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, July 29, 2016

Shezebo: A Dose of Frugality (Reamagining an Old TV Stand Turned Coffee Table)

Hola darlings!

I am so excited.  Tomorrow my Shezebo will be put together and installed by my contractor and his crew.  In preparation, today I cleared off the patio to make room for my Shezebo and work space.  Looks rather forlorn.

Before.
Pending.  Planters, table, birdbath moved out of the
construction zone.
Before.
Pending.  So sad - birds have been flying by looking for the
birdbath even as I type this; they have not yet discovered it in its new location!
One of the items I know I want in my Shezebo is a table that can serve both as a coffee/cocktail table and a side table.  That means something portable.  I had an idea in mind -- I wanted to have something on casters but not too tall, something with a shelf underneath the tabletop, and something in yellow.  I started by hunting for yellow coffee tables and saved photos of two possibilities:

Chatham House "Helena" Coffee Table at Bed, Bath and Beyond (no casters)
$97.49 with free shipping on orders over $29
Sauder Woodworking Soft Modern TV Multi-Cart 115.42 (on casters)
$115.43 and free shipping
I was looking for tables around $100 or, preferably, less.  I'm sure there are other options out there online, possibly something I'd need to spray paint and/or add casters on.  But, considering the amount spent for my Shezebo, the assemble and install, and all of the goodies that I probably did not need but went out and bought anyway, I decided to go the frugal way and shop what I already had in the house -- just begging for some casters and a paint job:


This painted in the early 1990s former TV stand (minus casters removed when said item ceased being used as a TV stand and was converted to a coffee table in the family room at the former Maison Newton), complete with burgundy stenciling on the top (thankfully, not shown in this photo).  What can I say?  Jewel tones were "in" when I first decorated my former family room, and the converted TV stand never changed its, er, spots when I ditched the jewel tones in favor of something equally gaudy but in lighter "updated" tones of copper, taupe, and beige.  LOL!  I know, I know, but it wasn't as hideous as it sounds :)

So, my poor lonesome coffee table that used to keep me company every day in the former family room as I sat at my desk looking out over my backyard gardens, was banished to the unused wreck of a rec room in my current retirement abode because there was no place for it upstairs. 

But fear not, little table, you have served me well since I first purchased you in 1971 except that one of your casters fell off and disappeared somewhere along the line of many moves from apartment to apartment, while in college, while in law school, to first home, to storage, to second home, to third home.  You have proved sturdy and true, and I am not one to ditch my friends just because they're "old fashioned."  Hell, so am I!

I have a plan, TA DA!


New casters - little ones with stops on them!  And a lovely yellow spray paint that was on sale for $2.99 a can at Menards!  Total cost under $9 including sales tax.  Now all I have to do is put down some plastic and/or newspaper, clean up the table, prime it (I have spray primer on hand), and voila, I will have a beautiful new rolling coffee table.  

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Shezebo: Online Shopping for My Decor!

Hola!

I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July holiday.  I visited one of my sisters at their get-away home way up in the North Woods of Wisconsin, first time I've been up there in about 30 years, and had a wonderful time.

Back home, I've picked up the work of getting my patio in shape, including adding something I long wanted but never felt I could/should afford -- a permanent gazebo structure, my Shezebo!  I've always been generous toward others, but not so much with myself.  Now I guess I'm old enough and wise enough to know better than to deprive myself at this stage of my life, turning 65 next month.  I'm treating myself to things I never thought I would buy for myself, and my health hasn't been this good in years.  I amaze my primary care doctor and my cardiologist every check-up, LOL.  I think it's because I'm happy (despite the loss of my dear Mr. Don in 2012), and FREE after working my butt off for 46 plus years. 

True to form, I started out with one set of ideas in mind for what I wanted to do to decorate my Shezebo, and ended up going in a totally different direction.

