31 August 2007

Tailored Walls

The big project that I have been putting off for forever was painting the ceiling in our living room. You may remember is was on my list (which i will be updating soon). It seemed like such a hassle and I kept finding excuses not too, I though it was going to take days to finish. But last night, I mustered up all of my energy and set to work. The result: 3 hours later, I had a finished ceiling and and living room that makes me REALLY happy. And it was so much easier then I thought it would be.

Our house is a little bungalow style cottage and I had seen a style in some bungalows where the ceiling and the top 6-12 inches of the wall are painted one color and the walls are painted a different color with a piece of trim separating them. That is the look I am going for. I still need to get the trim to separate the colors. I think I will paint it a rich chocolate brown. I have also toyed with the idea of using chocolate brown velvet ribbon instead of wood, but I am still experimenting. More pics when I get that done.

29 August 2007

For Jessica, some inspiration

My friend Jessica has been toying with the idea of a bit of apartment redecoration for a while now. Inspired by a picture she picked up while garage saling with me, she is looking for something a little bit more feminine. Last night, I spent some time researching some fun inspiration for her on the web. The picture she picked up is this fun tinted photo of a bunch of girls doing some choreographed dance moves, ala late 40's musical theatre. The coloring includes a nice eggplant purple and some various shades of pink. I used those colors, along with black and white to create a nice palate. I also took some notes from Breakfast at Tiffany's as you can see (one of her favorite movies). All of the artwork is from Etsy, with full credits below the collage. So Jessica, here's lookin' at you kid...

Progress, sort of

I went home last night with a sense of determination to finish some of my living room projects. Namely, nailing in the base board trim, prepping the room for painting, cutting and putting in the trim form the entry way tile, and draining the fish tank so that I could fix the TV armoire.

But it was not meant to be.

I've been having one sticking point with the baseboard trim: some of it is a little warped because it is used and it had been sitting outside in the weather for a while. The nails that I had been using were not pulling it tight to the wall. So, last night I found one of these lovely screws that were left over from when we built our shed last year, compliments of my dad. They worked perfectly. Problem: I have 4 of them... I need a lot more. So, I called my dad to get the details about them so that when I went to the hardware store, I sounded like I knew what I was talking about.

Reverse threaded, finishing screw. Got it. So, I went and hit the 3 major home improvement stores that were still open and nobody had anything even close. In fact, some of them had never seen anything like this before. Not a good sign.

So needless to say, I spent a ton of time running around looking for crazy screws and not very much time at all on my actual projects. I did get all of the furniture and stuff in the living room pushed to the middle, drained the fish tank and fixed the armoire. But, the armoire still needs to be finished, the fish are still in a large jar, the fish tank is still in the bathtub, and the trim around the tile is not quite finished. Oh, and the trim is still not screwed down. Not what I had planned. We will try again tonight...

28 August 2007

A shady garden spot

Because of the wonderfully large maple trees that surround our house on 3 sides, my flower gardens get very little sun light throughout the day. This has been a challenge, especially because most of the flowers I grew up loving in my mom's garden were sun-loving perennials. I have spent a lot of time over the last year looking for a variety of plants that will thrive in my shady spots and my luck has been hit or miss. Today I found to fabulous sites on line that gave me some great direction and inspiration.

First, check out the Shade Gardening pages at BackyardGardener.com. Here you can search by zone and get a list of plant links that include photos and fairly indepth descriptions and care instructions. I found a list of great options, including a whole set for "deep shade".

The second resource is a little bit less flashy, but informative. This page from the University of Minnesota Extension office goes beyond perrennials and annuals and offers suggestions of wild flowers, herbs and even vegetables that will grow in the shade.

I also wanted to throw in a little pitch for my all-around favorite garden site, YouGrowGirl.com. Great photos, great community, great advice. One of my favorite spots to lurk!

Happy gardening!

27 August 2007

Etsy, Etsy, Yea, Etsy!

