The Handyman Can…

That silly old song from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has been running through my head.

Who can take a sunrise
Sprinkle it with dew
Cover it with choc’late and a miracle or two
The Candy Man can…

I’ve changed the words a little:

Who can fix a broken faucet
Hang up all the shelves
Grab a few tools and make everything look swell
The Handyman can.

You see, the MR’s folks have been visiting, and we’ve been keeping Papa Larry busy. The MR has been hogging his services this year with dripping faucets, broken vacuum cleaners, and riding lawn mower maintenance. Doesn’t he know I have little jobs that need done, too?

So the other day, I was happy to see Papa with time on his hands, the MR at work, and me with a list of thing to keep him occupied. When I shuffle the trays on the worm bin,  I always hose out the base in the flower beds to remove the sludge and fertilize the plants. Well, the spicket I use is near the ground under some bushes, and the valve always falls off, so when I’m done, you’ll find me crawling on the ground looking for it. All it needs is a screw.  All it’s needed for the last five-and-a-half years is a screw, but somehow I’ve never gotten around to it. But the Handyman can.

And then I had some great honeycomb-shaped shelves that I oohed and aahed over for ages. And then they were on sale, and I bought them. And then they just sat around for a couple of years. Uggh, I don’t know why I’m so indecisive. They needed to be in a place where we wouldn’t bump into them. Did we really have anything decorative to showcase? Would they look good next to the art we bought or just weird? Would the screws and fasteners they came with really work? Sometimes I am filled with angst over nothing.

I remember when I told Baby Girl that I’d bought three different bedspreads and returned them all, because they just were’nt the right color of gray. She honestly told me that was ridiculous. At first I thought yeah, why don’t manufacturers make a better shade of gray? And then I realized she was talking about me. Hmm, sometimes you just have to go for it.

So I said Papa, we have these shelves, and the handyman took it from there.

Once they were up, I shopped my house and found bits and pieces to add here and there. A book art flower, some shell balls from Hawaii, vases from my mom. It all just seems to work.

With the change of seasons, I can swap out shells for more fall or wintery decor. And this will be a great place to display Christmas goodies.

With the MR busy spraying blackberries, mowing meadows, maintaining the driveway, and keeping the house in one piece, it’s nice to have the handyman visit.

Thanks Papa Larry!

We have a few other posts featuring Papa Larry for your reading pleasure: The Handyman Is Back and My Own Personal Handyman.

 

 

 

 

That Trickle Down Effect

The MR was telling me about some friends who are redoing their bedroom. It all started with new throw pillows that made the built-ins look too dark, and before you know it they were in full remodel mode.

I know the feeling. Sometimes one little change leads to another, and then another, and then another. You get the idea.

So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when the new coverlet for the bed arrived. After five years of sunshine and dog drool, I thought something with pattern might hide fading and tufts of fur.


I didn’t factor in that little dog paws can snag a loosely-woven fabric. That my mild compulsiveness would make me very concerned about keeping all those stripes straight. And that the shams with all that texture—that I made using dinner plates and gathers—might look washed out against the new coverlet.

I get all foolish and sentimental. I made those silly shams, and Adding Some Softness was one of my top blog posts ever. Oh well, I have new decorative shams on order.

And now let’s move on to sheets. A new bedspread deserves nice sheets, but all our sets are tearing. Don’t sheets last forever? These are barely five years old; they should be fine. I still have sheets from our wedding…

I was in denial, and then another bottom sheet would rip. We’re clean, we bath, we stay well-groomed, we don’t sleep with knives. I was perplexed until I read up on hard water. All those minerals from our well can make fabric brittle and tear. A-ha, things are starting to fall into place. Maybe inexpensive cotton sheets from TJ Maax aren’t my best option.

So I started researching soft, sturdy sheets that will also keep you cool. Bamboo and linen were my top candidates, and I bought a set of each.

