Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Picture This

I've been focused on the pursuit of rugs and accent chairs, but realized I was missing the one key ingredient that seems to make a house feel like home: pictures on the wall. I'd managed to hang picture frames a few months ago but most of them didn't even have new pictures in them, and the rest of the walls around the house are bare, bare, bare.

So that has been my drawn-out project as I get a few moments here and there to tackle a project, and what a difference it makes! This is an ongoing project and most of the rooms still have undecorated walls, but here's what I have so far...

The dining room was the first to be painted but now seems to serve as the first place for All Things Homeless and Unnecessary to land. Seriously, that room never stays organized. The bookshelf has had a collection of picture frames, bills, and books on top of it for months. I'd snapped a picture at a long-ago trip to IKEA to inspire me - I don't think I would have considered a photo collage style display in the dining room, but I loved the way it looked in IKEA. (Let's face it, that's my problem: I love the way everything looks at IKEA!) I love the way it brings fun moments and memories into a very functional room:

Now I just have to tackle the mess of a bookshelf below it!

I went rather "art-gallery" on the other dining room wall...when I went to Paris in 2003, I fell madly in love with Auguste Rodin's sculptures. Of course everyone knows this one:

But I loved some of the other large sculptures that made me pause. Ok, Le Penseur makes me think but mostly it just makes me think about what HE could be thinking about. Since I'm not in the high-stakes art collecting world, I did what normal people do: I bought postcards. I'd had them in cheap frames in old apartments, but for awhile they were hidden away with other old picture frames. I splurged on my version of expensive picture frames at Target ($13 each), angled a couple of the spotlights on my dining room lamp differently and voila! I have my favorite art featured in a rather grown-up display.

And last but not least, I updated the photos in the hallway frames. It's a little nephew-centric...I love it!

Still more to come...including this sneak peak of art in the office/guest room (it was accidental but appropriate that this fits the theme of this post)!

Monday, February 27, 2012

And So It Grows

My front yard continues to be a long, drawn out process of learning and work. It started with a naive idea that I would design and install all the landscaping myself...evolved to a belief that I should hire a professional to do the project...and quickly flipped back around into a DIY project when I saw the $10,000 price tag on said professional's bid. I've learned about kinds of grass, types of watering systems, flowers that live in Phoenix heat and magazines that lie when they say "needs partial shade." I started the front yard driven by a desire to keep the neighbors and their anonymous complaint notes quiet, but this space quickly changed into something I do because I like it and am proud to do because it has transformed my little home from a dirt lot into the not-too-manicured kind of place dogs want to stop and roll around in glee.

(You've seen these pictures before but since I can't get enough of them, you have to glance at them too. The difference between the before and after makes me smile.)

The thermometer is edging up to 80 degrees, however, and I'm trying to prepare myself for the next step after the inevitable death of my gorgeous winter grass. The sprinkler system is still too complicated and expensive to tackle, the overgrown bushes I love in the front of the house still haven't been trimmed like the landscaper suggested, and I still haven't decided if I want plants along the sidewalk or just grass. But I did start to creep forward on the design I had drawn by a landscaper. It was worth the ridiculous cost ($250, but that was 50% off what it normally was because I found the landscaper through the Maricopa County Home and Garden Show last year). I've spent far too much money on plants that I put in the wrong location, and I was tired of watching flowers die. I now have this lovely map of what should go where, with at least some assurance that things might continue living once I put them there.

So here, ladies and gentlemen, is the first investment in my "treasure map" for the front yard: a cape honeysuckle.

To celebrate and to add more color to the other side of the yard, I managed to get this great chair home in my little car:

This is the kind of progress that doesn't make for a very exciting blog post, but it does make every day a little brighter. There's another addition coming to the front yard next week...stay tuned!

Monday, February 20, 2012

A New Twist on An Old Favorite

I couldn't resist sharing this wonderful summary of the Breakfast at Tiffany's house, both in the movie and in real, modern-day life. It's worth reading!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Salad in the Making

I had a sad realization that I haven't actually created anything yet in 2012. Inspired by a few moments of free time yesterday and determined to change that sad record of "uncreativity," I went in search of an old table.

I'd seen a neighbor's very creative tabletop garden, and wanted to invent one for myself. I didn't find much advice online so went to the place DIYers often go for inspiration and materials: I headed to Goodwill. And NOT on 50% off day, so that will tell you how serious I was about this project.

I immediately found the perfect "table" - this old piano stand was a great size for a few plants, and I loved the idea of the hinged top as a way to shade plants from afternoon sun when needed.

I was informed by an unforgivably rude employee that in order to get the bench I had to buy the piano that went with it. Yeah, not going to happen. So my quest started again. The only other viable option (except for the OTHER GREAT piano bench I found...if you're looking for a piano, go to Goodwill) was this sewing cabinet. It had many lovely qualities, including a ruler marking that just might have allowed me to actually plant plants the right distance apart, but in the end it was just a table that looked old and didn't have much space for building a garden bed on top of it.

