Sunday, June 27, 2010

Caught in the act

As it turns out, Luke is not the only one in the household who's a fan of Ryobi power tools.

Is this the face of guilt, or what?

She didn't feel guilty for long...

Luke wasn't around when this happened, or he would have shoo'ed her out immediately while grumbling about cat hair. I, however, was quick to grab the camera instead. :) As far as I'm concerned, this is what he gets for leaving his tools around the house, no?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Guest Bedroom: Please, come in

After painting the walls, painting some fugly furniture, rearranging, and tinkering, our guest bedroom is finally open for business! Just to refresh your memory, here’s the before:

The walls were kind of an aqua color, which was fine, but it’s the same color as the other two bedrooms in the house, so I wanted something different. This room was essentially used as a storage room for extra college furniture and odds-and-ends that didn’t have a place anywhere else in the house. Basically, it’s the room that you keep the door closed all the time so no one sees it unless they have to stay there.

One “powder blue” incident and a coat of Valspar Metropolis later, we had a gray room. Much better already! It’s kind of a chameleon gray that has a bluish tinge in certain lighting. I think it’s a very calm, soothing color. Perfect for a guest room, right?

And now, I present to you the done-enough-for-now after:
I bought the dark gray “blackout” curtain for the large north window last year, because it gets drafty and also lets a lot of light in. Now the room stays nice and dark in the mornings, although I don’t know if it’s really helping that much as an insulator.

Unfortunately, the east window still has the oh-so-lovely “temporary” paper shade – the same kind that currently covers most of the other windows in our house. And yes, we’ve had all these shades for over two years now. Oy…yet another project on the list… but I digress.

I found this queen bedding set on sale at Target for only $65!

I decorated with a few accents, which I either grabbed from other rooms in the house or found at Goodwill/garage sales (more on those some sweet finds some other time). Other than a couple pops of orange and blue, the room is primarily gray and white. Ideally, there would be something on the big empty wall above the dresser, but I haven’t figured that out yet. Maybe it’ll be a DIY art project someday. There is a vanity mirror that attaches to the dresser, but I didn’t like how it looked, so I nixed it. 

Although it’s an eyesore, I kept our old 13" TV in here just so guests have the option of watching a little tube in bed. (Except we only have a few channels on our limited cable, so this is certainly not high up on the amenity list.)

Bedroom budget breakdown:
Wall paint (Valspar Metropolis) - $30
Furniture – free from neighbor
Furniture paint (Valspar Satin White latex enamel and Rustoleum Crystal Clear Gloss) - $20
Bedding from Target - $65
Curtain - $50
Accents – Under $10

Total: About $175

So there you have it! I could spend a lot more time and money decorating in here, but considering we have overnight guests only a handful of times a year, it’s probably not worth the effort right now. The main thing is that I don’t have to keep this room an ugly, hidden secret anymore. In fact, I find myself wandering in here every once in awhile just to gaze around and pat myself on the back.

This is my first major room “re-do” in the house, so I’d love to know what you think. And if you have any other (inexpensive) decorating suggestions, lemme hear ‘em!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Today I made...

It's been a pretty productive Saturday, and it's only noon! This morning I woke up at 6:30 to go to the farmers market (where I picked up our usual tomatoes and giant cucumbers), came back to pull some weeds (thrilling), and did some housecleaning (double thrilling).

Somewhere in there I also found myself kind of bored and craving something sweet (which is not out of the ordinary for me). Ihad some coconut and white chocolate chips I wanted to use up, so I found a recipe for Coconut Oatmeal Cookies at All Recipes (thank goodness for the ingredient search!). I also used my brand new--and might I add, quite lovely--measuring cups that I won from Mrs. Chic's giveaway!

Before - gooey goodness

After - crispy, chewy, and coconutty

I finally upgraded recently from my measly single cooling rack to this new space-saving, 3-tiered rack. (By the way, this recipe made more like 4 dozen, not 2 dozen like it says.)

Anyway, the cookies are very sweet and very dee-licious. Next time I'd probably try them with regular chocolate chips for something different. There's nothing quite like a glass of cold milk with a warm cookie right out of the oven, am I right people? Luke probably won't eat many of them, because he has a "thing" about coconut and its texture (I, on the other hand, love coconut). Did I take this into consideration when I chose the recipe? You betcha. :)

On a completely unrelated note, I'm also excited to say that I think I'll be ready to reveal our made-over guest bedroom this week! Woot woot!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Currently in progress...

These clay pavers (all 750 of them)

are going here (next to our limestone border):

Luke has been working diligently on our sidewalk every chance he gets, and it's coming along really well -- just a little slow (because he's really anal, which is a good thing in this case). I'm hoping for a full reveal in the next few weeks... but for now -- because I just can't help myself -- here is the sneak preview!

 I can't freakin' wait til it's done!!!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

One down, two to go.

Well, I did it. I've already managed to kill one of the house plants I bought earlier this spring. I'd never really had a real house plant before, so I thought I'd "branch out" (ha) and give it a try. I bought three on a whim when they were on sale at Lowe's.

