Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Still pluggin' away...

The past two days have gone by in a whirlwind of activity as I continue to plug away at our home. We haven't cut the wood that we'll use for the chair rail, the computer is in the exact same area of our living room as it was in my previous post, and the hutch hasn't been touched nor moved, so what have I doing? Hmm, making preparations to get the above things done.

I decided it would be easier to pack up our summer things, unpack our winter clothes without the computer, desk, and printer in my way. I have one small closet and dresser in the baby's nursery/laundry room and Don and I share a larger walk-in closet in our bedroom. We also have two dressers in our bedroom, his is a large chest while mine is a large dresser with a mirrored hutch. Thankfully, I emptied and gave away another large dresser with a hutch that I'd previously purchased for Alexxis. I give it to Amber and Chris for assisting us pick up and move our new sofa and coffee tables or I would have had that to content with too.

Our closets was a mess! Don kept up with our home's laundry while worked 58 hours a week over the summer and let's just say that although I appreciated his help greatly, we definitely have our own ways of doing things. I found that I couldn't have hung up another shirt and squeezed it in my closet as items of clothing were hung on hangers that I would have folded and placed in the drawers. And my dresser drawers, heck, they were nearly empty, LOL! So, I spent my day rectifying that!

Next on the agenda... is to dust the nursery/laundry room completely and shampoo the carpet. This shouldn't take me too long as we've pretty much kept up with it other than the clothing issue. After these things are completed, I'll be able to move the computer in clearing the way for the chair rail to be installed, the hutch and the recliner to be moved.

In the evening last night, Don and I ventured out to Hobby Lobby to look at table top lamps. I didn't see anything that I desired but did use a few as an example of what I'm looking for in the event that Don should spy something that I don't while we're shopping. I did purchase a footed glass and lidded container that I'd been eyeing for awhile. How could I resist when it was 50% off? I'm excited to fill it with candy, fruits, nuts, and berries, perhaps a candle --- although, not all at the same time, LOL! I also spied a beautiful eagle figurine that would have been perfect for the old pass-through window/niche in the wall of the living room, unfortunately it was chipped in a lot of places so we passed it on by.

Today, promises to be yet another busy day. Only this one is a pleasure trip, providing me with a break from the house and all the work I've been doing. Don needs to make a trip to Columbus to one of the warehouses for the store and afterwards, we're going to stop at a few places in search of lamps. Wish us luck!

Yesterday, while working away, I was reminded that we've a wedding to prepare for. Since we are getting married here in our home on December the 8th, with a few close family members and friends in attendance, I need to get to work on mailing the invitations and take stock of our Christmas decorations to see what we'll use to decorate where. There are so many decisions to make as far as what food we'll serve; we're thinking buffet style appetizers since we're doing an evening ceremony and where the heck am I going to put a tree? Of course, my mind began whirling with thoughts and ideas, a mental list was made of things we need to get done, and purchases to be made! I guess this busy-ness isn't going to end anytime soon...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Early yesterday morning, we made the trip to Dalton, Ohio and back once again. It was a gorgeous fall morning; with a cool, crisp fall nip in the air, some patchy, dense fog in some areas, with just enough sunshine to burn it off. Ohio is truly beautiful this time of year, the trees are absolutely spectacular displaying their autumn glory only a few days past their peak, farmers are busy clearing the crops are from the fields, and the reflections of both trees and the bluest sky reflect into many of the ponds and streams we passed by along the way made for a wonderful sight-seeing day. As the morning advanced, it was the perfect mix of coolness and sunshine that made for one amazing road trip, not to mention, the anticipantion and the company we shared. Being a Sunday, we had no problems with traffic and it seemed everyone else was slowing down to enjoy nature's bounty, as well.

After we arrived safely back home with only a few minor incidents, we spent approximately a half hour unloading. Once that was done, "Thank you's" were said, Don ran Chris and Shane back home, as I set about doing some spot cleaning, began putting the legs on the coffee tables and end stands, before finally deciding to move the hutch once again.

When Don return, we began setting things into place and things began working just as I had originally envisioned them. While Don set out to whip us up a meatloaf for dinner {Yes! He can cook a few things; I taught him!}, I focused my attention to what items I desired to return to the room and where I desired to place them. Some of our home decor items look as if they've lived there in that spot all our lives. That's the magic that I love, when things seem to come all together, falling into place. It will still take a few days before that happens as I've decided to make a few minor adjustments and changes in the rooms.

One is a small structural change utilizing an extra piece of the stained baseboard to add a chair rail just to the left of our front door as I want to place our recliner there. Since the recliner rocks and that wall has been painted, I think utilizing a chair rail would be for the best. The other is more of a rearrangement, as I'm desiring to remove my computer from the room and replace it with the hutch. I believe this, will help establish more of designed area, resembling a walk-in foyer providing us an area to greet family and guests.

