Saturday, December 20, 2008

A tale of two trees...

Here are the two trees we put up this Christmas. As you can see, the one in the living room is the usual tree we put up every year with the blue and silver decorations. It is some kind of Canadian Fir that we got at the Capitol Market from French Creek Farms (shamless plug here. More on that later...) that the guy at the cash register admitted was probably mistagged since it had a $20 price tag on it. It was a little flat on one side, but we just put that side to the window.

Ally, my "new" old cat has shown quite a bit of interest in the presents under the tree. Something about the ribbons on the presents is evidently prettyt tasty to her, as she's been caught a few times chewing on them.

Now, about French Creek Farms. Evidently, they and one other Christmas tree vendor are the only ones that are selling West Virginia-grown trees. The other vendors are getting their trees from farms in N.C. The Capitol Market is supported by the Department of Agriculture, and gets some of its funding from WV taxpayers. All the vendors outside are required to have a percentage of their goods from West Virginia. In the summer, the farms that sell produce must have so much of their goods from West Virginia. Same goes for the trees. The guy who owns French Creek Farms has complained to Ag that some of the vendors aren't following the rules, and evidently, Ag hasn't done anything about it. The guy at French Creek Farms said he'd sell his trees for next to nothing to undercut the out-of-state tree vendors. He's now selling all his trees for $30--and trust me, that is a HUGE deal since there were some 7 ft blue spruces or some fancy kinds that were marked $90 when we were there. It has been on the news a couple times this past week. When we got our tree, I asked the guy, and he assured me the one I picked out was in fact a WV-grown tree.

Now, that I'm done with my "public service announcement," here is my "Charlie Brown" tree. I got this beaut (and the idea to put up a Charlie Brown tree) from Maysel at Erinn's mom and dad's house. Alan has been putting up a Charlie Brown tree for a few years and takes pride in finding the most pitiful looking tree that never aspired to become and Christmas tree and bringing it in to decorate. So, he picked this one out for me. I think it is just beautiful!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Technology sucks.

Okay, so I'm not the most computer-literate person out there, but I knew I wasn't crazy when I discovered that I couldn't save my pictures from snapfish dot com any larger than they were on the last post--and I knew I'd done it before by just right clicking and "saving picture as."

Well, as it turns out, Snapfish says they're having trouble with their software being compatible with Internet Explorer. Ha! So, it's not just me after all.

At any rate, I promise bigger pics once the problem is resolved. Snapfish says they're working on it.

The other day on HGTV, I was watching one of those design shows. I think it was Find Your Style. The couple wanted to do their living room in Hollywood Regency style and I realized that's what I was aiming for in my master bedroom, I just didn't know what it was called.

It's characterized by lots of luxurious fabrics, metallics, opulence, etc. I was thinking of getting some velvet curtains I saw at Target that match my bedspread, anyway. This would make Jeremy VERY happy since he hates the sheers--he likes to sleep late. So, now I need a double curtain rod (I'm keeping the sheers. I like them, damnit. We can just pull the velvet ones closed at bedtime.), some finials ... These ones at Ikea are only 7.99 for a 2-pack.

Here are the curtains at Target, and how about the mirrored side table to top it all off from Target, too. The other thing I'll look for is some new cabinet hardware for my dressers to match the silver stuff. Oh, yeah, and some carpet.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I finally got a new memory card...

And I took advantage of getting a half day off yesterday to clean my house. With it being clean and all, I decided to get some pics of the bedroom, living room, and wallpaper stripping progress.

Here are some before and after of the master bedroom. Note the ugly gold carpet I can't wait to replace.

Also, here are some pics of the living room I painted in August. Before it was peach with a stenciled green and white border. Our fabulous realtor had this couch and red arm chair that she wanted to get rid of. It was just sitting in her basement, so Jeremy and I gladly took them off her hands. I had the yellow curtains from when I lived in Morgantown, and they matched perfectly.

