One Down: The Sofa

I finally pulled the trigger. I chose a couch, I went to the store–complete with a rented van and my cousin’s help–I put my credit card down and I bought a new couch. We headed up to the sofa department before making the final purchase. I was planning on buying the Idemo Beige corner Ektorp, but it looked a bit too light–like I’d be washing it all the time. I’d also been eyeing the Nordvalla Gray. It looked a bit too dark on the site, so I wanted to see it in person before heading to the cash register. Turns out, it was a much lighter color (meaning less likely to show white cat hair) than it looked on the screen.

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A Woman Obsessed: Couches & William Morris

I like used furniture. Most of the time, I won’t even consider buying something new. I walk into a furniture store and find myself knocking on bed frames and dressers wondering what  they are made of, and deciding it definitely cannot be wood. I prefer to troll Craigslist for people who have money to waste, and like redecorating their homes. (It’s important to zero in on certain zip codes to make this work.) But after years of sitting on couches with mysterious origins, and covering them with slipcovers and blankets, I have become obsessed with the idea of finding and buying a couch I actually like.

This is harder than it sounds.  Continue reading

Hoarders: The HGTV Edition

HGTV has come to Netflix. I assume the House Hunters and Love It or List It collections were released in time to coincide with cold, rainy fall weather that keeps people like my shut up in the house, drinking tea, eating soup, and staring at the walls thinking about all the things we would change. Here’s the thing, though: If you watch Love It or List It back to back, you start to realize that about 75% of the people are just slobs/hoarders who don’t know when to stop having children. The people on this show are just lucky that HGTV showed up at their doors before TLC and the Hoarders crew.

Yes, sometimes you get people who genuinely have a mess of a house. Their kitchens are falling apart, their windows leak, and the walls are drafty. But most of them could get by with hiring a professional organizer and buying some new furniture. Alternatively, they could stop having kids, because more often than not the big problem seems to be that the kids’ toys are EVERYWHERE! A simple trip to IKEA could solve all their woes.  Continue reading

I’ve Finally Become a Cat Lady

It’s over. Just get me a ratty cardigan and take away my comb, because despite living with the world’s cutest dog I think I’ve finally gone and crossed over into Cat Lady territory.

It all started with Ruby’s gallstones. I didn’t want to have to hunt her down just to force a pill down her throat, so I started keeping both cats inside. And for about a thousand different reasons, I decided to keep them inside even after I stopped having to torture her with medications multiple times a day. Those reasons are boring, so I’ll skip over them, but suffice it to say that having two cats who really want to go outside but can’t can be pretty annoying. So I decided to resurrect an old dream of mine and  make an outdoor enclosure thanks, in part, to Pinterest — and with lots of help from my boyfriend.

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How I Magically Turned a Dresser into a Credenza

I’ve got a lot of used furniture coming my way. My grandmother is moving out of the house she’s lived in for almost 30 years, which means she needs to get rid of a whole lotta furniture. Meanwhile, my step-father’s mother passed away and he hauled a dresser from Florida to Connecticut for reasons none of us are quite sure of. I have been looking for a long dresser for quite some time, but I was planning on just taking one from my grandmother when she moves. But once it was here, there was no turning it away. So I decided to go all DIY on it.

That's a lot of blue.

That’s a lot of blue.

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My Trees Are Gone & #Snowpocalypse Is Here

It’s been a big week here at my house. I started out the week getting the giant, terrifying pine trees behind my house taken down. It pains me to see a tree cut down. I am, after all, a bit of a tree hugger, but these things were a danger to themselves and others. For half the summer, my dog ends up looking diseased because I have to cut big patches of her fur out thanks to the sticky sap from the trees. Any furniture I put in the yard would be covered with the same sap, and then there were the needles… Oh the needles.

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But that’s not enough reason to go to the trouble and expense of cutting down seven trees (three of which were absolutely huge, and the rest were more like weeds). But every time the wind blew branches came down. So far they’d missed the house, and anyone driving on the private road behind my house, but it was just a matter of time. I mean, the really big trees were probably damn near twice as tall as my house, and they were not pictures of health.

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The Vicious Cycle of Home Makeovers

As you may have read, I spent New Year’s Day giving my home office a bit of a makeover… and that — combined with hours spent browsing Pinterest on my iPad — has got me spinning out of control. Are there reno rehabs? Because I may need one.

