Thursday, April 30, 2009

poll: what does "European Kitchen" mean to you?

If I say "European Kitchen" to you, what images do that conjure up? What screams euro-kitchen to you?

Or is that too vague? Should it be broken down into "English Kitchen" or "French Kitchen" etc.

There is a reason to my madness... I am just fishing for feedback first!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

a diamond in the rough...

I fell in love. Seriously. You all *might* think I am crazy and all you see is a dilapidated old house... but I can see past the plaster repair, the peeling wallpaper, etc... and see great bones, huge rooms, gorgeous woodwork. (The exterior of this house I will post later... it is the area of concern). I wish I won the lottery because this would me mine, all mine.

Yesterday, Steven and I were houseshopping for his mother, when we came across this 3 story Victorian built in the 1860s... here are a few interior shots...

With the level of craftsmanship in this fireplace, I am betting it was created in a big city like Chicago and shipped here. The wood is in perfect condition. The tiles just need a good scrubbing (The relief is still gorgeous). And the ornate insert is so much more ornate than the Humphrey I found in my basement.

A slightly blurry shot of the tiles and Humphrey.
The fireplace room, perhaps at one time a cozy parlor, has 3 sets of amazing pocket doors. Note the millwork above this one. Gorgeous!
Here is the main stairway. This house has stained glass windows everywhere, but this is the largest one. I wish the sun wasn't blazing through it. This entire window is stained glass. The glass panels were perfect and just needed to be releaded.
The leather pads on the stairs were in perfect condition! Many of the stairs still had the original brass corner dust guards! (See the middle step - to the left... that triangle is the dirty brass plate.)
Looking down the stairs. All the spindles are there, which is nice.
Every door had a transom and the hardware is all in perfect working condition!
This was likely the master bedroom. (All the bedrooms, except for servant quarters, are on the second floor). It has a little sitting area you can see to the left. Oh, most of the shutters are in the house. I recall maybe one or two missing. And that is a lot of windows!
Here is the dumb waiter on the second floor. Also note, the outside corners all have this beautiful trimwork to keep the plaster from being damaged.
Here are the servants' stairs. Not a bad stairway for the help at all. The pads on these stairs are also perfect.
The attic is the entire 3rd floor... jsut massive. And beautiful. The light was streaming in, illuminating a few hidden treaures. This space could easily be finished as a child's play room.
A little silver pitcher in the attic.

A pile of brass crown molding. Just needs to be matched back up and reinstalled.

A little suitcase I was brave enough to open. I imagined a big mouse popping out! It had the owners name and address on the label. What a darling little case!

Monday, April 27, 2009

potting shed dreaming...

This is some advance planning... You see, we are busy trying to work out the landscaping plan for the backyard. I am a big-picture planner, and not really a "vignette" kinda girl. I like to make sure I have included everything I want, and that everything flows, etc. I guess my real-life job as a project manager just takes over. But in this case, it is a good thing.

I have a few requirements for the backyard. (Ahhh... IT-speak again!)

(1) (Left-side of yard) The playspace for the children will include swingsets, etc... but it will also tie into the rest of the yard. Think of an "enchanted forest" for kiddos. It will have gorgeous kid-friendly plantings mixed in with the play equipment. Maybe even a little goldfish pond.

(2) (Center) The garage, which is not in great condition, will be rebuilt (eventually) and expanded a bit. We plan on a flat roof for it for a nice walkout patio area from the back porch (which will eventually be my office/studio.

(3) (Center) The new driveway, which will hopefully happen this year, will be pretty basic but will have some nice brickwork along the edges and a few nice sizable planters. The basketball goal will also be included in all this.

(4) (Right) This side of the yard will be dedicated to gardening. It will include a potting shed, vegetable garden, anda composting / recycling area.

All this is a lot of planning, and since we are doing it in phases, we need to make sure we have the measurements right. Since even the mega-swingset will be built in phases, everything will be stacked out, measured, all that.

