Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I'm apparently horrible at blogging, and updating my house

This year has been one of those where time just flies by without even realizing it. All of a sudden it was July and I noticed we haven't made much progress on anything.

So, I challenged my husband to finish the drywall in our attic before my birthday on August 13. Of course, I'll be helping with mud and sanding (and after it's all done I will be doing the painting) and overall cheerleading to get it all done by this deadline.

I'm hoping by the end of the year the bedroom will be finished enough where we can move all of our bedroom things and start 2015 in our little bohemian attic retreat.

Then in 2015 we can tackle the attic bath - which is sure to be a total nightmare to finish a fun journey.

While the drywall is being finished, I'm working on paint colors and the overall design of the space. Originally I wanted to paint it like my old bedroom when I was a teenager - blue sky walls with clouds. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it would be a pain to do (literally and figuratively), so I'm going to opt for a stenciled feature wall since that is something I can do without hurting myself and with a much more guaranteed outcome than a free-form painting.

Another part of the process that's "gumming up the works" is that we're essentially starting from design scratch. We're planning on getting a new bed too and since that is bound to be a rather large investment since we need something other than your average run-of-the-mill bed due to my fibro and now Garry's back problems, I'm planning on getting new linens since the bed will be a different size.

So, eventually I'll get around to making more updates.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Little ways to keep resolutions

It seems like a lot of bloggers out there are coming up with lists on how they keep their New Year's resolutions, and like those folks, I'm falling in line with my two cents.

The hardest resolution for me to make was to clean the house more. I know that sounds like it's a bit of a shock, but the emotional stuff I'm getting a hold of, and the decorating stuff I'm fairly good at once the funds are there to do so. But, cleaning the house has always been this daunting task that I loathed to do.

Okay, I still don't find cleaning terribly enjoyable. However, I do enjoy basking in the glory of a clean and uncluttered house more than my dislike for cleaning it. Finding a way to do that without breaking myself (physically and emotionally) is key in this process. Here are a few things I've done (so far) to help in that process.

  1. Mini cleaning kits in different areas of the house. I'm more likely to clean something really quick while I'm in a room if the cleaning products/tools are already in there instead of a centralized place (under the sink in my kitchen). For instance, in the bathroom you could keep some cleaning wipes and magic eraser sponges under the sink, in a basket on a shelf, or if you have room - in your medicine cabinet. I also keep a bottle of Method shower spray in my shower. My plan is to have little mini kits in most of the rooms, tucked away, but not so much that I forget they're there. 
  2. Keeping with a routine. I'm certainly one of those people that does well on a routine. For example - I've started making the bed right before I get dressed for work every day. It only takes a few minutes, but it's so nice when I go to bed and the bed is made. The whole room feels a lot cleaner. Even though I haven't done this yet - I do plan on coming up with a monthly "schedule." So I remember to do things like wipe down the baseboard heat element, scrub the shower, and clean the windows. 
  3. Enlisting help. I know there are folks out there that feel cleaning is "woman's work." Thankfully neither I or Garry believe in that and he is good about doing his share of chores - especially ones that are physically difficult for me to do. 
  4. Having the right tools. Because of my fibro - I need to have cleaning tools that are as efficient as time-saving as possible to keep me from over doing it. We bought a Roomba last year (and it has kept up with the dog/cat hair surprisingly well) and other utensils to remove pet hair from the furniture relatively easy. To be honest - I absolutely love Method brand products and magic eraser sponges. 
  5. General upkeep. This one we're working on slowly, but surely. It's easier to feel like a room is clean if the trim if paint isn't chipping, old and discolored tiles are replaced, and so on. One of the bigger and more on-going projects in our house is to replace the trim - as most of it is in bad shape. We replaced one length of it and were amazed at how much cleaner the room looked with bright white trim. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year.. and some resolutions

I've never really been one for resolutions. Every year I see countless friends set these lofty goals and then a few weeks later completely forget about them or just fall off the wagon.

I've been there a few times. I've resolved to lose weight, take better care of myself, eat healthier, all of those things. Sometimes it will stick, but most often the goals are too big or ambiguous, and I just forgo the whole thing. It's been a while since I've even thought about making a resolution, but I think this is the year...

