Thursday, December 27, 2012

Kitchen shelf and a spot of tea

Over Thanksgiving weekend we finally got around to installing the shelf in the kitchen that I've been dying to have since we moved in. I know I may seem a little over-excited about something as simple as shelving, but... well, that's just how I work I suppose.

One of the main reasons I wanted this shelf, was because I have some really cute antique tea cups and saucers that have been hiding in storage for years. I wanted a way to finally display them without having to get a hutch (there's not enough space in our tiny kitchen for a hutch) and to keep them out of reach from dogs/children.

Our glass tea set that my friends Pam and Rick gave us for our wedding is up there too, along with our cookbooks.

I love tea, and really, all warm beverages. There's just something about drinking a warm cup of something that just makes everything feel "right" with the world. It's one of those few moments when I'm not freaking out about something.

Antiques are something that I've started to appreciate more and more over the years - and drinking tea out of an actual tea cup (instead of a mug) is something really special and almost luxurious.

Ceremonies are written around tea; how to prepare, serve and drink it. It is sacred in it's simplicity and complexity. Tea is a part of my heritage and I'm hoping to pass that down to my children too. That it's not just about drinking it out of a little froufrou cup with a few cookies and finger sandwiches - that it's a whole lot more than that.

I have plans to "pretty-up" the space a little more. I'm working on some artwork to hang over the chalkboard, and we'll have something under the shelving too, I'm just not sure what. I think some antique molds would be cool - something with a low profile so when we walk by we don't run into it, but for now, I just have a few little things on there...

All I know is that the very long, barren wall is starting to come to life - and that makes me happy.
I also managed to sort through (some) of the crazy paper pile and file it away in our very large filing cabinet. I got a lot of my scrapbooking supplies (which definitely needs to be used for something!) sorted and the paper filed away. I think I'm going to end up donating a lot of it to the school (what elementary teacher doesn't love stickers?) and working on some projects to either sell, or give as gifts. I just have to have the ambition to do it...

My desk is still a nightmare. I really think once we get a properly-sized book shelf in the room, I can move the books there and then figure out how to organize all of my stuff. Problem is, I haven't gone through all of it yet to decide how it should be stored so I know what kind of containers to store it in, except for our acrylic paints... they look pretty...

This, of course, means getting ALL of my stuff from the attic, sorting through it (which is a good thing), throwing out or donating everything that I know I'm not going to use, and then deciding what to store everything else in.

I'm thinking of using a mix of wire, woven and cloth baskets along with metal and glass canisters. I've been saving the cans from all of our canned goods we've been using so I'm hoping that some of them will be useful. Maybe covering them with twine would be pretty.

The ultimate goal is to be able to get everything out of my big plastic storage bins that they've been in for years, get rid of what I know I'm not going to use, and actually start making things again. I'll admit, I'm not the best crafter out there, but I think I'm good enough that at least my friends/family/dog will be okay with it. Not sure what we'll do with the plastic bins (they're super helpful for lots of things, so we won't get rid of them) but having all of my crafting stuff "out" and where I can easily get to it will be helpful.

Let there be (bathroom) light and shelves!

Remember when I painted the bathroom... like... over the summer? We had to take down the vanity light and in the process it broke. As in, needed to be replaced.

I made a trip to Home Depot to pick up a third bracket for my kitchen shelf project (for added stability, more on that later) and I decided that having a vanity light would be a good thing since it's dark most of the time I'm home now and I'd like to be able to see my own face on the mornings I put makeup on.

The cheapest light I found was actually a sconce light, but it was the right size for the space so I thought we could give it a go. If we didn't like it, or it just plain didn't work, we could always return it and get something else. I could have gotten the same fixture we had for the same price, but it was really boring and plain. Sometimes that's good, but right now our little bathroom needs some "oomph!"

I really like it actually. It's different from most of the other vanity lights out there and it provides plenty of light to do what I need it to do. For now it's fine the way it is and looks really nice. Once we have a better idea of where we're going with the bathroom's color palette it will be easier.

I've also been thinking more about things we can do to "work with what we have" and make our lives more organized in the process. One option we talked about for quite some time was to try and have the plumbing re-routed so we could move it to the alcove area and make the area it's in now a double sink. I realize that the cost of that would be, well, a lot. Not to mention there would be no place for the cat litter box (very important!) and it would be incredibly expensive.

So, my thought (now) is to take our old vanity out (it's one of the cheap ones and the top is cracked really bad) and install a really nice pedestal sink (which is about the same price as replacing the vanity top). In the weird little cubby area, I'd like to build a built-in linen cabinet that has space under it for the cat box. This would be super helpful because it would store our towels, washcloths and other bathroom supplies.

We also put together some shelves in the bathroom (see I told you it was going to become an obsession!) and overall it looks really nice.

I think I might add two more shelves because that middle shelf looks a bit crowded and I'd like to add some decorative stuff too. I also need some storage baskets too... (I think some wire ones with either burlap or white fabric would be nice)

There is still quite a bit of work that needs to be done in there too (crown molding/trim, and the eventual replacement of the tub and a complete redo of the surround that involves actual sheetrock, along with fixing the subfloor and installing new tile), but that will take a lot of time/money and right now it's not a really something to think/worry about. Little things like storage, lighting and artwork are a little more our speed now.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Overly ambitious

One of my biggest problems is that even though I know about any issues I have with things, I like to test them from time to time. Take my seafood allergy for instance. Every once in a while I decide that I need to make sure I still have a seafood allergy and I eat shrimp. Every time I get violently ill. You'd think I'd learn... nope.

Apparently this mix of curiosity/stubborness runs through the rest of my life too. This weekend I decided that I was going to be productive. On Saturday I actually shaved my legs, dried my hair with a hair dryer and put make-up on. No, I wasn't going anywhere fancy. I just felt like it.

Yesterday I upped the ante. I did housework. I vacuumed, stained the other side of the board for my kitchen shelf, hung a curtain rod, switched curtains out (our bedroom curtains are now in the office and look awesome!), did laundry, re-installed the toilet paper and towel bars and light switch covers in the bathroom... and probably a bunch of stuff I don't remember.

By the end of the day my left arm hurt so bad, I swear, it felt like every joint was being ripped apart. I took a hot shower, used a heat pad... didn't do anything. Even ambien wasn't enough to help me sleep through the night (I slept for maybe 4-5 hours, which is nowhere near enough for me) and I woke up this morning at 5:30 with my arm still searing from my shoulder to my finger tips.

In desperation I globbed muscle cream all over my arm and crawled back in bed feeling very annoyed with myself that now my freshly-washed sheets were going to smell like Icy Hot because I decided to do laundry in the first place.

On the bright side, it doesn't hurt nearly as much now - still sore, but less enough that I can type. I'm really hoping I can wash my hair later... that would be great.

A good thing - in all of this I started the organization process. I'm realizing that it will probably take a while before it starts to look the way I want it to, and it will require collecting jars, baskets and other little bits and bobs to make it happen, but for the most part, the room is coming together. Garry even said that he was surprised with how much he likes it.

While sorting through everything I found a lot of little projects that I'd like to do. I'm hoping I can complete one every week. Part of this process is to use up a lot of my crafting supplies because, honestly, I don't do a whole lot of crafting anymore. I'm also hoping to use some of my stock to make some fun stuff for around the house, gifts for people, you know - that sort of thing. I have two Rubbermaid bins worth of fabric that needs to be used, along with countless beads, buttons, and other fun stuff. I don't even want to get into the scrapbooking stuff I have... it's a little ridiculous...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New Shelves!

I never knew how gratifying it would be to create shelves. It was a process that involved, blood, sweat and possibly some tears, but I managed to finish my shelves for the office over the weekend. By the time I was finished, I really thought that maybe I deserved a medal or a trophy or something... or that could've been the fumes from the stain...

