Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Heartbreaking Sadness That Persists

My family and I recently lost one of our beloved corgis. Jasper was only four years old, and he died very suddenly of an illness that escalated so quickly there was nothing we could do. We had to let him go.

Himself and I were with him at the emergency vet when he died. It was late on a rainy Sunday night (isn't that always when emergencies occur?) The day before, he'd played with Georgette in the yard and now he was gone. We were shocked and heartbroken. We expected to have him for at least 10 more years.

He was my shadow. I was his beloved. He followed me everywhere and nestled beside me when I read in the evenings. He lay beside me when I worked on the computer. His favorite place was my lap. I adored him.

It's been a bit over three weeks and only now can I even type this. We are still missing him, but we are slowly getting used to a new normal. Georgette no longer runs to the door when she hears it open, thinking he will be there. She always gnawed on his head when he tried to come inside.

Tiny Girl made this collage of photos a few days after he died.

He was handsome, he was kind, he was obedient, he was loyal, he was loved.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Big Changes in the Kitchen

For the past two weekends, Himself and I have been busy in the kitchen. Repainting, that is. When we bought this house last August, the kitchen was so glum. Dark cabinets, original (YES!) wallpaper, vinyl flooring, and dark stained trim. Our very first project was painting the kitchen cabinets, which you can read about HERE and HERE.

Two weeks ago, we had the popcorn texture removed from all the ceilings downstairs. I wrote a check for that since it was not a project we wanted to tackle ourselves. We know our limits. Before the workers began, though, Himself took the opportunity to remove the soffit boxes above the kitchen cabinets. He carefully removed the cabinet trim I'd already painted, thankfully.

No soffits!

Once the ceilings were done, we started on the kitchen walls and trim. The ceiling contractor applied a texture to my kitchen walls, which saved me having to do it. Himself and I are partial to yellow kitchens; also we wanted a nice sunny color to brighten up the space. After testing out a few colors on posterboard, we went with SW's Humble Gold. It's not as bright as the photos below might suggest. I cut in and Himself rolled. It only took one coat! Then we primed all the woodwork, including the paneling below the chair rail. This took one weekend.

The next weekend, we started painting. Sadly, it is taking two coats of SW's Dover White -- and in many places three -- to cover all that dark stain. So we're not quite finished. But the difference is simply amazing! The kitchen and breakfast area are so much brighter now!

See the dark stain peeking through?

We are thrilled. At least I am. It takes something like the Red Sox winning the World Series to evoke a feeling of thrill in Himself.

But of course I've kept something up my sleeve. I plan to paint the pantry door another color, like perhaps ASCP Duck Egg Blue or something similar. Or perhaps milk paint. Why bother Himself with such a teensy detail like that (and give him the opportunity to say no)? And wouldn't a glass door knob be perfect, too? I'm also planning to cover the louvers with a piece of burlap or the like, with maybe a stenciled design. . .  A bumblebee or something else from The Graphics Fairy seems just lovely.

Just don't tell Himself, okay?

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Linking up with:
Make It Pretty Monday at The Dedicated House
Inspire Me Tuesday at A Stroll Thru Life
What We Accomplished Wednesday at Green Willow Pond
Be Inspired at Common Ground
Before & After Wednesdays at The Dedicated House
May Before and After at Thrifty Decor Chick

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A New Look for My Daughter's Vintage Bedroom Furniture

My elder daughter, whom I fondly refer to as "Miss Priss," asked if we could paint her bedroom furniture. She's had the chest of drawers, dresser, and bedside table since she was a toddler. They used to belong to my mother-in-law when she was a child, so we certainly wanted to keep them. But the tops were scratched and the edges were worn and Miss Priss had a Vision.

It's hard to stop her when she has a Vision.

She decided to paint the drawers pink, in an hombre fashion, and the cases (boxes?) glossy white. So we got started during spring break.

First we took off the drawer pulls. Then we primed the fronts.

The original pink was SW Dragonfly. We painted the bottom drawers this color. Then we mixed the pinks, using different amounts of the gloss white.

Here are all the fronts, drying in the spring sunshine.

After deliberating about the drawer pulls, she opted to try a silver chrome spray paint. We have yet to do this because of other projects Himself and I are in the midst of. More on that later. Also yet to do: paint the boxes (cases?) white. We're hoping to finish that up this weekend.

Finish photos to come!

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I'm linking up with:
Make It Pretty Monday at The Dedicated House
Inspire Me Tuesday at A Stroll Thru Life
What We Accomplished Wednesday at Green Willow Pond
Be Inspired at Common Ground
Before & After Wednesdays at The Dedicated House

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Pulling Together the Screened Porch

I love screened porches, so I was a happy girl when I found out our new house came with one. It's a little on the small side, but that's okay. It also features old indoor-outdoor carpet, ho-hum stencils, a boring ceiling fan, and a funky smell. That's not okay.

