Friday, May 31, 2013

Barn Envy

On the way to see the Wizard of Oz, the scarecrow sings "If I only had a brain...."

For me and Doug, the lyrics would be more like "If I only had a barn...."

Oh, what we could do with a barn.  Doug could gather discarded lumber, broken furniture, old hardware, tools, and all of the other materials he sees for free on Craigslist or along the curb.  

Right now, we have a 9-foot-long piece of solid maple in our garage--left behind when a lab at the University was updated.  Doug used a similar, smaller piece to make a countertop in our beach cottage:

The bigger one would make an awesome top to a kitchen island.  Do we need it?  No.  Can Doug just toss it?  Hell no.  Someone might need it someday, and it would be a crime to get rid of it.

Last week, I saw a really cool old wooden trunk on my 5-mile morning walk with my dog.  


I could envision redoing it with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint for Alex and Ashleigh.  But I don't even have a place to work on things like that.

My friend Carrie would join us in our barn.

She has a vacation getaway in a huge mobile home neighborhood near the Delaware beaches.  One of her favorite Saturday activities is to drive through the little streets on her golf cart to see what people have dragged to the curb.  When she first bought the place, her trips yielded lamps, side tables, and chairs that she needed to furnish the house.  

Now?  Well, she doesn't really need anything any more, but she can't stop looking.

Last week, she emailed me this picture of a wicker sofa bed that she got for free from someone in her neighborhood.  It needs to be recovered, but what a wonderful find. 

In the email, she wrote, "I have to get out of this place--I need an intervention."

Not really. She just needs a barn.

A few weeks ago, she sent me a photo of five wicker pieces that she bought in her beach neighborhood.  

For $20 total.

 All she needs is another porch to furnish.

Or a barn to store the set until she finds cushions, paints the wicker, and then finds someone who is dying to buy it from her for a few hundred dollars.

Last year, Carrie got two vintage dressers from an aunt who was downsizing.  She recently got around to painting them in a beautiful pale mint green and repainting the hardware:

Maybe someday Carrie and I can join Doug as retired people, and we can all live happily ever after playing with other people's cast-offs in our barn.

Friday, May 17, 2013

100 or Bust

I didn't really know what my next blog topic was going to be until I looked at my stats today and saw that I had 99 posts so far.

Which meant, of course, that whatever I wrote today would be the 100th.

And then I thought maybe it should be about something really important.

But my mind started to wander, thinking about what I had learned from blogging and which of my posts had attracted the most attention.

I started this blog in January 2012 just because I wanted to document some of our projects and because I've always been kind of a story teller in my own head.

Since I started blogging, I've also become a reader of other blogs, where you can get good ideas for projects like this Union Jack table, which I first saw done by Ashley on Domestic Imperfection:

Other bloggers have also turned me on to Annie Sloan Chalk paint, which I used on these ordinary chairs from Target:

I've also learned that it's easy to get jealous--of people who make a living blogging and people whose blogs reach thousands and even millions of readers.

My highest post ever has a count of 498.

That's not a lot, but I realize that blogging isn't about competing. It's about documenting and reflecting and sometimes inspiring.  But you have to do it for yourself first if you want it to be authentic.

Another thing I've learned is just that the act of writing has its own impact.  Knowing that I'm going to be writing about something makes me think about it differently while I'm doing it.  Just as being a photographer makes a person look at objects, animals, landscapes, and other humans in a different way, so being a writer makes me experience things differently--looking at how I'll frame them in my own mind and then here on my blog.

As far as the posts go, it's interesting to see what catches people's attention. Some of the more popular entries are probably due to people arriving on my blog doorstep through search engines. My plumbing saga got a lot of hits, probably from DIYers wanting to know about Pex, the tubing Doug used:

Same with my dog-proof feeding station. One person came over to my post from a rescue organization for Cavalier King Charles spaniels. Peace reigns in our house since we used a simple cookie rack to separate the Lab from the tabby at dinnertime:

This wool blanket that I got at a flea market for $2 isn't a Hudson's Bay as I originally thought but a Glacier Park.  There's not a lot of info out there about these Pendleton blankets, so I think my entry got hits from people just trying to learn more.  (And putting this picture in here gives me another chance to feature my orange boy Pax in his babyhood):

Vintage Cosco stools and trays are popular among bloggers, so it's not surprising that entries on my aqua and red makeovers were a hit:

Our cottage makeover entries were popular, probably because I drove traffic to them from Facebook:

And the same thing happened with the 1950s ranch house makeover that I worked on with my kids:

So, as it turns out, this 100th entry is really not about much of anything, which I guess is true of my blog in general.  I do it to make memories for myself and my family, like our junking vacations:

I do it to mark milestones in my life like the death of our 19-year-old cat Casey:

and the adoption of Pax and our Lab Jodie:

I guess for me this blog reflects my life and enriches it, but it doesn't rule it.  Happy 100!

