MiniProject: When a Wagon Becomes a Planter
I hereby claim for myself the title of This Generation's Martha Stewart. Tonight I shall skirt legal nuances, trod on the ethical, and the lie extravagantly and poorly in a misguided attempt to cover up the truth.
As your new queen of suburban fine living and crafty projects, I present to you a project I like to subtitle "Anyone can make a planter out of anything." In this case, it's a repro radio flyer wagon I picked up at an auction for three bucks.
Spring Project I: The Pebbling!
Between the previous owner's dogs and last summer's construction, what was intended to be a verdant squared off curve of green grass around the pond was more like scrubby crapgrass (not a typo) and dirt mixed with the occasional sharp stone. I had two choices: baby along the grass, spread lots of grass encouragement, and buy sod OR remove all grass and put down an alternate surface. Naturally, I chose the harder, more expensive, and heavier labor option.
Home-made Hat Stands
I've been wanting to make myself some real hat stands for several months now. In August, I bought some heavy-duty black wire that I tried to form in the shape of a human head, but the wire didn't hold its shape well enough for my satisfaction. In October, I thought about going the paper machier route, but that was a little too crafty for the elegance level I wanted.
I finally got inspired when I was at a recent Big Flea and saw a woman selling hat stands for 20 bucks a pop. "I could make those," I said to myself. In fact, I thought that I could make better ones using decorative molding and more interesting legs. Hers were made from a decorative porch newel post and two pieces of square molding nailed together like a capital I (and painted bilious pink). Mine would prettier in form and color.
Signs of Spring!
There are signs of spring all over my gardens - daffodils and tulips are stalking in the front. The irises are showing early signs of life (I need to make sure they are all exposing their corms to the air). In my back yard, the flower bed is a riot of spring leaves and stalks. The twice-blooming pansies I planted last fall (and several of whom kept blooming through the snow) are blooming now, too, but the most exciting thing are the anemones that suddenly bloomed this weekend.
Winter Project II: Downstairs Bathroom
I usually described the downstairs bathroom - when forced to - as white drowning in white: dull white walls, white fixtures, a tall white ceiling. This year, I honored James K. Polk by painting a thick blue line around the middle of that bathroom transforming it from blah to blue. (Hah. I kill myself!)
Winter Project I: Guest Bathroom Revamp
Like most guest bathrooms, mine is small. There's enough room for a sink, a toilet, a shower/tub, and 1.5 people. It hadn't been changed at all since the house was built (except for a quick slap of paint) - Everything was white except the "oak" cabinet. It was like walking into a dingy coccoon. There are no windows, but if you leave the door open, people coming the steps will have a nice view.
Something had to change.
Dressing Table Redux
My grandmother's dressing table had been painted a creamy yellow decades ago; by the time she moved to Virginia and gave it to me, the paint job had seen much better days. And yet - it sat in my bedroom, holding up jewellery, library books, and an occassional cat for well over a year while I figured out what to do with it.
Ultimately, I decided to paint it red.
On My Plate
I'm on this weird home-improvement kick suddenly. I've made asides about redoing my guest bathroom (now 99% complete; I just need to get slightly smaller wall anchors for the new towel racks) and revamping my grandmother's dressing table in my spare time, but I've got a long list of things I want to do next:
- Paint 1 or 2 broad vertical blue stripes around the downstairs half bathroom.
- Install a new medicine cabinet in my bathroom (I really really really hate the ones that were in the house when I bought it), and touch up paint on the ceiling
- Repaint the guest bathroom ceiling with new crisp white paint (an project independent of the current reno)
- Paint feature points in the kitchen red
- Paint the hall dusty bronze.
- Reorganize the garage
- Reposition and repot the orchids in their current containers
- Dig up the grass (when the snow fully melts) around the pond so I can put pebbles down (because the grasskiller stuff didn't work)
- Finish making the lava wineglasses
- Gild a bunch of frames I bought at a thrift shop for my bedroom wall
- Frame up cork tiles for bulletin boards in my office and kitchen
- set up smaller desk, rearrange furniture upstairs, and get things in order.
- Reorganize my closets (put in more shelves, move things logically, sort out clothes that I never wear or are too big)
- Make "heads" to put my spiffy hats on.
The Joy of Homeownership, Part 8392
I grew up in an old farmhouse that relied on placement and smart construction to handle the summer temperatures and on fireplaces (and in the modern era, a oil heat system) to handle the winter temperatures. I bought a house that uses gas to heat the place, and just like the Water Incident (a girl who grows up on well water has to adjust when she moves to suburbia), I was lacking a few key orientations about owning a gas-based heating element ... until this year, when I found myself shivering.
(At last! My oblique marginal comments will make sense!)
Summer Project II: Building the Fish Pond
My big summer plans of 2003 were to effect a total backyard makeover - after months of rain, the patio was finally installed in the middle of August. I could then turn my attention to putting in the fish pond.
Unlike (and because of) the patio, which I had professionally built and installed, I opted to build the pond myself, utilizing my family's experience and skill to do so. I spent around $500 in materials for the pond, and dedicated hours in prep work, and construction. And I had a deadline: I was heading off on a 7 state, 9 day vacation.
Summer Project 1: Patio Installation
The one major deficiency that my house had was it's lack of a livable back yard. The grass was still recovering from two years of dogs being dogs, and you stepped out through the sliding glass doors and down onto a singular stepping stone.
Something needed to be done.
It's been an odd, odd fall for flowers.
The Irises that didn't bloom in the spring bloomed in the fall (they weren't labelled as double-blooming Iris when I bought them). They were gorgeous plants: blue and white, bold and beared.
The Narcissus I planted in the side bed and the back yard has bloomed (I'm hoping there's enough time for the plants to create new shoots for spring), and the anemone stalks are up. It's a little disconcerting to see spring plants blooming in November; one trick-or-treate dad had to ask me what was up. I must have planted them too shallow.
The yellow mums I got from Lowes are spent, but the orange ones my parents picked up for me from a nursery are still going strong. (I also scored some nice violets, some low spiky evergreen plants, and some nice striped-leaf azaleas).
When I visited my parents last month, my father took me over to the valley and to a mennonite nursery, where I bought bright red hollyhocks and black eyed susans (half price, no less!), plus a yellow double-blooming iris. I cleaned up plant-wise that weekend.
Even the Ceiling is Orange
I painted my bathroom orange.
We're not talking about peach or red-tinged red; this is full-forced, full-fledged, in your face orange - Lowes' "Tangerine", as a matter of fact, with the details done in "Persimmon" - an orange a few shades lighter. The tile, tub and counters are still white to counterbalance the intensity of the shade.
I love it - It's bright and sunny in the morning, practically pushing you into being awake; it's so deep and luscious late at night you feel as if you were bathing inside a blood orange. I went from all sterility, all white, all the time to a color that compells you to live.