I had to stain the other two boards and then coat them with a finishing wax. Now, I've never used finishing wax before. It was more of an experiment than anything else to see if I liked the product, I knew I could strip off the finish and use regular polyurethane if needed.

Our sunroom made for a great workroom because I didn't care if the floors/walls ended up with stain on them and the majority of the room is made up of windows - so it provided good ventilation. We also have a little electric fireplace in the room so I didn't get too cold. Then again, the weather over the weekend was perfect, so I only needed to use it the one day.

I'm still up in the air over the wax. While it has a nice finish that's not super shiny, it was kind of a pain to work with, especially since I was working with wood that wasn't perfectly smooth. I think next time (unless I have perfectly smooth wood) I'll use a satin polyurethane as it's easy to apply.

However, the wax hardens in half an hour which made the finishing process a lot faster than I anticipated.

One shelf down... two more to go.


I wanted there to be a larger space on the bottom-most shelf, but I can always change the amount of space between if I feel like it. I think it will look awesome once I get everything on there. This week we have a few smallish projects to tackle - including filing all of our paperwork in our very large cabinet - so it might be a while before I get it "styled" how I would like.

Primitive and Proper
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Adorned From Above

Now that I think about it, I'm not sure I like the color that I picked to spray the desks. Hm, I may end up having to re-think that.

I ended up loving these shelves so much that I bought a few brackets and a board to install in the kitchen. That board needs one more coat of stain on the one side and a coat of wax - I should be able to have it finished by tomorrow night. Finally a place to put all of my cookbooks!

We still have one 6 ft. board left that we're not exactly sure what to do with. We may end up cutting a piece off and using it in the bathroom as a display shelf (our bathroom needs some serious lovin') or something like that. Since we're miles away from any projects in there it might be a while before we make a solid decision on that.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Office prettification! Step... I don't remember...

It's kind of sad that I don't even remember which step of this process I'm on. As my husband would say "it's the next one."

This weekend we started the shelving project for our office. It was a little more expensive than we thought, mostly because we ended up buying a few extra items at Home Depot instead of just what we needed for the project. I also bought more stain/wax than we really needed because knowing me, I'm going to want more of these shelves. 

As I posted in my last entry, Garry pulled up and threw out all the carpet in the sunroom. Even though it helped keep the room a LOT warmer, this is probably a good idea since we can use that room as a "winter work room" since we have a small electric fireplace out there to help us stay warm while we're working out there. 

Because the carpet came up - just about everything had to come back into the office. 

Side note: I'm thinking of hanging our three violins on the other side of the filing cabinet. It would be really nice to get them off the floor. I also pulled the blinds down yesterday because... well... I hate plastic blinds with every fiber of my soul.

Yeah, kind of a mess... and very bare... which makes me sad. :(

But - this wall will change everything!

It's so bare, and so blank that something gorgeous just BEGS to be there - that something is my wall-o-shelves.

We started by hanging the track shelving, which isn't that terribly difficult. Just measure and screw the tracks to the wall. But, make sure you measure very carefully before you start drilling - otherwise you end up with a million holes you have to putty. 

Luckily we didn't have a problem with that. :)

These shelves will be 6 feet long (I wanted something really substantial for this room) and the wood we bought was just pine 2x12. The boards were 12ft long so we had the folks at Home Depot cut them in half so we could fit them in my car (and they barely fit). I decided I only wanted three shelves afterall, so we have an extra board that I can use somewhere else in the house (probably the bathroom).  

Once the tracks were up I sanded the cut edges of the wood. My dad would be shaking his head at me now, but no, I didn't sand the whole thing. I want the wood to look a little "beat to hell" as he would put it. That's kind of the point. 

See, our sunroom makes a great work room - if only I had some saw horses... 

I decided to go with Minwax Special Walnut for color. I knew I wanted a "weathered-looking" walnut color, and let's be honest here, Minwax was the cheapest stain at Home Depot for that size. I've also used Mixwax before with good results. I also bought just a cheap $1 brush since I didn't want to use my good paint brushes and I just needed "something" to apply the paint with. 

This is after the first coat. All I did was brush the stain on with the grain and wipe with a cotton rag. Really simple. I'm going to do a second coat tonight. 

This is really a lovely color. I'm hoping the extra coat will take some of the red out of the wood that is in some spots, but if not, that's okay too. 

This process will probably take me all week to do since I don't get home from work until about 6 pm every night and I told Garry that I really wanted to do this part myself. I think two coats of stain on each board will be good, then a good coat of wax buffed on (I've never used wax before so this will be interesting) and hopefully by the weekend I'll be able to assemble everything on the shelves and start the organization process. (Meaning, I'll be on the hunt for containers for all my odds and ends). 

Hmm... maybe I can cut and stain that other board too, pick up some metal brackets, and hang those in the bathroom this weekend too... 

Maybe I should be saying "Stain all the things!" instead. :)

Here's the breakdown so far:
  • Paint file cabinet: $12
  • Paint my desk: $12
  • Paint computer desk: $12
  • Install cork/white erase board: $15
  • Create/find items to use to corral small desk objects: free  
  • Make barnwood shelving on metal tracks (above my desk): $150 (for materials) 
  • Buy/build a bookcase: $50
  • Make/find artwork: $50 (allowance for new frames/printing costs) 
  • Make curtain panel: free 
  • Add other furnishings (office chairs, rug, lamps, change out light fixture) 

All said: $300 (before the furnishings) 
So let's say $500 total (after furnishings). Okay, so my estimate was a little off - not by much though, and that depends on what we end up doing for the rest of the room. It's coming together though - and that's the important thing. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Now back from our weather delay...

I have to say, we were incredibly fortunate to not be bludgeoned by Hurricane Sandy at the beginning of the week. My heart goes out to the folks downstate, in New Jersey and other areas that were severely damanged. Last year we dealt with Hurricane Lee (just days after our wedding!) and our area was devestated - many folks are still recovering on a lot of different levels.

It makes my stomach drop just thinking about it.

Since our house also managed to come away unscathed (I was really worried about our roof), I can go back to Operation: Paint All the Things and Garry can go back to shaking his head at me.

This weekend I'm hoping to get my table spray painted. While we have it dismantled and in the garage, we're also planning on buying and installing the tracks for the wall-o-shelves that will go above my table. It will look like this (but in my office):

Photo from Our Vintage Home Love

Now just imagine a 6ft long version of those shelves. I'm getting excited just thinking about it! 

Since the availalbility of the gorgeous solid walnut is not going to happen, we're going to buy some pine boards, rough em' up a bit, sand down the edges, and stain them the antique walnut color and give them a nice waxed finish. They will look lovely... 

Okay, let's be honest - I really want these shelves in just about every room in my house. That's how much I love them. I'd love (lovelovelovelove) them in my kitchen (which I already have plans for on our weird, long wall), and in my bathroom in the weird little alcove. 

I also need to find some sort of rug and make my curtain. The room "echos" still, which is really annoying. I think once I get those shelves up, get the "bits and pieces" up, and find (or build) a decent-sized bookshelf, it will echo a lot less.  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Lesson Learned

Before we get to that - Garry and a friend of his moved our filing cabinet in our office yesterday. I'm super excited about it! At some point (when I'm not painting all the things) I'll get around to organizing all of our paperwork and maybe even decorating that wall of the room. (Which will invovle getting the sewing machine down and rummaging through my fabric - maybe even some crafts!)

Also, I've learned something today. Watching/listening to the full theatrical version of Les Miserables on You Tube at work while I'm... um... "hormonal" is probably a bad idea. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE Les Mis, it's easily my favorite musical of all time, however there are multiple parts in the production that I will cry my eyes out over. Yes, I've seen/listened to it a million times. No, that doesn't make it any different. The way the musical is written, and how some of the characters are so relatable... well at least for me.

When I was in high school there was a boy I was desperately, almost painfully, in love with. One reason or another it just wasn't going to happen, but we were very close friends. There was always a part of me that thought, maybe... just maybe... despite knowing that it would never happen or be a good idea.

