Friday, April 29, 2011

Close to my heart...

Please Pray for Alabama. 

Allen is from Birmingham and his entire family lives there.  We were watching the radar horrified as the tornados were leveling parts of the area, during video footage Allen would point to the landmarks he grew up with that were being destroyed.  He was constantly on the phone fielding calls from concerned friends and checking on his family.  His sister is a student at the University of Alabama and was just on the rim of campus when the tornado hit Tuscaloosa.

The tornado missed her by 800 yards.  

This is a portion of Gardendale where his parents live.
We are so incredibly grateful to God for sparing Allen's parents, grandparents and sister.  We don't know yet if all his friends are alright but we haven't heard anything so of course we're hoping the best. 

The devastation to the area is heart-breaking.
Borrowed from Layla at the Lettered Cottage

Chattanooga also sustained damage though not nearly as severe, our alma-mater, Covenant College, had to evacuate their entire campus for the year (as did the University of Alabama) as they have no electricity or water on Lookout Mountain.

Allen's father is part of the search and rescue in Birmingham.  If you are looking for ways to help in the relief effort please consider the following:
1. Cash donations: Donate to the Birmingham chapter of the Red Cross for the Alabama Tornado Relief fund.
  • Red Cross: Send the text message “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
  • Red Cross: Donate at any Regions Bank branch.
  • Governor’s Tornado Relief Fund: Donate online or mail a check to Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund, Box 1523, Montgomery, AL 36102.
  • Salvation Army: Send the text message “GIVE” to 80888 to make a $10 donation.
  • Salvation Army: Send checks to The Salvation Army Disaster Relief, Box 100339, Atlanta, GA 30384-0339.
  • Southern Baptist Convention: Donate online.
2. Birmingham city council member Johnathan Austin says to volunteer, call the Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency at (205) 254-2039.
3. Hands on Birmingham has already set up a volunteer group for tornado assistance. Sign up now, and the nonprofit group will contact you as opportunities arise.
4. Donate to an area food bank through the Alabama Food Bank Association website. (hat tip:Birmingham Bargain Mom)
5. Conserve water through Friday, as requested by the Birmingham Water Works and Sewer Board.
6. A Toomer’s for Tuscaloosa page has started on Facebook, mirroring the Tide for Toomer’s effort started in February.
7. A $50 donation to the Red Cross at the Talladega Superspeedway gives donors theopportunity to drive their cars on the track May 6-8.
8. Amanda Carlisle at A Few Short Cuts suggests using coupons to obtain needed items for freeto donate.

If you are in the area please visit this website for a list of drop-off sites and volunteer opportunities.
Of course our thoughts and prayers are with all those and their families affected by this disaster.
God bless you all.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.  Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear Him lack nothing. Ps 34:8-9 NIV

Monday, April 25, 2011

The garage door bluuuuuues

It's quite the conundrum, we moved into a house with an ugly old metal garage door but there's nothing wrong with it so we can't possibly justify replacing it.  Of course even if we did replace it, garage doors are so expensive we probably couldn't buy one better looking than what we have now!
See, nothing wrong, just super standard.

Of course, something like these would be beaaaaaaautiful!


Ok, options under $50?
Instead of replacing our doors we decided to spring for a set of $30 carriage hardware.  They are exterior grade steel and come with their own screws.  I thought it would be hard to attach them to a metal door but I just pre-drilled with a standard drill bit (small) and then screwed the hardware right on!
Voila, thirty dollars later and oh so much better!
Complete with ugly garbage  an and power cord of course.

Please try and avoid my idiotic mistake on this project, initially I attached the handles in the middle over the middle horizontal seam...then when I tried to open the garage of course it couldn't work because there was steel screwed onto both sides of it!  Fortunately a little exterior caulk filled in the holes just fine, but boy was I hoping nobody saw that one!

If screwing into your metal door isn't your style they also have magnetic hardware available for about the same price.  It obviously doesn't look as "realistic" up close but from the curb it is very believable and completely removable.  Can't beat the install!

If you're looking for something more unique there are companies online that provide beautifully designed hardware.

Why not?  It costs so little and definitely makes a big difference!


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Den "before"

I think it's about time for you to meet the space where I spend 98% of my time!  This is actually the second of our three bedrooms.  It is nearly 12' square with a closet of about two square feet...ahhhhh the storage in these old houses!  Gotta love it.

