Monday, May 28, 2012

Let There Be Light ... Two of Them, In Fact

After I finished celebrating the long-overdue closet overhaul, I realized I had another task on my to-do list that was sitting around collecting dust. I'll give you a hint:

Yeah ... it shames me to say that that's one of the two upstairs light fixtures that I've been looking at every day for almost three years. There used to be ugly frosted glass globes on them, but the glass wouldn't fit back on once we put in the energy-efficient lights. So we just let them go naked in all their swirly glory.

We've tried several times to find replacements for them, but the problem is that the attic door swings very close to the one near the half bathroom. So the fixture has to be wall mounted and super flush to the wall to avoid getting hit by the door. Chris and I love the look of outdoor light fixtures, and tried a couple times to make the ones at Lowes and Home Depot work, but alas, they were always too big.

We eventually gave up. Swirly bulbs and brass fixtures ... for three years.

So when I found two white, wall-mounted lights with an industrial, outdoorsy look that were less than 5" deep and on sale at Joss and Main for $20 a piece, well, let's just say I did a little happy dance.

I attempted to install them myself while Chris was out one day, but I quickly realized I had no idea what I was doing and needed some adult supervision. haha So Chris was nice enough to come up and teach me a little bit about electricity and wiring so that we could have these pretty lights adding a bit of industrial glam to our upstairs:

I assure you, the pictures don't do them justice. They look awesome! (That yellow bathroom ... not so much.)

See that pesky door that threatens to take out any deep light fixture?
 You can get a better idea of how nice they look when the light it on. I love the cross bars and the pretty glass dome.

It looks yellow in this picture, (they are both all white) but you can see the neat design in the glass dome.

It's a small change but it definitely makes a big difference. And it puts me one step closer to eliminating all the ugly brass hardware from my home. haha
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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Banishing My Cat from His Hiding Spot (aka Closet Overhaul)

Over the Memorial day weekend, I decided it was time to finish off the painting upstairs and get those paint cans and supplies out of the dining room (finally!) The reason I waited so long was because the last part of the hallway that needed to be painted was my closet. Meaning I needed to take everything out of my closet. And I knew this was a good opportunity to weed through my clothes and install some sort of storage in the back of the closet, so I wanted to have plenty of time to tackle such a project. Well, luckily for me and unluckily for Chris, he got called into work on Saturday. So while my hubby went in to save the day for a team of engineers, I put on my painting clothes and approached this disaster zone with caution:

Guess my closet has gotten a little out of hand in the last few years...
 I had to approach with caution for a couple reasons. First, let's face it. It looks like that blue cloth shelving unit was about to burst at the seams. And all those shoes and scarves and junk on the floor may be some sort of a hazard.

The view from the bedroom.

Inside the closet wasn't much better...
But I also had to approach with caution because of what was lurking inside my closet: Shadow the terrified and jumpy kitty. He has made a home in the back of my closet and goes there to hide from me and Chris. I partially blame him for the mess, but I'll admit I wasn't doing much to counteract it.
Can you spot the kitty?
So after I convinced Shadow to go hide somewhere else, I took everything out of my closet. It was looking pretty colorful in there. We had to tear up the back of it to get into the crawl space behind it two years ago, and I didn't have any yellow paint left to touch it up, so I used leftover bedroom paint and called it a day ... or two years.

The next step was getting a nice clean slate, aka Benjamin Moore's Moonshine. I didn't bother removing the boards from the cabinet that used to exist here because my new storage solution would cover everything up well enough.

Speaking of the new storage solution ...

Can you spot Shadow again?
 My scared kitty came out to check out the shelves that would soon be living in his hideout. Here he is sizing them up.

Next, I hauled the shelves upstairs and tucked them into the closet, which I had measured to make sure they would fit. But when I got them in the hall, I was sure I had screwed up because the shelves looked huge. But sure enough, they fit with room to spare. Guess I have a bigger closet than it appears.

I weeded through my clothes, shoes, purses and scarves and managed to get everything (minus the clothes on hangers) down to this:

Ahh organization!
 And I could still add in an extra shelf on each side if I needed more space for shoes. But I kind of like the idea of limiting the size of my shoe collection, since I usually wear the same pair every day for a whole season anyway. (Have I mentioned I'm not a shoe girl? Never liked 'em).

