December 9, 2015: Hola everyone! I am still here, just been busy doing other things so this poor little blog has been neglected for nearly 6 months, yikes! It's winter now, but oh so mild. The weather in November and so far this month has been unprecedented in its mildness. However, I was greeted with a snow/sleet storm on the day I travelled back home from Las Vegas on November 21. The first thing I had to do once I got the suitcase inside the house was dig out my shovel, LOL! Now the Christmas tree is up, the house is decorated, my tribe of squirrels is FAT (I think I have some expectant mommies) and all is right in my little world. Happy Holidays to all and take care, everyone! Jan

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas Everyone

Ho ho ho!

I'm up before dawn and caught the Star of the East just as dawn started rising over Lake Michigan.  Sorry for the blurred image, I'm not very good with this camera even after years and years but I think it's pretty cool.  I also took a quick photo of my Christmas tree lit up in my front window about 6:45 a.m.  I did not have a clear idea until this morning what it looks like from the outside!


This is looking off my side stoop that opens to my driveway, toward the southeast.  The glow of dawn can be seen roughly at the roofline of the garage and the Star of the East can be seen near the top of the tree's branches just to the center right of the photo. [Note added later: I thought it could be Venus, but I checked a sky map for the month of December and it is probably Jupiter - or a comet that is right now at about 30 degrees angle in the south/southeast sky.  Holy Hathor!]


Thar she glows...  It looks massive, but it's an artificial 6.5 footer and not super-wide.

It was a beautiful, perfectly still morning, and not cold at all, probably in the mid-40's.  This entire month has been unusually mild, perhaps due to the El Nino.  We have had a lot of rain - thank goodness it wasn't snow, we would be buried under 20 feet of it!

Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates; Happy Yule and Happy Winter Solstice to those who celebrate those traditions.  I totally missed Solstice this year, but it came and went and now the days are starting to get longer again, hooray!  The tree will be up until the end of January, when it will be noticeably lighter earlier in the morning and in the evening. The lighted decorations all around the house and candles at night help keep the darkness at bay. I am a creature of the light.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Dinette Decorated for the Holidays

Hola everyone!

I am really enjoying this holiday season -- been out making merry with my friends a lot! I am thrilled that my decorating was done quickly during the Thanksgiving weekend and finished up shortly thereafter, and shopping was mostly done online (easy peasy), so I can concentrate on socializing with family and friends and watching my annual favorite holiday movies.

Do you think these go together???


A year ago this is what I'd envisioned for my dinette.  The top pattern is on the curtains that would flank either side of the patio sliding door that floods the dinette with light; the middle pattern is a large rectangular area rug I've had for years and was in storage for just about as long - a rich red with black border and myriad colors in its florals (but no turquoise or teal), it would have gone under the dining table; the bottom pattern is the tablecloth I love to use during the holidays because of its rich color, pattern, texture and sheen, but I didn't use it last year until Valentine's Day!

But, this year I resurrected my two foot tall cardinal tree, now centered on my 56" diameter dining table, added some cardinal, red and green accents around the space collected over the years and, voila, somehow it works (well, I think so :))










So happy with how it all turned out!  Best of all is the feel of the thick (1/2") wool rug beneath stockinged feet, the richness of the colors against the dark grey walls and the dark plank-vinyl wood floors -- looks positively Victorian library and I love it.  I feel enveloped in richness, warmth, snug and cozy, things needed this time of year in the Wisconsin climate.

The cardinal plates were purchased at different times at TJMaxx for $3.99 each.  The cardinal prints are greeting cards or photos printed from the internet (I have collected several over the years and interchange them); the frames were purchased over several years (I have about a dozen wood tone frames and six black frames) from my local Walgreens for $5 each (no longer available, sadly); and here and there, not photographed, are some red/green/gold/black plaid ribbons, three cardinals perched around the kitchen and dinette (they didn't all fit on the tree); and two other framed cardinal prints; a few other Christmas-y touches.

I love spending time in the kitchen/dinette.  I have a lap top set up there during the day, facing toward the window so I can see the birds and my tribe of squirrels cavorting about in the backyard :)  Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Christmas Decor 2015

Hola darlings!

I am temporarily diverting from finishing the series of posts that led to the creation of my new living room earlier this year, so I can bring you the few simple things I've done around the house to introduce Christmas this year.

