Sunday, October 26, 2014

How I Know We're Meant To Be

Back in early April, while I was dreaming of summer, I hit the mall to look for sunglasses and took this shot.

He picked them out himself, got a thumbs up from a hipster standing next to us, and the cashier even smiled.  I sent the pic to my husband.  Because why not. 

End of story.

It's the fall.  We've lived with our renovation for a year.  And we both decide we need to get on some art.  Like really need.  Minimal / Modern suits us well.  But we need something on the wall!  Especially this one. 

It's in the living room, opposite the TV.  You can see a tour and before/after of the room HERE from a year ago.  Where I mentioned we need art.  A YEAR AGO!

So, I finally put up some taped-together paper to get a sense of the size and location....for a little DIY idea that I found here.  Oh, how I love it.  It's totally my vibe.  But I live in the city.  There are no random large canvasses just sitting out on the curb. 

(Well, there was one.  In the spring.  I pulled over, measured it and started putting it in my trunk.  Then a lady walking by said, "Be careful.  That's a rooming house."  I looked at her with a question mark on my face.  She leaned in and whispered, "Bedbugs."  And walked away.  Then I saw dog poo on a corner of the canvas.)

Once I figured out the size, I looked into buying one.  The size of that paper is 5 feet wide by 3.5 feet high.  Any guesses?  $200.  For a DIY that might or might not turn out great.  I couldn't pull the trigger. 

So the paper stayed.  People asked if it was art.  I started saying yes. 

And then it was my birthday. 

My husband was sick of seeing the paper on the wall.  So he took a big gamble. 

And won. 

He downloaded a free app called Glaze, to give the picture a more painted look instead of a photograph.  Then he sent it to Canvas Pop, an online company that prints photos on canvas.  He had the canvas sent to our home address, and amazingly enough, our neighbor intercepted the delivery.  Then Steve ran it around the corner to our local framer. 

And funny enough, it matches the size of the paper.  He didn't even measure it.  He just went for the biggest canvas. 

It's not a DIY and it wasn't cheap.  But good, big art isn't.  What it is, is something better than a photo.  Or a gallery.  Or collage.  It's pop art of my own kid. 

(That the other two think "looks creepy.")

And I love it.  ;)

Friday, October 03, 2014

Someone's Seven

Suddenly, I found myself picking up a child at school today for a birthday lunch. 


We walked to Pizza Pizza.  He wouldn't hold my hand until we crossed the street.  And then he forgot to let go for a while.

6 months

He had to go to the bathroom SO BAD.  He wanted to go on a tree in the park, but we made a pitstop at a coffee shop instead.

1 year

We went to Pizza Pizza because he got a Birthday coupon in the mail for a free slice and soda.  He reeeeeally wanted bacon, but he had to choose between cheese or pepperoni.  He chose cheese.  And a root beer. 

2 years

His birthday fell on a Friday, so a bunch of 6th graders from his school were at the pizza place, too.  That was sooooo cool. 

3 years

Cool enough that he didn't feel like talking to me, just looking at the big kids. 

4 years

He did say he couldn't remember if he had math that morning, he wasn't sure if he had gym that afternoon and he really wanted to get back in time for lunch recess. 

5 years

We went back to school.  I walked on the sidewalk.  He walked on everything but. 

6 years

He wouldn't stop talking.  All about random things that I couldn't follow.  I don't think he even knew what he was talking about after a while.

7 years

The second we got back to school, he wrapped his arms around my waist and said "Love you, mom."  Then he walked up to the front entrance, in through the doors and disappeared up the stairs. 

He didn't look back even once. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Closetmaid with Ikea Hack (I Mean) Help

A million years ago, I ripped this out of a magazine:

If you squint, you can see it's from the June 2013 issue of Real Simple.  Soooo, it just feels like a million.  Because I've been dreaming of it for the kid's closet. 

In fact, when we did the big reno, I asked my contractor to build this for their room.  He laughed and said, "I'll do it, but it's gonna cost you about 5 times the price of that kit."  Done.  Don't. 


A few months later, I got all inspired by another blogger's closet, who used the same Closetmaid system.  I got all "if she can do it, I can do it". 

And took 6 months to buy the kit. 