There was painted-over wallpaper in the entry way, and I've been scrapping it since August. I am so releived that it is almost gone. Just a few more hours of scrapping, then I can finish the paint job.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Time off from home improvement

Okay... It's been almost a month since I posted, and I swear I did not forget about this blog.

I've had a whirlwind month with lots going on during the weekend, leaving me little time to work on the house. The last weekend in October was the Junior League's Boo Ball. Erinn and Mike came down and went with me. I didn't get the flapper costume I ordered in time, so at 2pm the day of the Boo Ball, I ran out and put this Marilyn Monroe costume together. Erinn and Mike won Most Original for their version of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, which was hilarious, by the way...

The next weekend, my mom and I went to Wheeling for Rebecca's wedding. Jeremy couldn't go because he fought fires all weekend, so my mom was my "stand in" date. We had an fabulous time in Wheeling and did LOTS of shopping on Sunday. Of course, the wedding was a lot of fun, too.
All this travelling and partying leaves me with little time to spend scrapping wallpaper in the entryway--my current project. In August, I painted my living room a nice neutral khaki color. It was peach with a stenciled green and white border--YUCK! Anyway, the entry way was wallpapered and painted over, peach, of course. So since then, I've been scrapping wallpaper. It's a HORRIBLY slow process. And I had to get an extension ladder since its a mid-entry, the entryway has high ceilings. Good times.
I haven't taken any recent pictures of the projects because I discovered on my Wheeling roadtrip that my camera wasn't working. My mom's memory card worked in my camera, so I went out and bought a new memory card, but it still doesn't work. Who knows what's wrong with it, but it's probably going to be expensive.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The 8-month half bath.

So, nobody said redecorating was quick and easy.

The next room I decided to tackle was the half bath downstairs. Yes, more wallpaper to strip. It was also hopelessly stuck in the early 80's.

We decided to replace everything except the toilet and floor, and bought the stuff we needed to redo the half bath in January. We got a pedestal sink, faucet, mirror, light fixture and new toilet seat for well below the $300 minimum purchase required for the 12 months same-as-cash promotion, so I also got a great vaccum, especially for homes with pets.

I got the idea for the half bath from my friend Loren. He had a full bath at his last house that had deep blue walls with bright white fixtures and chrome accents. It looked so clean. I've also been a fan of Spode for a few years, and although, plates don't "belong" with a bathroom, I thought it would be nice minimal decor for a small room. I decided not to go with dark blue on the walls because it is a REALLY small bathroom with no window, and I thought it would be too much for such a small room. The towel hook was actually left in the guest bathroom upstairs by the previous owner, and went with the Spode well.

When I started stripping the wallpaper, I discovered a 5-inch hole in the drywall at the top of the wall above the toilet. As it turns out, this half bath is below a full bath upstairs, and a leak damaged the drywall and ceiling in the half bath. Luckily, the leak had been repaired, but the last owner just wallpapered over the hole and left it. The drywall just crumbled when you touched it. Nice. Anyway, Jeremy cut out the damaged drywall and a piece of the ceiling above the toilet. We patched the seams in the drywall and had to learn how to "mud" the ceiling. The pattern in the mud is some sort of circular pattern that we couldn't replicate (we tried in vain). So we just textured it. You can't see in these pictures, but there is a boxed in part of the ceiling that hids the beam and AC/heating duct that runs through the middle of the house. So you don't notice the different textures of the ceiling in the bathroom.

Finally, in August we got the light fixture and sink installed. It's done for the most part, but we still haven't put up the toilet paper holder. Maybe one of these days we'll get around to that.

Living in wallpaper stripping hell.

As was typical for homes in the 80's, almost every room in the house was wallpapered. I've never been a fan, and almost fly into a flat-out rage over people who paint over wallpaper. After a month or two of getting settled in, I began stripping wallpaper.

