Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Found it!

I'm thrilled to say that I found a home and my offer was accepted!

More to come...

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Something Strange is Afoot

... but we're not at the Circle-K.

So much has changed over this past year.  I threw myself into school and I'm proud to say that I'm finally a Registered Nurse.  I find myself exhausted at the end of most days, and I'm working on getting a new routine down.

My Mom and Eldest Daughter
I lost my amazing, wonderful mother at the end of July this year.  She was my constant cheerleader, believing that I can do anything I set my mind to.   She encouraged me to start writing.  She showed me that DIY is so much more satisfying than just simply shopping for something.  She treated beautiful objects with reverence for their history.  She shaped me into the person that I am today.  I miss her so very much, but over the past year, we've had so many conversations about life and love; about strength and acceptance; about focus and determination... the big stuff and the little stuff.  I know that she loved me with her whole heart.  I'll always be awestruck and grateful that I am her daughter.

I'm looking out onto the horizon.  My too-big house on Pleasant has quickly spiraled out of control into a behemoth that I can no longer afford to repair and remodel.  The old lady has given it her best, but after decades of patch-and-fix jobs, she needs to be completely gutted and redone.

March was a significantly difficult month here.  A week of temperatures that hovered around the -40*F mark split a massive water main in town and we were without water for a week (no water = no heat in Pleasantville).  In that time, the pipes here burst.  The boiler failed and had to be replaced, and when the water was finally turned back on, the bottom of my water heater gave out.  About a month later, the ceiling in the upstairs bath collapsed, and an ice dam on the roof above the dining room threatened to do the same.  It feels like I'm running as fast as I can to keep up, while other major issues surface in the meantime.

This coming week, I'm on a mission to find a new home.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Shut the Front Door!

Apparently, curb appeal is the difference that sells nearly half of the homes on the market, according to  Remember my whining about how my house has seriously started lacking just that?

My front door has been bothering me for about a year now.  It was natural wood.  It disappeared completely in light of the purple+magenta (purgenta?) door on the front porch that is 40 shades of disappointing.  It looked like this:

The plate under the doorknob has rubbed the finish from the door when a screw was loose.  That crack on the bottom right is a seam that bothered me as well.  None of the detail of the door could truly be appreciated.  I took all of the hardware off of the door and set out to paint.

But first... primer!

After applying 3 coats of Zinsser Bullseye 3-2-1 primer, the stain in the wood was locked in nicely.  See how the door is a yellow-ivory color compared to the siding? That was after the second coat.

on the floor to the left is a wooden shingle that came off of the house...
and on the right is our "emergency" backpack
I really liked having the front door white.  It completely blended into the siding, but *sigh* I just love how great things look when painted white.  Until I saw the color it was meant to be, that is.

I had a quart of Glidden Peacock Blue mixed in a Behr Paint + Primer high-gloss base, then cut in the first coat.  

I'm only 5 foot 4.. stepladders are all over my house
 The first coat was pretty uneventful, as was the second:

I ended up putting 3 coats of paint on the door over the course of a week to really give it an opportunity to dry well between coats.  I took the hardware off and painted everything, including screw heads, with Rust-Oleum's Universal All Surface Spray Paint in Oil Rubbed Bronze Metallic.  I had taken photos of the entire process, but due to an unforeseen error, they didn't save on my camera's SD card.  I have ordered a new one, but the rest of the photos were taken with my phone, via Instagram.

The rain started and the door seemed to be a bit sticky, so I didn't want to attach the knobs just yet.  I found a burlap wreath pin on Pinterest, saved some change here and there, and picked up supplies to make it using Stone Gable's burlap wreath tutorial.  I found that working with burlap made me sneeze a whole lot (even with allergy medicine!) but it was super easy and cost roughly $15 to make.  Lastly, I applied a very friendly "hello." from PreciousEmma on Etsy.  

This is how it turned out!

Well, it looked great, but I still wasn't done.  I screwed the hardware back in and started a little Halloween decorating a bit early.  This does have an Instagram filter on it, but this is a good representation of what the door looks like at night (and completely dry).  

I can't tell you how much I love it!  It has definitely upped the curb appeal of the house by instantly transforming the blah wooden door to a friendly, inviting, cozy sort of door.  In Dutch, those feelings are called "gezellig," which connotes a feeling of belonging and welcoming and quaint and, well, an entire cascade of feelings that make you smile.  

Even though winter is coming ("You know nothing, Jon Snow!"), I'm still slowly working on a sleeping porch.  I don't imagine I'll have much more free time this semester to work on it, but my biggest priority for it is finding a screw that will fit the bed frame.  Eventually.  When I can both have my wallet and time to set foot in a hardware store.  I'll leave you with this work in progress, though:

so much painting to do!  
Until we meet again, friends!

