The Perfect Imperfect Christmas Tree

We had the best intentions.  We were going to pick out a Christmas tree together this past weekend, but time got away from us, and it was dark before we even got close to a Christmas tree farm.  Thus, Scott was solely responsible for picking out our Christmas tree this year.

Did that make me nervous?  Not really.

Scott might not care about the decorative nature of many things, but he does care about picking out a good Christmas tree and chopping it down himself.  So here it is, folks, the official 2014 Christmas tree:

treeWhat do I love about it?  Well, it’s a cedar, which is kind of fun and different.  And even though it’s mostly perfect, it has that one little leaning leader at the top just for me.

I’ve always had a penchant for the Charlie Brown Christmas tree, and there is a pretty large gap between CB’s tree and Scott’s dream tree.  Scott somehow managed to make all parties entirely happy this year, and I’m impressed.  Well done, sir.  Well done.

Painting Some More: Stairs

I had an ambitious post-work plan for yesterday.  First I would hit up the grocery store, followed by some time painting a second coat on our stair treads.  And last but not least, I would iron in front of the tv and watch a new movie I’m pretty excited about.

Nope.  The groceries happened, then I got home and got sucked into online Christmas shopping.  The good news is that three family members now have presents headed their way.  The bad news is that I painted after that and then staggered to bed in a sleepy stupor around 11:30.  Not exactly according to plan.

chair barrierThe good news is that Peanut didn’t try to get past my super sturdy barrier (complete with a dog-sized gap on the left).  The bad news is that even though I have finished the treads, I now have to paint the risers and the side trim.  Sigh.

And I’m painting them white, no less.  I love painting things that make a huge impact.  But painting things to just “tidy the look up a bit”?  Not as fun.

But there are good things in the future.  There’s good friend time coming up tonight and on Sunday, not to mention the good food that will probably be a part of both events.  And there’s no more thinking about the status of our stairs for months and months (maybe years?).  All good.

Note: A friend asked if we stained our bathroom cabinets, and I said no.  I haven’t stained anything before, so the thought seems kind of daunting.  I was planning to stain our stairs until I discovered that we had a few sizable holes to fill in with wood filler, which I’ve heard doesn’t stain as well as it claims to stain.  So with a huge sense of relief and avoided danger, I decided to paint the stairs.  And that brings us to this moment.  Everything you wanted to know and a few paragraphs more, right?

Painting on a Whim

So our main guest bathroom has been sitting untouched for a while.  Meaning that there were tons of extra nail holes in the wall, not to mention various stains and smudges and general yuck.

I decided I needed to change that this weekend, and I wanted to change it immediately (and for free).  Enter the extra paint from our downstairs bathroom.  It wasn’t exactly the color I wanted for the upstairs bathroom, but it was in the right color family–the family called “tone down the avocado bathtub and toilet.”

So, with leftover paint and a few hours, we went from dirty, tired walls to a fresh blue bathroom.

new bathroom 1

Ta da!  I even kind of like it now, avocado and all.

new bathroom 2

The artwork ties in the fabulously 70’s countertop.  Which makes for a very happy painter.

new bathroom painter

The gold frame even looks nice next to all of that fresh blue paint.  Yay!  Three cheers for leftover paint and a free afternoon!  Three cheers for a bathroom that is no longer yucky!!

P.S.  Found a before picture somewhere on the vast interwebs, so for the sake of comparison:

photo by some realtor about a year and a half ago

photo by some realtor about a year and a half ago

Procrastination and Celebration, Rinse and Repeat

I’m extremely grateful that we’re hosting a Christmas party at our house in a few weeks.  Why?  Well, in addition to the fact that I like having friends over, it’s the best project motivation I’ve had for a while.  What better reason to finally paint the stairs or the bathroom than a whole bunch of people coming over?

So on Monday night, I finally (FINALLY) got around to caulking the stairs.  Now they’ve had carpet removed, been sanded, had holes filled, had large cracks caulked, and they’re ready for a final sanding and some paint.  Whew.  There are so many steps to do, which means many opportunities for procrastination.  Many many opportunities.

I tried to take care of the smallest of the small projects last night.  And there was some fun TV, too.  Congrats to Alfonso for winning Dancing With the Stars.  In my completely unprofessional opinion, he deserved it.

I’m not a consistent DWTS viewer, but that finale was pretty fun.  And now you can forget that I said that.  No, I like sophisticated fare like PBS.  Nothing but PBS and the BBC and more PBS.  And shiny mirror ball trophies.

photo from

photo from

It was fun to see Sadie on the dance floor, too.  Commendable second place.

photo from

photo from

Oh, wait, PBS.  Yeah, Jane Austen and Sherlock Holmes and things.

