Friday, June 24, 2011

A Brilliant Find and A Bright Idea

Recently I saw this cool room in Do It Yourself Magazine (Winter 2010 issue):

Looking closer, I noticed this really fun use of vintage light bulbs (under the coffee table) and made a mental note to self: "look for vintage light bulbs":

Last weekend, Mark and I were dumpser diving and found this (I realize now that it looks like a dinky chandalier bulb in the photo but it's about 8 inches tall):

Can you believe it wasn't broken?

On the internet, similar large light bulbs sell for $59!

Also on the internet, I found this:

These vintage light bulbs sell for $75-$150 (non-working) when mounted on wood blocks!  I could do that easy -- a little free wood, a little stain, drill a hole -- EASY!  But I'm not particularly inclined to sell.

I found this little ceramic cup I had laying around from another junking expedition and it fits perfectly and makes the perfect stand!

I also have a ceramic light socket around here somewhere.  And a clear, regular-sized incandescent light bulb could probably be found around the house.  That means I'm about to have a replica of the magazine picture.  And, if three makes a "collection", I'm only one short of a collection.  I think this is the path by which I get into trouble with collections...

Conquered the Kitchen!

This whole working mom with three jobs, three kids, four dogs, five cats, and a husband who lives in another state thing just doesn't work well for me -- especially in the kitchen where all things are made worse by a broken dishwasher and my children's continual need to eat. 

The good news is the girls have all learned, largely out of necessity, to feed themselves.  Emily is actually an extremely accomplished chef (think strawberry crepes, coconut cake with cream cheese icing, chicken tempura, biscuits and gravy, coffee cake -- that's just the highlights from this week).  The bad news is that it is not uncommon for every last plate, bowl, knife, fork, spoon, glass, pot, pan, utensil, and cookie sheet to be dirty and stacked on the kitchen counters.  (Yes, I know, the girls should help.  Take that issue up with them because I've decided to quit wasting my breath.)

I've been chipping away at it and have finally conquered the kitchen!  Three hours yesterday got me within sight of clean.  The silly thing is that I woke up this morning and thought "if I go do the last few dishes that accumulated last night, I can have ALL the dishes done and have a totally clean kitchen!" (at least until the eaters wake up) and I was actually EXCITED enough about it to get out of bed before 6:00 a.m. and head to the kitchen.  The silly things that make me happy!

Here is the "before" (as usual, sorry for my crappy photography!):

And here is the "after":

Granted, the "after" photo contains (on the left side) the back half of a cat and a pile of painting supplies headed to the garage (in addition to the last of that coconut cake -- hmmm... lunch!), but still it's clean enough to make me want to be in the kitchen again.  I'm ridiculously easy to please.

And there are side benefits as well!  I have figured out all the tricks and mastered the art of handwashing dishes (did you know a broken dishwasher is a really big drying rack with a very convenient, concealing door?).  And yesterday, with clean in sight and admonishments aplenty lingering in the air, the girls were coming up to me to report with pride that they had washed and put away their own dishes.  Pure bliss!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tesakiah's Room

I wrote a piece on this blog a while back called "The Hoarder's Revenge".  This post could be the second installment of that.  I may have too much stuff (COOL stuff, I might add!) but I love that I can give a room a whole new personality using stuff I already have! Surely that disqualifies me from the "Hoarder" category?  Maybe it gets me into the "Creative and Well-Supplied" category?  Or at least JUSTIFIES my stuff somehow?  Maybe?

Yesterday I said to Tessa, "I have the whole afternoon, what should I work on around here?"  She suggested that I work on the living room. But then she caught me sweeping the kitchen.  To which I replied, "I can almost guarantee you that I WON'T end up cleaning the living room today because that's now what I'm SUPPOSED to do!"

Sure enough, I ended up in Tessa's room.  I'm not sure exactly how I ended up in Tessa's room.  But, hey!  Whatever works!  Oh!  I remember.  I found a set of bed risers that we had been waiting to have turn up (yeah, I know, "what are bed risers doing lost in the living room?", I know).  We went up to raise the bed and ended up staying!

