Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sewing Room progress, part 2

I will start with a disclaimer: although most of you know the room in this post as the "sewing room / guest room," I must disclose that its more formal name, according to some members of the family, is "Maura's bedroom."  You can probably guess which member of the family initiated that name.

Luckily, Maura (my sister) is happy with the updates I made this week to her room.  (I gave her a preview via text message, given that it's her room and all).

In the sewing room progress part 1 post, you saw several messy corners.  Here's one of them, circa yesterday at 5 pm.  (Check out the House Tour tab at the top of the blog to see it 11 months ago compared to now!)

 It's no wonder I haven't been sewing much recently.  I could barely find the sewing machine, let alone the rest of my tools!

Here's the same space today:

I've been dreaming of shelves and a bulletin board for a long time now, but I seemed to be in a decision paralysis.  It's a strange phenomenon of freezing for small decisions.  I wrote about it before - it took me far longer to select outlet covers than it did to select paint colors.

Yesterday, I attended a conference in Elmira, NY (about 45 minutes south of us).  Besides being an interesting and educational meeting, I also got to go to Hobby Lobby.  Hobby Lobby is a really cool craft store that is ALMOST cool enough to justify driving the 45 minutes just to go there.  But that would be a very bad economic decision, first because of gas prices, and second because of how much I enjoy Hobby Lobby.

Seeing as I was in the neighborhood, though, I indulged in an aisle-by-aisle look at the amazing selection of furniture, home decor, fabric, craft supplies, etc, etc, etc.  The 50% off signs in the "wall decor" section made me bite the bullet and select some shelves.  I didn't expect to find a better deal elsewhere, and I liked the styles, I reasoned.  Plus, a 45-minute drive is too far to get home and wished you had bought something.

Of course, once I took the first step on this project, I was suddenly emblazoned with confidence on picking items.  My cart quickly filled up with a cork board, fabric to cover it, a thread rack, a picture frame, and a glass jar.  I had to make a few guesses in terms of sizes and colors, but thankfully everything looks great now that it's up!

This is a cross-stitch picture done as a wedding gift from our friend Ashley. Doesn't it fit in perfectly!  The shelves contain a mixture of pretty and functional items, that add up to a space that makes me want to hang out ~ and much easier for me to complete projects!

Tonight, I whipped up a little sunglasses case.  I like to think of it as a case in point.  Get it?  Case?  Oh....I should write blog posts earlier in the evening, before I get tired and silly!

You may be wondering how the other corners of the room are faring.

Lilly has some company now, in the form of a storage ottoman from Target, a lamp from Lowes (a birthday present from my mom & dad), and a beautiful papercutting (a birthday gift from my Aunt Clare!)

She cut this all from a sheet of paper, pretty cool, huh?

My favorite part is that she selected the color for the matte by studying Lilly on the blog :)  Definitely incentive to keep posting!!

The worst corner of the room was this side, which was a general junk pile.

You may remember my pleas for a good Craigslist find, not to mention my recent teaser about a project.  Well, it's still not done, but there has been some definite progress!

Final completion of this project hinges on me finding, well, the hinges.  (Jeesh, again with the late night puns.  Sorry!)  I could have sworn that they were in one of the drawers, but they apparently migrated to the basement with the leftover paint.

The dresser was, in fact, a $45 Craigslist find.  It came a long way with some paint and new hardware

All in all, the sewing room Maura's bedroom decor makes me more and more excited about spending time up here.  I'll be back with more progress updates.  For now, it's off to bed, lest any of my too-tired puns make their way into my 8:30 AM presentation tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

On the road again....

You may be wondering why you haven't heard from me recently (or, based on my past performance in updating frequently, you may not be wondering at all).

Either way, the reason for the latest delay is because we were out of town again last weekend.  We were visiting Justin's extended family in Levittown, PA (suburbs of Philadelphia).  Justin's God-son (his cousin) was making his First Communion.  It was wonderful to spend time with lots of family members ~ as well as some good friends in the area.

I did a little shopping today and am off to the sewing room to work on some hopes of having them blog ready soon :)

Until then, I'll leave you with this picture from the weekend.  You can see what a good Godfather Justin is ~ and how much his Godson loves him!  (but who doesn't love him, he's such a great guy!)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Patty O

By way of explanation for the post title, I will recount my mom's favorite joke, which goes as follows: "What is Irish and stays out all night?"  Patty O'Furniture!

Now that your Irish eyes are smiling, take a look at something that does not make anybody's eyes smile:

That hot mess is our "patio" AKA the concrete slab left over from somebody's old storage shed.  The above picture was taken this afternoon (when I couldn't stand eating indoors on this beautiful day and took my lunch out back).  Here's another picture from a while back:

A lot of the green grass you see above has since been dug in for the vegetable garden:

But back to the patio.  Can we just talk for a minute about the number of weeds that are growing in the 1/8th inch crack of concrete?  Seriously, ya can't get some plants to grow with lots of TLC and water and MiracleGro, yet we've got a mini jungle between a literal rock and hard place.

