Tuesday, January 31, 2012

One Room Challenge: the Costa Rica version

Supposedly I am working on my dining room, putting up a project a week to show you all my progress.  Except this week I unexpectedly find myself with three kids in Costa Rica, where my internet connection is spotty at best, and I'm writing this post on a computer that does not have a right-click mousepad (why do they make this?) and so I can't even figure out how to put up a picture of the paradise I'm in. 

And I didn't do a darn thing in my dining room.

Lest ye crazy robbers want to attack my house, rest assured that the Mister had to work and is still at home.  As are the rats. 

That's right, I took three children under six on a five hour plane ride by myself.

That's a mistake I won't be making again.

Actually, it wasn't that bad. Except for the landing, which was of the variety where you ask the pilot "were we shot down?" as you get off the plane.  Princess and Peter were screaming "LET ME OUT LET ME OUT LET ME OUUUUUUTTTTT!!!!" at the top of their lungs, in between dry heaves.  One child had a death grip on my arm, while my other arm was busy holding a barf bag under the other child's chin.  Normally I would feel all "omg, people must hate us", but this time I think the majority of the other passengers were looking at me with pity and thanking their lucky stars they weren't me. 

In any event, we are here for a week, and get back the day before the next One Room Challenge post....so don't have high expectations for that one either. 

There is no right click on this computer (seriously, wth), so my ability to make links and pictures is severly compromised.and thus I don't have the giant blog list.  Peruse one of my old blog posts for the list of other participants, or see the button on the side bar.  (I know, I am totally getting voted off the island this time.)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The decision to be a SAHM

Inspired by this post and link up party over at I Pick Pretty, where Mrs. Pretty discussed her decision to quit her job as an attorney and stay home with her son, I will tell you how I made (or didn't make) the decision to stay home with my kids.

After law school, I worked in a personal injury law firm for about 8 months.  I knew about halfway through law school I was going to hate being an attorney.  And I was right.  Working at that firm was not the worst work experience of my life (close, but not the actual worst), but I knew that I was never going to be happy doing that sort of work.  I dreamed of getting pregnant so I could quit and stay home with my kid.

Then one day, a gift from the gods fell into my lap.  My mentor from law school called me and said "there's a one-semester opening for a legal writing professor at a school in Georgia. You should apply."

I applied, never thinking that I would get the job.  Unbelievably, I did.  And I LOVED it.  I loved teaching. Grading, not so much. But teaching? Teaching is the awesomest job in the world. All of a sudden, I KNEW what I wanted to do with my life.

And then at the end of that first semester of teaching, I got pregnant. (On purpose. Dude, I was thirty, the world was ending if I didn't get pregnant rightthissecond.)

My old firm had extended an offer for me to come back in the spring when I was finished teaching.  When I came home, however, they decided that no, they didn't have room for me after all. So, there I was, pregnant and unemployed.  And then my alma mater law school called, asking if I would be be interested in teaching one class as an adjunct.  Why, yes, indeed I would! It was a pittance of paycheck, but it was experience on my resume, finished before the baby was due, and that was fine.

After that I finagled my way into a 2 year contract at my alma mater.  I got pregnant again in the first year of my contract and had Peter.  As the second year of my contract was starting, the Mister was offered a job in NYC.  We were living in South Jersey at the time, outside of any reasonable commuting distance, and thus we would have to move to northern NJ.

At that time, every single penny of my take-home pay went to pay for childcare. If you took into account gas getting back and forth to work and dry cleaning my suits, it was actually costing me money to go to work.  However, it was a job with really flexible hours for the most part, which allowed me to spend more time with the kids, and although I was making no money at the end of the day, it had excellent, cheap health insurance.  The Mister's law firm had the world's most expensive, crappiest insurance, so by insuring myself and the kids on my insurance, that put an extra thousand dollars in the Mister's paycheck every month. (Yes, the Mister's super-crappy insurance cost us over $1000 a month. The NYC job had much better and much cheaper health insurance, thank goodness.)

Also, I will admit that I was very much feeling pulled in two directions.  I loved my job, but I loved my kids more.  I wanted to spend more time with them.  I also sometimes felt like I was working so that someone else could take care of my kids, since my entire salary went to a nanny.  I would have really liked to work part time, but it wasn't financially feasible: either I taught full time for a reasonable salary, or I took a half load as an adjunct for less than 10% of my regular salary.

