23 December 2009

Snow Dog

Our little helper.Snow shoveling is great fun. Puppy gets to bark and "dig" the snow from the shovel. All that hard work wears a doggie out. Poor guy can hardly keep his eyes open.

19 December 2009

A Welcoming Sign

Many years ago I was crazy about this new craft I had discovered. Glass painting. I was obsessed with painted Christmas ornaments. It was a lot of fun, experimenting with different colors and textures. It must have been a hot new craft at the time because there aren't as many kits to choose from now as back then. Fortunately, I had stocked up. Well, I guess really I bought more projects than I ended up completing. Ah, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

I had two of these lovely glass panels, purchased from Ben Franklin Crafts, long before they closed. I still have one I need to paint, but I managed to finish this welcome sign with its art nouveau ladies before the glass painting phase wore off. Then it sat in a closet for a decade, just waiting for the perfect spot. Notice, too, that it is hung so as to not block Oliver's view. That's important, you know. And no, I did not buy this house because my welcome sign would look good next to the door, it just worked out that way!It was difficult to photograph from outside and still catch the details, so here it is from the inside looking out. Just imagine the image flipped.

16 December 2009

Done for Now

Here is the new tv stand in place.
I finally got brackets for the bookshelves, and moved the second one from the dining room to its permanent location, flanking the tv. Since we don't have a fireplace in our humble bungalow, the tv goes in that spot. I've always felt it would be lovely to have built-ins along that wall, but I can't afford them. So for now these three pieces will have to stand in.
I have further plans for this room. It involves moving lots of furniture around the house. Also, I'm beginning to dream of a sofa. And a new recliner for Lewis. But that is down the road quite a bit.

14 December 2009

His and Hers

This his and hers set of pillowcases is a stamped set from Bucilla, called Bridal Bouquet. I'm not sure what is going on with their website, because the colors in the photograph are garish, but in real life it is quite soft and lovely. Unlike usual, I followed the recommended colors. Except for the words His and Hers. The pattern called for one of the greens, but I decided I wanted them in blue and pink, respectively.

While I really do like this pattern, I don't think I will duplicate it. In fact, I think it will be a long time before I do another cross stitch. I'm too impatient and cross stitch take much longer than regular embroidery.I do have this tip, though, should anyone out there decide to do this pattern. I worked one color at a time. I did the stems first. With the flowers, I worked from the inside outward. I bought a washable fabric pen ages ago. When I started each new color I marked the center of the stitch. Then I would work all the stitches in that color before moving on to the next color. I did each pillowcase this way, so I didn't have to consult my chart every two seconds.

12 December 2009

Frugal Heat

Our steam radiators keep us nice and toasty in the winter. Well, they could. If we turned the heat up. But we are being frugal. Two winters ago was really the first time we had the house back together. Before that, there was still construction happening on a minor scale, and the old boiler kept failing. I would often come home to a cold house, get the boiler up and running and it would have to bring the temperature up 15 to 20 degrees. It would bang, hiss, clang and knock. Then it wouldn't come back on for hours. Very inefficient.

So winter 2006-2007 was the first year we could keep the house at a consistent temperature. We kept the thermostat around 65 because it would get too hot on the second floor if we went any higher than that. We fiddled with the radiators and the thermostat a lot that year, trying to figure out what was comfortable.

The next winter, 2007-2008, we bumped it back a wee bit more, keeping it around 64. Not so bad. Now it is like a challenge. How low can we go?

So last winter, 2008-2009, I put the thermostat down to 62. We managed. We had a fairly mild winter, I bumped it up if I was sick. I cannot stand to be cold and sick. But mostly we kept it at 62.This year, I thought, okay 62 again. No biggie. Well. Think again. I'm so cold, I just can't take it. We've put the thermostat back up to 64. I'm not sure why, but those two degrees make all the difference.

I ordered a tank of Fuel in mid-October, when I checked last week we had just above half a tank left. After the blustery weather we've had in the last couple of days (temps in the low 20s, wind gusts, wind chill in the single digits) I'm afraid to check the tank level again. I know it is going to be bad news.

The temperatures can be in the single digits and the house will remain warm (-ish). But if it is windy, forget it. The boiler will just run and run, trying to keep up. It was so drafty on the second floor last night, which is better insulated than the first floor, that I crawled up to the attic to make sure the windows hadn't blown open. It has been known to happen when we have high winds. I was very surprised to find them still closed.

