Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wall Art

Back in February I posted a few photos and ideas that had inspired me, including one link to wall hangings made of styrofoam and scrapbook paper. I subsequently found other examples of this type of wall art, including this art panel at Apartment Therapy, these wall hangings at Eight Crazy, and this example in the Craftster forums. (I also like this idea, which uses frames rather than styrofoam; however, the foam provides some nice 3-dimensionality.)

Well, since February I've acquired a house that needs decorating, so I decided to try making wall art from styrofoam and scrapbook paper. I find myself drawn to scrapbook paper despite the fact that I am not, and probably never will be, a scrapbooker. Using it in this way seemed like a fun - and frugal - way of decorating.

My friend Beki, who is studying interior design in graduate school, came over to lend her artistic eye and was graciously willing to stoop to my inferior artistic level of styrofoam and glue dots!

These were quite straightforward to make. Each 12x12x1 square of styrofoam has a brown grosgrain ribbon wrapped around the sides and affixed using glue dots. We used the same means to then attach the selected 12x12 pieces of scrapbook paper to the front of the styrofoam squares. I've seen instructions for this project that indicate painting the sides of the foam, but I like how the ribbon hides the texture of the styrofoam altogether, and I think it makes for a nice finished edge. I also saw directions to attach the paper to the styrofoam using a spray adhesive, but I was concerned about wrinkling and bubbling and decided glue dots were a safe way to go. They worked very well, and any slight raised bump from the glue dot can be pressed into the malleable styrofoam for a smooth finished surface. We hung these by simply pressing the upper center of each square onto nail heads we had already hammered into the wall at measured locations.

Since I got the styrofoam squares on sale, each piece of "art work" cost around $4, and I'm surprised at how much I'm enjoying the results. They turned out better than I imagined - and even Nathan seems to like the finished product. High praise from a fellow with self-proclaimed "Grandpa taste" in furniture and decor which rears its graying head from time to time. (And yes, I'm patting myself on the back for that clever sentence.)

Sunday, June 21, 2009


While Nathan tackled putting in a garbage disposal, I felt the downstairs bathroom was among the first things that needed to be dealt with. For the first four or five days we lived here I just couldn't shake the feeling that I was using the bathroom of some strangers, and it wasn't a good feeling. I didn't feel clean after showering. No matter how many times I cleaned the toilet it didn't seem clean enough.

Well, I took off the old toilet seat and put on a new one. That improved things significantly, psychologically if not in any absolute sense.

(If I were a person of quality, no doubt I would have removed the toilet plunger before taking this photo.)

Then I found a shower curtain I absolutely loved, and used a 20% off coupon at Bed Bath & Beyond to buy it. I love the pattern and the colors (my friend Beki suggested a turquoise/brown color combination and I'm really grateful for her decor help), while the cream colored background keeps things light enough to use it in a small bathroom like ours. It also works well with the current teal wall color, but will still work when we mostly likely re-paint the room something more neutral.

The shelving unit was left here, and after a thorough cleaning I'm finding it quite useful, and a good fit for a small bathroom.

Finally, here's the other side of the room:

The bathroom finally feels like our own, and while I'd like to make more changes in the future, I am pretty happy with it in its current incarnation.

Garbage Disposal

One of the first projects Nathan tackled after we moved into our house was to put in a garbage disposal. He did a great job and it is so nice to have one after three years of cleaning out a gross little mesh strainer in the sink in our apartment!

Please excuse the fact that the flash makes every little water droplet and speck show up, and me appear to be a slob of a housewife. The drilling project created a bit of a mess and I failed to scrub out the sink before we took photographs.

Handsome and handy, here's my favorite guy displaying the unit prior to installing it.

And here it is under the sink:

Nathan got a pneumatic button to go with the disposal for me for my birthday instead of the usual light-switch-style. I love it! We decided to install the pneumatic button to the left of the faucet. Here's what it looked like before:


And the finished product!

Trying it out for the first time:

Now that I have a garbage disposal and a backyard with space for composting, we'll never have to deal with smelly garbage again!

Friday, June 12, 2009

House Update

Pictures of our new house, including the garbage disposal Nathan installed for me for my birthday, will be coming soon... I promise. The stars have to align for me to find my camera, my memory card, and my battery charger all at the same time amidst these piles and boxes!

We're having a little house-warming party tomorrow afternoon, so we have a definite incentive to get things done around here. We were the fortunate recipients of some free old library shelving - the nice wooden kind! - and having floor-to-ceiling shelving in the office is making the organization of dozens of boxes of books and sheet music much, much more manageable.

Last night Nathan and I hauled two bookcases upstairs to my teaching studio, and I proceeded to spend the evening organizing all my teaching materials and violin music upstairs. The studio is still a work in progress, but I'm liking the results already.

We've spent lots and lots of time outside clearing back overgrowth of vines and brambles, digging up excessive amounts of day lilies, and putting in a few new plants and seedlings here and there - including a small vegetable garden space Nathan rototilled for me. Picture of our backyard, which I love, are forthcoming.

I'll also post pictures of the downstairs bathroom, one of the first rooms I tackled after our move because it just felt so weird to be using what still felt like someone else's bathroom. I put on a new toilet seat (no help from the husband required!), bought a shower curtain I absolutely love, and together with lots of cleaning and a few other small touches, it now feels like ours.

In fact, the whole place is slowly becoming ours.

(I'm glad, because we didn't like the feeling of living in someone else's house.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Beauty School Graduate

I was a little overdue for a hair trim, and I had a coupon from the Community Greetings gift bag we received when we moved in here for a free wash, cut, and blow dry. It seemed to be a somewhat upscale salon - probably a step up from the mall place where I usually get my hair trimmed - and I decided to give it a try.

It was at the salon that I discovered that you don't have to be a beauty school dropout to have quite possibly been a high school dropout...

I heard this alarming conversation unfold between the woman cutting my hair and a male stylist giving a haircut one chair over:

Him: ...something about coral reefs in North America...
Her: "What's North America? Where is that?"
Him: "Tell me you're joking."
Her: "No, really! Where's North America?"
Him: "You're in it."
Her: "It's here? This is it?"
Him: "Yes."
Her: "So what's South America? Is that like, Spain?"
Him: "Spain is in Europe. South America includes countries like Venezuela, Argentina, and Chile."
Her: "No way... I guess I'm not good at geography! Haha!"

(You can't make this stuff up, people. This conversation really took place.)

And I thought about saying, "Hey lady, I want him to cut my hair."

I know geography may not be necessary knowledge for a hair stylist, but there's just something comforting knowing the person wielding the scissors has a basic level of awareness, you know?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Birthday Simplicity

Earlier I said to Nathan, very happily, "It's my birthday, and you got me a card, and we're going out to dinner!"

He lovingly replied, "Oh babe, you're so... simple."

(I'm hoping he meant it in the "simple-to-please" sense as opposed to a "simple-minded" sort of thing.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Simple Shoe Sale

I mentioned once before that I've been admiring Simple shoes for a while. Well, thanks to It's Hip 2 Save, I found out that Simple has some great sale items right now. The women's "Layaway" shoe, usually $60, is currently only $9.90 - and shipping is free! Right now they still have lots of sizes left in the teal and the brown, and limited sizes in grey and pink. Let me know if you decide to get some of these cute wool shoes!

(You can view all the sale items here.)