Friday, May 31, 2013

Secret Closet Plans

Last week I eluded to some secret plans that I had for the former closet in Claire's room.While it may take some time to see my vision complete, I didn't want to leave you hanging, and thought that I would give you a few hints as what to expect. Here's what we started with when we first moved into the home:

Claire's closet left a lot to want when it came to storage for her clothes. It's a pretty narrow but deep space, and it also has a beautiful decorative window inside. Awkward.

The first steps that I have taken towards renovating this space is to patch up the holes, clean and caulk the trim and window, and eventually give it a fresh coat of paint.

The pictures above were taken before caulk and paint and before I had a chance to patch the holes in the window. Once the window and trim around the window has been painted and caulked, I'd like to install a secondary pane of glass to help protect the window from any unruly toddler activity, but also provide an additional weather barrier to help insulate the closet against the winter weather.

As for a few hints on what the space will become, I'll leave you with a couple of these images to mull over. I am so excited to get started on this space! Behold:

Some Ikea "Green Bird" fabric that I picked up on Ebay since Ikea no longer sells it.

Via Pinterest

Via Pinterest

**Note: The two Pinterest images above do not link back to the original source for the images. I would LOVE to give the original source credit for these photos, so if you know where I can find the original links, please let me know! 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Storage Cart

I just wanted to leave a small post about the crate I bought at HomeGoods, since I had some questions. First, this thing is pretty sizable, and I was incredibly happy to pick it up in the clearance aisle, no less. I paid $24.99 for it (original price was $39.99). The distressed exterior really got me, but also the weight of it. It's not a flimsy little bin by any stretch of the imagination. It made me love it even more.

My first inclination was to see if this bin would fit beneath the wardrobe that we recently moved into the room, however the handles made that an impossibility. I could have attempted to relocate the handles (and certainly that is an option for the future), however I decided that I liked them as is for now. I also knew that if I was going to use it in this space, I wanted to make it easier to move about without damaging the floor. Immediately I thought that some casters would be a perfect addition, and I picked some up at my next trip to the hardware store.

It was a very easy modification to make on the crate.  I purchased wood screws that did not require pre-drilling, and it took about five minutes to complete.

I think it's going to make excellent storage for some of Claire's adored stuffed animals. The girl has a mini-zoo going on, so hopefully this will provide her with a place to keep them safe and off the floor. We are certainly in need for more storage options, so stay tuned as I work those out. It's been a slow but steady process, and I cannot wait to give my munchkin a great little space of her own.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day!

I am sitting here this morning with my warm cup of tea reflecting and giving thanks to those who serve our country. Some have paid the ultimate sacrifice, and I am forever grateful for that. I hope that you, too, will take some time to reflect on our nation's service heroes and veterans as you celebrate Memorial Day. 

Picture via

Friday, May 24, 2013

Happy Birthday, Claire!

5 years ago, at exactly 5 pm on May 24th, my little bundle of joy came into this world. I had been in labor for over 16 hours, my husband was deployed overseas, and I just wanted to get OUT of that hospital! Not without my munchkin, though. :)

It was you and me from the start, kid, and I relish the mommy-Claire time that we have shared. We're a regular Thelma and Louise. "Somebody said get a life... so we did." Every day has been an adventure, and I look forward to growing old with you. Sometimes it seems like high school, prom, or college are right around the corner. Your passion and enthusiasm fascinates me. You are funny and kind. You are sometimes wise beyond your years. I love seeing your little mind work, and enjoy teaching you the finer things in life.

Sometimes I am sad that my little bundle of joy is no longer a little bundle, but you will always be my joy. I have been there for every milestone-- from your first wet diaper to potty training. And I will be there every step of the way as you grow another year older. Happy fifth birthday, my little cupcake. Mommy and daddy love you!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Narnia Relocated

With the help of my step-dad, I was finally able to bring the new wardrobe upstairs to Claire's room, and Operation Relocate Narnia was a success. Since then, I had ample time to sort through her clothes-- in with the summer outfits, and out with the winter and outgrown pieces. On a side note, it's unreal how fast this kid is growing through clothes. Nearly everything that she had worn before we first moved here ended up in the donate pile!

I did have to make a small trip to Lowes before being able to hang her clothing as we were in need of a new hang bar. The smallest expandable bars start out at 30", but the width of the "hang area" was only 21". We chose a 1 3/8 oak dowel (found in the stair/railing department) and an inexpensive wood rod socket set (found in the closet storage section) to hang her clothes up. 

I used a mixture of vinegar, hot water, and dish soap to scrub the wood. There are a few scuff marks on some of the ends, but overall the wardrobe is in excellent condition. At this point, we'll probably leave it as is, but I have been toying with the idea of painting the inside drawer fronts. I'm not sure if that will look odd, but perhaps it is a happy little detail that only we can enjoy to see when it's time to get dressed. The drawers definitely need lined, and I am envisioning some Martha Stewart label plates on them. 

