2016 | What I’ve Been Up To

Hello Lovelies!

Happy 2016 (and early Valentine’s Day)!

Although I have a great deal in store this year (I’m back in action after a brief haitus), you may have been wondering what I’ve been up to! Let me give you a brief run down:

Our 2 Year Anniversary Trip to D.C. 

Living in the beautiful Carolinas, sometimes it’s difficult to leave. However, Shahin and I love to travel and instead of buying each other “traditional” wedding anniversary gifts, we do things a little differently in the Arminoei household. We’ve made taking a trip each year one of our traditions. This year, we decided to spend a long weekend in D.C. The fact of the matter is, I had only visited once when I was in elementary school for a field trip and well, let’s just say it’s one of the hubs’ favorite cities and he had been dying to take me there. Now if you know me, of course I did my research prior to our adventure to ensure we were hitting some of the best spots in town (duh).

The Highlights:

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{ Image courtesy of DC Internationalist }

I know, I know. I have a shopping problem and everyone is aware. Unfortunately, Zara has not yet graced Charlotte with its presence so whenever I see that big, beautiful store – I’ve got my game face on.

Zaytinya (for dinner) + barmini (for drinks) by renowned Chef Jose Andres

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Y’all – I wish I could put into words how blown away we were. After eating at one of James Beard Award Winning Jose Andres’ restaurants, Zaytina, we had drinks at his bar (which required a reservation). Once arriving, we had to ring a doorbell to enter (a little reminiscent of a speakeasy). This place was simply beautiful – clean, chic, hip. The Mixologist provided us with a drink upon arrival to clean our palates and then Shahin and I went to town. This place does hand crafted cocktails right. One of the drinks I had the pleasure of tasting was homemade banana bourbon – absolutely delicious and hands down one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had. If you’re in the area – don’t miss out on this place (but make sure you book a spot at the bar in advance!)

White House visit 

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Cliche, but one of those “have tos”. And of course, being the basic white girl I am, Starbucks in hand!

USDA Farmers Market 

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Purely by accident, we stumbled upon a USDA Farmers Market during a stroll through the city on a beautiful Autumn day. We picked up a variety of dumplings, apple kombucha and homemade cola and sat in a park to indulge.

Persian Cuisine

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I guess it’s no secret that D.C. has a buzzing Persian population. To pay homage to the hubby’s heritage, we decided to drive about 30 minutes outside of the city to get a taste of some of the best Persian cuisine I’ve had (aside from when Shahin’s grandmother comes in from Iran and cooks for us). Kabobs, grilled tomatoes and my favorite, Persian rice (tahdig). NOMZ.

Annual Family Trip: Panama 

Each year, Shahin’s dad and stepmom take the family on a trip for a belated Christmas. This is my favorite family tradition because we much prefer experiences and memories over tangible things. I didn’t think anything was going to top last year’s trip to Barcelona, but the fam never ceases to amaze me. This year we traveled to the beautiful country of Panama and stayed right in the heart of Panama City. Not doing a great deal of research in advance, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Panama City reminded me of Miami in a lot of ways. It’s actually a big, international banking city (who knew) and there were restaurants and bars galore, high end shops (hello, Chanel) and so much to see and do.

The Highlights: 

JUICE

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Weird, right? How could juice be a highlight of a trip? Juice is a big deal in Panama. We stayed at the Waldorf Astoria and each morning, they had this little piece of heaven we dubbed “liquid life” = watermelon juice. Every morning when we would come down for breakfast, we b-lined straight for the juice (even over the omelette station). This stuff was the real freaking deal. Even outside of the hotel, we would grab juice from a little stand practically every day.

Panama Canal

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We took a boat through the Panama Canal – definitely a once in a lifetime experience. Although the excursion was a little longer than expected, the views were incredible.

Monkey Island & Indigenous Tribe 

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The best excursions we had (in my opinion) both occurred in the same day – and a full day it was! First, we met our guide and took a boat out into the water where we would then pull up to various parts of a jungle (keep in mind: about a 45 minute drive outside of where we were staying). This is where an array of different monkeys would come and visit our boat while we fed them bananas (and in some cases, right from our hands). This was seriously one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life. Above is a shot of a monkey that was hanging out on our boat. Pretty up close and personal!

After Monkey Island, we went to spend the rest of our day with an indigenous tribe. Yes – real life. A couple of the tribe members met us and took us out on a canoe to get to their village – life jackets and all (refer to the picture below).

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Once we got to the village, we watched the tribe do a few traditional dances (and then were invited to dance with them), were fed some delicious plantains and fried fish wrapped in a banana leaf and then had a little Q&A time (thank goodness we had a translator). We were also to buy some crafts from the tribe which was a really neat concept in itself because each family had their own table and the money went directly to them. I picked up a couple of beautiful hand crafted vases – LOVE! Below is a picture of the end of our excursion. The tribe was so welcoming – definitely a experience for the books!

