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 . . .

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Iris: Country-fied and Textural

I've been so excited to discover that my new yard houses not two, not three, but four different kinds of iris! Better yet, they bloom with each variety slightly overlapping the one before, - I think my iris season will last for a good month!

With the first batch, I wanted to put together something big with lots of green and texture, playing the elegance of the irises (and my china pattern) off the rustic wildflowers (weeds) and the informality of a pitcher.

Thanks to the roadside and my yard, I have lots of wild goodies to clip. I have no idea what these weeds are (above), but aren't they cute? They turn from green to yellow over the course of the summer. 

The smell was wonderful too. How come nobody waxes lyrical over the fragrence of irises? This variety had a bright, fresh smell that was both spicy and sweet. Believe me, they have been well enjoyed!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Blooming Things

Can you tell I've been on a flower kick lately? ;-)

Usually my hobbies come in phases. I'll be into one thing for a while, then spend my free time delving into something else (or a few other things) before coming back around to the first again. Last year, with lots of paint and fabric choices to be made, it was interior decorating. This spring, being more or less low on either funds or energy needed for most house projects, I'm back into flowers.

I loved making this lush arrangement of lilac, virginia bluebells, flowering almond and rhododendron leaves. I wasn't sure how it would turn out without any large "focal flowers", but bunching the flower types and greenery together seemed to work well, and the smell was amazing!

I also made a bouquet out of the leftovers, just for the fun of trying it! It followed me around the house so I could enjoy smelling it now and again. I love simple luxuries that don't cost anything, and lilacs certainly qualify! Sugar Muffin had a few weddings with it too.

I've given myself permission to play around with flowers as much as I can for now, because once this pretty little blossom arrives in late summer . . .

. . . I'll have my hands full just getting supper on the table, let alone flowers!

Friday, May 1, 2015

From the Yard and, um, Rubbish Heap

I'm still having fun with the tulips, although they are fast coming to an end. While the orange tulips are from the cheery border around the front porch, I found these yellow ones growing in a rubbish heap in the middle of the north tree line.

I just couldn't leave them out there to languish unseen! Besides, it was a chance to play with my new flower frog. What a game changer! Everything actually stays where you put it! I know that's the point of a frog, but I just didn't realize what a difference it would make. It was so much fun to use!

Anyway, here are my rescued tulips with pear blossom, chive buds, intrusive maple saplings and various ornamental weeds. :-)