Some of you may have noticed the fun pictures of my Etsy Favorites off to the right. I wanted to give a shout out to Etsy for those of you who may not know what it is (say it isn't so). Etsy is an on-line "store" where individuals can create their own storefront and sell goods they have made themselves. It is a craft lover's wonderland and a great place to find unique gifts for your friends (and yourself). Here are a few sample of the fabulous trinkets you will find at Etsy.

Oh, and be forewarned, Etsy has been known to cause addiction, resulting in hours lost to internet browsing, diminished bank account balances and a reputation as the best gift-giver around.

24 August 2007

Bug Love

I used to drive a little maroon VW bug that I loved so much. Even though I would have to wear a hat and mittens in the winter when I drove. Even though I could barely get 4 people in it. I loved it because it was small and noisy and old. If it hadn't been mushed by some teenagers who ran a stop sign, I would still be driving it. I saw this car on my way to the bus the other day and stopped to snap a photo because I couldn't resist. Small, noisy, old AND hot pink! It doesn't get much better then that.

23 August 2007

Clear, blue sky...finally

After almost 10 days of skies that looked like this, everything covered in a thin coat of ash, stage II air alerts, it clouded over, started to rain and now we have had three glorious days of this...

You don't realize how much you need clean, fresh air until it is gone. Yea for blue skies!

22 August 2007

Colorful Couscous Salad

This weekend, we had some dear, old friends come into town, which was reason enough to call in reinforcements and have a BBQ. We gathered potluck style at the house with the biggest yard and sat up late into the night, watching kiddos run and play and chatting up a storm. It was great!

I wanted to bring something healthy to share, something cool and fresh and tasty. So, I took inspiration from this recipe in the August Real Simple magazine and made a garbanzo and couscous salad platter. It was super easy and exactly what I wanted to eat.

I just made a couple boxes of garlic couscous, let it cool and spread it down the center of the platter in a big mound. Then spread a can of garbanzo beans down one side, grape tomatoes down the other and corn down the center. Then I topped it with fresh thyme, oregano and basil from my garden. It was a huge hit and I didn't spend hours in the kitchen. Hooray for summer parties!

21 August 2007

This weekend's big score

J and I had a bit of garage sale fun this weekend and he decided that he is a garage sale jinx. We always find less "cool" stuff when he is around. Here are the two fun things I found along with some garden hoses.
  • A fun kids cookbook from the 60s
  • A cool stainless phone, just in case we ever have a land line (or for decoration)

Hopefully next weekend will be more fruitful. Maybe I will leave J at home...

More ways to waste time

I found a fabulous new resource today and I wanted to share. COLOURlovers is just a giant swatch smörgåsbord of colors and palettes. Definite eye candy. You can even create your own. Like this one I created in about 3 minutes, using the colors I want to paint the exterior of our little cottage.

cottage garden

20 August 2007


Saturday, despite the smoke, we went fishing with our friend J. It was a good day...

17 August 2007

My beautiful napkin maiden...

I meant to get this up earlier this week. One of my fave bloggers, sfgirlbybay posted this on Sunday. I immediately ran down to my basement and started tearing open random boxes of chaos that has been down there since our move. And here she is, my own lovely napkin holder, combed from a garage sale when I was in high school.

She has been toted around for 10 years and at least as many addresses. She was pretty severely broken in one move, but I glued her all back together. She makes me happy and she had almost been lost in the abyss of our basement. Now she will have a home on the top shelf of my kitchen built-in.

girls gotta rock!

I think that we all have those lingering childhood dreams that periodically poke back up and whisper in your brain. You’re reminded of the “When I grow up…” phrases that changed every other week, mostly under the influence of the latest big screen hit. Fashion designer, astronaut, treasure hunter, bartender, pottery artist, babysitter, secretary, flight instructor, small town rebel, sheltered rich girl… you wanted to be anything except just a kid.

There are two of those crazy fantasies that have stuck with me to this day. I still want to be a dancer and the lead singer in an all girl rock band. Now, if I could find a decent, beginner’s modern dance class, I would join right now. Not, an “I danced for 14 years and have taken 3 years off and just want to get back into it” beginner class, but a “my body hasn’t been that flexible since I was in the womb” beginner class. Haven’t found it yet, but I will keep looking.