Next, I sorted through all my hang-up clothes and pulled out a bunch I don't wear much and hung the rest back up.

And it's super easy to get to the shelves because I have lots of extra space on the clothing rod now. See?

Ta da!
All I have left now is to either install doors to really keep Shadow out or to just add a new curtain so it looks pretty. I might be able to get away with the curtain since Shadow no longer has hiding spots and seems uninterested in sleeping up there. Guess I'll just wait and see. If I come home one day to find all my shoes on the floor, then doors are definitely going up. haha

Now that I have these shelves in there, I can't believe I went so long without them. Those 2 cloth bins and the cloth shelves just weren't cutting it. But I guess I didn't know that when I put them in. Some times I guess you just have to live with things until you can identify your own habits, like tossing shoes on the closet floor if they don't have a dedicated spot, stuffing shirts in the cloth shelves because they always looked messy even if I folded them, etc. etc. But this solution definitely feels more organized and dare I say it, more grown up, to me. And once I get a curtain or door, it'll really polish things off.
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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Get Your Pink On!

This weekend, Chris got his pink on. It was for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Awesome cause, right? He ran a 5k with hundreds of other runners and did so well. I'm soooo proud of him. And it's so great to see so many people out there trying to raise awareness and money to find a cure for breast cancer.
My athletic, giving, wonderful husband.

Lots and lots of people getting ready for the race to begin.

Here's Chris about to make it to the finish line in just over 27 minutes!
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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Wall 'O Frames Continues to Evolve

On Monday this week, I took some time to prime and paint two more picture frames for the wall. These were particularly special picture frames because they were framed and matted photographs taken on safari in Africa. Sadly, I was not the one on safari, braving the wild to capture these incredible pictures of a family of lions, but the photographer is my great uncle. And since I love, love, love animals, I was so happy to receive these frames.

The dark wood frames and maroon mats, however, were not really my style. So I watched a few episodes of Futurama while I got to work priming and painting both the mats and the frames.

Ta da!

Adorable and frightening. lol Imagine being so close to these guys IN THE WILD!
This morning, after giving the frames and mats plenty of time to dry and cure, I did a little rearranging of the wall o' frames and I gotta say I'm so happy with the way it turned out. These guys are HUGE and take up lots of space. (Also, conveniently, they cover up LOTS of nail holes in the wall behind them).

The other new lion picture is up at the top, above the picture with the goldfish wrapping paper.

I hadn't been totally satisfied with all the little frames that I had down near the guest room doorway before. There was a lot of little ones clumped together and it looked pretty busy. So having two nice big frames as the focal point down here really calms things down.

Of course, swapping out the stock photos with real pictures, artwork and other items, should really help too. I think the key is to have a lot of white visible, whether it's just the mats or the framed item/art/photo itself. Simplicity seems to be the secret. I'm looking forward to getting to that point eventually. 

I also still need a few more frames up at the top. I have some more small ones, but I'm going to wait until I acquire a few more large frames to avoid the overly cluttered look I had at the bottom of the wall before.

All in all, though, I'm loving the look. And I also still just really love the paint color. Benjamin Moore's Moonshine. With the ceiling painted the same color as the wall, I've noticed that the hallway upstairs doesn't feel as small, which to quote Martha Stewart, "It's a good thing."

Oh, and for a much better/more precise way to hang a big ole wall of picture frames like this, check out Young House Love's tutorial here and my friend Kristen's tutorial here.
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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Quick Clean Up

On Sunday, Chris decided to go out and use the weed wacker, so I took this time to spruce up the little "back porch" area, which had gotten overrun with junk (do you see a recurring theme, here?) I have a few more tasks to tackle before I'll be happy with this area, but I definitely took a good first step to getting it ready.

So here's what we were coming home to before:

We actually had the snow shovel and an old mop out here, too, but I forgot to take pictures before starting to clean up.

You can see in the picture below where the section of the door frame was replaced after the break in. I still need to paint that. But unfortunately, it's still bowed and the door catches on it when we close it, so I need to sand it down again. I guess it's the weather that's changing the wood because it closed fine when the guys originally repaired the frame.

 The ceiling, sadly has looked like this since we moved in. I think that should be a pretty easy fix so I should really get on that. Also, I'd love to add a cool light fixture out here.

Messy, messy.

