I keep meaning to tell you that several weeks ago, I did, finally, paint our living room. :) I ended up choosing Benjamin Moore Gray Lake, which I learned about and loved in these sunroom makeover posts at The Lettered Cottage blog.
I LOVE it! Which is very unusual for me on the first color try. It is very peaceful and calm, and depending on the light in the room it looks gray or blue. I don't think I expected myself to ever paint anything gray, or for gray to feel fresh, but somehow it does. I just love it. I think I will do the dining room later this summer.
I used Benjamin Moore Aura (their top-quality) paint, which I had never done before, because it is $60.00 a gallon (!!!) and that just seemed nutters.
However, the guy at the store talked me into it (I know), but it only took two coats (one gallon) to completely cover the bright yellow, and I mean not a hint of yellow was showing through. I've never used a paint quite like that before, with such good coverage. (I'm not doing an ad for Benjamin Moore. I'm just telling you, it was great.)
When I just painted Claire's room last week, I was painting over the exact same yellow (Melted Butter by Behr), and I thought, "Well, I'll save some money in here and just use Behr Premium Plus (which is Behr's top-quality paint but is only $32.00 per gallon), but that took three coats of paint to cover (four or five using the brush in the corners), and I had to buy a second gallon, so my cost was $63.00.
So! I think I will use Aura from now on whenever possible, because two coats makes painting very fast and almost pleasant.
I will take some real photos of the living room later with my real camera, but for now here is a fake photo from the fake camera on my phone. :)
Claire gets out of school on June 13. I really cannot believe fourth grade is almost over. I was just getting the hang of it!
Olive the Cello has held up well this year so far. She's actually a half-cello. If Claire keeps eating Cheerios for breakfast and growing like a weed, I think she will move up to a three-quarters size this autumn. We shall see.
Today was the end-of-the-year strings concert. We've come a long way, baby. :)
I had the nicest Mother's Day weekend. I hope you did, too. On Saturday we went to a very sweet wedding at our church, and on Sunday morning we went to church and Sunday school and all talked about how happy we were about that wedding. :)
I spent a lot of the weekend on the back patio reading and enjoying my family and crazy pets. I think Mother's Day to me is Official Permission to Relax. I never have that "I should be doing something productive" feeling on Mother's Day. What a blessing.
Last night we went to The Luggage Room, which is one of my favorite restaurants in Pasadena during the spring and summer. (I don't like sitting inside there particularly, so that is why I prefer it in spring and summer. My favorite thing about California is how much we get to eat outside.)
I like to sit at the long wooden tables on the patio and eat avocado pizza (with basil and lemon zest and sun-dried tomatoes ... it is DELICIOUS) and talk. :)
Every spring, Claire goes to the Kidspace Children's Museum with her dad and gets a Painted Lady caterpillar. Then she raises it, watches it turn into a chrysalis and then a butterfly, and releases it into our backyard when it's ready.
She named this year's caterpillar/chrysalis/butterfly "Noodles". :)
p.s. I am going to paint the living room and dining room when we get back from spring break. After all these years, I'm finally ready to get rid of the yellow and try something else for a change. I am currently fascinated with blue-gray and blue-green colors, so I will throw some swatches up soon and we can see what's what. It will still be light and bright, but more subdued. Maybe I'll even just do a shade of white. I'm not sure why I suddenly got sick of the yellow after 17 years. Maybe I'm just getting old. :)
My kitchen has changed quite a bit (cosmetically) this past year.
I think it started early last year, when I realized that the kitchen island I was using as a buffet in the dining room actually worked really well as a kitchen island. :)
Bob and Claire bought me the stool for Christmas. It has been great, because Claire perches there and does her homework or talks to me while I make dinner. The cat likes to sit on the stool, too, when she wants to tell me that it is time to feed her.
Last week, we bought Claire a couple bigger bookcases for her bedroom. She had outgrown her little kid bookcase, which was also my bookcase when I was little. I didn't want to put it out in the garage, so I stuck it in the kitchen, replacing the wire rack I had in here previously. (The wire rack went into the garage for storage out there.)
I am so happy with it!
About eighteen months ago, I was looking at Lissa's neat Keep It Simple, Keep It Fresh blog, and fell in love with the storage shelves she has in her dining room. I immediately grabbed her idea to keep pantry items in these Weck canning jars (I found mine at Crate and Barrel ... they are cheap), and label them with clear (instead of white) labels. For me, this wouldn't be practical for things I get into every day, because the clips are fiddly to take on and off, but it has worked out great for my baking items. And I think they're pretty. :)
I've also been able to tuck the trashcan in next to the washer and dryer, which has been nice.
Another opportunity for more RED! :)
Do you see those paint chips above the washer? The kitchen is due for a paint job, because it hasn't had one in almost ten years. I've chosen the green on the far left, which is lighter and a wee bit yellow-er (less gray) than it is now.
