November 15, 2014

Hola darlings! It's been below-normal cold here (welcome to the new normal of climate change) and this morning I woke up to 13 degrees F. Snow is forecast for this afternoon. It's true that is isn't unusual for southeastern Wisconsin to get snow this time of year, but the ground is already frozen due to the frigid winds and temperatures visiting us from Canada. People are going about their business dressed up like's it January rather mid-November! Autumn was here in full force but it didn't last long enough! The photos in the header were taken during a short walk through my new neighborhood the second week of October. That seems a long time ago now. I am itching now to put away my autumnal decor and get ready for Christmas, which is ridiculously early for moi! Well, back to work here... Take care, everyone.

Jan

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Little Bit of Progress on the Study/Library

Hola!

It's so fricking cold here today I cannot, I just cannot believe it!  Only mid-November and already we're experiencing below zero (Farenheit) windchills in Milwaukee County (SE Wisconsin)!  And snow.  More snow tonight is forecast, a couple of inches perhaps.

I'm already sick of it!

Not being able to do the yard clean-up that is so desperately needed and, now, with this crazy weather, may not be done until next summer, I've been puttering around in the study/library (also called the den/library/study, library/study/den, den/library, etc. etc.) the past few days.  It's too late in the season now to paint because I can't have the windows open, so I'm going to have to live with the darkish blue color and the black chalkboard paint racing stripe "gracing" the room until next spring.  Damn!  Well, I've nobody but myself to blame.  I should have paid more attention to that space after getting my mistress bedroom set up rather than the hopeless guest room. 

You may recall a few months ago the room that is to be the study/library looked like this:


That's not the half of it, but it gives you an idea!


In the photo above you can see the kid's size fan (which I don't like at all) and the black racing track complete with chalked in center line!  Oh, and if you look very closely at the ceiling around the fan, you'll see some of the glow-in-the-dark planets and stars that were stuck up there.  Cute, but not exactly my style...  Good grief, what was I thinking when I bought this house???

It took quite awhile and a lot of unpacking/cleaning out/donating, moving thgs around in basement storage areas, but right now there's only one partially emptied box left in the room, hooray!  The desk that was too large for the living room was moved in here, and my friend Barb came in one night after giving me a ride home from the office to help me flip the desk upright after I'd re-attached the legs (I had to take them off in order to get the desk through the door).

I decided, despite being angry at Cost Plus World Market, to keep the curtains that went on sale that I didn't find out about until 15 days after I purchased them, and Cost Plus World Market would not refund me the price difference because their policy is 10 DAYS.  Convenient. It occurred to me that those curtains might just "go" pretty good in the blue study/library.  And so last night I hung them up to try them out, didn't iron them or anything, just shook them out and slipped them on the rod.  I jerry-rigged a secondary rod to hang the semi-sheers behind.  They had been the only curtains in the room before, and were hanging on the primary rod, although they were hung upside down because the rod is too large to fit through the narrow rod pocket tops, so I slipped the rod through the open hems.  Yeah, I know, but it worked. 

I like how they look in this room -- and they go divinely with the teal lamp!



Today I went up and down my "work" chairs umpteen times (my rickety old wood ladder is still in the garage) to wash off the chalk on the "race track," and then spent more time up and down the chairs with a spatula to remove the glow-in-the-dark stars and planets. 

All gone now!  What to do with them, hmmm....



Once the red sarouk area rug is "flattened" out, I'll move it to this room and try it out with the wall color and the curtains. Both could go into the dinette for Christmas season, we'll see.  I've also thought about trying the red sarouk in my bedroom -- not sure how that would work at all but I won't know unless I do it and see what it looks like.


