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!!!

Jan

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:

Friday, September 26, 2014

Catching Up

Hola!

Today is a beautiful one in Milwaukee - incredibly, I hear cicadas still buzzing!  It is sunny today, very still, and very warm.  I don't believe I've ever heard cicadas this late in the season, but I'll take it, because even though some of the trees are reminding me that it is no longer summer, today it feels like it!

I have finished cleaning and putting the china hutch and curio cabinet back together; all that needs to be done now is filling them up with my treasures and polishing the wood on the outside once that is done.



The china hutch is so large it covers a lot of the finish on this particular wall (an "accent wall") that I don't care for.  By rights, I should have Kevin the Handyman move the hutch and paint that wall, but I just don't feel like it right now, and may not for months yet.  I want to get "settled" first -- still not feeling that way -- and then think about what I want to do with future decorating.


I'm starting to unpack the boxes from the former Maison Newton's front room:

 

I cleared out all of the boxes of books and workpapers from the former built-in:



And have contracted with Kevin the Handyman to return it to bookshelf status.  He will sand down the areas where the metal bracket holders used to be (you can see the bumps and lumps where they used to be and were painted around countless times), spackle and touch up the paint, then install new metal bracket holders and cut new shelves to fit the width and height of the niche.  The basement stairs are on the other side of the wall.  In the house next store that I looked at before deciding to buy this place, the actual cabinet with glass doors and wood shelves intact was in pristine condition, but I will be very happy with open shelves. 

Those planters I put out on the front stoop (I can't quite get up to calling it a porch since it has no roof or railing and is rather puny size-wise) have grown tremendously over the last month.  We had some abnormally cold weather and the African "daisies" suffered some, but this week we've had mostly sun and more seasonal temperatures, so they are holding their own again, even though it is now dark out by 7 p.m., sigh.





Oops - got part of my reflection, drat!

Some close-ups (I'm practicing):







And here is a photo of Maison Newton the ranch house, with my bright red mailbox:



I'm still working on backing up sufficiently to get the WHOLE house in the photo :)  Love that pop of red.

Back to work here...

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Guest Room Is Driving Me Nuts, P.S. -- Shortening Curtains With No Cutting or Sewing

AFTER photo.  Gave up trying to keep the long panel curtained look on the headboard wall where
there was no room for it and went with common sense.
So, after all my ranting and raving (see yesterday's post) about the guest room and how much I don't like the lack of space in this house, today is a new day and I feel much better after a relatively decent night's sleep.  The years since menopause, let's just say that a good night's sleep is a rare commodity in the Newton mistress bedroom so I appreciate it when a good one comes along :)  

And with less blood-shot eyes and sunshine greeting me this morning, determination sprang anew.  Where there is a will, there is a way; I had lost my will, and that's scary because I'm usually a pretty stubborn person who doesn't give up easily no matter what the issue is.  Let me tell you, losing one's will sucks.  Good thing it doesn't happen to me too often.  Today, the old smart-ass woman is back.  And so I took another look at the windows in the guest room.

There's no help for it; as much as I love the look of full length curtains (NONE of my curtains from the former Maison Newton qualify for that description in this house, given the placement of the existing curtain rods, my curtains all hang several inches above the floorboards now) I'm going to have to go with short curtains/window coverings on the window above the headboard.  I need every spare inch of floor space I can garner in the small guest room, and shoving the headboard as close to the wall as I can get it underneath the window just doesn't leave room for long curtains to hang prettily behind, let alone being easily accessible to open and close by pulling them across the rod.  And, because I like symmetry, the other window should probably be treated the same way too, or it will most likely bug me to perdition. 

But I'm not ready to tackle that room yet with my full attention. There are too many other spaces to work on first and for Goddess' sake, I've yet to complete ONE.  I just wanted to get rid of the long curtain panel that was trapped behind the headboard, a headboard that was not even pushed all the way up against the wall as far as I could get it in the vain hope of making the long curtain panel behind it hang decently, but that curtain panel was definitely "squished" and sorry looking.

I was NOT a happy camper with that look.

So, with renewed determination today, just to get that ridiculous curtain situation out of my craw, I got up on a chair at the problematic guest room window and started fussing with the two curtain panels.  I tried creating a semi-draped sort of cascading look by throwing the bottom of each panel over the top of the rod toward the center, and then putzing and putzing; but I didn't like how that looked; then it occurred to me I could thread the bottom hem of each panel (which are open on each end) on a rod and the curtain panels would magically be "cut" in half while also providing an additional layer of privacy "underneath;" but alas, the existing rods are only singles and I don't have two double rods just laying around waiting to be installed on the guest room windows.  So then I thought (briefly), about putting up an old fashioned curtain rods by screwing the brackets into existing holes in the woodwork on each window -- but I didn't want to do that work and then not like the look!