This whole house needs better insulation, I know. When we had walls torn open, insulation was replaced, but it is just here and there. We didn't understand that the blown-in insulation wasn't really doing anything at all. Now the long-term plan is to insulate from the outside in, when we re-do the siding. Which we don't have money for. Because we can't save any. Because we are paying twice as much as we should to heat and cool the house. What a vicious cycle.

11 December 2009

A New Addition to Our Living Room

We are replacing my very sturdy, but in Lewis' opinion "ugly" shelves that hold the tv with a new tv stand I found at Just Cabinets. I think I got a good deal, if not a bargain. The regular price was $180, on sale for $120. I wasn't planning to buy anything right away, we were just right next door, so I made my friend Marc go in with me, just to see what they had available and get sizes and prices. I found the perfect thing, and asked the salesman if they had a picture in a flyer or something. I wanted to check with Lewis first, and measure, although I usually have a good eye for these things.

The salesman said he could make a photocopy of the sale sign on the item, that had a picture, measurements, and sale info. When he came back he said he had good news and bad news. The bad news was the floor model was their last one and they wouldn't be getting any more. The good news was that his manager said I could have the floor model for $100 if I took it that night.

So I impulsively said yes, I'll take it. That may have been a line, just to sell something that evening. I'm sure they could have come down even further and made profit, but I'm not much of a haggler, so I'm pleased with my purchase.
Shh, just don't tell my mom. She doesn't know I bought something this expensive for myself right before Christmas. I want to put it into place and hopefully she won't notice for a while. When she does, I'll be able to say, "that? It has been there for ages."

10 December 2009

Great Progress

Jessica came over on Sunday and we spend a solid 4 hours clearing out the clutter. I know, there is still a lot left there, but we are nearing the end. I could have worked longer, but we stirred up so much dust that both of us had headaches, so we called it quits. I took a nice benadryll at bedtime. That did the trick. Too bad it leaves me so groggy. I could have taken one and kept working after Jess left. Since then I have somewhat lost momentum. Actually, I haven't done anything at all in there.

Can you see any improvement at all? I know there is still a lot there, but check out that carpet. So much more visible than when I began this decluttering a few weeks ago.So, there is a bin on top of the tall dresser that has all my favourite stuffed animals from childhood. I want to find a better storage solution for them, but I'm not sure what would be best.

I have an old set of rabbit ears tv antennae there. I guess there is no need for them any longer, so I should just throw them out. The box it the corner is the new bedding. The rack in front of the window is clothes I'm wearing again. The green laundry basket next to that is more old clothes I need to go through.

The rest of that pile along the back wall is office supplies and other things that have homes. I just need put that stuff where it belongs. There is a big stack of empty bins, an old metal doll's high chair I need to find a box for, then stow it in the cubby. The pile of boxes in the middle are things I want to keep, but don't really have homes for yet. The bath chair needs a new home, maybe in the basement? I still have one box of papers to go through, then there are several shoe boxes that are sorted by year. Not the best filing system, I know, but better than the stacks Jessica and I went through on Sunday. There are two boxes of lotions and potions that I either found in the linen closet or cleared off the dresser of doom, which still doesn't look any better: I have two boxes of stuff to give away to specific people, and two boxes for donation. There were three until Jessica went through them. She found more stuff she could use, or knew someone who could. Fantastic!

Hopefully I'll have more progress to report really soon. I'm getting really close to my self-imposed deadline of the 18th. I know there is no way we will get the room painted, and we have decided to wait on the mattress because I just can't spend that kind of money right now. But at least we would have a clean, empty room for Kelly and James to stay in. As long as Lewis can find the air mattress, that is...

06 December 2009

Mattress Talk

With my self-imposed deadline fast approaching, and my decluttering progressing with many stops and starts, I realized that I had better get Lewis to the mattress store so we can make our selection. So Thursday night we met for dinner after work, then drove over to Lemoyne Sleeper, a local mattress manufacturer with a showroom next door.
Two years ago I purchased an all foam mattress from them, and I've been really pleased with it. I sleep so much better without springs digging into my hips, aggravating my fibromyalgia. But I wanted Lewis' input before we put down big money on a king size bed.

We tested many beds in the showroom, and finally settled on a mattress with a firm foam core and memeory foam top. It is from the Night of Luxury collection. Doesn't that sound nice and promising?
We talked price, sales and financing. Regularly $2,899, Sale $2,399, with an offer of 0% financing for 24 months. That would make payments $100 per month.

