Tuesday, December 28, 2010

To do.

We have a long list of things that really need to get done around here, and it is time to start prioritizing.

1. Anchor our enormous Expedit bookshelf to the wall.

Our Expedit, soon to be secured and filled with books.

2. Move the books from our family room bookshelves to the Expedit bookshelf.

3. Have Home Depot cut some wood to size for new bookshelves in the family room. Paint and install.

Family room bookshelves.

4. Unpack (finally!) all our CDs from their moving boxes and put them on the family room bookshelves.

5. Finish painting the trim in the dining room.

6. Strip and repaint the salvaged door for our family room.

7. Anti-slip tape on the stairs.

Friday, December 17, 2010

home history


So today I took a trip to see our city's archivist and learned a few things about our home. My #1 burning question was:

Just what year was our house built anyway?

Rumor has it that all of the building records burned in a fire back in 1910, so they had to start over. Any existing structure before the fire is now considered to be a 1910 building according to public record. The archivist said that he's never seen evidence of a fire, but something happened because they definitely started over in 1910.

.... drum roll ...

Looks like our house was built in 1908! Not too far off, but I'm happy to have some historically accurate info on the date.

It was hard to make out the handwriting in the ledger, but the water records show that what looks like a Mr. Brisner requested a water permit in June of 1908 and then the house was occupied in December of that year. The next owner was a Mr. Oldfather (love it!) whose occupation was "real estate, loans, insurance."

When the house was built, it was 7 rooms, plus 1 bath, and 1 water closet, and even an outdoor lawn spigot. That is some fancy stuff.

I wasn't able to find an old photo of the house, unfortunately, but that was to be expected. Apparently if I go to the county assessor's office I may be able to find one, so that is the next step!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

baked kale chips

My new fabulous and food-savvy friends Diana and Sarah turned me onto the wonderful idea of kale chips. I'm not one of those people who needs kale to taste like a chip to enjoy it. I really like kale and it might even be my green of choice! (Dandelion greens on the other hand... I've tried them more than once and hated them more than once. I won't try those noxious weeds again until they do in fact taste like a chip.) 

What particularly sold me on kale chips was that my toddler actually liked them! If I can get her to eat less Annie's Bunnies and more kale, I'll be a happy lady. So I just gave them a try today.


I'll admit, my first batch failed. Turns out that if I don't set a timer, I will not remember that I have something in the oven. D'oh. So an hour or so later, I had some very sad kale remnants to contend with. But fortunately, they are so easy to make that I tried another batch immediately. They only take a few minutes to get into the oven (or about the length of the song "Addicted to Love" -- not important how I know that) and then they bake for about 25 minutes.

:: :: ::

baked kale chips

1/2 bunch curly red kale (or whatever kind you want)
1 tbs olive oil
kosher salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 275. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Remove stems and ribs from kale and then chop. Mix with olive oil and salt in a bowl, and then spread on a cookie sheet in one layer. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until crisp.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

solving slippery stairs

One of the reasons that I fell in love with our house is the hardwood staircase in the front hall. Of course, the reality of hardwood stairs is that they are quite slippery.


festive!
We have a toddler who just loves testing out her stair-climbing abilities, so something must be done. But what? I took a trip to the carpet store and even came back with some rug samples, but... oh I just think a stair runner would be hideous. The carpet folks, while perfectly nice, did not really get my vision at all. 

The only thing that I've really seen that I've liked is something sisal and stripey. Like this:

But the carpet store told me that sisal is actually terrible for stairs. (So why do I see sisal runners everywhere when I look online?)

After a google search, I found an old post over on Apartment Therapy asking the same question: "How can you make wood stairs less dangerous in a way that is attractive?"

I saw two potentially viable options in the comment section. 1) Mixing some clear sand with varnish and brush onto the treads. 2) Clear anti-slip tape along the edge of each step. 

What I certainly like about each of these options is that, along with being more attractive, they would be far, far cheaper than installing a runner. Plus, not having to vacuum carpet on stairs!

If anyone has done either of these options, I'd love to hear about it.


Friday, December 10, 2010

galette

Remember when I used to have posts about food? You don't? That's okay. Just the fact that you are here, spending a minute reading this blog, means you are forgiven. 

