Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More on fireplaces

Since we have been on vacation, I have had a considerable amount of down time, and have been looking into buying mantles versus making them. (For our living room.) First off, just let me say, I truly had NO idea how much it could cost to buy them, and you can even end up spending a lot at your local home improvement store. (Although the fireplace surround I like at Lowe's is pretty affordable, and we already have a mantle.)

I actually found a couple of websites that have directions on how to build your own mantle/surround, which I thought I'd pass on the links to. Click here for the instructions from the Do It Yourself home network, and click here for the ones from Better Homes and Gardens.

Here is a fireplace that caught my eye on Craigs list, and they were only asking sixty dollars. But then I saw it was made out of MDF, not real wood. I don't need something to be fancy or an antique to like it, but I am a stickler on wood when it comes to things like furniture and moulding... or mantles! It doesn't, however, need to be made out of hardwood, either, since I will just be painting it anyway. This particular style of fireplace is a rather simple one, and it would not be that difficult to replicate.

You know, I have been thinking about something a lot off and on since buying our first home. It's nothing profound or anything, but I thought I'd share it with you anyway. I have to say I'm grateful for the challenge of fixing our house on a budget. I know it sounds weird, insane even, but I am thankful for the necessity to be creative, to find a less expensive alternative. And I have to say, there usually always is one! Sometimes it drives me crazy living in a construction zone and waiting to fix something, and I feel really impatient! I want our house done, preferably before it's time to relocate to a retirement home! But, it HAS been fun to dream and think of ways to make something happen. Maybe it will take a little patience, and it will probably mean a lot more effort, but in a way, it's so much more worth it in the end.

So, about the fireplace, what will it be? A Craigs list find or a Lowe's "kit"? Or maybe our own design? I don't know for sure yet, but no matter what it is, it will be just right. Something that fits in our home AND our budget! :)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A tale of two projects

Happy Weekend to you all! We just waved goodbye to our kids, who will be spending the next seven days with grandparents. And even though I love our children dearly, this will be a wonderful break from my typical routine! :)

I told you I would be back yesterday, but it just didn't happen! I also said that I had a new project planned for later in the week, but actually, now I have two~ one for if it's sunny, and one inside for if it rains, which is often does here in the Northwest! :)

When we moved here, this fireplace looked MUCH worse~ I primed and painted the bricks and replaced the outdated fireplace screen by spray painting a black screen I bought at Target. My parents also helped me add the mantle a couple of years ago, which I painted.
The fireplace has always bothered me, because it is not symmetrical. I think it would look much better if the bricks were even on both sides. I talked to my mom and dad, who have renovated their share of homes, and they said that this is something I can fix by "cutting" out the unwanted brick on the right side of the fireplace. I am going to buy the tool I need at Lowe's and have at it! (Don't worry, my husband made sure it was structurally safe to do so!)

When I have removed the bricks I don't want, my husband is going to put up drywall in their place and then we will put up a real fireplace "surround". The only part of this process I dread is the taping and joint compound. It will be so worth it when it's finished, though! :)

What we still have to decide is what do we want our fireplace to look like. It seems like a really popular thing now to cover all of the brick~ with tile, for example. I think I want to keep the brick on the part under the mantle. Brick adds such character to a fireplace. We are considering putting a large mirror that would completely cover the brick ABOVE the mantle. We have a big window opposite our fireplace, and having a mirror over the fireplace might reflect the light...although it may be that all that will be reflected is the (for now) "lovely" popcorn ceiling! Oh, we have plans for that ceiling, but that's for a different day! :) Anyway, whether we will build our own fireplace surround or buy one we don't know yet. I have been having fun drawing fireplace designs for our bedroom faux fireplace, so maybe I'll plan one for our living room as well!

The outdoor project also involves bricks, and in the above picture you can see some of them. Right now, our front porch is the ugliest cement porch you could imagine and it needs some TLC in the worst way!

The plan is to use cement and lay brick facing directly over the existing cement porch, and tear out the little cement walkway leading up to it. We'll replace that with a large square brick patio.
My goal is to have it completed by autumn, so I can decorate it with all of my fall decorations!

The sweetest part of this project is that it will be almost free! All, or mostly all, of the bricks will be free, because my good friend and neighbor next door is tired of her brick and sand entry way! My son and I are in the process of removing them from her yard and hauling them over to our house. I am motivated by the dream of a cute front porch; my son is motivated by the dream of more money saved toward "Mindstorms". (This involves Lego robots that you build and program.)

Back to the living room...You probably noticed the different colors painted around my fireplace, and I feel compelled to explain! I am trying to decide what color to paint the living room. I painted it a grayish blue, and liked it for a while. However, it is just too gray of a blue for me. We have a lot of cloudy days here, and the paint color is getting depressing! I need something warmer, and more cheerful! I like the top two colors on both of these paint swatches (raspberry and green respectively) and am going to use them together. I just don't yet know which color will be on the wall and which one will be an accent color. (More on this later.)

