a pretty quick drive from PGH, so we need to go ASAP. The first trip Nick and I took together was to Niagara Falls and we've been wanting to visit Canada again ever since. Our friends Sarah and Joel went to Toronto a couple months ago and it just looks so colorful and fun! Plus there's a Harry Potter bar, so what's not to love?

2. Atlanta, GA
"Hotlanta" - Nelly. In all seriousness, Atlanta has a lot of great bars and restautants we'd love to visit. If you can snag a flight during a Southwest Airlines sale, it's practically pennies to get there too.

3. New Orleans, LA
Beignets, live music, incredible food, booze, and night life galore. This seems like such a rich, historical, and cultural city that is so fun with lots to do. We planned a trip there this year, but it fell through. It's definitely still high on the list!

4. Denver, CO
When it comes to vacations, we are not beach people - give us cold weather and mountains (I mean, we willingly went to Chicago in January...) We've always wanted to see the Rocky Mountains and visit friends that have relocated to Denver in the past few years. It seems so beautiful there!

5. Las Vegas, NV
If we don't seem like the gambling types, it's because we're not. BUT! There's so much more to do in Las Vegas than casinos (at least, I'm told...) If we're being completely honest though, Las Vegas is only a car ride away from the Grand Canyon, which is our main draw to there. We'd also REALLY love to see the Seven Magic Mountains installation while it's up. So pretty.

In case you need a little weekend travel inspiration, read about our trips to Chicago, DC, Ithaca, Cleveland, and Lakewood! What are some of your favorite destinations for a weekend trip? Do you have any Nashville recommendations for us? Share in the comments!

Sarah & Nick

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Christmas Trees at Wigle Whiskey

Back when Sarah and I made our holiday to-do list, we wanted to make sure "volunteer" was somewhere on the list. Hopefully this will soon become part of our everyday lives and routines, and not a feature on the blog. I believe that the things we do that matter the most are the things we do when no one is looking (someone, somewhere said that - certainly not me - but I don't know who...) That being said, since we mentioned volunteering for the holidays, we wanted to spread the word about an awesome and fun way to support some local nonprofit work in the Pittsburgh area!

Wigle Whiskey is making giving this season easy and fun with their 2nd Annual Spectacular Tree Sale! At this awesome event, you can visit Wigle's Barrelhouse in the Northside to purchase a Christmas tree and get a cocktail on the house. All proceeds from Christmas tree sales go to two local organizations: The Children's Institute and 412 Food Rescue.

Attending this event last weekend was a no-brainer for us, as it combined a few of our favorite things - local craft spirits, a whiskey barrelhouse tour, hot apple cider, Christmas trees, pizza, and helping our local community. We had a blast, but more importantly, we're so happy that money for our first ever real tree for our new house went to support The Children's Institute.

Luckily for everyone who didn't make it, you can go again this upcoming Saturday and Sunday! We will be volunteering, so be sure to come out to the Wigle Whiskey Barrelhouse next weekend to support 412 Food Rescue. Sarah will be greeting you at the gates, and I'll be slinging trees through the baler, or tying them (hopefully safely? I'm sure I'll do fine, maybe) to the roof of your car.

Be sure to RSVP and read more about this event here! In addition to Christmas trees, a free cocktail, and helping a local organization, you can also celebrate Wigle's Italian Christmas with the release of their newest spirit!

What are some other ways you will be giving back to your communities this holiday season? We'd love to hear about the great work you all are doing, and we hope to see you at Wigle this weekend!

Sarah & Nick

Monday, November 28, 2016

Geometric Patterned Planters

Back in July when I ordered these awesome wooden planters from Target, I also picked up some geometric ceramic planters and trays. To be honest, I didn't really know what I was going to do with them (more plants? kitchen utensil storage? pen holder?) but at $5 and $4 apiece, they went into my cart with no reservations.

Does anyone else buy supplies for non-existent projects and then never use them? Guilty. I'm trying to stop because the last thing we need is clutter, but sometimes you just see something you can't pass up. Since these planters have been collecting dust for a few months, I finally decided this weekend that we were going to put them to use.

One of my favorite things about our house is that we have way more natural light than we did in our former cave apartment. Of course, you know what this means... more plants! What better to put in a cool planter, right? If you want to make your own...

Here's what you need!
- Ceramic Geometric Planter
- Ceramic Hexagon Tray (not pictured, but we put the planters on them)
- Black paint pen or Sharpie marker
- Clear spray paint or sealer (optional)

Here's what you do!
- Decide on a design and draw away! (For the planter with the concentric pentagons, I used a black paint pen. For the other planter with the connecting lines, I used a black Sharpie. Both worked great!)
- Spray your planters with a coat of clear spray paint, if you so choose. The Sharpie should hold up well to water, but the paint pen may not. We did not spray ours, so we'll be careful when watering the plants.
- Finally, fill them up with some cute succulents or cacti and display them!

Just a super quick weekend project that turned out pretty beautifully. We whipped these up in a couple hours, start to finish. The Home Depot has a surprisingly large number of succulents and other small plants for late fall, but I'm not complaining!

We're excited to get these on display in our basement - hopefully our curious kitties can keep their paws off. If you decide to decorate your own planters, be sure to send us photos or tag us on Instagram! Have a great week!

