Projects Update: Closets and Faucets

I hope you all are having a great week.  Atlanta was blessed with beautiful, mild weather today and Jack went to his first day of preschool.  What a great milestone for him, and for me!  When I dropped him off I expected at least a little bit of a fuss, but he just went right in and never looked back.  Clearly, he will have a love for school just like I did! 

When I picked him up, there were two children asleep, one crying his eyes out and Jack was playing with a toy telephone that another child was trying to take from him.   He just looked at the boy, held on tightly and waited him out.  Jack retained possession of the toy and when he noticed me he didn’t run right to me, but just kept playing.  Fortunately for me, the crying child needed a hug so I got to sweep him up and love on him until Jack was ready to leave.  The teacher told me that Jack was the only child who hadn’t cried that day and I felt blessed to have such a happy, confident child.  In spite of his rough start and all my overprotectiveness!

So, finally an update on the projects I’ve been working on!  With the help of my father and his friend, we replaced all the faucets in the bathrooms.  I have lived with the ugly bronze ones that were here when we moved in for a decade.  I didn’t want to spend money fixing something that wasn’t broken, but when they began to refuse to yield water, one by one, I was able to give myself permission to go buy new ones.  And I found gorgeous brushed nickle ones for less than $50 each!  It was a small change that makes me happy everytime I look at them. 

Below is a photo of the old faucet, which was the same in all four sinks.  All four were removed before I remembered to take a picture, but I believe the ugliness is still obvious:

And below is the new faucet.  This one is in the powder room and as Daddy pointed out, it matches the mirror that I bought for that bathroom over six years ago. 

I love the new faucets!  I will keep squirrelling a little money away each week until I can afford the next bathroom fix-up: new lighting!!  Each bathroom has, wait for it, ugly brass light fixtures that I really don’t like.  I’ll let you know when I get that done, hopefully before Christmas!

The next project that I want to catch you up on is the closet build out that I started in the guest room.  I absolutely love the result!!  I am still planning to add drawers in the future, but the three drawers cost as much as the whole organizer, so they will be acquired as I save for them.  For now, the shelves are working just fine.  This photo is of the closet organizer empty:

And here is the closet filled with my sewing machine, some extra blankets and pillows, luggage and off season clothes:

I am very happy with the end result and have been in there to just look at it several times since it was finished.  Clearing out the clutter is great, and creating a beautiful, functional storage space is absolutely wonderful.  When your whole world seems hectic and out of control, it’s just nice to have a corner of your home whipped into shape.  Is there anything more relaxing?

So is there anything you can do in your own home to make a corner of your world more relaxed and peaceful?  Let me know if you start a project of your own in search of happiness!

Enjoying my home and life,

Maggie

 

Sappy, Life-Affirming Metaphors Ahead…

I did not get the closet build out finished last week and I am totally okay with that.  Because what I did get done is prepare the closet for it’s new role as my favorite closet in the house.  Below is the before photo of the closet with the single, builder grade wire shelf.  The closet is not living up to its potential at all…

Now, brace yourself for the aforementioned sappy, life-affirming metaphor.  I don’t know if it was the fatigue, or the paint fumes, but I began to really identify with this closet during the past week.  Like the closet, I haven’t been living up to my potential in quite a while.  But only as a woman, and person.  As a mother and protector of Jack, I am an unmatched and rousing success.  As Maggie, I have left a few things untended.

As I removed the wire shelf, the anchors and screws that had supported it clung to the wall like a dog to a bone, and like I have been to my past.  Once finally and violently removed, the holes left in the drywall were gaping and dramatic.  I couldn’t believe the size and design of the anchors.  How could this much engineering be required for a lone wire shelf?  But the ugly shelf was expected to hold perhaps a hundred pounds of clothes and the drywall foundation would never be strong enough. 

Anyway, I guess my marriage was like the anchors and screws.  Over engineered to hold up an ugly and dysfunctional relationship that, no matter how many beautiful clothes, or trips, jewelry or other “things” were hung on it, would never be pretty, and certainly never strong enough to support us.  It, we, looked great on paper.  Everyone said so.  I thought so.  But in practice, the design was flawed and the life we built fell apart.  So, moving forward, I patched and sanded the voids left in the wall and painted them a lovely shade of creamy off-white.

