Sunday, January 25, 2009

Progress: Our Bedroom

As referenced in my new year's post, one of my goals was to stop procrastinating about fixing up our house. I have many ideas, but seem to lack the confidence to actually do anything. Of course budget restraints make things tricky, but I'm trying to focus on doing one thing at a time.

Here's what we've done so far with the bedroom - most of this was done during the break I had around new year's, so I really was trying to take my own advice!

Yes, it's blue. But I promise - it's not as scary of a blue as my camera makes it out to be. Yes, it's a bright blue - but not that.. electric... It's Utah Sky (you're thinking - "oh, now I can picture it exactly" -- right???) When looking thru magazines and books and blogs, I always like the look of crisp, neutral rooms - whites, beiges, etc. But then when it comes to my own house, I seem always be drawn to bright, vivid colors. Maybe it's because, growing up, my room had thick vertical stripes of bright teal and white wallpaper...I blame my parents.

Regardless - our room is blue. And I like it, thank you very much. It's been blue for a while, but just recently did I decide to add some of the brown accents that I had in mind to offset the blue.

I love our chocolate bedspread (complete with tan dog) and our white furniture has a sort of beachy-without-palm-trees feel to it (in my mind at least). So I wanted to add natural textures and browns to go with that.

I'm proud of my cheapo art -- I got $2 frames, spray painted them (one of my new favorite hobbies), and filled them with stock photos turned sepia that I found online. $12 total - yes! (and I felt crafty - bonus points!) Maybe in our next bedroom we will have real art...

The curtains we got at a cleaned-out, 70% off Linens and Things. We failed to note the length on the curtains - we were just so excited we found some that were the color we wanted that didn't cost an arm and a leg (budget, remember). So I like them -- they are just a little short. I know the decorator's tip is to make curtains extra long to make the room seem taller. We'll just deal with our midget room for now.

I've been on the lookout for a mirror for over the dresser for some time now. I want it to be brownish, round, and of an interesting texture or material. So far, nothing has stood out. Although I do have my eye on some at Target... waiting for the 50% sale to come...

And where the star hangs on the wall is where my sister's commissioned artwork will hang -- if she ever finishes it for me!
And yes, I know what you are thinking. You are totally jealous of the TV, and want to know where you can snag an 11" TV/VCR combo that weighs 50 pounds. 1995, that's where.

So of course there are many caveats to this room - it is in no way whatsoever done. But I have made progress, and to me - that's a big first step.

Oh - and we finally replaced the burned-out light on the side of the house - progress!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

It Isn't Always Easy Being Green

Tony and I are by no means the "greenest" we could be. But I like to think we are learning - and we are definitely open to doing things that may be slightly inconvenient for us, but are little things that can make a big difference.

We recently installed a hot water heater blanket. These heaters are huge wasters of energy in a home, and for $20, the blanket is supposed to significantly reduce the energy wasted from the heat escaping off the surface of the tank. This means lower energy bills for us, and less wasted energy in general.

As you can see, once we were done (and covered in fiberglass shards) it looked like a pack of environmentally-conscious kindergartners put it up. You have to cut around all of the knobs and pipes, which isn't easy. That sucker is super-thick.

After one day of me at work having visions of our house burning to the ground with our puppies inside, we decided maybe it should come down. I read a few articles, and discovered that for gas heaters (which is what we have) you should leave installation up to the pros. Also, our water heater is ancient, and I'm pretty sure it's a fire hazard on it's own, without the help of being covered in fiberglass and plastic. So until we can have someone who knows what they are doing put it in, we put that idea on hold. But apparently electric ones are a lot easier to install, so if you have one of those, I would recommend it!

We also recently installed a programmable thermostat. Our old one was also ancient, causing our heat to turn on and off all day and night, and the temp was never stable. Our fancy new one is set based on our schedule, turning down when we are sleeping and at work, and kicking back on in time for it to be comfortable by the time we get up or get home, and we've noticed our heater is getting more time off as a result, while we remain toasty. Of course, the new one is a different shape, and we have no leftover paint... I'm betting that little white square will be there for a year, at least!