And speaking of guests, we have one! She joined us for dinner and has been the most entertaining soul even though she's been suffering a little with a autumn cold. At the moment, she is currently sound asleep in her nursery at grandma's. {smiles} Well, it's late... I've had a long, long day so I'm going to go now. I'll post some pictures soon, I promise.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I could look at this all day!

Probably is a good thing, LOL!, seeing as how this is a picute of our new sofa, coffee table, and endstands that we just purchased. I found this picture on the internet this morning after remembering a conversation with Dalton yesterday. A quick google search lead me right to it. Isn't it gorgeous? Don and both love it, the clean curvilinear shape, the color, the wood. I am amazed and mesmerized by this picture! See that wall color? It's a bit brighter, warmer, more yellow than the Toasted Wheat that I choose, however, the gold sheers in our living room cast that golden glow onto the walls. I love how there's no hard edges on either the sofa nor the coffee table or end stands as that will provide a safe place for both Don and Alexxis as they manuever about. Another similarity is the use of white in this pic, as we long ago painted our interior wood trim white. Other features are the use of the gold frames on the pictures that are shown - I do have a few gold frames and the pictures within them will work in the event that my studio stuff doesn't! I feel better already....

Decorating doubts...

Yesterday, I had to take a break from decorating. While I was waiting for "the telephone call" that our furniture was in and available for pick up on Sunday, I was beginning to start second guessing all of the decisions that I had previously made. I was plagued by all the "what if's". I wondered "what if?" the couch and end stands don't fit? What options will I have then? Is this "divide and conquer" strategy of mine, really going to work? Am I using too many patterns? too many colors? too many textures? Am I certain that purchasing a solid color sofa was going to compliment the busi-ness of the pattern of our existing furniture even though it is now "in another room"? Was pine really the color to go with? Won't there be too many shades of it within the two rooms? How is this going to look with that? What if there isn't enought light? And speaking of lights, will I ever find a ceiling fixture and a set of lamps that co-ordinates with these pieces that I love and will we be able to afford them? Looking at our all the options available online took a good portion of my morning yesterday and I not only was in shocked at some of the prices but viewing them compounded my fears!

I began doubting myself even further, asking myself if I was certain that I want to use this solid rug? After all, the sofa is a solid color? Won't that be too much? And, then, I moved on to getting a bit fed up with not being able to get on with the fun part of all --- accessorizing and getting the rest of my house back together. I looked back and wondered how I made it through all the remodeling that we've done, LOL! and I don't ever remember feeling quite this way then.

Don't get me wrong, I love to decorate, but I've never before tackled a decorating project that has ever been so important to me. Perhaps that is why decorating our living room was always pushed onto the back burner. Not to mention again the challenges and obstacles we've both faced within thus space!

So finally, I decided to sit down and think, long and hard about the look that I'm attempting to achieve. However, it wasn't even coming together! I don't know what "look" I'm after. Heck, in all honesty, I could not even tell you the style of the sofa and end tables that I purchased, LOL! but I know that I instantly fell in love with them. Throwing my hands up in frustration, I knew I really need to re-group!

I began by asking myself, what am I attempting to accomplish here in this space? At least my answer remained the same! I desire a warm, welcoming space to welcome family, friends, and guests. A place to sit comfortably while reading a good book, writing in my journals, rocking my grandbaby, Alexxis, to sleep, and watching TV. A place to spend quality time and entertain our family and friends. I want us to be in a safe place, something important as Don's was born with Cerebral Palsy and Alessix will be walking about. I want a space that expresses both of our personalities, that cobination that's not quite masculine nor too feminine yet promotes harmony between the objects within it the room and us. I want a HOME, a retreat, a sanctuary from the outside world, my own special, soft place to fall when life gets to be too much.

Needless to say, I was obsessing too much and quickly began to recognized it. I began to ask myself, "So what?" if that doesn't work and this doesn't match exactly? Am I not already happy here? Are we not already experiencing the comforts of home? And you know, instantly, my world became right again. When Don arrived home, we telephoned Dalton Direct and "Yes! Our furniture is available for pick up." Somehow, things will work themselves out, I just know it.

Friday, October 26, 2007

How cool is this?

