Sunday, September 28, 2008

Gettin' Fall-ified

On Friday I couldn't stand it any longer, I had to have some fall blooms to revive my dying garden and barren-looking deck. Aren't they pretty?

The asters are perennials so they went right into the garden, my first permanent fall flowers. Now it feels like fall.

Gardeners, plant and nature lovers can join Green Thumb Sunday every Sunday, visit As the Garden Grows for more information.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Things No One Warns You About: Foundation Maintenance

If someone had sat me down when I was house shopping and told me EXACTLY how much maintenance is involved with an older home and how much time that would take (or money, which I don't have enough of to hire everything out unfortunately), I would have bought a condo or stayed a renter. I mean who knew how much time staining decks, cleaning gutters, repainting, gardening, caulking, changing filters, and cleaning would take? Too late now though and I've been feeling guilty because I haven't gotten many maintenance projects done this year despite having a long to-do list.

Last Sunday I decided I'd finally do one of the quicker projects on my list: sprucing up the foundation. It would be a simple project I could get done in a day and cross off my list, or so I thought. My foundation is painted, but the paint was dingy and chipping. It didn't take me long to learn that water is the major enemy of structural soundness, and where you have cracks and cold weather, you're going to have water damage. So my plan was simple: patch the chips so I can have a nice, smooth surface to repaint. Easy, right?

But first, there was the little matter of what to patch it with. I knew there are expensive tubes of concrete repair, but with the amount of patching I needed to do, these were above my budget. I searched the net and found several suggestions: concrete, cement patch, hydraulic cement, mortar, and epoxy. I went to the hardware store and after reading some labels came home with hydraulic cement. Then I started scraping the loose parts off the foundation, but the loose parts kept coming. Then I found some spots where mortar was missing. I began to panic and called my stepdad, my entire family's handyman guru, for advice. In the end he and my mom drove an hour to come to my rescue (yet again) to show me some tricks of the masonry trade.

The stepdad was not impressed with the idea of using hydraulic cement at all. He recommended Quickcrete mortar. So I learned how to mix and apply mortar. And I had lots and lots of practice at it while I tried to patch each and every little chip and indent. Having the right tools definitely helps. Undoubtedly it wouldn't have been a much longer and much more frustrating experience without those lessons!

foundation during, after patching

A mere six days, some new Drylock paint, and I don't want to count how many hours later, my foundation looks like this:

Which looks even better in person and gives me a little thrill of self-satisfaction. Until I remember that I have three more walls to go.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Get Your House Voyer Fix @ The Love List

I can't get enough home tours. I mean, what's more fun then checking out other people's cribs? Nothing, I tell you, nothing. That's why I was thrilled to find The Love List (thanks for the tip Decor8!), where for the next few weeks Jessica is hosting tours of bloggers' homes. My favorite so far is definitely Erin's Elemental Style.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Design Advice from Nestled In

In July, I profiled the new-to-me blog Nestled In. At the same time, I e-mailed Nestled In's authors and asked a few questions which they kindly and quickly answered, but I embarrassingly didn't get around to sharing until now. So without further ago, here's some design advice and thoughts from Nestled In.

How would you describe your style?
"I guess we're still trying to figure out our style together. We like to mix new and old, thrift store finds and furniture we've 'inherited' from relatives. We love old furniture because it has more character and also because of the ecological aspect of re-using things. We like simple and modern style but not minimalism. And obviously, living in Finland, we're strongly influenced by Scandinavian style of decorating. We also want our home to reflect our personalities. It's important to try to find your own style and, while taking inspiration from around you, not to care too much about trends or other people's opinions."

What is your greatest decorating challenge?
"Decorating with a small budget maybe. And for me (Katja) it's also just having the patience, not expecting everything to be finished and perfect right away."

What is your favorite spot in your home? Why?
"Mine (Katja's) is the dining area in our kitchen. There's a big window there so it gets nice light and we're growing mini-tomato plants on the windowsill (because we don't have a yard or a balcony). I have to say I'm really getting into gardening! Minna's favorite spot in our home is her office space in the hallway.

What about your home do you love the most?
That we're making it together.What do you collect? How do you display/store your collection?
"We don't really have any collections. I (Katja) have a few vintage photographs that are displayed on the hallway wall but that's about it."

What’s your favorite sources of decorating inspiration? "Blogs! decor8, Design*Sponge, Homebug, Design for Mankind and many, many more. Also, going to thrift stores and interesting shops together, art, movies, magazines and books."

And since home just isn't home without a cute kitty, I couldn't resist this pic of Lissu and these chairs. Thanks Katja and Minna!

*All photos courtesy of Nestled In.

Friday, September 19, 2008

What a Couple of Weeks: Relaxation, Jubilation and Frustration

Here's the hopefully not too long story of why I haven't posted in so long.

Kure Beach by flickr user Stephie189

First, the boy and I had a lovely vacation in Carolina Beach, North Carolina. We swam at two different beaches, had some great seafood at Michael's (de-lish!), saw someone catch a baby shark on the Pier at Kure Beach (pictured above) and even went to a snake museum (I didn't love that bit). I'd share some pictures, ones I actually took, but I left my camera in North Carolina. Hopefully it's on its way home now.

On the way home last Monday, we found out that the remains of Hurricane Ike blew through central Ohio and caused some damage and a LOT of power outages. At one point hundreds of thousands of people were without power, in fact mine just came back last night, then went out again this morning, then came back again this afternoon. Luckily there wasn't any damage to min hus, just a gutter ripped off the garage. It could have been much worse and in fact WAS much worse for many.

It was surreal going to the grocery store last night (I threw EVERYTHING out of the fridge and freezer on Monday) and seeing rows of empty shelves where the dairy, frozen food and meat departments should have been. Today as I was driving home from work I saw several caravans of utility trucks all over the city. And to those hard-working folks I have one thing to say: thank you!

The jubilation part? Well that's because my sweet Alex hasn't needed insulin in 14 days!! Apparently cats can go into remission sometimes and it's looking like Alex is one of the lucky ones. So if you or anyone you know has a diabetic pet, please know it's not always a permanent condition, but it's always worth treating. And if you have a diabetic cat, the folks at Feline Diabetes can really help.


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