Friday, November 22, 2013

ReStore Score

Sometimes when you buy something awesome for a great price, you just have to show it off.

These fixtures were $5 each at ReStore. With some black spray paints and new glass panels (hopefully they wont be too expensive) these bad boys will look like new. 

That is all, carry on.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Festivus Miracle.

Technically speaking, it's not Festivus yet, but this really was a miracle of sorts.

After I wrote about my camera troubles, I decided to try the very last SD card at my disposal. The camera had given me the CHR/CHA error with 3 different SD cards, so I didn't have much faith.

Wouldn't you know it? The fourth card was the charm!

So I bring you some scenes from my dining room. First up, the old hutch.

I'm sorry, but I have to tell you this story. 

I saw the hutch back in April on craigslist. This was the photo provided. Looking at the picture, you can see a lot of other stuff. Bags, boxes, etc. I dismissed this, thinking that all of those things had recently come out of the hutch, and that's why they were placed haphazardly around it. Hold your hats dear readers, this is a good one.

The woman promised to give me the hutch for $65 after I (somewhat misleadingly) told her it was for our first house. I assumed that her "I remember my first house" attitude made her an older woman. False. 

My Dad and I drove out to Bristol (a 50 minute ride) and found a young Mom at the door in a flannel shirt and... oh my God, is she not wearing any pants? Oh, wait... she is just wearing tan shorts. Ok, thank God. 

"I forgot that you were coming today" she said, inviting us inside... into her Hoarder's Paradise. She secured some dogs in the kitchen out of the way, while one of her kids showed me his toy. I thought I saw a chicken out of the corner of my eye, and I started freaking out a little. 

Bringing us into the dining room, I learned that the "stuff" was probably never inside the hutch, she just lived in a pig pen. (Disclaimer: I don't think there were actual pigs, but I didn't see the whole house). A small cat walked in between my legs, and I relaxed a little bit. "it was just a cat!" I thought to myself, "chickens in the house with dogs would never work." And I laughed at my foolishness. 

As it turned out, the hutch was in great shape, aside from some dog teeth marks on one of the corners, nothing that I couldn't fix. So I gladly handed over my $65 and we got to the Herculean task of getting the hutch into my Dad's truck. 

Did you notice that I never, ever, ever ask my husband to do these tasks?

The hutch did not separate. It was one solid piece that weighed about a thousand pounds. There was a lot of grunting, shifting and shimmying that went into getting that bad boy into the truck - and it required all 3 of us to do it. About 30 minutes after we arrived, we were set to go. 

After a round of laughs, I said "Dad, did you see the cat at first? I thought it was a chicken!" 

"It was a chicken! There were 3 of them in the other room!" He responded, completely befuddled. 

"Can you imagine how Dan would have reacted if I brought him to do this?" I asked, right before buying him lunch, a few beers, and putting gas in his truck.

Since we were moving soon, I left the hutch in my parents garage and promised I would return for it at some point. Luckily, we had plenty of strapping young men to load and unload it at the new house. 

I don't want to make this story any longer than it already is, so I'll wrap it up by saying this: the adventure of getting the hutch was nothing compared to the amount of work required to refinish it. Fortunately, I was finally able to hook up our paint gun (the Heavens opened and Angels sang) so the paint job went quickly. 

Here she is now:

I picked a greyish blue from Sherwin Williams called "Mineral Deposit". I'm really pleased with the outcome, it shows off my white serving pieces and dishes well, and I think it will blend with the "linen white" trim color that I inherited with this house.

I did mess around with the arrangement of the dishes when I first set it up, but I'm still working on it. I think I might need to add some additional color or pattern (with fabric or paper) to the back of the cabinets to make the dishes pop a little bit more.

The Mr. was quite pleased when I completed this project, because it meant I could finally unpack the dining room boxes that had spent the entire summer just hanging out. And I was happy because I noticed that the color of the hutch is a pretty close replica to the plates we used at our wedding. Subconscious color selection, for the win.

