Sunday, April 26, 2009

Brightening my space

I had a great weekend. Some friends came over Saturday and we played Scrabble, ate smoked Gouda, crackers, fresh fruit, drank Palo Alto Reserve 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, and finished it off with coconut and chocolate cakes with vanilla and caramel ice creams. Hmmm.

I picked up the Palo Alto Reserve because it scored 88 points by The Wine Advocate and fit my budget of $15 and under. I'm not a wine connoisseur; the only red wine that I've come to enjoy has been [yellow tail] Shiraz. My friend Joy is looking for the perfect red wine. I'd like to expand my appreciation for reds as well. So, I decided to buy this wine for us to try.

Joann's is having a 50% off sale on home decor fabrics. I have a bunch of projects I want to complete like decorative pillows for my chairs and loveseat, seat cushions for the bistro set, drapes for all of the windows, a fitted cover for my DIY divan, a shower curtain, placemats, napkins, and a bed linen set for my son. When I gain confidence, I'd like to reupholster my side chairs and cover a storage trunk. Whew, that's a lot but I'm excited and anxious to get started. I started off buying these fabrics to make pillows and seat cushions.

I found some cute plastic planters at Dollar General for cheap. There was this polka dot one

and this striped one.

As I mentioned in my last post, I planted some herbs and flowers on my balcony. Outside I have Quinalt strawberries, impatiens, pansies, lavender, cilantro, and sweet basil. It's a challenge for growing things on my balcony because it doesn't get any direct sunlight. Many plants need at least six+ hours of direct sunlight in order to thrive. This planter holds my herbs and a few pansies.

Inside I have cilantro, sweet basil, and thyme in my kitchen under a flourescent light. A flourescent light can be a substitute for sunlight; however, a full spectrum light bulb provides a better light than a flourescent bulb. The cilantro (far right below) isn't doing well inside. I've read that it's difficult to grow inside.

I guess I can conduct an informal experiment to see which group of herbs grows better. The ones on the balcony which do not receive direct sunlight or the herbs inside under a flourescent light bulb. Somewhere I'd like to add flat leaf parsley somewhere.

Somewhere I found this site that offers pricey, designer goods at a discount price. Unfortunately, the discount isn't large enough for me. But, I find it's a good resource for ideas to find or create knock-offs that I can afford.
Need some easy, quick, inexpensive ideas to perk up your space? Nate Berkus gives some suggestions on updating your home.
I have trouble setting up a system for paying bills. I hope that maybe if I had a system, it would be easier to pay my bills. Julie Morgenstern offers these ideas.
I like these ideas for decluttering your kitchen.
I guess that's enough ideas to keep you busy until next time. I hope you have a fantastic week!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Focusing on making a happy place for me

I didn't realize that it's been a few weeks since I last posted. I've been immersed in home decorating and organization books and magazines. I just love the library.

Martha Stewart Living and Real Simple are two of my favorite resources. Both have free electronic newsletters that are filled with a ton of ideas. I also like Apartment Therapy as an online resource. It's a great site for people who live in 1,000 square feet or less. It's amazing what people can do with less than 500 square feet of living space! I'm inspired to continue decluttering.

I've been setting up my outdoor space. I enjoy spending time outside when the weather's nice. I've planted herbs, flowers, and strawberries and placed a cheery yellow bistro dining set on the balcony.

I wanted to add window boxes to my balcony rail. But, I ran into a few challenges. First, the only window boxes I found at the local big box home improvement stores were ones that needed to be secured by screws in the wood. I don't want to do that in a rental. Second, I found hook-on ones, but these were by mail order. Finally, I tried a hybrid version of a hook-on bracket on which you place a separate planter box. It did NOT work. In the end, I used the planter stand above which I was using for a different purpose. I got it from Jo-Ann's during a end-of-season clearance. I'll have to visit Jo-Ann's again during clearance time to see if I can get another one.
I've added some greenery inside as well. Indoor plants do much to clean your air, provide a calming, natural presence, and improve the chi in your home. I love cut flowers but I don't buy them often because of the expense. However, if I were to really examine my spending habits I would find that I waste a lot of money during the week buying snacks or eating fast food. In place of buying cut flowers each week, I decided to buy a flowering houseplant. I hope this will provide everlasting blooms. Gerbera daisies were 50% off at the home improvement store. I already have a peace lily, which I recently divided, to add more blossoms to my space. I might have to go back and buy another Gerbera daisy or two.
Here are some of my favorite finds from the Internet to help you improve your life.

That's it for this week. I hope you have a fabulous spring week!