Yellow-ochre-orange.

I finished the entryway last night instead of going to the Damien Jurado concert at the UI. I would have had plenty of time to spare except that I thought I could finish the whole thing with one quart of paint.  Alas, I squeezed the roller dry with about 6 sq. feet left to go, sighed deeply, and made an emergency trip to Wal-Mart while understanding husband did the dishes.

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The name of the paint was “February Gold,” but on the wall it turned out more “March Orange.” It’s a little bolder than I had originally envisioned, but I think I like it. No, I know I like it, I’m just convincing myself to feel like I like it. I think that the color will make more sense when the dining room is done, so you don’t look into the rest of the apartment and see only bland white walls (kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom are not immediately visible).

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This is the incredible round mirror, which is the first thing you see when you walk in (it’s on the right in the first photo). I love the fact that it’s a circle, not the usual rectangle. I’m trying to put some circles in each room now to carry the theme throughout the apartment.

I’m looking forward to putting out my new Ikea vases and some dried pussywillow branches as soon as the white paint on the shelves has cured. As I was waiting for the bus this morning, I also had the sudden urge to find an old birdcage, paint it with the same yellow-ochre-orange, and hang it from the hook in front of our living room window. Since husband isn’t a huge fan of birds inside the house, it would probably house a nice vine-y plant. Wouldn’t that be pretty?

Have a good weekend, all.

Dirt.

When I came to work this morning, I was kind of sad that I didn’t have any new photos to post (almost done painting the entryway, but it needs some quality time with a roller). And then my job came to the rescue.

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Do you see this? I got paid to get dirty today!

WSU has this thing called “Cougar Pride Day” when employees are asked to volunteer for specific grounds-improvement projects. I signed up and got to spend 45 minutes of an otherwise humdrum day spreading bark and planting petunias. Now, I know better than to get too romantic about spending time in the garden (I once spent a very long summer weeding flowerbeds for Parks & Rec), but my 20 minutes of digging holes and filling them with flowers were definitely the best and most worthwhile 20 minutes of my day. I don’t think that any of my emails will make the world more beautiful the way the petunias will.

I very rarely feel this way, so I’m going to go ahead and say it while I do: WSU, you rock. You gave me the chance to get some dirt under my fingernails today.

Fabric scraps.

These days, when I walk into a Goodwill/Salvation Army/Thrift Store, I almost always head straight for the housewares section. I used to make a beeline for the clothes, especially dresses, but the new apartment has changed that. Great fabric or linens + good prices – trip to JoAnn’s = happy Paula.

I diligently searched every thrift store we went to last Saturday for nice printed fabric to use as curtains or a wall-hanging. No real success on that front, unfortunately, but I came away with two bags stuffed full of scraps for $1.70 each. I didn’t want to open them in the car, so it wasn’t until the next day that I realized what fun prints were in them.

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There are a bunch of little (as in, 3″x4″ to 10″x12″) scraps of red, white and blue fabric..

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..and some fun browns and greens.

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These plaids and prints are a little larger – maybe 1/4 of a yard.

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These last two, though, are the biggest (1/2 yard-1 yard), and I LOVE them. The green and blue print, above, is quintessential “vintage” fabric in my eyes. And it’s authentic, not a reprint.

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The pattern on the more coarsely-woven fabric, above, is also fun. It’s more graphic, and I’d love to use it for a pillow except that the colors don’t really match any of my stuff.

Now I just have to figure out to do with all the itsy-bitsy scraps (I’m not really a patchwork girl) and the bigger pieces. But that’s not a bad challenge, right?

I also said that I’d show the results of our little furniture swap. The pic below is of the original furniture arrangement, which bothered me for a couple of reasons (the darker stain on the cd tower, the hodge-podge look).

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Enter the cabinet whatsit that I got at the Goodwill a couple of years ago for $20 (one of my few Goodwill furniture finds – it’s usually so picked-over that there’s nothing nice).