I love it! It is a blog banner that my newest blog-friend, Mary of created for me. I won, along with 13 others winners {Congratulations, ladies!} my first ever blog give-away! And it was truly a stroke of luck that I discovered Mary's blog and I hesitated a moment before thinking what the heck and entering into her blog giveaway. Before beginning the remodeling, I spent a morning blog-hopping; you know how you do, read on blog, click on one of their links, read some more, click a link until you finally wonder how you end up wherever you are, LOL! Well, I discovered Isabella's Closet from a link on Amy Wagner's blog: Amy had a link to Mary, along with a notation that Mary is an Ohio blogger and I instantly wondered where she was located, so I visited. Thank you so much, Mary! I love this banner and will install it once the remodeling and re-organization calms down here. And speaking of give-away's --- I'm planning to host my own first ever blog give-away. I decided to wait until I reach my 2000th post and I'm currently at 1450, so it shouldn't take me too long to be ready to host away!

I've also been desiring to get my blog links back up. Unfortunately, I lost them all when I changed over to Blogger Beta and simply haven't found the time to get all those that I desire to add categorize and linked up. Soon, I promise!

The redecorating continues...

Don and I continued to keep busy throughout the week and have managed to accomplish quite a lot. Between the grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning up afterwards, and laundry that had to be maintained, we've faced some challenges and obstacles, mostly consisting of where to put things so they are out of the way! A few items required more muscle that than the two of us have to move or remove, but with a little help from our family, we've made it through!

On top of preparing the living room for our new furniture, we've began our fall cleaning. In the kitchen, drawers and cabinets have been cleared of a few years of "junk" accumulation. We sorted using the keep, give away, throw away, and "putting thing back where they belong" method of removal. Other items made their way into a box for a yard sale to be held in the early in the next summer. As we worked, we both found ourselves wondering where this "stuff" comes from and realize it is years of not knowing what in the heck we're going to do with it in the first place and our busy lifestyles. Hopefully, we'll learn to recognize that behavior in our ourselves and deal with those things in a more immediate fashion so can avoid some of this in our future. Wish us luck with that one, LOL! It seems we both start out with good intentions that somehow get scattered about the wayside of our lives.

We did, however, take advantage of the beautiful Ohio weather yesterday by removing the patio furniture and decor for winter storing. Doing that was bittersweet as I'm not yet feeling ready to let go of our outdoor living space and all that goes along with it. But, such is life, huh? Yet, I know in my heart that there will be many more activities to replace those.

Earlier in the week, we received a telephoned call from Dalton Direct to inform us that our furniture should arrive today! I'm excited as I wait for yet another telephone call to inform us that is in fact in and available for pick up on Sunday. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Well, I need to run as there still things that require my attention, but I'll be back soon, hopefully with some pictures to share!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Another hard day of work...

was spent on our living room and "Oh My God!" after four solid days of working to get it ready for the new furniture, am I ever feeling it! We have managed to accomplish so much in a very short amount of time. Today, Don and I measured, miter cut, and installed the baseboards over the laminate flooring. I cannot even begin to tell you just exactly how long I've waited for this day to arrive... but arrive it has!

Today, I focused my attention to washing down the two walls of hickory paneling, moving the TV ump-teen times, to finally resolving to putting it back in its original spot. Isn't it funny how that seems to happen? Anyways, I swapped out one piece of furniture for another to hold our electrical components, and placed it next to the TV. I, also, swapped out the love seat and end stand on one side of the room with Don's chair and end stand on the opposite side so as I could move them further down along the wall to create space for the computer desk to be placed where the hutch was previously located. I had to move our hutch to the opposite side of the room {the one I'm attempting to keep empty for the new furniture {gasp!} as I figured the hutch will work better with the dark wood the new furniture has vs. the computer desk I'm now using. And why is it, now that the computer has been relocated and reconnected, that this sound so easy when I type it? I can assure you that it wasn't, LOL!

Anyways, our living room is coming together beautifully and even Don was sweetly surprised when he arrived home late this afternoon! While he was gone today, I made a trip out to the studio to gather up the Tina Chaden prints and the largest of my black wire Eiffel towers. I placed the Eiffel tower on top of the electrical components stand next to the TV and it provides the perfect visual weight and height to that section of the room and was needed. I got the black framed prints hung in an arrangement that I like and I was so right in how I thought adding them would help me to embrace the black and platinum on the TV. I actually love it now; it provides just the right contrast of light and dark.

I continued working, dressing up our end stands with an off-white, not quite vanilla, battenburg lace, which I placed on each of our endstands, yet under a lamp to leave room for the tabletops to still be beautiful, yet functional. And finally, since the baseboards had been installed, I was able to hang all of our freshly laundered curtains... and say "bye-bye" to the white mini-blinds quietly hidden underneath. The room, or should I now refer to them as rooms?, definitely feels warmer, more cozier, like a home should feel! There is also a sense of balance now that the colors coordinate between the living room and the kitchen.