The curtains were held up with little wreaths, actually kind of a cute idea, the dust though when I took them down was unbelievable!

That's pretty much it, it had the same brass fan that all the rest of the rooms did and a very neutral color on the wall.  Needless to say this room was a complete blank canvas!

We don't need to use it as a bedroom so we have taken it over as a den.  This is where my (rapidly collapsing) couch sits and where Bugs and I have spent many and hour snuggling and working on designs.
I have so many plans for this space, like most of our rooms, it will go through many "mini makeovers" as  inspiration strikes!  Stick around for the colorful after.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Oh how did I manage without you?

So this past loooong weekend I experienced the saga that everyone must go through some time in their life...
my little computer died.

Now, a good preface to this is that this computer is an Apple (only way to go IMO :) and it is only 2 years old!  So we called the Apple fixit people who steered us to our local fixit place and we dropped her off.  

Holding our breath, fiiiiiinally we got the diagnosis, the good news: nothing was wrong with the computer!  Bad news: it needed a new piece for the screen.  Next day it was replaced and Allen brought her home to me.  I opened the lid, turned it on  Exact same problem.

This was Saturday so we had to wait until Monday to call the repair guy back.  He was pretty sure the new piece had just gone loose, so he reinstalled it and Allen went to pick it up.  It had been working all day so we had high hopes, then when he picked  

What the heck?

By this time we're all frustrated, the fixit guy said there was oooooooooone laaaaaaaast thing he could try but he was pretty stymied.  No good.  

Then yesterday Allen triumphantly brought my little Apple home, with a new front plate thingamajiggy, and chock full of updates.  We opened the lid and...
She's alive!

It's soooooo good to have her happily purring on my lap again, can you tell I'm attached?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Little Room "After" and the Giveaway Winner!

Ahhh the "Little Room," a 8.5' x9.5' bedroom that began its life with a rag rolled paint treatment and a teddy bear wallpaper border... this is how it looked the day we moved in.
Ceiling fan and curtains included of course!

Today it looks like this...
We made it into a reading room/study since we don't need a third bedroom for the time being.  We put up some crown moulding and painted the ceiling a lighter grey to make the new mouldings stand out.  The curtains are $4 cotton sheets from Walmart, I love how fresh and white they are!  I just used clips to hang them on the rods (with the larger hem folded over on top for texture) so they are no-sew, just mist with some water and let the wrinkles fall right out!  Allen found the desk next to a dumpster back when we lived in our apartment, it's solid wood with brass feet!

The medallion has a pretty beaded detail and was $5 on sale at Home Depot (plastic medallions are fine if you caulk around them and paint them by hand, they will look extremely similar to plaster).  The light fixture is from Lowes, I love the milk glass look but the candle covers were chrome...uck (you know how I feel about ugly candle covers)!  Easy fix, spray painting them with a matte primer in a beautiful dove grey, they blend right in.

I found this antique mirror at an auction for $3, I love love love the foggy patina of an old mirror!  The sewing machine was an antique mall find...I couldn't pass up the graphic "FREE WESTINGHOUSE" text and curvy shape.

Next to the desk lamp is a little glass perfume bottle (a Christmas present from my friend Abby) on a pile of books.  If you ever have something you love and want to use but it's too small in scale...just put it on a pile of books!  They will give it a more substantial look and besides they are adorable on their own.

In the opposite corner is a little antique birdhouse with some vintage prints.

I love the carriage and the silhouette motif!  We use roofing nails to hang everything, I like their big galvanized heads.

Across the room, hanging over a chaise, is our chalkboard door.  I tried to keep a "vintage lady" feeling throughout this room, it definitely errs on the feminine side!

I found these doorknob backplates at a garage sale, salvage pieces are always so interesting to display.  The seat below is an old tractor seat made into a thinks it's the most comfortable seat in the house!

The rug is a gift from my Grandma, it was up in her attic with the Christmas lights!  She says every time I sit on it it's a hug from her...I love it.

There you have it!  The whole makeover was under $300 and took about two days, I love spending time in this room now.  It's on the north side of the house but it gets so much reflected light that it's bright and sunny all day long!

Now for the Giveaway Winner!

So through my highly technological system of names written on paper, the winner chosen at random is...
Samantha Severns!

