2.10.2015

Remodeling the Basement, Part I

Hello Friends!

This morning during Sesame Street I took a few photos to show you the progress we've been making in our basement.  If you remember, in 2012 we moved into our forever house.  It had been lovingly cared for and decorated by the same owner since it was built in 1979.  Powder blue shutters.  Pink carpeting.  Lots and lots of wallpaper.  We've had so much fun slowly updating things to suit our taste!

The good news is that this house had a finished basement.  Great for the kids' playroom and lots of open space to adjust to our needs (more on that soon!).  It even had a bathroom, which thrilled us!  Here's a photo from 2012 when we first toured the house:


What do I say?  It just wasn't our style.  But perhaps more important than style, to me, was the presence of some serious wall-to-wall carpeting.  And here's the thing:


You get what I'm saying?  :)

So my husband and I decided to try and remodel this bathroom all on our own.  We'd never done that before but we figured...it's a basement bathroom...so if we really wreck it, we can just avoid it until we can hire someone to bail us out!  Here's what we came up with:


I have to admit, I am thrilled with how it turned out!  We tore out the old wallpaper to discover some mold growing on the walls behind it, so we opted (after replacing the drywall) to just cover it back up.  That's some beadboard paneling from Lowes on the bottom of the walls, and some gorgeous toile wallpaper I found on deep discount from my local paint store (Miller Brothers if you're a Cincinnati local!) on the top.  My mom hung the wallpaper.  (Not ashamed to admit that was way beyond my capabilities!)


We found this beautiful little chest at the Burlington Antique Show in Kentucky.  Just needed a little shining up to be the perfect storage spot!  And those curtains?  They can barely be considered curtains.  Just some fabric that I found at WalMart of all places!  They have a simple hem around the edges and there's no way they would cover that window if you tried to close them, but they look cute!


I traced that little bee on the wall with a charcoal pencil years ago.  He (she??) fits in here!


The mirror above the sink was a $12 Craig's List find.  I think it was originally part of some kind of cabinet but it fits in here somehow!  There are hinges holding the two pieces together and my husband attached a brass chain to a hook on the wall to hang it.  He also wrangled that new/old pedestal sink (another Craig's List find!) into place and installed the Delta faucet.


While we're on the subject, I have to brag on my husband a bit more because he also laid down the new hexagonal tile floor!  All the trim and moldings were him too.  Come to think of it, what exactly did I do in this project?  Maybe my blog name should be Buzzings of a Queen Bee's Husband?


This little bathroom has become one of my favorite spaces in the house!  It feels clean and bright, and--perhaps better than anything--much more conducive to the uses of a six year old boy!


1.06.2015

We Have Built-Ins!

Hello everyone! It's January...that is crazy.  I've spent this week de-Christmasing my house.  I put it off as long as I could but the dead pine needles on my floor finally spoke louder than my need to have "just one more night with the Christmas tree."  Please tell me you can relate!!  My house is rather bare today, so it's time for a little photo recap of the last few months.  Join me, won't you?

We hosted Thanksgiving this year, which we loved.  Having family gathered around my dining table, the one I inherited from my grandmother, was so special for me!


We had to move the table into the formal living room to accommodate all the leaves we added. A wonderful problem!  There were eight littles and eight adults and so the sippy cups mingled with the wine glasses.  All was good.  :)


My living room got a mini-makeover in preparation for the holidays!  Bonus points if you can see what has changed from the photos (or my super-stealthy post title), but I'm going to make you wait because I just uploaded all my Christmas photos and I've got to share.


This December we tried introducing Vivian to Santa Claus.  We have a dear family friend who plays Santa every year (at Cincinnati's Union Terminal, for you locals!), and he has paid a house call the past few years for our kids.  This year it was at my sister's house.  Didn't matter the venue...Vivi was not a fan.