New knobs are also in order in addition to a better way to keep the cabinet doors shut (perhaps a magnet). 

If you've noticed from the first photo, I've also hung some curtains. You may recognize them from my sewing room at our old house. I'm not sure that they will remain or if they work well enough with the bedding, but they will do for now. I did try some white linen panels, and it was just too stark. 

We still have a lot of work to do in here. I am eager to put some toy storage together. Unfortunately the bed is a little lower than a normal bed is, so a traditional trundle will not fit beneath it, however I would like to put a custom trundle setup together that will have adjustable dividers. At this point we have just a few Tupperware containers storing some toys, but there are more toys that need a discreet home. 

I'm also looking forward to putting together some artwork and shelving on the walls. Claire has a Disney snow globe collection that is still boxed up, and I would love to be able to display that. Perhaps on the wall across from the bed. 

Looking at this photo now, the first thing that comes to mind is that my daughter's movie collection is entirely too big. The girl loves her some Max and Ruby. You can see the lamp that I proudly scooped up from the clearance shelf at HomeGoods. Originally I had bought it for my bedroom, but I think it looks even better in here. It's a gorgeous gunmetal gray. Another nice little deal I found at HomeGoods is this wooden crate. It, too, was in the clearance aisle. My first inclination was to see if it would fit beneath the wardrobe, but unfortunately the handles did not allow for that. I'll have to keep an eye on some more great storage for under there. 

It did not come with casters on it, but that is a little touch that I added to keep the munchkin from scratching up the floors. I think it will make an excellent home for her stuffed animals.

And for the last element: what used to be the closet. I have since removed the hang bar from it, and patched the holes. I've also scraped the window and prepped it to be caulked and painted. I've got some fun little secret plans for this spot, and I can't wait to share them with you. 

I realize now how dirty this window looks. Not sure when the exterior was last cleaned, but wow. Deer-tay!

So that's about it for the updates in Claire's room right now. It's slowly coming together, and I can't wait to finally give her a finished space that she can enjoy. We've come a long way so far. Let's get a glimpse of before and after to celebrate it.

What do you guys think? Do the curtains fit the space, or should I keep exploring options? Should I paint the drawer fronts in the wardrobe? 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Get to Steppin'

Anybody ever remember that phrase, "Get to Steppin'?" Is it even cool to use anymore (or was it to begin with)? Haha, I digress.

Anyway, today's post has to do with the steps to our rear porch. I had been on a month long quest to exterminate the horde of wasps that seemed to congregate around that back door. I used one of those bright yellow wasp/hornet traps for a week or two which managed to snag and drown 6 of the little beasties. There were still plenty left, so I bought the "kills on contact" spray and took out another 5 wasps and 2 yellow jackets. Imagine me doing the spray and run tactic. It's not exactly as effective as it sounds, trust me. Once the coast was clear, I took the broom to the awning, and swept out the little mud nests that they were starting to build but some how, they just kept coming back. It wasn't until I saw a wasp duck under the carpeting of the stairs that I realized I had missed the mother hive.

Sorry that this shot is so far away. I realized that the only picture I had taken of the back steps was when we were going through the house for our home inspection during March. Boy, things have greened up in the last two months! Hurray for Spring!

The back steps had at one point been covered by that luscious faux grass carpeting. When I say luscious, I really mean disgusting. It was threadbare in some areas, mildewed at the bottom, and overall ugly. Did I mention that it was ugly?

In a death defying stunt, I swiftly ripped that carpet off of the steps. Like an ugly band aid. Okay, maybe not so swiftly since I was still employing the rip and run tactic (similar to the spray and run, except this time I was unarmed). After a few good tugs, that carpet was gone-zo. Leaving me with this hot mess:

And there she was. The little doorway to wasp Hell. I gave the area a good hose-down with the Wasp-X, and took my broom handle to the nest that was just barely visible, but insanely huge. I am crossing my fingers that solves the wasp problem, but we won't know for sure until we get that wood board off and look behind it. I haven't seen any more wasp activity, though.

Isn't the construction of the door sill just amazing? Fiberboard and plywood, my friends. Some of the wood is rotten over on the edge of the porch (where the wasp hole is) and will need replaced as well. Here is how we're looking after I spent a good hour scraping at the adhesive. Some of it was loose, the rest will take a good amount of chiseling.

Once I get the adhesive off and the stoop replaced, I'll be ready to paint this bad boy. I think that a nice dark, slate gray would look nice against the grey undertones of the masonry. We'll probably consider painting the exterior of the porch gray with white trim as well, to coordinate with the garage.

