Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Green With Envy

So remember how I was just talking about how I would love to have a tufted loveseat?  Today, one of my favorite bloggers just wrote about her own tufted sofa odyssey.  Apparently, Kate at Centsational Girl has had her eye on that same Crate and Barrel love seat that I included in my inspiration pics.  Today she wrote about how she found a similar one at Macy's $300 less.

Check out her post here.

Boy would I love to head to Macy's right now!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Living Room Loveseat Lust

I am still searching for the perfect chair or loveseat for my living room.  At Goodwill today, I found an adorable little tufted armchair for $14.91.  I would have snapped that baby up in a heartbeat but it was in terrible condition.  The foam showed through the fabric in multiple places.  I know recovering is an option, but the foam I could see was sooooo icky I didn't even want to touch it.  So unfortunately I left the little beauty behind.

What I learned is that I'm absolutely in love with tufted chairs and loveseats right now.  I would love love love to have one in my living room.  It seems like the chances of finding one are pretty slim, but for now I'm going to scour all the local thrift stores and craigslist and hope for the best.  In the mean time, here are some I found online and love.

The Old Painted Cottage

The Old Painted Cottage

Crate and Barrel via Decor Pad

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I Made Something Today!

Have you met Kim at Oh, Sweet Joy?

I haven't, but I'd sure like to!  I stumbled upon her blog a couple weeks ago when I was googling ways to turn a closet into a sewing space.  Here's what she did:
Oh, Sweet Joy: Closet Sewing Space
Isn't that just the coolest?  I'm not going to be able to take the doors off my closet sewing space but I plan to make it every bit as cute as Kim's!

Isn't her living room just adorable as well?  I have to admit that I'm getting a bit envious.  She has great taste in a way that I find accessible.

Oh, Sweet Joy: Living Room

Anyway, she recently posted a tutorial about how to make a business card holder.  This is something I definitely need!  I never seem to have business cards on me when I actually need them and they also tend to get bent over time.

Here's Kim's:
Oh, Sweet Joy

And here's mine!
Sorry, don't know why the picture is so fuzzy!

Yay for easy but useful projects!  Pop on over to Oh, Sweet Joy to try this project yourself.  Just remember that Kim's tutorials are for personal use only :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Apartment Goal #2

Another one of my spaces that could use a bit of love is my living room.  I like this room as-is and I've already done some fun stuff in here, including hanging my mason jar chandelier.  Still, there is always room for improvement and I'd definitely like to make this room a bit more stylish.

I'm already pretty happy with the table side of the room.  Just out of the frame is my mason jar chandelier.  I love the convenience of my drop leaf table, but I am thinking about recovering the chairs.  That can be toward the bottom of the living room to-do list because I don't really have a problem with the blue.  I just think a brighter color could also be fun.

This side of the room is where the challenges begin.  First, ignore that big honking brown dresser at the front.  I finally moved the yellow dresser into my bedroom, but that left the brown one stranded in my living room.  This baby's going on Craigslist as soon as I get the time to clean it up and photograph it.  Maybe I should have done that instead of blogging?

In any case, even without the brown dresser, this side is a work in progress.  You can see that I put up some pictures for a gallery wall, which I love.  Other things I love in this picture are my cozy cable-knit throw and the fabulous yellow and oatmeal throw pillow on the chair.  The chair itself provides a lot of food for thought.  It's wide and deep and super comfy.  My mom found it at a thrift store and it's in great condition.  The only thing I don't love about it is the color.  The green isn't even that bad, especially once you add the pillow and the throw.  I think it's just something I fixate on.  I either need to save my money for a slipcover or find something else to focus on.

Something that I would love to have in this space is a second chair or loveseat.  Either one would be perpendicular to where the dresser is now.  I've been pretty picky about what I want though.  It's an important step to making this room look finished, but it's not the kind of essential that I absolutely have to have and so I'm not willing to settle on something I don't absolutely love.  Am I setting the standard too high?  I'm not sure.  I think I'll find something I like soonish or run out of patience and find something that's "good enough."

I think it will be a lot easier to pull the room together once I have a second chair or loveseat.  The new piece of furniture would help determine accent colors, whether I need a coffee table, and if I should hunt for a fabulous area rug.

