Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fabric Storage Basket

Here's something I'm adding to my To-Do list - a fabric basket.

I found this at Sew4Home.  This one was made for a baby nursery.  The link includes a complete tutorial! It's just fabric with recycled cardboard reinforcements.  It's made in a way that allows it to be completely collapsed for easy storage.  My goodness.  That makes it even more versatile!

This could be made with all sorts of different fabrics. The tutorial includes instructions for altering the size. 

Think of all the places you could use this - in the closet, in a craft room, in the car ... well, I could go on for ages.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Studio Inspiration

I love finding great inspiration through blogs.  I hit the jackpot when I saw this post from Snapshots of a Good Life. The post is all about Karen's scrapbook room/office.  She's really creative when it comes to storing her stuff.

What first grabbed my attention was the painted drawer on rollers. 
She uses it to store paper.

She has a knack for finding unique items to store all sorts of things.

Everything is so well organized.

And it all comes together to make a really pretty room.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

My Bathroom Tile Looks Like Wood

I have had some questions about the tile floors in my bathroom.  I've mentioned them in a few other posts, but I've never devoted a post to them.  That's an oversight, because they are certainly worthy of a post!

Both tiles look like wood.  They are from the same line and same company -  (Havana by Mediterranea.  They are long like planks.  You can get them in two different widths and 5 different shades.  I love them!  We had planned to put this tile throughout our first floor, but have changed our minds.  I don't think I want to upkeep that much grout in our senior years!

We put the thinner width in Tropicana Gold in our hall bath.  On the Mediterranea site, the floor appears very yellow-y.  My pictures look a bit pinkish.  The color is something in between.  To me it looks like whitewashed wood. 

In the master bath, we used Tobacco Brown.  I thought the Gold was going to be my favorite color and that it would be the color to use throughout the house.  The tobacco brown was pretty but I thought it would be bad about showing dirt so it wouldn't be a good choice for other rooms in the house.  Wrong.  It's really good at hiding dirt!  It's very dramatic.

I love both floors.  There are many decisions I made about my house that I am now second guessing.  These tile floors are not one of my regrets.  I feel pretty sure I'll love them for a long, long time.

Note:  The photos I used were from just after our house was built. We hadn't even moved in yet.  There's still a little grout to be wiped up in places.  We now have mirrors and a vanity in the master bath.  As for the light fixtures in the master - those are one of my regrets.  I especially hate the globes - that tinted bit is really ugly and doesn't go with our bath at all.  I can't believe I haven't replaced them yet.  It turns out the globe has an odd shape where it fits into the fixture.  I can't find a replacement.  Eventually, I'd like to replace the whole fixture, but there are so many things ahead on the list.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Clean Up This Mess!

This morning my house was a mess.  A big mess. On the verge of being condemned.  You could probably have eaten off my floors - there was food there.  It's not my fault.  I blame everyone but myself.

Mostly, I blame our four legged children.  We have 4 dogs.  They bring in a load of dirt every time they enter the house.  Thanks to my darling husband, they enter and exit the house about half a million times a day.  We have cats.  They are not quite as messy but thanks to them it looks like our furniture was upholstered in fur.

Today, the first day of Spring, was sunny and in the mid 70's here in Georgia. My hunky husband stayed out of my hair today and I was able to do a little Spring cleaning. I didn't finish everything, but I think I can safely leave the house now without praying, "Please God, don't let me die today, because if I do, friends will come to console my husband and they will all see my messy house and I would die of shame.  Well, actually I'd be dead already, but you know what I mean.
Keeping a house clean with pets is a real challenge.  I do what I can to make cleanup easier.

I  vacuum as often as I can, but not as much as I should.

I slipcover everything!  My slipcovers are all washable and I wash them as often as possible.  I slipcover chairs, pillows, ottomans, porch furniture, office chairs... you name it. I've never had much luck with fur removing tools.  But, the slipcovers come out wonderfully fur-free (or almost) after being washed and dried.  Today, I washed all of my slipcovers.  Now, if I kick the bucket, I could die in peace, knowing that any mourners who came over wearing black pants would not end up with a furry fanny after sitting in one of my chairs.

