Monday, December 3, 2012

On Our Way - Almost

It has been a long several months of work, but the finished result is as nice as we can do it without
rebuilding from scratch.  Since July we have been in the final push to make our condo showroom ready to sell.  We painted, fixed, reglazed bathtub, laid new carpet, put in new lights, and tiled bathroom floors, just to name a few projects.

We eliminated as much of our personal tastes from the home, including getting rid of one of our couches to open up space in the living room. I'd been packing as many non-essentials as possible for the past several months, so it was relatively easy to keep the decorative touches minimal.

It seems to have paid off.  We received an offer on the home before we even officially listed. We are still in escrow and praying that it goes through smoothly.  After spending much of the year fixing up first my husband's mothers' home, then ours, we finally seem to be at a close.  It has taken much more work and time than anticipated, but doesn't it always. 

Wednesday hubby and I leave for a trip to Nashville, which is the new homeland we've been working towards.  It will be a six-day scouting trip, we'll look at some houses and hope to find the new home to call our own. We're both hoping it comes with no repairs needed.  Wish us luck!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

It's Working Again!

For a few weeks I was not able to access my blog. I was able to sign in and look at other blogs, but could not work on my dashboard.  Not sure what was going on.  Oh yeah, we did have our system crash, my hubby had to rebuild it from scratch, wiping out everything and reloading.  So there may have been some kind of bug or something going on.

There's lots to talk about.  After about four months of constant work, our condo is completed, sold and listed, in that order.  Yep, we got an offer we couldn't refuse on the place before it even officially hit the mls.  It was a story of one agent talking to another agent in the office and a buyer jumping on it more or less sight unseen.  Tho' they did swing by shortly after sending in the offer, just to see if it was as good a deal as their agent had told them.   Bless their hearts, apparently they'd been looking for a condo and lost one place after the other before we came along. They were familiar with the complex, and eager to bite when they heard about it.

I'll post pictures of the results of our labor later.  It's not overly fancy, I had again staged it to try to appeal to a broad audience, but it shows well.  All the more ironic it was bought with only their agent seeing it, but the people were delighted when they saw it.  Now we have to impress the home inspector and appraisor.  Wish us luck, we might be out of here by Christmas yet!

I was looking for a few flowers to freshen up the outside on the last couple of days before we sold and I came across this gorgeous cyclamen.  I just love the vivid reds.  Hopefully it will remain bright and cheerful for the rest of our time here. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Final Photos of Staging to Sell

We put my mother-in-law's condo on the market last week - finally.

We had worked very hard to present it in the best light possible.  Even though we had painted and tiled and carpeted in neutrals, to attract the broadest range of potential buyers possible, I did want to stage it to give it a lived in feeling.  I went for a subtle beach theme, using blues and browns, trying to add interest and character without putting too much personal taste into it.  There was also a budget concern, I didn't have too much money to put into prepping it for selling, just to pack up everything again when it does sell.  I did want to have a small console table in the front lobby area, as opposed to the blank wall which previously greeted your entrance into the condo.  I picked up this little table on clearance at Big Lots for $75.  I got the plant and picture for a few bucks each at Ross, and used mom's turtle light.

The couch in the livingroom is actually a dark red, you can see a corner peeking out where we need to pull the brown sofa cover back over it.  The cover and blue and brown pillows pull in the neutral beachy theme back into the room.  We are using much of her old furniture, which is dated from the 80s, so lots of oak and brass need to be worked around.  The cedar chest being used as a coffee table holds shell embellished candles.

Prior to our painting the lower half of the fireplace wall a khaki color and adding a white shelf to act as a mantel, her fireplace consisted of a black box in a wall.  I often wondered why she didn't do more to highlight it, but apparently she had plans of a custom-built oak shelf unit surrounding it, which didn't happen in the 20-something years she lived there.  Okay, I have been known to procrastinate, so I get that, but I think I would have done something in the meantime.  The beach scene hanging above the mantel shelf was one I'd bought but didn't have the right place for in my home, and thought it looked great here, right over the glass bottles and shells.