I knew I wanted to add seating that would fit within/under the Shezebo.  I budgeted $500, figuring I would like a modular outdoor sofa unit (I had seen 3 or 4 at Amazon for under $500 that consisted of a four-piece sofa and one coffee table, for a total of five pieces) with white-ish or light beige cushions, something neutral, and I wanted a body of faux woven wicker that would hold up to the weather and go with my existing patio chairs.  I shopped for several days but was worried about the quality of the inexpensive furniture.  Then an email ad arrived from Home Depot -- patio furniture on sale.  Of course I looked!

And I bought on super sale at Home Depot online a pair of these -- stationary rocker lounge chairs, and added a pair of footstools:

(Pemberly line -- the green upholstery is not the color I have, but the website does not have the "peacock" color pictured in such a way that it reflects the actual color of the material - in all of the browsers on my three (yes three) different laptops, it just looks sort of a blah greyish blob).

I was leery of selecting the Peacock color because the online image at Home Depot was less than desirable to show me what the color actually WAS,, but I did not want the green color (above) or a sort of reddish color also offered.  I breathed a great sigh of relief when the cushion covers (sold separately from the cushions that come with the chairs and footstools) arrived separately ahead of the furniture and I was able to see the upholstery in person.  The "peacock" is a turquoise or aqua color; the material is a thick weave with some brown woven in and the texture is slightly nubby but very soft to the touch.  The primary color reads turquoise/aqua.  Here's a not very good pic of one of the cushion covers I took with my antique digital camera:



I also wanted an area rug, something I've never had outdoors before. I h.ad a deck for over 20 years at the former Maison Newton and never had a rug out there

And I wanted a fountain.  A water-splashing, gurgling fountain!  

Originally I was going to go with an area rug that would contain similar colors to the "peacock" tweed upholstery on the new stationary rocking lounge chairs and foostools.  I zeroed in on a couple of different rugs on sale at Home Decorators online - they were having a big sale on outdoor furnishings including rugs, and I found several 5 x 7 area rugs were under $100, plus 20% off, plus a free 6 x 9 rug pad.


I had chosen the Gallery area rug when I got curious (oh oh) and decided to check out what else was on sale.  Maybe I could find some cool accessories I hadn't thought about at a to-die for price.  Not a good idea idea for the budget, but I came away with -- furniture cushions -- for my existing patio furniture.

I fell in love with this pattern - the tapestry/Jacobean look, the colors, ooh la la!  It speaks both to my love of the traditional and the colors of summer.

Valbella Provence pattern.

But if I was going to buy this pattern, I needed to rethink the rug I'd chose, because the patterned rug I'd chosen was not going to work with these chair cushions.  So, I went back to the rugs and looked again, and this is the one I ultimately purchased:


The Wharf area rug was also on sale for the same price as the rug I'd initially selected, so I bought it instead, and went ahead with a big splurge and ordered cushions for a shabby-chick white wood Andirondack chair, a high-backed plastic adjustable lounge chair (my favorite for reading outdoors), and my two patio table chairs.

I had initially budgeted $500 maximum for a (perhaps) modular sofa unit to go with the new Shezebo.  I spent less than that purchasing my two new chairs with footstools plus their slip-covers, so the splurge for the furniture cushions wasn't as much as it could have been.  I did get them on the 20 - 40% off sale - was shocked by how much they would have cost if I'd paid full price, wowsers!

The rug has been received, it's still in its wrapper.  I don't want to put it on the patio until the Shezebo is installed.  The rug pad has been received, ditto.  The furniture cushions are arriving this coming week, I received a shipment notification a few days ago, woo woo!

Best news yet - my Shezebo is going up NEXT SATURDAY July 30th!  And the assembly/install price is just a bit over half of what I had budgeted.  Happy happy happy!

Fountain coming up next post.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Shezebo: The Setting

Hola!  I'm going up north to visit one of my sisters and B-I-Ls over the 4th of July.  They don't have internet access at their cabin and I don't have one of the smart phone thingies so I'll be unconnected.  I'm taking books along for entertainment - GASP! - what a concept!