I could get into more of it, but you get the idea.

After I saw Les Mis the first time I completely and entirely resonated with Eponine. It felt like looking in a mirror. That yes, I'd be that girl to run across a war zone to deliver a note to a girl from guy I was hopelessly in love with - without a care if I died or not - and just be thrilled that in that moment of death that he finally noticed.

So... feeling the way I did, and of course, being a desperately-in-love, 16-year-old Leo, with a Scorpio moon (my poor mother) I did the only thing that would come naturally to me - theatre. We had a "coffee house" once a month at my high school and I decided that I was going to sing "On My Own." I didn't tell anyone why - because that would have been really embarrassing - even though the entire universe knew how I felt already. He had graduated the spring prior and went away to college, so he wasn't around to see it. Thankfully so. I know if he had, well, that just would've made things more awkward than it needed to be.

And I sang my heart out. It was the first time that anyone in the school heard my sing completely by myself (even though I was in choir for years) and to really "let" myself sing with all of those emotions that were normally just chaos running through me.

So I "got it." Every time I hear the song I think about that very informal, fleeting performance, the way I felt, and how so much has changed since then.

It took a long time to get over it. Longer than I'd really like to admit. The falling out we had years ago is still painful, and there is a part of me that wonders if that wound will ever heal, or if I keep it open to remind myself what can happen if I let my imagination run away with itself.

But now, I'm no longer the lonely girl chasing after an impossible love. I don't feel like I need to cross war zones just to be noticed. I've got it good, and I know that because of the past. And you know what, I'm incredibly thankful for it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's electric! Boogie Woogie Oogie!

Okay, I want to know what you folks think about electric fireplaces.

I know, I flip flop on this fireplace issue more than some politicians do on their talking points. Whatever, it's a freaking fireplace not foriegn policy!

So - that being said - I know there is absolutely no way in the Universe that we're having a wood or pellet stove installed in our house (as it requires a LOT of demo work to create a vent) so my options for a fireplace are:

  1. Electric fireplace (easiest) just so you know - this is what I was thinking about: fireplace
    1. Can order online
    2. Some assembly (not terribly difficult)
    3. Will be able to use immediately
    4. Does not require any alteration of the house - doesn't increase taxes
    5. Not real fire
    6. Will probably cause our electric bill to go up 
  2. Ventless gas (most expensive) 
    1. Have to purchase all the parts
    2. Assembly is kind of difficult (will need to have inspections done on the gas line)
    3. More expensive than electric
    4. Might increase taxes 
    5. Will cause our utility bill to go up
    6. Real flames 
    7. Have to build mantle and everything as well (lots of construction) 
  3. Some sort of candle-place (most complicated)
    1. Relatively cheap (depending on design) 
    2. Won't increase utility bills or taxes 
    3. Real fire
    4. Will not provide measurable supplemental heat
    5. Not sure about how much of a hazard it would be. Essentially we'd have to buy a firebox and build a mantle (like the ventless option) except without the insert and hooking it up to the gas line) It would probably be about as expensive as an electric fireplace initially. 
This is going to sound dumb, but the main reasons I want a fireplace are: 
  1. The size/shape our of living room makes putting anything else there really difficult to design around - a fireplace is kind of the perfect solution.
  2. Fireplaces are easy (for me) to decorate.
  3. Added winter-time ambience. (Winter lasts for 6 months where I live folks) 
  4. A nice backdrop for photos. (Okay, let me explain this one - when I was a kid most of our family photos were taken in front of the fireplace. We don't really have a "spot" in our house that makes sense to do that) 
Yeah, okay, supplemental heat would be nice too. 

Thoughts? Advice? 

Steps 2, 3, and 4

I'm breaking this process up into micro-steps because that's honestly the only way I feel like I'm going to make it through this office prettification process.

Step 2: Move the filing cabinet into the office (organize the living daylights out of it!)
Step 3: Take my table/desk apart
Step 4: Spray paint my table/desk

Yesterday I bought more spray paint. When Garry noticed two MORE cans in the house he just shaked his head. He swears I have an addiction. He's just lucky I didn't bring actual wall paint home too - because I was seriously thinking about it. And really... of all things to be addicted to - painting all the things isn't the worst thing out there.

The cans I picked up are for our two very old work tables that are functioning as desks in our office. There are people out there that would probably beat me stupid for painting these vintage work tables, but they don't go... at all. If they did, or even if I could somehow find a way to make it "work" in my head, I would leave them alone, but, my friends, that isn't going to happen. I don't even think David Bromstad or Nate Berkus could make that happen.

The problem with painting everything is that you have to pick a color. While this is what "transforms" something - and I'm all about that - I really like to get the color right the first time. Okay, at least with spray painting. Painting walls doesn't count. We ALL know that it takes at least 2 different colors before you get it down.

Anyway... after standing in the aisle for quite some time mulling over different paint colors and thinking about what would go well in the room, which needs to flow with the house... etc I ended up with a taupey-grey color. I know, not the most exciting, but think about it - these tables are vintage, they weren't painted exciting colors like sunshine yellow and bright orange. Not to mention that those tables take up a lot of space in our office - so painting them a bright color wouldn't be just a "pop" of color, it would be a big ol' BOOM. Considering I'm pretty desperate to repaint our very blue bedroom, I apparently can't handle living in bright colors in that large of a quantity. Lesson learned.

Don't get me wrong, I did entertain the idea of fire-engine red or kelly green desks, but it just didn't "do it" for me (Kelly green chairs would be fun though!)

I'm still debating if I'm going to use the left over ORB spray paint from the cabinet for the table tops, or if I'm going to redo them in aluminum (the sides of the top are aluminum). I'm also debating if I want to build or buy a bookshelf or not as our current one is really narrow and a lot of my books don't really "fit."

Hopefully this weekend Garry will move my table outside so I can paint it. This is probably going to take a couple of weeks to get the spray painting completed as we can only do one desk at a time, when I feel up to it, then let it dry for two days. Oh, and it can't be raining... and where I live it rains ALL THE TIME.

I'm also dreaming of the track shelving unit I want to put behind my desk. I think that could look really awesome with some worn-looking, walnut-stained wood. I also think a big clock hung where I want to put our book shelf would look really cool too. (I lurrrrrrve big clocks)

I also can't wait to pull out my decorative bits box. I realize that I probably don't have anywhere near the amount of decorative stuff that I think I have. That's where all of my craft stuff comes in (which I have WAY more than I'm sure I think is there) to use some of it up.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Step 1 - in the bag!

Is it sad that I kind of want to do a touchdown dance right now?

Okay, maybe I *did* do a little touchdown dance yesterday - after I got home from work Garry and I finally got around to spray painting the filing cabinet. The funny thing was, I totally expected him to want to just move the thing where it needed to be and then just go inside to do something else. Decorating isn't really his thing and I can totally understand why, but this time around he was really excited to help spray paint. Lo' and behold - he was actually really good at it - as in, better than me.

I was shocked. Mostly because I have done a bunch of spray painting projects over the years and this is the first time he volunteered to help. If I knew he was so awesome at spray painting I would've asked him to teach me YEARS ago.

Apparently spray painting is "manly." Okay... I'll remember that when I end up spray painting just about every piece of non-upholstered furniture we own.

So the filing cabinet looks great. We just need to wait for it to cure completely and then we can move it in the office. I'm excited to go through some of my decorative things and start really decorating that room. Now if only I can find some good, solid barnwood. Otherwise I have to buy some planks and age them myself... Either way I think it will look awesome when I'm done!

Maybe on Saturday I'll convince Garry to move my desk to the garage so I can start on that project soon. As long as I'm feeling up for it, I might as well keep going.

