Monday, November 30, 2009

Day 884

I used to think of myself as such a "city girl," and while I appreciate the convenience and opportunity of an urban way of life, I am so thankful that we have quiet little piece of land to visit, and that my Dad would sooner be buried on this hillside than leave it.

So we spent Thanksgiving on the farm, which isn't much more of a farm than our own backyard, but it is bigger (and prettier).

We took a walk down to the river.

We took a sunset Ranger ride (Hi, Beth Anne and Aunt Cynthia!).

And every morning, we were up and at'em before the frost melted. It did this girl's heart some good.

And it did this girl some good too -- she went days without seeing a leash or a fence, and had so much fun she didn't want to get in the car to come home.

Being a farm dog sure is exhausting.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Day 877: signing off for the week

I'm signing off for the week as we're soon headed to my dad's Tennessee farm for Thanksgiving. This year I'm thankful for lots of things, not the least of which are the wonderful friends I have made through this blog. You all encourage and inspire me every week and I hope you have a lovely, relaxing, and fulfulling holiday!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Day 874's fall inspiration

I'm not a big inspiration board maker, but occasionally, the mood strikes. As fall is coming to a close and Christmas ideas are starting overtake my thinking, I thought it might be fun to put together all of the images that have really inspired me this season. I kept coming back to these six in particular, and together they seem just right (click on it to get a better look).

Clockwise from top left: dead flowers arrangement, super-chic Kentucky barn, office nook (and black wall) inspiration, ironstone against a black wall, pumpkin bread on transferware, black tablecloth.

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day 873: pretty bedroom makeover

I love this guest bedroom makeover, featured in the November issue of Southern Living (along with this great house).

Associate decorating editor (and Cottage Living alum and fellow Auburn graduate) Anne Turner Carroll took a blank slate and a few family heirlooms (the bed and the desk) and turned them into a bedroom that, if I were the homeowner, I would have to move into!

Gray-green grasscloth (Chevron Sisal (SE1808) by York Wallcoverings) set the tone for the neutral-but-not-a-bit-boring room.

On the bed, white linens are off-set by a graphic fabric (La Fiorentina in Grey, 2430-GWF 611 by Groundworks through Lee Jofa) on the underside of the canopy and on the bedskirt. That amazing pillow is actually a rug that was bought for the floor (they went with a cowhide instead), folded in half, filled with batting, and sewn together. A great idea if you can't find just the right fabric for the job.

The vintage desk was left as-is and is topped with sketches from a sketchbook in ready-made frames. The lamp shade was covered in a coordinating fabric (Sand Strie in Chiffon by Kelly Wearstler through Lee Jofa) and the desk chair was painted and recovered for a modern touch (fabric is Plush Mohair in graphite by Beacon Hill). The homeowner found the abstract painting by Scott Nedrelow on ebay.

Roman shades (in Slubby Linen in Mushroom by Calico Corners) are hung just under the crown molding.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day 872: porch post process

We'll try to be brief about the new porch posts, but we also want to be thorough for those who are interested. Bear with us!

Oh, and don't forget your herding dog -- this is very important! -- she'll make sure you're doing everything properly and to let you know when the power tools are too loud.

Wes's dad kindly did a lot of the prep work before heading down to help us. He used his company's woodworking shop to miter the edges of four 2"x8"s for each of the five posts. He then glued and finish nailed three sides together. These will be going around a 4"x4" support post.

The first construction step of the project is to jack up the beam supporting your porch roof so it doesn't fall on your father-in-law and husband.

With the porch supported you can then take great pleasure in removing your swirly, rusty iron columns. This was surprisingly easy, and was completed using a hammer and chisel to break off the head of the rivet. We had a grinder ready but never used it.

This little guy, we'll call him a steroidal laser pointer, was one of the most important tools we used. It shot a laser at the beam supporting the roof. After we centered the laser on the support beam we marked the location of the laser level so we could mark the location of the center of the 4"x4".

We then used a hammer drill at the previously marked location and installed the Tapcon screw. You'll see why in the next step. After you've done this measure from floor to beam so you can cut your 4"x4" to size.

This little guy is a Quick Mount Porch Post Fastener. This is used to keep your post from making contact with the concrete and water. Just center it up on the bottom of your 4"x4" and use the provided screws to attach. You'll notice it's slotted at the bottom so you can slide it into the Tapcon from the previous step and lock it into place. Take it into account when cutting your 4"x4" or you'll have to cut twice.

After locking the post in place on the bottom we centered up the top on the beam and used a level to make sure it was straight and plumb on all sides. We needed a persuader, aka sledgehammer, on some of the posts.

At some point your wife/photographer might get bored and start taking pictures of bumble bees. It's okay, she'll finish raking the leaves tomorrow.

It can never be too level, especially during No-Shave November.

Oohh, almost forgot. Before you install you post you'll want to slide this top piece around it. I believe we used a 12"x12" square and just cut a 4"x4" hole in the middle. After installing the 4"x4" and the 12" piece we measured again and cut the 2"x8" "surround". Be sure to cut it about 1/2" short so it does not rest on the concrete. Then we just slid it into place around the 4"x4". We used shims in the gaps to make sure the final piece would fit perfectly into place.

After shimming and then leveling again we screwed the surround into the 4"x4", making sure that no wood was touching the concrete.

And then screwed the fourth piece into the other three to close up the column.

