May 2011

Well, we finally got the garden planted. A combination of busy weekends and unseasonably wet, cold weather delayed its planting until this past weekend, but whew! It’s in and I can relax now that the threat of not having fat, juicy, garden fresh tomatoes this summer is gone.

Also, the lawn is coming in BALLER. Anyone doubting getting an awesome lawn from seed needs to check themselves before they wreck themselves.

Here it is toward the beginning of spring (note the bare area on the left):

And here is the lush lawn now (note the not-bare area to the left where Blanche is standing):

Also note where I threw a clump of mud at the garage.

Let’s take a closer look at that not-bare area on the left side of the yard:

Two raised beds full of tomatoes, basil, melon, and squash; two zucchinis in that little jutted out part on the left; and a row of climbing beans along the fence. And some marigolds because I heard somewhere once that they are good. Also, stepping stones (slowly finding homes for all the pavers) and mulch for easy access and a finished look. Oh yeah and a few weeks back I added the brick border.

I can already taste the fleshy tomatoes exploding in my mouth.

Oh! And I went shoe shopping. My budget said no but an REI gift card I won said yes.

And Larainy, you were right- these are Sperry top-siders! Your husband has excellent taste.

You guys missing me yet? I’m missing you. I’m way behind on my blog reading and I just wish I never had to do such silly things as sleep.

But I’ve been having fun at least! This past weekend my besties and I rented a minivan and drove down to Las Vegas for my bachelorette party! Don’t worry, we didn’t go totes crazy. But we did totes have fun.

Our hotel was awesome:

And this was our view:

They dressed me up like a bachelorette:

And we owned the town.

Meanwhile back at home, Stan was taking Blanche on hikes, which she decided she’d like to turn into mud baths.

Mmm… firsty for mud.

I’s dirty.

He got her all cleaned up though. (Oh, and did you notice her new summer haircut?)

On an unrelated note, my friend’s brother got me totally coveting these shoes that last week I would have said looked like something from my grandpa’s closet:

But now I NEED them. Thanks a lot, Remmy!

Oh, and ALSO: wedding stuff. Dress fittings, suit tailorings, shoe shoppings, cupcake stand makings, etc. But this weekend we’re doing a walk-through of the place, and I have a feeling that’s when it’s going to hit me how much more there still is to do.

We have bikes. Stan has two and I have one. They’re pretty nice bikes. I ride mine a reasonable amount when the weather is nice, and Stan rides his a lot even when the weather is not so nice. He’s hardcore. He helped start the cycling team at the U of U. Here he is looking dashing in his bike jersey after our Saturday activities of riding bikes and giving Blanche a bath.

Anyhoo, the garage isn’t the most convenient place for the bikes at this time, and I’m not a fan of them just standing out in the dining room where they partially block the hallway.

So we came up with a solution. We’ll put them in the guest/office/music/craft/dog/bike room! This room sure has to work hard.

We used some $0.79 bike hooks from HD. Finding a stud was a bit of a challenge, and once we did the placement wasn’t great. They’re about 2″ too close together for the handlebars to not run into each other. But then my handsome scientist had a brilliant idea to flip one of the bikes upside down. Genius. (I’m not sure what that has to do with science but let’s go with it.)

Look at those hott red pedals! They totally go with the theme.

"Hi. I'm an outlet that needs to be replaced and covered. Ignore me."

We still have some rearranging to do in this room, but I think it’s a pretty good solution for a couple of bike-riding yuppie hippies like us.

Oh and as for the third bike- since it’s fancy schmancy and is only ridden occasionally, it will probably have to live in the basement. Sorry Stan.

You know what’s kind of annoying, in both renovating and in wedding planning? Everyone loves to tell you that “______ is the single most important part of your reno/wedding.” (I think I may have ranted about this before, so sorry if I did.)

Planning a wedding, I’ve heard and read all of the following:

  • “Oh- the flowers are by far the most important part of your wedding. Your guests will definitely remember them!”
  • “Your invitations are critical. They set the tone for the entire event.”
  • “The bride’s dress is the ONLY thing people will remember.”
  • “The cake is the focal point and centerpiece of your wedding. Do not scrimp!”
  • “The favors are the ONE thing your guests will take home with them, so make them count!”

