Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The living room desk area

Last you saw my living room, the one side looked like this:

This arrangement felt nice--although the chairs are in front of the bookshelves, it felt reasonably spacious.

However, I really wanted a desk.  I had my own desk area in our old apartment, and I miss that.  There is no room here for an office, and the spaces for even a small desk are limited.

I happened to own an ugly little table from Ikea that was the perfect size for between the windows. Voila, desk area!

Except....it feels cramped, and CLUTTERED.  Oh my heavens, does it feel cluttered. Its not just the vast sea of paper that I drown in on a weekly basis (wait till school starts!), but the setup just doesn't feel right. I lived with it for a couple of weeks, and while I appreciate the functionality of having a desk on the first floor, I really don't like the way it looks and feel. There is just too much furniture in that spot.

I moved the table out, and brought the secretary (previously on the other side of the room) over.

The scale works better, and it doesn't look as cramped.  I might wish that the secretary were not so close in color to the blue upholstered chair right next to it, but I can always paint the secretary.  That's way at the bottom of my list, though, right behind finish painting the kitchen and start painting the dining room china cabinet. Lots o' things waiting to be painted around here.

We'll see how this works out, the original bamboo table may make a comeback.  There's also a changing table out in the garage that would be a nice height and would give persons sitting in those chairs a place to rest their drinks. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

We survived, how are you?

Thankfully, we survived Irene with minimal damage.  Hopefully you all did too.

We decided to decamp to my mother in law's house.  We prepared our house as well as we could, packed all the outdoor stuff in the garage, and moved everything in the basement up on shelving and bricks.  I can't imagine having to actually evacuate--it took us nearly five hours to pack stuff for a three day stay at my mother in law's and prep the house.

Our hurricane experience was pretty plush, we had power, water and AC the whole time.  My mother in law got a little bit of water in the basement, but we had expected a lot more and so had moved everything up, so there wasn't any damage.

She's also had problems before with the bay window, so we prepared by moving the living room furniture away from the window.

That space behind the piano is a nice place to play cards.

Princess loves to play the "red pi-nano".

We spent a lot of time building a Lego lighthouse.

Its a masterpiece (that's about 4 hours worth of building).

We ate lots of delicious dessert (chocolate chip cookie layer, then oreos, then a layer of brownies):

Princess got Grandma to tell her naptime stories.

I went to bed last night at 10, but woke up every twenty minutes the entire night to get up and peer out the window to make sure that a tree wasn't going to fall on the house.  I find it difficult to sleep when I am afraid that I and my family will be crushed by falling trees.  At 4 am I gave up any pretense of sleep and got up and watched the weather channel.  Jim Cantore seemed disappointed that NYC was not having more severe flooding.

I was fully expecting to lose power, water, and have a foot of water in our basement, but our house was just fine.  Towns around us had much more damage; we were pretty lucky.  

So! We are happy to have escaped unscathed.  If you were in the storm path, how did you fare?

Friday, August 26, 2011

We are prepared! For what, I don't know.

I and four bazillion other people went to Target this afternoon to prepare for Hurricane Irene.  Target twenty-four hours before a hurricane, by the way, is the suburban equivalent of the Thunderdome.  The employees were nearly taken down by the flash mob in the bottled water aisle.

I emerged from Target with these supplies:

Toilet paper, 3 Lego toys, 3 Bakugan, goldfish, a vanilla cupcake scented candle, and 100 tealights.  I might add that we do not have 100 matches.  And TicTacs for when we have no potable water to brush our teeth.  Bring it on, Irene.

Things to do tonight: make more homemade bread, make chocolate chip cookie oreo brownie cake, make some spaghetti we can eat cold.  I am fully expecting our basement to flood, so I guess I should move some more stuff to higher shelves.  We had some torrential downpours about two weeks ago that caused flooding in the basement and the garage, and all of the $$$$ cardboard moving boxes I stored in the basement for our next move were soaked. All of the art that was still packed in cardboard boxes in the garage were also damaged.  Le sigh.

One of the things I like about this house is that it is full of light, due to the large number of windows in every room.  This seems to be a bit of a hindrance in a hurricane, as I have no idea what we will do in the event of high winds blowing out our windows.  The five of us will sit in the bathtub, I guess.

Stay safe and dry!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

earthquakes, that misbegotten curtain tutorial, pictures

So this afternoon at about 2 pm I was putting ingredients in the breadmaker, the kids were sleeping, and the house was quiet.  I put the sugar in the machine, the countertop shimmied, the breadmaker jumped, and it sounded like someone large and heavy got up and walked around in the Princess's room, and I was all WHAT WAS THAT??

