leaving on a jet plane…

I hate it when the man has to leave. Last year when he had to go on a two week training exercise, I re-did our master bedroom which was a huge surprise for him to come home to.  So now that he’s leaving again, I have to pick my next project.

We just had the rest of the knob & tube wiring removed from our house, so I’ve been left with patches all over the house from where they had to go in the walls. Thankfully, because the guys at Reali Electric are AMAZING, none of my woodwork was harmed.  And their new addition (well, new to me since we had them in our house last year) Angie is a goddess with spackle. You can’t tell where the holes they made in our textured plaster ceiling were. And I don’t mean just one tiny hole. I mean a plethora of 3 inch long holes all over our foyer and upstairs hallway.

So now I’m faced with two weeks to do projects.

What would you like to see me do?

sacrificing and changing

When we bought the house last year, I put all my energy and focus into tackling every project all at once.  I made obsessive lists and dove in, taking all of my displeasure at work out on the wood work and the walls and the floors, frantically cleaning and painting and sanding. And of course, along with that, I began saving money frantically.  We had a lot of purchases to make – fixtures, linens, paint, nails, spackle, tape – and it adds up quickly. All our spare change was squirreled away into our piggy banks, and coupons became my best friend.  Somewhere along the way, though, I stopped spending money on myself too.

Owning a home is choices, and some of them are humbling (ie. we may want a gorgeous arts and crafts style kitchen but I don’t know how to build cabinets from scratch) and some of them are eye opening.  I realized that if I wanted to stop spending as much money I needed to modify my lifestyle. I wouldn’t say that I’m  extravagant when it comes to the money I spend on my personal maintenance, but just like the nick-knacks that come with home repair, self maintenance adds up quickly.

I had to make a choice and change: did I want the latest greatest shampoo every month, a closet over flowing, and bi-weekly manicures, or did I want to put everything we had into our house?

I chose the house. So what next?

I gave up getting my nails done. I spent anywhere from $20-50 every two weeks to keep up my gel manicure.  My one real vanity is my hands, which I talked about in another post, but I decided that I could do without. Now, almost a year after quitting my manicure habit, my nails are my own and I’ve learned to embrace them. (And my mom spoiled me and bought me about 6 bottles of fabulous colors that I now do myself and I will admit sometimes I change my polish color twice a week!).

Not a bad manicure if I do say so!

The next thing I did was purge my closet. I have gone up and down in sizes quite a few times in the past 5 years, so I took everything that I didn’t wear on a regular basis, knew I wouldn’t wear again, or didn’t fit, and took it to Greene Street Consignment. They may be picky – they tend to only take higher quality brands – but you get paid decent money when your items sell.  And of course, when I went to pick up my discarded items, I treated myself to a pair of shoes that I had always wanted but could never afford to buy new.  These J.Crew Italian leather and suede flats go for over $100 new, but I scored them for $15.

And I have learned to constantly reevaluate my closet and my needs. Now I spend money on basics, not trends or items that I can’t wear to work AND to hang out.

The biggest saver may be my determination to not buy new hair/face/body/cleaning products until I used everything we owned already.  If your linen closet is anything like mine, you probably have multiple bottles of shampoo, conditioners, lotions and potions that you used for a few months and then found something EVEN BETTER. I’ve played that game for years as I tried to find something that made my hair look better, my face brighter, my skin more moisturized. The addiction to new product comes from multiple sources, but the biggest is my obsession desire to use as many all natural/organic products as I can. But the reality is that I hate throwing unused product out. So now when a shampoo bottle in the shower is empty, I just go to the next half-used product that has been sitting unused.  So far I’ve gone through – no joke – 12 bottles of various products. I definitely have my favorites but now I use them every other day in between the left overs. My hair hasn’t fallen out and my skin hasn’t melted off, so I’ll keep continuing until my linen closet no longer has orphan products.

The other major change was quitting hair color. I’m a natural red head, but my porous hair is sensitive to chlorine that is in water, so it lightens up very quickly. I’ve never fancied being blonde, so for the past 12 years – the amount of time I have lived in PA – I have dyed my hair. I never had the problem in NY, where I grew up. Soon after moving to PA for college, though, my hair started bleaching out. I haven’t died my hair since November 2011. And I now I just laugh about my color. I can deal.

Proof I am a natural redhead:

1983

Dyed:

July 2010 – dyed hair (that sexy man is the hubby)

I had my hair cut a few days ago – something else that I rarely do these days – and I can honestly say I’m happy with my decision to go natural. I don’t have a lot of highlights, and my color isn’t as fiery as I usually like, but I’ll take it.

new cut, natural color!

