Sunday, November 27

Shop Local Saturday.

I did my part, did you? While my stop last Saturday wasn't exactly local to me, it definitely counts as a local business. It just happens that it was two hours away from my home. I spent Saturday morning driving a rescued Boston Terrier to meet her new foster mom. On the way to our designated meeting spot, I saw a sign for an antique store a little up the road. After I saw Madge on her way, I headed for the store.

It was a combination craft and antique store, and I supported both. In the craft section of the store I found a few reproduction iron work pieces. Reproductions don't bother me, as long as they are well made, and of course, well priced.

The sailboat key hook was $7 and the reproduction wall hook was $10. The key hook will be easy enough to find a spot for. I'm not quite sure about the latter, but I'm sure we'll figure something out.

As for the antiques, I waded through booth after booth of random crap. There were some interesting things, but nothing that really struck my fancy, except this...

I picked up this little cane top bench for $20. It's a pretty common piece, and I'm hoping I can find a twin to it at some point in the future. It's been painted and distressed, which is not really my style, but it is in otherwise good shape. Once I decide where it's going to live, I'll give it a nice clean coat of paint. The caning on this also matches the chairs we bought over the summer at another antique store.

I intended on making another Shop Local stop, at our favorite cupcake shop, but errands got in the way. I'll find another day to support them ;)

I almost forgot! This is Madge! I picked her up from City Animal Services on Wednesday and she spent a few days with us. Poor little lady was picked up as a stray, and due to her old age was scheduled to be put down. She's now settling in to her permanent foster home. Good luck Madge! We'll be thinking of you!

Don't try this at home.

Mostly because, I don't really know what I'm doing. I'm just faking it, and I think I got lucky with this one. My aunt and uncle brought this old table to us on Thanksgiving. After a long useful life, it had been relegated to the barn for the last few years. When my aunt learned we were looking for a table for our eat-in kitchen, she gladly offered this old gal up. I love the style, and the grain of the beautiful beech, but it had seen better days.

Being that our garage is already full of pressure treated timbers, leaf blowers, miscellaneous chairs, a fire pit, etc, I needed to get this out of there asap. Also, I absolutely detest the little table we had in the kitchen, so I was plenty motivated to get this one done.

There was no shellac, polyurethane or any other coating on the table, so I started to clean it with steel wool and some denatured alcohol. My brother in law told me about the successes he'd had using it on old furniture, and so I'd picked up a can a little while ago.

I was lucky that it was another warm day here, so I was able to work outside in the garage. I wore gloves to protect my hands from the alcohol and worked in small sections. As I worked across, I scrubbed gently with the steel wool and sloughed off the dirty residue. Then wiped everything clean with a damp rag and warm water. When it was dry I took my orbital sander to the top, using 220 grit sandpaper.

I'm pretty happy with how well it cleaned up. The watermark you can see here is the only spot still visible. Not bad considering how it started out. To finish it off, I ran to Home Depot to pick up a can of Minwax Finishing Wax. It went on easily, and buffed to a nice sheen. I almost went with Tung Oil, but was afraid an oil might highlight any leftover imperfections. I'm glad I went with the wax. It came out exactly as I'd hoped.

This is the table we had in the kitchen. I hate it, but it served a purpose. We don't eat here ever, but still needed a little something in the space. This little oak table just looked so cheap, it drove me crazy.

And after, with the new table in place...

Maybe approves!

Wednesday, October 26

Oh hell to the No.

We have bees. More specifically, yellow jackets. What started as one, quickly grew to two, to five, to twenty. And then I called the exterminator. After a dose or two of some very unhealthy and not-so-earth-friendly poisons, most of them were dead. I say most, because it can take anywhere from 3-7 days for the nest to die. The most fun part is that as the nest dies, the queens come out, and the queens are enormous. shudders

I have learned way too much about yellow jackets this week, by the way. Aside from the lack of sleep from being so paranoid, this whole fiasco has had me praying for a frost, which would help kill these things off for good.

