Monday, February 18, 2013

It's Presidents' Day.....Everyday.

Happy Presidents' Day to all!  I had the day off of work...courts are closed + great boss = no work  :)

I love history and all things "Presidential."  True story-- I attended a Christian college for undergrad and during Chapel my roommate and I would play the Presidents Game.  What is the Presidents Game you ask?  Well, you attempt to write down as many of the U.S. Presidents as you can remember during the allotted Chapel time [this was before iPhones and Droids, so cheating wasn't a possibility]. The game was honestly the perfect Chapel game, because you looked like you were taking notes and anytime you got stuck on a name, you'd just peer up to the speaker and act like you were intently listening.  Anyhoo, my roomie and I had variations of this little game -- state capitals, Asian countries, African countries, etc.--but the Presidents was always the favorite, except when you get stuck on Millard Fillmore, because stinking President Fillmore, I forgot about him every time!

Wow....back to the point.  I love Presidents, especially Abraham Lincoln, and will use this holiday to showcase how I "ease" my obsession into my home decor.

Exhibit A: Gallery Wall

Lovely little gallery wall in my living room.  No glaring portraits of Honest Abe or a printed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation screaming off the walls.....but let's take a closer look.

Can you see it?

Cute little red row house, right?

See?  Historical AND fits with the gallery wall.....perfect combo.  To the right of this picture is a little plaque my mom got me for my birthday with my favorite Lincoln quote.

Who's inspired?  Me!

I also am a sucker for all corny Lincoln memorabilia.  When my friends took me to the Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield I blew like $50 on complete nonsense in the gift shop.  Abraham Lincoln pen? Yes, please.  Magnet? I'll take two.  T-shirt? Do your sizes run small or large?  Seriously, folks.  I bought it all.  

And lastly, my obsession is also practical.... I received these for my birthday this year.
While I appreciate the sentiment on the front of the case [I will heal your wound 
as I healed a nation!], actually using one
of these bad boys, i.e. using Lincoln's face to cover my wound, makes
me want to die.  

I hope this blog has left you all inspired to realize that you too can tactfully showcase your presidential memorabilia around your home, no matter the holiday. No need to only bring the goods out on Presidents' Day or George Washington's birthday.  Everyday is Presidents' Day!  Oh wait, did you not get that from all this?  


Monday, February 11, 2013

Goodwill Campaign Dresser

The best part of reading other people's blogs [...and believe me, I read quite a few] is that you discover the best ideas.  The worst part of reading others blogs is falling in love with a trend but you are unable [financially, can't find the piece, don't have the space, etc.] to attain the look.

I fell hard for the look of the campaign style furniture a couple years ago when I came across these beauties on two of my favorite blogs.

I scoured eBay, etsy, and other sites only to find expensive versions that I couldn't afford.  Fast forward two years later, and what do I come across in Goodwill?  Bam! Campaign* style dresser [I'm using the asterik because I believe that in order to be a true Campaign dresser it probably has to be made of real wood and not a thin layer of fake veneer, but who cares!]   I found this beauty for 19.99 at my local Goodwill store and knew the stars had aligned.
Isn't she pretty?

I won't lie, in her original state, the Campaign lady was a tough sell on the hubby.  I should also mention that Dustin and I had just sold our home and were living with my parents while waiting for our new house to close, so my Dad was thrilled to make room in his garage for this treasure.  I think he and I had a conversation that went something like this:
Me: Don't you love it?
Dad:  You realize it's a mess, has a broken drawer and is covered in fake veneer?
Me: Yeah, but it's a Campaign style dresser, Dad.
Dad: [insert long pause] A what?
No, I'm not pulling the drawer out for depth be broke.

I'd like to take a quick second to talk about trends here and when to follow trends and when to move along.  Obviously this dresser was trendy and is likely no longer so.  In fact, it's not likely to be appearing in any magazines anytime soon.  To prove my point, I read a fair amount of home decor blogs and haven't seen one of these puppies in probably over a year.  HOWEVER, the thing about trends is, I say go for it.  If you love a piece, the shape, the size, the hardware....then who cares?  I love the brass hardware on these types of dressers.  I've always been drawn to it and think I will be for a long time to come. 

The dresser itself needed a ton of sanding and repair work-- dents and scratches required wood filler and patience. I also had to decide whether or not to remove all the brass work in order to paint or to use tape.  I was too nervous about removing the nail headed brass pieces, so I just taped around them.

In order to get the paint clear to the edge without touching the brass, I busted on the exacto knife  [that's what we called them in jr. high art, but I'm not sure that's what they're called in the toolbox]

After hours of taping [If there's a quicker way to do this...don't bother telling me now], the dresser was ready to be primed.

The dressers sanded and patched 

I used Sherwin Williams Acrylic Enamel primer and paint, which was the closest thing I could find to oil-based.  I guess recent regulations make that stuff pretty hard to find. 

 Honestly, the enamel paint was really thick and sort of difficult to apply, but it covered and dried like a dream-- zero streaking.  I applied with a foam roller, and allowed plenty of time (a day or two) in between coats.

I ran into a few little "oopsies" along the way.  I guess my meticulous taping didn't protect against encroaching primer.  Or maybe I just slopped it on too haphazardly, but after removing the paint I was left with a lot of this..
Ugh.  Frustrating.  I ended up scraping it off and having to repaint with an artist's brush near the hardware.  AND before touching up I forgot to mix my paint, so there's a pretty noticeable difference in shade surrounding my brass hardware.  I plan on touching it all up again (after stirring the paint first!), but honestly, I just wanted this project to be done.

