Thursday, November 29, 2007

Does My Living Room Make the New Sofa Look Fat?

Last Saturday I ended my long, grueling sofa quest and impulsively purchased this sofa and chair. It was a deal folks.

The new furniture arrived yesterday and my first panic-stricken thought was, did they super size my order in the truck or what? The sofa and so-called snuggler recliner that looked perfectly normal in the huge JCPenney furniture outlet warehouse look GINORMOUS in my small 1940s era living room. I was thisclose to tears as I surveyed each of the various new arrangements the boy and I tried last night in a desperate attempt to help me accept my new purchases. I was also on a lot of cold medicine and only three hours sleep, but whatever.

But enough about what I think, what do you think? Should I put this set on craigslist tout suite and try to minimize my damages, or am I (as my boyfriend says) being too critical and just need to chill? Operators are standing by for your votes.

Here's another view:

And as a reminder, this is what it used to look like with my hand-me-down, lived-with-since-I-was-12 (no lie) sofa and love seat:

Notes: 1) I do like the color, fabric and comfort factors of this new set. I just hate that they look so huge even though they're surprisingly not as wide as the old set. 2) Yes mom, one of these days I will get real window treatments.

Read the rest of the sofa quest saga here: part I, part II

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Send Help....Can't...Resist Cat Pillow Much Longer....

As a cat person, I try to buck the stereotypes and steer clear of cat decor, but this time I can barely control myself. Are these cat pillows freakin' adorable or what? (if you said or what you must go now).

I found this cutie on Etsy while doing a little online pillow shopping because 1) I can't find what I want in the stores I've visited 2) I can't sew :( and 3) I finally ended my great sofa quest last night by buying a couch and chair. Which I'm now freaking out about because big purchases make me a little crazy and this was a closeout deal so once it leaves the store I'm stuck with it forever and ever. Do any of you over-analyze big purchases to the point where you almost begin to doubt your own sanity? Or is it just me?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Not to Brag, But, I Now Have Cable in the Kitchen

Thanks to my ever-so-handy boyfriend I now have cable in the kitchen. Woohoo! It's a vast improvement from only being able get four channels (which would turn to fuzz at the drop of a hat).

This should make kitchen duties much more pleasant. Maybe I'll actually start cooking and baking more and stop leaving the kitchen dirty overnight. But probably not.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Kicking the Habit...

...the water bottle habit that is. I've been taking bottled water to work and drinking out of water jugs at home for years. It's not that I think bottled water is healthier than tap, I just really HATE the taste of tap water. But I also hate buying the bottled water, lugging it home from the store, bringing used bottles home to recycle and then finally carting them to the recycling drop-off center. It's such a hassle.

While I wouldn't consider myself a greenie, I do the simple things like recycling and composting. Over the past year the environmental impact of bottled water has been bothering me more and more with every article I read. My stumbling block, was figuring out what kind of filter to use instead. Pitchers supposedly don't do much, a faucet filter won't fit on my lovely kitchen faucet, and I didn't want the hassle or expensive of installing something more robust. Can you say analysis paralysis?

Last week, after forgetting to buy bottled water to take to work, I decided to just get it over with already and start drinking tap. Despite having a basic whole-house filter, my tap water still tasted quite chalky. So chalky that I couldn't stand it. So I bought a Brita pitcher last night and today at work was the big test. Could the Brita pitcher actually make my water drinkable? Could it be as tasty as expensive bottled water? I'm happy to report that my filtered water is delish. Even the boyfriend approves. So it looks like I'm finally kicking the water bottle habit.

Now I just have to figure out what kind of portable container is safe enough to carry my tasty water in. Cause, you know plastic is evil, aluminum is risky (Alzheimer's) and glass is just breakable. It just never ends, does it?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I Wish I Didn't Do Windows

I remember when my house inspector casually noted that the windows and trim needed to be scraped and painted. That's something you can easily do yourself, he said, with a wave of his hand. It's important to note the only time I'd ever painted ANYTHING up to that point in my life was during craft or art projects. I ignored this and placed paint windows on my mental list of house repairs not worth freaking out about and promptly forgot all about it.

Fast forward two years and I started noticing the peeling window paint to the point where I couldn't ignore it anymore. By that time I learned to paint since during my first two weeks of home ownership my mom and stepdad helped me paint every room in the freaking house. So while I may not be able to do plumbing, electrical or even hang pictures level, I CAN paint.

I spent days and days slaving in the hot sun, scraping, painting and caulking my front porch and three lousy windows. That's all I could take for this year. The other nine windows will have to wait until next year.

Did I mention this was a loong, tedious job? Now I know why people trade wood windows for vinyl despite the expense and aesthetic issues. Here are some helpful tidbits about painting windows and trim that I learned:
  1. Although they call it scraping, a simple scraper isn't going to cut it. Do not be cheap like me and try to make the scraper work. My new heat gun is worth its weight in gold.

  2. If chunks of hard stuff start falling off when you scrape the window frame you probably shouldn't ignore it or try to fill the gaps with ordinary caulk. It's glazing, which is different, and redoing it SUCKS, but you can handle it. The glaze takes weeks to cure enough just to be able to paint it. Although the stuff in the tub is supposed to be better, next time I'm trying the stuff in the tube.

  3. It pays to do your research. I found tons of great information at House in Progress and Fixing Our Historic House. Now there are some folks who can REALLY repair a window (unlike yours truly who was kinda just patching them up).

  4. Don't paint the unpainted edges of your storm windows and windows. There's a reason they're unpainted and it's because if you paint them you'll have a hell of a time getting them back in and out.

  5. Did I mention this took a long, long, looong time? Like take your reasonable time estimate and multiply it by five. It took me around 15 hours per window, although that includes some drying and cleanup time. But that time provided a LOT of amusement for my neighbors. (look, Ethel, she almost fell off the ladder again!)

  6. Even if your windows don't need to be repainted yet, you may need to clean out all the scary gunk from the grooves in the window sill and weep holes to ensure the moisture that accumulates can get out.

  7. Paint your windows and trim sooner rather than later. Ignore the peeling paint and you might be inviting wood rot, mold, mildew or other issues.

  8. Behr has a paint with primer already in it. We'll see how it holds up, but it definitely saved me time.

Still after all the hassle, don't they look purty? Now my front windows look much better than my neighbor's. Ha! Take that Frank, with your weed-free lawn.* Only nine more windows to go. Oi.

*For the record, I like my neighbor. I'm just a wee bit competitive and he's kicking my butt in the lawn category.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Bulbs Are In!

I'm looking forward to more great views like this next spring since I planted 168 more bulbs. The last bulb went in this past Sunday.

For me the hardest part of bulb planting is not the planting itself. It's figuring out where I can fit in more bulbs that takes so darn long. I spread the work out over three Sundays so I could accomplish other outside chores too (putting away the pots, composting what remained of the tomatoes, giving my tools a good cleaning, fertilizing the yard for the first time ever, with organic stuff no less).

If you haven't planted bulbs, or want to check your technique (like me) take a gander at this video by Greengirl Connie Nelson. It reminded me that I can take better advantage of my limited garden space by layering bulbs.

Here's what I'm looking forward to seeing next spring:
  • 40 mixed daffodils (from Meijer)
  • 18 Triumph Tulips, 6 each of Holland Beauty, White Emperor and Don Quichotte (from Meijer)
  • 10 single pink tulips (from Oakland, a local nursery)
  • 5 double late Upstar pink tulips (from Meijer)
  • 25 Dutch Iris* (from Meijer)
  • 20 Grape Hyacinths (from Oakland, a local nursery)
  • 20 Chionodoxa Gigantea* (from Oakland, a local nursery)
  • 20 Puschkinia Libanotica* (from Oakland, a local nursery)
  • 10 ixiolirion Pallasii* (from Oakland, a local nursery)
  • 1 blushing belle peony* (from Wal-Mart)
The place I purchased the bulbs from is listed so I can compare the results.

* First bulb of this kind planted in my garden

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Lessons From the First Frost

After the summer that felt like it would never end, it did. We finally had our first frost on Monday, October 29. Today for Green Thumb Sunday I thought I would record some of the lessons I learned from the first frost so I don't forget them next year.
  1. Don't wait to bring in the green tomatoes if you want to keep them. The tomato plants were instant goners. I thought I remembered bringing in green tomatoes last summer after a frost or two. Well, either I remembered incorrectly or those were light frosts, because after Monday's frost the green tomatoes had turned dark green and many of them were coated with a brown sticky substance. Ew!

  2. You can put annuals in the garage to buy some extra time. I have a pot with some annual herbs that I might want to take cuttings from, but I was too tired to do so last Sunday after a day of bulb planting. So I've been sticking them in the garage at night to buy myself some more time.

  3. Some flowers can take the frost. Surprisingly, not everything was killed by the many frosts we've had this week. The cosmos are still kicking (yet another reason to love this wonderful annual, along with the scabiosa, sweet alyssum, pinks and veronica speedwell. Even the lavendar isn't mush yet.

  4. You don't have to say goodbye to the annuals you love. Before I started reading gardening blogs, books and mags, I thought all annuals died at the end of the season no matter what. And since I'm cheap, er, frugal, I wasn't willing to buy vast amounts of annuals. But, as I've learned, if you have the space and desire you can overwinter entire plants or cuttings an replant them next season. So this year I'm trying to save these cute little daisies. More likely than not I'll end up killing these, but it's worth a shot right?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Right Color

One way I know when I really love a color is when I'm instantly drawn to it again and again, wherever I see it. But the gorgeous blue in the kitchen is not the only reason I love Diana Fayt's home. It's stylish, but not fussy. It looks chic, but also comfortable. Take the tour and see more of Diana's home at Apartment Therapy LA. This one is definitely going in the inspiration file.

I love THIS blue so much I used it in both my kitchen and bathroom. It's Salty Tear by Behr (great paint name, eh?) and it looks great in any light. I find myself instantly drawn to any other room that uses a similar color.

Friday, November 2, 2007

On Halloween Decor: I Repeat We're NOT Devil Worshippers

Two weeks ago, just as I finally made my mind up to skip decorating for Halloween entirely, my boyfriend decided that he wanted to carve pumpkins. So we got pumpkins and the boyfriend took over most of the Halloween decoration duties. This is when the trouble began.

This is my idea of a lovely Halloween decoration:

And the boyfriend's idea of lovely Halloween Decor: (that Michael Meyers statue is going to be worth a MINT someday, he says, just you wait and see!)

Then there's my idea of a nice Halloween pumpkin display: (I'm not much for carving, but the dead plants give it that spooky touch, don't ya think?)

And the boyfriend's idea of a lovely Halloween pumpkin:


One teenager took in the pumpkin, the devil mask and our pal Mike, and cheerily exclaimed "You guys must really love Satan!" Which couldn't have pleased the boyfriend more really, because he LOVES provoking people.

But she wasn't the only one to wonder. Two teens walked all the way to the porch before deciding it was better to turn around and skip it. Another boy stood staring at the pumpkin, perplexed, that's a funny looking star, he said. We also got a lot of weird looks and glares.

C'mon people, isn't Halloween the one night it IS okay to display this cheerfully devilish crap?

And for the record, I'm anti-worshipping anyone really.


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