Monday, February 28, 2011

Moving day!

The movers left, we ate our victory burritos, and then we started unpacking.

Then a dude in a blue Camaro came screeching around the corner and hit
the back of the boy's truck and took off.

So yeah, his first hour in the house included a visit from the
Portland police. Luckily there wasn't much damage to his car.

Later we drank champagne and all was right with the world. :)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Snow falling on Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts are evergreen, if you neglect them all winter.


Just, you know, FYI.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My whole house looks like this right now.

It's making me crazy. Where's my hammer? Maybe in the bathroom?


Who knows!

Monday, February 21, 2011

The daphne is blooming!

The blooms are hot pink and they smell like heaven.


I love spring.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Things I'm thinking about

Refinishing the kitchen cabinets. It's not on the list of 2011 resolutions but Rustoleum just came out with a new cabinet system that requires no stripping or sanding.


Maybe a nice unglazed linen finish?


But then I would want to regrout the countertops and finally put in baseboards, and paint the kitchen door . . . and you see where I'm going with this. But it's tempting. Anybody have any great ideas for what color I could do that would go with both the floor and the countertops?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Garden therapy

I had an absolutely terrible day but the sun was out and it wasn't raining so I pruned the roses. I have TWENTY FIVE of them in the front yard and my sweet neighbor has been taking care of them for years. She came to me last spring and told me how much she loves those roses, and how she took care of them when my house was abandoned for four years, and oh-by-the-way, she wouldn't be taking care of them anymore. She was cutting me off.

I rewarded her years of selfless volunteerism by not pruning them and letting them get leggy and unruly this summer. It was bad.


I made up for lost time by doing a hard prune. Really hard. I checked out a book from my library and downloaded a guide from the Portland Rose Society, all of which was too much to read, so I just tried to make them look like the pictures.

And everyone on Facebook was like, "They'll be great! Roses love that!" so I'm sure everything will be fine.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I have closet envy

Despite the fact that I'm a fairly techie person, I still greatly prefer paper and pen for my to-do lists. My very favorite is the back of an envelope. My purse is full of crumpled, discolored sticky notes that say things like "paint trim!" and "harissa?" They are like tiny time capsules of what I was cooking and what I was working on in the house at that moment in time.

Last winter, when I was so burned out on home repair, my to-do list said only "One Tree Hill" and "cookies." It was glorious.

I recently found one of my to-do lists from that first summer in the house. On that list was "paint front hall closet." I never did get around to that and I figure I should do it before the boy moves in (he actually owns things like raincoats and umbrellas). I painted it a crisp white because it's a dark closet and white would look good, right?

Then I saw what Sara over at Russet Street Reno did with her closet:


HOT DAMN. I went white swan when I should have gone black. And now I sort of want to paint the closet again. How beautiful is that?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Because I'm a sucker . . .

Because I lack sense, I'm painting the bedroom. Again. For curtains that I may or may not even sew at this point.


I'm totally over painting at this point. Except that I sort of really want to paint the hallway--but it would be easy! No furniture to move, a half gallon of paint, and a couple of hours of work. And then I'd really for reals be done with painting. Except for the basement staircase. Then I'd be done. And maybe the entryway. 

I can't stop; send booze.

Monday, February 14, 2011

And in the days of yore they would retire to the parlour and fight.

Remember this painting?


It really wanted to be in the newly painted living room. It also wanted a better photograph, but you win some, you lose some.

Please don't anthropomorphize the paintings; they hate that.
I think it looks so much better against the olive green wall.  A while back the boy asked me about picture rail hangers and I wondered why I hadn't thought to use them before. Picture rail hooks hang from your ceiling molding, which means no holes in your plaster for nails or hardware. And they make it a snap to move artwork around. I found House of Antique Hardware online and ordered these sweet little hooks for about $2 apiece.


They arrived this Saturday so Greg and I spent part of the evening fussing with them. He's an engineer so he was doing things like figuring out the hypotenuse and I've been around paint fumes too much so I was doing things like getting super annoyed that he wouldn't just let me hang the thing freestyle, making small adjustments to lengths and placements a thousand times. That wall isn't going to gouge itself, you know.

I am super bad at letting people help me with home improvement, unless it is the brute strength kind of help. It didn't go very well.

