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.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Kitchen plans

It's been a little while since we've done anything in the kitchen.

Actually - I have a Rustoleum cabinet transformation kit in pure white just WAITING to be used, but until I either have a: time, and b: help, I won't be able to get around to it. I also have a bunch of half-started projects that need to be addressed before starting a huge undertaking like painting cabinets.

But - painting has been on my mind - more in the way of the long, boring wall in my dining area. I've had a hard time figuring out artwork (I do have a few pieces up) and even though we have a tiny little chalkboard wall area, I'd like it to be bigger.

So - I'm thinking of painting that ENTIRE wall in chalkboard paint.

Thankfully chalkboard paint doesn't have to be black.

Leave it to Martha to come up with a recipe to make something creative...

Chalkboard paint recipe

I'm thinking of doing something like this:

Find the original picture here

Okay, without the barn door pantry (as awesome as that would be), because we don't have enough space to do that in the wall (the staircases to the attic/basement are behind that). 

I also want to move my current shelves and add some more to make a pot rack and a place for my tea collection. 

I'm also hoping when we *do* get around to painting the cabinets that we can take the doors off of the uppers to brighten the space up. Worst case is that we don't like it an put the doors back on... easy peasy. :)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What's new in the garden

It is still fairly obvious that I'm an amateur gardener. Most gardeners would remember what plants they planted - or if they planted a lot - would hold onto the seed packets so they could say "Oh, yes, I planted *that* there." No suck luck for me. 

Anyway, the bearded iris are finished flowering for the season and are hopefully gearing up for a fall show. While I was worried that I'd end up with a garden bed full of shriveled up spring plants - the annuals Garry and I planted started flowering. 

For the life of me, I can't remember what these are. Garry picked them out because he LOVES blue flowers, almost as much as I do. 

Anyone else want to take a stab at it? It's silly, I should know what they are. But, they are really cute little flowers and I'm enjoying them as I walk in the door every day. 

There are still a few rogue hosta lurking in my garden bed. Luckily they're in a spot where I don't really mind them being - so they can live... for now. 

The light purple trumpeted flowers are pretty and so long as they don't get out of control (the bed was full of them and a host of other plants that we didn't care for when we bought the house) I'm okay with a few standing their ground. 

They almost are overpowered by the foliage from the bearded iris (seriously, those things are huge!) so they might get transplanted to somewhere else where they can be appreciated in the fall. 

I was really worried that the Alyssum I planted wasn't going to flower, or be incredibly spotty.

Doesn't look like I have to worry too much about that! :) 

I'm still learning a lot about planting annuals. This was our first go at it and we did.... okay. The annuals we planted in the planter bed (the ones pictured) grew and bloomed. The ones we planted in elsewhere didn't make it. :-/ I'm going to try starting seedlings inside over the winter and then planting them. The biggest problem is where to put them where they will get enough light. 

I am having a lot of success with my bulbs and shrubs this year. 

This is my white Rose of Sharon shrub and my gladioli planted around it. They are HUGE! I'm hoping the glads will be able to lean against the shrub for support, but I think I will eventually have to stake them as we get closer to their blooming season (which for both plants is not that far away!). 

Each year we add a little more to the garden. There's not so much to do this summer except tearing out the myrtle growing on the small side yard, tackle the dreaded back corner in the backyard, and *hopefully* plant my rose bushes next to my arbor. 

This fall I'm hoping to divide my bearded iris along with planting another variety in the planter bed. (The divided ones I'm going to move up near the arbor) Since I have to dig up the gladioli bulbs anyway - I'm going to apply a strategy for plants to bloom all spring/summer and dig up all of my bulbs and replant the hardy ones along with some new ones. There may or may not be charts involved.... where's my graph paper!

Shutters, tables, and quest for the master bath

Yes, it's been a while. Maybe I'm not so great at this blogging stuff. My little tablet at home for some reason can't handle what I need it to do and Garry is usually playing around on the desktop - so... that equals little time to write out all my thoughts and photos.

I finished the shutter project (finally!). It was probably one of the easier projects I've done in a while - just spray some clear coat, screw in a few hinges and Ta-Da!

Looks pretty nice! But, it does look a lot better in person. :)

I'm wondering what else needs to be in that corner. I'm thinking a white/tan floor vase. I have *tons* of filler that needs to find a home... soon.

