Basement Living Room Update

Basement Living Room Update

Those who have been following me may remember that last fall I noticed a water issue in our basement bedroom.  Yes, water was definitely seeping into the walls and the carpet in this room.  We have had water issues in the basement before and have installed a waterproofing system where a company comes in and installs a french drain and a sump pump.  However, we added on to our home, including a basement bedroom, but we stupidly did not extend the waterproofing to this area.  We thought some of our outdoor landscaping would mitigate but it did not.

Anyway, we had the waterproofing company return and take care of the issue.  In so doing, they remove drywall.  So, when I had the drywall installers come, I had them do some long needed work in another part of my basement, the living room.  Previously I had old dated paneling in this area.

I have wanted to have that old paneling removed for so long.  Once I had the professionals in to take care of the bedroom I got an estimate for removing this paneling, extending the TV wall 4 feet and painting this entire room.  Mr. DB and I agreed the cost was  reasonable and we gave the go-ahead.

This is a picture of the wall that we extended 4 feet, enabling the TV to be centered across from the sofa.

This short wall forced the furniture placement to be crammed into one end of the room.  That just threw everything off and made me give up.  Side note:  This room has looked worse. Our young sons used this room for indoor soccer, baseball, wrestling, etc.  Once they grew up and left I tried to make it somewhat more presentable, albeit with cast-off furniture.  Half-measures never really work, do they?

Finally, with the new drywall and wall extension, I am making progress.

I found this TV stand at HomeGoods.

We also updated the lighting down here with more recessed lights.  Those two updates made it feel like an entirely new room.

I have ordered a sectional sofa for this space.

My decorating process is step by step.  Once the sectional comes in I can decide on a coffee table and art.

This is the last room in our house to be modernized.  Nineteen years ago we bought a ranch home built in 1960.  It had been updated somewhat in the 1970s.  But I am not really sorry that we couldn’t do a whole house renovation in one swoop.  Our sons had their indoor sports room; now we have a grown-up space.  All things in their time.

Getting Ready for Summer

  We finally had a nice warm day this past week,  where it just felt good to be outside getting rid of winter’s debris and cleaning up the dining furniture.  It’s a little like playing house; I clean and rearrange, plan my purchases of annuals for all of the containers.

This year I left my furniture out in the weather.  Cold weather came on suddenly, then left just as quickly.

Never buy a glass-topped table for your garden.  Yes, that is glass.  I will scrub it with a steel brush and water to remove the grime that has adhered over the winter.  I am looking for a replacement but not sure what I want to get so this is it for the meantime.

We bought this “set” of table and chairs at a garage sale years ago.  I still love the chairs’ vintage vibe.  I did have them professionally recoated and that has been a good investment.  It will be pretty easy to clean them off.  And yes, I should put them in storage for the winter.  Now, after a good scrub down, I am not embarrassed for anyone to sit down.

I plan my trip to the plant nursery carefully. I have found that it is a good idea to go  there on a cloudy day. The most popular nursery in our area is so busy on the initial sunny days of spring that they have  people directing traffic in the parking lot.  Having to negotiate crowds and lines makes me too tired to garden when I get home.  If you go on a cloudy day, during the week if possible, you will find a good selection and plenty of help.  I also try to have a color scheme, although it is hard to stick with.  A lot of impulse buying happens at the garden center.  Lately I’ve been buying flowers in flats to save time and money.  If I go before our last frost date the seedlings will keep well in the garage for a week or two.

I also get my pots and potting soil ready for planting.  If I haven’t already, I dump the old potting soil in the compost and start fresh with new potting soil.  That way my plants will have the best nourishment for growth and bloom.

As I mentioned, we need a new outdoor dining table.  We also need more comfortable  lounge chairs for a small deck closer to the back door.   Luckily Emily Henderson just did a round up of good options.  I struggle with  the issue of  spending any money on outdoor furniture since we are not outside that much.  You see, we have a lot of mosquitoes here in northern Virginia.  They love Mr. DB but me, not so much.  I am looking into solutions that work because it’s no fun sitting outside alone.

I added these pillows to our iron furniture to give it a little more comfort and color.  And that has been a good solution .

I am really looking forward to enjoying my favorite season, mosquitoes or not!


Best Greenery for Your Home

Best Greenery for Your Home

I think we all know that plants and flowers add a warm and nurturing feeling to a home.  Plants not only add beauty but also make our homes healthier by acting as air filters.

I know, I know.  What if you are not good at keeping plants alive?  House plants can be somewhat tricky.  For the most part I confine myself to the easier variety.  Today I’m going to share what works for me and a few other ways that I bring foliage into my house.

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The Vegetarian at the Dinner Party

How do you handle the vegetarian dinner guest is the question for today.  Hopefully you have been informed ahead of time that one of your guests is a vegetarian.  The next thought is how to accommodate your guest without having to take on a lot of extra work.