Isn’t it a beautiful clean slate?  I am still looking for the spackle and sand paper and paint that will transform my soul into a clean slate, but in the meantime, I find that hard work and sweat are a great help. 

Below, I have included a photo of the lower half of the tower that will be in the center of the closet, to give you some perspective.  It is about two feet wide and the closet is about seven or eight feet wide.  The bedroom is kind of small, so I am going to install drawers in the tower so that a dresser isn’t necessary in the room.

The next step involves a level, a drill and a saw, and although I am quite comfortable with a firearm, these tools scare me.  So I am waiting on help to arrive this weekend.  If all goes well, the closet will be finished by this time next week and I will have a wonderfully fresh, clean new place to look at and be inspired by moving forward.

We can all thank HGTV and the DIY network for the metaphors and disproportionate importance placed on home improvement this week.

Happy home improving!
Maggie

 

Project 2: Complete

I managed, with some help from family, friends and prayer, to get both bedrooms cleaned and ready for my guests.  The office now has a bed in it, and both are made and comfy for a welcoming stay.  My houseguests arrived this afternoon, following a multi-day road trip to get here, and M.A.’s sweet son said “I can’t believe we’re finally back in Fayetteville!”   Such a sweetheart.  We’re all happy he’s back, too!

What I realized this week was that the true project wasn’t simply getting the rooms ready for them, although it needed to be done, and was quite a lot of work.  No, the true project was getting myself ready to share my house with other people.  I knew that my persnikity-ness was a barrier to happiness in my life.  I like things quiet, and I like to do things a certain way, and I like my schedule.  But someone can have things in their home exactly as they want them, and still be completely isolated and lonely and unhappy in their life.  I wouldn’t say that I have been “completely unhappy” but I have certainly been isolated and lonely. 

This past week, I was really getting ready to open myself up to living with other people again and engage in relationships with people in very close quarters.  What I realized was that I had a lot of fear of rejection and abandonment.  I know where it comes from, but couldn’t explain to myself why I felt those fears in this situation.  Now I understand that I don’t want to be overbearing or rigid in my interactions with my houseguests just so that I can keep things the way I want them.  I want so badly not to offend them and force them to feel unwelcomed, or uncomfortable and feel like they can’t live here.  I don’t like things in my life the way they are, and that’s why I’m attempting this whole project.

So in short, the rooms were transformed this past week, and I made progress in my own transformation.  The rooms in my brain and heart are also being rearranged and the long held beliefs about how things “should be” are being swept out.  I feel very good about this new, on-going project and have high hopes for a great summer with our guests.

Best,

Maggie

Project 1: Done?

 

Well, as it turns out, I am either incapable of, or unwilling to create the outdoor oasis of my dreams.  It would seem that lush foliage is expensive, and I’m just not ready to spend hundreds on a project just yet.  But I did complete the project, and although my previous self would have declined to publish pictures, fearing that since it wasn’t “perfect,” it shouldn’t be seen, my current self (or the self I am striving to become) realizes that it’s a vast improvement over the former patio, and I should be proud of it.  It’s really nice not to be limited by the prison of perfectionism.  I hope this a trend, because I’m much happier in the land of “good enough,” at least when it comes to home improvement projects of the aesthetic kind. 

And that’s all this one was, right?  Or was it?  It’s certainly not a load bearing wall, or insulation, or water proofing.  But it was much more than just a pretty project.  I got sweaty, and dirty, and I moved and cleaned heavy things.  I really felt that I was accomplishing something.  So, in a way, it was a mental or emotional weather proofing.  If I can be confident that I can take care of things on my own, then I don’t “need” someone around, such as a man.  If I am whole on my own, then any man that I may choose to bring into the picture in the future is an accoutrement to my already complete ensemble.  As a side note, I broke the garage door this weekend, (the how is not important, as it is highly embarassing to me) and tonight, I repaired the door all on my own.  I am feeling very “Super Woman-like” and will be shopping for my bullet proof bracelets soon.  I’m already on the road to self-reliance.

