1902 Victorian

Bringing our old house out of the disco era and back into the Victorian.

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Friday, April 29, 2005

Made in Iran

The two vintage Persian rugs I bought from eBay arrived Wednesday, but because of our Episcopalian adventure, I didn't get to de-package them until last night.

The big boys were very interested in the rugs right from the start. Anything new in the house - or at their eye level - gets a thorough sniffing right away.

Alistair quickly got bored, but Henry is in love. Like me, his favorite is the purple one. He wouldn't even leave it alone long enough for me to get a photo without him in it.

The purple is even more beautiful in person. The other is more faded than it looked in the eBay photos, so I'm not totally happy with it. But the first is so pretty it is worth the price of both, which were really cheap but were expensive-ish to ship. When Darwin asked me how much they cost I said 2495 and let him assume for a moment I meant $2,495 instead of $24.95 just to see the veins pop out on his forehead. I'm evil.

Either way, I feel all fancy-pants because I now own rugs ... other than bathmats.

I haven't decided where to put them yet, though I'm thinking the master bedroom for the purple one. I was originally planning to buy a huge rug to go under the bed, but then they all had such pretty center patterns that I didn't want to cover them up with a big stupid bed. So I think I'm going with runners like these instead.

Sadly, if I put the purple rug in the bedroom, Henry will no longer have access to his favorite new friend. Maybe that's for the best. The boy does have a shedding problem.

In other news, my turn-of-the-century Moroccan slippers (aka, impulse buy) arrived this week also. They are delightful.

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

Our Naïveté is Revealed

Darwin and I had our first mint juleps ever last night. I expected to love them since I have a special affection for all things mint, but they were only OK. I don't think I'm going to be sipping them on my front porch too often.

Another new experience last night was our first visit to an Episcopalian church. The church right across the street from us is St. Stephens Episcopal, and we've been thinking about visiting. Then our neighbors invited us for a BBQ there, so it was the perfect opportunity.

Everyone was super nice, and the BBQ sauce was amazing. But one thing was very, very different from the church gatherings we are accustomed to ... alcohol.

Darwin and I were both raised Baptist (Free Will Baptist for him, Southern Baptist for me), and at a Baptist church you do NOT drink. Or at least you pretend like you don't drink and make scandalized faces when everybody gossips about a church member who was witnessed out boozing.

My favorite joke:
Why must you always invite at least two Baptists to a party?
Because if you only invite one, he'll drink all your beer.

The church we attended for the first year of our marriage - the church Darwin was raised in - is as old-fashioned and conservative as they come. I don't know how we made it out of there with our sanity intact, but somehow we did.

Now that we're in Eutaw, that church is a good hour away, so at least the pleas to return have trickled to a stop. Darwin still sings in a gospel group with his dad and some other folks, mostly on Sundays, and that has somewhat disrupted our plans to begin going regularly to a new church.

Plus, we're lazy.

And I'm none too eager to get back in the routine of sitting through sermons that make me clench Darwin's pants leg to keep from yelling at the preacher and storming out of there.

But maybe the Episcopal church would be different. What's not to love about a place that serves Corona and BBQ on Wednesday night?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Back, Ghosts!

I just found out the U.S. Hwy 11 Antique Alley will be happening in our town May 12-15. I am so excited about this. It's sort of like the World's Longest Yard Sale (I've watched the shows about it on HGTV and could barely restrain my drooling).

Yes, 502 miles of antique and yard sales from Meridian, Mississippi, to Bristol, Virginia. Hurray! Our little town square will be all abuzz. I'm excited by the prospect of so many yard sales/antique booths in one spot and also that our dear town will be part of something big like this. If there are 30,000 people shopping Hwy. 11 as the Web site claims, we could have thousands of folks coming through Eutaw.

I wouldn't want our town to get overgrown and become Stripmallville, but I would like more people to notice it and realize what a nice place it is to live. I've been reading about ghost towns today, and I don't want Eutaw to become one.

