Thursday, June 21, 2012

curtain call.

My favorite part about owning a house is having the ability to decorate!!  Having always lived in temporary spaces, I've never felt like I could really make it my own.  I hated the idea of painting a wall in a rented apartment, just to have to paint it white {or pay a fee for someone else to} when we moved out.  Also, hanging things on the wall was fine and dandy until it came to patching all those holes and again painting over them.

Now, however, it's all mine.  I can do what I want with the entire house....and because of this, the ideas are endless {thanks Pinterest}.  

I found this great fabric a few months ago during one of my many visits to Ikea.  I immediately fell in love with the black and white pattern with a splash of color.  I knew right away that I wanted to incorporate it into the kitchen somehow.  Knowing that I'd find a project, eventually, I bought what was left on the bolt - about 2.5 yards.

At first I thought I'd use it to cover my future kitchen chairs...but figured the white would be too hard to keep clean, and the fabric didn't seem durable enough for everyday wear and tear.  My next thought was curtain panels to line the windows, but after realizing that at least one of these panels would rest on the counter top, I scrapped that idea - not to mention realizing that without another trip to Ikea {2.5 hours away} I wouldn't have enough for all the windows anyways!

Finally, I settled on a simple valance with shades underneath.  To be honest, the curtain panels I originally planned on doing would be strictly for looks and not at all functional.  However, the valances now hide the shades when they're not in use and help to unify the space around the dining area.

I'm in love with these accordion shades from Target.  Not only do they look great and have no strings dangling, but they super energy efficient.  During the evenings I keep them pulled down and it's amazing how well they block the evening sun and heat.

Above the sink I opted for simple cafe curtains.  This decision was two fold, first of all the window above the sink is hung much lower than the other window on that wall {making it difficult to do another valance as it would need to be hung very high and cover very little of the window in order to look right}, secondly I was unable to find a matching widow shade in the appropriate width.  I like being able to see out my window while doing dishes, but with a west facing window, the sun is often in our eyes doing evening dishes {when we do them!}.  They turned out the be more decorative and less functional as they do very little to block the evening sun this time of year, but they look great and I love the cafe style look.

I'm so pleased with how it has turned out.  I still very much love the fabric and how it gives a little fun and funky vibe to the clean lines of the kitchen.  I love being in my kitchen and that makes me happy - we created this kitchen from scratch, we made it OURS!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

my summer jam

Around here, the strawberry season was quite short.  Because of the drought, many farms were out of berries in a day or two and others offered strawberries so small most wouldn't want to mess with them. What was left were imported from other areas around the country.

Luckily, my friend Heather and I were able to find some at a local U-pick farm.  I spent the  afternoon wondering through the rows picking bucket after bucket of small to medium sized, wonderfully juicy strawberries with Heather and Miss Avery.

I came home with 10 lbs. of strawberries and 5 lbs. of red raspberries {because of the weather, these are super early, but very delicious!}.  

Then the work really began.

The recipe I used, found here, is sugar-free and only 4 ingredients.  It's a little runnier than your average jam, think ice cream topping, but it's oh so delicious.  We've eaten in nearly every morning this week on toast and homemade zucchini bread.  Definitely recommend this recipe if you're looking for an alternative to refined sugar.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

my other job

Seriously, owning a house {not to mention a fixer upper} is a full time job. I thought I was going to have a nice relaxing and slow paced summer...but instead I'm working - HARD!! I'm thankful to have this time to devote to the house, and really feel like we are making progress again after a lull these past few months.

Last night we finally finished the electrical in the living room and most of the upstairs bedroom {with the exception of the future bathroom area}. That job took FOREVER. First of all, we are newbies and had to learn along the way.  Apparently the previous owner was a newbie as well, but instead of learning how to do it correctly, he just made it up. Throughout the whole house, we were constantly running into roadblocks and had to solve problems that could have been avoided if the person who wired the house in the first place had any idea of what they were doing!  But, now it's done {mostly}, and we have learned a ton along the way.   AND, we now have a few ceiling fans up just in time for 90+ temps his week!!

Thankfully, even though we removed a bunch of trees that provided shade around the house, the house still remains fairly cool throughout the day.  The recently installed fans are a HUGE help, along with the new window treatments I've installed in the kitchen to help shade the evening sun.  I keep the house closed up most of the day, as the air is so thick and humid - feels like we're back in Taiwan!

The garden hasn't been doing so hot.  We are in the midst of a pretty serious drought and with the temperatures in the 90s most of the past week, any watering we do evaporates so quickly.  We try to water daily - some days we forget - and have started to water in the evenings only, after dark, so that the water is more likely to soak in.

And the birds.  I mean really, who knew birds could be so annoying.  They are everywhere!  They nearly wiped out my wild raspberries and ate all but a few of my strawberries {I was able to salvage a few toward the end of the season with a mesh covering}.  They ate 80% of the seeds we planted in May before they were even able to sprout.  Of the 80 kernles of corn I planted, 8 remain!  I think we only got 3 or 4 bean plants of the 3 large rows I planted.  None of my broccoli, beets, or cucumbers survived.  And we now realize they are to blame for our herb garden not sprouting in April!!  Fortunately, my peas are doing well and the birds seem to be leaving my lettuce, tomatoes and peppers alone!  To help combat these little pests, we've invested in two items of defense - a bb gun & cuddly kittens! =)

Summer has brought with it delicious produce, and by joining the local CSA, our fridge stays pretty well packed with lots of green!  These past few weeks have been filled with salads {we haven't even touched our own lettuce in weeks!}, and not much else!  Definite, turn around from the few weeks we were eating whatever sounded good at the time due to my stomach issues - finally feeling back to normal!  We've also been able to enjoys some wonderful berries after picking 10# of strawberries and 5# of extra early red raspberries.  I tried my hand at canning, and feel I've found my new hobby!

Looking forward to sharing more soon - though I don't intend to spend much time blogging this summer as there is so much I hope to get done on the house.

Until next time....