Once upon a time, I thought I'd devote a good portion of these posts to food, but as it turns out, I can't take very good photos of food. And what is a post about food without fabulous freaking photography? So I'll just post a photo of a recent meal, a Potato and Swiss Chard Galette from the really great vegetarian cookbook, Mediterranean Harvest by Martha Rose Shulman. I've had awesomely consistent luck with this cookbook. A lot of the recipes contain gruyere, so obviously they are going to be good.


Now that I'm looking at the photo it looks sort of small, but this galette was quite large. That is a big ol' tray.

In home improvement news, I've been busy as a bee painting our living/dining room. I just need to finish up the trim and do a little lot of touching up. Then I will do a happy dance and probably start thinking of what I'll paint next. (Oh, who am I kidding, I already know what I'm painting next - the mud room.) But I really need to strip and paint the new old door for the family room, so that rather unfun project is next on my list.

Friday, December 3, 2010

random thought of the day


Today I was listening to a live recording of R.E.M. doing "Harborcoat" back in the early '80s. Reckoning was one of my favorite albums in my formative years, and it definitely stands the test of time. Happily, my 15-mo-old girl is really enjoying early R.E.M. (and seems to be into post-punk in general. Nice.)


Anyway, every time I go into my local and awesome Benjamin Moore store, I see the cans of Arborcoat stain. And every time "Harborcoat" pops into my head. I like to think that someone at Benjamin Moore named this line of stain after the R.E.M. song.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

early christmas present

I did an admittedly terrible job hiding our cat's Christmas present. (What? Placing it on the nearest flat surface as you walk in the door doesn't count as "hiding"?)


The good news is that his new bed is a hit.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

city in decay

My husband sent me a link this morning to the Parisian photographers Marchand and Meffre's photos of "The Ruins of Detroit." The photos are pretty incredible. Looking at them, you would expect that the entire city of Detroit has been abandoned and that everyone just stood up together and left decades ago.




More photos and pertinent information on their website.

Monday, November 29, 2010

fox & raccoon pillows

I love these pillows, which are by Push Me Pull You and are no longer available. Dammit!

photo from apartmenttherapy.com


I love these mugs too. Do you think Santa reads blogs?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

cashmere gray

Well, I went back to Benjamin Moore and told them that my paint sample didn't match the color of the chip. They put a dab of the sample paint onto the chip and once it dried, you could see that the two didn't quite match. It wasn't a big difference, but I knew there was a reason that the Cashmere Gray was looking a bit sky blue on our walls.

And then this was a bit strange... there was a pro painter there buying a singular can of paint. Benjamin Moore has about five million different colors, but this painter's can of paint was also Cashmere Gray. So the woman helping me took a dab of paint from his can and put it on the chip. The paint was a match. I went ahead and got a gallon.


Thanks to my baby's super long nap yesterday, I was able to paint walls around the bay window in the dining room. As I was painting my thought process went something along the lines of:
"I just love this."
"Gray? What was I thinking."
"This is really fresh and pretty."
"Crap. Gray is so trendy."
"I really think this will look great."

Well, I do think that it will look great and hopefully I'll be able to get some more painting done soon. This room is quite large, so it might take a while.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

woodlawn blue foyer

Today as I was bustling around I noticed the sun streaming into the foyer and thought it was time to get some better photos of how it was coming along. I had also just gotten some pretty flowers from Whole Foods. I would love to have flowers displayed all the time, but we just don't have very good places nearby to buy flowers! Whole Foods is close to 30 minutes away. (And I'd go broke very quickly if I were regularly buying flowers from them.)

Okay, here is a "before" shot from our walkthrough:


It is beyond strange to me that people enjoy knotty pine.

Okay, and here is the "after" which is really more of a "at the moment"...


I am so happy with the color that I chose: Benjamin Moore Woodlawn Blue. It is a little bit green, a little bit blue, and a whole lot of pretty up against both white trim and dark wood furniture. 


Eventually I hope to find a nice little lamp for this table and I'm thinking about what to do for hooks on the opposite wall.


And a shot from the stairs, because it is such an enormous relief to walk down the stairs in the morning and not have that knotty pine glaring back at me.