Here's the list right now:

  • Paint file cabinet: $12
  • Paint my desk: $12
  • Paint computer desk: $12
  • Install cork/white erase board: $15
  • Create/find items to use to corral small desk objects - free  
  • Make barnwood shelving on metal tracks (above my desk) - $100 (for materials) 
  • Paint bookcase - free 
  • Make/find artwork - $50 (allowance for new frames/printing costs) 
  • Make curtain panel - free 
  • Add other furnishings (office chairs, rug, lamps, change out light fixture) 
All said: $200 (before the furnishings) 
So let's say $400 total. 

Things like office chairs, rugs, and light fixtures aren't necessarily cheap. Not too bad for a complete redo of a room if you ask me. Certainly the least expensive so far. 

Yeah, still have a long way to go. I'm hoping that I might be able to get a good chunk of the DIY stuff done by the end of the year. Another thing I'd like to do is get a second computer screen for our desk top (I have two screens at work and I LOVE it) just in case I ever have to work from home. 

We also have some closet cleaning/organizing in there to do. Ideally, we'll move all of my crafting items to the office where they will all be organized (hahahahaha!!) but I know that's going to be a bit of a feat, (there's a reason I wanted to make enormous shelves for that room) and that will require the little closet in the room to be emptied. Should be... interesting... to see what was stowed away in there when we moved in.

We also need to tear the carpet out of the sunroom. Yeah... I just don't want to talk about it... luckily there's at least some tile underneath (which will need to be steam mopped to death) so it's not a complete disaster. We may end up installing something else in there - it just won't be a huge priority since it's only a 3-season room. But, I would like to get it "ready" for work in the spring. Before we close it up for the year I think I'm going to hang the curtains, clean the windows, move the wicker loveseat in there and set it up so it almost looks like it could be functional. :) I'd love to get a big wicker couch and two chairs to go in there with a decent-sized coffee table. I think that would be nice. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Life is what happens...

...when you're making other plans.

Yeah, I'm channelling John Lennon.

But he's right, you know, he's right, life is what happens when you're making other plans. Or at least in my case, things happen, crop up, or however you want to put it when I have plans to do something productive.

Didn't get around to spray painting the cabinet over the weekend. Hate to say it, but I'm not surprised about it either. Saturday was pretty crazy with going into work, having a friend over for dinner, and then I was hoping to have a relaxing night to myself at the house (which I totally did) except for that Garry had gone off to a party and ended up not being able to come home until around 2 a.m. because of logistical issues at the party. Awesome. Did I mention that I don't sleep well, especially if Garry isn't home? Augh...

Yesterday was nice - had to go into work, then went to a friend's house for a pumpkin carving party. I don't have photos of them yet. Boo on me! I did get to take a nice, long, hot bath in her tub of awesome. It was a lovely thing.

But... we didn't get home until late and by that point there wasn't going to be anything productive happening at my house.

Stupidly enough I ended up not being able to sleep at all last night. I think I forgot to take my Ambien or something... I might've slept 2 hours. It's hard to tell, I'm not sure if I was having dreams of being awake or if I actually was. I ended up trying to sleep on the couch (after Auron decided that 1 a.m. was a good time to need to go potty and Garry was tossing in his sleep) and I that didn't go well either because try as I might, I just couldn't get comfortable.

So... I'm exhausted. I'd really like to get that filing cabinet spray painted today, but I think at this point I'd just like to make it through the day without falling face-first into my keyboard. That would be awesome...

On the bright side - I found some chairs like what I'm looking for on the Ikea website. The dumb thing is that (of course) they're all chairs that you have to buy in a store and the closest store is about 3 hours away... and, love them as I might, I'm not driving 6 hours round-trip to buy chairs (that kind of defeats the purpose of them being cheaper than others I've found).

Friday, October 19, 2012

Step 1, subgroup A

I'm actually stupidly excited about spray painting my filing cabinet. I stopped by the store on my way home from work yesterday and picked up 2 cans of Rustoleum Hammered Metal in... oil rubbed bronze. I think it will look particularly awesome. Hubs is (hopefully) getting the hardware off for me today so I can paint it either tonight (depending on how late I end up needing to work or if it will ever stop raining) or tomorrow - and get it into our office by the end of the weekend (just in time for me to start working on painting my desk next week - mwa ha ha).

Surprisingly, Garry wasn't nearly as irritated as I thought he'd be. I think he's finally just used to the fact that I must "paint all the things." 

A happy surprise was to come home to my sunroom cleared out (for the most part, a few necessary things were left in there), and Garry and his friend Eric split the wood in the backyard and had build a fire in our firepit. It was lovely enjoying the evening wrapped in my very soft and fluffy cloak with a warm fire with friends. Even Auron got to join in the fun for a little while. 

Tonight - except for possibly spray painting - will be a night for mostly crawling under the electric blanket and staying warm, watching a movie, and lots of snuggles with the hubs and the critters. 

In other words... the perfect Friday night.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Just like stairs, it takes a while for each "step"

Apparently each "step" for doing something is similar to me trying to go up or down stairs, it takes forever.

Still haven't gotten around to spray painting the tables. Granted, yesterday I couldn't even get out of bed on my own power so... I guess I can't be too hard on myself. Planning on at the very least spray painting the file cabinet by the end of the weekend. Small goals... and taking one "stair" at a time so I don't fall flat on my face.

It's also incredibly easy for me to get side-tracked by other ideas I have for the house. Geez, right now even if I had all of the materials I needed for every single one of my ideas, it would still take MONTHS to complete all of it, even if I wasn't working...

Which reminds me... I need to find a lot of cheap barn wood and a lot relatively inexpensive, rustic, metal shelf brackets, or even some hinges... I have lots of ideas...

Today (and other days before this admittedly) I was thinking that our living room desperately needs a fireplace. It just begs for one. However, installing one is not cheap - and the easiest kind (the ventless gas kind) are still a few grand.

Yeah, we don't have that kind of money.

Also - even though adding a fireplace definitely adds value to your home, it also increases your taxes. Our tax payments are already the same amount (actually, just slightly more) than our mortgage payment. We're already going to be adding onto that amount by finishing the attic and the basement and possibly adding another bath and a half, why add more than necessary?

The *easy* way out of this would be to get an electric fireplace. But you know what? They're kind of cheesy. They look pretty when they're not lit, but dammit, I'm going to want to light it up! Also - a really nice one (the size I want) is fairly expensive still.

So what are we going to do? Well, a very creative idea I came up with takes the idea of the old non-working fireplaces that have a bunch of candles in it, and building something. Not sure how that's going to work so I don't end up setting my entire living room on fire, but it has the potential to be very unique and very awesome (and irritate Garry with yet another one of my "this is harder than it needs to be" projects). Heehee, I still continue to be surprised with what he lets me get away with.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Office Prettification - Step 1 - paint the tables

Oh man... Garry is NOT going to be pleased... :)

So I've decided that I want to spraypaint the two work tables in our office. I'm leaning toward painting them white. I know... boring... but white is a really easy color to work with and I can distress the tables and do other things to make them look "old" still. It will not be a quick or easy process. I'm sure Garry will be more than annoyed with me since I "should've thought to do that before we moved them into our office" since the tables are so big that we have to disassemble them to get them through the door. I'm hoping he won't be *too* annoyed - especially when he sees how nice they look when I'm done!

Add some apothecary lamps and other vintage-industrial style bits about the room and... yeah... that could be interesting...

As boring as white sounds, it would definitely "lighten" up the room. I know right now that I'm thinking of making a curtain out of drop cloth material, or maybe natural colored muslin (since I have a ton of it somewhere in the house). Since the window is in the corner of the room I'm only doing one large panel and adding a hook to open side of the wall to keep the drape "open." If I add in oil rubbed bronze and copper accessories I think that could look really cool. 

We also have the file cabinet to contend with. It's kind of a beast (one of the tall, 4-drawer units) and I'm thinking of painting that a color different than the desks. Not sure which yet - that might end up being ORBed.

