Thursday, February 28, 2008

Could Your Home Use Some Lovin'?

Soon my favorite home design blog, Apartment Therapy, will be kicking off their 8-week Spring Cure. The cure, which is detailed in Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan's book Apartment Therapy: The Eight Step Home Cure, is about all about creating the best home possible for you.

This will be my second cure. I tried the spring cure last year, but fell off the wagon after a couple of weeks. It can be a LOT of work in eight weeks. But even though I didn't finish, I still think starting the process helped me do even more to personalize my home over the past year.

I must warn you the first time I read the book I stumbled on some parts that felt, well, a little hokey to me. Things like feeling all the walls in your space, buying flowers every week, and switching to all green cleaners seemed a bit much to me, but after some time passed I eventually tried most of the things and ended up liking them. Now I mostly use green cleaners, I buy flowers a few times a year and bring them in from the garden even more frequently, and I'm investing more time and energy in making my home a place I really love.

The book tells you everything you need to know to do the cure on your own, but the group cures are way more fun because there's a great community of people to share the experience with and get feedback and ideas from.

So if your home could use a little lovin', check out the book (my library has it; yours might too) and join the spring cure!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

It's Time to Lose the Blinds

After two and a half years, I'm really getting the itch to banish the blinds in my living room and get real window treatments. This is proving difficult for several reasons:
  1. I can't find many finished curtain options that will look good in the room
  2. I can't sew, so buying fabric is out.
  3. I like the wall color and don't want to change it.
  4. I'm cheap (and need six panels and hardware for three windows) and I just can't see dropping a lot of cashola on window treatments.
  5. I am decision-making challenged (ex: the great sofa dilemma). Is there a pill for that?
But lately the blinds and lack of art in the living room is giving off a sterile vibe that's driving me nuts. I may steal This Young House's idea of having a curtain fashion show, but if I can figure it out virtually, even better. Won't you help me finally make a freaking decision?

Option #1:
Target has been the front runner in my curtain search, but part of me wants something more exciting. The boy like the blue, but I'm leaning toward the green, because I already have some pops of spring green in the room and I really like it.

Option #2:
I've become smitten with these curtains from Urban Outfitters. The boy says they're tacky, but I think they'd add that bit o' funkiness that this room so desperately needs. I don't love the birds that are hidden in the pattern though and am concerned they may overpower any art and accessories I eventually add to the room (you know, in 2010).

Option #3:
Just found these this morning while surfing every freaking site I could possibly think of that sells curtains. I think these are a no go, but I did consider them for a moment.

If only this CB2 pillow came in curtain form.

Ok, Internet, this is where you come in. What do ya think? Other suggestions or places I should check besides Target, Urban Outfitters, Linens and Things, Overstock, Bed, Bath & Beyond; and JC Penney?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Winter Happiness

Winter happiness is...

...pretty winter views

...a clear driveway (thanks honey!) and cozy home

...and snuggle buddies.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Manland Makeover

The boyfriend has reminded my (a couple times now) that I'm long overdue in posting about his Manland makeover. In order for you to truly understand how massive a transformation this was, you have to know just how pathetic Manland was before.

When I bought the house, I also bought a full-basement, one half of which was half-finished. While half of Manland had proper walls, the other half was adorned in a truly hideous grey (with hints of pink) paneling. This is one of the many DIY decisions made by previous owners that has continued to perplex me. The room was finished with the cheapest styrofoam baseboards ever made and hideous fluorescent shop lights.

When the boyfriend moved in, he wanted some space of his own (the nerve!) and Manland just happened to be open and desperately waiting for some attention. So the boy tore down the ugly paneling and baseboards, put up drywall, and mudded and painted the walls. Even the halfway point looked like an improvement to me.

Then, the boy painted the room blue and grey (we started with just blue but it felt like you'd been swallowed by a blueberry), installed new baseboards (Bargain Outlet rocks!), added trim around the windows, and put in a new door (so that the two doors in the room matched). Now, even though there are a few small things to finish (like installing door trim) and one big thing (we're still deciding how we want to finish the ceiling) it looks like a real room.

Manland now sports some new furniture, aka the sofa (which required taking four doors off the hinges to get it downstairs. Luckily I wasn't home at the time cause I'm a nervous ninny). It's a quite cosy place to watch a movie; I've spent more time in the basement in the past few weeks than in the previous two and a half years.

One of the very best parts of the Manland Makeover is that the boy did 99.99% of the work. This is the first room renovation I've had practically no part in. And it's been wonderful.

And even though you nagged me to post this Manland Makeover (that's a change!), I definitely think you did a great job honey.

(Note to self: ugh, being this sickeningly sweet on a full stomach makes me wanna yak)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Summer Daffodils, Who Knew?

Last night, against my better judgment, I cracked open the shiny new Breck's catalog for a little looksie. It seemed a perfectly harmless thing to do, despite my spring-fever-weakened-state, because while Breck's has many tempting lovelies, their prices have always been expensive enough to cancel out my temptation.

My browsing started out innocently.... Gladiolas and Oriental Lilies, yawn. The Lily Tree was interesting, because of its massive size, but isn't something I'd want in my garden. I paused on the Venus False Sunflower, but only to consider looking for its seeds. I kept flipping non-chalantly through Amaryllis, scores of Dahlias and some Begonias. Then I turned to the magic that is page 19 and read three beautiful words. Three words I'd only dreamed of reading before: Summer-Blooming Daffodils.