Ghost Towns of America says the American History and Genealogy Project considers a community to be a ghost town if it exhibits at least one of the following characteristics:
  • It is a formerly inhabited area containing random debris or dense overgrowth
  • It has caved-in structures which have been partially destroyed
  • It is an abandoned community containing buildings which have been sealed off
  • It is an inhabited community containing many abandoned buildings
  • It is an historic community whose economy and population is much smaller than it once was
  • It is a restored historic community

Um ... according to the Greene County GenWeb site, the county had a population of 18,399 in 1870; 21,992 in 1890 and (drumroll, please) ... 10,210 in 1990. Ouch, that hurt. See point #5 up there: economy and population much smaller than it once was. Uh-oh, and then we also have point #4: many abandoned buildings.

Am I already living in a ghost town?

Dear Eutaw has a population of 1,800 now compared with 1,400 in 1890. OK, I admit that's not fabulous growth over a hundred years. But it doesn't show that halving of the population that the county saw. Maybe it isn't Eutaw that is shrinking in population but the many tiny "That was a town?" towns sprinkled around the county. Mantua, Union, Knoxville, Forkland, Boligee.

Maybe Eutaw isn't so much a ghost town as a stagnant town. Never changing, full of Old Greene County Families who will live and raise children and go to church and die here.

I guess we will be one of those families now. Only I am not content with stagnant. You can preserve the past, but you don't have to live in it.

That's why my mind is always buzzing ... how can we make Eutaw the shining example of townhood I know it can be?

Oh no. I'm turning into Cher from that movie Clueless, minus the thigh highs.

C'mon Dee, let's totally do a makeover!

Monday, April 25, 2005

Not-so-clean Sweep

This was another busy weekend. Saturday morning, Darwin worked on the gutter again and thought he had it fixed, but it rained that night and was still dripping. So he has to think about it some more. We're hoping we don't have to replace that whole section of gutter.

The dealership where we bought our cars (we both have Mazdas) was having a customer appreciation day on Saturday, so we took my car to town for a free oil change and had free lunch. Since we were in town, we went to the mall and to K-mart ... woo-hoo, we are fancy now! :) At K-mart I bought some seeds for flowering vines and a "meadow flower mix." Did you know the Martha Stewart collection even extends to gardening?

I'm really getting into this gardening thing, to Darwin's increasing displeasure. We're doing the Clean Sweep method of gardening. Get rid of the extraneous crap and replace with a more streamlined, more attractive arrangement of plants. It's not quite as easy as de-cluttering in your house. You have to saw and dig and haul and get dirty ... and sometimes you even see an earthworm. Yeeeeuugghghh.

On Saturday and Sunday we (mostly he) dug up two half-dead bushes that were in the way by the front porch. We replaced them with the two free forsythias I got with my order from the National Arbor Day Foundation.

We had dinner at my parents' house on Sunday (fried tilapia ... mmm), and I noticed three cute little bushes in their front yard. They had pale purple flowers and smelled nice. Mom said Dad wanted to get rid of them so he wouldn't have to mow around them. I offered to take 'em off their hands. Darwin didn't want to dig them up and fill in the holes, but I have a foolproof method of persuading him to do what I want. (No, it does not involve striptease.)

I fetched the shovel and tried to do it myself. But with my dad and Darwin around, they just HAD to take over and do it the "right" way. It's a good thing because I could only get the shovel to go about an inch in the ground. I blamed it on their hard, dry dirt - not like our soft, moist Black Belt soil - but really I need to work on my technique. :)

When we got home, we (again, mostly he) planted them at the back of the house. Most of the plants in our yard are at the side or front, so we thought it'd be nice to have something pretty and nice-smelling where we come and go the most.

By the way, look at Darwin's new haircut. He insisted I cut his hair on the shortest setting this time because he gets hot in his hardhat at work. Eeek, I'm not too sure about this.

My parents also gave us two pots of marigolds leftover from my dad's own planting spree. We planted them in the concrete urns the POs left on the front steps.

