April 6, 2019:


The income taxes are finished and were taken to the Post Office yesterday to send out via certified mail, which now costs nearly $16 for two 8 1/2 11 envelopes with return receipt. Yikes! But worth it because I have proof positive once I get the little green cards back that the returns were delivered and received. And just in case, there are tracking numbers that I can also tap the U.S. Post Office for to verify that delivery was made. In these times, it's better to be safe than sorry

I have been working in little bits and pieces outdoors whenever a window in our crappy weather has presented itself. Today, however, was the first day where I was able to spend an extended period of time outside. First, I cleaned up areas on the sidewalk and driveway along the edges where pine cones and branches tiny branches blown off during the seemingly wind storms we endured over fall and winter 2018-2019. After resting for a bit, and removing the winter hat, gloves and jacket, I moved to the back yard because I'm sick of feeling sick to my stomach every time I look at it through the patio doors in the dining room and window above the kitchen sink. This winter left it a true disaster zone. I worked steadily raking small areas and filled two trash can size black trash bags full of debris blown down from my arborvitaes and neighboring trees over the winter, in addition to about half a ton of nut shells. The nut shells are my fault because I feed all the neighborhood squirrels. They are so entertaining, and very smart! I also made a small dent in starting clean-up of the flower beds, where the "mild" (ahem) weather and thawed earth has encourages perennials to start popping through, whether I'm ready for them or not!

All in all, a somewhat decent start to making a larger dent in clean-up operations. I worked outdoors about 4 hours off and on. I didn't want to overdo it, and truth be told, I'm pooped! It's humbling to not be able to work as long or as hard as I used to. I can get it done, but I have to take lots of rest breaks so it takes quite a bit longer now. Good thing I'm retired


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Help Design Paralysis: Update on Living Room

Hola Darlings!

I've been so bad bad bad.  Well, I was sick for over a week.  I don't know if it is just a coincidence that I woke up with a really nasty sore throat, sore ears, pounding head and that feeling that said "you are not going to the office today, for damn sure."   Rolled over and slept again until I was able to get through to the switchboard at the office and call in sick.  That was nearly 2 weeks ago Monday and Tuesday.  I had the carpets throughout the house cleaned the prior Saturday.  Hmmmm....  I thought perhaps it was strep throat developing, which I haven't known to go away by itself without the help of antibiotics (but I could be wrong about that), so maybe I was like partially poisoned or something from all the chemicals in the house.  EEK!

Anyway, nothing got done - the house was torn apart because I move all "light" movable furniture (tables, chairs, lamps, etc.)  and area rugs, ottomans, etc. out of the rooms in prep for the carpet cleaning, and things were piled all over the place in the areas where there was no carpet to clean.  So, kitchen, both bathrooms and garage were loaded with stuff that doesn't belong there!  And there it stayed.

I HATE living in disorder like that.  It made me even more miserable than I felt physically.  After two days off, I still felt like crap but I went back to work and toughed out the rest of the week.  Nothing got done around the house except the bare minimum.  I cancelled Terry's visit (she normally comes on Thursday) because there was no sense having her come to clean when the house was all torn apart.

But things are better now.  Having an extra day off over Memorial Day Weekend helped.

I still haven't done a thing in the family room, sigh.  I have determined, though, that I'm going to try keeping the big old bookcases that are in there now and paint them in a color to match as closely as possible Mr. Celadon Horsey, who is the inspiration for having a wreck of a family room right now.  I've been corresponding with Mr. Don about various options for the redecorating and he is fully onboard with repainting the bookcases.  He thinks they'll look great.  Well, of course he does, as he's safe in Montreal and doesn't have to be around here for all the mess and work!  LOL!  That's my Mr. Don.  The man who paints window trim with a tiny water color brush...

So, family room is half-torn off wallpaper, bookcases half emptied, area rugs banished, art off the walls and banished to the spare room upstairs and garage.  It looks barren and icky in there now but the carpet is sparkling clean and so is the sleeper sofa.  T.V. was disconnected because I moved out the cords everything was plugged into along with the printer and my mini-office hiding behind the sofa in that room.  My dinette table is piled high with stuff, including the second laptop that used to be in my hidden mini-home office in the family room.  I am determined to clean that up today -- right after I blog, and take that nap I want to get in later on, and cut the grass in both the front and back yards, and clean up the deck...

But I HAVE made progress in the living room, hooray!  Perverse personality that I am, I have steadfastly ignored the family room in favor of the living room.  I spent days looking at possible media centers so I'd be able to move the t.v. from the fireplace mantle to the media center.  I looked at dressers, too, because I want extra storage.  I looked and looked and looked, and decided, finally, upon one from Target - Dolce.  Then I went back and forth, back and forth.  T.V. on mantle or no.  Move T.V. to media center or no.  Both plans have their benefits.  At least for now, I decided nope, putting a media center in the living room won't work, because it would mean less options for rearranging the furniture, which I am wont to do every now and then.  Sometimes I wake up and think - I'm going to rearrange the living room.  Right now.  And I get up and do it in my pajamas and end up not even washing my face the entire day or changing into normal clothes!  And I didn't want to spend the measely amount of money (less than $150) to buy it, either.  Because I knew I'd want a bigger t.v. to sit on top of it...  Oops - I see now the price has gone back up to $180.  Damn damn damn!  It sure is pretty, and the style would go very well with the mish-mash of wood tones and styles I already have in the living room.  Sigh.