Cariloha bamboo sheets were the first to arrive. These sheets are silky smooth and actually slide around on the bed. While I like the feel, I also like my bed to look neat and tidy, so I’m not 100-percent sold on these. They are a lovely bright white, and feel cool against the skin, but I need to see how they hold up under normal wear-and-tear.

Next came a set of linen sheets from Pottery Barn. This set of bedding feels much more substantial—shall I say sturdy? The sheets just have a lot more body and weight. Pottery Barn made it easy to add an extra pair of king pillowcases, and I do like it when everything matches. While I was tempted to buy a linen set on Etsy, I decided to buy from a national chain in case I wanted to return them.

Both linen and bamboo are advertised as fibers that will keep you cool. With the summer months upon us that seemed like a bonus especially in the absence of air conditioning. I’ve been hesitant to write about the new sheets until we’ve had a little more time with them. I imagine the linen will get softer with each washing—like a favorite t-shirt—but we’ll have to wait and see.

With the holiday weekend just a few days out, I’ve been getting lots of sale emails. Who wouldn’t want to save 20-percent on new sheets? So I thought I’d go ahead and share some of my recent purchase with you just in case you’re in the market.

I’m curious. Where do you buy your sheets? Any favorite brands or fiber content? Inquiring minds want to know.

And That Was April

Maybe I’ve lost my mojo. I just don’t seem to be blogging like I used to. Lately, not that much has been happening. We moved into this crazy house, fixed it up, bought a bunch of furniture, the end.

The MR received a bid the other day to fix the deck. Do we want to fix the problem bits? Do we want to fix the whole thing so it’s seamless? Do we want to pull out the hot tub that’s not working and make it into a sun deck? We still have a lot of work to do on the grounds I type as the MR is out on the John Deere mowing the fields for the first time this year.

Yesterday was a spectacularly sunny day in the midst of our rainy spring. Earlier this week, I was back down in the garden planting seedlings from the FFA sale. Cocoa didn’t seem as Carrot Crazy this time. Instead she rolled in onions. There’s a reason she’s not allowed in the garden.

They’ve filled in quite a bit in the last few weeks. I’ll have to take some garden update photos. The asparagus I was worried hadn’t survived last year’s move is recovering. But what do you do with one gargantuan piece of asparagus?

Maybe all the traveling is what throws off my schedule. One of my favorite trips this year was to The Other WA. It was a first-time for me, the MR, and his folks. And while politics may drive you crazy, the history and beauty of Washington, DC is so inspiring.

Another highlight of the month was spending time with my sweet girlies and getting some Book Love at Powell’s in Portland. I was reading about Amazon opening another brick-and-mortar store in Bellevue this fall, and the MR didn’t understand the draw for them as a company. There’s just something about a bookstore with authors speaking and stacks and stacks of books just calling you to read that promotes people’s loyalty. This could make them more relateable.

During my trip to Oregon, I was also able to meet lots of Baby Girl’s friends and tour Sweet Miss’ new apartment in the city.

BG is looking for summer travel clothes, so we did a lot of shopping mostly for her but a little for me. That worked out for the house,too, since I was into Making My Own Sunshine with some lovely fake flowers.

It’s May now; I know the real ones are coming. Blossoms cover the apple trees, and my garden is calling between rain squalls. At least when it’s raining, I don’t feel guilty staying inside and knitting or crocheting. I designed these flowers for Quintessential Knits here in town, and kits will be available soon in case you’re needing a dose of sunshine.

Hope your May Day was filled with peace and joy and flowers.

And the best news of all may not have made it into the blog.  Sweet Miss is marrying The Fella, and we’re pleased as punch. God is good. Life is good. Hug someone you love. 


 

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Making My Own Sunshine

I’m not a trusting soul. When the weatherman last night promised sunshine, I took a wait and see attitude. The rains pelting the roof this morning were no surprise. 

Perhaps with only seven days without rain this year he was trying to throw us a bone. 


It is what it is. Eventually the sun will come out. Me and the MR spent the weekend apart, but we still had that couple’s intuition happening. He bought flowers for the outside, while Baby Girl and I chose flowers for the inside. 