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Coming Soon: DIY Project 

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So what else has been going on aside from traveling? The hubs and I picked up this beauty from one of my best friend’s moms (who owns Charlotte Staging). It’s actually an antique record player but we immediately saw its potential – and if you’ve seen some of my other posts, we love DIY projects. I am really looking forward to tackling this one!

So far, Shahin’s taken out the record player, and we will be using it to decoratively conceal our entertainment center. The piece has officially been sanded and we’ve removed the grates and added shelves. Step 2 of 3 complete.

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So what’s next? Of course, you’ll need to stay tuned (blog on this one coming soon) but we’ll be painting it and transforming it even more! We’re definitely going mid-century modern here – I’m thinking brass legs and a high gloss white paint. Below is an image I snagged from Pinterest and will be using it as inspiration!

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Be back soon! XO

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DIY | Vintage Dresser Makeover

Happy Wednesday, y’all!

I thought I would break up my Fall posts with a little DIY action. This was actually a project I worked on well before we were even fully moved into our new home. I’ve only waited this long to share the project because I so wanted to decorate it prior to posting, however, I have not yet found exactly what I am looking for…so stay tuned because there is definitely more to come!

If you remember my DIY china cabinet makeover post a few weeks back, then you may remember that Shahin’s dad and step mom provided us with that beautiful vintage china cabinet that I was able to update. I had only mustered up the courage to take that project on solo because I had exposure to this one first with a little help from my friends (cue in The Beatles song). And by a little help from my friends, I actually mean a LOT of help from my friends. I truly could not have taken on this beast without some of my closest girlfriends along for the ride – Stephanie (check out her blog here), Jennifer, and Ashley. See, no one should believe that a DIY project is a daunting task, rather, something extremely enjoyable – make a day or evening of it! After indulging in a few glasses of vino, a slice of Fuel Pizza, and some good ol’ catching up, we got right to work.

Below is an image of the original piece we were working with. Shahin’s dad and step mom also let us take this old dresser to revamp for the new house. When I initially looked at it, I knew exactly the direction I wanted to go in as I saw the great potential it possessed. It’s no secret that I am a lover of vintage things. I like anything that is rough around the edges but still encompasses elegance and character.

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{ The dresser: BEFORE }

I decided to scour Lowe’s for the perfect paint colors. I had a vision and needed to see it through – I wanted to get a vintage/worn feeling and knew that crackle paint was partly the answer. I had some experience using this medium in the past (when I worked on the vintage door for our wedding), but a good bit of time had elapsed since the last time I had touched it. So, what is crackle paint, you might ask? Pretty much the best thing ever. It’s a paint medium/faux painting technique used between different layers of paint that once applied, crackles on its own and can be easily distressed to provide an “old” look with layers of different colors peeking through. After purchasing a couple of paint cans (color choices shown below), a can of crackle paint and some sanding blocks – I was in and out of Lowe’s in less than 30 minutes. Done and done.

After removing the knobs on the dresser, we used my first color choice, Valspar’s Coastal Villa, for the bottom layer of the dresser. With four of us, we were able to knock it out pretty quickly. This is actually the same color I used for my china cabinet as I had paint left over and absolutely adored it. It may look beige here (the image does not do it justice), but it’s actually the perfect shade of greige (grey/beige).

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{ Valspar’s Coastal Villa – the color chosen for the bottom layer of the dresser }

After we let the Coastal Villa paint layer dry, we applied the crackle medium. Any crackle paint should do but below is one by Valspar that you can easily pick up from Lowe’s or order online here. Otherwise, you can always pick some up at any other home improvement store or craft store such as Michael’s.

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{ Valspar’s Crackle Glaze Medium }

Once the crackle medium was applied, we added the top coat of paint about an hour later (the minimum), but if you’re trying this project out – do not wait any longer than four. The second color I chose was Snowcap White, also by Valspar.

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{ Valspar’s Snowcap White – the color chosen for the top layer of the dresser }

Once we painted this on the dresser and allowed it to dry some, we could see that the paint was really starting to crackle on its own. However, I wanted to distress it even more. My friends and I used various tools such as screwdrivers in addition to the coarse sanding blocks to really rough it up, particularly around the edges. The finished product turned out BEAUTIFULLY – especially when I purchased new knobs (about $4/each from Lowe’s). That’s when the dresser really transformed.

TA-DA! Below is our finished/custom/one-of-a-kind beauty that I am so proud of! Y’all, no lie – it’s everything I could have hoped and dreamed. I love the distressed, old-timely feel mixed with a touch of classic elegance. The contrast between the grey and the white is ridiculously amazing and what I treasure most is that the original warm wood color is still somewhat visible through the crackling.

To finish it off, I put a lace runner on top of the dresser (which I upcycled from our wedding), and am now in search of the perfect set of gold or vintage brass lamps…oh, and of course some little nick-nacks and decor. Check out all of the lovely details below.

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If I had tried to purchase this piece somewhere, it would have cost me a small fortune. The DIY route was the best decision ever and even more, we now have a unique piece that can not be found anywhere else! I have to admit, I am one happy girl!

