Friday, April 24, 2015

Two-Story Entry Hall, Goodwill Haul, and a Realtor with Gall

Woo, what a week. Things looked promising at the beginning, and even though we now know that it wasn't meant to be, it's still frustrating and disappointing.

Shall I explain?

As many of you know, we've been house-hunting for 9+ months. Our first home we made an offer on was a short sale, which took 2 months to hear anything from, and then the bank was unreasonable and we had to walk away from it. The dead of winter brought no new homes on the market, so it wasn't until last week that we stumbled across a foreclosure we liked.

It was a 1940 cape that had almost everything we had been looking for and then more besides, such as this amazing foyer!




We were smitten. We learned on the same day that we were making an offer that another offer had just come in, but as long as we also sent our offer that day, they'd consider both.

The only pitfall with the house was that the SDS revealed it had not been hooked up to the public sewer, which was necessary in order for any new owners to possess the house. The selling realtor told us that the bank was aware of it and already getting estimates.

Since it sounded like the bank was already acting on it, we added a contingency that the bank hook the house up and with fingers crossed and a prayer, we made our best offer and waited.

The selling realtor came back two days later saying that our offer was the strongest, but that the other offer hadn't mentioned the sewer hookup. Therefore, they would only accept our offer if we assumed responsibility for the sewer to be hooked up. They said they'd been quoted $7,800 for the job, but as many know, you can never trust an estimate - unforeseen issues can crop up. Not to mention we had already given our very best offer manageable, because there were many other updates needed in the house (such as a water-damaged and falling-down ceiling in the garage).

When we asked how they'd even be able to (legally) sell it to the other buyers without proper hookup, he flippantly said, "it's only illegal if it's caught".

Cue me wanting to give that realtor a good swift kick in the you-know-where. These are people's lives you're messing with here, buddy.

It was an underhanded move of the bank and realtor in our book. Neither our realtor or we felt comfortable with their idea, so we stood by our original offer and basically said to take it or leave it.

They left it and went with the other.

I can only imagine the terrible surprise those new homeowners are going to get now. I truly wish I had a way of contacting them before they accepted the bank's offer.

Alas, another home we fell in love with bites the dust. We're taking comfort in the fact that our house is still out there somewhere, and I'm trying to not be impatient and tell it to hurry up and show itself. It's a struggle sometimes, especially as the market still hasn't really picked up.

Going back to house hunting, I just had to share these two...unique...features of some homes we recently found during one day of touring several before finding the 1940 cape, such as this pendant lamp complete with gingham patterned wallpaper on the ceiling:


...and this coat closet that was also turned into a partial bathroom...gross (can't say I've ever seen that before).


We're still getting rid of stuff by the bagful in preparation of decluttering before moving. Here was my most recent trip to Goodwill, with stuff in the backseat and front seat not pictured. We've probably donated 40-something grocery-sized bags to Goodwill in the last few months. Feels so good.


Oh, and despite the bad headcold I've had the last 48 hours, progress has been made on the piano bench!


Hopefully I can knock off this cold over the weekend and be good to finally reveal those side tables next week that I've been forever working on.

Have a great weekend, y'all!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Piano Bench Project

Hi guys! This will be a very quick post, but wanted to share this piano bench that I came across this past weekend.  



Look at those legs!

I have some delicious plans for this stylin' piece. I definitely want to make it a tufted bench. It's been almost a year since I've done my headboard tufting project, and a first for trying a bench, so it'll be a good learning curve. 

However, there is one hangup with it:


...it's a storage bench. Which is awesome. But I had to now come up with a way to cover it with fabric without messing with the hinges or the gap necessary for opening and closing the lid. Hmmm....yeah....Not sure how to do that whatsoever...

I tried to find tutorials for doing a tufted storage bench on google and pinterest, but didn't have much luck. ...and this is why I love Instagram so much. I posted a pic of the bench with an S.O.S. on my profile for how to do a project like this, and in no time with the help of a great gal who wanted to do a similar project, we both got answers. Huzzah! 

With that hurdle out of the way, it was on to design! For fabric color, I'm thinking jewel tones, specifically a rich emerald green such as the pic below: 


So pretty!

As for the legs, I briefly debated a regency look with gold, but I'm leaning towards a white-washed or reclaimed wood style. 


I have a few more projects in the wings that need their finishing touches, and then I'll be free to get started on this bench! Can't wait!


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

5 Minute Natural Laundry Detergent {Borax Free!}



Hello! Hope you all had lovely weekends. After a full week of gloomy weather, seeing the sun out again this weekend was a very welcome change! Our weekend was a busy one for us with visits with friends and social gatherings, but it was good to see folks.