I have a habit of buying vases and just leaving them sit there for days, weeks, months, years…. 

Now at least we have a bit of brightness in the great room. And while I love real flowers, these add cheer and won’t wilt. I do believe there’s room for both. 


I was telling the MR over dinner last night about how a rainy spring and moldy, hallucinogenic flour may have contributed to the medieval witch trials. It’s feeling like that kind of year. 

Don’t worry. I’m keeping an eye on the flour. 

How do you add a bit of sunshine to your world?

Me and BG purchased our flowers at Pier 1. If your interested in how chemistry changed the world, check out Napoleon’s Buttons by Jay Burreson. 

Christmas in Green

The last few years—OK maybe forever—I’ve been decorating the house for Christmas in red and white and lots of sparkle. But sometimes you just want to shake things up. I could have gone with a pink-and-blue 50’s theme tree or aqua and seashells for that beachy look, but that’s just not me.

Sweet Miss and Baby Girl were home over Thanksgiving and I had them start putting all those ribbon trees I’d made on the china hutch, and it just kind of worked. Before you know it, we had santas, and snowmen, and angels scattered through our own little forest.

top-of-hutch

I like how all the little knick-knacks look like they belong nestled amongst the trees rather than random figurines on a buffet.

penguins

With this woodsy feel in mind, I thought the sparkle and glitz of past mantels would look odd. That left me with boxes of decorations on the floor and a lot of indecision. But I saw this sweet little birdy on the Target website and fell in love.

little-bird

He was supposed to come in a set of three, but they were sold out. Luckily, I found this little guy when I stopped in at the store with the MR. Later on a more leisurely shopping trip, I went to HomeGoods, and picked up some twine-covered bells and random decorative balls. Target had lovely wood snowflake lights and more nature-inspired balls to help fill out the scene. The snowflake lights glow and look quite sweet at night.

mantel

I used leftover ribbon from the trees to swag across the mantel along with some burlap ribbon I picked up at Wal-mart. I simply ran the ribbon through small rings and hung them with 3M hooks.

ribbon-swag

Bows could be used to cover the hooks and rings, but I didn’t want it to get too fussy.

The MR put his foot down when we went to the tree farm, so our tree is a little shorter (around 9-feet) this year, but it still feels like we’ve brought a bit of the forest inside.

tree-corner

I’ve been decorating bit-by-bit this Christmas. The nativity set my folks made when they were newlyweds is still waiting for a spot, and the girls santa collages haven’t found wall space. But I’m giving myself a pass. I don’t have to be perfect and have my house all together all the time to enjoy this wonderful season.

Me and Baby Girl went shopping this week, and we made tasty cookies/candy with a recipe from MeeMee. If everything’s doesn’t happen, it’ll still be a great Christmas with my family. And there’s always next year.

How’s your decorating coming along? What’s a favorite thing to do this time of year?

 

 

 

Worth the Wait

Last summer I mentioned we’d gone out and ordered a new dining room table and chairs. The table was available immediately, but the chairs were going to be a bit. And so we waited, and waited, and waited. I’ve mentioned before I have a problem with patience.

Lest you get the wrong idea, I’m not some crazy mega-consumer who gets new furniture at the drop of a hat. The MR bought me our last table for Christmas when I was pregnant with Baby Girl.  Seeing how she’s a sophomore in college; it’s been awhile. Over the last 20 years, that table has hosted many celebrations and joyous occasions. But since it was the only table in the house, it’s seen a whole lot of use. It’s been up-close and personal with Sharpies and glitter. There was a Spirograph incident that it’ll carry for life, and we know for certain that Ikea veneers can only handle so much scrubbing.

img_3408

It was time. Let’s also factor in the size. This table was great for an eating area in the kitchen or a small dining room. This room is 15-feet wide from the built-in buffet to the french doors, and it’s even longer length-wise.  We needed a table with some weight.

