Posted by: diywannabe | March 7, 2011

Welcome to the Jungle

Also known as our front yard.  Except an actual  jungle probably looks nicer.  Here’s what we have been dealing with all winter.  And I have to note that this is not a case of neglect…we’ve spent hours upon hours almost every weekend raking those dang leaves but they keep falling!  I swear they are never going to stop.

So it was time for an intervention…or destruction!  Contemplating his first move:

We did some research prior to this massive undertaking and also visited the local garden center and asked a ton of questions.  I don’t know what a lot of those bushes are but the biggest ones on the corners will never bloom and “should have stayed in the ’70’s” according to Steve Parsley at our local garden center.  And I did not make that name up!  How great is that?!  Anyways, everything got trashed except for those two dark bushes in the center.  They are azaleas and are currently covered in dark pink buds set to bloom in the next week or so.  I didn’t have the heart to order their execution before they gave us some eye candy.  After that though, they are outta here.  I’m hoping we can transplant them to the back but they may be stubborn and have to get torn apart in order to get removed.  The plan is to start with a blank slate and then we have a good idea of what’s going to go in.  The idea is simple & defined.  Pretty much the exact opposite of what was going on there prior to yesterday.

The area directly in front of all of the bushes was much more orderly so we’ll be keeping that.  Only difference will be less leaves and better mulch.  I had planted a bunch of daffodil and tulip bulbs around the tree and the daffodils already started blooming (hard to see in the pic).

Our backyard is a much different story.  Much more orderly.  Last weekend I filled my bird feeder with bird seed.  Never saw a single bird on it all week.  The only thing I could seem to attract was every squirrel in a 5 mile radius and our dog.  I woke up last Friday morning to find it shattered on the ground.  I’m assuming the squirrels were pissed that it was getting low and wanted to send me a message.

Since mid-February the camelias along the back fence and in the other corner have been blooming like crazy.  So beautiful and so many colors!

And inside the house is also quite colorful thanks to the husband.  Almost 2 weeks ago he got awarded a bonus at work and bought me flowers.  What a guy.  I can’t believe these beauties have lasted so long with no signs of wilting!


Cheers to Spring!!

Posted by: diywannabe | March 4, 2011

Vacation at Home

The day after we got back from our little European tour the weather here in Charleston was in the 70’s and beautiful.  We took the opportunity to eat breakfast at our new favorite cafe (since we woke up at 4 am due to jet lag) and take a little stroll on the nearby Cooper River bridge.  It was a tad windy but when isn’t it windy on a huge bridge?  It was really nice to just relax and enjoy being home after such an exhausting trip and all that cold, rainy weather.

Charleston Harbor

The Charleston peninsula

Getting blown away!

I used to walk this thing after work for exercise.  Okay, I only did it a few times before I got lazy…

Downtown Charleston

USS Yorktown

Probably getting annoyed with all my picture-taking…

Sometimes hard to believe we live here.  And that it’s the middle of “winter”.

We spent the rest of the afternoon lounging in the backyard, enjoying the weather…and a couple glasses of wine ; )  Ahhh it was good to be home.

Posted by: diywannabe | February 23, 2011

Back on our home turf

Well we made it back from our little European tour in once piece.  Although we were quite exhausted.  I’ve never before felt so happy to be home or grateful for where we live.  After trudging around in cold, rainy weather for over a week with thousands of people around me, it was a welcome surprise to come home to Charleston and realize that winter had ended while we were away!  The weather was 76 and sunny and the solitude of lounging in our private backyard all afternoon was just sublime.

The trip overall was a great experience.  We visited London, Paris, Geneva & Montreux, Switzerland.  And we both agreed that Montreux was by far our favorite out of the trip.  With its beautifully landscaped promenade along the lake and views of the Alps, it was more our speed than the big cities filled with tourists.  I’d highly recommend it.

Here is a link to all the pictures…there are a lot.  I’ll probably post in more detail about certain aspects of the trip later but I wanted to get these photos off my plate.
And here’s a short video of the sparkling Eiffel Tower on Valentine’s Day that could not be captured with a photo.  It’s the worst video in the history of the world & I apologize ahead of time.  I don’t know why I thought that the picture wouldn’t be sideways if I turned the camera sideways…doh!

Posted by: diywannabe | February 9, 2011


The past few weekends we’ve been true Weekend Warriors.  The opponent?  Our out-of-date powder room.  I’m happy to report that we came out victorious:

Not only was the half bath aesthetically transformed but it was all accomplished for under $100!  Here’s how we got from Point A (circa 1985) to Point B (totally 2011).

First, let’s dissect the “before”.  The color of the paint and the quality of the paint job are not truly conveyed in these photographs.  Utterly awful.  I have nothing against green.  In fact, it’s my favorite color.  Just not this green.  Hunter green.  Soooo dark.  There were drips, missed spots, and uneven lines all over the place.  Not to mention that this room is quite small and located under the stairs, making it feel like you were walking into a dark dungeon.  In addition to the paint color, the finish of every single fixture in the room was GOLD.  Bling bling, baby.  The light fixture, mirror, faucet, towel holder, toilet paper holder, wall plates- all shiny gold.  I guess the previous owner gets style points for matching but it definitely was the style of another era.  I thought since it was such a small space that it would be relatively easy to transform.  I didn’t realize at the time that a small space meant it was super hard to maneuver AND all of the details had to be perfect since all my mistakes would be up close and personal once you set foot in the door.  Ugghhh.  But well worth it.