Like I said, the arranging needs work, but at least it all fits... sort of.

And now, without further delay - check out the chandelier!

There is still a ton of work to be done in this room, but hey - now we have the light to be able to do it!
  • Paint dark brown wood trim "linen white"
  • Paint walls: color suggestions needed!
  • Hang blue and white plates from the wedding collection
  • Curtains!
  • New (to me) dining set?
  • Get my Dad to finish patching the ceiling and wall (this should probably take top priority)
What do you think? I know, you're too excited about the camera being fixed to care about anything else. You're not alone.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Camera Disaster

A few weeks ago, I tried to bring my camera with me on a bike ride. I wanted to show you the true colors of autumn on running trail. But then... absolute and utter terror struck me when I got an error. CHR/CHA Error. My camera now refuses to accept all of my memory cards. I don't know what is going on, but its not good.

I'm going to take it down to the Camera Shop in Colchester and have them examine it. There are two possible best-case scenarios here...

1. It is easily (and cheaply) fixed.
2. It is dead beyond dead / it is going to cost so much to fix that I might as well ask Santa for a new, shiny D3200. Not that I have thought about this before or anything...

So realistically, worst-case scenario is that is it fixable, but it will cost somewhere between $150 and $350 to repar, and it will take weeks to get back. Naturally, this scenario is what I think is most likely to occur.

Either way, consider it my best excuse for not sharing anything lately. I've got things to show you, really I do... but with a picture like the one below (taken using my extremely old and outdated phone) you understand why I'm just keeping quiet instead.

This is my failed attempt at trying to show you my new chandelier.

Wish me luck friends!

Friday, October 18, 2013

An Experiment

I'm not really into science. Never have been, probably never will be - but I do occasionally take interest in "how things work". I've also noticed that I have a growing desire to learn about stuff, maybe its because no one is forcing education down my throat anymore. Maybe its because I'm finally an adult? Whatever the case may be, I am conducting a botany experiment.

Growing up, I had a friend whose father was a Botanist at ECSU. I remember thinking to myself, "does it get more boring than the science of plants?" The answer is an unequivocal "yes." There are a ton of things far less interesting than plants. My desire to learn about plants is a fairly recent one - I'll credit the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and their Orchid Daze. A young guy who was at the exhibit the same time as my friend Dr. Amy and I, mentioned the book "The Orchid Thief". I read it and suddenly found myself interested in this wild world of plants.

Around the same time, we moved to our new place where I discovered a beautiful magnolia tree. I don't know anything about magnolias, so it really astonished me that this thing had so many different stages of pods and seeds and flowers. After the big, floppy flowers came and went, I began to notice the sprouting of pickle-like pods. Green and bumpy, the pickle pods began to turn pink, then red in late August/early September. A few days ago, I walked by to check on the pods and they had started to open, revealing orange red seeds.

Floppy Flowers
Pickle pod (not exactly the same as mine, but you get the idea)
Pink/Red Pickle Pod (also not an Elizabeth)
After some serious googling this morning, I have learned a lot about magnolias, including the fact that my "yellow magnolia" is actually called a Magnolia 'Elizabeth' and was created in Brooklyn in 1967. I also stumbled upon a page about growing magnolias from seed. Hence the big experiment.

So I've harvested my seeds, and am soaking them now. Then I will have to "winter" them over and plant next spring. What do you think, can I do it? Can I keep them alive? Anyone want to take bets?

my pods and seeds

soaking the seeds

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Remodel in a Day

Occasionally I like to take a short stroll down memory lane and see or read about some of my ideas from a few months or years ago. This provides a snapshot of what I was thinking at the time, what I found important and what is trendy... well, trendy is a relative term - I'm more of a traditionalist with "fashion" and decor. Plus I've come to find that I want a trend before it's a trend (does anyone remember me searching for botanical prints like 8 months ago?) and then I give up on those searches about a week before its in every store.

