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Since I became a home owner two months ago, I have developed an interest in interior design. I never cared too much about it before, but something about owning a space that would be permanent for the next several years made me take more of a stake in its decoration.

This led to countless hours surfing the web for ideas and inspiration. Several of the blogs I came across (Apartment Therapy and Desire to Inspire are my current favorites) introduced me to the genre of design called “Midcentury Modern”. I did a little research and found that there were several cutting edge designers in the 40s and 50s who experimented with furniture as art. I love the concept of functional art that you can interact with on a daily basis.

I’m not sure if that’s why I enjoy Midcentury Modern design, or whether I just love how it looks. One of my first loves was the Eames shell chair.

Shell Chair (by Charles and Ray Eames)


Charles and Ray Eames, a husband and wife team, were apparently icons of the era and designed lots of amazing stuff.

About a month ago, Alex and I went to a great antique warehouse here in Indy and saw a set of Eames shell chairs made by Herman Miller. Alex pointed them out but at the time, I had not yet become obsessed and thus did not even know who Herman Miller was. A couple weeks later I was convinced that I needed a shell chair, but the set had already been sold. That’s ok, because I soon became obsessed with the following chairs:

Tulip Chairs and Tulip Table (Eero Saarinen)

Apparently many people of my parents’ generation grew up with a tulip table and chairs and thus find these ugly and antiquated. However, I grew up in the 1980s and thus find country themes and excessive floral wallpaper to be ugly and antiquated, and tulip chairs and tables to be sleek and modern looking.

La Chaise (Charles and Ray Eames)
Egg Chair (Arne Jacobsen)


Panton Chair (Verner Panton)

Swan Chair (Arne Jacobsen)
And last but not least, my favorite chair of all:

Womb Chair (Eero Saarinen)
We had the pleasure of actually sitting in one of these at – randomly – The Limited at the Mall of America. After trying it out, Alex fell in love, which is perfect since I was already in love. They cost upwards of $6,000 new, and while we were tempted by some knockoffs between $500 to $800 on eBay, we decided that at this point it might be better to leave ourselves something to dream about :)

~Sonja

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We like to experiment with cooking. We are total novices, but enjoy thinking of inventive meals and trying to execute them. Recently we’ve been having a bit of a rivalry with our friends Lynne and Kirk. I say rivalry because they have served us some amazing eats and we feel the need to reciprocate in some way, though we know that we can’t come close to the delectableness of their cuisine. At any rate, after they served us this delightful sushi dinner, we tried our hand at a quasi-Italian fusion feast.

After much deliberation, we came up with the following menu:

Here are some pictures and the recipes we used:
Insalata Caprese 

We had this on our honeymoon in Capri and loved it! Basically, you cut up tomatoes and fresh mozzarella and sprinkle them with basil, drizzle some olive oil on everything, add a pinch of salt, and arrange them in a lovely appetizing way as Alex did here.

Crema di Zucca con Gamberetti

 
This soup is excellent. We used butternut squash, but per the recipe you can use other types. It is supposed to have a nice shrimp and dill garnish on the top, but somehow that didn’t work out this time. It makes it look a little more appetizing. Click to view the recipe.

Crab Cakes with Spicy Mayonnaise

These crab cakes are really good, especially with the spicy mayo. They are a little labor-intensive though (or maybe that was because we made all of these recipes at once and didn’t anticipate how much work it would be ). We used fake crab meat since it is much more affordable than real crab, but it still tasted great. Click to view recipe.

Snap Peas with Lemon, Tarragon and Shallots
This recipe was originally for shelled peas, but we used snap peas instead. I wasn’t overly impressed with the flavor. We did not add the required lemon zest since we didn’t have a zester (I didn’t even know that zesters existed), so maybe that would have given it a better flavor. Shallots sound really fancy, but I could barely taste them – it probably would have been just as good with onions, I feel.

Rhubarb Compote

I’m in love with anything made with rhubarb. Since we’ve made a lot of rhubarb crisp already this season, we thought we’d try some compote. It was very easy to make and tasted great! I’ll include both recipes below:

Click to view Rhubarb Compote recipe
Click to view the Rhubarb Crisp recipe

I would definitely recommend the Insalata Caprese and Rhubarb Compote as easy and quick to make, and the soup as delicious and not too time consuming to make on its own. The crab cakes are great, but I probably wouldn’t make them on a normal basis.

~Sonja

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Last week, Sonja and I visited her family in Minnesota. Although quality family time in and of itself can justify a 10 hour car trip, I was particularly motivated by the perk of my first trip to IKEA. Indianapolis is sadly void of any massively sized, affordable, ultra modern superstores, so I was beside myself in anticipation. Side note - the three things I have learned in buying a home are: a) grass just keeps growing back, like every week b) paint colors are never final and c) rooms must be constantly filled and rearranged with new furniture and decor.