Beside the fireplace we put her mother's trunk. This trunk has gone through several members of her family, and will of course remain with us. It holds this planter bicycle I'd given her some years back, which I filled with faux daisies to complete the look.

She was very pleased with the look when we brought her to view it before we listed it.  In this photo you can see some of the white drape panels with blue and brown border stripes we installed shortly after we began working on it.  Before there were white vertical hanging blinds which had seen better days.

The kitchen shows well now with the new backsplash and faux granite finish on the counters.  We had to install the new stove as well, her previous one was minus a burner or two.

Her diningroom table got a simple centerpiece of candles and a bowl of seashells.  I put out her blue placemats, but decided against going for the whole tablescape as I'd originally pictured.  Again, I'm going for a theme, but trying to not overwhelm people with too many personal touches.

Since mom took her bed out of her master bedroom with her to the assisted living facility, we moved the one out of the spare bedroom into the master bedroom.  This left us in need of a bed in the second bedroom.  This is the old airmattresses on top of boxes trick.  I luckily had two blowup mattress from our camping days.  The scroll is another Goodwill find I had from home.  I think it looks good as a headboard.

Both bathrooms got treated to new towels and a couple of decorative items.

I came across this beautiful cover and sham set in mom's cedar chest.  She was delighted to see it, as it was a gift from years ago.  It looks gorgeous here with the new setup, featuring a Goodwill picture
 I found for $8, and displaying a few of her own items on the dresser.  The lamp is an antique she kept  because it had belonged to a family member.  I suppose if you like the 17th century lord and lady frolicking look, this would be your style, we frankly just needed a lamp here and this was available.

So we are happy to finally have the condo finished and listed.  In fact, we accepted an offer, and are now currently waiting for escrow closure.  I sure hope it goes through, this process has taken much longer than we intended.  We are now thick into fixing up our own condo, which I pray takes less time than this does.  I'm still hoping to be moved out of state before the holidays.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Kitchen Redo Pt 2, the Backsplash

One of the projects we took on to prep our mother-in-law's condo for selling was to put a glass tile backsplash in her kitchen.  We started by removing all the outlet covers and laying down brown paper to protect her countertops, as tiling is a messy business.

Admittedly, my hubby did the most of the tile laying.  I couldn't let him have all the fun, though, and actually put up a couple of tiles myself.

The blank area above the stove is where the new rangehood will go. After all the tiling was put up, Dave started tiling the floor in the smaller bathroom, the one with the yellow 1980s laminate flooring. I did the grouting in the kitchen. This involved smearing gritty mud-like mortar over the tiles, a small section at a time, using a rubber float to push the goop into all the grooves.  Then you need to wipe all the mortar off the tiles while leaving it in the joints between, going over the tiles several times to wipe off as much as possible before it dries.  This took me almost five hours, but I'm proud of it.

One of my jobs in assisting Dave putting up the tile was cutting the little glass pieces to fill in around the electrical plugs and line up in the corners and edges. There's a tool they make especially for cutting glass tiles, go ahead and invest the $13 they want for it at Home Depot, it makes the job much easier. BTW, you have to pull all the plug and light outlets out of the wall and get extenders to raise the outlets over the tiles. Turn off that electricity first.

With the covers back on, it looks practically professional.

A small area of the finished product.  I'll include the entire kitchen with new counters and backsplash in another post.

Most of my time and energy lately have been divided between helping fixing up the condo and attending to my mother-in-law, who is now residing in an assisted living facility.  It's amazing how the summer has flown away.  We are almost complete with her condo, though, and looking forward to beginning our own. 

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Kitchen Counter Redo - Pt 1

My husband has been working on getting his mom's house ready to put on the market.  One of the projects he has completed is refacing her kitchen counter tops.  They were a very undistinguished off white standard builders grade laminate.  He used the Giani granite look countertop paint, which we've gotten to refinish our old but still functional bathroom counter.  The kit comes with everything you need, and involves putting on a black primer, then sponge painting on a series of paints to achieve the look of granite, and finishing up with a couple coats of polyurethane finish.

Here is the original countertop, taped off and ready to be primed.

Even putting the primer on gives it more presence, I thought.

