October 18, 2014

Hola darlings! Things are slowly progressing at the lastest version of Maison Newton, my 1,073 square feet single story 1955 "ranch-style" house. We're getting used to each other. Autumn is here in full force. The photos in the header were taken during a short walk through my new neighborhood last Sunday. I am having a hard time getting out of bed in the mornings now, since it is dark outside 6 a.m.! There is so much yet to do here to get things ready for my winter hunkering down time. Today was a bust as it rained, ruining my plans to get the grass cut. We got quite a bit of rain the last few days and the grass has grown over an inch since last weekend, when all I did was get my electric grass shears out and trim around the edges. Yesterday I had fertilizer and weed killer put on and the yards were core-aerated. The grass certainly looks happy, LOL! Me, not so much :( Well, back to work here... Take care, everyone.

Jan

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Lace Curtain for the Bathroom

Hola!

While I'm waiting for the two pair of Ikea Vivan curtains to finish in the washing machine, in preparation for drying, ironing and finally getting them up on the windows in my bedroom to join the two pair on each window that are already in place (I want a full, Full, FULL look), here ia a quick post, one of the things that I dinked around doing at Maison Newton today.

I've been thinking about this for awhile -- replacing the hand towel I'd tacked up over the regular glass in the upper part of the bathroom window to block out summer sun and any wandering eyes -- with something lighter and, well, prettier.  This is a chess goddess wannabe's house, after all, and I'm not adverse to adding a little frou frou as needed.

This is a listing photo of the bathroom:


This is a photograph of the bathroom window taken in early August, about a month after I'd moved in:


It's not glass block (I'm not a fan of glass block windows in the bathroom).  The window can be opened from the bottom or top to let in summertime breezes.  The bottom part of the glass is frosted and quite opaque (I've checked from the outside) but the upper half of the window is regular, clear glass.

During the summer, the eastern and southeastern sun blasted into the room full force through the upper window, despite the large tree in the background, quickly heating the small space.  While there are no second story windows over-looking my bathroom window, the thought of not having some kind of covering on the upper clear glass part gave me the creeps.  I can attest to people who either deliberately, or out of ignorance, give neighbors more than what they'd ever want to see of private goings-on in their bathroom.  Holy Hathor!  The house on the other side of my back yard to the east, for instance.  It doesn't appear that their bathroom window is frosted at all, bottom or top.  I can't help but see it.  It's higher up than my "privacy" fence and overlooks my backyard, and my patio door with a clear view from my dinette area.  There are no curtains or shades on that window.  YIKES. I wince every morning when I opened up my patio blinds and get ready to toss out bird seed for the birdies and nuts for the squirrels, for more often than not, Mr. Neighbor is in the shower right in front of that damn uncovered window.  REALLY?!? 

While Mr. Neighbor (and Mrs. Neighbor, or maybe she's Ms. Girlfriend), are perfectly willing to give anyone with eyes that happen to glance in that direction a free show, this femme is NOT!  So, a few months ago, I did this:


It's a hand towel tacked up around the window frame.  It worked perfectly during the summer to cut down on the light and solar heat gain.  But this time of year, and the time of year coming just around the bend, it blocks too much light and the now welcome solar heat gain!

I wanted to put up something pretty, frilly, lacey, feminine.  I had all sorts of ideas, but with the budget for such thrills and frills tight to non-existent, I had to face reality and work with something I already had.

How about a 25 year old Shari lace panel from J.C. Penney?  Hey, it works for me.

Sorry, bad blogger that I am, I did not take "in progress" pictures of going up and down the little ladder and standing on the toilet and stretching to tack the curtains up at the ceiling line with a broken hammer -- not sure how I would have staged that in any event, as I'm the only person here doing all of this, LOL!  And then tacking and untacking three or four times until I was more or less satisfied with the result.  This is what I ended up with (for now):


I'm not sure I like it.  I wanted to stretch it to the ceiling because it definitely does draw the eye upward when you walk into the bathroom.  The window is directly opposite the doorway, you can't help but see it. 


Yep, not sure I like it.  Maybe I need to put a couple more tacks in on the top and smallify the fabric scoops.  Or maybe I just need to let it hang down and tie it back to one side?  But which side -- shower side or toilet side?  The space is tight, either way.  Hmmm....

