Thursday, July 25, 2013


I have observed over the last six months that there are some things that will never fail to grow- namely weeds and dustbunnies.  We have our fair share, but we are letting them thrive on lack of attention, as most of our time is focused in a new direction. Our little girl just had her first half-birthday, and she is growing beautifully.

As you may have noticed, and expected, we are not operating at our usual level of productivity.  (This is actually my first blog post of 2013.)  We did just harvest the garlic we planted last fall, and there are some good ones, despite forgetting to fertilize when it sprouted in the spring.  We grew some peas with moderate success.  (I had every intention of photographing them to share, but never got around to it.)  We didn't grow any tomatoes from seed, but we picked up a Brandywine, a Sun Gold, and a grape tomato plant from the garden center.  We're also growing a Fairy Tale eggplant again.  And, because we had room and didn't want to devote any time, we planted three cucumbers and three zucchini.  (If you've never grown cucumbers or zucchini, that could result in a ridiculous amount of produce.) 

It's a good thing we'll have help.  That is, if we decide to use the cucumbers as teething toys.  (She's too young to actually eat cucumber.)  My first attempt at a zucchini puree didn't go over as well as roasted peaches, but I'm working on it. 

And that is what we're up to. 

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Accomplishments

At the beginning of the year, I posted this list, noting that someone once told me to make a list of 10 home projects for the year and expect to accomplish half of them.

1. The first item on the list was to remodel the upstairs bathroom.  We had no idea it would take us almost the whole year, but I can now proudly check that off the list. 

Let's revisit the old bathroom again:

And the new:


2. Strip the wallpaper and paint the adjacent bedroom and hallway.

Well, almost.  We hope to finish that today. Or maybe tomorrow.  I'll let you decide if that counts.

3, 4, and 5. Repair the hole in the kitchen ceiling, add recessed lighting, and add moulding above the kitchen cabinets.  Done, done, and done. 

It might not have been fair to list those as three separate projects, but I'm glad I did, because it gets us over the half-way mark.

6, 7, and 8 involved repairing rebuilding and staining our back deck, which is a rotting mess, staining the shed and painting the trim, and staining the front deck and painting that trim.  Matt did stain the front of the shed, but the rest of that list is being pushed to 2013.  (Let's keep in mind that one of the items not on this list was growing a human being, which rendered me pretty useless over the summer.)

9. Dig another small vegetable bed:

Check!  This is where we grew most of our tomatoes this year, which unfortunately succumbed to late blight.  Next summer we're going to try squash and cucumbers and hope we have better luck.  All in all, we were happy with the space we created.

And, 10 was to build a stone walkway to the front door, which will also be added to the 2013 list, and we'll see if we get to it.

It was a pretty good year, I'll say, and I'm looking forward to the challenges of the next one. 

Wishing you all a safe and happy new year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Nursery Progress

Nursery progress is actually a bit of an overstatement.  There hasn't been much physical progress at all, only a tiny bit of decision making.  In between trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I find lots of thoughts spinning in my head, and plenty of time to debate things like... used or new, glider or rocker?  And to try to justify spending more money than I think is reasonable in order to get what I really want.

Here's what the nursery looks like today, just shy of 3 weeks before its occupant is due to arrive.

The walls have been painted Benjamin Moore Niveous, a cream with the slightest hint of yellow, and the trim will be Linen White before the end of this long weekend. (We're also painting the hallway the same colors.)

I was eyeing this rug for the nursery, but I was really hoping it would go on sale, and it hasn't.

I wound up going with this one instead- also ivory and wool, just not as plush.  But it was half the price.

Our friends have offered us a hand-me-down crib that we have yet to pick up. It looks something like this, only in a natural wood tone, not white:
As you might have guessed, I'm going for a very clean and neutral space.  I hope it will be calming, not boring.  The inspiration for adding any color comes from these crib sheets (by Sweet JoJo Designs).
I'm planning to pull out the light blue and the green (which is actually brighter than it appears here) to bring more color into the room.
I have been searching Craigslist for just the right changing table to paint blue or green, holding out for the right price and the right location, but it's going to be time to bite the bullet on this one soon.

I'm also in the process of prepping this bureau for painting. I picked it up at a yard sale for $8 over the summer. 

I'm going to go with a combination of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Antibes Green and Duck Egg Blue, inspired by this I found on Pinterest:
I hope to show you how it turns out soon.

And, after a long debate over rocker or glider, I have rationalized the purchase of this, the Wingback Rocker at Pottery Barn Kids:

First, I went to Babies R Us to try a few gliders of this variety:
Though the prices on these can run almost as high as a more fully upholstered chair, there are many less expensive versions, and it seems to be a more economical path.  But I don't love the way they look, and more importantly, I learned when trying them out in the store that I don't like gliding.  At all.  I tend to have issues with motion sickness, and while some provided a more smooth ride than others, the motion seemed like something I wouldn't want to continue for more than a minute or two. 
Of course, rockers also move, but somehow I feel I have better control over just how much they move, and the motion doesn't bother me as much.  The beauty of the Wingback Rocker, I think, is that you can purchase feet to convert it into a regular wingback chair when you're done with the rocking phase. 
It is on sale, and I created a baby registry to get an additional discount, and I opened a credit card to earn store points for my large purchase (which gives me store credit to buy more things- like maybe, the matching ottoman).  All of that still didn't make it affordable, but it did make me feel slightly better about this splurge.
The fabric I chose is Buckwheat EverydayVelvet:
I was glad to learn that I can spot clean it, as well as remove the slipcover and throw it in the wash.  I was not so happy to learn that the chair will not arrive until the baby is 5 weeks old.  If only I was able to make up my mind a little earlier. But then it wouldn't have been on sale.
So, that is where things stand. Progress, in baby steps.  I'll be back tomorrow with a recap of the projects we have accomplished in 2012, and with our goals for 2013 soon after that.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Kitchen Upgrades

As I mentioned on Thanksgiving, the kitchen received a quick makeover in the weeks leading up to the holiday. 

We had been living with this hole in the ceiling for longer than I would like to admit.

It was a result of plumbing issues, and we decided to wait until the project in the bathroom above was complete before making repairs in the kitchen. 

And, then there was the matter of these light fixtures.
We have an older house with low ceilings, and not only were the lights not asthetically pleasing, but they just made the ceiling feel that much lower.  So, if we were going to be patching the ceiling anyway, we decided that it was time to call in an electrician to install recessed lighting.
Then, there was the matter of the spacing above the cabinets.  The aforementioned low ceilings don't allow for things like decorative vases and baskets to be placed on top. They do allow for dust to collect.  I had always thought the cabinets would look more finished if we added moulding to the top.  And so, the project grew.  
There were also a few trouble spots to address.  Note below the random strip of wood above the sink that connects the cabinets on either side.  I think it was there to conceal the bare lightbulb behind it, because whoever installed the lighting ran out of ugly fixtures.
Also, it was brought to our attention by the electrician who came to install the recessed lighting that the new microwave we purchased last year was too close to the stove, and therefore not up to code. 
So, we decided to remove the cabinet above it, and lift it up to the proper height. 
All of these things added up to a mini-makeover for the kitchen that has resulted in some nice improvements, I think.  Check it out.
My cookbooks are now exposed on a shelf above the stove.  See how much more room there is between the stove and microwave? 
It looks better, and it's more functional. We weren't willing to admit before that it was annoying to have to lean in a little bit to adjust the knobs on the stove, but it was. And now it's not.
That unnecessary strip of wood has been removed from above the sink.  We added a light fixture from Rejuvenation, and raised the curtain rod to expose more window, elevating everything a little bit.

We added moulding and raised the curtain above the other kitchen window, too, for consistency.

And, I am so pleased with how the moulding finishes off the cabinets.

The recessed lighting just disappears into the ceiling, but provides all of the light we need in all of the right places.  (We toyed with the idea of spending a little more for the energy efficiency of LED lights, but ultimately went with traditional incandescent, because we felt there was a bit of a glare with the LED that might drive us crazy.)
Of course, now that the moulding has fresh paint, the cabinets look like they could use a little freshening, but we'll see if we get to that in 2013.  My other dream is to put banquette seating in that far right corner (like this), with a round pedestal table (something like this).  And to replace the dishwasher with something stainless. Some day....
In the meantime, we are enjoying the new improvements, particularly that the ceiling feels six inches taller.  What do you think? 

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Big Bathroom Reveal

We have been enjoying our mostly completed bathroom for a month or so now, but there are still a few odds and ends that need wrapping up (paint touch ups, mostly), so I wasn't willing to call it "done" yet.  Nevertheless, its time to show you how it turned out.  The project was initiated in January, making its gestation period officially longer than that of our soon-to-arrive offspring.  But we think it is beautiful, and was worth the wait!
It's been a while, so let me remind you about what we started with:

The bathroom was less than four feet wide, had no storage, and was home to a fiberglass shower stall that still makes me shudder.  There was no tile, no paint on the walls, and very little light.  In my mind, it wasn't a bathroom as much as a small space where someone installed (blue) bathroom fixtures to make it function as one. 
The first thing we did (and, when I say "we," I mean Matt and his dad) was tear down the wall and take space out of the bedroom (future nursery) next door.  We built the new wall nearly four feet over, allowing space for a closet on both the bedroom and the bathroom side, and close to two feet of elbow room in the bathroom.
And, then, in a bold effort to make things even more spacious, we went up.  The ceiling was bumped out, and we added a skylight
The walls were painted Benjamin Moore's Par Four. The trim color is Benjamin Moore's Decorator's White.  
And, here it is:
My father-in-law built the vanity out of cedar, which was then coated with polyurethane to protect it.  He says it took him about 6 hours to make it, and the materials cost around $100.  Having a father-in-law who knows what he is doing = priceless.  He also built the medicine cabinet to match.
The marble slab came from a local supplier.  The faucet is by Cifial.  The sconces and towel bars are the Sussex line from Pottery Barn.  I bought the baskets at Home Goods.

The glass tile on the shower walls is from Glazzio (formerly Mirage).  The color is matte ice mist.  We put carrara hexagons on the floor of the shower.  The niche and bench were custom built.
The linen closet is also custom built, and provides plenty of storage, so far.
One of my favorite touches is the shelf below the skylight, where we've assembled a few plants (African violets and peace lily, because they do well in moist environments), and some other decorations. There's a jar with stones from the beach on the left and a piece of driftwood on the right. The mermaid was a Brimfield find. 

I also picked up the fish prints, by Denton, in Brimfield last fall.  The one across from the toilet is a cod.  The one above the toilet is a crappie, because we are immature. The frames were a great Target find. 
A couple of things didn't go exactly as anticipated:
1. The sconces have cedar circles behind them (once again, crafted by my father-in-law) to conceal the electric boxes that were slightly bigger than the base of the light fixtures. 
2. The intention was for the beadboard on the ceiling to be more whitewashed, but the white didn't sink in as well as we hoped.  We decided to leave it as is for a while.  If we want to change it at a later date, we can try again. 
All in all, we are thrilled, and still gushing over our new bathroom.  I could continue to overwhelm you with pictures, but maybe enough is enough.  What do you think??

TDC Before and After