Dining room drapes

If there's anyone that still checks this blog, I guess you've figured out that I'm not really posting very often anymore. I felt guilty about that at first, but now I'm okay with it. When I finish projects that I'm excited about, I'll post...otherwise, just assume that I'm either being lazy or working on a project that's boring/hard to photograph. For example...one of my latest home improvements was replacing the ripped, 50-year-old sheers in the living room with rigged Vivan curtains from Ikea - both big windows for $30! As exciting as that was for me, it doesn't make for the most interesting blog post :)

But I think this next project might be blog worthy! My mom gave me the linen drapes that were in the den before they redecorated and I have been wanting to put them up in the dining room for over a year now. When we moved in the windows had horizontal wood blinds (white) which were okay, but they actually blocked a big chunk of the window when they were pulled all the way open. Also, the cords were always tangled and they just didn't feel right for the dining room. The new drapes just happened to be the perfect length and width for this big set of windows, so I feel like it was meant to be!

Its pretty impossible to get a picture of both sides of this window, but you get the idea. I'm still amazed at how much bigger and taller the room looks now, and also how much more modern the curtains look when they're not hanging from a huge brass rod.

Now I just have to figure out what to do about the big brass elephant in the room - the chandelier. Any suggestions? There are 2 issues here: 1) its brass and ugly, and 2) its not centered over the table. When we first bought the house I thought I'd just spray paint it, but now I think I need to get an electrician involved to move it over the table first (I don't want to do a swag). And if I'm going to go to all that trouble...maybe I should think about finding a new fixture all together. The other option is to leave it where it is and just replace it with a regular light fixture to light the whole room (not one that's specifically for over a dining room table). This of course would be the cheaper of the 2 options, but also the scarier option...I don't know if I'm up for playing around with the wires in a 56 year old house.

Have you seen Food, Inc. yet? You should! I won't go into all the details here, but I've been making an effort to change some of my eating/food shopping habits because of it, and that led me to making granola bars from scratch. I don't know if I'll ever go back to the boxed kind - these are too good! I followed this recipe, and the only changes I made were 1/3 cup brown sugar instead of 2/3, almonds instead of peanuts, Earth Balance instead of butter, and I added flax seeds. And it was really easy!

I guess that's all for now! I can't believe December starts tomorrow. I'm going to try again to not get all stressed out over Christmas shopping this year. I didn't spend a penny or get out of my pj's on Black Friday so I think that's a good start :)

2 DIY makeovers: table + lamp

Ever since we moved into the house, the den/office/guestroom has always been my last priority as far as decorating goes. Its been the room that all the old furniture goes as I've found/made replacements in other rooms of the house (like the TV stand). But recently I've really wanted to make that room look good...so Seth and I can enjoy it, but also so guests will feel nice and cozy in there too. After I finally settled on a paint color I liked, there was still not much on the walls, piles of junk in every corner, and furniture that functioned but didn't look all that great. So I de-cluttered, hung some pictures on the wall, and did a couple cheap DIY projects.

The first issue was the end table. It wasn't terrible...just not the style I like, plus it didn't work with the futon too well. So I painted it and changed out the hardware and voila! Totally new and updated end table for next to no $$ and roughly 4 hours of work. Here's the before (its sitting on top of a similar, smaller table so I can paint it):

And here's the after:

The light blue/green on the panels is leftover paint from the walls and I already had the red knobs (bought them for the TV stand but didn't end up using them), so all I had to buy was a quart of green paint. The whole project only cost about $12.

The next issue was lighting. The lamp I had on the end table was way too small...another leftover thing that I just stuck there because the table needed a bedside lamp for when people stay over. I searched online and at almost every thrift store in town and couldn't find anything that would work. Finally I stopped into the only thrift store left that I hadn't checked and found this "beauty" for $4.45!

The brass was terrible and the shade was stained, but the size was exactly what I was looking for. Plus...you can't beat that price! I still can't get over what a great deal I got, esp. since I didn't have to rewire it. So the first thing I did was spray paint it, first with a primer and then with a few different colors until I finally decided on Oil Rubbed Bronze by Krylon. It reads as black, but it has more depth than just plain old black. Here's the finished base:

Next I had to figure out what to do about the lamp shade. I bought several new lamp shades at Target and none of them worked...they all just looked too short on my 70's lamp. So I decided to cover the existing shade with fabric instead. I also decided to use the lamp shade as a way to solve another thing that's been bugging me about that room -- the big blank wall behind the futon.