Maybe I should just get back to those stairs.

Pre-Thanksgiving Pretties

It’s Confess Your Mess Friday (something that I made up), and here’s the truth.  I kept the kitchen cleaned up every day for the first three days of the week.  It was lovely.  And then I completely stopped doing dishes for the last two days.  As a result, our kitchen is covered in a thin layer of pizza dough flour and dirty dishes.


That means that today’s dose of pretty is hypothetical, not from our house.  But it’s still a good dose of pretty.  For example, we have some awesome wire place cards here:

photo from

photo from

Maybe in some kind of alternate universe I would make those.  It’s possible.

This next decorative plan is closer to the realm of reality.  I’m not talking about the fancy copper or the all-natural vibe, although those are nice.  Just the greenery.  I could do that!  And so could you.  Yay for achievable (and free) decorative plans.

photo from

photo from (who apparently found it through House & Home)

And last but not least, my favorite table decorating plan was designed with kids in mind.  I say use it for everyone.

photo from (who saw it at, who got it from Country Living)

photo from (who saw it at, who got it from Country Living)

It’s just kind of nice and relaxed.  You could draw on any type of placemat you like, and you could throw a few pieces of attractive produce in the middle of the table, and you’re there.  Fully decorated Thanksgiving awesomeness.


Now all I have to do is conquer those dishes and grab some greenery from the yard.  Or some pomegranates from the store.  Or some wire, but that one probably isn’t going to happen.

Living Area Before and After (Finally!!!)

Okay, it’s been a while since we did any actual work on our living area (aside from the stairs, which are kind of a part of the project, kind of not).  But it took a while for me to get motivated to clean and get tools off the floor and all of those fun details that make pictures worth seeing.  Yes, I was too lazy to take tools downstairs.  It happens.

The point is that I finally found the motivation to clean up the living area.  It’s called having guests that we don’t know.  Funny how that makes cleaning seem so much more important.  Yay for guests!  Yay for a clean house.

Lest you think we just have a boring white house, let me show you the before pictures.  This is what you used to see of our dining room from the living room:

dining room beforeAnd this is what the kitchen used to look like:

kitchen beforeAnd this was the beginning of the real projects and our never-ending adventures with dust:

whole area before So before all of the blood, sweat and tears, we had a peach kitchen, a red dining room, and a pink-ish taupe living room.  My main goal was to turn it into one bright, inviting space.  So then (drumroll, please), there was this:

kitchen afterAnd this:

living room

And this might be my favorite area of all:

dining roomIt doesn’t hurt that there is fresh rosemary on the table.  Bonus points to the table:

flowersIt’s hard to pick a favorite spot though.  See that little green bin on the top shelf?  That holds all of the papers that used to swarm onto our couch and counter and everywhere.  Not to mention the fact that the cookbooks are actually in the kitchen area now.

island bookshelfI love my fruit/potato/onion bins, too.  This spot used to house a plastic trash can.  Now it’s all cute and practical and orderly.  Those are definitely the tickets to this girl’s heart.

binsLast but not least, it wouldn’t be a real house without a little bit of TV-watching and a dog curled up on a pile of clean laundry.

real lifeHome sweet home!

Spare Drawer Solution

No, not the under-drawers type of drawer.  The furniture type of drawer.  We found ourselves with a brand new kitchen cabinet drawer and no place to put said drawer (there’s a microwave on a nifty shelf where the drawer was designed to go), so we tried to find an alternative drawer use.  This was the inspiration:

photo from (via Pinterest)

photo from (via Pinterest)

And this is the real deal at our house:

entryUnfortunately for you, the real deal is best photographed in the afternoon, when the light is bright and wonderful.  When I’m never home to take pictures.  You’ll just have to assume that it’s generally better looking in real life than in this picture.  This is how I see the table, even in dark, fuzzy pictures:

sparkly Fancier, right?  And an extra place to store books, which is always a good thing.  This is the color inside the drawer, because it’s impossible to see in the pictures:

Benjamin Moore Azores (from

Benjamin Moore Azores (from

I thought about painting the top of the table (or the drawer front, if you’re still thinking of this as a drawer and not a table), but I couldn’t bring myself to ruin the smooth finish with my messy brush marks.  So that’s it–a house project that took about 10 minutes of painting time and was free to us (if you don’t count the cost of the kitchen cabinet it came with or the paint sample I bought at least 3 years ago).  I really like free tables that double as small bookshelves and Hokie stone holders!