A few more trips were made to the studio... One to retrieve the beautiful, large green rug that will provide warmth to the hardwood floors and comfort in front of the new sofa couch as well as anchor the coffee table on the opposite side of the living room; and the second, to grab a chair cushion for my computer desk and a new, never before used teacup and saucer --- both of which I'm enjoying immensely at the moment! As I sit and update my blog, sipping the warm liquid of Passionfruit Papaya from The Republic of Tea, I feel comfortable and a well deserved sense of pride for all I've accomplished in making our house into a beautiful home!

Of course, there's more to be done, decisions to be made as far as what accessories I desire to replace within the opposite side of the room, but for now I'm perfect content and caught up in this moment. For tomorrow's another day... {smiles}

Sunday, October 21, 2007

After running errands in the morning, paying a visit to my parents, Don and I got started on staining the baseboards this afternoon. We had previously removed them a year or so ago to install the Pergo laminate flooring. We also did a bit of damage to the drywall in the process when we removed them {shhh, that will be our little secret!} but thankfully the new baseboard going in will cover those up. While we had the tarp, sawhorses, and stain out on the deck, I got the bright idea to stain this:

It is now a beautiful medium shade of golden oak. {We mixed a colonial oak gel stain with a bit of aged oak} to come close to our desired shade for the room. This took a bit of experimenting, however, I believe we reached a good compromise for all the wood pieces of varing of hues that will reside in these rooms. I can't wait to show you some pictures but if I have to wait for my new furniture, you're gonna just have to wait it out too. LOL!

The re-decorating continues...

Sorry, I do not have any pics to share here on my blog as of yet, however, the re-decorating project has been well under way for the past two days. The living room has been striped of all the home decor items, furniture has been moved, and the walls and hallway have been washed and several fresh new coats of paint have been added. The color is absolutely gorgeous! The paint we used is Behr's brand of paint, available at Home Depot's, and the color is called, "Toasted Wheat" and My! is it ever so sweet. We absolutely love it and I'm getting excited as we continue to make progress.

We haven't heard anything regarding the new furniture as of today and are keeping our fingers crossed that "no news is good news!" My dad has offered us his services and use of his pick-up and we'll use Shawn's trailer to bring it home in the event that this beautiful Ohio weather continues to co-operate. Of course, there is still things that need to be done prior to worrying about that and we'll communication with Dalton Direct via telephone.

While Don worked yesterday afternoon, I sort of puttered about, moving what pieces of furniture I could as safely as possible. Everything in both areas of the room either has received or will receive a thorough cleaning, so I removed all our knick-knacks, moving them into the kitchen to receive a good washing. As I worked, I felt truly blessed, remembering when we picked this up and item here and there, and when this was given to us by a cherished family member or friend. I began considering what items I'm desiring to place back into the room and where. Of course, there's always that unexpected surprise so we will have to wait to see what works best once the furniture is actually here.

Today promises to be yet another beautiful day and I certainly hope the weather man is right as we'll be staining some new baseboard outside and miter cutting it, prior to installing it in the room. Also, on the agenda is washing down the paneling, shampooing the carpet and furniture on the opposite side of the room. So, there is still a lot that needs to be done while we're waiting. And you know, the waiting is really the hardest part. {smile}

Friday, October 19, 2007

More on our redecorating project...

Do you remember me saying that I believe in using what I have to decorate? Well, that will certainly be a major issue for us as we work to accomplish this project. While shopping yesterday at Dalton Direct Furniture and finding the perfect couch, coffee table and end stands, I noticed that they had the pieces displayed with a couple leather recliners. Don and I really liked them and as we were leaving and making our way back HOME {I so love that word and the images it conjures up!}, I mentioned it to him. Our conversation went something like this:

Me. "Did you notice how they had the leather recliners displayed with the couch and tables?"
Don. "Yes, I did."
Me. "Did you like that?"
Don. "Yes, I did."
Me. "What do you think about doing this? Bringing the in the leather recliner that I purchased for my studio? We could place the corner curio cabinet in the southwest corner of the room, the couch in front of the picture window, and one end stand in the northwest corner. Throw in a large rug on the wood floor and set the coffee table upon it. If we added the recliner, we'd still have one end stand to place beside it."
Don. "I like that idea but we only have one recliner."
Me. "Honey, it will still work as we really don't have the space for two of them."
Don. "I guess your right."
Me. "Remember that rug I purchased for the studio to set the recliner on? What if we used it? It's a lighter shade of green than the couch but I believe it would work."
Don. "We'll have to check that out."