I resolve to make 2014 a good year.
This seems like it totally goes against what I just said about something being too big or ambiguous, but hear me out. I'm resolving to improve my outlook. For the last year or so I've been feeling pretty grim and finally things seem to be heading in a direction where I can encourage myself to have a more positive outlook. I want to feel less like a victim and more like a warrior. Or at the very least, a capable, strong woman.

I resolve to clean the house more.
This one is pretty obvious, but because of some of the big changes we're expecting in 2014, I'm going to make more of an effort to clean the house more often. A lot of the times baseboards go untouched, nooks and crannies are caked in dust and grime, and the furniture could be better cared for. Part of the resolution will include having a little more of a scheduled cleaning regiment, but the key here will be not to beat myself up over it if it doesn't get done.

I resolve to work on allowing myself to be the person I want to be.
I've been working on that a LOT this year and I think carrying it over into 2014 is a good idea. This year I dyed my hair BRIGHT blue, got my nose pierced, and tattooed half of my arm. While not everyone agreed with those things, I did them because I wanted to - and I'm happier because instead of caving into other people's opinions, I just did what I thought would be fun. The funny thing is - I get so many more compliments now that I let myself do that than I did before.

I resolve to work toward lowering the amount of medications I need to take. 
This one my doctor's will be happy with - and something that I've been working on for a while now. I doubt I will ever be medication-free, but cutting back a little here and there is always good.

I resolve to continue to make my house a home. 
This sort of goes with #2, but it's more focused on improving than cleaning. We're in the middle of our attic renovation and I'm sincerely hoping by this time next year it will be finished - or at least very close to it. We're paying for everything in cash, so that generally takes a little longer to accomplish. But - if we can make what I have in my head a reality - it will be a heavenly oasis of comfort. I'm also hoping we can work on a lot more house projects this year now that my hubs is working a well-paying full-time job.

I resolve to be less of a hermit and get out of the house more often.
This last year I wanted nothing more than to just stay in my house and never leave. In 2014, I want to try and get out more with friends, go do and see some of the fun things going on in our area, and just overall be a little more social and less socially-awkward.

That's it. :) It was hard to put all of what I wanted to do in one resolution, so I did a few to cover the basis. Of course, I'm going to try my best to do all the other things like lose weight, eat healthier, blah blah blah, but I'm not going to put that kind of pressure on myself to resolve to do them. I want to get down the basic things that I'm resolving to do as listed above because I feel they are the most important in my life right now. While being a healthy weight is a good thing, I'm hoping by conquering some of these issues as listed above - the weight loss (i.e. exercising and eating better) will come along with it. If not, well, at least I'm working toward feeling better about myself and not letting my decision to lose weight be controlled by vanity alone.

I'll keep you posted on some of our upcoming house projects! 2014 is going to be a great year!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Kitchen chalkboard wall and pot rack

You'd think I'd get tired of kitchen projects.

I've been mulling over ideas to make our very long blank wall less long and blank and more interesting since we moved in our house almost 2 years ago. I went through various incarnations of ideas that included murals and/or lots of artwork.

I was having trouble coming up with enough ideas for artwork that I liked. Currently I have a few pieces on there.

The photos of my critters I love (of course) and the 12.x12 "All You Need is Love" piece I made a while back I also plan on keeping around. The little quote in the frame? Eh. Not so much.

Despite the amazing amount of art supplies I own, I just couldn't think of anything to make this wall 'interesting.'

Another dilemma we have is that while we have a decent-sized kitchen, the layout is horrid. There are cabinets where the fridge should be, a door that is right next to the cabinets (so if you're trying to get something out of the cabinet - say a pot or pan - and someone is coming in from the garage, there will likely be a collision. Also, on the other side of the fridge is this very narrow area to get to the basement.

Now, there are multiple ways we can fix this problem, but the vast majority of them are expensive and require contractors. I need to find a way to make my life easier... and aesthetically pleasing.

Our large blank wall also gets smeared with fingerprints, dog drool and other things.... I needed something that would look okay if it was a little dirty, or could "hide" dirt well. Chalkboard paint?

I started with being completely and entirely in love with my little wall chalkboard I made a while back. It was handy for writing down what we were planning for dinner, but it really wasn't enough room for the two-weeks-worth of meals I plan. Usually I'd do one week and then forget the second week. :(

I also needed to be able to leave notes for Garry. We work different shifts and sometimes it's just easier to write a note for him (in big BOLD letters) to do something than it is to text him.