I'm also considering buying this guy. I think he would look lovely behind my couch - and thankfully it's the right length/height. It would be nice to have a little more surface/storage space. I would love to have a basket under the sofa that had some craft stuff (like my embroidery and drawing) so when I'm having a not-so-great day when there's little else to do except something with my hands and watch tv, well, I have something right there. Most of those items are packed away somewhere in my craft room (which is still a pretty crazy, unorganized mess) and I honestly don't want to search through all my drawers and containers to find whatever little project I want to work on. Once one is finished, I can put a different project in there to work on. I'm hoping Garry will agree that this is a good idea.

Our flea market find table/hutch is coming along. I managed to get a coat of primer on the top part of the table/desk. I also scrubbed two of the legs down.

I read on the primer that the paint didn't need to be stripped in order for it to work, so since the current paint on the legs is in relatively good shape, I'm going to just clean it well and prime over it and see what happens. Once I get the first coat of primer finished on the whole piece, I'm going to sand it lightly and add another coat and then (you guessed it) sand lightly again. I don't want to take any chances that the bright yellow will bleed through.

BTW, the primer I'm using is Zinsser. It's oil-based and hopefully will be more durable than a water-based primer would be.

So far, I'd have to say I'm really liking this primer. It went on relatively smooth for a first coat and seems rather durable. The pictures above are with only one coat. Even though it *looks* completely white, the primer is uneven and you can still see some of the yellow through it.

Why yes, I *did* scrape a bunch of the old paint with a stripping solvent. Guess what? It stained the wood yellow because the person who painted this didn't prime it first. Oh well. I was going to have to prime it anyway...

As far as paint color for the final coats go - I'm thinking of painting the body grey with some white, gold, and soft aqua/turquoise accents. There are so many curves and details on this piece and I'd like to use some different colors to highlight them. The previous owner apparently felt that way too, only decided to use neon orange and bright green... on top of yellow. Luckily we have some tiny brushes and painter's tape I can use for this process.

That process will take quite some time and I'm more than likely going to do it after I bring it in the house.

As far as the seemingly never-ending project that is the master suite...

We're still working on getting the walls for the master bath ready.

I'm not sure yet what I want to do with this wall. I'd love something with texture and fun. I'm also thinking of making it a gallery wall.

The wall extends out a little further than I originally planned in order to have a regular door. We contemplated having bi-fold doors as the door to the bathroom from the bedroom area, but decided regular doors would be better. It also creates a little nook area (once we get the staircase walled in with a half-wall) where we can either do a built-in dresser, or do something else for storage.

I also want some long-ish pendant lighting to hang over the stairwell. I'd *love* to have Moroccan lanterns.

We do have a *slight* problem that we're running into. The heating element runs along the entire back wall of our attic. In order to build the wall separating the bedroom area from the bathroom, we need to cut the element and create two separate units. Easy enough to do - for someone who works in the industry that is.

So - in order to get the electric finished, we're going to build *most* of that wall - save for the last stud and anchor - so the electrician can finish his job. When the plumber comes in and does all of the rough-in, we'll have him cut the element so we can finish the last section of the wall.

And then.... there will be drywall.

I'm seriously thinking of hiring someone to take care of the drywall. Garry is working a lot this summer and I think it would be nice to just have someone come in and do it and have it done in a few days - rather than have the stress of doing it a little at a time and doing it right. Sure, it will probably cost more, but I think at the end of the day, we'll be happier than if we decided to do it ourselves.

Ideally, I'd like the master suite to feel like I'm staying in some bohemian hotel away from the world. There's not a whole lot of light (yet) and I'd like to keep the color palette light as I have a hard time relaxing with a lot of vibrant colors around me.

Also, there needs to be a place for Auron. I'd like a spot upstairs where he can have his den and it doesn't look just "thrown" in the room. I want him to feel comfortable too!

Friday, June 7, 2013

More garden pictures

We don't have much going on right now - still working on a bunch of my projects, Garry started his summer job, and - that's really about it. We're just plugging away.

I'm sure you're happy to know that my fuchsia hanging basket is still alive and it looks gorgeous. The little flowers on the end look like little candies and I just love them. I'm hoping it will bloom all summer long. 

My bearded iris finally started blooming as well. Both plants are HUGE and more than likely will need to be divided this year. I have two varieties:

"Mother Earth"

And honestly, I can't remember what variety this is, if anyone could enlighten me that would be great.

Here they are, peacefully coexisting together. They are gorgeous plants. I'd love to get another variety because we have a big space in the middle of the planter that just needs... something. 