The first room I did was the master bedroom. It wasn't fully wallpapered, but had border that had been painted over. PAINTED OVER!!!! It took something like a month of standing on a chair with my arms over my head spraying DIF and scraping the bits off with a putty knife. Yeah, it sucked. I don't have any "after" pictures because I am still waiting to replace the carpet, which is gold. If you squint your eyes real hard, it kinda looks like hardwood flooring. Okay, not really.

I then moved onto the guest room. At least the wallpaper wasn't painted over. My mom read or heard somewhere that a clothes steamer does well at removing wallpaper, and that's what I used in here. It works well if the wallpaper isn't painted over. When we bought the house I checked out some books at the library about French Country decor. I don't remember where I got the idea for that. I think it was because I like toile. As it turns out, there's no toile in the room. Here's before and after...

The bed is antique and I got it from my sister-in-law, Alicia. She and her husband bought a piece of property that had an old decrepit house on it. A previous owner had plans for a bed and breakfast that never materialized, and the house was full of antique furniture and housewares, but needed to be torn down. So, everyone got to take what they wanted out of the house before it was torn down. This bed was painted white and the rosettes were maroon. As if I hadn't had enough stripping wallpaper, I stripped and sanded the bed and repainted it black. It turned out great.

We finally decided on a house.

We bought our first house last July. After looking at about 10, and hundreds more on the internet, we found one to buy. For the longest time we couldn't agree on what kind of house we wanted. I like old houses and Jeremy wanted a newer rancher. We knew we both wanted a garage (not very many existing homes in Charleston have two-car garages). I guess Jeremy won out on the style, but I am happy with it, nonetheless. It was in great condition, but the decor was horribly out of date. Well, not as out of date as some other houses we looked at. One looked like it was a time capsule from 1966.

This house was built in 1977--about the same time that the house I grew up in was built. It's almost exactly like the one I grew up in, in that the same types of materials were used and the layout is similar. Most likely, because, like the house I grew up in, it was a "kit" house from 84 Lumber or someplace that mass produced floor plans with suggested materials. I know 3 or 4 people who had the same house my parents did.
The lady we bought it from was a widow who had lived in Summersville for the past few years, but raised her daughter in this house. She told us at the closing that it new construction but was owned by a realty company when her and her husband bought it. It might have been a spec house or something. Anyway, she fell in love with the house, but they didn't have quite enough money, so her realtor waived his share of the commission and applied it to the purchase price. I thought that was a nice story. It's nice to know the history of the house and of the people who lived in it--with one exception. She was the sole owner of the house by virtue of her husband's death. I just hope he didn't die in the house. I think he would have been in his 50's, so in my mind, he had a heart attack and later died at the hospital. That's what I tell myself anyway.

Here are some pictures of the outside last spring. I'm not sure what the tree in front is but it was BEAUTIFUL this spring when it bloomed. I also tried my hand at bulbs, which turned out nice, in the stone flower beds in the front yard.

Introduction: home decor and blogging

Well, here we are.

I decided to start this blog at the suggestion of a lovely lady (I can't remember which one, but they're all lovely) from the Women In Red message board when we were discussing decorating our homes. I actually had been thinking about doing a slide show on snapfish or something of the before and after pics of my house when (if ever) I'm finished decorating. So, I guess this is as good a place as any. It might also be nice to chronicle the progress of home improvement projects with you all (if you care), and to solicit advice.

The other thing is, I suppose I've always wanted to blog. I have opinions about things and sometimes I get so worked up about issues that I feel like I could explode if I don't get it out there. My blog on myspace has been a bit of an outlet for those bursts of opinion, but if I don't get around to putting something on paper (or in cyberspace) the feeling passes in a day or so. And I can't recreate it.

Everyone is blogging these days. The biggest thing about blogging for me is what I would write about. I don't have kids. I know plenty of people who blog about their kids--and I enjoy reading those. I don't kid myself into believing my life is particularly interresting. But, I've decided that even if no one reads it, I'll still feel like I've accomplished something because at least it will be an outlet for my various opinions about anything that strikes me as noteworthy. Maybe that's narcissistic, but I'll hedge my bets that at least my mom will be reading it.