Step by step... it's going to take a long  time to get this office the way I "want it" I'm sure. We also have the attic to deal with still - as well as repainting our current bedroom and add closet doors too. It's one project after another. Eventually we'll get to crown molding... someday... 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Office moved - now to prettify...

Garry would cringe if he heard me use that word... "prettify."

Well, we moved our desks, computer and chair upstairs to our former guest room and it is now officially our office. The room still definitely needs some work and I'm still formulating design ideas...

The desks are very grossly mis-matched. Augh. For some reason I thought they were both the very same, beat-up steel-grey colored tables, but no, they aren't. One is like a pukey yellow color with a wood veneer top. Blech. It just... doesn't go.

So, my next thought is to spray paint them so they match. Or maybe not "match" but at least "go." The room is relatively small and those desks are fairly big. I'd like to keep the antique architectual feel to the room without going way overboard. We still need to move our bookshelf and our file cabinet in there too.

Garry, I think, at this point is just thankful that I haven't decided to repaint the room. Thankfully it's a color I really like and it flows with the rest of the house.

Our sunroom (attached to the office) is in desperate, dire, need of being organized and thoroughly cleaned. Let's just say... it's not pretty.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Office planning

I know I've been kind of all over the place with design ideas lately. Not really being able to do much around the house has been bothering me and it just allows my mind to run away with itself. This leads to getting a little scatter-brained when trying to come up with some sort of "direction."

With our roommates pretty much moved out at this point, we've been looking at what to do with the spare bedroom. We're not planning on having a kid any time soon (besides, that room is probably the coldest room in the house since it's attached to the sunroom) so we figured that would be a good room for our office.

Since we're pretty low on funds right now (we want to keep as much in our savings as possible) we figured we would move the old, broken desk upstairs and just use that until we could afford or build something nicer. This desk was left at our old apartment by the previous tenants and even though we could refurbish it, we really do need a bigger desk than that, so it's not really worth our time and effort.

I've been racking my brain for ideas for desks, whether or not it would be cheaper to build a desk or buy one, what "style" direction I want to go, and all of that stuff. And then I realized...

We have two very old, decent-sized, metal work tables in the basement. They're just sitting there, not being used for anything and taking up space.

And that's where I started going with this...

Over the weekend we're going to dismantle the bed in the guest room and move it into the attic, scrub the room really well and move one of the tables up to see how it will fit in the room and then decide if we can git the other table in there or not. We also have to make room for our filing cabinet and possibly our bookshelves.

Not to mention office organization... we'll need to wrangle some containers for pens, pencils, and other office supplies - as well as ways to keep all of my craft "stuff" neat and tidy. That will be a bit of a feat since I have a LOT of craft stuff.

I'm hoping that by putting our office together we can start going through a lot of our random knick-knack items and decide if they are worth keeping for another room, need transforming into something else, or should get the boot. I'm also planning to reuse as much as I can to minimize the overall cost. I know off the top of my head we're probably going to have to purchase a few things:

  1. Office chairs (with proper support) 
  2. Rug for the floor
  3. File folders (for the filing cabinet) 
  4. Waste basket
  5. Shredder (something we should have bought a long time ago)
  6. Desk lamps (I don't do well with overhead lights) 
  7. Closet storage system (for better organization of our "stuff" so the room looks less cluttered)
Right now that's all I can think of. We'll probably end up building some shelves if we can find enough old wood and attach them to the wall with the track shelving to make it look cool and industrial. Replacing the light fixture would be nice too, but not really needed at the moment, especially being on a tight budget. 

Hopefully we'll get a good chunk of the rearranging accomplished this weekend. I'm actually really stupidly excited over making this transition, as it means we're one more step closer to making the house function in a way that suits "us." 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

20 Things I Love About Fall

  1. Cooking and baking in my kitchen without sweating incessantly. 
  2. Fall foliage in upstate New York is gorgeous!
  3. That period of time between not having to run the air conditioner and before the heater kicks in - lower utility bills!
  4. Perfect cuddle weather. 
  5. All of the very warm, soft blankets come out of storage - more cuddling ensues.
  6. Hot cocoa and mulled cider is more practical. 
  7. Football season starts (around here high school football is a big deal).
  8. "Grey" days that are perfect for napping or doing something indoors. 
  9. No more mosquito bites when I go outside!
  10. Everything "smells" good. 
  11. Eating fall food like squashes, root vegetables and roasts with warm glazes.
  12. Soft, quiet music - folk music is so nice this time of year. 
  13. Photographing the scenery. 
  14. Roasted pumpkin seeds. 
  15. Warm, comfortable clothing including my favorite sweaters.
  16. Hot showers and baths feel so much better.
  17. Cider Mill doughnuts. 
  18. The annual "feast" we get together for with a bunch of our friends.
  19. Everything starts to "wind down" and I feel less rushed in life. 
  20. Probably the biggest reason - the fall season starts with mine and Garry's anniversary. :) 

Friday, September 28, 2012

If I could have my way...

Photos found from Pottery Barn, BHG, and various DIY blogs

This is what I would absolutely love a master suite to look like in my house - preferably in my attic. Since my diagnosis of fibro, I've been learning what makes me feel better and what makes the pain worse. As of right now, I've noticed that moist heat (ie, very long, hot baths) are the absolute best thing ever, and walking up and down stairs is a bad plan. 

Unfortunately, the only places we have room to put a large tub for me to take said very long, hot baths, involve going up or down stairs. However, if the attic is turned into a master suite (which we've discussed on numerous occasions and were told by multiple people that it would be a great investment for our house) I could take a bath and then just go to bed. 

The idea I'm getting for a potential master suite invovles more of the same type of decorating theme I'm attempting to take through the rest of the house - neutral colors with a lot of texture. Of course adding some blue and green here and there is good too as they are our favorite colors. 

The bed from Pottery Barn is probably my favorite thing in the above photo. There isn't one thing about that bed I'd change. It would cost a pretty penny for that whole bedding ensemble straight from PB, but I'm hoping I can find some reasonably-priced look-alikes down the road. I also really love the idea of sconces wired into the wall. We may or may not be able to do that considering we will probably have to install built-ins or have wardrobes in order to hang up clothes that need to be hung.

The moravian star pendant also just makes me full of squee. I'm not certain what it is about it that I love so much, they're just gorgeous. I don't need a reason to love something do I? 

Luckily there are a few items on the board that Garry and I can make ourselves. The curtains are easy enough to whip up in a day, and the dressers are a project that I've been looking to tackle for a while. I think the blue with the dark brown top and mercury glass knobs is gorgeous and just the neutral and rustic palate that I'm looking for while still adding some color. Maybe I'd distress the dresser a wee bit, but not a whole lot. 

The double sink is definitely something we really want. We are planning on building something similar to this on our own and then making the sinks. You read that right - making them. Still not sure how that's going to happen, but I'm fairly certain we'll end up making the vessel sinks, which will be... interesting. 

The fisherman's pendant would be great in the bathroom too. 

The clawfoot tub is the thing of dreams. I just love them. Since our attic has sloped walls (and just enough space for a tub like this) we won't actually have a shower upstairs. Luckily, you can get sprayer attachments for the tub and it's like a shower, except you're sitting down, which is much easier on my knees. Plus, we have a shower downstairs. The tub will be used mostly for me to soak in though. 

The more I think about it, the inspiration I'm drawing from is very New England coast with a little bit of eastern influence. Somehow I think both of those go well together.  

We're still very very far from having anything close to this. On the agenda is calling our plumber and finding out what the limitations are and the best way to install a large tub like that, what the process will be, and get an estimate for their work. Once we have that accomplished we can work towards where we need to be to have them come in. 

