Category Archives: home

I will always love you… or possibly until trash day

In October I found wood shelves tossed out on the curb. I wasn’t sure what I’d do with them but finding real wood furniture always makes me happy (pressboard or particle board crap just isn’t the same). About 29″ tall and  33″ wide, they weren’t too heavy so I carried them home; I knew I could pass them on to someone else if I couldn’t find a use for them. Otherwise they were almost certainly going to the dump – trash day for that area was the next day – and any other passerby wouldn’t likely see their potential since they didn’t look like much at first glance.

The paint job, likely a stain, was uninspired.

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Before I even brought the shelves home, the words on the back caught my attention and sealed the deal.

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Now that was curious!  Who are Louisa and Joe and why were their – or his – shelves chucked out for trash? Does she no longer love him? For whatever reason, were they no longer together (if they once were)?

It happens that I know someone by the feminine name but she spells it differently and moreover the woman on the shelves wrote her last name too, which I’ve edited out of the photo for privacy. It was an unusual name and googling it got no hits, further compounding the puzzle. I wonder if it wasn’t either of these two people who threw the shelves out but someone else. Maybe Joe nor Louisa was still the owner? Those words are an unusual thing to write on nondescript shelves anyway. Shelves aren’t all that romantic.😕 Maybe she painted them for him? Or secretly wrote the words on the back for him to find? And when was this written anyway? It just raises a lot of questions, the sort that intrigue me.

Now that the shelves were mine, the first order of business was fresh paint. I decided I could use the shelves in my room, if only temporarily, so I used this green that’s close to a shade I have on half the walls. The shelves aren’t ideal here because they extend past the window but I found myself in need of a little extra clothes storage, at least between seasons, so these will do. Painted, they look like a completely different piece.

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After I fixed up the shelves I found these interesting fabric bins at Dollar Tree. This setup may be temporary but for now it’s fine. And I will never paint over or otherwise change the words written on the back. In the end, I find the “secret” declaration of love, whether it lasted or not, kind of touching.

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Summer lights (and sounds)

I love summer. I also love anything that makes things just a bit more special.  Year-round I keep a small set of “icicle” lights strung from a high shelf. They’re on a timer from 6:30pm to 10pm. I also have a set of small lantern-style lights I bought from Amazon several years ago. Initially I put the lantern lights outside for summer but they got dirty and junk like pine needles collected in them (this possibility hadn’t occurred to me before putting them out with the elements). I cleaned them up but didn’t put them outside again and for awhile I wasn’t sure quite what to do with them since they’re decidedly seasonal-looking. Earlier in the summer I got the idea to attach them to the extension cord on the white icicle lights with the timer (and string them across the beam) so that all summer these two lovely sets of lights came on each evening together. I’m afraid my tablet camerea doesn’t do the bright, warm colors justice but here’s photos anyway. This is a panorama shot:IMG_20190826_185825_pan_kindlephoto-18211535.jpg

Here’s the year-round icicle lights in their perfect place:IMG_20190826_190012_kindlephoto-7251011.jpg

Also, very recently I hung chimes in the center of the room and two oscillating fans make them jingle. It’s a lovely sound.IMG_20190826_190135_kindlephoto-7177417

Come on back in to my garden!

Two years ago in August I gave a photo show on the blog of my garden. I’m not going to repeat that, just a few updates. Some people drag out pictures of their kids, grandkids, or pets to show off; I trot out my plants.

The Silver Arrow grass plant gives me so much pleasure. I look at it every day. I posted earlier in the season how I’d stuffed the whole thing into a tomato cage to keep it from flopping over; that’s worked out quite well and for the first time in years I get to enjoy it upright. You can’t even really see the cage. My beloved butterfly bush died last year so the grass plant is now the clear star.

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Dollar Tree decor in the foreground😊

Here’s the four little Arborvitae trees two years ago. They are my “children” and I’m so very proud of them.😁

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Planted here (and helped by the curtain) to block a lousy view

And today. For reference the wood table (one blue, the other reddish) shown in each photo are roughly the same height.

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No more curtain; the middle trees are taller than me and blocking a bad view just fine all on their own

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.

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