I might add painting that bookshelf to the to-do list, but I'm not sure yet.  I don't love the dark laminate but it doesn't look bad because all my doors are painted a deep brown.  I think I'm ambivalent about that bookshelf in general.  It's made of cheap particle board and I think I could find a thrift-store piece that is more interesting and better made.  That's another thing that will have to wait until a second chair/couch moves in.

Oh and I almost forgot to mention the number one thing on my to-do list: get mini blinds for that door!  Did you see my lovely curtain?  It's not even artfully hung between two cafe rods.  I bought one used curtain of the wrong size and had to cut it into two squares to make it work for that window.  Classy, right?  I should add going to Home Depot or Lowes to my list for say... tomorrow.  

Alrighty, now to the best/worst part of the post: the part where I show pictures of amazingly fabulous living rooms.  I love this part because it's inspiring.  On the other hand, sometimes I find it depressing.  I love these spaces that I'm about to show you, but is it unrealistic for me to hope my rooms will have the same feel someday? I think the key to that question is "someday."  If I want to wake up tomorrow and suddenly have gorgeous spaces, of course I'm going to be disappointed.  If I'm willing to wait and accumulate furniture and accent pieces as I find them at a price I can afford, maybe at some point I'll have a magazine-worthy room.  In the mean time, I'm happy with what I have!

Country Living


Example of Cottage Chic from Sproost.com


As you can see, I'm really loving neutral living rooms.  I think neutrals make such relaxing spaces and I love the pops of color and neat accents that a neutral room allows you to add.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I Went to a Hardware Store!

Don't laugh at me- as a new diy-er, going to a hardware store to shop for supplies felt like an enormous accomplishment.  It was my way of saying "look out world!  Mary Catherine is getting ready to tackle a project."

Want to hear about my impressive haul? Of course you do!  I bought two rubber washers, a set of corner braces, and some sandpaper. And I picked them out all by myself!  The rubber washers are for a leaning lamp and the corner braces are for wobbly bookshelves.  The sandpaper is by far the most exciting part because I'm going to use it to prep my porch chairs for painting.  That's right: I'm getting that show on the road!

Alrighty, I'm off to stabilize my bookshelves but then onto the fun part: sanding!  (yeah, go ahead and laugh about me being excited about sanding.  I'm sure it won't be as much fun as I'm making it out to be, but it will be progress)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Apartment Goal #1

Oh my goodness, I can't believe it's been almost a week since my last post.  This is definitely not how I intended my blog to be.  I had visions of being inspired, cooking great food, and starting new DIY projects all the time.  I've certainly been doing those things but not as often as I'd imagined.  Life has been so busy lately that I hardly seem to get anything done.  To help with that, I thought I should record some of my decorating/diy goals.  Sure, writing them down doesn't guarantee they'll get done, but it gives me a list to work with.  I love lists.

1) Beautify Porch Space

I have a little screened porch on the back of my apartment.  It has so much potential to be a cute hideaway where I can kick back and enjoy some sunshine, but the keyword is "potential."  Right now, the porch decor consists of two metal chairs and the backside of my window air-conditioning unit.

The first task on my list is painting the chairs.  The current color isn't horrendous, but hunter green is not really my favorite.  I want something relaxing that can be jazzed up with an accent pillow or two.

Next, I want to find a way to make the ac unit more attractive without hindering its ability to function.  I have no idea if that's even possible but it can't hurt to do a little bit of research and experiment a bit.

I'm shopping around for a small table, some candles, and eye-catching pillows.  I want cozy but not cluttered.  I also think some potted plants would help brighten things up and also give me at least the illusion of some privacy.

Just in case my enthusiasm begins to lag, let's have a bit of inspiration!

All About Vignettes
House Beautiful
House Beautiful
House Beautiful
Yes, this is a porch, technically
And this one is too!

What I'm beginning to understand is that I'd much rather have a sunroom than a screened porch.  Although that's not really possible, I'd like to try making my porch feel more like an indoor space.  We'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Books and Coffee

Maybe this is a fluff post but I'd like to share some things that have made me quite happy lately.  Contentment has often been an elusive feeling for me.  I spend so much time being busy and stressed that happiness has usually been a fleeting emotion.  Since making some changes and moving to Apartment 1925, I've felt like good things are just washing over me and I'm enjoying them.  I wake up a lot of mornings now and just think "I love my life!"