What we will probably have to do between getting the okay to install a bathroom in the attic is get the framing for the actual bathroom complete, run the necessary electric, and drywall and paint (most) of the bathroom. It will definitely not be a cheap project (we're talking quite a bit of money here folks), but I think the benefits of it will definitely outweigh the actual cost. Oh, and then we'd still have the rest of the bedroom to do, like drywall, replace the windows, install carpet... yeah, it's going to take a while I'm sure. 

Not to mention we'll be able to turn our current bedroom into a nice-sized guest room and our current guest room can stay an office. With the sunroom coming off the office - it would be a really great place to take a break from working and enjoy lunch or a cup of coffee. 

Just the thought of it makes me wish I could work from home!

But, in the meantime, (as I'm sure this project will take a year or two) we're going to work toward making our current bedroom as relaxing as possible, and maybe take some of the ideas above and incorporate them into something that's not so far into the future. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bathroom planning phase

Well, it looks like we're going to have a slight change in plans. 

My doctor diagnosed me with fibromyalgia, I still need to go to the rheumatologist and decide on what I need to do as far as therapy is concerned, but in the meantime I've been checking out alternative ways to handle the pain associated with this condition. 

I was lucky enough that my friend Eithne let me soak in her enormous claw foot tub. It was the first time in about a month I felt like I could actually move. 

Unfortunately, it only lasted for a little while and as much as I know she's willing to help me out, I certainly don't want to be knocking at her door every day to take a bath. (Although, I do admit that I daydream about  bathing in that tub, it's like heaven in there!) 

Garry and I have decided that somewhere in our house we're going to install a large tub, at least large enough for me to soak in. 

The question is - do we want to do this in the attic or in the basement? Installing a bathroom in the attic would be a lot easier (more than likely) because all of the plumbing is right underneath the area we would put everything. Not to mention it would add more value to the home because then it would become a master suite. 

On the other hand - we were planning on adding a half bath to the basement anyway. Would it be easier to just add a bathtub and just have 2 full baths or add it in the attic and 2.5 baths? 

I'd say that we'd also be infinitely closer to having a bathroom in the attic done than in the basement. Currently, we're running the electric to the attic and if we decide to add a bathroom, we can just run the appropriate electric outlets where they need to be. However, before doing that, we'd need to frame out the rest of the room. 

We would also need to know if we would need to add more support to the floor if we want a tub like that. That's going to require some contractors coming in, giving us estimates and that sort of deal. 

It would not be a small project - and it would definitely take all of next year to complete, considering we still have to do drywall, paint, flooring and lighting - adding a bathroom to that will definitely be expensive and time consuming. But, I think it would be a nice addition to the house, especially if Garry and I end up using that as our bedroom. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Projects on hold

Well, I guess a few good things have come from my trip to the doctor. One, I was able to get blood work done and not faint - or even get light-headed. That is definitely the first time ever in my life that's happened. See, getting tattoos wasn't a bad idea afterall. It helped me get over my needle phobia!

While that was very exciting and wonderful, unfortunately - or really fortunately in this case - my doctor has done a lot of work with arthritis and joint conditions so he knows his stuff. That's a good thing. However, he decided that I have fibromyalgia based on all of my crazy (seemingly unrelated to non-medical folks like me) symptoms that have been bothering me for some time.

On the bright side, it means that I know what's going on, I didn't get "blown off" (or told to take Mucinex) and once my blood work gets back (they're testing me for RA since it runs in my family) they are referring me to a rheumatologist and I can start to manage this. My doctor did give me a prescription that will *hopefully* help, but it takes 3-4 weeks before you notice it's working. Awesome.

So that means 3-4 more weeks of putting my projects on hold. Harumph! I was really hoping to start on my dressers in the next week or two.

In the meantime, more daydreaming... and possibly trying to figure out how to put a large tub in our house as soon as possible.

Tattoos and other random things

Today Garry and I got our tattoos finished, well, his will be finished, mine on the other hand...

It's one of those odd things, you wouldn't think it by either looking at me, or even folks who know me really really well, but I love tattoos. I especially love them when they're grouped together to create a story or to evoke an emotion. A lot of folks don't see tattoos as being "art," but they really are, they are an expression of ourselves - we're just using skin instead of canvas.

For a long time I've always thought it would be cool to have a sleeve tattoo for that very reason. To have pieces of artwork combined together to create a very special and personal story. I'm sure the vast majority of my family will not be pleased and I'm sure I'll hear more than once "What are you going to do when you're older?" Well, that's not something I'm terribly worried about because when I'm old, I think I'll be done giving a crap about what people think about me.

So I started this process with an admittedly complicated design. Of course, if it involves me it's going to be more complicated than it needs to be.

I didn't come up with the design on my own. Actually, I found it on the interwebs (like most everything else I find) and I absolutely loved the piece so much that I altered it a wee-bit in photoshop and went from there.

The tattoo I have is just the black linework of the above piece. Originally I was going to have it colored in, but the more I looked at it the more I liked it as just linework - and I can always go and get it colored in later on.

The price I paid the tattoo artist for this piece included color and since I ended up not getting color we're going to add some more linework instead.

Maybe I should explain the lotus tattoo a little bit...

The symbol I've worked with for the last five years or so is the white lotus (or lily). This flower is sacred to Hera, the goddess I do the vast majority of my work through. This design incorporated a lot of different energy that I really liked and found was appropriate with the work that I do. Getting into that would take a while to do, so I'll just leave it at that.

Moving on...

The piece above the original lotus design is called a hamsa. For the most part, the hamsa in varying forms have been associated with many religions over the years. I did some research and found that it was called the Mano Pantea in ancient Egypt (or Hand of the All-Goddess) and in Greece it was the Hand of Aprhodite.

In reference to the work I do, particularly with Hera, and the reason I chose this style of hamsa is for the symbology within it. The thumb and pinky finger are shaped like bird heads which will eventually turn into two different birds (one a peacock and the other a phoenix) with their tails coming down the sides of my arm and wrapping around the backside (yeah, I know, it's going to hurt!) Other symbols include the eye, the lotus, the three pomegrantes, and the crescent moon.

The reason I chose the hamsa to begin with is because of the epithet of Hera that I am starting to resonate with. Hera Hyperkheiria is the protectress, "she whose hand is above." The hamsa is a sacred hand symbol and I found it fitting considering Hera's ties in religions cross-culturally with other "All-Goddess" figures.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Refinishing dressers

I have two very sturdy and solid antique dressers that my grandmother got when she got married 70 some odd years ago. The short dresser has always been "mine" since I was born and the tall dresser was my brother's. When he moved out and went to college and I moved home (when I was done with college) I "inherited" the tall dresser as well.

For years my brother had an aquarium on top of his dresser so the top was in pretty bad shape, otherwise the rest of the dresser just had the normal wear and tear you'd expect for being 70 years old.

When I moved out of my parent's house I decided that I wanted to paint my dressers. The finish was old and  stained from years of Aqua Net, drinking glass rings, and just general wear and tear. So I painted the dresser a dark brown and replaced the hardware with some simple, nickle-plated handles. Nothing too fancy, but it was certainly an upgrade from the handles that were on the dresser.

That was... 7 years ago. I've moved several times since then and the paint has chipped and worn in a lot of places. It's definitely time to give them a little pick-me-up.

The dresser doesn't really look that big, but it does take up quite a bit of space in the room. The really nice part about these dressers is that they're solid wood with dovetail joints. Yeah, I lucked out bigtime. I didn't have to pay a DIME for these since they have been in my family for, well, forever.

Unfortunately, the mirror on the back of this dresser is in pretty bad shape. Because it's been screwed and unscrewed so many times, the holes are stripped and the mirror essentially has to lean against the wall. It would need a lot of love, the mirror needs to be resilvered and it's slipping from the frame (it has clips that hold it to a solid piece of wood cut to shape) and it's really only a matter of time before it just crashes to the floor.

Luckily, we have a mirror that the previous owner of the house just left behind. It's in perfect condition and all I really want to do with it is frame it and hang it on the wall. I think that's a good plan.