Or, we did have a jungle.  I got tired of seeing the weeds and pulled them all out today.  Then I swept the patio and sprayed it down with the strongest force our garden hose would provide.  I also moved our outdoor dining furniture from the front porch to back here (more on that in a minute) and served dinner.

I can't decide if it looks better or worse, but I'm OK with that either way because lots of projects look worse before they get better.  The color will certainly improve once it all dries and its not splotchy.  We have big plans for fixing up the space to include a grape arbor, landscaping, an outdoor carpet, etc, etc.  We've also considered painting or staining the concrete.  I have briefly also entertained the idea of adding a grid so we can play huge outdoor chess like we did on our honeymoon

Time will tell.  You will certainly be hearing a lot more about ol' Patty O in the near future.  Also about the now-naked front porch.  The front porch furniture is taking a sabbatical in the back yard ~ partially because we need to deal with the chipping paint situation out front, partially because it's only spring and warm enough to eat evening meals outdoors only in the sun, and partially as a thought experiment as to whether or not we need to own two outdoor furniture sets.  Stay tuned for riveting changes on all fronts (look at that, I started AND ended the post with a joke).

Excuse my silliness, I'm off to bed.  90 miles on a bike is still catching up to me!

Monday, May 9, 2011

One big check mark

You probably couldn't read the details on our panel list I revealed last week.

Here's a closer look at one of the goals:

Yep.  Bike around Cayuga Lake.  You know, that large, beautiful puddle that's almost in our backyard.  The longest of the Finger Lakes.  Cayuga. Lake.

Link to google maps
In case you can't tell from the picture, that's a pretty long distance.  40 + miles each way.  For my PA peeps, that's approximately the distance from Harrisburg to Selinsgrove.


Justin's lab group (led by their bike-loving advisor) takes semi-annual trips.  You may remember I joined them in the fall for a slightly less-crazy 25 mile ride.  This time, we rode the 40-some miles up the west side of the lake to a hotel in Seneca Falls, NY, spent the night, and returned via the east side of the lake the next day.

I was again skeptical that I'd be able to ride the whole way, but my skepticism quickly turned into a fierce commitment to meet this personal challenge.

The beautiful scenery and perfect weather certainly helped; the lake was in view for the majority of the ride.

Don't be fooled by that picture, the ride was, as they say....uphill both ways.  The elevation gained/lost was approximately 2,000 feet each day (so although we began and ended at approximately the same elevation, we  pedaled up 2,000 feet of hills and rode back down).

In case you haven't noticed, I'm pretty proud that I accomplished this feat.  I'm proud of Justin, too, although I'm not surprised, given that this was his second go-round.  I had to laugh at the humbling experience of being passed by two bikers during a water break 6 miles from home (on our return leg).  They had also gone around the whole lake ~ but started Sunday morning!

For those of you who might be wondering, I was totally exhausted (and accidentally fell asleep Saturday afternoon at the Women's Rights Museum/Visitor's Center that commemorates the women's suffrage movement, which took place in Seneca Falls.  No disrespect, ladies, and thanks for all you did.  I'd like to visit again when I've arrived via less tiresome transport.)  I was again very tired Sunday night, but today feel pretty normal.  I'm only a little sore walking up stairs, which feels surprisingly similar to my thighs as pedaling a bike.  I even had enough remaining energy to do some major pruning on our unruly front bushes this evening (but not enough energy to snap a picture and show you!).

So although it wasn't a big house-related weekend ~ and we don't have progress to show like the time we painted the whole upstairs in a Saturday ~ it was fun, excellent exercise, and a great way to appreciate God's creation.  And one big check mark on our panel list! :)

P.S. I hope you're liking my new re-commitment to frequent posting on the ol' blog!  Don't forget to leave comments, too :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Writing on the Wall

When Justin's mom and sister moved into a new house, it was their daily routine to say to each other "Hey...guess what?...we live here!"  Although we haven't made it a daily routine here, we do find ourselves saying it every so often.  On several occasions when making big house changes, we've had to pinch ourselves and realize that not only do we live here, but we're the adults in charge of doing what we want!

Here's one house change that made us giggle about being grown-ups:

Yep, that's right, we're writing on the walls.  The paneling in the kitchen is dark and ugly.  We can't wait until we take it out this summer.  But, we also realized that we want to spend our first year of marriage doing some things that don't involve a paintbrush or hammer.

Some people have a "bucket list" of things they want to do before they kick the metaphorical bucket.  We have a "panel" list of things we want to do before the paneling is removed.

For example, go to Corks and More (a local wine restaurant) - CHECK!, play frisbee in a nearby park (CHECK!), try cross-country skiing (CHECK!), and visit Scranton, the home of our favorite show The Office (upcoming....?)

