Sunday, August 9, 2015

Now in Bloom

Garden zinnias, wild vines, and our own pretty Posy.

I know this isn't my kids blog, but I couldn't share Asher's story and then not put up any pictures of Posy. Besides, with pictures like this, who could resist? I mean, really!

It's been an interesting pregnancy, with an odd mix of emotions: still missing our little boy so much, but so excited about our little girl.

One thing that I didn't expect however was a total absence of fear. Fear an anxiety are such strong temptations for Mommies, and I'm as likely to give in as anyone else. But Kyle and I really haven't had any concerns about Posy, which I know is simply a gift from God! I am thankful.

So now she is here. She's such a good, sweet little baby, so alert and attuned to those around her! We are all smitten, and I am treasuring and enjoying every moment. 

Yes, even the fussy ones.

 P.S. There won't be anything up here on the blog for a couple weeks. After I'm back on my feet, I'm hoping to have some nursery pictures to post!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Dining Room Dresser Wall - it's in!


Ta da! The dresser is painted, the plates are up, and I love how it turned out! A quick recap of the how:

I mixed the dresser paint with a bonding agent, since I didn't want the chippy look. My house is old enough that it needs newer looking furnishings to get the old/new balance that I like. The paint went on like a breeze - minimal sanding, no priming, it was great!

 I brought the dresser in as soon as it had "cured" - that alone made the room feel more complete! Then I started playing with my paper templates.

I laid out the plates on the floor and took a picture to check the color balance, and stared at everything for a few days to make sure there was nothing about it that bothered me.

Then it was up with the plates! Again, I went with something balanced but not symmetrical, to keep the feel more relaxed/modern than traditional, even though hanging plates on the wall is a very traditional idea.

 Here's how they interact with my floor cloth and the future curtain fabric.

I was a little bit concerned that everything would look too dinky, since it's such a large wall, but the dresser really anchors everything.

 I'll be excited to get the curtains up, but for now, this really makes the room feel more settled, and less "we just moved in" ish.

And now, since I love a good before and after . . .


And after:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Summer Cheer

So, I said that one reason I enjoy playing with flowers is because of my Mom. The other is my Husband. After taking the flower arranging class as a teenager, I was fired up and ready to go. There was only one problem. A severe lack of flowers.

We didn't have a whole lot of flowers in the yard, and the ones we did have were not of the pick-and-use variety. I had no idea how to condition them, or even that any conditioning was needed! I wasn't enough of a green thumb to grow what I really needed, so after making a tiny arrangement or two and watching them wilt by evening, I moved on to other things.

Then, a decade or so later, I married a Green-thumb. I didn't realize when we got married the depth of of Kyle's enjoyment of growing things, but it wasn't long after the wedding when he started to bring his produce into the house. And it wasn't just fruits and vegetables!

Every year more and more flowers found their way into the yard. Suddenly, I had material to work with, and a husband who was happy to do the growing for me, and to encourage and admire my handiwork. I had picked up some tips over the years about how to treat different kinds of stems, so I had everything I needed to really enjoy flower arranging as a hobby.

I love to see pretty living things on the table and around the house, and Kyle loves to see me taking an interest in his "playing in the dirt". Together, I think we make some pretty (and tasty) stuff!

Zinnias, Queen Anne's Lace, Lemon Basil, Sedum, Black Eyed Susan, immature Pears and Pretty Weeds.

Monday, July 13, 2015

A Household Equasion

With Baby Girl set to arrive any time now, nesting projects have been in full swing. Most of them have been of the needed-but-mundane variety. (Yes! Another casserole in the freezer! Would you like to see it? No, I thought not.) But a couple of them are of the fun, blog-worthy variety, and this is one of those.

So, what do you get when you add:

1 dresser from my Grandmother filled with fond memories, plus . . .

this paint, plus . . 

this plate collection, on . . .

This wall?

I don't know either. But I'm working on getting all the pieces together, and hopefully it will add up to something fun and cute when I'm done.