My decision making process continued to evolve...I'll just build my own, I thought. In fact, it doesn't even have to have legs. I can just build a small raised garden bed - why didn't I think of that earlier? Next stop: the most magical nursery on earth. I could just move into Whitfill's - it's paradise, and living there would remove the need to do any gardening myself. I glare enviously at the houses across the street from this magical place - they get the benefit of the hundreds of birds and gorgeous flowering trees. Of course, they get people parking in their yards while they try to load impossibly large flowering bushes into their too-mall cars, too, so I guess there's a downside.

This place really is magical, though, so I suspiciously pulled out my camera and captured inspiration to share with you...

Isn't this chevron flower pot gorgeous?! The peacock statue is pretty awesome, too.

Displays like this make me want to quit my job and become a farmer, just to have the satisfaction of looking at such perfect lines of fresh food.

I had another brilliant realization: the wood bases of these trees would be perfect garden planters. My excitement died when I was told they never kept them - they get scrapped after the nursery delivers and plants the trees elsewhere. Bad idea, guys - you could make a fortune selling those things to eager gardeners like me who can't quite bring ourselves to pay $50 for the half-barrel planters at Home Depot.

I got over my disappointment by spending time with the Evergreen Pear trees. I love these things and someday my backyard will have a place for one of these beauties to drop white flowers all over the place on a regular basis.

One of the best things about Whitfill's: the carts. These aren't any boring grocery store-wannabes, these are three-wheeled tanks that can topple over a big tropical tree if you turn your back on it (not, of course, that anything like that that actually happened...ahem).

These babies remind me of one of my favorite things about Tuscany:

And with one final effort to prove that Whitfill's is the best nursery ever, here, ladies and gentlemen, are the peacocks. SO COOL.

Back to my story. I went to Home Depot full of good intentions to build a small garden bed, but got immediately depressed about how much it would cost to do so. After checking out cedar, I wandered to get the gardening fabric I'd need to keep the plant roots from going into the dirt when suddenly it hit me: WHY is it so bad to have a garden in the ground?! I have a lovely patch of dirt behind the garage that is lonely. So my inspiration fully evolved actual little patch of garden, without a raised bed or any other fancy entrapment. I have lettuce, spinach, eggplant and cilantro, and I even made those gorgeous cork garden markers I was admiring earlier this week!

I also planted this gorgeous thing...does anyone know if it's edible? The tag didn't even tell me what it is but I didn't ask - I'd already fallen in love with the colors on it and hopefully it will continue to look gorgeous after I've devoured the leaves off of the other lettuce plant.

I never knew how many kinds of eggplant there are. My decision was easy, however, when I saw this one...gotta love plants (or anything, really) that remind you of someone you adore!

I didn't build a jaw-dropping tabletop garden bed and in reality I guess I didn't create anything at all, but I'm quite happy with the new addition to my life. A real garden!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Clever Cork Creations

Along with mason jars, I have been collecting corks wherever I can find them - yes, I've even been known to sneak one off an abandoned restaurant table when no one was looking. I'd seen several very clever ideas but hadn't settled on the one project I wanted to tackle. I've seen cork boards while shamelessly ogling others' houses on historic home tours...

And I love the glow this cork candleholder casts:

Two Twenty One
Someday I want to copy my beloved Tonya and do one of these cork wreaths!

My inability to pick one cork project just got more complicated, because Kelli at Addicted 2 Decorating just pulled together even more amazing ideas.

I can't even look at this wonderful giraffe without wanting to hug it just a little bit.

Drawer handles: so cool!

The only problem with these adorable garden markers: they're not big enough to hide the fact that my poor basil plant is just about dead.

Why didn't I think of this?! The keychain I've used for the last eight years (that's an actual calculation, not - for once - an exaggeration) broke last week, so this project is a must-do in the near future.

I still think I prefer my Scrabble thumb tacks, but this is very clever.

I saved the most dramatic for last: WOW! I wish it were from a DIY site rather than a professional one because I want to know how to seal these enough that oil/dirt/etc wouldn't just soak into the backsplash...and I bet a DIYer wouldn't have used fake fruit in the photo. But still, very stunning.

And just because I couldn't resist, here's my favorite cork-inspired accessory of all time.

Monday, February 13, 2012

How Jarring!

I love the mason mania that's popping up all over craft and home blogs, but was confused about where all these jars came from...until I realized that I'm recycling them every time I use pasta sauce! Now they're stacking up in my pantry until I follow through on my intentions to copy some of these amazing ideas.

Mason jars as storage - could this get any classic or wonderful?

Mason jars as lighting...this was the first style lamp I ever fell head-over-heels for at Pottery Barn.

Mason jars as planters - this is a garden even I could maintain!

These oh-so-useful mason jar ideas are awesome...


My all-time favorite use of mason jars, though, was designed by my dad. With something this stylish, I might even be inspired to drink enough water every day!