It's a funny thing because there's so much uncertainty in my life right now.  As someone who thrives on schedules and plans, it's odd for me to find so much happiness even while I'm lacking direction.  Some days I feel empty without the structure of school, but mostly there is enormous joy in the freedom and the change.  I try not to use the word joy lightly, but I feel this truly is joy- it's soul-deep and so fulfilling.

Yesterday, I went to a local independent bookstore.  I admit I don't spend much time in brick-and-mortar bookstores.  I'm an amazon.com girl through and through.  I like to know what I want, search for it, and order it.  I tend to be overwhelmed by big-box bookstores.  Don't get me wrong- I love bookstores but I get so stuck.  It's like museum fatigue- there's so much to see and you want to give it the attention it deserves but you just run out of focus.

I bit the bullet and went to this little bookstore and it was amazing!  There were certainly tons of books and I spent quite a bit of time scampering from one section to another.  It was a sensory overload of sorts but I loved it.  Some books were highlighted as "staff picks" and had mini-reviews.  I liked the human facet and it also made it so much easier to look at only one book at a time.

I didn't end up buying anything for myself but here's one of the books my brother picked out:

The pictures are amazing and the language is beautiful.  It's one of those gorgeous picture books that's not necessarily for children, my favorite kind.

I keep saying that I'm living in a new city, which is true, but I did live here for a couple months last summer.  During that time, I had an internship that I loved.  Today, I had coffee with one of my former supervisors.  It was wonderful.  I loved that internship and I really miss it.  What I hadn't appreciated until now is just how nice my supervisor was.  Having coffee with her today and updating each other on our lives made me realize that she is one of the sweetest and most caring people I know.  It blows my mind that she really only knew me for two months and yet she feels like a friend.


I guess this is all just to say that I have a lot to be happy about lately and I want to be aware of that.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

I'm not one for decorating for holidays but here are some Valentine's decs that caught my eye.

Etsy Felt Hearts

How About Orange: make a heart garland

I love the fresh look of these photographs.  The hearts end up being an added bonus!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Apartment Detox

A couple nights ago, I was suddenly struck by a need to de-clutter my apartment.  I think this article about vintage minimalism made the cleaning-out wheels start to turn in my head.  It's funny because I don't know that I even *have* really brilliant decor that needs to be allowed to shine.  So vintage minimalism totally shouldn't apply to me.  But I couldn't get the idea out of my head.

I don't consider myself a minimalist of any sort.  I have knick-knacks and other stuff just sort of piles up.  I keep things neat but I like stuff way to much to call myself "minimalist."  Still, I started to think about what I really like about some of the inspiring dressers I posted.  They are beautiful and fresh.  Part of what allows them to be so fresh is the lack of clutter.  The items top are carefully chosen to complement the dresser and enhance the overall feeling of the room.  At this point, I don't have any grand ideas for how to accentuate the inherent beauty of my furniture but I figured I could at least get rid of some junk.

Once I got started, the pile of things to donate grew surprisingly quickly.  I had just cleaned out before moving so now I thought I would only find a few things I wanted to part with.  Notsomuch.

I recycled; I threw away; I donated.  I cleaned out linens, school supplies, clothes, stuff that I don't even know how to categorize.  On the third day, I looked at the pile of things to donate and smiled.  It's wonderful to imagine my apartment breathing new fresh air once this unneeded stuff is gone.

Yes, I still have quite a bit of stuff.  My closets are far from empty and I have so many miscellaneous things.  But I know that I can't turn Apartment 1925 into a minimalist haven overnight, even if I wanted to.  For now I can be satisfied that I have accomplished something; that's all that matters.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Decorating Circus

For a while, I've been swooning over the mason jar chandeliers I see all over the internet.  The enormous fixtures are neat but I love the simple pendant clusters the most.
Etsy: BootsNGus
Unfortunately, all the chandeliers I have seen are way out of my price range. Fearlessly, I took that as as sign that I needed to make my own.  I decided on three jars and hanging lamp cords.  A little bit of elbow grease and I had a light fixture I love!