Now about that rock band fantasy. Some of you who have known me a long time will recognize the rock girl who has gleefully popped up in conversations over the years, but those of you who have only known me in the last year or two may be surprised. You see, in my current incarnation, I am not really rocker material, always hip, but definitely not edgy. Most people who know me right now, don’t even know that I love to sing (and am half-way decent) or play the piano. My secret indulgence last year was Rock Star: Supernova, which included every episode and several visits to their website. My favorite was Dilana and I am waiting for her next album like a junior high girl.

Today I stumbled across my big break in to the rock band fantasy. Ladies Rock Camp. Held in Portland, OR three times a year as a fundraiser for their Girl’s Rock Institute, it is a wanna-be rockers dream come true. You can leave behind your grown-up jobs, polite husbands and angelic children to rock with the girls for a long weekend. Form a band with other rocker hopefuls, write a song and perform it, all with instruction and guidance from some of your favorite indy rock ladies…what could be better? And even if you aren't ready for camp, you can still donate funds or equipment to keep the girls rockin'.

So, look out Portland, ‘cause I will be there to rock next summer and I’ve already packed my zebra striped mini.

The Blue Skulls Session 1 2006 Summer Camp

16 August 2007

A big kid bed

Because my husband is a big softy, our dog has nosed her way into a permanent spot in our little tiny bed at night. We have shared a full-sized bed since we got married and it has just enough space for the two of us. Finding room for the dog has proved challenging, and irritating when she is restless. So, the tight squeeze has me dreaming of a big kid bed, king-size.

My Brocade Home catalog came in the mail this week, and while it is usually way to floofy for me, I did find this headboard appealing. It looks easy enough to make with a large piece of plywood and a jigsaw. I would forgo all of the other girly-ness, but the headboard would be cool.

So, when I get my big girl bed and get to move the full-sized bed to the guest room, I think I will make this headboard.

15 August 2007

A Whole New Yard

For most of the summer our yard has been a bit worse for the wear. We pulled out the remains of an old bush in June, so we have a nice dirt patch in that spot and our grass was poorly neglected for several years before we bought the house, so it doesn't take much to turn it brown. Then there was the little dog. When we first got her, she thought it was great fun to jump the fence and visit the neighbors, so we have had to keep her on a line when she is outside. And the best spot for the line was, of course right in the middle of everything.

But in the last month or so, the dog has learned not to jump the fence and she has been roaming free (for the most part) Yea! So I pulled up the stake yesterday, along with the toy scraps and dog poo that has populated that corner of the yard. And we have been watering mostly regularly and the grass is greener and thicker.

So I pulled out my beloved garden table, which is about half way sanded and scraped right now. It found a great spot in between our maple tree and the non-blooming lilac bush.

Then I hung my wonderful candelabra in the tree and put my succulent pot in the center. Bliss! Now we have a great little spot and the yard looks a bit more homey.

I also wanted to show off my little tomatoes because they make me so proud. And they are growing in pots with my herbs, which seems to kind of affect the flavor, just a little. Yummy!

And finally, I also broke out some lanterns I got at Target a few weeks ago on super, duper clearance sale. I had been stalking them for weeks, waiting for the sale to hit 75%. I snatched them up as soon as the sale hit. I grabbed four, which are nicely framing our porch.

14 August 2007

See Say Designs on Etsy

I was trolling around etsy last night and I found this great new store, See Say Designs. His work is very graphic and bold and I am in love with his color choices. I am thinking about snagging the Hooray piece for somewhere in our house. It reminds me of this piece that sfgirlbybay ships out once and a while, which I really want someday for my office.

This weekend's big score! (and a project or two)

We have been talking about building a small patio in the back yard, off of our kitchen door, since we bought the house last year. We had looked into several options, but everything was pretty expensive. Then my friend Becky emailed me a link to this beautiful project that used old concrete slab and painted it to look like stone. Not only looks good, but "free" (if you don't consider how hard it is to move giant pieces of concrete).

