Saturday, February 28, 2009
Such a cold, dreary, rainy Saturday! Todd went to a fishing promotional thing at Bass Pro, and I drank tea and read and dozed, and then I got off my butt and put together my wall art and had Todd hang it up, and then I made blueberry-orange muffins.
Wall art: I bought a children's book at a sale or flea market or somewhere last summer that had great pictures of seashells in it, with the intent of photocopying and framing some of the pages...I finally bumped it to the top of my to-do list last week.
I had to order the mats, because Michael's doesn't cut mats in its framing department any more. When did that happen? I used to be able to go in and have them cut a mat while I waited, I'm sure of it! Plus, they were far more expensive than I'd expected, so I only got two instead of the four I was planning.
So here's the headboard and the area around it...it has been needing something on the walls, but I haven't been sure how to arrange it. So the seashell pictures are hanging on the right, I had Todd hang 'em up for me.
(Eek, naked bed! It was laundry day today!)
You can see that the area to the left is encroached upon by the curtain rod, curtains, and window, so a symmetrical arrangement isn't really possible. Do you think one more seashell picture over on the left would be a good balance?
Or would you make two more seashell pictures and hang them on the closet wall that adjoins the first two, mirroring them? So it would be an arrangement of four in the corner.
In which case I would come up with something different to hang over the left side of the bed. I think we can all agree that area needs something.
Here's a close-up of the pictures themselves, sorry the second one is crooked, but it was well above my head:
I'm very pleased with how they came out--they look much better in real life. They really dress up my little corner, with the lamp on and my books on the nightstand and my cozy blankets and pillows just waiting for me to hop in:
I've got more seashells to frame, so do let me know where you think they should go! I could put one on either side of my dresser mirror, too...decisions, decisions...
Friday, February 27, 2009
This is really fun to do, it's a quiz at a site called Sproost. You rate different pictures of rooms and then it tells you what your style is. Me, I'm:
Even if your backyard isn't acres of farmland and you don't actually have a cow out in the barn, your house sure brings you back to a time when that was the case for many.
You love spaces that feel casual and lived in. Furniture is practical and comfortable, and yet at the same time its very stylish. The best part of country style is how much it highlights collection and found objects. Antiques here, garage sale finds there and Aunt Milly's hand-me-downs throughout. Unique items that used to serve very practical purposes are now on display, and their history seems to permeate the home. Each space in the home seems to invite friends and family to come in and stay a while. There is a true sense of home felt throughout.
So my style was 67% Traditional Country, 17% Wine Country Style, and 16% Mountain Lodge Style. It wasn't quite what I expected, but then, they hardly showed me any rooms that I really loved, so that made it harder to rate.
So I took it again and ended up with:
Oh how you love the beach! Who doesn't, right? And so your dream home is either perched in your favorite beach town, or you've brought that favorite beach town into your house.
Your art and accessories speak directly to the activities that are found at the beach. Pieces of driftwood you found here, pictures or paintings of the amazing views there. Things that remind you of the coast - surf boards or fishing boats - are found throughout the house. The feeling of the seaside is both abstract and literal in the design of your space. The fabrics are natural, cottons and linens and are light in color and touch. Much of the furniture is wood or wood framed (the lighter the better, think driftwood!) and wicker, when done right, is a must.
And since your true inspiration is the sea, the colors and textures in your home are the same that you would find at your favorite beach: white, light beiges and grays of the sand and driftwood, a variety of blues for the ocean and sky, and greens and vibrant blues of the sea glass, but the key is white! Your space should feel light and airy and give off the mood one has when at the beach: laid back!
Your furniture is comfortable and the layout is cozy. The more it reminds you of actually sitting on the warm sand, the better! And what do you do at the beach? Hang out with family and friends - and your home is just an extension of this play place. And though the space is filled with large white furniture, it somehow manages to feel both durable and casual.
So this time it was 40% Nantucket Style, 40% Mountain Lodge Style, and 20% Cottage Chic. Either I'm schizophrenic or this quiz is not exactly scientific. Or both! I guess Traditional Country fits me better...I'm just surprised my Cottage Chic score wasn't higher, since I am cottagey, though not exactly chic.
So what's YOUR style?
We're having a lovely, warm (70 degrees-ish) day here today, with spring in the air. The daffodil and narcissus bulbs I planted in November are sending up little shoots, and violas are popping up here and there.
And I found a lovely lily-of-the-valley plant at Trader Joe's today! Three little plants in a jadite-type of container. It's real glass.
They smell fantastic. I put them on my desk so I can pick them up and smell them whenever I want. What is it about those early spring flowers that makes them so cute? There's nothing cuter than a lily-of-the-valley bell, unless maybe it's the sweet little face of a viola.
Alas, the clouds are moving in, the rain is coming, and the forecasters' dartboards are calling for snow this weekend. I'm not too bugged about it, because I love the cold weather and wish it would last longer, but most everyone else is bumming. But it will be 95 degrees and humid all too soon--I'm going to enjoy winter for as long as it wants to stick around!
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Forgot to mention that lovely Staci won the tea journal, which will be going out to her tomorrow. Thanks so much for stopping by, Staci! (And everybody else.)
Thanks for the virtual pats on the back, too, again...it seems like recently I have become so much more insecure about so many things--my looks, my wardrobe, my blog, my house, my life. I never used to be like this. I always stepped to a different drummer and reveled in it, but now I feel a little uncertain. I thought you were supposed to get more confident as you got older, but I feel like I need more affirmation now than I ever, ever did before. Weird.
I wonder if somehow I expected that at a certain point I would have things figured out, and now that Forty's hot, stinky breath is on my neck (ow) and nothing's figured out at all, maybe I'm looking around and wondering if I got anything right.
Or maybe I just need a snack and a cup of tea. See ya!
My local thrift store mostly carries new-ish dull stuff. I usually just stop in to check out the books (they have TONS of books!) and then take a stroll around the edges and find nothing. Once or twice I've found some cute old saucers...that's about it.
But yesterday I found this for 95¢:
The frame is dinged up, so last night I taped off the middle gold bit and the outer gold bit and tried to just paint the wood part. But I ended up having to paint the inner gold edge, too. Here's what it looks like--I also rubbed it with some walnut ink on paper towel.