Well, thanks for listening to me ramble on and on! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! :)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A little bit of everything

Hi, I hope everyone is having a great Thursday. I am SO ready for the weekend! Especially since this Saturday my husband and I are leaving for our anniversary vacation! We do this every year, and thanks to our parents who take care of the kids, we get a whole week off! We always spend the first four days in Leavenworth (in Washington state) and then have a few relaxing days alone at home...although I must admit, I always have a big project up my sleeve, and this year is no different...more on that tomorrow! :)

Leavenworth is such a fun place to stay! Many years ago, it was a dying town, until they decided to give the town a Bavarian "theme". Everywhere you look, you feel like you are in Europe, and all of the shops and hotels have to look the part. Even just the natural beauty of the hills and mountains and trees is amazing! I am going to take a lot of pictures so you can see how beautiful the town is! :)

We stay at the Enzian Inn every year, and love sitting our little balcony with the moon high over the mountains that are so close, you feel as if you can almost touch them. I love the window boxes overflowing with petunias on top of the railing and the peacefulness. Oh, I can't wait! :)

On a totally different subject, yesterday the kids and I were at Target, and we were looking in the cleaning section, and I found something I love! Those of you who know me know I am a true clean-freak (although I'm trying to let loose a little!) and my favorite aisle of the grocery store is the cleaning aisle. I know this may cause some of you to gasp in horror, what with all of the chemicals. I know, you're right. But bear with me on this...

Lately I have been trying to come up with healthier cleaning products, and I am always so happy when I find one that is already made! But this is the deal breaker~ it MUST work well. And if it smells good, well then, I will be a loyal customer. So when I saw this, I had hope that I might have, at long last, found a Windex alternative.

Every other time I have tried anything else, I have ended up with streaked windows...agh! It's sad when your windows looked better BEFORE you washed them! :(

SO...when I got home, I tried it out on some very, VERY dirty slider doors. Immediately the promised lavender and rosemary oils filled the room! Okay, I was in heaven! But then, I saw that the window was cloudy, not clear like I wanted it. Guess what, though? After thoroughly wiping all of the solution off, I had streak free windows! Yea! Now I have clean windows AND a clean conscience! :) (In fact, it's kind of funny~ on the top of the bottle, it says "Conscience-Clearing Power".) It's by J.R. Watkins and is called "Natural Home Care Window Cleaner". It's free of about everything you could ever imagine, and many you never would have! :)

Well, that's it for now, but I'll be sure to be back tomorrow to tell you about my big project I'm starting next week! :)

P.S. I may have found a vintage stove after all! More on that as I know more! :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

One project down...

Hi everyone! I hope you are all having a good week! It has been one of those weeks where I feel like I really haven't accomplished that much, but I did get a small sized baker's rack primed over the weekend! (Because even though it was a nice weekend, I didn't get much done then either!) It needed some sanding and a lot of scrubbing before it could be primed. It was painted pink when I bought it off of Craigs list, but it really didn't go with our house, so it will be white instead! I'll be sure to show you before and after pictures of it when it's finished! (It's time to start adding to that "Before and After" section on my main blog page!) Actually, I have several painting projects I am working on/wrapping up and I will show you pictures of all of them as I finish! But guess what? One of them is mostly finished~ a chest of drawers~ but we still need to buy "runners" to put on the bottom of each drawer so it will slide into the drawer opening nicely. I'm going back and forth on whether the handles are finished, or if maybe they need a fourth coat of paint...

I found this chest of drawers at a garage sale, and at first drove away because they were asking $30 for it. After thinking about it for a day, I went back and since they took $25 for it, I bought it and hauled it home. We really needed another dresser for clothes! It is close to matching our other bedroom furniture, although I have to say I like our other dresser style more. (And not just because my good friend gave it to me and she reads this blog!) This dresser has "grooves" on the drawers, and my other doesn't, but other than that, it's just fine. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

This first picture was taken BEFORE I had primed/painted it, but after I had removed the handles and sanded it. It is a terrible picture, but it gives you the general idea...

Here is a close up of it NOW that it's finished!

Here's a picture of the entire dresser... I also took another without the silly roll down shade showing.

But the one above turned out a little crooked. I am still getting the hang of good picture taking! :)
I hope you all don't mind too much! Thanks for letting me show you at least one project I can cross of my list! :)

Have a great night!

Friday, July 18, 2008

One of my favorite places

Yesterday, I snagged a couple of hours for myself and this is where I ended up...