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Voila! The short bookshelf and the cd’s move next to Josh’s desk, videos go inside the cabinet, and the tv is at a better viewing height. Three cheers for re-organizing your own furniture, which is definitely the cheapest design solution I’ve ever found. The stain on the cabinet is a leeetle bit more red than the oak bookshelves, but I’m going to try not to let that bother me.

I should have pictures of the entryway soon, since I spent last night giving it a first coat. The yellow-ochre is darker than I thought it would be (I’m glad I didn’t choose the darker shade!), but I think the room can handle it because it’s so small. I’m sorry that all the apartment photos have been so terrible – I’m trying to improve the photography around here, but I usually don’t get the chance to snap pics until it’s dark outside. The fabric had nice natural light because I, ahem, missed the bus this morning and had half an hour to clean the apartment and take photos. I briefly contemplated sitting on the couch and reading a magazine, but productivity won. As usual.

Snow.

It snowed this morning, and I’m pretty sure it’s my fault.

All yesterday I was humming a little song clip and trying to remember the band, album, etc. Went home last night and gave husband the only phrase I could remember (“we don’t need oxygen“) and he instantly came up with JJ72. What a guy.

So when I went to bed last night, I already knew that come morning I was going to listen to the kind of soulfully angst-ridden music that is much, much better suited for cold weather than that start of spring. I even remembered that the record has a whole song called “Snow.” But did that stop me? Nooo, I wanted my 20 minute bus ride with Mark Greaney wailing in my ears.

I have to say that it was a really lovely ride to work this morning – the windows on the bus were spattered with mud and water, and I could only see the blurry outlines of cars, people, landscape, and snow…large, wonderful, flakes of snow that I hope are the last until next November. After today, I’m putting JJ72 on the back shelf and saving them for fall.

In other, completely unrelated news, Josh and I have been thinking about getting a second dog. When we went to Spokane last Saturday (forgot to take photos of the vintage fabric I bought – ack!), we made a special trip to look at a little Miniature Pinscher rescue dog. After a lot of thinking, we decided not to adopt that particular dog but to still look around. And then my neighbor told me that our landlord really frowns on tenants having two dogs. I don’t know if he doubles the already substantial pet deposit or what, but our dog plans are on hold until I find out. Poor Bina! We were all ready to look for a new sister for her and now she’s back to “only child” status.

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(That’s kind of a joke – our dog doesn’t seem to mind being an only child at all. More food for her.)

Tomorrow: furniture re-arranging and (hopefully) pretty new fabric scraps. 

Presents!

My parents went to visit my brother in Japan while Josh + I were in California. It sounds like the trip went really well, and my darling mum was exceedingly generous with the presents she brought back:

1) Buttons!

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2) The cutest little bag ever! (Okay, not technically a present, but I think it’s adorable.)

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3) Fabric!

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4) A print that I haven’t seen yet but which will look great in my kitchen!

Regarding (3), mum reports that Japanese fabric is just as ridiculously expensive in Japan as it is imported in the states – i.e., $15-$20 a yard. Ick. I have a precious meter of the pink/mauve print above (shown on top of some Amy Butler, my treasured piece of Liberty fabric, and a great tea towel), and I’ve decided it’s the perfect color for some accents in my bedroom. Decorative pillows, anyone?

Hope you have a good weekend!

Some more painting.

I’m sorry I haven’t got more pics today – the project I’m working on doesn’t have photographable results yet. I had the luxury of being able to paint several rooms in our apartment before we moved in, which is SO much nicer than trying to do it after the fact. At the moment, I’m (still) trying to finish the ones I didn’t get to, like the dining room, entryway, and hallway.

There’s also the living room, which has turned out to be kind of problematic. The landlord gave me some of the “same exact paint,” so the night before we moved in I thought I’d freshen up the living room a bit and went over the walls – but not corners, ceiling, etc. – with a roller. Result? Walls look great, but there’s a grey line around the corners, ceiling, etc. Who knew that living room walls could be so dirty? Even after I washed them? I finally touched up the molding around the ceiling the other night (drove me nuts every time I looked at it) and I’ve started working on the window area, which was really horrible. But I need to be very careful what I paint because the fresh stuff looks really different than the old, so if I paint something (like the window frame), I need to do the whole thing instead of just touch-ups.

I tried to take a photo, but dingy white next to creamy white is just not all that exciting. The yellow in the entryway, however…

Oh, Ikea.

I have a love affair with Ikea that began in 2002. I’d heard of the store when I was in Europe (mostly as an example of mass-produced products taking over the world), but it wasn’t until I stepped onto the showroom floor in Vancouver that I discovered its lure for myself. I come from the land of Wal-Mart and ShopKo (we don’t even have a Target), so finding stuff that was affordable + well-styled felt like hitting the jackpot. Couches? Chairs? Tea-towels? Shelves? Napkins? Lamps? All there, all relatively cheap, all good-looking. Going to Ikea was one of the long-awaited highlights of my trip to Cali, and I’ll admit that I went a little crazy while I was there. I told Josh that I only needed an hour and a half, and he wisely added an hour to that. (And then he spent a very patient half hour at the end looking over all my stuff before I bought it.) This gave me the incredible luxury of being able to slowly wander through the store and satisfy my desire to know that what I picked out wasn’t inferior to something else that I didn’t get a chance to see (do you ever feel that way when you’re rushed?). What can I say…my husband is the bestest. And my shopping was the bestest!

[Another preface: I think that people who live in Ikea-infested locations (east coast? Europe?) can feel as though Ikea products are a dime a dozen and a tad unoriginal. Well, out here in the inland Northwest, the opposite is true. When I went to the Ikea in Costa Mesa, it was with full confidence that nothing I was already buying could be found in any of my friends’ homes. Take that, Elle Decor.]

At the top of my list was finding a carpet for our living room to give the area around the sofa a little more definition. I thought this was especially important because Josh’s desk is just to the left of the couch and the work part of the room needs some separation from the relaxing part.

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(The dog is my darling, lovable, fat little Bina.) 

I really wished that I’d had a rug sample to bring with me, since I was afraid to buy one of the neutral/beige carpets for fear of clashing badly with the existing one. There was also the problem of the couch – which I don’t think I’ve shown before – and it’s strange bluish green color. [Hmm, the couch. If it wasn’t for the fact that it is so very comfortable, I might regret the purchase since it’s a) incredibly heavy and difficult to move and b) a dark color that doesn’t really match anything else. I’m hoping to lighten it a bit with accent pillows.]

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This shot was taken from the dining room and shows the front window (which looks directly out onto the street) and the door to the entry room. Curtains for the front window are still TBD – I bought a black curtain rod at Ikea but don’t have the fabric yet. My current thought is to make the main body of the curtain out of neutral fabric (unbleached cotton matches the walls almost exactly) and add a strip of something more colorful at the top on bottom.

Another problem I have with the window is the need to let light in (we want to grow herbs on the ledge) without the fishbowl effect. While I was browsing the kitchen section at Ikea, I came across some rolls of shelf liner for $4 each and had an Aha! moment. I bought two of the rolls and finally tried putting them on the windows last night with the following results.

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As you can tell, each piece is a little too narrow. But I think that when I finally get the curtains up, this won’t be a problem because they’ll cover the gaps on the sides. The main issue for me is that the shelf liner lets in lots of light and almost completely obscures the view. Success! I know that Home Depot and some other retailers sell frosted stick-on stuff that does the same thing, but it’s about $50 a roll…and this stuff was $8 total. I’m still working out some technical difficulties, like the best way to get the liner to stick to the window – in the photo it’s held up with tape, but that didn’t last for long. I’d like to try attaching it with little suction cups, since those won’t leave a residue. Suggestions on where to buy those??

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Another thing I love about the shelf liner is the texture – all those little raised circles. It so happens that I’m trying to get a bit of a circle theme going, since our entryway came with a large round mirror.

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This is another one of the rooms that I plan to paint..the white doesn’t look so bad here, but it’s pretty dingy in real life. I have a yellow/gold picked out that picks up the flecks in the linoleum and should provide a nice, cheery entry into the apartment. The blue rug is another Ikea bargain ($10), as is the tall vase (it broke in transit but I was able to glue it back together).

