Finding myself in my junk


Today I am finally making time to unpack some things that have been put away for so long that I have forgotten what all I have. It just an hour I was able to clean off  and reorganize a large metal shelf, and go through a few totes. I was lucky enough to find many things that just need washing up and donating, and bunch of derelict things that just needed to be thrown away. Good thing tomorrow is garbage day.

I also found a few things that took me down a strange memory lane. These are things I have hung on to solely for sentimental reasons. I have always said that I will find something to do with these objects, but I never really do. Now that I am really cleaning out, I really do need to find a place for these things in my home that is worthy of them.

First is a group of really old, really soft pillow cases, which have been embroidered on. I am not sure who did the embroidery, but I know that it was by my Grandmother, her sister the famous Aunty B., or their mother, Great Grandma L. img_3434.jpgI have always thought that to use them would be the best thing to go, but I can’t bring myself to use them for fear that they will wear away and the stitching  will come out causing these beautiful pieces of antique handwork to be destroyed.

I find it appalling that I have left them in a tote, or some other such container, for so many years. Having dug through Pinterest, I think I have found a solution. It seems I am not alone in my wish to find a use for these without harming them. Many people are hanging them up as artwork, and I think I will so the same. My spare room will be the perfect place to hang them up until I have access to my Older Son’s room. He is looking to move in with friends, and I’ll miss him but it’s long past time for him to move on with his life.

Speaking of Older Son, I found pieces of a baby blanket I was making for when I was pregnant with him. It was the first time I attempted a corner granny square pattern, and IMG_3436didn’t do a very good job at it. Those pieces have been in a zippered plastic bag for longer than he has been alive, and he is now 24. After he was born,  I just all of a sudden hated the colors, and so it went into the bag unfinished.

Now I look at it and wonder if these can be salvaged. It occurs to me that perhaps I could make a shawl out of them just to wear around the house. Or, I could finish the actual blanket and keep it for when Older Son may have his own kids.  I’ll need to block the pieces so they aren’t so misshapen, and hopefully I can make something usable out of them. It should make a quick winter project. I may just have to say goodbye to these crooked little shapes, and move on. More to come on that.

I wonder what else I will find in the next hour of rummaging through my very voluminous pile of dust collecting things stashed in my basement? It will be an adventure for sure. I know I am guaranteed to find more of what I call “pots of poison”, which are things that belonged to my ex husband, but I will just gather those up and send them to his house when Older Son goes to visit. Easy enough to get rid of, and so I should stop referring to them as poison, which mostly will kill a person.

Here’s hoping you find treasures in your homes that make you smile, and feel nostalgia for times and people who are no longer around, and not so much stuff that brings back bad memories. Either way, it’s just stuff and stuff that brings bad memories can be disposed of in many ways. Blessings all!

 

Slow changes jump out and cause revelations


Recently, I have become most enamored of the color blue. I was really struck while washing dishes just now, how the color of my coffee cup, glistening with suds in the sunshine, just caused my blood pressure to drop. It’s just a color, right?

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Well, maybe it’s more than just the perception of a color. Perhaps it’s an awakening to change that’s been happening under the surface.

That does sound a little melodramatic, but what I’m getting at is that I have been aware for some time that I crave peace more than anything right now. While I’ve known that for some time, what I haven’t realized is that my likes and dislikes have shifted a little, and seem to fall in line with that need.

It may not have been so striking to me except that I used to really hate blue. In one home I lived in as a high schooler had a kitchen that was decorated in what can only be described as a cacophony of blue; all different shades of blue everywhere. I remember thinking to myself that if I were ever to have my own house, the one color I would never have in it would be blue.

Fast forward to today, 30 years later, and in thinking about how I am going to paint my kitchen, and I keep coming back to blue. I always feel a little resistance to that as I’ve never wanted blue, but yet I find it so soothing as of late.

Hmmmm….maybe it’s time to start listening, rather than resisting.

Here’s hoping you all have a lovely weekend, surrounded by people, things, and colors which bring you peace and calm. Blessings all!!