The Keepsake Cottage ( at Country Village) is hands-down the funnest fabric shop I have ever been to! They have bolt after bolt of fabric in bright, bold colors...

as well as the sweet, pastel colors.

And there are always the little things already sewn to catch your eye...

...and make you think, "I could do that."

Or maybe not. Maybe a little charm quilt would be a safer bet.

Don't quilt? Well, how about embroidery?

Or maybe you're like me, and you are looking for that perfect fabric to sew something pretty.

In which case, you'll need thread, and they have that, too!

I love this fabric store!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Vintage daydreams

For quite a while, I have had this little daydream of a vintage stove in our kitchen! Then this daydream became a discussion between my husband and I. Then we found out that most ( or all?) of these original vintage stoves are much wider than the standard ones made today. This actually poses a problem as our current 30 inch stove fits neatly between two lower cabinets...very neatly, with not an inch to spare. Another thing to consider is that the "back" of our lower cabinets is actually just the kitchen wall. SO...

...I started wondering what could be done and came up with a plan. What if we pulled out the cabinet at the end of the counter, and moved it down ten inches, added ten inches of drywall to go behind the cabinet on that side, therefore making room for an old stove?

I know, I know, this sounds absolutely insane. ( Even to me, it does, and that's saying a lot!) But sometimes you have to think this way if you want to get anywhere in an old house!

An old stove would make our kitchen "theme" complete. We have light green cabinet doors with clear glass knobs, a vintage table, and an old hoosier painted the same green as the cabinets. In other words, a 1930's/mid-century theme. A vintage stove would look so sweet!

This past Sunday, we went to look at this stove (also pictured above) that was listed on Craigslist.

The top of it had some scratches, and the burner coils were usable, but not in the best of shape. A huge drawback was that it was not a double oven, but one full oven with a warming oven on the other side. This could have potentially worked, which is why we went to see it, but when they said a "warming oven", what they really meant was a warming DRAWER. It is literally a big drawer on the left side, with no rack. I wonder, are all vintage stoves this way? Another deterrent was the rust in the warming drawer. The front was in pristine condition, and overall, it was in great condition. (Especially considering it is 61 years old!) I didn't expect it to look new! I think the burners could have been replaced, and maybe the built-in Scotch kettle converted to a burner, but how much all of this costs we didn't know. So we walked away from this sweet little stove...and I have been going back and forth ever since. I am not sure it was the right decision. I really liked the stove, and it was from 1947, and those are harder to find than ones from the 1950's.

On the way home, my husband brought up the idea of buying a retro reproduction. However, we were shocked at the expense! I just couldn't do it, even if we DID have the money~ which we don', there's something about the truly old ones that is so special.

But it hit me later that night~ maybe we COULD buy an vintage stove and restore it. We could have the things that are too difficult done by a professional in time, such as repairing the finish on the stove, rechroming, etc. We would just make sure it was in as good of shape as possible before purchasing. I understand my husband's concern that it be safe and up to modern codes, etc.

Does anyone know anything about restoring older stoves and the cost of doing it yourself versus having it done for you? I'm going to keep looking for information on the web, too. So far, I'm wondering if this may just be one daydream that stays just that! :)

*edited to add: A friend asked me what I meant by the warming oven really being just a warming DRAWER. On this stove, the warming oven pulled out just as a normal drawer would vs. as an oven door. It was a large "box", and you could put food items to keep warm, etc., but there was no rack inside.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Fun garage sale finds (and some random information!)

I found the sweetest things ever on my way to the grocery store yesterday. I saw the pink sign that said "Huge Garage Sale" and just could not resist! I am so glad I went!
Isn't this bird adorable? I am a collector of birds ( but only the non-breathing variety) and when I saw this sweetie, it was love at first sight! It's so chubby and cute! It is very happy now resting on our bedroom dresser! :)

I also found these at that same garage sale, and although they are not as heavy as I would like, I couldn't pass them up. I'll just add a candle to each and they'll look my living room, I think.

And last, but not least, I found something I have been searching for...

These are wonderful to hang up a curtain with~ first hang one of these holders up on each side of your window. Then simply take a length of fabric, hemmed or unhemmed, and create a simple swag by looping the sides through the openings of each of these, and voila! You have beautiful curtains framing your window! You can also use a lace tablecloth, even a pretty bed sheet, vintage or new! (Yes, I DID just say you could use a sheet!) It's true...bed sheets make wonderful things when repurposed... but, back to the curtain idea...

I must say I actually can't take the credit for originality (is that a word?) on this idea of looping the fabric through these, as I saw it done in some of the windows in one of my favorite shops, The Cranberry Cottage.