You need to work in sections, so the three colors you are dabbing on have a chance to blend naturally.  That stove will be replaced, not only is it outdated, half of the burners don't work.

Here is a good section of the finished color.  Putting on the polyurethane afterward really gives it a nice shine, and of course protection.  He finished by replacing her kitchen faucet, doing a much better job than the 'professional' which had replaced her last faucet just a few years ago. The 'almost-new' faucet was leaking badly from the handles.

I do not know why I don't have a complete picture of the finished countertops, as this was completed several weeks ago.  Since his mom was still living there, he needed to complete this as quickly as possible. We do need to either paint the walls or put on the mosiac tile which he wants to do.  We already have the tile purchased, the hold up is in contemplating how to install it around the electrical plugins and light fixtures.  I'm pushing to forget the tiling for expediency sake and paint the walls a nice taupe color to match the new countertops.

I'll post the finished pictures soon, hopefully we'll have the walls done and maybe even have the new stove installed as well.

Take care, and everyone have a glorious 4th of July!


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

I hope you all have a wonderful Mother's Day.  I am intending to spend mine in contemplation of the time I have shared with my beautiful daughters, who are fast becoming grown women.  I am so proud of them both.  Raising children takes more effort and energy and pure dedication than you ever comprehend when you first have those little bundles of love, but it's one of the greatest things you can do in life.  To repeat my sister, 'I like the way they turned out.'

My darling family got me a new camera for Christmas, and I knew there must be some way to make those photos less underexposed than what I'd been able to do.  Five months after I received it, I finally come across the button setting for 'lightness'.  Admittedly, I wasn't doing much research on it, the find was more a mistake than anything else.  Since I had my afternoon free this beautiful spring day, I worked with that setting, and am happy with the better quality of my photos.  Now my pictures of my new plantings on my patio actually bring out some detail.

The paint job on my little bird is fading out, but he is still very cheerful amid the colors in my hanging basket.

I tell myself I'm not into cherubs, but I do have my little gardening angels.  This sweet thing is just one of those small resin statues plucked off the shelf of a local chain drug store during a half price sale.  Doesn't she look happy to be here?  I'm happy she's here, too.

Have a blessed weekend!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Return to the Hunt

With things being so busy lately, I've not been doing much as far as shopping at my favorite Goodwill.  Life has finally slowed down enough to where I have my evenings mostly free, so last week I finally stopped by my old treasure hunting ground and looked around.  I am being very particular lately about anything I bring home, considering that we're supposed to be downsizing in anticipation of a late summer move.  It's not that I never walk out of there empty-handed, either, I leave with nothing more often than I purchase something. That day, I desired something, something that made a connection with me.  I was disappointed in what I saw on the shelves, though, and after taking a final perusal through the back wall shelf, moved to leave.  Then I caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye.  There - on the bottom rack of the cart they use to stock the shelves, sat a large deer.  It was white ceramic, but so filthy as to be encrusted, yes, encrusted with dust.  I've still got areas to scrub the final layer of grit off him.   I suspect he is a soup tureen, though he could just as well be a cookie jar.  The cashier asked if it was a reindeer, but his form is so delicate and well-wrought, it's almost mystical.  I could picture him resting on a bed of fall foiliage as well as Christmas ivy.  He was marked at $5.98 and had just arrived in the store that day - had not even been shelved yet, and I was very happy to bring him home before anyone else had a chance to see him.  I know nothing about the origins of this beautiful piece, on the bottom there is a 'made in Italy' marking, and you can see where an emblem label used to be.  I suspect the antlers are gold gilded, as they had some green around the base.  The ceramic glaze does have fine crackling on it, which I believe just adds to his charm.  One of these days I'll figure out how to get a good photo without the light reflecting off the white finish, there are a lot of details going unseen in this picture.

I was so excited about my find, that I stopped by that Goodwill every day on the way home for the next week.  I did not see anything near the appeal of my large deer, tho I am kicking myself for not buying this very large white birdhouse I couldn't think what to do with when I was considering it, but a day later knew it would be gorgeous on my patio.  Of course, 24 hours later when I went back it was gone.  That's the way it is with the good stuff.