That's it for now.  The curtains are finished in the dryer, time to iron and get those babies up on the rods before it gets dark -- in less than an hour how, eek!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Before and After

Wow! 

I knew that Mr. and Mrs. Seller of this version of Maison Newton had a lot of work done to the place -- new roof on house and garage, new siding, new windows and doors on the house, privacy fence added along the driveway, a very large concrete patio and new service walk to the rear storage area (roofed over by Mr. Seller) behind the garage installed, and more.  I thought the house was very attractive when I saw it for the first time.  I especially liked the crisp white trim against the darker siding.

I did not realize how much of a difference those improvements made until today, when I found a Google Earth street photo of my home from August 2011.  Here is what it looked like then:


Here is what it looked like in the spring, 2014 listing photos:


I wasn't even sure it was the same house when I first saw the Google Earth image!  It was the evergreens on the right side of the driveway that convinced me it was, indeed, my house!

And here is what it looks like now:

Fall Color in the Neighborhood

Hola!  Yesterday (Sunday) it was beautiful outside.  The temperature was close to 60, it was sunny, the sky was very blue and the leaves are changing.  When I got back from the hike to the Pick 'n Save I grabbed my camera and took a walk around the neighborhood, snapping photographs.  Several neighbors looked at me like I was nuts.  Well...






There is still some color in my backyard garden, too:




This photo doesn't do this low-lying plant justice.  The flowers are intensely purple!

There are a few daisies left, too:




This hydrangea flower just opened up!  To join this one:


And my million bells hanging planters are still going strong:


Except for the Roses of Sharon setting their seed pods and some plants yellowing (or already gone brown) for the season, I could almost forget that autumn is here.  But I can't avoid seeing what's coming - this is the view out of my patio door:


We haven't had a real hard frost yet, but I've been covering the planters on the front porch at night, and the sheets are wet in the morning.  The African daisies and asparagus ferns in the planters are still going strong, though, which I find absolutely amazing. I don't know how much longer I will have them.  I will miss them.  I am thinking about getting two artificial topiaries to hold the space on either side of the front door through that season that we don't say out loud around here. 

But first, Halloween!  The neighborhood has a big trick or treat at night and already I can see decorations are up - ghouls and goblins and Frankensteins galore -- and skeletons seem to be very big, too.  I don't have anything for Halloween and frankly, not exactly in the mood to turn the inside of my house autumnal or my front yard into a fake graveyard!  I will move the planters before the 31st so there is more room on the small front porch and I've stocked up on lots of candy.  I wonder if I can find an orange lightbulb somewhere for the porch light, and some kind of ghoulish depiction on a sheet of plastic I can tape to the door temporarily -- that will be the extent of my Halloween decorations :) 

The Niche Is Now a Bookshelf!!!

It's DONE!

Well, I had to do some tweaking to it.  Yesterday morning when I started putting up the brackets that hold the shelves, I realized that the right side was slightly off about 1/4 inch, so the shelves were not sitting level.  How on earth could he not have checked for level?  Sheesh!  What to do, what to do?  Call him -- on a Sunday?  I could have; I probably shoudl have.  But then I didn't want to have to wait for whenever he could get here (it might not have been yesterday, it could be days), so after eyeballing the situation I figured I would remove the screws, flip the metal strip that holds the brackets, and screw it back on.

It took awhile (quite awhile), using only muscle power, and those screws were LONG -- more than 2 inches long!  Fortunately, once I flipped the metal bracket over I could see my idea would work, and I was able to angle the screws into the previously made holes.  Everything held right and tight.

This is what it looked like after I put all five shelves up:


I was mystified for awhile because sometimes the brackets didn't hold in the slots I wanted them to go into!  Eventually I figured out that a bracket won't fit into a slot that has a screw directly underneath because the screw blocks the "hook" part of the bracket from catching.  So, I was not able to space things out as I had hoped.  It worked out okay though, because I ended up removing the fifth shelf and rearranged the four remaining shelves to be more evenly spaced.  I realized the way I had the shelves the first time around wouldn't work when I went to place my first horse -- it was much taller than the space.