Here is the tree at dusk with the tree lights turned on; well, I know it doesn't look like dusk because of the flash on my camera, but it was:


I like how the ornaments "pop" more since hundreds of them are no longer competing for attention.  It works for moi this year. Next year, I may go back to my "more is better" tree decorating ways.

I realized just how much Christmas stuff I've accumulated over the years and after this Christmas I'm going to go through all of my boxes and clear out some of it.

This year I put the fewest ever ornaments on the tree since I bought it.  I did, however, go out and buy some long-coveted pearl strand garland.  I may never used my gold bead garland again and in any event half of it at least is going to the next Easter Seals pick-up.

This year, as last year, I stayed with the white feather boas I use as garland, but I left off the faux-natural long feathers that I would bow out around the tree in arcs.  I also only used half of my treasured Gump's feathered birds this year, but I made up for that by purchasing four larger sized golden feathered birds on clearance at Macy's and four composite crowned birds in a champagne color hung from a long ribbon.  I also relented and bought five faux-crystal and pearl stems to use as tree toppers.  So, I'm still adding to my collection of Christmas decorations - me bad!

I layered some ornaments in the center of the tree as per my usual practice to fill in the holes that show up so glaringly during the day with the tree centered on the large picture window with light pouring in, but not nearly as many as in prior years; this year I wanted to get the tree trimming done with a minimum of fuss and bother.  I added my four pearl starburst ornaments, my clear acrylic and crystal snowflakes and snowflake drops, my pearl and faux-silk florals, and a few other ornaments, and that was that.  Instead of six or seven boxes of decorations emptied, I used less than three.  Holy Hathor!

Here are some close-ups of some of the ornaments this year.  They stand out more, I think, because there is more "green" area exposed on the tree (gee, what a concept):

Me (I'm the golden-beglittered Nefertiti lower center left, ahem); Mr. Don's McLean kilt pin,
upper right, a sourvenir from Duarte Castle, and the beribboned heart in the middle.






xxx

Monday, June 29, 2015

Redoing the Living Room - 4: The Search for My Perfect Grey Sofa

Hola darlings!

The hunt was on!  I did next to nothing for at least a week except look at probably 4000 sofas online.  I swear I looked at absolutely every single sofa available at Amazon, Overstock, Wayfair and Lamps Plus, and Bellacor. Then I moved on to other online furniture vendors I'd never heard of, and looked at more, and more and more.  And then I kept going back and looking at all these sofas over again - several times. I printed out tons of spec sheets and images.   It is a wonder I slept at all.

I quickly discovered that the cost of my perfect sofa clashed horribly with the reality of my perfect budget :)  I did not even bother attempting to get a price on the Pearson or the Lee Jofa grey sofas in my inspiration photos, I knew either one would cost more than all of the furnishings in my house combined.  Another reality was that very few sofas were offered with single-cushion or bench-style cushion seats.  Some sofas had a bench-style seat but it was "built-in" - not removable.  Removable was a must have.

I was also looking for a length not much larger than 84" to 86", and a depth under 40".  That automatically knocked several otherwise potential sofas out of the running.  The whole point of going with the new sleeker furniture lines is to create a smaller furniture footprint in my 14' by 15' living room.

I wanted to keep the sofa in the range of $1,000, which for me is a LOT of money to spend on a sofa.  I knew I would have to compromise.  I decided that I could live with two removable seat cushions if necessary, but I would not sacrifice the style I was after.  As the search continued I came across potential sofa options priced below $1,000, but I later deleted them from serious consideration based on online reviews and a worry about overall quality.

I slowly narrowed down my potential sofas to these two:


Sofa above at Lamps Plus, the Portsmouth Grey Portico Sofa with nickle nailhead trim, $1,400.


Sofa above at Lamps Plus, the Maggie Tufted Bella Granite Sofa, $1,500 (but as of this posting, now on clearance with only 2 left for $1,300.00).

Then, one night as I was yet again looking at an expanded sofa search at Wayfair, I stumbled across this beauty:

Image above is the A&B Home Group Provo Camelback Sofa.  Not grey, not velvet, not tufted, but a removable bench seat, a lovely curved back, the sleek lines, the right size, and best of all, a FABULOUS PRICE:  $899 WITH FREE SHIPPING!

