Monday, December 3, 2007

Blogger's got a picture issue...

When you click on the latest blog photos - you get an "open as" message instead of the larger photo...

They're working on it.

Beginning to look a bit like Christmas...

Our Christmas decorations are mostly up. A few things here and there still need to be done, and of course I am making a few more items to add. This year we donated quite a bit to a charity shop, and our daughters took some items for their own homes. Our decorating has changed over the years... no more piles of teddies dressed in holiday hats and scarves... No more candy canes and big trains around the tree, but the changes we have made fit this time in our lives just right.

Our front hallway furniture is topped by a choir of angels, and a German candle arch is on the right. I love vintage angels almost as much as I love vintage Santas - so when I see them at thrift shops they always come home with me.

The "Welcome Friends" sign stays up year round.

Our Santas overflow the piano top. Only certain Santas come to live with us. They can be new, or old, plastic with an arm missing, or handmade... they just have to "belong" up there.

It's hard to tell from the picture, but there are over 100 Santas, and a few Mrs. Claus... atop the piano!

Of course we have to leave room for the Christmas piano music, which I piled on a chaise across from the piano for the photo :)

Our household LOVES Christmas music, and we play it here, and also on the too many Christmas CDs we have.

One of the jobs I have set for myself is to recover that (awful) red velvet piano stool. I want to knit and felt something that goes with the rest of the living room.

My brother got this nativity scene for us when he spent a semester in Jerusalem. I've added other little wooden animals to the scene through the years. The extra camels and donkeys seem appropriate, but the kangaroo definitely has a perplexed look on his face.

And last but not least (and not all - I don't want to be blogging all day!) is this year's Christmas tree. Our tree looks pretty much the same year to year, since we use an artificial tree and use the same ornaments, too. Very traditional. This year we have fewer ornaments since we distributed some to our daughters, but I have found some knitted ones I want to make and the empty spaces will refill.

We've used an artificial tree for many years now. I was a staunch "real" tree person until I heard on NPR (don't you love NPR?) that real trees can trigger allergies - and if they were sprayed, the toxins can be released into your house. ACK - no more real trees for us.

And no... we aren't blocking a real door - that's the door to under the stairs, which houses the downstairs AC. Yeah - in FL you even might need it at Christmas time. Perhaps a knitted tree skirt would look better under the tree than the gold fabric to which we always default?

Happy Decorating!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Kitchen Redo

A while back my kitchen floor started to really get on my nerves. I didn't hate the aging blue and white vinyl, but it was no longer possible to get it clean without a marathon effort with those magic cleaning sponges. Add some back problems and four dogs and the floor was usually... well - the word icky describes it quite appropriately.

So... We decided to put down a new floor. We chose to go with vinyl again for several reasons... it is an easy DIY... the price is right... our house is on stilts and getting the floor rigid enough for ceramic or porcelain tile would be a BIG job... and we didn't want wood or laminate. It's a big floor - the kitchen is on the other side of that peninsula behind the table. The tile extends into the laundry room which is to the right of where you see the fridge, and into the bathroom which is beyond the laundry room.

We brought home a bunch of samples from the local home improvement stores and after laying them on the floor to see which we preferred... uh oh - too many! We ended up putting an assortment down and like the results. Once the new floor was down, the shabbiness of most everything else became glaringly apparent. A mini remodel became the new goal. I love to (over)research things, so I got books out of the library, visited some stores, watched home improvement shows on tv, bought some kitchen magazines and spent time on some internet forums on remodeling and redecorating. After all that I realized I didn't want a huge, expensive kitchen remodel that belonged in the glossy pages of a magazine ... I wanted a kitchen remodel that was cozy and functional... updating it... but still using most of the things we already have.

Even though we have plenty of cabinets, living in the same house for 17 years, coupled with my reluctance to toss stuff, made for cabinets that were not serving our needs. My husband and I spent a few hours going through each drawer and cabinet. We tossed (donated, gave to our kids, etc.) LOADS. I rearranged a few cabinets, too... to make the space work better. My husband put up two spice racks inside cabinet doors, installed those little pull outs in the false front drawers under the sink, and added some racks inside cabinets to make our pans, lids, etc., more accessible. Inside one of the drawers a knife rack was installed, and a miscellaneous cooking stuff drawer was set up with one of those great wooden dividers you customize to fit.

Before I started reading the home improvement forums I thought our solid oak cabinets were nice. I have since found out that they are considered awful, dated and just generally undesirable. Oh well - I don't usually replace perfectly serviceable items! I guess I am NOT up-to-date. I did want them cuter, and the bottom cabinets were uncleanable, so I painted them red. Finding the "perfect" red was a huge pain. Those same forums that let me know my oak cabinets were awful suggested Benjamin Moore paint - $50 and a single gallon later and I was NOT happy with the color - nor did it adhere well to the primed cabinet surface. I ended up using Rustoleum Painter's Touch latex. I primed with gray which is recommended for under red. The red was made by mixing together 1 quart gloss Colonial Red, 1 quart satin Claret Wine, 4 tablespoons satin Black, and a squeeze of red oxide from one of those little bottles of decorative paint. I did three coats of red, sanding between each coat. Part of the prep I did was scraping each cabinet with a razor blade to get every bit of "ugh" off that I could! It WAS a pain... it WAS a lot of work - but I love the way they turned out.