I've been trying to figure out what to put on that wall for months and even considered vinyl decals and wallpaper. But finally I decided that its okay if that wall doesn't have anything on it. There's already so much stuff happening on the other 3 walls with the curtains, wall art/photos, and furniture, so it might be nice to have a wall without so much going on ("a place for the eye to rest" if you will, haha...that brings back so many memories from art critiques in school!). Anyway, since that wall was going to stay empty, I decided to use the lamp shade as a chance to bring some pattern to that wall and tie in the fabric of the curtains (particularly the tiny yellow dots on the curtains).

I found some fabric in town and followed the step-by-step tutorial on Young House Love to cover the shade with a glue gun. It ended up being a lot harder than I expected since the shade is so big and its not the same size around on the top as it is on the bottom. The finished product is not perfect by any means, but thankfully one side of it faces the wall so I just turned the bad part (where the 2 ends of the fabric meet) towards the wall :)

The pattern comes through nicely when the lamp is turned on, too...gives the room a warm glow.
Total cost of the lamp makeover: $4.45 for the lamp + approx. $5 for the spray primer and spray paint + $18 for the fabric = about $28! Not too shabby. Now I just need to tackle a few other issues from the other side of the room (notice that side is conveniently left out of all the pictures, haha)...and the den will be finished! But until then, I'm really happy about these small changes, and I've already caught myself spending more time in there than I used to.

Latest project

I know I haven't posted anything on this blog in a month. After I wrote about Ruby's snake bite and rough baseball game, she got so sick and we thought we were going to lose her. I didn't write about it because when things really REALLY scare me I tend to not talk about them too much (esp. not on the world wide web)....mainly because I don't want it to feel any more real than it already does. Thankfully Ruby made a full recovery! She is still pretty skinny but back to her sweet and neurotic self, and it is wonderful.

Switching gears now...I finished a project this weekend that I am so excited about. Seth and I are not digital music people so in turn we have a large CD collection. I've been trying to figure out a good way to store all those CDs for years now...I've searched online for furniture or organizing systems that aren't $500+ but will hold all the CDs (no luck), and I've brainstormed new ways to organize them using the furniture we already have (no luck), and generally I've just felt frustrated because I couldn't figure out a good solution. Until a few weeks ago when it hit me...a media closet! We have a hall closet and a living room/entry way closet and both have been sort of half full since we moved in. I consolidated the contents of both so I could free up the living room closet and dedicate it to CDs.

First I measured everything and the width of the closet was 34 3/4"...1 1/4" too short for the pre-made shelving systems (36"). So I bought a bunch of lumber to build a custom shelving system: 1x2' and 1x8'...the guy at Home Depot cut most of it to size for me and I used my miter box and saw for the rest.

Then I installed the smaller pieces on the back and sides of the closet to provide support:

Then I attached the bigger boards to the supports:

And voila!

Okay so it was a *little* more complicated than that, but not much (especially compared to the stemware rack project). All it took was a little planning, helpful Home Depot employees, and an insane amount of pre-drilling holes and screwing screws (screwing screws? clearly I don't have the pro lingo down yet). Anyway...that's my new project! Oh, and the whole thing cost less than $40, so you really can't beat that. I know I'll probably have to take it down whenever we sell the house but it is completely worth it. Look at that face! :)

3rd Annual Dog Days of Summer

Last night I took Ruby to her 3rd Dog Days of Summer at the Smokies ballpark. I had to carry her most of the way to the grass and she was nervous at first, but seemed okay once we got settled in.

Unfortunately Seth couldn't make it this year, but I still got to go with my pals Barry, Mike and Dusty.
When Dusty wants a bite of something, she has a look that's hard to turn down :)

Ruby didn't end up doing too well the longer we were there, and I'm sad to say that this was probably her last ballgame. Its just too much for her now.

She dozed off for a little while but we ended up leaving about halfway through to get her home.

I'm still glad we went but a loud ballgame just isn't the best place for ole Rube anymore. She was a trouper though!

She's a tough ole girl

Poor little Miss Ruby has had a rough month. We discovered a puncture wound on her a couple weeks ago, and we're pretty sure she got it when we boarded her at the beginning of the month. She's an indoor dog so really, that's the only time that anything could have happened. Also? We're pretty sure its a snake bite...pretty upsetting. I took her to the vet and got her started on antibiotics but it just wasn't healing. So a week later I took her back to the vet and she got 5 staples and (dun dun dun) - a CONE. Some people call them Elizabethan collars, but basically its a rigid plastic cone you put around a dogs neck to keep them from licking/biting a wound. I always thought dogs looked so funny with a cone on, but now I know its not really funny at all, and especially not on a blind dog. We tried it the first night and she couldn't even walk through a doorway. She just kept slamming the cone on the wall over and over. Then she'd change directions and slam it again. Awful. So last night we tried a new tactic to keep her away from the staples:

She looks so tough! And it seems to work as far as we can tell. Poor little thing though. Its just so hard to watch her deal with all these new challenges on top of being blind. Seth told me this morning that she's started limping and there's something wrong with her left front leg. I know she's old (12 1/2 yrs.) and its natural for her to start deteriorating, but man...its hard for me to see her having trouble. She's such a sweet little thing and we've been through so much together...I just want her to hang in there and have a peaceful life. She definitely deserves it.