The forsythias are planted on either side of the steps, but they're too little to see in this photo. Anybody know how fast these things grow?


Friday, April 22, 2005

The Great Outdoors

Do you sometimes have to type blah blah blah before you can get your mind straight to type something? No, just me?

Last night we went outside to plant the trees I ordered from the National Arbor Day Foundation (thanks, Kasmira, for posting about their $10, 10 trees deal). In addition to the 10 free flowering trees, I ordered - at a discounted rate - a weeping willow, sugar maple and two hazelnuts ... plus got a red maple and two forsythias free.

Why did I order so many trees when I already have a yard full of them? Good question. Yes, my name is Veruca Salt, and I like to have lots and lots of things. I see it, I want it. Gimme gimme gimme.

We searched for good places to put all the trees. There was a great spot for the forsythias on each side of the front steps. But these inconvenient, overgrown, overpruned, leafless, nameless bushes were in the way. We ran into the same problem with all the other "great spots" in the yard.

So we decided to water the trees' roots and wait till this weekend when can do some more yard destruction.

But since I had gone to the effort of putting on my flipflops instead of my house slippers, I was determined to do something plant-related outside. I finally convinced Darwin to venture into the spider-infested yonder to fetch some of the pots the POs left under the house.

I repotted all my darling herbs, which are growing like mad and were in almost-too-small pots in the first place. Just look at the sage! It's massive! Those plants in the two pots at the bottom are purple coneflowers my lovely neighbor brought me.

I spilled lots of potting soil all over the back steps, while Darwin grew more and more agitated watching me. Hee hee, it's fun to mess with him sometimes. He took over and potted the sage (the last plant) because he just couldn't take it anymore.

While we were outside, I found a package on the front porch. It was my Avon bug-repellant stuff, and it couldn't have arrived at a more opportune moment. I ripped open a towellette and rubbed it all over myself on the front steps, hoping no one would walk by and wonder just what naughty thing I was doing to myself.

The stuff worked great, but since I am mosquitos' most tasty dish, one of the determined little beasts found the 1/4 inch of skin I missed and bit me. On the side of my heel. *Sigh* Maybe I should soak in a tub of bug repellant before I venture outdoors.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Movin' on Up

I'm attempting to move up in the world. I'm in the process of switching my Web site to a new host that provides me with the stuff needed to use Movable Type.

I read a lot of blogs, and I can't help but notice how easy it is to post comments on the ones with Movable Type or WordPress. Sometimes it's easy on Blogger and sometimes it's unbearably slow. I want to make everything as easy as possible for you folks reading my babbling.

Problem is, when you transfer all your posts to Movable Type, you lose all the comments on the old entries. That makes me sad because I love the comments. They make me smile.

So I'm debating. Maybe I will move everything over there and keep this one up, too. Maybe I will back out of this whole thing and just hunker down here at Blogger.

What do you think? Anybody out there who's made the switch? Or any advice (or caveats) from fellow Blogger-ites or from Movable Type folks?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Frivolous Junk

I wish this eBay seller was a little closer to me (like, not all the way across the country) because what I really need to make my life complete is an antique popcorn and peanut machine with a little toy clown on top to turn the crank.

It would go nicely with the antique Moroccan slippers I bought from this seller last week.

What can I say? I like random stuff.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Top o' the World

Today we hung a new chandelier in the entry hall. It's a reproduction turn-of-the-century gas and electric fixture from J.F. Pegan, and it's been hanging out in the front bedroom (aka junk room) since before Christmas.

We didn't have a tall enough ladder to install it before, but we got one at Lowe's week before last when Darwin's car was in the shop and he had a big-ass Dodge Ram rental truck. When I heard he would have a truck for a couple of days, the first thing I thought was, "What can we buy?" Yes, I'm a shopaholic - why do you ask?

Here's my sweetiepie being a good sport about perching 12 feet in the air dealing with this chandelier:

Good thing he's not afraid of heights.