I'm giving it until Saturday to go back into the master bathroom, which is where they've been coming in. I have a feeling I'm still going to be looking over my shoulder for a while in there.

Saturday, October 15

Out of chaos...

It was a cold rainy day here yesterday. Strangely sunny and windy at the same time. The oak leaves are falling now, reminding us how quickly the seasons change on us, and that snow (yes, snow) will be here before we know it. We're coming up on two years in the house. Unbeknownst to us at the time, but the day we closed on the house, was the same day our sweet little Maybe was born. She's sitting next to me now, all knotted up with Rulloff, and I can't tell which one of them is snoring louder.

Anyway...coming up on two years here, and of course we still have a zillion projects to finish, but we're also still getting organized. Today was paper day. Sorting and sifting through piles of old mail, file folders and general mess that needs to be dealt with. I hate mail. It just keeps coming, and 75% of it goes straight into the recycling bin. Mostly because it seems the former owners of this house never forwarded their mail.

This little area is in the corner of the kitchen. Rulloff's crate sits underneath, and the counter is generally a catch-all for mail, keys and miscellaneous junk. The bulletin board I installed last summer is not really functional as it falls off the hook if you touch it, and we'll pin things up but never go back for them. It also doesn't help solve the issue of the mail.

I found these wall hanging files, which are also magnetic and chalk friendly, at Target for $4.98. They've been working well so far.

I repurposed a few photo frame magnets as reminders for the dog's heartworm and flea treatments. Business cards and gift certificates sit in the tray for quick access. I'm pretty pleased with this quick little revamp.

Friday, September 30

Make mine Missoni.

This is probably the 8,700th blog post about Missoni for Target, and I am way late to the party blogging about this, but I feel that being that my love for Missoni is so long-standing that it makes this still relevant. I bought my first Missoni scarf about 12 years ago in Paris. I was 20, and being 20, I was kinda broke, but I saved up to spend the $75 on this scarf. Ok, do the math, I'm totally dating myself. My roommate, one of my very best friends to this day, saved along with me for this purchase. I think it was a Saturday, and we ventured over to the Left Bank to go to the Missoni store.

Now the Google search I just did shows a big shiny Missoni store on Rue St. Honore (Right Bank), which must be "new", and by new I mean in the last 1o years. Laura, correct me if I'm wrong, but this was a small-ish store on the Left Bank, yes?

So with a wallet full of francs, I made my selection. A modest piece, mostly blue and black, with a bit of bronze and a row of black sequins for a little flash. I wore it daily, as you do with scarves in Paris. Come to think of it, I wore it for months with my Helmut Lang jacket and Barbara Bui loafers, maybe I wasn't as broke as I remember.

Anyway, I was long in love with Missoni at that point. When show season came around I would relish just going to the Missoni showroom in Milan for castings. If that casting took two hours, I did not care. I would sit happily in those surroundings. I never did their show, probably because I wasn't a brunette, but I'd never hold that against them.

When I heard Missoni was producing a line with Target, I was thrilled. When I learned it would be introduced while we were on our honeymoon, I was nervous. Part of me wanted to believe I could come home and happily shop away with a full selection of the line. As it grew closer, I knew there was no chance. People were already amping up about it. People who probably had no idea what or who Missoni was two months before. Margherita who? Missoni what?

Then the line was released. Everything was sold out online. EVERYTHING. I was in a hotel lobby in beautiful San Sebastian, Spain, with shitty wireless internet, and there wasn't a damn thing available. As an eternal optimist, I was flabbergasted. My sister wrote to me about the nightmare in New York City, celebrities (who can afford regular Missoni prices, mind you) were sending out assistants into the insanity that was every Target store on Tuesday, September 13th. It was a week later before I could make it back home and to a Target store. I chose to go to one of the crappier suburbs first. Maybe they don't know about Missoni there? Everything that was left was on one shelf, right by the front door. Mostly it was bras and some kids leggings. Nothing in any sizes of anyone I know or love. I left brokenhearted. Two days later I went to my Target and had slightly better luck. I found an adorable knit romper for my beautiful niece, who is five months old. Along with that I found a hat and mittens, of an indiscriminate size, that I'm sure will fit Miss HM (my niece) sometime in the next two years.