So the idea of painting that ENTIRE wall in chalkboard paint was born. I saw a lot of kitchens with large expanses of black chalkboard wall and to me... it's a little dark. I was thinking of green chalkboard (kind of like the ones we had in school once upon a time before SmartBoards came around), but even the green color was still a little too dark and too "green" for me.

I know! I'm *trying* to embrace color! I really am! Just give me a little credit here!

I found this photo and thought it was perfect!

Found on BHG

So that's the green I went for.

I found the recipe for chalkboard paint on Martha Stewart's website. I looked through my Glidden master deck to find a color that worked with the tones in our house and *originally* picked English Garden. However, I forgot to take my paint deck with me to Home Depot and they didn't have that particular swatch there so I had to look through ALL of the other swatches to find something close. Eventually I ended up with Behr's (). It's a little darker than the original color I picked, but I think it will look great after it's *primed* with chalk.

Okay, so now we have the chalkboard portion figured out - what about the interesting?

Other than the notes, meal plans, and other chalk-related pieces I'll have room for - I'm also planning on making (more) shelves and adding a pot rack to free-up some space in my cabinets. I'm also hoping that having them on display will encourage Garry and I to take better care of our pots.

We currently have one long shelf in the kitchen for our cookbooks and other kitchen-y stuff. I am going to cut that shelf in half and make two 3-foot shelves that will be mounted right where the chalkboard currently is. On the bottom shelf, I'm going to attach a dowel (I'm going to stain it to match the shelves) with a screw eye (is that what they're called?). The pots will hang by S-hooks. I'm also hoping to get some nice glass containers and put my tea collection on display (freeing up some space in yet another cabinet).

Because we're making an effort to repaint the wall (again) I decided to replace the floor molding as well (Auron chewed it up pretty bad when he was a puppy and frankly, I want to replace all of the painted-a-million-times molding in the house with something a little nicer.

So - with all of this Garry is going to teach me how to use the miter saw so I can start replacing all of the trim and molding as I feel ready to do it. The floor molding wasn't too expensive - about $1.50 a foot - and we have a TON of quarter round molding hanging out in the garage rafters. It was a little more expensive because it was already finished - just need to caulk the seams and the finish nail heads. Considering that we have baseboard hot water heat, we don't have a *ton* of base molding to do on the first floor.

I'm hoping to get this project finished over the weekend. It's not a terribly "intense" project, but it will take some time to complete.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Audrey, the Roomba

I wish I had something exciting to post, but everything has been pretty quiet around here lately. Garry has been working long hours, I've been working on not feeling like crap and cleaning.

We did buy a new Roomba in an effort to keep up with all of the dog/cat/people hair in the house (I would have to spend an hour vacuuming every day when I got home from work and that was NOT pleasant) and so far it has worked well.

We named her "Audrey" after the "Little Shop of Horrors" plant because it gobbled up the tumbleweeds of dog hair fairly well.

She's definitely quieter than our regular upright vacuum, but not so quiet that I could run it while I sleep. Typically I'll run it when I get home from work for the day and I can do a few other chores while it's running. She does miss a few clumps of hair here and there, but overall it's better than me having to spend the time vacuuming.

It didn't come cheap - $350 for one of these on Amazon, but we decided that with 2 cats, a labrador and two people, it was worth the cost to not have to spend the time vacuuming every day. Our upright vacuum is on it's last legs anyway - we mostly just use it for upholstery.


Overall I'm pleased with it - as it does save me the time/energy of vacuuming and keeps my floors relatively clean. Now - only if I can convince Garry that we need a Scooba (the mop version) we'd be all set!

New carpet and a dose of color

I've realized that I've been playing it too safe.

As much as I love my textured neutrals, it was just getting... boring. Sure the house felt calm and relaxing, but it didn't really feel "fun" either. I've been feeling like I'm lacking my creative edge. I love color, but I don't want to be overwhelmed by it - I'd love to see a nice balance in the house.

A while ago, Garry and I got rid of our very neutral striped shag carpet. I really loved it. I thought it was the perfect carpet for our space. Well, that is, until I realized that when you have a dog, people over, and a clumsy me and a messy husband - shag carpets aren't the best idea. So out it went.