I am strictly a ground dweller. I helped about as much as our younger cat Henry (who totally disregarded the rules of plastic bag safety), hovering around with my camera ... oh and unwrapping the shades and passing them up to Darwin. See there, I had a purpose. And I was also the one who found the missing stockpile of light bulbs.

This weekend was so productive. We did all that pruning on Saturday, and then did some more this afternoon. I cleaned up a couple of dolls and sewed a dress for one. I printed out photos of our niece E's 6th birthday party and of our pruning adventures for my scrapbook.

Ahhhhhhh. It feels so good to have accomplished something. With my business trip at the end of March and then birthday parties galore, we have had a dry spell.

Plus, I enjoyed the physical exertion of the pruning and hauling limbs all over kingdom come. Really, I did! Once upon a time I was an active human being. I even took aerobics, tennis and dance classes in college. But since I became a real-world adult (supposedly) two years ago, I have become a large mushy vegetable.

I feel tired but not because I am entering a boredom-induced coma like usual. I am tired from doing REAL WORK!

And now it's sleepy time.

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Saturday, April 16, 2005

Pruning Juice

A film of dirt and plant goo is sticking to my sunscreen-streaked skin. My feet and back hurt. I have a cut on the business end of my flipping-off finger. I feel itchy just from looking at some poison ivy.

Ain't gardening grand?

We did some serious pruning today. Nearly every plant on this place is overgrown. While this house was up for sale, a gardening service was supposedly keeping up maintenance on the place. More like mowing the grass and nothing more.

We focused our energies on the shady side of the property, and it is looking about 112% better now. Darwin hacked at a weedy, mishmash patch of bushes with a chain saw and the push mower until it was beautifully flat. He cut lots of limbs off the mammoth holly that was crowding our fig tree and pruned too-low limbs on the cherry laurel and a different variety of holly.

Where you see dirt in this photo was this morning covered with bushes and limbs of various descriptions.

We started working on another holly (yet another type) next to the fence but then discovered a bird's nest - complete with baby bird - in the crook of a massive vine and left it alone for now.

What did I do in all this? I was the official limb-hauler-offer girl. OK, Darwin helped, too. Still, I think I got a year's worth of exercise today. Ooh, I hope I'll be sore tomorrow. It has been so long ...

Here's the pile we made in the front yard.

I'm already feeling sorry for the trash collector people.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Six-legged Murderess

One of my major issues with outdoor work is bugs. If there's a mosquito within 10 miles, it will HUNT ME DOWN. I got my first mosquito bite of the season the other day after spending a mere 15 minutes out in the dusk. I've ordered every different bug repellant Avon sells, even little bug repellant wipes you can carry in your purse. I hope they get here soon.

When I got home last night, I discovered that a colony of the dreaded fire ant has set up shop under the carport right beside where I park my car. Of all the places they could pick to build their dream home, they chose the spot directly next to my driver's side door, so that I have to step over it to get in and out of my car.

Fire ants love me as well. I am the queen of the insects, their much-desired Venus. Maybe that is why I can't even escape them when I'm indoors.

At our first house (not-so-affectionately known as "the shack"), we had a serious ant infestation. Not fire ants this time, but the harmless little black ones I once admired. Awww, look at the charming little creatures busy about their work.

After living in the shack for a while, I began to hate the little buggers with a fiery passion. There was actually a group of them living in our wall. At any given moment, there was a two-lane highway of ants streaming to and from somewhere in my house. They got into the sugar canister and the box of strawberry Pop Tarts. There were always several crumpled black ant bodies littering the countertop, particularly behind the sink. Outside, they traveled in long lines all the way around the house.

One day I came home after a hard day and saw them writhing blackly all over the place. I became filled with righteous indignation. I had asked Darwin to take care of them a dozen times, and yet he never did! They were unstoppable!

I stormed inside the house and fetched the bug spray we (make that I) used monthly to beat back the roaches and spiders and ants. I became a crazed maniac, spraying at the lines of ants scurrying along the porch steps, around the foundation, up the side of the house, along the eaves. Everywhere, EVERYWHERE!