I honestly can't tell if I improved it or not. Paint frightens me. It's so...irrevocable.
I was thinking about sanding it a tiny bit, applying some antique gold leaf pen over that gold edge, and then hitting the whole thing with a coat of sealer. What do you think?
It looks really nice on my teal walls here in the study! I love the little cottage. There was a matching one with a barn in a snow scene, but the colors weren't quite right for my house. I may go back this morning and give it another look, though.
I'm going to ponder now...you may want to step back and put on your safety glasses....
I was talking with my friend Cheryl several weeks ago, about decluttering and getting rid of stuff, and she was saying that she could get rid of an item and still keep the memory attached to it. She didn't need to hang onto things to still have the memory.
I wish I was a little more like that! My whole house is full of things that spark a memory and that makes it harder and harder to purge or to get rid of things (esp. furniture) that don't work in this house.
That thought led me to this thought...I recently bought a couple of small vintage items from an Etsy seller, and it was a dissatisfying experience. I clicked on the screen, and they came in a box in the mail--I didn't have to go out and look for them. There was no memory attached. I still like the items and will use them, but there's something missing.
And those thoughts both came to mind in the past week or so, as I've been very heavily surfing around looking for home decorating blogs for remodeling ideas. I was honestly starting to get a complex because so many of the homes looked so grown-up. So well-coordinated and professional. Lots of bits and bobs from T.J. Maxx and Home Goods and Target, and expensive-looking Pottery Barn-ish decor. Tablescapes and little vignettes on foyer hutches. My home started to feel like a kid's house to me, like it's full of random things I've grabbed and squirreled away with no plan.
Actually, that's exactly what my home is--my DH and I are basically large kids, and our home IS full of random things we've squirreled away. That's what makes it cluttered sometimes and kind of goofy and full of memories from all our treasures.
So I decided to try not to feel bad about other people's grown-up houses. I like old stuff. I collect old stuff and books and yard sale things. I put it together the best way I know how, but it's definitely never going to look like a Pottery Barn ad.
I always like reading about the houses in The Shell Seekers by Rosamund Pilcher--there's a London house and a Cornwall cottage and a house in Majorca, I think, and she describes them all in much the same way--full of comfortable furniture and beautiful old things and good food and flowers. Sounds good to me.
This is not to say that there can't be a memory attached to a Target tchotchke. I'm sure there can. But since I like old stuff and have to make trips off the beaten path to find it, there's more of a treasure hunt aspect to the memory, and there's more likely to be a person along with me on the hunt, who then becomes all wrapped up in the memory and the warm feeling I get when I look at the item.
I really do own stuff from Target and even a duvet cover from the Pottery Barn outlet. Which isn't enough to make me hang with the cool kids, but I'm not completely averse to big-store stuff! I've started to feel uncomfortable with the "Made in China" label that's on so many of those things, though. That more than anything is what's driven me more and more to look at different sources for home items. We've gotten rid of all the unique and beautiful things that we used to make here in the U.S. But that's a pondering for another time...
Sometime soon when I have more time, I'll show off some of my favorite home decorations that have a memory. I think that might be fun!
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Jen at Sanctuary Arts is hosting a trash-to-treasure party today, so I'm showing off my most recent trash-to-treasure project. Allow me to re-cap for any new visitors...we are sprucing up our guest bath by taking down the old wallpaper border with ducks on it, painting it green, replacing the medicine cabinet, vanity top, and floor. We had already replaced the towel rack, toilet paper holder, and light fixtures some time ago because they were so ugly, they needed emergency treatment. I still shudder at the memory of the cracked, mildewed, wooden towel bar. Yuck.
We were going to replace the vanity, too, but I couldn't really find any I liked at Lowe's or Home Depot, and neither of us wanted to pay a lot of money for something custom. So I looked around at some bloggers' bathrooms online and saw that although I hate to paint, I could paint the old vanity and save us a lot of money.
Since I forgot to take a picture before I started yanking off doors, here's a shot of our master bath vanity, which looks exactly like our guest vanity did, only even dingier. (It's due for the same treatment soon.)
I painted the whole thing white and Todd made brand-new doors and door fronts for it, which also got painted white.
When it gets a countertop put on it (on order and arriving soon), it will look even better, of course, but I think it looks much better, don't you? And with a new floor put in (also on order and arriving soon), it will be quite breathtaking!
So instead of paying $450 for a new Home Depot vanity I wasn't even that crazy about and which had much less storage, I used paint and primer I already had, and Todd used pine boards he already had, and we made it look like a different vanity for $0. All we had to buy were the new hinges and handles, and we would have had to buy those anyway, since I doubt the stock vanities come with hardware.
A question--do you think the top middle panel would look nice with one of those wooden carved applique things on it (also painted white)? The bathroom is going to be feminine and vintage, with a toile shower curtain, old sepia pictures of women and girls, china, etc. I think one might look nice, I just haven't been able to find one I like. What do you think?
Thanks for looking at my makeover!
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Happy birthday to my sweetie, my partner in crime, my very best friend, the guy who makes me laugh and listens to my pointless ramblings and fixes everything I need him to, who makes my day happier every time he walks into the room. Love you, honey! I'm so glad you were born.
Monday, February 23, 2009
When I was in college, a few friends and I each had a piece of paper on our dorm room wall or door, a picture of John Wayne striking a pose in full WW II combat gear, with a saying printed on it: "Life is tough. It's tougher when you're stupid."
One of the friends found it somewhere and xeroxed it and passed it around to the group of us, who were all brainy kids constantly flummoxed by the stupidity we saw around us on a daily basis. Our small liberal-arts college was famous as a home of last resort for rich New England prep-school kids who had plenty of money but not enough brains for the Ivy League education their parents had no doubt planned for them since birth.
Since most of us in my group of friends were attending on a patched-together system of scholarships, grants, and loans, we had brains but no money. A 69-cent taco at Taco Bell was cause for celebration indeed.
Anyway, we felt rather superior to our less-gifted peers, any of whom could have bought and sold us then, and I'm sure could buy and sell us now. Brains are over-rated, I've learned.
Being 19-20 years old also contributed greatly to our smug sense of our own brightness. There's no one as smart as a 20-year-old, and no one more eager to let you know how smart she is.