As we continued talking, discussing our plans and options for our living room, we began mentioning accessories. A new ceiling light fixtures, a rug, adding lamps, artwork, ect. I could feel the excitement we both have for this project begin to build and begin to take on a life all its own. We both realize that with the recent purchases that we've made, we'll need to wait to add a few things, like a new set of lamps, etc. but that also gives us the time we will need to get all the other preparations in place and find exactly what it is were looking for. We continued talking, throwing out suggestions and ideas; discussed the work needing to be completed, and the arrangements we'd need to make to pick up the furniture next week. As we talked, the time flew by, and it didn't seem too long we were turning into our driveway. Shortly after arriving, we headed out to my studio to see what we had there that we could utilize. We moved Amber's couch to get to the rug and recliner and set them aside for moving into the house later and began talking some more. As we both looked around the space, we mentioned adding this and that, talking about pictures and a variety of items. Of course, we'll have to play with pieces to see what works in the room once it is finished and the furniture is picked up but thankfully we've a lot of possibilities.

An unexpected surprise...

Don and I finally got on the road late in the afternoon to head over to Dalton, Ohio to visit Dalton Direct Furniture. For the most part, the weather was great, a bit partly cloudy and overcast, not to windy, and the sunshine peeked warmly out of the clouds on and off as the day progressed. As we traveled making the close to 100 mile trip, we further discussed our hopes and dreams for our living room, tossing out ideas, discussing them, before moving on to another aspect of the room and throwing our more ideas for further discussions.

Before leaving home, we worked together on making a rough sketch of the room, after all, how hard is to draw a large, rectangular box? LOL! Anyways, we drew in the windows and doors in the area, measured all the wall spaces, door openings, and windows, in an attempt to avoid any disasters before they occured. We both realized that there is nothing worst than shopping for furniture, finding the perfect piece or pieces, only to realize once it is delivered, that it won't fit in the space you have available because it too big or too small. But any ole' how, we had a general idea of items we were searching for... coffee table, end stands, and perhaps, a new kitchen table.

So, upon our arrival, we looked at those first. We really didn't see anything that caught our eyes. Of course, there were various coffee tables and end stands but somehow either the style wasn't right, or the scale of the pieces, or we didn't care for the too light or the too dark finishes on them. So we continued looking; this time, we moved onto kitchen tables. I have to tell you, the selection in this place is amazing! Every style you could imagine, available in a wide-variety of finishes and stains. They will even custom finish the pieces that they create for you.

So, while we are browsing, we found a lot of pieces we could instantly love but either the scale of them or the finish wasn't what we had in mind. And we really don't "need" a kitchen table, ours is well, functional, nice to look at, and easy to use for both ourselves and for entertaining. The only reason we're looking at them, is they carry them here, and the table and chairs we own are a bit cumbersome to move around and we thought we'd look for something on a smaller scale while we were here.

Anyways, there are two spaces to shop there at Dalton Direct Furniture. One is a large, and do mean LARGE warehouse. The other is a row of buildings with quaint little storefronts along the outside, which is actually one large store inside. So, we ventured in. Inside is more furniture and home decor items as this place sells everything from furniture for every room in your home, to pictures, floral arrangements, curtains, lace, and home decor accessories. We're certain to find something we like. Just as I enter the store and to my right, tucked into the corner is a smaller scaled corner curio cabinet. I feel in love with it instantly! How charming! I thought. "Isn't that beautiful?" I ask Don, who nods in agreement, stating that he likes it too. So, we venture further in and to the the right of the store when I see something that catches my eye, a coffee table and an end stand! So we move in for closer inspection. Instantly, I fell in love with the pieces. Not only is the coffee table and end stands perfect in every way, there is this gorgeous pine green fabric-cover couch directly behind it that contains the same finish as the tables and the scroll design upon them. Your kidding, right? was my first reaction. I don't have this kind of luck, I think to myself. Turning towards Don, I see that he's picked up {by radar, perhaps?} what I've seen. He nods once again in agreement as I make my way over to sit upon it. Instantly, I just knew, this is it; this is what I want. We check the price tags, begin adding them up in our pretty little heads and instantly know it is a little more than what we bargained for spending right now...'s so perfect. Not just for me but for him as well. We both know that money isn't the problem as we have a bit more than the amount of these desired items in our savings but me being the more conservative type, I decide to continue looking and give it a bit more thought.

So, we browse more... discuss this and that, see things we like, make comments on them, only to return to look at the couch, coffee, table and end stands once more. I know somehow in my heart that these pieces are what we want. I can envision them in our home, us living and loving our family and friends with them in use. "We'll take these..." I hear myself to Mark, the owner. Don is as shocked as I am! "And the little corner curio just inside the door."

I'm absolutely beaming as we all begin working together to write our order up and make the down-payment. Mark informs me it maybe a week before the furniture arrives and that we'll need to arrange pick up since we live so far away. Not a problem, Don and I respond, in unison. We've found it! What we desire to add to our home; perfect for both of us and for our family and friends. I can't wait to take some pictures and share with you, I think you will agree with our decision. In the meantime, there's work to be done and preparations to be made...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Growing pains and challenges...