I felt like Rambo. Take that, ants! Rat-a-tat-tat with my machine gun ... um, spray gun. Right and furious and a little teary with it. This is my house! DIE, ANTS!

Finally, I collapsed, spent and bleary-eyed from the mist of poison falling back down on me when I tried to spray the eaves. The fire drained out of me, and then I felt guilty, sitting in my house surrounded by little ant corpses.

Now that I'm thinking back on it, The Massacre at Hwy. 69 North, I realize that marked the end of my guilt-free bug-killing days. I never enjoyed crunching roaches or spiders with my shoe, but now I refuse to do it. Once recently I demanded that Darwin kill a red wasp that was sitting in the grass by our house. "It'll just get into the house," I said, because we do have a problem with wasps on our windows.

But as soon as he squished the thing, grinding it into the ground with his shoe, I felt sick. Guilty. Here I am a month later still agonizing about it. What is wrong with me?

I hate them and yet ... maybe I don't. If they aren't bothering me - if they are just buzzing around in the outdoors minding their own business - who am I to end their lives?

If a mosquito lands on me to bite, I don't hesitate to smack his little ass into oblivion. And those fire ants outside my car door have GOT to go.

But I'm finding peace with the insect world. A couple of weeks ago, Darwin and I spread out a picnic blanket in the grass of the backyard to read magazines in the sun. Honeybees buzzed all around us in the clover, and yet I wasn't afraid. I watched them, enjoying this up-close look, sans screaming and batting around my head frantically with my arms.

Then we saw a show on TV about killer bees and how they will be here soon, infiltrating our hives of peaceful little honeybees. I hope the show was sensationalizing it. If not, maybe then my make-love-not-war days will end.


Wednesday, April 13, 2005


You should've seen me trying to garden last night in my flippy pink skirt and pointy-toed shoes. OK, you can see me, winter pallor and all (make that year-round pallor):

I was so excited to get started potting my herbs when I got home that I couldn't be bothered with changing clothes. But I quickly realized I would have to sit down and get a little dirty, so I went and put on something more reasonable.

I had three pots left over from my brief foray into pot painting six years ago, but they really weren't big enough. The POs left lots of nice-sized pots in the crawlspace, but when I went to fetch them, a big fat spider was guarding the entrance and I just couldn't muster up the courage to get past him.

I'm sounding more and more like a powderpuff every minute, huh?

Anyway, I potted what I could - the corsican mint, rosemary and lavendar - and left the rest for today when my manly hubby can bring the pots out of the dark and dismal crawlspace.

Aren't they just darling? And the rosemary and mint smell divine. I'm a great lover of minty things.

Oh, but there's bad news. I finally got around to measuring the Hoosier cabinet, and that butthead is three inches too wide. I don't know what to do now. I guess I can just put it somewhere else in the house and find something else for that spot. Ugh, what a disappointment.

Now I'm thinking maybe a little corner cabinet would work best for that narrow space.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Plant Lessons

I went with a neighbor on Sunday to the Friends of the Arboretum sale at the university. This neighbor (did I mention I love every last one of my wonderful new neighbors?) is a terrific gardener, and she helped me pick out a few plants to test in our yard.

I know very little about plants, except that they need water and sun, some more than others. I have similar feelings about gardening and cooking - I would love to do it, but I have so little basic knowledge that I'm terrified.

I want to take the leap and learn about gardening, and there are so many experts on the subject in Eutaw. So many beautiful gardens.

As I've mentioned before, I love our yard. It has spots of bright sun; patches of deep, cool shade; interesting trees; colorful birds. It is private without needing a 6-foot-tall fence.

But it's a bit haphazard, and not in the good "artful disorganization" kind of way. There are TOO MANY overgrown hollies, too many boxwoods (which Darwin and I both hate after dealing with the massive monsters at our previous house), too many some-other-shrub-I-don't-know, even too many magnolias.