So here she is.... my out of trend, Goodwill, Campaign* style dresser, which I actually really love.

I also still have plans to buff up the brass....although hubby likes the weathered look, I'm thinking I want something with a bit more sparkle...we'll see.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Scandal Review

Do you guys watch Scandal on ABC?  Well I do...did....still am, but am on the fence.

I love politics and all entertainment focused on politics.  I adore The West Wing [and would vote any day for Josiah Bartlett or Matt Santos, btw. Oh, and while we are btw-ing, C.J. Cregg is my idol], I'm loving Netflix's new House of Cards [I'm not done with is yet, no spoilers, please], and let's just say PBS's American Experience series on the Presidents is some of the best TV I've ever seen.

So of course when a new show comes on about a D.C. "fixer" who is having an affair with the President of the United States, I'm going to watch it.  The first season was awesome.  I loved the chemistry between Fitz (the Prez) and Olivia (the Fixer), and I will admit to even you-tubing Olivia and Fitz videos.  I was hooked.

Then came Season 2, and honestly, folks, I'm over it.  Kerry Washington's intensity as Olivia Pope (the Fixer) is starting to wear thin.  Every line she says is done with her neck craned forward, teeth gnashing, and eyes wild.  Olivia, we get it, you're intense.  And then there's Fitz (the President) who is more passionate about his obsession with Olivia than he is about actually running the country.  He's also getting to be a little whiny.

The highlights of the show for me are the U.S. Attorney, David Rosen (played by Josh Malinas...who also appeared on the West Wing) and crazy, ex-CIA operative, Huck Finn.  Everybody else needs to cool  it.  The melodrama, intense whispering, and undying devotion to Olivia Pope is getting old.

.....and that's coming from someone who you-tubed Olivia and Fitz videos for goodness sake.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Little Bit Of Green

I would like to take a moment to have a collective [eh hem, collective means you all....] sigh, bidding farewell to January.


Awwwwhhh, that's better.  Good riddance.  I'm not a fan of the cold "Enero."  With the exception of a few family birthdays, January really doesn't have much going on, you know?  It's just the reality that joyous Christmas is over and you have a good 8-12 weeks of winter still ahead of ya.  

I'm always relieved to see February arrive, and I'm usually always a little desperate for some sort of gardening fix this time of year, so I usually use February as an excuse to liven up my current houseplants and purchase a few noobies ["new ones," in case the whole Pardon the Noob thing is still lost on some.....]

I recently visited a couple of my favorite nurseries and was pleasantly surprised to see that they use the winter months to stock up on interesting houseplants that beat the standard Lowe's variety.  Best of all, the staff are super nice and offer extremely helpful hints.  Thanks to a helpful store owner I just might be able to keep a succulent alive longer than a month (hint: use the right kind of soil mix (cactus blend) and water only about once a month).

Before sharing my newest additions, I wanted to give a public service announcement for the Lowe's clearance section.  I never leave Lowe's without doing a little perusing.  You never know what you'll find!  In addition to plants that honestly just need a little TLC, you can find the cheapest pots.  I love to spend money on new and interesting plants, but I do not like to spend money on the containers that hold them.  (I also never leave a TJ Maxx, Homegoods, or Marshals without taking a quick look at their gardening selection.  I've gotten some of my cheapest pots from there too)  Also, I didn't find any this time [AKA, no photos of what I'm about to describe in perfect clarity] but I find that the cheapest/prettiest pots are usually the ones with no drainage-- not at all ideal for containers.  But I've found that taking a drill to the bottom of those pots and adding a small tray to catch the water and dirt gives you a great planter for next to nothing.  

I found this gray container at Christmas time.  It was marked down to $5 from $19.95 because the extra large poinsettia is was holding was finally dying off.  Good size gray pot for $5, yes please.
This pot is holding two bromeliads from the clearance section
without their noteworthy colorful spikes.  We'll
see if I can coax some new growth, but in the meantime, I'll take the pretty greenery.  
I just realized that the pot seems really small, but trust me, the basket behind it is huge.

The bromeliads came in this neutral container---marked down from $19.95 in its glory.

Now that nice little $3 container is holding one of my newest finds.

 Variegated Philodendron--- something I'd never come across before--- so much color.

A few of my other new additions to add a little greenery to dreary February are below (Honestly, husband, if you are reading this, houseplants and planters are clearly my love language, so Valentine's Day should be a cinch).
This little guy is Pilea Aquamarine and has found a perfect home next to my sink.

 Baby Angel's Tears- vintage Bloom spoon from an Etsy shop a while
ago, but something similar sold here.

Don't worry, baby succulent, I'm going to do my best not to kill you.

Kalanchoe-- the store owner swears this beauty is easy and will re-bloom.  
We'll see......

I also spruced up all my existing houseplants with fresh soil and fertilizer.  I have a couple houseplants that have done so well for me in the past and grow consistently, but ever since we moved in November they've just seemed stunted and on the verge of dying off.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize a little fertilizer and fresh soil might just save the day.  That's right, folks, all your gardening questions answered here.  

This guy is already starting to perk back up

I've come to the end of this post and realized that I've just written an entire post about houseplants.....hmmmmm..... not sure what that says about my social life, but at least my February blues are cured.