My dwarf iris is chugging right along. These are the ones I rescued from my back yard. I don't know what variety these are, but I believe they are "Cinnamon Stick." That's my best guess.

I really do get the best photos of my Japanese maple. If you look through the leaves on a sunny day, it looks like the tree is on fire. It's just gorgeous. The seeds are really colorful as well. 

I have no idea what kind of flower this is, but it's growing in my back yard. Anyone? Bueller? 

Speaking of the back yard, Auron has had a good time running around like it's a doggy race-track. 

This is mid-loop

Okay, we can stop just for a second so mommy can take a picture. 

He's my sweet 85 lb. moose-baby. He thinks he's the same size as the cats and tries to crawl all over us just like them. He's 16 months old and is still very puppy-like, but he has moments of showing the "wisdom beyond years" - usually it's when I let him outside and he runs to the edge of the slope of our back yard and he sits and stares off into the distance. There's nothing there, no sounds, but he just "takes it in."

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

And onto the next project

We had a bit of a surprise yesterday - apparently we overpaid our Escrow account by $1,600 this last year so we got a nice, fat, rebate check. Of course, we were super excited! On top of that, our monthly payment is going down by about $75.

In light of this, we've decided to hire someone to finish the electric in the attic. That way it's DONE and we're one step closer to getting our master suite to a livable state.

Once the electric is set we can start building the frame for the bathroom and around the stairwell. I'm hoping our miter saw will come in handy here!

Little steps at a time... This master suite is going to be awesome! In case you were wondering what needs to be done:

  • Electric finished and re-inspected
  • Frames for bathroom walls and stairwell built
  • Plumbing routed for bathroom fixtures
  • Windows replaced 
  • Drywall all the things
  • Install overhead lights
  • Build built-in wardrobes
  • Paint... there will be so much painting...
  • Install flooring 
  • Install bath fixtures
  • Furnish/decorate

It's a pretty long list and I am fairly certain it will take at least another year to accomplish. This year alone, we'll end up spending close to $4,000 (but probably more) getting the construction portion of everything taken care of. I think installing all of the pretty elements will end up waiting until next year.

However.... my 30th birthday is coming up in August and the coolest present would be to paint the bedroom. I found an awesome tutorial on how to paint clouds on the wall - click here. How awesome would that look?

When we moved to NY my mom painted my bedroom with clouds. It looked so awesome. It was the best bedroom ever. I have some pretty awesome ideas for this room, but it will take a few years before it completely comes to fruition.

Monday, May 27, 2013

More arbor work, short garden tour and shutters!

This afternoon the weather was in our favor and Garry and I tackled the arbor project. Last time I posted we had 4 posts in the ground with a coat of stain/sealant on it. After a few hours of work, we managed to complete the rest of the "building phase" aside from the trellis on the side, which I am still undecided about as far as design.
We still have some more sealing to do, and I think I'm going to end up painting everything after it's sealed. But, for now I'm quite happy with a beautifully gorgeous arbor.

Just think how nice it will be once we have some climbing roses... clematis... or some other beautiful flowering vine.

From the front side... now just imagine a little stone path from the sidewalk to the walkway...

Garry also picked up the shutters for me that I've been thinking about ever since last year's flea market trip. I figured since I had been not-so-secretly lusting after them for a year, I should probably get them. It seems weird that I'd be daydreaming about a bunch of beat-up old shutters, but they will make for an interesting decorative element in my living room.

This was after a quick rinse of from the hose. They aren't dirty - that is just the paint chipping off of them. I bought some hinges from HD and some matte finish clear spray to coat everything. The chances that the paint on these have lead in them is high - not to mention I don't want to lose more paint on them.

I am still debating whether or not I want to paint a design or something really simple on them. I think I will do the clear spray first, put it together, and then make a decision. Once it's in the room I think I will know whether or not to leave it as-is or try something new. This whole project cost $50 - much cheaper than trying to build my own or to buy anything new. Yay flea market!

And... lastly, my garden is doing fairly well considering the major flux in temperature over the last week. My tiny rhododendron is blooming...

The gladioli are growing nice and tall along with my rose of Sharon. They will all bloom at the same time which will be SO gorgeous... I can't wait until summer!

BTW... taking photos with a tablet is a lot harder than I expected. So some of these might be... a bit off. 

