Monday, April 30, 2012

Cyclone Eyesore No More

I'm happy to report that Chris did not ask for a divorce after I made a public plea for him to finish the side tables he promised me last September. In fact, he even spent some time on them over the weekend. What a nice husband.
Hopefully, I'll have some new tables to show off very soon.

Until then, allow me to share the progress we've made in the backyard. Remember how last week Chris and I made friends with our neighbor?
Well, after confirming the cyclone fence was indeed ours to remove, Chris wasted no time tearing it down. He used a pair of 24 gauge bolt cutters to detach the wire fence from the poles.
I helped by detaching the cross bars from the poles using pliers and a very large screwdriver. Despite 40+ years of rust, this was surprisingly easy.
If Georgia had opposable thumbs, she'd be helping too.
What made the job difficult was detaching all the vines that had intertwined itself into the cyclone over the years so that we could tear the fence away from the earth. 
 An improvement, right?
 Now we'll just need to figure out how to get rid of the poles...
 Good thing Harry's busy working on a solution.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Smart Art

Why so smart? 'Cause it was cheap and easy to DIY.
This was actually an art project I did a million years ago that recently got a second life thanks to a new inexpensive Ikea frame.
White is the new black in case you haven't heard.
Using a chisel tip Sharpie, I freehanded the design. If you've never tried it, freehanding little circles to make bigger circles is pretty easy.
The design is based on a fabric pattern that I'd seen in magazine somewhere. I splurged and bought thick, high-quality watercolor paper, but it couldn't have been more than a couple dollars.
Couple a dollars, in less than a that's what I call "wicked smaht".

Monday, April 23, 2012

Making Friends With the Neighbors

Last summer was the first summer spent in our new home on Hazard Ave. If you've been following along for this long, you may remember the cyclone fence eyesore in our backyard.

I thought I'd be able to hide it with some evergreen shrubs, but the Holly I planted last summer didn't seem to take very well...
 Ironically, both our parents gave us the same suggestion. Remove the fence, embrace the neighbor's garage, and install some window boxes on those windows. My mom and dad even sent us this inspiration picture of a garage they saw on a home tour (Again. gotta love how the parents scope out home improvement projects for us).
 The only problem? We'd need to introduce ourselves to the neighbors, confirm that the fence is indeed ours to remove, AND see if it is okay to plant flowers on their garage.

Chris and I both dreaded this task. We're introverts.

Yesterday morning Chris apparently had looked at that fence one time too many and announced that he was heading to Home Depot for some wire cutters. That fence was coming down! So I hopped in the truck with him and we swung by the neighbor's to confirm.
Turns out that our neighbor is a very sweet old lady who's lived here for over 40 years. She said she's certain that the fence was installed by previous owners of our house. "If I don't know who installed it, then no-one on this street does!" she said.
I asked her about the window boxes and she was excited about the idea. She even acknowledged that the windows of her garage could use replacing and promised to get to it...

Needless to say, I'm glad we made introductions.

More on beautifying our backyard to come...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spring Into Action: My DIY Relaxed Roman Shade is DONE!

I've got to hand it to Linda. When she suggested that we all pick a project that we've been procrastinating and commit to finishing it by the end of April, I thought, "piece of cake". But the honest truth is that if I hadn't participated in her Spring Into Action challenge, my fabric swatch would still be taped to my guest bath window, and that window would still be naked. Gotta love the power of peer pressure. This is why I am happy to report that my DIY relaxed roman shade is done!
Now guess how I did it...
Using safety pins!
Let me explain. Like a kid procrastinating until the very last minute to finish a school project, I frantically searched Pinterest and Google for "easy roman shade tutorials" hoping to find something that didn't require me to go shopping for more materials and wouldn't require hours of labor and understanding hard to follow instructions (I'm not very good at following instructions. Just look back to Day 1 of the challenge, where I started three days before everyone else). Since my window is frosted, privacy is not an issue.  I didn't need a functioning shade. All I needed was a "faux roman".
I didn't find a tutorial that met my needs exactly, but I knew I needed to get started with hemming the panel at the very least. I opted to sew my hems, but if I were to do this project again, I would absolutely use hem tape. If I had, I wouldn't have run into this mess:
But I digress. Let's start from the beginning and I'll show you where the safety pins come into play.
First measure the width of your window and allow enough room for a hem. I didn't even bother to measure the length of my window because this is a faux roman and will never need to be in the closed position. Just make sure you have enough length for some realistic looking folds at the bottom.
Sew or iron your bottom and side hems. Leave the top un-hemmed as this is where it will be attached to the mounting board.
(Note that this step would be when you'd attach your lining, which I opted not to use.)
Then starting from the bottom, make equal sized accordion style folds. They should just slightly overlap. 
 Take your safety pins and pin through each fold, including the front panel.  I placed my pins about five inches from each side. The closer to the sides you pin, the bigger the droop in the middle.
 Here's a close up so that you can see how small the very top pin hole is when attaching it to the front panel. This part of the pin is viewable from the front, so make it small.
From the front. 
 This is what it looks like from the front side. You may need to do a little adjusting and repinning to make sure the folds hang evenly on both sides.
 To attach it to the window frame, I selected a piece of scrap wood cut to the width of my shade.
 And stapled the top of my fabric to the top of the wood piece.
 Side view.
 Underside view.
 I asked Chris to drill pilot holes through the piece of wood.
(Note, I did NOT condone his drilling on our new marble countertop! Men!)
 Then he screwed the wood piece into the underside of the window frame. (This is for an inside mount, obviously).
 Once hung, I didn't like how the sides sagged. It was looking just a little too relaxed.
 But this was easily remedied by pinning another safety pin closer to each side.
That's better. 
 I like how the fabric looks with my greek key trimmed shower curtain.

Now let's check in on the other ladies who participated in the Spring Into Action challenge. Did everyone finish?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Bye Bye Birdie

While making breakfast yesterday morning, Chris and I made the observation that the birds outside were being especially noisy. As if they were in the same room as us.
Hmmmm. We went outside and soon discovered that some birds had made their home in our kitchen exhaust fan. That can't be good. Birds are cute and all, but they also carry mites and other unsavory crawly things. Plus the thought of having bird poop that close to where we prepare our food was really unappealing.

See that chain? We used to be able to open and close the vent from the kitchen. The chain broke not long after we moved in, so now it is stuck in the open position...making it the ideal spot for a bird to build a nest.

Luckily we didn't have to go to extreme measures to get rid of our unwanted house guests. Chris and I must have been loud enough in the kitchen to spook them away. By mid morning the chirping noises had ceased. I can't even see the nest anymore. It is almost like they packed up their belongings and took everything with them to a new home.
Now we all have peace and quiet.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spring Into Action: Making Progress

Today is Part 2 of Spring Into Action, where the ladies of the Undaunted Dozen report on the progress we've made to our selected projects.
My project is to make a window treatment for our recently renovated guest bath. I haven't actually started making it yet, but I have made some very important first steps. Sometimes deciding what to do can be more daunting than actually doing it.
I ordered and received the fabric: 
And finally (finally!) decided on a window treatment style.
I think a relaxed roman blind is definitely the way to go. 
Mill End Shops
Now I just need to figure out how to make it and get 'er done.
Preferably before the April 19th Spring Into Action deadline...

To check in on the progress of the other Spring Into Action participants, click on the links below:

Monday, April 9, 2012

Outside Chinoiserie

There's really nothing better than enjoying a frosty beverage on your front porch on a warm, lazy, Sunday afternoon.

Except if you are enjoying it seated on this chinoiserie fabulousness.
Available at Grandin Road.  Matching armchairs are available too!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Woof! Woof!

Let me bring you up to speed on our roof replacement situation: 
When we first moved into our house, Chris and I had agreed that when it came time to replace the roof, we'd replace it with synthetic slate. Our mansard style house has a lot of visible roofline so we want it to be a feature. Chris had already done some research and discovered synthetic slate to look identical to the real stuff but for far less money. I was sold. 
Synthetic Slate roof by Apple Roofing Company
Unfortunately, we learned last summer that the hip portion of our roof (the portion that you can't see from the street) needed to be replaced much much sooner than we had anticipated. As home improvement surprises go, this was a big one and we didn't have the cash on hand to replace the entire roof with synthetic slate. So one of us (I believe it was me) made the brilliant suggestion to replace only the portion of the roof that needed to be replaced with less expensive architectural asphalt shingles (since it wouldn't be visible anyway), and finish the mansards with the pricier synthetic slate later. We saved a ton of money and noone is the wiser. Unless you read this blog.

So here we are, almost a year later with big plans to replace the mansards with synthetic slate sometime soon. 

Chris's mom, however, showed me these photos that she took of a home in Seattle. (Gotta say, it cracks me up knowing my mother-in-law is scouting roofing options for us).
At first glance it looks like fancy slate. 
Or is it?
This close up (apparently taken with my MIL's spy cam) looks less like slate and more like asphalt.
Sure enough, a quick google search found me this luxury roofing material called "Carriage House" made by Certainteed.
It has me wondering if my all time favorite, single story mansard, home inspiration photo has the same material on its roof.
What do you think? 

(Harry seems to think Chris and I are nuts to be concerned about such matters, and that our time would be better spent going on walks and giving him treats.) 

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