As for how to remove the rest of the adhesive, for now I am at a loss. I suppose I could keep scraping and slowly chisel it away, but it is an incredibly hard and difficult process. I am open to any suggestions that any of you who have experience with this sort of thing may have to offer.

Anyone else fighting with massive hordes of wasps this year? Considering that our home was empty since 2007, I am not surprised that we had a problem. The garage seems to be an even bigger haven for them. Hopefully I'll be able to get that under control this summer.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Queen of the Castle

It's been a crazy week, which hasn't left much time for blogging. I've got a lot of progress to write about, though. I was a naughty blogger, though, and didn't take many pictures. I guess I was too "in the moment".

My parents came down to visit for two days, and with their help I was able to knock a few things off of BOB. The first day consisted of assembling Claire's birthday present from them: a cedar swing set. The girl loves to play outside, so Grammy and Pappy swooped in with an amazing gift. I wish assembling the thing was as amazing. It took us nearly SEVEN HOURS to complete it. SIETE! Can you believe it!? I did manage to capture an "in progress" photo with my Ipad.

It wasn't until the next day before we could take the fun photos: Claire playing on her awesome new swing set!

Claire is just over the moon with her swing set. She calls the little clubhouse at the top of the slide her "castle". I love playing "customer" with her on the little picnic table side of the tower. :)

The next afternoon we planted Claire's Birthday Tree. For her birthday this year, we thought it would be better to plant a tree in honor of her special day. Claire picked out a Bing cherry tree, and she can't wait for it to produce in a couple of years. :)

We also planted two berry bushes-- one raspberry and one blackberry, moved the Desoto forward and repaired the garage, assembled the patio furniture, set up my washer and dryer, and hauled Claire's new wardrobe up to her room. It was so great to have an extra set of hands for the past two days. I am really going to miss someone helping me get things done!

Sadly my parents had to head back home again. Once they left I used the last of my energy to mow the yard and take the munchkin to the farmers market. She loves it there. Somehow we also managed to find ourselves at HomeGoods later in the evening, and I came home with a few goodies. More on that later.

All in all, it felt great to spend time with my parents and get some things knocked off of my list. Of course, it seems like once something falls off the list, something pops on there to take its place! Anyone else have that problem? How are you guys spending your weekend? I wish that I could say that I was taking it easy, but I have so much to do before next weekend-- Claire's birthday and birthday party! Ahhh!

Monday, May 13, 2013

To Narnia!

Seriously, grab your fur coats!

Isn't it lovely?

I stumbled upon the greatest little "hole in the wall" furniture shop via Craigslist. This little gem was only $65, and I happily snatched it up! I've got plans to use this in Claire's room. She was in dire need of a better way to store her clothes, and this, my friends, is the ticket!

The drawers don't look that orange in person. I think it's the camera playing up the woodgrain.

Check out all of that handsome storage! The built-in drawers is what sold me on the piece. Also, the beautiful spindle legs remind me of the legs that are on her bed frame, so I thought these would match nicely. I will need to make some modifications to it-- mostly by removing the hang rack that currently sits inside (that metal hanger-like piece). It is designed to hang garments from back to front which isn't very efficient. I'd prefer to hang things from side to side. I haven't decided on whether or not I am going to paint this piece, either. I have yet to get it upstairs (it's too heavy and bulky for one person to lug it up the stairs), and I really need to see it in the space before I can make that type of a decision. I love the Art Deco design on the doors. The wood finish as of now is somewhat dull, so perhaps a good cleaning will revive her. I've also contemplated painting the drawers-- I've seen so many fun ombre style dressers-- but I'm not sure if that would look awkward inside the wardrobe.

Sorry for the grainy phone photo, but she looked so cute sitting inside!

Some of you may be thinking, "but wait a minute-- doesn't her room already have a closet?" Yes, it does. but it's such an awkward little space. From the size to the half-moon window, it just isn't functioning very well. I do have plans for this space, though. I think it would make a lovely secret reading nook. I've got a $5 wall treatment planned as well as a pillow poof to sew. I've envisioned it all in my head, and it's going to be fantastic. I can't wait to get started.

As for that little furniture shop I've discovered, I'm definitely going back. They had some amazing pieces for cheap! A lot of their inventory came from auction houses and estate sales, so there are TONS of fabulous vintage finds.

Do you have a favorite place to find furniture? Would you paint this wardrobe or leave it as is? Anyone else hopeful to run into Mr. Tumnas? I am. Let's go!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all you mom's out there!

I appreciate my mom every day of the year, but sometimes it's nice to make it extra special-- and I hope yours is, too! I received this pretty little bouquet of flowers on my doorstep from my husband and daughter this year. It was a delightful surprise. I love flowers. The carnations smell amazing.

