12/03/2011

Eye Candy Saturday

Browsing the internet this morning I ran across a few interesting things that caught my eye. I'm always interested in unusual and whimsical design so thought I'd share.

First is this incredible design installation located in the Netherlands, called the Moses Bridge.  You can read more about it by clicking the link. Wouldn't it be fun to go across?



Another that caught my eye, this giant clothespin sculpture in Belgium. 


The following three have a common theme of partial bodies and are fascinating in a creepy sort of way. The first sculpture by Ron Mueck is so life like it just blows me away. The link will take you to some equally amazing pieces by the Australian artist.
Mask II by Ron Mueck

"Cumil" Bratislava, Slovakia

"La Passe-Muraille"


And to finish off with another bridge, this one still a design concept, for a bridge in Italy called Solar Wind. Beautiful and multi-functional. What a great idea.



Hope you're enjoying your Saturday. We are expecting our first real snow storm here tonight. I plan to do some much needed Saturday house cleaning and errands, and then settle in for a cozy remainder to the weekend of movie watching, baking and gift making. 

11/05/2011

Baking and Raking

Still here despite my lack of posts in the last month or so. Plenty of things to post about but it's always a busy time of year buttoning up summer and getting ready for winter and so on.

Today we were supposed to be having new windows installed. I've been anxiously awaiting this day! Then about an hour ago the window installers called to say that the windows needed some extra attention. They went to get the windows from the shop that did the staining and sealing and found they had done a rather sloppy job of getting stain and poly on the glass. So instead of installing the windows today they'll be working on fixing that mess. On the one hand I'm happy that they are meticulous about their work and want to be sure everything is perfect. On the other hand we're living like fish in a glass bowl. We took down all our window coverings last night and this morning, including our bedroom and bathroom. I guess I'll be tacking up some sheets. Good news is they will be here tomorrow instead. The guys doing the installing do it as a sideline job so they can only work on weekends. So Sunday it is.




Light play against walls. 
The old windows, which are 90+ years old, have that old wavy sort of glass which we are planning to salvage. (I'm not exactly sure what my husband's plans are for the glass or where he plans to safely store 38 panes but that's another story.)  It has a certain charm to it and makes pretty patterns of light on the walls when the sun shines through. I'll rather miss that. Even the frosty designs that formed on the glass on cold winter days held a certain fascination. Not so charming however is the cold and drafts that leak through in winter and the blazing heat in summer. It will be nice to have a snugger house and lower heating and cooling bills. We've waited a long time to get these and I hope we'll see a big difference.

Since I didn't have any plans for the day, other than helping to haul out old windows and do clean-up, I think I'll spend it doing some baking and raking. The baking will help warm up the cold house. It's amazing the difference not having window coverings makes. And the leaves are finally all off the trees so that task needs to be completed. So baking and raking it is for this Saturday.

Have a nice weekend.




  

9/21/2011

WHAT?

I just can't seem to post on a regular basis lately. I've been busy cleaning up after our recent electrical update. Dust seems to have settled in every nook and cranny, including the closets where the lights had to be replaced. Most of the furniture had to be moved to give access to all the outlets and light fixtures. Slowly I'm getting it all back where it belongs. I must say I rather enjoyed the spacy emptiness of rooms without beds, but I'm not sure my kids would appreciate having to sleep on the floor when they come home for visits.

Yesterday was occupied with making grape jelly. My husband paid a visit to the family farm this past weekend where he picked grapes that grow at the end of the barn. Some of the vines are seen here early in the spring before leafing out. Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of the laden vines.


This year was a bumper crop. I made two batches, one of which didn't set properly. So I now have both grape jelly and grape syrup. So it goes. Oh well, the syrup will be great on pancakes or over ice cream. It still tastes delicious! The labels are compliments of How About Orange, which you can download yourself here.





I'm introducing a new category to the blog which I'm calling WHAT?  It's for things that strike me as utterly ridiculous. Today's entry is a $199 toilet brush called the VIPP 11. So yes, it is sleek and shiny with a nice design. But for almost $200 it had better be able to clean the toilet by itself! Wait, make that the whole bathroom. I can think of better things to do with my money than that. It's not the kind of thing I like to leave in sight anyway. A toilet brush as a status symbol? No thanks. Not that my blog is sponsor worthy, but if it ever is I'm safe in saying they won't be contacting me now, will they?