Too few of the plants I am interested in - azaleas, camellias ... basically, anything with flowers on it. It's actually kind of strange that we have no azaleas and camellias ... they are in nearly every yard in town. I wonder how our house escaped them?

Then I think if the house has made it 103 years without azaleas, maybe I shouldn't mess with tradition. Azaleas are literally everywhere around here. They're all blooming now, and there are so many different shapes and vibrant colors.

So I'm looking for other flowering perennials and/or evergreens. I fell in love with a peony at the arboretum sale. It's supposed to have white flowers with dark pink near the center. If it turns out well, maybe I will get more of them.

I also bought some herbs - sage, lavendar, catmint, corsican mint, rosemary - to plant a little herb garden. I have never planted one before and have no idea what I'm doing. Any tips from expert herb gardeners out there?

A co-worker told me herbs need lots of sun and well-drained soil. He suggested getting sand to combine with our wet clay soil and building up a little bed. Um, that sounds complicated. What have I got myself into?

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Mint Green Enamel

My yard saling turned out to be a success. At the first yard sale we went to, I found a Hoosier cabinet (actually this one is a Sellers brand) for $100. It's missing the rolltop thingy, has been repainted - badly - and is very dirty. So I've got my work cut out for me, but I'm excited about it.

The words "mint green enamel" are stamped on the back of both pieces, and you can see chips of the original green showing through the more recent white and turquoise paint. Funny thing is, it's a close match to the green on my kitchen cabinets. So when I paint it back to that, it will be back to its old self and look great in my kitchen. It will replace the Kmart hutch that is now holding my Fiestaware.

Here's the bottom half (we took out the drawers for moving):

And the paint chip:

Edited to add this question:
Is there a way to remove one layer of paint and leave intact the layer below?

Friday, April 08, 2005

Ahoy, Matey!

I'm going yard saling!

Today is Darwin's final day in his six months as a trainee at Mercedes. Tomorrow he has orientation all morning and afternoon, so I'll be up bright and early to drag my sister out of bed and off to the yard sales with me. She is trying to clear her condo of junk, so she isn't as thrilled about the excursion as usual.

But me? I've got a big empty house just waiting for glorious STUFF to fill it!

I want to look for an assortment of chairs to use in my dining room. I've given up on the idea of a matching dining room set for now. That can come later.

It's times like these I wish I had a truck or a massive SUV. Darwin says the next car I get will be an SUV because I can't seem to stop scraping curbs with my car. I say the next car I get will be a hybrid.

Fortunately, we won't have to resolve that any time soon because my car's Blue Book value is now lower than the amount we owe, as we found out when we thought about trading it for a Prius.

I sure wish I had known we would be moving 40 minutes away when I bought this car two years ago. With both of us commuting, we're spending a truckload of money on gas.

But Darwin has found a carpool partner, which will save him 4,500 miles a year.

And I've started a sandwich pool at work with my across-the-hall friend, so we won't eat out so much.

And starting next week, Darwin will get a raise (though most of it will be taken away with 401(k) and health insurance).

Yep, the dough will just be rolling in. And I can spend it all at yard sales. ;)


Wednesday, April 06, 2005

A Kitchen for Today

If I had done a little more research before I flung myself headfirst into the bottomless well of kitchen renovation, I might've noticed that my attempts at old-looking aimed short of the mark. Now whenever I see photos of and info on properly authentic old house kitchens, I feel a wave of guilt - or maybe it is more like regret.

I didn't know about wall-mounted faucets, nickel fixtures, flush-mounted cabinet doors, no toe kick, cabinet latches, or ball-tip mortise hinges.

OK, but if I did know about them, what could I have done, short of rip out our cabinets and start over from scratch? That's right, nothin'. Maybe one day we will be able to afford a custom kitchen, but maybe we won't.

The winter/spring issue of Style 1900 magazine contains an excerpt from Jane Powell's book, Bungalow Kitchens.