Obviously you want all of your guests to feel welcome and accepted. To that end I have tried various options and I’m still not sure which is the best.  Here’s what I’ve done in the past.

Option 1:  Make a special dish for the vegetarian only.  Once I made a bolognese sauce for my non-vegetarian guests and a zucchini pasta for the vegetarians.  The problem was that the vegetarian pasta ended up getting passed around and the meat-lovers tried it as well.  Oops.  I had not made enough for everyone to have the vegetarian option.   But, it would be relatively easy to make pasta with two different toppings, one meat and one vegetarian which is what I would do next time.  My vegetarian topping was super easy:  Roast sliced zucchini drizzled in olive oil and sea salt for 20 minutes in the oven.  Place the roasted zucchini in a bowl and combine with your favorite jarred tomato sauce.  Everyone loved it!

Option 2:  Everyone could be vegetarian for a night.  I have some good vegetarian recipes and we do eat vegetarian a couple of nights a week around here.  Mr. DB isn’t crazy about this idea though, feeling that when you have guests you should roll out your best and fanciest meal.  For him that usually means a meal that includes meat.


Option 3:  The focal point of your meal could be meat, such as Prime Rib or Roasted Chicken and you can have a lot of vegetable sides.  Also, it’s always good to have bread.

My vegetarian friends are not fussy and usually say that they will make a meal out of the side dishes or whatever.  But, we have occasionally had a work colleague or someone we don’t know as well who is vegetarian and we want them to feel welcome.  I mean we want everyone to feel welcome and be fed.

What do you do when you have a mixed crowd at dinner?  I’m sure there are some options I haven’t thought of.

Here are a few vegetarian recipes I plan to try:

Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice

Roasted Eggplant Pasta

Zucchini Quiche

Easter Table Ideas

I have been trying out various centerpiece ideas for my Easter table this year and nothing has really said yes, this is it.

I started off using my Christmas garland as grass with eggs and bunnies peeping out.  But it seemed a little tired and too cute.

Some years you just want simplicity.

But maybe not that much simplicity.  I think this is a happy medium.

I have saved eggs from past years.  We blew the eggs out of little holes poked into the end of the eggs.  A baby nose syringe is helpful for getting the egg out if you want to try it.  I just added some grass to my square vases and put a few eggs in each one.

I wanted small bunches of flowers along the table but didn’t have enough containers of the same size.  Somehow I had a few spice jars that had just emptied and a capers jar that had been in the refrigerator too long.  I added a little blue dye to the water so it didn’t look quite so humble.

We are having our extended family this year which will be fun.  There is a newly engaged couple, a baby, a college freshman, a lot of news to catch up on.

How do you decorate for Easter?

PS:  Check out my easy recipe for deviled eggs!

Capsule Wardrobe

I have recently become intrigued by the idea of the capsule wardrobe. The idea of a wardrobe built around some key pieces is attractive for many reasons;  I would presumably always have something to wear and I would spend less money and time shopping.  Sign me up!  It turns out I have unknowingly  started my capsule wardrobe.  Most of you probably have too.

But, it’s a little more complicated than building a wardrobe around 7 or 8 key pieces.  Each of us has different lifestyles, not to mention different seasons.  Where to start?

 Most experts agree that 30-40 wardrobe pieces are sufficient for each season.  For our climate, I can get by with 3 seasons : winter, summer, transition. Then,  for each season you will categorize your clothes depending on your lifestyle and your needs.  Categories may include, work, daily (at home, errand running), nice casual (going out) or even semi-formal (weddings, funerals, etc).

Now that you have your needs and categories established, go through your closet and categorize your clothes accordingly.  Do not include clothes that don’t fit or that you haven’t worn in the past 2 years.  Set those clothes aside.

Since it always helps me to see things organized on paper I have created a worksheet to help with the process.  You can print it here.

The worksheet has helped me see what I actually have and its purpose.  It also helped me figure out what I need to buy so that my wardrobe is complete and I don’t have “nothing to wear” issues.

As I was analyzing my clothing needs I knew that one  category I must have is semi-formal.  Our friends’ children are getting married, we go to a funeral more than we used to, other friends  are having those milestone anniversaries and it’s necessary  to have the appropriate clothes for these events.  Some events can be planned for but some are unexpected and you don’t want to be in the position of just buying whatever because you don’t have time.

It is definitely a process.  I put those ‘set aside’ clothes in a bag for donation.  But I love the idea of being intentional about the clothes that I absolutely need and those that are no longer useful.

What is your process for dealing with your wardrobe?  Do you have one?

Blueberry Cobbler

Blueberry Cobbler

Those of you who have been following me know that I love to browse thrift stores.  It’s a relaxing hobby that gives me the opportunity to find treasures of all kinds and also, it helps me avoid doing the things I need to do, like cleaning.

