Thursday, July 30, 2009

strange garden sighting

I have been busy with statistics homework this week, so I have not been able to work on my chairs as much as I would like... but I have been able to sneak out to the front porch for an hour here and there to strip-strip-strip the white laquer. One night, I was visited by the weirdest bug I have ever seen. At first, we thought it was a hummingbird because it was hovering... but when I snapped a couple pictures with the zoom, we could see antennae. Weird!

I did some research and this guy is a Hummingbird Hawkmoth. Isn't that about the weirdest bug you've ever seen? It would be pretty if it weren't so creepy!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

how we made the custom trellis for the honeysuckle, jasmine & wisteria

Awhile back, someone asked me how we made the trellis in front of the front porch. Well, I took measurements of the front porch opening and sketched up a design. I imagined wisteria and honeysuckle crawling along a trellis, creating a floral picture window almost. I totalled up how much material I needed, and a friend in the metal fab biz got me the rod on the cheap. After cutting everything to length, it was just simple welding.

I should note that in order to give the vines something to hold on to on their journey across the top, I came up with a nifty "shelf" idea and it works just peachy.
Here are some close-ups to give you an idea of how it is all assembled.

This picture was taken in the early Spring... the vines have completely covered the trellis now and the hummingbirds love it!

I have added pink jasmine along the honeysuckle. It smells heavenly!

A look at the "shelf" design. I needed something to give the vines something to cling to. This works great. I have wasp catchers hanging from the top on copper wires.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hollywood Regency chairs from KC's Hotel for Presidents

On a treasure hunt to pick up a washbasin for my potting shed, I spotted an ad on Craigslist for a moving sale. One of the items listed was a pair of Hollywood Regency style chairs from the old Muehlebach Hotel for $20 each. After picking up the basin and lunch, Steven and I swung over to Overland Park, Kansas to the sale.

The sale was being held by an older couple. They told us they were selling their home as they were moving on to a change in their life. Steven spotted an automotive trade magazine from 1983, and the woman said that she had retired from GM. The magazine was a special edition for GM's 75 birthday. Being car buffs, we snapped that up for a buck. I also got a set of gorgeous blue melamine dishes for $2.50. Meanwhile, I never took my eyes off the the chairs.

The couple's daughter told us that when the Muehlebach was closed, her mother had outfitted their entire cabin in treasures from the hotel. I was instantly in love. Steven looked a little perplexed as to why I wanted the chairs. They were heavily laquered in paint that perhaps once was white, and the upholstery was dark orange. I told them I had a vision, and that the chairs had HISTORY.

Once home, I started researcing the Muehlebach Hotel and was so excited to have picked up the chairs. (At half-off since it was late in the day, mind you. $20 for both chairs). So, here I will give great detail on the hotel... for those interested in historic hotels, for the KC people who might wander on to this blog later, and for my own records since I think it is a really neat story.

When people think Kansas City, they don't think glamour or glitz. But back in the Jazz Age, KS was the place to be. Heard of Charlie "Birdman" Parker or Count Basie? Well, they were here in KC. What I would give to spend a day in KC back then. Dreamy! Anyway...

In downtown Kansas City stands the historic Muehlebach Hotel. Known as "Kansas City's Hotel for Presidents", every president from Teddy Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan has visited the hotel, and every president from Woodrow Wilson to Richard Nixon has stayed in the Presidential Suite.
Presidential Suite, 1979
Truman and his associates apparently called it, simply, "the penthouse." It served as Truman's headquarters in Kansas City from the time of his vice presidential campaign in 1944 until he left the presidency in 1953. The hotel has also serviced many celebrities including Babe Ruth, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, etc.

Truman party at the Muehlebach Hotel

In mid-December 1917, Ernest Hemingway wrote home from a press room in the Hotel Muehlebach. He expected a raise. "All the fellows say there ought to be one coming to me,'' he said. Sometimes, working late on assignment and too tired to ride the long trolley car home to Agnes Ave., Hemingway would sleep in a bathtub in the Muehlebach's pressroom, using towels for a mattress. He later glorified the hotel's beds, not its bathtubs, in the novel "Across the River and Into the Trees."
Old Guest Register

The Muehlebach was built with funds from the estate of George Muehlebach, who came to Kansas City from Switzerland in 1857 and opened a saddle shop. His farm and vineyard were west of Westport. Later he established a brewery, Muehlebach Beer,first located at 18th and Main. The hotel, erected after his death, was leased to the Trianon Hotel Company.

Postcard from 1916, right after opening

The lobby of the Hotel Muehlebach, with its thick Oriental rugs, writing desks, tall lamps, potted palms, lounge chairs and a roaring wood fire, is pictured on an old promotional post card, one of a set, put out by the hotel shortly after it opened in1916.

George E. Muehlebach, Jr., started working for the brewery after his graduation from Spalding's Business College. In 1905 after the death of his father he became president of the brewery.
As a teenager, George had played first base on the Muehlebach Brewing Company’s Pilseners baseball team, spawning a keen interest in the sport. He owned the Kansas City Blues, twice American Association champions, from 1917 to 1932. Muehlebach built a half-million dollar ballpark at 22nd and Brooklyn in 1923, the only park in its league free of billboards. Under various names, Muehlebach Stadium was Kansas City’s ballpark until the Truman Sports Complex was built.

Street-view, 1930. Aren't the cars a hoot?

The original 12-story building was constructed in 1915, designed by Holabird and Roche. The site used for the hotel was one formerly occupied by the old First Baptist church, a frame building built in 1880, the gift of Col. And Mrs. W. H. Harris. Land and church cost $30,000.Services were held there until 1908, when the congregation sold the church and site for $150,000, took their pipe-organ and moved temporarily to Thirteenth and Broadway. They later built a new stone church at Linwood avenue and Park street at a cost of $100,000.For five years the old Twelfth street church stood empty, used only for ballyhoo, annual shows, an occasional menagerie and whisky advertisements.

Side-View, 1928

The Muehlebachs started tearing down the old landmark in June, 1913, and financing their plans for a big hotel.The hotel was extended west to Wyandotte street in 1952 and four years later the 17-story Muehlebach Towers was added on Wyandotte. The hotel was remodeled in the 1970s and closed in the 1980s. Marriott bought hotel in 1996 as an annex to their downtown hotel. Two years and millions of dollars were spent restoring the hotel in accordance with historic preservation guidelines as the hotel is both a state and federal landmark.

After all that... NO! You don't get to see the chairs yet. That is in my next post. :)

Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City Star, A Writer's Haunts: Where He Worked and Where He Lived.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

blue porch ceilings for good luck? it's haint blue!

My version of "Haint Blue" is Behr's Aqua Breeze. It looks great with the beigey "Skimming Stone" by Farrow & Ball and my version of Cotswold blue, "Impressionist" by Ralph Lauren.

I have painted a few ceilings in children's rooms sky blue with some fluffy white clouds. It seemed a cheerful, breezy thing to do. But, I painted the beadboard ceiling of my front porch blue for an entirely different reason.

There are many rumors (urban legends even) about painting a porch ceiling, or the trim on your house, blue. Some say that it keeps bugs away. It sort of makes sense. Especially for wasps who like to build mud-dauber nests on your ceilings. If they mistake your ceiling for sky, they won't nest there. I will let you know if our wasp problem lessens.

Some say that the airy, breezy feeling will make you feel like your daylight hours last longer in the fall.

I am more intrigued by the "ghost story" angle. It is said that painting your front porch ceiling blue is good luck... and even more, will keep evil spirits away. In South Carolina, the people call this "haint blue." A haint is an evil spirit. Legend has it that evil spirits cannot cross water, so if you paint your house trim and / or porch ceiling blue, the spirits will be confused and unable to enter your home.

The Gullah people, a mix of enslaved African tribes in Carolina Low Country, are credited for borrowing the practice from African slaves. They believed the color blue had magical powers. Their practices included painting doors, windows and trim blue, and often dyed their clothes using indigo leaves.

Because the Gullah's simply used whatever pigments they could get, there is no official "haint blue." It would vary. That said, some have set out to market on haint blue a bit, and have created their own formulations of haint blue. The Charleston Historic Foundation has licensed two versions of "Gullah Blue," which are a deep torquoise. The Savannah Historical Society has two versions of its own, Haint Blue Dark and Haint Blue Light, which are medium teal and light mint-blue, respectively.
For ideas on different varieties of haint blue, start googling "Haint Blue," "Gullah Blue," "Dirt Dauber Blue" and "Dutch Boy Blue."

In my opinion, based on my research in the field of historic preservation, one shouldn't worry so much about an "official" shade of haint blue, but what looks best with the rest of the house. A purplish blue or teal blue might not be so complimentary with the body color of the house. I simply took the trim & door color I had chosen (Impressionist by Ralph Lauren), lined it up with Behr paint chips until I found a very close match. Then I chose a color 2 times lighter so that there would be a noticable difference. I ended up with "Aqua Breeze" by Behr for the ceiling. It looks different from all angles, so I am quite happy with it.

My blue, "Aqua Breeze", against "Skimming Stone." I felt it was important to make sure all the colors coordinated, and didn't focus on the "haint blue" as an individual color.

The blue isn't a BLAZING blue. In certain light, it reads very soft. When I include the deep black trim on the front door, it looks quite pale.

So there you have it. I received a comment yesterday, signed only as "R", asking what blue I used. I think that is more than you ever wanted to know about my haint blue! :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

handpainted hydrangea wallpaper and pink pom-poms in the closet

The closet is painted... but not complete. I still need to find some guitar wall hangers so I can move all my guitars into the closet and out of the bedroom. I also have some tidying and accessorizing to do.

It is looking really cute so far!

My handpainted hydrangea's go all the way to the ceiling. (Really high!!)
The ever-popular Martha Stewart flower pom-poms. They look so pretty, and my closet ceiling is so high, they draw your eye up.

I gotta get some guitar hooks and a few more binnies, paint a mirror, scrub the floor. Yikes!

snuggly bench in the rose garden

It's another rainy day in Baldwin City, Kansas. It is supposed to be rainy all week, in fact. Yesterday afternoon, Steven and I enjoyed the rain from the front porch, sipping Earl Gray tea and flipping through some books he picked up at Half Price Books.

Saturday morning, I hit World Market in need of some new cushions for the bench in the sideyard. The baby blue ones from last year were all rusted and it didn't come out in the wash. They happened to have their outdoor stuff 30 - 50% off. I scooped up 2 cushions, 2 toss pillows and a picnic blanket for the bench. We sat on it briefly Sunday night, but with the rain, haven't been able to use it again.

I was hoping for pink, blue and aqua jewel tones, but with Autumn rolling up, the color schemes are, of course, changing. I loved the flower illustrations on the toss pillows, so I was hooked.

Steven made the little paver patio for the bench last year. We put the rocks in for the path a few weeks ago. This area is in our side yard. It overlooks the rose garden. To the right of the bench is a wash basin I rehabbed, daisies, double pink echinacea and a Big Daddy pink hydrangea that has yet to bloom this year.
While Steven is enjoying the rain days at his job, I am hoping for some sunshine so I can get out in the yard. How is the weather where you are at?

Monday, July 20, 2009

company's coming! front porch update

We hosted a family gathering at the Cottage of Stone on Saturday... After I finally finished painting my hydrangea wall in my closet, I was able to focus a bit on froo-frooing the house a bit. The weekend weather was glorious and left everyone content to pretty much stay outside for most of the time. I rearranged the furniture on the porch to make it a little cozier and conversational. We also picked up a few vintage finds at the Good JuJu flea market, and we painted the porch ceiling blue. (More on blue porch ceilings in a later post!)

A wacky aerial shot of the porch. I stood on the railing to take this. I thought it gave a good idea of the layout.

I talked about all this stuff previously... pretty much everything on the porch is either a flea market find, or something I bought new and spruced up with paint or fabric. I will put a source list at the end of the post.

This old cooler just needs a new liner. The little bottle opener on the side is really cool. We are stocking it with some old-school glass bottled soda for the boys.
The ceiling is not alarmingly blue. I just did the trim color 2 times lighter. I didn't want blue overload! The little lanterns are battery-powered and looked beautiful lit up at night!

Here is that tatty old rocker from Good JuJu again. It is so comfy with a bulky quilt on the back. The juncus in the old enamel pitcher seems to like living on the porch.

A side-view of the porch from the steps.

Resource List:
Loveseat - Lowe's, Fabric - Rachel Ashwell shower curtain, Pillow's - Home Depot
Wood Sidetable - Target, Paint - Valspar Sea Sparkle
Enamel Container on Table - Vintage, Plant - Pink Hydrangea
Trunk - Vintage, Paint - Rustoleum Heirloom White spray paint
Cooler - Vintage
Rocker - Vintage, Quilt - Home Place, Pillow - Home Depot
Metal Side Table- Target, Enamel Pitcher - Vintage, Plant - Juncus
Rug, Paper Lanterns & Ceramics - Pier 1
Pink Plaid Boots - Wal Mart

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

my wild pink, orange & aqua closet, in progress

There is a method to my madness. Really! See... I fell in love with a wallpaper I found online. (Bloomsbury by Villa Nova). It was a UK site, and I haven't located a stockist in the US. The wallpaper had an Arts & Crafts influence, which makes a historic preservationist happy. Yet, with all the stress wallpaper removal has caused in the house, I don't know if I could bring myself to actually hang it myself. Parts of the closet are drywall to boot - which is way more a PITA than steaming off of plaster.

Anyway... I decided my closet was a "fun" space, since I will be hanging my guitars in there. (I can't wait to have them out of my way!) I took the original design, enlarged it, and injected it with a lot of color.

It is not all done yet - but here is a preview. The walls are Behr's Ballerina Gown. The flower petals are Behr's Fresco Cream, the aqua buds are Glidden's Tropical Lagoon, and the centers are Fuschia craft paint I had on hand. The brown edges are leftover dark brown craft paint.

A bit further back...
The original design would have driven me batty. WAY too small and detailed. I enlarged this design 4 times.

I kept the trim Ralph Lauren's French Pink, for now. If it reads too Pepto Bismol, I may paint it white. I am also thinking of doing the backs of the shelves in the orange.

So stay tuned... Hopefully I will have some finished pictures by this weekend! :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

my new closet... crazy idea... good outcome... but too much work!

Paint zombie!!!!

I have been working on my closet for 3 days straight. All the fine, detail painting I am doing in there is making me go cross-eyed. I can't wait to share finished pictures with you!

We are having a family get together this weekend, so while I am working on the closet, Steven & kids are working on tidying the house and doing a to-do list I put together. Because the front porch ceiling simply HAS to be haint blue. And the birdhouses I so lovingly antiqued need to be mounted on the clematis-covered copper posts since the old ones deteriorated so.

Hope all is going great for you all... Hopefully I will have closet pictures soon!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

new member of the family

A couple weeks ago, I told you all about a stray cat we had befriended and named Kyle. Kyle died and my kids were quite upset about it. Even the little ceremony we had and the statue we placed in the yard didn't seem to make up for his loss. Click here to read about Kyle

For Fourth of July, we went to Steven's brother's house to celebrate. One of his cats had recently had kittens. There were three left. I believe he said one had died already. There was a little runty kitten there, skin and bones, that we immediately scooped up. One look from the kids, and we had to take him home. The boys decided he looked just like Kyle, so we named the kitten Kyle II.

Kyle II, although he was an outdoor cat, took to the litter box immediately. A trip to the vet confirmed he is on the road to recovery and he has already plumped up to .9 pounds. It is hard to get a picture of a rambunctious kitty, but here he is prowling around the kitchen window:

To show just how tiny he is, I scooped him up for a quick picture:

Welcome home, Kyle!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

dreaming of blue kitchens...

I am a tortured soul... I know I said I was doing the kitchen with B&W, and pink and green accents ... then I saw the Martha Stewart robin's egg blue collection at Macy's. (Right after I bought her cast iron in the green apple color.) And then I start flipping through magazines and see these aqua kitchens. And it makes me think, paint is cheap... I could repaint the walls I just painted 6 months ago...

My cabinets are already white... but the pale blue cooker and hood are to die for.

The pale blue rounded island. The wicker on the bottom cabinets. Yummy! I love butcher block and black counters, too. Only thing I'd change is the white floor. I'd do a reclaimed hardwood.

I love the color of the cabinets. Looking at this picture, it talks me out of painting my cabinets blue since I have white walls... Maybe if just the lowers were blue...

The little splashes of pink in this one is similar to what I was going for... but I feel like it reads too white. I don't want to have a Holly Hobby kitchen, but I do need some color. I hope my floral fantasmo curtains don't read too froo-froo. I want retro, not flowery.

Robin's egg walls and white cabinets, hardwood floor. So pretty, and yet I am thinking I like the white walls better. Isn't that weird? I love color and yet I like the pictures of white walls best. I think I can live with white walls only if there is a lot of color going on everywhere else.

Isn't it pretty? Very 50s. But again... I am still drawn back to the white walls. It's torture!!!

The sloped ceiling makes me love this room!

I have a bunch of magazine clippings to go through. I have so many pink appliances, it would be too difficult for me to go entirely aqua. But maybe I can bring in aqua and keep the pink...

brainstorming colors for my closet

As if I didn't have enough projects going already, I want to circle back around and work on my closet a bit. This is the closet that connects the master bedroom to the kitchen. In the kitchen, this is the door that I painted with the one -two - three... we put the table in front of it, so you can't pass through it anymore. This was likely the pantry, but later converted to a closet when the house was remodeled in the late 40s.

I have another closet in the master bedroom that I use for my work clothes. This one is for my casual clothes since everything is folded up in laundry baskets. Awhile back, I painted the trim pastel pink and the walls a pale pink. I don't know... the pale pink isn't doing it for me. I like the pastel pink trim, but I am just not convinced on the pale pink.

Artwork in the closet? Yeah, kinda weird. My very good friend, Dave, a.k.a. Damage in the recording biz, painted this huge portrait of me. I am going to get it framed once the closet is all painted up.

The wood floor in the closet is great. I love the old distressed look of the wood... authentic from years of use... I will clean up the little paint blobs. Really, I will.

I found this globe at Habitat Restore for $3. I thought it was an interesting shape and will try to use it in the closet. I just have a bare bulb in there now. I was going to try a jewel-drippy chandy... but this was too cool to pass up.

So there you have it... I am looking for suggestions on what color to paint the closet. I need a wall color, and suggestions for a trim color if you hate the pink. I know pink isn't everyone's thing... but pink, for me, is right up there with aqua / robin's egg blue. :)


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

a bit about me

I have been posting all about our home for awhile now. Every now and then I mention something about the boys (Emery, Satchel, Dane and Bowie) or the pets ot Steven, but never really about me. (Other than what I am working on!) So I thought I would share a little about myself as a get-to-know-you post. And hopefully you all will share something fun about yourselves, a link to your blog, etc.

So... My name is Sarah Beth. My friends call me Puck. Long story short, it is a silly nickname from back when I had the time to play hockey. One of many habits I don't seem to have time for anymore!

I like music, dancing, and cars... and before I had house projects and kids coming out of my ears, I liked to perform.

Steven and I met while playing in a band. He plays guitar, and I play bass and sing. Years later, we try to find the time to jam. We do have a band called customgrind and have been working on a CD. However, we haven't done a show since early in my pregnancy with our baby boy, Bowie. I did a lot of shows while pregnant with Dane (now 4), but decided my back couldn't take a heavy guitar and a baby at once anymore. Here I am performing (just a couple month pregnant) at our last show. This was at Whisky Tango, I believe:

I mentioned I like cars. I like to wrench, drive, race, drool over, etc. My first car as a '86 Mustang LX in regetta blue. I have own a string of Mustangs since then. I saved my current car, a 94 Mustang GT, simply because 94/95 was the last year of the 5.0 engine. It has been a project car for me over the years. I have taken it to the drag strip, autocross course and open track. This is my "fun" car in action:

But, you know, the 2-door Mustang is not so kid-friendly. I can't fit all 4 boys, plus Steven, in there. I needed a "mom-mobile." I can't handle the thought of a mini-van, so I decided if I was going to get a station wagon, it had to be a really cool one... I needed a Rambler. Steven did some digging and found a 1963 Rambler Classic 770 wagon for me. It is a work in progress, and early progress at that, but someday I will share pics!

And dancing. It has always been a passion of mine. I have taken ballet, jazz, modern, etc. Most recently, I was involved with a hip hop team. We were working to compete, but our coach moved and it all sort of fell apart. It was great fun (and exercise) while it lasted. Hopefully soon, I can begin dancing again, be it hip hop, ballet or jazz. It is all fun.

You already know I live in Baldwin City, KS. Before that, I lived in Bailey & Castle Rock, Colorado for a few years. I grew up in Fremont, Nebraska and Neola, Iowa. Pretty much a Midwest Girl. I was always amazed by people's perceptions about the Midwest when I would travel around to client sites. Especially in California. Clients would remark that I must really enjoy getting to be in California for a few months, as if it HAD to be better there than my home. I would tell them how much I enjoyed gardening, and how green everything was at home. Glamorous Hollywood is actually pretty brown and a bit dreary, to me. And I didn't met anyone famous. Well, I might have met some reality or MTV hipster, but I never know who the young girls are on the cover of magazines anymore. Do any of them where underpants anymore?

But I digress... Hopefully, you feel like you know me a little more. It is funny how we follow each other's blogs and feel like friends, even though it is all just cyberspace, huh?

a place just for mommy...

I fell in love with this Cath Kidston tent:

Camera-phone image of my Country Living magazine

Which prompted me to start Googling Cath Kidston tents and found this:

Cath Kidston tent

My 4 boys have an inexpensive tent we picked up at Target... we set it up in the "dog yard" and let them camp out during the summer. Because our dogs are there, and often in the tent with the boys, we think it is good, safe family fun. While my boys probably would camp in a pink tent (they are very much into pink... guess it is the new "boy" thing.), I was thinking more in terms of a mommy get-away.

I never had much pretty, frilly stuff growing up. Maybe that is why I have began embracing my feminine side with decorating lately... I finally LET myself use pink paint and fabric. So, I started thinking, "Why can't I have a pretty pink tent?" Can't a mommy have anything fun?
I have a couple ideas for a nice "mommy hang-out" in my garden. Why not sew up a cute little tent for it? It would be a nice shady place... could be fun! I will keep you posted on what I cook up. :)

Monday, July 6, 2009

a walk along the new garden path

A few more garden shots, and a little FAQ...

As I said last week, we worked (HARD!) on putting in the garden path that runs beside the house, from the front porch to the fenced off "dog yard." The "dog yard" is the area we let the pups run about, beside our garage, but before you get to the backyard.

I also took the time to do a LOT of editing in the side gardens. I put in a lot of catmint the last couple years, and it got out of control. While we enjoyed the bushy, full look it gave us, it began choking out the other plants. I transplanted the catmint to the other side of the house since the Japanese maple and the Tinkerbell lilac would be big enough to stand their ground against the catmint.

It looks nice from a distance, but up-close, all that bushy catmint had taken over.

Honestly, the little plants beneath all that catmint seemed to say THANK YOU! Once the catmint was out, I was able to access the back layer of plants for a good pruning. I moved the trellis over for the sweet pea since it had grown too tall for the structure it was on, Russian sage got a nice shaping, etc.

Next came the new plants to fill in where the catmint was... Geranium, allium, sedum, cheddars, etc. filled the void.

The are scrawny now, but soon, the new baby plants will bush out and spill onto the path to give me that lush cottage garden look I love.

Ignore the hose and you'll see the neat little peak at the rose garden just around the blue spruce.

The sitting area in the back. I have the baby blue cushions for the bench in the wash. I will share with you the rose garden (to the right) when we get the salvaged gates moved in. Steven replaced this section of the fence and built the cute little double-opening gate. I asked for a scalloped pattern and black, and he did a great job!

The daisy garden around the copper wash basin. I fell in love with the puffy pink echinacea. Soon, the Big Daddy hydrangea will have puffy pink blooms as well. Nothing in the basin yet... maybe this weekend?

Any gardening successes at your home?