For a while, my new mason jar pendant chandelier sat in a box in my closet.  I just had nowhere to put it.  When I moved into Apartment 1925, I immediately knew that I wanted to hang it above my dining table.  Easier said than done, apparently.

There were already a couple hooks in my ceiling so we decided just to reposition one.  The trouble started when I climbed up on my step ladder.  It's a bit taller than a dining chair so I thought I would be able to reach the ceiling with ease.  What I hadn't counted on was the fact that the ceilings in Apartment 1925 are quite tall.  Tall enough that I could touch the ceiling with my fingertips but there was no way I would be able to get my hand high enough to screw a hook into the ceiling.

This was an interesting problem for me.  I'm fairly tall and rarely have difficulty reaching anything.  My mom was visiting and for a moment we were both at a loss.  All the usual alternative were no-gos -- no access to a taller step ladder; no tall friends or acquaintances in my new city.  All I had was a mason jar chandelier that I dearly wanted to hang from the ceiling.

Then I had an idea.  A brilliant idea, if I do say so myself.  I sprang to the closet and pulled out a pair of my summer wedges.  They're cute and fabulous but, most importantly in this situation, they have a five inch heel.  And being wedges, I thought they would be fairly stable.

So I strapped on my shoes and gingerly climbed the step ladder.  With my mom grabbing my belt loops to stabilize me, I was able to reach the ceiling and begin screwing the hook in.  Did you know that the ceilings of Apartment 1925 are super tough?  Even with the shoes allowing me to get the proper leverage, it was still very difficult.  When my arm got tired, my mom even took a turn with the wedges and screwed it in a bit more.  The whole process was ridiculous!  Half the time we were both laughing so hard that nothing was getting accomplished.

Finally, we decided the hook was secure enough.  I looped the cords over it and lowered the jars to the point we had already determined before moving the table.  I swagged the cords over to the hook that was (thankfully!) already in the ceiling by the window.

Then I ran the cords down the wall, up against the window frame.  I used a series of small nails to wedge the cords between the nails and the window frame.  Into the power strip and ta-da!

Isn't it gorgeous?!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thrifting Thursday

Well somehow Thursday has snuck up on me and it's time to share my thrifting finds for the week.  I already showed you the absolute best find ever but here are some other little things I picked up.

I found three throw pillows at Goodwill for less than $2 each!  I was initially drawn to them because of the fabulous burlap covers.  Even if the burlap doesn't work, for that price I can definitely splurge on recovering them.
Yes, I know there are only two pillows in this picture.  The third one is the size of the one on the right.
I've also been on the lookout for cute and handy things to put in my sewing closet.  That project is still in progress but check out the bulletin board I got for hanging patterns or inspiration pics:

Remember my cloche conundrum?  I found a plate that probably went with a cloche of the same size.  It fits perfectly, although I'm not crazy about the way it looks.  But if there's one thing I've learned from other bloggers, it's that anything can be improved with a bit of paint.

Have you found anything exciting this week?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I've Got Love in My Tummy

Okay, well perhaps not love precisely but heart-shaped sugar cookies.  When Brooke at All Things Thrifty mentioned this recipe, I just couldn't resist.  The pink frosting sealed the deal.  I love sweets and I especially love frosting.

By my standards, this recipe required a lot of work.  It wasn't super complicated, but it took time.  It probably didn't help that I started way too late and was still pulling cookies out of the oven at 10:30 pm.  I hadn't really considered how many cookies this recipe might make.  I also didn't think about the fact that I only have one cookie sheet and a tiny oven so I could only cook about 9 cookies at a time.  Good thing they don't cook for very long!

By the time I finished, I did not even want to think about making the frosting.  I told myself I would do it the next day.  But... I kind of started devouring the cookies and they were delicious even without frosting.  I felt like I had already spent enough time and energy on the baking process.  So I'll save my cream cheese, regain my strength, and try again soon.  Next time, I'm halving the recipe!  I definitely do not need four dozen cookies tempting my voracious sweet tooth.

