Category Archives: home

More minor home updates

I’m on a bit of a tear lately, so far as tidying, decorating, and updating on the homefront. When my home is clean, organized, and attractive, I feel like my whole life functions better. It’s calming.

I keep an informal list of when I do certain things, particularly chores that are done infrequently. Unlike Martha Stewart, I don’t have a calendar scheduling when I should do them; it’s more of a retrospective that I consult to see how long it’s been since I did a particular chore. Things like washing curtains or area rugs, or window washing. I should perhaps mention that the place I live is old and it just seems like it needs more attention, more than a shiny new place anyway. (Keeping the aged bathroom tiles looking halfway decent, for instance, gives me a fit.😬)

This is on my my mind because I thoroughly cleaned out & tidied the shed on Saturday. The link is to the outside of the shed only; the inside is not worthy of photos except for the one pictured below.IMG_20190715_112208
This is one list I keep separate in the shed itself. (There was a previous list but it got filled up & I started a new one.) The shed tends to get habitually messy and I have a middling sense of time. If someone had asked me – and I don’t know anyone who would – when I’d last straightened up the shed, I wouldn’t have guessed as far back as 6 months. I noticed it was looking messy & my Jan 6 notation was further proof.😐 You might wonder why I’d clean an unheated, un-air-conditioned shed in the middle of winter or the middle of summer rather than a more seasonable time. Well, I do things when the spirit moves me.

The living room caught my attention and I got a few little ideas since I rearranged last year. I really like having the couch this way (facing both a TV and double windows) but having a small table with a lamp plus two plants at its side, although it looked nice, seemed sort of in the way.  I wanted the lamp for reading at that end of the couch but it provides poor reading light and I never use it for that. It was time to get it out of there. Let’s do before & after! (You may need to click for captions.)

I am still super happy since I pulled the couch off the wall and into the space last year I angled the 8×10 rug to mirror it and did the same thing with the square dining table; angled it and the 8×10 rug it’s on. There’s still plenty of room to walk around with the furniture this way. The two plants were trickier to relocate because they have to be with a lamp that I leave on since they are light lovers, but I found spots for them.

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Green & White Grass Plant gets a little help

I really love my huge “Silver Arrow” grass plant and have posted photos in  2014 and in 2016. Since then, for whatever reason, people searching the term “Green and White Grass plant” regularly arrive at my blog – where I probably have not much useful to tell them.😐

Each successive year the plant has grown, enough so that two years ago I dug part of it out ( NOT easy) and planted it in a pot. Unfortunately that piece didn’t survive. Because the original plant has grown so much it routinely flops over which is why I started staking it with a perimeter of bamboo sticks and dental floss (as string). Nonetheless for the last two years I did this one or more of the stakes would eventually keel over & I’d return to wrestling with the plant to get it to stand up nicely. Let me tell you that although the plant looks innocent enough, the blades of grass are sharp. Last year I was sufficiently annoyed with the grass plant falling over that I prematurely cut part of it and then didn’t get to enjoy all its tall, striking rust-colored blooms late in the season.

All this is by way of saying I’ve solved my problem this year and forevermore! By stuffing the now-grown plant into a large, red tomato cage!

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You’ll stand up & you’ll like it!

 

 

Improvements to my bedroom “decor”

I’ve been tweaking my room for a long time. It was more or less okay when I last posted photo updates in late December but I wasn’t entirely satisfied with what I had on the wall over my bed. Last week I bought myself a present from Ross, a wonderful 30″ wide smiling, metal sun wall decoration for $13. My thought was to hang it over the bed and it did look really good there. However, I got another idea. 

I found a 5.5 foot long painted white board (where else but curbside?😊) and got inspired to make it a shelf high up on the wall behind my bed. I eliminated a shorter lime green shelf from another wall and took objects from it for the new shelf. It’s perfect! I then took one of my favorite framed prints, Anne Worthington’s Sunflower and centered that under the shelf. I flanked the poster with two small mirrors I already had on the wall but just moved them out a bit for balance.  I put the large metal sun to the right over my chair, where it looks terrific and at night is lit by the wall lamp near it. i hung my two long tealight holders on either end of the shelf.  I repositioned every picture & piece of wall art I have for better effect. Want to see it all?

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I feel compelled to smile back at him

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The hanging moon & Maxwell Parrish print in their new spots

The corner on the left of the bed has long challenged me but I’m much happer with this. Here’s the lamp I found a number of years ago which gave me the overarching co!or theme for the room. Prior to finding this lamp and getting inspired by it, everything i hadwas fairly random and nowhere near as appealing as it is now. The lamp highlights the poster, Morning Bouquet, a print I’ve had – and loved – for decades. My painted lime green long mirror is now in a good spot too. Eventually I’d like to get a nicer long mirror, something more substantial, but this works now.

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Lastly, this hasn’t changed, but it’s the opposite wall, the one with the door (and puny closet), which I see every morning when I wake up. It makes me happy and now everything kind of fits together.

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How I make a cabinet with shelves from scrap wood

Throughout the time I’ve been writing this blog I’ve occasionally posted pieces on simple furniture I’ve made. Nobody taught me how to make stuff; I figured it out for myself. Unlike many other things I’ve self-taught, I don’t turn to library books or other instructions because frankly, they tend to look intimidating and demand a lot more steps, effort, and purchases than I am willing to undertake. I make things that suit me – they’re not meant to be heirlooms or wow any carpenter who happens along (I’m smart enough to not let a carpenter or anybody skilled get too close a look at my homemade creations). Point being, I’m not killing myself here; just saving money and having the satisfaction of making something. Oh, and exercising – all that sawing and hammering and hauling stuff about is burning calories.😁

I was seeing a man many years back who did offer the suggestion that I should use screws in my endeavors rather than just the nails I had been. This was good advice (I mean what the hell did I know?). Screws make pieces stronger and are easier to remove, particularly if you’re making something that might be subject to change down the line.

One style I return to again and again is a simple one for building shelves or cabinets. I took the time two weeks ago to take photos of how I made a simple small cabinet. It’s pretty much the blueprint for every one I’ve previously made. If you’re at all handy, it really isn’t difficult and it’s fun.

I had a few small shutters that I took off a cabinet I remade in the kitchen. They were cute and after I unsuccessfully tried to “re-home” them, I decided to use one in a project. In December I purchased a wonderful little set of five essential oils on Amazon. They’re not available now so the link is there just in case you want to see what I got. I thought it might be nice to have a small cabinet to hold the oils and my tealights. I love tealights and use them almost exclusively. If you wander off to another room for something and aren’t watching them like a paranoid hawk, they’re far less likely to catch your house on fire than tapers or pillars as tealights generally mind their own business quietly and don’t go shooting huge flames skyward.

Here are the four pieces of wood I sawed to the dimensions I needed to make a unit – essentially a box – to be hidden behind the shutter. The teaspoon is there just for size reference.

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Next I started screws in the four corners of the top and bottom pieces. It’s easier to get them started on a flat surface.IMG_20190203_134404.jpg

Here is the bottom and top screwed into place.IMG_20190203_135345_kindlephoto-4750960

I made sure the shutter wood fit nicely as a door the way I intended before proceeding. IMG_20190203_135555_kindlephoto-4707815

Here I have cut a board for a shelf and am checking to be sure I’ve made it the right size before sawing the others. I tend to be a sort-of-measure-once and cut-multiple-times kind of person.😐IMG_20190203_140259_kindlephoto-4656523.jpg

I sawed two more shelves and eyeballed them to see where I’d want to place them in the cabinet. I got the essential oils out to make sure they’d fit on a shelf.IMG_20190203_141825_kindlephoto-4615242

With a shelf like this that isn’t going to hold much weight, I feel free to just use nails as shelf supports. It is the easiest, cheapest method and they don’t take up any space. I pounded two into either side of every spot I wanted to support a shelf.

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If I am making a shelf that will hold weight I make wood supports like this one I did in the food cabinet. These are just short boards nailed into place. In this case prior to assembling the tall cabinet I lay the two sides down on the ground and attached the supports; this way I can line them up and the shelf will be even when upright. The photo is a typical support for a heavy shelf, in this case my food “pantry.” I made this one many years ago and it has dutifully held the weight of my overstuffed shelves, including lots of canned goods.

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The shutter already had two hinges attached so I used them as is. I only bother to place one screw into each one as a time saver, especially  with a very lightweight door like this.

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I painted the whole thing white.

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I often skip adding a back of any kind and just let the wall be the back of a shelf unit. If I build a tall cabinet, I typically add a support piece to the back, though, so the whole damn thing doesn’t sway back and forth. It’s quite something what a little back support will do! In this case, just to keep the wall clean and because it was no trouble, I decided to add a back made from a cardboard box. Here’s the plain box and the piece I cut to size and painted white.

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The back stapled into place.IMG_20190204_135129

Lastly pounded two picture hangers into the top of the back. These have pointy ends that drive into the wood.IMG_20190204_141036

The final cabinet hung on two small nails in the wall. I added the red dots since I already have a similar cabinet nearby that has red dots on its larger shutter door. So cute!IMG_20190215_170140_kindlephoto-143755.jpg

The inside look. I added a second coat of paint before taking this picture just to make it a little nicer.IMG_20190215_170050

The door wasn’t staying quite shut so I added this simple hook.IMG_20190215_172108.jpg

 

Tweaking my bedroom decor

I made small updates to my bedroom last week, primarily the wall behind the bed.

I wasn’t totally satisfied with the picture I had there seen in this post and have tried a different one since but it wasn’t quite right either. I was trying to use what I have and not buy anything. I think, though, that the wall needs something large and bold. I was hoping I might think of a clever thing to make but that hasn’t happened (yet?). I did make the “headboard” from cast-off IKEA shelves; the bed is a full-size futon and the frame has no headboard or place to attach one so mine is merely nailed to the wall.

My dream artwork is a large, like 4′ wide picture of the woods in summer, whether it’s a framed poster or a photo-on-canvas, either of which would be pricey. Second choice would be the same idea but featuring the ocean. In the meantime I needed an improvement so I used what I have and did another idea entirely.
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The mirrors were a set of three I found at Ross a year or so ago for $7. I got the center piece with the moon for $6 also from Ross several years back; previously I hung it from a hook in the corner of the ceiling. (As it’s heavy and I didn’t use a molly bolt or anything I was kind of half expecting the moon to fall down from the ceiling and knock me silly one day.😕)
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The long blue tealight holder (featuring a smiling sun & butterflies) on the right was another great $5 Ross deal that I’ve had many years. The white lantern to the left of the bed is new. I bought a hanging lamp cord a couple years ago thinking I could make my own hanging lamp and save money. Well, nothing I tried worked, either the shade got too hot or the bulb was too blinding. I’d occasionally look on Amazon for cheap shades and finally found this pretty 12″ round lace one in August for $3. I love it. The light cast from it is so cheerful and pretty and this winter pick-me-up was a lot less expensive than the pricey SAD lamps I routinely look at online.
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I think it’s so important, especially for someone like me, to have a beautiful, comfortable home. I spend a lot of time in my bedroom, and over time it’s become a very decent space that suits both my practical and creative sides. I love to sit in my chair and and look around – walking into the room and being greeted by the bed and its wall as I have it now immediately gives me a kind of calming lift.

1/1/19: I’m editing this post to show another idea I thought of yesterday after posting. I have it plugged into a tap with switch. They are great!
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New arrangement for dining table & rug

When we last visited my living room in August, I’d arrived at the idea of angling the couch (loveseat I think?) in the room as well as the 5×8 rug that goes with it. I was really pleased with how it worked out; angling the couch makes it possible to see both the TV (this is important) AND out the window (also important and something I’d wanted for a long time but couldn’t figure out how to do in the room). Prior to now I just don’t think I would have had the confidence/inspiration/creativity/whatever to do this kind of arrangement.

So the other day, inspiration again hit and I did the same thing with the square dining table and its 5×8 rug on their half of the “space”. This too really worked out. I didn’t lose anything in the bargain and in fact more of the rug shows, which is nice.

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Here you can see how BOTH rugs are at angles

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The angled table

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Panorama photo

Basically, I’m pretty satisfied with how I have things but there is always room for “tweaking” (I am mad for tweaking stuff). One small change I made by the couch was to swap out the baby blue lamp (it went to a better spot) for one in the red family. The only thing I still want to improve is the table between the couch and chair; it’s a makeshift one (literally I made the top and put it on a smaller table). A round end table would look better I think. Hopefully one will turn up in my “travels” eventually.

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Couch with red lamp; I also took off the red slipcover for winter when there’s less chance of dirtying up all that WHITE

Easy, inexpensive holiday evergreen swags

I’ve been in the mood for a bit of decorating and made these super easy evergreen swags. All I did was take a bunch of branches and tie them together with dental floss, leaving enough strand to tie them to whatever, then add a big Dollar Tree red ribbon. They look great.

Here’s one with my pal Put Upon Santa, who I was moved to bring out of storage.

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This is the back showing the dental floss tie