I love how the light shines through the leaves of my Japanese maples. (I believe they are the bloodgood variety) 

If any of my local friends want Japanese maple seeds... I have a ton. I always end up pulling up a ton of rogue seedlings in my yard and planter every year. As much as I love these trees, I just don't have room for more than two in my front yard.

Oh - and I noticed that the little iris I transplanted earlier this fall had started blooming under the smaller of my two Japanese maples... 

At least, I think it's a dwarf iris. Although I've never seen red/yellow ones before. This same variety bloomed in my backyard last year. I had to move them because they were seriously over crowding with the hosta - and they were invading into our dog's yard (and unfortunately we have a bad combination of a very curious dog and poisonous plants) so I moved them to the front yard where they would be (for the most part) left alone. 

Speaking of iris... my bearded varieties are growing like CRAZY this year! Last year was their first year and I had two plants produce one bloom (that lasted only a day). This year we have multiple stalks of blooms that have yet to blossom, but I think it will bloom soon since it seems like all the other iris in the area have already bloomed... I guess mine are just late bloomers. But that doesn't mean they aren't as beautiful or worthy as other iris, they are just taking longer to mature - and that's okay. :) 

I know the purple/yellow variety pictured is the "Mother Earth" variety... I'm not sure what the other was called, I just know that it's a rust orange and yellow color. I bought it because it reminded me of Garry's hair. 

We also (finally) hung our hanging fuchsia basket and I gave it a nice, new basket with cocoa lining along with a good watering with fertilizer. I'm hoping it will be a much happier plant. I know I will be happier being able to see it from my kitchen window. Sorry folks, no photo yet... I was DONE using the tablet by this point. 

And now... off to finish my martini and think about making dinner. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Front arbor project

Between the crazy hot and cold and wet (in the same week!) weather and a nearly solid granite front yard, the front arbor project has taken a little longer than expected. I always love when Garry says "Oh, sure - I can do that in an afternoon/few/hours/weekend" and then it ends up taking... oh... 2 months.

Right now we have the four posts in the ground and a coat of stain/sealant on them.

The other two posts are stained/sealed... I just took this the morning before Garry did them.

You don't notice it too much, but the ground is REALLY uneven around the posts and slopes in two directions. While it's not a big deal for walking, trying to be up on a ladder to stain the tops of the posts was not an easy task... and I have terrible balance.

We still need to move all of the dirt/rocks out of the yard and build the rest of the arbor as well as give it all another coat of stain/sealant. While it seems like the white color we chose is a little redundant, eventually we'll be painting the house another color, so the white will really stand out - especially with some light-salmon colored David Austen climbing roses winding around them.

And yes, our lawn desperately needs a good weed and feed. It's safe to say we have more things other than grass growing than actual grass. Once I get more of the landscaping done that I plan to do, it will reduce the amount of actual "lawn" we have - not by a lot, but it will help make it more manageable. Adding edging with paver stones will also help. But, our lawn is in pretty bad shape.

This weekend it's supposed to be considerably colder compared to the beginning of this week - so the plan is to start working on the hutch (as described in my last post). I think tonight I will do a test area to find out how long I'll need to leave the stripping agent on the piece (so if I have to leave it on overnight I can apply it and then scrape it off tomorrow).

I'm giving myself a small goal of just getting the bottom piece stripped and cleaned over the long weekend. This is going to be a summer-long project I'm sure. There are so many little details that it will take a while to get all of it. I also want to do it correctly - so that ultimately means really taking my time since I'm a novice (at best) at refinishing furniture.

But, back to the arbor... I'm hoping Garry can get some more work done on it this weekend. Ideally, I'd like to have it *finished* this weekend, but we have a fairly busy schedule as-is so I'm not holding my breath.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Flea Market Find

Every once in a while Garry and I like to take a trip to the local flea market. Sometimes we go with the hope of finding something particular (like this last weekend) or just to see the sights.

We recently rearranged our living room so the television now sits on our teak stand. The spot where the tv stand was seemed rather empty, and when we moved a small stand in that space, I realized that we needed something bigger.

I thought a bookcase (or bookcase-sized) piece would be perfect. Something kind of tall, sort of wide, but I had no *clear* definition on what that had to be.

We walked around, found a few bookcases, but nothing that had much personality. If I'm going to put the time and effort into refinishing a piece, I wanted it to be special. Otherwise I'd just buy something already finished.

Then I found this...

It called... well... okay... it shouted to me "Please save me from this neon hell!"

The top is upside down in the photo.

This is an incredibly unique piece made of mostly solid wood (the backing isn't) and luckily whoever painted it these hellish colors didn't paint the inside of the drawers as well.

Of course, this is one of those moments where I don't believe in coincidence. I was meant to have this piece. You can tell just by the smell that it had been sitting in someone's basement/barn/garage for just about forever. The scratches, scrapes and paint splatters indicate that it hasn't be loved in quite some time.

Since there are a few missing pulls, I'll be replacing them with ones from Anthropologie. They have some gorgeous vintage-style pulls and knobs that will go well with this piece.

After reading about various ways to strip paint - I decided to go give Citristrip a try. Because there are so many nooks and crannies, I bought some small wire brushes to get the paint off as well as a plastic scraper.

I'm not sure what color(s) this piece will end up, but I know the flowers will be painted white (big surprise). Since my living room is mostly neutral colors, I'm thinking that might be the best way to go (possibly a medium warm grey color, with white - there might also be some small touches of teal or blue as well) but only time will tell. It will take a while to get all of the paint stripped off, the hinges cleaned and any other repairs that need to be made. I think drawer liners will also happen.

This piece deserves all the love it can get. I'm looking forward to the process.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Things that I like...

Some of you know that I've been seeing a therapist for the last 6 months. It's been interesting - she's been very helpful - sometimes just having someone to talk to that is completely disconnected from the rest of your life is nice. It's like you can tell your story to someone without them having impressions or biases on the characters. I can also express how I really feel about something... which I'll be honest, is something I'm shyer about than most would think. She also is reassuring and even encouraging on this crazy notion I have that I should just be who I am instead of... well... whatever it is that I am.

Trouble is, I'm not really sure *what* that is. Not to mention, that I have an overwhelming fear that I am boring.

When I told her this in my session today she just looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language she didn't understand. Of course I said it as I brushed the newly-dyed turquoise hair out of my eyes.

So my "homework" for this week is to make some headway on who I am, what I like to do, and what I'd like to accomplish. This is something that Garry has brought up with me numerous times, but the thought of "well I can't do that because my fibro/time/money/whatever" was an obstacle to overcome. My therapist said to essentially forget all of that (fibro/money/time/whatever) and just come up with a list.

I *am* turning 30 this year afterall, I should have *some* semblance of who I want to be by now.

The funny thing is - if I ask 10 different people I know to give me a list of 10 things they think I'd enjoy, I'd probably get a list of 100 unique activities. I'm not sure if that's a good thing, or what. So, I'll be working on this list this week, maybe some cleaning because the house... well it's pretty dirty at the moment and I'd like to see how well the floor polish I bought can stand up to labradors.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A quick bathroom refresh

A few weeks ago I decided (for whatever reason) that I needed to go to Target. Usually when I'm feeling like I need to pick up something for the house I go to Christmas Tree Shoppe, but after multiple trips to the store over the last few months just to browse, I needed a change - not to mention there were some new collections at Target I wanted to check out and a few odds and ends I definitely wanted to grab while I was there.

Thankfully the damage wasn't nearly as bad I it could have been. 

The problem with going to stores like Target, is that I could spend a good chunk of cash in multiple departments. Given the opportunity - I'm sure I could easily spend $1,000 there in an afternoon. 

But thankfully I didn't. 

Aside from a few little things like plant food, my focus oddly ended up on freshening up the bathroom. I found some really cute hand towels and washcloths on sale and it kind of went from there. 

I really loved the green glass soap pump and toothbrush holder - our previous ones were brushed nickel and didn't stand out as much. The room was looking a little "blah" and the dose of color was definitely welcome!
Some water hyacinth grass baskets from Christmas Tree Shoppe (okay, so I did stop by there) helped corral the overwhelming amount of hair products/lotions/stuff stacked on the shelves. 

I used some items we already had around the house to decorate the shelves. The large conch shell is from my grandfather (not sure where he got it... but it's older than me) and the little glass bottles I had hiding in a box. 

This bathroom is almost impossible to photograph because it's so narrow... but you get the gist of it.

I'm thinking of painting the frame around the mirror (there's a leaf pattern carved into it) either silver or green, but I'm not entirely sure which yet. I have (2) gift certificates for a free test tin of paint from Lowes (yay! Family Circle mag), so I think it will largely depend on what they have available. 

At some point this summer, the sink and cabinet will be replaced by a simple pedestal sink after the plumbing construction is done for our master bath. Since this bathroom won't be our primary bath (and because it is fairly small and narrow) a pedestal sink will look really nice. Once we get our master suite completed (which will be quite some time) we'll look to redoing the floor and installing a new bath and surround.

But for now, a little updating is a good thing - especially if it helps corral the bathroom clutter.

And now... back outside...

The last few weekends here have been surprisingly warm and sunny. I say that because here in our little upstate NY town it is cloudy, wet and cold more often than not.

So instead of working on indoor projects - I decided it was time to get out in the garden.

To my surprise my front planter garden is blooming like crazy! Lots of gorgeous colors every where - pink, blue, purple, yellow... and of course - lots of green.

One big concern with gardening is the the toll it takes on my body. Luckily, my medications for the fibro are helping enough that I can get the work done (well, most of it at least) before my body tells me I'm done. So far I've managed to weed the beds, plant gladioli bulbs (which are coming up super fast!) mulch and dead-head all of the hyacinths.

Oh wait - there's more!

We also planted about a billion (okay, really only a dozen) baby forsythia plants. Two are in my front yard to make a nice curve to our otherwise very "boxy" landscaping, and the rest will be making a hedge in my backyard. I'm hoping my dog learns *quickly* that digging up the bushes is a bad plan...

I also took a few ideas from Pinterest and made a pebble creek bed under the downspout to pull the water away from the house and toward my garden. It's supposed to rain tomorrow so we'll get to see it in action.

However, the BIG project is building an arbor for my front yard.

See... it all started when I saw this:

Photo from

And when I realized that one didn't need a huge, sprawling piece of property to have a gorgeous landscape, well, I decided this was the plan for me. 

Now, of course I don't live in a southern climate where flowers bloom the vast majority of the year. So, some modifications will need to be made in order for this to not look like a bunch of sticks in a planter bed 6 months out of the year. Planning a garden in Zone 5-6 climate is not easy, especially in my area because we do have significantly less sun than most places. 

But, for phase 1 - we're building the arbor. Unfortunately as well, our soil is only about 18 in. deep before we hit rock. You would think for four little holes you wouldn't need anything more than a post-hole digger, but that's where you're wrong. We found this out on Sunday evening. :( So sometime this week/end we'll be renting an auger to drill the remaining holes so we can set the posts in concrete and start working on the rest of the arbor. 

While we're a LONG way off from our property being this elaborate (I will probably wait until this fall or next spring to do the plants in front of the fence, especially since the design will involve some evergreens to keep visual interest all-year). The good thing I have going is that this portion of my house is west-facing so I get full sun. 

For now, I will be content with my planter bed of flowers. Right now the tulips and daffodils are in bloom...

 It looks a little messy, but I'm okay with a little disorganization :) Once the hyacinth and wood squill greens die back it will look a little less chaotic. There are a few hosta that are popping up as well. 

Another side-shot of my tulips. Such lovely colors, pinks, purples, yellows and some white too. 

Some of the greens are dying back a little - once the greenery dies back, I can dig them up, divide them if necessary, and replant them in the fall. 

Here's Herman. He watches over the garden. :) I found this little guy at Target not too long ago.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Seriously? More kitchen stuff?

Yesterday a miraculous thing happened.

It was if the Universe decided that for once I could have my way. When I opened my inbox I found an email from Home Depot touting the Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformation  kits were on sale for 50% off. (FYI - the sale is over now)

I almost spit coffee on my screen.

So, for $35 a kit, I could *finally* redo my cabinets. The only problem was - would Garry go for it?

There has been a long-standing issue with the cabinets. Personally, I think they are too dark. The lighting in the kitchen is terrible as-is and the dark brown cabinets don't help the situation. The odd thing is - the wood stain doesn't match anything in the house. The cabinets are more than likely the original ones installed when the house was build in 1955, but they aren't of such a high quality that it would be a crime to redo them.

Also, more practically speaking, when I scrubbed the cabinets recently, some of the finish started coming off. While the stain is a warm dark brown color, the wood underneath it is kinda orangey. Blech.

With this information I sent the link to Garry to see what his reaction would be. He has been very outspoken against painting the cabinets since we bought the house. He also tends to like dark, cave-like colors and was slightly annoyed that I wanted to repaint the olive green kitchen a lighter color.

Obviously, I was a little apprehensive.

But, by the grace of the DIY gods, Garry was oddly okay with me purchasing the kit(s) to redo the kitchen with the glazed version of pure white (which was one of the three colors on sale). I bought two kits just in case (knowing I can always take one back if I don't need it).

For about $100 (assuming I'll need two kits, and for brushes) I'll *hopefully* be able to turn my very dark, black-hole of a kitchen into something lighter and brighter. Not sure when we'll get around to it, but I'm hoping over the course of the next few months.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Aaaand... we're back

Wow, it has been an incredibly long winter.

Not much in the way of decorating/designing has happened in the last few months. It's hard to be motivated to do much of anything in the cold and dark winter months here in upstate NY. Weather aside, I was also struggling with high levels of anxiety/depression and having fibromyaliga.

To be blunt - it sucks. To be 29 and feel like I'm in my 80's, in constant pain, and feeling rather worthless because the most productive thing that you can do is get out of bed and plop on the couch for the day. Well, let's just say it took a bit of a toll.

I'm lucky though.

I found a great doctor that was willing to work with me, that listened to me, and understood that I needed medical support to essentially "get my life back." It was to a point where I was even willing to compromise and get to "just being able to do basic things" without worrying I was going to be in a lot of pain.

The medication helps, but I wouldn't say I have "my life back." I don't think that ever will happen. At this point, it's more about paying attention to my body and realizing my limits and understanding the consequences of pushing past those limits (which I'll admit, I'm fairly prone to do).

Despite all of that, I'm still planning on a lot of DIY projects for this year.

Last weekend was the first time in about 6 months that the weather was warm and comfortable. I weeded the flower bed, laid a fresh layer of mulch, and moved some of the bulbs around. I also planted some annuals  to 'fill in the gaps' in the planter and in the front landscaped area.

I also felt the need to plant some more bulbs (gladiolus, and casablanca lily) around the front landscaped area along with some larkspur, bells of Ireland, and some other flower I can't remember...

Hopefully in a month or two they will start to bloom - I'm looking forward to it. It's raining incredibly hard today and it looks like the grass will need to be cut as soon as it dries and then we can spread some grass seed/fertilizer as well.

This weekend I will (hopefully) finish painting the bedroom. So far two walls are painted a gorgeous soft grey and the other two walls are the darkish blue from before. Getting the trim sanded and repainted would be nice as well so I can hang the matchstick blinds I bought from Christmas Tree Shoppe (they were $5 each!) and the new curtain panels.

We're also starting the major project of turning our attic into our master suite. This weekend we'll be measuring and putting together our materials/tools list to install the drywall and two walls for our bathroom. We were able to get a quote for installing plumbing upstairs and it will be fairly expensive - to the tune of about $2,500 - but at the end of the day we'll have a brand-new bathroom and bedroom upstairs - well at least the plumbing for the brand-new bathroom... it will be a while before we can buy the tub/fixtures/etc.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Being set to right and the (big) little things

Now that New Year's has come and gone, our house is finally set back to "right" again. All the little glittery decorations taken down and packed away for next December.

Usually when there is a holiday I tend to go on a major cleaning spree. This year I tried to get some major cleaning done between Yule and New Year's and realized that I have been slacking off a lot in that department. Have you ever had one of those moments while you're cleaning and think to yourself "We must be the most disgusting people in the neighborhood?" Yeah, I had quite a few moments just like that.

So after scrubbing the my kitchen walls with 2 magic eraser sponges and mopping the kitchen floor twice (and realizing that we woefully need to replace the base molding in there and add a second coat of paint to the walls) I've decided that I need to try to do at least one full-on cleaning thing a day in order to keep up with everything without hurting myself.

I still have 9 weeks left on my leave of absence, and I'm hoping to get a lot accomplished in that time. To be honest, doing little projects for the house really does make me feel better - at least emotionally - so I'm going to plug along with that as well.

I'm not making it a resolution, or even a promise to myself. It's more of an "it would be nice" kind of thing. I know realistically things come up, there are days when I'll be too tired or in too much pain to do much else than think about it, but it's a start. Now, if only the hubs would jump on board...

There are a few projects I'd like to tackle this year, like refinishing our dressers and repainting finishing our bedroom, but that will depend on a lot of factors - mostly time and energy. I think for now, just making a list of what I'd like to get done would be good. It would just be a guideline, something to try and motivate me to be a little more active, and hopefully motivate the hubs a little too.