So color me happy when Leathers Furniture in Issaquah gave me a call earlier this month to say our table and chairs were in. Unfortunately, with our travel schedule, the earliest we could have them delivered was November 23. Why yes, that’s the day before Thanksgiving. We were cutting it pretty close, but the Big Guys delivery company out of Woodinville came through without a hitch. They even complimented me on all the good cooking smells.

So this Thanksgiving our small group of six gathered around this beauty.

thanksgiving-table

Thanksgiving is one of those times we all get to help in the kitchen.

putting-them-all-to-work

Here’s a look at the table a little less fancied up. I mean after all, we don’t live like this all the time, but then again maybe we should. That platter is looking really small. I love the grain of the wood and the the live edge.

live-edge

The table is solid wood, so even though we’re dedicated to avoiding unfortunate toy incidents, if they happen, we have options. We chose a very modern base, but the table is made to accommodate a variety of legs and other supports. So if we get tired of this choice, we can choose something more traditional.

base

The chairs are the Alfa from Bontempi Casa. We had tons of choices with these from leg color, to chair color, to upholstery. We went  medium stain on the legs with a bi-cast leather in a chocolate brown to bring out some of the table’s darker tones. The graphite back adds a nice contrast.

row-of-chairs

The chairs were a place we added some design interest without going too crazy. Another huge factor was comfort. If we’re sitting here for hours, we want our guests as well as ourselves to be comfortable. And these fit the bill.

chair

Another great feature is that the pad is removable. If we decide a different color or perhaps microfiber would be a better choice, we have alternatives. I could buy bright red for Christmas. Note: I didn’t say I was going to—that would look over-the-top—just that I could.

We went with a wood table and the wood and leather chairs in an effort to add warmth to the dining room. With the long line of counter flanked by the white cabinetry and glass of the china buffet, we thought something natural would soften it a bit.

in-situ

As you may have noticed, we have a giant tree in our great room. Our family tradition has been to cut down a Christmas tree and decorate the weekend after Thanksgiving. Since the girls both come home for the holiday, that tradition has served us well during the college years.

This year, Baby Girl had a final today (Monday), so she flew in late Wednesday and out late Friday. We were able to go to the tree farm down the hill, but a bug problem slowed decorating for a bit. Then there was dinner with my family down at Papa’s and the trip back to the airport.

christ-tree-cutting

As you can see, we still had a lot of fun.

christmas-tree-crazy

No, that’s not a worker at the tree farm diligently sawing away. That’s Sweet Miss’ Fella. Apparently, he didn’t hear when I called for everyone to smile. The MR was amazed at how much faster it is to cut down a tree when you have another guy around. I don’t think he’s had a turn with the saw for a few years now.

Sweet Miss and the MR decorated the tree while I was at work Saturday, and we drove her to Seattle this morning to catch the train for home. Our full house is back down to just us two.

I have the mantle, and bookcases, and windows crying out to be decorated, and boxes the MR wants me to put away. So with that I hope you all had a very happy Thanksgiving weekend with friends and family.

When do you get your tree? Fresh or frozen, errgh I mean fake?

 

 

 

 

 

Super Size It

Sometimes you’re just kind of stuck with what you’ve got. It’s serviceable, it’s fine, it’ll do.

We had a traditional rug by the front door when we moved here. It was fairly new and would be just fine, if a bit bland, and small, and boring.

We’ve lived with it for a four years.

Old Rug

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a rug on Joss & Main that caught my eye. It was on sale and matched our color scheme. Who could say no to a little gray, a little orange, a little beige in a playful geometric print? Not me.

New Rug 2

Ok, so obviously the candle and the door stop are just there till the corners stop rolling up. Hopefully nobody breaks a toe before then. Eventually the rug will relax a little. But even now, it adds a punch of color to our neglected entry. This area has simply been a pass through zone. Not that I want to hang out in the entry, but it would be nice if it matched the vibe of the rest of the house.We want it to set the tone, and a little funky color is a great start.

What kind of message does your entry send?