Since law school hiring generally takes place a year in advance, I needed to let my school know whether or not I wanted to participate in the permanent position search (I had been hired as a temporary visitor).  Had we been staying in the south Jersey area, I probably would have stayed with teaching, because I loved it.  However, since we planned on leaving the area, my decision was essentially made for me.  I told my school that I would not be returning when the school year was up.  I was not unhappy about it. I looked forward to spending some time with the kids.

To be honest, in my head, I wasn't quitting to be a SAHM permamently.  My plan was to sell our house, move to the NYC area, and find a job in NYC for the following school year.  So I looked at it as more of a yearlong sabbatical, rather than a conscious decision to stay home for years.

And then it took us two years to sell our house (hello, financial crash of 2008 and our house being worth much less than what we had just paid for it!), so the Mister commuted 5+ hours a day for two years, and then I found out I was pregnant with our third child...and so my grand plans to keep working didn't quite work out as planned.  We finally sold our house and moved to northern NJ in the summer of 2009.  I could have entered the fall hiring season for the NYC law schools but...Princess was one month old, and since I had 3 kids under the age 4, I was feeling a little overwhelmed.

I will admit that when I first stayed home with the kids, it was challenging.  After years of working on mental puzzles every day at work, my day was now defined by other people's bowel movements.  I also discovered that while I love babies (nom, nom, looooove babies).....babies turn into one year olds.  And I find the 1 yr + crowd to be much more work than babies.  Interact with me! LOOK AT ME!! Play with me! Attend to my every whim!  With babies (my babies, anyways) I could just say here, have a boob and a snuggle while I read the internets.

I guess the upshot here is not that I decided to be a SAHM, but that it just sort of happened.

Since my original decision to stay home was supposed to be a short, temporary one, precipitated by the easily explained "my husband's job took us to a new city", I didn't worry that much about finding a new job. But now, after years at home during a recession, I have thought quite a bit about how and when I will re-enter the job market.

Here is where this post breaks down--my thoughts about me going back to work are a post in themselves.  I don't think that there is a clear winner in the stay-at-home or go-to-work arena.  What works for me may not work for you, and what works for me today may not work for me tomorrow.  Neither is better than the other.  I could end with a rant about our patriarchal society that talks about how being a mom is the greatest job in the world, but acts as if a job without a paycheck is worthless....but that's also a post in itself.

At the end of the day, what I am at the moment is a SAHM.  And for now, I love it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bandaids, chickpea desserts, pictures

A few days ago I woke up at four am to find someone rifling through my nightstand.  Totally freaked out for a moment, I realized it was Princess.  Skipping the fact that she was wandering around the house in the middle of the night, I told her it was bedtime and put her back to bed.

In the morning I discovered that she had taken the bandaids out of the nightstand and adorned herself with them.  This was terrible because I had put these extra-strength, cement-like, impossible-to-remove bandaids in the drawer so that they wouldn't get used (why didn't I just throw them out, you ask? Hmph.).  Lets just say Princess was mighty peeved when we finally took them off.  "Mah skin hurts! You stop that!"


Today I meandered on over to the Weight Watchers site for the first time in quite a while, and was met with the unpleasant news that due to some newfangled way of doing things, the miniscule amount of points I am allowed to eat has shrunk even further. Boo, hiss.

Perusing the dessert menu on the WW site (oh what, like I'm the only one, take your irony elsewere), I came across a recipe for chocolate chickpea...stuff, for lack of a better term.  I think they called it "dip".  This is at least the fourth recipe I've seen in the last few weeks using chickpeas in a dessert.

Is it just me, or does this sound disgusting?  I agree that copious amounts of chocolate and sugar will make just about anything taste better, but it doesn't mean that you SHOULD.

My curiosity piqued, I decided that I would make one of these recipes.  The WW recipe called for condensed milk, so that was out. (I can't eat most milk products.)  I recalled having seen a chocolate chip cookie dough dip recipe recently, so I googled around and found a bunch of recipes.