Then, they started tearing down a scary old building just down the street from us and "ta da!' they pulled up the old slab foundation. So, this weekend, J's grandparents brought in the trailer and our giant friend G showed up to help and here is our pile of slab for the patio.

And here it is kind of laid in place. I had the boys put things in the general space that they will end up and then I am going to level them and make sure the spacing is okay. We may have to round up a few more pieces to fill in, but it is coming along. The circle area is for a hot tub that we have had, but haven't had a place to hook up. The stairs go to our back door off of the kitchen.

After all of the slab is in place, we will get a mixture of fine gravel and sand to pour between the slabs. Then we will install the hot tub and maybe I will even get some benches made. Yea! So, no garage sales, but still a big score for the house...

My other big weekend project was finishing my apricot canning. I just canned them all in a light sugar syrup and it took no time at all. I have to point out the the canning funnel and jar tongs that I found at a garage sale last year made it sooooooo much easier (and cleaner). Isn't the blue pretty with the orange apricots?

Here is a quick rundown of the process:
  1. Start to heat water in canning pot to boiling
  2. Slice apricots in half and remove pits; place in an anti-browning solution for 10 minutes minimum
  3. Drain and place in large saucepan. Mix 2 quarts of water with 2/3 cup of sugar; pour over fruit in pan until covered. Bring to a boil.
  4. Fill jars with boiling water.
  5. When fruit starts to boil, empty water from jars and fill with fruit and juice to 1/2 inch below top. (note: really pack the fruit in, when it looks full, shake the jar to make thing settle and continue to fill. I ended up with a few jars that were mostly juice and only half fruit.)
  6. Put lids and bands on jars and put into canning pot of boiling water for 25 minutes (20 for pints)
  7. Remove and let cool.

Here is all of the bounty I have been able to can so far. It is very exciting!

10 August 2007

my kingdom for a good looking coffee table

This post started out as a lament about the challenges of finding an affordable, non-fugly coffee table in not-so-rural Montana. I don't want shabby chic, old-lady thrifted or country rustic. I want this. So then I decided to do a living room wish list. Enjoy and happy Friday!

09 August 2007

Crafting, Japanese Style

So, I have a new love in my life... no they are not tall, dark and handsome...they are square, stiff and I can't understand them. I am in love with crafting, sewing and home books from Japan. I love, love, love them. I want to own thousands of them. I want to spend hours looking through them. I even love trying to decipher Amazon Japan. You can call me crazy if you want to, but when you see them, you will want them too. All of them.

Check it out:

You can find some great ones on ebay both here and here. You can also try Amazon Japan following these fabulous instructions from Yvestown (a really wonderful Dutch blogger). I am going to order some this week, so i am sure you will hear more!

07 August 2007

Apricots...for free

My friend Becky and I had been ooing and ahhing over this apricot tree in town that is old and just covered in fruit. We tried calling the owner to get permission to pick, but she hadn't called back. Then Friday night, Becky's phone rang and it was the apricot lady. We could pick on Sunday, but we had to be careful not to break the branches on the old tree.

So, Sunday morning, I loaded my ladder and boxes into the car and drove to the tree to meet Becky. It was amazing how much fruit was on this tree. Even when we finished picking, it looked like we hadn't done a thing. But, man, did we ever pick. we picked for about an hour and each left with 3 or 4 boxes of fruit. Here are my three boxes, filled and ready to go. A lot of the fruit was still green, but it will ripen in the next few days and I will can it all. I may try making chutney as well as just canning them in syrup. They are really tasty and really beautiful and I can 't wait to see them in the jar.

06 August 2007

Canning Frenzy, Part 1

Canning is something I have dabbled in, but never really gone gun-ho over. But this year, I had the urge to can everything I can. I have done pickles and jam in the past and I wanted to try some new things. So, first I ordered 25 lbs of cherries from my coworker. The Flathead valley is full or cherry orchards and this years extra hot July made them ripen really fast. So, it was easy to get a bunch for a good deal.