You know that feeling that you get when you walk into someone's home and feel instantly welcome and at home? Your surrounded by their color scheme and a home decor style just reaches out and touches your soul. The room spaces are well-drined and co-ordinate beautifully with one another. Well lately, I haven't been feeling that in our home, mainly due to the fact that we have remodeled and redecorated almost every room in our home except our living room area.

Why? Because our living room has always been a challenge to me decorating-wise. It says, "big, rectangular box" to me with so many problems. There's no defined entry way, no architechural details, and the traffic pattern throughout the space is a designer's worst nightmare! I believe I may have referred to this in the past but anyways, let me share some of our home's history and some of the dilemma's we've faced and somehow managed to overcome.

Originally, when Don's dad built our home in the 1950's, this area of town was all country. There were no cities limits like we have currently, no "low-income housing" project to the west of us, no middle-income housing development to the east... just a WIDE OPEN COUNTRY space. But anyways, Don's father originally purchased two acres of land and built our current home on one of them. The second acre was used for gardening, raising chickens, a farm animal or two, and the views back then, must have been spectacular, especially with the one open field we have to the rear of our property! {what I wouldn't give to have that now! Although, I still count my blessing to have an acre of land in the city!}

Anyways, our home was originally a one floor plan, two-bedroom, ranch style home. Over the years and as his family grew, a few remodels were made to convert the home to a story and a half containing of a half basement/half crawlspace, and a large walk-in attic over the rest of the house.

Where our living room is currently, then was two separate rooms. One half was Don's parents bedroom, and the other half served as their living room. Neither rooms were large by themselves, but fast forward a few years to when another large addition was added onto the east side that consisted a hallway that leads to a stairway of a half basement under the addition, access to a rear entrance to our current rear deck, and access to two bedrooms on the ground floor. Another addition was added onto the rear of the house to enlarge the kitchen with an additional room. Those changes allowed for the currently area, known as our living room to be opened up into one.... well, a rather large, long, narrow, rectangular box!

Over the years, Don's family has either owned or inhabited this home. His father passed away, his mother and sister's families lived here for many years, until they decided they desired more of a country setting since the city limits changed and the housing developments were made. The home was used as a rental property for a few years prior to Don's purchasing it from his family.

Don lived in the home for many years with his ex-wife and son, Shawn. Shawn was raised here, until he grew and left home to strike out on his own. In the meantime, Don and his wife, Karen divorced and she re-married and relocated to California. Shortly afterwards, my marriage feel apart and since Don and I had always been the best of friends, I moved in with him and we began our lives together.

Ever since I moved in, we've made many changes to the home. We relocated the washer and dryer to the guest bedroom, now known as Alexxis's nursery. A wall and bi-fold doors were added to contain them. Walls were painted, carpet was added. Shortly after, we remodeled the kitchen, adding new kitchen cabinets, counter tops, and wood flooring. We added the rear deck that stretches across the entire length of the rear of the house. We, then, closed off of the doorways to a bedroom leading off the rear hallway, and opened up the two room to create one large master-style suite without a bathroom. Since it's only Don and I, we have no intentions of selling our home, we're both beyond the "starting a new family" stage, we had no need for three bedrooms, so we decided to make ourselves cozy! Well, that is except for the living room area.

As I've mentioned, this area of our home has always been my worst nightmare. It's long... 29'; narrow... 11'6". It features our home's front entrance with no well defined foyer area, centered along the south wall; the traffic pattern leads into the kitchen across the room, which "invisibly" divides the two spaces.

Over the course of the years, we've painted {many times!}, added two walls of hickory paneling and faux crowning molding to provide some sense of architectural detail, and have basically struggled to get it "just right!"

Another challenge we've faced is that the opposite end of the room,which I consider the TV viewing area, for lack of a better term... consists of a traffic pattern leading to the hallway and bedrooms. The room is situated on the south-west corner of the house so obtaining natural lighting into the space has always been a consideration when we've attempted decorating it.

Well, probably needless to say, but I'm going to anyways... is that we don't have a whole a lot of money to change this space, so I have to take that into consideration. For years, I've made due with what I currently own to decorate with. It's not uncommon for me to re-arrange furniture, taking home decor elements out of one room and utilizing them into another. So, I began taking that possibility into consideration.

I looked at what "our home" means to both of us and discovered that our home is... our shelter, our sanctuary from the outside world; it's a place of refuge, of comfort, a place where we can return to, to nourish our souls.It's where we, as a couple, live, laugh, and love with our family and friends. And I quickly realized, that when I/we/company enters our home, our living room isn't reflecting that. Instead, its a very eclectic mix of this and that! There's no real defined style or theme. So, I began looking at what we need to keep in the space, what we can change inexpensively, and began soul-searching for what it is we desire within the space.