Do you have any WHAT? things to spill? I'd love to hear about them. Have any pictures of the bounty of your gardens? Been finding any produce left on your doorstep by anonymous friends and neighbors? Zucchini for instance?

9/16/2011

Progress

The roofers continue to bang and pound but by tonight we should have a new roof on the main part of the house. The two porches and garage will get done on Monday. It's looking nice so far. We've made a slight change, going from a plain black roof to a variegated gray. Not a huge change but I think it will look better. Our house is a grayish blue although we may change it when we have the house painted next spring. We'll be poring over paint samples this winter trying to make that decision.




I never thought I'd get excited about a new roof, but considering the condition it was in it will be a big improvement. Also, when we had the roof done 20 years ago it was all done by one guy and he did a shoddy rush job. He was getting married that coming weekend and rushed to finish it. I went around the yard and driveway afterwards picking up handfuls of discarded nails, raking through the grass with my fingers. He also left behind sharp scraps of metal flashing and other garbage. Our three children were all little at the time and I wasn't happy at all! Remarkably he's still in business in the area.

Today I'm working on a little basement project. I know my husband will think I'm a little OCD when he sees it. I'll fill you in with the next post.

Plans for the weekend include more house projects, a trip to the farmer's market, cedar plank salmon and grilled vegetables, baking an apple pie, a few glasses of wine and attending the annual parade in my hometown. Fall is definitely here. We had our first frost already on Wednesday night. Last weekend it was close to 90. How quickly things change. What are your plans for the weekend? Work or play or a bit of both? Whatever you do I hope it's a a good one. Back on Monday with the details of mine.

9/15/2011

Holy Ceiling, Batman!

Or should it be "holey ceiling"? Ok, that's a little cheesy, but makes more sense when you see this:


That, my friends, is the ceiling in one of our bedrooms with a two foot square hole in it! We had electricians in to update the wiring. Our ninety year old house had the original knob and tube wiring which is rather scary stuff. Especially considering that all our upstairs outlets weren't grounded and that is where we have the majority of our computer equipment. Unfortunately, Mr. Ted, who was the original builder/owner of this house, figured there was never going to be a reason to go in the attic and so never made an access opening. In the sixty years he lived here that proved true I guess. Until now.

We were expecting the attic to be a horror chamber full of dust, bats, and cobwebs but hoping it might contain a hidden treasure or two (that has always been my husband's hope anyway) which would help pay for all the work we're having done. Surprisingly it turned out to be quite nice up there. Not usable nice but quite clean. There was no evidence of bats or any other critters. We have lots of squirrels in our neighborhood that are constantly running across the roof so we worried about those. And we occasionally hear bats in the ceiling. My parents have had experience with squirrels and they can do a lot of damage. Amazingly there weren't even cobwebs. Just a nice thick, but uneven, layer of insulation.


See that vent in the gable? Notice anything? Whatever bozo later added that and at least one other vent (there are 4) took the lazy route by cutting right through a supporting stud! Real smart. That's the only surprise we found. No stash of money or old treasure we could take to Antiques Roadshow. 
(UPDATE: My brother informs me it's not a supporting stud, so I guess our house isn't about to cave in after all.) 

Here's another picture showing our old brick chimney. 

We don't use that anymore and the part above the roof was removed last time we had the roof done. In the basement there is a small door at the base of it that was used to clean the chimney when necessary. Our kids used to think that was how Santa got in the house because we don't have a fireplace. They were pretty worried when we had it sealed up. I can't remember what we told them but Santa continued to come much to their relief. Also, in regards to the attic, our daughter used to think there was a door in the back of my husband's closet to get into the attic. I'm sure it's some tale my husband told her. She used to go in there trying to find it, to no avail. 

The electricians finished up and left us with a few other repairs to be made besides the big hole in the ceiling. Our lathe and plaster is old and crumbly so a few other cracks and small chips were made that will require fixing. 

Today roofers have arrived to tear off our old shingles. Then insulation guys will do their thing before new shingles go on tomorrow. Here's what the old roof was looking like. After last winter's heavy snow the shingles started curling drastically. 

That's actually on the garage, which was the worst. It's a miracle we haven't had any leaks.