Taking over my little Universe, one room at a time!


So much to talk about, and I don’t know where to start!

Well, I promised pictures from my bedroom makeover, so I will start there.

My beginning inspiration was the new bedspread and curtains:

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After I had those picked out, I chose a nice light gray paint, so light it’s almost white, and a super bright white for the trim.

I started out with a room that was painted two crappy colors of brown, and here are the before pictures. You can see where I started cutting in the new paint, and the contrast of the two tones of the brown. I think my room had been like that for 10 years or so. How freaking depressing !

You can see the new bed spread and curtains don’t look like much with the brown paint.

After a few coats of paint and a bunch of elbow grease, I was able to take this after picture. I still need to get a matching curtain for my closet door.

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Now add the new night stand and head board:

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This last picture is a little dark, but trust me, it’s like waking up in a cloud. My new room makes me so happy, and it took very little to make it happen. Sure, I had to spend some money, and there were some late nights spent trying to get it done, but it was so worth it!

So what else is new in my neck of the woods?

My new job continues to be awesome, and I have a lot of job satisfaction. I know it won’t always be this way, because life doesn’t ever stay static, so I am enjoying it while it lasts. Hopefully it will last a good long while.

Younger Son is coming home after being out at sea for 8 months. I got to talk to him on the phone for the first time since November, and it was so good to hear his voice. Just that simple act of speaking with him on the phone let off a lot of steam I didn’t realize had been building up. It appears that I was kind of holding my breath all of this time. Even with email, mail, and Facebook, it was so little contact. I don’t know how loved ones did it in the days before social/electronic media, when their kids joined the service and were gone for long stretches of time. He comes home soon, and it will be so awesome to have all of my chicks back in the nest again.

Older Son has been having a stretch of good luck in that he was able to replace an old car with a newer, cheaper-to-run vehicle. He even got a break on his insurance. Fabulous!!

The city is gearing up for the State Fair which begins next week. This year, I think we will just go for one day. Usually we go for multiple days, but it gets expensive, and doesn’t change much from year to year. I still get excited when it starts up, though. Older Son will be in the Parade this year, so I may just go watch it. This will be the first Parade Saturday that I haven’t had a prior commitment for a long time.

Well, I’m working on my 2nd cup of coffee, and I think I will finish that up and get to work on my house. The laundry needs to get going, and everything else needs picking up and scrubbing. After chores are done, I think I will go shop for a new BBQ, and plot my next home improvement project: Kitchen Part 2 – paint & floor! I feel like I am finally taking over my own little universe, one room at a time!

Here’s wishing you all a lovely, relaxing Saturday, with which you can plot how you will take over your universe! Blessings all!

Here’s to new beginnings


Well, it’s been a while since I posted last, and so much has happened in that time.

Between then and now I managed to get a brand new job, which is a marked improvement over the last one. I have good people to work with, and good and interesting work to do.  I’m working in a hospital now, and it’s interesting work.

Needless to say life is much less stressful, and I’m grateful for it.

I’ve fallen into a strange rut for the last several months, and I’m just now feeling like a human being again. Too much sleeping, too much eating, and too much playing games… Avoiding everything. All good anesthesia, but not good for living.

Today, I decided to take the plunge and get something going that is long overdue. Nothing so energizing as a good project!

My bedroom is painted two different, terribly awful, colors of brown. Ugh… So awful! Today that is getting fixed. If my bedroom feels so gross, and it’s supposed to be the most serene place in the house, that’s a problem easily rectified with new curtains and paint!

Progress will be documented and posted later. For now, I’m diving in head first and see how much I can get done this week.

Here’s wishing for you a creative outlet to help get you out of whatever rut you may be in. Blessings all!

 

The joys of home improvement…a new kitchen!


The, last two days have been a dusty, noisy, joyous, anxious roller coaster ride. I’ve been planning a kitchen remodel since the end of August, but nothing quite prepares you for the actual havoc of it all.