We also got a new dishwasher, because the one that came with the house finally died a month ago. I know the fashion now is to get stainless appliances, but I actually prefer white appliances. So as the old stainless/black appliances conk out, we're replacing them with white ones. I guess this is backwards from the trend, but who cares, right? :)
I think those are all the bigger changes. Everything else is me just moving stuff around occasionally, because I'm fidgety.
It is a blessing to have a kitchen that I enjoy working in. We sure gravitate toward this room ... maybe because that's where the food is. :)
I got these new sheets on sale at West Elm, because I wanted a second, non-gallactic-battle option. They are so sweet. They have a white background, with little navy and light-blue flowers sprinkled all over them. It's a cotton that feels good, too. However, the quality of the sewing on them is not great ... it is completely wonky in a few places, and the hems are thin ... so they may be short-lived, like the Sheets from Spring 2009. We'll see. You get what you pay for. But I'm very happy with them right now. Love of pretty floweredy cotton sheets on sale beats out the need for sheets to last forever.
I like seeing all these patterns jumbled up together when I'm making the bed. :)
There are the remnants of muddy dog paw prints on our headboard that happened when Violet chased a fly in the front door and straight onto our bed and up the wall. It was hilarious but I was mad, all at the same time. That happens so much with kids and pets. But love of living things always beats out love of stuff, thank goodness. :) I need to rent a Rug Doctor with the upholstery attachment to get it all out, and I still haven't done that. Gross. Sorry, dear readers.
I got Bob this print from Ideal Bookshelf for our anniversary in December, right before Christmas. My local framers messed up the matting (it's supposed to be the same thickness all the way around -- they're usually quite good, but a temporary holiday employee was helping me and their computer software was new and she was struggling with what I wanted, bless her heart, and I was in a hurry because I had to pick up Claire from school and I should have double-checked that she understood ... it was doomed to fail, really ... I blame myself) but I didn't notice until I got home, and then Bob was so happy about it that I decided to be okay with it. Love of people being happy on their anniversary beats out love of perfectly matted artwork.
In fact, he is so happy about it that I think it makes up for the lack of constant Star Wars sheets. :)
I haven't told you about my new washer and dryer. They come with a story.
A couple weeks after we got back from England this summer, our cat, Hannah, brought us a welcome-home gift.
"Oh, no!" Claire and I heard Bob yell from the kitchen.
Then the kitchen door slid shut with a "wham!", and we heard a lot of banging.
About twenty minutes later, a grim Bob emerged to tell us that he had let Hannah inside, and she had dropped a live mouse on the floor.
"A WHAT?" I asked.
"It went under the fridge and then just ... vaporized," he said, averting his eyes. He looked a little wild, and I reached over and pulled the dust bunnies out of his hair before I went and looked for the missing mousie myself.
The mouse hadn't vaporized, of course. Over the next seven (yes, seven) weeks (yes, weeks), the mousy grew and grew, and as he grew it soon became evident that mousy was, in fact, a rat. He had been a baby rat and we, against our will, were raising him into an adult rat.
I will not go into the amount of time and money we spent, or the number of contraptions and services we tried, or the sheer mountain of advice I listened to. (Before you are tempted to blurt out "try peanut butter," WE WENT THROUGH AN ENTIRE JAR OF SKIPPY BAITING TRAPS, AND THIS RAT HATED PEANUT BUTTER and ignored the peanut butter. Stop talking about peanut butter.)
I cried a lot, and I may have mentioned divorce. ("How is this MY fault?" Bob asked. "Because you are supposed to CATCH HIM," I wailed. It was not my finest moment.)
Before all was said and done, Chewy did about $1500 worth of damage to the kitchen.
He chewed through the refrigerator water line and through the Dualit toaster cord, gnawed on the Kitchenaid mixer cord, and, for his pièce de résistance, bit a hole through our washing machine -- through the plastic dispenser cup, and right out the back of the machine.
"I haven't seen this before," the repairman said. "They usually just gnaw through the electrical cord and kill themselves."
No such luck.
We chose not to make the repair because it would have cost more than a new washer, but we couldn't buy a new washer until we killed the rat.
Unfortunately, whatever smidge of hunting instinct that had kicked in and made Hannah pounce on that rat to begin with, promptly left her once she was back indoors. During this whole ordeal, she did not so much as bat a whisker at the commotion in the kitchen, but spent her days and nights sleeping on the foot of the bed in a purring, useless little comma of warmth.
And then, one triumphant evening, in a gruesome spectacle I will not describe here (think "Nearly Headless Nick"), we snapped him dead.
And when I say "we," I mean "Bob."
Thankfully, by the time Chewy was getting bold enough to venture into the middle of the kitchen at night (we believe he lived between the cupboard and wall next to the stove), he was too big to squeeze under the door, which remained shut for the entire seven weeks. So his reign of terror was limited to the kitchen itself.
And also thankfully, I ended up with a new washer and dryer.
And Chewy is now a distant memory.