The next steps that I didn't get pictures of are listed below:
Install trim pieces at top and bottom
Prime everything
Caulk all joints
Wood putty all nail and screw holes
Sand wood putty and any sharp corners
Wipe down and paint

A few miscellaneous notes that didn't get mentioned: The edges of the trim pieces at the top and bottom were also pre-mitered. The top trim is regular pine 1"x6". The bottom is 1"x8" Hardie board which is a cementitious material that will not warp, mold, or mildew. The white plastic post support and the bottom trim are the only parts of the post that are touching the porch.

Day 871's before and after: front porch

Over the weekend, we completed a project that's been on our minds (and our agenda) since we bought our house (more than a year-and-a-half ago). We replaced the dated, swirly iron "columns" with square wood posts.

Before: This is what the house looked like soon after we bought it in the Spring of 2008.

In the Spring of 2009, we took off the iron storm door, painted the wooden door, and changed the porch lighting (read about it here), and replaced the over-grown bushes (read about that here).

Adding the wood posts has really made a difference. I thought they might look a little too new, but I really think they look like they've been there all along.

I know at least a couple of you have some lovely iron "columns" of your own, so stay tuned for a full post on the process.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Day 870: thrift store jackpot

My sister is a Thrift Store Queen. Really, she can always find something great. I really just aspire to such thrifty shopping, but I finally hit the jackpot last week. I guess I was just in the mood to do some junk-sorting, so I stopped by a local Salvation Army for the first time. There were several cute chairs and even a very promising little sofa, but I have neither the time, energy or money for that kind of project at the moment. Not to mention, no place to put them.

I've had art on my mind, so I made a point to look out for a small landscape painting, or something of the sort. Then a pretty bamboo frame caught my eye, and I pulled this lovely item out from the bottom of a dusty stack.

Was I not just talking about birds? What luck! $6.99 and a once-over with a wet rag later, this little swan has a new home.

Then I headed into a back room with mattresses, bed frames, and rugs. I have no idea what possessed me to do it, but I started turning up the corners of some of the rolled-up rugs. And wait, was that seagrass?? My heart started beating a little faster. Yes, yes it is seagrass, and it is BIG. Has to be a 10-by-something. I found some help to get it out of the stack, unrolled and priced. $19.99. Sold! It has some suspicious stains, for sure, but I was physically incapable of leaving it, and knew I had my secret seagrass stain-fighting weapon at home.

I brought it home and spread it out in my carport to let it air out. I gave it a good vacuum, which did help. Do I want to bring it into my house and walk barefoot across it? Not yet. I'm doing a test patch with the carpet cleaner, and I'll let you know how it goes. If I can get it cleaned up, I'm going to have it rebound to match the one in the living room. It will go there, and I'll move the one we have from the living room to the dining room. For 20 bucks, it's worth the effort!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Day 867's pretty

I'm still loving the plaid in my bedrooms. Seleta posted lots of plaid and fall yumminess this week, which I am using as a motivation to rake the mountains of leaves that accumulated in our yard while we were gone. Sigh. (Photo from Domino)

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Day 866's question

When we were in New York last week, the sidewalks were filled with workers stringing lights, hanging garland and tying bows. The Macy's at Herald Square was so crowded that I don't even want to think about what it will be like in December. The snowflakes lights were up at Saks (though I never saw them on). I thought this early decorating was isolated to New York, which obviously draws a big holiday crowd, but sure enough, the garland is up at the mall near my office and even at the grocery store. One of my facebook friends announced yesterday that she was putting up her Christmas Tree.

Personally, my Christmas decorations will stay in the box until after Thanksgiving, but that doesn't necessarily mean that seeing them around town doesn't get me in a festive mood. So what about you? When will you decorate for Christmas (or what-have-you)? And while we're on the topic, is this year going to be different than years past (I hate to use the dreaded e-word!)?

Photos: Martha Stewart and Melissann on Flickr.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Day 865's New York recap

Our New York trip came and went last week. Thanks again to everyone who offered suggestions. I think I mentioned this, but it was a work trip for me, and Wes decided to take a vacation (his first since our honeymoon!) and come along since he'd never been to the city. Unfortunately, I spent all my daylight hours (and more) in the office during week, and really just had Saturday to enjoy. But don't worry, Wes took full advantage of his time there. He took a food tour of Greenwich Village, went to several museums, saw a taping of Letterman, even appeared on the Today Show! In the evenings, we ate a lot, and saw In the Heights, which was fantastic.

On Saturday morning, we headed to brunch a Sarabeth's, which several of you noted as a "must-do." I was oddly excited about this (I love brunch!) and it did not dissappoint. As you can clearly see, my apple cinnamon French toast with bananas was decadent, and I am now on a mission to make my own French toast this delightful, as there is a serious lack of brunch establishments in Birmingham.

And since we braved the morning chill and sat outdoors (thus avoiding the wait), the view didn't hurt either. I could have sat there all day, but I had an entire city to see.

We took a stroll through Central Park and I was delighted that many of the trees still had their leaves.

Then we visited the Frick Collection and walked around the Upper East Side.

I had hoped to be able to take tons of pictures (it's fun and relaxing for me), but in general, found the city pretty difficult to photograph. The streets are so busy, and I found it difficult to capture the full breadth of what we were seeing and experiencing. Next time, I'll know to devote some time specifically for playing with the camera, as opposed to trying to fit it in while hurrying from place to place.

Of course, I had to see what all of the fuss over Magnolia Bakery is about.

We admired the view from the Top of the Rock.

And then stopped at the local "Auburn bar" so Wes could have a bourbon drink while we caught the last quarter of the game. Just because we were in New York City, didn't mean it wasn't gameday! We ended the day with dinner in Greenwich Village.