I hemmed and hawed - did I want it?  It wasn't grey, it wasn't velvet.  I loved it.  I hemmed and hawed two days too long before making up my mind after going through a pile of printed out images of sofas with my buddy Ann.  When I made my decision on a Friday night to buy the Provo Camelback Sofa, it had DISAPPEARED FROM WAYFAIR.  Could not find it anywhere  it was not shown as Out of Stock, it was GONE, not listed.  Then, I could not even find it offered for sale elsewhere on the internet, whereas a few days before, I had found it available at a few vendors.  The Provo Sofa had disappeared from the internet, except for cached images and outdated listings!

OHMYGODDESS!  Let's just say that I was rather distressed.  All that looking, all that effort, all that work, only to discover that the sofa I was ready and willing, finally, to buy was no longer available for sale!

Guess what?  About a week to 10 days after suffering that trauma, the Provo Camelback Sofa reappeared for sale at Wayfair, for $1,541.  I'm so over it.

Redoing the Living Room - 3: Inspiration Photos


Image above from Lee Jofa, Charleston Sofa, fabrics by James Huniford (from Lee Jofa website).


Image above is the Tiffany sofa by Pearson Furniture (from Pearson Furniture website).


Image above torn out of one of my Traditional Home magazines.  I did not make note of the month/year, unfortunately, so I was unable to find it online.

Those sofas!  I wanted a grey velvet sofa with a REMOVABLE (not fixed in place) bench seat cushion.  Optional additions were a tufted and  curved back.  Must haves were sleek modern lines with a wink toward traditional styling. I was looking for something "Manhattan Classic" -- the series at Horchow -- or something reminiscent of mid-century modern without giving up altogether on more classic lines.  Something totally different than the furniture I had purchased years ago for a much larger house.

With the furniture gone from the living room, I began an all out hunt for the perfect sofa!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Redoing the Living Room - 2: The Floor Plan

I don't know about you, but as many times as I've rearranged furniture over the years, beginning way back in 1969 in my very first apartment, I usually just winged it and shoved furniture around until I hit upon a configuration I liked -- or not, and then ended up shoving the furniture back where it had been originally!

Sometimes I would rough sketch a lay-out, but never to scale; sometimes they worked, more often they didn't.  What looks good on paper doesn't always translate well to three-dimensional space.

So, this time, after all these years, I decided I was going to do this the right way.  I found an online program easy enough for me to use, measured my living room, and went to work coming up with some floor plans.  It didn't take long using this particular program (I found it at Bob's Discount Furniture) and this is a tool I will certainly use again in the future, loved it!

Without further ado, here is the floor plan I've settled upon:

What I really appreciate about this particular program is that it gives you a second page with a listing of all items in the room with their dimensions!  Makes it easy to reference as I shop for furniture.  Anything too far off the dimensions I used in the plan would be less and less likely to work.

I even drew in a 6 x 9 area rug to anchor the main seating area.  The sofa is placed in front of a 7-foot wide picture window.  On the opposite side of the coffee table are two occasional chairs with a smaller footprint, hopefully to leave enough space at the back of the room (by the dividing wall with the dinette) for a larger lounge chair with a back tall enough to rest my head against for watching t.v., reading and snoozing.  I may add a footstool, but that is not in the floor plan.  By the fireplace I've placed my small desk and a small chair faced toward the picture window wall. I really want to put a desk back into this room, but with my old furniture, there just was not enough space.  I am hopeful that with the smaller chairs and new configuration the desk will fit comfortably and not feel too cramped/forced.

The remaining pieces of furniture are existing pieces.  On the wall to the right of the sofa is my china hutch used as a bookcase and storage.  On the opposite wall is the (removable) fireplace.  On the sofa wall tucked into the corner is my curio cabinet.  The dimensions of all of the case goods and small desk chair are all to scale as I already own those pieces.  The sofa, coffee table and chairs are estimates based on sizes I've scribbled down of several of my "saved to wish list" pieces as I've been window shopping online.

That's it!  I've never done anything like this plan before, so I'm excited to see if it will actually work in the space.  I did two fall-back plans, one that will be used during Christmas season when the tree takes the main stage in front of the picture window, and one without the desk and small chair.