I had accepted that this would be all I would find, despite many articles claiming Target would do another release. I was not holding my breath for that. And then I got a call, and a text. A photo from my younger sister of a rack full of Missoni at her local Target, with the caption, CALL ME! She found a treasure trove of leftovers, and was ready to hook me up! She scored me a few makeup and travel toiletry bags, along with a few picture frames. This was just today, so I haven't gotten anything yet, but I am VERY excited. I'll be sure to share my treasures with you.

Thursday, September 29

Our best production yet.

We've been busy. Not so much around the house, but more in a we got married and then went on a two week honeymoon to Spain! Yay, us! Now that is what I call being productive.

It was a perfect little day. We got dressed for an 11am appointment at City Hall. Dave realized he couldn't find the bow tie to his tux and was just about to dash off to the mall when I remembered I'd bought a black satin tie for him for Christmas, but I'd stashed it in the closet and then forgotten about it when Christmas rolled around last year. Me (rifling through his tie rack)"What happened to that black tie I got you for Christmas last year?" Dave, "What black tie?" Doh! I dug around in my hanging closet organizer and found it still in its hiding place.

Our photographer arrived and we hurried off downtown. After a brief but very lovely ceremony we drove to our photo location, a former private residence with amazing gardens. As you can see, our photographer is amazing!

After our photo shoot we headed off to the local pub for snacks and a few cocktails, then home for a nap before dinner. Photo shoots are hard work, and we were pooped from a day in the sun. We got back into our dressy clothes and went to our favorite restaurant for dinner. It was a lovely day, and we got to do it exactly like we wanted to.

I was going to stop here, but you know I had to get some pictures of Maybe and Rulloff in here. I bought them both flowers for the occasion, a corsage for Maybe, and a boutonniere for Ru. Rulloff barely made it 5' from the car before he'd lost his flower. Good thing he already comes dressed in his "tux". Maybe kept hers on like a good little Maid of Honor.

Sunday, July 31

Drink this.

We love us some Bobby Flay around here. Dave has an official man crush, and while I don't exactly share his sentiments of, "oh, he is a beautiful man", I will say, the man can cook. Last weekend, in the midst of a record heat wave, we remembered a recipe from one of Bobby's books...

Watermelon Martinis


1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
5 cups watermelon, seeds removed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/4 cups vodka
2 ounces melon liqueur, optional
8 lemon twists, for garnish


Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan and cook until the sugar has completely dissolved. Let cool.

In a food processor, puree the watermelon flesh. Add a little of the sugar syrup to sweeten, to taste. Pour the pureed watermelon into 2 empty ice cube trays and freeze for at least 4 hours.

In a blender combine the frozen watermelon cubes, more simple syrup, to taste, lemon juice and vodka, melon liqueur and blend until smooth. Pour into 8 frozen martini glasses and garnish with a lemon twist.

YUM. As we were cutting and pureeing the watermelon, Dave had the genius idea to try adding some fresh basil to the mix. Oh. My. God. Extra Yum. It was so good we've taken to having virgin versions of the watermelon and basil cocktail with breakfast. Instead of freezing the watermelon each time, we just toss chopped watermelon, a few leaves of basil and ice cubes into the blender. Much faster, and oh so refreshing.


Tuesday, July 12

Hold me back.

Phase II of the retaining walls is *finished. I'm giving that finished a little asterisk because we still need to put the bricks in the treads of the stairs, but the major work is done. I can't believe how long it took, and how much wood we used. The stairs are huge!

The final phase will include two additional walls behind the low wall in the foreground. One low wall will run parallel to the existing wall, creating a (hopefully) protected bed for plants. Another wall will run perpendicular to that, creating a 90 degree angle, and raising up the far end of the upper lawn. Those sections should be easy to make, once the digging and leveling is done. After working on the stairs a few nice, straight walls will be a cinch.

