Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Bedroom update

OK! So, our bedroom makeover is ongoing, but I'll share some of the changes with you.

First of all, you've already seen my dancer paintings.

I probably could have straightened those before taking a pic, but oh well. What you are about to see is a pretty raw photo of the room - un-staged to the Nth.

So, first and foremost, we had to paint the walls. As you may recall, they were beige.

Bleh. We decided to go for a soft grey, with some blue undertones that we thought would go with the wood trim. It actually turned out to be ever-so-slightly lavender.

As you can see, we also painted the ceiling! It's a small room, with a pretty low and angled ceiling, and I think the singular color works well for the space.

Next up, we bought a new bed! I've been hoarding West Elm gift cards for some time, and when a sale finally came along I jumped and was able to score a bed that I love using 99% gift cards! We went with the Mid-Century Button Tufted Bed in Tweed.

The cars and trucks on the headboard basically live there. I told you this was un-staged!

Those weird streaks on the left... I think that's sunlight? Or a ghost - they aren't there in real life!

Love it. And love dumping my old full-size Ikea bed for a grown-up, beautiful, queen sized beauty!

I had originally planned on wallpapering the wall behind the headboard, and had even bought some wallpaper to do so. But I started and it was a massive, huge fail. It just would not work, so I gave up and removed the evidence. Totally bummed - especially since I bought wallpaper and wallpaper ain't cheap - but I didn't want to get stuck with something I wasn't happy with.

There is still work to be done - hanging curtains and getting rid of those yucky blinds (I hate blinds). And replacing the fugly sconces. But so far, I'm so super happy with the changes. And so is Izzy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Wallpapering the vestibule

Something I've been wanting to do in the house since before we moved in, was to update the entryway/vestibule.

The previous owners had stenciled a blue & silver pattern on the wall, and while I didn't hate it vehemently, I wasn't a fan.

Something about the silver & light blue just felt a little too weak, or sickly. That probably doesn't make sense - but I'm trying to say that it just didn't strike me at all.

I think everyone likes the birch tree wallpapers that are all over Pinterest, and I think coming back from the cottage - land of trees and especially beautiful birch trees, I felt even more attracted to it. There are a few different tree-papers available, but my favorite by far is Woods from Cole & Son.

I love that white one, but it wouldn't really suit our entryway, or the gold-framed mirror that hangs in there, so I chose it in the darker grey/white combo.

I have never wallpapered anything before. When I went to the Home Depot to buy wallpaper supplies I was told it was a "lost art" and they didn't really carry supplies because nobody does it. Annoying! FYI, Home Depot, if you're on Pinterest at all, you'll know that wallpaper has made a comeback. But, anyway. I did what I could, and was able to get paste at the HD.

Saturday, as L. napped, I 'papered. It was pretty easy, but don't look too carefully because there are definitely some mistakes in there. But, voila!

I'm pretty happy with the result! I can't stop looking at it, and I can stop opening my front door to gaze upon it as a visitor would! I'm pretty sure my neighbors think I've lost my mind. But, whatevs. I'm happy.

Monday, October 24, 2016

How to get cigarette smell out of paintings

Oh, hi!

Some time back I told you about my plan to change our drab bedroom. Well, I'm not done yet, but getting there.

One thing I wanted to add was some art, but I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted. A nice print of something I loved? Something original and cool? Or something vintage and cool? I felt pretty open about it, but I didn't want to spend much money, and I wanted it to suit the space.

After browsing eBay for weeks, I settled on two vintage/weird paintings of dancers.

I love the naive style, and the deep colors, and the gold frames, and they felt like they both suited our own vintage style. Ad for $32, they were certainly the right price!

If you follow me on Instagram, you know what happened: when they arrived they STANK like cigarettes. Like, stank beyond anything I have ever experienced. As soon as I opened the box, the smell hit me like a truck. It was disgusting. Worse than disgusting. Those of you who know me know that I have certainly enjoyed a cigarette or two (or 2,000) in my day (though happy to say haven't had a puff in 4 years) - but these smelled as though they had been locked in an airless room for 40 years with a 3-pack-a-day smoker.

The seller said they had come from and estate sale in Kentucky, and said "pet and smoke status unknown". I believe, however, that if the seller has a nose that probably the smoke status was known, but I digress.

For $32 I could have given up, thrown them out and moved on. But still, I liked these. I wanted to keep them, so I gave it a shot.

Here's how I cleaned them.

