Archives For May 2012

A few months after Nick and I moved into this house we noticed some mysterious hardware mounted above almost all of our exterior windows. See the black arrows pointing to them in the photo below?

They’re on almost all of the original windows, including the one above on the porch, but not the newer windows in the laundry room (which was added on to the back of the house at some point) or the oddly-shaped window in the downstairs bath. They can even be spotted way up on the second floor.

My next door neighbor has them, too.

So what do you think they are? My best guess is that they’re intended to be used to hang some kind of hurricane shutters, but there are no such shutters to be found in storage in or around the house. Could we use them to mount plywood cut to size in case of an impending storm? From the ground they look like bottle openers to me, but the location seems impractical for that purpose, haha.

Is it officially summer yet? Here in South Louisiana the schools are out and the temps are in the 90′s so I say yes. Mother nature is making up for the heat by producing what I consider a veritable bounty of fresh vegetables from my garden. Other, fancier, gardeners may scoff at my puny-looking tomatoes or my yellow cucumbers, but to them I say cast your negativity aside and admire what I have brought forth from the dirt!

Nicholas won’t eat most of what I grow (he’s got a deep and pervasive opposition to vegetables in general), so I’ve got to get creative about eating it all myself. Yesterday I made myself this simple salad from two small tomatoes, a cucumber, and an avocado. The avocado, obviously, came from the grocery store. I wish I could grow avocados in my garden.

You may have noticed that my cucumber looks more like squash. The internet tells me that this is maybe because I left it too long on the plant, or maybe because the fruit was on the ground and shaded by leaves. or maybe the nutrients in my soil are a little off. No matter the cause, it tasted delicious.

To make my salad, I just chopped everything up and tossed it with a little olive oil. Normally I would have added a smidge of salt, but I’m swelling myself out of my shoes these days so no added salt for me. This was quite a delicious snack; I’m so looking forward to getting a few more cucumbers so I can make it again. Hopefully this time I can catch them while they’re still green.

I’ve long dreamed of having a cutting garden, a plot dedicated solely to producing flowers to be displayed indoors. Then, when I planted our vegetable garden earlier this year I didn’t want to overwhelm myself with too many different plants that would require tending and harvesting, so I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to maybe grow some flowers. After all, everything in a veggie garden is meant to be harvested, right? So I wouldn’t feel bad about stealing flowers the way I would from, say, a shrub growing out front. As if I can get any flowering shrubs to survive out front (so far I’ve killed two gardenias and three hydrangeas). So I dedicated two squares of my vegetable garden to a packet of seeds that simply said “assorted old-fashioned cutting flowers.” And this weekend I was able to harvest my first few blooms.

Anytime I’ve pondered a cutting garden in the past I’ve started obsessing over having the proper variety of colors and spacing bloom times efficiently and on and on and on…so it was kind of nice to just scatter these seeds in the dirt with no idea what would come up or when. These are probably not flowers I would have chosen to plant, but I love them. As for the greenery, I just snipped some rather leafy weeds from our woefully neglected front garden bed and stuck them in around the flowers until I liked the looks of things. The vase was a birthday gift from Nicholas last year from Crate and Barrel (available here).

I’ve got the arrangement sitting next to a little mason jar candle near the TV. I spend a lot of time on the couch these days so I figured I’d get plenty of enjoyment out of it in this spot, haha.

This little wall is one of my thriftiest spots in the house. I made the book page wreath and the cat silhouette myself (pre-blogging). The silver platter is from the thrift store and hung with one of those 3M mounting strips. The dresser was rescued from the side of the road circa 2005 or so and the two fabric-covered boxes inside are just cardboard boxes gussied up by yours truly (see how I did it here). The jute basket on the lower left was on clearance at Hobby Lobby a while back, and the middle right cubby had a thrifted wooden box corralling those Wii games until I stole it for the mantle in Jack’s room this weekend. The only thing I don’t like here is the ugly cable box, DVD player, and Wii on display. We use the DVD player so rarely it seems cruel that I have to see it so often, but I’m not ashamed to admit that the cable box and Wii are a part of our daily lives (the DVR and Netflix’d episodes of Lost are in my top five favorite things right now). Anyone know of a way to hide components without compromising the effectiveness of the remote control?

