Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hall Bath Progress

Thank you so much for all the feedback on the Wood Trim Problem.  We have a plan I'm pretty excited about thanks to the fresh perspective and ideas you gave us.

And thanks to winter storm Remus and my Aeropress, I finally made some serious progress on the guest bathroom.

The last time we had a delay at work, I cut in the hall bathroom.  I, of course, did not think to take pictures before I began to cut in, so here's what we have.

And here it one snow day later:

Aaaaaah.  So much better.

Does that light fixture look familiar?  I bought it from Joss & Main for the guest room.  After removing the old light fixture to paint, I couldn't stand the idea of putting it back, so (after watching three YouTube videos) I hung the new one up instead.  And I LOVE it!

I'm also really happy with Worldly Gray (even if the Sherwin-Williams guy is over it).

Now I just need more snow days and the whole house would be finished.

(Psst, Joss & Main is carrying that light fixture again for a short time. You can find it here.  Just leave a couple for me!)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What Wood You Do?

Guest room progress is steady if slow.  I'm coming to terms with there being random furniture stuck in random places throughout the house. Some I've tried to camouflage.  Such as the dresser that is pretending to be a buffet.

At least now I know I definitely want a buffet in the front room.  I forget how much space I have in there sometimes.

I'm still completely unsure of what to do with all the natural and stained wood in our house.  Matt loves the natural wood look.  Since this is our "forever home," he wants us to decide on a wood tone that we love and stick with that.  Even if it means replacing some of the existing doors, door jambs, trim, and floor moldings.

Just typing that out makes me tired.

It's hard for me to separate the amount of work required to accomplish replacing the wood from the decision of what tone I like best.  But I think he's right that we have to decide and commit and not let the amount of work determine our decision (even if I can't help that it influences it).

I've been looking at pictures on Houzz for some pictures of appealing wood trim.  It's interesting how just the color of the wood completely changes the feel of the room.

1. Here is a beautiful farmhouse kitchen in the natural wood tones Matt loves so much.

2. The stain in this room is pretty close to the existing doors and jambs stained in our house.  It looks Craftsman, which is not our style (nor our house's style).  But maybe that's what the previous owners were going for?

3. This stained wood is far more rustic looking than the cherry stain.

4. And here is a darker stain with the wall paneling.  Usually this look leans toward Victorian, but I like the simple lines of this room.

5. Here the color of the paneling is closer to the red tones we already have.  Also, I want that chair. And those shades.

6. This design tones down the wood with a white door.  I love too how the hall table is a contrasting stain.  And while the vase is a similar color to the trim, it is an interesting texture.

7. And because I can't completely rule it out, here is some painted paneling. I love simplicity of this foyer.  Even though the wall paneling is painted, there is enough natural wood to keep the rustic feel.

8. This room with a brick floor like ours mixes the darker stain and white painted paneling.

Aaaagh.  The more I look at it, the more I love that painted paneling.  MATT!

Help a girl out.  What look do you like best?

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Girly Guide to Surviving Frozen Pipes

If you own a home with pipes in an area that gets below freezing, there is a chance that at some point your pipes will freeze.  If you live on fifteen acres that have six outdoor spigots put in by misguided DIYers, then there is a chance you pipes will freeze more than once a year.  And they will burst and make you miserable.

I've dealt with burst pipes four times now in two years and consider myself something of an expert.  So without further ado, here is a girly guide to surviving frozen pipes.

1. Own a Carhartt jumpsuit.

If you spend any amount of time outside in the winter beyond going to and from your car, you will never regret this purchase. Since in general it makes me look like a giant baked potato, I suggest pairing it with some statement earrings and a Burberry scarf.

The pug likes it too.

2. Have a great playlist.

My favorite choice for long, tedious tasks is musicals.  When you are cold and wet, Les Miserables is always appropriate.

3. Use your hair dryer.

Not on your hair, silly!  Your hair will be dry because you can't shower.  But a hair dryer is a woman's best weapon against frozen pipes.  You'll be in it for the long haul, though, so refer back to number 1.

