Monthly Archives: April 2010

hanging in the balance

I need a chandelier. The one we’ve been living with is not only fugly, it’s taken to burning through bulbs, which Joe says is probably a result of old wiring.

Normally, the prospect of shopping for light fixtures fills me with joy. And chandeliers—I swoon. But I’m kind of surprised by what I’m discovering I like, which is fairly traditional and wildly expensive. Here’s the first round:

The prototype. I am in love with Murano Venitian glass. Who woulda thunk? I doubt I’ll ever swing this with Joe, especially the price tag, but I can’t help myself, I keep coming back to it.

This one is vintage, and sold. Just as well for my wallet.

Martha Stewart’s version. Also not being made anymore. Clearly I’ve got a thing for that traditional shape though.

Although I’m definitely anti-brass, I think I’d enjoy something like this in a different metallic finish. But I don’t know … too spidery?

I think a visit to a lighting showroom is in order. It may help to see these in person. Or we may be eating by candlelight a lot more.



adventures in landscaping

I’ve been reasonably pleased with how the yard’s coming along. All our plants came back, and are blooming gorgeously. The grass seed is finally starting to sprout, and will hopefully stick around for a while this time.

But I’ve got bigger plans, so I have a landscaper coming over to consult today. They mailed out a brochure and questionnaire ahead of time, and it’s helped me outline my goals. I jotted down a few to discuss. Among them:

  • How to fix the lawn
  • How we can add evergreens to the front bed. Joe came around to what I’ve been telling him about year-round appeal, just like I knew he would.
  • What we can do to discourage squirrels. This is underlined twice.
  • Why my composter doesn’t work.
  • What the results of our soil test mean. No one told me it would be in periodic table of elements code.

My longterm plan is to makeover the backyard. It’s huge, and private (all our neighbors have fences and we have lots of hedges), and easily one of the best features of this house. I want to eventually add a patio and grill station and make it into a nice place to hang out and entertain.

Joe is just hoping they look around and say, “Wow, fantastic work, nothing we can do to improve on this.”


taking a stand

We bought this nightstand for five bucks. It’s our official starter project.

We’ve been going to flea markets since the end of February without any luck, and I was getting desperate. I convinced Joe to give the one at the fire station near us another try, earlier in the morning this time, and whamo, paydirt.

It’s solid wood, pine, we think, and not much else. I didn’t even have to haggle for the five-buck price. It’s probably more work than it’s worth, and Joe’s already bugged by the fact that it won’t be part of a matched set, but it’s a start.

Of course, he’s already banned me from sanding, staining, or pretty having anything to do with restoring it (and this despite the fact that I did all the woodwork in the entire house). But that just means I can keep haunting flea markets for my own project. I’m good with that.


the bug man cometh

Last Wednesday, I began spotting ants in my home office. I counted three by the time Joe got home, and then suddenly we were up to 9 in several minutes, including one scurrying across my laptop screen.

I am not really squeamish about bugs, but after the fiasco with our shed last season, I was taking no chances. Not to mention, these were carpenter ants, which nest in wood. And they were treating the Orkin ant control I’d sprayed around the foundation like eu de cologne. So we called our first exterminator.

The irony is, in prepping for the bug guy, our house has never been cleaner (even I was in the shower when he came, thanks to Joe not remembering what time he made the appointment). We went with a local guy, and he was super nice, quick, and reasonable. And his business cards have a huge black ant on them, which is fun (although I find the matching refrigerator magnet questionable).

So hopefully we’re ant-free, especially after tomorrow, when we re-caulk the windows, which is how they were getting in.


odds and ends

It’s been more than a year since the bathroom was completed, so I figured it’s time for a few finishing touches. I cannot get Joe to relent on putting a shelf (or anything) in the big bare spot on the wall above the toilet, so I settled for these:

After months of searching, I found the perfect mouthwash carafe for $5 at Ross:

And that inspired me to bite the bullet on this bath mat I’ve been eyeing from Cost Plus World Market, also on sale (got it in white):

And finally, this bad boy—who knew I could ever be excited over a scale?

Now if Joe ever actually cleans the bathroom, it’ll all look great.


fed up

I hung this DSW bottle bird feeder on the tree in my front yard in hopes of attracting a goldfinch after I spotted my first one last summer. I never got bird watching before, but I loved the bright gold color and wanted to show Joe one.

Instead, I’ve attracted squirrels. I hate squirrels. The first feeder ended in disaster after the furry delinquents ate away the plastic soda bottle to get at the seed inside, and ultimately gnawed through the rope holding it up. I opened the front door one morning to find six of them clustered around it at the base of the tree, stuffing themselves silly.

I bided my time and my soda bottles, and once spring hit, I hung up two feeders, So far, the one out back has been doing great. A cardinal was frequenting it, and a bunch of little finches and sparrows.

Out front, it’s a different story. It took those deviants less than a week to chew into the bottle, and every day as I leave or enter the driveway, one of them is humping my feeder. I get out and throw rocks but they’re relentless.

Joe has suggested wrapping the branch in barbed wire. I thought that sounded inhumane, but then I remembered we’re talking about squirrels here.


soiling myself

My lawn obsession begins anew. This year, I’m doing it right and getting my soil tested. I mailed the kit out today, but it took me longer than I thought. That’s because the process is actually quite scientific.

You have to dig up samples at evenly spaced intervals around the yard, mix them together and let them dry overnight. Then you dump one cup of dirt in a baggie, fill out a form and mail it off. Tougher than my census form, for sure.

I’m hoping the results will help me tame the green beast. Besides not knowing what kind of grass we have, we’ve got patchy spots, crab grass, onion grass, and encroaching zoysia. I know liming will get rid of the onion grass, and that nothing short of scorching the earth will get rid of the zoysia.

But as far as achieving this, I’m clueless. I truly believe lawn care requires an advanced degree.