Anyway, what I have noticed with our current house is that I am constantly changing my mind about remodeling, paint colors, furniture, etc. So I thought it might be fun (mostly for me... you're all just along for the ride) to take a minute to document my "remodel in a day" from time to time. 

If I could remodel in a single day, without it costing me a penny - these are the things I would do today.

1. Add a chandelier to my dining room. It's really weird not having a light in there.... This is the "graham" from Pottery Barn. I actually ordered it yesterday after going to the site to find the picture below. So consider this first point as "hey, we are really doing this"

2. While we are on the subject of the dining room, I'd really like to build a custom farmhouse table. I have my eye on a few barn boards currently gathering dust in the "basement" of my Grandparent's barn in Maine. I love the look of worn wood, and I am really into chunky table legs right now so I think something like this table (Restoration Hardware) would be wonderful.

3. I really do think its silly to have two places to eat. A dining room and and breakfast nook seem redundant to me - and its a tremendous waste of space. So today, I am thinking it would be kinda cool to turn the eat-in space in the kitchen into some sort of sitting/hearth area. Because let's face it, there is no such thing as "too many fireplaces"

via BHG

via BHG

or maybe we could just have a seating area without the fireplace... It's really nice to sit on a comfy seat while someone is at work in the kitchen. Its great for talking AND working at the same time. 

via Lonny
4. While we are talking about fireplaces, I think you should know that I NEED one on the back porch... and if we're doing work on the back porch, let's go ahead and screen that sucker in. Can you say "sanctuary"?
This house was featured in the Wall Street Journal. It's valued at $2.5 mill - with that gorgeous porch, I believe it.
5. Another thing I'm really into right now is the whole "separate but equal" vanity concept. I despise the big clunky vanities. Yes, they are useful when it comes to storage, but they remind me of a mini-van. Sometimes, you just can't sacrifice style for function. Sometimes, you just have to get rid of some of that junk under the sink so that you can have something cuter.

6. Maybe this is dumb, but I really don't like the exterior of the house. It just seems out of proportion to me.

Like maybe there should be more windows, or the door should be bigger? I'm also not a huge fan of the overhang, but this is the colonial garrison style. I've spent a lot of time thinking of ways to make it look more appeasing to the eye. This is something that I sincerely doubt will ever happen, but I honestly think about it all the time. Maybe we could add a big focal window upstairs? And a Big door with transom windows downstairs? What do you think?
How about adding some sort of stoop like Molly Frey Design did on this Garrison?
I did a little drawing below to see what it might look like if we added a stoop, a box-style window seat on the second floor, and painted the trim white. What do you think? Yes, I know its sloppy.

Who knows, maybe I will come to love the exterior just as it is? That's the point of remodel in a day, I get a chance to think about what I'd do right now so that five years down the road I can say, "I'm really glad I can't remodel in a day."

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Not a Crafty Time of Year

First and foremost let me say that as the title of this post suggests, this is a terrible time of year to be crafting. I say this not because there is any shortage of pumpkin, maple or apple related things to bake, or fall/Halloween crafts to create. No. I just think its too amazing outside to be crafting.

Sure, I suppose you could garden if you wanted to, but let's face it: by October everyone is sick of working outside and they just want to enjoy it while they still can.

We (meaning my lovely animals and I) have been out on the trails 5 days a week soaking up the filtered sunlight, the golden foliage and the slight breeze. As you can see, they have also enjoyed a little dip in the Hop River, which follows the course of our new favorite trail.

Since I decided enough was enough (of resting my possible stress-fracture) I have been running 3 days a week, 3 miles or less per run. I have spent the 2 other trail days biking, about 5 miles per outing. It's fun to get into a new activity and I really like to see Aero and Bruno running all out as I push the pace (for once).

I wish these crappy phone photos could do this little spot justice. I may have to bring my D50 out on our next adventure, because it really is a beautiful sight to see, especially since we tend to have the trails mostly to ourselves.