Friday, November 19, 2010

paint woes

So as I mentioned in my last post, I second-guessed myself about the color I initially wanted to use: Benjamin Moore Nantucket Gray. Our living room/dining room is a rather large room (well, in relation to the rest of the house anyway) and I didn't want it to be a glum space.

So then I latched onto the idea of Wythe Blue which I had seen mentioned on other design blogs and had heard nothing but praise for. I bought the little sample and as it turned out it really looked like a baby boy's nursery color. Boo! I wasn't pleased.

I went back to my paint chips and looked beyond the Ben Moore historical collection. I found Gray Cashmere. Light gray but slightly green. Okay. I bought the sample. I put it up and I actually quite liked it! But then I compared my sample on the wall to the chip itself and it seems a little off. Not majorly, but it definitely isn't a perfect match. The chip looks a smidge darker and grayer. Crap.


From top, Wythe Blue, Cashmere Gray, and Nantucket Gray

Cashmere Gray

I think I would be okay with a touch grayer and darker, but I'm bummed that I forked out my 2.99 to get a sample and I still don't really know what I'm going to end up with. Anyway, I like how pretty and wispy of a gray it is. I think it will make the space bright and happy.

Oh, the other big thing is that I've decided to paint the unpainted trim in the dining room. I know! Sacrilege! Well, I don't know how I didn't notice this before but the trim in the dining room is totally different from the trim in the rest of the house. It also looks like it has been stripped before. It just isn't that pretty. So now the windows will match the doorways and all will be well. And really I think practically any color looks great with white trim so it is time for me to just bite the bullet, right?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

pretty house

I'm mostly just reposting these photos for my own archiving. I saw this house over at Design*Sponge and I should just cry over the loveliness. The house is owned by a husband/wife designer duo from Brooklyn. It has great bones, which helps, but their use of color is just wonderful.

I've totally changed my mind about the living room/dining room paint color that I had selected. I was feeling really great about Nantucket Gray which is a decidedly muddy color. I worry that it will be too gloomy and drab which I definitely do not want. Anyway, there's been much more hemming and hawing over colors and much rifling through my Benjamin Moore color swatches. I'll post more on this and my (hopefully) decision soon, but my color crisis caused me to look through design blogs such as D*S and take note of what really catches my eye. It turned out to be spaces like this one - light, airy, with cleaner colors. A successful mix of old and new.


 They say that this paint color is Wedgewood Gray.

 I would just love to know what this paint color is. I want to live here.

Wouldn't you just die for a nook like that?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

the great unveiling

Yesterday I got some seriously sweet news. The tree guys would be at my house at 8am sharp to remove the trees in front of our house!

They came early and were done by 9am. It was a little like Christmas morning for me.

Check this out.


Hellooo? Is there a house back there?


Ta da! A house! A house which now is in desperate need of some landscaping. Hmmm...

Also, the weird 50s remuddle in the front is now plainly visible. Oh well... Keep looking at the good parts, please.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

foyer sneak peek

Not quite done yet, but I thought a sneak peek was in order because it makes me feel like I've accomplished something. (Still have a second coat left on one wall and I have to paint/touch up the trim. I'm hoping to get it done this week. Perhaps that is wishful thinking.)

If you'd like to refresh your memory on this knotty pine monstrosity before, I'll direct you here.


It is Benjamin Moore Woodlawn Blue which has turned out to be just the pretty robin's egg blue I was looking for. Ahhh. I like how it is turning out even better than my inspiration pic.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New old knob

So I went ahead and ordered the closest knob that I could find after scouring the internet for several days. I've literally been dreaming about door knobs and five panel doors, so I'm hoping this puts an end to that. Really, I can barely imagine a less interesting sounding dream.

Here's the knob I ordered, complete with mortise lock. The knob itself is boring, but the backplates are similar and it was very reasonably priced. Maybe someday I'll stumble upon the matching knob and I'll swap it out.

As a refresher, here's what I was hoping to find:
Argh. That one is so much nicer. Crap.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Living room paint

Saturday afternoon we went to Benjamin Moore and picked up handfuls of swatches. I was very, very grabby. When we got home, one swatch miraculously stood out from the others: Nantucket Gray. It is a greenish gray from Ben Moore's historic collection, and I'm pretty stoked about it. I even picked up a little sample jar from Ace Hardware on Sunday. (I always forget Ace sells Ben Moore paints.)