I’d been waiting for a call from the folks who are installing my new kitchen, and I’d asked them to give me a couple weeks of lead time so I could arrange to have the time off to be at home when the install happened. I got the call two days ahead of time. Whoops! Good news is that I was able to get the time off short notice.

The demolition of the Beforeold kitchen went off without a hitch, and was carried out in short order yesterday. The picture on the left is what the kitchen looked like to start with, in all of its ancient, built-in, plywood cupboard glory. Notice the really old brown/orange-flowered flooring? I’ll look forward to seeing the last of that, but more about the flooring later.During

Once all of the cupboards were gone, it was lunch time, and then it was time to get the new cupboards installed. The thing about installing new stuff in an old house is that you never know what you might find after you pull all of the old stuff out.  They did find a little mold under the sink cupboards, but they took it all out and sprayed some stuff over it to prevent it from coming back.

They would have been able to get the whole thing done in one day, had the plumber shown up on time. He didn’t manager to show up until day two, and the only reason he came right away this morning is because there cold water feed line decided to spring a leak in the middle of the night. Older Son woke me up at 3am to let me know that it was raining in the basement. The whole kitchen floor was covered with water. Poor kid had to work all day today on not much sleep. After we got done mopping it all up, there wasn’t much sleeping going on.

After the plumber showed up and fixed the leak, he said he would be back about 2pm. Well that time came and went, and we had to call him to remind him to come out. The crappy part about that is that this is my regular plumber that the kitchen installation team just happened to contract with. I was super disappointed with that, and hope it was just a fluke. As things stand right now, it’s 3:30, my kitchen installation team has done their job and gone, and I am still waiting on the plumber. The new cupboards are installed, along with the new counter/back-splash. I still have the electric items, dishwasher/garbage disposal, painting and flooring left to do, but that can wait. I’m hoping to have that done by the time June rolls around. Just need to save up the cash and build up some time off. This was a good company to work with, and I’m super impressed with them. If you live in the High Plains, check out Your Home Improvement Company. They are based out of St Cloud, MN, but have branch offices in other places. The guys who did the cabinet install is WIT Construction, LLC. Good guys. They showed me how to operate these new-fangled cupboards, and take the doors off if I need to. You wouldn’t think there’s much that goes on with cupboard doors and shelves, but there really is.

All done but the plumbing and electric! 11-13-15

This last picture is of my new cupboards in all of their honey oak glory. I’m so happy with this…it’s really quite surreal. I can hardly believe this is actually mine! You know what, though? I work my butt off, and I deserve this new kitchen. It’s been a long time coming and, while it might not be done all the way yet, I can still enjoy it on the way to completion. It’s amazing what kind of transformations can happy in just two days!

Now the plumber is here and is putting in the sink stuff. It’s not going to be too much longer before I have my running water back, and the stove and fridge back in place. Time to wipe everything down and get my house back together, until the next round of home improvement!

Here’s hoping all of your home improvement projects go smoothly, that you find nary a weird thing behind your kitchen cabinets, and your plumbing never leaks! Blessing all!

Gardening grinds down the sharp edges of anger


Some time ago, I wrote a blog post about how gardening is good for dealing with depression. Today I found another good use for the act of gardening: grinding down anger.

Today I got some really disturbing news from my lawyer. I won’t go into all the messy little details, but suffice it to say that my ex husband is even more depraved and mean-spirited than I had earlier been given to understand. What I found out was so hurtful and made me so angry I just wanted to scream. But I didn’t…and I didn’t cry either. The man isn’t worth his salt, and he sure isn’t worth the salt in my tears.

In stead, I looked around for something to channel all of my negative feelings into. When I looked out my dining room window, I was reminded that I still had the rest of my garden to dig up, and I’ve got seeds to plant. Given that I was going to be out in my yard, I decided that perhaps a trip to my local garden center wouldn’t be such a bad idea, either. I spent probably more than I should have, but for the most part, I purchased plants that will either come back next year, or reseed themselves easily.