Congrats!  Please send your picture to

Stick around to see her curb appeal makeover.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Curb Appeal Makeover Giveaway!

Well, I've never hosted a giveaway yet and thought it's just about time...

I'm sure many people are thinking about their exteriors nowadays with the weather warming up, so I am offering a full curb appeal virtual makeover!

Doesn't matter the style or material of your house or how extravagantly you want to change it, I'd love to work on it for you!

To "enter" just comment on this post before midnight on Monday.  A comment will get you one entry, if you click "follow me" you'll get another (current followers will get one automatically!) and if you email me to say hi you'll get three and a smile from me.

The winner will be announced Tuesday morning, and I'll need a clear picture of your home (larger is better) and a list of all your heart desires!

For other examples just check the post below this one!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

One last decision...

It is Spring (officially, yay!) and thoughts have turned to curb appeal!  We have been contemplating replacing our siding for over a year now.  It is very old and is the cheapest, thinnest vinyl I think that has ever been on the market.  There are huge faded patches to the right of the door and parts of it are cracking and breaking off...hence the contemplation.

For the record, I have given this a LOT of thought and time.  I've looked (extensively) into vinyl, wood, shakes, brick, stone, aluminum, steel and fiber cement.  All of them have good points and bad, for a long time I was set on fiber cement but have grown to not trust it as a product for this area, though I'm sure it's a good thing in general :).  

Historically I have really disliked vinyl siding, I can spot it a mile away and even though it's very practical and reasonable (all things considered) I really wanted to avoid it at all costs.  Turns out, the costs are huge!  I have had quotes coming in over $20K just to side this tiny little house...unbelievable.

Then the other day Allen and I were walking in our favorite neighborhood playing "guess that siding" (these are the games we play :).  When we came to my favorite house (a cape style with a birch tree and dark blue shakes) I looked at it and wished I could afford siding like that.  Then it hit me...
*the shakes were vinyl*
I couldn't believe it!  I pay A LOT of attention to houses and I've looked at this house for years on walks and never even suspected that it was not authentic.  After this revelation my decision was made...we're going with vinyl shakes!

Now comes the color, I'm thinking we'll use Certainteed vinyl shake siding so I pulled some colors from their site and imposed them on the house, along with a few other tweaks that I've been musing about.  The roof is an assertive color so it's tricky to nail down just the right combination :)

This is how our house looks now.

Colonial White with cedar shutters.

Sterling Grey with cedar shutters.

Flagstone with white shutters.

Cypress with cedar shutters.

Blue with cedar shutters.

Pacific Blue with white shutters.

Autumn Yellow with white shutters.

More than you ever wanted to see right?

And I wonder why it's so hard to make a decision!

Can you tell I'm fishing for opinions?

Have any of you recently re-sided?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Parade of houses...Part 1

This weekend we drove out to Iowa to visit my Grandparents!  It was a wonderful trip, my aunt and uncle were there as well all the way from Norway.  It was so great to see everyone.  

My grandparent's neighborhood is a beautiful, old river-side niche with rolling hills and cottages next to palatial digs.  Their house is one of the oldest in the area but around it over the years beautiful, diverse houses were built.  One reason I LOVE this neighborhood is because of the hills, every single house is waaaaaay up on a hill.  Some have just flights and flights of stone steps leading to the front door.

Whenever we visit I have to ride around to see all the gorgeous architecture.

Please excuse picture quality as these were taken with a point-and-shoot through the window of a moving car.  :)

Ahh the bracketwork!

I love the door.

I love shake siding on colonials...beautiful.

This is my mom's favorite house in the area...those three dormers are overlooking the river and the lot is enormous!

This home is like a fairytale, all turrets and chimney pots...yumm.

I think this one is my favorite, the roof is a beautiful old slate and look at all the steps!

This is the house next to my Grandparent's house, it's a Tudor style with unbelievable half-timbering details.

This house is directly facing the river, I think it's a cutesy farmhouse to have right in the middle of all these formal styles!


Because our neighborhood was built on an old creekbed, it is much "hilly-er" than the rest of our flat town :).  Our house is one that is still on a slight causes us trouble with a sloping backyard and driveway snow in the winter but I love our house "set up" on a hill like a fancy house :).

I took so many pictures, I'll post the rest later!