The Bearded Iris

A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

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Nine things I will never say at home

My husband and I have been watching a lot of TV at night lately. I mean A LOT… like entire-seasons-of-things-in-three-days-a-lot.

The good news is that there is some great stuff on TV these days: Downton Abbey, The Walking DeadOrange is the New Black, Call the Midwife

The bad news is OMG, I HAVE WATCHED HOURS AND HOURS AND HOURS OF TV THIS SUMMER.

Maybe it’s time for some TV detox.

At least until the new season of The Walking Dead.

But until then, all this couch-time reminded me of a list I wrote last year. It might be new to you, and it will give me a chance to make my family room look and smell less like one of those Febreze commercials.

 Nine things I will never say at home:

#9   “Here Honey, you hold the remote.”

#8   “Could you please turn down the TV? I want to be able to hear the kids… and you, eating those grapes.”

#7   “You know what would take my mind off these cramps? A big black dog all up in my biznatch.”

#6   “NOOOOOO! For the love of all that is Holy, catch the fucking BALL!”

#5   “Wait—let ME answer the phone! It’s probably your Mom and I’ve been dying to hear all about her new chair. It swivels, you know!”

#4   “Mmmm, these throw pillows smell awesome.”

#3   “Nah, who needs a Ryan Gosling movie? Let’s go upstairs and keep the lights on.”

#2   “Microwave S’Mores? Gross! I’d rather have one ounce of unsalted raw organic fair trade almonds, thanks.”

#1    “I can’t see the TV; my boobs are in the way.”


 

Love It, List It, or Laugh About It…

Summer is in full swing here and I’ve been busier than a cross-eyed air traffic controller.

Aside from having the three kids home all the time for summer vacation and being very absorbed with a huge work project for my other home, In The Powder Room.com, I’ve also been overseeing a pretty massive home improvement project. No, it’s not the master bathroom that I still haven’t finished. (Shameful.) We finally bit the bullet and hired professionals to put new siding on our house and do some upgrades to our homely front porch.

We’ve been in this house for 10 years and had never done anything to the exterior other than rip out all the overgrown meatball-shaped foundation shrubs that were covering all the windows on the main level.

Love-It-or-List-It-David-and-HillaryThe time had come for us to Love It or List It. And since Hilary and David probably weren’t going to show up and help me make that decision, I would have to take matters into my own ginormous hands and start making some improvements.

Either way, new siding and paint were a must.

The construction started almost one month ago on May 13th, the day after Mother’s Day. I’ll never forget that date because it was sooner than I was expecting it to start and I was not ready with my color choices.

The pressure! 

I did NOT want to be that house that neighbors walk by and shake their heads about, whispering “Bless her heart. She must have damaged her optic nerves in that tragic snapping turtle incident.”

So I obsessed.

And I spent more time on Pinterest than I did attending to my personal hygiene.

And I consulted experts such as contractors/decorators/friends/family/voices in my head.

And I spent more money and time on sample quarts than I’m prepared to admit.

And after probably way too much deliberation, I finally picked my color scheme!

“Hooray! This is going to be AWESOME!” I thought. After all, I picked the ‘perfect neutral’ according to several reviews on Houzz.com.

Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out the way I had hoped, which has been very disappointing.

Talk about first world problems…

I just had my house painted and don't like the color - waaaaah by The Bearded Iris

The painting is not even done yet, so I can’t show you pictures just yet. Maybe it will all magically come together and I will feel silly for being so upset that I just spent so much money making my house look like a giant nutsack.

At least I’m that much closer to having my next color scheme mapped out for the repainting we’ll have to do five years from now. (#SilverLining)

See? I’m almost to the acceptance phase of the grieving process.

Right now, I’m in the “look for the funny” phase, which is what my people do to survive unspeakable things like tragic loss and decorating mistakes.

So please join me over In The Powder Room today to find out Why I’ll never be hired by Sherwin Williams. Spoiler alert: penis.

See you over there.

-Leslie

My husband hates my new knobs.

You guys? Can we talk about something kind of embarrassing?

I’ve been feeling really frumpy lately. Mainly, when I’m in the bathroom and I look down, I feel like my knobs just haven’t aged very well.

Back in the late 80s when they were shiny and new, they were pretty popular; I’m not going to lie.

my knobs have not aged well

But twenty+ years of regular handling have obviously taken their toll, not to mention the excess moisture and occasional banging.

I just felt like my whole look was, well, dated and worn. I wanted to swap out my tarnished, lifeless old knobs for something shiny and new, like so many other women in my neighborhood have done lately. I know I should be happy with what I have, but I was coveting knobs that were perky and fresh! Something my husband and I wouldn’t mind grabbing several times a day.

So I saved up and bought a set of the prettiest knobs I could afford!

And that was not an easy feat because there are SO MANY CHOICES. Who knew?!

Not to mention the fact that my ADD prevented me from planning ahead and doing a special order of the knobs I really wanted.