This is the "problem" dresser. The top veneer is splitting and my guess would be it needs to be replaced entirely. We had to putty the daylights out of it when I refinished it 7 years ago, and we haven't had a fishtank on top of it! You can see on the corners how the paint is starting to chip off.

I'm not really sure what I'm going to do with these dressers. I will keep the hardware (although they may get ORBed) and I'm definitely feeling a lighter color. The goal is to get both dressers completed by the end of October as it will be too cold to work on them in the garage.

First things first - I need to strip off the old paint and finish. This is probably going to be a "process" and I can really only do one dresser at a time (we have to put our clothes in something). I haven't decided if I'm going to paint the dressers or stain them - it will all depend on what it all looks like once I get the old finish off and make the repairs I need to make. I know Garry would much prefer that I stain them (he has an issue with painted wood apparently), but if I remember correctly, these dressers were stained a darkish brown to begin with so I may not be able to stain them a lighter color and painting them will probably be the better option.

Just to give you an idea, I'm planning on repainting the bedroom grey. I have black nightstands that may-or-may-not stay black, and I'm planning on getting/making some new bed linens. I have a duvet cover that's a very light blue (that I'm itching to do some block printing on) and I have material to make a white/neutral quilt (which someday I should probably get on top of making). Since winter is coming up, I'm planning on some flannel sheets too.

Other projects that need to happen include installing bi-fold closet doors (and painting them bright white), making curtains (probably burlap or canvas), picking up a pair of lamps (I won't really know what I want until the room and furniture is painted) and eventually getting around to the artwork I want to create and new molding/trim. I'm also thinking of repainting the bed frame in ORB. Yeah, I'm weird like that.

This is going to take forever I feel...

That's what I'd like it to look like.

This is what it looks like now.

In order to do this project it will cost me:

  • $60 (ish) for supplies to strip and finish the dressers
  • $15 - paint for night stands
  • $15 - paint for bed frame
  • $50 - fabric and batting to finish quilt
  • $10 - paint for block printing existing duvet
  • $30 - fabric for curtains
  • $10 - paint for art project
  • $30 - new white flannel sheets
  • $120 - lamps
  • $70 - mirror 
  • $150 - star pendant
  • $140 - closet doors
  • $60 - wall paint
  • $150 - crown molding
That's nearly $1,000 folks. :-/ (granted most of that cost is involved in the pricey accessories) 

Once everything is painted I think it will look really nice and the rest of the stuff can take a little more time to trickle it's way in the room or I can find some lower cost versions too (sometimes Home Goods or TJ Maxx has really nice stuff), but alas, finding that Moravian star pendant for cheaper than $150 will be next to impossible I believe, and as far as crown molding goes, well, that's just a guess, I really have no idea how much it will cost until I measure everything and pick out what I want.

The issue I'm running into, other than cash of course, is that lately my joints have been really sore and painful. It's been keeping me up or waking me up at night and I have been getting little sleep. Right now, I have a ton of great ideas, but little ambition to get them done because, let's face it, if your knees and back hurt - the last thing you want to do is paint a room or strip paint off of some furniture. At least that's what I would imagine.

So next week I'll be going to the doctor to discuss what might be wrong, fork over $80 and hopefully this time they won't just tell me to take some Mucinex and hopefully figure out what is going on that is causing this level of consistant pain.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Downtime and daydreaming are dangerous things

Part of the problem with having "downtime" between projects is that it gives me a lot of time to think of much more complicated things for us to do with our house. It gives me the space to really obsess over something and, in turn, make it much more complicated  expensive than it needs to be.

That's how I roll apparently.

There are a few projects that we can do in the meantime (meaning, when we have time as Garry and I are both exhausted by the time we get home from work every day and lately my knees have been bothering me) like moving the wood pile into a more "condensed" spot so it can season for the winter and clear out that corner of the yard.

Right now that wood pile is just strewn across the back length of the fence. Boo. I'm hoping Garry can find it in his heart to start chopping the wood and stacking it so it will season. We do have some really enormous "chunks" of trunk that wouldn't be bad to use for outdoor seating around the fire pit. That would require de-barking them, bringing them in the garage, and sealing them. Not too expensive of a project, but definitely a time-consuming one.

The metal pole also needs to come down and scrapped and that area needs to be cleared of all the random stuff growing. There is also a small pile of brick behind our fence (still on our property) and what we have left over from knocking the ugly planters over that we're going to use for a small project as well. Luckily they're free projects (we have all of the equipment and items to do this), but it's just finding the time to do it before it gets too cold.

Our enormous wood plank is still hanging out in the rafters of the garage, just WAITING to be taken down, cleaned off and used as a shelf in my kitchen. Still need some brackets though. :-/ And... I should probably repaint the kitchen before we do that. *sigh*

Other than that, the rest of the projects we have on hand are going to take some cash and more than a little time. We still need to finish installing the electric in the attic. Once that's done we're going to have a drywall party and get the whole room (which let me tell you, is a LOT of drywall) walled in. Then we'll order some windows and install them and then, finally get around to painting (primer). Maybe that will be next year's project. Augh.

I'd really like to get started on the master bedroom too. It's just so... dark in there. This morning I woke up at 6:30 and it was DARK in the room. I was wrapped in a cocoon of blankets, all comfy and warm and all I could think was "damn, it's really dark in here this morning." When I went in the living room I realized it wasn't because it was still dark outside (I mean it was, the sun was just rising) but it was because the paint color is so dark. Hrm. This may need to be remedied sooner rather than later as we head into the winter months....

There's also the what the heck are we going to do with the sun room question. Just to give you an idea, in the just over a year we've lived in our house we've had access to the sunroom for... oh... 3 months. Otherwise, we've had people staying in our guest room (the sunroom is attached to the guest room) so we really haven't been able to use it the way we'd like to. To be honest, it's mostly been used for storage - which is really unfortunate, because it's a really nice room.

The question is, before we decide what to put in there, is what we're going to do in there. Eventually, that room will become a 3-season playroom for when we have a kid (that's old enough to use it as a playroom), so whatever we do, it can't be so much that whatever we put in that room isn't going to work elsewhere in the house (my guess is that the furnishings will end up in the basement or attic guestroom).

And of course, not having the cash on-hand to do it all right now is decidedly frustrating.

Friday, August 31, 2012

First anniversary

Not even a month ago Garry and I celebrated our one-year anniversary in our home and now we're celebrating yet another first - our first wedding anniversary!

It's hard to imagine that a year ago we were running around crazy for what was one of the biggest days of our lives (buying the house definitely is up there with our wedding). We had a LOT of chaos that weekend, I was printing out the table lists at the hotel the night before the ceremony. Of course there was all the running around with final fittings, making sure we had everything packed, someone to watch the kitties for us while we stayed in the hotel and, of course, getting the house spruced up for a LOT of company the day after.

Final fitting for my dress. 

It's funny because I actually found (and fell in love with) my wedding dress before I met Garry. I got it from a store called Unique Vintage located in California. I bought this dress without trying it on or anything - I just *knew* I would love this dress and that my seamstress could make it look awesome on me. Best part - I only paid $400 for this dress. I know, it's unheard of considering how much most dresses are in bridal boutiques. 

All of my bridesmaids stayed with me in the hotel the night before the wedding and we had an awesome time catching up. 

You know how there is a stigma that the day of the wedding is always really stressful? Not so much. We were really relaxed and it felt like we had all the time in the world to get ready. 

We also got to take a lot of photos outside. It was a nice day, but it was incredibly hot outside. Didn't plan for that one... 

It was nice arriving to the ceremony site early. Actually, we were there about 20 minutes early and had to wait on everyone else to be ready to start. It was kind of funny since the bride is usually the one running late. Apparently I'm just punctual like that. Of course, it helped that we didn't have the ceremony until 3pm. 