Several things I discovered, I no longer love. The big screen TV, for instance. Oh, I love the large screen, but I wouldn't have purchased the black and silver finish it is encased within. Can we afford to change it? No. So, what if, instead of fighting it, I learn to love it, learn to embrace it, instead of struggling with it?
How can I make that possible? What can I do to achieve that, became my next question.

As I wandered around our home, I made my way into the kitchen to refill my coffee, when out of nowhere it hit me. As I looked around, I noticed the use of black and white within the space, and how scattered here it there it somehow pulled the room together. Can I make that happen in our living room? I thought about how I had painted our kitchen red last year and suddenly remembered, paint isn't too awful expensive and a good place to begin. So, I began considering some of the color choices I've made in other areas of our home. I realized I loved the beige color in our bedroom, how I always thought I'd like to change the Behr Restful green in my studio to a light or medium shade of beige one day. Then, it hit me! What if I took the artwork and some of my favorite pieces I've created out of my studio and utilized them in the living room? That was it! The solution, I'd been striving for. I could see it, in my mind's eyes, well until I realized that I needed to include Don in this decision. How would he feel with this? Would he enjoy it as much as I seemed to be while entertaining this idea? Well, there was only one way to find out and that was to talk to him about it. As I thought about it, I wondered how do I make him see what I see? So, I grabbed some magazines, browsed rooms online that I felt drawn to, noted what attracted me and discussed it with him. And the good news is that he is as excited about decorating this space as I am!

We discussed what we couldn't afford to change, what elements we'd keep, what we could do with some of the elements we didn't like. We discussed lighting and paint and... so many other things. We noticed a few obstacles, like the pattern on our furniture, options to change it, like slipcovers and even purchasing new! So we went out yesterday to browse and begin exploring some of those things. We visited a furniture store, a home improvement store to picked out paint samples, looked at lighting. Not desiring to limit ourselves we decided to check out another home improvement store near us for options available there.

As we were looking at paint samples and had chosen a few, I decided to seek a friends opinion of what I desired for the space. Terry, a friend of ours, works in the paint department of this particular store, so I explained to him what I could see in my minds eye. I showed him the color samples Don and I had chosen and Terry said, "Wait a minute!" and ventured over to a counter nearby. Can you imagine our surprise when we realized he had two gallons of one of our chosen colors? Someone had chosen it, too, and changed their minds on purchasing it! And the best part? We could purchase it for $5.00 a gallon! It is more than enough paint for the space so we purchased it!

Figuring, we had saved some money on paint... we made our way to another home decor store to look at shelving ledges. Well, we didn't find the ledges we were after, but I did discover some jacquard curtains that will allow me to keep the existing sheer curtains we have in the room and they co-ordinate beautifully with the color scheme and design we're desiring to achieve.

Anyways, it's a start! We've paint, new curtains that work with what we already have, and we're enjoying all the possibilities. Later today, we're heading back to a furniture store in Dalton, Ohio that we'd previously visited in hopes of finding the "just right" coffee table and end stands. The company there will also custom design furniture so we plan to discuss some storage solutions for the electrical components that accompany the TV. We're thinking with some planning, some legwork, some elbow-grease, and a little money we will finally have that living room that's warm and welcoming. The one that says, "Welcome home" to us and "Welcome to our family and friends." I can't wait to "invite you in!" but have decided since we'll be working on the area, we'll just spare you the construction zone, LOL! We do hope to share some bits and pieces as finish them along the way and will reveal the final redecorating with you when it's complete.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Ohio Bird Sanctuary

Last month, Don and I spent a beautiful sunny day at the Ohio Bird Sanctuary located between Ontario and Lexington, Ohio. We enjoy visiting here and stop by whenever we are in the area and we have the time to stop. It's a wonderful way to spend time in nature, slow down and enjoy life, and we love the purpose of the Ohio Bird Sanctuary to provide a safe haven and care for injuried birds. Some of the birds we've seen at the sanctuary are songbirds, such as this bluejay, a variety of hawks, vultures, and owls. I added a link to the Ohio Bird Sanctuary's website, simply click on the title link above if you'd like to visit it. The Sanctuary offers outdoor adventures and teaches children about nature, the habitat, and birds and I one day hope to share this sanctuary and adventure with Alexxis when she gets a bit older. Anyways, here are few of the photographs that I captured that day.

Remains to be seen...