The much-beloved Ms. Powell says that updating your kitchen to keep up with current trends is foolish because trends come and go; an old-house kitchen will always feel classic and right in your house. I agree with that.

But she also provides a list of options she says you must choose from to make an appropriate old-house kitchen. For microwaves, the only option she found worthy is putting it away in a cabinet. For refrigerators, the only approved possibilities are buying a vintage fridge or hiding it with cabinetry panels. For dishwashers, cabinetry panels and dish drawers are acceptable.

I disagree with that. It's true that microwaves, refrigerators, and dishwashers are not the most beautiful items on the planet. But I don't consider them "trendy." They are necessary appliances in my kitchen, and I don't think there's a thing wrong with having them right out in the open.

My goal has always been to have my kitchen look like it fits in my house. But that doesn't necessarily mean I have to hide away my modern ammenities and pretend they don't exist.

My house was built at the turn of the century, but it has also lived through 10 decades since then. Though I am always questing to purge the '70s out, I'll play devil's advocate for a moment and ask who made the rule that 1900 is acceptable but 1970 isn't? In 100 years, will our descendants be cursing us for ripping out peach-colored '60s tile or painting over my avacado-colored oven door?

Feel free to disagree (or *gasp* agree) with me. I'd enjoy a rousing discussion.

The issue of authenticity seems to be a major hot button with old house owners. Some treat the house as if it were built in 2005 and decorate/remodel it as they would a modern house. Some embrace a mix of old and new, concerned more with the big picture - the overall "mood" or "tone" of the house. Some are scornful of products that didn't exist when the house was built and want to do everything as accurately as possible down to the smallest material.

My problem - one that is keeping me floating in the air about some kitchen decisions (*cough cough* floor *cough cough* countertops) - is that I am stuck between the "embracing the mix" mindset and the "absolutely faithful" mindset.

Perhaps my mother did her work too well, and I can't make a single decision in life without agonizing guilt.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Altered Plans

At 11 last night I was suddenly inspired to begin stenciling the cabinets. Once upon a time - before I started working an 8 to 5 job - I was a night owl. I guess this was a brief resurgence of my former self.

The stencil of the letter W turned out to be hideously ugly, so I decided to try the fleur-de-lis design similar to one on some of our fireplace mantels (another bonus - fleur-de-lis is French; so is toile, like the wallpaper. Hmmmm).

Now I'm glad I did. The font of the letters in the magazine was so pretty it made the letters not just an exercise in vanity but a decoration. With a cheesy font, there was no point in doing the monogram.

Even using spray adhesive to stick the stencil down, I got some bleed in places. It makes me wonder how the stencils I plan to use on the walls/ceiling in the dining room will work. Of course, I was using semi-gloss oil-based house paint on top of semi-gloss oil-based house paint. Most stenciling articles I read suggest acrylic paint. I think it will work better, too, on a more non-slick surface like eggshell- or flat-painted walls.

I went over the stencils with a paintbrush last night, but I've still got some touching up to do. When you're not eye level with them, they look pretty good, and I think the stenciling adds a bit of "finishedness" to the cabinets (though finishing the trim would help that, too ... we ran out of trim - again).

Monday, April 04, 2005

Stencil Madness

It was all I could do not to kiss the precious dirt of my own yard when I arrived home at midnight Friday. It's so good to be back.

And the work begins again. I found a fabulous idea in PaintDecor magazine and performed some futile attempts at making my own stencils with transparencies yesterday.

Today I found some reasonable stencils (though not as pretty as the $30-a-pop kind from Stencil Planet) at Hobby Lobby for $5-10. I am going to do a monogram (the illustrious letter W) and little design on the piece of wood over the sink and continue the design (sans monogram) on the false drawer fronts.

Though my test with the raggedy homemade stencils looked ... well, raggedy, I at least got the idea of what it will look like. Perfect, if I do say so myself (and I do).

I'm still toying with the idea of painting all the names of ours house's previous owners (we are only the third family) around the top of the walls as a border.