Sunday, February 27, 2011


This morning, our little family spent some time at the Cincinnati Home and Garden a birthday present to Mama. This included some quality time spent by Freddie watching the kids play on the Cadillacs of playsets and trampolines so I could browse the show on my own! Good man.

I meant to take some beautiful pictures of some of the garden displays, but this was all I got:

I got a little overwhelmed and forgot to take pics of pretty things. ;) They had a ball, though!

The garden/patio displays are unbelievable. They bring in truckloads of pavers, fountains and plants that have been carefully forced to be in full bloom during the show, which is quite a process. Of course, most of the patio/grill/fountain/garden displays would only cost several and several thousands, but it's quite inspiring and one can dream, right? It is a bit of a tease, since of course, it's only the end of February and we're still a bit of time away from the planting season, but it was so nice to see some beautiful landscapes.

So, at the show.....I perused some countertops to replace the Puke Counters. It was nice to take a look at some different options and talk to the vendors.

I have long been interested in this retractable screen door, since we have none on our back door and I would so love to have a screen door for times when the weather is nice!

I was also eyeing a rain that I have a compost bin, this is my next green project. I'm quite motivated for this since using a rain barrel would also lower our water bill!

A nice shot of inspiration today!

Thanks for a great birthday weekend, Freddie!! :)

Here are some things I did notice at the show that I liked:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Changed out

My birthday is upon me....and I am really excited! Freddie has planned a really nice weekend for me. He is definitely a keeper! Among the weekend events....a little R&R time, going to visit my sister and brother-in-law and visiting the Home and Garden Show in Cincinnati!

Also, we are going to be looking at some butcher block countertop for our kitchen island. I'll post pics soon....we have a small island in the center of the kitchen and I am really longing for it to have a lip hanging over where we could put some stools for the kids. The kitchen countertops, although in great shape (grrr), are a really neutral speckled laminate. They really remind me of puke. Makes it quite appetizing to look at them while I am cooking.

So, we are considering a change, but to what? No idea yet. I do like the idea of mixing materials, though, and would like to do the island in butcher block. Speaking of....I had changed out the hardware this fall and was immediately happier.


A not bad, patterned brushed nickel....


Ahhhh...I'm really digging the oil-rubbed bronze knobs and bin pulls. I seem to be slightly obsessed with bin pulls these days....

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sew what?

I've been home the last two days with Annie, who has had a stomach bug. I do appreciate having a little one-on-one time with my baby girl, even if she is sick! I am pleased, though...without my mind thoroughly engaged in teaching young minds, I've had a chance to percolate a few ideas and projects around here. Can't rest for a minute, can I.....

I finally got around to taking some pics of my new sewing area. I organized this spot a few weeks ago when we had a snow day. This is our spare room that houses a lot of extra storage, project materials, tools and also my new sewing area.

In that shot, you can see the chandelier in the room. This chandelier was a find by my sister in her old apartment building. This room will eventually be Annie's big girl room, so she will have the chandelier.

Here are some frames from Anthropologie my sister also gifted to me. Love them! Not sure they will come with the sewing nook or stay when we redo this room. Perfect for sewing, though!

Here is the sewing area a little closer. I used some cup hooks to hang the mat, ruler and assorted scissors/cutters. I am someday envisioning myself making a skirt for this table.....on my sewing machine. I've got some great ideas for a sewing/guest room!

Yes, I know the room is desperately in need of paint....I'm going craaaazy. But I don't want to paint it twice. This shelf is an oldie but goodie that came from the farm where my grandpa grew up in South Dakota....or SoDak, as we call it.

Our cousin, Marlene, made the framed button display and there is even an old nail original to the shelf to hang the scissors.

The last gem is also an old mirror that Marlene passed on to us...not sure of the origin, my mom would have to confirm! This will be in Annie's room, but I'm not sure if it should be changed over into a bulletin board or chalkboard, maybe? The frame is great, though!

I did use my sewing machine for a new little pretty.....but need to make a stop at Jo-Ann's before I show it off a bit.  :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

In the present

Charlie and Annie have been invited to a birthday party! Oh, happy day. I am excited about one thing: it is at a place called "Run, Jump 'n' Play." Adding to my excitement is the fact that they will be exhausted when they get home. I am also curious, since this is the first kid's birthday party we will attend that has been held on a weeknight. I've never considered having a kid's birthday party on a weeknight, but it might be a GENIUS idea! The craziest we've ever done was Friday night. Woo.

So, we had to venture out tonight and get a present for the party, since I couldn't possibly have remembered to do that over the weekend, right? I hope Hot Wheels are a big hit. However, I did employ one of my favorite wrapping techniques tonight:

Yes, that would be the cartoons from the Sunday paper. It satisfies me on the following levels:
  • It's cute.
  • It's free....well, if you buy the paper.
  • It's green (imagine this said with a very granola tone of voice).
Not bad, huh?

Monday, February 21, 2011

It is the Home Daybook, after all...

Happy Prez Day....we have the day off today in our family! We visited the inlaws over the weekend, so it is nice to have another day to relax before heading back to the craziness. And it is a rainy, chilly day here in beautiful Cincinnati. Today, while Annie was napping, I decided we would get some things crossed off the to-do list.

First, I got a start on cleaning out old paperwork from my hanging file folders. This includes bills and credit card statements dating back to '09 and '08. Super fun. I was a shredding maniac until my shredder overheated (I hope) and I had to give it a rest. Hopefully, this will be a jumpstart to getting all of our tax stuff put together to send off to the accountant. I hope Mr. Shredder is not dead and done because I have a little stack of papers waiting to be eaten.

Next on my list was the sexiest of all home maintenance jobs. Yes, I am talking about caulking. To be honest, this is one of my least favorite HI jobs...and generally I really enjoy doing any kind of home maintenance/improvement. You are talking about a chick who enjoys washing windows.

So, Charlie and I got all of our supplies and got to work caulking the master bathtub, shower and the kids' bathtub. I did employ this handy little tool I picked up at the HW store. While a finger and a wet paper towel does great for cleaning up caulk when you apply it, this little jobby does it well and minimizes the mess on your fingers. ;)

As I mentioned, I really dislike this job and the main reason why is that it is hard to do well and make it look good. I have definitely learned the hard way with this particular skill--starting with when I used silicone caulk to caulk where I needed to paint and said paint would not stick to silicone. Oops.

Alas, we hung in there and got it done. It doesn't look that bad and a nice cold one helped too. I feel such relief that this job is no longer hanging over my head. At one point, sensing my frustration, Charlie said, "It's okay, Mama, we're almost done."

Love that boy.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Force Field

One thing that goes a long way in getting me through these long winter days is growing something in my house. I know spring is coming...we've had a relative heat wave this week in the greater Cincinnati area. I did notice last weekend that a few of my bulbs are just peeking out of the soil.

However, I do love to force bulbs indoors for a shot of green and blossom. One of my favorites is paperwhites. They are so easy to grow---place a bulb in a container full of rocks, add water to the level of the bulb, refill as needed...and in about four weeks, you will have some white and fragrant flowers to reward you for your effort. I usually pick up a dozen or so in the fall at the garden stores. This year, I made a fatal error.....

Usually, my bulbs put out a bit of growth as they are waiting for me to get them started. I figured I would thwart them this year and place them in our garage fridge, aka the beer fridge. I guess they don't care for the company of beer, but when I started them, they tried to grow, but just rotted. Yuck. I so needed my green fix that I ordered some online and they are showing to be duds so far. I have truly learned my lesson.

I did try this year to force hyacinth bulbs. This requires more effort, but it is turning out to be a fair attempt:

The forced bulb is proving to be a bit punier than those you would find outside, but then again, bulbs are not meant to grow in jars in houses. Duh. One benefit of hyacinth (besides the gorgeous scent) is that you can plant your spent bulbs in the garden once they are done and they will return. Not so with the paperwhites...they are one and done. I guess the paperwhites could go into my new compost bin.

I especially love this shot, with the bloom just coming on:

Bring it, spring! We are ready.

The DIY Show Off

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Another new addition

I have long been wanting to compost.

Honestly....there probably is no nerdier way to start a blog post.

It is the truth, though, and this last weekend my dream came true. Composting is most likely not your average gardener's endeavor. It involves using a mix of dry materials and kitchen scraps to produce what some compost devotees call "black gold."

Although no one would produce a sitcom about wayward hillbillies looking for a garden amendment, it has piqued my interest for some time now. I did try to make my own budget-friendly compost bin a few years ago. This involved a plastic storage bin in which I drilled holes. Needless to say, it was not a worthy effort and that particular storage bin is in the basement, fit to hold only items not affected by a large number of small holes.

Here is my other new baby...

There she is, in her black, industrial beauty.

All kidding aside, I have been quite excited to have this project started. If you Google "compost bins," you will find they are quite pricey. This little number was a very reasonable $48 at Lowe's. Mind you, I had read books that advocated making your own out of pallets that you can salvage at stores. Not so sure my neighbors would be fans of that.

The main purpose of compost is to produce your own natural fertilizer. There are some guidelines you must master, but I feel happiest that I will no longer buy any compost to use in my garden beds (especially vegetable beds--it's quite beneficial to those plants). Also...I am excited about no longer throwing all of my yard waste into the garbage can. Instead, I can put it to use, going back into my own garden.

Just a sidenote--many communities are starting to use yard waste in their own compost/recycling programs and sometimes residents can get compost from the community through those programs. Also, you can find places to take your used live Christmas tree to be turned into compost. Who knew? One place local to me that does this is Marvin's Organic Gardens.

Here is a shot of my compost bin, satisfyingly half-filled.

Just imagine that in a few months, turned into a nice, dark, rich soil-looking substance!

You know, there is a type of composting using worms, called vermicomposting. Not so sure I'll be getting into that one.....

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A new addition

Well, I have, I'll share one today and the other one soon!

Our red couch has departed us. This was a great couch that came to us by way of my sister. It had a great shape to it...a curvy back that dipped down in the center. It was a sleeper sofa and very comfy! Also, tomato red was its color....a more palatable red, in my book. Here is a shot of Annie horsing around with Daddy on the red couch...note the presence of the dog on the couch, also.

One week on Craigslist and we said goodbye to the good ol' red couch. I had not always had Big Red show his colors....I have long been a slipcover devotee. It started when I inherited a print sofa and loveseat from my mom. It intensified when we acquired a dog and children.

The new sofa has married my slipcover love and our need for some more sofa space.

There she be. The new couch came to us from IKEA (maybe that story will be my next post). It is an Ektorp sofa+chaise. We did try them out at the store and this one accomodated my husband in length, so he was a fan. One thing I also liked was that the chaise part is it can be easily moved to the center or to the left.

You might be thinking, "That girl is crazy...white with children and a dog!" I have thought this myself. However, I was not sure the khakis they had would coordinate with our othe furniture. The beauty of this sofa would be....the removable slipcover! And not just that you can wash the whole thing, you can wash just one cushion. Aaaahhh. can purchase a new slipcover for the whole thing when it is worn out.

It was quite easy to assemble. We have further realized the beauty of this particular sofa when it fit my husband, my son and our dog on it. I was also amazed that it has a 10-year warranty. Who knew?

One last time....

Friday, February 11, 2011

At least one down

I haven't shared too many pics of different rooms in our house. I think it's because they all will make you think I am living in a mental institution.  No, really...most of it is a blank slate and not so exciting.

The very first room that got some attention was Charlie's room. He was three when we moved and I wanted to give him a sense of really feeling at home in our new, he and I painted his room together. Can you tell yet that I get a lot of house projects done because I convince my son that it's really fun to help?

I will have to devote a post sometime to share my tips for painting walls with a preschooler. We painted the room khaki and did deep blue and red stripes at the bottom. We used a laser level to put up the tape and it worked beautifully. Props go out to my husband who helped--he was the laser level holder.

Most of the furniture in the room came from IKEA. Here is the semi-loft bed we bought for C. You can turn in upside down to have the bed part close to the floor...we started out with it like that, then flipped it once he got older. It is pretty cool to climb up and be in the bed with the bed tent over it.

You can see the sides of the bed get decorated with artwork. The underneath part has pillows, blankets and a beanbag chair.

I installed a new ceiling fan in place of the flush-mount light fixture. While I would not say that ceiling fans are the most aesthetically pleasing decor items, they serve a purpose, especially in bedrooms. I like that has a bit of a modern feel to it. The flag used to hang in my mother-in-law's classroom and C and I painted the letters to spell his name.

I cut an old map someone had left in our teacher's workroom and framed a few pieces. The globe was also a cast-off from someone's classroom. Probably because it still says "East Germany" and "West Germany."

This is one of our favorite parts of the room. Charlie's art table! The chair and table were passed on to us from his Granny. There is a metal rail with hanging plastic containers that hold art supplies. I used chalkboard paint to make the chalkboard and I bought the adhesive dry-erase board at Hobby Lobby. The globe light is from IKEA. You can buy a dimmer that attaches and we keep the globe light on at night on the lowest setting while our boy dreams away. I bought the Norwegian flag in Norway one time I was there and it fit the room so well, along with the flag of the great state of Ohio.

Beside the art table, we have a clothes dresser. Hanging up are Charlie's Norwegian hats, along with some of his favorite items on top. It gets a bit junky up there...occasionally I have to clean it off and he doesn't always know! On top of the hook rail is this print:

It is a print of a little Swedish boy in traditional dress. This was a present from my mom's cousin, Marlene! I love it.

Whew, it has been a busy week! Two pep band games and conferences. So glad it is the weekend. I am is supposed to be close to 50 degrees on Sunday! I have some garden clean-up to do and the kiddies can play outside. Spring is on its way....eventually!

Thrifty Decor Chick

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


One seasonal decor trend I have not fully embraced is any kind of decor for Valentine's Day. I have been known to set out a dish of conversation hearts. And after the big VD, I display the cards on the mantel for a few weeks. Is it wrong that I get a little giggle out of calling it VD?

This year I had the best of intentions by painting some little wooden hearts I had. I already had pink and white, so the rest got painted red. Unfortunately, I ran out of motivation and they have not been strung up anywhere to decorate.

I have, however, enjoyed using preschool art to dress up for the holidays a bit. I figure I have only a short window of time in which my children will enjoy making the art and not be embarrassed by me displaying it. Case in point....

Love is in the air....

Monday, February 7, 2011

Baubles and beads

You might recall my post about my jewelry box that got a little redo...

Well, here it is in action.

I'm really loving how much easier it is to find things once they are sorted a bit! As I was thinking about that recently, I thought I'd also share a few of my other jewelry storage pieces.

I have this key hook rail that I use to display some of my more decorative necklaces. It's definitely more fun to see them on display--nice looking and makes it easier to find. I found this one at Target.

I also made a display box for jewelry:

I bought a plain, unfinished shadowbox at the craft store. The one I chose did not have a glass cover on it. I painted it with a few coats of off-white acrylic paint. I bought some scrapbooking paper that I liked, cut it to size and used spray adhesive to glue it in the back of the frame. I actually did this project AGES ago and just recently hung it got put on the back burner. All it needed was new frame hangers on the back! Then I arranged the jewelry the way I liked, added some bigger-headed (is that a word??) nails and there you go.

Everything else that is not as often used goes in this handy plastic container:

Not the most aesthetically pleasing, but easy to sort and find in different compartments. Maybe Dolly Compartment had one of these...or two...Leah?

As far as jewelry storage goes....I've come a long way, baby!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Presto, change-o, part dos

Here goes....

Of course, I'm not totally done. I'd still like to find some black patterned curtains to hang under my EZ well as a new desk chair....and a new floor lamp (since one bulb is broken)....and add a leopard-print throw, but that's not too bad, considering where we started.

This pic has an old radio that is an antique from Freddie's family.

There is a bit of a blank spot in the middle on the wall where you see the guitar. Down the road, we are thinking of taking out the armoire (above) and putting piano in here for the kiddies....but it's not immediate! Otherwise I would get a big tall mirror and stand it against the wall in the middle.

This was one of my favorite items:

I wanted a side table for the big comfy leather chair, especially since Freddie likes to grade papers in here. I found one at Goodwill for $10 and it was half off....the wood and laminate was yuck, but the shape was great. Add one can of brushed nickel spray paint and architectural metallic side table.

So, as I said, not totally finished, but the rest I'd like to take my time doing! Good things come to those who wait, right?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Presto, change-o

I have been writing a bit about the office in our home. I've been really excited about some of the elements that I have tried out in this room. I'll post a bit about some of the projects and to avoid a really long post, I'll post another tomorrow.

Here are some before-ish shots:

These pic shows the paint going up...

The pics don't show it, but I actually had to paint around the gigantic armoire, then clean it out a week later. It was WAY too full of stuff and heavy to move. It was due for a huge clean-out anyway!

One project I decided to do once we painted was to add all of these frames to the wall, from this post

Also, I added some cornices to the window. My mom had given me these a while ago...they even moved with us from our old house to our new house.


I'm not quite sure how long she has had them, either. They are a foam thingy you can cover with fabric that makes a cornice. And it's EZ. The foam does allow you to do multi-colored different fabric effects (makes me think they are from the early 90s?)! I chose plain old black.

I added a cheapy curtain rod, since I'd like to add some patterned drapes once I find the right pattern. I saw some at Lowe's (of all places), but I am sure I can find something similar for way less!

There you see Freddie. This is his pictorial debut in my blog. Maybe next time I'll show his best side. He is hard at work, checking on his students' papers. You can also see the cheapy curtain rod at the top of the window.

Here is the finished product:

Not bad for some cushy foam! I have to be honest, I was really happy to have some cornices and also to use up the EZs since they had been taking up space in our spare closet! The fabric I picked is a basic black was 40% at the fabric store, plus it was Teacher Appreciation Weekend, so I got an additional 20% off. Score!

More of the finished room coming!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Chalk it up

I started my love affair with chalkboard paint in our old house. I bought a can and painted off a square in our kitchen that was preschooler-height. It was a huge hit with we added one in his bedroom so he could do art on his wall.

Once I finished painting the kitchen in our new house, I added a chalkboard. The kids enjoy using it while we are hanging in the kitchen and sometimes I like to write notes on it myself. I have seen some neat pictures of it used for whole rooms....but one of the coolest chalkboard walls is in the bridal store of my sister-in-law, Rebecca. You can see a bit of it on her site.... She works in retail and owns her own bridal store, but her decorating style is quite fashionable as well.

Here is a pic of our chalkboard in the kitchen:

Then, this happened...

Color the grout lines? Makes perfect sense! I'm actually picturing a floor totally done in this and I think it's kind of interesting...