4. Learn some plumbing terms.

When you get to your home improvement store of choice, it will help if you know a little bit about plumbing parts.  Otherwise labels such as "male outdoor" or "female closet" and "coupling" can be a little shocking.  And you'll know what you're looking for when your neighbor tells you to bring home "two elbows."

Also, remember that these stores are designed by men (quite possibly an accountant).  Everything is organized by numbers - not shape.  The caps are not all in one place.  If you find the 2" caps but need a 1" cap, do not despair as I did. Simply locate all the boxes that say 1" and I promise you the right sized cap is grouped in there.

5. Get a good dry shampoo.

You'll need it.

6. Do not under any circumstances wear your favorite blue ballet flats.

If your yard was recently flooded, do not wear your favorite shoes in an effort to cheer yourself up (unless your favorite shoes are Wellies).  You will inevitably forget that the yard flooded, froze, and then thawed out.  And do not try to improve the situation by rubbing the mud off in the dry grass.

Instead of being the confidence boost you were going for, your feet will merely look tarred and feathered.

Not a good look.

Don't do it.
A hacksaw, primer and epoxy are never a bad thing to have on hand either.

Anyone else have any cold weather tips to pass on?  I hope everyone is staying warm, dry and clean!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

It's Inevitable

Any time I pick up blogging again, I make changes to the layout.  It's inevitable.

I have given the banner a much needed update.

In case you've forgotten, it looked like this:

Grace no longer looks like that (but, oh my word, she is so cute in that picture!), and I didn't even make that pie.  Now there is a picture of our brightly painted chicken coop surrounded by icy trees.  It is our land, and I kind of love it.

I've updated the button to match, so if you want to grab my button to put on your blog, it looks a little more 2015.

(Side note: If you're a blogger and want a button for your blog, you have to check out this incredible feature on Code It Pretty.  I was once up until 1 am coding my first button, but now she's written a program that codes the button for you.  Amazing!)

I finally got around to adding a recipe page to the sidebar.  I didn't realize how many recipes I had on the blog until I compiled them all in one spot!

It turns out that I like writing about cookies and pie waaay more than I like writing about salad.  However, organizing them did help me remember some forgotten favorites.  Such as the lemon caper salad dressing served on butter lettuce with lemon wedges and avocado slices.  That will be happening at my house again soon.

And those zucchini recipes.  I can almost taste tomatoes right now. Forget the magic of ice storms.  I want a heat wave and mosquitoes and fresh produce!

If you can't find a recipe you're looking for on that page, this search feature is pretty handy.

And right below the recipes, you'll find a house tour.  This house tour currently consists of mostly the before pictures that my FIL took during move-in day.  I cannot wait to start adding some after picturs

While I'm tidying up, I might as well mention that I've always kind of hated my blog name.  When I started this over four years ago, I wanted something that had to do with making good use of time, and I wanted it to be a literary reference.  Yeah, I know.  But now, with FB algorithms, it is at an all new low.  Any time I post a link, FB brings up "You May Also Be Interested In: Lady GaGa is Finally Engaged!"

Not what I was going for.

So that might be getting a face lift soon too.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Yesterday morning we woke up to a frozen world.  I'd never seen a true ice storm before moving to South Carolina.  In Michigan, the frozen trees would hang over a powdery blanket of snow.  Here, the freezing rain comes without snow, and everything from the grass to the houses to the trees are glazed in ice.

My office had a delayed opening, so I tried to take some pictures and soak it in: the trees splaying cold fingers against the sky cloudy with dawn and winter.  The chickens pecking hesitantly at the ice.  Our bamboo grove doubled over from the weight.

As I rounded the corner of the house, a bluebird that had been drinking from a puddle flew off: his wings a shock of blue against the glassy landscape.  His breast the red of a summer strawberry.

Then the sun was up. The woods echoed with the cracking and shattering of the trees breaking free.

Meanwhile, inside...

