August 29, 2014

Hola darlings! I moved into the new Maison Newton on July 7th and have been working hard ever since to get unpacked and settled. The photo collage is the new Maison Newton. The two planters are on the front porch. I purchased them online after I moved here, and the plants were purchased about 3 weeks ago from a popular local gardener. I planted a combination of "African daisies" and asparagus fern. They love the sun and the heat on the front porch and have grown and grown! To add a little more pop of color to the front of the house, I also painted the formerly old, somewhat banged up black (and rusting) mail box a bright red. It makes me smile. Back yard photos are of my miracle hydrangea that is still blooming strongly and the Roses of Sharon and one of my hanging baskets of "million bells" in the east planting bed in the back yard. This oldish ranch house (1955) will take a while to make my own but it has pretty good bones (like yours truly, har :)) There'll be lots to blog about!!!


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Early Cold Spell and Hydrangeas and THIS PLACE IS A FRICKING MESS

Hola everyone.

I promise I will do some more posting soon and catch you up on what I've been doing (trying, anyway) around here, but right now I'm just overwhelmed with too much going on, geez!

I have made some progress around this new old house, but let me tell you, darlings, it's slllooooowwwww going.  I spent this past Saturday, cold and windy, cutting the grass in the back yard and then the front yard, and early this morning in much welcomed sunshine but a good "breeze" (it got into the 60's today and the house actually warmed all the way up to 73, which is good because I have not yet figured out how to de-program the programed thermostat to a temperature lower than 72, so it's been off most of the time during this cold snap), I did the trimming out front.  I use a battery-operated grass shears to do that so it entails a lot of bending over and stooping, and I'm probably showing some underwear every now and then and shocking the bifocals off of some of my neighbors.  I concentrate of making the public space at the front of the house look as nice as I can get it; not so much out back in my private space, but there's also not so much area in the back yard that needs to be trimmed. 

Am I the only lunatic in the United States of America who sweeps her gutters and tries to obliterate all traces of cut-grass residue???

I also vacuumed (much needed) and did laundry (hardly any, which makes me very suspicious I am wearing my underwear far too long),  finished putting the legs back on my larger desk that I moved from the living room into the much smaller space (a bedroom) that will serve as my den/library/study/office, but I was not able to get it back up on its legs.  It was much easier to put the desk on the floor in the living room and take its legs off than to get it standing back up again in its new home.  Damn!  I will need to recruit another person to assist...

So, yesterday, I noticed that my crazy hydrangea shrub is setting MORE blossoms -- in September!  Is that a thank you for my watering it every day since I moved in on July 7th?  Well, if that isn't evidence that this season is a good three to four weeks behind where we should have been, I don't know what is.  But the light is mostly disappeared now shortly after 7 p.m.   I think the hydrangea will run out of warmth and enough day light to set its new blossoms, and that makes me sad.  But I thought, yesterday, maybe if I cut off some of the blooms that are on it right now (since June!!!) it would give the shrub a fighting chance, as it can concentrate on the NEW blossoms instead of sustaining those already opened up and still looking hearty and healthy after a couple of months!  What an amazing little shrub my hydrangea is, to be sure.

So I gulped, and cut five flowers off.  Here are a couple of photos, taken today -- I wasn't sure if they would survive overnight sitting in a bowl of water with some of that powdered "floral preservative," but they did, thank Goddess!  And so beautiful they are --

As you can see, the colors are all over the place, because I haven't been able to sustain a sufficiently acidic environment for the shrub to produce purple/blue-ish blossoms!  The natural color of an hydrangea is, as I learned to my surprise, pink!  But I've also got green-y/white-ish, too.  All over the place color-wise.

So I'm greatly appreciating the beauty of my cut hydrangea blossoms and very grateful to my hydrangea shrub for giving me such gorgeous flowers, and I hope it won't hate me too much for cutting some of the blooms off to enjoy in my kitchen/dinette. 

Oh, I also hauled about 10 boxes of - I can't believe how much stuff I have - down into the basement wreck room, some of which was immediately tucked away and some of which was stashed on the bar pending figuring out what the hell to do with it!  Lots of books, and I've only my china hutch in the living room, and all the stuff in separate boxes stashed in that room that has first dibs on the space, and one two shelf bookcase that will go into the den/library, etc. space 

I seriously need to do some bookcase shopping.  Funds.  I need to come up with some money!  I'm tired of lugging boxes down into the wreck room. 

But the future den/library etc. is painted a dark blue with a black chalk-board race trace painted as a border around the entire room near the ceiling, complete with a chalked-in dashed line to indicate the "lanes."

Real cute.  And it's going to be a REAL BITCH to prime over and then repaint the room.  As if I have the energy to do such a thing, HA!  But there's no money left in the budget to hire someone else to do it, nosirree.

I am NOT a happy camper right now, dear readers.  Nope. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

New Bedroom Curtains Going Up - Sort Of...

Hola everyone!

It's not that I'm less ambitious when it comes to getting settled into this new old house, it's that I'm spending a lot of time doing yard work (moving here was supposed to cut down that time, ha!) and watching home improvement programs on Hulu Plus, LOL! 

