Sunday, February 27, 2011

Summer Dreamin'

This year I'm hoping to do something with my balcony to make it a little more useable when the hot weather rolls around - it is in direct sun with no awning or roof. I'm not crazy about the idea of a market umbrella - I love them in theory, I just don't think it is the right solution for my space. We're not allowed to attach anything to the building exterior so any type of retractable awning is out. I've had a framework in my head that I think I can build and attach a homemade awning to, so I'm hoping to do something custom, which I think will be pretty easy and relatively inexpensive. More on that later, but this evening I spent some time perusing fabrics and paint colors hoping to come up with a color palette.

The siding is James Hardie Boothbay Blue, similar to the solid blue swatch and the trim and balcony are similar to the solid tan swatch.

I am really loving the idea of adding some marine blue and kelly green to the rather dull colonial colors I have to work with and have found two fabrics I love that incorporate the blue. The one on the left is Sunbrella's Matouk Regatta ($20/yard) and the one on the right is Solarium's Imogen Pacific ($10.95/yard). Ideally I'd like to find a stripe that mixes the blue and the green but haven't come up with anything yet.

A few other fabrics I considered were P. Kaufmann's OD Slick in Navy and Palm, which I still might add for accent pillows:

and Waverly's New Twist Aquamarine, which I think is a little too modern for me, but pretty nonetheless:

I also briefly considered yellow or purple for accent colors in place of the green, but after viewing fabric swatches I think green is the way to go for me. I also may throw in a bit of an orangey-coral for fun - we'll see.

I'm linking up to Centsational Girl's Home May'd Outdoor Link Party. Hop on over and check out all of the great outdoor ideas.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Branching Out

I’m not sure if I dreamed this or was awake in the middle of the night and thought of it, but I awoke the other day with the idea, obsession really, that I wanted a tree branch in my china cabinet with some of my cups hanging from it. We’ve had a lot of ice and snow in the past few weeks so there were tons of branches down and I found just the perfect Sycamore branch right outside my front door. I tucked it into the cabinet and it fit well, but I’m still rehabbing and didn’t have the doors back on yet, so to keep Mr. Curious Kitty from chewing it all up and making himself sick, I stuck it up on top, where it perfectly filled in the space between and above the vintage wicker picnic baskets I have up there and gracefully arched out over the front of the cabinet by just the right amount.

I pulled out some small vintage milk glass cups that I think were probably part of a child’s tea set, and the only halfway appropriate ribbon I could find, which was black satin (and trust me, way better than the alternatives of bright orange or yellow, not even sure why I have that) and set to work tying my cups onto the branches, making sure to choose spots where the branches were thick enough or the cup would rest on something so nothing would come crashing down. I L.O.V.E. how this turned out.

I'm linking to Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust's Fabulous Friday linky party (ok, so I'm a day late, that's pretty good in my world.) Pop over and check out everyone's favorite projects.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

This Week's Thrifty Finds

Now that we’ve had the occasional break in snow and cold for some nicer weather, I was able to hit up a few thrift stores in the last week or so and came away with some great home finds.

First up is this wooden pedestal. I am seriously in love with this thing. It was $4.99, which is a bit pricey for me from a thrift, but I thought I could put it to good use in my china cabinet to give height to something when I get to styling it. I just love its curvy base and dark wood color (for now, I may eventually paint it something light or bright).

I thought the top was a bit scratched, so the plan was to keep a plate on it or add some decorative paper (I picked up some fun Christmas, Valentine’s and Halloween scrapbook paper on clearance for .14-.25/sheet but couldn’t find anything I liked for everyday) but then I realized it just had some wax and other gunk on it and it cleaned up nicely.

I also picked up this ceramic candlestick because the shape seemed to “go” with the pedestal. This has a bad brown paint job and I’ll definitely be painting it. I’m thinking something in the aqua blue family so it can be used in the master bath. This was $2.99.

And while we’re working our way down the price scale, these two jars with aluminum tops came in at $1.99 for the large and $0.99 for the small. The tops look like they went through the dishwasher (a no-no with aluminum) and I’m not sure if the damage can be undone. It doesn’t bother me that much, or I might just spray paint them silver or some other color, I’m not sure yet. I actually already have two others of these: a big short squatty one that I trash picked, and one the same size as the large one that I bought new many, many moons ago. If I remember correctly it was from the Martha Stewart for K-Mart line.

I’ll probably end up using them in the laundry or pantry (the big squatty one is used in the pantry for catnip and catnip toys) but right now I have some “moss” covered “rocks” I picked up at the Dollar Tree (5/$1) in the small one. I bought two packs and I’m headed back to get more – they’re awesome and I’ll be trotting them out for my St. Patty’s Day table setting next week.

And speaking of St. Patty’s Day tablescapes, I also picked up this pretty clover green linen tablecloth for $2.90. I’m a sucker for tablecloths, and linen ones in particular. This one is nice and soft. There is a small hole near the end hem, which I can get around by just shorting it an inch or so, or most likely I’ll just put it at the far end of the table where I won’t see it, ‘cause I'm lazy that way.

Next up is a jar that reminded me of the Pottery Barn Found Hungarian Pickling Jars I had just seen in their catalog:

I thought they were so charming and was kind of intrigued that they were selling vintage stuff too, but at $139-$159/each, they’re staying in Hungary or at the Pottery Barn warehouse as far as my budget is concerned.

A few pages back, they had similar Recycled Glass Jars in the $19-$29 range, much more budget friendly but still not on my “must buy now” list.

Then I spotted this similarly shaped jar at the thrift for only .90-cents! The glass isn’t as thick or wavy and doesn’t have the subtle tint of color that recycled glass sometimes has, but for the huge price difference, I’m quite happy with it, thank you very much.

I’ve styled it with some smooth rounded river stones in two sizes (had these around from another project, from Dollar Tree I think) and a packet of my Dollar Tree “moss” covered “rocks” and I think it makes for a pretty good knock-off.

Another of my favorite finds this week is this adorable acorn shaped ceramic candle. This was $2.90 and the store had the lid and base taped together, so I wasn't sure what I'd find inside. I suspected it was a candle, but had no idea if it would be burned up and gross or what, but it was brand new inside and the original price of $16.50 is on the bottom. Even if the candle had been bad, I just loved the little container so much.

My final purchase of the week was this vintage wicker picnic basket for $3.90. I’m obsessed with these things. Seriously. They’re great as cat pedestals for storage (see aforementioned tablecloth obsession) and look dang cute piled up on shelves, stacked as end tables, stored under beds, etc. I actually collect about three different styles, but this one is the easiest to find and usually the cheapest.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Bell Jar

I’ve always loved the little bell jars or cloches you see everywhere – I think I probably first spotted them in an issue of Martha Stewart Living, but so far they’ve been elusive to me in my thrifting expeditions and new ones are often quite pricey. What I do find a lot of are the bell shaped candle holders that normally hang in an iron framework – either wall mounted or with little legs – so I decided to make my own little bell jar.

I grabbed a square glass bauble from a stash of vase filler, bought a $3 tube of glue for glass

and stuck it on. Tada!

So easy and pretty cute. The glue claims it is dishwasher safe, but I’ll just hand wash this little guy – not that I don’t trust the manufacturer, but the idea of a big marble-like object getting loose in the dishwasher with all my dishes is not my idea of a good time.

P.S. Excuse my pretty crappy photos – I’ve yet to learn how to use the camera correctly, it’s on my list. It really bugs me how stuff looks so cute to my eye and I can’t convey that with indoor photography at all. I got as far as pulling the manual out of the box, only to realize it was the Spanish version. So now I’m on the hunt for the English version.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Emergency Laundry Room / Pantry Organizing

See this sweet little boy?

You wouldn't think he'd be a bit of trouble would you? You'd be wrong. He's been on a single-pawed single-handed mission to destroy all in his path. He recently discovered the top of the washer. He first got up there to pull down his favorite toy from the very top shelf above, which he somehow accomplished even though I can barely reach up there. We moved the toy (it has a string so he can't play with it alone), but he still wants to get up there now. In the process he's pulled down the tension curtain rod, along with all the hangers and the clothes hanging on it and he's knocked the entire washbasket down, where it crashed into his food and water bowls, scattering soggy kibble everywhere.

I didn't take pictures of his hurricane path of destruction, but I figured as long as I was cleaning up after him anyway, I'd take the opportunity to do a bit of emergency organizing.

Here is a before pictures of the laundry area. The two overflowing wash baskets that are normally on top of the machines were in the middle of the kitchen floor when I took this picture, trust me, it normally looks much worse than this.

For now I didn't do anything about the shelves but I did cull the hangers, tossing the dry cleaner ones and moving most of the others to the master closet (where they're currently piled on the floor, I swear I always have more hangers than places to hang them). The stuff hanging on the curtain rod was moved and the baskets stored back on top of the machines, but at least I can close the curtain again, the main purpose of which was to hide this mess.

See those boxes on the top shelf? Yeah they've been there since moving in. I'm pretty sure they are Christmas decorations.

The other half of the room is my pantry area. I have a nice assortment of baskets and bins, so again. for now, my main focus was tidying up and rearranging a bit. I still want to get magazine boxes for all the magazine back issues on the bottom shelves and maybe do some sort of trim on the Wally World laminate shelves - the uneven gap between the two units drives me insane.

Here are some before shots.

The canvas bins were all askew, the plastic bags were overflowing their container, and canned goods were starting to overflow onto the top of the tan craft cabinet in the back of the space. To make more room, I moved some small appliances that aren't visible in these photos into a kitchen cabinet (which had freed up space thanks to my china cabinet redo), labeled my bins, put my cereal into big jars and moved them to the middle of the table (I'll do a separate post on this soon, it turned out really cute) and just generally tided up. Here are the results:

The "wood grain" boxes on the right are Ramen Noodle boxes (yes, I buy them by the case, don't judge) covered with faux bois contact paper. The 3-tiered wooden rack on the left houses our kitty food and treats (we were out when the picture was taken - normally there are small white paper plates on the bottom and cans of Fancy Feast on the middle shelf). The plastic forks I use to dish out their canned food moved from my overcrowded silverware drawer into a small metal tin on the top of their rack, I tossed the ones that were too big to fit in the container.

Oh, and did you notice the print propped on the top of the craft cabinet? Its main purpose was to cover the fuse box, which is ugly. I say was because in a separate failed jumping incident that went crashing down behind the cabinet. Sigh.

A Quick Painting Trick

I promise to have my china cabinet ready for its full reveal soon, I'm really happy with how it is looking, but working sure gets in the way of doing fun artsy-craftsy stuff. In the meantime I wanted to share a quick trick I use for painting small bits of hardware, like screws. Since the screws and other hardware that came with the cabinet were shiney brass and ugly, I decided to paint them oiled bronze. Then I didn't feel like going out in the snow and cold for the oiled bronze paint, so I decided to paint them with some leftover brown spray paint I had on hand.

Since only the tops of the screws needed to be done, I poked them into an empty cardboard box to keep them upright and sprayed away. Easy peasy.

I also used this trick awhile back when painting the finials for my wooden curtain rods - although in this case I wasn't smart enough to figure out the trick before I started so I stood there holding onto the screw part on the bottom with the finial all freshly covered in wet paint wondering what to do with it. Grabbed the box, grabbed a pair of needle nosed plyers, used one of the unpainted finials to poke a hole, then used the plyers to grip the screw and carefully eased it into the box. Yeah, it was probably dry by the time I did all that, but I knew better for next time.

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