So -- I cheated.  On the window above the headboard, I ended up tossing the bottom of each curtain panel over the top of the curtain header already on the rod, stretched each panel out full width, tried to make the overhanging curtain "valance" the same width all the way across, and then "gathered" them a little on the rod, trying to get them equal on each half of the rod, and sort of "fluffled" things up a bit.  Here is another photo of the result:


This will do for the time being...  I'm going to leave the panels on the east-facing window hanging long for the time-being because I like how it looks when the panels are pulled shut over the IKEA blinds for the night.

One window with short curtains, one window with long curtains, right next to each other. Geez.  But for now, I no longer have a squished panel behind the headboard, and I'm very happy about that :)  Maybe I'll even manage another good night's sleep tonight!

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Guest Room is Driving Me Nuts, Part 2

Hola darlings!

Sadly, there is not going to be a great reveal here.  The room is, to put it bluntly, absolutely, totally P A T H E T I C.

Admitting defeat when it comes to rearranging the furniture, short of getting totally new furniture or removing the dresser forever, I put it back the way it was.  It looks like a 10th rate hotel room, but right now that's all I can come up with.

I thought perhaps it would look better when I finally removed the sheets I'd thrown up the day after the move-in and put up actual curtains.

Oh my.

That's all I can say.

All of these things worked together so beautifully at the former Maison Newton.  I just don't GET why they don't work here.  It's making me so sick to my stomach, I can't stand it.



First photo, above.  The room as I put it back together after EPIC FAIL of trying to angle the furniture around.  What I ended up doing was switching the night stand from the right side of the bed to the left side, and moving the bed over a little bit more underneath the window.  Bedhseet curtain - lovely. NOT.


 Photo two, above.  Isn't it - well, lots of words come to mind, none of which I can publish here.  There's the closet, with double sliding doors, and right across, the entry door.  And the triple dresser and large mirror.  Oh, and don't forget the custom paint job of "baseball seams" that was done on the "accent wall." 


Photo three, above, that's the ceiling fan.  The less about that, the better.  I switched off the "globe" light and the fan, which is not set correctly and wobbles, looking like the blades will fly off and decapitate someone at any second.  This was a child's room, but REALLY?  Oh yeah, there's one of the cold air returns next to the closet.  There is another one underneath it at floor level.


Photo four, above.  The dresser and mirror - and the baseball seam "mural" on the accent wall.  You can see how tight the space is.  The right end of the dresser is about half a foot from the entry door; there is about a foot of space on the left hand side of the dresser.  There is perhaps a foot of space from the top of the mirror to the ceiling, yikes! 

Spent hours dinking around on two chairs putting curtains on and off the rods; didn't work.  I finally re-set the rods and that took another 1.5 hours because I had to do the screws manually with a small Phillips head screw driver.  Another surprise was revealed, I'll show you later on...

So, finally, after much huffing and puffing and climbing up and down two old chairs (because the little handy-ladder I bought to access the top shelves in the kitchen cabinets is too short, and I don't have my rickety step ladder here yet, it's still in the garage at the former Maison Newton, long story), I put up one pair of curtains on the east-facing wall, it overlooks my backyard:



Photo five, above, east window with old ivory and black toile curtains from my old mistress bedroom at the former Maison Newton.  Crappy photo, to boot, all blurry!


Photo six, above.  Despite moving the curtain rods over -- and you can see my little surprise -- the former owner who painted this bedroom did not remove the curtain rods when she did the room, she just painted around them, so you can see that the former color in this room was puke green and you can also see all the gunked on paint coating the woodwork, now it's a fricking mess and ugly as hell and upsets me each time I see it -- well, the curtains STILL don't cover the windows as much as I like because there is NO return on these rods to enable one to curve the curtains closer to the wall to cover over that gap.  But I'm not into giving my neighbors a peep show whenever this room is in use. 

Sooooo, I took the Ikea stick-on pleated shades that I was going to use in the mistress bedroom and used them in here, instead, and engaged in yet another lovely adventure of sticking on and ripping off the shades many times while attempting to get maximum coverage and match up the center-ends of the shades.  Fortunately, the shades allowed me to do that several times without falling apart or losing their "stickiness," kudos to Ikea!


Photo seven, above.  Well, I'm sure no photographer, LOL!  But you sort of get the idea of what I was trying to do with the shades.  It took several tries, but eventually I got them "stuck" on evenly across the top of the window frame where they still managed to cover the ends of the windows and also meet in the center.  NOTE:  I have not trimmed the shades, I'm using the plastic clips that they came with to shorten them up to sill height, tucked comfortable on the top of the sill.  In this photo you can see how "springy" the shade is; trying to trim it without letting it acclimate to the room and "stretch out" some would, I think, have been a big mistake for moi, especially since I cannot cut a straight line to save my life. 


Photo eight, above, shows the not too terrific view out of the guest room north-facing window which overlooks my neighbors' driveway and garage area.  Yep, that definitely needs to be covered up but still let light in...

More tomorrow.  It's after 10 p.m. here and time for me to scrub up, get into my PJs and have a glass of wine (or two).