This room still has a long way to go and I have to figure out what to do about several things in it, but last night I worked in the room for the first time since getting it cleaned out and it was fine; it felt warm and cozy.  I like it more now with the glowing stars and planets gone and the chalk racing stripe washed away; it feels more "adult" even with the dinky little kid's size ceiling fan, LOL. I think I'll like it even more when the red sarouk is underneath the desk, even if it clashes with the curtains.  Curtains can be replaced for much less money than a wool area rug. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Back to the Drawing Board on Christmas Decor for the Dinette

8:49 p.m.  I will be returning the Darby curtain panels to Cost Plus World Market on Monday (when I get back to the office).  The company has a 10 day "price guarantee" policy.  I discovered this sale on day 15 after the date of my order, and merely by accident, because I wanted to post a link to the product in my earlier post today about the beautiful curtain panels.  It was then I discovered the panels were on sale.  If I buy them at the sale price, I will save about $22 on my purchase price. After emailing the company earlier this evening and receiving a reply, I am shit out of luck. The product is going back.  I will reorder it (maybe), at the sales price, but I have to tell you that right now, I am so pissed off, I may never ever buy another thing from Cost Plus World Market.

Now how fricking stupid is a policy that pisses a customer off so much, I ask you!

Updated Sunday November 16, 2014:

Hola everyone!  It started snowing last night and by this morning, we got about 1.5 to 2 inches.  Today felt positively balmy, temperature wise, when I got up, got dressed, and headed out with the shovel.  I cleared the sidewalk (didn't have one of those for 24 years, now I've got one again, sigh), then the walkway to my front door so the mailman has a clear path, then the driveway, and finally, the patio.  The squirrels were waiting eagerly for their hazelnut ration and I wanted my breakfast!

Squirrels are fed, I'm fed, the Sunday paper reading ritual is nearly complete (I'm taking a break to write this), and -- oh, it is pretty, light flurries at the moment.  The snow residue has melted off the patio.

I did some research on my rug issue and found this very informative website.  The rug it used as an example of one coming out of long-term storage has the same lumps and bumps as mine:

Their rug.
 
My rug.
By the way, I realized while taking the photo (above) that it is not navy blue, it's black!  I couldn't believe my eyes, but the bright flurorescent lights in the wreck room reveal all secrets.  My slippers are black, so I did this to test it out:


Yep, sure looks black to me. 

In the meantime, just having the rug resting flat overnight in the heated wreck room has made some difference in "relaxing" the ridges, ripples, bumps and bubbles.  I can let it rest and relax for the next three weeks and give it "regular" wear by walking on it and vacuuming, or I can help it along by placing weight on it.  So I think I will help it along because I don't have three weeks until my 4-day Thanksgiving Day weekend!  I'm going to flatted out some of my cardboard boxes to cover the rug evenly and then place my unpacked boxes of books on top of the cardboard, starting in the center and working out to the edges.  Another work-out today, wow (not to mention having already gone up and down the basement stairs about ten times while doing laundry).

Meanwhile - BLACK!  The dark areas in the rug are NOT navy blue, they're BLACK!  Holy Hathor!  I honestly did not remember that and yesterday, in the upstairs light, it sure looked navy blue to me.  But it's not. 

So, what to do, what to do? 

Plans for Decorating the Kitchen/Dinette for Christmas

Hola everyone!

Since moving to the retirement version of Maison Newton in July (R-Day is coming up fast -- looking toward early 2015, the earlier, the better), I've been working hard to try and use as many of the decorative and decor items from the former Maison Newton in this new home that I possibly can, to keep costs down. 

Hmmm...not always successful at that. 

After sizing up how the sun worked in the space with these colors since move-in day (July 7, 2014), I purchased a new rug to anchor the dining table and chairs and new curtains for the patio doors, and love them!  But the curtains are not up to the task of  providing a warm and cozy look during a long Wisconsin winter, so for autumn (through Thanksgiving) I put up some gorgeous, thick, rich, brocade curtains that I bought at Linens 'n Things many moons ago.  Check out the autumnal decor here.

Here's a photo of the rug I purchased that is now anchoring the dinette set:


The colors work great with the color scheme in the kitchen/dinette during summer and fall, but for Christmas and winter-time?  Well, not for me.