It'll be nice to have all the drilling, sawing and banging completed by the weekend in order to enjoy some peace and quiet around here! At least for a few weeks anyway. Then we'll be having new windows installed and someone in to repair all the plaster. That will be a big mess I'm not looking forward to.


8/31/2011

GREEN WITH ENVY

I have a thing for green. It's not a fleeting thing. When I look around my house I see some shade of green in almost every room.  In the summer I love bright greens, in the fall and winter it's olive greens, and in spring chartreuse. I never get tired of it. I figure if it's good enough for nature it can never be wrong.  And it can go with any other color.

Today I'm loving the freshness of green paired with white and black. I ran across the following images at House Beautiful.

My favorite color by far, chartreuse green.

I can't get over this painted floor. How lovely and whimsical.

I love how the black chairs really pop in this room with
all the white and small touches of green.

Again, black with white and green. Touches of melon orange.

Lots of green here. All the white makes it work.

I'm always a sucker for big leaf prints.

The mirror is fantastic. I'd love to be soaking in that tub!
Tomorrow I'll show how I've worked greens into my own home.







8/27/2011

WEEKEND CHORES



Progress so far:
  • Finish priming outer walls of basement stairwell closet.
  • First coat of paint. 
  • Cover rattan sectional cushions with batting. (3 out of 4 done, ran out of adhesive.)
  • Make muslin covers for cushions.
  • Take photos of new items for Etsy shop.
  • List items on Etsy.
  • Make at least one healthy dinner.
  • Mow lawn. (Husband volunteered for the job.)
  • Contact the boys about what I can take to Goodwill from their closet. 
  • Take load of stuff to Goodwill.
  • Laundry
  • Organize fabrics into bins.
  • Vacuum and dust.
Wine and a movie. Done! That one was easy.


8/25/2011

Wild, Crazy Color Love!

I think I have fallen in love...with this chair.
And how timely that I am just about to embark on making cushions for my vintage rattan porch sectional!
I was going to play it safe by using either an off-white or rust colored outdoor fabric that I already have.
Now, not so sure. I like the idea of doing something totally off the wall different.
I have been craving something in that pink color and didn't know where I could use it in my house.
It's perfect for a porch which is used almost exclusively in summer.
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I don't know where I found this picture. I've had it in my photo file and have lost the source. If anyone knows please give me a holler so I can give credit where it's due.

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8/20/2011

A Place For Everything...

Going, going, gone...I hope?

Just taking a break from a busy morning. I've been on a de-cluttering binge. Unlike someone else in this house (hello hubby), I am actually getting rid of things. I started earlier in the week by going through my stash of fabrics and managed to get rid of two large bags. One went to Goodwill and the other to a group of quilters at my mother's church. That started the ball rolling. From there I started digging stuff out of the basement and ended up with a car load of things which I took to Goodwill this morning. Aaah, it felt so good to come home with an empty vehicle! I am a frequent shopper at thrift stores and it only seems fair that I donate in turn.

I don't know exactly what it is that makes it so difficult to part with possessions. I've found that the idea of "out of sight, out of mind" is really a true one. In my digging through closets I discover things I have completely forgotten I even owned. So getting rid of those things is relatively easy. Other items that have some emotional connection to me are more difficult, like my children's baby clothes and toys. I think I also tend to fall into a trap of thinking things have more value than they actually do. Even if I don't need it I hate to part with it. I have to try to step back and think what something might be worth to someone else. If I were buying that item used what would I be willing to fork over for it? Then there is the old "I'll save it for a thrift sale someday". That explains a lot of what I've kept. Yes, it would be nice to get some money back for some of the things I no longer want but my time is valuable too, and all the trouble and frustration that a garage sale entails may not be worth it. And when I compare a cleaned out house to one cluttered with things I no longer want or need it really is a no brainer. A place for everything and everything in it's place is what I'm working towards.

Items I have found that I don't want to just give away are being listed on Craigslist. I've been working on a few of those this afternoon. I've decided to let go of a few projects that have been taking up space and keeping me mentally bogged down for some time. One of those is a chair upholstery project that's been waiting in the wings for too long. I have most of the materials, which are in a big box in a closet, plus the chair itself which has been sitting in a corner on my back porch for a couple years. Yes, years! I'm really tired of looking at it and for whatever reason I just can't get myself to tackle it. So I've listed that and hopefully someone will want it. That alone will free up some nice space.

