House Tour – the girly bathroom

Welcome to the first in a series of “these are photos of my house” posts. And why not start with the place where I start every morning – the bathroom. Er, powder room. That place where I get so so glamorous.

We’ve done very little to this room. When we moved in the former owners had taken the mirror, so we added this round mirror from Ikea. That’s about it – I already liked the wall color.  I love the look of pedestal sinks, but there’s no counterspace for all my stuff.  I keep it in that little travel bag on top of the toilet.  It doesn’t seem very permanent, but it works for me.  Maybe one day I’ll add a very shallow medicine cabinet above the toilet.  The little shelf is there of course, but I don’t like to clutter that up, and it is pretty narrow.  Check out my classy Kermit the Frog toothbrush cup.

There’s the door into the little hallway. Yes, there’s green carpeting in that little space.

I also love these classic fixtures.  They read Hot, Cold, and in the middle, Waste.  That doesn’t stop me from leaving the water running when I brush my teeth sometimes.  I’m not super crazy about plastic soap dispensers, I picked up the glass dispenser at Target and haven’t looked back.  I think its classy.

I NEED a clock in the bathroom. I’m still always late of course. I also found this at Target. I searched Etsy for a real vintage one and couldn’t really find quite what I wanted. Lo and behold, Target has exactly what I’m looking for and only $14.

This window looks out on the street, so I gots to be careful to close the curtains. The little dresser thing is also from Target, we bought it when we first moved in. It doesn’t fit quite perfectly, but it helps with storage space and the cats love to perch there to look outside and watch me wash my face. Those little weirdos. In the future I’d like to replace it with something similar but shorter, or maybe a little stool or bench.

I picked up this earring stand at Urban Outfitters, you can find it here.  Its even got a bird on it!  Now I see all these cute earring holders on Pinterest that hang in a picture frame on the wall.  That would save me some space – and keep it out of reach for naughty kitties.  So while this is really cute and charming, I might consider doing something different in the future.

On the wall opposite from the sink and toilet I’ve got 3 things crammed into one tiny space – a decent closet, a small vanity counter with a big mirror, and a very narrow shower. Like, wow its really challenging to shave my legs in here type of shower. One day I’d love to rip out the vanity and shower and replace it with a clawfoot bathtub – I’d keep a shower head in there too. I think it would ooze charm and fit right in. A girl can dream…

Even though there is a drawer there, I don’t use it. I keep all my makeup in another bag there on the counter, which is overflowing with products I don’t use of course.

Isn’t this sugar bowl the cutest? I found it on Etsy in a search for depression glass, I use it wrangle jewelry and such. I love me some vintage depression glass. I don’t look for it any more to stop myself from going on buying binges.

This is the door to my laundry room. You can see there is an abrupt change of flooring, from pretty white and pink to that industrial orangey brown. The door leads to the backyard, and we do have a neighbor on that side too so I gotta close that too when I think of it.  Or make sure my unknown neighbor isn’t hanging on the back porch when I get out of the shower.  Helloooooo.

I do like my pink and white floor even though Everything shows up on it. Its not very modern, but that’s why I like it. The little round white bathmat is from World Market. The blue mat was either from Bed, Bath, and Beyond or Target, its been 4 years so I can’t remember which. They get dirty from muddy dog paws sometimes, nothing a little laundry action can’t handle.

Well, that’s the thrilling tour of my bathroom! Thanks for dropping by!

Candlelight Dinner

You could probably say I’m not really “into candles”.  At least, I never seem to get around to lighting them.  Most smelly candles are overly smelly, and one should never use scented candles for a dinner party.  But they are oh so cozy. When people come over I rush around frantically lighting candles to make a groovy mood, and every time I do I wonder why I don’t light them more often just for my own enjoyment.

I started saving wine bottles last year for a little project for Christie’s wedding and just kept going.  Now they’ve found some new life as candlestick holders.

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They aren’t serving any particular purpose in these photos.   I just wanted to show you.  I’ll definitely be breaking them out for a little Christmas shindig at my house (ladies…).

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I admit that it can be a hassle getting the labels off cleanly.  I use a combination of peeling them off, soaking in hot water, then using some dish soap and scrubbing, then finally using a razorblade to scrape off the most stubborn pieces.  I tried a few things I found by googling, like olive oil, nail polish remover, WD 40 etc.  I hate to waste good olive oil, and all of these options worked to some extent, but in the end you’re still going to need a razor blade to completely get the residue off.

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I did have to (recruit a friend to) whittle the ends of the candlesticks so they would fit in the tops of the wine bottles. The candlesticks were $1 each from World Market.

I’ve never been one for elaborate center pieces for a dinner table.  Maybe because I don’t host a lot of dinner parties, but the main reason is that they seem to get in the way of the Food sitting on the table.  Priorities, people.

However, this little tablescape from Anna @ Take the Side Street has me inspired:

I might get a little “mossy enchanted forest romantic bohemian” for my partay.  Watch out ladies.  Now where do I find some bits of tree trunk?

