Thursday, October 31, 2013

Changing the Planter Box

I've had petunias and sweet potato vine in the planter by the mailbox since late spring, and here it is late October with lower temps... I guess it's finally time to plant something for the fall/winter.
I headed over to the nursery to peruse some options.  I had considered planting an evergreen like a compacta holly or a nandina that could be permanent, but I love being able to change the flowers with the seasons, so I started looking at pansies. 
I love the look of pansies with teeny blooms, so I found several different types that kind of coordinate with the purple found in the blooms.  Each 6-pack was $2.99, and a flat (six 6-packs) was $15.  I mixed-and-matched the different types in a flat and head home.

 After removing the petunias and sweet potato vine (AKA "the plant that ate Little Rock" according to my neighbor), I dug a small hole for each and separated the rootball a little bit before placing the flower in. I tried to space the plants evenly throughout the planter box. Lastly I watered them with plant food mixed in.
Hopefully, these little pretty things will be hardy enough to last at least through February or so.
Annuals are great for areas like this that are kind of on display in front of your home. Also, this spot is pretty small, so I don't mind changing it out with the seasons.  For all the color you get for a relatively small cost, annuals are also great for renters
Happy planting!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Some Things Don't Go As Planned

We moved to Little Rock about five months ago, thinking we might settle down here for a while. Well, it hasn't turned out that way.  We made the terribly difficult decision for me to leave my position at the hospital (for many, many reasons)... without me having another job yet.

We stepped out in faith as a couple (me rather reluctantly) and decided we couldn't live the way we had been: I was working 10-12 hours per day in 12-day stretches. Yes, 12 days on, 2 days off. I would pull out of the driveway crying, call Grant in the middle of the day crying, and come home crying. It's too painful to go into the details of why I felt this way, but suffice it to say there wasn't much Catherine left in me by October.  I couldn't do that anymore; I couldn't do that to Grant anymore.

I left the job that helped pay the mortgage and provide health insurance. I left the job that would further my career and get me to the place I wanted to be professionally.

There's a lot wrong with that last sentence, right? What about what our family needed from me? What about what God wanted for my career? For my life?

After resigning, I was sort of walking around stunned for a few days, but filling out applications, distributing resumes, and checking job boards. 

God wouldn't confirm that I should leave the comfort and security of employment and not provide the next step, right?

Right. Less than 48 hours later, I was offered two interviews... one was offered before my application was even complete.  In less than three weeks, I had job offers. Three weeks to the day I resigned, I accepted a position at an innovative pharmacy in Chattanooga (HOME!!!) that is open Monday-Friday 9-6. Aside from the unique professional opportunities the pharmacy offers, the work-life balance it affords is unmatched in a field where weekends and night shifts are expected.

So the first Amber Bottle House is to be put on the market. 

Don't fret, though! There is a house somewhere in Chattanooga that needs a young, naively optimistic, DIY couple to come make it a home!

Here's to finding the next Amber Bottle House!



Monday, October 28, 2013

Decorating the Soffit

I am not a fan of soffits.  Unless they're enclosing duct work, I don't get it! Why not either A) make the cabinets go all the way to the ceiling, or B) have the space between the cabinets and ceiling open?  

First world problem, I know.

On the soffit by the fridge, I made this "Grocery" sign from a $6 clearance "Dream" sign from Hobby Lobby with a little acrylic paint...

There's another awkward soffit above the cabinets separating the kitchen area from the breakfast nook, and I have been looking for something to fill the emptiness.

While antiquing with my sister-in-law, Abby, in Chattanooga at The Knitting Mill, I found three coordinating Spode dishes that were stamped with handpainted designs. The pricetag was palatable at $6 each.  

They're not old, but that's ok with me because the designs and colors are so nice. They also have a lovely, slightly scalloped edge. Plus, sometimes truly old dishes are stained (not so pleasing while hanging on the wall) and pricey

Now to hang these pretty things.

Happy hunting!


Sunday, October 27, 2013

So. Much. Painting.

Two gallons of Clark + Kensington "Beachside" and one gallon of white paint later, almost every surface upstairs has been painted (including the rooms we've already painted). The upstairs landing, trim, and doors are finally finished. 

Also, Grant's office and his built-ins have been painted. I have the blisters to prove it.

Thanks to our friend Tara, we got all of it done in about 2.5 days. (We were delirious by the end of it all.)  She liked to point out that I was painting everything shades of white. I said, "No, the trim is white, and the walls, cream." Okay, okay. The pallet is neutral... it' so clean-looking, though!

The hall and Grant's office feel brighter and less dingy than it did with the yellow-y beige on all the walls and all the trim.  

$90 in paint and supplies and 2.5 days of hilarity with Tara eliminated the remaining '70s.

Happy painting!


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Doing What I Said I Wouldn't Do...

I know, I know... I said I wanted a traditional oak floor like this one...

I said no wide-planked, hand-scraped anything... Well, never say never.

We went to several flooring showrooms today and ended up at Lumber Liquidators.  We have kind of a tight timeline and an even tighter budget, so our choices were narrowed.  Also, since the floor is being installed on a slab (rather than joists with a sub-floor), we had to use an engineered wood. (I had also said I wanted a solid wood floor. Foiled again!) 