This is all a long-winded introduction to the events of the past few days, which have proved to me the truth of John Wayne and his adage. Life is indeed tougher when you're stupid. And you grow stupider the older you get, apparently.
I mentioned that on Saturday we plopped down our new countertop for our vanity and discovered that since we'd never thought to measure it, the vanity top was too wide/deep. Standard size is 22" deep; our guest bath vanity is 19" deep.
So we returned it, and got a quote on a custom top at Home Depot. The price seemed good, but we wanted to check at Lowe's. The Lowe's price was surprisingly higher.
The next day we went back to Home Depot to order the top, but now the price was much higher there, too. Turns out the lady who gave us the quote checked the old binder from the manufacturer, which had much lower prices. I'm not quite sure why they don't throw these things away once the prices become obsolete...
Tonight Todd went back to see if he could browbeat the kitchen and bath lady into giving him the lower price. (Todd is a relentless browbeater when he's in search of a deal.) But no deal. So he went back over to Lowe's, which cheerfully not only matched the original Home Depot Price but also knocked off another 10%. Score!
Here's where the stupidity comes in. When he came home from work, and told me about it, I said, "You should have ordered another for the master bath at that price."
He said, "You're right." After all, the master bath is next on the remodeling list, and if we need a special order for one bath, we should get the special order for the other bath while the price is right. Right?
So after we ate dinner, we went back to Lowe's. While we were standing watching the guy type up the additional order:
Me: *chuckle to myself*
Me: Oh, I was just thinking...I was in the master bath yesterday and I noticed that there's a lot more wall space in there. What if they put a bigger vanity in the master bath?
Us: Nah, surely not. Why would they put two different size vanities in the bathrooms?
The Lowe's guy: So you want the 19" top, right?
As soon as we got home, Todd measured the master bath vanity. Yep, it's 22" deep. Hence, no special order needed, and certainly no additional 19" deep countertop.
It's no big deal, we'll just cancel the order and buy a stock countertop. But how could two people be so stupid?
You may be thinking we're not that dumb. Anybody could not measure a vanity, and then not measure another vanity even after not measuring the first vanity led to all manner of hassle, right?
Well, let's move on to the matter of the vanity doors, shall we? Todd created new doors for the vanity (which look a treat, let me tell you!) The vanity had four doors, two that met in the middle, and one on each side of that. So I pulled off the doors, he measured one to get the dimensions and he built them, I primed and painted them, and last night we went to hang them.
The right center door went on, great. The far right door went on, great. We could tell where to hang them because the hinge marks were still impressed into the wood and the new hinges matched exactly.
Then Todd went to hang the left center door, the one that needs to match up and meet the right center door over the big center hole. And they didn't meet up, they overlapped.
Down to the garage I flew and brought up the original doors. And yes. The center doors are 1/4" smaller than the doors on the ends.
Again, it's not a tragedy. Todd moved the hinges out 1/4" on each side and hung the doors. However, since the hinge holes are already drilled, at some point in the next few days, I will have to take down the doors, fill the old holes, and sand, and prime, and paint that area all over again. Urgh. Just when I thought I had one project, at least, done.
Now you can see how our snafu at Lowe's tonight proves our stupidity once and for all. On Saturday we saw the folly of not measuring. On Sunday we saw the folly of not measuring. And on Monday, what did we do? Not measure!
Todd says he never would have made these mistakes at work. He's a mechanical engineer, for crying out loud. His whole career is based on correct measurements! So I asked him if that meant I bring out his latent stupidity. He said he thought that might be the case. Is this grounds for smothering him in his sleep?
The moral, my children: Never, never assume. Anything. In my younger, smarter days I thought a vanity's doors would surely all be the same size. Now I know better. But I'm still stupid.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Out of chaos comes creation, right?
My desk is a terrific mess right now. The other day a couple pieces of mess ended up sitting next to each other, kind of like that "you've got your chocolate in my peanut butter" commercial from my childhood, and I thought they might look neat on a project.
The tea packets I got in a tea swap at least a year ago, and saved in the kitchen drawer because I thought they were so pretty, the black ribbon came tied around a notepad that somebody gave me, and was also hanging out in the kitchen drawer, the ticket is from the parking lot at the Newport News Fall Festival and has been in, you guessed it, the kitchen drawer since then. (I cleaned out the kitchen drawers last week, can you tell?) And the green ribbon was part of a decoration on a packet of little cards I got from an Etsy shop a few weeks ago. Amazingly, it never had to live in the kitchen drawer but settled in directly on my desk.
One-and-a-half "How I Met Your Mother" episodes later (Todd's watching them downstairs)--voila!
It's got a little pocket in the back cover, too, for a bookmark or a packet of tea:
The book is an unlined Moleskine journal, they're super nice to write in.
So I would like to give this to somebody who would enjoy it, because I just needed to do something creative for my soul tonight. Plus, it cleared four tiny things off the chaos of my desk!
Leave a comment and tell me what your favorite kind of tea is. Or if you don't like tea, then tell me what you DO like to drink. I'll pull a name Wednesday morning.
I've been a bit of a Crabby Appleton lately (where in the world did that expression come from?) so I thought I'd spare y'all that. Nothing going wrong, I've just been walking around with a black cloud over my head for some reason.
Well, nothing was going wrong, till we ripped out all this:
and disconnected this:
and yanked this off:
and plunked down the new countertop and realized it was too big. Silly me, assuming that our vanity was a standard size! Will I ever learn to measure? But really, if you were strolling through a home improvement store and every single countertop was 22" deep, wouldn't you assume your own countertop was also 22" deep? Well, you'd be wrong! No soup for you! (Have too many years gone by for "Seinfeld" references to be appropriate any more?)
So it was back to Home Depot to return it and to special order a new 19" deep top, which should arrive in a week or so. Fortunately, it won't cost any more than the standard one. Whew!
I'm just a little bit over having stuff strewn all over the upstairs--vanity doors, hinges, handles, paint trays, paint cans, paintbrushes, paint rollers, tape, rags, ladder, spackle, the giant mirror, the door mirror, the old shower pole/curtain, pictures, tchotchkes, fixtures, all the soap and shampoo collections from under the sink, cleansers...you know how much stuff accumulates in a bathroom, and it's spread all over everywhere and it's beginning to get on my nerves just...a little...bit.