Our old stove hood had some problems so we changed that too - once again NOT going with what the magazines consider a must - a fancy ($$$) hood... but just choosing a standard black one from a home improvement store. I liked the idea of making the hood look a bit like a chimney, so painted the cabinet above the hood black. I now have tricolored cabinets! Red lower cabinets, oak upper cabinets, and the black over the stove.

We replaced all the drawer glides - ahhh... drawers that don't stick are heavenly. We also installed knobs and pulls... in black... going with the generally red/black/white/oak color theme. We replaced all the cabinet hinges while we were in the new hardware mood - it's amazing how awful hinges can get over time... and how easy it is to not notice just how awful they are getting.

My white stove and refrigerator are also fashion don'ts! - another revelation I received when perusing the home improvement forums. LOL - They are staying until they no longer function... and at that point I will decide what I want to replace them with. Stainless steel is the norm now - but who wants to keep up with the fingerprints (and the dog nose prints?) I spray painted my stove knobs red - just for cute.

A few more changes are underway. We are changing our single level peninsula (almost completed!) to a three level, wider one. The 22 year old mauve formica countertops are being tiled, and the double stainless sink is being replaced with a single large (huge?) black one. We are not reinstalling the disposal - we compost all our scraps anyway... so don't feel the need for one. Two walls are being covered in thin slate bricks.

These tiles and slates are the ones awaiting installation. The decorative tile atop the plain black is going to be the edging for the counter.

For so many years my kitchen was blue... blue... and more blue. It'll all be gone soon. I'm not sure what color to paint the walls that won't have slate - but I'm leaning towards beige (which is hilarious - I am so NOT a beige or white wall person!) Maybe I am getting less colorful as I age? Come to think of it - my first post shows a white room... LOL - it is the only white room in the house - excluding the upstairs hallway.

Christmas is looming and the still unfinished kitchen is wearing on my. Hopefully we will take the plunge in the next few days to do the counter tiles - which is the single most daunting task in this kitchen redo - barring any unforseen complications with the sink replacement :)

I'm off to work on the peninsula/tile/sink... wish me luck!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

First Post

My inaugural post - and I have nothing monumental to say. I don't embrace technology, but rather am dragged, kicking and screaming, to reap its benefits.

My intentions are to post about whatever it is that I want to share at blog time.

I'm on Ravelry - Dianetoo - and a favorite forum there is "Reclaiming the Home" Several days of organizing have led to a reclaimed craft room... and here it is.

On the left is the view from the doorway. The sewing machine is always out. Tapestry yarns are on the left with other yarns in baskets. I got the wall hung shelving and drawer set at a thrift shop, part of a set from Denmark - the other pieces ended up in the study. My husband built the white shelves to the left to house my tapestry yarns - but they have far outgrown its dimensions.

I think I should make some curtains.

Next is some yarn stash with straight needles on the side.

Circulars are in a hanging holder on the left side of the armoire.

The walls are painted "Warm Fleece" which I picked solely based upon the name.

Cleaning this room out made me realize that yarn shopping is NOT something I should indulge in anytime soon. More yarn is hiding in those big baskets. Why does everything look so small in the picture? The shelves are about 5 feet high.

The not so panoramic view of the closet!

Yarn and spinning stuff (fibers included) are mostly on the right. Needlework is stuffed into a knitting caddy. Sewing - buttons, beads, fabric, notions, laces and trims, notions and all manner of doodads are to the left. The fabrics and boxes at the top of the closet still need to be sorted.

Continuing around the room is the serger desk and craft bookcase, neither of which is pictured - mostly because this is my first post and I have no clue what I am doing on this blog thing!

I did take pictures and the pictures made me realize the serger area is ugly, and needs redemption, but the bookcase is fine just as it is. The back of the door is where all my project bags are hanging... and that could definitely be improved upon... I guess hooks on the wall behind the door will make it onto this weekend's "honey-do" list.

Hmmm... I didn't fold the pile atop the armoire!

Art supplies are in the top right, Christmas crafting stuff in the bottom left drawer - and most of the rest is home decorating fabric. The armoire is from Freecycle. The craft room is at the top of our two story stilt house. After dragging the armoire up two flights of stairs my husband announced when we sell the house the armoire was staying. It's oak and wasn't a joy to carry.

Thanks to "Reclaiming the Home" this part of my home is now neat, clean, and (almost) organized :)

If anybody can read this it means I have successfully completed my first blog post.