But on Monday I opened up my IKEA curtains, washed the "drapes" and ironed everything.  I won't go into all of the gory details, but suffice to say that the double curtain rods I ordered from IKEA are gigantic long, and using the two smaller rods from each of the doubles and using the two halves of each of those rods on the windows, I managed to do a fairly good "cosmetic" job of hanging my new curtains up in the mistress bedroom, hooray!

Short Explanation:  My favorite bedspread is a true white and black toile; the curtains I ordered at the same time, but from a different vendor and in a different toile pattern, are an antique white and black.  In my former mistress bedroom, because they were sufficient distance apart, the color differences in the "whites" weren't so noticeable; but in this smaller bedroom and with the only decent Feng Shui placement of the bed being so close to the one window, the color differential is quite noticeable. 

So that is why I decided I needed new curtains.  The antique white and black toile panels will be rehung in the guest room soon.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day Memories

Hola darlings!

First of all, HAPPY LABOR DAY to all of us who work so hard doing what we do, whether we work inside the home or outside the home - or do both!  It's all good, and it's all worth more than we make in pay, for damn sure!

Labor is under attack today in the United States and it's so sad. We're trying to fight back, but we're outgunned and out-moneyed and out-propagandaed.

2011: Wisconsin public union workers (teachers, policemen, firemen, prison guards, office workers, engineers,
etc. etc. etc. gather to protest outside of Madison's Capitol Building against the Scott Walker and the
Republican Legislature's destruction of public labor union rights.  Scores of arrests followed when the
Governor ordered the Capitol building cleared and state marshalls took the law into their own hands,
brutalizing and then arresting teachers, office workers, doctors and nurses for "resisting arrest" when
they were only exercising their state and federal Constitutional rights to peaceably assemble and protest.
The Republicans, who had taken control of the state thanks to the Koch brothers' money poured into the state's
elections, gutted public unions and then passed the most extreme-ever gerrymandered election
districts Wisconsin has ever seen.  The Lafolletes are rolling in their graves.  Our honored history
of clean government has disappeared into a foul pit of gross corruption, and Governor Scott Walker
is the most corrupt of all, while posing as a "true Christian family man."  Gag and puke.

Don't be fooled by people who are telling you there are "makers" and there are takers," doing the old "speaks with forked tongue" trick!  The TRUE MAKERS are the people who create wealth, like me -- working away for the past 45 plus years in an office, now making about $25 an hour compared to my boss's $650 an hour.  I work just as hard as he does and, in truth, without the work I do he wouldn't be able to do all that he does.  But there is really no such thing as "trickle down," nope.  Now I'm not crying the blues here because at my pay rate I gross about $51,000 a year, and I'm okay with that.  Is it what a person with a master's degree should be making, though, if we Americans value education like we say we do?  Hell no!

But, according to stats from the Congressional Budget Office, I'm considered above the median income in this country, I'm in one of the upper percentiles, darlings, woo woo.  How fricking sad is that?  Seven years of college education -- and I just scratch the surface of the median income...

Of course, those wages are BEFORE DEDUCTIONS.  If only I didn't have to pay 40% of that gross income every year to federal and state taxes and things like Medicare and FICA.  Meanwhile, my boss is crying the blues to me because his youngest will soon be going off to college and he "can't afford it."  Yeah, right.  Tell me about it, dude, who makes TWENTY-SIX TIMES MORE GROSS SALARY THAN I DO.  He, his wife and two children can't make a go of it on $650,000.00 a year.  And they pay less in taxes than I do.  For instance, his Social Security tax deduction is capped at $117,000.  The rest of his salary is not taxed for Social Security.  I pay Social Security taxes on 100% of my $51,000.  How is this fair?  And yet he and the rich and even richer are screaming about "high taxes."

The TRUE MAKERS ARE THE LABORERS, not the owners of the property.  Property rots and rusts away or, if it is land, goes fallow, without the MAKERS. Take a few minutes and just think about this, please.

My grandfather took a billy club to the head during a strike at J. I. Case in Racine, Wisconsin, standing up for workers' rights in 1934!  The then governor of the state of Wisconsin called out the National Guard to attack the strikers.  This was in the days before labor had ANY rights at all -- rights that we won after hard-fought battles and are now, less than 100 years later, rapidly losing.  Yeah, I hear it every single day, they won't ever do THAT, who would work for them, nobody...

Stupid, stupid people!  Think it can't happen to you...

Grandpa Newton lost his job as a skilled tool-and-die maker.  The family lost their home to foreclosure because Grandpa was blacklisted and couldn't find work -- not that much work was to be found in those years, anyway.  J.I. Case hired scabs who worked for pennies on the dollar compared to the workers they'd fired en masse.  Grandpa and his family of eight had to leave Racine and the prosperous middle-class lifestyle they'd known and move to Sturtevant, to what they considered a dumpy little house with a couple acres of land, where they grew fruits and vegetables and eeked out a living doing "truck farming" (as it was known back then) and growing much of their own produce to feed their family.  They scraped by.

