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. 

The History of a Fireplace Big, White House Style

I received a great email this weekend from my mother-in-law. It read:

This is our friend, the cocktail waitress in LV where you both and Baby Girl stayed one time with us, and she LOVES you blog and I thought you better than I could tell her where to best look for info on the fireplace.  I told her, but she wants pictures.  MK

 

PLEASE tell that WONDERFUL daughter in law there is a story about that fireplace. I bet it was not that nice until they improved it. Worthy of blog info.—-tell her I want to hear about IT    !!!!!!     FFQ

So this one is for MeeMee’s friend Linda. Honey, all you have to do is ask…

I was kind of surprised, because after a few years you get used to things. You forget how they were. They’ve always been this way, right? So for those of you who haven’t been with us from the beginning, we’re going to go back, back to the time when the Big White House on the Hill looked more like something out of Miami Vice, back when everything was white except for the carpet. I still can’t believe the MR talked me into moving here with the bugs, and the mice, in the middle of nowhere.

In those days, it wasn’t just a fireplace. It was a fireplace and conversation pit because everyone has to have one. A friend suggested we should turn it into a ball pit.  Our kids were 17 and 13, otherwise we might have seriously considered it.

Conversation pit or ball pit which would you prefer?

Conversation pit or ball pit which would you prefer?

It took me months to wrap my head around this space. We’ve had fireplaces in all our homes, and I’d always wanted a mantel, but now I had 10-feet of space to decorate. And with the three-foot drop, I needed a step stool to put anything on it. When you don’t know what to do—do nothing. That’s always been my MO.

A few books, a few flowers, a 2-foot-tall candle can all do wonders.

Fireplace

And while white on white was where we started, me and the MR where intent on adding color. The walls in Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige and Tony Taupe where a fairly simple choice, but what could we do with the fireplace? Would a little paint help hide the speakers and the dumb-waiter for the wood? Could we make this more of a focal point?

I did a little brainstorming in Let’s Talk Color and came up with this color scheme.

Fireplace

Adding some dark gray would help blend in the granite, and painting the stair step walls gray would set them off from the background taupe.

I was surprised to see how closely my color overlays matched the final outcome. The major difference was that we decided to have the mantel and the hearth painted in the darker color as well.

Fireplace plus background

Check out “The Big Reveal” for all the freshly painted pictures. While this picture looks green, it’s actually gray with greenish undertones.

Sadly, we still had the very uncomfortable conversation pit, but look at how beautiful the molding looks set off by the gray paint. It took another year-and-a-half for us to get Out of the Pit or at least to save enough money to fill in the pit, but we did it.

Pit Construction

Once the trusses where in and the subfloor was in, we had the carpet removed, weird orange underlay put down, and the whole thing covered with a faux-concrete flooring.

Orange floor at sunset

Yes, we have lived through a whole lot of crazy putting this house together.

floor

You can see how our fireplace changed from year-to-year.

Over the Years Fall Fireplace Collage

And now we where just waiting for new chairs to cozy up to the fireplace.

Fireplace seating

Sadly, chairs where not enough. It was looking a little sterile. We needed pillows, throws, and a rug. Can we add a little softness and color?

fireplace chairs with new throw 2

We’ve moved around the plants, and the mantel itself is in constant flux with the seasons, but it still looks very similar to Baby Girl’s rendering for one of her first college classes.

BGs Sketch

In the last year, I’ve swapped out the hexagon tables for a footstool. This made for a very cozy place for our feet while the fireplace was in constant use during the recent power outages.

It’s fun to look back and see all that we’ve done over the past five years. I’d forgotten about the old boiler failing to turn on and heat the house that first winter after installing the heat pump. I guess that was the year we were in Mexico and Sweet Miss texted that it was 40-degrees—inside. I did feel a little guilty that she came home to a cold house.

If this doesn’t fulfill your hankering for info on the fireplace, you can always go to the blog and search for fireplace or mantel in the search engine. You’ll get to see all the fun fall and Christmas mantels plus a few spring and Valentine’s ones. Maybe I should get busy with a new one for the coming holiday.

What’s on your mantel? Does it change with the seasons?

P.S. I am not perfect. I have been known to spell “mantel” mantle upon occasion—I know, I know, it’s an article of clothing not an architectural feature. I think I’ve got it down now.

