May 20, 2018:

Hola!

Yesterday Prince Harry married American Meghan Markle and I couldn't get enough of the royal wedding. What a gorgeous dress, the bride was radiantly beautiful and the church at Windsor - oh my goodness, the flowers alone were soooo beautiful. There's nothing like a good love story to make one appreciate how precious we can be (and should be) to each other.

I'm glad the weather was perfect yesterday for the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex's wedding. I can't say the same for around here. Spring keeps teasing and then going away. This morning I woke up to a "balmy" 47 degrees F outside, rain, damp, and I turned the heat back on! It's May 20th, the heat. should. not. be. on. Period.

Last Thursday, however, was beautiful. I was able to get a goodly amount of yard and garden clean-up done over several days last week. I also took some photos of my flowering tree anchoring the north corner of my house and made the current collage. I think it's an ornamental cherry, and on the the other end of the house, I think that's called a purple sand cherry? I'll have to check that. The blossoms on the tree do not have a distinct fragrance, but the purple shrub that wants to be a tree (despite my hacking it back, back and back yearly - I'm losing, by the way) has myriad blossoms with a distinct fragrance. I can't decide if the scent is too beautiful to bear or too awful to smell, it certainly can be overpowering!

This coming week will be the third cut of the grass this season. We had rain late Friday night and then for several hours earlier this morning. This rain, on top of the rain we had over four days the prior weekend, and the grass is growing like nobody's business! I don't mind doing the grass, though, as long as it's not too hot, too cold, not raining, and not too windy. I'm not picky at all, am I...

I still have a lot of raking out of areas that suffered from snow mold over the winter, and have not yet really tackled cleaning out the north flower bed in the backyard. That will be a chore!

But Memorial Day weekend is coming. This coming Saturday I will be out with a friend (who has a nice large van - goody!) stocking up on potting soil, top soil to fill in never-ending low spots in the yard, grass seed, and lots of plants! For some reason, this spring seems busier than those in prior years. I can't figure out why that is...

Jan

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Deconstructing Christmas in the Kitchen - Decorating Kitchen for Winter to Spring

Hola!  It's that time of year again.  New Year's has come and gone and the Christmas decor, which has been up since early December, is being packed up and taken down to the shelves in the basement to rest for another year.

The big tree in the living room will remain up until Three Kings' Day on January 6th.  Yeah, I'm a sappy sentimental type of gal :)  The first Three Kings' Day I celebrated was with my Mr. Don in Madrid, Spain on January 6, 2012.  To see the large parade, we stood for hours to hold a place on the Paseo del Prado, a lovely large boulevard upon which the Prado Museum and many other revered museums and organizations are located. That trip had been scheduled to celebrate about 10 years since our first trip to Madrid in October 2002.  One of my all time favorite pictures of us as a couple is this one (taken during that 2002 Madrid trip, on a side-trip to see the ancient city of Toledo - this was taken before we walked over the St. Martin's Bridge seen behind us and a river far far below to get to the ancient city built on a high place).  It sits on my bookcase/storage unit in the kitchen, where I see it many times every day:


He was serenading me as an obliging lady from our tour bus snapped our photo, LOL!  Sadly, our January 2012 trip back to visit Madrid was the last trip we would share together, as Mr. Don passed away in October 2012, but I will always remember our two trips to Spain and the wonderful fun-and-adventure-filled years we spent together travelling, exploring shops, museums, restaurants, playing chess and writing our blogs.

Deprived of all it's Christmas dressing, the kitchen looks rather barren to me now, LOL.  Isn't that always the case when the Christmas decor comes down and things aren't bright, festive and shining with lights, ornaments and glitter everywhere, sigh.  Still, I can definitely notice now that it is staying light longer in the evening and getting light outside a little bit earlier than a week ago, so I won't complain too loudly.  This is how the kitchen looks now, mid-redo:

From the entrance into the dinette area from living room.

From one corner of the kitchen looking at the dinette and kitchen driveway entrance,
patio door, and my breakfast bar area.



These are dried out hydrangeas that I clipped from the side garden along the driveway.
Amazingly, they held up under 60 plus mph winds, pounding rain storms,
several freezes, snow, and more winds, winds, winds!  I wanted to put something
on the table as the lantern I had on it during the fall leading up to Christmas is
currently on the mantle in the living room.  The bouquet is wintry, and also reminds me
that spring will be here in 3 months - well, at least astronomical spring.

This is the bookcase/storage unit I bought and put together to cover the
side of the fridge and provide a convenient place to remove stuff from the
countertops and for my cookbooks, more storage behind the uneven doors.
I have tried several times to get those doors to hang evenly, and have failed
miserably.  I also have to open them rather gingerly, as they have a tendency
to fall off, LOL!  Good thing there is no one else living here, especially kids!  
You may remember the inspiration photos for adding this bookcase/storage unit to my own kitchen design:

Way fancier than mine, as it was framed in complete with crown
molding and there are cabinets above the fridge.  My goal was
similar though, covering up the side of the fridge open to the dinette
with something functional and attractive.

