Sunday, April 29, 2012

Flower Power

After a very busy spring and in the transition of an already-looming summer, my front yard had lost a little of its floral-induced charm. The Italian pots I bought on Craigslist almost a year ago had never held flowers...

Poor Wanda II (the plant) always looked like she was on the verge of dehydration...

And the flowers in front of the house had...well, needless to say, most of them had gone to a happy place when the thermometer soared over 90 degrees.

So it was Whitfill's Nursery to the rescue again. I love that place! Armed with a car full of blooms, I spent the afternoon happily covered in dirt. Please share my joy about these new babies in the front yard.

I put the Zinnias in their Italian pots well out of reach of the sprinklers. I learned last year that the tag isn't kidding when it says water will kill the leaves!

I got two of these gorgeous blue flowerpots for a total of $20 at a neighborhood yard sale last they're home to quite an assortment of celocia, vinka and some gorgeous little groundcover whose name escapes me at the moment.

More colorful Vinka sits atop the amazing little bench that was a surprise gift from my aunts.

And voila! The sidewalk is a mess of chipped stain and dirt, but if you ignore that it looks perfect. I love the two pots, and the view will be even better when the flowers get more overgrown in their new homes.

The pots in front of the window got spruced up, as well. (RIP, sad departed winter plants!) The green pot will be home to more celocia, but the soil got too soaked so it's drying out a little before the new residents move in.

Wanda II also got moved to a happy home...she's hanging in the shade on the back porch. Hopefully the reduced sun will get her through the summer.

And just in case you were wondering, the new tree is doing well in the front yard! The leaves are a little brown because this is the dormant time for Hong Kong Orchids, but the trunk keeps getting bigger. The birds love perching in the branches - due to the lack of foliage, I'm sure they have a great view of the 'hood from there.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Very Bare Necessities

I was inspired by my closet organization, so I decided the next day-at-a-time project would be to make this pantry somewhat usable.  It started out as a catch-all area and ended up as the place food goes to spoil in forgotten darkness.
The pantry is a tall cabinet, with those used-to-be-organized IKEA bins used for recycling.

I found lots of organizing ideas on Pinterest, like this one:

But based on past experiences, I know with absolute certainty that the can I wanted would always be the hardest to get, so I'd be pulling all the cans out every time I needed one. And I really want to get to this point:

But that's going to have to wait until that uncertain point in the future when I have free time. For now, I started as all good DIYers do: a can of paint! I'd painted part of the pantry/storage areas months ago but never finished - now they all match the kitchen wall. Then I very simply just threw things away. Amazing what I found...three jugs of maple syrup, two of which expired a year ago and none of which I have actually used.

As you can see, all my pots and pans migrated to the second shelf...I threw away enough things to fit the food on one shelf! Moving the pans closer to eye level meant I won't have to search for the right one in the bottom shelf know, those two times a year when I actually cook. THAT, in turn, opened up space for me to organize the toaster/blender collection in another cabinet:

I was on a roll now. As the grand finale, I turned this mess of various cold and allergy medications (few of which actually work, by the way)into this nice, know-where-things-are cabinet.

I don't know what caused this spring cleaning frenzy but I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts. And at some point in the near future, I'm going to get rid of those weird circles on the floor of the recycling area. They're remnants from more than 60 years of sticky cabinet coverings, I think...but they'll look nice and new when they're bright, shiny white. And the ugly circles make this a candidate for Hating Martha's "Stinky Linky Party."

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earthy Green

Happy Earth Day! My morning included a wonderful Earth Day family bicycle parade down my street (for clarification, I was watching the parade, not participating in it - but I shared their enthusiasm).  Before that watch-others-celebrate moment, however, I'd spent a couple of hours working in the yard.

Remember my joy when my winter grass looked like this?

Well now it's hot and, much to my chagrin, the yard now looks like this:

Last weekend I learned the art of a thatch rake, which the nice guy with the Boston accent on This Old House promised me was necessary to have the best lawn in the neighborhood. It looks like an instrument of torture.

After a full day and about 15 big plastic bags of dead grass, the yard looked awful but better. There were patches of dirt where the winter grass used to be, and roots of old summer grass that looked like hay laying all over the lawn.