But eventually some combination of math and stubbornness prevailed and we got both the huge rooftop painting (two hooks) and my Battlestar Galactica prints (one hook each) hung from the molding.

Again, this is a terrible photo but they look great in person. I'll post better pictures once the living room is finished.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

On head injuries and birdhouses

This last Saturday I helped some friends who were laying tile in their family room.  And by "helped" I mean I demanded that they invite me over so I could learn how to do it, incessantly peppering their contractor-father with annoying questions.



Guys, aside from not yet seeing the finished project, working on someone else's house is so much fun. You don't have to feed anyone, or clean up afterward, or even be particularly useful.  You can just whack your head on a granite countertop while vacuuming and hope no one notices.



I actually did that. I'm clumsy! Really, really clumsy. I often run into things or accidentally slam my hands into passing objects, but I just keep walking in the hope that no one notices. I forgot I'd even hit my head until later, when I got a really bad headache. I spent most of Sunday in bed while Greg, like a saint, ran to the store to get me saltines and Advil. I think I actually gave myself a bit of a concussion this time (fun fact: you're not supposed to take ibuprofen if you have a concussion!).

I went to work the next day and I was really fatigued and my head really hurt and my coworker was like, "Why are you so dumb? Go home." I took a monster nap and slept a full eight hours that night and the next day I felt like a new woman. I was so well rested! I was in love with the world!

And I wanted birdhouses.

I'm very much like a magpie--I see something shiny and I become totally focused on it. Because of this, I don't let myself buy something on a whim. I have to go home, think about it, and make sure I really want it. And nine times out of ten, something new and shiny pops up to distract me. But I've been thinking about this photo that a friend LeAnn Locher took:

Yanked with permission from Flickr.

It's been in my inspiration file for a while now. If you haven't seen her blog before and want some serious garden inspiration, head over here. How great is that? The idea of putting just one birdhouse in my yard seems so lame now. I think some sort of structure over here would look great.


This corner has been challenging; it has TWO trees that previous owners tried to cut down, only to have them sucker back to life. It's badly in need of evergreen elements. It lacks anything with height, except when I forget to trim the mystery willow (one of the trees they tried to kill) and it grows a bouffant.


Wouldn't it look better with a pine there? Or maybe a wax myrtle, like the rep from the Audubon Society suggested? And ten birdhouses? Putting a bird on it is so over, guys. Put a BIRDHOUSE on it.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How I learned to embrace the early ranch.

On some design blog or another I found mention of a book called "America's Favorite Homes: Mail-order Catalogues as a Guide to Popular Early 20th-century Houses" by Robert Schweitzer. They recommend it for homeowners who don't know the style of their home. Hey, that's me!


My house was advertised as a bungalow but that didn't seem quite right. According to the book, a bungalow (small b) is a generic term for any small home, so I guess my house qualifies. In contrast, a Bungalow (large B) must meet the following criteria:
  1. One- to one-and-a-half stories high. Two-story houses should be referred to by their Stickley name: Craftsman.
  2. No basement.
  3. Roof sweeping over verandas (that's a fancy name for a porch, I believe).
  4. Interpenetration of inner and outer spaces (Any guesses to what this is? Keep it clean!).
They quote the architectural academic Marcus Whiffen as saying,
"The true bungalow is a small, single-story house; the attic space may be made usable by a solitary dormer or by windows in the gables, but anything approaching a full second story disqualifies the building for the title of bungalow in the sense that was recognized by the builders and owners of this type of dwelling. The adjective Bungaloid is applicable also to the numerous houses that do their best to look like bungalows while having a second story--houses "built along bungalow lines" as they were called." [Schweitzer, p. 151]
Whiffen sounds like he'd be a hoot at a party.

So my house isn't a bungalow. And it's not even a bungaloid because I don't have two stories. So I flipped, flipped, flipped and ran into this picture.


Holy shit, guys, THAT'S MY HOUSE.



