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.