Anyway, to the fun stuff. I have draw out a rough sketch of the backyard layout, which I will share with you all later on. I have a very rough sketch of the children's area... but today, I wanted to share with you a rough sketch of the potting shed. This is not to scale, mind you. But it makes my imagination SOAR just thinking about it! This is a rough sketch so don't expect a lot here... OK... the room in the middle, with the double barn doors, is my creative area. I will have a potting bench, shelves, etc. The 1925 cast iron sink I posted last week will go into the potting bench. I would like bins for soil, peat, etc. Oh, to be organized!! I cannot wait. For this, I need to scout out 2 antique wood windows. We already have the antique light fixtures. Oh, my love of rabbits will be integrated into the cupola.

On the right side, the single blue door there, will be storage for bikes, wagons, big wheels, etc. My kids seem to have a billion toys and I prefer not to have them strewn all over the yard! It will be so handy to have all their things in one place.

On the left side, I would like a little screen porch. In the summer, it will have screen windows and I can sit in there and relax. In the winter, the screens can be swapped out for plexiglass windows and this will be my greenhouse for wintering my larger plants and starting seedlings.

Oh to dream... this is so far off, probably next year. But we are picking up bits and pieces this year. And since we will be pouring the driveway soon, most likely we will go ahead and pour the floor for the potting shed, too. So my dreamy planning was not completely frivolous!

Spring Cleaning the front porch

It was a super windy weekend in Baldwin City, Kansas this weekend... but short of a tornado, I was determined to get some more Spring Cleaning done. You see, all winter long, the front porch became a jumble of junk. Emery and Dane (and of course, Steven) were super helpers in getting the front porch tidied up.

Dane carried the stack of firewood down, Emery loaded it into the wagon then stacked it in the backyard. Emery picked up toys and organized them into metal bins while Dane helped me sweep up leaves. We shook out all the pillows and it is again a nice, cheery spot to read a book and drink some tea.

This little pot was just sitting around from last year. I gave it a new coat of hot pink paint and planted a gerber daisy I picked up at the nursery.

The little gerber daisy is sitting on a little metal table by the loveseat. The loveseat had garden green floral cushions that I am not too keen on... so I just covered them with an old Rachel Ashwell shower curtain I had laying around. The pillows I picked up on clearance at Home Depot last year. I need to get a bright rug to go here. (My kids are skaters... hence the skateboards everywhere!)

I rattle canned the hanging basket a bright aqua color. Some pale pink rosella brighten the corner by the newly pale blue front door. Very soon, I will be painting the beadboard ceiling a pretty blue. (It's good luck, right?)

I have had this pot to the left of the front door since we moved in. I have grown to like it there, but Steven gets annoyed that it makes it hard to manuever our stroller by it. I admit - it does get in the way since it is a narrow spot there leading to the steps. But the little bunny I picked up on clearance from Hobby Lobby is so cute! (I have a thing for rabbits.) I sort of like the patina of the floor... the red and blue paint fading and showing through.

Here is the tatty old rocker I posted about awhile back. The little table on the left we bought last year but it was a garden green. I painted it a bright aqua (Valspar - Sea Sparkle.) Soon, it will have a few pots on it... for now it is a place for the feral cats to enjoy the food we leave out.

I got this bright little welcome mat at Target.

I hope you all had a wonderful, relaxing (or productive?) weekend!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

outdoor rug shopping...

My front porch is in desperate need of a bright rug. I have a lot of pale blue and aqua going on (as you will see when I post up the front porch pictures tomorrow). So I am leaning toward something in pink... Here is what I found that are affordable and fit the space...

Two Options from Pier One:
And a few from Koko Rug Company:

Friday, April 24, 2009

dormer update - from creepy to cheery!

What used to be dreary and actually a little creepy looking...

Is now bright and cheery! Look!

I finally remembered to snap a picture for an after. After doing battle with the before-mentioned rabid wasp, I think my hard work paid off. The dormer is now painted "Skimming Stone" by Farrow & Ball, and the trim is "Impressionist" by Ralph Lauren.

Steven painted the underside and is putting up new boards for our new copper guttering!! Woot!!! Won't it be pretty? :)
p.s. i haven't started on the dormer on the other side. yikes!!!

please don't ruin your wood furniture with sandpaper. please!

Oh what a busy time Spring always is...

I feel I have neglected my blog here in order to, oh, I don't know, get stuff done. And this is supposed to be some sort of record of that, right? I am afraid that without pictures, it is not very interesting though.

I hope to get some pictures up tonight or tomorrow of the finished antique dresser / pie safe marriage. I finished painting the antique dresser up. Like the pie safe, it's Laura Ashley's Edelweiss (white) with Valspar's Boathouse (blue) on the back and Ralph Lauren's Black Truffles for the shelves. I am not intentionally using every freaking paint out there. I just happen to have a lot of leftovers and figure they might as well get use!

The dresser also got frosted glass knobs that match the pie safe.

Steven just has to marry the two together, and we'll be all set for pictures.

OK... now I would like to talk about something a bit controversial... at the risk of hurting a few reader's feelings... (yikes!)

I need to talk for a moment about furniture distressing. Now, since the stuff I buy is old, I don't really feel the need to make it look old by mussing up the paint. I do recognize, however, that some people really like this look. And even more like to buy new things and give them character or whatever.

My problem is this... when I buy antique furniture and someone has hamfistedly "distressed" it -- it ruins the wood. An example would be the antique dresser we picked up for our son, Bowie. The person had painted it pale lavender and went at the corners like there was no tomorrow with sandpaper. I plan on painting this piece in black, but all those corners are now rounded. All the lovely detail is gone.

You CAN distress furniture without rounding corners and ruining the wood. One method involves the use of acid - but I won't go into that here since I don't find it environmentally friendly. OK, the easiest way is to run a bit of candle wax along anywhere that you want to look distressed. If you want paint to show through, just rub a candle there. Then just paint as usual. Before your paint is dry, lightly run fine grit sandpaper where you applied the wax and - voila - the paint will come right off, looking old and without ruining the wood. You can then apply antiquing wax or a thinned-out stain over the top to really make it stand out.

Another thing that really bothers me... a few blogs have given a DIY on cabinet painting (as did I). Please do NOT use a foam roller on your cabinets. A few bloggers recommend this to leave out brush marks. This is what light sanding is for. If you use a foam roller, you will get weirdo bumpy texture which is fine for drywall or plaster, but silly looking on wood. No pro painter would ever break out a foam roller to paint cabinets. They use a power sprayer. Lacking a power sprayer, or wanting to forgo the mess, just use a paint brush.

OK... I am off my soap box.

Stay tuned for pie safe and garden pictures. :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

garden giddiness is *almost* as good as shoe love

Call me a little wacky, but I get excited over gardening. Like really excited. I think my level of happiness for finding a cool plant is as high as when I buy a sweet new pair of shoes. (And I got super giddy at a pair of pumps by Chinese Laundry I recented spotted.)

I was at a local nursery today, picking up some herbs for the pots by my kitchen sink and a couple bellflowers for my side garden, and I came across this:

This corkscrew-perm-looking plant is called "Juncus." It was created by a company called "Hort Couture." They have a website and a blog if you google Hort Couture Plants. Anyway... it was cool and weird and will earn a place in a pot. (These photos are from their website. That is not my porch up there, BTW).

On their website I also found these plants (and a dozen others) that I MUST HAVE:

Liriope - Cassidy

Sedum - Jelly Beans

In other news, I finished some more pots for my etsy store, milksugar. I even managed to get some planting done and thought I would show you how cute they look by the chair in my front yard:

Monday, April 20, 2009

more neat scavenger finds!

Here are a couple more neat finds that we got at the neighbor's yard sale...

We have a thing for old trunks. We have one in the living room that we use as a coffee table. Another one is in our entry way and the kids throw their skateboards and hats in it.

This one needs a little work. It has some metal and wood repair to be done... But we paid $40 for the trunk and the sink, so we think it was a good deal. This trunk is HUGE. It is way bigger than the other ones we have.

I have been scouting out things to be used in my (to be built) potting shed. I wanted an old cast iron sink - and this on is fabulous. It is 48 inches long, and has a drainboard. The date stamp on the bottom says 12-29-25. Isn't it cool? We will be scoping out old wood windows next...

Friday, April 17, 2009

something to make up for being trapped on a roof with rabid wasps!

The karma police felt totally bad for trapping me on the roof today. They must have. For they made it up to me this evening. While Steven and I were out with our boys on our nightly "family walk," we went by a house that was being geared up for a garage sale. The owner's hadn't lived there in ages and were trying to get all the stuff that had collected inside it ready for a sale tomorrow.


With our eagle eyes, we spotted an old dresser that was severely in need of some loving, and this dresser/desk thing. Now, the dresser/desk thing I will post on later. It is a future project that will go into my studio. It is a dresser with one of those cubbies on top with little cubby holes and the slant front that flips down to be a little desk area. It used to be a built-in, so it is nothing super special but is a treasure to me. Steven was eyeing the old dresser. The owner told us he'd sell us the pieces for $5 each. We told him we'd be right back with our truck and gave him a $20.
OK... now all about the dresser. It is missing the bottom doors. The middle drawer is so wonky it can't close. But the dresser itself is beautiful and sound. It has two curved drawers at top. Beautiful feet. And the flaws just make it that much more special.

Steven is fixing the bottom to be used as a storage area for my vases and what not. While we could fix that middle wonky drawer, I told Steven I'd be just as happy with a narrow shelf for my linens. The top drawers will get little frosted knobs and velvet liners.

This, I have decided, it the bestest base ever for my pie safe, which actually probably had a very similar base at one point. So after a little elbow grease and a lot of painting, I will have a massive pie safe hutch thing for my dining room. $20 pie safe + $5 dresser = Super Happy Me!

(Pie safe post here:

Look at that patina. It is a shame to paint it. But I will. Mwuahaha. That is just a bit too shabby for anyone, I think.

Fabulous feet! They will be so great in white paint. I think the detail will stand out even more.

I love old furniture. You just don't get details like this anymore.

Curved front drawers are yummy!

Lest you think I am some old fuddy duddy with a house full of antiques and cat figurines... really, I am not. But I have a huge appreciation for old, quality made furniture. I don't buy things that are valuable. I have 4 kids that would destroy them. And I have 4 kids so I can't afford them. I buy things that are well-made and speak to me. I have much more fun scouting out these things than just going into a store and buying everything "as is."


you know what is a bad bad feeling?

imagine you are painting your dormers. you crawl out a bathroom window to access the roof there, and are painting away, when "SLAM!" you hear the window shut.

i think i spent at least half an hour after that trying to avoid being stung by an ill-tempered wasp while trapped on the roof.

but, hey, the dormer is painted and i even did the pale blue trim!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

not-so-dreary dormers

The dormers on our stone house have always been, in my opinion, really dreary. They are covered in what I believe to be asbestos shingles... I am not a fan of these shingles, I think they look a little cheap. I dream of someday replacing them with the lovely wood shingles the entire house once had. Until then, we are just going to paint them and perk up the house a bit.

As you can see above, the dormers are currently a dull gray. Also note that the gutter has practically flipped itself upside down. Hence, why Jayhawk Guttering will be coming out soon. (Come on, guys. Where are you??)

So Steven began scraping loose paint, tearing down the rotten wood, all that... Steven will be replacing the wood so that our new gutters will have something to be attached to. The new wood will be primed and painted our lovely blue.
Note: I have lost the paint swatch that gives the name of the blue paint. I am certain I had them color-match a Ralph Lauren color into Behr paint, since RL doesn't make exterior flat paint. I will dig and dig for that swatch. It totally sucks not having the name of the color. I don't know why that matters so much, but it does. Hence, why they give paints such cute names. I must admit, the name of a color can sway me a bit. Does it influence you?
Anyway... the window trim will be blue, with the muntins being the Behr "Beluga" black (same as the windows I posted on earlier.
The dormers will be painted the color I chose just today... It is called "Skimming Stone" by Farrow & Ball. Mind you, I don't pay Farrow & Ball prices... so I had it matched and mixed at a store to remain nameless in order to protect that wonderful employee that mixed it for me. The color actually is really pretty - it was just overcast when I zoomed way in with my camera phone to take these pictures.
The Farrow & Ball site has this to say about "Skimming Stone:"
A highly versatile off-white, without the common undertone of green or yellow. ‘Skimming' refers to its original use as a 19th century skim colour or whitewash, today equally useful as an all round white.
OK... I don't know about all that. F&B give a little description of each of their colors that manages to come off as a bit pretentious. But I love the swatch book they sent me. I am in love with their palette. Right up these with my Ralph Lauren and Laura Ashley faves.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

front step pot makeover

There are 3 pots on the steps leading up to my front porch. I brought them along from another house, where the color was just ducky... but on this house? notsomuch. They completely blended in with the stone of the house. This year, before I put any plants in, I decided to do something about it.

We are putting in copper gutters, we have copper landscape lights, etc. I decided doing the pots in copper would give a nice little splash of repetition up the front steps. I got out a rattle can of copper paint and had at it...

After they dried, I went ahead and did my first official plantings for this year... Here is a nice detail shot my new copper-ized planters:

And as I mentioned in my earlier post today, spikes in the back, sweet potato vine to the left, vinca vine to the right, and pink ranunculus in the front:

And while I was at it, I did the planter that sits on the landing mid-way through the porch steps. This one with purple ranunculus, vinca vine and a few white allysum:

first potting of the season! woot!

Not only am I trying to cram mid-terms in this week, I have also been doing some job-hunting (drats on the economy) and working on some items for my Etsy shop, milksugar.

I was excited to finish a sweet little pot today, inspired by a design I did last year for my son, Dane. Plus, while I was shopping today, the nursery had rananculus in. (Which is soooo rare for my zone.) I picked up a bunch of annuals to start working on my pots that lead up my front steps.

mmmm... don't you love Spring? I find it so therapeutic for some reason, just to dig in the dirt and feel at one with nature in a way.

This year's front pots will have sweet potato vine, ranunculus, vinca vine and spikes. A little departure from last year with were heliotrope, sweet potato vine, flowering kale, and spikes.

Oh, heliotrope... I can't wait until that appears in the nursery. Nothing is more fragrant and lovely than heliotrope. I must find a place for it in one of my containers.

Anyway... off to work on my pots. I will post an "after" picture tonight!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

a little bit about me, steven and our boys...

I find it sort of amazing that we feel like we "know" people jsut by reading their blogs. People we have never met to, or spoke to in person, and they sort of feel like friends, don't they? I have a few blog favorites (they are listed in the right-hand column here), and I really look forward to their posts. I love the little pictures of their families and pets as much as their house projects sometimes!

It occured to me that I hadn't really shared much about myself and my family... other than little snippets and the occasion picture they just happen to appear in. So here it goes...

My name is Sarah Beth. Friends call me Puck. I play hockey, and the guys called me Puckbunny as a joke, and it just got shortened to Puck over the years. Besides hockey, I like working on and racing cars. I also love music and have been playing in bands since I was a teen. That is how I met Steven actually. He played guitar in a band that I played bass in for awhile. Now, we have our own band called customgrind (yes, all lowercase and one word). I sing and play bass, and Steven plays guitar. Oh, he does sing a bit, too! :)

In case you wondered what I look like (don't we always??), here is a picture of me playing a show. I was a couple months pregnant here with our son, Bowie:

Here is a picture of me racing my Mustang at Heartland Park Topeka:

Here is a picture of Steven and son, Bowie "BoBo" when he was a newborn:

Here is an old picture of all four boys. It is old, since the baby just turned 2. Dane (top), Emery (right), Bowie (bottom), Satchel (left):

We have 3 dogs. All I could find is a BAD picture of them I snapped on the backporch, that is now our recycling area but will someday be my office. Bunny (front), Nash (middle), Cross Check (back). They are all sweeties and I can't tell you how many times the boys have ridden around on those dogs like a horse. We have 2 cats, but the cats only really like Bunny. The other dogs are pretty indifferent to the cats, but Bunny likes to play with them, so I guess that is the reason for the favoritism.

That's it. I would love to hear about you and your families... Just comment here, or put up a link to your blog!