Interested in using the crackle paint medium? Here are a few very important pointers to remember:

  • Make sure that the two different colors of paint you choose have enough contrast. If you pick colors that are too similar to one another, the crackle/distressing will not be very obvious to the naked eye. Play with different color combinations – the possibilities are endless!
  • When applying the crackle paint medium, be sure to use it modestly.
  • Ensure that you are covering everything as the crackle is clear and can be hard to see.

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DIY | China Cabinet Makeover

Hello lovelies!

It’s been a little over a week since I’ve posted last but I have something pretty darn amazing to share with you today! The hubs and I are officially moved in to our little bungalow (circa 1929) and we are absolutely loving it! It’s been a hectic few weeks but we are finally finding our groove and getting back to some level of normalcy. Now, I have not yet had the opportunity to really decorate and put my personal touch on much, however, I know that comes with time. The important thing is that we are finally making our way through the boxes, clutter, and chaos.

Right before we moved, Shahin’s amazing father and step mom offered up a couple of great pieces that they were not using for our bedroom and dining room: an older dresser and china cabinet. I am not sure if anyone could comprehend how much this had me over the moon. Sure, we could go out and spend a fortune on all brand new furniture like many newlyweds do…OR we could take something preexisting with some character that just needs a little updating. Don’t get me wrong here, I am no expert when it comes to the DIY and furniture game…I am a novice at best. However, I’ve always been artistic and love projects so I was up for the challenge. The great thing about older pieces of furniture (or older anything, really) is that I can appreciate what it is but can also see the potential it has.

Right off the bat, I had a good idea of what I wanted to do with each piece. I am going to “unveil” both of them in the blog but this week, I will be unveiling the china cabinet! So without further adieu, below are the before and after pictures of this gorgeous china cabinet with information on what I did and how I did it!

Enjoy!

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This is where it all began – a wooden china cabinet. This piece was well constructed, sturdy and had a great deal of potential. The design and structure itself were beautiful and the beveled glass doors were swoon worthy.

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I went to Lowe’s and picked out the perfect shade of “Greige” (Gray/Beige). It was a tough decision but I ended up going with Valspar’s “Coastal Villa” (the image below really doesn’t do it justice). What I love about the shade is that it can have both warm and cool undertones as it picks up on the color palette of the room you have it in. This ultimately makes the piece very versatile if we ever decide to repaint the walls or move houses. Along with the paint, I picked up a few sandpaper sponges (course texture) so I could rough up the look of the cabinet once I was done as my goal was to make it ever so slightly distressed.

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{ Valspar’s Coastal Villa – the color chosen for the cabinet }

I removed all of the glass and got to painting right away. I did about two thin coats to ensure that I had covered all of my bases. I knew knobs were going to be something I needed as soon as possible so I popped into one of my favorite stores of all time, Anthropologie, and picked up a couple of knobs I’d been eying. Here’s the thing, with our dresser (which I will be posting about soon, stay tuned), I wanted to save some money because we had 8 knobs to buy. I decided to splurge with this particular project since I was a little more frugal with the last. If you know Anthropologie, you know that almost everything there is quite pricey – even the knobs I purchased were $10/piece. It’s not so bad when you only need 2 but think if you needed 8 – aye yi yi!

The associate at Anthro that was checking me out at the counter was super sweet but began probing me on the reason why I was purchasing knobs. I explained to her that I was upcycling a vintage china cabinet. No exaggeration at all…her jaw dropped. Becoming even more inquisitive, she started asking me how one would refinish a china cabinet and how long I had been in the business. I laughed and told her that this was just something personal I was doing for fun. It honestly kind of baffled me that someone (close in age) could not grasp the concept of taking something old and revamping it. Like the pure thought of not purchasing something brand new defined insanity. Is it really that unusual to update something? No. Intimidating? Maybe a little. The key is to go into every project with a positive attitude. If you’re anxious or even terrified, that’s okay! Fear the unknown but embrace it because what harm is it really going to do? At the end of the day, you may discover that you have a talent or knack for something and even if you don’t feel that way, perhaps you’ve come across a fun hobby. As the old saying goes: if you never try, you never know.

I’ve always been the kind of girl who would just go out and purchase something that I wanted. However, as I’ve gotten older, my tastes have changed and I now revel in thrifting, finding vintage items and making them my own. The hard work and effort I put into something has become both enjoyable and rewarding because I end up really appreciating what I’ve accomplished. But the best part of it all? You are ultimately creating a unique, one-of-a-kind item that cannot be found anywhere else.

{ Silver Mirrored Knobs in Orb }

After I painted the cabinet and let it dry, I took the sandpaper sponge and went around the edges and distressed it. I could have gone all out and beaten it up even more, however, this was something I wanted “lightly” antiqued.

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{ A little distressing with a sandpaper sponge provides a slight antiqued look }

Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for. The finished product is below with a little before and after action. Can you see what a difference a little paint, distressing and some new knobs can do? It looks like a completely different piece! Come back soon because I’ll be showcasing how I’ve styled the inside of this china cabinet.

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