Thursday, May 26, 2011

The rapture really IS upon us...

...and these pictures prove it.

I'm sorry, whose living room is this again?  With no toys strewn about, with the dogs sleeping calmly on the couch?  With the rug vacuumed and all the walls and trim repainted?  It can't be mine.  Because if it's mine, then the armageddon has already begun.

Actually, D & C have been gone for a week visiting family, so I've been on a tear.  I replaced moldings, I added trim, I painted the entire living room, I caulked, I built two tables...

Wait, what?

Yep.  I built two tables.  Not the white ones in the middle--those are Target Room Essentials that are fake IKEA Lacks that you buy when it's too far to go to IKEA all the time even though you probably would if you lived anywhere near it.  No, the ones I built are these:

Easy as pie, really, thanks to the brilliant Ana White.  If you've never explored her site, you should stop reading this right away and go be amazed by what this talented lady has created.  Inspiring, seriously.  Then come back.

Okay, back?  Good. 

This side view shows you exactly what's going on here.  The table is basically shaped like a C.  You can see it has a center brace, but what you can't see is really the cool part:  it's on casters that are hidden by the bottom trim.  While the ability to roll is nice, what's truly sweet about these tables is the size.

They fit perfectly under the couch and over the couch armrest.  Whuuuuttt?!  You mean you could eat your dinner on that thing?  You mean when we're watching TV and checking our Facebooks at the same time, we can use that to hold the laptop?  Why yes, Eaton family, it's true: we can continue our bad habit of eating in the living room without having to haul out the TV trays!  We can stay constantly connected to our news feeds, even when the cell batteries are charging!  Huzzah!

I do like the modern design of the piece, and the function was obviously something that was perfect for our family, but I wanted to make them fit in with the cottage style of the living room and dining room.  So I primed them and foam brushed them with Cavalry from Pittsburgh, a super-dark blue.  A thin coat, then some edge sanding, and weathering is complete.  I love that the grain of the wood still shows through. 

I added a basket on the bottom of each to hold magazines and whatnot, and voila.  New end tables, for about $20 each.  Sweet!

And now if I get taken up to heaven, I'll have something else to talk to Jesus about:  carpentry!  (Sacrilege?  I'm not sure...)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cage Match

The chandelier made me so happy that I decided to go on a lighting spree in the living room, as well. I saw a pendant light made from a birdcage and immediately my little mason-jar-obsessed mind was all over it...

This replaced a tulip-shaped pendant that we never used. There’s no overhead light in our living room, as in none wired, so we’ve been relying on the dining room and foyer fixtures, in conjunction with a couple of lamps and this pendant. The tulip was milk glass, and though it was pretty it didn’t give us much light. By virtue of being clear and being open all around, this has helped, though now that I see it in the room I’m pretty sure I want to hang a matching one in the other corner.

The birdcage came from Michaels, and the jar was laying around somewhere. The cage was really a hurricane candle lantern, so now I also have a hurricane cylinder I can use on something else. almost looks like a mason jar...

PS:  See that grey color on the walls?  The one I mentioned that sucks every particle of light out of the room?  That's going away this weekend.  And the whites on the molding and the beadboard will match, too, that I just noticed are totally dissimilar in this photo. Whee!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Favorite things

Too often I spend time looking at the dog hair accumulated on the couch or the dishes I haven’t done and I forget to enjoy the little corners of the house that I’ve created that make me happy.  So once in a while, I’m going to document some of those little nooks and crannies that have turned out just the way I planned.

First one is the typewriter.  This green beast was actually my grandmother’s, someone who I adore to this day and miss terribly.  My mom rescued it from her house before the auction, and I’m so glad she did.  It means a lot to me not just because of the association with Grandma but also because I have fond memories of banging away on typewriters when I was little, both at my own house and at the house of a family friend who encouraged me to write.  Words have always been the most important thing to me, whether written by me or someone else, and the sound of a typewriter clacking away is the sound I think of when I think of creativity.

When I put the typewriter out, it most obviously needed to be at work.  So I typed my favorite quote on a sheet of paper. 
There comes a special moment in everyone's life, a moment for which that person was born.  That special opportunity, when he seizes it, will fulfill his mission--a mission for which he is uniquely qualified.  In that moment, he finds greatness.  It is his finest hour.
--Winston Churchill

I’m fairly sure it was the first decorative thing I put out in our house, and I feel like that’s important.  I’ve left the same sheet in there and have never dusted it (that’s not the only thing in this house that probably hasn’t been dusted, now that I think about it...), and it’s starting to get yellowy and dirty around the edges and I love it.  I can almost pretend that it’s the ACTUAL SHEET that Churchill ACTUALLY TYPED--well, okay, he dictated it to his secretary, who was named Elizabeth, because all good English secretaries in WWII were named Elizabeth and also because Google told me that was her name--and it was in the secret war tunnels when the Blitz was on and he was smoking a cigar and you could hear the bombs landing and he was writing the big important speech that was going to WIN THE WAR. 

But I digress.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Hey, nice jugs...

Nice can? I don’t know. I feel like there was a joke in there somewhere.

