Sunday, April 29, 2012

Spring is in the air

  So far this spring I have spent a good deal of my time outside. It's so gorgeous I have to take advantage of all the outdoor time I can get before the temperatures start getting closer to the triple digits and I lock myself inside in the nice, cool air conditioning.

  One of my favorite parts of owning a house is having a yard. Back in the old apartment I did a little gardening and even had a small vegetable garden. Our patio was pretty much over-grown with all of my gardening endeavors. Since we moved in to the house during the fall and our focus was on the interior I didn't have much time to enjoy the yard before the cooler temperatures came in and killed most everything. Not to mention the horrible drought last summer and the fact that the house sat vacant on the market for several months during the hottest, dryest months. Our yard was in very sad shape. After talking to the neighbors and discovering the previous tenants did very little yard work I thought it would take forever to get the yard looking good.

  Luckily I was only half wrong! The front left and far right side of our yard barely have more than a sprig or two of real grass, it's mostly crab grass and weeds. With a little TLC I've had some luck at the front of the house. I'm hoping by the end of the summer we will have the front filled in with lucious St. Augustine grass so next spring we can work on getting it to spread to the other less fortunate areas of the yard.

  I have a pretty nice vegetable garden in the works and can't wait until I can reap the rewards. I've already gotten a few strawberries and a tomatillio, but I also have carrots, romaine lettuce, zuchinni, yellow squash, tomatoes, bell peppers, raspberries, grapes and watermelon hopefully on the way!

  We took advatage of a sale on fruit trees at Lowe's and planted two new apple trees and a peach tree in our side yard. I'm not counting on any fruit in the near future but hopefully a few years down the road with some luck I will have lots of fresh fruit as well. We are also fortunate to have two large, mature pecan trees in our back yard, so I'm hoping for a good harvest later this year. Mmmm fresh pecan pie, I can almost taste it now..

 Our front patio is now looking quite nice with the addition of the new love seat I got from the antique festival a few weeks ago. I've got most of the furniture painted (all except the big table) and I love how it turned out, the new white paint really gave it a new life.  I also finally got around to filling the planter with polka-dot plants today.

  Earlier today I came across a wonderful surprise. While taking a break from pulling weeds I noticed a mockingbird fly into the tree right near our back porch with a worm in it's mouth. I took a peek and found a nest; there was a tiny little baby bird inside of it too! I am delighted, this is exactly why I love having a big backyard.

  I never would have guessed a little nest was hiding just behind the leaves, but lo and behold..

  Since you may have noticed our sad looking shutters on the front of our house in the first photo, I guess I should offer an explanation. When my parents visited last month they did quite a few projects around the house, installing gutters along the front, re-screening and painting our screen doors and even dug up all the ugly shrubs that I hated along the front windows. Once the shrubs were gone I noticed how the paint on the shutters was peeling, so on my last day of vacation I took out the scraper and decided to repaint the shutters. I quickly found out it was easier said than done! Although there was only two layers of paint on them it did not want to come off easy. Using paint remover only left us with a bubbly, gunky mess that burned our skin when we accidentally got some on us. So our shutters have looked like complete hell for about a month now. A few days ago we finally broke out the sander and got a good deal of the paint off, but we are going to have to hand sand all the slats, ughhh. Hopefully we will finish them up in the next few weeks since I feel a little embarrassed this project has sat unfinished where all the neighbors can see for so long.

 We've also made some progress on our guestroom, one of the 'final frontiers' inside of the house. It's still got a ways to go but we've got most of the painting finished.. or as 'finished' as it will be since we quickly figured out for ourselves how difficult red paint is. If I had known how many coats and how blotchy it would end up I would of chosen orange paint instead. After 4 coats we decided we were going to have to live with it being imperfect because we were not going back to the store to buy yet another can of paint.