Here's is Tessa's beautiful room:

A couple of months ago we painted her walls.  For too long they had been the lovely shade of "Sailcloth" that the builder painted them for 15 years and it was time for more color.  Tessa chose a color called "Running Trout Stream" (Target, $8.11) which Emily describes as  "I told you not to feed Papa Smurf dynamite!"(she cracks me up!).  I was worried about the color at first but it turned out to be absolutely PERFECT!
Tessa had apple green curtains so we went with that color combination for a while.  Then we noticed how good butter yellow looked with the teal blue.  And white was always good contrast.  We had already painted Tessa's vintage bed white with some free paint that had come along.  But finally, the whole thing came together in a way I hadn't anticipated.
The hydrangea print comforter from Simply Shappy Chic (Target) came to us for free.  I would never have thought to put the pale blue comforter with the teal blue wall but it works!  The green and white stripe dust ruffle (also Simply Shabby Chic) that pulls on the green color from the hydrangea leaves I bought on clearance many years ago and had in the linen closet -- along with the ruffled accent pillows (also Simply Shabby Chic -- I'm sensing a trend!).  The pink sitting pillow was also free and coordinates perfectly!

We made the  chalk board frame out of some leftover moulding from an old construction project (from back when I got to renovate and flip houses) and painted the interior wall space with black board paint that I also had around.

The white shelf came from the garage -- a $2 Salvation Army buy.  The white plates used to be in Emily's bathroom.  They were 99 cents each.  The ribbon came off a gift.
We also painted the doll house with the free white paint.  Poor Tessa!  Her dollhouse has been unfinished and unpainted for the last 8 years.  BAD Mommy!  I think it looks very farmhouse-like and church-like now that it is white.  Someday we'll add some color to it but, for now, it coordinates with our use of white for contrast! 

The green dresser and a wicker laundry hamper will be painted a peachy pink color picked up from the hydrangeas.  And we are dreaming of ruffled white curtains ($32 each from Simply Shabby Chic, of course, like the accent pillows on the bed) for the window and closet openning.  I'll have to find a way to come up with those!  But aren't they pretty?

I've got the perfect lamp and the perfect lampshade to go on it too! Just gotta dig up that lampshade or remember which house I staged with it. Hmmm...

Last night I wandered into Tessa's room and found this message:

If you can't read it, it says: The spot on the wall where all the random junk
 my mom hates shall be hung when I finally get around it it".

Ugh!  She's gonna put all that junk (that I took down to de-clutter her wall) back up!  But, at least now it will all be contained inside the pretty white frame!  Maybe she'll never get around to it!

For now, we are so happy with the room that we both keep having to go up and look at and admire it frequently. That's the best part! That and the fact that yesterday's transformation didn't cost a penny!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Little Work In Progress


No excuses or explanations about not having posted in ages.  I'll spare you.  Just a few pics of what I'm up to at the moment in the Fayetteville house. 

I'm supposed to be cleaning the house for Sara-Grace's birthday sleepover this coming weekend.  So, of course, I find myself overhauling rooms instead!  I am bad.

In contemplating why I do these things, I have come to two conclusions:

1.  There is something wrong with my brain.  I can never do what I'm supposed to be doing but I get lots of other things done instead (I call this "rebellious productivity").  For this reason, I usually just follow my muse and work wherever I find myself.  This is great until there's a deadline.

2. I don't know how to do regular maintenance cleaning.  I can do huge overhauls and I can microclean (think toothbrush and toothpicks in the crevices) but I can't seem to do that daily June Cleaver stuff right.  Then I realized:  my mother had a bad back and a maid.  {Lula was very dear to me.  She worked for our family from the time I was in kindergarten until I was close to 40.  She made the best grilled cheese sandwiches ever!}  My grandmother had a maid.  My step-mother had a mail (actually, TWO!).  My birthmother had a maid.  Somehow I never learned how to be my own maid.  Don't get me wrong, I can sweep and mop and scrub toilets.  I have cleaned houses for a living at times.  I just don't know how to merge that into MY house and my regular life.  "The cobbler's children have no shoes" and all that!