So hold tight readers, probably until November or so, if you are looking for a project... this girl has gone outside to feel the wind in her hair and the sun on her face!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pumpkin, Caramel, Maple, Oh My!

It's been too long since I have taken the time to bake something. You could say that my mixer hasn't been used since we moved.

On Sunday, I decided to remedy that with the best that fall has to offer: pumpkin cupcakes with a caramel-maple filling and cream cheese frosting (dusted with cinnamon sugar). This is one epic cupcake my friends.

The recipe for the cake comes from A Thousand Phases.

At some point during the making of these cupcakes, I decided to go rouge, as I usually do with recipes. This time, it was both a blessing and a curse, as I ended up with the most delightful frosting ever created... but also, the caramel center of my cupcakes was tough, hard and sticky.

So my advice is this: use caramel SAUCE, not caramels melted with maple syrup (though the maple syrup taste was delectable. Additionally, write down or try to measure your ingredients. I only had a certain amount of cream cheese (possibly 5 oz) and powdered sugar (maybe 2.5 cups?) so I just dumped it all in. You can imagine my dismay when Mama Crafty-Pursuits declared, "this is the best frosting. I hope you wrote this recipe down".


Happy Fall dear readers, it is truly a magical and wonderful time.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Running is the Answer.

In February 2012, I went out for a run on a local trail with my dogs. 

A few days later, I went again. 

And so it continued for a little over a month before I got my cousin to come along for the journey. At first, I did it just for the dogs, to get them to come home tired and ready to behave. But then, I was addicted. Next thing, I knew, we had committed to run a half marathon... and we did. 

Running was great for me and for the dogs. We had a daily structure, we had the recommended amount of physical activity and we were all a bit more obedient because of it. I had more energy, I slept perfectly all night and I was absolutely more confident. 

I stopped drinking soda because I couldn't possibly get enough water if I had a soda. And I always ran better with a healthy lunch and lots of water. Which, as you know, is an improvement over soda and McDonalds... not that I ate that kind of stuff daily, but wanting to run better and knowing that healthy food would help, I started eating healthier. 

Out on the trail one day, we met another runner (a real one) who also had a GSP, so we started running together. She encouraged and pushed me to be better... and I was. 

Three months ago, I started to train for the half-marathon taking place tomorrow. I was running on the road for a change to try and acclimate to the hard surface since that is what did me in during the first half marathon. My runner friend challenged me to run 100 miles in one month. And I did.

But by the end of that month I could barely walk down the stairs in the morning. Shin splints, or a stress fracture, I'm still not sure what. I decided that I needed to take a month off to rest and heal. 

It's been about 6 weeks now and not running is literally killing me. I can feel myself losing muscle, I don't need as much water, I'm eating junk, I can't fall asleep until practically midnight and yet I'm exhausted all day long. I'm grumpy and bored and my legs feel restless all the time. It's time to go back, even if I'm not 100% healed. 

I didn't realize how much running had really improved my life, and I miss it. So whatever the problems you face, just know that running is the answer. It may not seem that way at first, but eventually, you'll see.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fall Hues

Last week I had my sister give me a haircut and some color. I've been really diggin' the subtle ombre that she forced on me a few months ago (me: I'm bored with my hair. her: I'm bored with your hair too... you should dye it.) so I decided to have another go with it, though slightly less subtle this around. I know, I know, no-one goes lighter in the fall...

So I made it up for it in my living room by going darker.

The chair and ottoman were actually restore finds: $80 total. And you can imagine how pumped I was when I found out that the chair (a JCPenny return) had fitted slipcovers also for sale! So I walked out of there with a chair, ottoman and 3 slipcover options for $150. Not the greatest deal ever, but a pretty good one considering how often I like to change things.

I really like the way that the brown goes in here. What do you think?

Onto the next challenge: figuring out how I am ever going to get decent pictures in this super dark house.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Yard.

Get ready for this.... 80 pictures that feature a very striking "before and after" each in order - I'm hoping that the photos can speak for themselves, since I'm not going to label the "before" and "after".