Welcome to Southern Comfort!

Hi, I'm Elizabeth and I invite you to grab a glass of sweet tea and join me as I (along with my husband, John) renovate our love nest. We're both born and raised in the south and love to share with you some of our favorite recipes, stories and our life. We hope you'll come back often!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Happy Birthday SC!

I wanted to take a quick minute to say Happy 1st Birthday to Southern Comfort.




It was one year ago that I started this venture into blogging, and I have loved every. single. minute of it. I've met incredible people who love their families, their homes and enjoy opening their lives to others. I had no idea there were so many other people out there that share my obsession with decorating, home ownership, crafting and great food.
Thank you to all my faithful readers who (apparently) enjoy reading this little thing as much as I enjoy creating it.
Here's to another wonderful, inspiring year for Southern Comfort.

Visiting the High Country




John and I are headed up to Boone, NC to celebrate Memorial Day. We are gathering up at my cousin Allyson's house in the high country for a "cousin's weekend". It will be two days with 6 adults and 5 dogs. No kids. Bliss.

We plan on doing some of this on their big deck.


I hope to pick up some of these at the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning:


Hopefully we'll have time to let the dogs romp through this:


I'm hoping to get in on the delicious fruit that's growing this time of year. Maybe a stop or two at the general store.. and who knows what else!

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone. A big, huge thank you to those brave men and women who serve our country. I couldn't be more proud.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Still Going...

I'm sure many of you are wondering about our living room update and if John liked it when he came home from his trip. And yes, he did like it.  At least that's what he tells me... from the parts I had finished ;) I had planned on doing this post on Saturday, but then we got news we won the Happiness 101 award and that needed to be announced PRONTO!


I had a picture in mind of what I wanted the room to look like and to feel like. Well, after a lot of work last week, it was coming together, but there were certain elements that WAS. NOT. WORKING. I had this valance all picked out, colors ready to go and a vision. Until I found some fabric that I loved Waaaay more. So I had to change things up in my head a little (I know, I know, I'm so indecisive!). But it will all be worth it. What I'm doing now, totally rocks. The two fabrics didn't go very well together, but I wasn't willing to let go of the new-found kind. So I had to work with it. I made some new pillows. And more pillows. And a new roman shade (squeal!).


Now I need to find some new artwork (I'll probably make it myself because I'm super cheap-o). I need to replace a lamp that John accidentally broke somehow (I'm still not sure when or how). Now that lamp scares the bejesus out of me every time I turn it on because it sparks and I think I'm going to be electricuted. So it's definately getting the boot. I'm ok to see it go, it was from my college days and has lived a good life.


So my "surprise" room has really become more of a surprise for both of us. I was surprised I couldn't get it all done last week while he was gone and the fact that what I had figured would work, didn't. So it's plan B and I'm slowly working on it. One. day. at. a. time. So bear with me. Thanks for all your emails, kind words and encouragement! I can't wait to show you what it looks like once the vision is out of my head and in the room!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Work and you will be Awarded

John and I are literally pinching ourselves over here at the thought of recieving any kind of award. But recieveing the Happy 101 Award certainly has us completely amazed!


One of my fabulous readers, http://jayayceeblog.blogspot.com/ created the Happy 101 Award for bloggers who show how they have fun and are creative with their projects. It's awesome to be rewarded for all our hard work on and off the computer. So for us to fully recieve the reward, we have to list our list of 10 favorite things. So withouth further adeux, here is our list of things that totally have us giggling and jumping up and down.

1. DVR. Our DVR rules. With all the projects we have on our list of to-do's we don't always have the chance to get to the tv for our favorite shows. It's so nice not to have to hurry (unless we're dying to see the season finale of Grey's Anatomy!) home or clean up to see our favorite shows.

2. Spray Paint! Oh how would we survive without Krylon and Rustoleum? I don't want to find out. Sometimes I feel like we will cover anything standing still with spray paint.

3. Fresh flowers. This time of year has us drooling with the smell of honey-suckle, gardenias, and lily's throughout our neighborhood. But the smells don't end there. We love picking them out of our yard or getting a bouquet from the farmers market to bring a little color inside too.

4. Kitchen Aid mixer. Ever since recieving this restaurant quality mixer several years ago it has made our lives so much richer. Cakes, breads and even mixing potatoes this gadget does everything to fill our bellies. If you know us, we are total food snobs and love great, simple, homemade treats. If you love cooking and baking, you should totally try and invest in one of these baby's.

5. Animal Rescue groups. Both of our kid fuzzies are rescues. While breeders have their place, we prefer to open our hearts to animals that need good homes. In fact, all of Elizabeth's family believe in rescuing animals. So when we all get together, it's a zoo of 5 happy puppies who would have otherwise been put down. That makes our hearts go pitter-patter and fill with pink.

6. Before and Afters. We live for before and afters in our house, as you can tell. Bedrooms, bathrooms, heck, even closets. If you can show off an area that once looked b.o.r.i.n.g. it fits in our book!

7. Stationery. Yes, I admit it. I'm a paper snob. There's nothing quite like the feel and smell of good paper. Besides, everyone loves getting fun mail right? Here recently I've been going nuts over Swoozies going out of business. I hate to see them go, but I am soaking up every bit of wrapping paper and stationery I can. And yes, I am one of those people who actually ENJOYS getting wrapping paper and ribbon as gifts. This really helps John with gift giving.

8. Goole Search. Oh dear lord what would we do without Google! It's how we get our email, our directions, phone numbers. We even use it to get our knowledge on with projects (yup, and it works too!), recipes, and so much more.

9. Our Laptop. It makes updating our blog baby so much easier. I can do it in bed when I'm tired, while I'm watching tv on the couch, in the kitchen or even in the office (on the extremely rare occasion). Not to mention it's our go-to item when we need our questions answered on Google (see #8).

10. NC Mountains. The mountains hold a special place in both our hearts. It's where John grew up, where we both went to college (Go WCU!) and the place we met and fell in love. We love the rivers, the cold air, the snow, great hiking and beautiful scenery.

So that's the top 10 on our list of things we can't live without. I want to thank Jayaycee for awarding this opportunity to us. We can't be more thrilled to watch our little blog baby grow.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Wonder Woman I am not.

I tend to have this horrible habit of leading my readers (and myself) on. See, I promised you all earlier this week that I would post pictures and show my progress of the living room while I was working on it. I did do a little post on Tuesday (see? I tried) and then well, things happened. Work, projects that took too long, playing single parent to two fuzzy kiddos, and well, things just didn't go quite as expected.
I stupidly thought that while J. was gone I could be super woman. I could clean the entire house top to bottom. Have everything spotless AND get the living room re-decorated. Let me be the first to admit I was wrong-o. While the living room is 90% complete (yay! and I can't WAIT to show you) my kitchen is a wreck, there are muddy puppy prints all over the kitchen from that awesome storm we had earlier this week, there are 2 loads of laundry waiting patiently to go in the wash. And... amazingly while working on the living room it looks like our tools and hardware bin exploded all over the living room and kitchen.
So much for being wonder woman. I need to come to realize (quickly please!) that I can't do it all and work full-time. As much as I want to be June Cleaver. 
Yes, the living room is coming together, and it REALLY does look a bazillion times better. Hopefully this weekend I can get everything finished, put away and photographed to show off this wonderful space. As it deserves to be in the lime light.

Do you ever over-extend yourself? Think you can do it all? Please tell me I'm not the only one out there with this illness.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

sneak peek...

It's Tuesday night. John's been gone since Sunday morning and doesn't come home until late Friday night. I've been a busy bee here at the Early household. Not just holding down the place, but spiffing it up too.
Just so you feel in the loop too, here's a sneak peek of some rooms I'm getting my inspiration from.


The fireplace is going from drab to fab.. I'm thinking something like this:



The window is getting a facelift with a mis-treatment (And it's about time. After living here for 9 months I'm finally getting around to putting up a treatment). Check out the roman shade. It could look something like this...

I am loving the embroidery in that roman shade. I am going to try and keep that in mind while I shop for some fabric.

 
I'm needing this room to be light, airy and calm. Do you think I'm headed in the right direction?
Stay tuned...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

While John is Gone...

John is out of town this week for business. If you know me at all, you know I can't let things sit for too long in my house. Things have to be shaken up every once and a while. I need variety, I crave change. This is the perfect chance!

My focus while John is out of town is our living room. It's been bothering me since we moved in.
Because our house is a cape cod, the living room is dark. The front porch doesn't allow for a lot of light to flow into the living room, so I've had to get creative to get some more light in there to make it feel more open.
When we first saw it:

Our first focus was painting the room a neutral color and painting the trim white. While it does make for a neutral color palate for anything to go in there, it didn't really brighten the room much.