From there I started digging in my garden shed for an old rusty bird cage and stand to get rid of, another curb find that I meant to fix up and resell some day. In the process of doing that I discovered that wood ants had gotten into a bag of cedar mulch I had stored in there and made quite a mess. So cleaning commenced. One thing just keeps leading to another.

And now back to work.

8/13/2011

Window Treatments

We are going to be getting new windows in our house soon. That will be a total of nineteen new windows! The only windows we aren't replacing are the porch windows and the leaded glass window in our living room. Yikes. Although we will be having someone else do the installation it still means having to take down all the window blinds and shades. Did I mention that we have nineteen windows to do? And that every window has a custom inside mount blind or shade? That means all the brackets have to be taken off as well. It's going to be a royal pain!

So here is a question for you. How do you feel about mini blinds? I'd love some feedback. My living room and foyer have older, but high quality aluminum blinds that are still in nice condition. We have beautiful oak woodwork in the house that I didn't want to hide behind drapery, which is why we opted for inside mount blinds. There were fewer window covering options available when we bought than what is out there now. Although I hate the upkeep of blinds I really like the light control and the architectural lines, as well as the way they seem to pretty much "disappear" when the slats are  horizontal. When I want to raise them they're lightweight and stack tightly so as to be almost unseen. They also offer total privacy and blackout when needed in our front room which faces the sidewalk and street. But are mini-blinds too old school? I  don't see them very often in the design and decor sites I browse. Also, the color is a burnt sienna and although it looks nice with the woodwork and the decor I'm really tired of it. Any opinions? The first photo isn't very good but it does show the woodwork a bit more. (You can click on any of the pictures to enlarge them.)

                        















































In the adjacent dining room I have soft fabric blinds. The lighting wasn't good. I shouldn't do photography late in the day should I?

 They're attractive and I've had many nice comments about them from visitors, but they aren't as practical as the mini blinds for a couple of reasons. First, they don't offer a clear view out the window due to the sheer fabric overlay, particularly when the sun is shining directly on them. They do offer good privacy from the outside however. Second, as far as energy efficiency they rate pretty low. This will be less of an issue when we get our new low-E windows, but in the past they haven't done much to control heat loss or to keep the heat out on hot days. And third, every now and then an insect will make its way inside the blind and the only way to get it out is to try to stick the vacuum wand in there to suck it up. A real pain! Other than that maintenance is low. They may have an anti-static feature to them because dust doesn't seem to collect on them at all. They've also retained their white color without any yellowing that I can see.
Dead bug. Ugh.
In the bedrooms upstairs we have pleated and cellular shades which work out nicely. A top down-bottom up feature is particularly nice with double hung windows, allowing for privacy and yet air flow. In all but the coldest months I like having a window open, even if just a crack. Must be my Scandinavian origins. The cellular shades have great insulating qualities too.

In the bathroom we have two-inch faux wood blinds (not shown because I don't want you to see all the dust on them...). As you are probably starting to see there is no consistency in any of my window treatments. The kitchen has woven blinds:






Last summer I finally succeeded with my long overdue plans to get shades for both my front and  back porches. I used to have white tie-back curtains on the front porch, which were too "country" for me and a real chore to keep them looking nice and fresh. (Taking down, washing, starching, line drying and ironing...oooh, the ironing...and then rehanging them by which time they'd be wrinkled again thanks to the all cotton fabric.) Then I found that Overstock has some great prices on bamboo Roman blinds. I needed nine blinds and was able to get all of them for about $250 which was well within my budget. The quality is top notch and they've held up well. Our porch used to be nicely tree shaded until our neighbor's tree had to be cut down a couple years ago. Without that afternoon shade the porch would get pretty hot by the end of the day! These bamboo shades have been a nice solution to cutting down on the hot afternoon sun without blocking too much light or visibility. They come in quite a few sizes so we were able to get pretty close to what we needed, although we did have to trim all of them thanks to our non-standard size windows. My husband used a Dremel to do it but you can find other tips online about how to go about it using non-power hand tools as well.
 