It's definitely making me re-think painting all the kitchen cabinets and putting in new countertops, since that's a project much greater in magnitude than this previously simple bathroom re-do. The chaos of having kitchen stuff everywhere for weeks and weeks...ooh, the thought gives me chills!
We are going to attach the new doors to the vanity and hang a few things up (as soon as Todd finishes gloating over his unexpectedly freed-up weekend) and that will help with some of the floor clutter. And some of the paint stuff can go away, too, although I do have to do paint touch-ups in a lot of places now that the mirror and medicine cabinet are out and I can reach places I couldn't before.
Someday it will be done! Now where's that bottle of wine...?
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
I took a few pictures of the cheap little tidbits I've picked up lately...they didn't come out very well, but I'm gonna make you look at them anyway. So there!
I went to this estate sale yesterday, as I said, and there was not a lot left. But I found two chipped, crazed plates (38¢ for both) and this painted tintype:
I saw the tintype in one of the rooms, and the kids' faces just grabbed me. I picked it up and saw what bad shape it was in and put it back down. I wandered around a little more and went into a different room. One of the auction house employees had picked up the tin type and moved it to this room and those kids' faces leaped right out at me again. I figured it was kismet. I think it looks pretty against the plate, too, one of those serendipitous combinations.
Here's the other plate, which is very badly crazed and stained in the middle...I put it on my little foyer shelf and I think it looks nice with the red berries in front of it.
I actually love crazing on china. It adds so much texture. Below is a very crazed and stained plate I bought at the Jefferson Ave. flea market last fall, intending to put it up on a wall, but I love it so much, I just keep it out on the countertop and serve rolls on it or eat scrambled eggs off it or just admire it.
This is the happiest plate ever. The shape, the bright flowers...I love it to death! It's perfectly imperfect. I've certainly gotten my dollar's worth of pleasure out of it, or whatever I paid for it.
Anyway, back to the estate sale...these cookie cutters were 50¢. I bought them because of the little biscuit cutter. I've never seen one that small before.
And I got this English tin (25¢) because it made me smile, even though it's a little later than the time period I usually like. That little lord and lady are too cute. I thought this would be perfect to keep the powdered sugar bag in or some such thing.
I also found this lovely little English china teacup and saucer. They look like springtime, don't they? My niece's 8th birthday is coming up, on the first day of spring, no less, and I thought maybe I'd gather together some more things that look like springtime and send them all to her for her gift. She loves Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime tea; I bet she'd have fun drinking it from this cup.
On Sunday I was leaving my friend Bev's house and I noticed a small antique mall around the corner. It was about a half hour before they closed, so I popped in and found a nice planter to add to my collection.
Also a china mug that I'm going to use to hold toothbrushes and toothpaste in our bathroom.
And I got a small purple dish that I'm going to use as a soapdish in the new bathroom, but I forgot to take a picture of it.
Those poor people at the antique mall--they stared at me like I was the first human face they'd seen in weeks. Maybe I was. Following me around, asking me questions about what I collect, knocking prices down...don't get me wrong, I like a deal, but there was a real scent of desperation in the air. Lousy economy. This probably isn't a great time for a lot of people to be in the antique business, and this shop was not exactly out there where people could see it.
Off to bed, night-night!
I've been having insomnia lately again, but it's the good kind where I have lots of ideas to think about, and not the bad kind where I get all anxious and full of dread thinking about every possible bad thing that could happen to me and the people I love. Hate that kind of insomnia.
So far this week is going much better than last week...but then, any week without a trip to the dentist has to be better than one with a trip to the dentist, right?
Sunday I went to the home and garden show at the VA Beach convention center with my friend Beverly, and we had a fantastic time. She and I both have an extremely irreverent and often inappropriate sense of humor, and we tend to exacerbate that in each other. We bring out each other's inner 12-year-old, I guess is what I'm saying.
I'd never been to a home and garden show before, and although much of it was what I'd expected (vinyl siding, hot tubs, replacement gutters and windows) there were a few surprise booths. The Sham-Wow guy was there...well, not the guy from the infomercial, but his brother or cousin maybe. It was hilarious watching the crowd watching his patter, as he mopped up water and soda and everybody oohed and aahed, and after a three-minute routine, he sold about $200 worth of Sham-Wows as we--I mean, they--all rushed the stage.
Okay, I'll admit it--I rushed the stage, too. I've always wanted to sop up liquids with a super-absorbent bright orange towel, and now I can. The Vita-Mix people and the super-sharp knife people were there, too, but I managed to resist their blandishments.
There was a huge booth advertising certified Angus beef...because when you think "home," don't you think of a big old slab of beef? They had all these tables with spices and spoons and little baggies where you could mix up a special rub with dried rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper, and coffee. Yes, because when you think "beef," don't you think of Starbucks?
I mixed one up and it's been sitting on my counter and making my house smell like coffee all day. Coffee that ain't quite right, like maybe it's been sitting in the pot for a couple of days and you spilled a little soup in it by accident. Queasy.
My favorite booth by far was the wine-tasting booth, where I got a little wineglass and got to go around and sample wines from three different Virginia wineries. Now, I'm not much of a wine-drinker. I've never really gotten the big deal or understood when people talked about wines being oaky or having hints of pear and chocolate or whatever.
But when I stood and sipped seven or eight wines in a row, taking my time and thinking about what I was tasting, I began to get a glimmer of what people were talking about and why some people like wine tasting. It's very sensual, you're really concentrating on what's moving around in your mouth. Then when I moved to another winery's table and tasted four or five of their wines, I started to see how tastes could vary from winemaker to winemaker.
I also got slightly lit, which is probably the main reason people like wine-tasting. Anyway, it really was eye-opening for me. Eye-opening experiences are always fun. And I bought a really nice wine called Virginia Breeze Red from Davis Valley Winery in western VA.
Monday morning I stopped off at an estate sale on my way home from the grocery store--it had run all weekend and Monday was the dregs, at half-off. I found a few little treasures there that I'll share tomorrow.