*while a lot of brands were mentioned,
I was not compensated or affiliated with
any of them in any way.
I did send PreciousEmma a photo
as an appreciation, and she made it
the photograph to represent her listing
with my permission.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

It's All In How You Mix The Two

A dear friend of mine and I decided long ago that a person should have more than one theme song that covers different aspects of their lives.  There's nothing better than just hanging out with your good friend, not doing anything in particular-- wasting the best kind of time together.  One of our mutual theme songs is Blue and Yellow by The Used.  I thought it appropriate for the styling of the desk in the entry.

Speaking of themes, notice a recurring one?


Since my tuition bill is looming, I have to style the entry on the cheap.  The least expensive way to decorate? Shop in your own house!  I snagged the yellow painting I made ages ago, took the Mae Chevrette print from the front porch, the green glass teardrop vase from my office, and an adorable photo of Lily.  

The whole setup still needed a bit of something.  I thought I had a sparkly silver photo frame tucked away, but it is no where to be found.  I needed a bowl for my keys or pocket change, since I didn't want to tuck it in the drawer.  I like knowing they're where I can see them and one of the kids (Emily!) hasn't wandered off with them.  

Off to the local Goodwill store to see what treasures I could dig up.  Sadly, there wasn't much by way of vases or decorative bits.  I did find a small, pressed glass bowl for a very reasonable 99 cents, so I snagged it.  Later in the week, I had to go to Walmart for garden stakes (the grapes need to be trained on wire) and they were in clearance for $1.50 each.  Right beside them was a glass cylinder vase for 97 cents and a mango-scented candle for $1.50.  Mine!  The last thing I picked up was a bouquet of flowers for $3.97.  

I had enamel craft paint, Frog Tape, and some Krylon Looking Glass (mirror) spray paint already, so it was just a matter of taping off the new vase, painting the outside with the enamel paint, and the inside with the spray paint.  

The hardest part is making sure the tape is even!
I would highly recommend spray painting before putting the enamel on.  I did it in the reverse and needed to wipe it from the outside.  Spray the paint in, and allow the excess to run out onto a drop cloth or (in this case) scrap paper.  I only did one coat of paint, but I think two might be necessary.  I brushed the enamel on, and I really love the texture it gives the finished vase.  

So, putting it all together, the desk looks like this now

I still think I'm far from finished, but this is definitely far more pleasant to look at than the naked "before" photo:

There is still a ton of work to be done in here.  I'm compiling a wish list of things I'd like to get and a to-do list of what needs to be done (like ripping out carpet sometime in the next year).  For now, I'll just have to baby-step it until I can save enough pennies to accomplish what I'd like to do.

I'm going to leave you with a gratuitous pic of Lily, because she has snored through the writing of this entire blog post.  

Friday, August 8, 2014

Naked and Afraid

Remember that side-of-the-road find from last year?  That gorgeous desk whose veneer had definitely seen better days?  It has been finished for quite some time and just hibernating in the dining room.  Today, I finally put it in the entry, where it shall store keys, sunglasses, gloves, winter scarves, mittens, and hats (hey, we have a ton of blustery days here).

The mirror that I revamped when I still lived in Florida has been hung above the desk.  Now the entry area looks like this

It is so... blank.  And beige.  And boring.

The diamond-weave wool rug is there to cover up an ancient floor heating grate.  Without it, the entry is freezing, since there's nothing to stop the cold basement air from chilling the room in the winter, not to mention adding a fortune to my heating bills.  It also evens up the floor surface since the grate is an inch below the carpet.  There is hardwood under the carpet, and exposing and refinishing it is definitely on the to-do list... just not until maybe next year.

For scale, that's a 7-inch tall flower pot, with a 4-inch base.  Yes, that's authentic 1960s paneling on the wall.  I know it is hideous.  The worst part of it is that the ceiling is taller than the original panel, so there's a panel seam that runs around the top of the wall, roughly 6 inches from the ceiling, as if it is trying to masquerade as crown molding.  The same paneling was in the entry closet and one day after moving in, I decided to see what was underneath.  You may want to sit down for this:

Doesn't it just take your breath away?

I simply cannot deal with this visual nightmare all over the room.  Just say no.  I'm thinking this is another gem from the 30s or 40s.  It has also been lined up so that each vignette is roughly a foot away from another one exactly like it.  If the entry walls are anything like the closet, the paneling was applied directly to the plaster.  So, the paneling stays until the entire mess (paneling, wallpaper, plaster, lath) can all be removed and remodeled.  I considered painting the paneling, but that seam drives me crazy... paint would just highlight the seam.

