Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Great Giveaway

I really, really love the blog Dreamy Whites.
Right now there is a great Christmas giveaway going on over there, go check it out!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Embarassing Moment

First of all I have to explain that my 3-year-old daughter is what Seinfeld would call a "loud talker." Seriously, she doesn't talk, she yells. Even when she's standing right next to you. In fact, lately I've begun to wonder if she may have a hearing issue because she talks so loudly all the time!
So anyway, here is the conversation we had in the feminine hygiene aisle of Target today as I was innocently trying to purchase some maxi pads:
Little Gal (very loud voice)- ARE THOSE DIAPERS!?!
me (softly)- No, they're not diapers.
me- Shh, yes they're for moms.
LG (even louder)- ARE THEY FOR YOU!?!
me (in a low, non attention seeking voice)- Yes, they're for me, shhh.
LG (full on yell)- ARE THEY FOR YOUR BUM!?!
me- Shhh, honey please don't say that so loudly.
LG (yelling loudly)- I SAID ARE THEY FOR YOUR BUM!!??!!!
Oh, my heavens. That was embarassing.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Long Lost Quilt

This quilt isn't actually long lost at all, I just didn't know where the photos of it were. I just found them in a random folder.

I made this for my sister in law for Christmas last year. I finished stitching the binding on it about 10 minutes before my in-laws left for the airport to take it home with them when they were here in October last year. I was pretty proud of myself for finishing it so early! (since you know I've been known to spend my Christmas eve's finishing up binding- and even giving a quilt with unfinished binding) My sister in law has a really cool style and loves colors that I would never pick for myself, but I do think they look great together. I wasn't sure how I would do a quilt for her that would suit her funky and modern/retro style but when I saw this fabric I knew it would be perfect. I forget the name of it but it's by Sanae by Moda. I used this very simple pattern called the Scruffly Quilt from the Moda bakeshop and it really did go quickly. I started one for myself too which is about half done. I recommend this if you want to do a quick quilt without a lot of cutting. I may be doing a quilting project or two this year, but we'll see if I have time. Right now I don't even know where my sewing machine is and the craft room is far from set up!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Fall Decor Details

-I stitched this little pumpkin embroidery onto muslin a couple of years ago. These stick pumpkins are from Target, although it was a couple of years ago. I usually buy seasonal decor after the holiday when stuff is 50-75% off, and I'm sure that's when I bought these. The little fabric pumpkins were made by me a few years ago.

I took so many pictures when I was photographing the living room that I thought I'd share a few more of them! I had a lot of fun breaking out the fall decor this year and using some of the antiques and things I've been collecting for a while. It also kind of hides the fact that I'm not really done decorating the room and there's nothing on the walls yet.

-I love this striped mini gourd. I tried to keep the colors on the mantle more to the whites and browns with just a little touch of orange.
I really like to decorate with items from nature like pinecones, acorns, leaves and things like that. I also like to use items that can stay out all year round, like buckets, pitchers, and things that are pretty neutral. That way I can just rotate what goes in them to change for the season. I bought this ruffled white cake plate at Homegoods a while ago, and just piled it up with some white squash, acorns, and some other really cool spiky seed thingies that I collected last year.

-The viney looking pumpkins on the mantle are from Target dollar section this year.

Remember the little mini pots that I saw when in a Brewster shop we were at the Cape in the summer? They weren't for sale but I really loved them. A couple of months later I saw some similar ones at Whiteflower Farmhouse and bought a few of them. Apparently they are made from zinc and they are old sap buckets, just a mini size. I filled the top one with dirt and then "planted" some moss from my yard on top of it, then sat one of my mini white pumpkins on top.

I bought the tall, galvanized metal pail on the hearth from Whiteflower Farmhouse also, as well as this white sap bucket in the photo below.
Note: WFF is located on Long Island and I'd really, really love to make a pilgrimmage there someday. To visit the shop, but also because it looks like such a beautiful area, and I've never been to Long Island at all before.
 I bought the black metal coal holder- I think it was called a "coal hod" back in the old days- when I went antiquing in Portland, Maine last February. (note to self- don't go to Maine in the winter when it's freezing cold again!) I just filled it with some firewood I already had. 