Oh, and about that wall. It now looks more like this:

I had the dining room primed all winter, but my kind and wonderful Father painted it for me last time he was down - in ONE DAY. Do you have any idea how many nap times that would have taken me? (Or how many household necessities would have been neglected while I worked on it?) SO wonderful! Up until now it has housed a collection of artwork by the kids and myself, just to keep it from looking so big and bare. We believe it's important to support local artists. ;-)

I have a plan for all that artwork, too. But that will be another project for another time. Right now I'm hoping to get this project done before the little one comes. I'll keep you posted!

Monday, June 22, 2015

From My Mom

I have been having so much fun with flowers this year, and it's all because of two of my favorite people: my Husband and my Mom.

My Mother, among the many wonderful things she did for her children, always encouraged and facilitated the Trying of New Things. If we had an interest, she was ready to help us pursue it. And she loved to introduce us to new experiences!

(Peonies, iris, daisies, forget-me-not, something that looks like lacecap hydrangea, and vine-y weeds, all gathered from the yard while visiting my Mom.)

I don't know if I ever would have thought of flower arranging as something I could do, had my Mom not set up a class for myself and some friends. It was just a one time class when I was about 13, very basic and the flowers were nothing fancy - daisy, carnations, ferns.

 But it was so fun and satisfying, and it moved flower arranging from the mental category of "something florists do" to "something I can do." Isn't it funny, how we categorize things in our minds like that?

Thanks, Mom, for opening up so many possibilities (and for letting me play with your flowers)!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Kitchen: After-ish

So, we're not quite up to "After" in the kitchen. "After" implies finished, right? But while there are still a fair number of little projects to go, everything is useable, brighter, and far removed from the Very Scary Between! Happy sigh.

You may (or may not) have notice that the cabinet handles changed from oil rubbled bronze to silver. Well, that was the DIY that didn't. Someone on the web mentioned spray painting her hardware, and I decided to give it a try since I wanted silver handles to go with my lighten-and-brighten goals. It doesn't look bad in pictures, thankfully, but in person they look very fake, feel a little funny, and the silver is slowly chipping off. DIY fail. But for $12 it was worth a try. It will do until I get fed up and save up enough to replace them.

On to happier topics. Look at those lights! I LOVE them. They don't take up visual space or endanger our foreheads, and the light goes up, down and all around! It makes such a difference, especially at night.

I also love this curtain fabric! It was the first purchase I made for the house after we closed, because it was just so perfect. (Good thing too, I can't find it anywhere now!)  I like to have a mix of old and new. The rest of the house has history oozing from it's walls and woodwork and will probably get more modern fabrics and furnishings, but the kitchen already feels pretty modern. So I loved the stylized, almost colonial feel of the flower pattern, to bring in some "old".

But I also liked the modern color scheme. It ties in perfectly with the counter top, the teal flowers give me a starting point for the future island color, and it adds a hit of cheery yellow. I made the faux roman shade from the tutorial found here.

Ahh, those walls! So fresh, so smooth, so clean! The textured wallpaper I purchased for them, thinking that would be the only way to cover all the lumpy wallpaper remnants, turned out to be too thin and, ahem, cheap to use. (Hey, at least I didn't loose much moolah on it!) But the ladies who were going to hang it for me encouraged us to go ahead and smooth out the walls with some drywall mud and paint them. Since this was the look I really wanted, I was thrilled when my Hubby made it happen! (The mudding, not the painting. I tackled the paint with help from a wonderful friend.)

In the interests of honesty, I will hereby disclose that flowering greenery is a perfectly normal thing to see in our kitchen. Spotlessly clean and clutter free counters are not.

Projects still to be tackled include:
  • putting handles on the drawers
  • new silver handles for all the cabinets
  • putting up some baseboard
  • putting trim on the back of the island to cover the cabinet join
  • painting the island
  • getting stools for the island
We're getting there, but for now, everything is much brighter, cleaner and Me-er (I know, I know, it's not a word. But it should be.) Most importantly, the kitchen functions beautifully no matter how many cooks and helpers we have at work!