Sarah & Nick

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pastry Puffs

When Sarah and I first set out to make this recipe, we had "homemade vegan pop tarts" in mind. Well, anyone with eyes and a mouth can tell that these are no pop tarts. Maybe there is a perfect way to re-create the pop tart taste, texture and look, but these aren't it. However, through the process of exploring this recipe I discovered one thing: who cares? So these don't look or feel like pop tarts, who cares? They're flat out delicious, easy to make, and customizable.

print recipe

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pastry Puffs
A delicious, flaky, sweet dessert stuffed with vegan chocolate and peanut butter goodness.
  • 2 puff pastry sheets (1 box)
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • Almond milk
  • Flour
1. Thaw your puff pastry sheets (about 40 minutes at room temperature.) Preheat oven to 400°.2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry sheet. Cut into three strips (where the seams are) and then cut each strip in half. You will have 6 small rectangles.3. Top one sheet with about 2 tbsp. peanut butter and 2 tbsp. chocolate chips. Cover with another sheet and use a fork to dress the edges together.4. Continue with remaining puff pastry. You will make 6 pastries total. Brush each with an almond milk wash.5. Bake for 20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.6. While pastries are baking, melt remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips and 1 tbsp. almond milk in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir every 20 seconds until fully melted. Drizzle over pastries once they are finished baking.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 Pastries

These are best fresh out of the oven, but they're pretty decadent so you'll likely have leftovers. I'm pretty sure Sarah put her personal tastes aside when she suggested that we make these peanut butter and chocolate flavor (a Nick must) but you could easily fill these with anything! Fruit pie fillings, savory fillings like cream cheese and chives, spinach and artichoke, spinach and feta, pizza fillings (wwwhhaaaa????...) the possibilities are endless.

I hope you all enjoy this idea, and are able to make something delicious with it! Enjoy your weekend, and hopefully a few extra days off of work!

Sarah & Nick

P.S. We're taking Friday off for the holidays this week (Thanksgiving and the return of Gilmore Girls.) See you back here on Monday!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Cat Nip Pierogies

When people think of iconic Pittsburgh foods, their first thought is usually a Primanti Brothers sandwich, but second is almost always pierogies. Pittsburgh is home to an annual pierogi festival and even the Pirates have a pierogi race during their games!

If you're unfamiliar, a pierogi is a Polish dumpling, most often stuffed with mashed potatoes and served with onions. They're perfect and delicious, and we figured our Pittsburgh born and bred kittens needed some pierogies of their own - stuffed with cat nip!

Want to make your kitties some too? Here's what you need!
- 9x12" sheet of light-colored felt
- Scissors
- Hot glue gun
- Cat nip

Here's what you do!
- Cut approximately a 4.5x6" piece of felt (I was able to cut 4 perfectly from my sheet.)
- Fold each sheet in half width-wise and hot glue the sides in a half-circle shape (like a pierogi.) Leave a small hole in the top.
- Stuff the pierogi with cat nip and then seal closed with more hot glue.
- Use scissors to cut a scalloped edge, giving them a pierogi look.
- Give them to your kitties for play time!

Hope your kitties like them as much as ours do! How stinkin' cute are Poppy and Weasley?

Sarah & Nick

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Surznick Ranch: Lighting Roundup

Swapping out light fixtures is one of the quickest ways to make a huge impact in your home. When we moved into our house, we had ceiling fans in nearly every room (some had two!) and we've been changing them up as we work in each space. Today we're rounding up the different light fixtures we've installed in our house, along with some that we want to add down the road!

In Our House
9 Bulb Brass Light - This was the first light we added to our house. We actually had an electrician install it (there wasn't a spot for a light.) It's currently unavailable, but there's tons of similar styles online.
5 Bulb Brass Light - We installed this fixture in Nick's music room. It's handmade by a shop we found on Amazon. The quality is great and we love how it looks.
Globe Wall Sconces - These are actually made to be outdoors, but we needed four and couldn't find something similar we liked that wasn't out of our budget. We spray painted the bases gold and now they hang in our basement.
Bell Ceiling Light - We just got these in but haven't installed them yet! They will hang in our basement soon. We're working on updating our basement ceiling, so once that's finished, these beauts are going in.
Swag Light - This isn't the exact fixture we have, but I'd rather not link the one we bought. Our fixture is above our dining room table. The wires are white and tight against the ceiling (not so droopy.) We really love the way it looks, but we've having some issues with the sockets so I don't want to recommend the exact same thing. All in all, I think we purchased a cheap, poorly made fixture. If you like this look, the one I linked is from a custom shop on Etsy that has great reviews!

We still need to swap out the lights and ceiling fans in the bathroom, bedroom, guest bedroom, and kitchen - whew! I always make sure to pin fixtures that I love so I have them at the ready when it's time to get a new one. Below are some of my favorites right now!

On Our Wish List

Odyssey 4 Chandelier - I'd basically die for anything from Schoolhouse Electric. A little out of our price range now, but maybe someday!
Wall Lamp - These lamps from IKEA are only $20. I think they'd be great next to the bed, instead of a traditional lamp on a nightstand.
Bathroom Vanity Light - Right now this is the frontrunner for our bathroom. Hopefully soon we'll be yanking our the old (and awful) fixture that it's in there. I'd love to replace it with this!
Sputnik Chandelier - This one has been on my Amazon Wish List for months. It's my favorite for our kitchen right now. So pretty!
Spotlight Ceiling Light - This was the original light we wanted for the music room, but decided on the 5 bulb fixture instead. I still really like this one - not sure where I'd want to put it but it's a contender!

Can you tell we have a thing for brass? Have you swapped out light fixtures in your house? Which is your favorite from our house? Share with us below!

Sarah & Nick