The back porch just off our kitchen has eight windows. (If you're keeping count so far that is a total of 20 + 9 + 8 = 37 windows.) For the back porch we went with Ikea's enje roller blinds in dark grey. Unfortunately they're no longer available here in the states, but are still listed on Ikea's Canadian site for you Canadians. They're quite sheer but do a fairly decent job of light control. From the outside they look the same as the window screens so aren't noticeable at all. Trimming was involved with those also, but it was a fairly easy task requiring just a bit of time and patience. There's a great tutorial over at Door Sixteen that I followed and it worked out great. 



So whew, that's a lot of windows! And I didn't even mention the doors that have windows or the basement windows or the garage. Yeah, we run a pretty classy glassy joint here. 

Anyway, I'd love some feedback. I'm not even sure anyone is reading this blog of mine. What are your favorite window treatments? Are you blinded by all the blind choices? Have some shady characters lurking around your windows? Or do you curtsy more to curtains? Okay, I'll stop now. Do leave a comment. I hate to beg, but pleeeease?





8/08/2011

Another Year, Another Move

Sorry for the continued lack of posts. Too many things to do and not enough time.



One of those things was the annual (and it seems perennial) change of residence of an offspring. Those of you who are parents of young adults may know of what I speak. This is our daughters fifth move in four years! Before her came her two older brothers. Our older son we helped move seven times and his younger brother has been the easiest because he 1) lived in one location for most of college and 2) had lots of friends to call on to help with his moving. However, to make up for that I do recall the grueling two days we spent helping with the move-out cleaning of the big house he had lived in for four years. He was the last of the roommates to leave and got stuck with the deed. Mom and Dad to the rescue.

Apartment Therapy


Moving day in a college town usually means that half or more of the other students are also moving at the same time. Trying to jockey for a close parking space, maneuver around trucks and trailers, wait for an available elevator and exchange empathetic looks with other parents in the same situation is all part of the annual ritual. It's always hot and usually humid. The neighborhoods near the university start to take on the look of a landfill with all the garbage and possessions piled on the curbs. You're never quite sure if the piles on the curb are someone's things waiting to be loaded or discarded items. It all looks pretty much the same.

Hand in hand with the moving is the stuff that always seems to end up back at home. Maybe a roommate has a duplicate item so something will come home to be stored. Or they move into a smaller apartment and can't fit everything in. We've had our garage half full of a kid's belongings at times! Boxes in the basement. Boxes on the back porch, under the beds, in the closets. Boxes that somehow never leave, even years after college graduation. That's all in addition to the childhood mementoes that are too precious to them to ever be gotten rid of. I used to think when the kids left we'd gain space. Instead we end up with more stuff and less space.

Today I'm letting my feet and muscles rest and am basking in the contentment of knowing that the next move won't be for another year. Maybe. Our daughter did say she'd love to land an internship in New York next spring, which means we could be moving her half way across the country instead of half a mile down the road. And son #1 is getting married and may be buying a house. My mother talks about moving out of her house into something smaller. I guess we can't get rid of our "moving van" just yet.




7/31/2011

The Vintage Office

The vintage industrial design trend seems to be everywhere these days. I was a little slow to come on board but it's grown on me quite a bit. To wit, my old beat-up metal trunk is taking up real estate in my house. I have an old galvanized dust pan that I've turned into a mail holder. Assortments of metal office files and boxes are in nearly every room of my house since they are so versatile. An old typewriter cart is soon to find a home as either an end table or nightstand in the house. Two vintage metal barrister bookcases flank the front window in our living room. A big red plastic letter "N" from an old sign leans against the wall on top of my credenza.

I'm particularly drawn to vintage office accessories. When entering a thrift store I usually make a straight beeline to the section where I find office stuff. Still readily available and to be had at bargain prices I rarely leave without something. Following are just a few things I own, have sold or are currently in my Etsy shop.

Vintage push-button alphabetical phone index.

1. Bank check writer.             2. Swingline stapler.
3. Office memo roller           4. Tape label maker.
Wire paper tray.

General Fireproofing Steel Barrister Bookcase

Smith Corona typewriter

Index card file.

Roll stamp dispenser.
File holder.
Vintage sun lamp used as a desk lamp.



Now I'm off to enjoy a Sunday parade with family. As if Wisconsin isn't hot enough this summer, the parade will be ruined mobbed with politicians and their cronies thanks to Wisconsin's hot political climate at the moment. Hope you're enjoying your weekend. Stay cool!