We've also put CFLs in all of our light fixtures. They work just as well as regular lights, and I'm lazy, so I like the fact that we have to change them much less often -- none so far! Of course you have to be careful with them, as they contain mercury, and dispose of them properly once they do die. We even found ones to go in our bathroom fixture - ones that aren't spirally and weird looking. However, these take much longer to get that fluorescence going... which isn't too helpful when I'm already late and need more than a dim glow to put on my makeup! Patience is a virtue, right?

Unfortunately, our garbage company doesn't pick up recycling. Luckily, we live right down the street from the recycling center. I love these bins from Ikea that conveniently hold all of our recycling -- and believe me, there's a lot of it! I could never go back to throwing all of this stuff away, knowing how much we recycle. The center has never recycled glass, and they recently discontinued recycling plastic, because it became too expensive (lame). Fortunately, we don't go through too much glass or plastic, but if they stopped taking Diet Coke cans, I would feel violated. Cardboard too -- soooo many things are overpackaged and wasteful - we have two bins just for cardboard.

I know there are many more things we could add to our list to be "greener." Not just because it saves us money (although, that helps!), but because I feel responsible knowing there are things that I could do to make our lives and the earth a little healthier. I plan on continuing adding to our list!

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Reverse Before and After

I've noticed a very strange, unexplained phenomenon....when work is busy, my posting ratio mysteriously dwindles.....weird...

Needless to say, work has been busy, but since it's a 3 day weekend, I'm going to be productive!

I sadly wanted to share a reverse before and after. That doesn't make sense, you may say. Think of it as the young, smiling, smooth-skinned woman on the left screen...add magic potion cream - and voila! - she's old, wrinkled, and not-so-smiley. That's what happened with our backyard.

We tried. We really did. But luckily we didn't try as hard as we did on the front. You will remember this post where we did a little bit of landscaping, drainage, and grass seeding in the backyard. Throw into the mix two dogs (and by now you know the wrecking ball that is Roxy), too much shade, and well,... bad luck.

And you get this depressing masterpiece:

Granted, I took these pictures a few days ago when the sun hadn't shone for like, two months - it was overcast/rainish/gross. But that's irrelevant. The grass all died. Don't be deceived by the green - it's all clover.

But it doesn't stop there. First Roxy went for the hostas. Next she honed in on one of the gardenias. We replanted. She tore it out again. We gave up. She just reallllly didn't want that one gardenia planted there, I guess. The others (so far) have miraculously gone unscathed.

The shady middle of the yard suffered the worst losses. Of course, that's where the water likes to pool when it rains - which it has done EVERY SINGLE DAY for the recent past. (Ok, so not every day, but it has been a very bleak winter!). So when it's wet, I have 8 dog paws to wipe off every single time they come in from outside. A dirty towel lives by the door.

So, our battle plan is to bring in a whole lot of pine bark chips and cover the damage - or at least the muddiest parts. My kitchen floor can't take much more abuse.

Perhaps in the summer, with the help of Tony's fancy new saw, we can build a deck. It would add value, make us happy, and solve the mud/non-grass issue. But until then, if you come over, don't look in the backyard. It's just too sad.

Live and learn, I guess!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Slow News Day (Month...)

I haven't posted in a while, but the truth is there is nothing going on worth posting about! After the holiday rush of the past few months, it's nice to unwind and not do much of anything (or spend any money!).

Good news - our grass is still green!

(Greenest on our street, for that matter - hah! Oh, and pretend the plants are not miniature)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Taking Charge

So... the easy to say but difficult to keep New Years Resolution.

I have never really been the type to make these -- I know myself well enough to know it's probably fruitless, unless it's something like --- Eat more macaroni and cheese -- check.

The beginning of this new year happens to coincide with my feeling a need to do more with my life. So call it a resolution, call it a "life goal," whatever.