I had my mom and dad walk with me down the asile. Why? Just felt like it. The whole time I told both of them that they weren't allowed to cry. There will be none of this crying nonsense I think is what I told them, so we talked about random weird things in order to keep that from happening. Couldn't mess up my makeup afterall. 

My friend Pam took video of the procession and beginning of the wedding. 

This seemingly random box of stones and things was actually a big part of our ceremony. See, Garry and I are pagan. Our ceremony revolved around the Wheel of the Year, which comprises of 8 different Sabbats (or holidays) that are interspersed through the year. These Sabbats represent points in the year where change occurs, usually from one season to the next, or a significant spiritual holiday. 

We had 8 of our friends come up to the microphone and say a piece that "represented" each Sabbat and how that correlated with our marriage. For instance, Samhain is a time of great change. It is the final harvest of the season where all the crops have been reaped and you have to survive on what you have sown. It's a time of change and consequences. In relation to our marriage, we made vows to support each other during times of great change, and understand that change will indeed happen throughout our lives. 

Each item in the box was given to us by one of those friends as a physical reminder of our vows. Those items are saturated with the spirit and energy of that Sabbat and at the changing of each Sabbat we change the item on our home altar and talk about the vows we made for that particular Sabbat. It has been a great reminder of the committments we made to each other.

Sure, we could've made vows to love, respect and blah blah blah... but that was already implied since we were getting married in the first place. Our vows were practical, involved emotions and instances that are very real in a marriage and very often are overlooked. We wanted to acknowledge that these are potential obstacles in our path and make vows to be there for each other through those obstacles. It's promising to weather the storm, talk about our problems, and encourage each other to be the best we can be. I think we've done a good job of that during our first year of marriage. 

Our wedding bands were placed in the slot with this key. The story behind the key is that it was part of a keychain I had for a while and when Garry and I first started dating I took it off the keyring and gave it to him and said it was the "key to my heart." Funny enough, we broke up for a while shortly thereafter, but he held onto it. When we got back together he wore the key on a necklace every day until right before the wedding (we put it in the box with our bands) and he replaced it on his chain with Thor's hammer. 

Remember the expression "tying the knot?" Well, this is where it comes from. Way-back-when, people who married were very literally tied together at the wrist with a cord. This was called "handfasting." Our tradition still practices this ritual at weddings. Sometimes, this is used for purely spiritual unions (as in, the couple doesn't fill out a marriage license and registers it with the state) and we had a small ritual with this the year before our "formal" wedding. Handfastings are typically "recognized" for a year and a day. At that point, you can decide whether or not to do the ceremony again or go your separate ways. In our case, it was kind of like a test run at being married. 

Another part of our wedding included mead (honey wine). We figured, "hey, it's our ceremony - let's have wine!" During our handfasting a year prior, a big part of the ritual was actually making the wine. At this point, it was all yummy and delicious and we served it to everyone that wanted some and did a toast. Coordinating this part was kind of... tedious, and at one point Garry reached over for a bottle and pulled the cork out with his teeth (which is why I'm laughing hysterically in this photo). We were pretty chill during the ceremony, sometimes we said random stuff, it was pretty funny. 

Our friend Darin officiated the ceremony. He's doing the toast and we're laughing about something. The ceramic bowl is actually a chalice that my maid of honor, Amanda made me. 

The last part of the ceremony was for us to "jump" over the besom (a broom) which seals the marriage and makes it "valid." Our friends Lise and Clay made the besom for us before our handfasting and it has carvings,  stones and other objects embedded and on it of spiritual significance based on both mine and Garry's birth information. Currently, we have it hung on the wall above our alter in our living room. 

We're kind of dorky...

This is probably one of my favorite photos of us. I had this one printed and it's hanging in our weird little "hallway" in a really pretty frame. Hopefully soon I'll add more framed photos to that area as part of a collage.

My favorite photo of Garry hands down. Our photographer (and close friend) Judy said to just do something with it and we have a whole series of photos as he was putting it in his mouth. We were laughing so hard that Judy almost couldn't get the photos.

Our wedding party at the reception site.

Our friend Kory rode his motorcycle to the wedding and let us take a few photos on it. 

Video of our introduction.

We were very excited to be inside in the air conditioning - and that we would get to eat soon. Well, Garry got to. I was laced so tightly into my dress that food wasn't going to happen so we boxed it up and had it sent to our room so I could stuff my face later on when I got out of my dress and into a pair of my favorite sweatpants.

Video of our best man and maid of honor speeches. 

When we did the blessing before the meal, Garry and I did what is called in our tradition "the Great Rite." While I don't remember the exact wording off of the top of my head (and am too lazy to look it up at the moment) the basic premise is that you have a chalice (the bowl I'm holding) and an athame (that Garry is holding) and you join them together as a symbol of divine union. The wording includes the phrase "no man is greater than any woman, and no woman is greater than any man." This wording means that we are equal to each other - which is a good thing to have in a marriage!

Our cake was really yummy. I'm really looking forward to eating it on Monday. I mean really looking forward to it. It was so tasty! We had dark chocolate cake with peanut butter mousse filling. I know. The only way it could've been any better was if there was bacon involved. 

Like I said, we're big dorks. We had to have a cake topper that wasn't traditional. I found this topper on Etsy (it was custom made for us) and my brother and sister-in-law bought it for us for Yule. The topper sits on our alter with our cord wrapped around it, keeping that binding energy there. 

Yeah, that cake was so good we didn't want to waste any of it by smashing it on each other's faces. That and it took a LONG time to do my makeup and Garry is... well... furry. 

My next favorite photo of Garry and I. I love this picture.

For the father/daughter dance, I told my dad again that there would be none of that crying nonsense, so we talked about college football. That's how we roll. We danced to "Just the Way You Are" by Billy Joel.

For the mother/son dance I have no idea what Garry and his mom talked about. Probably random things. They danced to "20 Years Late" by Aaron Lines. 

Garry and I didn't talk really about anything - we just had fun! Our first dance was to "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz. Why? Because the song is kind of silly, but really sweet - just like us. 

After our first dance, we decided to get everyone up and moving by doing what's known in our tradition as a "spiral dance." Basically, it's a train. All the tables and chairs made it kind of hard, but we managed and thankfully I didn't rip my dress to shreds. We played the song "Haste to the Wedding" by The Corrs - a very pretty Celtic fiddle tune. 

I have no idea what we were laughing so hard about - probably my grandparents dancing to Lady Gaga. 

Yep, most women have to sit on a chair for the garter recovery mission, but no, oh no... two of Garry's friends decided it would be WAY more fun to hoist me up in the air instead. 

I was very thrilled I didn't hit the ceiling when I threw my bouquet. Yay! You can see a small group of women who were like "not it!" and shying away from it... (I'm looking at you Raine...)

I also thought it would be very fun to make everyone do the Time Warp. Why? Because I said so. I'd like to think I asked very precious little of my guests during the wedding (I mean they got wine during the ceremony - how awesome was that?) so doing the Time Warp was a small price to pay. Watching my family really loosen up and actually dance was... in short... hysterical. 

Another thing that I thought would be fun is for everyone to stand together and sing "American Pie." This was at the end of the night when we were all, for lack of a better phrase, "feeling pretty good." I think we had an awesome time with that. 

Yep, I even got a foot massage. That rocked. 

Yeah, other people were still dancing. My feet were really hurting at that point, but the champagne counter-acted it enough that I didn't really care. 

When Garry and I finally made it back to our room, this is what we were surprised with. :) Aww. My bridesmaids went up and decorated the room with rose petals and our besom. It was an awesome day! 

I have to say, our wedding was so much fun. We never really felt stressed (okay, I didn't feel really stressed) despite one of our Sabbat people didn't show up (someone had to fill in last-minute) and it was surface-of-the-sun hot outside. Everyone seemed to have a really good time and of course the best part - I married someone that I truly love more than words can say.