June 25, 2010

Have a totally Rad weekend.

We will cause its only supposed to be 93 this weekend - woo hooo cold front.

On tap this weekend: finishing lots of little projects (with a little help from the bro in law and my furneice and furnephew).

*in case your curious, that's vintage Eric and I circa 1984 just hanging out in a garage. I kid, i kid, this was the BEST 80's party ever. I went for the early 80's look - the death rattle of disco and Eric went for classic 80's prep complete with members only, wayfarer and loafers.

June 23, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love. Love!

My heart is beating a little fast and I have butterflies in my stomach. I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to this movie coming out August 13th. Buuuuuttt, it's tempered with a little bit of hesitation - I am almost scared to see the movie in fear that it will taint the book which I love so much.
My copy is dogeared, has been dropped in the ocean, is highlighted, underlined and tear stained. I really have a little bit of a problem. This book finally gave me the kick in the buttookus I needed to be myself, to always try to explore new areas of my life, to do what I love, to literally live for my joy and the joy of those I truly, madly, deeply love.
I'll share one of the many, many, many underlined passages from my copy:

"I got to thinking about how much time I spend in my life crashing around like a great gasping fish, either squirming away from some uncomfortable distress or flopping hungrily toward ever more pleasure. And I wondered whether it might serve me (and those who are burdened with the task of loving me) if I could learn to stay still and endure a bit more without always getting dragged along on the pothole road of circumstance."

ok, one more for good measure.

"Destiny, I feel is also a relationship - a play between divine grace and willful self-effort. Half of it you have no control over, half of it is absolutely in your hands, and your actions will show measurable consequences. Man is neither entirely a puppet of the gods, nor is he entirely the captain of his own destiny; he's a little of both."


*I missed my 100th post (Calligraphy) so Happy 101st post Splendid Minta!

June 21, 2010

ahh... the beauty of handwriting

Did you know I do a little calligraphy on the side?

It's true - I just finished up a 150 envelope job for a friend from work who is getting married in August. I'll post some pics once I get a new battery charger for my camera (long story). In the meantime here are some beautiful examples from some other modern calligraphers.


The antique stamps make these envelopes even better. One of my fav calligraphers is on Etsy - Primele. See the top photo for her work.

*selfish self promo - if you are in need of some calligraphy work please contact me via email for more info and examples.

June 18, 2010

Veggie Porn

Our garden gave us a bounty this week. Without further ado, here's the veggie lovin'.

ADVISORY: If you are hungry, please avert your eyes.

Shown above: basil, yellow crookneck squash, scallions, cherry tomatoes and Japanese eggplant.

Booo....

Our roof is leaking. Poop. The leak is over the pink bathroom so the bathroom may get a redo before we had intended it to.
We've called our home warranty company and hope to have a contractor over to diagnose asap.

June 16, 2010

Rub a dub dub, DIY suds

I told you a while back that when I had more time I wanted to take on some little DIY projects and I finally tackled the DIY laundry soap. We've been using it for about 3 weeks now and love it. Our clothes are very clean, no allergic reactions to report (some of the really strongly scented commercial detergents bothered our skin), and the best part is this DIY version costs pennies per load.

The recipe is from DIYnatural and only has three ingredients.
a bar of soap (any kind, any scent) grated
1/2 cup Borax
1/2 cup Washing Soda

First step - have your husband grate the soap
Then add the 1/2 cup of each Borax and Washing Soda and stir well - you want a granulated powder consistancy. Then store in your favorite container.
We made a double batch since we had all the ingredients on hand. Total cost of purchasing the box of Borax, soda and a 2 pack of soap is under $5. Each load of laundry only requires 2-4 Tbs of detergent so you do the math - ridiculously cheap.

PS - this can be used for HE washers because its low suds - just be sure to use only 2-4 Tbs.

PPS - You can also make liquid detergent at home just Click here. You'll need to have a 5 gallon bucket for the liquid version as well as stir it every time you use it - this is why we opted for the powder version.