All week long, every night after work and the last two weekends, I've been painfully piecing together a new "look" for the living room.  I wanted to "brighten things up" a bit, and my options are rather limited, to say the least.  The room is not going to be painted, the furniture stays, there is not going to be new carpeting. I'm not going to paint my red mahagony stained woodwork or paint the dark wood fireplace.  I'm not going to paint any of my beautiful wood furniture pieces, either!  I thought briefly the other day about a possible new area rug, but nixed that idea because I just don't have the $$ for it.  Drat!  I hate when I don't have $$ to do what I want to do! 

Nope.  I have been digging through every cabinet and drawer and closet in the house where I have things stashed away, bound and determined to put together a "lighter, brighter" look from what I already own.  I certainly have enough stuff in this house!  Surely I could hit upon some successful recombination of already-owned things to come up with a pleasing composition and look for the living room!

I did, however, cheat.  Yes, I am confessing.  Mea Culpa.  I purchased a set of two mirrors on sale for $19.99 at Target, a different, larger single mirror also from Target for $19.99 (that's going to go on the gallery wall I have planned for the dinette...), and a set of shelves, each one of which consists of four pieces of MDF put together in such a way as to create a sort of mini-shadow box effect and plenty of shelf space to display various items from my collections.  The original brainstorm I had was to brighten up the walls on either side of the large round-top window by using mirrors and placing a candle or candles in front of them.  Add some glitter and light.  Mirrored sconces were the original idea, but I didn't want to fork out the money for the ones I liked best.  I compromised and figured a shelf underneath a mirror holding a flameless candle or two or some flameless tea lights would give me the same effect but cost less.  And so I splurged.  The bill was less than $75 and I was very happy with that -- I'd spent $50 and so would get free shipping.  WRONG.  You have to spend at least $50 per item in order to get free shipping FOR THAT ITEM.  RIP OFF!  I was so pissed off by that, I almost - almost - cancelled the order.  But I didn't.  So the total bill came to just under $94. 

This is what the living room wall above the fireplace looked like earlier yesterday (Saturday):

This arrangement was achieved after a long, hard struggle.  I did not use either the framed oriental embroidered silks or the framed Bradford Exchange oriental plates I wrote about earlier.

You'll notice some major breakthroughs - well, they're major breakthroughs for me!  First, I got the cord from the t.v. sort of under control.  I would like to have one and possibly two electrical outlets wired in above the mantle, but that will have to wait until 2013 or possibly even 2014 due to budgetary considerations.  In the meantime, the closest outlet is to the left of the fireplace, about a foot off the floor.  That thick t.v. cord dangling over the edge of the mantle for the last few years drove me CRAZY!  I scoured the internet looking for some kind of neat and inexpensive remedy to "hide the cord" but none of the solutions, some quite ingenious, would have worked in my situation since I do not have an outlet where I need one (right above the mantle!) I finally bought some clear Command hooks and they sort of work - but I should have bought larger ones; I purchased the "small" ones and they're not up to the task of holding two cords at bay (see below regarding addition of lamp).  So I cheated and added a much larger and very white cup hook at a critical juncture at the base of the mantle right in the corner where the bottom of the mantle rests on the vertical pilasters.  You can't even see it in this photo!  It holds the cord close to the mantle around the "curve" underneath and the little clear Command hooks more or less keep the cord(s) flush along the side of the fireplace (pilaster) until near the outlet.  Can't do anything about the dark cord(s) against the light colored wall reaching across to the outlet.  Well, I could try painting them - think that would look lame.  Ditto for cord covers.  Just wouldn't work right in my particular situation.

Second, I added a little lamp!  Been wanting to do that for at least a few months now, to add a bit of light to the mantle at night without going full force and turning on one of the table lamps. I was after a certain ambiance that a larger lamp would not provide.  I had read about and considered battery-operated mini-"christmas" lights snaking around the back of the mantle. But in keeping with the spirit of my goal of not spending any $$ in order to achieve my new "look," I first scavanged one of the small lamps from the dresser in the guest room.  I lived with it for one or two nights.  It was too bright.  The lamp has many things going for it: it wasn't too tall, it is about the same height as the t.v. on the mantle.  It has a cream-colored shade similar in style and color to the shades on the living room lamps, and the same oiled brass finish.  But even after switching out the lightbulbs to a lower wattage, it was still too bright for the effect I ws trying to create.

