Friday, July 31, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Check out all the fun do-it-yourself projects at Kimba's!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
I'm excited to share with you a transformation--not just of one object, but of a whole room. First, although I'm embarrassed to admit it, I'll show you a little of what my laundry room looked like "before":
Actually, that shot doesn't look so bad. I must have taken that photo after I'd already cleared some things away; you can actually see some of the top of the dryer.
Anyway, here's what it looks like now:
I'm so happy with the way it turned out. Here are some of the details.
First, do recognize the window dressing as a mistreatment?
It's just fabric that I folded in half, stapled to a 1 x 4, and put up on the wall with L-brackets. Then I hot-glued on the trim. Actually, I glued on two different trims, one on top of the other. Total cost for window treatment: $10. Fabric was $7.99/yard; trim was on sale for $1/yard. 1 x 4 and L-brackets I already had.
I was happy to find the cheerful birdcage fabric, because it enabled me to choose a wall color. I can usually choose paint colors quickly; it's something I like to do. I know that neutral, serene colors are all the rage, but I needed CHEERFUL in the room in which I have to do laundry. So this laundry room had me stumped. The room is adjacent to a little hallway that is painted a buttery cream color (SW Buckram Binding) and next to my kitchen which is painted a sagey green (SW Ruskin Room Green). I needed a color that would work with the white cabinets, and I just couldn't choose. Having the fabric as an inspiration helped me to choose this creamy blue (Benjamin Moore Blue Hydrangea). My boys helped me with the painting. Blue paint looks great in red hair.
That brings me to my very best tip for organizing a laundry room: PAINT IT. Or, if you don't want to paint, pretend that you need to paint it. Go ahead. Take everything out as if you needed to paint. You'll be amazed at what a difference it makes just to empty the space.
Now back to the fun stuff:
I found the small birdcage at a local gift shop. Then I found the slightly larger one on clearance at TJMaxx. Spray painted both of them. Total cost for both: $27.
By the way, did you notice the green soap dispenser? It was a plain-Jane white ceramic soap dispenser, $2 from Target. You can spray paint anything!
The artwork is actually a photograph; this used to hang in my family room three houses ago. The lamp was in my dining room many years ago; I painted it black. The tassel I made myself out of trim left over from another project.
The milk bottles are from a local dairy; I filled them with clothespins. The old iron was my mother's. And the frame was one I had in my stash; I just spray painted it. Total cost for the newly decorated counter: $0. Maybe now I can keep it clean.
Other touches: I replaced my old laundry baskets with baskets I found at Home Goods for $15 each (one for whites and one for darks). I found the rug at TJMaxx; I like the touch of color on the tile floor. The rug was $30.
So for not too much money I now have a laundry room that I love. My only problem with it is that I still have to do laundry in there. Oh, well. At least now I have a nice place to work.
What do you think?
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
And this week most of my DIY energy has been spent cleaning. Unfortunately, nothing is ready to show you.
But I did get one little project done, so I'll show you that! Last week I posted about my trash-to-treasure ottoman, which is working great on my front porch. What I envisioned for the ottoman was that it would also work as a coffee table, but for that I needed a tray to hold drinks. And I didn't have quite what I wanted.
I found these trays at the thrift store for $1 each. I'm not sure what they're made of--some kind of very sturdy metal.
Here's a little better shot of the tray on my ottoman.
Just what I wanted, at just the price I wanted to pay. And now I get to play with the round tray, too!
Check out all the fun projects at DIY Day!
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
As I said in my last post, my family and I are currently putting forth a Herculean effort at cleaning out and de-cluttering. We're trying to see just how much we can get done in two weeks' time.
I am trying to maintain a cheerful attitude about this. Trying to keep the goal in mind. Trying to envision a simpler, more beautiful home and life. Not always succeeding, but trying.
Today I made a trip to a Community Recycling Center. I don't do this very often. We have curbside recycling here in Durham, and that is usually sufficient to my recycling needs. But the pile of corrugated cardboard in my garage had grown too big for curbside pick-up, so I packed it up and hauled it off. After I had already put a number of boxes into the container, it occurred to me to snap a photo of the boxes I was submitting for recycling. Here it is. Mind you, this was taken only after I'd already deposited a number of boxes.
Legoland North Carolina. That's where I live.
There's a name for the love of Legos that my boys have had: Legomania. They've mostly outgrown it now, so it's a little bittersweet to clean up the Legos.
There's also a name for keeping this many empty Lego boxes in the attic: Insanity. Working on the cure here. Working on the cure.
I think we could use some more Funfetti cookies.
Friday, July 17, 2009
All this week, my sons are helping me de-clutter our house. We're up to our ears in stuff--some trash, mostly good stuff--but all stuff that we don't use anymore. My husband has finally convinced us that "stuff we don't use anymore" is better called "clutter." So we are trying to make huge de-cluttering headway. Our closets and cupboards are looking so nice. And it will be so much easier to clean up the house after all this clutter is gone.