Okay, I brought home one more find.  It's not of the same quality that the deer is.  In fact, I bought it mainly because it amused and entertained me.  I still haven't figured out whether I think this banana cake cookie jar is cute or just so homely it's cute. Layers of what is meant to be spicy banana cake separated by whipped cream and half rotten bananas on top.  Seriously, those bananas are more than a bit overripe, but that's how you use them in baking, heehee.  My intent was to keep it out on our counter and put our sugar in it, placing it next to the coffee pot for easy access on our busy mornings.  In a pique of cleaning, though, my husband put it away in a closed shelf where he had cleared out mismatched tupperware, old jars and other items we were hoarding.  When I asked him about it, he pointed out that our counters are already cluttered past the point of practicality, so I said no more and left the banana cake creation in the cupboard.

When we relocate into that next home with the garage and garden, I'm hoping for both a kitchen with an eating nook and a formal dining room.  I'm hoping for room to put a china cabinet in the formal diningroom and a baker's rack in the eating nook, or somewhere near the kitchen.  I'm rehearsing in my mind where to exhibit these treasures.  I'll let you know when we find our perfect spots.

I am linking with A Delightsome Life for Home and Garden Thursday.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Busy Times

In the past several weeks since I have not posted on this blog, my family had gone through several issues.

1.  My mother-in-law has been in and out of the hospital and a couple of rehab/nursing centers.  Her health has been failing since the first of the year, and we have spent more time than ever looking after her or visiting her in different medical facilities.

During her last rehab stint, we rushed to paint her condo.  Since our grand plan for the year includes selling both condos and moving into a larger home together, this is necessary, and her being out of her home for what turned out to be 10 days presented an opportunity to paint and fix up her place.  Of course it was extremely hectic as I am still working full-time, so my hubby did much of the work himself while juggling visiting his mom and putting in the occasional stop at home.  I worked with  him on the weekends, we finished what we could at midnight the night before Easter, which is when we promised to bring mother home.  I do hope to post a few pictures of a couple of the projects at her place later.

2. Easter.  I was too exhausted to give it the attention I wanted to, but I still made our too-old-for-baskets daughters Easter baskets and had a much appreciated our family only brunch before checking out mother-in-law at the home. Anyone who has needed to juggle other family desires with the need of a more full-time individual understands how this family time apart is needed.

3. My oldest daughter celebrated her 21st birthday.  We spent the day before at an amusement park, had the family party with grandma/mother-in-law the next day.  The following week she gave a party at home for her friends. The party was based on a Mardi Gras theme.  God bless the Dollar Store, you can get so much good party stuff there and still afford to feed your guests.

Don't you just love that humongous stuffed bear my hubby bought her?  He's still taking up half the couch, we don't know where else to put him.

4. I officially filed the paperwork for my retirement.  Since I work for a government agency, I am supposed to do this 3 months in advance.  My retirement date is July 5.  I am so ready.

I hope everyone is enjoying their spring fast turning to summer.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

A New Bathroom Look To Come

Since we are going to put our condo on the market this spring or summer, I'm thinking in terms of 'staging' it.  Take away our eclectic collection of 23 years of decorating clutter, and update it with a more modern look, putting out just enough tasteful decor pieces to look lived in, all set on a background of fresh paint in modern tones and glowing furnishings.

We haven't gotten very far in preparation.  Much of this has to do with my mother-in-law being sickly and needing my hubby to be at her place daily. I go over and help out when I can, and between that and my usual 40-hour work week, there just doesn't seem to be much time or energy left for doing the cleaning and prep work involved with painting walls and redoing finishes on bathroom counters and the like. 

A couple weeks ago, in a self-indulgent shopping trip I was browsing through the clearance section of Anna's Linens and came across this handsome shower curtain in shades of browns and beige, with a touch of yellow accent.  Some recent tours of local model homes has convinced me that shades of coffee-colored browns were very much in vogue, so these are the colors I have in mind to put on our condo walls. This shower curtain is perfect to hang in our master bath, right after we get it resurfaced. I snagged this shower curtain for the bargain price of $2. Score!

The shopping area I was in also has one of my favorite stores, Ross, in it. In perusing through the home center there, I found this attractive large fleur-de-lis. I had in mind that this was something I could put to good use if it was at all a reasonable price, and in locating the price tag, was rewarded with another clearance price - $2.50.  Wow, two complete bargains in the same hour span, it was a good haul for me. I brought them home knowing that they would work well with our upcoming color scheme.  I even had a new picture I had found on clearance a few weeks before at I believe Marshalls, which fits nicely with the new look I'm hoping to achieve.

Putting this display together I am inspired to get going on actually making these improvements. One improvement I'm currently working on getting my hubby on board with is painting the countertop in our master bath to look like granite. Our countertop is one solid molded piece incorporating the sink bowl. Around the drain in the sink are lots of small lines, a grazing effect. Beside this, there is nothing wrong with the counter and I'd really rather put our money and efforts into more serious projects. Lately I've discovered articles about a painting kit which allows you to recreate the look of granite over your existing formica - and I'll assume whatever manmade material ours is.

Giani Granite FG-GI CH BR KIT Sicilian Granite Paint Kit For Countertops, Chocolate BrownGiani Granite FG-GI CH BR KIT Sicilian Granite Paint Kit For Countertops, Chocolate Brown

It will make such a difference to transform the look of this counter, even though we know no one will be fooled that it is the real stuff. Then all we need to do is replace the flower-embellished handles on the cabinets and exchange the ugly 1980s builder light we always meant to replace and never got around to doing.  Oh, and that wall painting thing, yeah, that too.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Finding Your Fit

Ever hear the phrase, happy as a nine-pound cat in a five-pound box?  Missy illustrates that point.  She is a sucker for any box she can cram her somewhat pudgy self into.  Not that I'm judging her chubbiness, mind you, my body has definitely blossomed over the years as well, those extra treats play havoc with both kitty and me.  I am just not quite as fond of squishing myself into spaces which seem as if they would burst at the seams, as this poor shoebox looks like it's about to do.

Shadow here looks like the box was measured to hold her.  Even tho Shadow is 5 years old, she still looks like an older kitten, smaller than your average cat, and lacking much more than a stub of a tail. This box is positively roomy for her.

Between the two of them, I feel more like Missy in our current condo.  I count my blessings regularly to have our own home, but every year our girls get bigger, our condo feels like it's getting smaller.  We intended to upgrade to a house in a few years when we bought our condo. That was almost 24 years ago, and the opportunity to move to that larger home with yard just didn't materalize. We managed to raise our two daughters and cats in our two-bedroom, 1000 sq. foot abode, and have many happy memories here. Squished as it is, our girls talk about how they'll miss it when we leave.  As we consider our next move after my upcoming retirement, we talk about finally being able to upgrade to a larger home, at a time when other families are considering downsizing.

Keep your cozy boxes, I am looking forward to having room to sprawl out.   Wish me luck finding our perfect place.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Crochet, Embroidery & Other Home Arts

I don't crochet much now.  My sister is a talented and prolific crocheter, she crochets as I used to, in front of the tv, while waiting for an appointment, any excuse to pull out one of many projects finds her busy. I do hope to get back into it, perhaps when I am retired, and have those imagined long blocks of time to pursue it.  Not that I don't have blocks of time now, but I tend to waste them on less productive things, like tv, and, ohhh....blogging and other fun stuff on this li'l computer. Seeing the items Julie produces, tho, I want to reintroduce crochet to my spare time.

There are not a lot of crochet items being used in my house currently, having just packed away my Christmas afghan which has been my largest project to date. I do want to share a piece near to my heart. This lovely ruffled doily was made by my grandma Wiseman, a woman of many talents who not only crocheted but quilted, sewed, cooked and canned what she grew in her garden. She also worked full time and raised a large family. Whether it was preserves put up for winter or finishing up another quilt which was immediately used on someone's bed, many if not most of the items in our parents and grandparents homes were made by hand, with love and skill.

I'm sure many of us have very fond memories of growing up learning from our elders how to embroidery pillowcases, then trim them out with a crocheted edging. There just doesn't seem to be a call for those whimsical dishtowels and pillowcases we learned our sewing skills on nowadays. I will see a prestamped pattern in the craft section of a store, and it makes me yearn to invest in hoops and silky strands of richly colored gloss. 

I occasionally will run across some of these scarves and pillowcases and doilies in a secondhand or antique shop, and I always admire, and wonder if I could find a place to display these as the works of art they are. My mom, beginning when my sisters and I were around 12, would set us up with our first embroidery hoop and either a pillowcase or dishtowel to start our training on.  It was a fun way to learn basic stitching skills, and resulted in a personalized item for our....shall I dare it to say it.... Hope Chest!  I still love the concept of a hope chest, old fashioned as it may be. How outdated can the notion of accumulating items you made yourself to use in your own future home be, really?

Who knows, give it another generation and maybe the kittens hanging out laundry on Monday will be framed and displayed as the art of our parents generation.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


I always have a problem deciding what to do for a winter look in my home.  I take down all the Christmas glitz and find that things look.... bare. The changeover from the abundance of the holiday season to the simplicity of ordinary is one I find awkward.  One of my problems is that I tend to associate anything winter with Christmas, so it doesn't feel right leaving it up after the holidays. This applies to snowmen, snowflakes and poinsettias, all items that I suppose could transend the holiday season, but which come and go with the rest of the Christmas decor.

Like this lovely lantern candleholder. My hubby bought this for me for my birthday, which is a few days before Christmas. I love it and put it out for display with the rest of the decorations.  After Christmas, I had it in the pile of holiday items to be put away.  'Why are you taking that down, it's not a holiday decoration?' he asked.  Hmmm.  I completely associated it with the holiday.  I'm not sure why, perhaps its the pinecones and snowy effect on it.  He's right though, it's a winter look, but not December exclusive.

So using this lantern as a base, my glass compote got some cinnamon-scented pinecones, and I completed the look with my stainglass turtle light.  It is now feeling like winter may be outside, but we are plenty cozy inside. A great transition for a season which keeps even us folks in more temperate climes indoors more often than not.

One of the reasons I love this look is because it reminds me of cabins and lodges surrounded by pine trees and mountains.

Even my patio deer is displaced.  Workers outside have asked us to clean off our patio areas so they can paint and replace the facia boards on our condo buildings.  My sweet doe does add to the forest feel, along with her bunny friend.

This year will include many transitions for my family. We hope to sell our home and relocate to a larger place.  My daughters will be graduating, one from college and one from high school. When we find our new home, my mother-in-law will be moving in with us.  Quite a few changes coming up.  Many decisions to be made - keep, purge, where, when.  We'll tackle them as they come up, and learn to adjust to our new lives and adventures as they occur. 

Linking up with Marty at A Stroll Thru Life for her special 100th Table Top Tuesday event.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Good Thoughts for 2012

Wow, it's been almost a month since my last blog?  Okay, I know I didn't post everything I wanted to over the holidays, I got rather caught up in, you guessed it, the holidays.

It's hard now to remember the particulars of the last days before Christmas, but it was good.  Three days after Christmas we headed off to Las Vegas to spend a few days, including New Year's Eve.  Yes, we did New Year's Eve on the Strip.  Yes, it was memorable.  Fun, thrilling, and downright scary for a 20-30 minute block of time when we and hundreds of other people were squished together so tightly no one was able to move for about half an hour, till a hotel finally opened up a gated-off area and allowed escape for the trapped pedestrians.

At this point I'm doing major reflecting on what 2012 will bring.  I do believe it will be a year of positive changes, but I realize I have to play a big role in making these changes happen.  We have been concentrating on getting our condo ready to sell since last year, and since we want to put it on the market in maybe April or May, we need to very seriously start finishing up.  The current real estate market and predictions for a still grim market this summer are very intimidating, I'm hoping we see at least some improvement.  Regardless, people do sell and buy homes in depressed markets as well as 'hot' markets, just not as quickly, and not as profitably for sellers.

I hope 2012 is prosperous and successful for all of us, whatever our endeavors.