Sweet Brown aint got time to special order knobs at Home Depot

So I chose a set I thought would look good enough given my budget and time constraints, and I set to work.

As soon as they were on, I ran to show my husband. Would he like them too?

Sadly, his reaction was not at all what I expected.

“They’re bigger than I thought they would be,” he said.

“Really?” I asked. “You think they’re too big?”

“A little…yeah…they’re kind of awkward and lumpy. And they’re sort of hard to grasp too. I…I’m afraid I’ll break them.”

“Oh…well that sucks. I think they’re really pretty. You don’t like the way they feel? Seriously? Day-yum.”

“Let’s just live with them for a few days and then decide,” he suggested.

I felt shocked and crushed at the same time. In 15 years of marriage we had always managed to agree on matters of, uh…enhancements.

Honestly, I just assumed he’d like what I picked, but apparently he wanted something smaller, simpler, less showy.

A compromise was clearly in order. After all, to have and to hold, right?

So we took a few days to see if he would warm up to my new knobs.

And not only did he not come around, but over the course of those few days, I started to agree with him.

It pains me to say it, but he was right. When I looked at them with fresh eyes, those knobs were all wrong for the rest of my new look.

your knobs are too big and lumpy hon

Maybe I should back up a bit and start at the beginning.

I’m obviously talking about cabinet knobs and pulls. What did you think I meant? Geez. Get your mind out of the gutter.

I’ve been s-l-o-w-l-y renovating our master bath over the course of the last…OMG…really? FOUR YEARS? Shit. (Oh so THAT is why people pay professionals.)

It’s been a long time since my last blog update about it when I swapped out the cultured marble counter top for a granite one, but only because I didn’t want to bore you to death.

new granite

Since last June I have painted the walls (twice…because I hated the shiny satin finish the guy at the hardware store talked me into) and installed new faucets and drains (myself, thankyouverymuch), and my husband put in new light fixtures.

Then I tackled the vanity. Here is the original “before” shot just for funsies.

master bath vanity before

Blergh.

It’s one of those builder-grade dealios made from particle board and laminate…very shoddy quality, and very badly damaged by wear and tear.

I took all the doors and drawers off, sanded down the raised water-damaged areas, applied a primer, and then painted and waxed everything with Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint (in Chateau Grey and Graphite) and Wax (clear and dark). It was a labor of love, let me tell you.

I’m not a painting expert and I don’t want to steer you wrong with how to use Annie Sloan products, so I won’t go into it here. Frankly I’m not even sure these products were the best choice for a bathroom, but only time will tell. I’m hoping that the primer plus the multiple (4) coats of paint and wax (3) will help protect them from water damage.

But here’s how it looked after the paint and wax, and while we were “trying on” the new Victorian glass knobs that we eventually rejected. That paint color on the walls is Celery Root (flat finish) by Valspar, by the way. I’m not sure if I love it or not yet. It’s more green than I thought it was going to be…I was hoping for more of a gray-green. (Also, ignore the floor…we’re not done.)

bathroom vanity after painting

I also spray painted the cabinet door hinges with a flat black paint because the tarnished brass ones were killing my buzz.

In the end, we returned the big, lumpy, glass knobs and went with smaller chrome handles, to match the faucets and light fixtures. And here’s the big reveal (drum roll please)…

before and after of bathroom vanity makeover by The Bearded IrisYou know I’m not the best photographer, and the lighting is making the cabinet look more blue than it is in real life, so try to look past that if you can.

I think it’s pretty amazing what some primer, 4 coats of paint, 3 coats of wax, some new knobs, and bit of touch-up spray can do for a gal. Don’t you?

My husband sure likes the final look, although he did say, “Those knobs stick out kind of far, don’t you think?”

What. WHAT?!

To which I snapped, “Hey, you know what? If you don’t like the new knobs, don’t use ‘em.”

And that was the end of that.

Coming soon: a new floor and a toilet. Hopefully our marriage can survive it.

Cat Pee and Clutter Concern: Oh, Grandma’s Here!

My mother came to visit last weekend.

It was lovely. It always is. She does laundry…all the way through! And she buys school clothes, and takes us all out to eat, repeatedly!

It’s so nice to have her here that I don’t even mind the fact that she bought me a book about compulsive hoarding.

I’m not even kidding.

Apparently she heard a fascinating interview about it on NPR and it reminded her of me and my life-long struggle with clutter.

I imagine that some people might get offended if someone came to visit and then gave them a book about compulsive hoarding.

Not me.

Guys? This book is rocking my face off. I always joke about being a borderline hoarder, but apparently I’ve gotten to the point where it’s not a laughing matter anymore. I have so much in common with many people who exhibit this compulsion, it is frightening. But more on that another day. (See? Classic avoidance.)

Instead, let’s discuss a different thing that happens every time my mom visits: my cat Gracie gets pissed. Literally. There is piss, loads of it, in inappropriate places.