Except when Bob (how quickly he has forgotten the word "divorce") and his always-game-for-fun sidekick, Claire, play little jokes on me.
Bob and I found this cabinet at a garage sale a couple years ago. In another life, it was a snazzy midcentury modern piece, but now it had two broken doors and was yellow with chipped varnish. I didn't have a plan for it, but it was good cheap storage, so we grabbed it.
I removed the doors and painted it white (the wood finish wasn't in good condition), and it held our television and components for awhile, and then eventually ended up in the dining room.
A few months ago, I was happy to find some Pottery Barn baskets that fit in the bottom almost perfectly.
I've been doing stuff lately more than I've been blogging about doing stuff lately.
I got around to painting our bedroom last week for the first time in, oh, I think eight years. It's pretty close to the color it was ... a very pale, yellowy green. It makes me feel relaxed.
I hung up three hooks I bought at Fade Interiors in Woodstock this summer. I bought them there, hauled them back in my luggage, then saw them in the Pottery Barn catalog when I got back to the U.S. Silly. :)
We have temporary $5 paper shades up. The old (cheap) roman blinds konked out, and I haven't decided what to replace them with. I actually like the paper, which does not bode well for getting new window treatments up any time soon. I'm always laziest when I'm fairly content.
I also have a bit of artwork to hang up right over each nightstand, and a tray and some lotions and potions for the top of my chest of drawers. I'll post some newer photos when I get around to that. Although I am a fan of spartan bedrooms, so those might also be awhile. :)
While we were in Chipping Campden this summer, I visited the Court Barn (a lovely craft and design museum) several times, and picked up a few cards I really liked in their gift shop.
When I got home, I had them framed at Aaron Brothers. The cards were a standard size, so I bought two standard frames and mats, but then had Aaron Brothers replace the glass with nonreflective glass, and put the dust cover, hanging wire, and plastic bumpers on the back. This is cheaper than a completely custom framing job (they are just cards, after all), but is nicer than if I'd just used the regular glass that came with the frames. (Framing shops can also cut a custom-sized mat for you, if you need it, so that you can put a non-standard-sized card into a bigger, standard-sized frame, but then have a mat that makes it look nice in that big frame. This is also cheaper than having them build you a custom frame.)
I hung them both in our newly remodeled big bathroom. (I guess you can't really tell from these photos, but this bathroom is painted a very light, icy blue.)
It's a very small thing, these little framed cards from Chipping Campden, but they make me so happy. :)
Here are a few photos of our new big bathroom. I haven't decorated it yet at all, so it is sterile rather than serene, but you get the idea.
We have really been enjoying it all fresh and clean. ("Before" photos are here ... you can see how the shower has improved, especially. It is the same size ... 3x3 ... but it seems so much bigger with the glass and the bulkhead removed.)
I am especially happy with the big storage cupboard ... our old cupboard was that deep but was only accessible from the outside hallway, so all that back space was really wasted. (What did people put in these extremely deep linen cupboards? What kind of linens did they have, for goodness sakes?)
Our carpenter split the cabinet in two and made it accessible from the bathroom side, too ... it has doubled my usable storage space. I am very grateful for that.
Claire and I are getting ready to take off for the airport in a few minutes here to head to England, but I wanted to post this quickly before we left. We'll see you soon with photos from the other side of the pond. :)
Our Trader Joe's has bunches of peonies right now, right as you walk in the door, and I was so excited to see them that I forgot what I went in to buy.
We can't grow them here, because it doesn't get cold enough in the winter, so usually I get my fill just looking at photos online. I don't know where our TJ's got them ... I know you can grow plants in hothouses in places it doesn't get hot enough ... are there such things as coldhouses for places where it doesn't get cold enough?
The hydrangeas out back are in bloom. They haven't reached their full flush yet, but are coming along nicely. Hannah the Cat likes to sleep under them and then come in with her belly all dusty. If you walk too close to her when she's hiding there, her paw will shoot out and pat you on the ankle, or whatever she can swipe.
Hugo the Bunny used to have a warren under the big bank of hydrangeas against the house wall. That was when he still had the run of the backyard last year. It was cool and a little wet where the water faucet dripped, and it would keep him from withering in the summer heat.
You can see the ineffectual bunny blockade we set up last spring with flowerpots, to keep Hugo from squeezing under the gate like Peter Rabbit. But he just dug a big tunnel anyway, à la The Great Escape, and has been confined to quarters ever since. (Although he gets to come in the house quite a bit, too, and visit. But I don't make him chamomile tea.)
Quarters aren't so bad, but if we don't feed him exactly on time in the morning, he gets mad and flips his bowl over and knocks his little ramp down.
The curtains for the small bathroom finally arrived. The first set disappeared mysteriously after they'd reached my local post office, but Country Curtains very graciously sent a replacement pair at no charge.
I wonder if my local post office is setting up a cottage-themed break room or something. They had my sheets for awhile, you may recall.
I'm very fond of swiss dot and curtains that flutter in the breeze. :)