For a while now I've been looking for a new rug. I was really in love with the woven/braided rugs and thought maybe I could make one myself. I *did* make some t-shirt yarn out of some worn past-their-prime jersey sheets we have, but considering my hands aren't what they used to be it would take close to forever to DIY a rug the size I needed (at least 5x8) so it was back to the drawing board.

As much as I love to order things online, I didn't think ordering a rug would be a good plan. The colors can sometimes be WAY off, and I didn't want to have to deal with return shipping. This left the only option of just going to stores and looking.

First off... area rugs are expensive! If you want something nicer than just a plain low-pile cheapie rug it's going to be... well, an investment. Since I wanted a woven rug, that helped on the cost a little, but it was still more than $40.

I made a stop after work on Friday to Home Goods. They always have such nice things and every time I go in I say to myself, "I could easily spend thousands of dollars in here - if given the opportunity." I completely forgot that Home Goods carries rugs and I browsed through them thinking that I wasn't going to be wowed by anything or if I did, it would be way out of my price range.

I found two rugs that I loved - one was a lime-y green and natural jute 5x7 rug. It was essentially what I was looking for, but the more I thought about it - the more color variance I wanted in my living room. I wanted a rug that I could pull multiple colors from so I kept looking.

And then I found my rug!

It was a similar design to the previous green and jute rug, but with a little more of a "tribal" style to it and about a billion more colors. While I tend to gravitate toward cool colors, this rug had a good amount of warmth to it that would look nice against our floor without it looking too "hot."

While Home Goods has a great return policy (45 days) I was very honest with them and told them that I had pets and needed to know if I laid it down, didn't like it, and brought it back (the next day) if that wouldn't work because of the pet hair. I was told that because it's a textile that I could still bring it back, but they wouldn't be able to sell it. So I had to decide if I loved it enough to take it home knowing I couldn't bring it back. (At worst case, I'd end up putting it in the sunroom or in our future master suite - I told myself).

Thankfully I loved it when I put it down (Auron was a little scared of it) and Garry loved it as well because it wasn't "girly."

This also gives me a reason to dig into my fabric bin and make some pillow covers - and to test out my Indian block stamp.

I also have the first coat of primer finished on the bottom table. I realized that with the turned legs, painting with a brush is not going to be a good plan. So - at this point I will need to sand the legs really well and get some spray primer to do the second coat. This also means I will need to find a color of spray paint I like or find a way to get custom spray paint.

Now that I'm adding more color to the room, I'm starting to re-think my color choice for the piece. Once it's completely primed, I'm going to bring it in the house and let it *live* in the space until I finish priming the hutch and hopefully I will be a little more decisive about color at that point. I still want to add the gold metallic banding in certain spots - I'm just not sure if I want to go with a bold color (like, say, peacock blue or emerald green) or something more neutral like white or grey. It's a substantial piece - and no matter what color we paint it - it will end up a substantial color in the room.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Running into a snag - ahh... real-life rears it's head

It looks like our bathroom project is going to be put on hold for just a little while.

Garry's cat, Cid, has some pretty nasty gum disease and needs some dental work done. Which, as any of you with pets know, is crazy expensive.

$500 later he *should* be all set, I hope.

We still haven't heard back from the electrician to finish all of the work up there, so that's kind of a bummer. We should still be able to get that much of it all done before the end of summer. However, I don't think the drywall is going to happen if we decide to route the plumbing first. (Maybe there's a way to drywall the rest of the room except for where the plumbing is going?)

Oh well, we're not in a huge hurry to get the room up and running. I'd like to be able to move us up there by the end of the year (bathroom doesn't have to be finished though) and it's likely we'll still be working on some projects up there too - like the his and hers closet built-ins.

Flooring is another kind of expensive issue that we'll need to tackle. We're planning on carpeting to add as a sound barrier.

We still haven't actually *finished* the arbor either. Part of the problem lies in that Garry works second shift and I have terrible balance. It's basically up to him to help me finish painting it. I'm hoping that maybe sometime soon I can get it finished so I can plant the rose bushes I want either next spring or this fall - along with plotting out the rest of our front garden.

Speaking of - a few of my gladiolus have bloomed! :D They are orange (not my favorite color) but they are still really pretty. I realized that I planted them... awkwardly. I really think next year I need a better plan than just "Let's just put them in the ground." Generally that's what happens.