The Guest Room is Driving Me Nuts!

Hola darlings!

This new old house I moved into is not very large. Of course, "space" is relative, depending on what you've been used to.  This new space feels small compared to the former Maison Newton.  It just IS way smaller than the former Maison Newton.  No way around that.  I know there are so many people who would love to have this home of mine, and I shouldn't be complaining about being fortunate enough to live in a nice house in a great area.  But this fricking house is driving me crazy.

I have too much furniture, and it's all too big.  It was purchased for a much larger house.  What the hell am I supposed to do?  I cannot afford to replace it all -- budget is totally blown.  I cannot afford to replace anything, truth to be told.  And, I have to just put it right out there, ugly as it is:  I do NOT want to banish much loved pieces to the wreck of a basement rec room that I will NEVER use.  They would die of loneliness down there and become home to centipedes -- I saw a giant one down there the other day DESPITE the humidifier going full blast 24-7, and spiders, and who the hell knows all what creeper-crawlers.  EEEEUUUUWWWWWW.  I am just not a basement dweller.  The thought gives me the heebie-jeebies.  I think I need to take a shower now...

I'm really frustrated and ticked off.

My mistress bedroom is the largest of my three bedrooms, at 10' x 12'; the second largest was listed at 10' x 12' but actually only about one-half of it is that size and it really can't be fully utilized because the closet entrance takes up part of it on the south wall and there is the entry door on the east wall.  The other half of the room, toward the lone high window that makes the space feel like a prison, is about 10' x 10', because there is a cut-in for the entry foyer on the  south wall plus a foyer closet.  I love having the foyer and the rather roomy closet!  But the bedroom behind the wall has a split personality as a result.

The third bedroom is the smallest, 9' x 10'.  That space is also causing me fits.  I thought I might be able to turn the bed or move the dresser around freely. I thought angling the bed oppposite the wall with the entry door would work -- BUT I CAN'T TURN THE FURNITURE, the room is too small.  The furniture is getting stuck. 

How do I know this?  Because I tried -- several times -- to angle the furniture this way, and then that way.  No go.  The bed doesn't have enough clearance to get it turned with the long dresser in the room, and vice-versa. 

Add to that, the arrangement of corner windows on the outside wall, one of which also holds the heating/air-conditioning vent, there are only two potential walls upon which to place the head of the guest room bed:  on the wall it was initially placed on when I had the movers put it there, or the opposite wall, which has less wall space because it also holds the entry door into the bedroom.

That would entail, however, putting the triple dresser and its tall mirror underneath one of the windows, blocking light, and on the east wall, also blocking the heating/cooling vent. The third wall (west wall) holds the cold air return and a closet.  There is no way the bed would fit on it and the dresser is much too large!

WHAT WAS I THINKING WHEN I BOUGHT THIS HOUSE?  It's impossible to use this as a guest room with a full-size ("double") mattress, a triple dresser with mirror and a night stand.  There is not even room for a chair.

For Goddess sake!  This bed, dresser and night stand fit comfortably into my 10' x 11' former guest room, and it also had room for a small bookcase, a side table for the other side of the bed AND a small scale wing chair!  Now I have none of those things and the room is still too cramped and crowded. It just looks sad right now.

I should have never bought this house.  I am beginning to hate this house.

I removed the bookcase.  That opened up a little bit of space,  but didn't help at all with the dilemma of the bed banging into the dresser and vice versa when trying to move them to try them out on different walls.  I had already given up the chair, it is at the former Maison Newton, now one of the possessions of the young, nearly furnitureless couple I sold the house to.

I got so desperate trying to think of a furniture arrangement that would work in the guest room, I actually contemplated doing a Feng Shui no-no by attempting to turn the head of the bed angled to the left -- smack dab across from the entry door.  [RULE: Beds should NEVER be placed where any part of the entry door intersects with the bed.]  But, the same thing happened when I attempted to turn the bed to angle it into the left-hand corner -- it got stuck on the dresser, and I couldn't move the dresser enough to scootch each piece of furniture past the other.  Even if I had been successful, though, there would only have been about 2 inches of "leg room" access to get to the far side of the bed between the angled end of the bed on one side and the dresser.  Nope, not working.

Attempt to put the bed at an angle opposite the entry door, on the west wall, the wall that holds the closet. EPIC FAIL.

WHAT WAS I THINKING?

SO, I need a new dresser.  A much smaller dresser.  Or no dresser at all.

But I NEED THE STORAGE that this 9-drawer dresser provides.  It holds curtains, table-cloths, place mats, afghans, napkins and curtains, among other things, that this house is too small to hold elsewhere (but fit into the former Maison Newton comfortably, with room to spare) -- and would also provide drawer space for a guest.  Get rid of the dresser?  And get rid of more of my life?  Why don't I just shoot myself right now and be done with it.

SO, what to do, what do do?

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!

BEFORE on the window facing you; IN PROGRESS on the window to the right.
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.