There was a clearance wide-planked Walnut floor, but it was so perfect-looking that it almost looked like laminate.  There was a traditional oak for $1.59/sq.ft (!!!), but it would take too long to get shipped to the store. The last choice was a dark hand-scraped, wide-planked birch.  It could be floated above the slab rather than being glued to the floor (a time- and money-saver).  So we bought 1000-sq.ft and all the necessary trim and quarter-round and toted it home.

We're supposed to let the wood acclimate to our house for three days before we start installing it. I'll let you know how that process goes... I'm sure that if our marriage can survive the installation, we can make it through anything. (Just kidding, Grant! You're the handiest of handymen!)

Happy DIY-ing!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Because I Can't Keep My Hands Out of Paint...


Not 24 hours after I finished painting the trim and doors in the dark hallway, I started painting the 9,376 doors and surrounding trim upstairs.  Clearly, I can't live without a project. 

As with the rest of our 1970's house, the landing and hall at the top of the stairs is yellow-y beige with trim in the same color. Ew

It's hard to tell in this picture, but it's yellow-y... I promise.
I went to my typical paint store to get Benjamin Moore's "Glacier White" in eggshell, which of course is not a color they carry anymore.  So I decided on "Seapearl." I head to the counter where I am told their Benjamin Moore tinting machine is broken. Sigh.Then I decide on Clark + Kensington "Beachside." I am then told they are out of Clark + Kensington eggshell. Doh!

I finally left with two gallons of Clark + Kensington "Beachside" in satin/pearl. That errand only took, um, forever.

Anyway, painting the trim white is brightening up the landing quite nicely.  

See the yellow-y?
The walls had taken a beating from 40 years of pets and teenagers, so painting them seemed like the way to go (even though they were a neutral color).

I'll post better pictures of the finished product!

Happy painting!


Thursday, October 17, 2013

The New Heirloom

Our first purchase in Little Rock was a Craigslist find. Shocking, I know.  I had emailed a guy about his dining table before we even moved out here, and we met him two days after our move-in.  I might have been slightly impatient to have somewhere to eat.

In the ad for the table, the pictures did not make it look like anything special (maybe a 1970s reproduction of a Queen Anne-style set) so the $250 price tag seemed high.  I haggled down to $175.  We met the guy at his (antique-filled) house and laid eyes on the set.  

The pictures had not done it justice.  It turns out the set was made in the 1880s, and he had the original purchasing papers.  It is beautiful tiger oak- something you don't see in modern pieces. Feeling like we got the steal of the century, we take the table, two leaves, and four antique chairs home.

First things first, I had to recover the seats (the mauve and blue paisley wasn't going to cut it). I chose a cream linen/canvas that was around $3.99/yd.

Voila! Besides Mimaw's buffet, this is my favorite furniture in our house.

How precious are these details?

My hope is that we can pass this set on and keep it in our family... an heirloom that found us on Craigslist.

Happy hunting!


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Some Choices

When we moved into this house, we knew we would eventually have to re-do the floors downstairs and the countertop in the kitchen.  Yay, I love spending large sums of money...

Anyway, the time has come to start the process.  First we went to Lumber Liquidators to check out their selection on hardwood flooring, and they had lots, but I want something fairly traditional to make sure we get the best return on investment by appealing to as many buyers as possible whenever we decide to sell. (I'm not sure how long the wide-plank, hand-scraped look will be desirable, you know?)  

After perusing, we decided we were more interested in a solid wood product than engineered hardwoods or click-together products.  These are generally a thing layer of fancy wood on top of a plywood-like base.  These products are also typically easy to install. However, they cannot be refinished umpteen times if needed like a solid hardwood can be.

Call me sentimental, but I like the idea of these floors living in this house for a long time with lots of families. Like an heirloom... on the floor.

In search of something more timeless, we headed to Home Depot, where we found this 2.25 inch-wide maple.  In the store, it was $2.99/sf.  We're going to put the sample in various places around the house to make sure we like it everywhere and show it to our realtor before we start ripping out our bad laminate.

By the freshly-painted white trim
By the fireplace
While at the HD, we ventured back to the countertops.  (The navy blue, speckled Corian is probably not on house-hunters' "must-have" list.)  

I'm sure it would shock you to hear that I love Carrara marble.  It's so classic.  I've also heard that since it is more porous, stains can set into the material. No bueno.  I'm also a fan of soapstone because it's rustic and textural. It's also out of my budget.  I like the durability of granite, but I like surfaces with less color variation. We landed on Viatera quartz "Magnolia" to try out in our kitchen. 

As you can see, it is reminiscent of the marble. What can I say? I'm consistent.

Some other pluses include durability (scratch-resistant... unlike Corian) and no need for sealing (unlike marble and granite).

What do you think?


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Dark Hallway Is No More!

You may remember seeing our dark hallway leading to the garage...

Now we are finally finished!

Please note there are five regular doors (all with trim, of course), one window, and two bi-fold doors.  Don't forget all the crown molding, either.

I used the same "Designer White" Clark + Kensington paint from Ace Hardware we've used on the built-ins in the den and vanity in the master bedroom after priming with Kilz 2 Latex Primer.  Anywhere large enough to use a roller, I used a foam roller like this one...

... and a brush for the smaller nooks and crannies.

The finished product is so much brighter and less '70s-ish.

Before & after...

Yes, yes. Much better.

Happy painting!