"Yummy Yummy Yummy (I've got love in my tummy)" by Ohio Express inspired the title of this post.  Check out the video here.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What I've Been Doing Lately

I started sewing this school bag over the summer.  It was a trial from beginning to end.  I couldn't find a free pattern that I liked so I just combined and enlarged a couple that I already had.  I decided to add a zippered top even though I've never done a zip-top purse before.  The zipper made attaching the adjustable strap more complicated than I had intended and, before I knew it, I was in way over my head.  I'm never doing so many combinations and adjustments ever again.  I think it would have been worth it just to search harder for the perfect pattern, pay for it, and save myself some agony.

I did finish it but after a couple of uses realized I wasn't satisfied with the results.  The strap wasn't padded enough and the way it attached caused weird twisting.  I thought I could fix it by deconstructing parts of the bag.  Life intervened and this bird bag languished in my pile of sewing stuff.

Now, a mere six months later, I finally picked this project back up.  I spent some quality time with my seam ripper, cut out a new strap, sewed some, spent more time with the seam ripper, and so forth.  Now, I'm quite proud of the results.

Here it is back in July.  It looks about the same now but the strap is bulkier and attached in a different place.

Now I just need a reason to use it!

This Is Not My Guac


Normally, I am definitely not the make-my-own-guacamole kind of girl.  I might enjoy being that girl actually.  I imagine she's playful and inventive and has a certain zest for life.  She also likes avocados.  And that is the number one reason I know I am not that girl- I do not like avocados.  No, I'm not violently opposed to them but I'd just as soon leave them on the table.  I certainly wouldn't buy avocados, especially not for the sole purpose of making guacamole.

But you know my motto: when the grocery store hands you free avocados with a $5 purchase, you make guacamole.

I swear, that is in fact a motto of mine.  Not one that I try to apply to every aspect of my life but one of those little clauses that applies to specific situations.

I used my free avocados, a friend's free avocados, some ingredients from my fridge, and this recipe to make my first guacamole ever.  My only issue was that the recipe called for it to be salted to taste.  I struggle to salt anything to taste because I just don't put salt on my food unless the recipe calls for a specific amount.  I had no idea how salty guacamole should be anyway.  Fortunately, a friend was having a get-together that night.  I told her I would be happy to bring guacamole but that she would have to salt it herself.  So I brought, she salted, and everyone ate.  It was declared to be quite good, with the perfect amount of tomatoes.  Since choosing exactly how many tomatoes to add had not been determined by the recipe, I considered this to be a credit to my splendid cooking judgement, which I clearly possess in spades.

And yes, seeing everyone enjoy my masterpiece did make me just a tiny bit curious.  I had a taste and confirmed that I still don't particularly care for guacamole.  At least it was fun to make!

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Big Reveal

I feel like I've been taunting you (oh yes, the huge numbers of you who read my blog, haha) with tantalizing little snippets about this fabulous thrift store dresser.  This has been a long process so I've spent a lot of time in anticipation as well.

I went to my local Salvation Army Thrift Store late in the afternoon.  They keep some furniture on the "porch" along the front side of the building.  When I saw something gorgeous just around the corner, of course I had to check it out.  There she stood, a beautiful yellow dresser.  No price tag, kind of looking like she just came off the truck.  Inside, I asked if the dresser was priced yet.  It wasn't and wouldn't be until the next day.

I spent all evening agonizing about the dresser.  I waffled back and forth about how much I was willing to spend, trying to convince myself that I had to have a budget of some sort.  I knew in my heart that I would probably jump at any price, even if I couldn't really afford it.  Still, I tried to condition myself for disappointment or walking away from this beauty.

I got up painfully early.  Remember how I said I'm still kind of on college time?  Well apparently one way to help break that habit would be to have dresser incentive every morning.  I was terrified someone else would swoop in and buy "my" dresser.  I was actually waiting at the door when Salvation Army opened at 8 am.  Yup, I was that person.