Can it really be true? Is my all-time favorite flower, the lovely daffodil, not really limited to a brief spring showing? I turned to my trusted friend Google for answers (and to try and find these lovelies for a cheaper price!), but I found little. Most sites directed one back to Breck's. Whose site has few details on summer daffs.

Michigan Bulb's site offered a small bit of explanation as to why I'd never heard of summer daffs before:
These daffodils are unusual because of their summer flowering tendencies. Extremely nice fragrance. Developed in 1951, but only recently brought into mass-cultivation.

But Vesey's Canadian site dashed my hopes a bit by claiming that Summer Cheer (Narcissus'Erlicheer'):
The fragrant flowers appear in June or July the first growing season, then in the spring in subsequent years.

If they only bloom in summer the first year, what's the frickin' point?

I can't find any gardeners who have written about summer-blooming daffs online. I need non-commercial confirmation or denial of these summer-blooming daff claims. Has anyone grown these lovelies?

I might just have to buy some and experiment. Purely in the name of research of course. Luckily, the Breck's catalog has one of those lovely, but evil, $25 off a $50 purchase coupons.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Chasing Away Spring Fever with Paperwhites

I was greeted on the morning of Valentine's Day by this cheerful Paperwhite bloom. This might not be a big deal to some, but seeing as this is the first bloom on the very first bulb I've ever forced, I was excited to see it. Plus seeing this bloom makes me think that Spring might not be horribly far away.

This bloom is all I have to report for Garden Bloggers' Bloom day. See I'm not a big indoor gardener, partly because I don't have a lot of room (especially with good light) and mostly because one of my cat usually devours every indoor plant I try to grow within days. I'm kind of surprised he left these bulbs alone. Maybe the cat grass bribes I've been growing constantly this year is making a difference?

This is my entire indoor garden (minus one little tropical plant that lives on the pantry shelf), and though small it 's bigger than any indoor garden I've ever had. But this year I'm also feeling more spring fever than ever before too. Growing bulbs and winter sowing do seem to help my growing case of spring fever.

And while it's not blooming, I'm also pretty pleased with this Lemon Balm. It used to be much, much bigger when it shared one of my big pots outdoors. I had visions of making my own tea, but I never actually used any of the herb. I decided to try and overwinter it, but I left it out one frosty fall night and it quickly died. During a warm spell, I noticed a few tiny signs of life left in the so I potted that section up and brought it inside. Fast forward several months and it's finally showing some decent growth. Which just goes to show that sometimes even the worst gardening mistakes can be corrected if you have patience!

What's blooming in your garden? Join Carol at May Dreams Gardens and many other Garden bloggers on the 15th of every month for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

He's Baaack....

I promise this blog will be back to it's regularly scheduled home and garden content starting tomorrow, but for now, bear with me.

Saturday night we found the visitor cat shivering on a box of rags we left for it on the porch. I sighed, the boy laughed, and the cat spent the night in the office. The next morning it was even colder and kitty did NOT want to go outside even though he hadn't used the litterbox all night.

Finally, J went and bought a collar and taped a note to it with our number. It was the only way we could think of to find out if the cat had an owner. We put the cat outside and for almost an hour he sat on the welcome mat outside the back door, shivering and crying. We left to go run some errands (and because I couldn't stand watching the cat suffer). We left the cat (with its box for some crying and scratching on the door. A couple of hours later the boy's phone rang, turns out the neighbors just two houses down own the cat. The owner said the cat "escaped" at 5 p.m. Saturday and they were very worried. Oh and we found out he's a boy. Nevermind, that this DECLAWED little cat had no collar, no ID, and had been at our house for hours almost every day last week.

So the cat went back to its owners, and though we liked him a lot, we were glad not to have to introduce cat #4 to the other three. Fast forward to today, when guess who shows up at the back door?

Yup, our friend kitty. I can't believe these people let a declawed cat roam around in the city. Especially a cat they thought they lost just FOUR days ago. We're really inclined to keep him if he comes back again.

Friday, February 8, 2008

A Little Problem

That black and white kitty you see there? She's not ours. She's a neighborhood cat that been visiting more and more often after getting lots of attention and a little food from the boy. He's MUCH more of a softie for cats than I am. She seems taken care-of, she doesn't eat a lot when he does give her food. She had no front claws and has been spayed. But she's hanging out on the deck for hours a day. Now we're afraid she's cold, so the boy took a sweatshirt out to her and she's been huddled up on it ever since.

I've been grumbling that we can't have another cat, and I do NOT want one, but I'm starting to crack. She's so cute and tries to get your attention whenever we walk by the window.

So what do we do? I don't want another cat, but I'm not made of steel. And she might have a perfectly fine home.

We can't bring her in without getting her checked out at the vet first. I can't take the chance of her making our three cats sick. Plus, it's taken 6 months for one of my cats and the boy's cat to get this close without hissing:

So what's a cat lover to do?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Tale of My Bargain Tulips

Today for Green Thumb Sunday, since my garden is frozen and my cats foil most attempts at indoor gardening, I give you the tale of my $4 Wal-Mart tulips.

day one

day 3

day 5

day 6

day 8 - le fini

Even though they're half-dead right now, I still really like how they look.That punch of red really brightens the living room up.

**This post brought to you by a ragin' case of spring fever and Green Thumb Sunday. Gardeners, plant and nature lovers can join in every Sunday, visit As the Garden Grows for more information.


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