My little diva just HAD to be in the picture with the flowers. Isn't she cute? Proud mama moment. :)

Anybody else get a lovely bouquet for their mom this year or receive one?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

May Showers and Spring Flowers

We had a nice little rain storm this afternoon, but once the rain stopped and sun started to peep through the clouds, I made a mad dash for the backyard to photograph some of my pretty spring flowers that are soon to bloom.

Here we have some peonies that have sprouted out of an unruly patch of ivy. Behind the peony, it looks as though a lily of some sort might be coming up, too.

I think I am going to have to send my camera out for repair because it is totally focusing on the wrong thing. Boo. :(

I also have some type of rose growing out of another ivy patch. I'd love to know what type of roses these are. I've not always been an avid gardener (although I love doing it), so I have a lot to learn in the way of plant species and their care. Looks like these beauties are going to be a lovely red or deep pink shade.

I managed to rescue the poor rose bush below from the grips of ivy. It is currently planted by our walkway to the front porch, however I am thinking it may do well to transplant it to another area. It's rather tall, and it might have better support up against the garage. I can't wait to see what lovely color these blooms will be. I am so happy to see that there are plentiful buds on it. These popped up just in the last couple of weeks since I removed the ivy!

In the background, you can see the gorgeous azaleas and their luscious hot pink blossoms. I won't share a pic of those, though, since they look the same as they did in the post I did about removing the ivy here. I did, however take a picture of the many buds that are currently popping up on our rhododendron. These should be lovely, and hopefully the bush will thrive better now that it isn't tangled in ivy.

So that is a small taste of spring around here. Everything else is pretty much covered in ivy. I hope to remedy that, but it's a long and arduous process. I'm looking into possibly propagating some of the ivy so I can transplant it onto the embankment alongside the side of the road. That area has been a pain to mow, so perhaps the ivy will gladly fill that spot in for me. Right now I am researching propagation, and what's needed, so if you have any advice, please share!

Do you love to garden or have some lovely spring flowers sprouting in your garden? What's some of your favorite flowers to plant this time of year? I happen to LOVE the Iris!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ivy League Landscaping

We've had some really great weather in the last couple of weeks, so it was the perfect opportunity to spend some time outdoors and do a little landscaping. On the driveway side of our home, we had a monster rhododendron bush that turned out to actually be a trio of bushes that were growing together (and out of control) so they were first on my list to undergo the knife. It was incredible how much dead growth there was under the canopy of branches, so it took me a few days of cutting, pulling, and trimming. I wish it were just as easy as clipping a few branches, but the undergrowth of ivy had managed to wrap itself around all three bushes. There was also some other kind of unidentified vine that had, too, wrapped it's way around all three bushes, and had started to grow over the top of them. I have no idea how long it has been there, but from the size of the trunk on the vine, it had been there for many years.

Behold, a before and after:

On the day we had our home inspection.

What an amazing difference, huh? Here's a view from the front side. The before pictures are from when we had our home inspection (because the bad blogger in me forgot to take before shots before tackling the bush). Sorry that they aren't the best angles, but they still show you how drab the landscaping really is was.

So... where you see the brown dead-looking patch above is where there used to be two giant mounds of ivy growing. When we first walked through the house, and saw the ivy I thought to myself, "Oh! How charming!" The charm definitely wore off after we moved in and I realized what a pain in the butt ivy really is. Yes, it's beautiful ground cover and super easy to maintain. Kind of. It grows incredibly fast, so i was having to trim it quite often to keep it from overgrowing onto the porch. The nightmare under the rhododendron bushes was another nail in the coffin, and the bees and wasps that were seeking sanctuary sealed the deal. My husband is deathly allergic, and if I didn't want to reenact the scene from My Girl, the ivy had to go. As you can see, I am taking it out in phases, because it is horrible, back-breaking work. I took out the top layer with the mower, and the thick, viny root base has to be pulled up individually.

As you can see, I am far from finished. I've managed to de-root most of the area where the rhododendron's are planted, but I have yet to finish pulling up the roots and vines along both sides of the walkway. And of course I'll be laying down landscaping fabric, edging, and mulch to keep the ivy from returning.

The azaleas are blooming beautifully in the front of the house, but unfortunately they, too, are being choked out by the ivy. Eventually I'll muster up the strength to tackle the front and left side of the house. Maybe in the fall. Next year (I'm kidding. Maybe.)

Anyone else getting out in their yard and gardens and getting things cleaned up for the summer? I can't wait to get started on a vegetable garden, but I might not be able to get to it this year. One thing at a time, right?

Any suggestions for what kind of plants to use for brightening up our walkway? I'm so tempted to do some sort of edible landscaping. We also have a beautiful rose bush that was on the verge of death by ivy, but it may need to be transplanted because it looks like it will grow HUGE. More on that later.