However, we did get her to smile for our annual Christmas card photo!  I tell you the truth though...the only way we got our kids to smile like this was by telling them to "pretend that Henry tooted."  Heaven help us when potty talk no longer brings on absolute hysteria for our kiddos.  (And now that you know the context, you can't look at our photo without thinking of toots...and I am sorry!)


We celebrated Christmas Eve at our house, and for the eighth year in a row Brent couldn't get through 'Twas the Night Before Christmas without tearing up.  I wouldn't have it any other way.  :)


And on Christmas night we went to my mom's house for dinner...and our baby Vivi got to hang out with her cousin, baby Libby, my sister's newborn daughter.  It's been a busy season in our family!


And now back to the house-y stuff, because I know you girls!  :) Here's a photo of the living room from the previous owners of our house (opposite angles in the before/after photos, it's all I could find!):


And a photo of it shortly after we moved in and re-did the walls, floors and trim:


Can you spot the difference?  Yes, the furniture is slightly different, but the most exciting change is the built-ins (and perhaps the ride-on bumblebee if you're 16 months old!).

We've been dreaming of adding built-in bookshelves to this space since we moved in over two years ago, and hosting Thanksgiving dinner gave us the kick in the pants that we needed!  My incredibly handy husband built them, using base cabinets from a local hardware store, butcher block from an antique dealer (we cut them down to size and refinished them), and pine 1x12 boards for the shelves themselves.


This room now holds all our books, in addition to being my office and our formal living room and (one day) our dining room (when our small kitchen takes over our even smaller dining room, forcing the dining room into the living room...if that makes any sense at all).  Our books out on display and easily accessible make me feel like all my literary friends have come out to play again!


Lots of fun little touches, like this antique mirror we found for $17 and refinished...


And the gallery wall above my desk...


These Bosphorus toile pillows brought the whole room together for me.  The colors are just so perfect for in here!


Here you get a little close-up of the bookshelves.  The beadboard backing is a warm green color, which I just love next to my faithful buffalo check curtains!


Yep, those photos were taken today.  I'm not ready to give up Christmas totally, I guess.  :)


Here's the other half of the built-ins.  It was such fun to decorate them!


The oil painting hanging between the shelves was a wedding present ten years ago.  (Phew!)  It's of the Colorado mountains, given to us before we ever lived there.  It has such meaning to me now that our path has taken us there and back again.


Our monogram and some plaid accessories.  And gold. Lots of gold.


I am so sorry for the photo dump, but I guess that's what I get for waiting two months to update my blog.  If you're still hanging on after all that, thank you.  As the new year gets underway, we are working on some new house projects, in between diaper changes and basketball games and ballet practice.  I'll try to keep you updated!

Happy New Year everyone!  :)


11.06.2014

A Fall Garland

Hello lovely friends!  I hope you are having a fabulous fall!  I don't know about you, but starting about October 1st, I get all geeked out for this season.  As far as I'm concerned, October, November and December are the best months of the year.  (Let's not talk about the crash and burn that happens around January 2nd.  It's not so pretty!  You can read about my feelings on that here.)

I recently did a quick little project that I thought I'd share with you.  I love this because it can be used year after year, and frankly those are the only ones I'm interested in!  I hate spending my hard-earned free time on something that will only last for a few weeks, like seasonal wreaths or other decorations that will die and then I have to do them all again next year.  Blah.

But this one is easy, and, better yet, has held up with the rain and still looks good after over a month outside.  So I consider that a win!  


See that garland?  Here, let me zoom in a bit.


Super simple!  I started with a tutorial I had saved from years ago from A Soft Place to Land.  You can see her easy instructions here.  My gourds and pumpkins came from Hobby Lobby.  The pine cones came from my yard.  (Want to come over?)

A few notes about how to make this: The gourds on the link above are hollow (read: easier to work with!), but mine ended up having some kind of styrofoam inside.  So I used a screwdriver to poke from one side to the other, and then grabbed my daughter's oversized plastic sewing needle to thread the twine through.  Once the twine was strung, I was very generous with the hot glue gun at the entry points!  Lastly I sprayed them with a clear varnish because I was worried that rain would cause the gourds to streak or fade (they are fake, after all!) and so far they still look new.