So there.

And now, without further ado, is my new happy place……

The new view from my kitchen.  It’s so inviting, and waaaay better than the rotted out grill that used to be there.  And see the new hummingbird feeder?  I hope they find it soon!

And here is the view of the seating area as I exit the sliding door from the kitchen.  Can you see the margarita?  It’s already a happy place! AAAHHHHH……

Here is a view from the backyard area, except in closer.  I wasn’t able to decorate the entire patio, but from about halfway in, the effect is close to what I envisioned…

This is the view towards the backyard, and as you can see, there is about half the length of the patio that is a little bare. 

Another view of my seating area.  This one kind of captures what I was hoping for, a bunch of color and texture.  Can you see the frog art piece on the fence?  It’s “whimsical” and the previous me would never have gone for that, but now, I think it’s awesome.  A little iron, strong and long lasting, and a little colored glass, bright and happy.  All the things I want to be.

So, there you have it.  I have officially “completed” project 1, but I am not going to stop working on it.  I am going to get more plants over time, and transplant and propagate new ones from existing growth in my yard.  I am also going to replace the grill soon so that I can do some grilling.  That was always my exes job, and I loved the taste, so I am going to learn how to do it now.  I think by the summer, this patio is going to be the vision I have in my head and a frequent place to hang out.  But until that time comes, I’m pretty darned pleased!  I sat out there this evening and it was just wonderful.  I relaxed after an exhausting week and weekend, and just felt the stress melting away. 

And tomorrow morning, I will be out there bright and early with my coffee and the paper.  I look forward to having some guests in the near future!

Maggie

Project 1: Clean Slate

It’s so nice to be able to start again from a clean slate.  I wish life was like that.  Say there were a part of your life that you had ignored, or failed to tend, and it had become dull and dirty and full of life choking weeds.  If you could just clean it out and start over and none of the previous mess would haunt you or darken your days, well, that would be nice.  If that were possible, then perhaps marriages wouldn’t fail, and bridges wouldn’t be burned and relationships wouldn’t sour.  If people ignored their health and trashed their bodies, then they could just start over with tight buns and no saggy “wings” on their upper arms.

But it’s not possible to just clean out and start over with relationships or life, unless you’re willing to sell everything, move to another city and start fresh with no friends or baggage.  Which actually sounds nice, as long as the new town were a beach town, and instead of no friends, I still had all mine, and the baggage contained bikinis and sun tan oil.  But I digress….

So far this week, I have spent a lot of time cleaning out the patio area.  I pulled all the weeds from between the pavers, which was no easy task.  I have sprayed weed killer in hopes that the weeds wouldn’t return and I removed all the old leaves left over from last fall.  Ahhhh.  Manual labor is always so very satisfying to me.  It’s so easy to see the results as I move along, and then at the end, I really feel as though I’ve accomplished something.  Below is a photo of the patio now, in all it’s naked glory:

And here is the view from my kitchen.  I feel better already!

I also spent some time shopping for the things that would make my newly clean patio a true oasis.  Below is a sneak peek at the items that I found!  However will this pile of summery things be arranged to ensure a relaxing oasis for your intrepid blogger?  Just wait til you see!

I also took a picture of my yard to show you the many plants in bloom that may make an appearance on the patio.  I love the purple mini-lillies on the hill:

It’s really rolling along now, but rain is forecast for the next two days, so my progress may be impeded a bit.  No worry, I am repotting plants in the garage and sketching ideas for the final look, and once the weekend comes, with it’s predicted beautiful weather I will be able to quickly put together my outdoor oasis.  I am thinking that after a big weekend of Easter celebrations and visiting family, I may enjoy dinner out there Sunday evening.  I am feeling happier already….