Happy Memorial Day to you fine folks! I hope you had a fantastic weekend. Mine was pretty awesome and included a super-fun family wedding. I’m enjoying the day off of work today but thought I’d pop in to share what I worked on yesterday.

Just one of the many, many quirks in this old house is that the bedroom we’re using for Jack’s nursery features a coal-burning fireplace. It backs up to another one in the den on the other side of this wall (see that one in these two posts here and here). We never use it, obviously, but I do sorta like the extra character that it adds. Isn’t it just calling out for me to do something awesome to it?

A few weeks ago I was thrilled to find this HUGE mirror on craigslist for only $30. It’s almost three feet wide by four feet high, perfect for that big empty space. Since this is a kid’s room, though, I wanted to paint the frame to make it a little less serious and grown-up.

I dragged it outside and layered a few pieces of cardboard under it, then taped the edges of the glass, covered the middle with junk mail, and went to work with a can of Valspar Gold Abundance spray paint.

I think this is the last time I’ll ever use spray paint. I’ve tried to like it, but the truth is that I just hate it so much. It takes forever to get good, even coverage.

And since the giant mess and toxic fumes it produces necessitate dragging everything outside, I constantly have bugs or tiny leaves and other nonsense getting stuck in my wet paint. And God forbid you touch this stuff while it’s wet. There’s no going back from that mistake.

There are some pretty big problems with the finish up close, but from a distance you can’t really tell. I got Nick to hang it above the mantle using two heavy-duty screws and anchors. I love the way it looks. There’s still a whole lotta ugly going on down around the fireplace, though.

I painted over the ugly yellow on the bricks surrounding the firebox with no-VOC white semi-gloss, pushed that coaxial cable back into its little hidey-hole, switched out the fireplace cover with the one from the other room (one is glossy and one is matte and they’ve always been backwards), and used some black craft paint to touch up the metal frame that surrounds the cover. Then, I shopped the house for cute stuff to put on the mantle.

The only thing I purchased new was the plant, which at $10 was a little more than what I wanted to spend but I went for it anyway. I stole the brass planter from my shop and the wood box from the living room. The chalkboard I’ve had for a couple of months–it’s the same one I use when I take pictures of my ever-growing belly.

I bought that little metal “baby” whatnot years ago before a baby was even on the horizon. I saw it at a thrift store for $1 and thought it was adorbs. Since I knew I’d be having a kid one of these days I figured I’d just buy it and put it away until the time came. I’m so glad I did because I love it still.

The bedroom set in our guest room belonged to my late grandmother and once when I was exploring I found this vintage tin of baby powder in the back of a drawer. My dad was her only child so I’m guessing it must have been used with him in the late 50′s. I think it’s awesome.

The box in the middle of the mantle will hopefully address my tendency to put random crap up there. It’s the only spot in the room that the cats can’t easily access so a little hidden storage is nice. Right now, for instance, there’s some chalk in there to write on the chalkboard. Pistachio finds chalk delightful so it must be stowed away.

This kind of stuff just makes me so happy. I know Jack could care less about whether the mantle in his room is perfectly styled, but since this is directly across from the rocking chair where I’ll likely be spending many, many hours in the near future, I figured prettying it up a bit can only do good things for my mental health. Before long there’ll be a baby here and I won’t have time to indulge in little moments of frivolity like this for a while. I’m almost done fixing up the nursery, but there’s still a few more practical things I’d like to do, like putting blackout shades on those windows and organizing all his clothes and toiletries. If you’d like to look back at what I’ve done to the rest of the room so far, click to read about the dresser rehab project, the rocking chair, the yellow side table, the crib, crib skirtartmobile, and what I’ve got going so far of a toy storage system. Whew! I can’t believe how far this room has come! Almost everything is secondhand or DIY’d, just the way I like it. And if I can get just a few more things done before this kid comes out into the world I’ll be a happy camper.