I spent hours online and in stores looking at light fixtures and faucets to replace the gold ones.  Everything was so expensive!  Any simple light fixture I liked- easily more than $100.  And I can’t believe the price of the cheapest looking sink faucets!  So I decided to take a chance and try something risky- spray paint.  It could have turned out really really bad.  But I figured I had nothing to lose besides the $6 for the spray paint since I was going to have to replace the fixtures anyways.  However, the light fixture just wouldn’t work.  The entire style of it was just wrong.  1985 called, it wants its light fixture back: 

So it got booted.  Oh and look, before the hunter green explosion the bathroom was Pepto pink!  How charming.

The last time I was at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore I picked up a new light fixture for $10…glass shades and all!  It was that shiny chrome finish (unfortunately I don’t have a before picture) but I quickly changed all that with this, my new best friend:

I decided on an oil rubbed bronze finish since the rest of the room was going to be so light.  That spray paint is amazing….in person it really looks like the real thing!  I’m interested to see how it holds up over time but for the $6 investment I think it’s already paid for itself ten times over.

Here are the other pieces (mirror, faucet, & tp holder) getting a new finish.  I made sure to protect everything I didn’t want splatter on.

I’ve been dying to add beadboard or wainscoting somewhere in the house and this bathroom seemed like the perfect place to start.  It’s so small that I figured it wouldn’t be too expensive or time-consuming.  We picked up five of these faux beadboard sheets at Lowe’s for $9.88 a piece then proceeded to use construction adhesive and finishing nails to put it up.  A nail gun would have been soooooo handy for this but we weren’t about to buy one for a single project.

The beadboard panels were then topped off with molding.

Any gaps, seams, or nail holes were then caulked over and everything painted white (Dove White in semi-gloss) for a seamless finish. The upper wall color is Tea Stain by Valspar color matched to Sherwin-Williams Duramax paint.

Breakdown of cost:

Beadboard panels & molding:  $70

Upper wall paint: $0 (leftover from hallway/stairwell project)

Lower wall/trim paint: $0 (leftover from living room trim & china cabinet)

Oil-rubbed bronze spray paint:  $6

Finishing nails:  $0.99

Construction adhesive:  $5

Caulk:  $0 (leftover from another project)

Light fixture: $10

Welcoming our bathroom to the 21st century:  Priceless

Grand total = approximately $90 

Not bad, eh?  I’m proud of our little bathroom now.  Sometimes I walk past it and pause to admire our hard work : )  An added bonus was that I put the finishing touches on it literally hours before we threw a Superbowl party so I was able to show it off!  Score!  Sorry about the pun, haha.  Oh and I have to give Bob credit for all of the cutting.  He got to use multiple power tools to slice and dice the molding and beadboard into place.  Thanks, hun.

Posted by: diywannabe | February 3, 2011

The only way I’ll watch ESPN

Now that I have all of our hotels and transportation booked for our upcoming Europe trip, my main focus during preparation has been for the flight over to London.  I’m not really looking forward to flying by myself for 8 hours {okay I’m actually dreading it} but to make matters worse, I’m flying overnight.  I’ll be landing in London at 7:45 am (their time) which will really be like 1:45 am my time.  Everyone’s advice is to sleep on the plane.  Easier said than done for me.  I once flew the Red Eye back from Hawaii (9.5 hour flight) without sleeping a wink.  Impossible you say?  Nope, sad but true.  This is in sharp contrast to my husband who is known the world ’round for his ability to sleep any time, anywhere.  Okay, maybe this is just known by his friends and family but it’s like he can flip a switch and he’s out like a light. 

So I took my mom’s advice and got a supply of Ambien for the trip at my last doctor appointment.  The doctor suggested I try it out at home before using it on the plane.  I can see why.  The warning pamphlet that came with the prescription started out like this:

After taking the medication, you may get up out of bed while not being fully awake and do an activity that you do not know you are doing.  The next morning, you may not remember that you did anything during the night.  Reported activities include:

 – driving a car (“sleep driving”)

 making and eating food

– talking on the phone

– having sex

– sleep-walking

I like how they’ve coined an actual term for driving while you’re asleep…”sleep driving”. 

I decided last night to be a good night for a trial run.  Upon reading the warnings above, Bob hid my car keys and locked all the doors before going to bed.  I’m not even kidding.  He still won’t tell me where the hiding spot was in case I ever take the pills again at home!  haha. 

So how did it go?  The results looked a little something like this:

I took the pill and promptly got into bed, checking emails and other things on my iPhone until I felt sleepy.  But according to Bob, I also got loopy.  At one point I was playing unfunny ESPN videos (ESPN?!) on my phone, laughing, and then showing him the same video multiple times.  I have no memory of this.  Apparently I also told him that “I thought of a new game we should play.  Let’s both take some Ambien and see who can stay awake the longest”.  Hahaha, that cracks me up because 1. I don’t remember that at all and 2. how would we know who won the game?!  I guess a couple of minutes after my video playing stunt he glanced over and I had my head back, dead asleep, phone still in hand.  Oh boy, I sure hope I just fall asleep and keep my mouth shut on the plane!

So that’s my funny experience with sleeping pills.  Just too funny not to document.

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