I was frustrated.  Grrrrrrr.  Spent some time out on the deck enjoying sunny warm weather (our first after a gloomy, cold and wet four days) looking through old decorating magazines and a couple of my decorating books for inspiration.  During one trip to the fridge to refill my wine glass, my eyes alighted upon the little lamp I use as a night light in the kitchen.  It's got a faux-leopard skin shade (in a fuzzy material, just love that little extra touch!), an oiled bronze base and best of all, holds a mini nightlight of 4 watts. 

DOH, JAN!  There it was, staring me in the face.  I quick grabbed the lamp and tried it out on the mantle. 

PERFECT!  I took it on a test run last night and love the low light (very romantic and atmospheric) and the great shadows it casts on the wall above.  I also like it's smaller proportions relative to the height of the t.v.  On such little things a successful decorating scheme turns...

I got the idea for framing one of my old National Geographic maps while I was flipping through one of my old decorating magazines for the umpteenth time while sitting out on the deck with my feet up sipping wine over Memorial Day weekend.  You know how it goes sometimes, you can see the same photograph of a room a dozen times and go ho-hum, and then something about it just hits you one day.  That's what happened.  There was this room, with a framed old map.  And I went - Oh, I can do that!  I have maps.  I have frames sitting upstairs in my closets just waiting to be used!"

Boingo!  Jumped out of that deck chair light a bee stung me in the butt and ran to the hutch/bookcase in the living room where I have my stash of old maps.  Pulled them all out and checked each one over for relative size.  Then I dashed upstairs -- I had a certain frame in mind to anchor the mantle.  Dug it out of the guest room closet and hauled it down to the living room.  Tried the map out against it.  A near perfect fit! 

Cleaned off the frame and touched up various scratches to the dark cherry finish with a touch-up pen, cleaned up the glass.  I edged out the bottom portion of the painted mat that the map did not cover all the way with cheap old masking tape -- the beige/tan kind.  The mat is painted in a burgundy color and sponged over with green and some gold. Well, it's an old mat!  I didn't want even half an inch of that color showing at top and bottom inside the frame because the map was a little bit short to fill it out completely and then the mat wouldn't show at all.  The masking tape color was a near perfect match to the map color, at least, for my purposes.  Sure beat having to paint the mat over again and waiting for it to dry before I could use it!  Not to mention I didn't have the right color of paint on hand...  I taped the top corners of the map to the mat and framed it up.  Propped it up on the mantle and decided on location.  Like its size, color and overall look.  PERFECT!  Unless you look very closely and close-up, you really cannot tell where the map ends and the masking-taped up mat begins :)

I do learn from experience!  Shortly after having the fireplace installed in 2002, I had a 24 by 36 framed print propped up on the mantle. One day went out and the door slammed behind me (the front door opens into the living room and is my main entrance to/from the house).   Came home to find the print on the floor, glass shattered and several nicks in my NEW fireplace!  I was beside myself!  Seems the door slamming was enough to send that propped up print sliding off the edge of the mantle, leaving broken glass, a bent frame, a partially torn print and damaged mantle behind.

Learned my lesson.  Did not prop up another painting or print on the mantle.  Instead, I nailed them into the wall above, and man let me tell you, that is a major pain in the you-know-what, having to get up on my rickety old step ladder trying to measure things and get nails/fasteners evenly placed, etc. etc.  All by myself, with no one to hold the ladder steady or spot me a break to tell me if the picture or object is hanging straight or not! 

Anyway, I really like how the framed map of Medieval Great Britain looks on the mantle.  Somewhere along the line - just recently - I got smart and started thinking about some kind of "stop" to put in front of any framed print I put up on the mantle to prevent another slide-off disaster.  In fact, when I created my very first ever Easter mantle (thanks in no small part to the inspiration I received from Debbie Dabble's blog) and I propped up an old framed print of butterflies and branches, I actually lined the entire bottom of the frame with rolled maksing tape to "glue" it to the mantle so it wouldn't slide!  And it sure didn't. I don't think I'd want to attempt removing it once it petrified, though.  It was easy enough to remove it after just a few months, but no telling what would happen if the tape was on the mantle for six months or longer. 

This time I got "brighter".  Well, at least I hope so.  I took one of the fuzzy slider things that usually go on furniture feet so they don't gouge vinyl flooring, cut it in half, colored both pieces with a wood touch-up pen, and put the halves in front of the framed map on top of the mantle (sticky side down).  So far, it's working like a charm and you can't even see the "stops" because (1) of the angle and (2) they blend in with the color of the mantle top.  Close-up photo above.  They are very discreet :)

Now it's clouding over outside - sure hope it's not going to rain!  I have two lawns to cut (front and back)!  Got to get a move on.  More later.

1 comment:

  1. Hope you are feeling better! Loving the arrangement you've got going on! Thanks for sharing. Also thank you for the visit and sweet comment @TheDedicatedHouse. It means the world. Wishing you a grand evening. Toodles, Kathryn