This how my "Remains To Be Seen" branch looks with the latest jewelry additions added to it. I added the pin to the aged cheesecloth that I tied on and the circle medallion was strung upon a couple of silk ribbons that I hand dyed. Perhaps, one day I'll create some tags and gather items so that I can change it out seasonally, but for now, I just enjoy creating and adding a few pieces to it.

Another jewelry piece...

While looking in my clear art supply containers for a black bead for the previously created piece, I stumbled upon a few photo charm frames I had previously purchased. Since I love the pin, I thought why not create myself a beautiful pendant?

As I was creating this one, I began feeling a great sense of pride. Do you see that background? That is the first background that I have created in Photoshop CS3 using brushes sucessfully! I've been attempting to play around in Photoshop as I'm desiring to use it to enhance my paper arts artwork. And what a learning experience it has been! I'm not familiar with Photoshop at all; have no experience whatsoever using it so anything that I create and is actually use-able is a treasure to me. Anyways, these will look wonderful hanging on my "Remains To Be Seen" tree until I decide to actually wear them!

My "Art Inchie" pin...

K&Company has had these Frippery do-it-yourself jewelry kits on the the market for some time now. The kits include everything you need to create your own one of a kind bracelet, necklace, pin, or earrings so when I seen this Phoebe Medallion Pin kit while out yesterday, I quickly wondered if just maybe, possibly my newly created "inchies" would fit inside. Of course, I had to purchase two of them just to find out!

This morning, as I opened one of the two kits, I immediately felt drawn to this black and white polka-dotted sticker background. There was a printed text in the center of it which, of course, somehow got covered up when I laid my inchie on top of it and I quickly discovered that my inchie would need to be trimmed just the slightest bit in order to fit but that was no real problem --- one little snip with my trusty scissors and viola! Next, I simply needed to adhere my inchie to the sticker background. Hmm, sticker, slick surface... but I figured double-side photo squares would work so after adhereing 4 of them, overlapped a bit onto the back of my inchie, I was all set to adhere it onto the sticker. I attempted to center it but it was a bit tricky since first of all my "inchie" is now a bit smaller than an inch and the sticker is approximately 1"x2". Can you say, "tiny"? So I opted to not even attempt that, I decided to simply allow a bit of the background text to show through along the top side as a border. The next step was to adhere the clear dome sticker onto the artwork. As I overlayed the clear dome, I noticed that the dome itself wasn't as big at the sticker itself so I had to quickly determine where to place it and decided to just center it within the width of the piece and finally, I was ready to peel the sticker off and place it within the medallion.

The kit also includes 3 beads and 4 head pins, I thought I'd like to add some beads to dangle on the bottom of mine. Anyways, 4 headpins later, I quickly discovered that I'm no jeweler. I gained an entirely new respect for anyone who can create those beautiful little beaded things to add to jewelry and artwork! Out of four, I successfully managed to create one an used a jump ring to add it to the lower right. Now, I am desiring to purchase a box of head pins so that I practice, and possibly later on add another of the same color bead to the left side and a beautiful faceted black bead to the center. Anyways, I'm excited about creating it and can't wait to actually wear it!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Art Inchies

In all honesty, when I first heard of "inchies" I wondered "what the heck?" Who has the time to resize their images, scan in some embellishments and resize them, all to fit on a 1" square? Well, with a little thought and imagination, I realized I could pull the images up from my pictures in MS Word and resize them manually without too much trouble, so today I attempted to create my first ones ever! After printing and trimming, I was all set to get started assembling them onto a 1" printed cardstock base. I used printed cardstock scraps that I had leftover from some of my other cards and projects and I'm also woman enough to admit when I'm wrong and after quickly creating these, I soon realized just how addicting these little 1" pieces of art could become! They are adorable and offer so many possibilities in using them in mixed media artwork! Did a mention that they are a great way to utilize scraps of paper that I'd otherwise probably throw away? And I realized that these offer a new use for some of the ATC size stamps I purchased sometime ago but haven't used in a while. Can you picture these being used as charms on a necklace or bracelet that you could actually wear? or even small magnets? or hot glued onto tacks for a decorative bullutin board push pin? I'm certain I've simply touch the surface on uses for these. For those of you have created them, what ideas, thoughts, and uses have you used your inches for? I'd love to hear....

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

An "Experiment"

I love using vintage images in my artwork. However, today, I got to wondering what I could create using one of the many most recent pictures I had taken of Alexxis. So, I pulled up my HP Photosmart Premier program that came with my digital camera and choose an image. The photo was actually taken a month or so ago but by turning it into a black and white image "when" it was taken sort of disappeared. I printed it out in a 3"x4" wallet size since I knew I'd probably only have time to create a tag before needing to clean up for the next visit with the "little princess". That thought is what lead me to creating this:

from this: