Friday, January 27, 2012

Rope Mirror

Both Nate Berkus and Martha Stewart have tutorials on how to make a rope mirror.  I saved them both months ago, but couldn't decide which one I liked better.

In the end, I found that the rope I bought didn't lend itself to tying a nice knot like Martha's.  I couldn't tie the knot tight enough.
Pinned Image

So I decided to do it the Nate Berkus way.  The tutorial explains it all, but I have a few notes. 

1. In Nate Berkus' world, rope seems to easily lie flat, but mine required clamping to hold it in place once glued.  (Maybe it's the rope I bought, manila off the roll at Home Depot.)
2. Use glue that dries clear.  I didn't.  I wound up doing a little scraping and trimming, and then I wrapped a piece of twine around the edge to conceal what I couldn't scrape off.  Twine cures all.

In the end, it's a cheap and quick project, and I think it turned out alright.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Driftwood Wall Hanging

I made this while watching the Patriots game on Sunday.  The driftwood was collected over the summer, and has been sitting in a bowl since, waiting for me to discover its purpose.  I saw something similar on Pinterest (or maybe I pinned it on Apartment Therapy?) made with a wire hanger. I decided to try a more natural look and used twine.  It took about a half hour to complete the project, minus a minor delay when I realized I hadn't cut long enough pieces of twine and had to figure out a way to attach more.  (There's an extra knot hiding behind one of the middle pieces of driftwood.)  

Here's what you need:

Here's how you do it:
1.Cut two pieces of string that are three or four times as long as you want your wall hanging to be.
2. Fold each piece of string in half, and drape one over each side of the anchor (top) piece of driftwood.  (I'm just showing one side here.)

3. Wrap the back piece of twine up and over the driftwood on both sides,

and tie a knot at the bottom to hold it in place. 

4. About two inches down, tie another knot.  (Make sure the knots are evenly spaced on each side so the wall hanging will be balanced.)

5. Repeat with as many pieces of driftwood as you want, and then snip the end of your twine. 

I like it even more than I expected.  What do you think?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tear Down This Wall

There's no turning back now.  The bathroom project is under way.

I took a few celebratory whacks with the sledgehammer, and helped to clean up the rubble, but most of the 500 pounds of drywall and beams came down thanks to the muscle of my other half. 

How do I know it was 500 pounds?  They weighed the truck at the dump before and after the debris was unloaded.  (Once again- I'll be honest- I had no role in this process.) The charge was $33, the first expenditure for this remodel. 

Tools used:
the aforementioned sledgehammer
sawzall (to cut the studs)
the trusty shop-vac

While the wall was being torn down, I made soup and worked in an ADD-like fashion on several other projects I've got going simultaneously.  And then I vacuumed.  Twice.  Tearing down a wall creates a lot of dust.  If we were smart we would have sealed off the area with plastic.  But we didn't. 

This week, I'll share some other projects that pale in significance to this one.  Stay tuned...

Friday, January 13, 2012

More Bathroom Inspiration

I've had a terrible cold and haven't been doing much besides working this week, but the February home magazines have been piling up, so I had to look through a few, and two bathrooms caught my eye. 
Country Living
This rustic vanity graces the cover of Country Living at a better angle.  I love the idea of a farmhouse sink in the bathroom, but I'm not sure we have the real estate.  It looks amazing, and would really help keep the water where it belongs.

And from House Beautiful, this shower in a house in East Hampton, NY is the spitting image of my dream.
House Beautiful
I love the combination of green glass and marble.  I especially like how the tile not only goes to the ceiling, it covers it.  Beautiful, indeed.  Note the marble shower base, and the wood floors.  Love.

When are they going to start that bathroom, you ask?  Soon, soon.  This weekend is reserved for some much needed rest, cleaning the house, and a bunch of little projects that have been bugging us. So we'll be in good shape to start the bathroom weekend?

I hope you all have a restful and productive weekend!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

We did some skiing in Vermont on Saturday despite the less-than-ideal snow coverage, but thanks to the warm temperatures there was little ice and it was an enjoyable day.  We meandered home on Sunday, taking back roads through many of the towns hit hard by Hurricane Irene and the floods that followed, amazed by the amount of debris piled up in backyards and along the river, and impressed by the effort that must have gone into many new roads and bridges.  Sandy's Books and Bakery in Rochester is always an obligatory stop, where they make this amazing breakfast sandwich that consists of egg, spinach, mushroom, onion, cheese and bacon on a large biscuit.  As if that's not enough, it comes with a side of potatoes.  Mixed in with mostly Yukon Golds we found the occasional sweet potato, a flavor explosion that left us wanting more, more, more!

So, I compiled a bunch of recipes (because I can never follow just one), and made some roasted sweet potatoes to go with our haddock and broccoli for a nice, healthy Sunday dinner.  The goal is to get a potato that's crisp and flavorful on the outside, and sweet and creamy on the inside.  This did the trick.  I made the mistake of taking the time to peel the potatoes, but next time I'll leave the skins on for more crispiness.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

3 sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 large garlic cloves, minced
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 450.  Toss ingredients together, and lay flat in a roasting pan, or on a cookie sheet.  Cook for 40 minutes.  Enjoy.

Have a great week!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Cork Letters

I saw this project on Pinterest via Sherry @ Young House Love the other day and immediately had to make one, or three.  You see, there are still three huge bins of corks in my basement, and any new idea to use them up has great appeal.  I will probably never use them all, unless I cover a wall with them.  Hmmmm....

If you don't have three huge bins of corks in your basement, fear not.  For those who look at cork projects and think of the challenge of saving corks as part of the project, here's a hint:  I drink my fair share of red wine, but most of my corks came from restaurants.  Go to your local restaurant or bar, and ask someone if they'll save corks for you for a few weeks.  When you return, you'll be amazed at the quantity.  Most will be happy to please a customer, and you're recycling.

I found a different challenge here.  The project I've linked to above suggests that you glue your corks to a wooden letter cutout.  You can buy wooden letters from your local craft store, like A.C. Moore or Michael's, but the ones I found were too small.  I did find this online resource that seems to have a lot of different sizes and styles to choose from, and I would definitely order some if I was patient.

I wanted something substantial, so I decided to make a custom letter using a stiff piece of cardboard, cut from a box. 

Here's what you'll need:
wood glue
xacto knife

1. Set out your corks in the shape of the letter.

2. Working in small sections so the glue doesn't dry, spread some glue on the cardboard, and then a little on the side of each cork so they stick to the cardboard and each other. 

3.  Let the corks dry overnight, and then trim the edges with an xacto knife.  To get any remaining edges that seem to stick out, flip it over and trim from the back.  The cardboard will be barely noticeable from the side if you trim it back far enough.

4.  I'd recommend waiting 48 hours before hanging the cork letter. Especially if it's humid, seemingly dry glue may drip.

And, there it is.  I like the variety of colors. It was an easy, free project.  What do you think?

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Seaweed in the Garden

I had planned to do this mid-September, but we finally got around to it during the warm days of New Year's weekend.   While seaweed may not be at everyone's disposal, we are lucky enough to be surrounded by miles of this natural fertilizer.  (Seaweed isn't usually one of the reasons I consider myself lucky to live where I live, but after a somewhat disappointing year of vegetable growing, I figured it was worth embracing.)  I read up a little, here and here, and learned that seaweed enriches and lightens the soil, eventually improving seed germination and nutritional value.  Plus it helps to repel pests, an area where we could use a lot of help.
I was expecting that transporting seaweed would be like an episode of Dirty Jobs, but it was actually quite easy and not so messy.  Since it is Winter, there were no bugs, and the smell was minimal.  The above sites advised taking from the top of the beach, where the seaweed is drier, and only taking a third of a clump from one area, to minimize disturbance to marine life.  Some people recommend asking the town permission before taking the seaweed, but we didn't.
We took a large cooler and a milk crate to the beach during low tide, and filled them up. 

Doesn't that look yummy?  We wore gloves, in case you were wondering.

Once home, we had the option of spreading the seaweed directly into the garden, or mixing it into our compost bin.  We decided to spread it like mulch; the recommendation was about 4-6 inches deep.  We only had enough to cover half the garden, so it will be a controlled experiment.  Or maybe we'll go back and get more.  

The seaweed should start to decompose into the soil in a matter of days.  If it doesn't, we'll cover it with leaves to speed up the process.  While we were out in the garden, we noticed that some of the garlic is prematurely sprouting.  This is the time of year when gardeners in the Northeast expect to be sitting by the fire reading seed catalogs, not gathering and spreading seaweed, so  I don't blame the garlic for being confused.  I guess we can't do much about it, but I hope we'll still get some of the nearly four dozen cloves to do what they're supposed to do come April.

Have you used seaweed or other unusual things in your garden?  Do tell.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012 To Do List

Happy 2012!  I hope your new year is off to a good start.  We've been doing a little relaxing, and a little planning, and enjoying of the warmer temperatures before it turns bitter cold this week.

A wise family member once advised that, as homeowners, we should make a list of 10 projects we want to accomplish over the year, and then be satisfied when we do half of them.  Here's our ambitious list:

1. Remodel the upstairs bath.  This includes knocking down a wall, building two new ones with two closets in between, reframing two door ways, installing pocket doors, adding a skylight, finishing the ceiling, adding a tiled shower, installing beadboard (or board and batten), putting down a new wood floor, building a vanity and medicine cabinet, and painting the room.  We'll let a plumber install the heating and toilet and sink, and an electrician install the new wall sconces and a light above the shower.  (I've previously described our plans here, and my inspiration here.)

2. Strip the wallpaper and paint the bedroom adjacent to the bath and the hallway.  Parden the appearance of what we call "the flower room."  Wallpaper, Laura Ashley, circa 1985.  The paper in the hallway has already been partially stripped, giving me a taste of the part of 2012 that I am dreading most.

3. Repair the hole in the kitchen ceiling.  A leaking toilet in the bathroom above (or was it the leaking chimney?) caused the kitchen ceiling to be wet; a husband caused the hole. 

4. Recessed lighting  in the kitchen.  While we're repairing the ceiling in the kitchen, we're going to  hire a professional to install recessed lighting, getting rid of these fixtures.

5. Add moulding to the top of the kitchen cabinets.  Before we repaint the ceiling, we might as well add finishing touches to the kitchen cabinets.  Right?

6. Repair and stain the back deck.  Staining the porch took all of the Summer of 2011, leaving no time for the deck, which is looking quite hazardous after another year's wear. 
7. Paint and stain the shed.  Same as above.  Isn't it sad?

8. Stain the front deck and paint the trim.  We'll see.

9. Dig another small vegetable bed, in a sunnier spot closer to the house.  I'd like to blame some of our 2011 vegetable failures on the afternoon shade that creeps up on the current garden toward the end of the summer, but there are so many other issues (pests large and small), it's probably not the biggest problem.  Still, since our sunniest spot is closer to the house, and the water supply, it's appealing.

10. Create a flagstone walkway to the front door.  This should be a cheap and satisfying weekend project.  Won't that look nice?

If we get the first five things on this list done, I'm supposed to be happy, but I'm really hoping we get to all of them. At the same time, we want to be sure to spend time in the Winter enjoying our skis and snowshoes, and the Summer enjoying our kayaks and beach chairs.  Balance is the goal around here. 

Are you aiming to do less or more in 2012?  What are your goals?