Nevertheless, I am SO excited because when I came home I realized that these are perfect for our kitchen window! There is no space for most any curtain rod we've tried to use, because of the cabinets being so close on both sides of the window! But I think these are going to work just fine! Here's a picture of the window and cabinets~ you can see what I mean about the lack of space for a decorative curtain rod! One small disclaimer: this will look much better when we put up the beadboard within a month or two. I'll hang up some curtains after we finish the kitchen this summer and show you a picture that is a little softer on the eyes! :)

Please ignore the light fixture over the window...that is most certainly going! I also realize the, shall we say "interesting", items hung above the window look rather odd up there. After I sewed that apron, I wanted a place to keep it from getting wrinkled and so I put it up there. The other is an old child's underdress/slip I found at an antique store a little while ago. I put it up there so I could think about what to do with it. Wouldn't several of these look sweet hung with minature clothespins as a valance over a window in a little girl's room? I'm already on the hunt for more of these little "dresses" to do just that in the room our girls share.

Well, this was just one big tangent of a blog entry! I hope you don't mind too much!
Have a wonderful night! :)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Etsy apron

The last time I blogged, I told you all about the "Etsy deadline" my sister and I made to motivate ourselves to get a move-on! Well, I didn't technically make it, but I was close! I was just one day passed our deadline. (Although, officially that meant having it on your Etsy store site. ) But really, that's what you get when you change your apron design in the middle of sewing it! I had to practically start over, and add the perfectionism thing to the mix, and well, let's just say, it took much longer than it ever should have!

I know this isn't the best picture of the apron, but I think I somehow deleted the others!

Have a wonderful evening! :)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Etsy deadline

My sister and I made a deal. We each gave ourselves 14 days to sew something and get it on our respective Etsy store sites. Enough hemming and hawing...So here I have, gulp, two and a half days left. I think I can, I think I can...
If my sis doesn't meet our "deadline", she has several completely legitimate reasons for it:
  1. Three children under the age of three.
  2. Their two year old boy had tonsilitis.
  3. Their baby got sick and was almost hospitalized, then put on a nebulizer at home instead.
  4. My sister spent much time in doctor's office/ER.
  5. Her grandmother by marriage passed away this week.
(Needless to say, she has had a lousy two weeks!)

So, what are my excuses, you may ask? Um, gulp, does procrastination count? Okay, I will say I am busier when the kids are home from school in the summer, but one look back up at my sister's list and, well, nope, I really don't think that's going to qualify.

So what's really holding me back? Let's just say, I have heard that being a perfectionist is not a positive attribute, even though we tend to think of it that way. Well, after over three decades of being me, I've decided I agree!

I really, really want to put this apron on Etsy, but want it to be just right. High quality. Made in Heaven. I think I am trying too hard. If I'd been making this apron for myself, I'd have made ten by now. They'd all be finished, hanging in my kitchen!

Tomorrow the day, though. It's going to be different. I will finish the apron and put it on Etsy and no more fussing with it!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Fourth of July!

Normally we stay busy on the 4th, but we kept it pretty low-key this year. It's been a crazy week, and so we celebrated with just our little family today. Of course, we still had a barbecue and watched the fireworks we bought! (And enjoyed those going off around us!)

Our youngest daughter requested chocolate cupcakes, and so I made the batter, but wasn't thinking at all and poured it into cake pans! Okay, a change of plans~ we ended up having chocolate cake!

I hope that however you celebrated, you had a wonderful Fourth of July! :)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Playing with color and a new project

Okay, I admit it~ I am a card-carrying fabric fanatic! I CANNOT resist pretty fabric of any sort (...or ribbon, and definitely not buttons! ) So when I saw this red and white polka-dotted fabric, I knew it was destined for one of my vintage-style aprons. Then I brought it home and was cutting the fabric on my dining room table, and wouldn't you know I had one of those "light bulb" moments Oprah used to always talk about! The color "popped" in my dining room! It would make great kitchen curtains! And I guess it was meant to be, because I put it up next to the yellow and red rose fabric I had, and haven't doubted since that I am going to keep red in the kitchen. I tried pink~ I really and truly did~ but it was just not working. Funny how sometimes you try something new, only to realize what you had in the first place was best.

All right, and one more thing... for my last birthday I requested (and received!) these fantastic vintage bowls from my husband. (They are the aqua Amish butterprint pattern, in case you're curious.) I just LOVE this color!

They look great with the red, yellow and green in my kitchen! I have been mulling this over for a couple of months, thinking of how I could work so many colors together in a way that fit...well, last week I was hopping from blog to blog when I happened upon the "Daisy Cottage". She has a lot of aqua/turquoise, red and yellow in and outside of her home, and it looks fantastic!

Now I get it! I don't have to try so hard to make it all work. It just will. Now for some fabric that includes all of those colors to pull it all together...after I make the curtains. :)

Have a wonderful night! :)