I used the extra time to cut in the bathroom paint.

Fingers crossed for a few more snow days.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Magic of Paint

Soooo, I totally neglected to ever post pictures of the chicken coop after we finished painting it. And believe it or not, we did finish.  Something that I thought would take one or two nights still wasn't completed after a month of tying to do it in the shortening  evenings.  So we both took a day off and made it happen. I still can't get over how great it looks.



The magic of paint, am I right?

The siding is painted in Behr Cajun red and the trim is Behr antique white.  We both liked that it looked barn red, but not in a "burn your retinas" kind of way.

And look who insisted on showing off for the camera.

Part of the reason it took so long was because all the old paint had to be scraped off before it could be painted new.  This little tool came in very handy.  And I didn't have to go to the gym for the entire month.  It also helped to have an extra thick roller to get the paint on the siding.

Painting in a barnyard was not without it's challenges.  Between all the dirt on the walls, the turkeys pecking at my feet, and the chickens drinking the paint, it seemed to take twice as long as an inside paint job.  But we also became privy to some secrets, spending all that time silently painting in the animal's yard.

Late afternoon on the last day of the project, we saw a doe and three fawns in the far pasture.  They were standing perfectly still, watching us.  Then the fawns starting prancing completely without reserve.

In the last hours of daylight, when the sun falls in slanting, warm-colored rays across the grass, three little fawns were hopping and skipping on spindly legs.  The bounced as though they were so full of delight in their own existence, that they couldn't stand still.

I'll probably never see anything like it again.

Monday, February 16, 2015

You've Got Mail!

Beth and I met our freshman year of college.  Depending on who you're talking to, we met either first semester between piano lessons or the next semester in freshman speech.

We were seated next to each other in freshman speech, and she said "Hi, I'm Beth."

Stricken, I stared at her.  "I know who are.  My piano lesson is right before yours."

I still give her a hard time about not knowing we were already friends, and she talks about thinking I was a crazy stalker.  I prefer to think I was a friendly stalker.  Crazy friend?

We became the kind of friends that being in speech class together creates.  Four years, lots of coffee, laughs, heartache, and two diplomas later, we took jobs at the same music school and moved into a house together.  That summer we both supplemented our teaching jobs with babysitting, and the family Beth worked for bought her a pool membership.  We spent every weekend of that sticky, South Carolina summer at the pool reading novels, drinking La Croix and listening to the You've Got Mail soundtrack.  To this day I can't hear Dreams by the Cranberries without smelling suntan lotion.

When Beth got engaged, I knew I had to throw her a You've Got Mail bridal shower.

In the name of research, I watched You've Got Mail.  Then I armed up with some custom typed prints, cookies, and a few special decorations.

I couldn't find a craft mailbox anywhere, so I bought a regulation-sized mailbox at Home Depot.  It came in handy for Christmas decorating too!  Now I'm trying to figure out how I ever decorated without one.

The print-outs were downloaded from Etsy. I put them in assorted frames I had, and displayed them on that bird stand and a couple stacks of books.  The little gift box and napkins are from Target.  

No You've Got Mail event would be complete without a typewriter, daisies and a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils.

I am a lone reed.

The cookies were custom ordered from my favorite local bakery Bakery Off Augusta.

Congratulations, Beth!

My friend Rachel took the beautiful photos.  Go check out her blog The Hippie Homestead.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Match Made in Sherwin-Williams

Renovating the guest room is starting to get exhausting. After working on it all day last Saturday, Thursday and today, I am ready for a week of sitting at a desk.  I told my FIL we should go into construction business and call it Collins and Collins  But I've since changed my mind.

But we have managed to go from this:

To this:

To this!


It's a little dusty right now, in spite of my FIL's best efforts with a broom and shop vac.

Between the heavy lifting (i.e my FIL's availability) I've been working to stain all the unfinished pine trim.

The former DIYer owners had pulled down some of the crown moldings in the house.  I couldn't figure out why, until I found it in the banister of the loft railing.  NOT the correct way to upcycle.