That was before Wisconsin became one of the first states at the time to pass a law imposing a moratorium on foreclosures during the Great Depression, to prevent people who, through no fault of their own, were losing their homes because they couldn't find work!  I don't know this for a fact, but the story I remember hearing as a child and as I understand it now, as an adult, is that the bank owner at the bank that held Grandpa and Grandma Newton's mortgage on the Racine home gave them the option of taking the property out in Sturtevant (back then, nowheresville compared to living in Racine) in exchange for the equity in the Racine home, and Grandpa accepted the deal.  That bank owner, he didn't have to do it, but he was a decent man.  Back then, a lot of business was done on personal knowledge of the character of one's customers, and on a handshake.  My beloved Grandpa was a man of principle.  And so was that banker.

All I know is that I loved that house, with its magestic allee of trees alongside the gravel driveway, and the ever-fascinating acreage out back that offered endless hours of exploring and play-time and fantasy.  And the family, at that dumpy little house, survived the Great Depression, and Grandma actually sheltered people less fortunate than they were in the basement (the cellar, as they called it back then, which was not then finished in concrete block).  She had what was called back then "a soft heart."  I inherited mine from her, in more ways than one.  It's from Grandma's side of the family, I discovered through my geneological research, that I inherited this genetic lung disease (Pulmonary  Arterial Hypertension) that will, ultimately, cause my heart to fail and kill me.  Well, we all have to die some time.

Grandma Newton was famous locally for her canned and preserved foods, jams and "goodies" (a form of candied fruit -- I wasn't allowed to eat any because it had brandy in it).  Some of my earliest memories are of watching Grandma and Aunts Lolly and Mary Olive (her oldest and second-youngest daughters) working in the teeny kitchen of the only Grandma and Grandpa Newton house I ever knew, and loved.  The three of them were moving in what seemed like high speed around a tall butcher block "island" stirring, tasting, seasoning, ladling steaming hot concoctions into mason jars, the room filled with moisture from jars boiling in water and fruits and vegetables cooking on a six-burner stove.  I don't remember if it was gas or a wood burner, I assume it was a gas stove, as I was born in 1951 and we're probably talking about 1955 and after.  And then there was pickling, done on different days.
The Great Depression didn't end until the start of World World II, when the United States geared up to feed the war effort that was going on in Europe and, ultimately, sucked the USA in, too, including my Dad, who went off to join the Army when he was about 20.

The Frank Newton and Ida Belanger family, left to right, back row: Aunt Faythe; Aunt Mary Olive, my Dad
(John Francis Newton) in his WWII uniform, Aunt Laurel (Aunt Lolly), Aunt Valerie.
Front Row: Grandma Ida Belanger Newton, Uncle Gregory, Grandpa Frank Newton, son of David Newton a/k/a Villeneuve.
Dad was wounded and awarded a Purple Heart, and suffered severe frost bite to his feet. Those feet of his, they caused him much pain and suffering afterward until the time he died. But back then, a man didn't complain about such things.  He was changed in ways no one should ever have to be changed.  But he survived.  Millions did not.

My family was fortunate, compared to millions of other families. We survived the Great Depression, and we more or less prospered.  We survived WWII, and we more or less prospered.

Oh my.  The older I get (I turned 63 on August 19th, sigh), the more these memories become so precious to me.  I've no children of my own (THANK GODDESS!), but I am an aunt, and a grand-aunt, and a great-grand aunt.  Geez!  What will happen to those children of my nieces and nephews?

All those descendants will think it is absolutely normal to work for $5 a hour and not have employer paid-for health insurance, no paid vacation, no paid sick days, no paid maternity leave, no retirement benefits, no profit-sharing, hell no!  They will be, ahem cough cough cough, INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS.  Yeah.  A fancy name for 21st century slavery.  And, because none of the kids now graduating from high school knows any history or knows, really, how to read or write (they think "HOW R U" is writing), they will believe all of this is perfectly normal, and even worse, the way it should be...  They will believe that if they're not at the apex of the pyramid, it's because they're stupid, or lazy, or both.  Because that is what they are being taught -- they are being brainwashed into believing -- right now, as I write this.  There is a reason "1984" is no longer mandatory reading in high school...

Do you REALLY wonder why Congress has done nothing about the epidemic of illegal aliens flooding into our country?  Darlings, they're CHEAP LABOR.  That's the ultimate bottom line.  Now they're importing them as children, even easier to brain-wash. 

Real speak:  If Romney had won the presidential election in 2012 instead of Obama, we wouldn't be hearing a THING about the so-called crisis of 40,000 or 50,000 CHILDREN crossing the border between Mexico and the United States during the past few years. 

Think about it.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Gardens: Beginnings -- Back Yard

This is a photo of my back yard (and part of the large concrete patio), that was taken after I did my very first cut of the back yard grass, on July 8th:

A partial view of the large concrete patio area.
That raised planting area with lots of day lilies vulgarus (that's not the actual botannical name) in the photo above, looking lush and pretty, is now looking pretty crappy:

The very last bloom on the day lilies bloomed on July 13th (I was off work that day so I could appreciate it).  The rest of d-l-vulgarus now have bare, dried-out stalks that need to be cut down, and lots of dying-back foilage (ditto). That's just the nature of this particular beast. After having put up with their habits for 24 years at the former Maison Newton I want to go in a different direction with this garden... 

If you'll take a close look at the second photo near the center of the bed (not such a good photo and the area is shaded, too), you'll see that I have added a baby Rose of Sharon plant donated by my friend Barb.  I transplanted the little shrub that was there (see same area in the first photo to see the shrub) to the north bed, where it seems to be happy.

I didn't realize it until a couple of weeks later when the first flowers popped open, but there are ALREADY two other Rose of Sharon plants in that east bed!!! Duh. I did not recognize them until the taller plant on the left started blooming.  Then I took a closer look at my baby Rose of Sharon and the blooming plant (and also the not-yet blooming shorter plant on the right side of the bed) and realized the leaves are exactly the same on all three plants -- they're all Roses of Sharon!  I don't know why the plant on the right is so much smaller than the one on the left; of course the baby plant, now in the middle, will have some catching up to do!  [Postscript added August 24th:  I now realize why the Rose of Sharon on the left is so tall -- it's actually two different plants!  See next post for details.]

You may have noticed, too, the Rose of Sharon with lots of blooms poking its head and shoulders above my terra-cotta colored fence! That much larger shrub is in the neighbor's yard.  I envy him both that shrub and his beautiful purple leafed maple tree.  I enjoy their loveliness from my perch at the dinette table looking through the patio doors into my new yard.  Neighbor's Rose of Sharon has deep pinkish-purplish blossoms with burgundy-colored inners.  It is full and has TONS of blossoms and is really putting on a show fpr me.  As far as I can tell, my neighbor (single thirtiesh male with a shaved head and buff bod) doesn't do a thing to his yard other than cutting the grass and using a string-line trimmer once a week, so perhaps I don't need to be babying my Roses of Sharon so much (giving them lots of water during the past 3 week dry-spell; and of course, I'm babying the baby transplant until its root system gets established). 

I haven't had luck growing Rose of Sharon at my two previous residences but this, my third house, may be the charm.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Gardens: Beginnings -- Front Yard

Hola darlings!

The lot at the new house is about the same width as the former Maison Newton, but it is not as deep.  The configuration, with a public sidewalk out front and a lot-bisecting walkway from the curb to the front door, chops up the front lawn into four distinct areas.  You can see that in this listing photo below:

The backyard has a large patio, and with the addition of the 2.5 car garage taking up a large chunk of the southeast corner of the lot, the lawn area is minimal compared to what I used to have.  There's much less mowing time now.  That's a good thing!  But the trimming area and the time it takes to do it, that's a bad thing!  Takes much longer than it did at the former Maison Newton.

The front yard is blah (looks like the listing photo above is from March or early April). I have some plans brewing, but most of them will have to wait a year or two while I save up funds. There are more pressing things that will take up any spare cash for the foreseeable future (like, a gas range and a new mattress set). 

I think the planting beds are too narrow -- I want to make them bigger to cut down on the lawn space.  I'm not a fan, either, of some of the selections Mrs. Seller made (lots of ornamental grasses, some not doing too ell), although I understand her choices. 

I couldn't go with what's left of this summer season without a nod toward dressing things up a little bit out front.  I thought a couple of planters would add a nice touch to my plain concrete porch.

I wanted something white, maintenance-free, and inexpensive.  I found some nice plant holder boxes and some inner pots that fit perfectly at that did not break the bank - they are offered by Miles Kimball (you all know Miles Kimball catalogs!)  I ordered two.  I also ordered two white plastic planters with punch-out drainage holes in the bottom, and they fit perfectly inside the Miles Kimball plant holder boxes (but they are not from Miles Kimball).

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Little Things Mean a Lot

Hola everyone!

Well, I'm stealing a cue from Suzan at Simply Vintageous (those of you who read her blog will know what I mean; she's got the music in her...)

Little things, like this little thingy, which is supposed to function as a door stop but failed utterly because of the kind of door handle my sellers had installed on their bathroom door when they remodeled (hint: it didn't stop anything):


You can see the dent in the drywall (on the right) from the lock knob, LOL!  It was driving me nuts.  First thing I did when I moved in was put a cotton ball underneath a bandaid and plastered it over the lock knob.  Yeah, crazy, but I didn't want any further damage done to the wall!  Sure looked silly, but it did the trick :) 

So, today Kevin the Handyman was here working his way through a list of things (more things to come, there seems to be something every time I turn around in this place), and addressing the bathroom door stop issue was the first thing he did.  And he discovered -- a hole at the bottom of the door after he'd removed the circle door stop.  (An aside:  I had attempted to yank [I yanked and yanked] and then tried to twist the little sucker [no go] and pulled and tugged with NO results, until I was ready to tear down the door with my fingernails, but couldn't budge the door stop.  It came right off for Kevin.  It was a "stick-on" thing, with a sticky backing.  Geez - I am obviously avalanching into old age when I can't even manage to remove a "stick-on" door stop!  Or maybe Kevin's big honking hands terrorized that door stop into instant surrender.  He's got Godzilla hands, people.)

Kevin figures that there was probably an old-fashioned solid metal doorstop on the former bottom trim behind the bathroom door (before remodelling removed and replaced it with the white painted trim), and someone unfortunately opened the door with a little bit too much oomph once (or maybe several times), it hit that solid metal stop, and it punched a hole through the thin veneer of the hollow-core door.  The half-circle door stop was purchased to cover up the hole rather than  -whoever - taking the time to repair the door properly and replacing the stop!

So, after the new door stop was installed (a springer doorstop, so no danger of punching a hole through the hollow-core door because the door knob lock stops a good distance from the wall and if the springer stop is hit too hard it just goes BOOOIIIIIIINNNNGGGGG):

Kevin rummaged around in his van and found some wood filler.  He filled the hole in the hollowcore bathroom door (it's a new door, they replaced the old one, I can tell because the stain finish is absolutely uniform):

Kevin will smooth it out on his visit, probably next Saturday (more cha-ching!!!) and use some left-over bathroom stain (courtesy of Mr. Seller)  to cover it up.  I could do it myself, especially since it's at the bottom of the door and whoever, really, will notice it, but since Kevin is coming anyway to complete the current "to do" list, he'll take care of that, too.

 That was Happy #1.

The next "to do" that Kevin tackled was taking down the ceiling fan in the dinette (see prior post), then taking down the ceiling fan in the mistress bedroom and putting it up in the dinette!  I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled I was that it fits the space perfectly and, I think, is actually a smidgeon smaller and more in scale with both the size and my style of the area than the former fan (which I thought had a country-ish vibe, just not me):

I am liking the bedroom fan in the dinette!  OHMYGODDESS, LOOK AT THAT WAVY WALL TO CEILING PAINT LINE!  YIKES!  Something MORE to be fixed. 

The former fan went into a box:

The glass shades are sitting in a safe area on the kitchen counter, as yesterday was recycling pick-up and all of my newspaper is gone until the Sunday paper comes tomorrow -- so, nothing easy to use to wrap the shades in (I don't feel like wrestling with bubble-wrap since this won't sit long in storage):

That was Happy #2.

One of the items on a future "to do" list will be installing that fan (former dinette fan) in the bedroom that will eventually become my den/library.  There is a little kidlet-type fan in there right now (dig the chalkboard paint race track!):

Happy #3 was, perhaps, not such a little thing.  Kevin put my new canopy bed together, whoop whoop!  For the first time since I moved in, I will actually be able to sleep in my mistress bedroom tonight!!!

Since the first night here on July 7th (the day of the pro movers moved my big stuff), after a long hard day of unpacking essentials, I made up my bed and was so eager to ease my weary, aching-from-moving-body into it. The bed collapsed!  Yes, it did, darlings. You can read about that here.

I've been sleeping either on the sofa in the living room or in the guest room since then, but really neither arrangement is satisfactory for everyday living.  Most of my clothes and all of my other things (undies, socks, and such) are in the mistress bedroom, not the guest bedroom and, of course, nothing like that in the living room.  I knew it would be a temporary arrangement, so I just grit my teeth and muddled through it.  I have since developed an intense hatred for the guest room mattress. 

Tonight, though, for the very first time (DRUM ROLL, please) I will sleep in my brand spanking new absolute princess-style canopy bed, woo woo!  I'm pooped!  Been up since 5:30 a.m. and working outside and then inside (nonstop cleaning, geez, how many times do I need to scrub the bathroom floor grout before it doesn't look black in some areas anymore - like it got a case of mold, and what kind of sealer do I need to apply to it...)  I'm sunburnt (look a fright) after doing all the out-front yard trimming this morning as the Sun swung around from the east to the south, sure enough, hitting me full on, while Kevin Handyman was working away inside, I have too much grey hair is showing (been too tired to expend the effort to re-color, which should have been done 2 week-ends ago), and I'm running low on wine, so I will probably need to hike to the Pick 'n Save once the sun starts sinking in the west.  Right now it's just too damn hot outside for me! But, wine trumps hair coloring every time.

So, what is that, you're wondering (I hope).  That, darlings, is the little ceiling plaque I purchased from Home Depot online to cover up the "hole" I new would appear where the ceiling fan in the misttress bedroom used to be. It's not too big, and not too small, and definitely not heavy. I had bought a packet of two-sided Command tape-ons with velcrow, and Kevin knew just how to use them to attach the plaque to the ceiling. 

That dark grey metal thingy in the lower portion of the photo, that's part of  the "crown" portion of my new canopy bed, woo woo!  For now, since the room is an absolute mess (but I made up the bed beautifully, can't wait to lay my aching bod down on it tonight and it sure as hell better not collapse), I won't be showing any photos.  No great reveals of that room (or bed) any time soon.

Next on the list was getting my new mirror hung in the bathroom.  I have no idea why, but Mr. and Mrs. Seller removed the bathroom mirror when they moved out.  As it was not permanently anchored as a "fixture" I could not legally and wasn't going to make a fuss about it anyway, but it seemed a little bit of a chintzy thing to do.  Anyway, I measured and measured and purchased a mirror online from Bed, Bath and Beyond that I thought would fit.  And it did, beautifully!  Except the hangers on the mirror shoved it up about six inches BEHIND (UP) the light fixture, arrrrggghhhh!  I did not have the tools, nor the stamina needed, to try and rehang the mirror (but I did give it a college try before deciding, wisely, that this was a Kevin project). 

And so, the "hanging mirror on bathroom tile thingy" was added to the Kevin-to-do list. He made short, beautiful work of it.  Tape measure, zip, zap, power drill screw driver, zip, zap.  Done!  TA DA!  He also mixed up some grout to plug in the holes left by the screws he removed upon which the former mirror used to hang.  He got gunk all over the sink, the baseboards and the floor.  He asked for a small vacuum, which I provided him (a Dirt Devil), and he diligently vacuumed.  He missed most of everything.  He definitely gets an "A" for effort, though. After he left, I went in and vacuumed thoroughly and wiped everthing down with a wet cloth (several times), and then vacuumed again, for good measure.  Beautiful!

 I erased Kevin's fingerprints on every single square inch of the mirror (how do guys manage to do that?) in short order with a power cleaner and it's gorgeous!

Kudos to Kevin, who wondered how on earth I was able to get ready for work in the morning without a full working mirror in the bathroom (we girls have our secrets, don't we...).  That mirror hanging was Happy #4. 

Happy #5 was relocating the shower curtain rod 2 inches higher.  I was sooooo disappointed when I at last uncovered my former main bath shower curtain (the "Antoinette" toile pattern in cream and black) amidst the tons of packed boxes and large anonymous black trash bags filled with soft items, and eagerly hung it and the behind plastic waterproof curtain up on the lovely bowed-out shower rod in antique bronze Mrs. Seller had selected to be installed.  Gorgeous!

Only to discover that somehow my shower curtain had grown too long.  At the former Maison Newton it had hung perfectly, not quite touching the floor, leaving room for a cushy bath rug underneath, but not so here.  It was all too long.  I told Kevin "this has to be raised two inches" in my FIRM voice.

Kevin was good enough to admit, afterward, that he was skeptical of the "2 inches" command; he thought it would be raised too high, and for a brief moment or two, he thought about putting it up less than 2 inches.  But he relocated the rod 2 inches higher and the result -- perfect!  He said "that rug of yours just fit under.  It's good."  High praise! 

No photo of Happy #6, but my right hip sure is thankful this afternoon.  Kevin replaced the too large door sweep on the side garage door with a metal threshold, and then he also made the deadbolt easier to use by drilling/cutting out something or other (I don't know precisely what he did as I was scrubbing some of the black grout in the bathroom at the time).  He also did some waterproofing stuff.  I no longer have to bang my right hip against the garage side door with much force 4 or 5 times in order to get the service door fully open, hooray!  Kevin, my right hip thanks you mightily. 

What I figured -- he saw a mouse as I hit the auto open on the garage door.  LOL!  I think he was more shocked than I about that, as during the very first showing of the house I could clearly see piles of mouse nests and mouse poopies along the south interior wall of much of the garage.  Sellers did not bother to clean that out.  Personally I haven't seen a mouse, not that they scare me.  They can live in the garage, just don't come into my house, I WILL KILL YOU WITHOUT MERCY IF YOU DO. 

Cleaning the mouse stuff out of the garage and spraying all along the foundation with expanding foam and then paying Kevin to caulk the remaining nooks and crannies is lower on my list of priorities. That will happen some time in October, I think. Right now, I have about 100 boxes yet to be unpacked, curtains to hang but I need to buy double curtain rods - drat! (online shopping tonight).  Probably a thousand yards of curtains, etc. to iron before hanging, once I have aforesaid rods installed (and what a PAIN IN THE HANDS THAT IS, let me tell you!) Carpeting needs a serious cleaning, I am discovering more and more things for Kevin to do around here so yes, I probably should have married the millionaire back in 1976 when I had the chance.  Priorities, darlings, priorities!  Inside of the house must be somewhat settled first, garage a far second down the road. 

Tomorrow Laurie-Broker and I are going flower shopping!  So excited!  I make an exception to the "outside" thing for my gardens :)  Will be shopping for hardy shrub roses, peonies, straggly greatly-reduced perrenials that will survive in sunny parched conditions, and autumnal annuals to fill my new planters... 

All in all, a productive day.  Right now, I am going to go out and enjoy the shady part of the day in my otherwise very hot and sunny back yard on the patio, whilst listening to the Packers premiere pre-season game on WTMJ radio (AM).  I'll worry about hanging curtains and such in the mistress bedroom...later...

A lot of happies today!  A Packers pre-season win would add a happy :) 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Plans for Doing the Kitchen

Hola darlings!

This kitchen of mine is dark and dramatic!  Here's a listing photo, so you get an idea:

I was intrigued by the use of dark and darker greys for the walls of an area with dark oak cabinets.  I liked the space when I saw it in person, and figured my existing dining set would fit -- that was one of my priorities.  Another priority was having ready access to a backyard, and these Sellers had installed a brand new patio door, with stairs made out of composite wood, down to a brand new large concrete patio.  Raised flower beds along two sides and a fence around the perimeter were equally attractive.