One of my favorite memories from my grade school years was coming home from school to find a room rearranged.  It was like entering a bright, exciting, shiny new world.  It also meant my mother, who was often not well, felt good for a change.  It was magical to me!  So I learned to rearrange because the excitement of it was just so captivating!

A friend and I were once debating her tendency to have one to two items on each shelf vs. my tendency to pack all kinds of cool stuff into shelves.  She asked me, "When do you dust?"  I grasped around for an answer and realized that I didn't have one!  I finally figured it out though:  I dust when I rearrange!  Then you can really do a thorough job!  She thinks I'm crazy.  She's probably right!

Recently, I found myself in my "library" -- the enlarged landing space at the top of the stairs.  I think I just went in there to put something away.  But this (the photo above) is what happened (so sorry for my sucky photos):

The horrific "before".

This space started out as the library (because of all the shelves, of course).  When Sara-Grace was born, until we built her a room, it was the nursery.  It's also been the exercise room (the exercise bike and the stair climber are still in there, unfortunately, for lack of other alternatives). 

Most recently, it's been "the beast den".  The dogs had taken over the love seat that was up against the window which was both a great place for a comfy nap and a good vantage point for barking one's head off at anyone who walked on our street - or even just a passing stray leaf.  This didn't end up being a pretty thing for the love seat which is no longer fit for man nor beast. 

Recently, I've been thinking of making the library into my writing room.  I've had fantasies of gazing out the window and typing away on my computer.  Seems like a great place and a great way to start my days!

This is the view.  Not bad, huh?

I was planning to build a tall, wide, shallow desk out of old chippy white boards.  I still might.  I want that kind of old-fashioned farmhouse rusticity to it.  So I was waiting for a fateful convergence of boards and time. But then it dawned on me that the two nightstands I had loitering around were the right height and could hold a desk top.  Nuf said!  I'm still waiting to find the right desktop but, for now, a couple of boards will suffice. 
One of said boards even sports that oval STP motor oil sticker that EVERY boy had somewhere in his room when I was a kid.  If you know a boy who didn't, you're either not of my era or you grew up on the moon!  I LOVE this nostalgia!

The rattan barstool takes me back to my grandmother's kitchen.  Grandmother had one of these at either end of her kitchen island.  My sister, Katie, and I used to make her crazy spinning on them.  We had GREAT fun!  This is not one of her's, I found it at a thrift store, but I forget that when I look at it!

The designer in me lost the battle in this space.  The sentimental clutterbug won!  Most of the content of the room is sentimental childhood junk:  my dolls and stuffed animals, my heart collection (I was born on Valentine's Day), my diplomas and awards, kid's ceramics from several decades, Emily's dollhouse, even a couple of my mother's toys.

A ceramic heart pin and a quilted heart -- tied into frames with ribbon.

That nakey doll's clothes are around somewhere!  Waiting for them to turn up!

The three ceramic animals that were in the room a slept in in my grandmother's house when I was a kid -- now guarding the Shakespeare collection.

This area measures 19' x 10'.  It felt like half that until yesterday.  Now it feels twice a big.  But it's still documentation of my clutterbug tendencies!  Oh well!  I go back and forth on painting the bookshelves white.  I'd prefer them to be white but it's SO hard to do a good paint job on bookcases.  Not like I have time anyway!

When Katie and I were little, my grandparents traveled extensively.  They brought us dolls from all over the world.  These barrister bookcases corral the doll collection that also includes my mother's childhood collection of storybook dolls and some of my daughters' dolls as well -- three generations of dolls!  I was thinking of painting the cabinet white and putting some nicely-folded and ribbon-tied Martha Stewartesque linens in it.  But maybe not.  Maybe it's fine just the way it is!

I LOVE the vintage bird cage, bird print, and ceramic bird on top of the cabinet!
Close-up of the doll collection.

I love collecting old painted stools!

Even Wishy the cat likes it!