Here's the stencil that adorns the wall all around the porch.

Be that as it may, the kitchen is our main focus right now. So I had to do what I could with the porch right now. I want to enjoy it on these lovely spring days we're having in the south!

Here it is as of right this minute.

I used the indoor/outdoor rug in the kitchen at our last house. I bought it from Ballard's several years ago. And the trunk is an old flea market find, which I used as an end table in the family room at our last house. It doesn't fit nicely in this family room, so I slid it out onto the porch.

See the lamp? I bought it at an antique and decor store nearby. The base was black, so I painted it real quick with ASCP Old White. I like the natural shade as it is. Maybe one day I'll jazz it up, but it's fine for now.

I bought the lantern and the church birdhouse at the same store where I bought the lamp. I love the lantern in all its chippy rustiness! And when I reveal more of my house as it evolves, you'll note my fondness for all things bird.

For a touch of spring, I took some daisies out of my birthday bouquet and put them in this darling hobnail creamer. The matching sugar bowl is in my dining room china cabinet.

Daisies just sing "spring," don't they?

Here's one last look, complete with my glass of iced tea waiting for me. I'll just grab my latest book, The Killings at Badger's Drift (love a good Brit mystery!), and head on out to enjoy this beautiful spring weather we're having!

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Linking up with:
Home and Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life
Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Be Inspired at Common Ground
Inspiration Gallery at The Golden Sycamore

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

She Is Too Fond of Books: Some Books I've Read Lately

It's been far too long since I've reviewed any books, which is particularly shameful to an avowed bluestocking. But don't take that to mean I haven't been reading -- I most certainly have. So I thought I'd post a list of books I've read recently, along with recommendations (or not, as the case may be). Enjoy!

The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt. This is a dark story, but it's extremely well written. In some places the prose is almost lyrical, which is a satisfying contrast to some of the gritty subject matter. I had no intentions of reading this book; I couldn't make it past chapter one of another of hers: The Secret History. But a friend from bookclub told me she thought I'd love it. And she was right. Another thing that made this book special: I've had the privilege of viewing the painting The Goldfinch in person and before the book burst onto the scene. I didn't have to fight my way to get an up-close look. In face, loads of people breezed right by it! Caveat: language, situations, drug use. My rating: A+

Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline. I read this book in Maine over this past summer, which was particularly apropos, since it's set there. But that wasn't my first inclination to buy it. When the girls were small, we read a wonderful picture book by Eve Bunting (love her!) called Train to Somewhere about the orphan train program of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. So I was drawn to the subject matter. This is a fantastic book. Caveat: language, situations. My rating: A

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. I have to admit, it took me two tries to get into this book, but once I made the effort, I was hooked. An unusual story, well told. Caveat: language, situations. My rating: A

The Last Runaway, by Tracy Chevalier. This was pretty good, but nothing to compare, in my opinion, to Girl with a Pearl Earring or The Lady and the Unicorn. I enjoyed learning about the differences between English Quakers and American Quakers of that era, including their quilting styles. But the narrative had some glitches in it (again, my opinion) and weak spots, which I found irritating. Check out her two other books I mention if you haven't read them yet. They are better than this one. Caveat: language, situations. My rating: B-

 Bleak House, by Charles Dickens. Confession time! I hold a master's degree in English and I'd never read any Dickens (save for A Christmas Carol) until last year when the girls and I read Oliver Twist. Tiny Girl and I loved it; Miss Priss did not. Well, that experience whetted my appetite. I downloaded the free Kindle version of Bleak House and off I went. Friends, this novel is wonderful! If you think it's time for you to pick up a classic, make it this one. Caveat: situations. My rating: A+

Bellman and Black, by Diane Setterfield. If you've read the author's fabulous novel, The Thirteenth Tale, then you'll understand why I unflinchingly handed the cashier a lot of money to buy this one in hardback when I saw it in a small bookstore. Oh, to have that money back! When this story opens up, there are enough tantalizing hints that this is going to be yet another somewhat Gothic, atmospheric, deeply satisfying tale. But it never delivers on its promise. The narrative goes on and on (and on) about a businessman and his family, but nothing much actually happens to drive the story. Halfway through, I flipped to the end (yes, I do that!) to see if finishing the book would be worth my time. Alas, no. So I set it aside for something better. Now, I'm not a reader who thinks authors should write variations on a theme in all their books. In fact, I hate that. But this seemed to be written by another person entirely. Highly disappointing. My rating: In all fairness, I can't rate this book since I didn't finish it. But that should tell you all you need to know.

That's all for now. I have other books sitting beside me to review, and I'll get to them soon. Authors include Tatiana de Rosnay, Amanda Eyre Ward, and Kate Morton.

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