First, I used some gentle dish soap and warm water to clean the layers of nicotine off. Again, because they were only $32, I was willing to damage them - but from what I read on the internet, soap and water are ok to use gently on paintings (though if you're looking to clean your Renoirs and Picassos - take it to a pro).

The soap did a decent job on the nicotine stains, but the stank persisted. So, I took a lavender sachet and put the painting in an air-tight garbage bag for a week. This didn't work - it didn't absorb the smell, it only added lavender to the cigarette stank.

So, I did some more research into what ABSORBS smells, and settled on drying dryer sheets. So, I put the two paintings back in the air-tight garbage bag with a few sheets of Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Dryer Sheets - Lemon Verbena scent for about a week to ten days. And guess what! It worked! They absorbed the bad smell, and added a lighter, more tolerable smell.

And now those two pics happily hang in our bedroom, and still smell like Lemon Verbena dryer sheets.

Friday, September 16, 2016

A trip to the cottage and non-buyer's remorse

Late last month we road-tripped north, to Ithaca, then Toronto, and then to my family's cottage. H. and I hadn't been to the cottage since 2012, before L. was born and before I was even pregnant.

It was a lovely 4 days, despite brief fevers for both L. and I.

There have been many times over the years where I've entertained the fantasy of moving to this part of the world. What would I do there? I don't know, and I don't think it matters. The idea of seeing this landscape every day is just so appealing to me.

Yes, the winters would be long and hard, I know. And maybe part of me would miss corporate life, or even New York City. But there's a big part of me that finds the roughness appealing.

Since I first learned about the history of the Nipissing Road, I've found myself obsessively fascinated by it, which is just one reason by I'm not intimidated by the potential hardship. It actually draws me in even more.

In truth, I'm probably never going to have my Susanna Moodie Roughing It in the Bush moment, but it's a nice daydream, now and then.

While I'm up there, I like to scour the antique markets and junk sales for unique souvenirs. Well, frankly, that's something I do everywhere. On this trip I popped into an antique store while H. sat in the car with a sleeping L. That was mistake 1. I also left my phone in the car, and that was mistake 2. Mistake 3 was that I saw a gorgeous charcoal sketch of a naked (nekkid) lady and I didn't buy it because it was 1. too expensive, 2. I didn't have H. there to advise and 3. I was stupid. I didn't even have my phone to take a pic. I left and then thought about the picture for two days, until I eventually convinced myself to go back and buy it. Of course it was gone, and I can't stop thinking about it. I have non-buyer's remorse. Someone is a very lucky owner of a nekkid lady.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Updating a drab bedroom!

With roofing and plumbing issues behind us, we can turn our attention to something more fun: decor upgrades - starting with our bedroom.

This project has gotten moving faster than I had anticipated. We knew we wanted to make this room nicer, more comfy, and more serene, but thought it was something that could wait. And in truth, it will take us some time to complete it. Here's what we're starting with (forgive the realness of these pics - ie portable a/c, trim taped up ready for paint, etc.)

I challenge you to find more fug sconces!

The room has a definite "cave" vibe going, with the low, angled ceilings. it's a small room, too - and some might run to their nearest contractor to expand asap.

Here's the vision:
1. Paint (done this past weekend).
2. New bed! Actually, the catalyst to getting this whole project moving was a sale at West Elm, and a stockpile of giftcards. The bed will be delivered this week!
3. Replace fug sconces
4. Replace fug blinds with curtains
5. Maybe hang a picture or two

Basically, everything from 3 onwards is yet to be determined. I mean, they will happen, but when? I don't know. So I must find the right sconces, and then I will have to hire an electrician... and if I'm going to hire an electrician, I'm going to get them to upgrade various things around the house. So, it will take some time.

I'll share paint & bed pics when the bed arrives, but beyond that is a work in progress.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Joys of Homeownership - Tell Me What They Are

So, it's been a 3-week pity-party. Verdict is: we need a new roof. Faaaaaaaaaaacccck. So, we'll probably do that in October, and then we won't ever have to think about it again. Now, let's move on.

Let's discuss the other joys of home ownership. Well, we have learned all about the circuit box, certainly. And I've been tackling my weed forest slowly, with aims to do some fall planting for next summer. And you've seen my retro kitchen, so why don't I show you my retro bathroom.

It's yellow. It's kind of adorable, with its mini tub and yellow toilet, sure. Like the kitchen, if this isn't original, it is definitely pre-1960. It's actually impressive that the tile is in as good shape as it is. Though it isn't in great shape and actually we got a credit from the sellers because it is not great in one area.

I actually kind of love the floor though.

And it's the perfect home for Kareem.