Then went on summer vacation.

But I finally put it together!!! 

Double Door Closet
Mess Inside

This was as far as I got in organizing their closet a year after moving back in.  Fail.  HUGE FAIL. 

The space is not small.  It's 4 feet wide, over 8 feet tall and 20 inches deep.  So with those specs, I was able to match the Closetmaid Selectives 16" Starter Kit

It's sold at Home Depot for around $100.  It was surprisingly easy to assemble.  If you can put together Ikea, you can do this.  If you can't put together Ikea, you can definitely do this.  The instructions have words (in many languages!) along with pictures and helpful hints and what-not-to-do's. 

Bottom Half
Secured to the Wall
Top Half
Click-In Adjustable Hanging Rod
Thank God It's Level
Plus Room On Top

What it does not have is enough shelves.  The three you see in the 2nd last picture above cannot move.  They are screwed in place to keep the tower stable. 

I get that. 

But...then there are a million pre-drilled holes on each side for additional shelf placement.  Annnnnd...two extra shelves.  What a tease :(


So I check my magazine reference.  Seven shelves!  I only have five.  I need two more to recreate the dream.  Back to Home Depot.  Nothing.  No extra shelves for sale.  Not even an empty shelf of shelves.  Uh oh.

I call Closetmaid.  Explain.  Plead.  Beg.  Nope.  Not for sale. 


I'm not buying a whole other kit to get two dang shelves.  I tell them that.  I tell them I regret buying their system.  And they should think about selling the shelves.

(Here's where you ask - why not put in drawers instead?  Those are sold separately!  I would.  But if I move the tower to the right, so the drawers clear the door jamb, the hanging rod doesn't fit.  Boo.)

So I get to cleaning up and a light bulb goes off.  If I can't make a shelf from the bottom, what about from above?  Enter Ikea.

Aha?  Aha!

I have two of these Observator clip-on baskets in my basement pantry/closet from the good old Ivar system days.  So I thought, yes!  Instead of throwing my Closetmaid out the window, which would be hard after securing it through the wall into STUDS, those would work!

So off to Ikea I went.


And since you can never leave Ikea with just the one thing you came for, I got hangers and a box, too.  Score!

Big Boy George

The closet organizer is for George's things, so the hanging baskets are perfect for diapers/pullups and wipes.  When he outgrows those -I can't wait, I can't wait, I can't wait- he can decide what to put in them. 

For now, everything is in the open instead of baskets.  He likes to pick out his own clothes in the morning and a book from the bottom at night.  And no matter how messy it gets, I can just close the doors!

(Those hats aren't his...yet.  But this IS the house of hand-me-downs.)

I never think of Ikea as the help for something else.  I always think how something else can help Ikea.  So this was a nice surprise.  And although the lack of shelves is a bummer, I'm impressed with how versatile and sturdy the Closetmaid system is.  It's not flush with the wall to the left because of the baseboard...but this thing ain't goin' nowhere. 

Good on ya, Closetmaid, but get on those shelves.  And thank you, Ikea, for keeping the dream alive.

(Nothing came for free / Neither of these companies know I exist.  I'm just happy I finally got this project done.)

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Perfect Porch Paint

We made it back home.  The kids are back in school.  I'm back on a schedule.  Perfection.

Kinda how I like my porch.  The porch!  It's been a month!

Behold, the perfectly painted porch.

But, wait!  Last time we spoke, I was figuring out paint.  From afar.  With a neighbor who is attached.  I had a game plan going paint it exactly like it was. 

See, we painted our old porch a few times after first moving in.  The first time, was to neutralize the dark brown floor that showed every single speck of dirt the moment after you finished sweeping.  The second time was to fix that too-light-shade-of-grey on the floor, which competed with the white divider and columns.  The times after that were to freshen up the peeling, scarred, chipped spots after renovating. 

We made the mistakes and finally found the colors we liked.  I crossed my fingers and hoped our neighbor would, too.  And he did.  Mostly...  But we get along well, so it all worked out. 

Color Scheme

We chose the same white as the interior of our house.  Landed on a green that matched our existing brick.  And then found a grey we could both live with.  He wanted darker, I wanted lighter.  Steve couldn't care less. 

Then this happened. 