Not the greatest photos, and I think this is one of those chameleon colors that really changes depending on the light (I think all grays are probably like this). Anyway, I like it, and I think it looks nice with the existing cream, which will be in two adjoining rooms. I'm leaning towards Wethersfield Moss (darker and greener) for the mud room.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Doors

(I've completely lost all creativity as far as post titles. Oh, wellsies.)

Yeah, so we went off to the door store today to look into replacing one of the doors into our family room. There are currently no doors on the family room, but we do have the two doors that used to be there stored in the garage. One of the doors is an adorable, slender five panel door which matches all of the other doors in the house. The second door, however, is a crappy slab with el cheapo hardware. And this is the door that is right off of the front hall! What were they thinking? Blah.

I propped it up to see if it is indeed the right size. Barf.

So we perused the salvaged doors at the door store and we are pretty sure we're going with one. It is $50, which sounds about right. They'll trim it down to match the door above for $15 so we're sure it will fit. Yay!

Then comes the actual work that I have to do. (I hate work!) I'll have to sand and lacquer one side of the door (the side that leads into the front hall) and then scrape, scrape, scrape and repaint the other side. I'm hoping to have the door specialists tell me exactly what to do, step-by-step, so I don't totally screw it up.

Meanwhile we need to get our hands on some hardware. All of the hardware in our house looks like this (Art Nouveau):

Or like this (Art Deco):

I'm partial to the Art Deco style myself, although you can see on the doors that have this style that they used to have the Nouveau (you can see the curvy outline surrounding the new(er) knob.)

Well, either way, I'm looking online and thinking that to buy a new set of either of kinds of hardware, or a new old set, is going to cost an arm and a leg. Bah! I can't find the exact type of Art Deco. I can find similar but in a different finish and with a different knob. Poo.

If anyone has a lead, I'd appreciate it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Color

So I've been thinking that it would be a good idea to paint the large expanse that is the living room/dining room. Not a good idea in a "fun times" kind of way, but good in the sense that it would be better to do it before we anchor our humongous Expedit shelving unit to the wall and we should really do that soon.

As mentioned before, our entire home is painted a cream color. Pleasant enough, but way, way, way too much of it. Something about this cream color has paralyzed the paint-picking part of my brain and I'm feeling a bit at a loss.

I'm thinking a gray... but lately I've been wondering if I've stumbled into neutral territory where only the grayest of colors make me happy. Everything else scares me.


I posted this photo previously, and it is the only photo I have on hand which shows the living room. It also shows both the white trim around the windows as well as the natural wood baseboards. Something about those baseboards are throwing me off (but I will not be painting them).

At the moment, I'm considering Benjamin Moore (of course) Ashley Gray, Edgecomb Gray, or Revere Pewter. Ashley Gray is my most daring selection. It is fairly dark. I just worry about it with those baseboards. sigh.

Monday, October 25, 2010

primed

Here is a terrible photo of the primed foyer. I took a couple of better photos (I swear!) but I can't get them to work on this computer. I also don't have Photoshop on this computer which contributes to the ugliness.

You may remember this foyer in its prior knotty pine splendor. I'll post a pic for old time's sake:

That photo is from one of our initial walkthroughs, so that isn't our stuff. But anyway, there's all kinds of wrong with that paneling. It is as though you are viewing the front hall from another person's house.

So here is the foyer now with the primer:


Yay! I think it is a million times better already. It is quite stark in its primer-ness but I think that it will look great in BM Woodlawn Blue. I am going to let it sit for a while to make absolutely sure the knots don't bleed through the primer, Zinsser BIN -- which, by the way, is just a beast. We had the room quite well ventilated and it still felt like I had done a couple shots of shellac by the time we were done. blech.

Monday, October 18, 2010

fox knocker

He is now ready to greet you at our side door.
I can also see that I need to find a razor blade to tidy up the paint job around the window panes on the door.

Friday, October 15, 2010

RL

In searching around for mud room paint color inspiration, I stumbled upon this Ralph Lauren Paint ad. Love it.