The roof lines, the placement of the chimney, the abbreviated front stoop (which they call "clever"), the wraparound windows . . . that's my house! The picture comes from a 1945 Sterling catalog and the style is a postwar or early Ranch. The house pictured above was called "The Marleen" and it was described thusly:
The Marleen Home is charming and modern--both inside as well as outside. At a first glance, it seems impossible to build so beautiful a home for so little money.  But Sterling Engineering skill, plus Sterling efficiency methods have achieved in this modern streamlined house, a distinct triumph of which we are justly proud. Also note the charming front door entrance with the clever seat arrangement. The door is of the flush plank design.  For the exterior side walls 3/4" x 10" wide siding is furnished.

The floor plan is everything that could be desired. It provides for a large pleasant living room with the modern treatment of the windows. A nice size dining room is included as well as a kitchen nicely located. Floor Plan "A" provides for two good sized bedrooms with a connecting hall to the bathroom and each with plenty of closet space as well as a linen closet conveniently placed. Floor Plan "B" is identical to that of Plan "A" except that it provides for a well arranged third bedroom. And note the modern treatment of the windows in the bedrooms.

Truly a home you will always be proud of.
 Nice sized dining room with a kitchen nicely located? Check.


Two good sized bedrooms with a connecting hall to the bathroom and each with plenty of closet space as well as a linen closet conveniently placed? CHECK.


I like how frequently they admonish you to "note the modern treatment of the windows." Upon realizing my house is not, in fact, a bungalow, I felt like I had just found out I was adopted. But then I realized Sterling was right. My house is, indeed, truly a house to be proud of.

Now my house was built in 1938, seven years prior to The Marleen. So clearly Sterling is a bunch of copycatters.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Spring fever!

I've been so starved for action in the garden that I've been running into the backyard when I get home from work and scanning the ground for emerging bulbs.  Since it was only January I was always disappointed.

But!  Yesterday things were happening!



Simple minds = simple pleasures, you guys. February 3rd, I'm gonna kiss you on the mouth.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I'm gonna navel gaze for a minute.

So the boy and I have decided to shack up.

This decision triggered a whole lot of anxiety I never expected because I've been owning my home and doing everything myself for a year and a half now.  How am I supposed to let someone who doesn't like modern furniture waltz in and have a say on window coverings?  Someone who didn't scrape a half inch of adhesive off the bathroom wall and painstakingly remove tile grout from the kitchen floor?



It's funny because Greg could not care less about window coverings. Like, at all.  It's also funny because he has good design sensibilites. He's a good dresser (no pleated pants!) and his apartment is nicely furnished, even if I like modern design and he veers traditional. But. I have worked my butt off these past 18 months and it's really hard to let someone feel like they have a stake in the house without feeling a little impinged upon.

That's harsh the way I've phrased it, but you get what I mean.  In the end it's just a house, but it's also a huge investment and my financial future.  It's MY blood, sweat, and tears in every room and it was very difficult for me to afford it on my own.  And while Greg is treading very carefully about the house and it being mine, he casually suggested one day, "We should paint the basement!"



I'm sorry, what?  I guess he didn't realize that I spent an entire winter working in the basement so I could paint it that wonderful color that I love so much.  And then, BAM, my panties are in a bunch. 


It's a difficult balance, wanting him to feel welcome and invested in the house (and maybe feeling like he wants to mow the lawn), and wanting to feel like I'm not letting him usurp me.

And, sweet jesus you guys, he has so much sporting equipment.

But yeah, if I seem a little manic lately, his impending move-in is fueling my home improvement urges.  Much like when I felt the need to patch the hole in the kitchen ceiling before Thanksgiving, I'm feeling the need to do a lot of sprucing up before he moves in.  He's used to living in really nice places and he works with people who live in nice places and I don't want him to be embarrassed to call my house home, especially because that will hurt my feelings.  I think my house is awesome.

So yeah, I'm anxious about a shifting power dynamic and I'm anxious about him accidentally/backhandedly insulting my house or my decorating choices.  So I'm scraping and sanding paint from my wood floors like a crazy woman.  It's how I process things.

I'm holding off on hanging artwork in the living room so we can do that together and incorporate some of his stuff.  I think I'll do the same in the bedroom, which I'm still planning on repainting.  We have to somehow share a closet, something I've never done before, despite living with two boyfriends previously. 

As far as incorporating his traditional housewares, my mantra is just going to have to be, "It's not a wagonwheel coffee table."