   I had some luck at an estate sale yesterday. I'm excited to start reading the Better Homes & Gardens "New Garden Book" from 1961 and the thermometer/barometer will go on our back porch. I am totally in love with the Santa Claus card holder and punch bowl set. Since it was the final day of the sale everything was 50% off so I scored all of this (plus a cake knife with a starburst handle that still must be rolling around in the back seat of the car) for only $17.

   Wishing you all a lovely spring and green thumb for all of your gardening adventures until next time!

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Texas Antique Weekend

  I'm sure most of ya'll have already read all about the wonders of the Warrenton Antique Festival over at Miss Betty Crafter's blog (make sure you stop by and enter her contest to win a super cute squirrel planter). This was my first time attending and it was such a dream come true, I had to go twice! I went opening week with Mike and then back a week later with Betty and our friend Cassie.

  Before we arrived in the Warrenton/Round Top area we had to take a small dirt road out to the middle of nowhere. I'm not going to lie, I was pretty sure Leatherface was waiting just around the bend.

  Once we arrived safely at our desitination I was overcome with some of the most beautiful vintage treasures my eyes could behold! The picture doesn't do this television justice, since there were lots of items piled in front of it, but it sat on a neat rolling stand. I can just imagine it in a turquoise kitchen!

  My little brother came for a visit a few weeks ago, and even though he's only 13 he loves the show 'American Pickers' and has developed a picking habit of his own when it comes to vintage signs & Coca Cola memorabilia. I had to snap a pic to share the massive haul they had at this booth.

  I, on the other hand, have a soft place in my heart for black Americana from the early/mid 1900s, and there was a ton of it at various booths. Check out this "Little Black Sambo" board game; they only had the cover of the box but the graphics are the most adorable thing!

 I have no idea what the 'Scairy Baby Hotel' is, but it certainly compliments the nearby Texas Chainsaw Massacre dirt road and gave me the creeps.

  And of course I fell in love with this pink Shasta trailer; it wasn't for sale but that didn't stop me from wishing I could take it home!

I almost swerved off the road when I saw this blow mold city but somehow managed to park safely before totally freaking out. Can I take them all home? Please??

   I did bring home two blow molds to start my collection. An adorable blue eyed Santa that Betty found for me and an overly happy and almost creepy Easter bunny.

  Next I died and went to Pyrex heaven. I seriously felt a few heart palpitations and got a little  teary eyed at this beautiful sight. I could of stayed here all day talking to the cute little old lady who was selling these. She spoke about them like they were her babies and with good reason.

  This was only a small portion of the Pyrex she had at her booth and there were several booths nearby with impressive collections as well. If I was a millionaire I would of bought it all! Sadly that's not the case but I still feel like I brought home a good haul. The best deal of the day was the 50 cents I paid for the mug.

  The goal of the first trip was to come home with an amazing planter and towards the end of the day I did just that! I had Mike do my bargaining for me and he was able to get this planter stand for $35. A trip to the nursery is in order to fill it with all kinds of lovely greenery.

  Speaking of plants, I also picked up this cute butterfly planter and a wonderful turquoise plant stand with my very last $20. 

  After Cassie picked up a gorgeous Bakelite orange fruit necklace and Betty her leaf necklace, I was yearning for a Bakelite necklace of my own.  I confessed to the ladies (who are both pretty serious collectors) that I didn't own any Bakelite, and we decided I had to remedy that pronto. I was skeptical on this necklace but after the dealer offered me the deal of a lifetime, I just couldn't say no. I'm so glad I decided to get it, since I've worn it nearly every day since!

  I just couldn't pass by this little deer bookend, he looks just like Bambi and looks perfect on our built in bookshelves in the family room.

  Of course I left a few things behind that I really wish I could have brought home, like this gorgeous laquered coffee table which would have looked absolutely perfect in our family room. (I'm still kicking myself for not buying it!)

  Aren't these puppies just the cutest thing you've ever seen!? They look just like my lemon beagle, Chase, who we adopted when he was 8 months old, so we never got to see him this tiny and adorable!