A few of the recipes called for straining a can of chickpeas and then de-skinning the chickpeas individually by hand, which sounded time-consuming and beyond the amount of effort I am willing to put in, so I went with a recipe that skipped that step.  Most recipes called for peanut butter or nut butter, and since Peter is allergic to peanuts, we stick with sunflower butter, so that's what I used. I also added vanilla, salt, a hell of a lot of brown sugar, oatmeal, and chocolate chips.

The result: about as delicious as it looks.

Eh.  I will be honest, it was not terrible.  It was not very good, either.  Pros:  somewhat sweet, lactose and nut free, lower calories than eating forty-seven cookies.  Cons: tasted strongly of sunflower butter yet had a bland, funky undertone to it. It might be better with peanut butter but I will never know.  It also had the consistency of thick, dense paste.  Yet for some reason I stood at the counter and continued to taste it.  Just checking for the fortieth time that it was still gross?  I don't know, I couldn't stop eating it, even though I didn't like it.  

I fed it to the Mister without telling him what it was.  He said "yuck, what is this? Its gross."

Verdict: chickpeas should not be in a dessert.

I haven't posted pics of the kids lately.  Sorry, Grandma.

Princess cracks me up.

She's wearing the leg of a Buzz Lightyear costume on her head.

Apparently I've neglected the middle child, I have no pictures of him to share today.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

One Room Challenge: pelmet fail

In last week's moodboard, I had plans for putting up a pelmet with a greek key detail.  I love the greek key detailing on these window treatments below, and figured I could easily do something similar.

via Little Green Notebook
I thought that a simple white pelmet with some colorful ribbon would be the right idea, especially since I felt that the prior window treatments were too busy and competed with the gallery of picture ledges.  I used this tutorial to make the pelmet, which is fairly easy and cheap, seeing as it is foam board duct-taped together with fabric stapled to the back.

It appears I was wrong.  I am not happy with the way the pelmet came out.  It is too much white, and the ribbon trim is distracting.  Please forgive the dark pictures, I cannot figure out aperture and I find this room really hard to photograph in the afternoon.

The squares appear to be different sizes, but I assure you, I spent much time measuring them and they are the same size.  I will admit that one square is further in than the other.

My first mistake was using a ribbon that was too wide.  I originally planned to do a square in all four corners, but in laying out the ribbon I could tell that a twelve-inch pelmet was too small for the medium size grosgrain ribbon I had on hand.

My second mistake was using a plain white fabric.  The walls and trim are white, and the white pelmet is barely visible as a window treatment.

Are you getting the sense that I am already falling behind on the One Room Challenge of completing an entire room in six weeks?  I think I am about to be voted off the island.

See everyone else's progress:

Saved by Suzy
Trapped in North Jersey
Nicole Scott Designs
Kim Macumber Interiors
Rue de Emily
The Pink Pagoda
Nana Moon Shop
Taylor Morgan Design
My Crafty Home Life
House Four
Living Savvy
(A Lifestyle Thing)

Monday, January 23, 2012

red and blue

This weekend the Mister and I went to Barnes and Noble by ourselves.  I read the February issue of House Beautiful cover to cover, and it was full of good stuff.  One house I loved was decorated by Lindsay Coral Harper, and two of the rooms centered around blue and red.

This bedroom looks so crisp and bold. How fantastic are those inlaid night tables?

via House Beautiful
This living room is lovely. I think the chairs are a bit on the boring side, but the rest of the room really hits it out of the park. I need a bamboo etagere and a blue velvet bench.  

via House Beautiful
But what really looks lovely are the curtains.  Look behind the chair and see the trim on the curtains--the blue banding with the red piping is just excellent.  According to the article the curtains are made from a Kathy Ireland fabric.

via House Beautiful
Also according to the article, the painting over the fireplace is made of wax, which seems like a poor choice of medium over a fireplace, but I suppose if you are rich you can afford to replace melted art.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

mentally redecorating the downstairs bathroom

I'd love to redo (more accurately, "do" for the first time) my downstairs bathroom. Visually, this bathroom is nothing to write home about.  It has dark hunter green floor tiles, white square-tiled walls, and a matching green accent tile about halfway up the wall.  Everything in this bathroom is builder-grade and clearly meant for taking abuse in a rental house.  