You see, shortly after I gave my office a makeover — or at least a corner of it — I also picked up a box spring for the new bed I bought a few months ago. Bitten by “the bug,” I also decided to move a bookshelf out of the office and up to my bedroom in order to free up some floor space. This made me start thinking harder about my bedroom, which is rather large and has become a bit of a dumping ground (much like my office). And my brain hasn’t stopped dreaming up ideas since.

The mudroom better watch it's back...

The mudroom better watch its back…

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My Non-Resolution: Why I Built a Standing Desk

I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions for the same reason I don’t believe in diets. If you can’t sustain change, making it in the first place is pretty pointless. So I don’t generally make resolutions, though I do sometimes take the impetus to change that a new year provides and I make something happen. This year I made one, easy to keep resolution: to finally get around to changing out the faucet in my downstairs bathroom. But I also decided to make a bigger change in the way I work, a decision that was driven by the media coverage surrounding the dangers of sitting.

I’m not ready to go this far…

Yes, sitting is apparently the “new smoking.”

I work from home which both allows me to be more active, and more lazy than the average employee.Yes, I take my dog for a lengthy walk in the middle of the day — when most office workers are stuffing their faces with lunch under fluorescent lights — but I also don’t have to get up and walk to co-workers’ offices or desks. I do get up a lot to let the dog or cats out (or in), and sometimes I do chores for a quick work-break. Toss in a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher, or vacuum the living room. Still, that wasn’t enough to keep my back from being enraged at the end of the day. I bought a yoga Groupon but that membership has ended and I needed a new solution to help me feel better at the end of the workday. Continue reading

My Shopping Secret

The mall gives me the dry heaves. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but I really hate being in the mall…and WalMart. Target, however, is a delightful experience, as are my local mom-and-pop shops. This leads to me doing a lot of online shopping, especially around Christmas time. This also helps me save money. How does it do that, you ask?

EBATES!   Continue reading

XOJane’s Addiction

Now that’s an IKEA hack!

I have a new obsession: XOJane.

I just can’t believe some of the things the writers will admit to…but I totally appreciate that they do.

When blogs first started I was amazed by the way people would write in mortifying detail about the littlest details of their lives. They admitted things to the world wide web that I wouldn’t talk about with my friends. Reading XOJane is a little like that, only you have the benefit of getting to read these kinds of confessions from a variety of people (instead of one navel-gazing blogger) and the writing is better.  Continue reading

A Hutch of a Different Color

I’ve got furniture scattered around my house that was either donated to the cause (and by “cause” I mean “me”), picked up at  tag sales or from the side of the road. I got lucky when some of my roadside finds didn’t need refinishing. For instance, I somehow managed to find chairs on the curb that matched the table I bought from Craigslist. A couple of chairs and a bedside table I found at a tag sale were just great from the start. But there has been a corner hutch near my stairs that has been taunting me for almost a year now.

It was a nice hutch with a hideous paint job…but it was free. Every time I pass by it on my way up or down the stairs I would curse it’s terrible color.

I’m not sure if you can tell just how ugly it is from the picture. It almost looks like raw wood, but really it’s yellow with red “accents.” I think someone was trying to make it appear distressed, and I suppose they achieved their goal in some ways.

So my cousin and I decided to tackle this project on Sunday. I’d had a bottle of spray paint sitting around for a while. And we made quick work of spraying the hutch with what I thought was a dark blue-gray color. But once it was on, it looked very, very purple… like Grimace.

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Get Crafty: Curtains

I’ve been struggling to find curtains or blinds for my porch…which isn’t really a porch. It’s kind of like an over-sized mud room. It has a couch in it, and the furnace room and laundry closet are off of it — which makes it the warmest room in the house in the winter. Most of the time, it’s only the cats hanging out back there, but the windows are an odd size because it’s really two windows next to each other. Off-the-rack shades didn’t really work, and I didn’t want curtains that hung all the way to the ground (because they’d just get covered in cat hair). Cafe curtains didn’t really work either, though, because the room gets a lot of sun in the afternoon and in order to keep it from getting too hot, I wanted curtains that blocked most of the light…

I know, I’m picky.

I started thinking about buying fabric but I wasn’t finding anything I really liked. So I decided  to look at sheets. I headed off to Target, thinking I could probably get away with buying one flat sheet. When I didn’t see one that appealed to me, I headed over to the shower curtains aisle and I was overwhelmed with choices!

Shower curtains tend to be a bit funkier and more colorful than the average drape. I found so many I liked (cotton, not plastic) that I barely knew what to do with myself. A few weren’t in stock, so that narrowed down my choices. (Next time I’m in the market for new curtains  you know where I’m going…) For $19.99 I bought one shower curtain that I was able to turn into two sets of curtains.

A few quick cuts, and a couple of sewn hems later, I had exactly what I’d been looking for.

(Note: If you’re a perfectionist, don’t buy this particular curtain. When I got it home I realized it faded from light to dark. So the two sets of curtains are slightly different colors. I just put the darker pair in the brighter window.)

Signs of Progress: A Garden Update

The handsome fellow pictured here is Jerry, my cat. He’s prowling through the lemon grass, blueberries, and hollyhocks while I do some basic garden maintenance. Jerry is probably just as curious as I am about who has been nibbling the flowers off of my squash.

I hadn’t planned on doing a garden update so soon. I figured it would be a monthly thing, but then we had a lot of sun followed by a lot of rain and more sun. Those things led to major transformations. I’ve started to get some ripe cherry tomatoes, and I’ve got one tomato plant so huge it will be taller than I am before long. I can’t even imagine the size of the fruit that will come off of it later this summer.

I also got some trellises and tomato cages to try and contain the squash. A trip to my favorite nursery also yielded some sugar baby watermelon starter plants. Of course, there’s not much room in the beds so I put them in the strawberry patch and just outside the raised beds. I also took a couple of seeds from a spaghetti squash that I cooked and planted them. Now I’ve got a couple of sprouting plants. I think I may have to relocate one of them.

It’s really amazing to watch your food come to life. I keep thinking about being a little girl when McDonald’s used to hand out seed packets with Happy Meals (it’s almost too ironic to handle, I know). One year my mother and I planted pumpkins and watermelons. I don’t think the watermelons went anywhere, and the pumpkins got infested by bees. But here I am, probably 25 years later, with a veritable produce section in my backyard. Continue reading

A Memorial Day Makeover

Long before I even moved into my house, people started giving me stuff they no longer wanted. For instance, my aunt gave me a couple of end  tables I wasn’t particularly fond of but they did the job. But this week I decided it was time to start tackling some of the furniture rehab projects I’ve been planning.

Tables before being painted, but after a light sanding.

First up on the agenda were the tables. They have some weird nooks and crannies on the legs, so I figured spay painting was the way to go. I turned to a blog post about spray painting furniture on Young House Love for advice. I wasn’t really sure what color I wanted to paint the tables, and there aren’t that many Rustoleum Universal colors to choose from. I knew I wanted to do my patio table one of the hammered finishes, but I didn’t know what I wanted the end tables to look like. I didn’t think glossy would go with my other furniture, but there weren’t many satin options. I wasn’t convinced the metallic options were good for these tables but then I figured, “Hey, it’s only paint!” So my cousin and I picked up some of the “Aged Copper” paint and went to town on the end tables.  Continue reading

My Quest to Be a Guest on the Nate Berkus Show

The dining room is coming along nicely, though it could use some more accessorizing.

At the end of September I bought my house. I went from living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment to living in a two bedroom house, with an office, and a sun room that doubles as another living/family room. Considering I bought the house all by myself, I’m sure you can guess that there wasn’t much left over to furnish or decorate the house with.

While I was waiting to close on the house I started hitting tag sales, thrift stores, estate sales, and craigslist on a mission to find the things I needed for the house. Occasionally I even bought things at real stores. I found a table on Craigslist and was lucky enough to find matching chairs on the side of the road. Score! I  got a couple of cute chairs — that I someday plan on using at the kitchen table, when I find one — at an estate sale, where I also picked up a bedside table. I found a cool old telephone table at a tag sale that I decided would make a good nightstand for the other side of my bed. Eventually I got a living room chair on craigslist and an extra couch practically appeared on my doorstep thanks to my resourceful family.

Most of my rooms are still a work in progress. I’ve got all sorts of projects, I want to take on and big ticket items I’d like to buy. But time and money are short. So I’ve decided I want to get on the Nate Berkus Show. Nate is adorable and I feel we share a deep affinity for all things blue. But his website is conspiring against me. There are several shows I want to apply for, but it won’t let me upload photos.

Foiled again! Continue reading