I went upstairs, because under no circumstances should someone large and heavy be stomping around in the Princess's room.  But no, Princess was asleep, as was Peter, and no one was upstairs.

Kind of freaked out, I IM-ed my sister.  She said "OMG we just had an earthquake here!"  And I thought she was screwing with me.  But then I googled it and lo and behold there was an earthquake felt all up the East Coast...that would explain it.

I am glad I do not live in California (especially not Sactown, that would make me laugh), because I like the earth to stay still.


I haven't forgotten about the shower curtain tutorial.  Unfortunately, my curtains were the victims of a vicious drive-by yogurting attack, which has rendered them kind of yogurty and not looking their best for pictures. (I took pictures while making them, but not enough, apparently.)

Also, despite the fact that my children have had zero interest in my dining room curtains for the past five years, THESE curtains are fascinating.  Especially fascinating is peeling off the white ribbon that covers where the fabric meets. Repeatedly. Every time I pull out more hemming tape and iron them back on, they pull them off within 24 hours.  I am seriously considering ripping off the lower panel and just using the short curtain, which would render the tutorial pointless, yes?

Short curtains--I'm bringing them back, yo.

How about some pictures?

followed closely by HULK SMASH:

Greg is a talented basketball player. He is really quite good. 

And where were you in the Great Earthquake of 2011?

Monday, August 22, 2011

painting my kitchen, slowly

I am in the middle of many projects, and obviously based on my lack of posting or pictures, nothing is finished.

I started painting the kitchen.   While technically there is not a ton of wall space in my kitchen, you all know that lots of little walls = lots of cutting in. Blarg.

The walls in my kitchen are a dark hunter green.  I told the previous tenant they did not have to paint the kitchen back to Linen White because I planned on painting the kitchen a dark navy blue.

Invisible Internet Friends, WHY DID YOU NOT SMACK ME AND SAY WHAT ARE YOU THINKING???  Seriously, not one of you said, um, hey, dark blue in a rental you plan to move out of in two years and will have to paint back to Linen White?  Are you SURE that's what you want to do? Invisible Internet Friends kind of fell down on the job there, good buddies.

Well, I have come to my senses and let me tell you I am a bit peeved with you all for not telling me to let the previous tenant paint the kitchen back to Linen White.  Because now *I* am the one painting it back to Linen White.  And I have painted THREE coats of Linen White on one wall and the green STILL shows through.  So the rest of the kitchen necessitates a coat of Killz Primer first, AND a ton of cutting in, and I kind of want to shoot myself.  Because there are three more walls plus another coat on the fourth wall to be done.

I hesitate to blame the previous tenant, but SOME previous tenant painted over wallpaper on at least two walls of the kitchen.  This looks utterly terrible, is bubbling and wrinkling, and the seams are showing. As a rental, however, I'm not fixing it.

Unfortunately this wall is also the wall right next to the stove, so this wall also gets the grease, etc.  I am debating whether I need to learn to live with grease splatters that are much more visible on white paint than dark green or if I need to somehow put some kind of wipeable (yet removable) surface right next to the stove. I'm all ears if you have any ideas on that front.

The previous tenant, however, IS responsible for splattering green paint on every available surface.  Every single cabinet has green smears on it.

Upon moving in, our kitchen had a completely useless eat-in countertop with really high stools.  One thing our kitchen did NOT have, however, was a place to store pots and pans.  No, seriously.  There is not a single cabinet in this kitchen deep enough to store a pot.  Look, see for yourself.

On this wall we have from left to right: tiny drawers, world's tiniest dishwasher, the sink (oh, the grossness under that sink), more tiny drawers, the stove, the door to the basement.  No place to store pots and pans.

Other side of the room, from left to right: a small pantry, the fridge, useless eat-in countertop with all my pots and pans sitting in plastic bins beneath, doorway to the dining room.

If you want the view from the front door, you can see the back door, my garbage can, and the door to the bathroom.

I spoke with the landlord, and while he is not going to improve this kitchen, he's perfectly happy for me to do it.  Normally I am not so into improving other people's property but I cannot live for two years with all of my pots on the floor.

So we are ripping out that eat-in counter and installing a kitchen cabinet.  We bought the cabinet this weekend.

Now we just need for the handyman to come and install it.  And then I have to paint it.

Instead of lots of pots and pans in bins in my kitchen they are now scattered about my dining room.

It will be a while before there is a reveal for this room.

And what have you all been doing with yourselves lately?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

DIY pink/orange stripe painting

Princess's room has been about 90% done for weeks.  However, there was a blank wall that was stumping me. It took me a while to decide what I wanted to do there.  Then, as I discussed in this post, I saw this striped painting and the lightbulb went off.  

I made two stripe paintings on 16x20 canvases.

The bonus?  I had two 16x20 canvases and paint in my basement, so the project was essentially free to me.  I was kicking myself over all the pink and orange sample paints I threw out when we moved last month, but I still had enough cans left for the project.  

I started by painting both canvases with a coat of white paint (I learn from my mistakes). I then lightly penciled in lines at approximately four equal intervals on each canvas.  I divided the canvas in half, and then divided each half in half again.  My lines were very light, just to give me rough guidelines on where to stop painting.  

I used five paints, almost all of them in a high gloss, because that's what was in my basement.  I also used five different paintbrushes of varying sizes (artist type brushes, not paint your living room brushes), again, going with what was in my basement.  Thus not all the stripes are the same size.  

Then I just started painting each stripe horizontally. I didn't wait for each stripe to dry, I just kept going and tried to keep the lines fairly crisp.  Paint a stripe, put a different color next to it, paint another color next to that, etc.

If you want to try this yourself, I'll note that the paintbrushes gave the best and most even coverage, while the disposable foam brushes left streaks of excess paint at the edges. I had one really cheap brush that I regretted using, because it shed hair every single time I used it, so I was picking hairs out of the painting the entire time.  

Another tip--the more colors you have, the easier it is to not repeat colors too close to each other.  

For the second canvas, I used all the same colors, but diluted them with white, for a slightly different but similar color palette.

You know you're a lawyer when an art project makes you think of the LSATs.  On the LSATs there are logic problems that go something like "Bob has to sit next Mary, Mary can only sit next to Sue, and Sue will never sit next to Robby, but Robby must be within two seats of Bob."  With only five paint colors, this painting was sort of like that--I tried to make sure that each color was not repeated next to, above or below itself, but I was also trying to make sure that the colors were arranged in a visually pleasing manner and used an equal amount of times.  Artists are underpaid, in my opinion.  

Princess said "Ooooooh, PINK!!!  Look at all da PINKS!!!!!  Its BEWTEEFUL Mommy."  All night she kept saying "Look! Pinks!"  As you may have guessed from the glimpses of the room you've already seen, she likes pink.  

I think there might be a reveal for this room soon.  

stripe paintings inspiration

The other day I came across this picture on the blog Effortless Style.  I LOVE the painting.

Apparently I really like this type of painting, because I had already pinned a few similar paintings on Pinterest over the last year.

But seeing that pink and orange painting over the sofa made a lightbulb go on over my head---THIS is what I should do with that blank wall in the Princess's room!

Who's kicking herself for throwing out 14 pink and orange sample pots of paint when she moved last month? THIS GIRL.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

the master bedroom with the dragon painting, so far

My master bedroom is slowly coming along.

Here it is on moving day:

Here it is for the last few weeks, with stuff of everywhere:

And here it is today, with my chiang mai dragon painting finally finished, new bed, pretty curtains, bamboo blinds up, and navy blue mirror in place.

I am really happy with the navy/coral/citron color combo I've pulled out of the painting, and I think the painting makes it look a bit more pulled together as well.

The room is tiny.  We have a king size bed and there is about 25 inches on either side of the bed to the wall.  There is 18 inches between the end of the bed and the dressers.  I have stubbed my toe many times rounding the corner of the bed.

You might notice I decided not to get that mirror from craigslist and instead used a mirror we already own.  It was in our bedroom at our old apartment, then I painted it orange and put it in the boys' room here.  Since I was looking for a round mirror and knew that one was the right size and it was already in my house, I decided to use it.  I painted it navy blue and I think it works nicely.  That gives me a blank spot over the dressers in the boys' room, but I have some ideas for its replacement.

Things that still need to be done:
* art over the bedside tables
* hack a Rast table for my bedside table
* tray for dresser
* throw pillows
* navy Euro shams

Nearly done!

chiang mai dragon paint by numbers

Chuck the Magic Dragon is finally done.  Isn't he pretty?

I was inspired to try this after seeing Danica's chiang mai dragon wall she did for a client. (Hers is much better, but we can't all be artistes. Did you see the de Gournay painting she did in her foyer?)