When we moved in I put up the aqua trellis shower curtain from our old apartment and called it a day, thinking I would figure out how to deal with that green later. I had thoughts about putting this shower curtain up, but that curtain was out of stock for a long time.  Its back now, but I think we will move out of this house when our lease is up in a few months, so spending money on this bathroom doesn't make sense.

But that doesn't stop me from daydreaming, does it?

I think this Urban Outfitter rug, this Furbish ikat shower curtain (not available on the website, I took the picture from here), and this Etsy print would be fabulous. This combination would complement the green without having to actually find items that contain hunter green.

What room are  you daydreaming of redoing?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Decluttering: the basement workbench

As you've seen many times before, here is my basement workbench (in the far back, behind all the junk in the front).  Note the chandelier, the windshield wiper fluid, Ikea Ribba picture ledges, a suitcase and 400 other pounds of detritus.  

I have zero desire to spend any money on redoing this area, as we are moving in six months (hello, rats!), and this type of organizational stuff won't move with us.  My goal was to clear off the top of the bench, and get all the tools sorted and in one place.  

Slowly but surely I worked my way down the bench.  I made a scrap wood/Ikea Ribba picture ledge pile in the corner. I put the chandelier out on the front porch for donation; it gives a nice Tobacco Road feel to our curb appeal.  I put the suitcase back with the other suitcases.  

Then I went piece by piece, sorting all the tools, screws, nails, and odds and ends into different categories.  I used cardboard boxes and plastic bins we had on hand.  This took about 3 hours.  

There is shelving right behind that pole to the right, which is why there aren't any pictures of the bench head on.  Please forgive the flash photography, as my basement doesn't get much light, especially when I am taking pictures at 10:30 pm.

There are eleven bins, separated into a box of hammers, leftover Ikea screws, furniture casters, brackets, curtain paraphernalia,  a million boxes of screws in packs that you buy from Home Depot, a separate bin of loose screws (SO MANY SCREWS), various other junk, and two plastic thingamajigs that have little drawers, which contain tools separated by category.  

Below the workbench are a rubbermaid bin of cleaning supplies, a rubbermaid bin of tools like drills and saws, and a rubbermaid bin of home decor items not currently being used. Surprisingly, I threw out or donated very little; it was just a matter of organizing what was there.  It would be helpful if I could find my label maker so I could label all the bins.  For now I  will probably buy a pack of sticky-notes.  

Behold, my NINE hammers.  

I'm pretty sure there are two more hammers in the junk drawer in the kitchen.  

I am making headway.  I have cleaned at least 11 percent of the basement so far.  I will assert dominion over the other 89 percent eventually. 

Edited to add: I am linking this post to Pancakes and French Fries William Morris Project.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

One Room Challenge

When Linda of My Crafty Home Life invited me to join in a blog challenge of redoing a room in my home, I thought, hmm, I have just the room!  My dining room has never really felt right.  Yes, I know I just finished it like three months ago.  I did it wrong. Now I'm redoing it.

It currently looks like this:

There's two problems with this room.  First, this room is always cluttered.  The overall sense in this room is one of "stuff".  The curtains feel crowded.  The picture ledges, although one of my favorite things in the room, also contribute to the sense of "stuff".  I took the curtains down this weekend, and already the room feels more open.

The other major problem in the room is the color scheme.  I tried to make it "coordinate" with the rest of the downstairs.  And it does.  But I think I'd rather it coordinated differently.  Although I love the pale Gossamer blue on the back door, on the china cabinet it just seems....meh. It has no punch, no verve, no get-up-and-go. Bo-ring.  I stepped out of my comfort zone of jewel tones...and I got something I don't particularly like. I don't hate it, but I don't look at it and think ooh! either.

Last problem: we are moving when our lease is up in June, so I am reluctant to do anything in this room that is not free or can't come with us. My budget is miniscule, except for the hardware I splurged on from Anthropologie for the china cabinet.

Here's my moodboard.  If you remember my old moodboard for this space when we first moved in, you might think this is a bit redundant, and I probably should have followed it the first time around.

The Richloom Lucy Eden fabric will be covering up the glass in the china cabinet.  The china cabinet will be painted a deep, cobalt blue.  The mother of pearl and gold knobs from Anthropologie will replace the long skinny hardware, although the drawer pulls will be staying.