What a weekend, part 2

After our deer encounter, we kept driving around Cades Cove for a little while until we got to the entrance for the 5 mile Abrams Falls hike.

That's right, 5 MILES. This was no big deal to Karen, Miles & Seth, but to me that was a HUGE deal. I'm just not a hiker and I don't have much experience hiking trails that long. At one point I wondered what would happen if I just laid down and refused to get back up :) But I didn't, and what I got to see at the end was well worth the work:

So pretty. And miraculously I made it back to the car...still not sure how that happened.
The next day (after Seth literally had to drag me out of bed at 7am), we headed east to Hartford, TN and Karen did a stellar job guiding our boat down the Pigeon River.

None of us fell out and the boat never flipped, so it was a complete success!

And........that's it! That was our big adventurous weekend with Karen and Miles. So much fun. I miss you guys already!

What a weekend, part 1

I love it when good pals come visit, and last weekend's visit from Karen and Miles was so packed that I'm splitting up the pictures into 2 posts. They live in NYC and understandably wanted to spend lots of time outside...so of course we headed to the beautiful Smoky Mountains!

We went to Look Rock first...its blows me away every time.

Then we hiked a mile up to the big tower thing in the woods to get an almost 360 degree view.

Seth said Karen and I looked like high school kids that skipped track practice :)

I love this shot...it looks like Seth is showing Miles how he can move the clouds around with his hands.

After that we got back in the car and headed to Cades Cove. We were excited to see this guy right by the road...
...until we pulled off the road a little later, went into the woods, and were surrounded by at least 6 deer. They blend in so well...can you spot one of them?

Here's one right behind Seth.

We stood in those woods for a good 15 minutes, silently watching them wander by and slurp up leaves (and get REALLY close).
They seemed like young deer and we all agreed later that it would have been pretty scary if they were bigger, grown up deer.

Highway to the danger zone

I know I'm 23 years late but I saw Top Gun for the 1st time last weekend. I'm glad I finally saw it since its an 80's classic, but I have to say...it was pretty bad. I just about died when Tom Cruise was playing beach volleyball in skin tight JEANS. No wonder he was sweating like a pig! And actually, he was sweaty for pretty much the whole movie.

I still had fun watching it with pals and laughing at all the ridiculous dialog, but I don't think I'll be watching it again. Sorry Tom, but I gotta give this one a thumbs down :)

3 years ago today....

...Seth and I walked down that path and tied the knot. Has it really been 3 years already?? I feel so lucky to have found someone to be weird with...life is so much more fun that way :)

Happy Anniversary, Seth! Thank you for 3 great years!!

When it rains, it pours; baby animals

I've got a lot going on right now that's keeping me at a constant low to mid-grade level of stress. Car issues, expensive (and painful) dental work, a computer on the fritz...so I'm choosing to focus on something positive right now.

Or is it summer? This weekend its supposed to be in the mid 80's! Either way I don't care. All I know is that everything is beautiful and blooming and the animals are coming back out.

Its no secret that bunnies are my favorite, and they are popping up everywhere! You never know when you're going to glance out the window and see one. Out the front window...

By the car...

You just never know when you'll spot one. Seth saw one building a nest out of pine needles yesterday and I am soooo sad I missed it. He said she was kinda fat so you know what that means - baby bunnies!! I'm in heaven. It doesn't matter what kind of terrible mood I'm in...if I spot baby bunnies playing in the yard I am instantly cheered up.

I'm also really getting into all the birds lately. They are everywhere these days and so fun to watch. Several people have told me I'm turning into my mom (she loves birds)...but I consider that a compliment. Check out what Seth discovered nestled in the tree by the front walkway:

I guess these are robin's eggs? Pretty neat :)

I just love all the green and new growth and blooms. Its rained so much this year and its making for such a gorgeous spring. When all the trees start filling in again and the animals come back out, its so exciting...like things are finally right in the world again.

Seth's been working his tail off in the yard and I love that too. He does such a great job, plus I know it makes him feel good to be outside so much. Check out what he did with one of the bushes in the backyard:

He made it into such a perfect little heart. I love it!
I guess that's all for now. Hurray for spring! :)