Anyway, our friend Kelly was kind enough to venture into this Swedish wunderland with us on a, not so busy, Wednesday afternoon. Let me just say that nothing can compare to your first IKEA experience. I was both delighted and bewildered by this store. We immediately entered the living room mock-ups, and I ran from one faux room to another, soaking up the merchandise and the views. This went on for hours, as we covered the two floors which contained every item one would ever need for their home. Hungry and overstimulated, we made a break for the cafeteria. Over a lunch of salmon pilaf and salads, we discussed all that we had seen. A game plan was drawn up to leave the cafeteria and check out, retrieving all desired items along the way (after all, the Mall of America was only several yards away and mysteriously beckoning me by name).
I can't quite remember what happened after this point. All I know is that for several more hours I wandered throughout the showrooms, the gigantic warehouse, and in and out of consciousness. I was separated from Kelly and Sonja multiple times, as one of us would get caught up staring at a magnificently designed lamp, while another searched every room for a discontinued set of sheets (I must have them!).
In the end, we did make it out alive. We also made it out with a car full of items: a rug, a lamp, a small chandelier, a coffee table, and a net of outdoor lights. I experienced a whole host of emotions while inside the great blue and yellow fortress: amazement, delight, anger, love, hunger, confusion, fear, fascination, and exhaustion. Yet, I somehow entered our car feeling refreshed.

 
It has only been a week since we left IKEA, but I am already plotting my next (quick) stop for the next time we are in Minnesota. A mod red armchair needs me. And I need you, Skruvsta.
Mamma Mia!
~Alex

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OK, I’ll admit that we did this project a couple weeks ago but my other post was getting too long…
I saw this picture on Flickr and loved the idea:

 
The lamp in the picture was covered using pages from a book, but one of us had the idea to print out music I’ve played and use that to cover one of our paper lamps. We printed the music on newsprint paper (found at Hobby Lobby), since it is lighter weight than normal paper and is more translucent.

We ended up downloading music from the internet to print on the newsprint, since it was easier than scanning in the same music from books that I own. I had wanted to cover the entire lamp with music I had played that had some sort of sentimental value to me, but as it was midnight on a Monday night and we couldn’t find exactly what we wanted online, we went with about half of music that I knew and half semi-random selections. However, all the music I wanted to feature fit on the visible part of the lamp, so it worked out.

After applying Mod Podge to the music, lamp, scissors, floor, all my fingers and some of my hair, I came up with the following at approximately 2:00 am:

It gives the lamp much more of a warm glow and gives it a little more personality.

If anyone is inspired enough to make a lamp of their own, you can get Japanese lanterns at Target or IKEA for pretty cheap and you can cover them with anything (colored tissue paper, etc). Watch out for the Mod Podge though – it tends to take over you and everything around it.

~Sonja

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We recently bought a house in the Broadripple neighborhood in Indianapolis. It is a two-bedroom bungalow built in 1925, located in a charming neighborhood within walking distance of a grocery store, fresh produce market, and several independent restaurants, clubs and shops. We couldn’t ask for more as far as the house itself and the surrounding neighborhood – it’s everything we wanted in a first house. But it took us a while to feel ourselves in our new place.

I am a firm believer in the importance of creative self-expression in the home – to me, the place that I live reflects who I am and what is important to me. Some people might feel like the color of paint on their walls is trivial, but to me it is an outward expression of my personality. Maybe that’s why we had to paint our living room three times in search of the ideal color…

Anyway, a couple of projects that we’ve worked on recently have helped to make our house start to feel more our own. After seeing this picture on
Apartment Therapy (my newest blog obsession) using record album covers, I got the idea to do a similar thing using pictures we had taken.


  
We chose a bunch of our favorite photos, and Alex used his Photoshop prowess to add effects to make them look like art instead of raw photographs. We then sent them into a canvas printer and had them printed on 12” X 12” squares. Alex had the ingenuous idea of stretching them over triple wall corrugated (thick cardboard for you laymen), and it worked great! It was much easier than stretching over a frame, which we tried earlier with a large canvas we made to hang over our bed. Here is the final result:


 

For the curious, the photos are:Top row (left to right):
1 A tree in Positano, Italy (on our honeymoon)
2 Gio, my family’s beloved dog
3 A flower in Augustus’s gardens in Capri, Italy
4 The street sign outside of our house
5 A view of the Mediterranean in Ravello, Italy
6 A pagoda in Kyoto, Japan

Middle row (left to right):
7 Alex’s eye
8 Soldiers' and Sailors' monument in downtown Indianapolis
9 Wild flowers in Positano, Italy
10 Busts in Ravello, Italy
11 Temple of Saturn in Rome, Italy
12 A bottle of wine from our trip to Napa Valley in our dining room

Bottom row (left to right):
13 The Golden Pavillion in Kyoto, Japan
14 Me playing our new piano
15 A statue in Pompeii, Italy
16 Torii gate in Miyajima, Japan
17 A flower at a garage sale in Indy
18 My face

We’re excited to go on some more vacations so that we can get some new canvas material (we have room to hang about six more on that wall).

The art and new wall color (our final choice after both neon green and pea green) transformed our living room into a space that is uniquely our own. We love the result! (Click
here for more photos of our living room.)

We’ll blog more about our newest projects as we do them…somehow reading about other people’s home improvement projects offers me no end of entertainment, so hopefully blogging about our own will be somewhat interesting!

~Sonja

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Finally, after months of promising to post on our blog, our first post is ready!