June 15, 2010

Retro Befores & Afters

Since I am totally horrible about posting recent before and afters, here are some old ones.

Our old house in Greenville had a big backyard but we mostly used the side yard for entertaining since it was off the screened in porch which was off the kitchen - and you know everyone always gathers in the kitchen!

This is how the side yard looked off the porch when we bought the house - the white building you see is an old shed (if you could call it that) that was rotten and home to mice. EEK. Basically it was just a pass-through to the back.
The shed got ripped out, English Ivy cut back, and several buried surprises removed (doll legs, bricks, and glass). Here's Eric on Mt. Rubble. BUH-lieve me, the shed removal was a major undertaking - lots of nights and weekend work. Because we were cheap and didn't want to rent a dumpster - we cut up everything and put it in the garbage can - over several weeks of pick ups of course. All clear - you can see back into the backyard now. Then, once that was all clear we built a pergola over a raised deck. Here is Eric and our friend Mark sharing a fatty bud late at night after finally finishing the deck.
at this point we were spent but pressed on. We were actually on a major deadline - Mark and my BFF Tracy's engagement party was just 2 short weeks away. We laid an irregular stone path from the screened in porch out to the pergola with a little area on the way for a fire pit.
We purchased a flat of stone, leveled out the ground, laid a bed of sand and then arranged the stone. We took a shortcut to cement everything in - mixing sand and outdoor cement/grout sprinkled it dry over the stone, brushed it into the cracks and then watered it in. We wanted a simple look - nothing flashy or too uniform so this method was perfect!
Here is the finished product with the finalized pergola, deck and stone path - landscaped all along with cottage style flowers ... and the party was a great success!

I had totally forgotten just how much sweat went into this project until I found these old photos. We ended up spending about $1100 for the total project including the stone, beer, wood, landscaping, beer and all the little incidentals (and more beer).

June 14, 2010

Diggin' Deep

Its already in the 100's (aka hot as Hades) here in Columbia so I've been spending a lot of time inside. Can you blame me?

To occupy my time, I've signed up for a two week free trial on Ancestry.com to dig deep into my family tree. I've found some amazing things including the ship registry from when my Great Grandfather came to NY from Palermo, Italy in 1899.

My dad sent me this "Passaporto" this afternoon as fodder for my search. I wish I could make out more but its frame-worthy all by itself.
I've got all sides of our families racking their brains for details they may remember about our family. Someday I hope to put together a book from one of the online publishing companies to compile all the info. I've learned in my short time as a genealogist that the search is never done. I don't know when I would call it complete enough to click "publish".

If you're relegated to the indoors, there are plenty of less productive ways to use your time I guess. Wish me luck!

June 12, 2010

Blast from the Past

Our house in Columbia isn't the first house we've updated. Lets take a little trip down memory lane to our first house in Greenville.

Here's what it looked like when I bought it in 2006. Granny chic for sure! I'll share some inside photos soon. It was just a little guy too - 1100 SF, 2 BR, 1 Bath but, it was my baby!
Eric and I did tons of updates - the kitchen, lots of painting, landscaping and a major bathroom reno. After a fresh paint job here she is in all her spring glory.
We miss you little house (but we have to admit the extra 900 SF and 2nd bath is nice) - hope you love your new owner. ;)

June 11, 2010

What to do with the Pink Bathroom...

You've seen our Mamie Eisenhower Pink Bathroom, right?

Just in case, here she is in all her glory again.I've been saying I want to rip it out, replace it with a classic black and white look like this:
or this:
THEN... I spotted this on coco+kelly - a feature on Albert Hadley prints from Lonny Mag.
Could it be??? Is that my pink tile? Could my bathroom actually look this good with a wallpaper or hand painted black and white design??

Daylilies

As the daylilies start blooming here in SC, I'm missing my daylillies at the old house in Greenville. Some of the plants were so old I had to split them into 7 or 8 plants - and they were still massive. I hope the new homeowner loves them as much as I did. Meh.

Housekeeping

Good blogger! I get a cookie!