Goals Are Scary

So I’ve figured out my technical difficulty.  Though I’ve loaded plenty of photos from my point n shoot already, for some reason my latest photos just wouldn’t upload.  It was like WordPress was giving me a blank stare.  No movement.  I bothered to look at the file size and my photos are waaaay too large (in the 4 MB range, rather than a handful of kb like they should be).  So I need to figure out how to re-size them without messing them up, as per goal # 2.  “Take better pictures with a real camera.”  So I finally opened the Adobe Photoshop Elements program and installed it, because goal # 3.  “Learn to use Photoshop Elements program” can’t be accomplished unless I take it out of the box.

I used the Help feature to see what I needed to do to fix my photos.  It gave me this:

If you’re preparing images for the web, it’s useful to specify image size in terms of the pixel dimensions. In the Editor, choose Image > Resize > Image Size. Select Resample Image, and choose an interpolation method: Nearest Neighbor Fast, but less precise. This method is recommended for use with illustrations containing edges that are not anti-aliased, to preserve hard edges and produce a smaller file. However, this method can create jagged edges, which become apparent when distorting or scaling an image or performing multiple manipulations on a selection. Bilinear Medium-quality. Bicubic Slow, but more precise, resulting in the smoothest tonal gradations. Bicubic Smoother Use when you’re enlarging images. Bicubic Sharper Use when you’re reducing the size of an image. This method maintains the detail in a resampled image. It may, however, oversharpen some areas of an image. In this case, try using Bicubic. To maintain the current aspect ratio, select Constrain Proportions. This option automatically updates the width as you change the height, and vice versa. In Pixel Dimensions, enter values for Width and Height. To enter values as percentages of the current dimensions, choose Percent as the unit of measurement. The new file size of the image appears next to Pixel Dimensions, with the old file size in parentheses.

I hope you didn’t read all that, and maybe if you did it makes perfect sense to you, but it was a little disconcerting for me.

Actually I think all of my goals are either scary, intimidating, or even unpleasant in some way.  Like the running.

Yeah, that’s totally what I’m like right now.  Actually what I feel like when I run is also the bottom picture.  The top picture is what I imagine in my head to keep me going.  I confess, I haven’t been running that much.  Like I took a month off and ran on Nov 21 and have not run since.  I’ve got my shoes packed, so I’ll be running tonight.  (Looks like I’m a Monday runner – I start out the week well and then do nothing!)

My goals are still in the toddler stage too.  I’d call installing Photoshop one baby step.  The next will be trying to muster the patience to do a tutorial, followed by jumping into the basic photo editing.  Baby steps, baby steps.

House Tours

Some of my most Favorite Things to look at on the blogosphere are House Tours.  That’s why I love Apartment Therapy so so much.  Design Sponge does them every Monday too.  I like real homes better than staged, professionally styled fake rooms that are only put together for a magazine spread (though those have plenty of eye candy too).

For example, here’s a photo from Ikea’s blog Livet Hemma.

Super gorgeous, right?  If I went and bought all the same furnishings and rugs and put them in my house, would it be the same?  Absolutely not.  Because I don’t live in a European flat that dates back to 1802 with herringbone wood floors, soaring ceilings, and intricate molding on the ceiling and walls.  The closest thing I could get to this in Atlanta would be some restored antebellum mansion that Sherman somehow missed on his pyro tour of the South.  All that being said, the furniture is plain Jane and the room is fabulous with or without it.  So the only real inspiration I can take is that I could do gray walls with white slip-covered furniture and painted wood.  Those are all staple to most interior design eye candy these days anyway.  Sorry, end rant about Ikea’s brilliant and seductive marketing.

The real houses are, well, real.  People really live there, so things have to be functional.  Normally they are done on a budget, and include items collected and tweaked over time.

Here’s a glimpse of what I could call my favorite house tour to date:

Aren’t the textiles fabulous?  I would copy/paste this entire house into my own house if I could.  But alas, I can’t , because this couple built this cottage from the ground up with their own two hands over 5 years.  She probably got this bedding from Anthropologie on sale years ago, so not much hope of finding that either (or I could start getting busy on my own embroidery projects, ha).  What I should do is hold it up in front of me to keep my eye on the prize.  I’ll have to do my own thrift store-ing, diy-ing, and hopefully one day some renovations.  And that, my friends, is called authenticity.

All this to say, I’ve decided that I should do a home tour page here.  I’ve taken lots of pictures of my own house over the last few days.  Unfortunately the computer does not want me to upload these photos, hence the delay in my posts.  I’ll keep working on it and hopefully the computer demons will be banished.

For the meantime, I’ve finally added some Link Love over on the right ——>  (ha, I’ve no way to know if this arrow will point anywhere near my links).  These are some of my standby, daily reads.  Others are more diminutive blogs of friends and people kinda like me.  So if you are hankering for more eye candy or your new favorite blog, as I sometimes am, maybe you’ll find something new on this list.

The Walls Have Eyes

Have you noticed this trend in decorating?

Apparently its cool now to find old portraits, often badly painted ones, at thrift stores and use them as cheap art.  The idea is that its eclectic, quirky, and intriguing.

Personally, I can appreciate it from here, but there is no way I would ever do it in my house.

You know why?  They would all be looking at me.  All the time.  And that really freaks me out.

For example, when I was little I had this painting on my wall.

I know there is nothing inherently creepy about this painting by Fragonard.  But I could have sworn that at night, she would look over at me.  Don’t even get me started on buddhas.  Why are their eyes always closed?!  I expect them to open their eyes and look at me at any moment.  When its just a disembodied head, that creates another level of creepy too.

That could bring me to a whole discussion on mannequin and doll heads in home decor, but I’m out of time.  Hey, if you love it, why not take it home?

So while I can appreciate it in hipster home tours, I am just not cool or brave enough to buy cheap portraits (even classical, well-painted ones like “The Reader”) and hang them in my home.  And no, I won’t be doing any buddhas either, as I believe they would bring me more anxiety than zen.

There are some interesting discussions about these trends here:  Buddhism as Decoration and Strangers’ Portraits in the Home

photos courtesy of apartment therapy, sf girl by bay, and emily henderson

Mums and Dragons

Apparently I missed mums season, because when I stopped by a Home Depot the other night I only found pansies. “But I just bought some mums a couple weeks ago!” I cried in despair. Well, it was probably a month ago, but you know how time flies. I have a charming little window box with 3 containers, and I’ve enjoyed looking out and seeing these purple mums in the box. But its neighboring boxes were still empty.

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I found some battered mums in front of Kroger, marked down to $1 each.  They’ve seen better days, but hey for the price I hoped that I could rescue these lil guys and maybe they would spruce up and be beautiful, just like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree.

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Its hard to find something with some color that is not yellow, because let’s face it, there’s enough yellow going on here.  I like that my sad $1 mums have a little purple hint to them to coordinate with the fat healthy plant in the middle.

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Isn’t the little box so charming?  I hope the flowers stay alive.  This is the third time I’ve put flowers in there.  Pansies are meant to die anyway, but they never really thrived.  I also tried moss roses, but I forgot to water them too.

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I picked up 3 mums and 2 snapdragons, not knowing how much it would take to fill the window boxes.  I put the extra mum and snapdragons in the ground.

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See the nice mulch I put down too?  The green guy on the left and the little dead guy are some ground covers that I bought last year.  Then I decided that they needed to be moved, because in their current location I couldn’t even see them and they were going to be covered by a very vicious ivy.  However, I transplanted them right before going on vacation in August and most of them died.  The little brown one is actually slightly alive, so I carefully mulched around it hoping that it will continue to resuscitate.  I’m not sure, but I believe this is what it is that survived so well. I’m not good at remembering what plant is what.

That’s what it looks like when it is alive, healthy, and blooming in the summer.  Here’s hoping.  I planted some other summer plants back in August too (the pink and purple things below) and I’m happy to see they managed to survive as well.

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And now I’ve got a bunch of little tiny weeds invading.  This is what started my quest for good ground covers… a quest that is still in its infancy.

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I’ve been reluctant to post about yard stuff because before and afters seem so feeble.  And I have A Lot of work to do on the yard.  I can work for a couple hours and feel like I’ve barely made a dent.  Then I wonder how the people who lived here before me did all this.  This must have been their one and only hobby.  But putting things in the ground and getting lucky enough to see them live, even grow, is much more satisfying than pulling things out of the ground.  Like this mess.

Sigh.

Twelve by 2012 Challenge – Update

Its been 2 weeks since I joined in on the Twelve by 2012 challenge, in which I need to accomplish a certain number of things by December 31, 11:59 pm, 2011.  Some are specific tasks and others are more along the lines of developing a habit.  So how am I doing so far?  Bold means its in progress and Italic means I haven’t touched it or I’ve fallen off the wagon.

Andrea’s 12 by 2012:

  1. Design my own blog header/ background (this is just a pre-fab theme I’m making do with)
  2. Take better pictures with a real camera (well, point n shoot is all I got.  sorry iPhone, love ya)
  3. Learn to use Photoshop Elements program (to accomplish items 1 and 2)
  4. Launch an Etsy shop!  (I was fairly focused on this for a while, but got distracted)
  5. Run a 12 minute  mile (sad I know, right now its 15ish.  i’m a huff n puff)
  6. Post on the blog 4 times per week
  7. Clean something in my house every day (vs saving it all for the weekend)
  8. Buy a sewing machine and do at least 1 sewing project

5. So I got an icky cold and stopped the meager running I was doing, otherwise I think I might still be ok on that one (I know excuses, excuses).  Like I need an excuse to sit on my couch watching Netflix all day.

2.  I have been taking pictures with the “real camera” though I don’t know that it has made a huge difference.  The only editing I’ve done has been in the dinky program that came on Chris’s PC.  Also learned that taking photos of my bedroom is difficult due to the weird lights.

6.  I’ve been able to get a new post together 4 times a week, for better or for worse.

7.  The house cleaning has been off and on, again due to sickness, but I think I’m doing a bit more every day.  This also cuts into my “sitting on my couch” time.

I am Not going to freak out or feel like a failure.  I am going to go to Home Depot, try to evade traffic somehow, and then put on my running shoes and work on number 5. a bit.  Then I am going to work on 7.  After that I may need to sit on my couch.  7 more weeks to go!