One more set of pictures, just for comparison. The Before:

And the After. 

Well . .  the After-ish. ;-)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Iris: Posh and Pretty

Enough of wallpaper and drywall dust, time for something pretty. These were the next two varieties of iris to bloom, and the yellow and the warm purple looked lovely together!

The purple ones smell like root beer!

I also used succulents, those fun, spiky weeds, and some greenery from a bush I keep threatening to make Kyle cut down. It has no flowers, no fall color and worst of all, it's perfectly centered in the largest dining room window. A waste of good viewing space!

 Everything was from the yard (Succulents in my yard! I feel so trendy. ;-) And since it was from the yard, it's lasted quite a long time, since I keep replacing the iris when they "melt". I also added in some mock orange that Kyle brought me, so here's how it ended up looking after a while.

Please notice Stringbean's wildebeest preparing to charge in the corner. (Wildebeests are his current favorite.)

Even flower pictures need a little drama!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Very Scary Between

In the process from "Before" to lovely "After" comes a stage I call the Very Scary Between. That's what's up today folks. So if you like to see progressions, stick around, and if you just prefer pretty pictures, then you'd better check back later. 'Cause it ain't gonna be pretty!

We came up with a couple of cost effective ways to expand our work areas and our storage space. (I say "we" loosely, because all the good ideas came from my parents and a handy friend!) First, we replaced the long window with a shorter one and had some cabinetry built to match the existing stuff. This allowed us to turn what used to be a corner oriented kitchen into a long "L" setup, and gained us another work station and more storage without loosing the western light. The old freestanding cabinet that used to be in the corner got moved into the dining room for school storage. (More storage - happy, happy!)

Here is the new cabinetry and counter top we had put in. While the counter top pattern isn't what I would have picked, I just couldn't see replacing perfectly good, new materials because it's not my top choice. So I had the new piece matched to what was already there. I'm really glad I did -  it almost never looks dirty! A totally unanticipated bonus. :-)

Another change was to take out the old window onto the mudroom, move the door with a window from the dining room to the kitchen, and patch up the dining room wall which gave us . . . 

. . . a place in the mud room to build a coat closet! Yea!

Still plenty of room to enter from the outside.

Using the old, windowed door from the dining room allowed us to still get that indirect light from the south into the kitchen, which fit with my "lighten and brighten" goal.

And odd as it may sound, I was glad to get one solid wall in the dining room. I love all the windows and natural light in our house, but as a bibliophile and a homeschooling mom, I couldn't help but wonder, "Where am I going to put all the bookshelves we'll need?" Now we've got room for the book collection to grow. *Happy Sigh*

Our other kitchen trick was to replace the small, angled island with a large rectangular one. We picked up two freestanding pieces from a nearby discount cabinetry place. One piece has a place for the garbage and a silverware drawer, and the other is drawers all the way down. So that helpped us address the drawer problem for less moulah. The island is in shaker style to match the exsisting cabinets, and I plan to paint the island eventually, so the color doesn't really matter. When I get the painting done it will look a little like this:

I've always liked the painted counter look, and it breaks up some of the heavy woody-ness. Lighten and brighten! (The lone pretty picture is from here.)

Last of all, we replaced the pot rack light fixture with three smaller lights. I made sure to pick something with a high wattage that allowed light to shine up onto the ceiling. I was, quite frankly, shocked by what a difference this one change made, not only to the amount of light, but also the feel of the room! I guess I hadn't realized how much visual space the old light fixture took up, but as soon as I saw the room without it, I could hardly believe how HUGE the kitchen looked!

While we had everything ripped apart, my sister and I also took off the old wall paper and border. That was scary looking. I was really afraid I had made a big mistake! There were scraps of at least five different papers on the wall, from about 1910 to the 1980s, and they were not going to come off nicely. Interesting for the historian, but it presented a bit of a challenge to get from there to nice, clean looking walls again. But we did it, and we'll go into that with our pretty "After" pictures.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll go peek in my kitchen just to remind myself that it's all better now . . .