Yet there was still one more important decision to be made. King, or California king? Lewis is 6'5", and I don't think the poor guy has ever had a bed where his ankles didn't hang off the end. The salesman showed us the one floor model in king, just for size. We both plopped down there and got to talking about how nice it will be. I told the salesman about our trip to Maine last fall, where we stayed a little bed and breakfast with a gigantic king bed. So nice.

Ready to make the K vs. Cal K decision, wrap this trip up and head home, I turned to Lewis and asked, "so, are you willing to give up a few inches of width to gain a few inches of length?"

So innocent. I really didn't mean to go there, but Lewis burst out laughing and couldn't stop, so of cours I started giggling, the poor salseman did his best to remain professional and keep a straight face, but he had to walk away. Several minutes later, when we regained our composure, we got his business card, and I appologised. He said he's heard a lot of things over the years, but that was one of the best. I'm sure my face was beet red, I was so embarassed.

05 December 2009

Halcyon vs. Drizzle

So I dug out the handy-dandy Sherwin William paint fan last night, just to see if I could find a suitable color. Somewhere in this range is my perfect color...After flipping through those, I've narrowed my choices to Sherwin Williams' Halcyon Green or Drizzle (just above my thumb).In person last night the Drizzle looked okay, but when I looked at them again in the morning light and in this photograph, I think the Halcyon Green looks better. I was already leaning that way, but I think I'll get a sample pint of each to test, just to be sure.

04 December 2009

A Paler Shade of Jadestone

So the comforter set I ordered from JCPenney on Friday arrived on my porch Tuesday. It was much lighter than I had expected. I'm well aware that colors can't possibly be accurately represented on the monitor, there are too many variables. I understand that. And this color isn't actually bad, it is just lighter than I had hoped. What I find ironic is that the paper label that came in the package shows the darker color, too! Oh, well.I pulled out one of the shams to take a picture, and this doesn't accurately show the color (jadestone), either, but I think it is closer to true. I was expecting something a bit more vibrant, this is a soft, subtle, muted color. I searched every retailer I could think of in my price range, and some that were out of my price range, but I still didn't find a substitute. So I'm trying to adjust my plan.The curtains arrived the next day, on Wednesday. This is what I saw when I opened the box. Way to over package there, JCPenney! Again, the colors are more subtle than expected, but I still really love the print.
I'm rethinking my paint plan. I was going to match the comforter and go two tints lighter, but now I'm thinking match the color and go a bit more vibrant. I have a feeling the comforter will reflect more of the color I want if it is on the walls. Plus it will draw that color out of the curtains.

03 December 2009

Leaps and Bounds, But Not Where You'd Expect

I tried to combat the post-turkey fatigue on Sunday by attacking the back bedroom again. But I got sidetracked.On the bright side, the side bedroom hasn't looked this good in ages.
Here's the problem I was running into: many of the remaining boxes in the back bedroom have office supplies in them. Tons of little stuff with no home. So, I started to get the side bedroom organized to make homes for all the office supplies I will be running into. This way I don't just move the debris from one room to the other. Ultimately, I mean. 'Cause that's actually what ended up happening to some of the junk from the side bedroom.
But it is stuff I need to go through also, and I can probably get rid of 75% of it. I saw a box with dried flowers (yuck!) and a box of cards. I'm so sentimental, it is hard for me to throw cards out. But I've spied tons of trinkets that I've never liked, and they've been out of sight for so long now, I don't even remember who gave them to me. They can go with minimal guilt. There has been surprisingly little actual trash. I mean, I am throwing some things out, and I haven't gotten to the paperwork yet. Geeze, there's another whole post.

I've begun to re-think my books, too. I mean, I'm never going to re-read these novels. My friends don't read the chic lit that I do, so I may as well donate them. Art books I keep. I consider them reference books. I really need to get them out of boxes and onto the shelves my mom bought for me last August, but I haven't loaded them up yet because I need Bill to anchor the big bookcase to the wall first, and right now I can't afford Bill. Ah, the home improvement domino effect strikes again.

01 December 2009

Playful Kittens

I did these three little kittens for my Aunt Lu, who has a beautiful black kitty, a new addition to their family about this time last year.I "borrowed" the pattern from a pattern I saw somewhere. Don't ask me where now, I should learn to make note of such things, but I'm always sure I'll remember. It wasn't my best project, I'll admit, I envisioned them turning out a bit differently. But Aunt Lu seemed to like them, so I guess that's all that matters.

As I've become such a fan of variegated floss, I did two of the kittens with variegated dark grey, variegated tans (think Oliver-colored), and the third in solid soft grey. I didn't write the color numbers down, and when I went back through my floss, I couldn't tell which I had used.