You may remember my numbered pumpkins from years ago too!  Last fall I only had four of them (because that's how many I could dig up at the Goodwill).  A friend came over and said "Oh, are these supposed to represent your family?  One for each of you?"  Well...No.  But then, all of a sudden, Yes!  And oh-my-gosh, we don't have a pumpkin for baby Vivi and isn't that the most horrible thing in all the world and it is absolutely unacceptable that my poor little girl isn't included in this super-meaningful brand-new family tradition!  So I tore out and bought a sweet little itty-bitty pumpkin so that a number five could be stenciled and all our people are represented.  Crazy much? :)


I love how warm and welcoming our hallway looks this time of year.  Too bad most of my visitors come through the back door, which is decidedly less glamorous. (But better somehow that way too, I agree!)


My local Trader Joe's had all these little gourds and pumpkins (and yes, these are real but it didn't require any hot glue or crafty business so I was willing to splurge!).  I love to put these out at the beginning of October and let it ride until the day after Thanksgiving.  If they get a little moldy, oh well.  They're outside!


And just in keeping with the porch theme of this post, here's our little family about to go trick-or-treating.  The pirate fairy, shadow ninja and baby ladybug wish you a Happy Fall!






9.13.2014

My Little White Picket Fence

 Hello all!

I've been meaning to pop in and share one of our recent projects with you...three kids are keeping me pretty busy but I finally found an hour to sit down at my computer!

So, you may remember that two years ago we moved into our house.  Here it was in 2012:


Last spring, we gave it a pretty big face lift by painting the brick and changing out the shutters and door.  You can read more about that transformation here.


We've made some changes to the landscaping, too, and replaced all those tiny rocks for plain black mulch.


But this summer!  Oh, this summer we totally indulged my love of cottages and country houses by adding a little white picket fence!  Just two panels of fencing with some very basic posts.  It serves absolutely no practical purpose.  But it looks so cute!


I just adore how it completes the front of the house.


This shot just makes me smile because it looks so cozy!  And you can my favorite plants, the "Little Lime" hydrangea bushes (which have really taken off and can handle full sun, if you're in love with them like I am but are afraid they'll wilt in the heat. Check into them!)  Frankie our dog likes them too.


The fence only cost around $200 from a local fence company who custom built it to our specifications (unpainted wood, and we did the install ourselves).  I love how much it adds to the house, though, for a pretty small price tag.  I'm already plotting what other decorations I can hang on it for the different seasons!  :)


I hope you are all doing well.  Thank you so much for stopping by!  :)


5.13.2014

Anyone Want Buffalo Check Fabric?

Don't get around much anymore...

Those are the words in one of my favorite songs by Nat King Cole (and many others!) and boy is it true in my life!  Having a baby who naps twice a day and still needs her mama for most of her meals has left me on lockdown in my house.  I sneak out to Henry's preschool or to the grocery store, but it feels like a timer starts ticking as soon as I leave the house with baby Vivi, and I'm trying to beat the clock before the next meal or nap.  So, once again, I must ask for grace that I am not around as much as I used to be!

Since I've been home so much, I've been going through all my "stuff" in preparation for a huge garage sale this Saturday! Now, I promise you...what I'm about to say is not meant to "use" you guys to buy all my old stuff!  But...

I have buffalo check fabric!


A little over 16 yards, to be exact.  It's that gorgeous creamy bisque and warm golden color combo.  I am planning on just including it in my garage sale, but it occurred to me that there might be someone still searching for this fabric (as I was a few years ago!).  Perhaps I could make your day!  It just seemed like a waste to dump it in with all the other garage sale items.