I watered them enough to keep the soil damp, but tried to avoid over-watering them. I even found some pretty pots for them at Tuesday Morning (only $10 each!). I thought, surely I can manage to keep them alive. How hard can it be?

Apparently, pretty hard.

Here's what this Cordyline plant looked like in its glory days. As you can see, it boasted lush, glossy, green foliage with tinges of reddish-purple. This one was Luke's favorite.

The little tag on it said it needed "high light" and to be fertilized every other month. I set it in our dining room, which I thought had enough light when our patio blinds were open. I also recently bought some fertilizer from the garden center to be mixed in with its water, but that was probably too little too late. By then, the damage had already been done.

Over the past couple of weeks, Cordyline seemed to be losing more and more color, and some of its leaves would fall off at the slightest touch. Earlier this week, I thought foolishly that maybe if I set it out in the sunlight for a few hours, it would magically be revived. Well, a stiff breeze blew off half of its brittle leaves, leaving behind this sad sight:

R.I.P. Cordyline (Sorry, Luke.)

However, after further inspection of the original plastic pot, I saw some gross little wormy insects coming out of the holes in the bottom. Not the earthworm variety. The creepy-crawly kind with legs. Disgusting. I don't know if this is normal or not, but I do know that I don't want this in my house anymore.

As for the other two survivors, a Mass Cane and an Anita, they may meet their fate under my watch soon, too. Mass Cane is also started to look a little wilted and it's getting a couple brown leaves. Only Anita, which says "high light or low light," seems to be faring far.

I'm not sure exactly where I went wrong, or if it was a combination of factors that contributed to Cordyline's untimely death. Maybe I'm just not cut out for house plants, and I can accept that.

Honestly, after seeing those worms, I'm not sure that I care if the other two plants live much longer or not. I also think that the plants have been the source of some annoying fruit fly-like insects that started appearing around the time we brought them home. Coincidence?  I think not.

See? This is why I stick to the fake stuff.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Making a splash in the master bath

Remember our boring master bathroom?  Here's a quick refresher of what it looked like up until recently:

Actually, that was a photo taken right when we moved in -- before we started using the soaker tub as a place to drape clothes and collect dust bunnies.

In an effort to spruce up the bathroom a bit, I bought some vinyl wall lettering at Hobby Lobby back in February (yes, that's right, February). I'd always wanted to see if these things would work on our textured walls, and since it was half off, I figured it was a good time to try it out!

Here's a close-up of our textured walls. The instructions claimed that the "vinyl lettering can be applied to most non-porous smooth or semi-smooth surfaces. You may find some difficulty applying vinyl lettering to ... painted surfaces in which flat paint was used, or heavily textured walls."

My beautification plan also involved having some sort of decorative shelf below the phrase, to give it some weight and fill up the wall more. So I found two super-cheap brackets at a "damaged freight" store that also carried lots of hardware (discontinued, I'm guessing). These wouldn't be my first choice if money was no object, but they were good quality, and they've since grown on me a little.

Then, work got crazy busy and my brackets and vinyl words sat on the edge of the tub until just last week, when I finally had the time and motivation to get this project started (and finished).

After I decided where I wanted the shelf, I drilled the brackets into the wall (with Luke's help). I did use wall anchors, since we didn't hit the studs, and both the brackets and shelf were pretty heavy. We have a bunch of random wood in our garage that we've acquired from various sources, so it was no problem to find a piece for Luke to cut to the size I wanted. I just slapped a few coats of white paint on it (plus a clear gloss coat) and it was ready to go.

Now I just needed my words! So I got out the level, marked up the wall to get the positioning, and proceeded to see if the vinyl letters would stick to the textured surface. The words come with an "applicator," which is essentially a small piece of plastic, to smooth the vinyl over the wall. But it took a little extra work with my fingers to smooth them over and push them into the tiny grooves in the wall. They still don't lay completely flat, but you can't really tell unless you get up close.

The shelf doesn't really serve a functional purpose, so I searched the house for a couple of decorative items to place on it. I ended up with a cylinder vase filled with sand and some shells that Luke brought back from his trip to Europe, a couple of beach chair photo frames with photos from our honeymoon, and some recycled glass tealight holders. I might switch things up every once in awhile, but this works for now.
Lazy Alert: I haven't even screwed the shelf onto the brackets; I just set it on top of them. Aside from being lazy, I figure if I ever want to re-use the shelf for something else, it won't have holes in it. That's my excuse and I'm stickin' to it.
Phoebe approves. And hopefully she doesn't try to jump onto the shelf.

Cost of project:
Vinyl lettering - $12.50
Brackets - $6
Shelf - already had wood on hand
Paint - already had on hand from the guest room furniture
Decorative items - already had on hand

Total - about $18.50

Now when I wake up and go into our bathroom for my morning routine, it's nice being able to look at something besides a blank wall. I think this adds a little bit of fun and whimsy. Who knows, maybe it will even encourage us to actually use our soaker tub for what it was intended for! And if not, hopefully it will at least make me want to keep it nice and clean (sans clothes and dust bunnies).

I'm kind of digging the vinyl wall lettering, too. I might even put another phrase or two somewhere else in our house. Anyone else use these?


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