Same idea as first inspiration photo, different color (love the grey!)
I chose a white modern/clean look for my bookcase because the cabinets will eventually be painted white. I chose a unit with enclosed storage space to stash
the large supply of nuts I feed to all the city's squirrel population, or so it seems
sometimes!

I swapped out the cardinal Christmas greeting card collage for this
lovely horse print from my 2017 calendar.  Horse art doesn't have to be expensive :)
The colors work perfectly in the room and it will be there until covered up
next Christmas season by the cardinal card collage.  

Last photo: the kitchen entrance off the driveway.  I hung up a pair of curtains
that normally go on the patio door this time of year, to replace the single panel
with a different curtain (that I had used the year before in my Shezebo screening)
to better coordinate the colors.  I like how these look so much they'll be staying,
so after I took down the autumnal/Thanksgiving gold brocade curtains I put up
the spring/summer curtains.  They let maximum light into the room during the
day, which is important this time of year, and if it gets too bright I can tweak the
built-in blinds in the patio doors to regulate the light flow.  

Still to be done - an extensive list to finish the kitchen re-do:

New countertops.  I have to get myself to Home Depot and get something ordered, but first I have to come up with a drawing and measurements.  How come they make it look so easy on those home improvement shows?  This isn't easy at all!

Tear out old and install new backsplash.  My new backsplash has been in my possession for some time.  I ordered this gorgeous porcelain ceramic tile Carrera marble look subway tile that comes in 12 x 12 sheets, in a smaller size "brick", given the smallish proportions of the kitchen and the limited amount of backsplash that will be covered, I didn't want to go with a larger size.  Once the countertops are in, I can get my "guy" in to tear out the old tile (hopefully it doesn't destroy the drywall underneath!) and put up the new tile and grout.  Yes, I've seen this done many times on HGTV and DIY network shows online, but I guess I'm adverse to risk and hard labor these days.  Plus I don't have the necessary tools and don't want to spend the $$$ to buy it!  I mean, how often will I ever use a tile cutter again?  NEVER.  I could rent what I need (maybe), but how would I get it home?  I don't drive - I mean, literally, I have never been behind the wheel of a car in my life and I have no clue how to drive although I do know all the rules of the road that nobody obeys anyway these days so what difference does it make, heh?  LOL! 

All the rest of the jazz
Painting cabinets first, but will probably be last to be done. Originally I was going to do white uppers and black lowers, then maybe dark grey lowers, but then I decided to just stick with white for uppers and lowers.  Now I only have to decide upon a white out of about 10 million shades and make up my ever-changing mind to do it myself or hire someone to do it.  Geez Louise!

Painting trim, that will be black and include the window frames, door frames and baseboards.  I have no idea what color I'm going to paint (or maybe stain) the transition piece from the dinette into the carpeted living room. I want to remove the carpet in the living room, but with the massive furniture pieces that are permanently in place in the living room that I cannot and will not even attempt to move by myself, there is no way.  Period, end of story.  So it's one of those up-in-the-air thingies that drive me nuts.

New light fixtures.  The boob fixture above the sink makes me cringe every time I look at it.  I try not to, believe me!  Same for the boob light in the hallway to the bedrooms and bathroom and the side hall to the kitchen entrance/basement stairs.  I know they were bought at Menard's because Menard's constantly runs specials on three boob lights for like $13 - for all three.  LOL! 

The problem is design paralysis when it comes to making a decision about which direction to go with the lighting.  I like far too many things, but like many others dreaming of new kitchen and dinette spaces that are all magically beautifully coordinated, I have champagne taste on a cheap boxed pink wine budget.  Every time I think I've made a decision, I find myself hours later veering off in an entirely different direction.  So I guess I just don't want to spend anything, but I hate the lights/fixtures that are over the dining table, in the center of the kitchen and over the sink.  HATE HATE HATE, the Trifecta of Hate. 

I'm sure I've forgotten some stuff - but I got the new smaller sized table and chairs that better fit the smaller space of this Maison Newton dinette, a new area rug for the dinette, and the white bookcase/storage unit - key purchases.

I'm trying to do all of this on a miniscule budget of a few thousand dollars.  Yeah, rutsa ruck, heh?  The BIG thing that was done already was to open up the wall all the way between the living room and dinette so now it's all one big flowing space.  It meant losing a partial wall in the living room that I used to be able to put furniture against. But it also meant closing up the separate door into the kitchen off of the bedroom/bathroom hallway - which I hated, and enabled me to slide the fridge from the dinette side of the room of that damn door into the kitchen proper where that door used to be, hooray!  That was a huge improvement, the fridge was moved to where it rightfully belonged and I had a dinette not infringed upon by the fridge. Can you imagine designing a kitchen and not leaving room for your refrigerator?  I mean - WHO DOES THAT?  And you should have seen the monstrous black wonder fridge that was shown with the house when I viewed it the first time - I swear it looked like it would eat you as you were sitting at the bar table they had in place of a civilized dining table.  How on earth did they feed two small kids at a bar table, I ask you??? (I was not so rude as to ask them). 

Okay, enough ranting and raving like a mad woman with dirty hair because a new season of Project Runway Allstars is starting in a few minutes, hooray!

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