P.P.S. Thanks Linda for subimitting your request. I’d never have found this great picture of the girls if you hadn’t had me looking for fireplace stories. Strangely enough, the post with this picture had nothing about fireplaces or mantels, but I sure do love my sweet girls.

The girls


 

 

 

 

The Big, The Bad, The Broken

We love the windows, we love the view they afford, and we love the light they let in. Let’s be honest, the windows are what makes this house so special.Great Room Closer

But they can be a bit of a headache. During the cool months, I love the extra heat they allow in, but during the summer, it’s another story. It can be 75-degrees outside and 85-degrees inside. The glare is so obnoxious, we’ve had to don hats upon occasion. That’s why we went the window film route. (You can check that out here and here.)

The films have been great. They really cut down on the heat absorption and glare, but… Isn’t there always a but? Window films can cause problems. While they’re not insured for fogging, they are for breakage, and lucky us we had two windows break. Last fall is when we noticed them, and we decided to wait until spring in case the cold weather caused any other problems.

I know I said spring, but this has been the headache that never seems to end. The film company had me contact the glass company. The glass company comes to measure, but didn’t bring a large enough ladder. Come on guys; you’ve been here before. Once the glass was measured properly, they tried to order it, but the glass company no longer made one of the larger sizes that we needed.

Sadly, we were out of town, and they didn’t want to order the glass until we’d signed off on another pane from a different manufacturer that was slightly different in hue. We scheduled a meet up in September, and then the glass had to be ordered and an install time scheduled. Can you see why this is lasting forever?

Meanwhile, the film company is pushing to have the films put on before installation. Last time we had the windows replaced, there was a problem, and one was broken. My question was who would pay for the film then. It ended up being a mute point in that the glass company felt the films could pose a safety threat to their men. The film company was all like I never heard of such a silly thing.

Anyways, last Tuesday the glass guys showed up with ladders, gloves, and two very large panes of glass.

glass-install

I don’t know about you, but three grown men on ladders, huffing and puffing, using colorful language, and carrying heavy things makes me nervous. Perhaps I should have been. They were able to take out the old broken window and break the new window as they were replacing it. At least the new one isn’t as cracked as the old one. To be fair, the windows are large, slightly off, the house is over 20 years old, things have shifted, and I’m totally glad they’re the ones doing it.

This being the smaller of the two windows they were replacing, I decided to go to knit group and let the MR hold down the fort. The second install went off without a hitch. Of course by the time the second window was removed, the sun had broken through the morning fog. It was a glorious day—just the kind of day that makes ladybugs swarm on a sunny, southern exposure with easy access to the indoors.

So in another two weeks, the new window should arrive, they’ll schedule an install time, I’ll call the film company, and schedule them, and maybe we’ll have it all taken care of by Christmas—if we’re lucky.

Meanwhile, I finished some rather lovely projects at knit group. The socks are for Sweet Miss. When your family travels to Italy for two weeks and you stay home because you’re a grown up, and have a job, and are responsible, you get a pair of hand-knit socks. The most complicated hand-knit socks I’ve ever made. The poncho/cowl/shawlette is mitered, garter stitch squares joined at an angle. I had some Noro that I knit up into tiny squares and hated, so I took it out and made something lovely in colors perfect for fall.

knitting-projects

Any projects household projects going on forever and ever? What are you knitting?

 

 

 

 

 

Problem Solving

Often, me and the MR can be found watching a show come evening after a bit of hanging out on the deck and some dinner. It’s nice to have a little time to unwind.

Unfortunately, I’ve watched the first half of dozens of movies and TV shows never to see the end. Snuggled up next to my guy on the couch, I conk out without fail. While it’s nice to be cozy, I do actually want to know what’s going in my favorite shows and to be able to tell you without reservation that the guy did get the girl, or that the good guys won, or the aliens have been vanquished. The MR’s recall of events tends to be limited.

So I’ve started knitting or crocheting. This keeps my hands occupied, my mind working, and my eyes open. We have lots of overhead lighting that sadly tends to bother the rest of the viewers. Back in February, I talked about Rethinking Light and perhaps repositioning some of the overhead lights. It’s been six months, and it’s still no closer to happening. We don’t have a ladder tall enough to reach the lights, and if we did, I wouldn’t want to climb it.

While the MR’s folks were visiting, I took to moving my chair under a spotlight of sorts, but who wants to move your furniture every night?

Spotlight

Besides, if left me feeling a little anit-social. I still want to be part of the group. Task lighting is a problem with all of our main seating area floating in the center of the room.

So, I went into problem-solver mode. This week, I spotted a floor lamp on Joss & Main for just $61.95 ($0 tax, and $0 shipping because I did a little more shopping). It seemed like a no-brainer. The area back by the fireplace has plug-ins, and still feels like part of the seating area. A floor lamp would actually help balance the plant on the other side of the arrangement. And if we truly hated it, Sweet Miss is in need of floor lamps; we can always ship it off to Oregon.

I was totally shocked when it arrived this morning. It was in a few pieces that simply screwed together in a matter of minutes. The light is totally positionable so I can direct it on all my projects. No more dropped stitches, no short rows, and no mistakes of any kind. OK, maybe I won’t go that far, but you get the gist.

It’s a bright sunny day with no need for lights of any kind, and I have plans with my guy after work tonight, so I’ll have to try out my new lamp sometime later this weekend. Don’t worry; I’ll give you the low down in the monthly recap.

I know; I’ve made you wait long enough. I think the new floor lamp is quite charming.

New Light

In some ways, it reminds me of the big dryer that they put over your head at the beauty salon—thankfully, only a little.

If you’re in the mood for new lighting, this is the Vanessa Floor Lamp from Joss & Main. We used to go to church with a lady named Vanessa who was quite fabulous. So far, her namesake is living up to the reputation.

Any creative prolem-solving going on at your home?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Miss to the Rescue

You know how sometimes you just kind of put things off. I mean why worry about that? You have lots of time.

Perhaps that’s my mindset a touch too often.  When we were getting ready for our recent trip to Hawaii, I remembered that voucher I bought on Amazon Local two years ago when it was still actually a company They were offering a great price on a canvas photo collage; it would be great next to Sweet Miss’ graduation photo.  I would put together a group of pictures of the girls growing up.  I’d have to have the one of Baby Girl riding on the MR’s shoulders on Lopez Island when she had those cute braids in her hair.  I even put together a group of photos featuring childhood memories.

But, and this is a big but, those silly girls don’t like pictures of them in what some might term those “awkward” years.  Now, I’m their mother, I think they look so cute in all their photos, but hear enough “why’d you let me weat that? or what did you do to my hair?” and even I get hesitant.  So my file was set aside, and time marched on.

I wasn’t too worried about it, since I had till the middle of April to figure things out, right?  That’s when I decided to look at the voucher and figure out just how much time I had left to put this together.  It wasn’t April, it was the end of March, ack; this was never going to work.

I decided to just forget it and move on.  Sometimes these things happen.  But then one of the first mornings of vacation, I came up with a stellar idea.  I’d already paid for it, it was just going to go to waste if I did nothing, I could just send in photos off my phone, and call it good enough.  That’s when an hour or two of frustration and I’ll admit a few tears ensued.

I could upload files, set up the collage, and then the whole process stalled.  When I tried to login on my Ipad, so I could see it a little better and have fewer fat finger mistakes, the website said I didn’t have an account.  That’s when I took a shower and a few deep breaths, and called in the cavalry, I mean the girls.  I sent them an SOS text asking them to help out.

I mean, me and the MR have bought them computers, I know they know how to use them.  They could help me in a pinch.  Sweet Miss came to the rescue.  I sent her the photos I had been using, told her to add some of her own if she wished, and told her to go to town.  Somewhere in the midst of that, she said I sent her to an off-color web site, the deal wasn’t working, she didn’t know what I wanted.

A few frantic phone calls and texts later, she had it all together and ordered.  So I was quite excited to pick up the mail upon our return and find a large package containing this canvas.

SMTTR Photo Collage

Is it perfect? No.  It’s not photos from some fancy photographer all staged and photoshopped, but it’s the last year in our lives.  It’s Baby Girl’s graduation and our anniversary. It’s Mom’s Weekend with Sweet Miss and Dad’s Weekend down in Oregon.  It’s Christmas with our silly dogs and kids and it’s hanging out on the deck. It’s my family, the people who mean the world to me, and I absolutely, totally love it.

And now Sweet Miss and Baby Girl get to share a little wall space with rest of the family.

SMTTR Photo Wall

Because this isn’t just a house, it’s a home filled with love and laughter.  A place where friend and family are always welcomed—usually by crazy, wild, barking dogs.

What do you do with all those great photos? 

 

 

Rethinking Light

After living in a place for a while, you get to know it’s quirks.  Some rooms are quieter, others are cozy, some are open and bright, and others feel a little dark.  It’s just the way it is, right?

Well, maybe not.  The great room with it’s massive amount of windows has always felt open and airy, and basically the rest of the house has seemed kind of dark.  I didn’t know whether it was the lack of windows or the lighting, but the bedrooms and upstairs seemed to lack in the brightness department.

Then the MR started painting the upstairs.  Next thing I know, large boxes are showing up on the porch.  He’d ordered packs of LED bulbs to replace the ones upstairs and in the guest room.

Holy cow! What a difference that has made.  Maybe it was simply getting rid of the old light bulbs caked with dust—we have no idea when they were last replace—but now you can actually see in those rooms.

Who knew changing the feel of a room could be as easy as changing a light bulb?  That got me thinking.  I’ve shared with you the story of how the fellow who built this place had to buy repositionable lights after turning them on in the great room the first time.  It looked like some crazy disco with lights scattered everywhere due to the angle of the ceiling.

Well, sometimes I’d like to knit instead being cozy on the couch, and a little light is essential.  So wouldn’t it be nice if we could reposition one of these lights just a little.

Spotlight

A spotlight for knitting seems like a truly good thing.  Now we just have to figure out how to reposition that light without having to buy a really tall ladder and without breaking any lightbulbs.

Speaking of lightbulbs, the new LED bulbs can be pricey, but watch for deals.  The MR bought them on Amazon and the four-pack which was listed for $140 he picked up for $40.  Sometimes your local power company offers rebates and discounts for energy efficient bulbs, so check for ways to save.

I think it’s time to replace the bulbs in the master bedroom next.  I do like a bright cheery space.

Any simple changes for big impact at your house?

 

 

 

 

Make It Mod

Sometimes you get up in the morning and start typing away on the computer and realize something’s wrong.  Maybe your surge protector and modem are fried, your satellite is on the fritz, and Downton Abbey didn’t record.  That was my Monday.

The MR overnighted a modem and put everything back together last night, and now my Monday post will be even better on a Wednesday morning with all the anticipation that’s been building.  So without further ado:

When you spend a large chunk of change on furniture, you might relax on the details for a little while.  Take this planter for instance. It’s not really our colors anymore, but it looks fine behind the cozy fireplace chairs.

Planter Behind Chair

Ug, after I de-Christmasified the great room, I forgot to add the blanket and pillows that warm up this space. Its always something.

But let’s move in closer. If you turn the corner and take another look, it’s far from pretty.

Old Planter

I don’t know who’s been scratching and clawing on it, but this pot has seen better days.  There’s also the fact that it was transplanted flush with the top of the pot, so you can’t ever thoroughly water the poor thing.  This plant has been struggling for years.

With that in mind, I asked the MR for a new planter for Christmas—romantic, huh?  Now, this was a splurge, something I wouldn’t normally spend that much money on, but since it was a present I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask. Our house could take an infusion of cool, sleek, and modern.

So last weekend in the midst of our sunny, dry spell, I grabbed my new planter, some worm castings, and our plant in desperate need of a new pot.

IMG_2401

OK, so the MR doesnt like it when I get the deck dirty, so I took a picture here and then muddied up the stoop off the laundry room. This is a much prettier setting

And before you know it, it was all back to normal.  The pots were actually the same size, so I trimmed the root ball a bit, added some fertilizer, and new potting soil.  I’m hoping this fern will experience a growth spurt with all that extra TLC.

IMG_2404

Currently, my new plant stand is a little hidden.  I took away the small table the old pot sat on.  Maybe we’ll have to do some rearranging so my Christmas present gets the attention it deserves.

IMG_2403

It’s exciting to be able to start adding some fun details.  Just the simple wood plant stands are available on Etsy.  Maybe I’ll buy some plain pots and order a few stands at a more reasonable price.

What details make you smile?