EEEK!  In the course of two days, the house and porch were complete.  Our neighbor even decided to paint his house the same color as ours. 

But, of course, we all agree to disagree.  That's why we get along as neighbors.  So, while our sides aren't exactly alike, they have the same structure. 

Not that this is a complete before and after.  We're not done painting.  No, sir.  Remember how I mentioned we had to re-paint the floor before?  Well, learning from mistakes is hard when you're out of town and the old floor paint can is somewhere in your basement. 

Old Floor
New Floor

It's just...too...light blue?  Even for an iPhone???

(Don't mind the chips in the threshold.  The silicone holding the old floor boards in place was reeeeeally strong.  Our doormat hides them.)

Bench (and bikes, etc)

And...since we decided to paint the bench the same color as the floor, so the porch wouldn't look and feel super small on the inside, it kills me EVEN MORE to see the wrong color. 

So, I did what any normal neighbor would do.  I found the next darker chip on the strip (that actually matches the old floor paint that I finally FOUND), and told my neighbor he was right the first time.  ;)

And, besides.  It's paint.  Just.  Paint.

I even offered to redo both sides myself, if our contractor can't work a deal with the painter.  I love to paint.  And with the kids in school, what else do I have to do these days?!?!?  Ha.

Wrong paint aside, I'm finally cleaning and pretty-ing.  We re-installed the light, put up a mailbox and numbers (sorry internet, but they do look beautiful) and I even went out on a limb and bought a planter.  Yes, the wrapping is still on because I don't know if it's staying....

Once the painting is finished, I'll update with more details.  But for now, she's lookin' pretty perfect from the street.


I guess she's more blue-green now, than before.  But that's ok.  Still pretty perfect.

That front garden, on the other hand, not perfect at all.....!!!!

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Progress on the Porch

Still away with the kids.  While they still work away on the porch.  And I'm loving the progress in all the pictures being sent to me!!

When I Left

Come on!!!  Can you believe it?  Could I be more in love?  Actually, I could. 

But first let me tell you why I'm in love in the first place.  We live in the city.  The city gives us big garbage bins to use (which we must, or they don't collect).  But they are so big on lots that are so small.  They turn into eyesores against the beautiful curb appeal of the neighborhood. 

Unless you have a contractor who likes to think inside a box. 

Side - Before
Side - After

Or a bench.


You can sit on it - it's normal bench height.  Or you can open it and throw your trash away without your feet hitting the pavement.  It's dreamy.  And it will be amazing in winter.  Yes, I'm excited to throw my trash away in the middle of winter. 

This porch would do that to you, too.

Notice the slats at the back, above the bench.  They echo the fence.  It's the details.

Side & Front

And although they don't match, they work together.  Form and function in both.

Close Up

I'm loving the details.  It helps to have a carpenter who is so good at what he does.

And by good, I mean great.

Our Side

Actually, fabulous. 

Every project has it's story.  And this one is the divider.  We used to have a wobbly, jerry-rigged, 100-coats-of-paint divider.  It was hideous.  Probably slapped up 4 decades ago, and only meant to last until the next neighbor moved in. 

When we started the project, the most discussion was had over the divider.   Wood, glass, slopes, triangles, planters, shorter, taller, wider, you name it.  Then, when the porch was ripped down and the new base was up, our neighbor preferred a divider-less look.  Which was just too hard for a family with three young kids who have a cluttered porch fulls of bikes and boys who wouldn't understand that the neighbor's porch isn't our porch, too.  So, after one last long discussion, we landed on slats.  To compliment the back, above the bench.  But privacy?  Height?  Depth? 

Our carpenter asked if we trust him.  We said yes.  We were both also out of town.

His Side

The open slats are opposite on each side.  It is the same height as it was before.  There is no jerry-rigged support from above anymore.  He dug down to install support from below.  And he jogged the depth back, so the divider starts just a few inches behind the first step. 

Open, yet private, and oh so pretty.  It's true love. 

Who would have thought we could go from this...

to this.

And we're not even done.  The shingles were just applied and the eaves just installed.  Soon it's paint and finishing up the electrical.

But for now, the husband enjoys a pretty view from the garbage bins. 

Which will probably look even better in the middle of winter.