So I pulled out all the moldings in the guest room and set them aside to fill in the missing spaces in the dining room.  I plan to stain all new molding as close as possible but not put any old next to new. 

In order to have stain matched, Sherwin-Williams needs a sample of the wood that will be stained.  I went to Home Depot and bought a 4x1 pine board.  Then I dropped it off at SW with a sample of the existing trim.  The next day, they called and told me my stain was matched!

The board showed all the different stains they'd tested to get a match.

To achieve the same look as my existing trim and moldings, I needed to buy wood conditioner and gloss in addition to the stain.

I can't believe how much more finished things look with the wood stain.  I'm slowly getting the hang of applying it.  Although, I did discover wood stain on my ear yesterday just before going out with friends for Valentine's Day.  Thankfully the restaurant walls were wood-paneled, so it was easy to camouflage.

See Henry in that picture up there?  He's been alternating between hiding under the table and trying to slip into the room behind us.  It's harder to know who will be more relieved when we're finished with this room!

Oh, and see that work around the door?  Yeah, we didn't do that.  It looked like that when we moved in.  Just one of the reasons I cried in this room during the walk-through.

Part of this door jamb was the original color (possibly former crown molding??) and part of it I stained to match.  Pretty good match, right?

Now that I've started staining, we're questioning what to do with all the wood in our house.  I had originally thought we could have the dark and light pine together.  Now I'm thinking we need to stain it all.  I just wonder if that stain is too dark for all the wall and if we should match the trim to the light pine.

I hate to replace all the wood trim, doors and the stairs, but I do want it to look finished.

To stain or not to stain?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Paint Is a Many-Splendored Thing

Stained wood trim is a wiley beast. It turns out you cannot use the same paint in your white-trimmed townhouse in your wood-trimmed farmhouse no matter how much you love the hue.  It is just not the same animal.

In my (limited) experience, white trim is far more forgiving.  Wood trim stained in cherry like ours, is orange tinted.  Put that orange next to the beautiful golds and tans I had in the other house and you have the equivalent of mustard and cheese next to each other on a hamburger bun. Not pretty.

Our old bedroom was painted in Sherwin-Williams Anjou Pear.  It was pretty much my favorite paint color and I recommended it to everyone.  

See that orange chest on tall dresser?  Imagine that is the wood trim all along the floors and ceilings with that paint color.  


Throw in brick floors, and you're left with one viable option: cool neutrals.

This has meant a lot of research and a lot of paint samples on the walls.  Not a single wall in our house is free from a paint sample right now.  Matt asked me if I am immune to it and now think it's art.  Not a bad idea.  Maybe use throw some empty frames up there...

The top contender for the primary color in our house right now is Sherwin Williams Worldly Gray.

I went to Sherwin Williams and told the sale's associate, "I'm looking for Amazing Gray?"

He sighed and said "Everyone is looking for Amazing Gray."

That was enough to make me reconsider.  I don't want to be like everyone!  But I'd done a lot of research online and had a good feeling about this one.

He said "I'll be so glad when this gray phase is over.  Everyone wants a true gray, but true gray doesn't exist."

Ok, so I'm not like everyone.  I already know this because I have wood trim and spent hours on the internet.

I said "I know the internet isn't always right."

He interrupted me "It's never right."

I promise not to blame you, Sherwin-William's man, if this doesn't work.  But I really think this is the color family for me.

Wordly Gray is one color down the paint chip from Amazing Gray.  

See how the gray looks pretty, well, gray up there?

Look at it here with the wood trim:

Next to the cherry stain, it suddenly looks less gray and looks a little more taupe.  

This is pretty obvious, but it had me flummoxed for weeks.  I could not figure out why the colors I loved so much looked so green-tinted and pukey on the walls of our new house. 

I'm very excited to paint a full wall with this stuff and see how it works.  Anything to go from 1970 to French countryside.

Maybe one day our grandchildren will be talking about going from French countryside to 1970.  Go for it!

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