I finally updated the House Tour. Be sure to check out all the befores on the page - most are from closing day back in August '09. I'll be photographing our home this weekend (after I clean it, ha).

Sweet Nursery (don't get any ideas)

Polyvore has this great little contest going on - Design a Room. Go check it out and see what you come up with.

This is my entry - a sweet little pumpkin and mint room.

June 10, 2010

Floor Refinishing for Dummies

I know you are not a dummy but, let me just tell you one of the biggest "bang for your buck" projects when you buy an old house is having the hardwoods refinished. Every room will have shiny new floors in the stain that you choose giving the whole house a quick face-lift. Check out this before and after in our Dining Room.
BEFORE
AFTERFloor Refinishing is dirty work. My best advice is do it BEFORE you move in! We closed on our house August 20th, had the floors done August 21 - 25th and moved in the next weekend (after a thorough cleaning of the house).
Here in South Carolina (and I've had floors refinished in Greenville and Columbia) you are going to pay about $1.25 - $2.25 per square foot to have hardwood floors sanded, stained and 2-3 coats of poly. Yes, you can do it yourself, just rent a sander, invest in stain and poly and prepare to work your butt off for about 3 - 4 days. BUT, unless you are a pro or have the hookup on a pro in the family you probably will spend more money paying a pro to fix your mistakes than you would have spent had you just hired a pro in the first place. This advice is especially true if you are doing 1600 SF like we did.

First up, the refinisher will rip up your old carpet (if you have any), remove staples and then sand your floors to take off old stain and poly(s).
A note about sanding: Floors can only be sanded a couple times in their lifetime. Each time the sanding takes off 1/8 - 1/4" of wood and thus after 2 - 3 refinishings you will need to replace the floor.

After a good vacuuming, they will apply the stain. Then (typically the very same day as the stain) apply the first coat of poly. Waiting overnight between poly coats is desirable. Day 3 usually is a quick light sanding and 2nd coat of poly. Unless you are doing a 3rd coat you can walk on the floors on day 4.
A good floor refinisher will work with you to get your desired color of stain - even staining a small portion of the floor with your choices so you can get a good idea of how the color will look in your house. We wanted a rich dark color that kept the traditional feel of the house while updating it a bit. In the BEFORE picture above the floors look a little yellow. This was not the original floor color but somewhere along the way the floors had been sanded and stained with a natural color and cheap poly that yellowed over time.
These are the 3 colors we chose from - we chose the one on the top, English Chestnut. Not too dark, not too red... just right.

Regarding the quarter round at the joint of the baseboards and floor you have a couple of options. 1. Leave it alone, we did. Typically unless you are going from very light to very dark or visa versa the color on the quarter round will be very similar to the new stain color. So leave it - it will save you lots of money and work. 2. Have it stained and polyed the same color - this is more expensive and may add a day or two to the work time because it is labor intensive. 3. Paint it white to match your baseboards. This is a very modern look and will really update the house. You can even do this yourself after the fact.
What a difference it made in our house - we will probably refinish the floors in every house we ever buy 'cause what an improvement!

So how to do find a floor refinisher? Well, you could do a google search in your area and pick the one with the best webpage BUT you would be missing the little guys who have been doing it for decades, don't have a webpage, charge less and do a better job the old school way [read: better]. So, ask your neighbors, go through the yellow pages and call every single listing. In Greenville, I got a recommendation from my Realtor but in Columbia I was on my own. I wrote down every company/name and phone number and called EVERY ONE. About 50% were out of business, miscategorized, or didn't return my phone call. I was left with about 8 guys who gave me a range of prices (most in the $1 - $2 range, some exorbitant like $6 a SF). I had the 3-4 in my budget come out, measure and give me a firm quote. Of the 4, one didn't show, one was really creepy, and of the final 2, the guy I chose was on time, good price and professional - plus he could start right away. HIRED! We were very pleased with our guys and if you are in Cola, SC and need a recommendation let me know.

Happy Refinishing!
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