Work on the bathroom has been in idle mode, but I am definitely going to get the vanity doors painted this week, and Todd's definitely going to get the second coat put on along the wall tops. Then the sink top will definitely come off, because I'm tired of driving around with the new one squeaking in its styrofoam padding in the back of the car. Then we will definitely put in a new medicine cabinet, and then we'll definitely install a new shower curtain rod.
Then by that time it will be mid-March and we'll be able to put in the new floor, because it's going to take two weeks for it to come in, and Todd's dad can't get here to help Todd install it till then. So the brown floor will be around a little longer, but that's fine--it gives us time to get everything else done.
Oh, one last thing--we have been watching this Canadian show called "Slings and Arrows" on DVD from Netflix. It's about a small-town theater company that's known for its Shakespeare festivals. Long ago Todd and I had a very good friend who was an actor, and who later was the managing director of a small community theater, and let's just say this show rings true. The writing is excellent, and the show's creators (one of whom is Mark McKinney from The Kids in the Hall--he's also in the show) really, really understand actors and theater and the drama and self-absorption of that world and how it can all come together to make art.
The show's a little uneven in the first couple episodes, and some of the actors are better than others, but it's funny, funny. And the first season revolves around a production of "Hamlet" and how different directors interpret it. It's very clever. Not PG-rated, though. Unsuitable for kids or in-laws, Viv, in case you're reading this!
All right, I'm pooped and cold, time to hit the hay.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Today I was at the grocery store and my friend called me. I pulled out my cell phone, the cell phone I had just taken off the charger and placed in my purse less than 24 hours ago, and it was almost dead.
So when I came home I searched around for the closest landline phone to call her back. It was sitting on the coffee table, and it was dead, too.
So I came upstairs and searched through two rooms for another landline phone. Finally found one that was charged.
(The third landline phone gave up the ghost entirely about 6 months ago and is sitting on Todd's study shelf waiting to be assumed into the heaven of useless plastic things.)
More and more lately, I find my thoughts turning to the bright and lovely days when I had one phone. It was 1992. Todd and I had just returned from our honeymoon and one of the many things we needed to buy for our crummy Pittsburgh newlywed apartment was a phone.
We bought a fun, cream-colored plastic phone with oversized number buttons. Remember when phones had big buttons? These were even bigger than normal. It had a nice chunky handset that you could wrap your whole hand around because it was narrow in the middle and wide and round at the talking and hearing ends. Remember that nice shape? You could tuck it between your ear and shoulder and it stayed put, so you could talk while you washed a couple of dishes or stirred a pot on the stove. And the cradle could go on the wall or on a table. (I liked the wall mount, personally.) And it had a nice long springy cord that you could absentmindedly wrap around your finger while you talked.
Every time you picked it up, it had a dial tone--unless there was a power outage or some other problem out of your control. Nothing you had to do about it, nothing you could do about it, just wait till the power came back on. And you never had to search for it--it was right there, on the wall, where you put it. Since you couldn't walk all over the house with it, it stayed where it was supposed to be and you didn't have to cock your head like a dog and try to figure out which direction the ringing noise was coming from.
And it was cheap. I don't remember what we paid for it, but since we had virtually no money, I can't imagine it was more than $20. And that phone lasted us about ten years, and I'm sure would have lasted longer had we not upgraded our technology at some point and gotten fancy phones.
Well, I want my old phone back. And the answering machine that went with it. I'm tired of these tiny phones that I have to pinch between my fingers to hold onto. I'm tired of having to dial into voicemail. I'm tired of having to sit motionless and not get anything done while I talk on the phone because I can't hold it on my shoulder and use both hands to do something. I'm tired of all these complicated calling plans and contracts that I can never remember the details of.
I have warmer feelings toward my cell phone, but I want one that will last ten years and not become obsolete every six months. I want one that will hold a charge. I want one with a less-annoying beep when I miss a call, and it would be nice if it would catch every voicemail and not inform me I have one that's six months old, and then not inform me of another that I don't catch till six months later.
Why do we race headlong toward owning so many things that add more and more layers of frustration and annoyance to each day? I was in a terrific mood this morning, and then all my phones started failing me, and now I want to smack somebody upside the head.
I wonder if we ever threw out that old big-button phone? Maybe it's in a box somewhere...
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
I have been all atwitter with home decorating ideas--it seems this bathroom re-do has jump-started my mind and reminded me of all the things I'm still meaning to do to this house.
I went and picked up a few magazines the other day for a treat, and I missed seeing Mary Englebreit's Home Companion and Country Home on the shelves, since, of course, they have both gone under.
I liked MEHC more back in the beginning when she seemed to have more home ideas and eye candy photos of vintage stuff. In the later years, it seemed to become more about artists and their studios and the things they sell, and I found that much less interesting.
Many people have huge collections of MEHC...most of my copies ended up in the recycling bin after I'd torn out what I wanted to add to my idea binder. I tore out lots of stuff, though! There are a few homes that were featured years and years ago that still bump around in my daydreams of a perfect home. Maybe when I'm a little less exhausted I'll scan a few of my favorite pictures and share them, if anyone would like to see them.
Country Home was another magazine I liked better about ten years ago. In recent years, the style changed to a more modern, contemporary look, which I know is hot, but which really does nothing for me. (HGTV has moved in the same direction, with some very modern-looking, youthful home re-dos that totally leave me cold.)
My mom subbed to Country Home for years, so every now and then I'd just go home, bring a stack of her old issues back with me, and again, tear 'em up for the idea binder. I guess that may have contributed in a tiny way to their demise, huh?
There are still a couple of home dec magazines that are hanging on (for now) that I like to pick up from time to time: Do It Yourself and Creative Home, both published by Better Homes and Gardens, which I know is in financial straits right now along with everyone else. They have also moved to a more youthful vibe, compared with some of my saved issues from six or seven years ago, but there are still a lot of really creative and more importantly, do-able, ideas in them. I like to look at a magazine picture and think, "I could DO that!" instead of "Who would DO that?!"
I found an interesting magazine that I'd never seen before, called Mary Jane's Farm. It's sort of got a bit of everything--recipes, projects, stories from readers, but all under an organic umbrella. What caught my eye about the Feb-Mar issue on the stand was that the cover featured one of Jessie Wilcox Smith's paintings of children--I love, love, love Jessie Wilcox Smith. I haven't had a chance to go through it in detail yet, but it's worth looking for and paging through. It reminded me a tiny bit of MEHC.