The fabric is from Hobby Lobby, and is 54 inches wide.  The material is kind of like a silk shantung, not a traditional cotton, and lighter weight than traditional cotton too.  I have not washed it, so I don't know how it will behave if you do, but I have been storing it in my plastic fabric box since I bought it, so it's clean and non-smelly.

And just to be clear...this is the fabric only!  Not the actual curtains I have in my house.  Its just extra material that I've been holding onto in case I need it...but I don't think I do!  I would hate for someone to be disappointed, thinking they were getting finished curtains!

Here's the breakdown of the lengths I have:
Piece #1: 216 inches, or 6 yards **SOLD!!
Piece #2: 138 inches, or about 3 1/2 yards **SOLD!!
Piece #3: 192 inches, or about 5 1/3 yards **SOLD!!
Piece #4: 62 inches, or about 1 2/3 yard **SOLD!!

I won't cut the pieces any smaller (it seems like it would get pretty chaotic that way if there are multiple buyers), but I can certainly sell you more than once piece if you're interested.

I've never really done this before, so I don't know exactly how to "sell" it, but I'm thinking $10 a yard plus shipping.  I do have a Pay Pal account, so I can just send you an invoice to your email address if/when you are ready to buy.  My husband claims that that part is easy!  :)

Just leave me a comment with the piece(s) you're interested in, and a way to get in touch with you, and we'll go from there.  It will be first come, first served!

And, if I'm just loony and no one cares about this fabric in the decorating world any longer, that's OK too!  Some lucky garage sale shopper will hit the jackpot this weekend!  :)


3.13.2014

House-y Dreams

The other day I had a realization.  Bear with me!  But I'm wondering if any of you have come to the same conclusion?  For most of my twenties and early thirties I held an image in my mind, a picture of what my "future life" would look like.  It included (in the very early days) dreams of my husband and our future kids, and the kind of life we would lead.

Thankfully, my husband and three kiddos are the center of my life, and they are the fulfillment of my most precious dreams!  But I also dreamed of our house, because, well, that's just what I do.  Usually I imagined we'd live here:



Or here:


Or certainly here (who are those people in the photo and why are they in my imaginary house?):


The future was always unknown and hazy, and there was always the sense that something new and exciting was just around the bend, something that would tell me we'd "arrived" at our life.  Someday we'd live in a big, white, rambling country farmhouse.  Someday I'd have the perfect hydrangeas in my side yard and six fireplaces to choose from when wondering where to sip my coffee or wine.

Do you see where I'm going with this?  Looking back on where our path has taken us, that white cottage farmhouse has yet to materialize!  As newlyweds we started with a charming little bungalow in Mt. Lookout, a fun, hip (or was it only hip ten years ago when I was hip?) suburb of Cincinnati:



We moved to Colorado in 2007 and took on a little more rustic, almost Craftsman-style house:


Then we went way off my usual grid in 2010 with a 1930s Spanish Colonial in San Francisco, CA:


Followed by a 1950s ranch, also in San Francisco, which gave me a big lesson in decorating a rental house that was seriously in need of help!


And now, finally, to our home here in Cincinnati, where we plan to stay for as long as life allows:


It's funny, isn't it? Now that I'm 37 (and not 25!), I know that perfect white cottage on the 5 acre farmland with white picket fences is never coming my way.  And you know what?  I am SO OK with that!  Instead, we have a home built in 1979, surrounded by great neighbors and sidewalks, in a community I love.  We have one fireplace, not six, and though I try to make the house look like it was plucked from a charming English countryside, it was not, and I love it anyway because it is ours.  

Do you get me?  Do you find a joy (and even relief!) in being content with what your life holds, even though it doesn't match your younger self's dreams?  Don't get me wrong, I'll always be tweaking and trying to convince my husband to add a picket fence (hopefully this spring!) and a cupola with a weather vane on top of the house and more hydrangeas and a stone walkway and...and...and...

But we're here for the long haul, and I couldn't be happier.  Does that sound familiar to any of you? I'd love to hear!  :)