I have no wall-to-wall carpet.  I have rugs - you can lift them up and get to the dirt that's underneath. I can turn them over and vacuum both sides. With dogs going in and out, there's no way to get all the dirt vacuumed up from wall-to wall carpet.  Some dirt will work it's way through.  We got rid of the wall-to-wall in our previous house a few years ago and when we pulled it up, I swear, it looked like a beach under the padding.   Now I know I don't vacuum as often as I should, but I'm not a complete pig.  Today, I pulled up most of our rugs and cleaned under everything.

I then used my Haan steamer.  I love that thing! I don't use traditional cleaners.  I am sensitive to chemicals.  I have found that most everything can be cleaned with vinegar, baking soda, peroxide, cream of tartar, or steam.  There is something about steam cleaning my floors that makes me feel good.  The Haan cleaner comes with pads that attach to the bottom.  You just throw them in the washing machine after each use. 

If you want to learn more about cleaning without toxins, I highly recommend these books - Better Basics for the Home by Annie Berthold-Bond and Clean House Clean Planet by Karen Logan.

Tomorrow, it will rain and the dogs will play in the mud and then waltz through my clean house leaving a trail of mud behind them.  But tonight, my house looks pretty good.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Buying Raw Almonds

I just received my order of a 10 pound bag of raw unpasteurized almonds.  I ordered them from Briden Wilson Farm

If you like using almonds for almond milk or cooking, I recommend that you buy from small local farmers or order from them online.  Besides saving money, there are other important advantages as well.

In 2008, the USDA mandated that all almonds sold in stores must be sterilized.  There are two ways of sterilizing.  One is by fumigating them with propylene ozide (PPO), which the FDA recognizes as a carcinogen. Sounds delicious, huh?  Steaming is the second way to sterilize. Certified organic almonds cannot be treated with PPO.  They are steamed, which means they are no longer raw.  But at least they aren't a carcinogen. 

The most shocking part is that almonds that have been sterilized can (and are) still be labeled as raw.  Also, labels on store-bought almonds do not have to tell you which method of sterilization was used.    Isn't it nice to know that product labeling is so clear for consumers?  Many consumers have continued buying almonds labeled raw from stores having no knowledge of these changes.  I disagree with the deceitful labeling more than anything.  That's just not right. 

Who is the FDA watching out for here?  Small farms have a hard time being able to afford the equipment necessary for selling their almonds in stores. That's a benefit to big corporations.  By the way, don't take my word for any of this - just google raw almonds pasteurized.  There are tons of articles about this awful regulation.

There are still ways to get raw almonds.  Buy directly from small farmers. If there are growers close to you, buy from them.  If not, order online.  It's easy and so much cheaper than buying from the large corporations. I sure do like helping the small farmers.  There are a number of good sites to order from.  I listed one at the beginning of this post, but plenty of others are out there.

When it comes to food and farming, it's becoming obvious that bigger is not better.  And anyway... it's not nice to mess with Mother Nature!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Magic Carpet Ride

We have slowly been adding to and upgrading our rug collection. Last week, a trip to one of my thrift stores turned into a magic carpet ride.

Someone had consigned a number of pricey, interesting rugs. I had seen most of them several weeks back. Those were all sold - they were priced out of my league anyway. The one I bought was not out yet on my last trip. It hadn't sold because it was such an odd shape - around 4ft by 10. That's a size just meant for a big, old-timey foyer... say, one like mine!

I was able to talk the price down, but still spent more than I would typically spend at a thrift store and I don't regret a penny of it. I love it!

The colors are lively and fun. It's wool so it should hold the colors well. It's Persian... never had one of those before. I never would have thought a Persian would be right for my style. But, this one sure is.

Here it is all spread out. As for the decor around, you'll just have to use your imagination. First, ignore the vacuum cleaner in the picture. Ignore the rolled up carpet to the right. That's a new large rug to be put in the office. I'll post about that as soon as I can talk the Mr. into taking his desk apart. That's proving to be much more difficult than I anticipated.

Eventually, I'd like a long bench on the long foyer wall. We have a bench - it just needs painting... maybe a color something like the one below? I just love the bench shown below - the seat opens for storage. My bench is an old church pew, with sentimental value. It's pretty long and will be wonderful in our foyer. I'm planning to paint it sometime after pollen season.

I want the room to have bead board or wainscoting to about 4ft on the walls. I want family photos above the wainscoting. I like the feel of the entry room in the photo below. Note: I've had these two inspiration photos for ages and can't remember where I found them. If I ever come across them again, I'll return to this post of give credit.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Painted Sub Floors... Over a Year Later

Pink and Polka Dot wants to feature my painted floors on her blog. I'm thrilled and excited and... inspired to finally do an update. By the way, Pink and Polka Dot is having a slipcover link up on Friday. I love slipcovers and can't wait to see all the ideas.