During the kitchen reno, I heard (both directly and indirectly):

  • “Don’t scrimp on the appliances- stainless steel is the FIRST thing people see when they enter a kitchen.”
  • “You’ll want to splurge on the cabinets- they are the very backbone of your kitchen!”
  • “You HAVE to get a nice sink and faucet. They are the focal point of a kitchen.”
  • “Don’t even THINK about not doing granite. Your counter tops are something you’ll have to look at forever.”
  • ETC.

Now, I happen to agree with some of those statements- or at least I think that some of those items are extremely important. But it really tees me off when people try to tell me what I should be placing at the top of my priority list. Suggestions are great. You guys know I’m needy and I love input. I guess it just really bugs me when people cross over from suggesting something to telling me what I HAVE to do. (And lest anyone get offended and wonder if you’re one of those people, rest assured that most of the bullet points are things I’ve read online from people trying to sell flowers/cabinets/wedding dresses/granite counter tops.)

Whew. Now that that’s over, I’ll get to something that I did in fact splurge on- custom kitchen cabinets.

I’m not above buying Home Depot stock cabinets. I’ve lived with them in apartments past and they’re great (and about half the cost of custom). And I’ll admit that the main reason I chose custom cabinets is because my kitchen’s layout presented a number of challenges that I think would have just been too hard to get around using standard stock cabinets.

There’s the exposed brick chimney that juts out into the room (requiring a shallower cabinet there), and there’s the weird fridguation (fridge situation). I also wanted some custom open shelving, and a bar with open compartments that could fit cute baskets. To truly make the best use of the 7’x9′ space with all its weird little annoyances, I think custom cabinets were necessary.

So splurge I did! (Although I saved a lot on the installation because my family is awesome and installed them for me.) But I don’t regret it, because for one thing the guy really helped me with some of my dilemmas, and since he sees lots of kitchens he helped me to know what most homeowners prefer- things like a nice pantry, even if it means a levitating fridge. Plus, he just did darn good work. He did a fantastic job of building everything exactly the way I needed it, and the quality of materials is wonderful.

I chose a clear alder with this kind of warm stain and I love it. Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that I splurged on cabinets. There, I said it.

Embarrassingly enough, I’d never cleaned the fronts of my cabinets because I wasn’t sure what to use. So I was pretty excited when the people at Scott’s Liquid Gold asked me if I wanted to try their wood wash concentrate. I said yep and they sent me some. Check out this nasty!

I diluted it according to directions and just sprayed it on and wiped it off with a dry rag. No streaks at all! And a pleasant smell, not chemical-y. My only quibble is that I may add more of the concentrate, because I had to scrub a little harder than I think I probably should. I’m not normally one to buy a different cleaner for every different surface in my house, but these cabinets were expensive, baby, and I’m not going to use just anything to clean them. I really trust that Scott’s isn’t going to gradually strip the finish or be too harsh. In short- I’m sold.

I don’t have an “after” photo because I’m still learning the art of taking pictures with no flash that don’t come out blurry (the tripod is at Stan’s house), but just imagine the above picture sans grossness.

Thank you Scott’s!

First, the after:

Now the before:

I got this baby at a consignment store, but the floral fabric and lime green paint job wasn’t really my style.

So I popped the top off and painted it a hott red (California Poppy by Behr). I didn’t use primer and I gave it three coats, in case you’re curious.

I got this fabric at Joann’s (I’m sure I used a coupon so it was probably $5 or so) and cut it down to fit over the cushion. I didn’t even take off the old fabric, I just put it right over.

I stapled the sides first,  and then just kind of fudged the corners. Maybe this helps?

Then I kind of sloppily trimmed off the excess fabric, because that’s how I roll.

Then I reassembled!

It looks pretty different in different lights. I like it in all lights- that’s called unconditional love.

I like the red punch in the blue room, an idea that started with the red clock. Now that I’ve hopped on the red train, I don’t know if I can stop…