So Gracie’s in solitary confinement and I’m In The Powder Room today weighing my options. Meet me over there and we’ll discuss.

Sincerely,
Leslie

Just the Tip Tuesday: How to Deodorize Stinky Hands

I know stuff…weird stuff…like how to remove somebody else’s chewed bubble gum from your preschool daughter’s most holy of holies. (Yeah, that really happened once…Vaseline on a paper towel…took it right off.)

So when I started this blog about 4 years ago, it was a perfect way for me to share some of my random tips. I did it as a joke at first, but over time, I realized that I actually had some practical knowledge worth sharing and that finding new and better ways to do things made my heart sing.

But then Pinterest came along and I got a little discouraged. Why would anyone want to read my goofy tips?

And then In The Powder Room asked me to join their team as one of their Tuesday columnists and I jumped at the chance, abandoning my Just the Tip Tuesday feature.

But you know what? I’ve missed it. And I’ve learned the hard way that there is a lot of shit on Pinterest that looks pretty, but doesn’t really work! Either the directions are horrible, or the projects are way too hard, or the people writing the tips take themselves way too seriously and I feel like I need a hug and a Xanax smoothie after I visit their blogs.

So I asked my editor at In The Powder Room if I could move my column to another day and take back my Tuesdays. And she said yes! (Thank you, Gigi! XO)

Drumroll please…

Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to announce the return of:

For my first foray back into the world of Tips and Tricks, I thought we could discuss something that happens to all of us at one time or another: stinky hands. 

No, I’m not talking about Bucket Head’s favorite new game, although I suppose this trick would work for that too.

I’m talking about what happens after you chop a bunch of onions, and no matter how many times you wash your hands with soap and water, you can’t shake the stank off.

This happened to me the other day and it was driving me nuts. I had made a big beautiful pot of Ratatouille for dinner and later that night as I was lying in bed, trying to fall asleep, the pungent scent of Vidalia onions was wafting from my fingers to my face, actually gagging me.

Desperate for relief, I suddenly remembered that used coffee grounds are a great odor neutralizer! That’s why perfumers keep jars of coffee beans around to cleanse the palate between samples.

Luckily for me, that morning’s coffee grounds were still in the coffee maker (sometimes it pays to be a slacker). So I pulled them out and scrubbed my hands with them over the trash can, and then rinsed off the extra coffee grounds in the sink. (Sniff sniff?) It worked like a charm!

If it hadn’t been so late at night, I would have done the deed outside in my garden, because coffee grounds are like crack for worms and hydrangeas!

Yes, according to Karianne of the breathtaking Thistlewood Farm blog, adding coffee grounds to the soil around your hydrangeas is THE secret to spectacular blossoms. My hydrangeas are always blue, not pink like Karianne’s, so I’m not sure if the coffee grounds have an impact on the color or just the overall robust health of the plant, but it seems wasteful to throw coffee grounds into the trash when they are so great for the soil and the planet in general.

(Please note…I brew my French Roast old-school using unbleached biodegradable Melitta Bamboo Coffee Filters.* I don’t know if this would work with Keurig K-Cups, although I’m guessing a row of upturned K-Cups could be lovingly hand-crafted into a garden bed border if that’s your thing. Hey, whatever rocks your dinghy. No judgement.)

Alrighty then! Now you know what to do when your hands are all jacked up with stank. And as a two-fer, those coffee grounds are great for your garden. Giddy up!

Thanks for stopping by! And don’t forget to enter for a chance to win a $50 Amazon.com gift card from DealAngel. Giveaway closes this Friday.

-Leslie

*This post contains an affiliate link to my Amazon.com store.

 

Making progress in our master bathroom renovation!

Time for a master bathroom reno update!

As much as I love a good DIY project, I think I’ve cracked the code on why most people pay professionals to do major projects like bathrooms and kitchens: TIME. Unless you treat your project like it is your full time job, you are never going to finish that sucker.

It’s been three months since I removed all the excess caulk from around my old garden tub. It’s been six months since my husband and I had to start sharing our kids’ bathroom. And it’s been 3 and 1/2 years since I accidentally tore that first tiny piece of pink striped wallpaper and launched myself down this path of destruction.

But we’ve recently made some progress and things are looking up!

Remember that old cultured marble vanity top with the worn and dated brass fixtures?

Sing it with me, friends: Na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, hey hey hey, goodbye!

(And apologies to my neighbors for the temporary yard art. Keepin’ it Klassy, y’all.)

After numerous trips to a bunch of local granite and tile shops, I finally found a granite remnant I liked that was big enough for both my vanity and the tub backsplash. That is a huge feat for someone as indecisive as me!

But the new granite is now installed and it looks mah-velous (if I do say so myself).

What a huge difference! I finally feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Next up: installing the new faucets and painting the walls and vanity. Wish me luck!

-Leslie

PS – my comments are closed for the summer, but you can chat me up on Twitter and Facebook.

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