The ceiling is a white satin finish -- and it really helps lift and brighten the space.  All the paints Mrs. Seller used were Behr paints, and Mrs. Seller helpfully labeled the left-over cans with the rooms the paint colors were used in.  Thank you! 

As you can see, the walls are grey and the tile is an even darker grey.  The appliances are black. The countertop looks white in this photo, but it is actually cream colored with "speckles" of a light goldish/tan color (or maybe it just looks cream-colored because of all the speckles of light goldish/tan).  It is not ugly, but it is old and in not very good condition -- lots of dinged-out areas, and scratches (some deep) galore.  Not much of the original glow is left.

The cabinets are oak, and as you can see, very grainy.  They are good quality, sturdy cabinets.  I had hoped to hire a painter first thing to paint them out white, but (not so surprising, I guess), other things ate into my budget and there isn't money left this year to hire a painter.  I know better than to attempt this kind of project myself -- I've neither the will nor the stamina of my younger days and frankly, the thought of picking up a roller or paint brush does not appeal the way it did 25 years ago.  I'd rather spend my money hiring a pro who has the right tools for the job, the know-how, and can get it done quickly.  So now I'm saving up again for another round of re-dos and new purchases in 2015.  Geez, that sounds so far away, but here it is, already into August.  What happened to my summer???

There is also a darkish (not oak colored) vinyl plank floor that I like very much, it cleans up very easily with my electric broom and/or a Swifter and has the look of a wood floor but not the cost or upkeep of one.  Like wood, though, if one is not careful the floor can be scratched or gouged.

The patio door in the dinette area lets in TONS of light and radiant solar heat.  The patio doors have built-in mini-blinds, thank goodness, because they are needed to block out the excess sunlight and heat!  But the blinds are not 100% efficient. 

Photo of patio door with blinds closed taken during final walkthrough
of new house on June 29, 2014.
I had pondered over the charcoal grey tiles, wondering why someone would select that color instead of white.  Mr. Seller clued me in during my final walk-through of the property (Mrs. Seller was not there).  He told me that the former tiles, perhaps original to this 1955 ranch style house, had been the worse for wear, ugly colors, and some tiles were decorated with chickens and roosters inset here and there.  OH MY GODDESS!  When Mrs. Seller painted the kitchen, she painted the tiles too.  Up until then, I'd had no idea that the tiles were painted.  I just thought they were mat dark-grey tiles.  Wow!  She did a great job. 

I like the contrast between the white ceiling, the medium-dark walls, the even darker tile color, and the lightness of the countertop.  There is a feeling of richness and coziness in the room that appeals greatly to me.

BUT --

I took the custom-made pelmets down from the windows above the sink to  - ironically - let in more light (you can see thee in the listing photo above).  I tried to get the blinds down to give them a thorough cleaning -- that is a post in and of itself!  I am thinking of removing them (maybe I'll ask Kevin the Handyman to do that), at least seasonally, and putting up some light airy curtains to remove an element of darkness from that corner but still filter the light and provide privacy. 

The dark floor cleans up wonderfully with my electric broom.  The kitchen light fixtures are fine.  Mrs. Seller coordinated the lights above the sink, in the bedroom/bathroom hallway and in the back hall with the fixture that graces the center of the kitchen ceiling. If you look at the top photo, you can see the main light fixture in the kitchen and the light fixture above the sink area.  I was not a fan of them at first but they have grown on me since I moved into the house.  They have a neutral finish and go well with the style of the house and color palatte Mrs. Seller used in the house. 

I don't like the ceiling fan above the dining table:

But I have become a fan of the fan because while I'm sitting at the dining table typing away on my trusty Toshiba lap top, the ceiling fan is going and nicely circulating the air.  So although it might be warmer than I am used to temperature wise in here compared to what I tolerated at the former Maison Newton, I am comfortable because of the breeze created by the fan.  Nice!

Ever since I had an accepted offer on this house, I knew I would be making some changes, so I spent a lot of time researching various products and items I knew I wanted (like my sleek Summit euro-style fridge/freezer).  But once I was actually moved in (that took place on July 7th), I realized there were yet more things to add to my to do/shopping/wish list.  Here is the current Kitchen/Dinette list. 


Short term plans:
Take down pelmets
Replace pelmets with something else (seasonally?  And with what?)
Replace ceiling fan -- don't like style of current four light fan
Look into redoing sad countertop with a faux-stone kit (what color???)
Repaint tile backsplash in white???
Replace enamel cast iron sink that looks gigantic but works small with stainless steel
Possibly paint dinette space a different (lighter, brighter) color? Right now, although open to each other, the kitchen and dinette are divided by a soffit that cuts the space in half, the kitchen peninsula/breakfast bar, and the fridge; so painting the two distinct areas in two different colors is possible.  Question is, do I want to do this?

