Thursday, January 31, 2008

I'm Dreaming of a White Fireplace

I like fireplaces. I like brick. I am not, however fond of my brick fireplace.

These bricks are so uniform they look fake. And they're SHINY. Who ever head of shiny bricks?!

Someday I'd like to put up a white wood facade to cover the bricks. But it's number 443 on the boy's project list. So in the meantime, I'm seriously dreaming of a white fireplace. I don't take painting brick lightly, but I want my living room to look like one of these lovelies:

Sunday, January 27, 2008

O is for Organization

Like most typical Virgos, I like things best when they're neat and tidy. That includes the junk drawer too. Yesterday I found some small baskets at Dollar General that are the perfect size for organizing small spaces.

I also had two baskets left over, plenty to tidy up one of the new bathroom cabinets.

There, that's much better and for just $2 plus tax.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Fresh Flowers

Buying fresh flowers every week as an offering to your home is one of the suggestions I immediately dismissed from the Apartment Therapy: The Eight Step Home Cure book (although on the whole I liked the book). Buying flowers that will just die every week feels a little too extravagant to me (did I mention I'm cheap?). I'd much rather invest in a perennial for the garden that's going to bloom and bloom. But I'm starting to get spring fever and I do love how flowers brighten a room up. I'm not a houseplant person, but I really need to see some blooms!

I also love, love, LOVE daffodils and tulips, so when I spied $4 tulips tonight at Wal-Mart, I had to get them. My plan is to photograph the tulips to track just how long they cheap tulips can last. Stay tuned! This way it won't just be an impulse buy, it will be valuable research!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

It's 13F -- Time to Winter Sow!

Seed collecting can be very addicting. My seed collection is starting to get out of hand, and this pic was taken before I bought ten more packs of seeds today (for just $1 at Walgreens). So today, despite that it was below 20 degrees out, I winter sowed a few more jugs. In the kitchen of course.

My little cluster of ghettos greenhouses is growing, but I'm going to need to get busy soon if I plan to sow all those seeds. So far I've planted Penstemon, Coneflowers, Canterbury Bells and Sweet Peas.

Wondering what all this winter sowing business is about? Find out more at and check out Kylee's pictorial at Our Little Acre.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bargain Bulbs!

I found some bargain bulbs at Sears Hardware tonight. I picked up four Paperwhite kits, an herb kit and a crocus bulbs and vases for $6 and some change total. Hopefully it's not too late for them to still bloom.

When I first read about growing bulbs inside I thought it was way too much trouble, especially for a gal in a tiny house with a cat who loves to destroy plants. But after that freakishly warm weather we had, I'm jonesing for spring bigtime. Plus I need SOMETHING to show for the next Garden Blogger's Bloom Day.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Third Law of Home Improvement

This weekend was a DIY extravaganza at min hus. Unfortunately, it was a DIY weekend that fell under the third law of home improvement. You know, the law that says any home improvement project you undertake will take at least three times longer than you think to complete it. It all started innocently enough with my tub.

Sure it looks fine enough, but the caulking around the tub was starting to mildew and pull away from the tile. The final straw was when my cat pulled off a chunk of loose caulk and tried to eat it. My plan was to re-caulk the tub in an hour, two at the most, then help the boyfriend paint the basement.

The first problem started as soon as I cut into the caulk on the outside of the shower door and water squirted out. This wasn't a complete shock because it didn't look like the inside of the frame was caulked where it should have been. I showed J and he said there was no way I could re-caulk the door with water stuck in the frame. He suggested taking out the doors, since I had been considering getting rid of them anyway. While nothing special, the doors look decent enough from a distance, but examine them closely and you'll see paint splotches, bits of rust and mildew beyond the reach of my scrubbing.

So we took out the doors and frame to find this gruesome sight (warning, if you're eating, you might want to skip this):

Gross isn't it? J said have fun and went back to his project. I cleaned the stains and mildew as best I could (the magic eraser really is magic), then set to removing the old caulk, re-caulking, and then cleaning that off in a huff since it looked terrible, and re-caulking again. Very tedious stuff. Tip: if, like me, you're not a super-neat caulk-artist then I definitely recommend using painter's tape. Though it's still not perfect or completely done, it finally became somewhat presentable.

Now I just have to decide if I prefer a shower curtain or doors.

I loved the doors when I first saw them, but living with them is another story. They make cleaning the shower difficult, keeping the track and doors pristine is impossible and since my bathroom is so tiny I manage to whack my elbow on the doors at least once a week. All of these things have me leaning toward keeping the shower curtain. Anyone else care to weigh in?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Living the IKEA Dream

This man is living my dream: Mark Malkoff Lives in IKEA

(found via Apartment Therapy)

No, It's Not a Good Idea to Use Exterior Paint Inside

Listen up kitties. Alex, the DIY cat, would like to remind you that it's not a good idea to save a buck and use leftover exterior paint to paint inside your home. Not even in a basement. Or if say a well-meaning friend gave you the paint for free and said it would be okay. Please just don't.

But don't just take Alex's word for it, True Value says:

Exterior paint is not durable for inside use. It may chalk excessively and/or the paint would not stick to the surface if it needs to be repainted. Exterior paint also contains mildewsides/fungicides that may smell when there is high humidity. It can even pose a health hazard due to the greater concentration of these mildewsides that are not normally used inside. Exterior paint used indoors may also worsen allergies.

Monday, January 7, 2008

More Freakish Weather

It got up to 67F today. I drove home from work with my coat laying on the passenger seat, the heat off and a window down. When I got home I opened some doors and windows and aired out the place for over an hour. It was dark, but still over 60F! Bliss.

I celebrated with one of my favorite summer dinners: a big Greek salad, grilled pita and hummus.

Tomorrow is supposed to be even warmer, but with a thunderstorm. It's really going to bite when temps return to normal later this week.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Fresh Air

What a difference fresh air makes! Today it's 52F, which felt like a heat wave after the single-digit mornings we had at the beginning of last week. Although it was still rather gray and gloomy outside, the unusually warm temperature gave me a chance to open some windows and doors and air out the house.

It was also a great day to get outside and quench my garden withdraw. I accomplished quite a bit in a less than two hours:
  • I planted some cat grass seed for our greens-lovin' kitties
  • I winter sowed my first two containers, penstemon and Echinacea purpurea
  • I cleaned up the garage bed and finally pulled the mostly dead annuals
  • I raked bunch of leaves, putting most of them into my beds for added nutrition and winter-protection
I found some surprises too. Some of the lettuce I had planted last spring was still alive growing. I thought the summer heat had pretty much taken care of it and if not, you'd think the snow and frost would definitely have. I also found a few live leaves of lemon balm, which I potted up and brought inside (along with their roots of course), I don't have a lot of hope for it, but it'll be interesting to see what happens.

It really is amazing how much better I feel after getting to work outside for a bit and how much better the house smells after being aired out. Tomorrow it's supposed to be 57!!! It's beginning to feel like spring is right around the corner. Soon it'll be daffodil time.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Planting Time

I realized yesterday that I really miss gardening. I miss getting my hands in the dirt. I miss checking on the beds daily to see what has grown or bloomed. I definitely miss bringing in fresh tomatoes for dinner or flowers to spruce up the house. This is surprising because I'm a newbie who up until two seasons ago never gardened a day in my life. And by the end of last September I was so done, especially with the constant watering. But now, after a short break, I'm ready to get back out there.

Last night while we were out shopping, I happened to spot some seeds at the Andersons. "Seeds!" I cried happily, as if spotting a long-lost friend, while the boyfriend groaned loudly. Apparently he has had his fill of spending time with me in garden centers and aisles. Can't understand why.

I was especially happy to see these seeds because it's almost planting time, and I prefer to shop in person than online. Yes, you read that right, it's planting time , if you winter sow. I've never done it before so I have absolutely no advice to give, but I've been dying to try it since I read about it last season. Cheap plants without lights, mats, or other fancy indoor equipment? Count me in! Actually you can start winter sowing anytime after the winter solstice, but since central Ohio weather is so unpredictable, February seems like a good time to start. I might plant a jug or two today along with some cat grass just to scratch my gardening itch.

Now it's time for me to get serious. Time to whittle down my plant wishlist (which includes almost everything) to a realistic list of items for winter sowing. The Andersons had some tempting seeds to add to the list. I definitely, definitely will have to buy lemon cucumbers. Not for winter sowing, but to plant in the spring. I mention them because you must try them, they're delish. Of course I'll have to winter sow lots of cosmos after being sooo happy with them last season. I am also tempted to try cosmos bright lights, even though they don't fit in my typical gardening color scheme, their bright, cheerful colors are so tempting.

I fell asleep last night thinking about all the great possibilities for my garden next season. Maybe this is the year my sparse beds will begin to look like full, lush cottage garden beds. Maybe this is the year I'll have enough blooms outside to be able to bring more inside. Maybe I'll finally have too many blooms to list on Green Thumb Sunday! ;) Ah the possibilities of planting time...

Gardeners, Plant and Nature lovers can join in every Sunday, visit As the Garden Grows for more information.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Making Min Hus Even Better in 2008!

While I'm happy with all the projects we completed around the house in 2007, I have even bigger ambitions for 2008. Namely:

  • Purchase and hang new window treatments for living room (the hardest part of this one is picking window treatments)
  • Fix living room walls and repaint
  • Drywall and paint finished room in basement (I feel good about this one since the boyfriend already started drywalling!)
  • Install ceiling in finished room in basement
  • Seal and paint remaining basement walls
  • Add insulation around outer wall in basement
  • Re-caulk bathroom tub and shower
  • Paint bathroom trim and touch up walls near trim
  • Paint bi-fold door in kitchen
  • Install new tile floor in bathroom
  • Replace fake tile in bathroom with beadboard
  • Paint hallway trim and storage cabinet
  • Clean up and paint fireplace

  • Finish planting front bed
  • Finish creating and plant side bed
  • Stain deck
  • Create work area in and reorganize garage so we can get a car in there again!
  • Paint 10 remaining windows and storms
  • Paint front door and shutters
  • Paint awnings
  • Patch and paint foundation where needed
  • Paint garage doors and trim
  • Remove hideous bushes by driveway
Whew, I'm getting a little tired just typing this list. I think I'll be happy if we finish half of it!


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