I'm going to hold off on planting too much in the new beds created by the retaining walls. The sand is terrible for the plants. I'll have to mix in a good amount of potting soil, mulch, compost, etc to get some decent dirt going in there. Between the sand and two rambunctious dogs, my ferns, hostas and astilbe are having a rough time hanging on. I am however, determined to have a lush garden back there.

I was pleased to have a few daylilies bloom this year. Last year I had a whole heap of lilies grow up, but nothing even close to flowering.

I wanted to share my pots of annuals. Coleus was hard to come by this spring, so I opted for a different look.

Thursday, July 7

Catching up.

I discovered a fantastic antique store recently. I was running an errand for work and saw a sign across the street, Antique Sale Today. (It turns out there is a sale nearly every day of the week) I stopped in quickly that day, but didn't buy anything my first time in. I was eyeing a lovely gold mirror, but talked myself out of it and scurried back to work. Of course I sat and thought about it all day, so I stopped on my way home and purchased it.

I can't even remember what I paid for it. $40, $60 maybe? This was obviously before I had a chance to clean it. I also picked up the hat for a cool $10. My photo did not come out as I'd planned. I couldn't get the angle right, I kept missing the shot, and Andre insisted on climbing all over me as soon as I plopped down on the floor. I have about 10 more reject photos, all with Andre in them, with either his tail in my face, him chewing on my hair, or sprawled out like this. Funny buddy.

As luck would have it, I was in the area again a few days later. I took a stroll through, and eyed a few possibilities, but scoffed at the price tags and went along my way. On my way out I realized that one booth in particular was having a 50% off sale. Hmmmm.

There was a small side table that was a lot more interesting at half off. Once again, I went back. At the back of an overcrowded booth, underneath a larger table, and with half a dozen smaller items piled around it, I spotted it. Still there! I carefully moved everything out of the way, and pulled it from its hiding spot. It was dusty and dirty (actually, it still is), but it was fantastic! Even more spectacular than I'd remembered from my earlier visit.

I think this is my most fabulous find EVER. At the very least, it's in my top five. Faux bamboo, little tri-pod legs, the carved handles... I've seen something very similar to this in a design magazine somewhere, but who knows when and where. I tried to Google it under every possible combination of details, and couldn't find anything close. This is a prize. With the sale price it was $60. Looking at it now, I would have gladly paid the full $120.

It is so filthy I'm thinking of just putting it in the tub and hosing it down. The glass is dirty, but it is a really thick, nice quality glass. I'm resisting the urge to paint it blue or yellow. I bought an ivory spray paint and a can of lacquer spray to make it nice and glossy, as it should be.

I think it will sit nicely next to these...

The map of Wellesley Island was a gift that we finally got around to framing. We love how well it turned out, and think it fits this space nicely. It's funny how the more things we put in the corner, the emptier it looks. I thought the two chairs would fill it right up, but it didn't. We have a small chest of drawers to sit in between the chairs, and will need some accessories to dress it up. There is an enormous palm tree currently living on the deck that will be moved into the corner after we get around to painting this room. And then there are those throw pillows I've been meaning to make.

Sunday, June 26

The definition of insanity.

What do they say? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Well, call me certifiable. I went for it in the laundry room. I did this of my own accord. I wanted to do it, and it was going to be a surprise for Dave.

With Dave planning a two week business trip to China, I started planning how I would entertain myself. Of the million and a half projects I've been putting off, did I choose one of those to keep me busy while Dave was gone? No. Of course not. I had a much more brilliant idea. Wallpaper. Wallpaper? As in, I don't know, finishing the dining room or half bath finally? Pffffft. No! What fun would that be? I decided to make a new mess. And oh boy, a mess did I make.