In the past (almost) two years since college, I have realized that it is so very easy to slip into a very deep rut and never climb out of it. Don't get me wrong - I have a wonderful life that has been filled with great memories. But sometimes the day to day can wear me down, without my even realizing it. Days, weeks, months go by before I have a chance to stop and notice -- and I'm not even really that busy!

So, my resolution is to take charge of my life (Tony laughed when I told him this, you can too, it's ok). So if you can ignore the cheesiness of it, it has a lot of relevant applications for all aspects of my life.

I am sick of feeling like I am a passenger. I often think about the person I feel I used to be, and am a little disappointed at who I have let myself (temporarily) become. I have many talents that I am not utilizing because I have become too darn lazy to use them. I spend too much time on the couch and not enough time doing things I love.

Here are some, but not all, of the applications for my life-changing (ok...maybe not, but I'm trying here) slogan:

1. My body: Ahhh, here it comes, the never-fail part of the common resolution that includes losing weight. Remember this post about motivation by humiliation ? Didn't work. In fact, it did the opposite. We were major slackers about working out, and once I had given in to a few Christmas treats, I said, Screw this - If I'm going to eat a few why not eat everything in sight. Ok, so I'm over exaggerating a little, but I feel like a total slob. And the saddest part is, I didn't care. So now I am going to Take Charge (woo!) and get in (better) shape. It's not just poundage I'm worried about here. Saturday when Roxy made a break for it and chased a cat up and down our street and decided it was funny to try to elude my grasp - I was dying when I finally strangled her into her leash. Not cool.

2. Our home: We have been in our house for a year and a half now, and we are just finally beginning to fix it up. Sure, I understand that you can't do everything at once (and Wachovia agrees) but there are little things that I keep talking and talking about. I am going to get up off my butt and do them! This year we successfully revamped our front yard, but that was a major task. We want to put in wood floors, add moulding, maybe build a deck. We will get to those. But I'm talking about changing that flood light on the side of the house that has made it impossible to take the trash out post-sunset (it was burned out when we bought the house...). Most importantly I want to do the little things to make the rooms we live in feel like home. We have done pretty well on our living room, but we had generally run out of steam after that. I have already made good in a small way on this part of my Take Charge, but more on that later. It doesn't take much effort to paint or add accessories, and I am going to do it!

3. My life: As referenced above about talents and loves, I want to make more out of my life. What have I done to help others this year? Not much. What new thing have I learned? Nothing. What is something that I am passionate about? Um.... You get the point. I am currently defined by working and cleaning with fun sprinkled in there a little. I want to be proud of what I do. I'm not really talking about my job in this case, but who I am as a person. I used to be involved in so many things, and I constantly felt challenged and stimulated. Routine has gotten the best of me and left me with little energy or desire to do much else. But I am going to Take Charge (it's getting redundant now, I know) and force myself to grow as a person.

4. My self: I have been a little bit of an emotional nightmare recently (ask Tony). I always get a little bummed in the winter -- I blame the tiny slits they call windows in my building and the fact that it's dark during my whole drive home. I have felt pretty negative and have let it get the better of me. Instead of fighting it, I was embracing it. Bad idea! Enough feeling sorry for myself!

Ahh, I feel better already! Nothing like a little blogging therapy to help start a new year. Sorry this was so long, and you probably learned more about me than you wanted to know. But you're still reading, so that's a good sign. I am going to contribute to my non-lazy, life-loving, self by continuing to post regularly on here. Simply put, it makes me happy to do so.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Christmas Recap

Working only 2 days out of 2 weeks will make you kinda lazy. I had all the time in the world to write about our second Christmas in Knoxville, but I simply didn't do it. Now that another holiday (and year!) has come and gone, it seems kind of irrelevant to explain all that we did. It will suffice to say that we had a fabulous time in Knoxville - we got to spend lots of time with family, I saw my lovely friends, and we ate lots of great food. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

We are truly blessed by everyone around us, and I am so grateful to be able to have the kind of Christmas we had.

I will be back shortly to share my New Years Resolution, which just so happens to include not being lazy....

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