We have to thank my sister, Maura, for her spring break artwork on the wall.  She got a little excited with having the permission to take Sharpies to the wall, and we ended up with a "Maura was here" on the (not yet finished) ceiling, as well as a little drawn spider (also on the ceiling).  It makes me smile that she colored outside the "lines," and it's a good reminder of what this project is all about ~ having fun!

The panel list has been quite the conversation piece when we have people over for dinner.  Don't you think it adds an element of class to fancy dinners, such as Easter?

Justin & his mom, Easter 2011
And, not to worry, in addition to checking things off our panel list, we are most definitely taking the time to enjoy life and this special first year of marriage.  Case in point: our decorated Easter eggs!

Anybody have any fun suggestions to write on the wall?  We're game for fun things....but not too many, as we want to finish them all before we renovate in here ~ and I'm pretty excited for renovation day!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Den, Done

Yikes!  When I said yesterday that I was really far behind on updating, I hadn't even realized how far behind!

The last you saw the den, it looked like this:

As you probably recall, the den was the temporary master bedroom while the master bedroom looked like this:

And, of course, while the bed was in the den, the desk was in the kitchen:

A certain someone in our house is extremely happy to now have his official den:

While I've dreamed and schemed on every possible home renovation project, decoration project, etc., Justin's dream has been pretty stead-fast.  Aside from wanting a safe, comfortable home, the recurring theme has been a DEN.  His dream grew from seeing his late Pop-Pop's den, and hearing of its magnitude of importance in family life (all big decisions were approved or denied amidst a cloud of pipe smoke in Pop-Pop's den).  Although Justin isn't giving any daughters' hands in marriage (for many years, anyway) and isn't doing any pipe smoking, it's his space to focus on work.  The most special part of the den is that Pop-Pop's crucifix now hangs above Justin's desk.

Here's the rest of the den, as it looks today (and some before shots for comparison!)

The last pictures are the best representation (on my computer, anyway) of the actual before and after colors.

Although the den, like the living room, is in need of some additional decor, I've already added a few little touches.

Kudos to my mom for both the "joyful home" cross-stitch, and the monogram G.  I found the wooden G at a craft store, and she sprayed it for me using some textured spray paint leftover from painting the flower holders from our wedding.  A (faux) stone letter is surely manly enough decor for the infamous den!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It's easy being green

In the past few days, I've gotten several hints (some subtle, many not) that a post was long overdue.  I also realized that the blog is probably 3 months behind the house in terms of actual improvements.  There are lots of "done" things that haven't been photographed, uploaded, narrated, and posted.  In an effort to catch up, here's a post I wrote several weeks ago.  I didn't take the final pictures until tonight.  Hopefully this update will tide you over until I finish my secret sewing room project I hinted about here.


Kermit may disagree, but I'd say it's easy being green.  At least, it's much easier on my eyes, now that the living room walls are green.

As much fun as mauve walls coated with 20+ years of cigarette smoke can be..

....I'd say a nice fresh coat of green is much nicer!

Thanks to Maura's spring break project, the beadboard was already painted, so it just took me a Saturday afternoon to paint the top half of the room.  This was my first experience with flat paint.  Typically, I choose eggshell for a little extra sheen, and a little protection from smudges.  However, due to the sheen, eggshell also shows some of the imperfections of the walls.

Given that the walls of the living room have the topology of a mountainous region, less sheen was definitely a perk.  We could get away with the risk of smudging, because honestly it will be a bit of a challenge (yet a challenge I imagine we'll somehow accomplish) to smudge the wall four feet off the ground.  The flat paint was easy to paint with, and the difference in covering imperfections really is incredible.  I am pleasantly surprised at marks that were highly evident pre-paint are now nearly invisible from a distance.

So, a few lessons learned from this project:  1) flat paint is great for covering imperfections in the wall, 2) if you're going to spackle nail holes, do it less than 6 months in advance, because you'll probably grow even more tired of smoky mauve walls if they have white splotches, 3) same goes for paint you scratch off the trim, 4) getting your sister to paint half of the room while on spring break is an excellent idea!

In addition to the new paint, we also bought a couch (hooray!).  In a nerve-wracking, semi-crazy move, I purchased it online, having never seen it or sat on it.  However, the measurements were perfect for the space, and it has a fold-out bed, which was a near-necessity since our guest room only sleeps one.  It turns out that the couch is both comfortable and looks good.  Since it wasn't a bought-online nightmare, I can now brag that I got it for more than 50% off through a combination of sales and coupons!  Woo!

The striped pillows came with the couch, and while they match decently, you know I'm itching to make some more!

We (here the royal we...really, just Justin) installed some beautiful dark wood blinds in the living room and den.

That table was a gift from some dear family friends.  They rescued an antique sewing machine treadle and a tabletop and made that especially for us!  :)

A few other remaining projects in the living room include installing ceiling tiles (the peeling ceiling paint is far beyond repair) and painting the front door.

But while many little projects remain, there is definitely progress around here!