How does an idea come about? Was it built on last year's table-top Cardinal Christmas tree, the old teal lamp I "inherited" from my sister Deb, the "Crazy Birds" Christmas placemats (from Cost Plus World Market purchased last year), and the ruby-red table cloth I used last year at the former Maison Newton?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Fuel Gel Fireplace I Chose Is...


The Real Flame Silverton model!  [Can't wait for it to get here, so excited I will have this in place well before Christmas and will have a mantel to decorate and real flames to admire on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!

If you take a look at the three finalist fireplaces in my prior post, you can spot some common themes:  (1) all of them have faux pilasters or pillars on either side of the firebox; (2) all are the dark wood finish I love; (3) all of them have a form of "base" that would look good either sitting on a hearth or sitting on flooring or carpeting without a hearth.

The Silverton contains all three features.  I liked its base best of all, because it has nice finish details on it.  I thought that the style of the Sicilian Harvest model would collect a lot more dust than the Silverton.  I liked that both the Silverton and Ashley fireplaces had fireboxes that are raised so one can see the fire better; the Scilian Harvest fireplace had its firebox lower, near the base of the fireplace mantel, and I didn't find that appealing.

I also liked the cleaner, somewhat sleeker lines of Silverton' styling and the cream faux travertine trim around the firebox nicely sets off both the black firebox and the wooden mantel.  I thought the other two fireplace finalists looked dark and a little boring in comparison to that "pop" of contrasting color and material used in the Silverton to set off the firebox. 

The price difference between the least expensive fireplace and the one I ultimately chose is $128.  All things considered, I decided that $128 was not too great a price to pay for a fireplace that I really liked, as opposed to buying the least expensive option and then turning out not to like it so much at all.   All of these fireplaces came with free shipping, a great deal as shipping could add $50 to $60 to the cost!  Let me add that I also felt positive about buying a product from an American company based in my home state. 

And so, after my broken heart because I was not able to buy the beautiful french-styled gel fuel fireplace that I had coveted for my mistress bedroom at the former Maison Newton back in January, that carton of gel fuel I bought and did not return when the fireplace deal fell apart (due to damage to the lone remaining fireplace, the seller did not want to ship it, and I did not want to buy a damaged fireplace, but it was sooooo pretty) will be put to use after all!

BTW, I ended up buying the Silverton model online at amazon.com, for a few dollars less than Wayfair.com was offering the same model.  It pays to shop around, though.  When I first saw the Sicilian Harvest model at amazon.com a few days ago, it was not priced anywhere near $297 and change.  But yesterday, at Wayfair.com, it was!  Then, when I checked last night at amazon.com, the price on the Sicilian Harvest model had dropped to match the price offered at Wayfair.com.  The lesson remains pertinent -- it pays to shop around.

It's amazing how quickly things in one's life can change. In January, I was contemplating staying at the former Maison Newton through retirement, buying a fireplace, planning remodelling and redos! And now, here I am, 10 months later, in a different home, with entirely new sets of issues to face. Holy Hathor!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Shopping for a Gel Fuel Fireplace

Hola darlings!

I've been hankering for a fireplace ever since I said goodbye to my fireplace in the living room at the former Maison Newton. 

I LOVED it!  And when I started exploring the world of decorating and d-i-y blogs, I realized that people actually decorated the mantels seasonally.  Holy Hathor!  I was hooked.  I especially loved decorating my mantel for Christmas.  And -- lo and behold, another Christmas is less than 7 weekends away!

Fast forward to the latest, downsized version of Maison Newton.  One living room wall is eaten up by the entry door and a ginormous picture window plus two heating/cooling vents; one wall is eaten up by my ginormous (in this room, anyway) Oriental-style china cabinet which I use to showcase my egg collection and hold books in the glass-doored upper hutch and enclosed storage in the "buffet" below; one wall is eaten up by the entrance into the hallway that leads to the kitchen entrance and the entrances to the bathroom and three bedrooms, and contains a large "window" that was cut out to open up the living room space to the dinette (to good effect), along with the restoration of the bookshelf niche that anchors the south end of that wall.  The only "free" wall to hold a fireplace (electric, gel fuel, or direct-vent), is the south wall.  There is space underneath a 33" tall by 6 foot wide Milwaukee "ranch" style window. 

I measured and measured, to make sure whatever I decided to buy would fit and the proportions would work.

Sicilian Harvest Gel Fuel Fireplace.  This photo is from Wildon Home at Wayfair.com.  I've seen the
same fireplace at Lowe's online, and Amazon online.  I believe it's maker is SEI, also known as
Southern Enterprises, Inc.  This is the Espresso finish; about 40" tall, 44" wide, and 14" deep.


Real Flame Ashley Gel Fuel Fireplace in Mahogany finish; about 41" tall, 48" wide, and 13" deep.  Real Flame
is based in Racine, Wisconsin, USA. 

Real Flame Silverton Gel Fuel Fireplace, in Dark Mahogany; 41" tall, 48" wide, 13.5" deep.

Well, I don't know if the proportions will work, but I've been shopping online off and on since before I even moved in, and I've finally narrowed my choices down to the three you see above.

I decided, in the end, to buy a gel fuel fireplace because (1) I did not want the expense of having a gas-fueled fireplace installed and then paying WE Energies their exorbitant fees each month for gas; (2) ditto the latter part about not wanting to pay WE Enegies their exorbitant fees each month for electricity; and (3) the snap, crackle, pop and actual real flames of gel fuel are as close as I can get to a genuine fire without having a wood-burning fireplace installed (prohibitively expensive in my circumstances). 

I also wanted the versatility of either a gel fuel or electric fireplace in order to be able to remove the "logs" and use candles (real or flameless) to add ambiance when I don't need heat. And, last but not least, a genuine full mantel would give me the ambiance of a fireplace -- and the mantel space for television and decoration -- even when not in use!

Which one did I choose????  I'll let you know next post.  Right now I'm going to go watch "Searching for Your Roots" on PBS!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Decorating for Autumn, and a Political Rant (Don't Read if You're Faint of Heart)

Hola Darlings!

Well, it occurred to me just now -- DUH -- that I did not take a single picture of my Halloween decorations, such as they were.

Wired metallic leaf garland from last year wrapped in a wreath form this year
(last year it was on my former fireplace mantle). EPIC FAIL!  I took it down and used
it to add a little sparkle to my front door Family Dollar wreath.
I didn't decorate for Halloween at the former Maison Newton.  This year, at the new Maison Newton, I spent about $5 at Walgreens and bought a full-size not too scary vinyl tape-on front door cover that said "Happy Halloween" in bright colors against a black and orange background with two jack-o-lanterns and some flying bats.  I added a 24" inch long skeletal "phantom" draped in a gauzy gown that I hung from my mail box and she blew in the wind like a banshee!  She even scared me! Photos of the banshee and the door wrap will have to wait for next Halloween.

I'm In An Autumn Frame of Mind

Hola darlings!

Some of you may not know whom the late, great, Nat King Cole was.  I remember watching him on a tiny black and white television (that's all we had back then), when I was a little kid (the mid-1950's).  I was absolutely enthralled by his voice and his presence on stage.  Back then, all t.v. was done LIVE.  There weren't retakes and there was no video and no editing!  This subtle, nuanced performance of "Autumn Leaves," music and lyrics by the wonderful Johnny Mercer, as sung by Nat King Cole, is timeless.  There is just something about his voice that touches the deepest parts of my heart and soul.  I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do. 

This time of year, I am remembering my beloved Mr. Don, who died on October 12, 2012.  So many wonderful , but wistful, memories, and now, this song is imparted with so much more meaning for me.



I didn't think "autumn fever" would strike this year.  But, lo and behold, it did.  I was sitting at the dinette table one morning and decided I needed to bring in the season.  And so I rummaged around in all of my as yet unpacked boxes in the "wreck" room (finished basement area with a man-cave bar and set-up for a massive flat-screen TV on the wall that Mr. Don would have loved) and eventually unearthed my autumnal decorations and decor.