For the windows, I took down the curtains, and will be putting up pelmets with a greek key trim.  I have some white fabric left over from another project, and red ribbon, so this project should be inexpensive.

I have a brown chair that will be getting a makeover, probably in yellow.

I plan to make some silhouettes, and an as-yet-undetermined piece of art for over the sideboard, perhaps something like this colorful woodblock piece.

Follow along for the next six weeks as I and fourteen other bloggers complete a one room makeover.  Check out all the other rooms:
Saved by Suzy
Trapped in North Jersey
Nicole Scott Designs
Kim Macumber Interiors
Rue de Emily
The Pink Pagoda
Nana Moon Shop
Taylor Morgan Design
My Crafty Home Life
House Four
Living Savvy
(A Lifestyle Thing)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Decluttering: more of the basement

I am slowly but surely chipping away at the basement.

The area at the bottom of the stairs--like everywhere else in the basement--is a place that we walk down and drop stuff.

There were bins of swimsuits, bins of curtains, art, toys, more curtains that should have been in the bin of curtains, side tables, a box of expired medicines....all in a three foot space along the back wall.

I packed up all the curtains and put them back in their appropriate bins in the garage.  The art also went back to the garage with the rest of the homeless art. The toys were also packed in a bin of extra toys in the garage that I keep for a rainy day. (Notice a shifting of mess from one area to another?)  The medicines were disposed of.

I cleared out all the way to the workbench.  The little wooden box on the bottom right is meant for donation, and the box above it is still full of medical apparatus like nebulizers and dispensers and thermometers that I can't find room for in the linen closet.  That medical box is also stuffed with a bag full of food meant for donation to a food pantry.  And on top of that bag is a pair of yellow lamps that I am waiting for warm weather to continue spraypainting.

On the left, we have a plastic bin full of last year's filing, and a diaper box full of this year's bills waiting to be filed in a new bin that I have not yet procured.  I would like to get some filing cabinets for this spot.  My filing system needs an overhaul, but since one two-drawer filing cabinet costs about $150, I am scouring craigslist to find some cheap ones.  Until I find two cabinets, the bills will sit in that cardboard box.

You watch, slowly but surely everything in the basement will end up in the garage.

Next up is the workbench area.  This is the area most in need of organizing--I know that we own at least five hammers, and a large selection of nails and screws, but who can find anything in that layer of chandeliers, furnace filters and windshield wiper fluid?  I know that we are moving when our lease is up in June, and I am reluctant to invest any money in an organizing system that I cannot take with us, so this is the area that stumps me.

Edited to add: I'm linking up to Pancakes and French Fries William Morris Project.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

public service announcements, resolutions so far

PSA #1:  Lactose free mozzarella exists!!
Last week, while grocery shopping in the dairy aisle, I picked up a package of shredded Cabot mozzarella cheese.  I love Cabot because their cheddar cheese is lactose free, and is one of two lactose-free cheeses I am aware of.  (The other is Bel Gioso gorgonzola; weirdly, their small packages in grocery stores do not say lactose free, but their large bulk packages at Costco do.)  I flipped over the back and read the label, because no food enters my house without us reading the label for Peter's food allergies.

Unbelievably, the mozzarella cheese was LACTOSE FREE.  This is incredible.  I have never found a lactose free mozzarella, and I have searched for years.  I have not had a lasagna or a pizza in the past ten years, as I avoid foods that give me spectacularly adverse gastrointestinal effects. (As an aside, every Friday night I order a large plain pie for the kids, and a small white pizza with spinach and tomato with cheese only on half for myself and the Mister (the Mister gets the half with cheese), and despite the fact that I have ordered this pizza every single Friday night for the past SIX MONTHS from the same pizzeria, I still get questioned on it--"I don't understand, you want cheese only on half? Why would you do such a thing? That's really weird? Why order a pizza at all?" Every. Single. Time.)

It is not listed as lactose free on Cabot's website, but the packaging says "0 grams of lactose per serving."  This probably means that a few servings might have a small amount of lactose, but a serving size is 1/4 cup.