It turned out I needn't have worried so much.  The dresser wasn't out yet and I had to wait for the manager to arrive for it to be priced.  That only took, oh, an hour.  The store wasn't that big so by that point I had looked at practically every single thing there.  The manager explained to me that the dresser had come from a house that had "bugs."  The pick-up team hadn't know what kind- termites, bed bugs, wood beetles, fleas, whatever.  At this point, I was recoiling and already itching.  But I could see that wonderful dresser just waiting for me.  Did I really thinks she could be infested with bugs?  The manager said he wasn't planning to sell the dresser but that he could do a low price as long as I understood the risk.  So I took her apart, painstakingly.  I pulled out each drawer and beat it a bit so see if anything crawled out.  I looked in every crevice for signs of creepy-crawlies.  I lay on the ground so I could see the underside.  No little streams or upward trails from termites.  No odd air bubbles from beetles.  Nothing suspicious at all, in fact.  So yes, I was still a bit wary but mostly I really wanted that dresser!  The manager named a price and I probably should have countered but I had already expressed way too much interest to pretend to waffle and his price was a quarter of what I had expected before knowing about the bug situation.  Insanely low for such a fabulous piece of furniture, in fact.  So yes, I jumped on it.

I pulled my car around and the manager insisted the dresser absolutely would not fit.  People tend to underestimate my Prius so I told him that she's bigger than she looks.  I mentioned that I just moved to town and didn't know anybody with a truck.  So it was the Prius or nothing.  He was unmoved and wouldn't even try to see if it would fit.  I wasn't as assertive as I should have been and went home in despair.  Sure, he said he would put a sold sticker on it and give me through Saturday to pay for it and haul it away, but I was completely serious when I said that there was no way I could get a truck.

I spent another evening agonizing.  I wondered if it was just dresser infatuation, not love.  I realized she probably wouldn't fit in my living room, where I had originally planned to put her, and tried to decide if I was ready to get rid of the dresser in my bedroom.  I wondered how I would find a truck, knowing only a grand total of about four people in town.

I was determined to make this work.  It was love, not infatuation. I would bring home my beauty and sell my other dresser.  And I would fit her in my Prius, by golly!  I put on my assertive, grown-up face and marched over to the store.  Turns out, I didn't even have to worry about the pessimistic manager.  The loading guys didn't so much as bat an eye when I said which dresser was mine and pulled my car around.  The hatch didn't close but the dresser did fit, with room to spare.  I was terrified the entire drive home but it was only a few miles and we made it intact.  My bestie helped me haul the beauty up the stairs and I was blissfully happy.

Now that you've read my harrowing tale, here she is in the middle of my living room.  I cleaned her up but haven't had a chance to move her into the bedroom yet.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Drip Drip Drop

Apartment 1925 truly is a charming place.  It has high ceilings, plaster walls, and chunky molding around all the door frames.  The hardwood floors are well used but still beautiful.  I see evidence everywhere of the people who have lived here before me- holes in wall from nails that have been removed, a picture-hanging hook on the top molding, little scars on the floor.  All in all, I think the fact that it is in an older building is endearing.

Not so much last night.  A couple weeks ago, I had a problem with drops of water falling from the ceiling in my bedroom.  I would hear the faucet running in the apartment above me and drops would fall slowly for a few minutes.  I told the landlord but the maintenance guy couldn't make the drops happen again and couldn't locate the source of the problem.  At that point, there was nothing I could do, so I just hoped it wouldn't happen again.

Yesterday evening, I walked into my bedroom and immediately heard the ominous sound of water droplets falling on my new duvet cover.  I pushed the bed over and laid a towel on the floor.  Frustrating but maybe just another isolated incident.  Again, not so much.  For most of the evening, I periodically heard the bothersome sound of water splatting on the towel.  The best part was after I went to bed and realized it was still dripping.  Lying there awake, I began to dread the sound of my neighbor using the sink, waiting tensely to see if drip-drops would follow.  I woke up several times during the night, my ears straining to hear the droplets before I was even fully awake.

And it's still going.  Still not all the time but often enough to be problematic.  I don't usually say this but I'm glad tomorrow is Monday.  Here's hoping that we can find the source of the problem and fix it without having to do something drastic like rip out my entire bedroom ceiling!

Dressers Galore

Alright, so maybe I just might be getting a teensy bit obsessed with dressers.  They're just so wonderfully fabulous.  Dressers in bedrooms, living rooms, entryways, everywhere.  I love it!  I couldn't resist searching for more dresser pictures, so be inspired!


Country Living


Martha Stewart