Alas, this bathroom is high on the list of things that must go. Not immediately, and certainly not before the roof. But we knew we'd want to put something a little more modern in, maybe with a normal size tub, a different color scheme, and with a shower that doesn't leak in the wall. Say what? Yes, if it's not leaking in my ceiling, it's leaking in my basement, because the shower leaks in the wall. Faaaaaaaaaaaaaaack.

The funny thing about this leak is that Izzy found it. No-good Izzy! Well, he did good. He likes to follow me into the basement to snoop around, and as I was folding laundry, I saw something had caught his attention.. I went over, and he meowed at me. On closer inspection, he had found a puddle. Good job, Izzy.

Well, let's try to stay positive, ok? Next week we are heading to Toronto and to my family's cottage. It's L's first trip to the cottage, if you can believe it. We haven't been there since August 2012 - before I was even pregnant.  

Oh yeah, did you guys watch The Tragically Hip last night? I did, thanks, internet. I have never been a huge fan, though I do appreciate them and Gord Downie is amazing performer. Thinking back, I've seen them live 4 times, which is impressive for someone who describes them self as "not a huge fan", but their shows are the stuff of legend, you'll agree if you've seen them. I enjoyed last night's performance - I've been thinking about it all day.

Finally, I leave you with this - we've been meaning to buy a kite all summer, and finally found the perfect one: an Izzy kite.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

When it Rains, it Pours

Like, literally: in my living room.

Alt title: Honeymoon is Over.

Anyway, before I get into it, let me take you back to last week, where I joked with my friend about how we don't own a lawnmower. It's on our shopping list, because we do have a lawn, but we've owned this house for about 32 days, and the lawn has not been cut once. So, I joked to my friend that it doesn't matter, there's been no rain and the lawn is dry and dead anyway. Haha!

So, of course the torrential rains start. Downpours here and there. Then Saturday, it rained all day. All friggin day. And as I sat on my couch playing with Snapchat filters - as one does (follow me: thecrabigail), I feel a drip on my leg. Hark! Where does this damned drip come from? I look up, and I see above me this heathen ceiling boob.

These heathen boobs lactating on me. What am I even on about, and apologies to everyone who I've grossed out with that one.

Anyway, as you can see. My roof is leaking. One month after we closed.

When we had our home inspection, the inspector noted some soft spots on this part of the roof. He said we would probably have to replace the roof in a couple years, but that these could be patched easily. We asked the sellers to do this, and they refused, saying there was no leak. No leak, no work, they said. Anyway, we accepted, and here we are with a leak that's probably been stewing for awhile.

To make matters worse/more aggravating/infuriating - it look like this area has been patched (see the different textures of the ceiling - smooth/bumped), suggesting that there was a leak, and that they knew and tried to hide it.

Argh! Writing about it makes me angry all over again!

Trust: I wrote to both our realtor and lawyer. The realtor basically says "tough luck", the lawyer basically is on vacation. I don't think there's anything we can do, I don't think there's any way to prove they patched this and knew. But let it be known, Sellers: a pox on your new house. I wish you ill, you rotten scumbag.

Anyway. I've called a roofer, laid my heart out that I cannot afford a new roof right now and asked them to come and just make it not leak for one year and they laughed and said they would try, so wish me luck.

Otherwise, things have been great. We've been building track shelving, sorting toys, still unpacking, and generally getting there. Also, we bought a car, which is just crazy.

I have a vision now, of making the bedroom a beautiful, relaxing space. I'm bugging H. with paint chips and wallpaper and ideas. I hate waiting, I want to get on this, but will  have to wait and see what the damage (literally and financially) on the room before I dive into that one. Argh!

Monday, July 18, 2016

New House Tour: My Retro Kitchen

This house was built in the early 1930s, and (according to a neighbor) hasn't had many different owners in its lifetime, and it shows. One of the reasons why it was so affordable, and also why it appealed to us, is that it hasn't been updated very much. In one of the crawlspaces we even found a very dusty old washing board - I'll take a picture of it one day after H. crawls into that spider pit and retrieves it.

The most obviously dated room is the kitchen.

excuse the mess

Having just bought a house, and a car, I don't have the funds to renovate this baby for awhile, but it needs it. The appliances are new-ish, but those cupboards! OMG.

cherry-patterned window treatment came with the house
I have some wild ideas of how to live with these for a couple years, until a kitchen reno might be on the cards. Paint them white, replace the hardware (including hinges!). Still more work than I want to do right at this moment, on this 95 degree day though.

