something small

We visited friends about a week and a half ago, and told them how much we enjoy their little house and their decorating style. They sighed while admitting they were only able to accomplish one small task a week in beautifying their home.

One per week? I thought one every few months was pretty ambitious.

The idea of doing something every week was inspiring. Naturally, we went home pondering what small thing we could do that very week, but came up dry. I hit upon it this past weekend.

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Every time I go to the hardware store I scope out the mailboxes. Ours left much to be desired. It was just a little black rectangle, faded from age, a little rusty in the corners. Buying a new one wasn’t in the budget, but a can of spray paint would only set us back about 4 bucks. Bingo.

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There were about 25 different colors ro choose from at Home Depot. I knew I wanted the opposite of what I had: I needed something bright, something that would pop. I thought about orange or green, but Pete liked the idea of yellow. After hemming and hawing in the paint aisle for about 20 minutes, I settled on a color that mirrors the color of our porch. I kind of like the idea of tying the outside in with the inside.

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Even though the paint I bought included primer, it still took many coats to cover the black. Because I am notoriously bad at spray painting, I tried to really take my time and ensure I was coating it evenly without making drips.

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I’d call it a success! If you try a similar project, just note that the USPS prefers flags be red or orange (if you have a mailbox flag at all…as you can see, I do not).

Thanks to Julia and Ryan for inspiring us to do small things that make a big impact!

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how does your garden grow?

Hey, guys! I’d love to say that life is so super busy that I never have time to post all of my amazing things that I do, but sadly, that is not true. In fact, after 7pm, life gets downright boring. I watch TV, pay bills, do a load or two of laundry, and call it a night. And you know what? I kinda love it. It’s nice to veg out after a day of work or play. So, I haven’t been MAKING anything lately, and it was nice to have a break. BUT! It’s not like I haven’t been doing anything at all. Though today you wouldn’t know it (cold and rainy in NH today), the past couple weeks have been downright beautiful. It’s been great weather for digging outside.

What have I planted this year? Garden phlox, astilbe, and hosta, so far! I’ve also got some hanging petunias and a few things that were already planted when we moved in.

I took some pictures the other day when it was sunny and warm. Join me on a tour of my tiny yard! You can click on any of the photos to enlarge it and view as a photo gallery.

Up there you’ll see geraniums, the bud of a hydrangea, azaleas with killer color, a little carpet rose that hasn’t bloomed yet but is looking nice and green, and a giant, twiggy plant that blooms in the prettiest shade of light pink. When the phlox blooms it’ll be a purply color, and the astilbe (that tiny little thing that looks like a weed next to the stairs)? Who knows! I bought it at a garden club plant sale, so I’m excited to see if it thrives and spreads. Oh, and that’s my little garden helper relaxing by the pool. It sure looks like lots of pink, but the hydrangeas are white, the roses are red, and…well I could really use some yellow, I think. Buying plants is addictive!

My next endeavor, if I can manage to make time for it, is to plant some herbs in containers. My parents got me this great little greenhouse but it’s been hard to find a sunny spot for it. My goal is to fill it with edible plants this week.

My little garden(s) is/are a work in progress, but it’s so fun to do and satisfying to admire. Hopefully you’ve been able to get outside, too.

the nesting instinct

You hear about it often. The nesting instinct is supposedly the sudden urge a pregnant woman gets to spruce up her house and get it ready for the arrival of a new little one.

For me, it’s the urge to make my house look less crappy before visitors come charging up my driveway to meet the new baby. Sure, I scrubbed the shower the other day while I was bathing. Yeah, I recently bought Swiffer wet pads for the first time. Yes,  dozens of dust bunny families have been vacuumed up from my bedroom floor within the past week, and aye, we rearranged the porch in a burst of 11pm energy on the holiday weekend. But I assure you, this is not to prepare for baby’s arrival. This is to prepare for everyone else’s arrival. You know, just in case.

But that second bedroom upstairs…that IS for the baby. You and I both know that a baby doesn’t care what color the walls are, or how much work you put into arranging the books just so, or whether or not the colors in the curtains match the colors in the bedding. They don’t care about your new chair or your new lighting or your new everything else that’s new. With that said, I have to admit that I do care, at least a little, about all those things.  So…on to the conclusion to our nursery saga!

What began in December as a quick project has finally come to an end as of sometime last week. The demolition, the building, the painting, the repainting, the trim, the furniture, the last-minute book hanger project thing…it’s all DONE. Phew. It only took like 5 or 6 months, right? From this:

IMG_0966To this:

aaaaaaaand done!

aaaaaaaand done!

With LOTS AND LOTS of help along the way!

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finished curtains and a recipe challenge!

First, remember that kitchen curtain post? I finally got my act together and sewed ’em up today! I found out this morning that the library would be closed for the day (snooowwww!), so I figured there was no better time to finish a project that had been hanging over my head.

I think it does add that certain something I was looking for.

I think it does add that certain something I was looking for. I’m going to go ahead and call this a success. For some reason I couldn’t get the editing to be what I wanted it to be in this picture. I can assure you that the curtains are much brighter than they appear here.

In other news, I’ve embarked on my very first BLOG CHALLENGE!

Not long ago, I was cutting a mango and just happened to look across the counter. I noticed all my cookbooks, and suddenly saw them with new eyes: there were some books there that I’d never even opened! And that’s when the challenge started to take shape…

So, here’s the plan: every week, I’ll post one new recipe that I’ve tried to make from a cookbook that I’ve either never used, or have used very little. I have a lot of cookbooks that don’t get much use, so I think this challenge will be going on for a while. Additionally, I’ve invited a few friends to join me in the challenge! I look forward to seeing what everyone makes–we’re all so different, but food has that unique quality of unification, I think.

Don’t forget to follow this blog to keep up to date with how the challenge is going, not to mention get a few new recipe ideas for your own kitchen. If you’re interested in participating leave a comment below.

My plan for this evening is to use a cookbook I bought at Baldface Books in Dover, NH about five or six years ago. It’s Gourmet’s Menu Cookbook, from 1978. I was mostly intrigued because it has some gross-sounding foods (like calves brains fritters), and I figured it would be a fun conversation piece more than anything else. Because it’s a menu cookbook, it includes sample menus for different types of gatherings along with recipes for all the items. I was not only weirded out by some of the recipes a few years ago, but severely intimidated by them; they seemed really, really difficult.

We bought a couple of leeks the other day because for the first time in weeks they actually looked pretty good, but I didn’t know what I’d do with them. This morning I decided to crack this puppy open and see what it told me about leeks. I’m happy to report that I found a very tasty-sounding recipe, and we’ll be trying it out tonight!

A cookbook I've never once made a recipe from.

A cookbook I’ve never once made a recipe from.

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From page 441 of Gourmet’s Menu Cookbook.

I’m going to give it a whirl, and it doesn’t sound too hard. Of course, we’re only making two leeks instead of 12, so it’ll require some adjustment. Still, I have high hopes for this gourmet meal! Wish me luck. 🙂

one day lad, all this will be yours…

What to do about kitchen curtains?

I haven’t been able to find a decent set for a reasonable price anywhere. The styles aren’t right, the prices aren’t right, the colors aren’t right…it’s been obnoxious. But, now that we’ve fixed up the sink area with a new IKEA pendant light, we really need to do something about all this white.

Lots of white, with a hint of hold lady butter-yellow.

Lots of white, with a hint of old lady butter-yellow.

The cabinets are white, the wood trim is white, the mixer is white, the paper towels are white…it’s too stark for my sensibilities. And white only looks clean when it’s, well, clean…so it’s a lot to live up to (pay no attention to the sink, although I promise that those are clean dishes).

Readers, what I need is some color up in here.

Enter: my brilliant idea!

When the going get’s tough, the tough get going. In my world that means: if you can’t find the curtains you want, make them instead! Yesterday on a whim I decided to pop into Pier 1 to see if they had any fun cloth napkins; I wasn’t disappointed.

The yellow is in there, along with a host of other fun colors like orange and green.

The yellow is in there, along with a host of other fun colors like orange and green.

I bought three napkins in the striped pattern above, and three more in a lighter-colored floral motif. I wasn’t sure which I would like better, but since I’m trying to keep the space from feeling too frilly I think the stripes are the way to go. Pete likes the stripes better, too, because they’re more colorful and fun. Right now the plan is to hang them so the stripes are horizontal–this will require some more cutting and sewing than I had originally anticipated, but I think when all is said and done the project will be an “easy” on the difficulty scale.

Not only do I think it’ll be easy and fun, it was fairly inexpensive. Each napkin was $3.95, and I think I may only need to use two for this project. That takes the grand total to just around $8. Considering that a set of kitchen curtains usually retails for over $15, I’m feeling pretty frugal.

Have you gotten crafty in repurposing fabrics? Please share!

 

 

obligatory snow photo

…and because I just couldn’t help myself, I snapped this picture of the backyard about ten minutes ago.

"One winter morning Peter woke up and looked out the window. Snow had fallen during the night. It covered everything as far as he could see." The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats

“One winter morning Peter woke up and looked out the window. Snow had fallen during the night. It covered everything as far as he could see.” –The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats

a project of its own

In very late May of 2013, we moved to a new house. That is to say, we bought our first house and, with the help of lots and lots of wonderful people, moved in.

A month or two later, we tried our hand at making the house “ours,” by painting a sunroom/porch bright yellow. You can see the fruits of that effort here. For the record, we still have mixed feelings about it.

Then we decided to take a break with home improvement, because the yellow had us a little discouraged. Maybe we have terrible taste and don’t know it, we thought. We lost our steam. Life picked up, and we had things to do every weekend. Not only that (and I’ll be frank): even painting a room can be a costly experiment, and I wasn’t in a hurry to spend more money on something we might not get just right.

But, as the world continues to turn, the sun continues to rise and fall, the tides go in and out, and change has proven itself inevitable as always. We found out in October that we’re expecting our first baby (yay!), and we quickly realized we needed a place for that baby to live. As you may have seen before, our two upstairs rooms were/are like two different worlds: one a nicely painted and finished bedroom, the other a wood-paneled disaster area. I was using the second bedroom as our new project room, but now that it has become its own project, everything has been moved into the basement while we work on finishing this monster.

Fun in a kitschy way, but the paneling was falling off and also broken in areas. Also, it's really dark, especially with just one window.

Fun in a kitschy way, but the paneling was falling off and broken in areas. Also, it’s really dark, especially with just one window.

Tiny opening for the shared closet. Nice brown vinyl door that doesn't shut all the way.

Tiny opening for the shared closet. Nice brown vinyl door that doesn’t shut all the way.

My dad came over to help with the demolition! Definitely the most cathartic of all home improvement duties.

My dad came over to help with the demolition. Definitely the most cathartic of all home improvement duties. Note the globs of glue on the drywall that was holding all that paneling up!

Ripping more stuff apart.

Ripping more stuff apart.

 

We also made some unsettling electrical discoveries. Sigh. Less drywall, mo' problems.

We also made some unsettling electrical discoveries. Sigh. Less drywall, mo’ problems.

 

And that’s where we are today! There’s still some drywall to rip down, and we’re getting to that today. Then, we are definitely hiring an electrician (and maybe even someone to put up new drywall…). So, we’ll call it semi-homemade.