   And lastly comes our big splurge of the trip, a new patio set! I have been on the hunt for a patio set for a while now and when I saw this one I just knew we had to make it ours. We picked up the 3 chairs, love seat and side table from a dealer on the first trip and I found the matching table on my return trip. They were all pretty scratched up and rusty but after a coat of spray paint it is looking as good as new! We've got the chairs and small table painted so far; the love seat and dining table are on the to-do list for the next few days.

  I also have a few other recent finds to share but that will have to wait for next time... until then, happy hunting!


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Thrifty Shopping

   Now that the holidays are long gone I was hoping to get plenty of new projects done, but thanks to my work schedule I have been using most of my spare time for some much needed R&R. Since the house is at a comfortable place our project list has been put on the back burner and I am in need of some serious motivation to get back in work mode! We had been working on the bathroom and got the majority of our new wallpaper up before our housewarming party a few weekends ago. We saved the easiest/hardest part for last,  the easiest because it's the smallest area with no obstacles to cut around. Hardest because it's over the tub and our step stool won't fit and I am not tall enough to reach! Sounds like the boyfriend needs to come to the rescue (wink wink). I promise to get back to work soon & post before and after bathroom pictures before long. But for now I will take the easy way out and post about some of my newest finds.

   We went to a great estate sale a few weeks ago down in San Antonio. Unfortunately we hit quite a bit of traffic and got to the sale a half hour after it opened, so we missed out on a few treasures I was hoping to nab.  We were able to pick up a few things for our back yard, like this bird bath; which is one of the reasons I went to this sale. It didn't have a price tag so I stood  by to claim it while Mike went to ask about the price. Luckily it was very affordable so we were able to take it home, which was quite a feat since this baby was heavy! 

Isn't this squirrel just adorable?!

  We also picked up a set of fantastic folding patio chairs. They had a set of 8 at the sale, but 4 had already been claimed. At only $6 a piece I couldn't pass up the remaining 4 chairs. They are in beautiful shape and look great on our patio, now I just need a table to go with them! 

  On the way back to Austin we stopped by New Braunfels for a yummy German lunch of schnitzel and to hit up yet another estate sale. This one was mostly a bust, but I did find a piece of snowflake Pyrex for only a few dollars. It had a few stains, but once I got it home and gave it a good scrub most of them came off, yay!

   I've been itching to start a Pyrex collection, but for now I will take it slow picking up a piece here or  there when I find them. I've been stalking the local thrift stores since other bloggers have had luck finding Pyrex there for cheap. It must be my luck or the fact that Austin thrift stores get picked over very quickly, but I haven't had any success in the Pyrex department. However, I did pick up a few things on my last thrifting trip.

  This piece brought me back to my childhood of Orlando vacations visiting my Grandpa who had one of these in the playroom he had set up for the grandchildren. It is in amazing shape considering it is a kids toy, and for $1.99 I simply couldn't resist!

  I started collecting souvenir spoons in high school but had completely forgotten about it in recent years. When I found this America shaped spoon display at Goodwill I knew I had to renew my collecting fervor. Most of my spoons were lost to my parent's attic or trashbin when I moved out of the house, but I was able to find a few spoons I picked up in Europe several years ago. Of course my European souvenir spoons don't exactly go with the whole 'American' theme, but I'll just ignore that detail.  

  I picked up the chalkware ladybugs at a local antique shop and the spice rack was an Etsy purchase. The spice rack was new old stock, still in the original box and never used! I didn't think the label stickers would still be sticky, but they were! Unfortunately, out of all the stickers provided it did not have a 'Basil' label. I thought that was odd since basil is one of the most widely used spices in modern kitchens. Maybe basil wasn't as popular in the 70's?

   We also got a new address plate from Crestview Doors, doesn't it look great?

I guess I haven't been completely lazy, since I've done a bit of gardening. The spring flowers look beautiful! Pictures of the bathroom and new flowerbeds soon, for now here's a daffodil from my new garden.