I'm also entertaining the idea of removing the beadboard, and replacing the counters with Ikea butcher-block. But removing that beadboard seems ambitious.

I'm not really a hardcore diy-er. Or, I don't think I am - though I haven't really had the opportunity to discover if I am. Please, point me towards any and all "win a kitchen makeover" competitions. Major hardware stores, come at me with your sponsorships. Bob Villa, I'm right here, baby. Barring any of those opportunities happening, I'll keep my visions small for the moment, and see where we end up. For now, I'm happy to have so much room, and so many cupboards.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Painting the new house

Here I am, resident of New Jersey. Will I ever get used to saying that? It's still weird that I'm not adding "apt. 4A" to my address forms.

Last Sunday, we packed up all our belongings, and said good-bye to that apartment.

In the days after we closed on the house, and before we moved, we came in to do some painting. I'll share with you the pics, albeit with the following warnings: these pictures suck. They were quick photos - I didn't sit and wait for the right light and the perfect moment.

First we painted what will be our TV room/play room. It was a yellowish-green color.

And now it's teal - a Behr paint color called Real Teal.

Then, the room that will be our office. It was beige.

It is now charcoal. I don't remember the actual paint name, but if you really want to know I could go look. It is also by Behr.

Finally we painted L's room. It wasn't really that bad - painted in a very Pinterest-y kind of way with green stripes. It just wasn't my style.

It's now a dark blue color, which is called English Channel by Behr.

I debated taking off that weird chair rail. Why have a chair rail in a bedroom? But when I looked at it, it seemed like too much work - which is why I will never really make it as a diy blogger.

Also, yes, this photo was taken before we did touch ups - that stupid chair rail made painting a hassle.

I'm very happy with how all these colors turned out, and will probably do more painting in the coming months. Just wait until you see my kitchen!

Now we're four days in the house, and loving it. We're still unpacking - without any exaggeration, H. has been unpacking his books for the last 36 hours. I've hardly had a moment for a tweet or an Instagram, but I stole this quiet moment while L. is napping to post something here for you.

More to come soon, I promise!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Done Deal

Yes friends, it has finally happened. We have bought a house.

The yellowest little house in New Jersey.

We don't move until July 10, and before then we're painting a bit, and prepping. I'm sure I'll share some updates on our progress, and hey - now maybe I will have some content for this blog! Fancy that.

It was so strange on closing day, that after all the mortgage paperwork and applications and the money (!!), I felt calm about receiving the keys and signing my name to the deed.

Now we have to wrap around our heads that in just ten days, we'll no longer be Brooklyn residents, or even New York state residents. Wow.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Apartment Memories

With just about 6 weeks left in the apartment, I have often found myself reminiscing about our time here. I've also found myself making lists in my head of all the things I won't miss.

We've lived in this apartment since January 2009. Or at least I have. I moved in first, because H. was still in England. I have lived here approximately two weeks longer than he has.

Have I ever told you the story of how we found this place?

In late 2008, H. and I were long-distance engaged. He lived in London, and I was in New York. We worked for the same company, and found out late in 2008 that they would transfer him to the New York office.

The plan was that he would move here in early February 2009. So, during a visit in early January, he and I set out to find ourselves a place to live. We looked at 5 apartments in one night, mostly around the neighborhoods of Kensington and South Slope in Brooklyn, but finally we looked at the one that became ours, in Sunset Park.

As soon as we walked in, we knew it was the one. It was so big, and so clean. It had so many windows, and closets! We told the landlords immediately that we were interested.

I recently dug out the photos we took that night.

And those empty rooms became:


And all the memories! This is the place that we came home to after our wedding, and where we brought L. home from after he was born. It's where we decided to get a secret cat, against out lease.

And where we've kept his presence hidden for the last 6 years! It's the only home L. and Izzy have ever known, and the only home H. and I have ever lived in together, so of course it is bittersweet to start to say good-bye.

And then, every day I'm reminded of all the bad parts: Izzy is illegal, for one. We live above a 24-hour deli - which is convenient but also annoying (think cabbies drinking coffee outside at 4 am, or fights, which are pretty regular). It also attracts little creepy crawly roommates that we need to stay on top of. We also live on a heavily traveled avenue, often used as an alternative to a highway, which is as noisy and busy and awful as you can imagine. We watch cars run red lights without a care in the world. Then there's our negligent landlord - I can't tell you how many times we've had to "remind" them what the legally-mandated minimum temperatures for the apartment and the water need to be...

All in all, so excited (and nervous) about what our new house will include, but thinking back fondly on this apartment we've called home for 7.5 years.
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