-old white sap bucket with grocery store mums plunked inside. Little fabric pumpkin made by me :)

I just love old windows and couldn't pass this one up when I saw it sitting out on the curb waiting to be sent to the landfill. I always think it's kind of sad to see original old windows like this going into the trash and feel like they should be rescued. Instead of "old windows destined for the trash" you can call it "architectural salvage." This window has more panes that are smaller than usual and a great old crackled finish. I always think it's funny when I see these for sale in antique or junk shops because with all the old houses that are being renovated all the time around here you can always find them if you're willing to stop and pick them up.

-Safety note about old windows: Because of worry about lead paint, I only use windows as decor in high places where little hands can't reach. I also clean them well first to make sure there isn't any dust from the window floating around.
I already had this grapevine wreath and I just hung my Indian corn I bought at Wilson's Farm in Lexington from it with a strip of burlap.

These BOO letters and other wooden Halloween shape thing are from one of my favorite places ever- Gardner Village in Midvale, Utah. I just love that place and really miss being able to visit the shops there. When I'm in Utah, that is a must-stop place for me. I always find something in their big Country Furniture and Gifts store, not to mention the Pineneedles quilt store.

 I have a bit of an addiction to dressers. This one is kind of rickety and isn't really fit for everyday use as clothes storage, but I love having all that drawer storage in other parts of the house for miscellaneous stuff.  O For fall, I tend to decorate with mainly things that can stay up through November, like lots of pumpkins, instead of stuff that is really Halloween specific. I don't really like spooky Halloween decor for my house, it kind of just creeps me out. I saw lots of blogs using those fake black crows for decoration in October but even though I think they look kind of cool and were used cleverly in other people's houses, I don't think I'd want a creepy black bird staring at me at night in my house- even if it's fake!

I bought these "Fall" wooden blocks at Deseret Book in St. George, UT the last time we went there for Thanksgiving, which was a couple of years ago.

Maybe my all time favorite fall decor are these three little pumpkins in front of the window on the mantle. I bought them at Wilson's Farm the first year that we moved here- 5 years ago! I really love them. They're not wood or ceramic, I actually have no idea what they're made of, but they're heavy.

This is a Red Wing crock that I bought from the Faded Prarie etsy shop. I know people collect these, they have different numbers and sizes and things but I don't know too much about them except that the company has been around for a long time and is located in Red Wing, Minnesota.

Well, there you have it. I can't believe that in a couple of weeks it will be time to put all this away and start bringing out the Christmas stuff!

Living Room Before and After- The Short Version

Our new Living Room:
Living room before pic:
Another view of the new living room and used but new to me couch with Miss Mustard Seed pillows:

I love the big bank of windows above the couch. It adds nice architectural detail and lots of light.
Here's a closeup of the mantle:
The fireplace and mantle is my other favorite feature of the room. Here is the whole fireplace wall:

Here's a closeup of what the fireplace looked like before the many coats of paint it received!

What we did:

-stripped all the wallpaper, cleaned the gobs of yucky glue off the walls

-primed and painted everything: walls, woodwork, radiator covers, windows, ceiling (The woodwork took three coats total to cover the old, dark stain. It also had to be sanded first, so the whole process took forever!!).

-ripped up all the carpet and hired a professional to sand and refinish the existing hardwood underneath

-stripped and repainted wrought iron railing from white to black

wall paint color: Manchester Tan by Benjamin Moore

trim color- White Dove by Benjamin Moore

If you'd like more details, see my previous and much wordier post :)

Fall Living Room

So, finally I am going to show you some pictures of the new house, the one part of it that is actually finished anyway! (click on the pictures to enlarge for a better view)

Of course it's not actually finished, there are still things to do like replace some of the radiator covers, a few minor touch ups, hanging stuff on the walls, get a love seat and maybe another chair, get a new light fixture for the stairway, etc. but all the big projects in the living room are done. As we've been moving in and continuing with projects, I've tried to keep this room clean and decorated as a haven from the chaos that is all over the rest of the house!
(Feel free to just look at the photos if you're not interested in all my explanations)
So, I'll tell you a little about what we've done in here.
As you'll see in the following "before" pictures, this house was extremely out of date and even though most of the work that needed to be done was cosmetic, it was pretty extensive. What you can't see in the before photos is that this entire house was saturated in tobacco smell, plus a very heavy layer of grime, dirt and staining from the smoke, plus years of not being cleaned well, if at all. Everything in here was stained a yellowish brown- ceilings, inside of closets, cabinets, wallpaper, and we would reek of smoke just after being inside the house. Also, the woodwork throughout the house- doorframes, baseboards, windows, were all stained dark brown and we wanted it white. So, as a result, every single surface in this house- walls, ceilings, trim, inside of closet, etc. had to be primed and painted and in the case of the woodwork- 4 total coats. Let me tell you- painting windows is seriously not fun- and 4 times around is even less fun. Then they all had to be scraped, plus cleaned inside and out. I probably spent 3 weeks just priming, painting, and scraping windows in this house!