After realigning the shelves, I set about "styling" them.  All these years I've called it putting stuff on a flat surface and moving said stuff this way and that until I arrive at an arrangement I find pleasing.  "Styling" is something I try to do with my hair (usually a hopeless task).

Here it is in progress:


And the finished product (for now):


Each horse has its own story:


This horse is batter operated and trots around the post, anchored by a little string "bridle."  I saved the box because this horse (and box) travelled all the way from Madrid, Spain back home with me, and Mr. Don bought one for himself, too.  He was absolutely fascinated by it, and I just thought they were a hoot.  We came across a vendor selling them on the parkway along the Paseo del Prado close to the Fountain of Sibyl.  That was in January, 2012; things were tough for a lot of people in Madrid during that time, and we were happy to give the vendor a little business.  That was the last trip Don and I took together.  Yesterday it was two years since he passed away.


The rearing horse is done in some kind of metal with an aged bronze finish and has a wooden base.  I bought it years ago at one of the shops at the Fireside Theatre in Fort Atkinson (Wisconsin). I love his lines. I kept him on my desk at home for years, but now I think he's happy with his other friends of the equine persuasion.


There's my Xena, and just in case a visitor doesn't get the idea about Xena on this wooden horse I bought from the Museum Store locally for a great price -- the workmanship is exquisite -- I positioned "The Horse Goddess" behind. You can't see it from this angle, but she's got her battle ring in her left hand (you can see it in her hand in the top photo, lower right side).  She's chasing down the Tang Dynasty warrior in the print.


This is the celadon Tang Dynasty style ceramic horse I picked up at TJMaxx a couple of years ago -- the horse that inspired the redo of the family room in the former Maison Newton -- the room that didn't get finished!

And Home Decorator shoppers may recognize this black beauty, aptly named "Black Beauty:"


I got a good deal on him a couple Christmases ago.  I had hemmed and hawed for quite awhile, should I buy him or shouldn't I, and I didn't because of the price; but then he went on sale for 50% off and snap, he was mine! 

Pieces rounding out the rest of the collection are a pair of some kind of stone (black and white) horse head book ends, and a large black knight chess piece. Now that I've got a place for them, more horses may follow me home in the future.

So, that's it, in all of its crowded glory.  Honestly, the niche shelves are, by comparison to other shelves in the house, restrained -- you can actually see space:


Working bookshelf in what will become my den/library/study.  I need two tall bookcases; with the "home improvement" work around here done for 2014, I can concentrate on shopping for them.


China hutch.  Before my collection of eggs got so large, I used to scatter them in front of the books, and the shelves were packed with books from end to end.  Now only two of the three shelves are stuffed with books -- an improvement!  The center part of the second shelf holds the egg collection.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Visit to the Former Maison Newton and Progress on the Niche!

Hola darlings!

Today it is still unseasonably cool for this time of year around here, but the sun is out and very warm; I started the day off with a long sleeve turtleneck knit sweater underneath a Green Bay Packers hoodie/sweatshirt (it was 60 degrees F in the house when I got up this morning) and took the hoodie/sweatshirt off after working outside for awhile.  After getting my most recent combined electric and gas bill from the GREEDY WE Energies (fricking crooks!), I turned my heat OFF and every single light (not that I used all that many to begin with, geez) and I don't care how damn cold or dark it gets, the furnace is not going on until sometime in November and except for the energy sucked up by this trust old laptop and appliances (I've unplugged some that I don't use all the time, like the t.v.), so is the electricity.  I'll warm my hands over candles and work by candlelight before I'll give WE Energies a penny more of money than I absolutely have to for the next 2 months, the SCHMUCKS! 

Fall is here, though, no denying that.  Here's a photo taken from my little front stoop down the block:


Some of the trees, like the one mostly hidden here behind the still-green street tree (center), have already turned brilliant colors, and some have dropped all of their leaves. But the neighborhood still has many trees that are just barely beginning to show the effects of reduced sunlight and the light frosts we've had the past several nights. I've been wanting to take an early morning walk with my camera, perhaps tomorrow I'll take the time to do that.