Now, on to some of my inspiration rooms and color pallette!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Redoing the Living Room - 1

Hola everyone!

I am still here.  The weather has finally turned for the better in southeast Wisconsin and I've been spending quite a bit of time outdoors. The garden beds are full and the flowers have been blooming.  Today the first day lily popped open!  At the former Maison Newton because of the shady areas I would have day lilies blooming throughout the large backyard through mid-July, but here I will be lucky if the blooms last until July 4th.  My yard is full-blown scorching sun from around 9:30 a.m. until about 5:30 p.m. when the sun finally swings around to the west and the house shades most (but not all) of the backyard.  I can tell you this, there will be a LOT of day lilies this year, for sure!  There seem to be twice as many flower stalks as last year.

The hanging plants are up, the pinks and other perennials I added to the garden beds last year all bloomed (I only lost one, and that one I planted out front) and the grass is looking pretty good thanks to the weed control/fertilizing service I hired.  We've also had goodly amounts of rain and the spring was cool, all conducive to growing a good grass crop.

My brother Jeff's oldest son, Cory, is getting married next month.  Megan and Cory are setting up their first place together, and in a fit of genius (I get occasional flashes), because I've been wanting to get new furniture for my living room for some time now, I asked my sister-in-law Heidi if she thought the kids would like my like-new furniture (queen size sleeper sofa, slim line La-z-boy recliner, and a large Simmons wing chair with matching ottoman).  She said YES!

So, last Saturday, my brother and Megan's dad and brother arrived at the house, trailer in tow, to move the furniture.  It was quite a production to get the sofa out of the house -- the doors had to be removed from the front door for the sofa to fit through!  But eventually it was done and I am now the proud owner of this:




Sorry about that last photo.  The sun is blasting in through the picture window right now and I've never taken the time to learn how to adjust for that glaring light on this old camera, a 2009 "antique," I understand.

I'm starting almost completely over, woo woo!  The lace scarf that I threw up on the short but long window on the south wall nearly a year ago (intending always to replace it...) - gonna disappear!  The grandma-esque ice blue embroidered curtain panels on either end of the picture window that looked so fabulously beautiful to me when I bought them from Penney's in 2012 (for the family room in the former Maison Newton), outta here!  The rug, going into hiding in my den/library.  It's 100% wool, thick and soft, it will anchor the small 10x12 room. The coffee table --

Well now, what to do with the coffee table? It is one of my favorite pieces, I've had it since the early 2000's when I bought it on clearance at Marshall Fields (now Macy's).  It is solid wood, has a rustic pine finish and is heavy as a rock (a LARGE rock).

But I am going in a somewhat different direction in my new furniture selections, including a sleeker, smaller coffee table, and there is no place to put the table, save the basement wreck room, which I do not use.  And getting that baby down the narrow basement stairs - oh no no no.

I didn't offer it to the kids because their apartment living room is small and the table is over 35" square on top and even larger at the widest point in the chow style legs, which bow out and then curve back under the table.  So, right now, I'm in a quandry.  I figure I should try to sell it on Craig's List, a solid wood classic styled coffee table should sell for something, I figure.  But I just haven't gotten there mentally yet.

What's staying:  (1) gel fuel fireplace; (2) curio cabinet; (3) china hutch/bookcase and credenza.

I like the main wall color and that is staying; I don't know what the name of it is, but it is a pale greenish-grayish satin finish, very subtle.  The fourth wall, which opens to the front door, the entrance to kitchen and the hallway off of which are the rest of the rooms in my house, is currently painted a metallic sort of pea-soup green (not my doing!), and is going to be painted to match the other walls.  Just as soon as I get around to it.  I have the paint, that's something anyway :)

I am going for full-blown neutral upholstery with no patterns whatsoever this time around, and will spice things up with color in accessories, just like all of you do so beautifully and me, meh, not so much.

So, I am getting all new stuff!  (1) Sofa; (2) coffee table; (3) area rug; (4) one and possibly two occasional chairs; (5) one chair for serious t.v. watching, reading, napping, possibly with an ottoman; (6) one or possibly two small ottomans/footstools if aforesaid chair does not come with one; (7) new curtains; and (8) several throw pillows.

So, the next several posts will be all about this monumental undertaking.  I must be mad, mad I tell you...