But it's a lot of work. So yesterday, as a little reward and a bit of a pick-me-up, I stopped and made a treat. It needed to be a quick treat, though, so I made some cake mix cookies. Do you make cookies from cake mixes? If not, believe me: you should try this. I'm not an awesome cook, but I am a good baker, and I love to make cookies from scratch. But these are so fast you'll hardly believe it. I turned on the oven, mixed up the dough, and then had to wait for the oven to finish pre-heating. I'm telling you: fast.
Here are some other variations that we love:
- Double Chocolate: devil's food cake mix, oil, eggs, + chocolate chips
- German Chocolate: German chocolate cake mix, butter, eggs, + coconut and chopped pecans
- Butter Toffee: butter recipe yellow cake mix, butter, eggs, + Bits o' Brickle and chopped pecans
First, DO NOT OVERBAKE these cookies. Remove them from the oven just when they're starting to look done; don't let them get brown. Allow them to sit on their cookie sheets for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. They'll continue to cook a bit without getting overdone.
Second, use an ungreased cookie sheet for baking most of these cookies. For the butter toffee ones, use parchment paper.
Third, don't be afraid to try new combinations. I've used every different brand of cake mix with equally pleasing results--I just buy whatever is on sale.
And last, don't forget to let your kids eat some of the dough. No matter how old they get. Eating cookie dough is one of those treats that kids just don't outgrow.
Monday, July 13, 2009
I love photographs, but I don't usually love photographs of me. This one is different. My husband took this at Kiawah Island, our favorite vacation spot. Kiawah was where we honeymooned 24 years ago, and it's where we've taken our boys for many years now.
But the real reason I love this photo is because it's very selective. It only shows the part of me that I like. And as I sat at Kiawah this past week, I realized just how much I have defined myself by the part of me that doesn't show in this photo.
You see, I have a birthmark. A really big birthmark. The biggest I've ever seen. It covers most of the right side of my body. It's actually a symptom of very rare disorder called Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome.
And over the years I have lied about my birthmark. Many times, people have asked me, "Does it hurt?" Invariably, I say, "No; it doesn't hurt."
That's not true. It does hurt. It doesn't hurt much physically; it's a little uncomfortable sometimes. But emotionally it does hurt. It hurts to look funny; it hurts to have people stare at you; it hurts to have people exclaim, "Oh my gosh! What happened to you?"
But the fact is that I've let it define me. In spite of having a husband who loves me and who thinks I'm beautiful, I've thought of myself as someone who could look okay but could never be beautiful.
Even now I can hear Nester's voice: "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful." I agree with her. I heartily concur with her. And yet I haven't been able to think of myself in those terms. Maybe, I've thought, just maybe I can look okay as long as you don't look at my birthmark. If you take that part out, like in my favorite photo, I can look okay. But the overall picture? No way it could be beautiful.
And so I've let my imperfection define the way I think about myself. And as I sat on the porch of our cottage this past week, it occurred to me that it just doesn't make sense for me to define myself according to an imperfection, no matter how glaring.
So I took a photo of my legs. It's not a good photo, because I snapped it of myself. You know how photos taken at close range can look a bit distorted. But it does give you a sense of what my birthmark is like. The birthmark extends all the way up my leg and covers most of my right torso, as well. Like I said, it's the biggest birthmark I've ever seen.
But it is what it is. I would change it if I could. I've had it treated with lasers multiple times, with limited results. (By the way, the laser technology is wonderful and often very effective. It's just that it wasn't available until I was about 35 years old, by which time there was only so much effectiveness that could be expected. For a child or youth, though, it's a process that would be extremely effective.)
In short, this is a part of me that I cannot change. The only thing I can change is my attitude about it. And I am deciding to accept the fact that the person in my favorite photo is the same person as the one in the second photo. I can be imperfect and still be okay. I don't have to hide my imperfections in order to be acceptable; I just need to accept myself.
For a full tutorial, click here!
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
Until recently, though, the tub was most often used by our youngest son. Behold: a spa for Bionicles.
I decided that I wanted to reclaim this spot for my husband and me. So I set out to make the atmosphere more spa-like using some things I had around the house.
This basket used to hold--guess what?--Legos. And water guns. And toy boats. Those went to a plastic basket in the cupboard, and towels went in the basket.
I took an old hurricane globe and filled the bottom with seashells. Makes a nice candle holder by the tub.
This silver shell I found at Target a couple of years ago. I think I paid $4.88 for it, and I put it away, thinking that someday I'd find a good use for it. I like using it to hold bath salts and things.
Now I just need to make some time to get in the tub myself.