What all that adds up to is- months of painting. Before we could even begin painting we had to strip wallpaper which was in the majority of the rooms. Even the bathroom, kitchen and entry way and most of the bedrooms, and clean the walls of all the glue- which meant scrubbing every single square inch of almost every wall. Just that took almost a month alone. Ugh.

We bought Kilz primer in the big 5 gallon buckets at Home Depot, and have gone through 5 of them- 25 gallons just of primer. Sometimes I seriously wondered if we'd ever be done painting.

Here is the listing picture of the living room before. I wish this had smellavision because the picture doesn't really illustrate how bad this was. My favorite part of the living room is the fireplace. The mantle is both wide and long which makes for tons of space for decorating which I love! I also love the big wall of windows above the couch. Even though this entire house was basically a dark, dreary, smelly dungeon-like place I could see the potential that it had. I knew that we should make an offer on it as soon as we walked in the door- not because I love the layout necessarily, but because it was almost 1,000 square feet more than most of the houses we had seen in that price range, and we've got lots of people. There was no way we were going to fit our family in a 1200 square foot house. Basically, I was just looking for a place where we could all have a place to sleep, which believe me was hard to find around here. Houses are extremely expensive in our area and we had been looking off and on for over a year. I'm sure all the work scared off a lot of buyers but because we looked past that we were able to get a good sized house for less than average.
So anyway, back to the renovation. I added this next picture so you could see the walls after the wallpaper was removed. They were covered in this really gross yellowish-brown thick glue. Luckily the walls themselves were in great shape. We used hot vinegar water and scrubbed, and scrubbed,

and scrubbed some more! I should also mention that we had lots of help- hometeachers, missionaries, family, our kids, visiting teachers and other friends. We really appreciated all the help we received.
My husband came here in the mornings before work, and most nights after work, and I came some nights and we all came on the weekends. All summer I got up at 5 or 6 most mornings and worked at the house for 5 or 6 hours while the older boys babysat the younger kids.
Even though we knew the house needed work, I don't think we really knew what we were getting ourselves into as far as how long it would take and how much there was to do. We really, really worked hard. I estimate that if we had paid someone else for the work that we did it would have cost about $24,000, and really that's a low estimate of only about $15/ hour; around here probably $30/hr is more realistic. So, I guess you could say that we put almost $50,000 of sweat equity into this house!

So, besides the work we did, we also hired out some things that we weren't able to do and didn't have time to do anyway. We were very lucky that under the hideous blue carpet there were hardwood floors that were in really good shape. We ripped up all the carpet and had the floors refinished in the living room, hall, dining room and our bedroom. We also had wood put down in the kitchen where there was really ugly, broken old tile so in the kitchen and dining room, which are really just one big room, the wood flows through. The guy did an amazing job of matching the wood and you can hardly tell where the old and the new meet. It's hard to say what change had the biggest impact in this house but the wood floors might be it. That and the white woodwork. It is amazing how the white woodwork lightens up the entire house and makes it feel open, light and airy instead of closed in, dark and depressing.

So, a few decor details. Almost everything in this living room was a very thrifty, or free find, or bought at a yard sale or from a friend who was moving. This was necessary because we basically blew our budget out of the water with everything that we ended up doing to the house. The bathroom was the main cause of that. What started as a minor redo turned into a total gut job and complete bathroom reno which we hadn't planned on originally.
By the way, the wall color in here is Manchester Tan from Benjamin Moore. I could do a whole post just on paint colors and maybe sometime I will.You'd be surprised that for such a basic color there are so many variation that are so different. I know beige/tan is a boring color for a lot of people but I wanted something neutral and light in here that would go with whatever I wanted to do for all the seasons or whatever furniture we ended up with. It's really light and almost a cream.  The trim is painted White Dove by Benjamin Moore.