Anyhoo, this opens up a wide world of homemade pizza and lasagna and general cheesy goodness.  A world that has been closed to me for the past decade.

So, I decide to give up pasta and bread and the next day the universe shows me that I can have pizza and lasagna again. I'm guessing this is a test.  But I freely admit I have no internal fortitude; we had baked ziti last night for dinner.

It was delicious.

PSA# 2: You need a Zoku pop-maker! 
We recently bought a Zoku pop-maker and it is awesome.  We avoid a lot of ice cream and frozen dessert products because they are generally produced in factories that also process nut products.  This sort of sucks for Peter, because he has a big sweet tooth.  The Zoku pop-maker allows us to make our own popsicles at home, including milk-based ones. Its also just a cool product.  You keep the base in the freezer, and when you want a pop, you pull it out, pour liquid (like fruit juice, or milk) into the base, and five minutes, voila, you have a frozen popsicle of your chosen flavor.

Its also simple enough to use that a first grader could use it on their own.

(Neither Cabot nor Zoku has paid me in any way for these endorsements, I just really like them.)

PSA #3: Google Friend Connect going away!
Are you aware that Google is getting rid of Google Friend Connect March 1st, 2012, for non-Blogger sites? It will be continued a few months longer for Blogger sites, but by the end of this year it too will be folded into Google+.  Thus, that little sidebar that shows how many followers you have is going away.  Presumably all those blogs you follow as a follower will also disappear out of your reader. I find this...annoying.  I guess I will have to figure out how add an RSS feed and subscribe by email to my blog.  Ugh, technology.

PSA #4: Let me email you when you leave a comment!
Is your email address tied to your Blogger ID, so when you leave a comment on my blog I can hit reply and email you back?   You can easily set your ID to be tied your email address, and if you are afraid of tying it to your everyday email address, you can set it to a different one. Just go here for the instructions with big pictures if you use Blogger.


How I am doing on New Years's non-resolutions:

1) I set up a playdate for Greg.  Greg told me who he wanted to have over, and at school I walked up to the child's grandmother (who doesn't speak English), handed her a note with an invitation to come over and our phone number, and that night spoke with the child's parents.  Playdate will commence this Friday afternoon.

2) I installed the computer-holding shelf on my treadmill and have been using the Rosetta Stone while exercising every morning.  It makes my half hour of exercising go quickly.  The shelf is unfortunately a bit high--the straps tie around the center bar, and our center bar is low, thus dragging the shelf higher--but since I don't need to type, just see the screen while walking, the shelf works fine for me.

3) Cookies, I cannot quit you.  As I'm typing this Peter is hanging over my shoulder, asking "when you finished that we make cookies PLEEEEEEEASE??????"

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

small changes in the living room

When I traveled to Japan, I stayed with a family whose living room had no furniture.  Against one wall stood a very low table that was turned up on its side, and at dinner time they would pull the table out into the room, sit on the floor, and eat.  When they were done, the table went back up on the wall.

Imagine how much time the mom spent cleaning that living room.  Pretty much none is my guess.

Every so often, I get a yearning for that living room.  Not that I want to sit on the floor, but I tell you, the spaciousness of that not-so-big room, and the lack of time spent cleaning up crap is quite tempting.  Lately I have been on a kick to simplify and declutter.  I've decided I'm also taking out large furniture if I can.  More room, less furniture, less junk, less crap!  To that end, I've made some changes in the living room.

Last we saw the living room, it looked like this:

I relegated the antique secretary between the chairs to the basement.  Although the storage was nice, it felt like too much furniture in that spot. It also didn't allow for a table between the chairs, so you could put a drink or your book down.

We moved the curtain rods up from the middle of the molding, and lengthened the too-short curtains.  It looks so much better.

I also pompommed the lampshade, and brought up the bamboo table from the basement.  Funny enough, this was the original arrangement when we moved in.

On the other side of the room, I took down the ceramic pieces, cleared off the top of the console (talk about a crap repository--normally it is piled high with mail and tons of toys and junk), and moved the brown chair to the dining room. (What brown chair, you are asking. Look again at the first picture, there is a brown chair that just fades into the brown bannister. If I owned this house I would paint that bannister immediately but alas, it is not to be.)