My Loft - photo taken last year

When I first researched painted floors, I was curious to know what people thought of their floors a year or so down the road. I didn't see much on that at all. This post should help fill that gap.

I painted the plywood subfloor of our new house, upstairs and down, except for two tiled bathrooms. Here are my thoughts after almost a year and a half of living with them.

Would I recommend painted sub-floors? YES. Absolutely. No hesitation.

Would I do anything differently? YES. Absolutely. No hesitation.

The floors have held up very well. My husband and I are still impressed with how durable they have been.

Small Issues
In a couple of spots a bit of color bled through the primer. During the building phase, workers made marks and wrote notes in places with a Sharpie marker. I used Kilz primer over the entire surface and that did the trick for almost all of the marks. I would recommend putting an extra coat of primer over any stains, just to be safe.
This is the only prominent bleed through.
Luckily, it's in the upstairs bathroom behind the pedestal sink.

There are just a few areas with hairline cracks. The areas are where there were extra large spaces between boards. I had to put in tons of wood filler. I can't believe those spots have done as well as they have. The cracks are barely noticeable and I could easily repair them if I had a mind to - which I don't. They don't bother me and I have better things to do.

Update on the cracks: Creative Kristi commented: I found using paintable caulk instead of wood filler prevents a lot of cracks because it 'moves' with the floor...if that makes sense? My parents still have the floor I painted in checkerboard pattern about 15 years ago in my bedroom at their house. It has held up way better then I thought it would! Dogs, cats, me as a teenager lol I've done two rooms in my house too!

What a great idea! Since we are leaning towards continuing to lie with our painted floors a while longer, I may try this with a few of the cracks. Kristi, thank you so much for sharing this tip!
This a a closeup of a crack in the upstairs floor.

This a a closeup of a crack in the downstairs floor.

Normal wear and tear has not affected the floors at all. We have probably heaped more abuse on our floors than a typical family would. We have dogs and cats. We don't have a paved drive so we track in all sorts of debris. I don't sweep or vacuum as often as I should so dirt gets ground in. We drop things. Heavy dog bones bounce across the floor on a regular basis. We've moved a lot of furniture around. I made a couple of scratches here and there when I pulled something heavy across the floor. I know of no floor that wouldn't have shown some signs of that kind of abuse. It's easy to be nonchalant since this is just a temporary floor.

So what would I do differently? The things that bug me have to do with color and design.

My absolute favorite floors are the ones I sprinkled with Deco-Flakes. They look clean even when they are far from it! And they were soooo easy to add. I was a little put off by the price and nearly didn't get them. One jar was around $30. Well, that was the best $30 I spent! I still have some left and have been thinking about sprinkling them on our entry room and adding another coat of urethane.

The entry room was done in black and cream squares with a black border all around. It was really pretty. The black areas are great - I made a subtle cross hatch pattern in them. That was a good decision - dirt doesn't show up much there. The cream is solid. What in the world was I thinking? Big mistake. This is our most used entry. If I go to the trouble to add the decoflakes, I might also use a tinted urethane to give those cream squares more of a glazed/antiqued look.

Another mistake - my painted rugs. I loathe the one in the office. Yes, it looks sort of real. It fools the eye. I get compliments on it. But it's reeeeeeeally ugly. The one in the guest room is more subtle and not as ugly, but I wish it wasn't there. I like using real rugs and now it will only look right when I get a rug large enough to completely cover the painted one. The painted rugs limit my decorating freedom. I don't recommend them.

As for my wood-plank-look floors... they are fine, but I'm not real keen on my color choice. I was trying to make them look like the fabulous tile I was planning to use eventually throughout the house. That color has been really irritating while decorating. I now have a great appreciation for the varying tones of beige's and tans and how some look absolutely awful when anywhere near other shades of tan. I wish I had gone for a darker wood look. It would have been fabulous.

Another recommendation - use rugs. Real ones. Not because the floors need protection. Rugs help with sound quality. When we first moved in we didn't use any rugs. Upkeep was a breeze but sounds really carried around our house. Now that we have rugs (and curtains) it's much better. The rugs don't need to cover the whole floor.

Click here to see 
the basic steps 
for painting sub-floors.