Boy, am I pooped. My mind is buzzing, though! Night!
I guess it was good that I took Todd his kayak paddle when he forgot it last night, because he caught the biggest fish he's ever caught: a 44" striped bass!
Pretty exciting! Too bad it's not striper season, because that we could have gotten four or five dinners out of that bad boy! But he's happily back swimming around Wormley Creek now.
We've spent the day in home improvement centers, tracking down a sink top for the bathroom vanity and getting various other odds and ends. It's been a fun day. Not exactly romantic, but fun! Now I'm cracking the whip and making Todd finish the bathroom painting and getting ready to start some V Day supper. (Steak, scalloped potatoes, fresh green beans, strawberries dipped in chocolate. Yum!)
I got an e-mail today from the Clumsy Lovers, who are a fantastic Canadian bluegrass/celtic/rock fusion band that we've liked for a long time...their new album "Make Yourself Known" is out and you can listen to it and buy it on their site. The player's up in the right-hand corner of the home page, just click play. We just love this band. Their albums "After the Flood" and "Smart Kid" are also fantastic.
Hope everybody's having a love-y day!
Friday, February 13, 2009
Well, this week I have:
--bought a $32 gallon of the wrong non-refundable paint.
--incurred a $15 late charge on an $18 bra that I forgot was charged on my Macy's card, which I never use.
--ruined a beloved, expensive and irreplaceable pair of yoga pants by kneeling in them in half-dried paint on the floor.
I am going to stay in bed tomorrow and not touch anything.
In other news, Todd got contact lenses last weekend and has been adjusting to them this week--namely, adjusting to the putting-in and taking-out process, which is really hard for him to do, but getting easier, I think.
As further proof that I'll never win the Best Wife award, I have to say that I was not real excited about his getting contacts. I really, really like glasses on men. Especially on my man, who's worn glasses for all of the 21 years I've known him.
Plus, his glasses were the one lingering quality that kept me in his league. Now he's the hot young-looking guy with the ugly fat middle-aged wife. Who wears glasses.
I wore contacts briefly in high school, but I felt, and still do, that I need glasses to break up the vast expanse of my big face. It's tempting to switch now, watching Todd flaunt his spiffy off-the-rack sunglasses, but my face is even bigger now than it was in high school. I think I need the glasses, even though it means wearing dorky clip-on sunglasses..
Anyway, for absolutely selfish reasons, I'm not stoked about the contacts. But they will make things a lot easier for Todd when he windsurfs and kayaks and whatnot. I'm glad he likes 'em, even if I don't.
I've got the bathroom about 85% painted. Todd will be doing the rest as penance, because he forgot his kayak paddle and I had to drive out to York County to take it to him tonight! Actually, he'd end up doing the rest anyway, because it's mostly ceiling cutting-in, which I can't reach to do anyway. I've painted everything I can reach.
The color looks great. It's Laura Ashley Sage. I'll put up a picture or two once we get it all done. It's a little dicey around the shower, because I taped over the caulking and now the paint wants to come off the wall when I peel off the tape. Todd will be dealing with that, too. My patience ran out right around the time I ruined my yoga pants!
Now I'm kicking back with an episode of "Dirty Jobs." Mike Rowe can make the worst day better. Mm mm!
Since by all accounts the Australian Red Cross is overwhelmed with donation offers, why not check out what some of the Etsy sellers are doing to raise money for the Australian wildfire victims? The money still goes to the ARC, but in one lump sum, and you can buy something really pretty and unique for yourself as well. They've raised $5,000 AUD as of this morning!
Here's the link: OzBushfireAppeal at Etsy. I had my eye on a very pretty necklace, but it was snapped up before I could get it. They keep adding new things, too.
I hope they can get these fires under control, I can't believe how many people have died and how many homes and towns have been lost. It's an awful thing to happen to such a nice country.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Whenever I think of Abraham Lincoln, I think of this quote from Sarah Vowell's book The Partly Cloudy Patriot:
"How many of us drew [Lincoln's] beard in crayon? We built models of his boyhood cabin with Elmer's glue and toothpicks. We memorized the Gettysburg Address, reciting its ten sentences in stovepipe hats stapled out of black construction paper. The teachers taught us to like Washington and to respect Jefferson. But Lincoln - him they taught us to love."
The weekend that the WW II memorial opened, we went to see it and then strolled down the Mall to see Abe. I had been to D.C. several times, but hadn't visited the Lincoln Memorial since my first visit in 1984. It is so, so powerful to walk up those steps and crane your neck up at him sitting there. If our country has a secular saint, surely it's Abe Lincoln. What a gift he gave us, with his work and his words.
I get the impression that kids don't memorize poems, scriptures or famous speeches any more, which is a real shame, because some of Lincoln's beautiful phrases float around in my mind and give me as much pleasure as the bits of Shakespeare and Bible verses that float around in there, too.
"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right..."--that's a favorite. Also "the better angels of our nature" from his first inaugural speech.
There have been some really great books about Lincoln in the past few years, and one I recommend is Lincoln's Melancholy by Joshua Wolf Shenk. I haven't very often been as low in my life as he was in his, but I was inspired to read about the coping skills he developed and the way he was able to work through the sorrow and depression that plagued him. What a tremendous man he was.
Everything went fine at the dentist; I had an awesome hygienist who really took her time with me. And the Valium was a BIG help.
Good news: the crown I thought was cracked is perfectly fine. Bad news: I have two other teeth that are cracked and that will need crowns. No root canals, just crowns. But that doesn't have to happen for another three months, so I'm not worrying about that right now. Much.
My teeth are cracking because I clench and grind my teeth, esp. at night, so getting a nightguard is in the future, too. I think I may pick up a cheap one at the drugstore and see how I do with it before I have to shell out big bucks for a fitted one.
Thanks for the good thoughts (and Cheryl, thanks for driving me there and back so I didn't kill anybody under the influence!) It sucks to be afraid, but I think this good visit will help me not feel quite so anxious the next time. I hope so!
Once the Valium wears off, it's time to get some stuff done around this place! Oh, and that paint I bought yesterday? Yeah, that was totally the wrong color. *forehead slap*
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Augh, what a frustrating couple of days...I broke down and called the dentist yesterday morning because I have a crown that's cracked and the crack is getting bigger. Then I spent all day yesterday and most of today wandering around the house wringing my sweaty hands, trying to figure out how to quell the anxiety and terror engendered by a looming dentist visit.
I seriously cannot get anything done right in this state. I went to Lowe's this morning to get paint for the bathroom and I bought a different color/shade than the one I've been planning for for months, and now I think I made a big mistake. I'm not even going to attempt to put it on the wall till the dentist trip is over, Lord knows what would happen.
You'd think getting absorbed in a task would help with the anxiety, but what happens is I start doing something and then I start thinking about sitting in that chair tipped way back and all those fingers in my mouth and the sucky thing and the buzzy brush and the drills and the huge needles and the giant pair of rusty pliers they're probably going to have to use to pry this crown off, and before you know it my hands are shaky and my eyes are teary and whatever I've been trying to do has gone way off track. It's ridiculous.
I'm not this way about the gynecologist or the eye doctor or the regular doctor. They can cram whatever they want in my girly parts or my eyeballs or jam however many needles in my arms they want. Just don't...touch...my mouth!
I can't stand feeling this way about something as innocuous as the dentist. It makes me feel completely stupid and ridiculous. And yet I don't seem to be able to grab any scrap of rationality about it. Or when I do, it gets swept away on a wave of blind terror.
The dentist called in some Valium for me to take before I come in, and I'm really hoping that will help. A sledgehammer to the head would probably help more.
Oh well. Such is life. It's not the worst thing in the world, it just feels like it. I keep thinking of all the things that are way worse than a trip to the dentist, to try to give myself some badly-needed perspective. Dying in an Australian wildfire is way worse. So is being a Palestinian in Gaza. I'm lucky that I can go to the dentist and have insurance and money to pay for it, and that a couple hours in the dentist chair are probably the worst thing that will happen to me this week.
I just don't feel lucky! Hope that Valium is powerful. Think of me tomorrow at about 10:00; the hygienist will probably be in up to her wrist at that point and I'll need the good vibes. Shudder.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
I read this very nice British blog called Posy from time to time, and today she wrote about her favorite soap, which is wrapped in tissue paper with a band around it--very classy. She, and several of the commenters, mentioned how certain soap scents make them think of certain people.
That reminded me of how my dad says that the smell of Ivory soap always takes him to his grandparents' farm house, where there was always a bar of Ivory on the sink when you came in and washed up.
One of my very favorite soaps is Yardley...rose, lavender or lemon. Oh, and oatmeal. The smell of the rose soap makes me think of early married life in Idaho for some reason--I guess I must have used it for a while when we lived there. Ivory is also very evocative of childhood days, though I don't think we used it all that much.
And now I've found Ellie's soap which is a new favorite, though I haven't settled on a favorite scent, since I've liked every one I've tried. And they last so long, I haven't had the chance to try very many yet!
What's your favorite soap? And do you have a soap scent that takes you back in time?
Monday, February 09, 2009
The ducks are all gone! Yay!
Ah, how I've waited for this day! Three long years and they're finally GONE. So...happy...! *choke, sob*
And Todd sanded down all the paper/glue bits, so I am ready to paint!
You may be wondering why I'm so excited about a guest-bath makeover...well, the guest bathroom is essentially my bathroom. The master bath only has a shower stall, so the guest bath is where I take my baths and shave my legs and do all those ablutions that really require a tub. And it's cozier than the master bath, which has a window that faces out onto the street and which I would constantly be walking naked in front of absentmindedly were I to shower in there. Yes, it's safer in the guest bath.
So that's why I'm particularly stoked about my guest bath transformation from brown-and-beige duck-a-rama to (hopefully) sage-and-lavender feminine vintagefest.
Still working on the wallpaper border, but I'm at the point now where Todd has to take over: the area over the shower where I can't put up the stepladder. I'm too short to reach the border when I stand on the tub. This whole project would have been much easier if I was about five inches taller.
In fact, life in general would be easier if I was five inches taller. I could find pants that fit, and I wouldn't have to ask complete strangers to grab stuff for me off the top shelves at the grocery store. And my upper kitchen cabinets would be completely useful, instead of just 2/3 useful.
Now we just have to get down the tiny bits of paper backing and the glue smudges, and again, I think I'm going to have to turn it over to Todd. I tried a hot water/vinegar solution and a sanding block and it's just not doing the trick. I think it's time to pull out the power tools.
The bathroom is ankle-deep in paper bits. It's so satisfying!
Todd has a little more work to do on the vanity doors and then they'll be ready to prime, paint, and hang. I can hardly wait! Can't wait for that butt-ugly floor to get tossed out on the curb, too!
Here's a prettier shot than the wallpaper bits: this is the cheap blue quilt I bought at Kohl's. I have it folded on the chest at the foot of our bed, and it's quite pleasant to look at. Some of the fabrics almost have a vintage look.
The weather has warmed up dramatically, so I'm trying to get more walking in, and getting some Valentine's packages ready to mail to the nieces and nephews. This week will hopefully be all about painting, once we get the walls totally clean. That's it from here!
Saturday, February 07, 2009
I'm not quite as grumpy as I was this afternoon, but I'm not quite happy, either. My arms are killing me!
I'd say we've got about 1/3 of the border down. The part above the shower came off in nice big chunks, mostly--bigger chunks than anywhere else, anyway. So that was good. But there's still a ton of scraping and peeling yet to do. I am SO grateful there's only one border in this house! Glad it's a smallish bathroom, too.
While I was peeling and scraping, Todd got the vanity doors mostly done, and I think they're going to look very nice indeed.
Todd thinks he should tackle the last bits of wallpaper backing and glue residue with the electric sander. Anybody know of any good reason why he shouldn't? They never mention the sander option in any of the articles I've read about wallpaper stripping, and yet it seems like such a good idea...easier than scraping every last millimeter off by hand!
I forgot to mention that I went back to Kohl's on Tuesday and bought another cheapie quilt, this time a blue full/queen for our bedroom. It was $6.99! 90% off! And it came with two pillow shams! (The twin red quilt came with one sham.) The funny/sad thing is, it seemed like an appropriate price for the thing--it's cheaply made, made in China, not at all high-end, and yet someone thought people would fork over $70 for one. And they were wrong, obviously! I like the quilt, don't get me wrong, but $6.99 seemed like a very fair price for it. I wouldn't have wanted to pay more. It will be nice to have for a springtime bed cover; it's got pretty floral patterns in it.
I can't lift my arms any more, off to watch TV and push the remote buttons with my big toe. Heh!
People who put up wallpaper in their homes should be ostracized from decent society and made to live with their horrible tasteless walls for the rest of their natural lives.
It's not coming down easy. That's all I have to say--I don't have enough strength left in my arms to type any more words! I. Hate. Wallpaper.
Friday, February 06, 2009
Since I'm sitting here waiting for paint to dry, I thought I'd show what I've been doing this week, though it doesn't look like much yet.
I decided to paint our existing vanity in the guest bath, rather than replace it. I haven't been able to find any vanities I liked, and the one we have holds way, way more stuff than any of the others I've looked at. So I just decided to paint it white. And I'll do the same thing with the one in the master bath when I get around to it.
You can see how much stuff I've got crammed in there.
I pulled off the drawers and doors, because they're kind of beat up, and I don't really like the style...
...and Todd is going to make me new ones. He's cut the drawer fronts and the panel that goes over the big hole in the middle.
The drawer fronts are just plain boards with a bit of a taper on the edges. For the big middle one, I may try to find some kind of decorative carved piece to put on it.
The doors will have a flat raised border the whole way around. I'm hoping he can cut those for me this weekend so I can get those primed and painted, too. I bought new brushed nickel handles for everything, and the doors willl have brushed nickel hinges also, if I can find a store that has them in stock!
I've also started yanking down the bits of duck wallpaper border that I can reach:
I'd love to know why this border is up there. The original owner lived here for 15+ years and did absolutely nothing decorative to the house at all...so why the duck border? I'm just glad this was the only one he put up.
This weekend I'm going to get up on the stepladder and really attack it. I think it's going to come off pretty easily, because it's old enough that it doesn't have that impermeable vinyl covering on it. So I'm hoping the water/fabric softener solution will penetrate the paper and glue without too much trouble. I can't wait to see the last of the ducks!
Once the border is down and the walls are cleaned, I'll start painting them a nice sage green. And then in another couple of weeks, we'll pull out the sink top and floor and medicine cabinet, and replace them. And then we'll have a sparkly new bathroom. I wish it could all be done as fast as those room makeovers on HGTV!
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
I didn't realize it till I logged onto Paperback Swap tonight and their home page mentioned this--today's the 50th anniversary of the day Buddy Holly's plane went down in an Iowa field.
I adore Buddy Holly. When I was 10 or 11 years old, I saw "The Buddy Holly Story" on TV and I was just smitten with him. I saved up my nickels and dimes and bought an LP of his greatest hits--the cover art on the album was a shot of graffiti on a stone wall that read "Buddy Holly Lives."
His music probably sounds completely dated and peculiar to anyone who grew up on hip-hop, but I love the way he played his guitar and harmonized with himself. His music is so light-hearted; even the sad songs are hopeful.
From reading about Buddy Holly as a kid, I discovered the Beatles and Elvis, and became a fan of what was then called "classic rock" and I guess now is called "oldies"--the rock-and-roll of the 50s and 60s.
So I've gotten a lot of enjoyment from Buddy--both from his own music and the music he inspired in other people. Dying at 22 didn't sound like such a big deal to me when I was 10 years old, but looking at it from age 38, it seems heartbreakingly sad.
Here he is on the "Arthur Miller Dance Party," introduced by the squarest, whitest, most middle-aged lady ever:
And here's another guy who died too young, singing some of Buddy's songs (fast forward over the one with Yoko blathering in the background, yuck):
Monday, February 02, 2009
I had a bit of good luck today. I've been looking for a quilt for the past six months or so, with the idea of wrapping it around the seat cushions of my couch, to extend their lives a little longer. I found a frayed spot right in the center of one of the cushions a while back, and it's just been nagging at me. I don't want the fabric to tear.
We bought the couch new exactly nine years ago and I love it as much now as I did then. It was a momentous purchase because, if memory serves, it was our very first NEW furniture purchase after eight years of marriage. I wasn't at all sure what kind of color/pattern I wanted, but the minute I saw the swatch, I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that was what I wanted. The funny thing was, it wasn't at all a color I'd even considered before!
It's just a very simple gray-green with a leafy pattern woven into it. I think the fabric's called jacquard...? This shows the pattern well:
Such a great couch, I just love it. Sigh.
I happened to pick up the Kohl's flyer out of the newspaper yesterday and all their quilts were on sale. So I stopped by this morning and found a twin-size quilt on an end-cap that looked much closer to what I had in mind than anything else I'd seen. It was $31.99 on sale, which wasn't great, but I figured I'd take it home and give it a shot and bring it back if it didn't work. $31.99 is still cheaper than a whole new couch, right?
When I got to the check-out, the girl beeped it, and then gasped. "This is only $5.99?!" she said. Yep, as a matter of fact, it was! It's discontinued! Huzzah!
Here's how it looks:
What do you think? I haven't sat on it yet, but I think it looks nice. I may have to safety-pin it along the bottom if it shifts around too much, but that's okay.
Sunday, February 01, 2009
Something happened in this house tonight that has never happened in our home, to my memory. Todd and I watched football. Together. And screamed at the TV. Both of us!
I am decidedly NOT a football watcher, and Todd only watches football when the Steelers are doing well at the end of a season. But his buddy who was supposed to come over bailed on him, so I watched the game with him tonight for fun. (I had a book close at hand and read through most of the second and third quarters.) I was rooting for the Cardinals (if a mild interest can be described as "rooting") and he, of course, was rooting for the Steelers.
What a nail-biter, right down to the final minutes, though I was bummed that "my" team didn't win, since they'd made such a great comeback from behind. It was exciting, esp. that last Pittsburgh touchdown! Maybe in another ten years I'll watch another football game! But probably not. I'll watch a little of the rampaging and rioting that's undoubtedly going on in Pittsburgh tonight, and that will be enough to convince me that the football world is not my world. Fun game, though.