So many things have changed since we moved in the house – different worries, different stress, and new outlooks. But one thing hasn’t – me.

I’m happier by far, and I’ve “given up” a lot. But I’m okay with that. I’m 20 pounds lighter than when we got married and when we moved in, I’ve simplified my life, and I’ve learned to be happy with what we have.

Have you given things up without sacrificing you?

summer craze

So much has happened since last time I took a moment to myself to indulge in writing a blog post. We had a landscaper come and remove all of our UGO’s, we celebrated the one year anniversary of owning the home, had a Memorial Day BBQ with family and friends, and yesterday had a very successful yard sale.

When I stop to think that we have been in this house one year, it shocks and amazes me how quickly time has passed. When we moved into the house, I was desperate to start making my mark, which meant removing wall paper and painting over the previous owners disastrous ideas of decorating. I don’t care what decade they decorated in – there is no excuse to paint a bedroom violet and teal. One day I’ll share that project.

In the meantime, though, I want to share how I transformed our master bedroom. The wall paper was too country for my taste, and the ceiling fan was covered in so much dust that we had to put down drop cloths to take it off. I’m not kidding – CLUMPS of dust.

The real estate pic of our master bedroom

Within five minutes of entering the house the first time as the owners, I began removing the wall paper in the master bedroom. It wasn’t hard. Actually, it was ridiculously easy. Without any tools, it came off in sheets.

Think they should have used more adhesive?

In early July, when my husband had to go away for a training, I took the opportunity to redo the room. I couldn’t have the entire house in chaos – boxes unpacked, furniture clumped into the wrong rooms – and every night good to bed in chaos, too. Of course, the cats were willing to help me.

Loki: “Shall I stay right here? Am I in your way?”

And were not very thrilled when I kicked them out.

Loki: “Couldn’t you go work in another room? I’m busy.”

And thus began the process of washing the walls with TSP, painting the ceiling, sanding all the wood work, discovering old “Ma Bell” telephone wiring that had been snaked in and out of the quarter round, and picking paint colors. There was also the issue of repairing some of the woodwork that had been near destroyed.

My baseboards had issues…

The floors were disgusting.

This is the color of floors that have perhaps NEVER been washed.

And I learned how much I hated painting plaster ceilings.

Those would be plaster chunks sticking to my arm. Just like freckles. Only they pull your arm hair out.

The man was around when we were deciding on a paint color. But in the end, all the samples we tried, we hated.

Top was too pink, bottom was too dark, and just right? Couldn’t find it.

So we picked a paint color, didn’t try it on the walls, and that’s what I ended up using. The final decision? Behr’s “Naturally Calm“.

We were lucky when we bought the house – I had all of my grandmother’s furniture, and our master bedroom set was no exception. We didn’t need to buy a lot, but one of the things we did need was an alarm clock (thanks to knob & tube wiring and a lack of outlets) and bedside lamps, but we struggled to find ones we liked. Until we found Buffet Lamps and an alarm clock at Ikea.

Nana’s old telephone table used as a night stand, complete with Ikea lamp and alarm clock.

And of course, we needed some knick knacks for my dresser.

Candle sticks, candles, and tray from Ikea.

And then there was the issue of replacing the ceiling fan. Although my husband had doubts about a hanging lamp over our bed, I was delighted by the result.

Ceiling fixture from Home Depot.

And then I needed bedding. Our old bed was a full size, and when we inherited the furniture, we also inherited a queen size bed, so needing to get all new linens, I ventured again to Ikea. I didn’t want to overwhelm the room with more color, so I went with a simple but elegant duvet cover with a white background and charcoal grey print.  Pillows were scored from Home Goods.

When it came to finding something to hang over the bed, the man and I scoured every art store we could find on South Street, searched countless internet sites and poster stores, and could come up with nothing.  In the end, we settled on something we already owned, and couldn’t begin to imagine would fit in the room.

Tree of Life tapestry over our bed.

So overall, the project took two weeks and just about $500. The wall color seems to change throughout the season and the day. In the morning it is subdued and relaxing, and at night with our bedside lights on there is a rosy, warm glow. I’d say the result was just like our paint color: naturally calm.

Before

And a beautiful after.

This summer I’m taking it easy. I’m almost done completing our living room, and in a few weeks we begin the process of having more knob & tube wiring removed. But in the past year, I couldn’t be happier with the transformations that have been made. What about you? What do you think of using purple in a bedroom? Did you transform your own bedroom retreat? I’d love to know!