For a long time, I’ve really avoided buying flowers because I wanted to focus my resources towards setting up my little plot of land as a haven of permaculture. I want pretty much everything that grows here to be able to come back every year and provide some kind of fruit or berry that I can feed my family. Something I didn’t take into consideration was that permaculture does require flowering plants to attract bees and other beneficial insects as part of the plan. Well, today, I invested in just that. Flowers. I did buy a couple of herb plants, but the majority were just lovely pretty things that will make my landscape look nicer and make me smile when I come home at the end of the day.

What I brought home were miniature daisies, johnny jump ups, pansies, day lilies, ferns, wooly thyme, oregano, and dill seed. I spent all day finishing up digging up the garden to get the weeds out, and I planted flowers until I was finally tired. The following pictures show the beginnings of what will be a frilly, colorful garden by the time Midsummer hits.

The daisies, pansies and johnny jump ups will make a nice cover for my slow-growing blueberry shrubs, as I planted them in the holes of the cinder blocks lining the blue berry garden.

Just a quick note here about the pink flamingo. It’s one of my favorite things in my whole yard, even though it’s rickety and the paint is peeling. It was made to be plant stand, and I think I’m going to fix it up and find a nice thing to put in it instead of my water bottle!

I have quite a lot of rock bed surrounding my house, and I decided that today was time to liven it up a little bit. I found these fabulous little ferns that should spread out and get little white button flowers on them. I also put in a Stella D’Oro Daylily, which will look fabulous once it gets established. They get really bushy and are prolific bloomers.

The long and the short of this post, is that I finally found something that wears off the jagged edges of my anger. Good hard work out side, where I can build something permanent and worth while, takes that anger and uses it as a generator for the greater good. It morphs from something cutting and destructive into something that paves the way for nicer things. Now my task is to keep the momentum going and get the inside of my house done too!

New steps, and the basement remodel moves forward!


All has been quiet in the last while regarding home improvement projects here at Sparrow’s Nest, until this last couple of weeks. I’ve had trouble with my basement steps, as they were constructed poorly when they were put in.  My Dad was kind enough to come over, take them apart and put them back together correctly with new treads.  He also pounded out the drywall that line the steps, as it was on the wrong side of the wall, and put in a new light where my pantry will go. He’s got plans about how to put a wall in on the steps side of the wall, and is helping me think about how to construct a pantry on the other side and underneath the stairs. My Dad’s amazing…he can pretty much build or fix anything, and I am so grateful that he’s put his considerable skills to work in my house. He’s definitely helping me make my house more of a home. The best part is that Older and Younger Sons have both helped, which gives them a sense of accomplishment, as well as a stake in how their home is fixed.

Here’s what it looked like to start with:

  As you can see the risers were installed incorrectly by overlapping the treads of the steps. This caused uneven wear and splinters to form. You can see where there was drywall on the wrong side of the stair wall, causing several Black Holes of Doom between the studs where things would fall down from above and get lost under the stairs.

Dad came over to make all the measurements and then we went shopping for new 2×10 boards for the new treads. Since the risers aren’t so visible, we didn’t buy new plywood, but reused what was there. Not having done this before, Dad was a little afraid of how much time it would take and so he came over on Saturday around 11:30 so that we’d have Sunday too, if need be.  Younger helped with this part of the project and it took them a little bit to get started, but once they did it seemed to go really smoothly, and only took about three hours to get finished. They started from the bottom, and did one step at a time. Younger Son has been talking to me about putting a finish on the steps, which I think we will do, but it will have to wait until the Spring when we can keep the windows open all day.

Later on that week, Dad came back and Older Son helped him pound out and haul out the drywall, and then he installed a light in the back of what will be my new pantry.

Here are pictures of the results:

This may not seem like a big deal, but it’s a huge step forward…if you’ll forgive the pun. By Spring I’m hoping to have  my new pantry ready to go and on the way to being filled up. I’d like to have a year’s worth of supplies banked away eventually, and this little project has gotten me that much closer to making that plan into reality. I have some other thoughts on pantry building, and being prepared, but I’ll leave those for another post.

Hopefully soon I’ll have some more pictures to show you regarding the progress on my basement remodel!