My Shezebo was delivered this morning and I am SO happy!  When I get back from my mini-vacation I will begin contacting contractors to get quotes to have the shezebo constructed.

Here are some photos of my backyard (pre-Shezebo) taken a few days ago:




My Shezebo will be squared to the corner where the birdbath is presently sitting, about 10 inches from the edge of the concrete.  A new privacy fence (about 2.5 feet taller) will be installed along the north lot line (see third photo above) and the raised bed is going to be extended to go all the way across the yard to join the raised bed on the east lot line (you can see that bed in the first and second photos above).

I'm going to have a greatly expanded planting area for more perennials and will also be adding planting beds around the patio next year.  I am also thinking about extending the patio out from the north side by using flagstone to fill in the grassy area up to the north planting bed - but we'll see about that.  There is a lot to do before I get to seriously considering that idea pros and cons

One thing is sure: my backyard is going to look a whole lot different once the shezebo is up!

Have a safe and happy 4th of July holiday, everyone!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Shezebo Coming Soon!

Hola!

Still alive, still here.  I have much to catch up on here and I will.  Just wanted to let you know that I purchased a "Shezebo" to anchor a chunk of my ginormous blob of concrete in the backyard.

I was inspired to call my gazebo a Shezebo because it will be my private get-away that will keep me safe from bugs (I'm one of those people with bug magnet DNA, sigh), and I think the FYE Network show "She Shed/He Shed" is so darn cute!  Lots of inspiration there for design ideas.

It should be delivered shortly after 4th of July.  Here's a photo, it's a 10x10.  For aesthetic/size reasons (in relation to size of house and size of yard), I didn't want to go with anything larger.  It will (as you can see from the sale image below) hold seating for 4 comfortably or a nice dining table.

It comes with mosquito screening and a second "rod" for privacy curtains -- but if I want to install them at some future point I will have to buy an extra "kit" of some kind of drapery hardware that goes on the rod during construction, because once the Shezebo is put together, there is no way to detach the rod to add a drapery.  Not sure I want to go that route.  I may just go with magnetic rods or velcro tape to hang future curtains.


I purchased it from Wayfair. It is Sojag's "Dakota" steel roof/aluminum body gazebo, something strong and sturdy to stand up to the winters in SE Wisconsin.  It is a permanent structure that will be anchored to my concrete patio.  I won't have to be messing with hiring somebody to put up and take down any covering(s) on a gazebo that is not a "hard top" every season.  I can't do it myself, nor would I want to even if I could!

Stay tuned.  I STILL want to show you what I did in my living room, and then what I did in Mom's kitchen - lots has happened.  I hope some sanity, peace and quiet (which I expected to have once I was retired, geez) will return to my life!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Baseball Wall Finally Painted and Guest Room More Presentable

Hola everyone!  I know I left off in the middle of writing about all the rigamarole of updating my living room last summer, I promise I will complete that in the future -- hopefully the near future.

A lot has been happening around Maison Newton, many family-oriented matters, since last summer.

For various reasons, I wanted/needed to get the guest room, this one --

Sheet over curtain rod for "curtains," black "foam" thingies on the wall
(you can see the little black "dots" to the upper left) that would not
come off with regular scrubbing/fingernail treatment.


And, of course, the "baseball wall."  Painted stark semi-gloss
white, with red "seams" painted on it, inherited from prior owner.

-- up to snuff.  It's only taken nearly two years; I moved in on July 13, 2014 and here it is, April 8, 2016, and I finally got that damn ugly wall painted!

HOORAY!

But let me tell you, it was a major (and literal) pain in the neck, and it also kicked in my sciatica, all the climbing up and down the ladder to do the cutting in and cutting in and cutting in, never-ending cutting in (or so it seemed). OUCH!  I haven't painted a wall in probably 20 years, and it was a chore, believe me!

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!