Then, once we got our furniture in the room we realized it wasn't nearly as big as we thought. We had a HUGE living room in our apartment, not so much with the new house. Our huge media cabinet literally took over the space. It had to go. It was a salvage piece I found at Goodwill several years ago and re-painted. Because I only paid $50 for it, I was ok to see it go.


Recently, we got rid of our carpet and replaced it with new floors (which you can read all about here and here and here) This really helped. Seriously. New floors can make all the difference in how a room feels. I'm liking it, but it's still not the room I'm looking for.


Now that it's summer, I'm looking for cool colors, breatheable textures, light fabrics and lots of light. So that's my starting point.

Now, while John is gone, let's see if he reads the blog to see what his little wife is up to while he's away ;)
Stay tuned, I'll be posting my progress as I work through this week.

I'd love your feedback and any ideas you may have. I can't wait to see my new space!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

We Got Floored: Reveal!

I know, I know, I've strung you all along long enough haven't I? We started on this project on April 24th and I am now, FINALLY prepared to show you how awesome they are. I'm sorry for my need for my house to be perfectly clean to show you anything procrastination, but alas, here they are.

Living room Before:


After:


Kitchen Before:



Kitchen After:



Bedroom Before: (sorry, it was the only picture I had with a clear picture of the floors. This was taken last summer while we were painting the trim. You get the idea.)

Bedroom After:



You like my little helper? She follows me everywhere.

Monday, May 10, 2010

We Got Floored: Part 2 "Fixing the Whoopsies"

As I mentioned in Part 1 of the We Got Floored saga, this project was HA-UGE. The biggest one we've taken on so far. Yes, we've hit some bumps in the road and that's exactly what I want to hit on today. The "how do you fix that?" of laminate flooring installations. I want to answer questions that I couldn't find answers to, yes, even Google and YouTube can't answer everything. Dang-it!

So here's what we learned as we tackeled each room each doorway, each corner:(no, our house isn't square. Which we were secretly crossing our fingers it would be. But nothing could be that easy right?):
Q. How Do I keep my floor from sliding while I'm hammering in boards?
A. We were able to keep our floor from sliding around my simply bracing one side with finish nails. Be sure to put your nails under where your trim will go so they will be hidden. Worked for us like a charm. As I did mention in the first post, I was a little worried about the floors splitting where the nails went in, but it wasn't a problem. This settled my nerves a. lot.

Q. How do I finish my flooring going under doorways so it looks like a professional job?
A. First, buy a hand saw like this one:

It's called a Flush Trim Saw. Yes, you need it. It will become your new best friend. Become acquainted.
Using a piece of your flooring as a guide for how much trim you need to cut off, just saw off a notch and slide your pieces of flooring underneath. You don't need to worry about doing this around the entire room because your trim will cover your edges, but on areas where the wood actually shows with no shoe molding, like a doorframe, you need to make it look really good. This is your ticket. See? Pretty.

Q. What if I have gaps that aren't covered by my shoe molding when I am done?
A. Use some painters caulk that is the same color of your floor to cover any gaps. Using a flat edge (I used my plastic food scraper I got from Pampered Chef a while back. Yes, I made a new use for it, but it worked.), make sure the caulk is flat and matches the height of your floor. You can't even tell there was ever a gap there. I even impressed John thankyouverymuch.

Q. What if I have different height floors?
A. Our kitchen floor was 1/8 inch higher than our living room and bedroom. Our linoleum floor was put on a 1/8 inch subfloor. Great.  This made for a hmmm. moment while installing. How do I make this transition smooth? A belt sander. Using the belt sander and some 50 grit paper, we were able to sand down the subfloor to a nice grade to transition into the kitchen. Just make sure to sand so there's a nice even grade.

I think that about covers all our whoopsies and questions I couldn't find on the web before we got started. I hope this helps anyone who is thinking about putting in new floors and wants to do them themselves. It is a very easy process, but it does take time. More time when you're doing 3 rooms, plus closets.

Now I just need to do some painting touch-ups and this project is done-o! I can't believe we've nearly reached the finish line. I can't wait to show you the reveal!!! They're gorgeous!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

We Got Floored Part 1: Installing how-to

Last Saturday was the day (April 24 to be exact). The day we've been waiting for for about a month. Ever since we came home with two car loads of beautiful Nirvana flooring we've patiently been watching our schedule unwind for this weekend. So here's the run-down of how we installed our new floors.