Anyway, the long-awaited mason jar chandelier. As my Mother’s Day present last weekend, Dan hung this sucker for me from the ceiling. He wired it into the existing electrical from the previous fixture, and then I threw the switch. And darned if the thing didn’t actually TURN ON.

Our house suffers from being rather dark, partly because of the trees all over in our yard that we love, and partly because I thought it was a great idea to paint the living room a dark grey that is really a lovely color but sucks every photon that hits it. (More on changing that up later.) So we were nearly blinded when we turned on the 256 watts of pure, clear, old school power. It’s changed the whole feel of the first floor, not just stylistically but functionally. You know how you never really notice something until it’s not there? Well, the absence of darkness is amazing.

About the chandelier: plans came from Kara Pasley Designs. The idea for the board comes from one of her commenters, whose fixture you can see here. I used a 1x4 and several layers of paint and scuffing to make it look somewhat distressed, though I didn’t go the whole nine yards on that. We still need to address the fixture cap (you might be able to see some wire nuts peeking out if you look closely), but otherwise, the hooks and eyes we used to hang it worked great. The jars are ones I had laying around, for the most part, though I did buy those little fat ones for $9.00. All told, we’re looking at approximately $50 and about 5 hours of work, on and off...which would have been more like 2 if I hadn’t had to rewire the sockets about 20 times due to me being d-u-m. It’s all a learning process, people...and boy do I learn a lot...

A couple more pictures:
Eventually, when the dining room table is cleared off from all the minutiae associated with the 14 projects I have running right now, I'll take a picture of the whole room. For now, I'm off to finish one of those and try to get closer to clean.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Family Sign

Okay then! Now we're getting somewhere past the emotional blah blah blah, huh?

First project of last weekend: The Eaton sign. I love those signs that you see at the end of the long driveways that lead to someone's beach house. Sometimes they have clever little titles for their houses like the Dewdrop Inn or Simon's Folly or something, but I think I mostly prefer the plain, weathered ones. They make me think about all the memories that have been created for the families that live there.

These kinds of things are all over Etsy in shops like Signs of a Daydreamer and Signs by the Sea, but of course I didn't want to fork out $25+ for one. So I hit Michaels and came up with a reasonab--well, you know.

The wooden plaque cost me $2.49. It has 3 coats of different acrylic paints, the kind that come in the $0.50 bottles, and it's been sanded and weathered a bit. The lettering is done with a paint pen. I play around with fonts until I find something I like (gotta love, and then I use old fashioned carbon paper to transfer it to the wood. (I know some people prefer to cut it out and stencil but that drives me as though I were n u t s.) Trace over and voila. To fill in, I used the pen in a scribbly sort of manner, and then sanded over it lightly to blend it and weather it to the same level as the rest of the sign.

So, total cost: $5.00. It's gonna live next to our front door, as soon as my husband and I can figure out the best way to fasten it to our shingle siding.

Also, I need a new camera.

You have to start somewhere...

...and we might as well start in my neuroses.

Last weekend I decided a lot of things. First off, I decided that I am happiest when I'm in the midst of what we call "projects" in this house. Sometimes it's crafty, sometimes it's in the garden, sometimes it's cooking, but it's always related to creating. I need an outlet.

I also decided that I wanted to share some of this stuff with the world. Now, normally my perfectionist tendencies wouldn't allow such a public display--way too much opportunity for people to point out flaws. Or to point and laugh at their laptops and say, "What the living ?!*& is that supposed to be?!" But it occurred to me that that attitude is 1) self-centered, because it assumes that there's actually someone *reading* it; and 2) self-defeating, because why not share it, give and get ideas, have some community?

Decision number three: quit being jealous of other people's skills if I'm not going to put myself out there in the same way. My friend Nikki over at The Lovely Residence inadvertently broke me of that one. I used to read blogs and try to console myself that the men & women creating them were probably jerks, even if they did have cute houses and cute kids and clever writing skills. So when I found out that Nikki has this cute little blog (with a cute little kid on the way, damn her), I refused to read it at first, precisely because I know that Nikki's not actually a jerk. Baaah! Illusion ruined! So I had to analyze what, exactly, was going on at The Lovely Residence. And then, there it was. Nikki fixed up her backsplash with some cute-ass little decals, right? Yeah, well, I fixed mine up that way six months ago! So...yeah! Take that! And I have a camera! Yeah! Go!

Then I told my friend CG, my self-appointed life coach, about it. I knew she would sarcastically provoke me into actually creating a post. This is the kind of life coach she is.

Reasonable Facsimile started as an idea a long, long time ago for a cooking show, actually. A friend and I would go to a restaurant, try out amazing food, and then come home and create--wait for it--A REASONABLE FACSIMILE for less. Then, as I got more and more about design and decorating and remodeling our house, it became apparent that we needed more than just food fakery. Not just pretty things around the house, either, but a reasonable facsimile of the life that we're "supposed to have"--the one where I'm skinny, and my dogs don't shed, and my daughter puts her toys away every night and my husband loves to do dishes.

So, that's where Reasonable Facsimile is coming from. As I look at the beautiful blogs out there--and I mean beautiful--I wonder how these people do it. But then I look at my life, and I think, you know, even if it's not perfect, it's a reasonable facsimile.

Honest: next thing has pictures of something I made. Read on.