The entry light is a more modern addition to the room.  When I first moved in, the current light replaced a gothic, red stained glass hanging light that was far too small for the room and had a long chain draped from hooks on the ceiling.  The dark switchplate on the wall above the desk echoes the coppery metal of the light, but the design lends itself to the more traditional aspect of the house.  The closet door knob and plate are gorgeous Arts and Crafts pieces that were installed upside down.  Flipping it around doesn't work because the mortise lock is installed in that part of the door.

All of this leaves me to the current issue I'm having with styling this desk.  I need it to be functional and beautiful.  I know there is a lot going on here.  I definitely need color.  The room gets very little natural light, so a shade-loving plant that likes to occasionally be chilly?  A bowl for keys or should I stash them in one of the drawers?  Photos on the desk?  On the wall?  I considered a stack of books, but that would work better if the surface were entirely flat, I think.  There is no electrical outlet here, so a lamp won't work.  Perhaps something that plays up the silver leaf mirror?

HELP!  How would you style this?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Plants Gone Wild

My friends & I foraged wild ramps in May
Here we are in the heat of summer--sort of.  This last week was the first one in which it didn't rain nearly every single day.

I haven't done a lick of painting at all because it has been far too humid for exterior painting.  If I think about it too much, I start to panic in the likelihood that at some point during winter break, I'm going to be on the front porch freezing my butt off while painting the front door.  I'm grateful that we have an adequate water supply where others in the country are suffering through drought... but I'd settle for a two-week run of 75 degree days with low humidity.

The garden, though, has been LOVING this weather!

Oddly enough, this is the first year out of the past four that I'm going to have tomatoes!  I've lost the rest of them to blossom end rot, but the raised beds drain really well and I haven't had one with it so far!  It has affected the Black Lightning zucchini due to a calcium deficiency, and I'll fix that for next year by adding some lime and crushed oyster shells.  Lime makes calcium more available to the plant, and crushed oyster shells will add calcium to the soil over the long run.  As always, I've been fighting slugs by applying diatomaceous earth after each rainfall.  They've managed to decimate a stand of green beans, but the other patch is just fine.  My strawberries didn't do much this year, but we went strawberry picking and managed to come home with 18 quarts of berries.  Freezer jam has been made.  The rest of them have been crushed and mixed with a tiny bit of sugar to be spooned on top of waffles, scones, pancakes, and biscuits all winter.

There are just about four more weeks left before school starts, and I'm no where near ready for summer to end.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Year One Down

Well, on Friday, I wrapped up finals week and my first year of nursing.  This year has been a whirlwind of early (4 am!) mornings, challenging skills to learn, and far more med cards than I ever thought possible.  I loved every second of it!

Now that break is here, it's time to get stuff done.

Today, I set the seedlings out on the back deck to begin the hardening off process.  We'll still be in danger of frost for another 5 or 6 weeks, but I'm hoping to get some cloches rigged up before then.  The seed potatoes have been sliced into 3-eye chunks and are scabbing over on the deck as well.  This step is important to protect them from simply rotting away in the soil, which has totally happened to me before.  At some point over the early spring/late winter... neighborhood kids cut down my sapling apple trees with steak knives (which I found in my yard).  I'm devastated, to say the least, but the one "stump" has sprouted buds this week.  It will never be a strong tree, but I'm hoping it can be used to either feed bees or pollinate another apple tree.

The fan I was using to circulate air in the dining room seedling central died and I thought I could get by without it... big mistake.  I've lost half of my peppers to damp rot (all of the hot ones).  I've planted more seeds, and the remainder are enjoying a slightly breezy day on the deck.

I also broke the hose... Well, one of the hoses.  It, however, is the hose that reaches the raised beds, so a new hose is also on the list.

There IS good news.  The peas and garlic are up.  The strawberries are doing well.  Hon Tsai Tai, spinach, basil, cilantro, beets, and carrots have all been planted (and some are sprouted).  I finally sanded down the little Moroccan side table I picked up at the antique mall last February.  I have a few options as to how it'll be painted, but I'm leaning toward something that'll look good on the front porch.  I've also figured out how to add my Instagram feed to the blog.  I took the girls to the creek for a photo shoot, and I'm planning on doing something with the results either in the entry or in the dining room.  Haven't decided, but I'm leaning toward the entry.

Oh, I did manage to finalize the front door's new color, and that'll be in the works soon.

It hasn't been ALL work and no play... I finished a book that I had started over winter break.

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