Prep Work:
For about a week, each night after work we would come home and tear up more carpet. I didn't take any pictures of this step. I didn't think you wanted to see our dirty carpet. :) But because we knew it would be a while before we'd be getting to actually install the floors we decided to throw out the padding and keep the actual carpet until installation day. This way we could still have a little something cushy under our feet instead of plywood. Just be sure to pull up every. single. staple. there are TONS of them. It would have been disasterous to little puppy and kitty feet, not to mention the human kind had we forgotten one. Ouchie!


I am so lucky my husband is smarter than I am. One night after we were done with our nighly carpet removal he began pulling up all the surround-sound wires. I hadn't thought of it, but since we ripped up the carpet there was no way for the wires to still be hooked up under the floor. Hmm. So he went under the house and pulled the wires through the walls. I never would have thought of that until it was plugging everything back in after the floors were installed. I give him all the credit. It's for reasons like this I married him. Now we have all our wires coming through the wall in a pretty little plate.Sorry I forgot to take a picture of the final thing, but here's one of the progress while J. was under the house.




Installation Day:
We set up a tent with our equipment on the back deck.


 It turned out we needed the tent to shade us from the sun, but it worked out great when we had some afternoon showers too. Here is a list of the materials you'll need.
  • 12" compound miter saw (a 10 inch was too short to get through the entire board)
  • Jigsaw (for cutting the boards with tight measurements)
  • Flush Trim Saw (for cutting away at all the doorways. This is crucial for your floor to look professional)
  • Rubber mallot
  • Laminate Installing kit
  • Nail gun with finish nails (we used 2 inch nails for the whole job. The 1 inch-ers just weren't getting deep enough)
  • Measuring tape
  • Lots of carpentry pencils


After removing all the furniture and animal toys we needed to, we got to work. One of the most important things we did when starting this project was to buy a laminate flooring installation kit. I highly recommend it. It comes with two specialized tools for tapping the floor pieces together (without damaging them). I don't think we could have done without them. For 20 bucks you can pick up the kit at any hardware/ home improvement store.


The morning started off a little slow. After getting all our tools and equipment together and set up, we spread all the underlayment. This heavy-weight plastic tarp is a moisture barrier between your foundation and the flooring. Very important. It simply unfolds onto the floor, no taping, gluing or nailing here (at least it says you're not "supposed to". But when have we ever listened to "supposed to"? Just to keep everything staying where it should, we popped a few staples in every foot or so). Very easy. The hard part was next. This type of laminate flooring is considered a "floating floor". A floating floor simply means that it isn't nailed or glued to the foundation below. It just sits on top. Or it's (again)  "supposed to".


We insalled the first row,


no problems. But while trying to install the second row, the first row began sliding and moving around. Since we wanted to keep the floor in the right place (for obvious reasons) we needed to find a way to keep it from moving. So since we had a few extra bodies around, we used them to stand on the first row. This worked a little better, but still not great. After a great debate, we decided to put in some finish nails into the first boards on the starter wall. We used our nail gun and 3/4 inch brads to secure the line. Worked like a charm. I was concerned it would crack or split the boards, but they held up great. No problem. :)


After that fiasco, it was simply laying and measuring and tapping. We did stagger every two rows to get a random pattern. One row started with a full board, the next 2/3 of a board and then the next 1/3. We really like the way it turned out. We had some tricky measuring around the staircase and the fireplace, but nothing that measuring about 6 bazillion times couldn't fix.




All our hard work paid off big time. We are in. love.


Before:


mostly done (with Ranger Dad helping):


It really isn't a difficult job, but it's messy and time consuming. We had a few showers on and off through the day so it turned all the sawdust into a paste that was nicely spread throughout the house as we were going in and out. Not to mention that there was a very nice layer of sawdust on everything at the end of the day. Note to self for further projects: Don't leave the windows open (no matter how pretty a day it is) when there's sawdust and a breeze. Nothing a little dust rag can't pick up though. Apparently I like cleaning so much I unconsciously make more work for myself.
I'll do a post on all the details next.  Once the project is completely done (keep in mind we're doing 3 rooms and the laundry area, so it's taking time) I'll post the final pictures.


I want to take a minute to thank some amazing people who helped us with this project. First of all, John's co-worker, Scott. Scott lent not only his time, but his tools, his know-how and some free labor (x3 since he also brought more help) to help John and I. We owe him big time. We may have to name our first born son after him. Thanks to Kitchen Diva and and Ranger Dad for helping bring us lunch, support and help too. It's because of our friends and family who give us all the support and extra's we need that help keep us going. A big, huge Thank You.