Productively yours,

Maggie

Project 1: Outdoor Oasis

Today I begin my first project in the happiness journey!  As I posted yesterday, I am going to create an “outdoor room” in a previously neglected patio off of my kitchen.  Below are the “before” pictures that I took this morning.  I took them around 8:30 a.m., which is when I’d be using it in the mornings. 

Here is the patio from the back yard.

Looking out into the back yard, a gauntlet of empty pots lining the fence.

The sad, empty hummingbird feeder and the garden hose wrangler.  I also have an old plant stand that I forgot about.  It’s between the hose wrangler and the faded green plastic chair.

Another shot from the back yard…

The view from the kitchen.  I hope this will be a lot better in a weeks time.

So, there it is.  My first project begins today with a trip to Lowe’s and the Home Depot to look for a few things.  I am just window shopping today, since I may not need to buy plants.  My back yard is full of lillies and irises which all persist in blooming each year, despite my steadfast refusal to tend to them.  I will most likely spend my work time today cleaning and removing the weeds from between the pavers, creating my “blank canvas” from which to begin the design. 

I’ll post pictures as the transformation progresses!

Happy Monday!
Maggie

And So It Begins…

I was procrastinating in making my decision as to what my goal this week would be.  I know that I promised to do one project, or challenge one belief, or experience one new thing each week, all in my endeavour to find “happiness,” but it’s really difficult to get started.  What if I pick the wrong one to start with, and then the whole project goes to pot because it was boring, or took too long, or I just didn’t get the desired results?  But then I got a call from my sister and she asked, “So what project are you doing this week?”  She had read the blog, and actually sounded interested to hear what I would be doing!  I felt the excitement for the project flow back into my body and I was so excited to know that someone was on board with this little experiment.  So without further ado, my plans…….

I live in a little house on a tiny bit of land.  I am thankful that I don’t have more land, as keeping up with my tenth-acre is quite a chore.  Just off the kitchen, in the back quarter of the house, is an area that the previous owner started to make an outdoor sitting area.  He put down dark cement pavers, turned on a diagonal, and edged that with red brick.  When we first saw the house, I thought, “that is where I will drink my coffee in the morning.  I’ll put a couple of nice chairs right there, and create a container garden here, here and over there.  And I’ll read the paper and relax, and enjoy this space all the time.” 

Fast forward to today, and that space is a weedy, desolate space, ignored and barren.  It currently contains a grill that doesn’t work, a few plastic chairs, planters full of mosquito-infested rain water and weeds, a garden hose wrangler box, a sad hummingbird feeder that has been empty for three years, and leftover materials from when I replaced the trim around the door.  The space is around 6-feet by 20-feet and is surrounded by a privacy fence on two sides, the house and a sliding glass door leading to the kitchen on one side, and an opening to the rest of the backyard on the other.  It has so much potential, but I have just never gotten around to making it the dream relaxation spot that I have always envisioned.  Well, that ends this week. 

By this time next week, I will have created a sitting area suitable for morning coffee breaks, afternoons relaxing with a book, or evening wind-down sessions with a glass of wine.  I am not sure what this will cost, or how much time it will take me, but that’s part of the excitement!  Also part of the excitement will be how I can manage to get it done during Jack’s naps and after he goes down for the night.  I figure that on a few occasions, I’ve watched at least 20 hours of television during a week, and this project shouldn’t take that long. 

My goals for the space include:  Comfortable “loungy-type” seating, side table for time-of-day-appropriate beverage, attractive plants and flowers, maybe a grill if I can afford to replace or repair the one I have. 

That all sounds easy enough.  Tomorrow, I will post the “before” picture of the space.  I’ll also try to provide regular updates of what I accomplished each day, as well as photos of the space during its transformation.  If it is appropriate, I’ll let you in on any insights I’ve gained into happiness.  After all, that’s the point of this, right?!  I am so excited about beginning this project.  Could it be that I’ve already found a bit of the truth about happiness?  That if I have a goal, and a plan, that I am happier?  I think that is, at least, somewhat true.  I have a project and a vision of the enjoyment that will come at the end.  I think it’s going to be fun!

Here’s to dreams!

Maggie