I won't lie, this was one of the most tedious, time-consumig projects I've ever done. It took me about two months.  If I had huge blocks of time it might have taken a few days, but I did it during nap times and after bedtime, so it took a while.  I finally made a big push to finish it, and worked on it every available moment for the last four days.

 After some false starts trying to get the design onto the canvas, my friend Jackie took pity on me.  She started to hand-draw the design onto the canvas, but her sister is an artist and has a giant projector, so she blew it up and traced it onto the canvas. This essentially allowed me to treat it as a paint-by-numbers project, although without the numbers or the ready-made paint.

If I were more artistic, I might have known to treat the canvas. (I asked the salesperson where I bought the canvas if I needed to do anything to treat the canvas and he said, "oh, no, its ready to be painted on!" Jerk.)    I probably should have started with a layer of gesso, or at least a base coat of white, so that the canvas didn't suck up all the paint.  Since I didn't know this, it took two and three (four for the pinks) coats to get a uniform coverage.

At first I was very exact and colored in each little piece as it was drawn on the canvas.  After a month of that I started taking liberties with the design and went for more organic strokes, trying to follow the shape rather than the exact pencil drawing.  That helped speed up the process.

I also used $1.29 acrylic craft paint from Michaels, which is not exactly stellar quality.  Its very flat and muddy.  Despite the wide array of colors available, I ended up mixing my own to get closer to the color of the design.  This was difficult--try as I might, I just could not get the colors of the dragon to come out right.  So I ended up going with sort-of-close-but-not-quite colors.  I prefer to think of this painting as a "chiang mai dragon as interpreted by Lisa" rather than a true to form replication.

The canvas is a 36x48 size that I bought at Pearl for $45, and I bought about $50 worth of craft paint and brushes, although I used about $20 worth.  If only I could find the receipt to return the rest.  So, for approximately $100, I got a large scaled painting of my favorite fabric.     

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

to paint or not to paint

I found this chandelier at a consignment store for $25.  Its not the pagoda chandelier or turquoise beaded chandelier of my dreams, but I think I can make it work.

I am, however, debating whether to paint it before putting it up.  It looks sort of silver in the pictures, but in real life it is a dull, greenish brass.  Not a warm, goldish brass, but a dull, ugly, yucky brass.

Do I Rub-n-Buff it to a warmer brass?  Do I paint it?  Everything in this room is white, brown or blue.  That all seems very predictable.  Red?  Leave it alone and live with dull brass?  (Even the dull brass is better than the ugliness currently in there.)

Monday, August 15, 2011

great idea: Ikea recycling bins for shoes

When we moved in, we put an Expedit unit right behind the front door, in front of the staircase, to hold our shoes and hats, etc. This is the same set-up we had in our old apartment, and the kids each have their own cubby for putting shoes and hats away.

You can see that the Expedit was a wee bit too big for the space, but we really needed the storage.  We don't have a foyer or coat closet (or any built-in storage on the first floor), so we made do with what we had.

The biggest problem was that the Expedit was sitting on top of an air vent.  We put the Expedit up on bun feet to allow the air to circulate, but with the really hot weather we've had, the vent being blocked was a major problem. Unfortuately the immediate solution was to move the Expedit to the side of the stairwell next to the antique secretary (itself also moved off an air vent), where it stuck out and blocked traffic.

But then! I read Young House Love's shoe solution: the Ikea Retur recycling bin. This could solve our air vent problem!


It has a much thinner profile, makes the space feel much bigger, holds all our shoes, and best of all, it doesn't block the air vent.

The bottom shelf holds the kids' shoes, the middle one will hold the kids' hats and gloves, and the top one will hold gloves and hats for me and the Mister, and my shoes. (The Mister usually walks his work shoes right up to his closet.) Right now the top one holds our flipflops.  I'll probably partition the bottom and middle bins so that the kids each have a section, rather than a giant jumble of gloves and hats and shoes.

It does sort of look like plastic bins.  The Mister said "it looks very....European" after he hung them.  Its also not centered on the wall because there is a small nonremovable thingamabob on the left side that sticks out too far to hang anything on top of, so the bins are hung just to the right of it.

For me, the Retur bins have the advantage of having a full bin with a back, so you can store hats and gloves in it, not just shoes.  Many of the shoe cabinets from Ikea only have a bar inside the compartment to hold the shoes in, and the back is open, so it would not be usable for hats and gloves.

But! My shoe storage over air grate problem is solved, thanks to YHL.  Fabulous!