I've been wanting to make and use a natural laundry detergent for years now, but was deterred by every recipe I would come across containing Borax. So imagine my excitement when a few weeks ago while perusing a link party I found a mix created by the awesome Amanda from Dwelling In Happiness that was exactly the concoction I'd been waiting for!

I like the idea of using a homemade laundry detergent because:
  • it's all-natural
  • you can pick the scent (or have no scent)
  • it's cheap and easy to make
  • especially great for infant/children's clothes, as children tend to have sensitive skin and the chemicals/products used in store-bought detergents can cause rashes, eczema, and even hives.

(Do check out Amanda's blog showing the making of the detergent. She gives lots of pretty step-by-step picture instructions and more information about each of the ingredients used in this detergent).

I wanted to also share my own experience of making and using it, and give another reference for a cost breakdown, so here we go!


Amanda's mixture makes 2 gallons, but here are the measurements for making 1 gallon like I did:

For the Detergent:
  • 1/4 cup Super Washing Soda
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 6 tbsp castile soap (I used Dr. Bronner)
  • 15 drops essential oil of choice (lavender, lemon, jasmine, etc. are all nice aromas for the detergent)

Supplies:
  • 1-2 gallon (clean) container or bucket (I bought a new $3 bucket from Lowes that'll be solely used for making detergent)
  • long spoon (or anything that you can use to stir the mix with - I used a wooden paint mixing stick)
  • A glass jar sized for 1 gallon (I found my 1 gallon mason jar at Walmart), or several wide-mouth canning jars



To Make:

Pour the super washing soda into the bucket. Add warm tap water to just cover the soda and mix until dissolved.
Add the baking soda and also stir to mix it in.
Pour in 1 gallon of hot water.
Drop in the 6 tbsp of castile soap/Dr. Bronner.
Add 15 drops of your choice essential oil.

Pour mix into jar/s.

That's it! Literally takes 5 minutes to whip up a batch, and it gives you a lot of loads.

To Use: 

Before each use, give it a quick stir as some of the contents may sit at the bottom. 
Use approximately 1/3 of a cup for a full load of laundry.

Back when I was researching natural detergents, I saw some worries from others about the possibility of oil stains on their clothing, but I've had no problems whatsoever. I've done both white and color loads with this detergent, and each have come out clean and fresh. 


I'm not sure yet how many loads I'll get out of my gallon jar, but I'm counting and will update once I have a more definitive cost breakdown. For now, here is how much I paid for each "ingredient" used:

Cost Breakdown:

Super Washing Soda - $2.99
Baking Soda (1 lb box) - $0.59
Lemon oil - $4.99
Dr. Bronner castile soap - $16


Bonus: With past detergents, we always had an awful, almost rotten-egg smell from our washer during and after it being run. We tried airing it out, switching detergents, and making sure there were no build-ups in the pipes, but nothing seemed to work. However, ever since using this homemade detergent, I can walk into the laundry room while the machine is running and actually breathe in. No smell whatsoever in our laundry room anymore! Truly a wonderful development!



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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Creative Struggle

Hi, all! I ran across this little article on Buzzfeed and wanted to share this bit of it that resonated with me, because I think it is something a lot of us creatives struggle with or relate to.

"Creative people wake up every morning, fully aware of the need to grow and push themselves. But there is always the fear, Resistance as Pressfield calls it, that they don’t have what it takes. No matter how successful the person, that fear never goes away. They simply learn to deal with it, or not."

Sometimes, it's good to have something like this spell out exactly what you feel. I love learning new things, trying new colors and tools, and pushing myself to go beyond what I think I'm capable of.

It's hard too though. Letting yourself mess up is not always the easiest thing to allow. I know I've put off a certain step to a project for days because it's something I haven't tried before and I'm afraid I'll ruin it. But more times than not, it turns out to be easier than I thought, and I've just learned a new skill.

It's a great feeling.

I just want to encourage y'all to not let the fear of failure stop you from trying that project you've always wanted to tackle. It's a new day. You're smart. You're plucky. You may be finding your decorating style or know it to your core...

...What's important is to keep growing.

Try new things.

Have new experiences.

Keep plugging away, and in time fears will lessen as your confidence increases. Free yourself to create.

Be bold. Have fun. Don't hold back; you are capable of more than you know. :)

Go create!





Tuesday, March 31, 2015

How to Score the Best Junk Sales {Using Online Resources}


With the wishful promise of having Spring temperatures around the corner in April (March has been a tease with snow even a few days ago!), I'm sure I'm not the only one anticipating the promise of yardsales and flea markets in the coming months!

I'm a thrifting gal all-year round, but when warm weather comes and sales pop up, I kind of go hyper-thrifting; plotting out itineraries for moving sale hopping and negotiating for a bundle deal with sellers becomes my norm, not to mention I'm one of those people who come with a folding chair, snack, and umbrella at estate auctions...

Therefore, I'm kicking-off the upcoming season by sharing my go-to resources for finding the best yardsales and estate sales/auctions - let's get to it!

Online Resources for Scoring Awesome Stuff:

  • estatesales.net - one of my favorite sites! Great for finding local estate sales and auctions, as well as previewing what will be at the sale. You can search by state and city. What I really like is that you can sign up to have any local auction listings sent to your inbox so you can quickly see in a glance what is happening near you without repeatedly visiting the site.

  • auctionzip - this site allows you to search auctions and estate sales by zipcode and radius, and also gives the option of signing up for emails that list upcoming local sales.

  • gsalr.com - find the yardsales and estate sales happening in your area and have them visually mapped out for you. Many sellers will also include pictures of some of the items they'll have at the yardsale.

  • yardsales.net - another great site for checking out the local yardsales in your area (you can post your yardsale for free here too).

  • craigslist - an oldie but a goodie. If you have something specific in mind that you're looking for, this is an ideal place to keep an eye on.

  • Google your local auctioneers - find their upcoming auctions and mark them on your calendar. Many auctioneers will post pictures of all the items that will be for sale a day or sometimes a week in advance, so you can pick and choose which ones to attend.

  • american fleas - a good place to start for all of the flea markets in your state and towns.


Hope these prove to be good sources for y'all as well and aid in your strategy for getting some good scores this summer!

Any other sites or apps you'd recommend?




Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How To Regrow Bok Choy from Scraps

With Spring approaching, I've been starting to see a rise on Pinterest of experiments for growing a variety of vegetables from leftover bases, such as celery...but did you know bok choy does this too?!

Bok choy is one of my favorite vegetables - I especially love it in homemade Asian-inspired soups. It's not always available at my usual grocery store, so to have a few homegrown (and free!) bok choys available is an awesome perk!

All you need to do is cut off the base (they look like carnations, don't they?), place it in a bowl, and add room-temperature water to sit just below the top of the stalk. Place the bowl on a windowsill where it will get good sunlight, and that's it! I had chopped up my bok choy one night for dinner and saw growth by the following morning - pretty fast!

Day 2:


Here it is on day 4.


Day 6



During the "bowl stage", I changed the water every 2-3 days to keep it fresh, and spritzed the new leaves growing out with some cool mist of water every 1-2 days.

After 7-9 days you can transfer your bok choy base to a planter and cover it completely in soil except for the new leaf tips.

Day 8:


I love watching things grow. Any of you have summer vegetable garden plans?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bronzed Grey Dresser


I've been working on this dresser for most of this month, and it's been another good learning curve for me for furniture painting. 

Why?

Because this was my first time attempting to use a glaze on a piece. I'd been inspired with the use of General Finishes glazes by other painters and wanted to give it a try. Glazes are very neat little mixes that brush-on semi-translucent, the excess gets wiped off, and you're left with a beautiful finish that adds extra dimension to the base paint color (and glazes come in various colors). For the paint base of this dresser I used GF's milk paint in Driftwood, a mid-tone grey (see another example of it HERE). 

After 2 coats of the milk paint and dry time, I figured it was time to get the glaze on. I was a bit afraid to use the glaze and mess up my work. Actually, I almost DID mess it up! 

Before applying the glaze I looked up the process one more time online to be sure I was doing it correctly, and if it hadn't been for Suzanne from The Painted Drawer's sagely advice, it would have gone downhill really quickly!

Suzanne said to apply a layer of GF's high performance topcoat before doing the glaze. This way it's easier to guide the glaze into areas you want it to go and wipe it off easily. I followed her directions and used GF's [Dick] Van Dyke glaze, a nice bronze or antique brown color. Thankfully it went on and wiped off perfectly. Dodged a bullet!


After the glaze dried I put on a few layers of the topcoat, painted the original hardware using GF's Lamp Black (and put a few protective topcoats on them) and added them back to the drawers.

awaiting fixtures

Before:


Now:




I think it looks kind of steampunk. But that may just be me. 

detail shot of top with nothing on it



 Once again I'm in love with GF's paints and the final look of this piece. It came out exactly as I had imagined it - always a good feeling.

I know I'll now be using GF's glazes more in the future - in fact I'll be using it soon on my mom's buffet I've been working on.

Oh, I'm also finishing up the side tables this week. Here's a little preview of them for now:


Love the color? Me too. It's from GF and is called Patina Green. More to come on these little side tables in a week or less! 

Have any of you been dodging bullets on a project lately? (I know I can't be the only one ^_- )




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