It started off so well. I planned out my design for the room. Scoped out the shelving I would buy at Home Depot, took all my measurements, bought accessories. I found the perfect storage baskets, at a great price. My plan was coming together. I even did some preliminary peeling behind the door to the hall, and to my delight, the paper came off like a dream. No sprays, just peeled right off.

It was going to be awesome. I could see it in my head. Walking in to the mudroom after picking Dave up from the airport; fresh paint, organized baskets, pictures on the walls, plenty of storage. This would be a cinch.

The day he left I got right to work. Almost immediately, I regretted my decision. It was deja vu all over again. Ripped drywall, backing that won't come off, ugh. The only saving grace was that there was only one layer. Just one! And so, for 13 days, every evening I picked. I sprayed, I scraped, I worked. By the second week, my drive had dwindled. I was now working with a wine glass glued to my left hand. I had accepted that there wasn't a chance in hell that I'd be finishing this like I'd planned.

Instead of pictures of my new mess, I'll leave you with a collage of the accessories I bought for the project. The background color is very close to my desired paint color. I haven't quite nailed down that color, but I think I've got some time to sort that out...

Monday, June 6

Take Two.

This was my first attempt at the new bedside tables for the guest bedroom. My first paint color fail. I was so excited to get these sanded, primed and painted so quickly. But the paint color was just not right. I liked it, but it wasn't what it was supposed to be. Not at all even close to the sample.

And so I accepted defeat, and drove back to Home Depot. I selected a deeper, much more red shade, with a built in primer to make sure it went on well over the pink.

After the first coat, I could already tell it was much better. I am really glad I sucked up the $13 and went for the new color. I am really pleased with them. As you can see I also had another project going at the same time, a revamp of an old coffee table that will soon serve as our TV stand.

My goal is to find a pair of lamps, a few more accessories, and a few more pieces of wall art, and then be done. Done! This was originally supposed to be the "Boat Room", and house all of our various boat artwork. At some point the room took a different turn, and the old artwork didn't seem to fit anymore. Thank goodness for Etsy and its endless supply of cool art.

Sunday, May 15

All on a rainy Sunday.

The rain is back. Today it rained, and rained, and still it continues to rain. This was supposed to be our weekend to build the stairs up to the upper lawn, but it was not meant to be. After a busy Saturday, we let ourselves sleep in this morning, but quickly made up for any lost time.

We installed the final touches on the new dishwasher and refrigerator. That consisted of mounting the dishwasher to the underside of the counter, and balancing and leveling both appliances. They look great in their new homes.

Next we put together the hand-me-down bed frame in the guest room. We'd previously had a metal "Hollywood" frame, with no headboard. This beautiful antique came from my Aunt and Uncle, who were glad to see it go.


After (updated with Spring bedding) Among other things, this wall was screaming for some verticality. The headboard helps fill up some empty wall space.

The foot board curves out from the mattress, providing some extra toe room for our taller guests. I also recently replaced the existing curtains with these gray panels.

The artwork next to the windows are poems I typed and printed to fit the oval Syroco frames. They were originally gold, with images of a county home, all in tones of rust and gold. The frames took the black spray paint beautifully. I'd like to find some portraits to fill them, but for now the poems will suffice. I found a few old poems about the sea, and played around with fonts and color until I found something I liked.

These will be the new bedside tables. We picked them up last weekend, another Craig's List steal at $25 a piece. They'll need a light sanding, and then a fresh coat of paint. I was initially thinking red, which is never a fun color to try to pick a shade of. It's so easy to go so terribly wrong. But now that the room is taking shape, and I've had a chance to start to look at how the colors are coming together, I'm thinking of going with a very dark fuchsia. A pink so dark it almost looks red. Something like this...

This is a section of Benjamin Moore's Classic colors. No. 1343, Fuchsine, is my front runner so far. I have to sneak my pinks and purples in where I can, and the guest bedroom is a perfect place for it.

We also hung our new piece of artwork in the family room, but that will have to be another post. The cleaning of the garage that we did is much less exciting, and I'll probably skip the post on that.