What all did I remove from this tiny, tiny space? Here's the list:
  • 3 door mats
  • 1 snow shovel
  • 1 broom
  • 1 bird feeder
  • 1 bird house (with a broken rope hanger)
  • 2 badminton racquets and a birdie
  • 1 huge container of Home Defense bug killer
  • 2 empty Raid spray cans
  • 1 can of bug spray
  • 2 containers of bird seed
  • 2 bags of bird seed
  • 1 piece of rope
  • 1 umbrella
  • 1 piece of old trim from the bathroom
  • 1 old plastic mop
  • 1 hose nozzle
That's insane, right? It's incredible how things accumulate and you don't even realize how bad it is until you dig in.

O.K. so here is the back porch after a little sprucing up. Now we've got a nice clean slate to work with for tackling some painting, repairs and upgrades out there.

Definitely need to swap out those light switch covers for some white ones. Old beige just isn't cutting it.

I'm definitely toying with the idea of painting the floor and the back steps for a pop of color and to make it look cleaner.

A while back, Chris upgraded the screen door to help keep the kitties inside. Before, the door would just swing shut, but didn't have a latch to stay shut. So the kitties could push on the door and let themselves out. Luckily Shadow and Zoro never did this, but Oreo was famous for it and that's how he got out after the break in.

So Chris added this pretty door handle and a latch so the door would stay shut. I still need to patch the hole where the old handle was and wash down the door and maybe paint.

And the latch was sort of a strange fix because the screen door was installed in a less-than-ideal way. So Chris had to rig up a suitable fix. I think once I get to painting this area, it'll blend in better.

This definitely has me ready to keep working and to get this area looking pretty and inviting.
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Friday, May 4, 2012

How'm I Doing? Well, I'll Tell You

After my last four-day weekend, I had my first day at my new job this past Tuesday. I also worked on Wednesday and Thursday and am now staring down another four-day weekend. Life is good.

The job itself is wonderful, too. The work is much more challenging than my last job (yep, I actually have to think!) and the work is very fast-paced. We're constantly passing different files around to get through writing, editing, proofreading and all the graphic design stuff. The days go by so quickly, although that may be due in part to the fact that I come in around 9 or 10 and leave around 4. Did I mention that life is good?
So of my original list of things to do in my week off, here's what I have done:

Weekly Goals
  • Clean the main living areas (dust, mop floors/vacuum, put away junk, etc). I dusted, vacuumed, cleaned off the coffee table and put away other random piles of junk.
  • Go grocery shopping at least once to make trips easier and more manageable (and also allow me to buy fresh food more often) Might swing by the store to grab a couple items today or tomorrow
  • Make real dinners (Hamburer Helper doesn't count) at least three nights This week I made cedar-plank salmon with herb potatoes, Cajun chicken and rice, sloppy joes and shish kabobs.
  • Try one new recipe every week (blog about it) That's the Cajun chicken and rice. Still have to blog about it, though.
  • Make significant progress on at least one item on my project list (and blog about it) This would be the wall o' frames. Check out my previous post for details.
  • Work on my own writing at least three times Only did this twice so far
  • Complete at least one Dguides task (editing, writing, etc.) Fail.
  • Keep up on laundry, dishes and kitty litter boxes as needed Doing awesome on this. Dishwasher is running right now and there's a pile of folded laundry next to me as I type this.
  • Run on the treadmill at least once Fail again.
So I'd say my progress is fair for week one. And since I have today off, it's totally possible that I'll get some more of these tasks done. All depends on what Chris is up to this afternoon when he comes home. But I gotta say, Supreme Commander is calling my name right now, so I may postpone a few chores to play a little before I get into any more work. We all deserve a little break now and again, right? Even those of us with ridiculously awesome schedules ...

Anyway, just wanted to put up these pictures of my little garden, now decorated with my birthday present. So cute!

So in case you're curious, that plant with the tiny pink flowers starting to bloom in the left corner of this picture is Rose of Sharon. The silvery plants are Lamb's Ear. And those funky grass shoots near the right side are Chives. I'm not sure about the grass stuff behind the birds. Might be weeds ... Oh and there's also some Hens and Chicks to the right of the Lamb's Ear.

This area looks much prettier in summer when all the plants sprout up. Right now everything is just confused and lethargic from the constant change in weather around here. The plants aren't sure if it's winter or summer anymore. haha