Last week I brought home “Katie Brown’s Entertaining” .  I used to watch her show on TV whenever I happened upon it.  I found it entertaining, although I do not remember enacting any of her ideas.  But this book was $3 so I thought I’d give it a try.  The recipes look good, but her ideas for dressing a table are way over the top and nothing I would ever do.  One idea involved squares of sod on the table.

But I had to take a dessert as my contribution to a potluck dinner and Katie Brown’s blueberry cobbler caught my eye.  I love blueberry cobbler or any fruit cobbler really.  The picture in the book reminded me of a cobbler my grandparents used to make, although theirs  was blackberry, from blackberries picked on their property. My sister and I were so impatient waiting for that warm and delicious treat to be ready.

I should have studied this picture more closely.  No where in the recipe is the size of the pan indicated.  I have a deep pie plate that I just assumed would work.  My first indication that this was not so was when I assembled my cobbler.  All of the batter would not fit on the top.  Uh-oh.

Well, there’s no turning back now.

The crust that swallowed the pie plate.  Mr. DB: I bet it will still taste good.  And it does.  Plus, vanilla ice cream covers a multitude of sins.

My grandparents baked their cobbler in one of those large enamel tins, similar to the picture in the Katie Brown cookbook.  If I were to make this recipe again, I think I would use a 9×12 baking pan.  The dry ingredients have 6 teaspoons of baking powder, so that indicates the crust will expand.

I changed the recipe afterwards and have omitted the nutmeg and cinnamon that Katie Brown added to the blueberries.  The nutmeg in particular distracted from the blueberry taste.  The recipe is posted on my recipes page and here.

I really liked the addition of cornmeal to this crust.  The cornmeal gave it a cookie like taste and texture.  So good.


Guest Bedroom After Waterproofing

Guest Bedroom After Waterproofing

Our guest room has slowly been evolving over the past 7 years.  In its first life, our youngest son claimed it after this part of the house was added on.  It’s spacious and away from the rest of the house, located in the basement.   There was a real hodgepodge of furniture back then which didn’t bother him.  And, new furniture was a luxury item after the addition expenses.  Not to mention I really had no idea what I wanted to do in this room.

Here is a lovely pic of the room’s transition to official guest room after our son got his own place.

The quilt on the bed was a find at Homegoods and my inspiration for the colors in the room.  Over time, a year or so, it morphed slowly into this.

I found the headboard on the curb and recovered it.  There were a few other adjustments here and there.  Then last year I spent a few nights down here while the master bathroom was being renovated.  You can read about my experience here.   Spending a week here forced me to face the fact that we had water seeping into this room that no dehumidifier was going to get rid of.  Sigh.

Well, fast forward six months and  the water issues are resolved at a cost of about $5000 for waterproofing  and then replacing drywall and painting.  An expense like that sure cuts into your decorating budget.  It reminds me of Property Brothers.  There is always a structural problem that has to take priority over the decorative, fun details.  Of course, on TV all issues are miraculously resolved with no visible sacrifice.

Post-waterproofing, below.  After my bad luck with the water issues I had some good luck come my way.

My sweet friend happened to be moving during this time and gave me this lovely hand painted dressing table.

The little chest of drawers matches the dressing table.  It is also hand painted.  I am using the curtains from my office because I am changing things in there.   What serendipity!

Also, I had found that secretary at a local “barn sale” before I knew I was going to have the water expenses.   It adds just the right decorative element and gives me space to display things.  I am still working on this side of the room.  It looks a little bare I think.

I am still playing with these shelves.

The area opposite the bed needs some work.

There is a really old tattered chair under that quilt that I have to make a decision about.

  I have houseguests coming next month so that is my deadline.

Even though I bemoan the expense of waterproofing, it’s a relief to have the issue resolved and to know that my guests will be breathing clean air!

Have you had water issues in your home?  They abound in our hilly area.

‘Hope your weekend is warm and dry,

Boho Guest Bedroom Final Reveal

We are done (for now anyway) in sprucing up my daughter’s guest bedroom on a $500 budget.  This post is a little late because we ordered a rug which didn’t arrive until the end of the week.

We are so happy with all the new personality in this room!

Continue reading “Boho Guest Bedroom Final Reveal”

Make an Indoor Garden Tote for houseplant and flower care

Have you ever seen some of those stately homes that have a room for flower arranging?  The potting room, as it’s called, has shelves for all of your vases, a big counter, even a sink?  And of course that’s where you would keep your flower shears and frogs and the necessary tools for arranging beautiful bouquets.

Well, I can only dream of such a room.  But I do have a place for my tools for flower arranging and for grooming my houseplants. Some years ago my sister gave me this little garden tote.


Continue reading “Make an Indoor Garden Tote for houseplant and flower care”