Longer term plans:
Repaint cabinets white
Replace electric stove with stainless steel and black gas range
Replace countertop with white Carrara marble look synthetic
Replace flooring with black and white checkerboard tile or travertine-look grey/white vinyl tiles
Relocate living room entrance into kitchen, possibly take out wall space to the floor (there is already a pass-through) between living room and dinette, remove soffits (still contemplating whether it is a pro or con to lose half-wall space in living room by totally removing wall between living room and dinette)
Move refrigerator/freezer north of new entrance, add roll-out pantry/storage unit and add double lower cabinet unit to finish off
Replace existing tile backsplash with white subway tile
Remove peninsula cabinets and reconfigure cabinet run on east wall, removing "breakfast bar" countertop overhang
Replace light fixtures


Look for colors that complement the oak cabinets in rug and accessories that still go with things from the former Maison Newton
Buy circular rug large enough to fit under dining table and chairs
Buy some curtain panels for the patio door
Hang some art work and add some accessories
Replace current ceiling fan
Do something with built-in glass cabinet on south dinette wall

It was while bringing in my massive dining table into the dinette that the movers from Two Men and a Truck suggested putting a rug under my dining table to help prevent scratching the vinyl "wood" flooring.  We ended up using the rug that was from my former family room, a rug whose colors went beautifully in the room, but it's 5 x 7.6 rectangular size did not add anything to the space.  So, I set out to find what I figured was the most logical solution -- a round area rug.

I wanted something cheap inexpensive, easy to clean (not the thick New Zealand wool of the rug that was temporarily anchoring the dining area) and something that would complement the existing colors and tones in the kitchen/dining area. 

I also wanted to add curtains, not only to aid in filtering out the excessive sun light that pours in half the day, but also to help frame the window and add an additional layer of privacy and coziness at night, when pulled close over the doors.  At the former Maison Newton, with a large private backyard, I had no blinds up, only semi-sheer panels framed on either side by linen-look draperies.  Here, with a more closed-in area (no wide open family room on the other side of the dinette), thought that would be too much.  I decided on two panels to frame-out the window during the day, wide enough to pull shut in varying degrees over the patio doors. 

I also wanted to get a runner (for summer), and a table cloth (for winter) for the dining table; but that had to wait until I knew what colors/patterns I was getting for the rug and curtains.

Highest on my list was getting a new rug.  This is what I ended up with:

I found this indoor/outdoor rug priced right at Home Decorators.  It is the Fuego pattern, 7" 10" round in an intricate geometric pattern of cream, light grey, dark grey, yellow-gold, and brownish-olive green, woven synthetic fabric that washes down with a hose (!)  I got it on sale (sale through August 18th, offers discounted price plus a free rug pad).  Buying this rug was an ADVENTURE and way out of my very traditional comfort zone.  I wasn't sure that I would like it.

And when it arrived, I was SHOCKED!  But it quickly grew on me.  And, once I had it in place underneath the heavy dining table (that was a massive chore of heaving, tugging and pulling, doing it alone, let me tell you!), all kinds of possibilities for decorating the rest of the space opened themselves to me...

These are Sonoma curtain panels from Kohls.  I bought two panels on sale for 50% off, and they now hang on either end of my patio doors.  They are medium grey and creamy white "fret" style panels that go on the rod through smokey colored metal grommets.  The pattern reminds me of the ancient Persian and Arabic tile patterns of the Middle East. 

The decision to purchase these cutains was a mixture of working with the geometric element already introduced into the space by the pelmets on the kitchen windows (those that have now been removed, LOL!), my newly purchased area rug, and the color scheme (greys/whites/wood tones/black, and stainless steel), while wanting to introduce lighter tones into the room for contrast and balance.

I then shopped online for a table runner and table cloth.  I like to use a runner during the summer, to "bare up" the table, and use a full table cloth during the colder months to add a cozier element.  I found these at Target and bought both (the tablecloth is on clearance).

Threshold Paisley Collection in Gold/Grey:


I went with a floral instead of a geometric.  The scale works with the new rug and curtains and the colors are perfect.  Only drawback is that these are 100% cotton and the runner, at least, was a bear to iron.  It looked great after ironing it on high heat.  But after a few days of gracing my table in Milwaukee humidity, it looks like I barely touched it with an iron!  Can't imagine what it will look like once I have to launder it!  Will I ever be able to get the wrinkles out?  Hand-wash perhaps?  Hopefully the table cloth, being only a single layer of cloth, won't be as temperamental. 

Oh, and the ceiling fan in the kitchen that I don't like.  Kevin the Handyman came over yesterday.  I have a list of items I want him to do around here, including taking down the ceiling fan in what will be the mistress bedroom so that my new canopy bed will fit.  The fan is centered in the room and my new bed will not fit where I want it unless the fan is taken out.

I do like the style of the bedroom fan, there's just no room for it and a tall canopy bed :)  So the bedroom fan:

will take the place of the current ceiling fan in the dinette.  And -- just thought of this now, it's not on my list of Kevin Handyman work -- I may end up putting the four-light ceiling fan in the room that will become my den/library, replacing a smaller white (kid's size) ceiling fan.

Stay tuned.  Lots of changes in the works.  The first roun d of cosmetic changes to the kitchen and dinette are almost finished.  I hung up "art" work today, woo woo!