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Colorful Mother's Day

Most people spend Mother's Day weekend having brunch or dinner out.  We spent ours getting tie dyed.

On Saturday, Doug and I joined Christine, Alex, Ashleigh and a bunch of their friends and other family members in Baltimore for the Color Run.  I guess ordinary 5Ks have gotten too, well, ordinary, so now there are gimmicks like running in tutus or high heels or costumes.  Or running through 5 tons of colored cornstarch.  Yeah, the 25,000 people who participate in a Color Run get bombarded with a total of 10,000 pounds of color at 5 or 6 stations, each dedicated to a specific color.

So here is what we looked like at the start, nice and clean:

Our big group got split up pretty quickly, but Christine and I managed to stay together through the whole 5K.  Here we are running:

And here we are at the finish:

Alex found us after a few minutes, and he was even more brightly colored than we were:

We finally made it back to Alex and Ashleigh's house for a taco feast.  Here's Ashleigh caught by surprise at the stove, although she gave Alex full credit for all of the cooking:

Everyone managed to find a seat, grab some great food, and avoid the rain:

Even the dogs had fun:

Alex took us down to the waterfront on our way out to show us how close they are to the harbor, and Doug managed to get one picture of us before the skies opened up:

The next day was a pretty quiet Mother's Day, but who could top the Color Run and a great post-run party?

Christine did take me to Home Depot to buy flowers for the deck and yard.  Here's my trunk full of the annuals she bought me:

And here I am hauling them to the back yard in my garden cart:

She even kept me company while I planted them.  Happy Mother's Day!

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Makeup is on the Pig

Saturday was a near-perfect day for me.  With the porch floor, door, screening, and ceiling in place, it was time to get rid of the yucky mustard and jazz up the porch with aqua and coral.  Doug had a photo shoot, so I went down to the beach cottage by myself.  The back of our SUV was loaded with a vintage kitchen table, two wicker chairs, cushions, and a small wire table.

There is still a little bit of work to be done--the white on the T-111 is still just primer and so is some of the trim around the ceiling. But I we finally have a clean, cheerful porch where we can spend bug-free time relaxing while we finish rehabbing the outside of the cottage.

We found these two white chairs on our street in Newark right after our offer to buy the beach cottage was approved.  The caning on one of the seats is kind of giving way, but they'll work as temporary seating until we get the wicker loveseat that we're using to stage my former in-laws' house.  The door used to be a dreary dark brown, but now it's a happy pink:

The dresser in the photo below was $15 at a tag sale. Doug installed the feet, and I painted it and added the glass knobs.  The grey table was free at last year's "UDon't Need It" sale at the University of Delaware--it was my payment for volunteering for five hours (which, for me, is too much fun to be considered work). I'm guessing some college kid got it from his or her grandmother and then didn't want it any more. It even has two cute little pullout leaves.  But it looked kind of drab with all of the bright colors around it, so I dry brushed some of the aqua onto the wood "skirt."

These two brown chairs were just sitting out in our back yard collecting cobwebs.  They're plastic "wicker," but they're in good shape and pretty comfortable.  I already had the cushions, and I bought the rug at Goodwill for $4.  I rescued the little table from my former in-laws' house and spray painted it pink:  

Another view of the table--I placed it along the wall to save space and enable us to see out into the wetlands while we eat.  The wood on the floor is extra trim that will get used somewhere:

I can't wait to spend our first evening down there with candles lit, listening to the marsh birds squawking.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Lipstick on a Pig

Everything about our beach cottage has been kind of like putting lipstick on a pig.  We don't have the money to completely redo anything (except the kitchen, where we had no choice), so we do the best we can with what we have and hope that the lipstick will cover up the pig.

We've been working on the inside of our porch, which now has a new floor, "new" vintage screen door, new screening, and now a new ceiling.

My initial thought was that we could paint the ceiling a nice light blue or bright white.

Then I looked at it:

I realized it was going to take a lot more than lipstick to fix that mess, with rusty nails showing through and water stains on the wood:

Bead board to the rescue, with trim to cover the bad seams, which of course didn't match up well because everything on the porch is crooked.

We also installed some bamboo blinds that were left over from my son's ranch house makeover:

All that's left is some painting, which I'm going to complete tomorrow, and then I can start adding furniture.

That's when it goes beyond lipstick and we start applying mascara, eyeliner, and concealer because paint and cute furniture hide a multitude of flaws.