Where did I get my inspiration?
Before anyone gets the idea that I'm terribly clever, let me set the record straight. I was primarily influenced by two fabulous bloggers.

My first inspiration was Susan at The T-Cozy. I saw her studio and nearly swooned. I immediately knew that I wanted a similar color scheme in my loft. The colors are not the same, but fairly close. When I realized her floors were painted, my life was changed. That's a tad dramatic, but it really was an answer to a prayer. Her blog is full of ideas. I've been visiting it for so long, that I almost feel like we're related.

Update, Mar 24th - Susan has a new post about her floors.  She's had them for two years now and still loves them!  I thought I knew everything about her floors, but was wrong.  I never realized that her floors were part of the design in her blog header.  That's so perfect! 

Susan's Studio

Kim at Twice Remembered was another blogger who really inspired me. I found her blog when I started searching for information about painted floors. She's a pro at painting floors. In fact, I don't think there's anything she can't do. The first post I read was about her daughter's room. Thanks to her I learned how to tape the squares. That's not all I've learned from her blog. I could go on and on. She's such an inspiration. Here's another post where she gives some details about the process.

Kim's Daughter's room

A newer project from Kim - her craft studio

Here are some more posts on painted floors:
Old House Web
Ask the Builder
Home Envy
Dave's Garden
Paint Yoga
E How
Web Shots
Home DZine - Faux Woodgraining

Our painted sub-floors are intended to be a temporary solution. We have just recently started discussing replacing them. Right now, we are leaning towards cork floors. I think we're going to hold off for awhile. Our painted floors are fine and they certainly give us the luxury of being able to postpone spending a huge chuck of money!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Garden Time

It's garden time again. Rudy and my dad plowed a spot today. My sister has ordered most of the seeds. I want to add a few things, especially butternut squash. We've not grown that before, but Rudy and I have been going crazy for them lately.

Meanwhile we've been on daffodil-watch. We have naturalized daffodils (or Jonquils - I don't know the difference). Ours are just starting to bloom - they aren't photo worthy yet.

Here's a photo from March 1, 2008, before our house was built. I don't think they'll be this showy this year. Our temperatures have been too erratic. I think the frost did a bit of damage.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Thrift Store Cushions & a Pup Who Chews

I want cushions on all the chairs on our porch. Making cushion slipcovers for the porch is one of the things on my ever growing to-do list.

I came across a cushion recently at one of my favorite consignment stores. I like the fabric as is. I'll still probably make a slipcover for it, because I want to be able to wash it regularly. Meanwhile, I planned to put it out, just to welcome spring a bit.

I put out another consignment store pillow - this one with red.

The colors I see for the front porch are black, white/cream, red and green. I have plans to add lots more cushions and flowers. I need some tables and planters.

Right now, it looks pretty naked. The picture above is especially sad - no cushions, plenty of dirt, a carpet roll that needs to be returned. One day....

Back to the subject - pillows on the porch. Rudy suggested I might want to wait a bit to put out the pillows. We have a dog who seriously enjoys a good chew. He enjoys rugs, socks, books... He's expressed interest in remote controls, arms and feet, cats. He's actually not too picky. He hasn't damaged anything so far, but only because we are really watching him. It's like having a toddler in the house.

Rudy pointed out that Jack might find the pillows to be a fun chew. He's outside unsupervised quite a bit. We are on 12 fenced acres. My main concern was losing the pillows. Rudy's main concern was having to pick up bits of pillow stuffing all over the yard. Add to the dog chew danger the fact that spring is on its way. In Georgia that means everything turns yellow for a month or so. No one here (with good sense) puts their porch together til the yellow pollen has played out. So the pillows will be coming back in for a while. Maybe in a couple of months, Jack's chewing will be more under control.

Meanwhile, Rudy came up with a very creative chewing alternative. We already have a number of old bones. They are hollow in the middle. One day, Rudy put peanut butter inside the bones and all the dogs went nuts over them. It's like crack for dogs! They'll all lay down and chew and lick the bones for ages.

Oh, that's so good!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Organic Fruits and Vegetables

My friend Kathy introduced me to a new source for organic fruits and vegetables - Gaia's Greens.

It's a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in the Atlanta area. She buys as locally as possible. She delivers.

The selection is different each week. There are three different sizes to choose from. You also have a choice of whether to get all fruits, all veggies or a combination. Everything has been delicious. The photos in this post are from my second order - a small combination box.


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