I have to say that canning cherries is all very easy except for the pitting them part. Wow, that took forever and my kitchen was covered in cherry juice. You don't have to pit them, you can just pierce them with a needle to keep them from splitting, but I wanted to be able to put them in a pie or over ice cream without worry. So, I pitted and pitted and pitted.
  • Then you simply put the cherries in a sauce pan with 1/2 cup of water for every quart of cherries and bring them to a boil. It is good to keep stirring because there is so little water that they kind of stick at the beginning.
  • While they are heating, start to boil the water in your canning pot and fill the jars you are going to use with boiling water.
  • As soon as the cherries boil, empty the water from the jars and fill each one with cherries, topping them off with juice, within 1 /2 inch of the top.
  • Then put on your lid and your band and set them aside until all of your jars are full. (note, don't fill more jars then you can fit in your canner at one time. Pint jars can be stacked if your canner is deep enough.) Then using your can tongs to lower each can into the boiling water in the canner. For the cherries, I processed them for 20 minutes for the pints and 25 minutes for the quarts.
  • Then remove them from the canner and set aside to cool for 12-24 hours, leaving 1 inch space between and around jars.
So, that was my canning cherries experience. Fabulous and I am so excited to try them out in a pie or on some ice cream. Yea!

05 August 2007

This weekend's big score!

It was a fairly dismal garage sale weekend here, which was pretty disappointing, but I did find a few wonderful things at an estate sale. Here is a quick list of the goods:

  • 2 "patterns" for battenburg lace (pink fabric)- $1
  • 12 wooden napkin rings-$.50
  • aluminum spritzer cookie press-$1
  • antique greeting cards (holiday, get well and valentine)- $2
  • 2 pots-free

I also picked up a giant bucket of golf balls ($2), a Simpson's video game ($4), and a video (Love and Basketball) for my husband. He was happy too...

03 August 2007

Light there be light

We have slowly been replacing the light fixtures in our house. First the kitchen, then the bedrooms, but i haven't been able to find a light for the livingroom at a price that I like. Most of the lights in the house were like this one below when we got the house. Probably my least favorite lighting style ever.

So, first I found this one below at my local builder's reuse center, Home Resource. I have gotten a lot of stuff for our remodel there including our kitchen light, siding for our shed, and hoses for our garden. I love them! Anyway, first I tried the chandelier.

I took the ugly, brassy thing you saw in yesterday's post and painted the whole thing a chocolaty brown. It looked great, but it was too long for our 8 foot ceilings. I am now saving it for a later house/project.

So, our ceiling had no light, just a gaping hole for about a week, and finally I got fed up. I went back to Home Resource and found this ugly thing. I don't even like gold jewlery all of the time, let alone a gold light fixture. So, I pulled out my can of brown spray paint and went to town.

The result is an non-ugly, 3-light fixture that gets the job done and isn't the hideousness that used to be there. (sorry the picture is so dark and grainy, I didn't get to take it until late last night)

It isn't my favorite thing, but for $8, I am not complaining. So, now I can check that off the living room list. Next up painting the edges of our floors...gettin' stuff done.

01 August 2007

Long time, no post

Life has gotten a bit hectic lately. It seems like I am just able to get all of the "must-do" items done and then I crash in bed at the end of the day, exhausted and a bit frazzled. I am trying to get some projects done though and I have been somewhat successful. I decided that my project tackling had been a bit haphazzard and I was easily distracted from one project by another, therefore never completing anything. So, last week, I wrote a list of 10 things to do in the living room this month. I figure that is the room we use the most and if I focus on that list, I will feel like I have completed something by the end. So, here is my list:
  1. paint the edge of the floor brown (because the last painter dripped white paint all over the edges)
  2. put up baseboard trim (cut and put in place, just need to screw down)
  3. paint trim
  4. edge and grout entryway tiles (almost done)
  5. put shelves above windows
  6. cover switch plates
  7. paint ceiling
  8. install a new light
  9. cover couch
  10. find a coffee table
So far, I have taped the edges of the floor so that I can paint, bought a new light and painted it and cut all of the trim for the living room. I feel pretty good about things so far. Here is a picture of some of my latest projects in progress. I promise to write more this week.

Edited 8/29/07 to update progress so far.