The small ceramic pieces on the wall just felt too much.  The picture ledges in the dining room, although awesome, have a "lots of small things together" vibe, and the ceramics added to that. It was just feeling junky on the main floor.  I packed all the pieces away and put up a mirror.  I kept out three of the ceramic pieces and moved them to over the keys.

I also picked up a few new tchotchkes.  Target has some really great stuff right now--I picked up a pair of foo dogs for $20. I cleared off the second shelf of the bookshelf to make way for the new items.

I also found a flying pig at a thrift shop for $4, so I brought it home and spraypainted it gold.  I am taken with the notion of spraypainting everything in this house gold. Dare me, I'll do it.

My sister Sarah picked up the cutest snakeskin covered c-table at Homegoods, so when I visited her I insisted that we go get one for me.

Previously, the far end of the sofa, away from the door, was the best place to sit because that end had a side table that one could put down a drink, etc.  As you can see there is no room for a side table on the other end, because the door is right there. Thankfully, this little c-table curves over the couch and allows you to sit at that end AND have a drink.  Problem solved! And its snakeskin!  I want to spraypaint the legs gold.

Last but not least, I put away the brown chevron pillows on the couch and pulled out a little pillow that's been in storage for a bit:

The sofa was recently a victim of a vicious drive-by yogurting, so I feel like a deep cleaning of the upholstery and the rug would also not be amiss.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

pompom lampshade

I have a lovely yellow lamp that I bought years ago in Macon, Georgia.  When we lived in the apartment I really wanted this lampshade, but instead DIYed the lampshade with a yellow bamboo fabric, and it looked nice:

Unfortunately, it was involved in a minor mishap prior to moving and I took the fabric off the lampshade to wash it.  I washed it, and then.....I have no idea where that fabric is.  Not a clue.  I put it in a safe place, I'm sure.  I have looked everywhere, but it hasn't shown up.

Since I can't find the the fabric to recover it, I took some pompoms--I love pompoms!--and glued them to the bottom of the shade.

Sophisticated?  Not so much. But cute, sure!  The bamboo fabric was my favorite, and if I ever find it again I will use it WITH the pompoms.  Double the goodness!

You know you are kind of obsessed with pompoms when your husband stands in Target, picks up a lampshade and says "how about this one? You could pompom the hell out of it."

Monday, January 9, 2012

Lengthening curtains

I finally got around to fixing the living room curtains.

When I bought our living room curtains last year, I bought a pair off Craigslist and a pair off ebay.  One pair was 84 inches long, and the other pair was 96 inches long. Since our windows in the apartment were fairly low set, the 84 inch curtains fit just fine.  I hemmed the 96 inch pair by tucking up the excess fabric and pinning it with safety pins, and I put that pair behind the chair in the living room so it wouldn't be seen.

The windows here are much higher, and the 96 inch pair fit much better.  Except....I only have one 96 inch pair.  So I hung the curtain rods at the middle of the molding so the curtains didn't look like floodwater pants.  I hated it from the moment I did it; it looked dumb.  And then we left it like that for six months.

Last week we moved the curtain rods up.  That looked soooo much better.  Except for the pair that were 12 inches too short.

I had some teal fabric left over from the lengthening of the shower curtains in the dining room, so I pulled some of that out.  I had one piece that was 11.5 inches wide and about 98 inches long.  This was a weeeeee bit short, but its what I had, so I used it.

I ironed the blue fabric and then cut it to the width of the curtain. This is the lazy man's decorating; as you can see in the picture I didn't even take the curtains down to do this.

Then I took iron-on hemming tape and ironed that onto the back side of the curtain. There are different types of hemming tape; some kinds are like a sticky tape that you sandwich between two pieces of fabric and iron.  This kind is like a roll of tape with backing; you iron the backing onto the first fabric, peel it off, then iron the second piece of fabric onto the sticky piece that's on the first piece of fabric. I prefer the sticky tape kind but I bought a large amount of the wrong kind a while ago so I'm using what I have.

Sadly, it appears I did not take a picture of the next step--put the second piece of fabric on top of the sticky tape, then iron it down.

And voila, a lengthened curtain!

Astute readers and people good at math will notice that I did not have quite enough fabric. People who sew are thinking, were the edges left raw? Did you hem the sides and bottom??

No, that's why it's lazy man's decorating.  I left the sides and bottom raw and unhemmed, because I didn't have enough fabric.  For the second curtain, not only were the sides left raw and unhemmed, but I was also nearly a foot short of material, so I took another small scrap, trimmed it to the amount I needed, and ironed that on too.  Then I draped the curtains so that the vertical line scrap was at the back of the fold.

Note that if you planned on having a curtain with finished edges, you would want to cut the fabric at least an inch longer than the curtain on both sides and the bottom, so that you have enough fabric for hemming.

Considering that these curtains are in a corner, partly behind a sofa and chair, and aren't really seen that much, I'm fine with the unfinished edges that aren't visible unless you are inspecting them close up.  If this were my forever home, I'd probably invest in making both curtains the same length with matching fabric, and I'd probably pay someone to do it.  As it appears we will probably move when our lease is up (have I told you about our rat problem?), I am disinclined to spend much money on decorating this house.

Not that I will stop decorating, because, hi, that's what I like to do.  But I'm trying to do most of it with stuff I have on hand, or inexpensive fixes.  I'm also looking for temporary solutions, so those solutions aren't always the same as what I would do if I were looking at the long term.  Case in point--I now have two pairs of slightly mismatched curtains, since the 96 inch pair has the same material all the way to the bottom, and the 84 inch pair has blue material at the bottom.  It's easily undone, however--just rip the blue material off and they are back to their original lengths.  

Edited to add: linking up to Pancakes and French Fries William Morris Project.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

starting on the basement

In my decluttering project, one of the items was "deal with the basement."  Unfortunately, I'd say that the basement is probably five or six zones of clutter and is well beyond what I can deal with in the hour or two between the kids' bedtime and mine.

This weekend I had the Mister start by clearing out the old fridge that was downstairs.

We bought this fridge from the previous tenants when they moved out.  They offered it to us for a reasonable price, and we thought it would be nice to have an extra fridge in the basement for drinks and extra storage.  Of course, it died three weeks after we moved in.  Six months later, we are finally getting around to putting it out on the curb.

Its amazing how much bigger the space feels without that fridge. (Don't look at my laundry area. I said don't look! Why are you looking?!)

The second thing I tackled was the area between the stairs and the laundry.  It had become a drop zone for crap. Although the entire basement could be considered a drop zone for crap.  Here is the starting point, although there was EVEN MORE stuff there a few days ago that I sold on Craigslist.

Now, it looks like this.

Nearly everything sitting on the floor in that area was related to painting.  I started by moving all the cardboard boxes to the recycle area. Then I took all the painting supplies and sorted them into bins.   I also sorted the paint--spray paint up top, gallons in the middle, and supplies and samples (the cardboard box on the right) on the bottom. Most of the gallons in the middle were left by the previous tenant, and I will be leaving them there when I move out.  My landlord is particular about not throwing things away.

Somebody has a problem with hoarding Benjamin Moore sample pots.

Actually I had wayyyy more than this but I pared down when we moved six months ago.

I started with the easy area. I knew this wouldn't take that long if I just sat down and did it, plus, I used cardboard boxes and plastic bins I already owned to sort stuff, so the whole thing was free to me.  The workbench area (the area across from the fridge in the first picture above), on the other hand, is going to be an all day job.

The workbench area, honestly, will require some kind of sorting apparatus, like small bins and plastic hooks on a pegboard and I just don't want to spend any money on this rental.  I know that we suffer from the "fourteen hammers" syndrome, where you can't find one when you need so you go buy one, but if you just cleaned your basement and a few junk drawers you'd find that you already own fourteen hammers.  And a bunch of screwdrivers. And fourteen levels. And fourteen boxes of drill bits. And fourteen measuring tapes. And so on and so forth.

Then there is the "I don't have room for this stuff in this kitchen" area across from the workbench.  Plus the "where am I supposed to store decor stuff I'm not using but don't want to get rid of" area.  And the "87 boxes of crap from my old office that I won't throw out" area.  And the "oh, I might use that someday" area.

Its a slow process, folks.  But its a start

Edited to add: I am linking this post up to Pancakes and French Fries William Morris Project