So, do you recognize these two pillows on the couch from anywhere? If you are a fan of Miss Mustard Seed you would, they're on her blog header!
Marian is one of my favorite decorator/bloggers, I really love her style. I had wanted some feedsack pillows and had planned to look around for some feedsacks on ebay or etsy or whatever and make my own. Then I saw these on the Miss Mustard Seed blog and decided that buying some already made would be so much nicer than adding another project to my out of control project list! Marian has great taste and style and is also extremely nice. I absolutely love these pillows! The look great but I was surprised at how nice and soft they were too. She used down inserts inside and I will always use those for pillows from now on, they feel great. The only thing I'd do differently is make them with an envelope back so you could wash them.

Here is the top railing in the room that was stripped and painted. I started stripping this one day and spent 2-3 hours and had only made a small dent. Then my husband worked on it for a while and there was still so much to do. I practically cried with relief when my father in law came and took over this and some other really yucky jobs that still had to be done. By then we were exhausted and feeling pretty burnt out on the home renovation stuff. It had been a long, hard 5 months. He worked on this railing all day long for several days, probably every day for a week or more. It was such a huge help.

Here you can see the old white railing. There was a really gloppy, badly-done layer of white latex paint over the original white paint. It was streaky and didn't even really cover the whole thing. After it was stripped I used black satin spray paint to paint it. You can really see the detail of the metalwork now. Now I have to say, if I could choose any kind of railing this probably wouldn't be it, but since this is what we had to work with I was pretty happy with how it turned out.

Well, that's about all the living room info. Hopefully we will have some more rooms done and photo ready so I can show you some more soon. It's nice to finally be living in the house!


We had a fun Halloween this year and have been gorging ourselves on candy ever since! It seems like there was more than usual this year. I guess that is because Friday night we went to a tri ward trunk or treat, plus trick or treated in two neighborhoods and bought way too much candy!

Here's our little angel

Apparently HS is not too old to trick or treat because this kid went out with his friends in his cookie costume.

(just in case you couldn't tell)

It was really fun to have a house to decorate this year. The last 5 years our door was around the back and nobody could see it from the street or knew it was there to knock on. Before that, in Phoenix we didn't usually decorate the house much because we usually weren't home. Our ward usually did trunk or treating on Halloween night or we went over to my in-laws neighborhood. I liked our house in Phx but we never really loved our neighborhood.

So, even though there are boxes and unfinished house projects galore we got out the Halloween stuff to welcome the trick or treaters! There are tons of kids in our new neighborhood which is great. There is always someone outside playing and the street is a cul-de-sac, and flat, so it's really nice for bike riding. All the neighbors know eachother and most houses have kids so they kind of just roam around. There are a bunch of little boys close in age to my second grader so he is just in heaven! I love that he will stay outside for a while now instead of coming in after 10 minutes because he's bored.

On Sunday afternoon I realized that we had totally forgotten about carving pumpkins! I had bought a couple of little sugar pumpkins at the grocer store the first week of October so we made one quick Jack-o-lantern to put out.

I love this thing, it glows so bright. I think I bought it at Target and I wish I had bought more of them!

So, you might notice the uncharacteristic beer bottles on my little entry way table! Funny story about that- as we were standing in our doorway and a big group of neighbor kids were coming by, and my neighbor handed me the two beer bottles saying "Happy Halloween!" It took me a minute to realize what they were but by then they had already whizzed by to the next house. Anyway, it was a nice gesture! We kind of got a kick out of the whole thing.

So, I will also mention that I was a bit conflicted this year about the whole Trick or Treating on Sunday issue. I asked a bunch of church friends what their plans were and got mixed responses. In the end I decided to let them go, but I still didn't feel 100% great about it. That is one thing I really miss about Utah- everyone goes out on Saturday if Halloween is on a Sunday. If the 4th of July is on Sunday you know the fireworks will be scheduled for Saturday night, and it's really nice to not have to worry about that issue!
You can see a few peeks of some of the stuff we've done to the house. Like our stairs for instance. They used to be covered in hideous, tirquoise carpet with dark stained treads. They also had iron railing that was painted with a very bad white paint job. We took up the carpet, had the stairs refinished along with all the rest of the wood floors and painted the backs of the treads white. We also stripped and repainted the iron railings black, or I should say my dad-in-law spent a week and a half stripping those railings! I was so happy not to have to do that job, it was soo much work. I spray painted them black and they look so much better! You actually can't see them in this photo because one isn't reattached yet but sometime it will be done and I'll show you the transformation. My next post is going to be our new finished living room so you can finally see what we've been working on all these months!

Our neighbor across the street is a police officer and did a fun lawn decor with crime scene tape, a body and "evidence" boxes.

Hope you had a fun Halloween too!