No, I won't be painting our mud room emerald green. But how lame would it be if I hung up bridle brackets? I guess what I am actually wondering is how well they would hold up coats? Might have to take a trip to the tack store to find out.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

toddler-friendly food

Cooking for my 13-mo-old has been a challenge. It doesn't help that we've moved into an unfamiliar kitchen and are still locating odds and ends in strange places. (Where are those cookie sheets again??) We've also been generally overwhelmed and cooking falls by the wayside. It is something I need to get a better handle on.

I've been following the very nice and aptly named blog Cooking with My Kid for a while. I'm sure it initially caught my eye through Ohdeedoh. It has many recipes that look not only child-friendly but appetizing to adults as well. Tonight I tried out her recipe for Baked Spinach & Rice.

I did not take a photo, but here is the lovely picture from the blog:


Looks yummy, right? The best part was that my toddler took one bite and then opened her mouth EXTRA wide for the next bite. Good deal.

I modified it a little bit just because I only had cheddar (not mozzarella) on hand. But I think that the cheddar was the way to go.

Baked Spinach & Rice Recipe from Cooking with My Kid
Prep Time: 25 mins (mostly unattended)  Cooking Time: 30 mins
Ingredients:
1 package rice pilaf
1 box frozen chopped spinach
1 cup mozzarella cheddar cheese
2 eggs
1/4 cup lowfat milk
Defrost spinach and squeeze dry. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Cook rice according to package directions and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in chopped spinach, cheese, milk and eggs. Pour into greased square baking dish and cook for 30 minutes or until set. Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting into squares for serving. Serves 4 to 6.

Monday, October 11, 2010

back-breaking

It may be have been the lifting of heavy objects during our move, the stooping over my not-quite-toddling toddler as she's learning to walk, or the sitting at my computer which was on a short and ergonomically-incorrect table. Maybe it was a combo of the above, but my back is killing me.

It is slowing me down.

We did make some progress with unpacking more boxes, assembling an Expedit bookshelf (not the big one which scares me), and some reorganization of furniture (more heavy lifting!) So things are feeling better and a bit more settled around here.


My computer has been relocated to the living room and this was my view this afternoon. You can see that my cat has had no problem settling into his new digs.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Your days are numbered, trees.

I'm usually the last person to get excited about chopping down a tree. I love trees! Seriously, trees rule.

But despite driving past our house a million times before I spotted the For Sale sign, I had never even noticed it. It is situated within a grove of overgrown shrubs and arborvitae. I never knew arborvitae could get this large, and even our arborist seemed a little impressed.
 Is there a house back there?
Look how tall they are! They tower over our 2-story house.

Looks like these bad boys, plus their little shrubby friends, and their pal juniper Joe are all coming out some time in November. I am pretty stoked to actually see what the front of our house looks like.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

good finds

We have way too much stuff, but I went out and got some more today.

I visited a local flea market which I will definitely be frequenting from now on. I found this lovely mirror which will go in our front hall. It was $27. Win!

I can't even believe I was contemplating buying similarly priced (or more expensive) mirrors from Target and Home Depot.

I also found this adorable Swedish plate made out of enameled tin. It was just a couple bucks, and it made my daughter happy. Horses? Swedish? Like mother, like daughter.

Monday, October 4, 2010

the nook

I hate taking photos at night but I did it anyway. Look! A space without boxes! Hurrah - it is our kitchen nook. I'm so relieved this table fits in this space. It isn't perfect, but what is... And our Stendig calendar seems to make sense on this wall which is good because I think it belongs in close proximity to the table.

I need to figure out what chairs would suit the table and the space. I've been wrestling with this for a long time now and I've just decided that when our 13-month-old is out of her high chair, it is officially time for new chairs. These chairs that we have are 10 years old and were 20 bucks each at Ikea. They've served us pretty well although the seats are breaking and the frames are Gorilla-Glued together.

I've had my eye on a few chairs at West Elm:


There must be something in the curve of the table that is leading me to these curvy-backed chairs. I'm leading towards the second chair in chocolate, but the website is no longer selling them individually which makes me think they might be getting rid of them. D'oh.
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