I had none of the enthusiasm I had the last time I planted grass, but this morning, in honor of Earth Day (and also because it's the only time I had to work on it), I tackled the challenge of Curb Appeal again. Grass seed went over the blank spots, and fertilizer went over the whole yard. Armed with these snazzy new sprinklers, I have hope that the yard will perk up soon!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Finding the Floor

It all started when I was searching for something. My already less-than-organized closet became the dark cave of doom and everything got thrown into chaos in my quest for the lost cuff links (which were, of course, in the pocket of the jacket the whole time). Long story short, the closet looked like this:

And my room was equally as lovely:

The week has been a hectic, stressful one and the mess didn't help my outlook at all. Organization was a drawn-out project that welcomed me when I got home every night. It started, of course, with an hour on Pinterest just to get ideas and feel inspired. (I have a whole board dedicated to "organization," if you want to waste time trying to become inspired yourself!) I picked this as a starting point, since much of the Closet Chaos is scarves:

It turned out pretty well!

I used more-useful-than-duct-tape jute twine to keep the scarves from doing this:

Then I tackled everything else. It was slow and tiring, but worth every minute to have this space. And just think of the time I'll save when I don't have to look for everything!

It's hard to show progress in such a small space, but here are some before and after shots...

I try to keep the "old home essence" in any project, but this old hook had to go.

This built-in shoe shelf is at the top of the list to be updated, too. These look nice but I have four plastic bins of shoes shoved under the bed that would like a little air, too. (I'm ignoring your reaction to my confession about my love of shoes.)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Guest Blogger: Hating Martha

I'm very excited to have my first ever guest blogger! I read a handful of blogs every day to keep myself motivated (or to just feel awful about how perfect others' homes are), and Hating Martha is one of my all-time favorites. (After all, who hasn't had moments where you can totally agree with that blog name?!) Janel is entertaining and inspiring...and she provides me with great therapy sessions called "Stinky Linky" parties. For those who don't speak blogese, that means that every week she gives us less-than-perfect bloggers the chance to share sob stories about projects that went horribly wrong. Seriously, it's good stuff...check out this one, where she featured my own failure.

I get the chance to write a post for her blog next month, but wanted to give you a head start on seeing how awesome she is.

Hi All!
Janel here!

I blog over at Hating Martha...

My blog is crafting, DIY, recipes...
whatever my little heart desires.
With fun and laughter thrown in for good measure.
Stop by sometime and say hi!
I serve some great virtual tea!!

I am so glad to hang out here with Beth
and share with you a quick little revamp
I did recently as part of
my Master Bedroom redo
(which has been going for 3 joke, ugh!)...

I came across this laundry hamper
for a lovely price of $8.00.

I added some stripes in a funky color
with spray paint.

(yes, they are a little lopsided...just lean)

A red faucet handle for the lid handle...

I don't really know what the fabric liners are for.
I don't like them.
So, I hotglued on a fake one...

Laundry spelled out with Scrabble letters
adds some more fun to the outside...

I think it is $8.00 well spent!

This makes a great addition to the Master Bedroom Redo closer to being done!
Pinky promise!

Other projects for the Master Redo...

Fabric Wall
Jewelry Carousel
Hair Tool Organizer
Til Next Time!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Happy Anniversary to Me

One year ago today I moved into my new home. I can't believe it's been a year, and I'm so grateful for such a wonderful hideaway that has already taught me so much. Throughout this year I lost my good friend, grew and killed many plants, and learned more about decorating - and myself - than I ever thought possible.

Not much as changed inside since my six-month celebration, though the hallway's been updated and the living room continues to evolve.

But the front yard has changed pretty significantly in the year that I've lived here. It started out as this:

And eventually grew into this:

It's been updated with a tree, a gorgeous bush and lots of flowers, and it's an ongoing project so more improvements are coming!

I'm working on a blog-to-book publication to celebrate my first year of blogging (that anniversary is May 1). It's a great way to review all that's happened this year. Thank you so much to those of you who have shared this journey with me - I can't wait to see (and blog) what the next year holds!