FINALLY, TODAY -- more than three months after I moved out of the former Maison Newton, my brother Jeff and SIL Heidi came over with their vehicles and we went to my old place to clear out the last of my things from a corner of the garage, which J&J have been extremely patient in letting me use to keep my stuff for months.  It was a perfect day for it, and J&J and J's (the first J) dad is up from Alabama for several weeks now, helping them with things around their new house - they were all outside working when we pulled up. Tony (the first J's dad) and I have known each other from the time he was courting my high school friend, the first J's mom!  So it was a kind of old home week to see him again after so many years.  He owns rental properties and is extremely handy and knowledgeable about all kinds of things, so having him here has been a blessing for J&J, helping them settle in to their new home and getting various repairs, etc. done around the place.

The house IS different!  There is a new roof; new grading; lots of shrubs were removed; today they are installing an automatic garage door opener and the first J and I talked about them having to buy a snow blower because I did not own a car and hand-shoveled the walks and driveway for 24 years, but I could take my time doing it cuz I didn't have to worry about getting a car out of the garage down to the road in order to get anywhere!  J&J are making the place their own, and I'm so happy for them.  And they are happy too, but it's been a lot of new kind of work for them, taking on a two story with a large lot as their first buy!

The first J took me aside and told me how much their friends and relatives who visited after they moved in just loved the gardens in the backyard.  That made me very happy.  Those gardens were a labor of love for 24 years.  But then J&J  had the big ol' double Chinese Elm tree that towered above the house taken down, and now the railroad tie retaining wall that backed up the big ol' tree that BIL Fred put in 24 years ago is gone, along with half the landscape and some of the fence, eek!  Some big machinery was involved in taking down the towering old tree and some of the fence had to be removed to get the equipment into the part of the yard where the ginormous tree lived.  I lived with that tree for 24 years and yeah, it certainly did shed some BIG branches (sometimes the size of a small tree) during really strong windstorms, but she survived more than one attack of 100 mph plus straight-line winds and never budged an inch, and no branches ever landed on the house, either.  But I do understand the second J's nervousness about having such a HUGE tree overhanging the house and the shedding of the occasional small tree from its massive limbs...  I sure do hope, though, that no squirrels lost their nests and/or babies during the process.

The yard now doesn't look so great, and to add to the (temporary) nessm J&J regraded around the entire perimeter of the house -- goodbye flower beds, oh my! But I think maybe some of the daylilies, hardy as they are, may pop up next year... I'll have to email the first J about that so she keeps an eye out for little peaks of greenery poking out from the soil in March, just in case.

It was a little bitter-sweet, but mostly sweet, seeing the house again, because it's clear that J&J love the place, and the first J now marvels at how on earth I did it all by myself for so long when the two of them together (both under 30) find it difficult to keep up with all that needs to be done.  So, Jan old gal, KUDOS to you - that is - ME!  LOL! 

JAN BAD BLOGGER.  I didn't even think to take my camera long and there are no photos of the former Maison Newon as it looks now, nor of any of my remant stuff removed from my former garage, either before - or - after.  Geez.  The first J proudly showed me the bookcases from the family room that I included as part of their purchase.  They would have been much too large for the space in my current Maison Newton.  She had painted them and moved them into the living room to anchor one of the tall walls, and they look great, totally transformed from what they were!!!  It never ceases to amaze me what a fresh coat of paint can do.

Having Jeff and Heidi over today and showing them around the new place for the first time, it gave me a fresh appreciation for just how nice this ranch house, and all its storage space, are, even though I do not have the same kind of square footage living space that I had at the former Maison Newton.  I sure don't miss taking four hours just to cut the front and back yards!  And, I have to say, traveling up and down the basement stairs here sometimes several times a day has been good for my figure (what there is of it).  All the hard work I've been doing since April has finally shown up on the scale, darlings.  I've dropped six pounds and am now definitely stable below my (former) plateau weight for the past two years, yippee!  Every pound I lose is very good for my heart/lung condition.

Today, Kevin the Handyman arrived just about 10 a.m. and had in tow all of the supplies needed to finish off the niche in the living room that is being restored to its bookshelf status!

When I first viewed the house in May when it was for sale, the sellers had two smallish floating shelves installed in the space.  No photos of that space, sorry.  I immediately envisioned bookshelves to hold some of my (tons of) books and all of my fledgling "horsy" collection. As it was at the time, I thought it was a waste of precious space! 