I also have a shopping question for all of you out there in blog land: What kind of camera do you prefer to use for your digital blog photos? I've been using a mix of my iPhone and my 9 year old Olympus digital camera. After admiring the quality of photos on many of the blogs out there I have been itching to get a new camera, any suggestions?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Get busy living or get busy dining

  I realized I haven't posted any pictures of the house since we've gotten settled in and started decorating. I am very pleased with the progress so far, and feel like the bulk of the major projects are done. Now it's just tying up the odds and ends, and of course the long term projects that will be done when funds allow. The first room that we completed is also a room that we use the least; go figure. When we were house hunting our dream house had to have 2 living rooms. The family room would be used for the television and decorated more contemporary, with the furniture we already had. The formal living room would be the room I would have fun with and decorate more period appropriately plus use it to show off my vintage finds.

 Here's the formal living room photo from the real estate listing

  Since our family has a rather sizable record collection we also wanted the formal living room to house the records and for entertaining during our frequent "record parties".  We've had a few get-togethers so far, but of course everyone ends up in the family room, kitchen, or patio and the formal living room gets neglected. This will all change next weekend, however, when we have our official housewarming party! It's a 1950's sock-hop theme and we're going to have a DJ booth set up and dance floor ready for all our friends to break out their twist and mash-potato skills.

 The dining room photo from the real estate listing

   While a formal living room wasn't on my 'must have' list, it was a bonus. Since we moved in only a few weeks before Thanksgiving and my mother-in-law would be visiting the house for the first time, it certainly came in handy. The dining room still has a wallpaper mural in fantastic shape (with the exception of some paint splatter around the edges from the previous owner's clumsy painting skills), which I love a little more each day.

 This photo is again from the real estate listing. I've discovered I'm not very good at taking "before" photos, I always dive into a project and don't ever think about taking photos until I'm half way into it!

  The living room and dining room were originally painted seafoam blue, which not only included the walls but also the baseboards, door and window trim, as well as the banisters. While the color wasn't horrible, it had seen better days so we had our painting work cut out for us. The pinch pleat curtains were in rough shape with small holes, stains, and massive amounts of spider webs. After bringing them to the dry cleaners and being told they would cost $50 each to clean, I hit up the nearby JC Penney and found nearly the exact same curtains on clearance for half the cost of cleaning the old ones . (Now if only someone can help me figure out how traverse rods work! I've somehow gotten them to look okay, although they don't always open or close all the way.) So without further ado I present to you our new and improved living room...

  You may recognize the lamps from one of my previous posts; I'm so happy with them in their new homes. I originally wanted a vintage couch for this room but after scouring craigslist and local shops for several weeks without luck, I opted for the Corona sofa from Macy's instead. I really wanted the green couch but since I had already painted the walls green I wasn't so sure. Then I had a brilliant thought: grasscloth! My parents have grasscloth in the home I grew up in and I always liked it, so I knew I had to have it in my house too. The art above the record player was done by my very talented friend Trish at Tigerbee Arts. (She also has an Etsy shop.)
  We still have some work to do in this room; as you may of noticed for a "record room" there are very few records. That's because the area under the starburst clock will be the future home of our ultra spiffy record cabinet, which also happens to cost a pretty penny so it's one of those 'down the line' projects. I'd also like to build a smaller version to house 45's that will go between the windows.

  As for the dining room, I totally lucked out. Several days after we had an accepted contract on our house a china cabinet came into a local vintage shop that I had to have. Then only a week before Thanksgiving my persistent Craigslist stalking paid off with a Burke Tulip table and chair set! I have been drooling over tulip tables for years.. I still can't believe I own one.

My Mother-in-law bought me a large Tickled Pink china set for a housewarming gift, how great is that?

   I completely love how these rooms turned out. The best part is I've already had several friends tell me that it reminds them of their grandparents house. I take that as a compliment; it puts a smile on my face to know I'm doing something right!