I’m out of time, but I’ll squeak in one last Ikea bargain. I said that I wanted to replace the dotted lamp shades in the bedroom, but when I was looking around I couldn’t find anything that I liked much better. So, Josh picked out two new lamps for $8 each.

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The “lamps” are more like rectangular vases with a bulb inside – very, very simple. We particularly liked the shape, since it goes with the rectangular Japanese lamp on the dresser.

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Sorry that the colors are all messed up – I shut the curtains so you can also see another little success story. The white curtains were left in the room by the previous tenant and were absolutely filthy. I was going to use them to cover the floor when I painted, but mum mentioned that I might want to try having them dry-cleaned. I did and, while it wasn’t cheap ($30), there’s no way that I would have found curtains that nice for that price. They’re kind of glamorous in a 60s way, so I’m still trying to think of a matching headboard motif.

Hooray for Ikea!

Wish you were there.

Well, I’m back. We pulled into town at 9:00 pm on Saturday night, having put a sweet 3,000 miles on the car.

Since I can’t post about anything crafty until I’ve put up some travel pictures for friends + family who weren’t there, you don’t have to look if you’re waiting for something more creative. For those who are interested, highlights of the trip included…

..the drive down, when we took a “shortcut” through eastern Oregon. (Did you know that Oregon puts a 55 mph speedlimit on everything that’s not I-5? And that they enforce it?)

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..the gorgeous natural scenery, including views of Mt. Shasta. (Klamath Falls, where we spent the night, was not so picturesque, and shall hereafter be referred to as “Wooly Klamath.” )

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..spending time with the cousins, who have all been predisposed by aunt + uncle to think we’re great. Great moments included playing with legos, putting together a puzzle, looking at bird + reptile pictures, and listening to older cousins make appropriate voices for each of their (hundreds of) little plastic animals.

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..going to the Amoeba Music store on Sunset Blvd. I was very restrained and came away with some Regina Spektor, Head like a Kite, and Youth Group. Husband came away with a lot more.

..getting to see the ol’ Hollywood sign (white blur in hill at top of photo) and the Hollywood walk of fame, which was – fittingly – located outside a big shopping center.

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..going to Newport Beach, like good OC devotees.

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..dipping toes in the ocean and collecting shells to hang in our car.

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..going to Disneyland for the first time in 14 years.

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 ..riding on the “little kid” rides, after discovering that the Star Wars motion simulator did a number on my stomach. Shown are my aunt-of-saintly-patience, cousins, and an amazing storybook landscape where all the trees are about 5 inches tall.

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 ..riding on the bumper cars.

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 ..riding on the bumper cars with 5 year old cousin. She insisted on steering while I pushed the pedal (her legs are too short). She was, um, pretty good, actually.

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..admiring hundreds of singing puppets and humming “it’s a small world” for the next two hours.

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 ..driving through northern California at sunset on the way back.

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Not pictured: uncle-of-saintly-generosity, pass for gated community listing our names as Jose and Paula Jibbs, crazy LA driving, shopping loot, fruit stands, tasting olives, lots and lots of California and Oregon. 

It was, as Mary Poppins would say, practically perfect in every way. 

Next up: results of the long-awaited trip to the Ikea in Costa Mesa. 

Californiaaaaaa.

Californiaaaaaa, here we cooooooome…

Tomorrow, Josh and I are leaving for our one-year anniversary trip. We’re driving to sunny southern Cal to stay with my aunt, uncle, and cousins, and I am looking forward to it like you can’t believe. There will probably be blog silence until the Monday after, unless I get particularly inspired and have internet access.  BUT, when I get back, I promise lots of nice photos of apartment decor + stuff accumulated in SoCal (too bad we drive a little Toyota…).

I do have one little project to share before I go, but first I want to add a little note about the first year of marriage. One of the comments that I got alot after our wedding was a variation of, “Oh, you just got married…the first year of marriage is hard.” At first, it didn’t bother me because I assumed that the statement was true. Yup, there were some arguments in the early days about where the pots + pans should be stored and how much we should pay for certain things (I have expensive taste). And sometimes life wasn’t blissfully easy. But you know what? Hard times while married were still better than good times while unmarried. And over time, we adjusted to living together and the bigger issues slowly started to dissolve while we weren’t paying attention, like a rock being lapped away by the ocean. Josh and I had a really good first year of marriage. If you’re going to get married soon (or even if you’re not), don’t let people condemn you to a year of arguing and crying and calling your mom just because our culture thinks everyone does that. God is good, and when he gives you marriage, he gives you a good thing.

So, the crafty project: I forgot that while I was sick, in addition to emptying boxes, I managed to make the “invisible bookshelves” I mentioned a couple of posts ago.

Since this project requires permanently maiming two books, I carefully browsed the selection at Goodwill and came up with 1) a really badly-illustrated Grimm’s Fairy Tales and 2) a chemistry text (we’re feeling a little anti-chemistry at the moment). If I had to pick again, I would have chosen some smaller volumes…I’m afraid to stack anything very heavy on these because our plaster walls are a little brittle and I couldn’t find the stud. So, the book serving as a shelf is quite a bit larger than the books resting on top, which changes the look.

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The desk was a $30 Goodwill find that has made Josh very happy.

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Have a good weekend!

I’m back.

Sorry about the silence, all. I got a really nasty cold that knocked me flat on the couch for five days and we don’t have at-home internet. I finally went to the doctor yesterday and, after being properly impressed by my cough, she prescribed some stuff that seems to be helping.  Hooray for feeling good enough to leave the house!

I wish I could say that I spent those five days crafting, but I actually felt too sick to do much of anything (it has been a long time since I’ve been that sick). I did manage to finish unpacking the last of the boxes on Friday but ran out of steam before I could finish touching up the living room. Since we’re leaving Saturday to drive to Cali, I think the rest of the painting will have to wait until I get back.

So, the craft room. It looks a little better than this now, but I forgot to snap a final photo. (Not shown: small shelf with growing collection of sewing books and great-grandmother’s desk, which fits perfectly in front of the window.)

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When we were looking at this apartment for the first time, I instantly noted that the craft room contains a lot of built-in shelves. My art +  craft supplies used to be scattered around the apartment in four or five places that were either 1) visible and messy-looking or 2) hidden and difficult to access. Now, I can sweep all my things back onto their respective shelves, close the (soon-t0-be-created) curtain, and voila! the semblance of peace and order. 

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It shouldn’t have surprised me that I filled all of the space so quickly, but it did. Every time I get on one of my simplicity-is-better kicks, it ends abruptly when I look at my stash of fabric and art supplies.  The problem is that making stuff requires that you have a lot of materials. Sewing requires a huge pile of miscellaneous thread, needles, scissors, fabrics, facings, elastic, batting, binding, etc. to make what you want. And if you start to get rid of stuff because you haven’t used it in a while (fuschia rick-rack, anyone?), there’s a really good chance that you’ll have to run to JoAnn’s to replace the little whatsit you sent back to the thrift store.

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And art supplies?  Those are always expensive, all the time. I’ve accumulated a pretty nice collection of paint (watercolor, gouache, acrylic), pencils (lots of kinds), pastels (hard, soft, oil), brushes, and paper over the years, and they all have to go somewhere. I felt like such a pack rat after I unpacked everything, but I’m trying to replace that with a sense of being ready for any and every art-related emergency.  You know, “I need a set of Rembrandts and some charcoal paper, stat!” 

Did I mention that my decongestant makes me kind of weird?

Will take some new photos after I make the shelf curtain (I’m looking for a pretty sheet with turquoise in it) and finish the window curtains (scored a really cute pillowcase on my last Goodwill visit). In the meantime, I recommend this and this for inspiring/terrifying pics of other people’s incredible craft rooms. At first I was envious of both, but then I realized that, no matter how big I think my craft stash is, it doesn’t hold a candle to either of these women’s. And there is no way that I would want to pack around all that stuff when we move someday…