Here is a "before" photo:


You can see the filled-in holes left behind by Mrs. Seller from the hanging shelves and on the right side of the niche wall, the "crud" that was left behind after the old metal shelving tracks were removed -- who knows when?  The area was never scraped down/sanded and was just painted over, mummifying all the bumps and lumps left behind once the tracks were gone. 

In progress photos:



And today, Kevin worked his magic and did a final sanding (yet more crud to clean up throughout the entire house, $&@Q!), painted the raw areas, and installed the new metal tracks that will hold the shelf brackets.  I have the cut-to-size shelves and the brackets already to go.  I will install them tomorrow.  Kevin suggested giving the paint 24 hours to "cure" and I think that's a good idea.  Plus, after doing a lot of moving stuff and yard work today, I don't exactly feel like it...

But tomorrow - here is what it looks like now, just waiting for the brackets and shelves and stuff to be installed!!!!


Stay tuned for the "reveal" -- I'll be cleaning up and polishing the wood base (and using a touch-up pen to mask deep scratches in the finish), putting up the brackets, installing the shelves, and "styling" (what we, in the not so old days, used to call arranging stuff) my horsey collection and various books and photographs.  Can't wait to tackle it!!!!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bedroom Inspiration

Hola darlings!

I have been hard at work, continuing to unpack tons of boxes, and Kevin the Handyman has been here on weekends three times during the last six weeks working on lots of different things.

Meanwhile, my mistress bedroom is about 75% finished.  I have two more pairs of sheers to add to each window' "underneath layer" and one pair of "Vivan" curtains to add to each window's outer layer, and then do the final adjustments to the IKEA curtain rods that Kevin the Handyman and his helpers installed a few weeks ago.  I want to get that done this weekend -- we'll see.  I have stalled in putting up the prints on the bedroom walls, need to get that done, too.  The furniture is where it will stay (I think), I need a few new area rugs (future purchases) but will use what I have for now, and that's it!

As you may recall, I splurged and bought myself a new bed when I moved into this smaller ranch house, replacing a bed that was still just fine but somehow the cross-wire supports for the mattress had gone missing in the move.  I priced out replacement bedframes and it was ridiculous how much a basic but good quality bed frame for a full-size bed cost!  In the end, I got a good deal on the new bed at overstock.com that would give me the look I had pined after for years (but was always too cheap frugal, before, to spend money on):


This is MY Bailey bed, woo woo!  Let me tell you, I feel like a Princess sleeping in it, even without it being swathed in organza hangings and flower strands!  I blogged about my long-time desire for a bed along these lines earlier.  I paid $319 for it, with free shipping.  Kevin the Handyman put it together for me - some of the best money I ever spent. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Le Danse de les Meubles

I just love how something as mundane and shoving around furniture trying to rearrange it sounds so romantic in French, don't you! 

Yep, today I was dancing with my furniture - specifically, my living room furniture.  I really liked the arrangement as it was but I have to admit, I did have a lot of furniture packed into the 14' x 15' foot space.  I didn't feel crowded in it, because to me each piece served a specific function and also holds so many sweet memories...

But I think my guests were a little taken aback by the arrangement, although they were far too polite to say so.

And, with Christmas a mere 3 months away I know I'll be wanting to park my tree in front of that big overgrown picture window of mine in this new version of Maison Newton, so rearranging the furniture is/would be a necessity.  I preferred to try it today when it was warm and sunny outside but cool inside the house, and the air is soooo dry, I just love this kind of weather!  We've been blessed with an entire week of it, can't believe it! Plus, I got up at 5 a.m. wide awake and the Sunday paper wasn't delivered until 6:30 a.m. so I had plenty of time to finalize the slow "stew" I've been doing for the past several weeks on how I wanted to rearrange things as I sipped my one cup of coffee for the day and checked out some of my favorite d-i-y and YOUR home decorating blogs.

Bad blogger that I am, I did not take photos of the "before" -- I'm looking right now to see if I have anything...


Hmmm, this is about as close as I can get.  This photo was taken a few days ago!  You'll see in the "after" photos that the curio cabinet did not move from its spot, but the desk/chair, lamp and the sofa did, and by the way, all of those boxes were opened and most of them unpacked; the rest of the items stashed away for future inventory and possible donation.

Here's what it looked like after some initial shifting: